Skip main navigation

5 things every health professional needs to know about to cope with our ageing population

The proportion of the world's population aged over 60 will nearly double between now and 2050. This trend will both increase demand for health and social care professionals, and change the skill set they need. In this post, we outline five things every health professional needs to know as the population ages, and offer a selection of health courses to help you.

The proportion of the world’s population aged over 60 will nearly double between now and 2050. This trend will both increase demand for health and social care professionals, and change the skill set they need. In this post, we outline five things every health professional needs to know as the population ages, and offer a selection of health courses to help you.

5 things every health professional needs to know to cope with our ageing population

1. Successful ageing strategies 

There are a range of social, environmental and economic factors that contribute to physical and mental wellbeing as we age. Ensuring that older people can remain active, healthy and socially connected – and addressing the health inequalities that exist today – will be key to making sure that our ageing population is a happy one.

Know how to age successfully with:
Strategies for Successful Ageing
The Musculoskeletal System: the Science of Staying Active into Old Age
Social Determinants of Health: What Is Your Role?

 

2. Age-related neurological disorders

The risk of neurological disorders such as dementia and Parkinson’s disease increases with age, so organisations such as WHO and Parkinson’s UK predict a rise in the number of people with them. Understanding these disorders better – whether to research new strategies to prevent them or to improve care for people with them – will be a valuable skill in the coming years.

Understand age-related neurological disorders with:
The Many Faces of Dementia
Good Brain, Bad Brain: Parkinson’s Disease.

 

3. Technology

In The Future of Work: Jobs and Skills in 2030, the UK government says: “As digitalisation grows, we can expect a significant impact on employment and skills in the decades ahead. In the health sector, we could see care workers assisting with home-based diagnostic and monitoring devices. Being able to use increasingly complex electronic and digital medical equipment becomes a central requirement for medical staff.”

Get to grips with technology with:
Internet of Things for Active Ageing
eHealth: Combining Psychology, Technology and Health.

 

4. The costs of falling

Almost 10,000 people aged over 65 fall down every day in the UK alone. The personal and financial costs are staggering – falls result in injury, broken bones, fear and social isolation, while each fall can cost a health system as much as US$ 3,611. As the population ages, doing more to understand why older people fall and what can be done to prevent falls will be critical to both individuals’ wellbeing and society’s healthcare bills.

Appreciate the costs of falling with:
Ageing Well: Falls.

 

5. Palliative and compassionate care

“As the population ages, the numbers of people dying of cancer and chronic disease is going to increase, requiring palliative care strategies and facilities to improve the quality of life.” That is the conclusion of research published in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care. So, whether you work in a hospital or hospice, keeping up with the latest best practice in caring is important now and in future.

Improve palliative and compassionate care with:
Palliative Care: Making it Work
Compassionate Care: Getting it Right.

 

What other healthcare skills do you think will be important in future? And how are you developing them? Let us know in the comments below.

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education

Related stories on FutureLearn