Humans are getting older, how are we going to deal with it efficiently?

Just around 70 years ago, our dear earth housed approximately 205 million homo sapiens who were 60 & above. This number grew exponentially, and according to the UN’s 2019 World Population ageing report, the population in focus has grown to 810million and is likely to grow to 1,5 billion by 2050. In this article, we will be exploring the issues that are related to ageing in today’s society and how we are dealing with it…. inefficiently.

Before we begin, let us understand what exactly is “age”. Well, age can be seen through 3 different lenses: biological, social and modern. Through the biological lens, age can be an indication of inevitable physical changes to the body, appearance or psychological behaviours. On the other hand, the social lens, age is seen as a social construct/classification that society has created to differentiate individuals; which at times can limit their freedom in certain fields or situations (i.e I’m a 24-year-old who looks like 12 so… I can’t go into a club without an ID lol). Last but not least, there is the. idea of “modern” lens which basically focuses on how a certain age can be seen as modern while any other chronological age number is anything but. Depending on which angle you perceived age as will largely affect the issues that may interest you. Since I’m not that well versed in all angles, I am going to focus on the social issues linked to the ageing population aka the septuagenarians, octogenarians and nonagenarians.

The Social Problems; Ageing edition — Exclusion and Isolation.

I think the most obvious social problem with ageing now is the distinct barrier between them and the others due to a multitude of reasons which includes but are not limited to: Language barriers, Urban Planning and lack of social support. The first reason is a no-brainer, and can be witnessed from our daily interactions with the senior population; we are progressing into a culture that no longer weighs heavily on dialects and anything traditional. According to a study done by CNA, the percentage of Singaporeans that spoke English in their household increased by 16% from 2010–2020. In the same time frame, the percentage of people who spoke Chinese dialects (which are commonly used by the elderly), dropped by 5.6%. Zooming out to the use of the mother tongue languages in the 4 major ethnic groups, all 4 experienced a decrease in percentage between 2010–2020 ( Lin, Cheryl 2020). Given that the green city is westernising in this modern age, the statistics are not surprising. Nonetheless, with traditional dialects and mother tongues being the main way the elderly use to communicate, how else can we, the young ones, speak to them with no issues? If human society continues to omit/ neglect the importance of including such languages into our way of living, the segregation between the different generations will no doubt be amplified. In this case, more issues will arise as they will gradually find it harder to make society understand them, and vice versa.

Moving on to the second reason, our urbanised wonderland is just not friendly enough towards the ageing population. Urban Ageing is can be defined as simply ageing in the urban cities. In most cities, their form and functions of them are specifically tailored for the younger stakeholders. According to Lisa Warth, “Cities and communities, their infrastructures and services are still predominantly oriented at the needs and schedules of the able-bodied working population”. In this light, we might have to consider the difficulties that the elderly might face due to tunnel-visioned urban planning that skews towards giving convenience to those that drive the country’s economy and welfare as opposed to embracing a smart city that has zero-age discrimination. Without adequate infrastructures that cater for the elderly, they may not feel included in the surroundings and might find it hard to travel or explore the society as much, leading to a higher level of social exclusion.

The last reason that I will be covering will be the issue of loneliness due to lack of social support. Unlike the formal reasonings, this point may be emphasised by both my anecdotal experiences and actual social phenomena. In 2020, the world was hit by a wave of fear and uncertainty thanks to Covid-19. In most countries, lockdowns and circuit breakers are enforced in hopes to minimise the spread of this virus. Although it may be socially desirable, the effects they have on the physical and mental health of the elderly may not always be good. According to a recent study done by Live-In Care Agency on 500 septuagenarians living in the UK, 1-in-3 feel lonelier in wake of the Covid-19 period, and 1-in-5 of them speak to their friends and family less than every fortnightly. Hence, we cannot neglect the importance of communication and travelling abilities in maintaining the health of the elder population. In this case, although isolation may not necessarily be created by individuals but the respective governments, we must come up with solutions to remain socially sustainable despite the pandemic rather than turning our backs and underestimating the negative externalities it has on the welfare of the elderly.

Sidebar: Try to research “self-imposed isolation.” To give a general idea, it is isolation done by choice due to a number of reasons that may include exclusion from the modern society, leading to the elderly isolating themselves rather than law enforced.




hello there im b4byplanet and this is where i vomit out my thoughts 💗

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