In a recent article written by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, titled Caregivers for the aging population, he said  “we are heading into a kind of caregiver crisis”. The predicted projection within the U.S population denotes that over the next 15 years the elder population is expected to increase exponentially.

In 2030, when all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old, the population of adults in this age group is projected to be 71 million (Administration on Aging, 2007). These statistics represent more than a 100% increase in the number of persons 65 years old and older.

Great news, right? Yes, most would agree this is great news; however, who will help provide care and support for this population known the “silver tsunami”?

In the article “What the ‘Silver Tsunami’ Means for U.S. Health Care,” Dr. Thomas Gill, Director of the Program on Aging at Yale University, said that “this groundswell of elderly patients has raised concerns.  As we age, we become more vulnerable to chronic conditions, which can accumulate over time.  The disease-centric style of Western medicine has proven inadequate to address these conditions.”

This brings up several questions: Who will care for this aging population? What can we do to help address this issue?  First, we must educate our patients and their families on the importance of having a caregiver.

With the introduction of numerous medical and scientific advancements, public health initiatives and implementation of best practices for health and wellness, people are getting older and living longer. This implies that aging populations will experience new health challenges in their lifetime. In the case of our patients who are diagnosed with osteoporosis, they need someone to be there and provide appropriate levels of care. This person(s) is known as a caregiver.

What is a caregiver?

There is no one definition of caregivers or caregiving. For the purposes of this article, we define caregivers as relatives or friends who provide a wide range of care to dependent children, spouses, parents, siblings, other relatives, friends and/or neighbors. Although the healthcare professional will be treating and monitoring chronic diseases in this patient population including osteoporosis, the caregiver’s actions of providing care to these individuals with osteoporosis can include:

  • Practical assistance with basic activities of daily living, including housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation;
  • Falls prevention including a home safety check to remove falling hazards, as falls can lead to fractures;
  • Personal care, including help with monitoring medication, bathing, etc.
  • Physical help, including assistance with movement, supervision and direct medical care;
  • Emotional and social support, including visiting, transportation, talking about emotions;
  • Finding and accessing services, like housing and medical support;
  • Behavioral support to help with communicating effectively and managing challenging behaviors;
  • Financial help, including providing financial support, help managing finances and applying for prescription assistance programs to help with compliance;
  • Compliance with recommended treatments for osteoporosis, including medication use and appropriate follow up with healthcare professionals for chronic disease management.

In addition to managing all of these activities, caregiving is assuming responsibility to provide care for someone, along with the concern, worry and emotional involvement it entails.

For additional information on caregiving, and the topics mentioned above, please visit the following areas of the NOF website:

Osteoporosis prevention and treatment;

Falls prevention;

Bone strengthening exercises; and

Information for caregivers.

Anne Lake, DNP, FNP-C, CCD

 

References

Administration on Aging. A profile of older Americans: 2005.(2007). Washington, DC, Department of Health and Human Services.

What the ‘Silver Tsunami’ Means for U.S. Health Care: An Interview with Thomas Gill of the Yale Center on Aging | Rx | The Quiet Revolution | WTTW. (2015, March 26). Retrieved August 23, 2017, from https://rxfilm.org/problems/silver-tsunami-united-states-healthcare-thomas-gill-yale-center-on-aging-interview/

 

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