NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “A Fragile Nation in Poor Health”, which reveals the majority of Americans fail to follow their doctors’ advice, and uncovers a significant gap in our nation’s healthcare system – lack of patient care between doctor visits. Download it HERE!
Baby boomers think of themselves as “forever young,” and numerous studies confirm they have an unwavering determination not to get old. Despite their quest for the fountain of youth, the oldest members of the baby boomers are now turning 65 and, by 2030, the number of Americans over 65 is expected to double, reaching 72 million, according to the Census Bureau.
As boomers march into old age, they’re developing health problems. A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed more than half (56%) of American baby boomers do not feel their overall personal health is in good shape, and one in four (26%) say they’re struggling to be healthy. This is in large part because millions of baby boomers are overweight and inactive, which leads to an increase in chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Excess weight also puts extra wear and tear on the body’s muscles and joints, making it more difficult for boomers to do things they used to take for granted like climb stairs, get up from a chair, or lift their arms over their heads.
The Need for Action
Despite so many American baby boomers not being in top shape, they aren’t taking the appropriate actions to help themselves feel better. Eight in 10 American baby boomers (80%) admit they don’t follow treatment plans they’ve been given by their doctor exactly as prescribed.
Given that the average adult over age 55 juggles six to eight medications daily, it’s no wonder baby boomers have problems following their treatment plans. Managing multiple chronic diseases makes it tough to recall which medications treat which ailments. And, with overflowing pill boxes, it’s difficult to remember when to take each pill, whether to take the various medications with or without food and water, or recollect if taking two pills a day means two at the same time – or one pill in the morning and one pill at night.
About 50% of the two billion prescriptions filled each year are not taken correctly. Unfortunately, failure to take drugs on time in the dosages prescribed is a serious problem with potentially tragic consequences. It’s estimated that 125,000 people with treatable ailments die each year simply because they do not take prescribed medications properly or they skip them altogether.
Baby boomers have been redefining the world at every stage of their lives. With boomers going to the doctor in droves, and limited doctors and nurses available to care for them, there’s no doubt boomers will redefine the way physicians interact with patients.
Bear in mind, boomers want to have choices and be involved. They don’t mind demanding a little attention, and they like to be pampered. And, these expectations extend to their relationships with their doctors. A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed that more than a quarter (25%) of American baby boomers, who feel they could better follow their prescribed plans, would be likely to do so if they received encouragement from their doctors between visits to stay on course. And, more than 1 in 10 (13%) said they would follow instructions better if they received reminders from their doctors via email, voicemail or text telling them to do something specific, like take medication or check blood sugar levels.
How to Accommodate the Boomers
To accommodate boomers, physicians will need to adopt technologies that enable them to provide care between visits. Not only will this personal approach help physicians deliver care in a way that continuously motivates boomers to be healthy, but it could also cut down on unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office and emergency room. Many medical issues don’t require an office visit and can be managed through other channels of communication.
To prepare for the onslaught of chronically ill baby boomers, physicians must reinvent the way they interact with patients.