As written before, senior care is changing, mainly due to a change in population structure but also due to changes in demand and technological developments. In this article we take a look at the future of senior care.
From several researches it appears that the 80+ population is expected to increase by almost 80% by 2030 while the increase in caregivers will only be 1% for the same period. In 2010 every person over 80 years old with a risk of needing care had 7 potential caregivers, in 2050 there will only be three potential caregivers.
By 2030, the senior population is expected to make up for 20% of total population. This number is expected to remain solid until 2050. This means that the upcoming years, there is going to be a major shift in population structure. This is due to the baby boom generation; people of this generation are becoming seniors over the next 10 to 20 years.
Changes in demand
Not only this population shift will have an impact the future of senior care but also the demand that these seniors will have urges a change in the way senior care is being offered.
Currently, senior housing is often targeted towards the income group who can afford relatively expensive care or the low-end market, which is supported by government funding. This means there is a big gap of middle-income seniors who are demanding affordable senior care. Therefore there is a need for the construction of affordable housing and developing technology that supports caregiving staff to reduce costs of caregivers.
There are more changes in housing for seniors to be expected in the near future. Seniors demand more independence, even though they might need some help every now and then. A change in memory care is that dementia patients have the possibility to live in communities with the look and feel of the 1950´s. This appeals to the long-term memory of the patients, which is often in better state than short-term memory. Multi-generational housing is increasing. Families put additions to their house or even built small separate units to accommodate housing for their elderly family members. That way they remain independent but there is a helping hand available close to home. There will be an increase in senior housing in downtown areas to reduce transportation issues and maintain social interaction. Co-housing is rising, which means that small groups of seniors are living together and are able to divide household tasks and have social interaction. They have, for example, one younger house manager in case they need assistance.
There is also shift in the place where care is provided, not only to the home but also often out of the hospital into other care facilities. Assisted living for example will integrate more and more care services, especially primary care.
Seniors are more conscious of what they want and demand a high quality of life. This includes an active participation in society, often in means of working or volunteering. Furthermore seniors want to have proper prepared meals, they prefer fresh and healthy, the way their food tastes is part of how satisfied they are with their living conditions. Seniors will demand fitness centres and exercise options in senior housing to stay active and fit.
Demand of the workforce
Also we have to change the view of the workforce. There are more options than often considered. Many people that are approaching retirement age want to stay in the workforce but maybe in a more flexible way. At the moment this is often not possible because of inflexibility and accompanying costs. To accommodate older workers this should change. Also there are possibilities in newly graduates, if we create more motivating career paths and enthusiasm amongst this younger generation they can serve the senior care industry. There is also an opportunity in high school graduates, they can work when they leave school and in the same time continue their education, and this means they learn partly in practice and partly in education.
The role of technology in the future of senior care is increasing. Technology is widely accepted by baby boomers contrary to the senior generation that lives now. In 2030, the generation of seniors will already be more used to the use of technology and more open minded towards it. On the contrary there is doubt in the way technology can facilitate some social factors. Therefore most experts are convinced that a balanced combination of care provided by people and care provided by technology is important. Technology should be used to assist caregivers in simple but often time consuming and expensive tasks, so the caregiver has more time for actual patient interaction.
Another technological advancement is the Internet of Things. Technology can be used in the way that it gathers big amounts of data from which relevant information can be subtracted to improve quality of care. This probably leads to quicker and more accurate diagnosis
To sum up the trends in the future of senior care:
- Healthy living with healthy food and exercise possibilities.
- Seniors are part of the work force; part time, full time, voluntarily or non-voluntarily works.
- Education demands and travel options; development and experience are important.
- Living for middle-income class.
- Paperless working environment to appeal to new workers.
- Embracement of technology that helps increase independence.
- Data analysis to increase quality of life.
- Integrated care services.
- More urban living communities, including restaurants, bars and other leisure activities.
- Complete monitoring of the person, advancing to any arising problem.
- Study individual daily life patterns to detect concrete changes.