DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland's population of those over-65 years old has grown by 35 percent over the past decade - faster than any other country in Europe.
Detailing Ireland's growing older population in a report issued by the Department of Health, attention was also drawn to the challenges for planning for the future of Ireland's health care system.
Of note, in 20 years there will be three tax-paying workers to every one person over 65. This compares to the current situation of five tax-payers to every one person over 65.
Further, the size of the over-65 population is expected to nearly double in the next 20 years, with the greatest increase in the 85+ age group.
The report noted the strain that will be placed on Ireland's health services in the future, since most hospital beds are occupied by those over 65 years old.
"It is good that people are living longer, but we need to ensure that more of these years, particularly in later life, are spent in good health," the report states.
The report further noted that Ireland's aging population will remain "the singular challenge we face when planning our health service into the future."
As Ireland's aging population grows, the report pointed to births being down by 20 percent. However, due to the overall drop in births in Europe, Ireland's fertility rate remains the sixth-highest in Europe.