Lifespan Healthcare Issues

Growing older is a physiological process that everybody undergoes at a particular point of their life. However, aging predisposes the body to various health issues that have been of concern to the healthcare system. For instance, Balamurugan and Ramathirtham (2012) contend that some of the health problems that affect individuals as they age are skin diseases, asthma, tuberculosis, urinary problems, and joint pains. Significant progress of the global healthcare system in managing such issues has further resulted in improved methods of health care, causing an increase in the lifespan of older people. Holtz (2016) asserts that by 2000, the life expectancy of the elderly was 66 years worldwide, while the global health care system projects that it would be 73 years by 2025. However, chronic conditions and age-related diseases continue to affect older people, making them seek for specialized care in the homes for the aged. This paper examines the historical perspectives of geriatric issues, published healthcare inequalities, formalized regulatory guidelines, moral and ethical issues, as well as the burden of chronic care; it also analyzes the health productivity and economic costs related to the lifespan healthcare issues.

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Historical Perspectives of Healthcare Issues in Adults

Prolongation of the lifespan began many centuries ago, and it continues to date. According to Ritch (2012), treating age-related diseases in older people with the intention of prolonging their lives started during the time of Hippocrates. In the eighteenth century, many scholars believed that old age was itself an illness and that if healthcare providers could have modified the aging process, it would have resulted in the greater longevity of seniors. By the end of the eighteenth century, people initiated the debate to establish whether aging was a disease or just a predisposition to illness.

Ritch (2012) further ascertains that the discussion of whether aging was a natural process or disease remained unresolved until the nineteenth century when different scholars established that illnesses affected older people due to the worn out tissues. Researchers also discovered that drug action became less significant in old age and that continuous cell division without renewal contributed to death (Ritch, 2012). The society disregarded medical specialization in geriatrics until the half of the twentieth century when scholars began studying issues related to old age to develop appropriate management of diseases. Currently, Mulley (2012) contends that managing health problems of the elderly is a globally growing field. According to the medical expert (2012), the previous finding became a framework for the current studies on health issues related to old age, which show that disease symptoms manifest themselves differently in older people, and drug actions become less significant as people age.

Published Health Care Inequalities among Older Adults

Apart from various health issues, the elderly worldwide also face different inequalities. Most importantly, seniors experience socioeconomic difficulties that prevent them from seeking high-quality medical care. According to Lima-Costa, De Oliveira, Macinko and Marmot (2012), socioeconomic inequalities affect most elder people in middle- and low-income countries, and they significantly contribute to health problems in older adults. For instance, in Brazil, which is considered a developing nation, health problems of the elderly are more severe as compared to the United States, which is a developed country (Lima-Costa et al., 2012).

Wallace (2014) argues that although it is typical of the middle- and low-income countries to experience substantial inequalities regarding the health management of older people, developed countries have significant disparities among the vulnerable populations as well. Wallace (2014) further states that such countries have focused on treating diseases in older people, which is not an efficient approach to managing health issues among seniors. Instead, proper management of health problems in older adults should aim at preventing diseases that rarely occur at older ages in the vulnerable population in developed countries (Wallace, 2014).

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Regulated Guidelines

Different countries across the world have guidelines to care for older adults. Similarly, the healthcare systems globally have guidelines that healthcare providers should employ in managing different diseases in older people. This section examines globally formalized regulatory guidelines in managing diabetes type 2 among seniors.

The International Diabetes Federation (2015) published guidelines that all healthcare providers can utilize in managing diabetes mellitus type 2 in seniors. They recognize all people over 60 years as older adults. The International Diabetes Federation (2015) recommends that the assessment of the elderly with diabetes type 2 should be multidimensional and multidisciplinary. Healthcare providers should consider the functional, psychological, and medical capabilities when assessing older adults. The guidelines further require that healthcare providers use medicines appropriately since aging causes changes in response to medication. Moreover, the guidelines recommend that all older adults who are not suffering from diabetes should regularly undergo a test for undiagnosed diabetes type 2. Finally, when caring for the elderly, evidence-based care is advisable as a fundamental aspect that helps in the proper implementation of interventions.

Moral Issues in Global Healthcare in Older Adults

Since old age comes with different responses to the environment and drugs, health care providers face various moral and ethical concerns when caring for these people. Fontanella, Grant-Kels, Patel, and Norman (2012) contend that older adults might sometimes have impaired judgment as a result of the aging process. Consequently, before practicing patient autonomy in geriatrics, Fontanella et al. (2012) argue that it is paramount to evaluate their decision-making abilities regarding their health. However, the responsibility for making decisions in the older adults might be bestowed upon the family members. Fontanella et al. (2012) also state that healthcare providers should overcome their potential prejudice when managing health problems of older adults. Most importantly, medical professionals should appreciate that each older adult in the healthcare system presents with unique symptoms and, thus, it is paramount to indicate individual peculiarities when managing them.

Burden of Chronic Care

Holtz (2016) asserts that the burden of chronic care of diseases involves the socioeconomic costs, mortality, and morbidity. Komisar (2013) argues that the rising health care costs have resulted in difficulty in seeking treatment services for middle class seniors, thereby causing increased morbidity of various diseases and, thus, the risk of mortality. According to the Centers for Disease Control [CDC] (2016), the prevalence of heart diseases, cancer, and respiratory problems remain high in older people. These conditions lead to increased health care costs and significantly damaged people’s health (CDC, 2016).

Healthcare Productivity and Economic Costs

Medical services for older adults have led to increased health care productivity and economic costs. Regarding healthcare productivity, researchers have discovered various methods of treating  the elderly. For instance, Mulley (2012) states that physicians should adjust the dosages of drugs to the peculiarities of symptoms in seniors as opposed to younger people, because drug action reduces as individuals age. Various ethical and moral issues have also improved the way health care professionals handle geriatric patients. However, the economic costs associated with caring for older adults are high, which only developed countries manage well as opposed to developing countries. Lai (2012) argues that caring for older is a global economic burden not only to families but also to government.

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It is typical of older people to face healthcare problems, because their body cells start malfunctioning with time. The response to the environment and drugs also changes significantly as one ages. Historically, geriatrics was not regarded as important as it is now. Different research studies on health problems of older people have resulted in various discoveries, which have led to improved treatment approaches. Some of the methods include prevention of diseases and caring for seniors in home care settings. The strategies have become challenging in developing countries due to a lack of funds. Similarly, vulnerable populations in developed countries face such difficulties. Nevertheless, the life expectancy of older people keeps increasing due to the efforts to improve the health of seniors. Healthcare providers should, thus, observe moral and ethical issues keenly to make sure they provide appropriate care to older adults as documented in various guidelines.

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