Senior Demographics vs. Resources

This is the third posting on this topic, driven by a very good report from Area 4 Agency on Aging (“The Dual Challenge”) and US census data, in combination with what has been happening in the last few years to services for seniors, as government revenues shrink drastically.

The challenge facing us as a society is that resources and services from government and community sources are being significantly reduced at the same time that the population of elders is growing rapidly.  There is no easy solution, and the “problem” will not go away, which makes having the dialogue about the challenge that much more important.  Home care agencies such as Support For Home are part of the solution, but we can only provide a slice of the solution “pie.”

Moreover, as a business, we are only able to provide services to those who have the financial resources.  We would love to have Medicare and private medical insurance cover “non-medical” home care, but it does not.  For those without Long-Term Care Insurance, Veterans’ Aid & Attendance benefits or private resources, getting the home care services needed is very, very difficult, and it is not a small minority we are talking about.  The chart below is adapted from “The Dual Challenge” report of A4AA:

Financial Assets
Low Medium High
Low 3.20% 3.60% 4.40%
Medium 8.80% 9.90% 12.00%
High 7.90% 18.70% 31.50%

Let us look at a few more points that illustrate what we as a society are facing.

  • Estimates are that the average senior outlives his or her ability to drive safely by approximately eight (8) years.

The need for transportation does not go away just because the ability to safely drive a car disappears.  That puts more pressure on the senior to drive when she or he should not or to suffer a dramatic increase in isolation.

  • 80% of seniors 65 years of age or older have at least one chronic disease.

Chronic conditions (the most frequest in this age group are hypertension, arthritis, cancer, heart disease and diabetes) must be managed.  As the diseases progress, the elder’s ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs and Instrumental ADLs) declines.  At the same time, acute illnesses, such as stroke, are survived by more seniors, as medicine continues to improve.  The same issues with ADLs and IADLs are faced by those seniors, often more seriously.

The answer, obviously, is not to slow the progress of medicine.  But what is the answer?  What should we be doing, as a society, to face this challenge?

Best wishes, Bert


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