Redefining Wellness Industry in India: The Truths Behind Ageing and Longevity

As India faces an ageing population, the wellness industry stands at a critical point, tasked with addressing the unique challenges and opportunities this brings. The UNFPA 2023 report highlights the urgency, projecting a 279% increase in India’s elderly population from 2022 to 2050. This demographic shift raises crucial questions about India’s readiness and the financial impact on an ageing society.

The economic impact of ageing is substantial, health sector spending in India saw a significant rise of nearly 73%, from 2.73 lakh crore in the 2019-20 pre-COVID-19 period to 4.72 lakh crore in the 2021-22 budget estimate. This is backed by the latest annual report from the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), which reveals an increase in the incurred claims ratio of health insurance from 94% in 2020-21 to 109% in 2022-23.

Ageing brings an accumulation of health issues, including increased risks of cardiovascular diseases, cognitive decline, and other age-related conditions. Despite these challenges, advancements in medical science have contributed to an increase in life expectancy. However, this extension of life does not necessarily equate to healthy ageing. The traditional approach to ageing focuses on treating diseases and disorders as they manifest, potentially adding 3-5 years to a patient’s life but also increasing the probability of subsequent age-related ailments.

“Ageing however doesn’t have to be a painful process instead, it should be embraced with joy” encapsulates the essence of healthy ageing. This perspective encourages a proactive approach to ageing, emphasizing prevention and wellness to ensure that the later years of life are not only longer but also filled with quality and vitality.

The Science of Longevity: Beyond Numbers

Longevity, in simple terms, is the span of an individual’s life, shaped by genetics, lifestyle choices, and environmental factors. Central to the ageing process are molecular mechanisms influenced by these factors, leading to what can be described as ‘ageing as a disease’. This concept, supported by the 2023 hallmarks of ageing paper, identifies key ageing drivers as the root causes of age-related diseases. These molecular drivers and mechanisms such as DNA repair, mitochondrial dysfunction, gut microbiome dysbiosis etc. are essentially the underlying causes of many age-related diseases, positioning ageing as the primary risk factor for these conditions.

Traditionally, healthcare has adopted a “one disease, one treatment” approach, addressing age-related diseases individually. In contrast, the emerging “longevity thinking” paradigm advocates for targeting ageing’s underlying mechanisms to simultaneously combat multiple age-related conditions. This strategy aims not just to extend life but to enhance its quality by focusing on preventive care and holistic well-being. By addressing the root causes of ageing, longevity thinking seeks to improve overall health and extend a healthy lifespan, rather than simply treating individual diseases as they arise. This paradigm shift represents a more holistic and efficient approach to healthcare, emphasizing prevention and the maintenance of overall well-being as we age. Highlighting longevity thinking’s innovative approach, such as its potential to prevent diseases by addressing ageing’s root causes, can make the benefits more tangible.

Redefining the Wellness Industry: Building Longevity Ecosystem

By introducing the “longevity ecosystem,” we see a strategy in India focused on enhancing life for the elderly. This approach isn’t just about extending lives but enriching them too. It represents a shift towards

preventive healthcare, emphasizing keeping people healthy before illness strikes and prioritizing the dignity and well-being of the elderly.

From a financial and biomedical perspective, building this ecosystem is crucial as India’s population ages. It involves collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to creating an environment that supports ageing well. Developing a longevity ecosystem in India is an ongoing effort that will evolve with continuous research and collaboration. As a driving force behind India’s longevity ecosystem, Decode Age contributes significantly through research, innovation, and advocacy. The initiative aims to transform ageing into a positive phase of life marked by health and happiness. Looking forward, this ecosystem offers hope and points India towards a future where its ageing population thrives, potentially easing the financial strain on healthcare systems and boosting the economy.

 

By Parth Amin, CEO & Co-Founder, Decode Age

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