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A "Decade of Healthy Aging": Are you ready?

Colin Milner, CEO, International Council on Active Aging®

There are now more than 840 million people ages 60 and older in the world, and that number will jump to two billion by 2050, the World Health Organization predicts. Hundreds of millions of individuals are seeking today to live longer and achieve better health. So what's your organization's healthy-aging strategy? How will you be part of the solution?

In a recently penned article, for the Journal on Active Aging, I stated we are entering an era of healthy aging and that businesses responding to this opportunity may influence millions of lives and prosper. It seems serendipitous that--on the heels of that comment--the World Health Assembly (the WHO's decision-making body) discussed the draft global strategy and action plan on aging and health and document A69/A/CONF./8 on May 26. This document contained a draft resolution with the title, "The global strategy and action plan on ageing and health 2016-2020: towards a world in which everyone can live a long and healthy life."

In what is welcome news for all who advocate active aging, both draft strategy and resolution were adopted after "a supportive discussion with interventions of 41 Member States, 10 NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] and 2 observers...," the WHO reports. It represents a "significant step forward in establishing a framework for Member States, the WHO Secretariat and partners to contribute to achieving the vision that all people can live long and healthy lives."

So what does this newly adopted strategy involve? Two things, according to the WHO. Countries will focus between now and 2020 on evidence-based action to maximize functional ability that reaches every person; and by 2020, to establish the evidence and partnerships needed to support a "Decade of Healthy Aging" (2020-2030). Strategic objectives include the following:

  • commitment to action on healthy aging in every country
  • developing age-friendly environments
  • aligning health systems to the needs of older populations
  • developing sustainable and equitable systems for providing long-term care (home, communities, institutions)
  • improving measurement, monitoring and research on healthy aging

To examine what countries have actually committed to, download a copy of the framework document (A69/17), "Multisectoral action for a life course approach to healthy aging: global strategy and plan of action on aging and health," and the related resolution (WHA69.3) from the WHO's website. Think about what you can do not only to embrace these strategies, but also to be central to implementing them in your country, city and local community.

Next, reach out to your local political and healthcare representatives to ensure they are aware of developments and inspire them to embrace the opportunity, positioning your organization as a valuable partner and resource. It's a perfect occasion to use your ICAA connection. You can stress that what is called for in the global strategy has been a core ICAA offering for the past 15 years, and your organization's involvement with ICAA places you on the forefront of this shift. It also gives you access to a local and national perspective, as well as a global outlook, that is unique and valuable.

Together, we are leaders in healthy aging. Together, we can help society embrace the coming "Decade of Healthy Aging."

PS. At the International Council on Active Aging we're committed to supporting you with think tanks, research, webinars, conferences, virtual summits, videos and publications focuses on healthy aging. To learn about how you can get involved visit

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