In contemporary medical practice, a number of prevalent diseases in the aging population, such as type-2 diabetes, heart diseases, and obesity, have a genetic origin. Recent scientific advances in the field of genomics raise demand for new health public policies, introducing innovative laboratory testing and treatment methods. This paper briefly assesses the impact that genetics and genomics can have on health care costs and services for geriatric patients.
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The major role of genetics and genomics in treating the aging population is posed on preventative screenings of hereditary diseases. As followed by McCormick and Calzone (2016), the individual genetic makeup of geriatric patients can help to assess the risks of developing specific diseases, improve treatment selection, and characterize health conditions more accurately. Currently, elderly adults are offered to check their genetic predisposition to a series of hereditary conditions. For instance, according to Molster et al. (2018), the British 100,000 Genomes Project allows people to find out their risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease through genome sequencing.
The mission of the American initiative All of Us is similar to the British program, except for the fact that it is targeted both at adults and elderly patients (Molster et al., 2018). Genetic tests, developed by both organizations, are easily administered and can even be interpreted in the home setting. Despite noticeable progress in genomics, few insurance companies agree to reimburse the costs of genetic testing, which signifies that the health expenditures for most elderly, willing to undergo the procedure, will increase.
Apart from laboratory testing, recent findings in the field can be used to raise awareness among the aging population. As described by Tacutu et al. (2018), new databases, available for general practitioners, are updated regularly with general guidelines on genetics counseling for the elderly. Unlike genetic testing, these health services are free and will not affect the general health care cost for geriatric patients.
McCormick, K. A., & Calzone, K. A. (2016). The impact of genomics on health outcomes, quality, and safety. Nursing Management, 47(4), 23-26. Web.
Molster, C. M., Bowman, F. L., Bilkey, G. A., Cho, A. S., Burns, B. L., Nowak, K., Dawkins, H. J. S. (2018). The evolution of public health genomics: Exploring its past, present, and future. Frontiers to Public Health, 6(247), 1-29. Web.
Tacutu, R., Thornton, D., Johnson, E., Budovsky, A., Barardo, D., Craig, T., … De Magalhaes, J. P. (2018). Human ageing genomic resources: New and updated databases. Nucleic Acids Research, 46, 1083-1090. Web.
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