Aging is a good experience but sometimes becomes challenging. While the health care industry has come up with ways to increase the lifetime of a human being, the major concern is it does not account for the repercussions that come from increasing life. The idea of making an individual live long is excellent but what happens when a person lives for a long time is scary. The cost of taking care of the elderly is alarming and has raised concerns about what should be done. A documentary published on the frontline website titled “Living Old” seeks to research the diseases that old people suffer and the challenges of taking care of them in delivering health care. This paper will reflect on the video and will also examine how the community-based LTC services are meeting the needs of the elderly.
The major chronic diseases that are most prevalent in the aging population are; high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, and heart failure disease. In her response from the Video, Audrey, one of the interviewed doctors, says the elderly no longer contract acute diseases such as pneumonia (Navasky & O’Connor, 2006). Also, they are suffering incurable diseases of body and mind, particularly the loss of function, as David Muller from the Video explains. Chronic diseases could be attributed to the modern lifestyle that has been adopted—the kind of foods, lack of hard jobs, and repercussions of the transplants.
These ailments are presenting challenges to the current health care delivery system in many ways. The video points out that the current health system is set up to treat acute diseases but not chronic diseases. This means physicians and nurses encounter difficult times trying to treat the elderly. Secondly, medical practitioners are spending too much time trying to catch a glimpse of the elderly conditions. This is because some elderly patients do not have home caretakers and cannot explain how they feel. For this reason, physicians spend a lot of time trying to understand them. It, in turn, leads to a slowdown of the overall health care to other patients.
The third and most critical impact is the cost of taking care of the elderly, whether at home or in nursing homes. Many of the caretakers interviewed in the video say that they have to work around the clock to ensure they give the best to the elderly. Besides caregivers, some professional doctors have resigned from their work to stay with their parents. Also, caring has an impact on Medicare financing. With the current technology of increasing their lifetime, the number of people above sixty-five years continues to grow. It means the number of Medicare beneficiaries also increases, which poses a cost burden to the government. Research indicates that from 2010 to 2030, the number of Medicare beneficiaries will be double in the U.S. Besides Medicare, Medicaid is also impacted significantly on the expenditure side. The older the beneficiary, the greater the increase in Medicare spending, which prompts them to be Medicaid eligible.
Community-based LTC services are meeting the needs of the elderly through three primary programs. One of them is optional 1915(c) home and community-based services waivers. In 2007, the program accounted for $27.2 billion for personal care services and home health services (NCSL, n.d). The second program is an optional state plan personal care services benefit. The program aims at assisting the elderly in performing their daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, and transferring their wheelchairs. The third program is a mandatory home health benefit introduced to cover home nursing care for Medicare beneficiaries.
Some of the recommendations I would give to improve meeting their needs are; training health and social care practitioners and encouraging young people to support their older parents to reduce cost burdens. Also, create social groups that will enable the community to donate funds for aiding the elderly and encourage those approaching old age to engage in regular physical activities to avoid diseases that may increase the cost of health care. Lastly, keep the elderly mentally active by treating depression and making them feel useful and needed. When they are mentally active, they can open up easily on how they feel.
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In summary, aging can be considered as not only a good experience but also a challenging one. It comes with many challenges, such as chronic diseases and extra costs that pose a burden. Some of the diseases are hypertension, stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure. However, despite the challenges, the government is on the front line in caring for the elderly by supporting them financially and socially. Covers such as Medicare and Medicaid aim at supporting them financially. Community-based programs such as optional 1915(c) home and community-based services waivers, optional state plan personal care services, and mandatory home health benefit support them socially.
Navasky, M., & O’Connor, K. (2006, November 21). Living old video]. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/livingold/
NCSL. (n.d.). Home and community-based services: Meeting the long-term care needs of rural seniors. Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/home-and-community-based-services-meeting-the-lon.aspx