According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1 billion people in the world live with one or more forms of disabilities. Among this population, 46% are elderly people. This by all standards represents a vast number of elderly people with disabilities across the world. It is obvious that most people with disability at an early age remain that way throughout their lives. However, old age comes with disabilities even for those who had no disability in their early stages of life. Ultimately, there is no doubt that the elderly disabled population is in great need of specialized healthcare support.
The Rise of an Aging Population
A global health and Aging Report already presented by the WHO already projected that the number of people aged 65 or older will grow from an estimated 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050. The projections also hold that by 2050 a significant number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children below the age of 5 years. This is a clear indication that the worldwide aging population is steadily on the rise. This rise is attributed to a change in the leading cause of death.
In the past century, a large number of human deaths occurred due to infectious diseases. However, advancement in medicine and healthcare provision has succeeded in controlling and eradicating infectious diseases that were the leading course of death at the time. Chronic health conditions are presently the leading cause of death. Modern medicine and healthcare are however allowing people to manage chronic conditions and live longer.
Disability and the Aging Population
The association between old age and disability means that there is an increased risk of disability with old age. Arguably, the rise in the aging population means that the rates of disability are set to grow. This will, in turn, increase the national burden of disabled people as more and more people continue to live well into their old age. This is further compounded by the rise of chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes among the aging population.
Studies suggest a decrease in the prevalence of disabilities among the elderly people despite an increase in the prevalence of chronic diseases. However, disability among the elderly is currently a healthcare reality. There is also no doubt that chronic diseases represent a significant precursor to impairments and disabilities in old age. Companies have risen to tackle this problem, Disability Friendly is a provider and marketer of devices for the aging population. Specifically working to alleviate the issues that arise when getting older.
Impacts of a Rising Elderly Population on Health Care
The rising number of the elderly population has profound effects on the health care system. Ideally, the higher disability rates among the older population put pressure on the health care system in terms of cost and healthcare management for the elderly disabled. The accumulation of health risks across a lifespan of disease, injury, and chronic illness among the elderly disabled population means the health care system must respond with specialized and effective healthcare management options.
Health Care Management Options for the Elderly Disabled Population
Health care cost management options for the elderly disabled: Health care costs represent a major impediment to accessing quality support and health care services for the elderly and disabled people. Health care cost management options such as Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance are some of the options available for the elderly disabled. Medicare and Medicaid options enable the elderly disabled person to access healthcare services given their debilitating conditions and diminished financial capacity. Medicare enables the elderly and disabled to enjoy both free and low-cost health care services depending on their health care needs and conditions.
The Medicaid option is particularly beneficial to elderly disabled persons with an extreme financial inability to access decent health care services. The private health insurance options cater for the elderly disable persons with the financial ability or support to purchase a relevant health insurance policy that can cater for the individual health care needs.
Physical support and infrastructure: Accessibility and mobility is a key need for elderly people with disabilities. In addition to providing health care services to this category of persons, there is also need to ensure that they have the physical and infrastructural support they need to access these services. They also need the physical and infrastructural support that allows them to live with some degree of independence. It is important to note that Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance options can also cover the cost of providing assisted living to the elderly disabled people. This involves the provision of physical support and infrastructural facilities that include:
- Van transportation
- Car and house ramps
- Walking sticks and other relevant walking aid
- Bathroom facilities for the disabled
- Adaptive clothing and footwear
Long-term home care for the elderly disabled: Most of the elderly disabled persons require long-term home-based care in the form a hospice or elderly home care facility. This option ensures that disabled seniors receive the required health care support from a long-term home care facility. Notably, the Medicaid, Medicare, and private health insurance options also cater for the cost home care for the elderly disabled in long-term home care facilities.