At first you might think that this topic is much the same as the last article we wrote. While they are related and interconnected, there’s a big difference. The last article was more about why people are living longer, while this one is about why there are more people needing senior home care than ever before. Yes, more people surviving into old age is the primary reason, but you can’t deny that there are more people able to live longer for the simple fact that there are more people! Let’s take a look at some of the reasons for the growth of the population in the United States, and why some of that population is seeing an increased need in senior home care.
Despite what news channels will try to say to scare you, the world is not getting more violent. Take a look at the numbers of Americans killed in the Civil War: 620,000. Add to that 116,000 killed in World War I and 400,000 killed in World War II. That’s 1.2 million men and women who never reached old age. All Civil War veterans have long since died, and the last WWI vet died in 2012. Even 95% of the Americans who served in World War II have died of old age or disease.
Now let’s take the wars that came after. When you look at Korea and Vietnam, you get another 33,000 and 52,000 respectively, and another 4,486 in Iraq. Not only were fewer Americans dying in those wars, but their injury care was better as well. With fewer men and women dying in wars, more of them are growing older and in need of in-home healthcare and companion care.
Speaking of war, it’s not all about killing….
A Lot of It Is The Baby Boomer Generation
16,000,000 Americans served in World War II, and when they returned they ended up helping to create the 76,000,000 Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964. (They were also joined by older Americans who might have delayed starting a family due to both World Wars.) That means that baby boomers are now between the ages of 53 and 71, suggesting that this need for home healthcare services is just beginning.
More Mothers Survive Childbirth
We don’t have to tell you that childbirth can be a harrowing experience. A hundred years ago, a woman was much more likely to die in childbirth. She could die from complications from the birth, blood loss, infection, or even an ectopic pregnancy. A common killer of women in childbirth was known as childbed fever and was caused by doctors failing to wash their hands…at any time throughout the day. Even though germ theory didn’t exist yet, one doctor in 1846 significantly reduced childbed fever by having doctors wash their hands in a bleach solution. That worked well until doctors ignored the results and went back to doing things the old way. More women started dying, but it had to be something else, right? (Wrong. It was germs, you stupid mid-19th-century doctors!)
When a woman died from pregnancy complications, she would, of course, have no more children. But if that woman survived the first childbirth, she might go on to have a dozen more, including those who had their own children who have become the seniors of today.
More Children Survive Childhood
As we talked about in our previous article, vaccines and antibiotics have gone a long way in helping children get through childhood. Clean water and food have also helped, as have basic improvements in hygiene. Accidents, another common killer for children over the age of one year, have also been significantly reduced thanks to improved car safety and basic childproofing of the home.
In 1900, up to 30% of children didn’t see their first birthday if they lived in a big city. That improved greatly by the time the Baby Boomers were being born, dropping to less than a percent of death within the first year. All of those extra kids being born after World War II, combined with most of them surviving childhood, has lead to great growth in those needing the services of a home health agency as they age.
First of all, there’s no doubt that there is an obesity epidemic occurring in our country. Even the advanced information gathering that we mentioned above is having a hard time countering the increase in obesity.
But even though we have too many calories around, we also have better nutrition than ever before. What happened? Well, you can thank World War II again. You see, before World War II, many children were malnourished, thanks in part to the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. But after World War II…well, we’ll just let Smithsonian Magazine tell you:
“After World War II, the government had found itself with a tremendous surplus of ammonium nitrate, the principal ingredient in the making of explosives. Ammonium nitrate also happens to be an excellent source of nitrogen for plants.”
That’s right. The swords were indeed turned into plowshares as bomb ingredients helped to bolster America’s ability to grow food. Malnourished kids become adults who don’t live long, but healthier kids are more likely to become long-living adults. Better nutrition has directly lead to today’s need for home care services and companion care.
Put all of those together and it’s pretty obvious why we’re seen such a huge increase in the population of the elderly in America. Not only are they living longer as we’ve discussed before, but they’ve been part of a huge population explosion thanks to improvements in medicine that helped them and their mothers survive and flourish. The lack of any recent “lost generation” has lead to people having more children than ever, and when those children survive you’re going to have an elderly population that will continue to need home health services.
If you or a loved one are in need, be sure to contact Specialized Nursing Services today!