Broad Trends In Our Nation’s Health- Aging Population
The U.S. population will become much older in the twenty-first century and strengthening community and individual capacities and resources to support good health at all ages will be essential. As the Baby Boom generation ages into retirement, the proportion of the U.S. population over age 65 is projected to reach 18.5 percent by 2025. The graying of America doubtlessly will be accompanied by some changes in the population's needs for health care, long-term care, and other services.
As a Health Guardian this trend especially emphasizes the importance of being aware of services and social supports to promote healthy aging. An aging population will require effective means of chronic disease prevention and management to help older people maintain the best possible levels of health and function.
You can do some things as a Health Guardian to promote good health, but some health problems may be inevitable because of biologic and genetic factors, but research is pointing to new opportunities for promoting health at older ages.
- For example, community-based interventions to support behavioral changes such as increases in physical activity and good nutrition may partially reverse some health damage and may help prevent the occurrence of additional problems.
An advantage of being your own Health Guardian means you can make early investments in health promotion and disease prevention, which will produce benefits at younger ages, before irreparable damage has occurred and before the chances for healthful, functional aging are reduced. Aging healthfully promises not only psychosocial benefits and the ability to remain functional and independent for as long as possible but may also result in medical cost savings.
The increasing number of elderly Americans will also draw increased attention to the need (shared by many others, including children and city dwellers) for adequate housing, safe and appropriate urban design, and for easily accessible transportation systems that allow for the continuation of both subsistence activities like grocery shopping and social interactions like participation in senior citizens' groups. Moreover, it has already given rise to a well-defined political constituency (e.g., through organizations like the American Association of Retired Persons-AARP and can be expected to influence the medical and population-level health research agendas.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states “health is shaped by both innate factors (e.g., genes, age, and sex) and other influences from the social, economic, natural, built, and political environments, ranging from the availability of shelter and food to questions of social connectedness and behavior.” These multiple determinants of health, among others, constitute a reality that makes it impossible for one entity, like a Health Guardian, to bring about population health improvement. We can work effectively individually, and with other healthcare providers and public health services to create the conditions that allow people in the United States to be as healthy as they can be.