The spectacular increase in life expectancy (more than 40 years in a single century!) together with a low fertility rate has given rise to an ageing population. Spain (and Europe and Japan in general) is undergoing this process which, according to experts, will continue in the future and make the country’s population into one of the oldest in the world by 2040. The age distribution data shows that people over 65 will already represent 25% of the population of Catalonia by 2030. This is because the baby boomers – the most numerous generation – will be in their mid-sixties by then. In Catalonia 1,417,311 people are currently over 65 (19.5% of the population) and 460,473 of them are already 80 or older. The number of people over a hundred years old doubles every ten years and has risen from 140 in 1981 to 1,875 in 2016 (source: IDESCAT 2018).
The concept of age-friendliness that fosters the adaptations that this new scenario demands is becoming more and more important as a result of this drastic demographic change that will affect many aspects of society in the near future. In this context, the WHO proposal of the “Age-friendly City” (2005) is being extended to encompass improvements in the accessibility of urban environments, mobility, health, civic participation, etc. To achieve an age-friendly city it is vital that hospitals and other healthcare and nursing services also embody the concept. They will all be profoundly affected by the phenomenon of increased longevity: they will serve more people, older people, with multiple pathologies who will consequently present a high degree of complexity, and all within a context of limited resources.
Ageing is indeed the main social challenge of the next few decades and here at CASA SOLO we are providing solutions based on our specialisation in hospital architecture.