Once boasting a young population, Turkey is headed toward the list of countries with a larger aging population. The country now has about 8 million senior citizens, and projections show this number will continue increasing in the coming decades.
Speaking on the International Day of Older Persons marked on Thursday, professor Mehmet Ilkin Naharcı, a geriatrics expert from the University of Health Sciences in Istanbul, said this increase will ultimately lead to a rise in the need for nursing homes, hospitals and home care services for senior citizens. Indeed, Turkey in recent years started focusing on the care-at-home model with incentives and has been building more nursing homes across the country.
Figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) in March show that Turkey’s elderly population increased by 21.9% in the last five years. Still, Turkey’s figures are lower than in developed countries in terms of the elderly population. TurkStat says the country ranks 66th among 167 countries. The three countries which have the highest proportion of elderly citizens in their population are Monaco, Japan and Germany, with 34.1%, 28.8% and 22.7%, respectively.
The majority of elderly citizens in Turkey are women, and some 62.8% of the elderly population are those between the ages of 65 and 74. According to TurkStat, the shape of age structure changed with advances in public health, better living conditions, increases in the welfare level and life expectancy, and decreases in rates of fertility and mortality. Under the current official population projections, the proportion of the elderly population was expected to be 10.2% in 2023, 12.9% in 2030, 16.3% in 2040, 22.6% in 2060 and 25.6% in 2080.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Naharcı said Turkey diversified its services in geriatrics, long-term home care and palliative care for the elderly in recent year. “Now, we have more than 400 nursing homes and rehabilitation centers for senior citizens, and they host about 27,500 people. Others opt for care by their families or by professional carers at their own homes,” he said.