Healthcare for seniors is rapidly approaching a crisis: currently, one in eight Americans are over the age of 65. By 2040, it will be one in five. Additionally, more than 80% of senior citizens live with one or more chronic health conditions. This data reveals a crisis in the making, with a possible healthcare shortage leaving many senior citizens without vital care.
By combining staffing issues, preventive care measures and less conventional rejuvenation biotechnology efforts, we can begin to tackle this emerging issue before it puts countless senior lives at risk.
Covering the Gap: Prospective Health Careers
As the presidential race heats up, one aspect of healthcare that is often overlooked is the staffing shortages faced by medical facilities around the country. Shortages are even more apparent in various specialized fields or those that serve particular segments of the population. One of the more obvious solutions to the healthcare staffing shortage for seniors involves a more robust workforce of healthcare workers. It’s common knowledge that doctors make good money in the United States but must commit to expensive, lengthy education to achieve their professional status.
The healthcare support workers, including those who care for seniors’ basic needs, do not see as much income potential. With a mean annual wage of under $40,000, most healthcare support workers make $7,000 below the national average wage. That’s hardly a tempting reason to get into a job with demanding schedules, dying patients, chronic understaffing, and little thanks. To increase the amount of healthcare workers able to care for seniors, we need to increase their wages.
For Registered Nurses (RNs) and other medical personnel earning higher wages, the medical field offers job security seldom found elsewhere. As 77% of aging adults have multiple chronic health conditions and life expectancy increases, a focus on long-term senior careis crucial for nurses in training. For someone who wants a stable and fulfilling job, nursing might be the answer.
For those in support roles, organizations such as hospitals and other care facilities can help combat burnout and offer incentives for further education (which can lead to higher pay and steadier employment).
Staffing Shortages and Mentorship Solutions
Around 1 million RNs in the United States are 50 years of age or older at this time. That’s about one-third of the nursing workforce. As nurses themselves age, their positions will need to be backfilled. These nurses currently serve aging populations including baby boomers, as 10,000 boomers per day reach retirement age.
One solution to staffing shortages due to nurse retirement is for hospital systems and employers to provide mentorship programs. This way, new healthcare support workers and nurses enter the workforce with the support they need from experienced nurses. Veteran nurses can impart knowledge about burnout and work-life balance not necessarily covered or repeated in training, leading to greater retention overall.
Preventive Care Creates Less Strain on the Medical Industry
If senior citizens (and those approaching seniorhood) practice preventive care, they can put less strain on the medical industry as a whole. By 2030, 171 million Americans will face chronic illness afflictions. If younger individuals can prevent health issues now, it can help delay the onset of severe understaffing.
Commitment to preventive care, however, is a systemic change. While patients can improve their habits (especially when it comes to diet and exercise), preventive health solutions must be systemic to establish real change. This means more awareness and accessibility for Medicare and Medicaid — especially for seniors — and coordinated care to ensure patients receive the proper preventive care.
Healthcare.gov maintains a comprehensive list of federally mandated preventive care procedures, all of which are free to the insured patient. Helping all adults ensure participation can reduce the severity and progression of illnesses, and helping children develop positive preventive care habits will save the individuals (as well as the system) on time, money, and resources in the long run.
Seniors Can Stay Young at Heart — And in Body
We always hear about how seniors can stay “young at heart,” and how that can have a positive effect on a person’s health and longevity. What about those physical components of truly acting, staying, and feeling young?
One solution allows seniors to slow the process of aging, thanks to technology that can positively interfere with our metabolism. With efforts in the field of rejuvenation biotechnology poised for breakthrough and mass production, it’s possible that the future could look quite different: instead of an aging population in drastic need of medical help, we could technically slow the aging process down, reducing the alarming need for healthcare staffing personnel.
Another solution involves fulfillment and safe physical activity for seniors. Having an active sex life can also help seniors stay physically fit and young at heart. From enhancement pills to cannabis and CBD, there are now more solutions than ever to helping seniors enjoy sex and maintain it as a regular part of their active lives.
While the strain on medical resources is certainly coming, there are things we can do now to ease the burden of the staffing shortage. With improvements in healthcare wages, the medical workplace, the insurance industry at large, technology, and available medication, we can lessen some of this shortage and ensure we have competent medical professionals ready to assist aging seniors.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @a_taylorian with any questions or suggestions.