With the advancement of technology and medical sciences, the average life expectancy is also increasing globally. By the year 2030, one in every five Americans will be considered an elderly, over the age of 65 years old. The world’s older population is growing dramatically. As of 2016, 8.5% of the global population are 65 years or older, amounting to a whopping 617 million elderly individuals worldwide. A report in 2015 extrapolated that the aging population will increase approximately 17% by the year 2050, bringing the total number to 1.6 billion.
Although people are living longer, it does not necessarily mean that these individuals are healthier. The exponential rise in the elderly population will present public health challenges that the health care work force will have to be prepared for in all ways. Global life expectancy is anticipated to increase by 8 years, from 68.6 years in 2015 to 76.2 years in 2050.
The anticipated health care challenge for this population revolves around non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia, heart disease, and more. Alzheimers will be a devastating and debilitating disease to them. The modern lifestyle also contributes to future health burdens as the use of tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs, and sedentary way of life will eventually affect these individuals.
With the increasing health care problems, prevention is key in lowering the financial health burden as reducing disability due to disease ultimately drops the costs. Ensuring that each person is able to be independent and care for themselves significantly lowers the costs for long-term care to families, society, and government. More and more individuals are living past the age of 100, it is now common to see octo-and nonagenarians among society. The worldwide number of centenarians is even projected to increase 10 times more between the years 2010 to 2050.
It is also best to remember that with today’s lifestyle, more individuals flock to live in the cities. They are also less likely to be married, less likely to have children, and will therefore have less support from family members. New policies that will ensure the financial needs of older people, along with their health and social needs will be required. Healthcare and At Home Nurse personnel will eventually need to address this future issue of providing daily support to those in need.
What else does this mean for the industry? It means that more partnerships and collaboration is required to help transform the system in order to cater to the elderly. Partnerships should include industries such as communication, technology, and fitness companies to help reshape the health system. With new partnerships, more funding will be and can be invested in the innovation and efficiency of new technologies leading to better outcomes for future patients.
According to the World Health Organization report on Global Health and Aging, there are some researches who believe that although life expectancy is increasing, it does not necessarily mean that health burden will increase as the progress in medicine will compensate for it. Although all these health care advances are being developed, the last hurdle in the future will be implementing the new approaches in healthcare and using a multidisciplinary approach for patient care.