As federal and state/provincial governments attempt to trim their budgets, find efficiencies in various departments and impose a series of cutbacks to services, one of the growing issues for countries everywhere is the state of health care, especially for the aging population.
In the United States alone, there are approximately 40 million Americans aged 65 and over and by the year 2030 that number will jump to an estimated 71 million. This means that in a country that is facing an intense budgetary crisis and rising debt levels, it will not have enough adequate resources to take care of the elderly.
The United Nations published the results of a global study that concluded most nations are not prepared enough to look after the growing number of elderly people. It ranked the economic and social (health, education, income, etc.) well-being of old people in 91 countries and it ranked Sweden in first place and Afghanistan was listed last.
According to the Global AgeWatch Index, by the year 2050, seniors older than 60 will outnumber children under the age of 15, which is the first time in history. To compartmentalize it: the globe is not working hard enough to cope with a greyer population.
“We expect the Index to become an important research and analysis framework for practitioners and policy-makers alike, as it will facilitate cross-national comparative research on the quality of life and wellbeing of older people, and help identify data and knowledge gaps on issues of aging,” said Professor Zaidi from the University of Southampton in a statement. “We need to give more and more importance to such data gathering work — in fact, since the lives of older people are at stake, we can’t afford not to.”
Despite much of the world turning to Sweden as a role model when it comes to health care, even that country is facing tremendous problems that is affecting everyone: a huge bureaucracy, higher tax rates, immense waiting times and a paucity of quality. This can also be found when it comes to health care for seniors.
It isn’t just international studies looking at the issue of health care for seniors. Last year, National Research Council (NRC) published a report that essentially stated that the U.S. will have to come to grips with caring for its aging population because it will become a long-term problem. With a longer life expectancy and lower birth rates, there will be budgetary inadequacies – in addition, it was noted that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are on unsustainable paths.
Many have decided to turn to the private sector for elderly home health care and senior assisted living. Although retirement residences still remain an option for a significant percentage, many retirees have decided to stay home due to technological advancements and the large number of senior care assistance businesses.
Some industry professionals say that retirement homes may even become an antiquated model because of the numerous benefits and options that seniors have: tax credits, nutrition counseling, home health care and much more.
The London Guardian even took a look at this and found that private enterprises are facilitating seniors staying home through the adoption of alarms, sensors, helplines, pill dispensers and other forms of technology that more and more seniors are utilizing.
Although some public officials appear to be bleak on the future of senior health care, the private sector is seeing a market and an opportunity to improve the quality of life and standard of living of the aging population.