Q1. Given that the demographic trends point to a much larger proportion of older adults in the United States, we will have to be ready to provide adequate care. Explain why the dependency ratio will affect plans like Social Security and Medicare drastically and why our society will need other resources to help care for the aging. (2 points)
In contrast to a retirement fund such as a standard IRA, where the money an individual puts into an account as a young person is saved for when he or she leaves the workplace (or simply reaches a certain age), the money which is extracted from the paychecks of younger workers is used to support current beneficiaries of the Social Security system. Younger workers pay into the system with the knowledge that when they themselves reach the designated retirement age, they too will receive benefits. Today, there is currently an imbalance of the "beneficiary-to-worker ratio, which compares the number of people drawing benefits to the number of workers paying into Social Security," due to the abnormally high numbers of individuals who are a part of the Baby Boom generation relative to the current generation ("How will boomers affect Social Security," 2017). Older individuals, thanks to improvements in medical care, are also living much longer than anticipated and although they are also working for longer periods of time, they still are entitled to receive benefits after a specific age.
This influx of older patients into the healthcare system will also affect Medicare, the insurance policy which all geriatric Americans receive, given not only the increased numbers of enrollees but also the fact that medical technology has improved. While this is considered beneficial overall in terms of prolonging life expectancy, it also results in increased systemic costs, as does the fact that older adults today are more apt to suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Today's patients aging into Medicare "had higher rates of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity" than did their parents and this trend is expected to continue (Barr 2014). Medicare plans traditionally offer lower rates of reimbursement to physicians than other types of healthcare plans, and physicians may attempt to compensate for the influx of Medicare patients and the costs that older, sicker patients incur overall by charging other patients higher rates.
Q2. Design an Adult Community Center that offers drop-in services for aging adults. Include in your ACC the following specifics:
a. Preventative strategies for maximizing successful aging (see table 14.1). Provide examples of how you would offer services for each item. (8 points)
Adult community care centers can offer support to promote healthier aging for older adults through preventative care that can ultimately reduce costs for patients, providers, and the system as a whole later on. These services can include educational and enrichment activities such as arts and crafts, adult education classes, book clubs, and other intellectual activities which can promote socialization and ward off dementia. Physical activity classes such as yoga and aerobics can aid in weight reduction and keep older joints mobile. Centers which offer healthy breakfasts and lunches can ensure that older adults are receiving appropriate nutrition. The presence of trained staff to monitor cognitive functioning, blood pressure, and fall risk can again act as a preventative check upon the health of older adults.
Although older adults may be seeing a variety of providers, this does not mean that they are receiving constant monitoring. In fact, the proliferation of providers and different treatments can create additional problems, since providers may not be in communication with one another. This can result in over-prescription of drugs or prescription of contraindicated drug treatments. Older patients are living farther away from their adult children than in previous generations and workers at community care facilities can act as advocates as older adults navigate the complexities of the healthcare system. It can also direct older adults to services they may not have needed previously, such as vision assistance, hearing aids, and psychological counseling, as patients may be experiencing depression due to a loss of functioning or as a result of the biological side effects of some ailments associated with aging.
Barr, P. Baby boomers will transform health care as they age. H&HN.
How will boomers affect Social Security? NASI.