Aging: The Impacts of a Growing Elderly Population

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Topic: Health & Medicine
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Introduction

Humanity is facing a significant demographic shift as in many countries of the world (the vast majority of them are developed countries) population is aging. Thus, it has been estimated that by 2050 in Japan the number of people in their 70s will have been twice bigger than the number of people in their twenties (Riegelman & Kirkwood, 2014). In the USA, due to a high rate of immigration, the number of people in the 60s will be the same as the number of people in their 20s and 30s since the birth rate among immigrants is slowing down the process of population aging. It is noteworthy that even in developing countries (for example, Nigeria) the number of people between 40 and 60 will have increased by 2050 (Riegelman & Kirkwood, 2014). Clearly, these shifts require a number of changes in policies especially when it comes to healthcare. It is also obvious that nursing will have to undergo a number of changes.

Medical Advances

In the first place, it is necessary to note medical advances have led to increased life expectancy in developed countries and, at the same time, aging population will contribute to the development of this sphere. At the same time, it will lead to additional load on the economy. Blank and Blank (2013) report that advanced medical technology have led to development of medicine that effectively cures lots of chronic diseases which occur in people above 50. Admittedly, high technologies require significant funds and increasing population of aging people will need more medicine and, as a result, more investment will have to be allocated into this sphere.

Economic Impact

As far as economic impact of aging is concerned, it is necessary to note that countries’ economies will be significantly affected and policy makers will have to come up with new policies that could address associated issues. For instance, now 40% of healthcare resources in the USA “got to the approximately 12.5 percent” of the population that is above 60 (Blank & Blank, 2013, p. 9). At that, the US government at different levels pays more than 40 percent of healthcare costs (Blank, 2013). This is a significant amount of money which is likely to increase in the future as the number of these resources’ users will grow. Clearly, it is crucial to allocate the funds wisely. Thus, apart from medical technologies development, nursing must become another important sphere that will get the necessary investment.

Nursing

Hospitals

Nursing takes up a considerable part in providing elderly with healthcare services. In hospitals, nurses spend most time with patients (compared to other healthcare specialists). Nurses provide clinical services as well as psychological support and this is very important for patients especially such vulnerable group as elderly people. At present, there is shortage of nurses due to low salaries as well as increasing number of elderly patients and the situation is likely to worsen since the population of elderly people will grow (Blank, 2013). Admittedly, there is “the accelerating movement toward specialized, machine dependent medicine” aimed at reducing the need in “support personnel” (Blank, 2013, p. 131). However, since these technologies are only being developed, there will be the need in professional nurses working in hospitals as well as in nursing homes. Clearly, it is important to make sure that nurses will get fair salaries as well as benefits (including lasting training) and people will be eager to enter this profession.

Nursing Homes

Increasing population of elderly people will eventually lead to the need to have more nursing homes. The present policies suggest that the government will try to shift the costs for supporting elderly people to their relatives forcing many families to keep their close ones at home and this will prevent aging people from obtaining high-quality medical aid (Moody, 2013). More so, numerous scandals associated with nursing homes have led to decrease in people’s trust in these establishments. Elderly have often been abused in nursing homes and loads of nursing homes provide low-quality services to their clients especially when it comes to long-term residence (Moody, 2013). Nonetheless, nursing homes can be regarded as one of the best options for elderly as these establishments enable aging people to obtain the necessary care and live in adequate conditions and friendly environment, which they deserve. Irrespective of problems concerning nursing homes, there are a variety of successful examples of nursing homes where elderly get high-quality services and support. Again, it is clear that nursing homes staff have to be motivated to try their best.

Education

Admittedly, it is necessary to add that education also needs certain changes. To have enough qualified nurses, each country has to have sufficient number of medical schools and courses. Young people have to get the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to respond to the needs of the society which is aging. These professionals have to understand the needs of these people and be aware of advanced technologies and approaches which can be utilized. As has been mentioned above, nurses should get certain training annually or even monthly. Therefore, not only educational establishments but also healthcare units have to pay more attention to training.

Conclusion

To sum up, it is necessary to note that the modern society is aging quickly and many developed countries are facing new challenges especially when it comes to healthcare. The US society is aging at a slower pace compared to other developed countries but the country also needs certain changes to respond to the issue. Thus, officials have to come up with incentives and efficient policies in several areas. For instance, they should allocate significant funds into development of advanced medical technology. The government should allocate more funds into the US healthcare and pay special attention to nurses who spend most time with elderly patients. Hence, it is essential to invest more into hospitals and nursing homes as well as medical schools to motivate young people to enter the profession and enable them to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge.

Reference List

Blank, R.H. (2013). Rationing medicine. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Blank, R.A., & Blank, R.H. (2013). The price of life: The future of American health care. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Moody, H.R. (2013). Abundance of life: Human development policies for an aging society. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

Riegelman, R., & Kirkwood, B. (2014). Public health 101. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.