According to the World Health Organization, there are currently around 600 million persons aged 60 years and over worldwide; this total will double by 2025 and will reach virtually two billion by 2050 - the vast majority of them in the developing world. While such a major demographic change presents huge challenges to healthcare, often the contributions that older people make to society are overlooked: contributions such as volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities and participating in the paid labour force. The nursing workforce is also ageing yet older nurses are a rich human resource pool. In many countries, they represent the fastest growing segment of the nursing workforce. Their premature or forced exit from the workforce and/or reduction in working hours means a loss of much needed and experienced nurses to care for patients. When they retire, their knowledge, wisdom and clinical expertise are lost, as is their contribution to training and mentoring the next generation of nurses. ICN advocates for positive practice environments for all health professionals across all age groups, to end age related discrimination and improve working conditions; develops and promotes nursing human resource management competencies in order to improve the abilities of managers to develop and implement HR policies that effectively address the needs of an ageing nursing workforce; and raises awareness through publications, position statements and at meetings and other forums on the specific issues facing the older nurse.
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