Unfortunately, many such programs today are either understaffed, or staffed with people who are inexperienced. There should be a network to maintain the elderly in his or her home, with an oversight and connection to the community.
Although there are many types of insurance for long term care, and at times it is hard to navigate the field, each State should find a way to make available reasonably priced long-term insurance, which would allow seniors to remain home, living with dignity, without depleting their hard-earned savings.
A centralized advisory system should be put in place to help seniors handle their particular needs. A social worker should be available to coordinate sources of services as needs present themselves. Centralized programs can reduce the chance that the elderly will fall through the cracks and not receive needed services. Such a coordinator may also reduce service duplication and costs.
With such programs, the population in general becomes aware of lonely and needy persons among them. Such programs will help our seniors’ age with dignity. Today your parent, your family member, your neighbor or friend hopefully provide these services; in the future a centralized advisory system can provide every elderly person with needed services.
The baby boomers had the benefit of growing up in a time where medicine was much more available: vaccinations, antibiotics, and improved surgical procedures were the norm. New treatments for debilitating and fatal diseases have been developed. Those treatments helped to make such diseases more manageable and less deadly. New and better medications have helped to control some of the symptoms of diseases and allow for the patient to live longer and maintain their quality of life – something that was not possible in their parents’ and grandparents’ generation.
People live longer, which means that the pool of chronically ill and disabled people is growing. Unfortunately our public health system and the medical services delivery system are not adequate to provide the increasing required care.
What Your State and You Can Do
Armed with the knowledge of better health practices, we can, as a society, promote better eating habits, exercise, and promote non-smoking. Just by making the above lifestyle changes, we can improve our health and quality of life, and decrease the cost of what it takes to provide health care for such a vast population. With proper planning and foresight, we can improve our system of health management in time to withstand such a large influx of seniors.
We also need to develop better geriatric services and train professionals to deal specifically with the needs of the elderly. The local government needs to establish points of services that are easily reachable and accessible for seniors.
Centralized points of services can provide not only health care, but also educational support and nutritional support. Social services, advisory services on the benefits of Medicare and Medicaid, and other services provided by the federal government and the local government, can be made available through traditional senior centers or newly established health clinics.
A great deal of other services can be developed in these clinics as well. Social groups for community activism can be started. Lectures could be offered on topics that touch the elderly, such as sources of benefits, safe usage of medication, home health care, transportation, charities that offer free hot meals, to name a few. Many of these services can be offered at minimal or no cost.
Another source where the elderly can get services and information are from the hospitals in their own community. A great number of hospitals provide a whole range of services and programs for the benefit of the community, for old and young alike. Flu shots and advisory programs for prevention and treatment of chronic illnesses are often made available. It is always beneficial to establish a personal relationship with the staff at your neighborhood hospital.
Hopefully, in the years to come there will be many additional programs for the aging population, as politicians and society in general will become more attuned to the needs of the seniors.
Keeping all this in mind, we as individuals need to take responsibility for our own health. We should eat better, practice preventive measures to protect our health, maintain good hygiene, establish good sleeping routines, exercise regularly, and, above all, be mentally stimulated.