For the first time in U.S. history, advances in medical science combined with a larger generation of older Americans will lead to a greater population of seniors than children. We're discussing the impact of that population shift, along with a study on healthy habits in middle age and a survey on the benefits of house calls, in this week's Insider News.
Within 10 years, all of the U.S.'s 74 million Baby Boomers will be 65 or older, with the most senior among them on the cusp of 85. Even sooner, by 2025, the number of seniors (65 million) is expected to surpass that of children age 13 and under (58 million) for the first time, according to Census Bureau projections.
More people than ever are entering the later stages of old age and becoming at risk of illness, frailty, disability, cognitive decline and the need for personal assistance. Experts caution the health care system isn't yet ready to accommodate the additional health care services that will be needed as society copes with such an unprecedented demographic shift.
Sticking to a healthy lifestyle including not smoking, not being overweight, and exercising regularly, is associated with a longer life expectancy at age 50 free of major diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, according to a Harvard study.
The number of extra disease-free years is around 7.6 for men and 10 for women, compared with participants with no low-risk lifestyle factors. Life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes at age 50 was 24 years for women who adopted no low-risk lifestyle factors, and 34 years for women who adopted four or five low-risk factors.
Similarly, life expectancy free of any of these chronic diseases was 24 years among men who adopted no low-risk lifestyle factors and 31 years in men who adopted four or five low-risk lifestyle factors.
A survey from CareMore Health suggests house calls could enable higher quality and more accessible care for people living with chronic conditions, while also alleviating caregiver burden.
The majority (64%) of adults express interest in the house call. Convenience (58%) and personal attention (42%) are key benefits of in-home care, and 92% say the quality of care provided in-home would be better (34%) or equal to (58%) the quality offered in an office or clinic. Additional findings include:
- The majority (79%) agree people would be able to better manage their health if they could have consultations with their health care providers in their own home;
- The house call was cited as less stressful than an office visit for 44% of adults;
- 64% agree that care provided at home would reveal much more than what is seen in the office or clinic;
- 44% of respondents say they would be more likely to follow an in-home provider's advice versus that given in a provider’s office; and
- 43% say they would be more likely to take medication exactly as prescribed or indicated if the care were provided in-home.