With the Baby Boomer generation aging and gradually having advanced healthcare needs, America seems like it’s going to have a hard time keeping up. The so-called “silver tsunami” isn’t a natural disaster that causes flooding, but rather a test of the United States’ healthcare capacities. This tsunami carries a hefty amount of power just like its natural namesake, as it could potentially force change in the U.S over time. Already, the impacts of generational population sizes are beginning to show where the weak points are in the nation’s care options.
Baby Boomers Aging
Every generation has some natural fluctuations in numbers, but the Baby Boomer generation has been notoriously large. Because of this, many current systems in place are unequipped to deal with the generation’s large numbers. Now, as the generation ages and the Silver Tsunami approaches, more members of the generation will require additional medical intervention.
Many of these medical needs are fairly commonplace, such as hearing aids and similar assistive devices. More than 10 million people in the U.S. use hearing aids. However, with more strain being put on the nation’s healthcare system, some Boomers are falling through the cracks. This neglect can have a major impact on the health of Boomers, especially in the face breakouts of diseases. The common cold may be easy enough for an older American to overcome since the average person makes a full recovery in about 10 days, but viruses like influenza and measles pose a serious danger. If at-risk seniors don’t have access to the vaccines and care they need to fight afflictions like these, they could lose their lives.
Cracks In System Exposed
With more people relying on healthcare and even assisted living, more problems with the systems currently in place are being exposed. In some cases, this can take the form of highly costly procedures that are necessary for comfortable aging. This is particularly true of complicated interventions, such as cardiopulmonary bypass. Gibbon developed the cardiopulmonary bypass in 1953, and it’s still often a necessary measure in healthcare. The high cost, unfortunately, leads many individuals to not receive the care they need to live longer, healthier lives.
Cost isn’t the only harmful element of the current American healthcare system. When it comes to treating the elderly, malpractice and even abuse occur at alarmingly high rates. Elderly patients often lack necessary representation and advocacy when it comes to their care. A recent study estimated that only one in 14 cases of elder abuse are ever reported to authorities. With an aging population, the United States will be in need of better, more reliable care for the elderly.
Preparing Future Healthcare
Luckily, some are taking steps to begin preparing for the Silver Tsunami today. Improving the nation’s healthcare system will take time, and as the next presidential election approaches, healthcare will continue to be a subject of debate. However, some areas across the nation have already begun training additional medical care staff in order to prepare for the needs of an older demographic of patients. With improved training and changes to healthcare, it’s possible that medical treatment across the board will become more affordable. This could even extend into procedures often seen as aesthetic in nature; today, some four million Americans are wearing braces, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. With potentially drastic measures needed to make healthcare affordable enough for the vast aging population, it’s possible that healthcare could gradually become more affordable.
With the Baby Boomer population aging rapidly, adaptations in healthcare must be created in order to accommodate the increased demands. Currently, the healthcare system will struggle to care for everyone reaching their elderly years. In the years to come, the United States will need to adapt in order to care for all of its elderly citizens effectively and affordably.