The US population has been dynamic and the distribution of people across ages is changing. As life expectancy increases due to the improvements in medicine, the age composition is expected to change within the next two decades and beyond. However, the current increase in age and lifestyle-related diseases is a worrying trend. Diseases such as obesity and diabetes are known as lifestyle diseases while others such as stroke and heart related diseases are related to advance in age. As the ages are expected to increase, there is a high likelihood that there will be more cases of these age related diseases and this will be a problem that the health department will have to deal with before a calamity strikes the United States. Most of these diseases are incurable or expensive to maintain. This therefore calls for more caution and more resources to deal with prevention ahead of maintaining the diseases once they are contracted. The biggest resource that the American Health Department should offer to the citizens is knowledge and information about the diseases since they are avoidable if the necessary measures are taken. Diseases such as obesity which is highly related to diabetes are related to lack of exercise and poor nutrition (Powell, Slater & Mirtcheva, 2007). Since these diseases are manageable, the population needs information that would guide them on how they should involve in exercise and proper nutrition. Further, infrastructure that would provide the population with the necessary preventive measures such as exercises should be provided.
Regarding age related diseases, the Health Department should develop mechanisms to reach out the aged and offer them guidance on how to manage the diseases in case they contract them. They should introduce a very effective way to reduce avoidable contraction. If this information is not provided to the Americans, there will be increased health expenses as more people will be diagnosed with the preventable chronic diseases.
Aging in the US
By 2010, the American population was estimated at about 310 million. It is still expected to increase to about 341 million by 2020 and then rise to about 373 million by 2030. In 2010, the highest population comprised of the people aged between 20 and 64 who account for over 59 percent of the whole population. This proportionate population will reduce by 2030 to account for about 54 percent of the US population. The people aged above 65 years accounted for 13 percent of the population in 2010 and will rise to over 19 percent by 2030, up from about 16 percent in 2020. The population of the aged will rise at the expense of the other ages since the children below 20 years will also reduce from about 27 percent in 2010, to about 26.2 percent in 2020 and 26.2 percent by 2030 (DeVol & Bedroussian, 2007).
With the increase in the percentage and eventually numbers of the aged in the American society, cases of the diseases related to advanced age will be expected to increase. More heart ailments and stroke cases will be reported as a result of the increased number of vulnerable people. In order to reduce the mortality rates of the aged, the Health Department in the US ought to devise measures and ways to ensure that there is a drop in their occurrence.
The change in age structure will be as a result of several factors. First, the current population of baby boomers will grow into the old age. In 2010, this age was aged between 46 and 64 years, and by 2030, all of them will have crossed into the old age (ld age is considered above 65 years). The other factor is immigration. High populations of these people who are immigrating into the US are the working class above 45 years. In two decades, this population will become the aged thus the proportionate increase.
Further, the increase will be attributed to the improvement in health policies. The aged are provided with more health care benefits that will ensure their free access to health facilities. This will reduce their weakening due to the aging process. At the same time, technological improvements that are getting better everywhere in the world will increase their longevity. This includes more knowledge and treatment of eye ailments, teeth transplants among others. This will ease their lives and will in return ensure that they are able to live better, thus longer lives.
The increase of the aged people, as earlier noted, will increase the number of the vulnerable people to age related diseases. Therefore, there will be more reported cases in 2030 than in 2010 and 2020 (DeVol & Bedroussian, 2007). Among the most common disease for the aged people is prostate cancer for men. The disease is so common to an extent that those who have it do not believe that it would be the cause of their death, but rather they would die with it at an advanced age. The people aged over 65 years are said to be 167.2 times more likely to contract the disease than a male person aged below 50years. In a study conducted by DeVol & Bedroussian (2007), the overall number of cases of cancer that will be reported by 2023 will rise by over 62 percent. Due to other age related diseases, other than cancer, such as mental disorders, heart diseases, pulmonary disorders, Stroke, hypertension and diabetes among the aged, the US government will directly loose $3.4 trillion, which accounts for over four times of the treatment cost. The cost of expenditure which is estimated at $790 billion will bring the total cost of maintaining the seven diseases to $4.2 trillion by 2023 (DeVol & Bedroussian, 2007).
To reduce the chances of increase in diseases of the aged, the US Health department should provide its citizens with ample knowledge regarding the diseases. For instance, the cases of obesity which are increasing by day should be well addressed. This is because obesity usually develops into diabetes by the time one gets to an advanced age (Rattan & Kassem, 2006).
Secondly, the continuous and persistent smoking should be controlled. Smoking is attributed to many diseases such as cancer and heart ailments (Rattan & Kassem, 2006). If there is less smoking, there would be an expected reduction in the rate of the diseases among the aged Americans. Further, overconsumption of alcohol would also lead to the increase in chances of contracting age related diseases. This should be reduced or eliminated along with consumption of any other illicit drug. Consumption of cholesterol is another factor that increases the chances of contracting disease, especially heart related. Cholesterol levels should therefore be dropped to the minimum levels possible. Pollution reduces air and water quality. Increased consumption of contaminated water or air to an advanced age would result to increase in the chances of contracting the diseases. To eliminate this, the government should come up with Health policies that would better control the air and water quality, thus increased health among the aged.
It is known that obesity is the most common condition among the US population (Yun, Zhu & Black, 2006). It has even been declared an epidemic. Today, over 33 percent of the US population is obese and it is projected to reach over 50 percent of the US population by 2030. It is closely related to diabetes and is described as the early stages of diabetes. According to DeVol & Bedroussian, (2007), 52 percent of all the diabetes cases that will be reported by 2023, 52.9 percent will be related to obesity, while only about 40% will be attributed to aging. It is therefore paramount that the US Health department comes up with a strategy that will reduce the cases of obesity, which in the long run would translate to a reduction of cases of diabetes in future.
Obesity is highly attributed to the lifestyle of the current generations (Yun, Zhu, & Black, 2006). There is reduced exercise due to increased television watching and other computer based leisure activities. At the same time, online working has highly reduced mobility which translates to no exercise even in areas where it was expected that one would walk to offices, or homes. Further, home delivery of commodities such as groceries has completely reduced people’s movements thus the increase in the cases of obesity reported. Poor nutrition due to increased viability of junk food in fast-food restaurants has resulted to people taking very little conscience on the food they take (Powell, Slater & Mirtcheva, 2007). The hard economic situations also make people save time to cook by taking the junk foods that eventually results to development of obesity.
To prevent further cases of obesity, exercise programs should be introduced at an affordable rate. If the projections of diabetes are anything to go by, the 50 percent population that will be obese by 2030 will become diabetic by the time they get to the age above 65 years. By 2003, diabetes treatment and management cost the US economy $105 million (Yun, Zhu, & Black, 2006). If a quarter of the projected 50 percent that will be obese by 2030 developed to become diabetic, the cost to maintain the disease will shoot by over ten times to get to a trillion dollars every year. This will be an economic disaster, which will have on top the social suffering due to the unhealthy population. It is therefore important that the government, through the health department provides the population with ample facilities to exercise. At the same time, the US labor department should provide employees with time to exercise to ensure that there are least cases of the disease reported.
The number of aged people in the US will only increase with time. The diseases will be reported more frequently that the situation is today. This prompts the health delivery departments to act swiftly to reduce new cases. Follow up of the patients to determine the way they carry on could be an important measure. Further, the government could open up wings within the existing facilities that would deal with the specific diseases that seem to be more recurring. These wings would also provide all the necessary information to the elderly, whether sick or healthy to ensure that they are aware of the preventive measures to the diseases they are prone to.
Agricultural policies should be revised to ensure that they put into consideration the health of the food that reaches the market, especially to people who are unaware of the dangers they expose themselves to by consuming these foods. Further, higher taxation and less marketing of the unhealthy foods and drinks should be advocated for and implemented. This could be one of the most important steps that the government can take to ensure that there is a small window of reducing the cases of obesity in the US.
Schools and other institutions should also introduce a policy that would allow compulsory playing time for the scholars. Some regions in the schools and cities should also be restricted to walking or cycling alone to ensure that the people who go there have some exercise.