growing aging population in the U.S.
While it was previously regarded as one of the most important things ever, life expectancy has come to have a negative effect on the social order. Birth-rates in many countries from around the world have experienced a steep decline as individuals there are inclined to focus on things other than children. Population aging first came into public attention when a number of developed nations have started to see a fall in birth-rates and an increase in the number of older people. It is difficult and almost impossible to determine whether one should feel alarmed as a consequence of the concept or whether this is like a cycle in human history.
Demographic transition in the context of an aging population
Fertility and mortality rates are essential in controlling the balance between old people and younger individuals. Distribution and growth rate reflect these respective concepts, with populations being subjected to significant issues as a result of the relationship being unbalanced. Through addressing the idea of demographic transition, one can gain a more complex understanding of how social and demographic changes come together in influencing a sudden growth and aging of the masses.
Demographic transition is divided into several stages:
During the first stage mortality and fertility rates are roughly in balance and population levels do not see any significant growth or decline.
The second stage is related to mortality, as the process sees a significant decline in areas that have gone through significant economic progress. "They gained control over infectious diseases, improved the availability of clean water, and saw the emergence of a more advanced medical technology." (Morgan & Kunkel, p.62)
The third stage entails fertility rates being higher for a longer period in comparison to mortality rates. This leads to the population growing rapidly, but the growth rate significantly declines as fertility rates also go down. It is intriguing to acknowledge how birth rates tend to decline as a consequence of cultural values changing within a community in addition to the respective community gaining wider access to contraceptive means.
The fourth stage has both mortality and fertility rates go down and population shrinks as a consequence. It is at this point that the population actually begins to age, with people putting more and more pressure on the government as they require greater assistance.
3. The implications of an increasing aging population for the following 2 social issues:
a. Work and retirement challenges facing seniors
By observing conditions in the U.S., one is more likely to comprehend the gravity of having an aging population. While they were once perceived as America's saviors and as one of the greatest generations ever, the Baby Boomers are going to have a particularly negative effect on the age balance in the U.S. These people are going to be too weak to work and too poor to retire, thus causing a major gap in the country's economy.
Retirement savings are probably insufficient to deal with such a large mass of people and this means that many elderly individuals are going to encounter significant problems while trying to access their savings. "Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor of economics at the New School for Social Research, estimates that 75% of Americans nearing retirement in 2010 had less than $30,000 in their retirement accounts." (Siedle 2013) Things certainly look bleak when regarding the future of many old persons in the U.S. And this needs to raise public awareness concerning the gravity of the situation.
b. The funding and availability of adequate health care for seniors
According to the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services, health care spending is going to be more and more associated with the concept of population aging in years to come. People typically require an increasing amount of medical service as they grow older and thus health care programs from around the world need to get actively involved in being able to provide for these individuals. Conditions become critical and the institutions see a lot of pressure and eventually have trouble providing for the constantly increasing number of people that need access to health care programs.
While things are relatively stable (for now) in developed countries, things in developing countries are confusing when considering an aging population and its effect on health care. "Many developing nations are just now establishing baseline estimates of the prevalence and incidence of various diseases and conditions." (Global Health and Aging) Hypertension appears to be a major issue in developing countries and the social order thus needs to address this problem. Many health care interventions can be relatively inexpensive, considering the simplicity with which one can often treat people with hypertension. Even with this, the reality is that a growing number of old persons require an increasing amount of health care and thus have to have access to it.
4. Expert opinions on a growing aging population
The Baby Boomer phenomenon has left a deep mark in the U.S. community. "In 2030, when the last baby boomer turns 65, the demographic landscape of our nation will have changed significantly. One of every five Americans -- about 72 million people -- will be an older adult." (The State of Aging and Health in America 2013 1) Even with the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has advanced significantly in recent decades and even though people are currently less likely to die as a result of maladies that were fatal in the past, conditions are still critical when considering diseases like heart disease and cancer. There is still a wide range of maladies that claim numerous lives every year and that thus need to be addressed directly.
One of the first things that the authorities need to do in order to address this issue would be to redirect many funds in order for them to be invested in health care programs. Medicare is among the tools that the government is considering in an attempt to provide as little support as possible. The solution is not just to acknowledge the existence of problems that are especially difficult. By getting actively involved in trying to solve these respective issues, one can discover that most are preventable or can be postponed. Dying is surely inevitable, but this does not mean that society simply needs to give up on its older public.
While the number of old people has been smaller in the past, the fact that it is currently seeing constant growth means that medical institutions need to provide more and more attention to strategies to deal with particular maladies that are likely to occur in older people. Old people are more exposed to chronic health problems, but most of these problems appear when the individual is younger. "Research has shown that people who do not use tobacco, who get regular physical activity, and who eat a healthy diet significantly decrease their risk of developing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic conditions." (The State of Aging and Health in America 2013 5)
Young adults need to acknowledge the critical condition their communities are in and thus have to concentrate on health care-related practices. Communities are extremely important in making old age less problematic, both from a social and from an economic point-of-view. Some of the most basic strategies that need to be considered as a solution to an aging population involve encouraging people to save for their retirement, increasing the retirement age, part of the funds directed at schools and nurseries needing to be redirected toward nursing homes, and migrant workers being encouraged to play an active role in the community's economic system (Coping with an ageing population in the UK).
5. How the growing aging population is going to impact the younger generations in terms of political power and their need for social support
Younger generations need to become better acquainted with how an aging population is going to affect the social order. As a consequence, they have to adapt to change by getting involved in activities that both provide for the aging population and ensure that their personal interests are being addressed. Being a young person in an aging community does not necessarily have to be seen as a distress, as young individuals can live relatively normal lives while also contributing to making the last years easier for many older persons.
It is inevitable for younger generations to be affected by the aging population, and the general public needs to devise a system that reduces the problems associated with this process as a consequence. Government spending is going to increase in areas where there is an aging population and someone needs to support this. Even with the fact that many old people are going to have little to no access to health care, younger generations still need to experience problems as a result of those who have access to such services.
Although spending is certainly going to increase in the case of older individuals, many ignore the fact that less funds are going to be required…