The total aged population in developing countries
is currently as large as the total aged population in the
rest of the world. This segment is growing at a disproportionately
faster rate in the developing world and by the year 2000 A.D..
their number is expected to increase by 100 million compared
with an increase of 38 million in the developed world (Table
The Western Pacific Regional Office of the
World Health Organisation carried out a survey on social and
health aspects of the ageing population in four countries
of Asia, and Pacific (Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea
and Fiji). (Andrews,1987). The demographic characteristics
observed were in tune with those of other developing countries
in general, but with relatively a smaller percentage of the
total population in the older age groups.
India ranks second population-wise and seventh
area-wise and supports 15% of the world's population. Those
aged 60 + (N = 43 millions) currently constituting 6% of the
country's population are expected to soar to 75 millions around
2000 A.D. Next year, 1991 is the census year. It is not the
percentage of the aged in the population, but it is their
number that is formidable in the developing countries. The
United Nations classified societies broadly into 'young' (4%
or less of those aged 60 +), 'matured' (4-7%) and 'ageing'
(7% and above). According to this definition India presently
falling under the category of 'matured' society, will soon
reach the status of the 'ageing' society by 2000 A.D. The
distribution of population in developed countries, starting
with a triangular type has now reached the shape of a rectangle.
In India it is at present triangular with lower age groups
constituting the bulk of the population. China alone among
the Asiatic countries, with its family planning drive is approaching
rectangular pattern approximating that of the Western world.
The Indian Council of Medical Research identified
the aged as the priority area and instituted a single centered
Task Force Project in 1981. Initially this project started
at the Institute of Psychiatry, Madurai Medical College and