September is Healthy Aging Month, which gives focus on the positive aspects of growing older. Experts believe the number of older adults in the U.S. will reach nearly 71 million by 2030, By 2060, 1 in 4 Americans will be age 65 or older. According to data compiled by AARP, this expanding older adult population will significantly affect the nation’s public health system and increase the demand for aging-related services, which means efforts to help older adults stay healthy are a huge priority.
Healthy Aging Month encourages people over the age of 45 to take control of their overall well-being. The month is dedicated to celebrate the process of becoming older and to improve mental and physical health along the way. Healthy aging includes more than just one’s physical wellness; rather it also encompasses a healthy mental, social and financial state. It is never too late to start healthy habits and gradually improve quality of life as individuals age.
Some key factors in improving the quality of their daily lives include:
- positive attitude and outlook
- emotional wellbeing and relationships
- hobbies and activities
- nutrition and hydration
- consistent exercise
- healthy lifestyle habits
- healthy sleep patterns
- mental activity and stimulation
Alternately, it's never too early for healthy individuals to plan ahead for medical, financial, or legal issues that may arise as they age. Advance Care Planning can be beneficial for aging populations. When ACP is discussed and done early on, it can empower individuals to make choices about their future care that aligns with their goals and values. Planning ahead for future medical scenarios will enable individuals and their loved ones to navigate those situations with less stress and honor the choices made in advance.
Benefits of early ACP discussions:
- Anticipating common aging-related life challenges
- Minimizing the stress, financial problems, family strife
- Documenting one’s care goals, preferences, and values.
- Completing and sharing necessary legal documents
Care planning should involve conversation with family members, and others likely to be involved in an individual's age-related life challenges to ensure that everyone is on the same page and the individuals desired care goals. Documentation of those preferences and values isn’t legally required, but can provide valuable guidance to surrogate decision-makers, clinicians, family members, and others who might be later involved in an older person’s care.
By documenting and distributing these care decisions, ACP ensures that individuals’ care preferences are understood and followed throughout their healthcare journey, creating a higher quality care experience overall. ACP protects individuals from receiving unwanted or unnecessary medical interventions and lets them decide on the kind of care you want. There is strong evidence that this kind of planning improves the experience of care for both the patient and their caregivers/family.
Iris Empower™ is a self-guided online application that simplifies the ACP process with guiding prompts, supportive education, pre-populated documentation, and ability to share executed documents with family and care teams. Empower benefits even healthy individuals with no serious or chronic illnesses as emergencies by nature are unpredictable. Being prepared helps ensure family and medical teams know exactly what to do in situations when a member is unable to speak for themselves.
If you are looking for a care planning solution for your healthier member population, contact Iris today to learn more about the Empower ACP platform.