Top 5 Concerns Facing Seniors Today
Those entering their golden years have a lot to look forward to, and seniors today are grasping more opportunities than ever before. However, it is important that we look at the multitude of challenges that come with aging to ensure they are appropriately addressed, and the golden years remain golden. Some of the most prominent concerns facing seniors today include healthcare costs, physical aging, financial security, and more. These issues become more difficult to deal with as patients age, but there are ways we can help seniors through these concerns.
In 2014, the average healthcare cost for an individual 65 years of age and older was $19,098. This number was almost three times that of a working-age individual, who on average cost $7,153. Older adults, a lot of whom are retired and no longer work must sustain the financial burden of aging.
Managing a multitude of diseases and conditions over the course of a lifetime can present an enormous financial burden to seniors. In fact, medical debt is the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. While in older age Medicare may cover some healthcare expenses, it does not cover everything. Even when considering Medicare coverage, on average 15 percent of an individual’s spending will go to healthcare costs by age 75.
Older adults may also struggle with how to pay for long-term care, whether it be at home, hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility. Personal care can be an expensive undertaking, and many Americans do not plan for it when looking towards retirement. Long-term care can be expensed through various modalities, including personal funds, private financing options, and government programs.
Individuals must finance most home-based care options themselves. Therefore, if seniors do not have a strong social support system with caregivers, they will likely have to pay out of pocket to get support at home. Individuals must also fund costs associated with assisted living facilities or retirement homes, though in some states Medicaid may alleviate some of the cost. Investigative Journalist, Marshall Allen, joined ChenMed’s Faisel and Friends podcast to explain how patients can fight the healthcare system and win. Read more here.
With age comes changes in the body. Older adults are at higher risk for certain diseases and may be juggling multiple chronic conditions at once. In fact, 85.6 percent of individuals 65 years and older have at least one or more chronic conditions. Over half of adults this age have at least two chronic conditions. By age 85, 80 percent of individuals experience multimorbidity.
Outside of chronic conditions, older adults may experience normal signs of aging that interfere with daily functioning. Vision and hearing loss are some of the many physical changes seen in normal aging. Seniors are also at increased risk of falls, which can lead to broken bones, head injuries, and a slew of other health complications.
Seniors may also be concerned with their decline in cognitive function. With normal aging, one can expect to have reductions in processing speed, executive cognitive function, and working memory. Additionally, age-related conditions can increase the rate of neuronal dysfunction and loss, causing reduced cognition. If cognition declines enough, seniors may be unable to sustain their functional ability.
The several changes that come with physical aging can oftentimes impair a senior’s ability to maintain independence. With this loss of independence, seniors can experience lowered self-esteem and depression. It’s important for seniors to maintain mobility through exercise and movement to avoid any injuries or disabilities.
With increased morbidity comes increased disability, and physical aging can decrease an individual’s ability to remain independent in their home. Seniors may require more assistance performing activities of daily living, such as eating or bathing. The percentage of individuals requiring assistance increases with age, with roughly 40 to 53 percent of individuals over the age of 85 needing such assistance.
Unfortunately, not all seniors have reliable family or friends to act as caregivers. While convenient and oftentimes more comfortable, older adults may feel they are burdensome to their loved ones. The transition from being a fully independent adult to suddenly needing support can damage a senior’s self-esteem. Encouraging the involvement of caregivers, for those seniors that have them, is crucial to providing the assistance and quality care they deserve. The lack of a caregiver can prevent older patients from attending doctors’ appointments, receiving the medical treatment they need, and improving their mental health.
Some seniors may require full or part-time care but do not have personal resources. These individuals have additional considerations when it comes to physical assistance. Assistance has a hefty price tag; be it from an in-home aid, hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility. Older adults may have concerns about being able to fund such long-term care.
Many older adults are retired or plan to retire. While most hope to enjoy their retirement in relaxation and leisure, some seniors experience financial hardship during this time.
While financial security is one of the most important aspects of retirement, it is one that is not always considered or prepared for appropriately. Today, individuals can expect to live longer than previous generations. This increased life expectancy, while positive, can be a stress point for seniors who may be concerned about funding these extra years.
Healthcare and living costs continue to add up with increased age, while funds in a retirement account continue to dwindle. Currently, approximately one-third of current workers ages 55 through 65 are likely to be poor in retirement. For those who did not adequately save and prepare, a single medical event or emergency can disrupt financial security. As such, many seniors fear they will be unable to support themselves financially into their later years.
As seniors age, so does everyone else around them. Distance, disease, and death can all contribute to a smaller social circle. Older age can often be accompanied by isolation, causing seniors to have concerns and feelings of loneliness.
Seniors may have families who have moved away or started families of their own. Older adults may also move to retirement homes, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes for long-term care. Distance, coupled with the hustle and bustle of life, can create a greater divide between older adults and their loved ones.
Grief is a large part of life but is even more prominent in the later years of life. Older adults may find themselves losing friends to death or disease. Older companions and partners may suffer from cognitive decline, thus unable to provide the same social and emotional support they once did. As one’s social circle gradually dwindles, seniors may have feelings of isolation and depression.
While the list of potential concerns facing seniors is endless and can often be daunting in nature, ensuring that this population is well-supported can significantly ease these apprehensions. This, in turn, ensures that as little stress as possible is placed on those entering this age so that they can enjoy it to the best of their ability.
Caring Companions At Home is an independently owned and operated in-home care agency. We have provided quality senior caregiving services to the Southern California communities for 25 years and are a trusted resource for seniors and their families. All our caregivers/home care aides are employees registered with the State of California and experienced in-home care. Please contact us for more information at 888-950-0750.