Teresa Wolande explains the growing importance of long-term care for seniors
As the global population grows and surpasses 7.8 billion humans, there is a rising concern surrounding elderly care. Teresa Wolande who has worked with many insurance companies in the past three decades understands the rising need and importance for long-term care for seniors across the country. Having graduated from the University of Iowa from 1983, she received her bachelor’s in economics before obtaining her MBA in business administration and management at Northwestern University.
As a retired insurance and international risk management professional, Teresa notes the focus on delivering and financing long-term healthcare. With an aging population and increased prevalence of chronic conditions, current systems are ill-prepared to cope with healthcare forecasts. She takes the time to explore the implications and need for further policy development.
It is projected that by the year 2060, the population of the USA will increase from approximately 79 million to 404 million. While estimates show that population growth is expected to slow down in about a decade, there is the concern of disproportionate growth in the elderly. Currently, there are about 3.5 working-age adults for every retired-age individual. However, this number is expected to drop to just 2.5 by 2060. According to Teresa Wolande, the projected growth rate will inevitably put a strain on healthcare and pharmaceutical companies.
In the next 20 years, the population of Americans over the age of 65 will reach approximately 80 million, or about 20% of the population, nearly double what it was in 2000. Those requiring help in basic daily activities, which is generally estimated to be aged 85 and above, has been noted to quadruple from 2000 to 2040.
Increased Life Expectancy
Improvements in technology and healthcare are allowing for patients to live longer than ever before. In a study by Vaupel in 2000, it was estimated that almost 50% of females born today will live to surpass the age of 100, almost double the life expectancy at the turn of the 20th century. Both males and females are expected to live on average 22-26 years longer than their counterparts would have in 1960.
According to Teresa Wolande, age is a significant risk factor for developing a chronic condition. In multiple studies, it has been found that the growing population has directly led to an increase in the number of chronic diseases, most prominently cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.
With chronic conditions, comes the need for effective treatment and management plans. For families and caregivers, there comes a time when it is not feasible to take care of their elderly on their own, and they may require additional support. Long-term care allows individuals to maintain a sense of independence while receiving the help they need.
Long-Term Care Facilities
With the increased need for help throughout the day in activities of daily living (ADL), many seniors opt to move into long-term care facilities that provide the assistance needed. These facilities offer help with almost all daily activities and provide 24-hour around the clock coverage by nursing and personal care workers. Most often, these facilities are partnered with nearby hospitals and have general practitioners as well as specialists available as needed, helping alleviate the need to travel and attend appointments at clinics and hospitals. Most facilities also provide individual care plans, meals, housekeeping, and social and recreational programs. Teresa Wolande notes that compared to retirement facilities, long-term care helps provide a more robust amount of support to patients, making sure that they are taken care of around the clock as needed.
Reducing Patient Injury
An important aspect of long-term care for seniors is the need to reduce the amount of patient injury that occurs as they age, which can include falls, forgetting to take prescribed medications, and elderly abuse. Long-term care helps bridge the gap for many patients that may not be able to take care of themselves, and allows them a space that is safe for them to live in. With nursing and personal support available, patients can get assistance in going to the washroom, taking a shower, or simply just getting to the common room or cafeteria.
Long-term care assures that patients take their prescribed medications and alleviates the need for trips to the pharmacy as many have one onsite or are partnered with local pharmacies to provide delivery. With many aspects of daily life taken care of, the elderly can focus on enjoying these golden years of their lives without worry, something Teresa Wolande understands as she has reached retirement age. Long-term care also helps take the strain off caregivers and family, many times helping to improve relationships.
Planning for Care
It is important to begin planning for long-term care early as many options exist, and it can be easier when doing so with a spouse, or other family members. Many State Governments and hospital systems have their form of long-term care available, which should be researched thoroughly and visited to see whether or not it is a good fit.
When the time does come, it is also important to keep in mind to look for options that provide the necessary accommodations depending on a patient’s specific needs. Many facilities offer specialized care, for example, for those diagnosed with dementia or neurological disorders.
With an ever-growing population and uneven ratio of working adults to seniors, there is a growing importance for long-term care in seniors notes Teresa Wolande. In the coming years, it will be essential for healthcare agencies and governments to focus on providing such facilities to the elderly, to help keep them safe and provide necessary care as needed.
Teresa Wolande has worked as CEO, President, and Vice-President for companies such as Aon, Willis Group Holdings, and Enable, and has worked alongside prominent brands including Nike. She is a large proponent of women empowerment and is part of many charitable boards and foundations providing support to women to grow in their personal and professional lives.