50+ Action Plan: Health


Our health care and mental health care systems must keep pace with the aging of our population.

  • The incidence of disability among older adults doubles every five years after the age of 65.

  • More than a third of adults 65 and older fall each year.

  • Twenty to 30 percent of fall victims suffer moderate to severe injuries.

  • Alzheimer’s disease afflicts one in eight adults over age 65 and almost half of adults over age 85.

  • The incidence of mental health needs is increasing in older adults.

  • By 2030, nearly one in five persons over 65 will have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.

Today, our regional state psychiatric hospital does not admit people over age 65 and nursing homes are reluctant to accept older adults who also have mental health needs. A regional geri-psychiatric model that includes stabilizing people in the community, increasing outreach, and purchasing inpatient beds in Northern Virginia has been developed and is now partly funded by the state.

When health fails, most older men have a spouse for assistance, and most older women do not. In fact, most older women will have no relatives or family members to provide support or assistance because people who will be 85 and older in the upcoming decades will have fewer adult children than before.

Staffing shortages in both health and mental health care, from professionals to direct care workers in facilities and at home – are acute. The shortage of workers is magnified by the shortage of medical faculty to train new workers.

 

Actions

  • Increase recruitment and training of health and mental health direct service workers and faculty members through innovative partnerships in the community. 

  • Develop incentives such as workforce housing.

  • Seek full funding by the General Assembly for the geri-psychiatric program in Northern Virginia.

  • Increase multicultural and multilingual health and mental health staffing to meet the changing needs in our community.

  • Further explore the benefits of electronic medical records.

  • Advocate for improved staffing levels in assisted living to enhance care and to reduce staff turnover.

  • Promote the benefits of recreation and continuing education for physical and mental health, increase affordable options, and build partnerships with community groups such as ElderHostel, and promote both public and private options.

  • Build on the aging related recommendations of the recently released Governor’s Health Reform Commission Report/Roadmap for Virginia’s Health (PDF) and the county’s Long Term Care Task Force Report.

 


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