Health: Senior health care is now more important than ever

By Debbie Howes Fleming Published:

The average life span for a person born in 1900 was 47.3 years. Because of medical breakthroughs, abundant food supplies, water purification and the improvement in health overall, the life expectancy of someone born today has reached 76.9 years. Traditionally, women tend to have slightly longer life expectancies than do men.

Chronic and degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death today. These diseases have replaced the infectious, acute diseases of the early 1900s that were the leading causes of death. As we age and our health declines, chronic diseases disproportionately affect people over the age of 65. Approximately 80 percent of all Americans over 65 have at least one chronic condition or disease.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of people over the age of 65 will increase from 35 million in 2000 to 71 million in 2030. Currently there are 35 million seniors in the U.S. There are 77 million “Baby Boomers” in the US who are beginning to reach retirement age. Planning for retirement including health care options for the future should be a priority.

With an aging population, health care issues and needs change and expand. Boomers are not only taking care of themselves, but also they are finding it necessary to care for their elderly parents. In addition, if the number of people age 20-64 also continues to decline there will be less economic resources to meet those needs.

As services expand, home care agencies continue to grow as favorite options for in-home care. It is important to evaluate the home health agencies in your community to determine which one best meets your needs. One question to ask is how long an agency has been in operation. Asking for references is also necessary.

Franklin County Home Health Agency (FCHHA) is a non-profit program of the Franklin County Health Department. Established in 1977, FCHHA believes that compassionate caring in an in-home setting is an important part of the health care continuum. Both preventive and restorative care can be cost-effective and demonstrative of quality. FCHHA was the 1997 recipient of the Home Care Elite award, a national award given to the best home care providers.

The program is not just for the elderly. People of all ages may qualify for services that FCHHA offers. Once a healthcare provider refers a patient to the agency, a complete assessment will be done to determine if home health care is appropriate for the patient. A plan of action is developed to meet the needs of the patient.

Today home health care has grown far beyond basic nursing and home health aid services. It encompasses all aspects of a person’s life. The best place for anyone needing help with health care may be in his or her own home. This is especially true, as the holiday season approaches.

For more information on the program, visit our website at fchd.org and click on the Home Health button or call 564-7383.

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