The economic downturn in recent years has unfortunately created a variety of significant adverse health consequences in society. The negative health impact of the recession has affected both the developed and developing world. Increasing unemployment, the erosion of savings and pension funds, and reductions in health and social spending has created an environment of diminishing health. Some of these health consequences include: depression, anxiety, tobacco and alcohol usage, and a general neglect of overall health. Furthermore, the impact of the economic crisis may be particularly hard on older people. Those who are physically vulnerable or dependent on private pensions are especially susceptible.
Older people are at greater risk of losing their jobs or becoming injured on the job. They are also less likely to be re-hired somewhere else. Also, families struggling to budget a limited income may choose to allocate resources toward food or education for younger family members rather than for the health care of elders.
The World Health Organization has recognized this problem and is currently working to find a solution. Their current challenge is to prevent the economic crisis from becoming a social crisis for senior citizens. The WHO has declared that it is important for the government to include mechanisms that support the participation of older people in the workforce. The Organization also plans to implement new programs that would allow people to collect social pensions while at the same time working part-time.
Current political decisions will likely determine whether the economic crisis will leave a long-term social impact. Hopefully the increasing number of older individuals living in poverty and isolation will plateau and eventually decline. The WHO hopes to make sustainable changes that will promote social protection and health care. It also hopes to counter the perception that older people are an economic burden on society. The idea is that a society will have more positive relationships where the environment supports the engagement of older people in society.