The fastest growing age group is older adults – the baby boomer population. These are people who were born during an extended population growth from 1946-1964, and are now reaching an age where they are going to need more care. Those who work with aging and elderly individuals are keenly aware of the increasing numbers of people needing their services.
Why is it that older adults need more and specific kinds of care? In this post we are going to touch on some of the issues facing older adults that require specific attention. In the last two posts we talked about the fields of geriatrics and gerontology and looked at the study and treatment of people as they age. In future posts we will touch on issues such as “coordinated care”, “fostering independence” and “training for those working with this population”.
Health is undoubtedly the most critical issue facing the aging adult. This is due to the increasing risk for developing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart problems, cancer, and dementia. Chronic conditions are the leading cause of death among older adults. In addition to increased risk of illness, older adults are more prone to injuries and structural problems, such as broken bones or degraded bones and joints. As a person ages, it is common to develop multiple conditions, making health care complex and multi-faceted. This is why quality health care is so important to the aging individual.
Preventative health services are a critical component to maintaining an individuals’ longevity and quality of life. This is so important that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 includes provisions for preventative care. Many of the federally sponsored programs designed to improve the quality of life for older adults are aimed at those who are underserved and minority populations. As the “baby boomers” continue to age, the opportunity and need for services geared toward illness and injury prevention are going to be substantial.
For example, 1 out of 3 older adults experience a fall at some time in their lives. These can be very debilitating for the individual and quite a hardship on the caregiver. Fear of falling can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, impaired function, and lower quality of life. Products and services designed to address this issue, especially before the injury, are a very important element of the senior care system. Older adults are in greater need of care than younger adults due to the impact of the aging process on the human body, mind, and environment. With greater focus on the needs of seniors, more will be able to ease into their senior years and experience a greater quality of life for themselves, their families and caregivers, as well as the community at large.