I was designated by the senior management at the community hospital for which I work for on the effects of changing population demographics that could have an impact on health care in the future. I chose my summery to be on the aging population. This is something I have always been interested in because I would like to eventually get into long term care. It also seems like a huge debate in our country on how we are going to handle the situation. Everybody has their own opinions.
Fertility rates are declining and parents seem to be having fewer kids due to financial reasons but the aging population is already here especially when it comes to the baby boomers. There is no stopping this and things need to change in order to care for these individuals. People are living a lot longer as well due to new medications and procedures that can be done to fix diseases. The aging population has increased greatly throughout the years and especially recently. ”
As late as 1930, America’s older population numbered less than 7 million—only 5. percent of the population”. (Pirki, 2009). In 2010 the number of the aging population grew to 31. 4 percent. The baby boomers were born between through 1946 through 1964 so the numbers are going to keep going up. Each year that passes about 3. 5 million baby boomers turn 55. “Between 2000 and 2050 the population aged 85 and over, which is the group most likely to need health and long-term care services, is projected to increase by 350%”. (Wiener, 2002). The aging population demographic is going to have a huge impact when it comes to health care.
They are going to need more long term care services and they are most likely to have more disease that will need to be looked after. More caregivers are going to be needed because it is harder for the older population to do little things for themselves, for example taking showers, cooking dinner and driving just to name a few. This is putting a lot of pressure on public funded health and long term care facilities. There will be a shift from acute illnesses to chronic illnesses and less nurses around as well as paraprofessionals.
The ost common diseases are in the older population especially over 85 is Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and heart disease. These diseases are long term and require a lot of care. The style of medicine will need to change and the care will need to change for the aging population. Instead of doctors correcting a single problem they will most likely be correcting multiple problems at the same time. This is going to require more care and longer doctor visits for the elderly. Doctors and the patients will have to have an ongoing constant relationship to manage these diseases.
There is going to be a need in the medical community to integrate medical and long term care together. This could be hard when it comes to financing and delivery systems. As a country we are going to need a lot more professionals that are familiar with long term care. We are going to need more workers willing to care for these individuals on a long term basis. Right now in the United States there is a lot of turnover when it comes to health care homeworkers and caregivers. They do not get paid enough to work long hours and to do everything that is required.
The medical industry is going to have to work on ways to keep these medical workers and retain them. It is not an easy job and not every senior citizen has family that can care for them full time. (Wiener, 2002). The two biggest challenges for the aging population will be Medicare and Long Term Care facilities. “Trustees of the Medicare program today forecast increased financial troubles as a result of an aging population and rising health care costs”. (Serafini, 2012). Some reports say that seniors have not saved enough so that will make them rely more on Medicare services.
This is very true because in today’s economy it is hard to save and a lot of pensions were taken away from people during this economy. A lot of companies even stopped matching 401 k’s so it is harder to save more and more money for retirement to be able to live on that and then pay for medical services. This has happened to people that have been with jobs for years. A lot of the baby boomers were hurt in the recession when it came to their jobs that they had worked at for years. Big changes are going to need to happen when it comes to financing Medicare.
Another huge problem will be long term care facilities. When the baby boomers start retiring there is not going to be enough long term care facilities for them to go to. More long term care facilities requires that the medical community to have more workers to take care of the elderly. This is a huge problem when there will be a lot more older people then younger people. Marketing is going to have to be huge when it comes to the aging population and healthcare. There should be more marketing when it involves the younger generation to go to school for the medical needs of the older population.
This will be away to get awareness out there and get trained individuals that are able to care for the needs of the elderly. Everybody needs to come together to make a plan for the aging population. Government, communities and people need to help out and do whatever they can. This isn’t just a government problem it is society’s problem as well. We can look and see what other Countries have done that are dealing with this problem right now. As communities we need to make older people feel valued and not lonely and isolated.
Loneliness causes more health problems in older adults so this will take communities to come together with plans. Paying more attention to the older population and not letting them feel isolated will help to keep them more independent and feel like they have a purpose in their community and people appreciate them? This is our duty as human beings to help any way we can and not let the older population suffer. People should come together more than ever to offer advice and opinions on what to do.