With the passage of time, many trends have changed human lives. There was a time when there weren’t enough human beings on this planet, and they died at young ages due to insufficient medicinal knowledge. As the years went by, the population grew because people began to live for longer periods. With the advancement of technology and science, there are so many ways to make sure we maintain good health and live longer lives. Now we have reached a time when the older population is outnumbering the population of infants; mortality and birth rates have both decreased significantly.
The current death rate in the U.S. is 1.09%, while the birth rate is 0.09%. Younger people are starting to resist the idea of having children because of rising inflation and the general labor involved in bearing and raising them. Many people are choosing their independence and prosperity over parenting. This is compounding existing shortages in healthcare workers. While we have an aging population that needs care in order to boost their longevity, healthcare workers are also getting older, with fewer replacements entering the field as time passes.
Impact of age demographics on the healthcare industry
There are a variety of things to consider when discussing how an aging population impacts the industry as a whole. There is the perspective of the workers in the industry to consider, as well as that of the people requiring care and of other stakeholders. It has a domino effect wherein many parameters shift simply by changing the average life expectancy and birth rates.
Shortage of nurses
There simply aren’t as many nurses registering to work as there were in the past. The demand for nurses has increased over time, which makes it a great career to enter. Studying an online nursing degree program at Spring Arbor University will open many doors and provide excellent career opportunities.
Another reason for fewer nurses being registered these days is the fact that the profession of nursing has evolved dramatically. In the past, observation played a central role in nurses becoming qualified for their jobs. Now, however, they have to obtain multiple degrees just to have a chance at a rewarding career. The amount of work that goes into becoming a registered and practicing nurse may be too much for some people when there are other careers that offer good returns for less work.
A major contributor to the shortage of nurses in America is the lack of educational resources. Because nurses need such a high level of education and training, there aren’t enough faculty and clinics available to take in every aspiring nurse. Every year, thousands of people who want to go into nursing are turned down because there just isn’t enough space. This leads to a frustrating situation wherein the number of older people needing care is increasing but we just don’t have the resources to get the necessary number of nurses.
Older population requiring care
Once again, people are not having as many children as they did in the past, which is why we now have a growing number of older people and fewer younger ones. It should also be noted that although we have better facilities, hygiene practices and healthcare these days, we also have more diseases. Cancer, for example, was not as common a few decades ago as it is now. As the number of older and vulnerable people grows, so does the number of diseases and conditions needing treatment. Keep in mind that nurses are getting older, too, and these are the workers who spend the most time with patients.
Older nurses don’t have the same amount of energy or ambition as younger ones do because once they reach a certain stage of their career, they may feel they have done everything they set out to do. It may feel pointless for them to work equally as hard when they are near retirement as they did when their career began, not to mention the effects of emerging age-related health issues.
Impact on society
The biggest cause of concern that the problem of an aging population brings with it is the decline of innovation. If there aren’t enough younger minds getting into the field of nursing or healthcare, how will practices evolve for the better? In addition, some experts point out that all the money being spent on keeping healthcare up and running for the boomer generation is money that cannot be invested in the innovation and evolution of nursing.
Another shift that is going to have to happen very soon is an increase in the retirement age for nurses. Because there aren’t enough nurses coming into the system, we can’t afford to lose the ones we have. Incentive programs will be needed to retain nurses when they are ready to retire and rest.
Technology, particularly artificial intelligence, is already on the rise, but given the age problem affecting the healthcare industry, it will take on increasing importance in the future. There will be a lot of automation and reliance on tech to assist healthcare workers in taking care of patients. This means that the older workforce that is less tech-savvy will have to be trained. Instead of having dynamic youngsters come in and take over the torch from senior workers, it will be the senior workers who will be much more literate in technology to do their jobs.
In the future, a lot of work must be done to make working environments comfortable for senior nurses because with more people now choosing to live individually or with their partners without having children, there will be fewer family units who can take care of each other.
When this generation of Millennials reaches a stage where they have to be cared for, they will be dependent on professional healthcare providers, so there must be some sort of meaningful progress made to make sure the industry can keep pace.
What we all need to come to terms with is the fact that change is inevitable. No matter how hard we try or how many incentives we come up with, the reality is that younger people are not having enough children and are not going into nursing jobs, either by choice or due to a lack of access.
We can either fool ourselves into thinking that everything will be back to the old ways in some time, or we can be proactive and start embracing the change. This means creating policies and regulations that enable the older workforce to continue with their jobs while coming up with methods to equip them with modern techniques.
Like many other industries, there will be a few types of jobs or work activities that will become obsolete in the healthcare industry in the coming years. There is no turning back time, but this certainly does not mean that people working in the industry should not be considered. In fact, a lot of work could be done to help the young people who want to become a part of this industry. If the gaps in the system can be filled, there will be people who are ready to take up nursing work – perhaps even enough to help reduce the shortage in the industry.
Every generation brings with it new opportunities and new challenges. There is no way to stop change from happening. However, we live in the digital age with access to education, tech literacy and information, so we do have an opportunity to be prepared. The healthcare industry is shifting and morphing to a new reality, but it isn’t all bad. After all, we do have access to some of the best technology and medicinal expertise in human history.
It is great news that the average life expectancy has increased around the world. Nothing is more valuable than people’s lives, and there is nothing wrong with the current generation’s disinterest in having children. Human beings have faced many changes throughout the course of history and have found ways to adapt, and the changing healthcare environment is no different.