One of six global trends in health equity

Redesigning Systems for Longer, Healthier Lifetimes

Lifespans are increasing, making it necessary for societies, communities, and health systems to consider how to engage, support, and maintain the health of aging populations—valuing older adults’ contributions to society as a whole.

Global Trend

What is changing?

  • Globally, life expectancy increased to 72 years in 2022. By 2050, the number of people over 65 years old will account for 16% of the total global population.

  • Trends toward longer lifespans don’t imply extending healthy life spans: A quarter of the years beyond age 60 are estimated to be lived in illness or with injury.

  • Older populations are more vulnerable to chronic loneliness, and half of those over 60 are at risk of social isolation.

How are specific groups impacted?

  • 80% of the world’s older people (60+ years old) will live in low- and middle-income countries by 2050.

  • Populations that have low incomes and are marginalized often have shorter average lifespans. For instance in Brazil the life expectancy of AfroBrazilians is almost seven years less than that of White people. These differences are due to a range of factors, including limited access to healthcare.

How is this trend reflected in the U.S.?

US Context, Longevity Desktop


The U.S. healthcare system often excludes or provides lower-quality care to Black and Indigenous individuals, which leads to lifelong health concerns and decreased longevity.

Quick Facts

  • By 2030, 20% of the total U.S. population will be over 65 years old, growing from 17.3% in 2022.
  • More than 30% of older adults in the U.S. are economically insecure. Over 14% live in poverty, which increased from 10.7% between 2021 and 2022.
  • The number of individuals over 50 years old with at least one chronic disease is expected to double between 2020 and 2050.
  • One quarter of U.S. adults over 65 years old are socially isolated, which is associated with a 50% increased risk of dementia and other serious medical conditions.
  • Lack of universal health coverage leaves many unable to afford preventative care, contributing to high rates of chronic conditions for aging populations. By the time individuals are eligible for federally funded Medicare at 65 years old, 67% of enrollees already have multiple chronic conditions, which may have been preventable by earlier access to care.

Solutions From Around the World

  • Map
  • Alphabetical Listing

Crosscutting Themes

Multisolving for Climate Change

Equitably Leveraging AI

Multisolving for Climage Change icon.


As climates around the world shift, more elderly individuals may be forced to migrate due to climate change. How might organizations working to support climate refugees tailor their services to account for elderly migrants?

One approach to reducing transport emissions is to shift toward low-emission models in cities, like biking or walking. How might we ensure that the needs of elderly folks and others with limited mobility are incorporated when shifting to climate-resilient communities?

Equitably Leveraging AI icon.


Knowing that many older adults experience loneliness in later life, how might AI tools for loneliness provide companionship in addition to, rather than as substitutes for, human interaction? 

To maintain a high quality of life and extend healthy lifespans, it is important for older adults to remain active within their communities and pursue their passions. AI can facilitate this—for example, AI-powered educational platforms can recommend learning experiences tailored to an older adult’s specific interests and cognitive abilities. How else might we leverage AI to empower older adults to prioritize lifelong health and engagement?


Connections to Public Spaces


Equitable, safe, and accessible public spaces provide a resource for older adults to age healthily through increased socialization, intergenerational engagement, physical activity, and community participation.

Related Content


Six Global Trends in Health Equity

Explore the full analysis of six health equity trends emerging across the globe to learn how communities and decisionmakers are responding to them and their implications for the U.S.