Definitions of what constitutes good health in old age vary from study to study. Health, social and economic policies for older people also differ across developed countries.
As the ageing population in industrialized countries and many developing countries increases in number, quality of life and life expectancy, the key question is whether ageing of the population can go hand in hand with a sustained improvement in health and quality of life with sufficient social and economic resources. The answer to this question lies in the ability of families, communities and modern social, political, economic and health systems to provide the best possible support for the elderly. The United States health care system is not prepared for complex care for a heterogeneous population of older adults – a problem exacerbated by the coronavirus disease of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2019.
The New York Times (NYT) has compiled recent data showing that 28,100 residents and workers in the United States have died from SARS-CoV-2 infections in nursing homes and long-term care facilities for elderly people. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the nursing home populations are at high risk of being affected by COVID-19, which not only exacerbates the risks for the elderly but also puts caregivers at risk. The epicenter of the current crisis is the nursing home. Hospitals are one such place in a larger community concerned with the health and well-being of older adults.
Compared to other age groups, older people have a higher residence and use of care services, both at home and in the community. Older people living in rural areas have access to fewer health services and have to travel longer distances to get treatment. Metropolitan and suburban areas are ageing faster than urban districts (see Figure 4).
The main sources of cost increases in the health system are inflation, increasing population, advances in medical technology (new pharmaceuticals, surgical techniques, diagnostic imaging, end of life care, etc. In fact, the cost of health care for aging is estimated at more than 1% per year (Romanov, 2002).
As health care improves and life expectancy increases worldwide, care for the elderly is an emerging issue. Policy changes such as pooling, surrendering and other value-based payments are needed to promote care provision, take into account social determinants of health, take into account lifestyle changes, recognize the diversity of the elderly and provide the services needed for those with serious diseases. In 2016, the authors of Vital Directions expressed deep concern about inequalities in health care, inequality and structural racism, which lead to a disproportionate risk of negative consequences for the disadvantaged and most vulnerable.
In 2020, deep concerns about inequalities in health care, inequality, structural racism and the resulting disproportionate risk of adverse outcomes among disadvantaged and most vulnerable are serious and provide an opportunity for re-evaluation and policy guidance to address persistent problems. Based on international data on the gender gap at a young age, trends and changes in personal resources and health-related lifestyles in developed countries, conclusions on future changes in the gender gap present practical implications for future improvements in women’s health and well-being.
Education is an important resource for dealing with life crises, including health problems, as informal means to information and knowledge are easier to access as networked professionals and influential people in power positions. Furthermore, the disadvantage of women in terms of education and income has a negative impact on health and well-being, which is one of the most influential factors influencing women’s socio-economic status and health, as well as their social role in raising children and caring for sick family members.
One of the ways in which researchers are trying to understand the impact of widespread social change on older people is by studying ageing and ageing in the context of modernisation. Nutrition is an important element for the health of older people because it affects the entire aging process.