Governments around the world are worried about the problems of looking after our ageing population.

Old age has its own unique needs for care.

Will we be able to maintain a quality of life and independent living for older people?

In September, government ministers from 55 countries met in Berlin to develop an action plan to meet the challenges of an ageing population.

It is predicted that, in the next 15 years, the number of people over the age of 80 will rise by 50 per cent. My worry is that government ministers make great plans and policies but it seems to take many years before implementation of essential care policies takes place.

We are already seeing the difficulties our senior citizens face today, particularly when they are unable to look after themselves. Access to social and medical care, pensioner poverty, unemployment and age discrimination are real issues.

A recent survey, as reported in the Health And Ageing Journal, suggests the employment rate for people aged 55-64 has been falling steadily in Europe over the past decade and currently stands at 48 per cent. What a wasted resource of experience and skill.

With a breakdown in the social structure and moral fabric of society and inadequate resourses, how are we going to look after the welfare of our communities?

For many years now, the care of the elderly has been upheld by the sheer dedication and sacrifice of carers and healthcare professional teams. You may, of course, buy your personal care if you have the personal resources. So I suggest you start saving.

Our hope in old age is, perhaps, for physical and mental well-being; maintaining an active participation in intellectual pursuits.

Alongside this, I would like to advocate spiritual well-being as I feel it is a fundamental requirement for a caring and supportive social fabric. It will help us understand the difference between caring policies for social gain and economic policies for individual gain and help achieve sustainable economic growth and the involvement of older people in society.

Modern civilisation desperately needs to restore a balance between economic growth and the wisdom of community spirit.

Spirituality allows us to experience a humbleness and gives us the courage to put into action the commitment to our ageing population for a healthy future.

Ten basic commitments that emerged from the Berlin summit included bringing societies and economies into harmony, ensuring full participation and integration of older persons in society, promoting lifelong learning systems, ensuring quality of life and independent living, including health and well-being, and giving support to families that provide care for the older person.

The EU governments must have the political courage and foresight to act now.

Dr Milind Jani works as a conventional and
holistic GP and Dr Asmita Jani as Ayurvedic Consultant from 3 Eaton Gardens, Hove.

Call them on: 01273 777448 or email: