At its current level of development, Mexico is ill prepared for its rapidly aging population. According to researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, people age 65 and older accounted for only 6 percent of the country’s population in 2010, but will represent 15 percent by 2036. Comparatively, it took the United States 69 years for its aged population to grow from 6 to 15 percent.
Findings from the recently released 2012 survey of the Mexican Health and Aging Study show the need for greater socio-economic development in Mexico to meet the needs of its growing senior population.
“The communicable and non-communicable diseases that co-exist with an accelerated pace in aging may mean that, compared with developed countries, older adults in Mexico may not arrive with as good health when they reach old age,” said Rebeca Wong, principal investigator of the study and director of the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization Collaborating Center on Aging at UTMB.
The research began in 2001 and is the first of its kind for developing countries. The MHAS study recently released new data from its 2012 survey showing that chronic diseases such as cancer, stroke and heart attack are a growing problem and infectious diseases are still prominent.
However, the survey did show an increase in preventive care due to an increase in health insurance coverage. “This is due to Mexico’s 2004 health care reform, which provided health insurance to many who were previously uninsured,” said Wong.
MHAS is a collaboration among UTMB, the University of Wisconsin and the Mexican National Institutes of Statistics and Geography, Geriatrics, and Public Health. The study is partly funded by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Aging. More information on the study can be found at www.MHASweb.org.