Have you heard someone say, “100 is the new 60” when it comes to aging?
We don’t know if that is true, but older adults are more active and engaged, healthier, and they are living in their homes forever, unlike generations past.
Seniors are not the same as they once were, but many are still facing multiple problems as they age.
The statistics found in the latest edition of Profile of Older Americans created by the Administration of Community Living — which includes the Administration on Aging, is an operating division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — remind us just how much the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Let’s look at the results of the 2017 version of the Profile and how it impacts family caregivers. Keep in mind that this is a profile of a large number of people, each of whom has an individual profile and their own needs.
Results of Profile of Older Americans
Older adults make up about one in every seven, or 15.2%, of the population of America.
If these seniors are healthy enough to reach age 65, they will have an average life expectancy of an additional 19.4 years (20.6 years for females and 18 years for males).
There were 81,896 persons age 100 and over in 2016.
Older women outnumbered older men, with a 27.5 million to 21.8 million advantage.
About 28% (13.8 million) of non-institutionalized older persons reported living alone (9.3 million women, 4.5 million men). Almost half of older women (45%) age 75 and over were living alone.
Over 4.6 million older adults (9.3%) were below the poverty level in 2016 making most issues they face more difficult such as healthcare, medications, living costs, paying for in-home care or medical devices/technology, or just buying healthy food.
Aging and Health
If seniors live almost 20 years after their 65th birthday, are they healthy?
Are they caring for themselves to be successful living independently as they age?
The report reveals that most older persons have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple conditions. In 2015, among persons age 65 and over, the top five chronic conditions were
- hypertension (58%),
- hyperlipidemia (48%),
- arthritis (31%),
- ischemic heart disease (29%), and
- diabetes (27%).
A big challenge with chronic disease is to manage it, thereby preventing it from debilitating your senior loved one to the point of loss of mobility and independence.
This can be devastating and result in needing to live away from home in a facility.
Need for Care Increases with Age
Most agree that the need for caregiving increases with age, so the statistics in this area are no surprise – – but still important to know.
In January through June 2017, the percentage of older adults age 85 and over needing help with personal care (22%) was more than twice the percentage for adults ages 75–84 (9%) and more than six times the percentage for adults ages 65–74 (3%).
About 31% of persons age 60 and over reported height/weight combinations that placed them among the obese. This results in difficulty managing chronic disease and also remaining functionally independent. More help from caregivers may be needed when obesity impairs self-care ability.
Slightly under half (44%) of persons ages 65-74 and 29% of persons age 75 and over reported that they engaged in regular leisure-time physical activity. Not staying physically active further contributes to obesity and chronic health conditions.
Implications of Increased Healthcare Needs
When older adults require more medications to control symptoms of multiple chronic diseases, it can be more likely that medication administration will result in emergencies.
Falls increase when lack of activity, mobility issues and declining health are present. This is evidenced by increased visits to the hospital.
In 2015, 7.1 million people aged 65 and over stayed in a hospital overnight at least one night during the year.
The more hospitalizations and doctor visits a senior requires, the more healthcare dollars are needed to cover expenses for healthcare. In 2016, consumers age 65 and over averaged out-of-pocket health care expenditures of $5.994.
Older Americans spent 13.1% of their total expenditures on health.
Caregiving Demands When Seniors Help Seniors
Many caregivers of seniors are seniors themselves.
Spouses, informal caregivers, and adult children are aging themselves which can make caregiving responsibilities difficult, if not impossible, to meet.
The risk of injury for a senior adult providing care to another senior adult can be great.
If it were to occur, it puts them both at risk for not being able to remain in their home. Who will care for the senior who is not hurt and the one who hurt themselves caregiving? Hopefully there is a plan in place in case of emergency.
The risk is also present when older adults who themselves need care and also provide care to younger family members. For example, approximately 1 million grandparents age 60 and over were responsible for the basic needs of one or more grandchildren under age 18 living with them in 2016.
Being a family caregiver to a younger person when you feel as though someone should be caring for you could result in caregiver burnout for older adults.
Don’t Try to Face Caregiving Alone
The older a family caregiver is, the more obstacles there are to overcome.
We at Senior Care Corner often say that it is important to build a network when you are a family caregiver. This is especially important if a senior is the family caregiver of a senior.
While the numbers and statistics may be on the rise, the issues of aging are consistent over time.
With the help of family caregivers, seniors need to spend time working at staying as healthy and physically active as they can to be a success when aging in place.
Successful aging takes effort — and often some help!