Aging is a concern that is relevant to all human beings. Even those who will not reach a very high age before death have at least one family member who can be classified as elderly. As a society, the services we currently have in place for the elderly are somewhat inadequate. This is one thing that the professional who aims to provide services for the elderly need to take into account. Providing adequate services will require a thorough knowledge of both the aging process and the issues faced by those who are classified as elderly on a day-to-day basis. Only by understanding issues such as the demographics of aging, housing, and elder abuse, can an adequate level of service be created and provided.
The demographics of aging can start to be understood by considering the statistics. There have never been more elderly people in the world (Niles-Yokum and Wagner, 2011, p.4). Because of the improvement in medical technology and lifestyle choices, human life expectancy has increased almost exponentially. This means that an increasing range and number of services for the elderly will be needed. More long-term care services will also be required; people may age better than in the past and live longer, but a large part of old age also means that individuals can no longer care for themselves.
In this regard, there are also age subgroups that need to be taken into account, who will require differentiated levels and types of services. A person of 60 years old, for example, will most likely not require the same level of care as a centenarian. Four age subgroups are identified by Niles-Yokum and Wagner (2011, p. 5); 1) the group between the ages of 65 and 74; 2) those who are 75-84 years old; 3) the group from 85 and older; and 4) centenarians. Between 1990 and 2007, there has been a high increase in all four subgroups, with the highest being those who have reached a 100 years of age. The service provider should take into account the various needs and concerns of each age group when providing services, taking care that such services be provided while maintaining an optimal level of dignity and autonomy while providing these services.
Another important demographic factor related to aging that should be taken into account by service provider is the increasing diversity of the older population. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (2011), there is a particular increase in African-American and Hispanic elderly citizens in the United States. These population groups are also likely to have their own needs and concerns related to their various cultures. Hence, it is important to provide targeted services for them. Indeed, their individual and collective concepts of dignified aging and the retention of autonomy may not mean the same thing as these do for other population groups. Hence, it is important for care service provides to understand the particular needs of various cultural groups when it comes to receiving these services.
Another concern that aging service providers should take into account is housing for the elderly. Many elderly people face financial concerns such as a fixed income in a world where inflation rises almost on a daily basis. This is particularly the case in the housing market. Providing affordable housing for the elderly is vitally important, especially in the light of the rising elderly population. The Illinois Aging Services Website (2008) provides an online-based database of service providers in the area, including those that can provide affordable housing solutions for older people. A concern that also needs to be taken into account here is the level of health, aging, and concomitant level of current and future independence. A 65-year-old person on a fixed income, for example, will need an affordable home where he or she can live in relative independence, whereas a centenarian may need a facility where medical personnel or at least transport services are readily available, should these be needed. Assisted living and elderly institutions form part of the housing consideration. Service providers should be aware of the various affordable facilities and homes that are available to older people in order to provide optimal services. Today,…