By Jean Wong
It was Shakespeare who said, “With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.”
Americans are living longer. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, beginning on January 1, 2011 until the end of 2030 for 19 years, there will be 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching age 65 every single day. That is roughly 70 million seniors gained or 18% of the total U.S. population.
With an extended lifespan, there are more health concerns for this aging population. So what is aging services and who are the men and women taking caring of your loved ones?
Many begin their service by becoming nurses and most of them start with being certified nursing assistants (CNA). This profession usually requires a five-week training at a CNA school, one week practicum at a sponsoring nursing facility, and a passing score for a state sanctioned test. Often times, the CNA certification is a first step toward a rewarding nursing career, including registered nurse (RN) and nurse practitioner (NP), or other healthcare related programs at universities and colleges. Some programs require their students to have had 2,000 plus hours of in-service training, which being a CNA qualifies for.
However, nursing is not the only way someone can become a bona fide aging services healthcare practitioner. Inside today’s aging services, there is a continuum of care ranging from social programs such as dancing, knitting, computer classes, and group travel, to home care, assisted living, and full on skilled nursing care. Inside the doors of aging services are many careers.
The social fabric of our society has been changing and reversing. From the same Pew study, it finds that single person living household is on the rise while many are going back to living in a multiple generational home. In 2008, 16% of all American households have at least two generations of adults or are living with a grandparent, up from 12% in 1980. This trend is perhaps only going to grow larger as people live longer.
The National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC) says more than 90 percent of older adults would prefer to age in place rather than move to senior housing. Living arrangements will get increasingly complicated as millions of older adults are living alone. While the cost of living and the drive for aging services healthcare will continue to rise as well. Both older adults and the younger generations have to figure out how to take care of each other and thrive in their household and communities.
In recent years, according to data collected at the U.S. Census Bureau, population in major cities increased. Besides the food, culture, sports, and the night life is the overall quality of life with better healthcare centers. Having the ease and access to good healthcare practitioners is an essential part of good health, good living. The practitioners enable people to have the freedom of choice to be alone or be with an extended family. The other is the economic drivers. With more millennial and younger people moving home. Having a closer proximity to jobs and opportunity are keys to success.
A traditional RN with just a two-year Associate Degree can make good starting wages. Some RN careers now are hybrid with healthcare technologies and business administration. Newer dual degrees such as Master in Business Administration and Master of Science in Nursing are being formed concurrently to meet the seed of change in our communities. These types of alternative RN jobs often lead to more advance level of career practice in healthcare management or administration. Skills learned in the different function areas are transferrable. Thus irrespective of where the population and society decide to age and thrive now and later, there will always be a need for human capital.
Technology is making complex tasks much easier. However, only humans are sophisticated enough to approach challenges when empathy and interpersonal interaction comes into play. The need for high-quality social services and medical rehabilitative support that creatively and proactively address the needs of the aging populations will only continue to grow, creating a greater demand for professionals with specialized knowledge, and expertise in aging. The robots can come help but humans will take the lead.
Thank you to the men and women who care for our loved ones every day. Let the wrinkle lines around the eyes encapsulate the light within them as we age joyously.