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BMJ. 1999 Nov 20;319(7221):1350-2.

How many, how old, how soon?

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Clinical Gerontology Unit, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge CB2 2QQ.



This article highlights the population projections for the UK to 2066 and their health implications. The changes in the demographic age structure of human populations have dual implications. Although they represent accomplishments in social and health development considering the fact that more individuals are able to live until old age, these changes also bring new demands that affect all aspects of society, including employment, taxation, pension, education, and health. Age specific population projections presented were obtained from the Office for National Statistics. It is projected that the total number of people aged 60 years and older will rise from 12 million in 2001 to 18.6 million in 2031 and the number of individuals suffering with chronic diseases and disabilities will see a three-fold increase. Although these projections rely on assumptions and are subject to some changes, it is made clear that the proportion of the population aged 65 and above will continue to increase substantially over the next decades. These population trends will have a large impact on the health and health care needs of the population. Thus, there is a need to develop and plan institutions and policies that address the demands of the aging population. Understanding and identification of the causes and prevention of conditions that could result to serious disabilities must be a high priority.

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