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Preparing to Serve a Growing Senior Population

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Barely 60 years. That was the average life expectancy when today’s 80-somethings were born. Exceeding that expectation by 20 years is a feat accomplished through healthy living, advanced medicine, and positive economic development.

But the increase in longevity also poses a problem, particularly for the senior care industry.

According to the experts, our current health system is not prepared to accommodate more people living well into their 80s and beyond, especially with the coming influx of Baby Boomers (persons born between 1946 and 1964) just now starting to reach their senior years.

To discuss how industry leaders can prepare for our aging society, the Global Council on Ageing hosted a session at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. During the session, seven different groups from around the world presented their recommendations to address the rapidly growing senior population.

Two recommendations of note for professionals in the senior care industry include:

  1. Redesign health systems to be more preventative and wellness-centric.
  2. Place greater value in the social capital of older people.

Redesign health systems to be more preventative and wellness-centric.

Some suggested steps to take based on this recommendation may include:

  • Advocate and provide incentives for routine wellness screenings and check-ups.
  • Emphasize the value of services like non-medical in-home care that can help seniors who live alone help avoid health-threatening situations such as a fall, a car accident or medication mistakes.
  • Insure brain imaging to facilitate a faster and more affordable diagnose of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Adopt new technology such as “telehealth” virtual doctor visits to make necessary consultations more accessible and convenient.
  • Refer services to patients that help prevent hospital readmissions, such as the Returning Home® Care program.

Place greater value in the social capital of older people.

Our society tends to emphasize the limitations of older people, rather than focusing on their capabilities and recognizing them for their valuable contributions to our society. As the 65+ population reaches unprecedented proportions, we must treat this group as a valuable and impactful part of society. Some ways to build the social capital of this group may include:

Get additional insights from the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Aging’s 2013 session, reported by Paul Hogan, Vice Chairman of the Council and Founder and Chairman of Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network.

Last revised: April 10, 2013

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