We’ve all heard the statement, “50 is the new 40” or “60 is the new 50” or (any decade) is the new (previous decade minus 10). What these statements boil down to is the fact that we are healthier and living longer. New medicines, new treatments, earlier diagnosis and a healthier environment have all helped us live longer. But living longer isn’t better if our quality of life doesn’t let us enjoy those added years and the impact on the cost to the healthcare system can be enormous.
When I think of preventive care, I think of a person who enjoys life, however, when I think of acute care, I am reminded of a person who really does not care, a person who has no concerns of ever being sick. Many have the rationale that we all have to die with something. This is saying to me; do I choose, life, death, pain, suffering, surgery, therapy? There is no question for me; I choose LIFE.
The answer is a multi-pronged approach based on a very simple premise: healthy seniors live happier more productive lives and save tax dollars through reduced healthcare expenditures.
Essentially, mitigating risk factors comes down to education and providing access to building blocks of good health. The Medicines in Development for Older Americans report clearly shows the importance of educating seniors about the correlations of medication adherence to staying healthy and out of the hospital.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, (a division of U.S. Health and Human Services Department), the number of Americans who will suffer functional disability due to a chronic disease is expected to increase at least 300 percent by 2049. Currently, almost 75 percent of the elderly (age 65 and over) have at least one chronic illness and 50 percent have at least two chronic illnesses. Aging is an important marker of the accumulation of risks for chronic disease. A prevention- focused paradigm is necessary to break this trend.