The age composition of the United States today is astounding. The aging population is swelling in numbers. Today, the population age 65 and older exceeds 35 million. (Transgenerational 2009). There are 77 million baby boomers that are about to reach retirement age. By the year 2035 there is expected to be 1 in 5 Americans to be 65 or older. Factors that contribute to this ever growing issue are that there is better healthcare in the country today than there was 60 to 70 years ago. The mortality rate has declined over the past 30 years due to breakthroughs in medicine. Declining fertility among the younger generations does not help with the numbers of aging Americans. Through the years, the life expectancy numbers have steadily risen. For example, in the 1930s, a person could expect to live 47.5 years of age. In 10 to 20 years, no one really knows what the average lifespan is going to be. The past numbers indicate that it will steadily be on the rise. As a person ages, there are different things that take place in the body. A person at a young that is diagnosed with cancer, for example, would have a better chance of fighting the disease a little longer than that of an older person. Research shows that as we age, stem cells, that would often times be used to help treat the cancer, start to shut down. (Wade2006).
A person has a better chance on fighting the disease today than they did twenty years ago when the medical community was not as knowledgeable on the matter as they are now. Respiratory disease is on the rise for many of the aging “Baby Boomers”. Many of whom worked in factories are now being diagnosed with cancer or a respiratory disease from doing such work and being exposed to toxic materials. Smokers have many complications with their respiratory system. It was not until the 1970s that smoking was really looked at as a health concern. Since that time there have been new ways to try to get a person to quit. The decline in health for many of the aging is a concern that we as a country need to take notice of. Sure, there is Medicare and other types of insurance to provide healthcare to our older population, but many of them cannot afford to keep it. The government needs to have a program, besides that of Medicare that is geared towards helping them take better care of themselves. Free clinics should be in every county in every state for the under and noninsured to go to and receive care. In my opinion, doctors make enough money that they can help in cases like these and it would be nice if it were a mandatory thing for them to do pro-bono work. A while back, a bill was passed to help the older population afford medication but that only eased part of the problem.
Many of the older generation have to pick and choose if they are going to have dinner for the next week or get their medication. Food programs are another thing that needs to be set up in communities across the country. I know in my area, there is a van that goes out to the senior areas of our counties that gives out nutritious food. The other issue that has plagued the healthcare system is obesity. This is an ever-growing epidemic. Between 1960 and 2004, the rate of obesity increased from 13 percent to 32 percent. By 2015, it is projected that 75 percent of the population will be overweight. Forty-one percent of that is going to be obese. If nothing is done to correct this situation in the near future, there is going to be a severe impact on the healthcare system. Many of the obese populations are among the minority and low socioeconomic classes of people. In 2007, 16 percent of the adolescence and children were overweight and 34 percent were obese. Some factors that contribute to this epidemic are their exposure to poverty, poor housing conditions and inequality of social status. There are more and more people living at or below the poverty level in the United States. Many of them are the elderly. There is a stigma of being lazy that goes along with living in poverty and that might not be the case. The increase of this epidemic is going to cause a decrease in the population due to the many complications that are linked to obesity. Diabetes is one of the outcomes of being obese and more than a million new cases are diagnosed each year, (USA Today, 2006).
Diabetes is where your pancreas does not make enough natural insulin any more. Over time, this condition can weaken blood vessels; result in a person going blind, amputations, and premature heart failure. Another complication of being obese is cardiovascular problems. These problems can range from high cholesterol to heart attacks and everything in between. Both of these issues are going to send healthcare costs through the roof. It cost money to treat these diseases. While the cost of care goes up, the health of the population stricken with these complications are going to decline. There are multitudes of things that can be done to help control the obesity epidemic. Proper education on how to eat healthy and live a healthier life style so one does not have to suffer the complications tied to it. Granted, there going are to be some people in the United States that get diabetes or have cardiovascular problems not related directly to be being obese but have them in their genetic make-up. One place to start is by targeting young people are to start in the school cafeteria. The quality of school lunches have declined considerably over the years. These lunches have enough calories in them to make up for a whole days’ worth of caloric intake in just one meal. In schools across the nation, low income kids are the recipient of these meals as a necessity while others it is looked at as a convince by parents. I feel that the government needs to re-evaluate the types of foods they are sending out all over the country to be prepared. I know everything costs money, but we have got to as a nation start caring about what our children are being fed. Another thing that has contributed to the waistline of America is our portion size.
The fast food restaurants are not helping the issue either by encouraging you to increase the size of your meal to the value size. All that does is increase your butt, hips, and your stomach, plus not to mention the added increase of high cholesterol and other non-healthy eating causes. In the 1950s an order of French fries were the size of the small that you can get at McDonalds today. The size Coke you got was the size of the small you get today. The average family ate out maybe once a week, where nowadays it is a daily occurrence, sometimes more than once a day. When they are young, is when you need to teach them to eat healthy, not when they are 100 pounds overweight with health problems of a 50 year old scratching head in confusion. Education and action are the best ways that can insure that our younger and older generations have a healthier lifestyle. There are millions of families that are on government assistance for food. When a mother or father is faced with feeding the whole family for the month on any kind of food, usually not so healthy foods, rather than good food for a few weeks, which one do you think they are going to do? It seems like the food that is good for you is higher in prices and the food that is not so good for you are low in prices. You would think that it would be the other way around. The money that it costs to keep the food shelf stable by putting all those chemicals in it would make the price more to buy it and the food that has a less shelf life would be cheaper to move it faster. The future of healthcare delivery for the aging is going to need to change to meet the needs of a growing population. It is going to be able to meet the health issues that surround the aging process. As a person gets older, there are going to need programs in place to help meet the demand for the services that are going to be needed to make sure they have a good standard of living. Proper preventative care needs to be a concern. With this type of care, maybe there will be a decrease in the demand for health services associated with the aging population. The price of healthcare will increase in my opinion, due to the sheer number of aging individuals that we have entering that category on a yearly basis. Even with the best programs in place, that we can get may not be enough to defray the amount of money that it takes to take care of our elderly. The healthcare issues that surround the obesity epidemic are going to raise the cost of healthcare for many. The cost alone to treat the many different health issues that are associated with obesity are going to skyrocket due to mass numbers of this problem.
Some health insurance companies have already implemented programs to get their customers to start having a healthier lifestyle by adding incentives with the reduction of premiums or a bonus for joining a company based program. Along with those incentives comes a price to the ones who opt not to take part in them by the way of the wallet. It is going to start costing you to enjoy your unhealthy lifestyle. Some my be turned down for jobs due to their weight because of how much it is going to cost the company to insure them. The United States is the only country that does not have a Universal healthcare system. (Health Pac 2011). In my opinion, if this country does not come to some type of a better healthcare system, we the people are not going to be able to afford insurance and if we can afford it, the care is going to be subpar standards. We are one of the wealthiest countries and you would think that we would have a better system than we do.
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Hellmich, N. (2006). Obesity often leads to diabetes. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com