With the population of adults 65 and over steadily climbing, medical professionals and the healthcare system are struggling to keep up. One major issue concerning the healthcare system is that it is not set up properly provide care for these older adults. The physicians today, who regularly see patients, focus mainly has been; diagnose—usually in a 15-20 minute office visit, treat, and cure. Many of these senior citizens have multiple chronic illnesses or diseases, which require time to manage and treat.
The problem is that they may not be able to explain what the real problem to a doctor in that time.
One of the biggest concerns is the lack of capable physician who are trained to adequately care for those living longer lives. Since medical technology has progressed as it has, and people are living much longer; the amount of trained professionals needed to care for the elderly has increased. In 2004-05 there were 334 geriatric fellows in all years of training (2 yr.
program). Studies show that 36,000 geriatric physicians will be required to provide the proper care.
If the amount of students trained remains stable for the next 20 years, there would be less than a third of the projected geriatricians needed. There are some elderly adults who are still active and productive in society. They can still care for themselves without constant aid. On the other hand, there is a large amount of older adults who must depend solely on others. These people have usually lost some bodily function, whether it is a steadily fading vision or hearing, inability to control bladder or arthritis preventing regular movement.
Without the ability to walk, feed themselves, and in many cases move at all, they are left at the mercy of family and friends. In an ideal world all responsibility to our senior citizens would fall with the family and close family friends. Children would care for parents in their last years both emotionally and financially. The facts are that in today’s society many people were more focused on their career than family, and never had any children. What are these elderly adults to do? Most are cared for by home health nurses or are in nursing homes.
This constant care is costly and not everyone who requires these services can afford them. I believe that the federal and individual state governments should step in and provide some assistance to those in need. The federal government has created organization to aide those in need. Social Security-social insurance program that is funded through dedicated payroll taxes called Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). (Wikipedia, 2011) Supplemental Security Income-a United States government program that provides stipends to low-income people who are either aged (65 or older), blind, or disabled. wikipedia) There are many older adults who find that they are incapable of caring for themselves, and do not want to rely on others to care for them or be a burden on their families. With some people being kept alive only be medical practices the debate over the right to die remains. Some believe the idea that one’s body and one’s life are one’s own, and it is their choice to live or die. There are practices in medicine that provide a patient with the option of a “do not resuscitate” order.
This tells the physician not the take heroic measures and allow them to die if they stop breathing. Another option (not legal in the United States) is euthanasia which refers to the practice of ending a life in a manner which relieves pain and suffering. Active voluntary euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands with rules and regulations. I believe that euthanasia will eventually become a legal practice within years to come. The amount of elderly citizens living longer and suffering from incurable, debilitating diseases has grown.
The fact is not everyone wants to live to be 99 unless the ability to actually live a happy productive life is still possible. For myself, I have no plans on having children which could leave me without someone to provide care. I also have a bit of a vanity issue, just this morning I found my first gray hair (well visible gray hair), the thought of a head full of gray hair, or even worse hair loss makes me dizzy. I believe that my decision would be euthanasia; it may be legal by then. My decision may very well change in the years ahead.