STATISTICS: Mental health in an ageing population

THERE is no doubt that the worlds population is changing. People are living longer due to the world's birth rates dropping, coinciding with the world's life-expectancy increasing. 

But ageing is not a time of decline. Studies show that older adults enjoy greater life satisfaction and happiness than younger adults. 

So what challenges in mental health do older people face? And how can we make sure that older people continue to have healthy and happy lives?

Here are some stats on mental health and ageing: 

  • Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people over 60 is expected to double (WHO)
  • 1 in 5 people are expected to be 65 or older by 2035 (UN Population Division) 
  • In 2050, 80% of older people will be living in low- and middle-income countries . (WHO)
  • Between 1960 and 2005, the number of Japanese people who live with their children dropped from 87% to 47% 
  • In some European countries, nearly 50% of women aged 65 or older now live by themselves 


  • Dementia is the most common neurological disorder in old age.
  • About 1 in every 200 people suffered from dementia in 2010. 
  • There are 7.7 million new cases of dementia every year, and are expected to double every twenty years.
  • In 2010, dementia care coast $604 billion 
  • If dementia care were a country, it would be the world's eighteenth largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia. 


  • 1 in 2 older adults report some difficulty getting to and staying asleep. 
  • Older people sleep about the same length of time as younger adults, but their sleep can be lighter and more fragment
  • Women are more at risk of insomnia than men. 


  • Adults aged 65 to 79 are happier than younger age groups. (Office for National Statistics, UK, 2016)
  • Late-life depression is associated with: Disturbed sleep, agitation, hypochondriasis, cognitive complaints, fatigue and psychomotor retardation


  • Older adults tend to worry less frequently than younger adults and use fewer coping strategies 
  • Older adults tend to worry about health and welfare of loved ones. Younger adults worry more about work, finances, and relationships
  • Late-life anxiety is associated with: diminished well-being, impaired social functioning, increased risk of physical and functional disability, reduced life satisfaction and suicidal feelings and attempts. 

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