National Skilled Nursing Care Week and the Silver Tsunami
The National Skilled Nursing Care Week began on Mother’s Day
The National Skilled Nursing Care Week (NSNCW) sponsored by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) began on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2018, and will continue until May 19.The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse NY began the week with a festive Mother’s Day celebration honoring all their resident mothers and mothers on their devoted staff.
The happiness we are all experiencing and sharing, especially for family members who know that their loved ones are safe and being taken care of in rehabilitation and nursing facilities all over the US should not shut our eyes to an impending silver tsunami, which may see millions of baby boomer seniors without the wonderful care that they deserve.
On May 14, only one day into the NSNCW, a post was published in the Case Western Reserve University’s Daily, entitled “Preparing for the Silver Tsunami.” The full article was published in the Elder Law Journal by Sharona Hoffman, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University.
Senior Baby Boomers on the Rise
According to Sharona Hoffman, the population of seniors over the age of 65 is growing rapidly, and with the influx of baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), is expected to reach over 72 million (20% of the US population) by the year 2030. Hoffman’s paper is a wake-up call to policy makers to act now to make certain that this large mass population of seniors will be properly cared for. Her theme is that aging affects everyone and everyone has aging loved ones.
Problems Facing Seniors
While it is known that social security and Medicare are having many financial problems and may collapse, there are many more problems as well, especially the dramatic rise in the cost of drugs. Other issues are:
The Older Americans Act of 1965 (OAA)
This law provides funding for all kinds of necessary programs for seniors such as meals-on-wheels, home care, transportation, disease prevention, health programs and aid to caregivers. However, there has not been an increase in funds to cope with the rising number of seniors. As a result, only 5% of all the seniors eligible for these programs get assistance.
It is estimated that 27 million seniors will need some kind of long-term care by 2050 and there will be a shortage of caregivers, since most of them range in age from 45-64. In 2015 more than 8.3 million seniors paid for long-term care in nursing homes, assisted living residences, home care, adult day care centers and hospice care. Some were helped by care giving loved ones, but others had to turn to professional agencies for help.
Seniors and Driving
The main problem with driving and seniors is that the states do not properly take into consideration that many aging seniors are not really capable of driving because of age-related problems like vision loss, side effects from medicines and cognitive decline. So these seniors continue to drive and have a high rate of automobile accidents. In fact the death rate for drivers 85 and over is 9 times higher than the rest of the population. Since the government does nothing to prevent this by screening the elderly to see if they are capable of driving, it becomes the burden of family members to try to convince an aging senior who may also be sliding into dementia, that they should no longer drive.
Geriatric Medical Care
There are not enough geriatric specialists to take care of the ever-growing aging population, mainly because geriatricians earn less money than other specialists.
Human Rights Doctrine for Seniors
Seniors lack an international human rights law for their needs.
- Advocacy organizations together with the media should do everything in their power to reach the political echelon to make these problems a priority.
- The government should subsidize insurance for long-term nursing care.
- Working conditions of professional caregivers must be improved so that there will be motivation for people to want to do this kind of work.
- Transportation must be made available to seniors so that they will be able to get out for medical appointments, socialization, etc. when they can no longer drive their cars.
- All kinds of incentives should be given to encourage health care providers to want to be geriatricians.
Basically, Sharona Hoffman believes that the neglect of the aging senior population is something that no one wants to face, including the seniors themselves, but if steps are not taken there will be tremendous human suffering, financial cost and loss of lives. She calls on voters and elected politicians to make this a priority. She also encourages seniors to make a will and to appoint people or family members to make decisions about finances and healthccare.
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