According to the Administration on Aging (cited throughout this post), the population of seniors in the United States in 2013 was 44.7 million, up from 40.3 million in 2010. Considering that there are approximately 318 million people in America, seniors make up a significant portion of the population. Because of the incredible medical advances we’ve made, people are living to older ages, which means the population of seniors will only grow.
In fact, according to the United States Census Bureau, the population of people aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million in the year 2050. And yet, society is not necessarily built for them. Public transportation, healthcare and housing are all examples of areas that society could improve upon to accommodate the growing senior population.
How can we make these areas more senior-friendly?
Public transportation in Illinois currently offers a great program called Seniors Ride Free. While this is a wonderful service, it’s not the end-all and be-all for seniors. According to The Beverley Foundation, there are “5 A’s of Senior-Friendly Transportation.” They are:
In order for seniors to truly be able to take advantage of the public transport system, wherever they are located, buses and trains must run at times that are convenient for them, must be easy to board, and must be wheelchair accessible.
Many seniors report being happy with their healthcare – but they also report that it is expensive. As of 2013, older consumers spent an average of $5000 on out-of-pocket health expenses, while the total population spent an average of $3600.
The medical expenses of seniors are higher than the general population because seniors tend to have more health issues than younger people; 23% of people age 75+ reported 10 or more doctor visits in one year, as opposed to 14% of people between ages 45 and 64.
If health insurance companies could find a way to ease the financial burden that medical expenses inflict on seniors, that would be a step in the right direction.
The rising cost of living presents a housing dilemma for many seniors. Because they spend so much on medical bills, many need to turn to their children for financial help when it comes to housing. Many seniors also reach their golden years and realize they haven’t saved enough money for retirement to live in the type of housing facility they would like (such as a retirement community or nursing home).
To help seniors with housing, organizations and companies can help them come up with better retirement plans – ones that take inflation into account – so that they can be better prepared for their future. In turn, pressure can be put on assisted living facilities and the like to make their prices more affordable for the growing senior population. Until then, more and more people turn to services like Abcor for the more affordable home care option.
Above all, the main area in which society can help seniors age better is in the area of respect. As people get older, they imbibe society’s conscious and unconscious message that young is good, old is bad. If society as a whole would realize that tremendous experience and knowledge that seniors have, we could learn from them instead of casting them aside. That would be a win-win situation.