The United States’ aging population is altering the landscape. Baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 are becoming older at an unprecedented pace compared with any previous cohort in our history.
By 2030, older adults will outnumber children for the first time ever in U.S. history – this demographic shift posing both challenges and opportunities for nurses.
Physical activity is integral to healthy and successful aging. It reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases, reduces healthcare costs, improves mental wellbeing and quality of life and ultimately enhances physical fitness and longevity.
In 2019, there were over 80.8 million Americans aged 65 or over living in the US – an increase that can largely be attributed to baby boomer generation reaching retirement age.
Biologically, as we age our bodies naturally slow down and lose muscle strength, which decreases functional capacity and increases vulnerability to various diseases. Regular physical activity can counter this trend.
A comprehensive harmonised dataset of cohort studies indicates that physically active older adults tend to enjoy better healthy aging trajectories and frailty rates than their inactive counterparts. Promoting regular, balanced physical activity from early adulthood should be promoted by healthcare professionals as well as community members (family members and caregivers), including healthcare professionals themselves. Health promotion strategies aimed at increasing physical activity should be tailored specifically towards each country’s cultural and social environment.
By adopting healthier lifestyle habits and diet, elderly individuals may be able to mitigate some of the health issues that accompany aging and remain more active, increasing quality of life and enjoying more social interactions.
Older adults typically require lower caloric needs but often higher nutritional requirements than younger adults, due to factors like reduced physical activity, medication use and changes in muscle and bone mass.
The global population’s aging demographic is the fastest-growing segment and will continue to expand until 2060, having an effectful on nearly every aspect of society and economy around the globe. Furthermore, an aging population requires more health care resources and social welfare support than younger generations, necessitating implementation of an effective sustainable strategy to ageing – something the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing serves to facilitate.
Aging population presents an incredible opportunity for improving health and wellbeing during later life, but also presents many obstacles and challenges – impacting work patterns and retirement decisions, health care system accessibility, family dynamics and communities’ abilities to offer services and support for older individuals.
Studies demonstrate the value of socializing to mental health across generations; seniors particularly benefit. Furthermore, research suggests it can enhance cognition.
Connecting and socializing can be challenging for seniors living with physical ailments. They may experience mobility issues like having to use crutches or having others refuse to join in their outings, as well as grief over losing a spouse, depression, or COVID-19 isolation; to overcome such hurdles will require healthcare providers and their patients working together – covering class costs or providing transportation and finding ways to promote socialization even with disabilities present.
Elderly adults typically adjust well to physical changes that come with late adulthood; however, many others find adjusting difficult due to mental health issues like depression or anxiety which, left untreated can cause serious health complications as well as reduced quality of life.
Stressful events in late life, financial struggles, the death of loved ones or caring for someone with chronic health conditions as well as declining mobility can all increase emotional suffering and disability levels. By offering programs targeted toward these issues, mental health services may reduce emotional pain while improving physical wellbeing and reducing disability levels.
Financing outside Medicare and private insurance makes it challenging for aging and mental health professionals to provide services for all older adults – especially homebound older adults. Luckily, many counties in Ohio offer senior specific or mental health levies which help fund these services.