Bill on Comprehensive Care for Seniors Underway

Bill on Comprehensive Care for Seniors Underway
Bill on Comprehensive Care for Seniors Underway

A comprehensive bill for the elderly is undergoing final revision and will be sent to the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Affairs, for approval.

The National Bill for the Elderly seeks to implement “supportive services in areas of insurance, treatment, healthcare and entertainment for the retired and elderly population,” said Dr. Farid Barati Sadeh, secretary of the National Council of Elderly, quoted by Alef News Agency.

Rapid and extensive demographic changes have placed Iran among countries with an aging population.

Currently, people over 60 make up 8.1% of the total population. The annual population growth rate for the general population is less than 1.5%, while the same for those aged 60-65 is 6%. Population aging is a result of decreasing mortality and increasing life expectancy, both positive developments.

However, population aging also brings along with it a set of economic, social and health-related challenges which need to be addressed as Iran experiences rapid socio-economic and demographic changes. In collaboration with the Demography Department of the University of Tehran and the Statistical Center of Iran, the UN Population Fund has conducted an extensive mapping of aging, as one of four key emerging population issues, to help assist policy and decision-makers to develop effective national policies to cope with the implications of an aging population.

 Key Findings

Among those aged 60-79, the largest percentage of years lost to ill-health, disability or early death (Disability Adjusted Lived Years/DALYs) is due to falls, strokes and ischemic heart diseases. Those aged over 50 make up the highest proportion of individuals on hospital waiting lists. A total of 72 HIV/AIDS cases were registered among the 65 plus group and 520 cases among those above 55 years.

The population of 60 plus increased between 1966 and 2011 from 5.3% to 8.1%.  It is estimated that by 2025, the population over 60 will reach 12.3% and 65 plus will reach 8.1%.

Of the 6.1 million people over 60 years, 4.2 million live in urban and 1.9 million in rural areas. The aging population is increasingly made up of women.  

The proportion of the aged population living alone is increasing, with remarkable provincial differences. At the national level, it is 10% and there is a difference between males (15%) and females (5%).  

Developing and implementing an integrated national policy for the elderly – with focus on health issues - is critical, just as addressing the lack of various formal and informal support programs. In terms of kinship support, the elderly, particularly women, are typically dependent on their children.

The majority of health problems among elderly people are non-communicable and chronic diseases, which require lengthy and costly health services. Preventive policies, health promotion and early treatment are significant, as these save costs in the long-term.