Our nation is aging. The percent of the U.S. population over age 65 will increase from 12 percent in 2005 to almost 20 percent by 2030. Furthermore, by 2030, the over-80 crowd will outnumber the under-5 set. And, by 2050, there will be roughly eight times as many centenarians as there are now.
As those of us in the baby-boom generation – the 78 million Americans born between 1947 and 1964 – approach "senior" status, our country is redefining the aging process. Compared with previous generations, we have dramatically different expectations of what it means to be 65 or 80 – or even 100 years old. We see ourselves as active and healthy contributing members of our communities long past traditional retirement age. And that means our health-care systems need to adapt to meet these new expectations of wellness.
This aging of the population will be the impetus for dramatic transformation in health care, both in who provides the care and in the way we deliver care:
Here at UC Davis Health System, we have built a strong foundation to address these demographic changes and evolving health-care needs.
Collaboration and partnering are core strengths. We are developing interprofessional teams of nurses, physicians, pharmacists and others to care for our patients. We are conducting research on healthy aging, and we are educating the next generation of health professionals to possess the skills needed to care for older patients.
We have developed an effective chronic disease management program to empower patients to play a role in managing their health. Recently honored by the California Association of Public Hospitals, the program links resources within the health system to guide interventions and monitor outcomes, implement new methods of delivering chronic-disease care, and develop an extensive educational self-management program.
Our award-winning telemedicine program extends the reach of health professionals into areas where care is needed, yet is often unavailable. Telemedicine and its remote monitoring capabilities enable patients to receive state-of-the-art care near their homes without traveling long distances. Moreover, we are excited to be part of research to determine how home-based technologies can further improve ease and quality of care.
UC Davis also is working to educate more professionals who specialize in caring for older adults. I am pleased that the proposed Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis will integrate a geriatric nursing focus into its program and foster research in this critical field of nursing science. The school already has received a commitment from the New York-based John A. Hartford Foundation, a national leader in the funding of educational programs and policy development in geriatric nursing, for two training fellowships to support future faculty appointees of the school.
These efforts reflect our commitment at UC Davis to play a leadership role in achieving the profound changes needed in our nation's health-care system to meet the needs of our aging population. I wish each of you – our friends of all ages – health and happiness.