Gerontology, the multidimensional study of the aspects of ageing, has gained increasing popularity amongst professionals not only in the medical or healthcare fields but also amongst governments as well as global organizations. Recognizing ageing populations as a pressing issue that has to be handled with consideration of interdisciplinary factors, governments around the Asia-Pacific region have been working towards policies and movements to support the elderly to age gracefully.
Based on the Singapore Department of Statistics, the proportion of residents aged 65 years and over has increased from 8.7 percent in 2008 to 13.7 percent in 2018. There are now fewer working-age adults to support each resident aged 65 years and over as indicated by the falling resident old-age support ratio from 7.6 in 2008 to 4.8 in 2018.
In Japan, between the years 2000 and 2012, the number of elderly needing home care and care in institutions tripled – from 1.49 million to 4.45 million.
A recent systematic review by the Guangdong Medical University on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in China revealed an increasing trend of Alzheimer’s cases within the study period of 2007 to 2017.
This paradigm shift in population and disease trends will inevitably affect areas of the society and impact government policy making. The change will also see a switch in demand for the types of medical and healthcare needs and facilities of the population. With an ageing population, healthcare facilities need to increasingly cater to age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases such as cancer.
This is where science and technology can intervene and play its part in promoting healthy ageing as well as meet the medical and healthcare demands.
Our September 2019 issue will discuss the Science of Healthy Ageing (pg 24), the use of precision medicine in oncology (pg 29), and how research is helping to streamline cell manufacturing processes in order to boost cell therapy for age-related disease (pg 36). Also, within our BioBoard segment, we hope you will enjoy reading and appreciate the work of researchers from around the world.
The ageing population will challenge the boundaries of science and technology in meeting the needs of the elderly and supporting them to continue to be a valuable component of our societies. We look towards the future with hope and anticipation as we explored the wonders of scientific research in ensuring healthy ageing through the preparation of this issue.
Deborah Emmanuel Seah Qing En