Nobody can escape old age; it is a natural progression, an eternal truth in mankind. Aging comes with a lot of challenges, both mentally and physically as it causes the onset of multiple numbers of diseases. Though there is no anonymous opinion found in the exact elderly age, yet people over the age of 65 is generally considered under this category.
The older population in America born between 1946 and 1964, which are popularly called baby boomers covers 28 percent of the country’s population and hence elderly healthcare is a growing concern in the country. This is because age comes with several numbers of debilitating diseases like heart problem, Alzheimer, cancer, diabetes etc which interfere in their general ability to perform day to day tasks.
As healthcare services have improved in modern days, the life expectancy of people has also increased across the world resulting in a growing number of elderly populations in this earth. This subsequently creates the demand for a serious focus on how to cater to the need of the preventive health checkups and the medical necessities of the elderly people.
Presently there are around 12 million older Americans that need immediate help because they are completely relying on nursing homes, home health care, or their family members to carry out the day to day activities like bathing, dressing, eating and paying monthly bills.
The issue with the aging population is that they are prone to develop chronic diseases, physical disabilities and the most difficult situation called co-morbidity which again makes the treatment very difficult.
Elderly Healthcare in the United States
The healthcare needs of the elderly population cannot be overlooked. It is a welcoming thing that the government of the United States spends double on healthcare compared to other developed nations. As statistics claim, about 18 percent of the country’s gross domestic product is spent on the health care systems.
The percentage of the country’s economy is dedicated towards the health care of individuals aged 65 and above goes beyond 5 percent which is stated to be doubled by the year of 2030 and will triple by 2050.
Geriatrics Care that Dedicated Towards Elderly Healthcare
It is a branch of medicine that is dedicated for the unique health care requirements of the elderly and dedicated towards the prevention and treating of diseases and disabilities of the aging population.
This geriatrician is a trained medical professional who specializes in the treatment of elderly but in reality, it includes a broad spectrum of healthcare professionals including the nurses, social workers, physical therapists, nutritionist, and psychologist.
Elderly healthcare cost
In 2016, less than half of the US population was convinced that the elderly health care system is in the right place and dealing with the aging population. However, it was cleared from many reports that several such elderly people did not even take preventive measures to prepare themselves for age-related complications.
The cost of the treatment of the growing number of senior adults in America is not paid by the seniors but by the government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the veteran’s administration and sometimes the private insurers. These programs cover the doctor fee, hospitals stay, assisted living facilities pay, nursing homes, prescription fee etc.
As many as 40.3 million of USA senior adults are experiencing benefits out of this, which covers almost 13.4 percent of the population.
Growing Need of Healthcare Professionals
As statistics have shown, the country is experiencing fewer births and longer living adults. This necessitates the growing demand for elderly healthcare and nursing facilities in the country.
Around 60 percent of the elderly population in America is suffering from arthritis, joint inflammation, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension etc. They need regular health checkups and require taking prescriptions and a healthy diet.
They require a robust healthcare system to access medical care like hospitals, medical centers, physicians, nurses, therapists, dieticians, chiropractors, acupuncturists etc. This is the reason why healthcare in America is the fast growing.
Baby boomers prone to develop dementia, brittle bones and other musculoskeletal problems and it put them in a position where they cannot manage their day to day life on their own. Recovery takes longer due to their old age and thus they become a burden for their immediate families which makes them susceptible to abuse.
Shortage of Elderly Care Staff
There is already a shortage of staff for elderly healthcare in the country. Hospitals, aged care homes, and all other care facilities are trying to cater to the needs of the growing number of elderly in the country. According to reports, there is already a shortage of trained nurses for the elderly care in the country and the demand is growing by 10 percent.
As much as 80 million people in the country will be requiring greater healthcare and an acute shortage of the providers of such care services.
Initiative of the Government
Due to this reason, the federal government has been trying to divert the responsibility of elderly care to the local communities. They want the baby bombers to be looked after where they reside and work.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act came in 2010 was a significant development in the wave of this growing healthcare needs of baby boomers. It was created with the aim to enable access to health insurance, protection of the interest of the patients from the coercive actions of the insurance companies and reduce the overall costs. Thankfully, services such as OEP offer medical insurance policies for those in need.
Reportedly, the Federal government has dedicated $11 billion for the development of the community health care centers as the number of elderly people using these centers is expecting to be doubled in the coming decade.
The Coming of the Special Care Centers
The coming of the special care centers is a wonderful development in this respect. They play a great role in managing the life of the elderly population in the USA and have helped to shift the burden from the immediate family members. These centers provide a lot of professionals and staff to take care of the elderly population and help them to manage their life better without depending on others.
The chronic disease management program is a part of this initiative which teaches elderly people to become self-sufficient in managing their routine works and thus lead a life with dignity.
The Demand is Growing for Care Professionals
Numerous efforts are being made to train and hire more and more nurses. Nursing is also going to be most sought after professions in the coming years in the country. Geriatric and aged-care nurses will bear the fruit. The nursing informatics is a system through which nurses can diagnose the patient and monitor them from a distance through their smartphones. The home care nurses are especially in demand that takes care of the elderly at home and helps them with their day to day medical necessities.
The memory care coordinator is another professional who helps elderly people diagnosed with dementia and other memory loss illnesses. They usually work in the residents of a special care facility helping patients to deal with various stages of memory loss and to manage their condition.
Health coaches or wellness coaches are type of professionals who are responsible for educating and supporting senior adults about how to achieve health goals by way of making changes in behavior and lifestyle.
The role of a Health Coach in managing the healthcare of the elderly
A health coach is a trained professional who after one year of training get certified to become work in a private setting or special care set up. He or she will focus not only on the diet of the elderly people but also on an improvement in their lifestyle.
Often doctors, nutritionist, and dieticians do not have that much of time to continuously take care of an elderly patient and this gap has been filled by a health coach.
A health coach does not prescribe you a specific diet or a specific way of eating. He or she will assist the elderly people in experimenting with different type of diet and eating habits that will suit them. They also try hard to alter the diet and lifestyle of the senior individuals so that they continue to make good progress.
No doubt health coaches are one of the most sought after professionals that are highly demanded the care of the elderly. At this present age when lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and depression, which are the major killers, health coaches provide the patients with the much-needed lifestyle and nutritional guidance and their role is of tremendously important.
Heath coaches are not medical professionals and they cannot diagnose health conditions or cannot prescribe medicines and suggest any higher or lower doses for the complications suffered by elderly people, yet they play a great role in the well being of the senior patients. They have changed the perception of old age by helping senior adults to treat and to see old age from a different perspective.
The country has done much more towards healthcare compared to other developed nations since there were complaints about elderly people not receiving proper medical facilities. Undoubtedly, the healthcare system in America is undergoing massive changes to prepare itself for meeting the demands of the baby boomers population. More is the number of older population; more will be the demand for medical care in the long run. Baby boomers will continue require nurses in the coming years which mean healthcare is one such profession which will continue to flourish in the coming years.