Aging Outreach Director’s Corner

In recent weeks we have heard a great deal about health care and how to best meet the needs of America’s aging population.  There are ongoing debates rleated to prescription medication plans, health insurance plans, and funding for Medicare and Medicaid programs that provide reminbursements or a substantial portion of care provided by long term care facilities.  These decisions will not only impact today’s older adult but the generations to come and service providers who work in thes and related fields.

So how does North Carolina meausre up when we look at population data, socioeconomic factors, health, health care, care giving, long term cre, end of life, and family issues?  The UNC Institute on Aging www.aging.unc.edu provides some interesting statistics for our state.  The number of adults over the age 65 has increased by 21.1 percent in the last decade.  It is projected to ore than double by 2030, increasing 150 percent.  Much of this growth will be in the 85 plus segment of the population, the very group that will be the most in need of services and support  In 2005, life expectancy at birth in North Carolina had already increased to 75.8 years of age.  In 2003, 16 percent of NC older adults were poverty level or below, with many in rural areas where services are more difficult to access.

According to UNC, less than 1 percent of older North Carolinians lack health insurance, and as of 2007, 92 percent of Medicare recipients had some type of prescription drug coverage.  Medicaid provided 1.8 billion for NC elderly in 2007  While these seniors made up 9.3 percent of Medicaid recipients, they received 20.9 percent of the funding.  The incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease in NC is also expected to double over the next 20 years with projected numbers rising above 294,000.  Think of the ripple effect, and all of the individuals, families, communities, and providers that this disease will impact.

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