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Older people FAQs

How many older people live in developing countries?

  • Today 982 million people worldwide are aged over 60
  • 62% of those older people live in a developing country
  • By 2050 this number will have risen to 80%

The whole globe is experiencing a demographic shift, even in the poorest and least developed countries.


What are the main problems facing older people in developing countries?

More than 180 million older people live in poverty; of those, 100 million live on less than 60 pence a day. That means they cannot afford enough food, healthcare or shelter.

  • Only 25 per cent (one in four) of older people in developing countries receive a pension, so vast numbers need to work until the day they die.
  • Healthcare is unaffordable, inaccessible or inappropriate for many in the developing world, particularly in rural areas.
  • Older people routinely face age discrimination. Many people in later life are refused work, medication or loans because they are considered to be ‘too old.’
  • When disasters strike, people in later life are among the most vulnerable to death, injury and disease.
  • Many people in later life in developing countries are also caring for grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, famine or conflict.

If a person has managed to reach old age, do they really need our help?

Many of the older people that we work with have lived their entire lives in poverty. As they get older, age-related health problems and ageism can make it even more difficult for them to survive. We believe that people in need should be helped, no matter what age they are. 

Why can’t older people go out and work?

Older people do go out and work: in most developing countries, older people continue working until the day they die. However, the money they make often isn't enough to feed themselves or their families.

Some older people may have mobility, sight or hearing problems which restrict them from working; others may be too frail or housebound.

Why don't older people have pensions?

  • In some countries, pensions do not exist; or they are only available for those aged over 75; or they are only accessible to public sector employees.
  • In countries where pensions do exist, they are generally not adequate to cover basic costs.
  • Furthermore, some people in later life do not know that pensions exist in their country; or may not have the identity documents in order to access them.


What problems do older people face in the area of rights?

Older people’s rights are mostly invisible under international law.  In the absence of such laws, ageism and age discrimination are tolerated across the world.  Many people in later life are refused work, medication or loans because they are considered to be ‘too old’.

Any questions?

Our supporter engagement team will be happy to help you. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0800 032 0699

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Last updated: Aug 16 2018

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