In the early 1940s, a baby boom occasioned a tremendous rise of the
Aging is inevitable. As an inherent biological process, getting old marks the final stage of life, when existence nears its end. This phase of life is marked by inability, vulnebility to infections, immobility, un-profitability and general weaknesses. It is at this point that productivity plummets or ceases altogether, and dependence sets in. As the aging population gets prominent, it becomes the responsibility of society to provide social services, to prolong life and make it more comfortable. This paper aims to discuss the impact of the aging population in the state of
Age group Population % composition
60 to 64 years 13,149 3.3%
65 to 74 years 26,546 6.7%
75 to 84 years 20,320 5.1%
85 years and over 6,010 1.5%
(Pearson Education, 2009).
This means that in a population of 396, 375 people, 66,025 persons are within the dependent age bracket. The provision of health services of this population tends to shift towards social organizations, the local community and the state at large. At the same time, healthcare services are increasingly becoming costly over time.
A global economic crisis has affected almost every social sector. The cost of healthcare insurance has increased, as consumers continue to make wrong policy choices due to lack of adequate information on health (Herzlinger 2004 165). As more people find themselves out of employment, they are unable to pay fully for health coverage.
As already mentioned, the older generation is prone to diseases and infections. Old age related diseases, disabilities and injuries resulting from falls continue to bear heavily on healthcare service providers. Those with disabilities at home and in nursing homes need mobility assistance. While the nursing home services are publicly financed, home care is private hence family members continue to bear the costs. It is projected that by the year 2015,
A number of nursing facilities are available for the aging generation. The State Medical aid programs usually pay for nursing home care services, and sometimes, for home health care to eligible persons under the federal and state requirements. In addition, The Medicaid Home Health Care offer skilled nursing services, health aid, therapies and medical supplies.
Similarly, under the personal care and the Home-Community based programs (HCBC), individuals are helped in their daily basic activities, like eating, dressing and bathing. The HCBC’s Waiver programs cover services for older persons with disabilities, use a higher income-eligibility standards and other no Medicare.
Informal care giving services are also provided by family and relatives. It is reported that close to 75% of the elderly receive informal care from unpaid friends and family members. Were it to be replaced, it will cost the government about $94b annually (Rivers 2002 9).
At community and state levels, efforts are being made to attend to the elderly. There have been measures to identify the gaps in health provision services, and collaborations with the community and state stake holders in addressing these gaps. The health needs of the community are also identified for effective planning and identification of service providers.
Healthcare centers also provide nutritional and dental clinical services, as well as education on health lifestyles such as physical exercises and dieting. Registered nurses also conduct weekly programs at the
To meet the challenges of the ever increasing numbers of the aging population, initiatives have been made to bring healthcare services closer to the elderly. Several programs and healthcare projects are being conducted by various service providers. They include: the Health Net of Arizona, Tempe Community Action Agency, Mesa Senior Services, Sun Health Corporation and the
Under these organizations, a range of health promotion and disease control and prevention programs have been initiated in senior centers to help the elderly. They include:
v The Health Roundup Program. It provides presentations on health promotion and cholesterol screenings. It is operated by Health Net, a health provider which runs 29 senior canters in
v The Senior Wellness Program. It offers education on health and infection prevention, physical exercise classes, individual counseling, health screenings and health fairs. The services are offered in six elderly centers, ran by the Tempe Health Community Action Agency, and led by the
v The Passport to Living Program. It is offered by Mesa Senior Services in
v The Elder-Vention Program. It provides education on depression management to individuals and groups, as well as conducting workshops for elderly adults prone to depression and suicide.
v Value Options. The non-profit organization provide behavioral health promotion and treatment services it is ran by the Regional Behavioral Health Authority funded by the Division of Behavioral Health Services in the Arizona Department of Health Services. (Maier, Wiener and Gage 2006 15).
However, on a wider scheme, of most significance is the adoption by the state of a consumer driven health care policy to provide affordable health coverage to all citizens. Such a model ensures that all policy providers charge fixed amounts of money. Wide economic inequalities between the rich and the poor have occasioned the inflation of rates, as insurance firms tend to provide packages for the upper class, whose effects impact adversely across the spectrum. In addition, the consumer driven policy offers consumers a wide range of choices to cover personal preferences. It also minimizes consumer exploitation by ensuring that insurance policies providers charge rates that reflect the actual health care costs (Herzlinger 2004 165).
Promotion of pension savings and investments in retirement schemes are other alternatives that have significantly addressed the challenges posed by an aging population. In 1996, investment by Americans in mutual funds increased by $195b up from just $2b in 1980. the benefits were such that by the year 1998, the middle class families household heads aged 55-64, had an average of $58 000 in mutual funds and $21 000 in stocks (Herzlinger 2004, 8).
There is no doubt that the elderly’s needs for health care will continue to increase dramatically. Regardless, beginning from a greatly disadvantaged situation in the 1960s when they were literally priced out of the health insurance market, they have been able to buy their way back through a program of universally covered services under Medicare (Hackler 1994 199).
Nevertheless, within the local setting, as in Arizona, community and state innovations continue to lead in nursing those who, at the last phases of their lives, are weak and in need of social care.