Tsunamis in nature are caused by a shift in the tectonic plates, in other words, an earthquake. But, tsunamis also serve as the perfect metaphor to describe the current global aging population crisis. From 1946 to 1964 an earthquake felt around the world happened known as the baby boom. The result? A silver tsunami 65 years in the making.
In 2030, we expect the population of older Americans to double to 72.1 million and life expectancy to rise to 110. Joining Germany and Japan as countries deemed “super aged”, along with a handful of others.
How the Silver Tsunami Will Affect Healthcare
Compared to the younger population, Americans 85 and older are three times as likely to use an emergency medical service (EMS). And those that are 65 and older are twice as likely. So, if you don’t think you’re seeing many from the silver tsunami, you are certainly about to. The population that needs the most care is living longer and doubling in size as we speak. We saw this coming, yet our facilities are nowhere near capable to handle this magnitude of patients.
In order to prepare yourself for the oncoming storm, seek training in geriatrics. Illnesses and diseases most commonly found among the elderly is skyrocketing, so do yourself a favor and prepare for it now. And whenever you get a chance, remind these patients what precautions they can take to avoid injuries. Falls are their biggest enemy, yet it can be so easily prevented.
The Future of Healthcare
A population that is doubling and countries struggling with physician and nurse shortages are starting to feel the burden the silver tsunafmi is putting on their healthcare facilities. In order to cope or take precautionary measures, a few countries are starting to get creative. Some models or experiments have been implemented to provide better care for their aging population. They are proving to be cost effective and successful alternatives, that are inspiring others to do the same.
One of these models is set in a small village just outside of Amsterdam, called Hogewey. What makes this model so successful is the fact that the whole village is the model, and home to 152 dementia patients. 240 trained geriatric nurses and caregivers provide them 24-hour care. To further the illusion of this village, most of them are dressed as civilians. The patients are free to walk about the village within its confines, making this a great alternative to keep them active and giving them purpose again.
Now we can’t talk about the future of healthcare without mentioning robots. There are a few prototypes circulating that are designed with assisted living in mind. “Robear” helps seniors with everyday tasks, and can even lift patients from wheelchairs. In Melbourne, a nursing home is using Giraffplus, a remote-controlled robot that gives patients the ability to connect with loved ones and remain active with games. And just what the name suggests, Robo Chef is designed with cooking in mind. It can assemble, chop, manage the stove and oven, and even clean up the dirty dishes. It’ll enter the market as early as next year, so you’ll probably be sharing your tasks sooner than you think.