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Effect of Demographic Changes on Healthcare

Effectof Demographic Changes on Healthcare

Healthcare,though not highlighted as an essential need for human beings, is veryessential for survival. Different healthcare measures are supposed tobe established for different age groups or different portions of thepopulation, since they come with different healthcare needs. Theaging population is one of the population groups that requires highlyattentive and specific healthcare support, the other being infancy.Many chronic illnesses are associated with geriatrics for example,diabetes mellitus, arthritis and hypertensive heart disease. Theaging population in the US (persons above 65 years) stood at 39.6million in the year 2009 (Adams et al, 2011). This represented 12.9%of the country’s total population. This also means that about 1 inevery 8 Americans is a person over 65 years of age. However, there isa statistical prediction that this figure will grow to 19% by theyear 2030 (Adams et al, 2011). Keep in mind that this is impossibleunless better healthcare services for this group of people are inplace.

Changingdemographics accompanies changing environment in the healthcaremarket. If the change in demographics favors an increase in the agingpopulation, there will be a booming market for the geriatrics andpeople dealing with chronic illnesses affecting the elderly. Nursinghomes also tend to increase and overflow in the event of a positiveaging population. However, in the case of a young population, thereverse is true. Due to a relatively high birth rate, the obstetricsand gynecology market flourishes as compared to geriatrics. There ishigh demand of infant and childhood healthcare specialists to supportthe young population. In addition, the situation will force theestablishment of more prenatal and antenatal clinics to cater to thepregnant women, the fetuses and the infants. Pediatrics is alsoanother area that will be affected by a young population. This is dueto the need for better healthcare for the young children and theirmothers. As an association, there will be a slightly booming marketfor nutritionists since the young population and their mothers needclose nutritional monitoring. Many diseases come with malnutritionand improper nutrition. This might be congenital or acquired afterbirth. Some of the diseases are associated with neural tube defects,improper embryogenesis among others. In case of young populationdemographics favoring the young adults’ age group, there is alsoneed for psychiatrist, psychotherapists and counselors, since this isan age group where people indulge in drugs. In such a population, ifhealthcare measures are taken seriously, the market of this group ofphysicians will flourish.

Achange in the demographics of as given geographical area isassociated with difference in the cost of healthcare services. Ayoung population, whose majority is between 15-45 years, is expectedto attract a relatively low cost of healthcare services compared toan ageing population. This is because, in the former, the immunesystem is relatively strong and therefore, they are in a betterposition to defend themselves against various pathologicalsituations. Chronic illnesses are rare in this age group, unless itis a congenital case (Schneider &amp Guranlik, 1990). Increased needfor in-home medical care and establishment of more nursing homes tocentralize services is associated with the ageing population.Therefore, population demographics favoring a positive ageingpopulation means that more funds are supposed to be put in place forthe effect of these two. Most aged people are uncomfortable withregular movement are better with sitting in one place. This meansthat healthcare services cannot be availed to them unless they arebrought much closer. This, therefore, necessitates the existence ofnursing homes, which are fully equipped with the right personnel, forthem to access healthcare. In cases where the siblings and closerelations of the aged patients are uncomfortable with the nursinghome idea, it becomes necessary to effect an in-home healthcaresystem. This allows them to access healthcare services withoutnecessarily moving to a medical care facility (Goodwin, 1992).

Achronic disease wellness program may increase the cost of in-homemedical services and other healthcare costs in the short-run.However, in the end the cost of establishing more nursing homes willbe reduced since the program will leave a low incidence of chronicillnesses. Therefore, the family of the aged patients is able to takecare of them without necessarily needed specialized skills.Therefore, the market needs should be adjusted to directly addressthe population demographics of the given population (Schneider &ampGuranlik, 1990).

Goodpolicy making and implementation process are some of the key featuresof an appropriate process to address the challenges of demographicchanges and healthcare. This includes gathering the right statisticsand actually using the statistics to make effective changes in thehealthcare system. This ensures that the medical care needs of thepopulation are directly addressed, as opposed to generalimplementation of plans that cover a wide demographic constitution.For instance, if the population is skewed towards a young population,the policies should be implemented to maintain the birth rate butreduce the rate. However, in reducing the death rate, infant andchildhood mortality are the ones to be given major focus, since thesmall ageing population is unlikely to be affected as such.

Inconclusion, healthcare services and demographic changes are closeassociates, and therefore, a change in one affects the other.


Adams,P. E., Martinez, M. E., Vickerie, J. L., Kirzinger, W. K. (2011).Summary Health Statistics for the US Population: National HealthInterview Survey, 2010. Vitaland Health Statistics. Series 10, Data from the National HealthSurvey,(251) 1-117.

Goodwin,D. R. (1992). Critical Pathways in-home Healthcare. Journalof Nursing Administration,22 (2) 35-40.

Schneider,E. L., &amp Guranlik, J.M. (1990). The Aging America: Impacton Healthcare Costs.Jama, 263 (17), 2335-2340.