Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Baby Boom becoming the Elder Boom

If you were born between the years 1946 and 1964, you are a member of the "Baby Boomer" generation. During this period, the U.S. experienced an exceptionally high rate of birth. If you've ever wondered about baby boomers in Western New York, you may be surprised to learn just how many boomers reside in our community. According to the 2010 census, Western New York is realizing the boomer boom with 44 percent of the people in the counties of Western New York being baby boomer or older. The baby boomer generation has had and will continue to have a profound impact on society and the economy.

We are now seeing the emergence of an "Elder Boom", both locally and nationally. The Elder Boom is expected as life expectancy increases and the Baby Boom generation ages. In the year 2015, the oldest of the Baby Boomers will be 69 years old and the youngest will be 51 - thus the Elder Boom is emerging. For the first time in history, we will have more elderly than any other age group. The fastest-growing age group in the U.S. is people aged 65 and over.

With the changing face of our elder population comes the need to rethink our attitudes and social services for elders. Seniors of this new millennium will be living on their own - healthy, active, and involved with community and family life. Programs are needed for healthy seniors and well as those who need assistance with daily living or those whose health is poor.

Science tells us that after mid-50's, 70 percent of aging is controlled by our lifestyle. Because of the large growth of this segment of the population, we are likely to see greater "clout" by the senior population, in the marketplace, voting booth, public policy and other areas of government concern. Seniors, who vote in higher percentages than any other age group now, will have even more opportunity to influence the outcome of elections. Politicians will have to work hard to satisfy this group.

Helping Seniors Navigate Hospital Process

Returning home from a hospital stay can result in unexpected challenges for many seniors, and as a result, millions of older Americans are spending billions of dollars on healthcare costs every year that could be avoided through simple planning and preparation - prior to admission. Nearly one in five Medicare patients discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days due to an injury resulting from medical management - not the underlying disease - costing more than $26 billion every year. Some studies have found that between 40-50 percent of readmissions of re-admissions are linked to social problems and lack of community resources.

Any family member who has accompanied an older adult with a serious or chronic illness on the bumpy road from admission to discharge from a hospital, rehab unit, or home care agency services knows how chaotic this experience can be. Nothing can make transitions in patient care settings stree-free, but understanding what is likely to happen can help bypass the most common barriers.

Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging and administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, has released a consumer guide than can be used by families and caregivers to lead the discussion. Eldercare Locator and the United Hosptial Fund's "Next Step In Care" guide, which provides planning tips for pre-hospital check-in, as well as post-chekout from the hosptial, in available on the website, at: http://www.nextstepincare.org/ is designed to help. The guide can be used by families and caregivers to help lead the discussion. Locally, a consultation with a coach trained in assisting families with care transitions is also available through The Dale Association. For more information on the coach program in Niagara County, NY, please call my office at 716-438-2414.