Elder Care Issues

Advice on tackling common health care issues affecting the senior population and resources to turn to for help.

What People Who Live to 100 Have in Common

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Question: I’ve heard that people who are more social live longer. Why is that?
Answer: Yes, many studies suggest that staying socially connected predicts greater life expectancy. Being social reduces stress and is helpful in getting care and support from others.

U.S. residents in several states live considerably longer than the rest of the country.

U.S. residents in several states live considerably longer than the rest of the country.

U.S News and World Report

A growing number of Americans are living to age 100. Nationwide, the centenarian population has grown 65.8 percent over the past three decades, from 32,194 people who were age 100 or older in 1980 to 53,364 centenarians in 2010, according to new Census Bureau data. In contrast, the total population has increased 36.3 percent over the same time period.

Centenarians in the United States are considerably different from the overall population. Here’s a look at some of the characteristics of people who live to age 100:

Female Gender

It is overwhelmingly women who live to age 100. In 2010, 82.8 percent of centenarians were female. For every 100 females age 100 or older, there are only 20.7 males the same age. Females also make up 61.9 percent of those in their 80s and 72.2 percent of people in their 90s. “We know that women are more social than men. Other studies have found that staying socially connected predicts greater life expectancy,” says Gary Small, a professor on aging and director of the UCLA Longevity Center in Los Angeles, who is not affiliated with the Census Bureau report. “If you are social, it may reduce stress levels because you can talk about your feelings and things that stress you out and it seems to help many people. If you need a ride to the doctor or you fall, they can take you to the hospital or help you find the best doctor.”

Less Diversity

Centenarians are considerably less diverse than the overall U.S. population. In 2010, some 82.5 percent of centenarians were white, versus 72.4 percent of the total population. Black or African Americans were unique in that their proportion of the centenarian population (12.2 percent) is about the same as their percentage of the total population (12.6 percent). Asians made up 2.5 percent of the centenarian population, while they make up 4.8 percent of the total population. And Hispanics represent 5.8 percent of centenarians, but 16.3 percent of the population. Read more


Nearly 40 Million People Provide Unpaid Care to Elders

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More Americans taking on care-giving duties for elderly loved ones and friends.

More Americans taking on care-giving duties for elderly loved ones and friends.

Do you provide care to a parent or other aging loved one? Maybe you pick up prescriptions, cook meals, help with laundry, or regularly give a bath? If you do, you are one of nearly 40 million Americans who provide unpaid eldercare, with many spending as much as three hours per day providing care services, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  

Eldercare providers are defined as people who provide unpaid care to someone age 65 and older who need help due to conditions related to aging.

This care can be provided to household or non-household members, as well as to someone living in a retirement home or assisted care facility. Eldercare can involve a range of care activities, such as assisting with grooming, preparing meals, and providing transportation. Eldercare also can involve providing companionship or being available to assist when help is needed, and thus it can be associated with nearly any activity.

From 2011-2012, there were 39.6 million eldercare providers in the nation, representing 16 percent of the U.S. civilian non institutional population age 15 and older, according to data from the BLS and the American Time Use Survey (ATUS). This percentage represents one of every six people in the United States who’s at least 15 years old.

Nearly 25 percent of caregivers fall into the 45 to 64 age range, and about 16 percent of caregivers are 65 and older.

The Sandwich Generation

A number of caregivers were adult children providing care to their parents and children of their own, which the BLS referred to as the “sandwich generation,” as they are in between two generations that require care.

These adult caregivers represented 45 percent of total eldercare providers included in the ATUS analysis. Of the eldercare providers who were parents, 78 percent were employed, and 64 percent were employed full-time.

This group of working parent caregivers were also less likely to provide care on a daily basis than the overall population of eldercare providers, 13 percent compared with 20 percent.

Read the entire 2011 American Time Use Survey.


How can we improve patient outcomes in regard to surgical site infections?

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Preventing Infection after Hip and Knee Surgeries
Source: Institute for Healthcare Improvement (www.ihi.org)

Surgical site infections (SSIs) following hip or knee arthroplasty can be catastrophic for the patient —- leading to multiple surgeries, prolonged periods of medical and physical therapy, use of a wheelchair or walker, months of recuperation, significant pain, and substantial out-of-pocket expenses, reports the Institute for Healthcare Improvement , not to mention increased costs to providers.

Preventing Infection after Hip and Knee Surgeries

Three common practices reduce surgical site infections, reports the IHI.

 

With over 1.1 million procedures done in 2008 (the most recent numbers available), knee and hip replacements are two of the most commonly performed surgeries in the U.S. Depending upon patient risk, it is estimated that between 6,000 and 20,000 SSIs occur annually after these types of surgeries and the number is predicted to rise substantially in coming years due to an aging population staying more active, as published in Healthcare Executive. Read more