Social Challenges of Aging Essay
Conduct in-depth analysis of a pertinent topic related to aging. Define the problem, specific population affected, cultural implications, and financial/legal/ethical implications. What interventions can be used to improve the problem? What resources are available? What are the associated costs? Is this idea sustainable? Social Challenges of Aging Essay.
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Social Challenges of Aging
The subject of aging garners greater debate when it concerns the elderly and aged persons who are often considered unproductive but requiring a large proportion of the health resources to maintain a high-quality life, health education and long-term care plans. In fact, the attention focus on the gaps in income, housing and other relevant social and community elements. The reality is that elderly persons require input from multiple stakeholders before these gaps can be addressed (von Homboldt, 2016). Social Challenges of Aging Essay. This then leaves us with the question of what consequences will be faced by both the present and future populations with regards to the existing gaps as pertains a population composed of elderly persons. The present paper explores these notions by talking of the implications of aging and associated social challenges of an aging population.
Social challenges of aging
The elderly population has far-reaching implications for any country. This is because it presents direct challenges to the medical system to include the increasing cost of healthcare, rising demand for medical services use, and shifting health profiles. This can be presented as a rapidly increasing group of elderly persons with a larger burden of lifestyle-related medical conditions (such as diabetes) and typical age-based medical issues (that include cancer, dementia, arthritis, and so on) when compared to preceding generations. In addition, the social variations that the next generation of elderly persons will experience (to include an enhanced awareness and understanding of medical issues, as well as greater expectations of medical services) poses added challenges. These challenges are likely to have an effect on future health care engagement and delivery models (Tomczyk & Klimczuk, 2015). Social Challenges of Aging Essay.
The major social challenge is shifting health profiles, with the issue being how medical systems will meet the health needs of the aging population that is increasingly impacted by chronic ailments. The prevalence of many medical conditions is greater for older age groups. Besides that, it is noted that elderly persons are more likely to report multiple long-term medical disorders. Despite the rising incidence of ill health and disease among elderly persons with the condition worsening with age, most persons in that age group believe that they are in good health Social Challenges of Aging Essay. The implication of these awareness is that older individuals have a higher prevalence of chronic self-reported health conditions, terminal conditions, and high risk of injury, thereby showing that they are prone to shifting health profiles requiring greater medical care (Tomczyk & Klimczuk, 2015).
Another challenge is the rising demand for medical services. It is increasingly apparent that the demand for medical services is affected by a range of social factors, but elderly persons are typically higher users of medical services when compared to their younger counterparts. As such, medical services demand is anticipated to rise with the aging population. The increased use of medical services and facilities by elderly populations has implications for medical personnel that is diverse and large, encompassing many occupations that range from volunteers to support staff and highly qualified professions Social Challenges of Aging Essay. The aging population needs an adequate medical labour force to handle its needs (to include skill set, distribution, and numbers) to meet the heightened demand and shifting needs. The future scarcity of appropriately skilled health workers is also anticipated to be a particular challenge (Tomczyk & Klimczuk, 2015).
Yet another challenge is the rising cost of health care. With elderly persons being high users of medical services and facilities, and medical costs being higher for the same population subset, it is prudent to have concerns about the possibility of elderly persons placing an unsustainable strain on available resources. The relationship between medical costs and aging is complex. Still, there is considerable evidence to show that growth in health care spending (both current and projected) are attributable to aging. As such, there is little doubt that medical policies and systems should be adapted in response to the significant shift in population demographics. Part of this understanding includes the awareness that health care funding is collected from a range of sources to include private individuals, insurers, government, and non-governmental sources (Michel et al., 2018).
The government is the principal source of health funding, accounting for as much as 70% of funding needs. It is important to note that the high expenditure has been matched by increasing tax revenue. Whether the same trend will be noted in the future is difficult to predict since labour productivity and supply patterns are likely to undergo change even as education levels rise and diversification occurs in the economy (von Homboldt, 2016). Social Challenges of Aging Essay Private individuals account for 17% of medical funding, with the elderly who tend to have lower incomes and greater wealth also reporting higher costs and spending although these figures are distributed unevenly. More than 50% of their personal wealth (for the elderly) constitutes property. Although it would be logical to assume that elderly persons can easily access their wealth (such as property through reverse mortgage), this wealth is not readily accessible to fund medical needs. Besides that, elderly persons who do not own their accommodation end up having to rent and spend a large proportion of their income on housing thereby leaving a very small proportion for medical costs and other expenditures (von Homboldt, 2016).
The next generation of elderly persons (the baby boomer cohort) is anticipated to have higher levels of wealth and income when compared to past generations. However, the unequal distribution of wealth and income will continue whereby 25% of the wealthy elderly persons will account for 60% of the income and wealth while the poorer 25% will account for 4% of the income and wealth for that age group (von Homboldt, 2016). In addition, the elderly are also increasingly becoming active in the labour force, thereby helping to offset their expenditure growth and bring about better retirement balances (Paltasing & Tyagi, 2015) Social Challenges of Aging Essay. On the other hand, a large number of elderly persons have never contributed to retirement schemes or have only made minimal contributions for a limited time. Increased retirement savings is not anticipated to have an impact in decreasing the number of persons who receive pensions, but it is anticipated to cause a greater shift away from full pensions and towards partial pensions. This means that this population will be unable to meet their health care costs even as they age (Michel et al., 2018).
It is important to note that the challenge presented by an elderly population is acute for certain demographic groups, thereby explaining why the demand for medical service types and locations vary. The higher incidence of disability and life expectancy reported among elderly women (when compared to their male counterparts), along with differences in workforce participation and earnings means that women are more vulnerable to economic uncertainties. Although retirement payment coverage is rising, there remains a significant disparity between superannuation coverage for both male and female elderly persons (Rajan & Balagopal, 2017). Social Challenges of Aging Essay.
At the core of the focus on social factors and pressures is the awareness that socioeconomic factors, including their related handicaps, are important health determinants. In general, there is a tendency for health status to improve with a rise in the economic data. This phenomenon is typically referred to as the socioeconomic gradient of health. Rajan and Balagopal, (2017) puts the issue into perspective by reporting that health inequalities impose costs on any country, both regarding losing productivity and medical care. The very existence of such inequalities is an indication that there is room for health gains to be realized (Rajan & Balagopal, 2017).
Responding to the social challenges
As has been established, an aging population presents some social challenges. This implies that the combination of medical services needed and offered, as well as the way in which they are delivered and funded needs to undergo some radical changes in response to the aging population. At the core of this awareness is the knowledge that aging is linked to heightened risk of dependency, disability and plethora of medical conditions, although the situation is variable since most of the chronic conditions can be postponed or even prevented thereby determining that they are not an inevitable consequence of aging (von Humboldt, 2016). The postponement and prevention to promote good health across the lifespan occur through reduction of morbidity from diseases, disease prevention after the onset, reducing risk factors prevalence before disease onset, and prevention of disease risk factors (Paltasing & Tyagi, 2015) Social Challenges of Aging Essay. Overall, encouraging wellbeing across the different age groups is intended as a strategy for ensuring that future generations of elderly persons are healthy.
Another response is enabling healthy aging, which involves improving and maintaining quality of life and health of elderly persons through the management of multi-morbidity and chronic conditions to enable active and healthy aging (Rajan & Balagopal, 2017). The medical sector plays a principal role in supporting and promoting healthy aging, with medical professionals being instrumental in averting or avoiding disease complications, managing the risks of diseases, and offering advice on lifestyle. Care programs for aged persons also offer a setting for preventive medical care, particularly in avoiding the occurrence of fractures and falls since they are common among elderly persons and are associated with high costs (von Humboldt, 2016).
Supporting and better enabling the social and economic participation of elderly persons within their communities is anticipated to mitigate the challenges of an aging population. This is because health is positively linked to engagement in paid employment (Paltasing & Tyagi, 2015). As a result, promoting good health among elderly persons presents the possibility of triggering health gains and increasing the capacity to actively participate in both the community and workforce.
One must accept that aging attracts debate since the population is linked to heightened risk of dependency, disability and plethora of medical conditions. Also, the population is considered unproductive and yet require considerable resources to maintain. In addition, one must acknowledge that this population faces significant social challenges. Social Challenges of Aging Essay To be more concise, aging population faces social challenges in terms of shifting health profiles, rising demand for medical services, rising cost of health care, funding sources, and unfavorable socioeconomic gradient of health. There is a need to respond to these social challenges through postponement and prevention to promote good health across the lifespan, enabling healthy aging, and supporting increased social and economic participation of elderly persons. In this respect, an aging population introduces unique social challenges that should be addressed.
Michel, J., Beattie, L., Martin, F. & Walston, J. (2018). Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine. Oxford Textbook of Geriatric Medicine (3rd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Paltasing, T. & Tyagi, R. (2015). Caring for the elderly: social gerontology in the Indian context. New Delhi: SAGE Publications India Pvt Ltd.
Rajan, I. & Balagopal, G. (2017). Elderly care in India: societal and state responses. Singapore: Springer Nature.
Tomczyk, L. & Klimczuk, A. (2015). Aging in the social space. Bialystok-Krakow: The Association of Social Gerontologists. Social Challenges of Aging Essay.
von Humboldt, S. (2016). Conceptual and methodological issues on the adjustment to aging: perspectives on aging well. Dordrecht: Springer.