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What is the Projected Demographic Shift for the Aging Population in the United States?

Brittany Horvath, MS, CCC-SLP, CDP

January 15, 2024

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Question

What is the projected demographic shift for the aging population in the United States?

Answer

The United States Census Bureau forecasts a profound demographic transformation, foreseeing a substantial increase in the aging population. From 2020 to 2060, Americans aged 65 and older are expected to double, constituting 23% of the total population. The projection is even more striking for individuals aged 85 and older, with an anticipated tripling during this period. This demographic surge poses challenges as it surpasses the expected supply of healthcare professionals, including generalists, geriatricians, and specialists. Consequently, the healthcare system faces obstacles in providing adequate healthcare for the adult and geriatric populations.

This demographic shift also brings a surge in chronic, life-limiting, and progressive diseases, impacting both physical and psychological functioning. Families and caregivers encounter an escalating burden when caring for elderly loved ones at home, leading to an increased reliance on skilled nursing and long-term care facilities. Notably, in 2017, the CDC estimated that approximately 1.3 million people resided in skilled nursing facilities, with a 113% increase in referrals from hospitals post-pandemic due to staffing shortages in acute care settings.

As the population admitted to skilled nursing facilities rises, the complexity of their care intensifies. Patients with higher acuity and multiple comorbidities necessitate collaboration among healthcare professionals from various specialties. Effective communication and collaboration become paramount for maintaining the quality of care, improving patient outcomes, and reducing healthcare spending.

 

This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course Skilled Nursing Facility Interventions: Interdisciplinary Collaboration Between Therapists And Certified Nursing Assistants, by Brittany Horvath.


Brittany Horvath, MS, CCC-SLP, CDP

Brittany Horvath earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication at Westminster College and her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at Clarion University, both in Pennsylvania. She is currently a second-year clinical doctoral student at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions and will graduate in December 2023. Her doctoral research focuses on training speech-language pathologists in palliative care. Brittany spent 13 years in skilled nursing, serving as the Director of Rehab for eight of those years. During her time as the Director of Rehab, she encouraged interdisciplinary collaboration with all members of the team, with a focus on patient-centered care. In January of 2023, she began serving traumatic brain injured and neurologically injured patients through Home and Community rehabilitation with Collage Rehabilitation Partners. Brittany’s interests lie in palliative care, dysphagia, aphasia, and advocating for individuals’ quality of life.


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