The Elderly Population: Preventative Measures

The elderly population includes individuals aged sixty and older. With the decline in fertility, this population segment increases, which leads to the boosting ratio of dependency, an issue called the demographic burden by the World Health Organization (2018). Because of this burden, it becomes essential for healthcare providers to implement a range of preventative measures for the population. The purpose of these measures is to guarantee the improvement of the population’s health, decrease their dependency, enhance the quality of their lives, and decrease mortality rates.

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The elderly population is predisposed to a range of adverse health problems, which, in most cases, can be either prevented or reduced in their overall occurrence. Physiological changes linked to aging include the altered regulation of glucose and the impaired production of hormones. Also, the elderly are challenged by the limited absorption of macronutrients, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids as well as micronutrients.

However, one of the most pressing healthcare challenges associated with the well-being of the elderly population is the general neglect of their health. In some cases, this neglect occurs due to the low socioeconomic status of individuals and their relatives. In other cases, there is a neglect of health on the part of the elderly themselves; they may think that there is nothing they can do to improve since they are aging. Thus, the population is extremely vulnerable to nutritional and other deficiencies as well as lacks the attention of the healthcare industry to such important procedures as immunization.

In public health care practice, epidemiology represents a crucial aspect of care due to the need to measure the frequency and pattern of health events. These events are concerned with the spreading of illnesses that transfer within a population through viruses. For the elderly population, having a concrete plan of immunizations to protect individuals from infectious diseases that decrease their health and life quality.

In the context of the Healthy People 2020 (2018) objectives, the goal is to “improve health, function, and the quality of life of older adults” because “aging adults experience a high risk of chronic disease” (para. 2). As chronic conditions that include heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s, and others limit the health of the population, they become more susceptible to other conditions that transfer from one individual to another. In this case, having a clear immunization plan is important.

For the elderly target population, there is a challenge of sustaining the recommended schedule and ensuring that individuals adhere to it. Healthcare providers that care for the elderly population should recommend several mandatory vaccinations. These include immunizations against flu, Tdap or Td, Shingles (RZV and ZVL), Pneumococcal (PCV13 and PPSV23), and Chickenpox (Varicella) (CDC, 2018).

If patients have been diagnosed with specific health conditions, then the schedule may include additional recommendations for vaccination. For instance, for chronic liver diseases, it is advised to undergo the vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella, Human papillomavirus, chickenpox, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hib (CDC, 2018). For older adults diagnosed with a weakened immune system, it is recommended not to get vaccinated for Shingles or Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, as well as Chickenpox. These recommendations for vaccination are based not only on the risk factors for the aging population but also on their specific diagnoses: some organisms may be more susceptible to infectious diseases than others.

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In terms of screening recommendations, it important to take into account the range of risks for the specific age group. When screening the elderly for the presence of different health conditions, it is recommended to determine whether they use tobacco and whether they have taken aspirin for preventing coronary heart disease. These two recommendations are based on statistics: 440,000 people in the US die from tobacco use while aspirin therapy has been shown to decrease mortality rates among the elderly (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2018).

For women older than sixty-five, mammography is recommended as a screening tool to eliminate the occurrence of breast cancer and associated morbidities (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, 2018).

For older male adults aged fifty and older, colorectal cancer screening is essential as an alternative screening method to more invasive colonoscopy. In addition to the mentioned screening procedures, it is essential to conduct diabetes testing for individuals with hypertension and hyperlipidemia. This is important because, in the elderly, diabetes is prevalent in more than 25% of the population aged sixty-five and older (Kalyani, Golden, & Cefaly, 2017).

In summary, it should be mentioned that the range of preventive procedures targeting the older adult population is concerned with reducing the range of health issues that decrease the quality of the population’s lives. It has been identified that the aging population struggles with such health care challenges as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and others, which present challenges to public health. Because of this, implementing screening and vaccination measures is imperative for reducing the burden of the population and enhancing the quality of their lives, reducing mortality and morbidity.

References

CDC. (2018). Recommended immunizations for adults. Web.

Healthy People 2020. (2018). Older adults. Web.

Kalyani, R. B., Golden, S. H., & Cefaly, W. T. (2017). Diabetes and aging: Unique considerations and goals of care. Diabetes Care, 40(4), 440-443.

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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2018) USPSTF A and B recommendations. Web.

World Health Organization. (2018). Elderly population. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "The Elderly Population: Preventative Measures." December 17, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/the-elderly-population-preventative-measures/.

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