Since the population of the world has been increasing during the last decades, the proportion of older people is becoming higher in most developed countries. It means that the investigation and understanding of their health needs have become an important priority. There is considerable evidence of socioeconomic inequalities in global health among older adults due to a disability, morbidity, and mortality. Often, their health depends on the quality of life, the level of the healthcare system, teaching and learning in nursing, moral issues, and regulatory guidelines, which vary greatly in different countries. Nowadays, there is a need to foster awareness of the challenges of an aging generation in order to find appropriate ways to reduce aging-related health problems. This paper focuses on the importance of the global healthcare of older adults from both historical and modern perspectives.
Historical Perspectives on Global Health of Older Adults
Throughout history, the intergenerational interaction had a mixed character, so that the attitude to the elderly has not always been positive. Moreover, the aging population was perceived as a threat to society that was accompanied by various forms of negative attitudes towards older people. Currently, all countries have an aging population due to different factors such as a general increase in life expectancy, “baby boom” of 1945-1946, and a decrease in fertility (Read et al., 2016). Nowadays, in the Western World, the age of 85-88 is increasingly becoming a norm. The ability of older people to bring material and spiritual benefits to society depends on their health and the fact of whether society is willing to change stereotypical attitudes towards older people and their social protection. Thus, with the proper respect for the elderly, provided by the state, public associations and other organizations, as well as society as a whole, their lives can become quite fulfilling.
Due to such trends, in the next 10-20 years, the number of retirees will accumulate, and there may be a situation when senior citizens will account for the majority of the population (Read et al., 2016). In general, the lifestyle deterioration of elderly people is determined by the increase in the lack of demand in the family and society; loss of familiar social status; non-competitiveness on the labor market; deterioration of health; and the decrease in the ability to self-service (Taylor, 2014). In particular, the USA faces the aging of the nation that will be a major challenge in the second decade of the 21st century (Read et al., 2016).
Concerns for Global Health Teaching and Learning in Nursing
In order to improve the quality of healthcare globally, it is important to provide high-quality teaching and learning. Despite functional changes in the neurological system that occur in older adults, the literature reveals that special strategies may intensify their capacity to learn (Harttgen et al., 2013). The most important element of patient education is an assessment stage of the teaching and learning process. Learning needs are based on a teaching plan, according to which nurses identify objectives and organize teaching content. Admittedly, this content is based on learning theories and the environment, as well as on the variety of approaches. By prioritizing the needs of older patients, nurses can teach more effectively. For example, this activity allows a nurse to identify specific and immediate needs both today and in the future. Planning helps nurses to integrate teaching into everyday nursing activities such as, for example, giving medicine. Taylor (2014) believes that integrated global health teaching and learning in nursing maximizes teaching and learning sessions and provides additional time for processing the information.
The purpose of teaching and learning in nursing is to overcome a gap between previous and new knowledge, for example, it is important to identify the desired and achieved expectations of older adults. Therefore, it is crucial to set mutual goals for a nurse and a patient, as well as to motivate them to participate in this activity. Effective patient engagement may bring better results in understanding the patient’s immediate and specific needs. Shrivastava et al. (2013) suggest that outcomes are more successful if they reach the client’s needs and interests. In practice, it is necessary to coordinate the goals and outcomes of teaching and learning with patients and their families.
The Importance of Global Health of Older Adults
The global health of older adults matters because of numerous factors. First of all, the proportion of chronic diseases increases with age, so that 23 percent of all global illnesses are attributable to people aged 60 and more (Taylor, 2014). Consequently, an increased proportion of mortality and morbidity occurs due to the chronic diseases that affect older people. All countries recognize the existence of health disparities that occur on the basis of socioeconomic, racial, gender, and cultural differences.
Published healthcare policies recognize that macro-environmental factors are the main determinants of health disparities that affect the working and living conditions of the communities. In many cases, healthcare inequalities encourage governments to establish national research programs that address economic, social, and environmental factors. As a rule, they focus on primary care and prevention in the National Prevention Strategy and the National Prevention Council (Harttgen et al., 2013).
Formalized Regulatory Guidelines
Formalized regulatory guidelines, directed at healthcare inequalities among the older population, are among major public policy concerns. Literature reveals that the “2030 problem” will manage an effective service system for the aging population that is supposed to be doubled by the implementation of sufficient resources (Read et al., 2016). Baby Boomers will outnumber 61 million individuals in 2030 (Taylor, 2014). This number is of the greatest concern for the U. S. government that has developed a “long-term care system,” according to which 42 percent of older adults after the age of 70 will live in nursing homes (Shrivastava et al., 2013). These services will be based on nonprofit private providers and will depend on available resources. The Balanced Budget Refinement Act and the Home Health Prospective Payment System have overcome considerable policy revisions in order to provide considerable growth in spendings, which are supposed to rise in the coming decades.
Important Moral Issues in Global Healthcare of Older Adults
When providing global healthcare for older adults, nurses and other healthcare providers encounter moral and ethical issues, related to their specific needs. There is an urgent need to find ways of creating a respectful and tolerant attitude toward the elderly. Therefore, it is necessary to improve their social status, because a proper attitude to them can maintain positive aging, favorable psychological state, and their perception of themselves as full-fledged personalities. Nurses and society should promote respect for the elderly by establishing a behavioral model, which includes positive emotional attitudes towards the older generation, as well as the willingness of others to value interaction with the elderly.
"Burden of Chronic Care"
Although the burden of chronic diseases increases in all countries, their prevalence is 40 percent higher in less-developed states (Harttgen et al., 2013). The main contributors to chronic care are cardiovascular diseases (30 percent), chronic respiratory diseases (9·5 percent), malignant neoplasms (15 percent), neurological and mental disorders (6 percent), and chronic respiratory diseases (9·5 percent) (Taylor, 2014). Therefore, the aging population is associated with chronic diseases that require a patient’s stratification, engagement, and efficiency. For example, telehealth services have become extremely popular all around the world. Furthermore, the implementation of coordinated care is another effective way to improve the patient’s satisfaction. Finally, the older population needs more nurses, who can assist them at home and in medical facilities. Although the population is getting older, which results in the worldwide epidemic of chronic diseases, nurses can modify the interdependence of chronological age and health (Read et al., 2016).
Healthcare Productivity and Economic Costs of Older Adults
The high level of spending on healthcare for older people impacts the economy of all states. According to the statistics, 87 percent of older adults in the USA have one chronic disease and 68 percent have two or more (Shrivastava et al., 2013). These findings indicate that American elder citizens are sicker than those in any other country. Despite the Medicare coverage, 21 percent of the U. S. older adults spend $2,000 on healthcare annually, while people in other countries spend considerably less (Harttgen et al., 2013). For example, only two percent of the U. K. citizens spend the same sum, while in France there are no such people at all. In fact, the societal costs for age-related diseases are enormous in the United States and other developed countries.
Older adults are the most vulnerable population group that can often rely only on their scarce resources. Many findings reveal that after entering later life, older people become an economic burden for any society (Taylor, 2014). In any high-income country, aging individuals begin to spend more on healthcare, so that average labor income is exceeded. In the USA, by 2030, medical care insurance costs will grow, social security payments will increase, and long-term care expenses will grow considerably (Read et al., 2016).
In conclusion, an increased number of older adults is a great concern for many states. Governments and healthcare providers realize a growing burden of chronic care because older people have more illnesses that require additional spending and nursing staff. Therefore, there is a need to foster awareness of the challenges of an aging world in order to find appropriate ways to reduce age-related health problems. Formalized regulatory guidelines are directed to eliminate healthcare inequalities among the older population, as well as to develop new policies that will protect the elderly.