Experts Urge Holistic Approach to Aging Societies

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Nov 19, 2015
by Louise Hallman
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Experts Urge Holistic Approach to Aging Societies

The challenge we are facing is not population aging, but outdated and ineffective policies and practices declare Fellows of Salzburg Global Seminar  Fellows of the Salzburg Global Seminar program Aging Societies: Advancing Innovation and Equity

Leading aging experts have issued a statement calling for a new, holistic approach to dealing with the challenge of aging populations.

The “Salzburg Statement on Aging Societies: Advancing Innovation and Equity” was issued by 52 thought leaders, practitioners and innovators from social gerontology, aging-innovation, business, health and social care, workforce development, non-profits, national and local governments, and advocacy, from 23 countries.

According to the jointly issued Statement, “The number of people today aged 60 and over has doubled since 1980, and the number of people aged 80 years will almost quadruple to 395 million between now and 2050. With statistics like this, it is unsurprising that aging is often stated to be one of the greatest challenges we will face in the coming decades – but the challenge we are facing is not population aging, but outdated and ineffective policies and practices.” 

Through their Statement, the international experts call for “holistic approach” to “better respond to the rights and needs of older people,” promoting improvements in their quality of life and assuring “their independence, health, care, income security, and well-being now and for future generations.”

The comprehensive Statement, which calls for “all stakeholders, across all sectors and disciplines – intergovernmental, international, regional, national, and local – and individuals” to heed 46 recommendations across six distinct but inter-linking areas, was issued following the four-day program Aging Societies: Advancing Innovation and Equity held by Salzburg Global Seminar, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria and an additional one-day program held at the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKÖ), in Vienna, Austria in early November. 

The six sections of the Statement cover growth and prosperity in aging societies, sustainable health and care systems, work and markets, retirement, families and communities, and “the social compact” between government, business and civil society. 

Echoing the holistic approach of the Statement, Alexandre Kalache, co-chair of the Salzburg Global Seminar program and president of the International Longevity Centre (ILC) in Brazil, said: “It’s over-simplified to say you provide good health and social services. It’s much more than that.” 

Fellow session co-chair, Janice Chia, founder and managing director of Ageing Asia, added: “Very often we think about aging as medical care…I think that it’s also about making our society more ‘aging aware.’” This need for aging awareness was a key driver in the drafting of the final Statement.

“With this Statement, we urge leaders of governments and international organizations, business, science, civil society, media, and individuals to design comprehensive and innovative approaches to aging societies, reflecting the complexity and interdependence of underlying challenges,” said Salzburg Global Program Director, Tatsiana Lintouskaya.

The Statement will be sent to all Salzburg Global Fellows, as well as key figures in aging-related sectors across the world. Lintouskaya added: “We will use both the program participants’ networks in 23 countries and the larger international Salzburg Global Fellowship as a whole, to re-energize global, regional and local efforts to build sustainable and equitable aging societies.”

Speaking at the close of the session in Salzburg, program participant Samir Sinha, Director of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai and University of Health Network Hospitals in Toronto, Canada said: “Most of the conversations around aging tend to focus on apocalyptic demography… But I think many of us here at Salzburg Global Seminar are really thinking about aging as an enormous opportunity. 

“We were able to come up with some concrete actions that many of us were excited about taking forward… There are ten of us in particular – we’re calling ourselves Salzburg Ten – who are going to go and try to advance these issues in a comprehensive way and we actually think doing it in our own respective jurisdictions or organizations is one way to approach it, but collectively representing such a broad group of organizations, both national and local, we could have even more impact given that we all think this is a common agenda we can move forward.”

The full text of the Salzburg Statement on Advancing Innovation and Equity in Aging Societies is available here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/540/statement 

Download the statement as a PDF


The Salzburg Statement of shared principles and recommendations is to be accompanied by a comprehensive report on the conversations and topics addressed at the Salzburg Global Seminar session Aging Societies: Advancing innovation and Equity, to be published in early 2016. The Salzburg Global session is part of the multi-year series Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century. The session was hosted in partnership with Wirtschaftskammer Österreich and is sponsored by TIAA-CREF Financial Services and Tsao Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/540. For more information on Designing a Social Compact for the 21st Century, please visit: socialcompact.salzburgglobal.org