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.
The North Carolina State Grange has been an advocate for rural North Carolina since 1929. We believe that all citizens should have access to quality healthcare that is affordable. We further believe that lower income individuals should receive financial assistance with acquiring needed medications. The 340B program enacted by Congress was intended to provide the necessary support for the vulnerable and uninsured to have access to medications.
One of the great achievements of the last 100 years has been the significant increase in the lifespan of Americans. By 2050 it is estimated that 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be over the age of 65. While this is something to celebrate, there is also a downside. With the expected growth of the aging population, we expect to see a significant rise in many chronic diseases where age is a major risk factor.
To tackle aging as a major risk factor for chronic disease, we need to develop a more aggressive public-private investment strategy in prevention and health promotion.
On the private side, as the Medicines in Development for Older Americans report shows, biopharmaceutical research companies are developing over 400 medications for the top chronic diseases to allow these older adults to live a better and in some cases longer life.