Disease Trends and the Delivery of Health Care Services

Aging

The United States is currently rated third in the world as the nation with the largest population. According to statistics in the 2010 Census, this population stood at 308.7 million people, which is about 4.5% of the global population. According to the Population Reference Bureau, this population is changing from the earlier decades. This is in terms of size, age dominance, and diversity where the bureau identified that the current US population is enlarging with the older population becoming more compared to the other groups. In addition, this population is becoming more diverse. This population has been growing since 1950 where the population has grown to double since then, from 152 million Americans to the current state. The U.S. Census Bureau (2000) postulates the population will continue to grow up to about 440 million individuals by 2050.

The demographic characteristics of any population are basic to a nation in order to determine the process of making public policies. For instance, nations that have a population structure that include more young individuals have to focus on their ability to provide enough social amenities to this population. Such amenities include schools, jobs, and housing. For a country like the US whose population is composed of more older individuals than the younger population, its focus changes where it narrows its concern to establishing more and better retirement and health systems in order to take care of its older population (Zelman, Mulvihill & Tompary, 2009). In the US, the population as noted above has undergone changes where the young population is being replaced by the older population as a result of the rapid population aging. Recent studies in the U.S have indicated a trend where individuals who are 65 years old and above have been increasing. This when considered to the country’s total population means that in 2009 this increase in the older population was noted to be 12.8 percent. This is estimated to increase where the US Population Bureau expects this percentage to rise to about 20.2% of the whole population by 2050. This means that in every five Americans, one will be above the age of 65. This trend has been supported by various factors.

Firstly, American fertility has taken a new shape where fertility has decreased slightly. For instance, the fertility rates taken in 2008 were lower than those of 2007. In addition, in 2008 there was a recorded reduction in teenage childbearing by 2%, which was a decline in 14 years. The other contributor is the increase in the age of first-time mothers to about 25.1 years and the general decline in fertility rate for women who are below the age of 40. This has been increasing steadily over the past few years. The fertility rate which is expected to decrease over the next few decades is a result of various issues that American society is facing. Some of these factors include the increase in the cost of raising a child, a delay in childbearing, and an increase in the participation of women in the labor force. The other factor that contributed to the above trend is the change in the rate of mortality across the US population (Shrestha & Heisler, 2011).

According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2000), mortality in America is estimated to remain low in the next two to three decades. This is where the range will be 8.6 deaths in every 1000 persons in the whole population. This means that Americans are expected to live longer than even the current ages. A decrease in the mortality rate across the population will lead to an increase in life expectancy. The current steady increase in life expectancy is among the highest that has been observed since 1840. These estimates may change in the next 10 to 20 years where factors like smoking and issues related to obesity may slow the increase in life expectancy, especially among the younger population. However, the observed decrease in the mortality rate among the older population is promising. This has been a result of improvement in medical interventions.

The growth expectation in the older population over the next two decades in the US has impacts on the health care system. This is because this population will require more care in terms of medical facilities due to the increase in their number. In addition, age-related complications and diseases are likely to be more common. There is diversity among these populations where the composition includes 72 percent white, 11 percent involves the Hispanic individuals, 10 percent is the African-Americans while the Asians constit 5 percent of the American older population. Health issues among these groups affect them differently (Shrestha & Heisler, 2011). For instance, chronic conditions like high blood pressure and cancer are known to affect them in different measures.

Unlike in the past when the US population structure was composed of more young individuals, the projected structure is expected to increase in a rectangular manner where the higher population will be more than all the rest by 2050. The current statistics in the United States public data already indicate that in this population of elder persons, about 80% of them have at least one chronic condition while about 50% of them have at least two of these conditions. Examples of these conditions include diabetes and Alzheimer among other chronic conditions that lead to severe disability. Diabetes among the old population in America affects around 18.7% of this population which means that in every five individuals above the age of 65, one has the condition. As this population increases, situations of this condition will increase. With the aging of this population, the impacts of diabetic conditions are therefore expected to increase. This increase will depend on both age and sex. For instance, by 2050 the individuals who are above the age of 75 years will have the largest percentage of the diabetic condition. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (2000), in this population, 4.4 million women and 4.2 million men will be experiencing the impacts of this condition by that year. The other disease that will increase health issues due to this trend is Alzheimer’s disease. The disease which is caused by a genetic disorder will be more prevalent even in its impacts. This is because the impacts are known to double every five years after the age of 65. It is estimated that 10% of the older population in America who are 65 years have the condition. This is projected to increase with the increase in this age where 47% of those above the age of 85 years will have the condition (CDC, 2003).

There is much that can be done to reduce health complications in this aging population in order to enable older Americans to progress with their lives without being affected so much by their conditions. In an attempt to preserve the health of this aging population, American state legislators have come up with several strategies. These include promotion of healthy aging, expanding the use of preventive services, and empowering healthy lifestyles among others. In the process of promoting healthy aging, the legislators have narrowed their awareness of the importance of adopting healthy lifestyles to the older population (Council of State Governments, 2007). Through conducting communication awareness and even using the media to enlighten these individuals on this issue, the fight is bearing fruits. In addition, the state legislators have organized and supported the Senior Olympic Games where they encourage the older population to take part so that they can learn various aspects of good health and how they can improve their quality of life. Secondly, the state legislators have set up strategies for enlarging the use of preventive services. This is through liaising with units of the aged in order to provide them with health promotion plans. They have also provided incentives for insurance coverage in order to encourage preventive services.

Obesity

The United States has experienced a lot of change in the composition of the bodies of all average citizens. This is where the individuals in this nation have continued to increase their body weight and fatness since early 1980. In the last two decades alone, the average body weight has been noted to have increased by about 10%. This has resulted in to increase in clinical obesity by double the number within the same time. The epidemic of obesity is affecting all groups of the population from children to adults. Studies have shown that there has been an average increase in overweight and obesity among both men and women. The estimated change in the level of obesity is expected to increase to a prevalence of about 40.8 percent in adults by the year 2015. This level of overweight population is expected to be even higher where it is estimated that by 2015 this rate will be about 74.7 percent.

Various factors support this trend. Firstly, environmental factors have played part in this increase. One reason for the increase in these levels changes in prices and availability of the types of foods that promote healthy diets. For instance, an observation that was carried out in three weeks at a cafeteria showed that the reduction in prices of salad and fruits was followed by an increase in the consumption of these commodities. This ultimately led to the population preference for fast foods which reduced the prevalence of overweight among this population. In another study designed to determine the relationship between television usage and an increase in body weight, it showed that the reduction in time spent watching the television led to a reduction in the prevalence of overweight among the population that was evaluated (Wang & Beydoun, 2007). These environmental issues thus showed that environmental issues have supported this trend. This is because when these individuals are unable to access healthy foods due to their scarcity or increase in prices, they result in cheap foods and those that are readily available. These foods always lack nutritional value and are not balanced. On the other hand, lack of the emphasis on outdoor activities like games and sports lead to children and adults resulting in indoor entertainment, mostly television watching which encourages body inactivity. This, therefore, leads to increased weight which is the beginning of obesity.

The other factor that has supported the increase in the rates of obesity in the American population is the changing demographics. The current trend in the American population is characterized by changes in food supply where individuals are turning to fast foods which are not balanced and have high levels of calories. Secondly, the population has overlooked the importance of physical activities which encourage healthy living.

Obesity is affecting the health of the majority of the American population. This is because currently, this epidemic is contributing about 10 percent of the country’s expenses to the medical budget. The current statistics indicate that nearly one in every three young individuals is overweight. Since this leads to about 70 percent of adults who are overweight, this has increased the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases which are currently among the leading killer diseases in America.

Solutions to salvage this trend can be set in order to reverse the negative impacts of obesity. Firstly, families should be encouraged to involve themselves in healthier activities like physical activities instead of just using all their time watching television. In addition, they should focus on improving their diets by focusing on a balanced diet right from home and even in school. The meals offered in schools should also be aimed at reducing the number of calories in their contents. In an attempt to reduce obesity among adults, the concern should be given both in workstations and at home. For instance, physical activities should become a good health measure. Restaurants should also participate in this fight to defeat obesity by including nutrition information on their menus (Yancy, 2009). In addition, they should use ingredients that promote healthy diets in the preparation of their meals.

In conclusion, both age-related problems and obesity are matters of national concern as they are affecting the American population. However, as discussed above, these issues can be solved through the cooperation of the state’s public health and the citizens.

References

CDC. (2003). Public Health and Aging: Trends in Aging – United States and Worldwide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 52(06), 101-106. Web.

Council of State Governments. (2007). Keeping the aging population healthy: Legislator Policy Brief. Lexington, KY: CSG. Web.

Shrestha, L. B. and Heisler, E. J. The changing demographic profile of the United States. Congressional Research Service. CSR Report for Congress, March 31, 2011. Web.

U.S. Census Bureau. (2000). State and national population projections. Web.

Wang, Y. and Beydoun, M. A. (2007). The obesity epidemic in the United States—gender, age, socioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and geographic characteristics: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Oxford Journal, 29(1), 6-28

Yancy, C. (2009). Solutions: Dealing with America’s obesity problem. The Washington Times, Online Edition. Sunday, Web.

Zelman, M., Mulvihill, M. L. and Tompary, E. (2009). Human diseases: A systemic approach, 7th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

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