The growth of the elderly population is one of the actual problems of modern society. Nowadays, there are adverse medical and demographic processes characterized by the increase in the number of people of the elderly age groups in the general structure of population in many countries, including the USA. Besides, this tendency also affects the socio-economic factor. Thus, the reasons and impact of the growing elderly population on economic, social and healthcare spheres have to be studied in more detail in order to find the most efficient methods for solving this problem.
Long recession in the birth rate is the main reason for the growth of the elderly population. Today, in most countries, the fertility rates are below the replacement level (approximately 2.1 children per married couple). It leads to a reduction in the natural growth of population, and in some cases – to natural attrition. At the same time, the number of economically and socially inactive elderly people continues to grow while the number of able-bodied population in the relation to the whole population is decreasing. Moreover, immigration, which could potentially make reduction of the working population in most countries, including the United States, remains low (“Public health and aging,” 2003).
Demographically, the changing age structure of population affects the natural population movement and modifies the spatial and temporal structure of the latter, expanding or reducing it. Additionally, it alters the integrity of the social picture of the world: the changes violate the existing spatial relationships and work environment, certain territories and industrial objects. Increase in the number of elderly citizens influences the work load of the able-bodied population. There is also an increase in the indicators of mortality and depopulation even in case of birth rate stabilization (Rogers, 2012).
Such demographic tendencies can lead to destructive consequences for the U.S. economy. First of all, reduction of the able-bodied population leads to a reduction in human capital and, therefore, can lead to poor performance. The retiring system and system of social insuance can become extremely burdensome. In addition, the care for the growing elderly population is put entirely on the shoulders of households. The growth of the elderly population demands a significant increase in expenses for health care. In the economic sphere, population aging declines the economic activity of the population and public labor productivity and slows down rates of economic growth. The growing elderly population influences the level of savings, investments, consumption, labor market, taxation, and transfers in health care. The increase in the number of aging people causes the problem of employment. It is a limiting factor in technological modernization of branches that negatively influences updating of the intellectual capital in society. It also limits social and geographical mobility, which are important indicators of development of manpower. Aging of manpower limits plasticity of the national economy, reduces labor productivity, accelerates aging of the human capital, decreases qualification growth, and constrains professional advance of youth on an office ladder (Pettinger, 2013).
In the social sphere, population aging causes an increase of public expenditures on social security and social insurance and can cause the deficiency of means of a pension fund. The increase in the number of elderly inhabitants influences the level of poverty and quality of rendered services of the social protection system. It creates the need to increase the retirement age. The growing elderly population causes problems of geriatric and gerontology, social medical care (care for the elderly, creating conditions for recreation), and socialization in old age. Aging population will continue to impact human health and health sector, family, organization of life, housing structure and migration. Specific social and demographic interaction is related to mechanical, interspatial and intersystem motion of the society and change of social relationship. The intersocial exchange of population, natural or compelled, actually or potentially influences the organization of social time, specifics of social space, and its identity. Interference of social and demogrraphic structures is shown in the structure of employment and unemployment, conditionality of development of the social sphere, etc. Thus, society feels impact of natural and mechanical movement of population (“Growing up,” 2005).
Today and in the future, the growing number of elderly people has and will have a noticeable impact on social work, distribution of resources, planning of the services, expanded use of out-patient and medical institutions, support of families and nurses. All complex challenges connected with medico-social service have to be solved in cooperation with the elderly person, persons engaged in care, and other interested people, in particular relatives and, probably, the closest associates. The following knowledge and skills are required for caregivers: skills of consultation, knowledge of resources and social benefits, the ability to coordinate the efforts of many people, skills assessment, knowledge of the law, adherence to the principles of partnership and freedom of choice (“The impact of the aging,” 2006).
Experts claim that at least 10-25 percent of the elderly people staying at nursing houses could live at home in the presence of available home visiting service. Medical care will be demanded by elderly group, especially women and lonely old people. This is also a prerequisite to the development of long-term types of medical assistance. For the last five years, the total amount of the agencies specializing in rendering home visiting service has increased in the USA by 60 percent. Thus, the market of home visiting services is likely to increase from 10 to 20 percent each five years, being accompanied by a decrease in the market of rendering acute help and development of new levels of services, which will be more economically effective than the services based on hospitals. According to the forecasts of experts, the elderly population will considerably increase in the future. It means that people will conduct increasing fight for the prices of the long-term help. Besides, the volume of home visiting service will grow and become more accessible part of the health care system (“Public health and aging,” 2003).