A long lived trend

People are living longer – this represent one of the top global achievements of the last century. There are many factors why this is happening, many reasons to celebrate this success. But there are also many predicted challenges for forthcoming generations. What about this trend? What are the motives behind it? And what about its lifecycle, will it eventually begin to fade? Is there really an upper limit to human aging?

Mortality experts have many times in the history estimated the maximum age of humans. But time after time it has been exceeded (Science, 2002). A research made in 2002 shows that life expectancy in the country with highest life expectancy (which can change from one year to another) has increased by about 2,5 years per decade since the mid 19th century. That is an increase of three months every year. The fact that the increase has been constant, with only few variations during all these years makes it a very strong trend. Furthermore, there are no clear signs for it to slow in the future either. (Science, 2002)

Great factors for this trend are improvements in public health, nutrition, medicine and declines in fertility (Royal Geographical Society, 2016). Global health expert Hans Rosling claims that another great impact is the fact that we are on our way winning the war against child death in the world. (TED, 2010) A result of all this is that the oldest old now is the fastest growing population in many countries. In a global perspective, the population aged 85 or over is projected to increase with 351 percent between the years 2010- 2050. The increase for 65-and-over population will be 188 percent, but only 22 percent for the population under the age of 65. (National Institute on Aging, 2015) Furthermore, this will leave us with a population where the elderly have outnumbered the young children. (Global Health, 2011)

There is an ongoing debate about the meaning of a longer life. Will a longer life also be healthier, or will the additional years be spent in poor health? We know that diseases rise sharply with age, but at the same time there is evidence from cross national data showing that it is fully possible for elderly to remain healthy and independent with the potential to continue to contribute to their communities and families, as long as there are appropriate policies and programs developed. But the trend will surely bring socioeconomics challenges in both developed and developing countries in the decades to come, not least within the infrastructure of health care system. (Global Health, 2011) Furthermore, the long lasting impact this trend will leave on society is evidence for this trend to be a global megatrend of today. (Ponten. H, 2016)

So where is this trend in its lifecycle?
Well, data mentioned above shows it is on a rise, and will continue so for decades to come. But for how long? Scientist are discussing if a biological maximum age does exist, which is kind of a scary thought. There are existing animals that can live over 400 years (The Conversation, 2013), so what if it would be biologically possible for humans as well? No one can know for sure. Today’s human age limit belongs to Jeanne Louise Calment who was born in 1875 in France. She reached an age of 122 years and 164 days, and is the only person ever lived past the age of 120 (Guinnes World Records, 2016). Even if experts in history have given us the wrong estimated maximum age over and over, there is a belief of an aging limit. We just don’t know when it will be reached or how high it can become. (The conversation, 2013)

My question for you:
Which mesotrends do you argue derives from this megatrend?


Reference list:

Global Health. (2011) Global Health and aging. Retrieved 2016-09-16, from

Guinnes World Records. (2016) Oldest person ever. Retrieved 2016-09-14, from

National Institute on Aging. (2015) Living longer. Retrieved 2016-09-15, from

Ponten, H. (2016). Lecture 2: Trends and Brands [PDF document]. Retrieved 2016-09-14, from

Royal Geographical Society. (2016) Who wants to live forever? – Why are people living longer? Retrieved 2016-09-15, from

Science. (2002) Broken Limits to Life Expectancy. Retrieved 2016-09-14, from

Ted. (2010) The good news o the decade? We are winning the war against child mortality. Retrieved 2016-09-15, from

The Conversation. (2013) Lust for life: breaking the 120-year barrier in human ageing. Retrieved 2016-09-15, from


4 thoughts on “A long lived trend

  1. Reply by Evaline Vlaanderen

    Question: Which mesotrends do you argue derives from this megatrend?

    I think this article was very interesting and intriguing to read. The increase of people getting older around the world applies to everybody. Ofcourse, this megatrend will bring a lot of meso trends that will answer to the old people’s needs.

    As you may know, older clients think and feel differently but not as much as you may imagine. Today’s 75 year olds are as young physically as people were when they were 65 just 15-20 years ago and often think like 55 year olds used to back then. (Patrick Dixon, 2015)Senior citizens don’t feel senior in the same way as the generations before them felt, as they often think younger. Whole generations of people of retirement age enjoying all kinds of adventurous activities that would have seemed very strange in the past. Older people are often very active, want to explore, learn new things, start new businesses, support new organisations. (Patrick Dixon, 2015)

    A few upcoming trends for seniors are things such as sensors in elderly homes. A group of researchers working out of the University of Missouri have developed a good working high-tech sensor system that is designed to detect elderly people’s movements and watch out for signs of an imminent fall so that family members and caregivers can come to their aid. (Rahul Kalvapalle Augustus, 2016)

    Another trend that will become very mainstream in the future is Alzheimer friendly public spaces. Announced especially for World Alzheimers Day, Heathrow airport in London recently announced its mission to become the world’s first dementia-friendly airport. With a growing number of older travelers passing through international airports, the new initiative demonstrates Heathrow’s efforts to meet the needs of an aging population. (Katherine Pendrill September 2016)

    Lastly, the food and drink sector will also be affected. Abbott recently developed a new product called Ensure Enlive that helps consumers regain strength and lost muscle. Although consumers are living longer, it can be a challenge to stay healthy in older age. This functional drink helps older adults stay strong by providing them with the nutrients they need. (Katherine Pendrill September 2016)

    These are three examples of trends in different segments that are emerging thanks to the trend of the aging population. A follow up question could be how you think robotics could play in these trends. Will robots be able help the senior generation?

    Rahul Kalvapalle (Augustus, 2016) This System Predicts Seniors’ Falls to Allow For Quicker Responses


    Katherine Pendrill (September 2016) Heathrow Airport Marks World Alzheimers Day with New Policies

    Katherine Pendrill, (September, 2016) Abbott’s Ensure Enlive Helps Consumers Rebuild Lost Muscle


    Patrick Dixon, (2015) Marketing To Older Consumers – Future Of Marketing



  2. This trend has enough positive and negative laces. Last year I did a project about this subject. This project went among other things about the future number of human.
    All people need enough food space and water. So it takes a lot of time before there are too much human on this world. But we have to do in these days already something, before it is too late.

    The question that you ask is a real good one, is it nice to become old.
    If you are good of spirit and you can do all things it’s nice to become older. But otherwise
    You see a lot of people who you love loss. You live in a other world, then when you grow up.

    This mega trend will bring difference micro trends. So is one of them that the young people in the family worry about the elderly people. So is my aunt caregiver for my grandmother. She did also worry for my grandfather; he is deceased to the disease Alzheimer. This is also a trend that Evaline van Vlaanderen also appoints in her article.
    My grandfather goes to an Alzheimer workgroup, by which people become older there become more activities and companies, which are set on these diseases.

    So is there nowadays also an Alzheimer cafés, where people with Alzheimer and his family and friends come together. It gives them support to talk with other people, who also make daily this disease.
    Alzheimer Nederland (2016) Alzheimer Cafés, Trefpunten en Theehuizen

    Jacky Tegelaar 1663539


  3. Nice article. With a good storyline!

    I I think to answer your question, another trend in this trend is the fact we need to take care of the elderly. In Dutch it is pronouns as: ‘mantelzorg’. Because of the economy we need to save money so the government chose to save money on the elderly. Now we need to take care of our own parents. There is a lot to do around this trend. People are discussing wheter it is a good or a bad thing. Untill there is another solution, this will be a ‘thing’.


  4. In the Netherlands the elderly homes are slowly disseappearing, like Esmee says in the last comment, we need a way to take care of our own parents. Therefore it is important that there’s not only help for old people, but housing as well.
    One of the many mesotrends it will probably bring with it is the trend of growing homes for elderly, there needs to come a steady and efficient housing for older people, whether they need help getting up or not, the homes need to be made for old people. The people that can or can’t walk might need adjustments to their house. So in order to take care of all of those old people, i think a house is the first thing to look for.

    -Adriaan de Bruin


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