SINGAPORE – The world’s population is ageing.

This can become either a burden society has to bear or a benefit to all if older people remain healthy and continue contributing to the economy and society for longer years.

Recognising the need to promote healthy longevity, the National Academy of Medicine in the United States set up an international commission of experts to point the way forward.

They published Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity in June, which summarised the key considerations now that people live longer, and the steps needed to ensure longer and more meaningful lives:

1. Economic benefits generated by people living, working, volunteering and engaging longer

2. Social infrastructure, institutions and business systems that enable safe and meaningful work and other community engagements at every stage of life

3. Education and training opportunities that promote participation in lifelong learning and growth

4. Social cohesion augmented by intergenerational connections and the creation of opportunities for purposeful engagement by older people at the family, community and societal levels

5. Social protection and financial security that mitigate the effects of financial vulnerability at older ages

6. Physical environments and infrastructure that support functioning and engagement for people at older ages

7. Integrated public health, social service, person-centred healthcare, and long-term care systems designated to extend years of good health and support the diverse health needs of older people

8. Quality long-term care systems to ensure that people receive the care they require in the setting they desire for a life of meaning and dignity