Care for the Aging
The number of senior citizens in America is increasing rapidly. Population experts at the U.S. Census Bureau note that by 2030, the older adult population - the so-called Baby Boomers - will be twice as large as it was at the turn of the millennium. That's an astounding increase and a fact that truly puts a burden on America's infrastructure - including retirement housing, nursing homes, and hospitals.
Simply put, as America's baby boomers age, they develop health-related problems. Failing health is inevitable at this point in life, despite the fact that people are living longer these days and are in overall better health than their parents and grandparents were when they reached old age. An influx of seniors with health concerns will not only tax America's healthcare facilities, but it will also put a burden on younger individuals who will assume care for their aging family members.
So, how does the younger generation begin to understand how to offer the best care for their loved ones? It's not easy. Studies show that some 80 percent of all senior adults suffer from at least one chronic health problem; 50 percent report suffering from two or more chronic conditions. These include common ailments that affect older adults, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, respiratory ailments (including work-related asbestosis or mesothelioma), and high blood pressure. Many will also develop cancer. Most of these diseases and disorders require specialized care.
In addition, millions of seniors fall into the category of "disabled." For many, these disabilities are as a result of military service. Other disabilities may have been caused by occupational injuries. Regardless of the reason for the disability, however, these individuals will also need specialized care as they climb into their later years.
While many senior adults may be cared for in the home of a loved one or even in the place they've called home for many years, some will require nursing home care due to special health concerns. Studies show that America's nursing homes will experience a great increase in enrollment in the next 20 years. Choosing a nursing home that is reliable and caring is yet another burden that will be placed on caregivers, who - in most cases - are already feeling some guilt about the decision to place their loved one in a nursing facility.
Caregivers, of course, face not only this burden but lots of other challenges as well. Most must juggle work, family, and other everyday responsibilities while organizing care for their loved one, a task that is truly draining and often results in an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. Assistance for these individuals is vital as well and more and more caregiver support groups will no doubt sprout up as the need arises.