(Dec. 14, 2020) — The coronavirus pandemic has brought to light the desperate state of healthcare in the United States, with medical professionals and healthcare facilities pushed almost to their breaking point. Millions of Americans have contracted the virus and hundreds of thousands have lost their lives since the pandemic began.
However, one of the most glaring problems the pandemic has brought to the fore is the state of older adults living in the most prosperous nation in the world. According to a 2019 census, the United States is home to over 54 million older adults. These people are among the most at risk from the virus, but they face multiple challenges even before the pandemic.
Below are some of the most common challenges faced by older adults in the United States. Learning about what they face on a daily basis may help younger generations understand their plight and lead to action.
Older adults who aren’t on the cusp of retirement face discrimination because people believe they are far less capable or useful to society due to their age. These older adults are denied jobs or condescended because they have a few more years on their compatriots. Older adults are far less represented in the workplace, with older women of color experiencing the brunt of this discrimination. This type of discrimination is present in jobs of all kinds, from low-level blue-collar employment to white-collar jobs such as attorneys.
Unfortunately, because they’re routinely passed over for employment due to ageism, a lot of older adults face financial jeopardy. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, almost 50 percent of people in the U.S. over the age of 55 have no retirement savings. Compounding this situation is the fact that a lot of older adults have also not managed their affairs properly with lawyers practicing estate planning. Without both savings and proper estate planning, older adults are put into more financial stress.
Elder abuse is abuse targeted against older adults, and there are many types of this atrocity. They include physical abuse, verbal abuse, and unwilling confinement. Other distressing types include neglecting the needs of older adults and financially exploiting them by misusing their resources or depriving them of their finances. At least 10 percent of older Americans experience one form of elder abuse in a year.
Lack of Health Care
The United States is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. But a study discovered that older adults in the country are less healthy than their counterparts in other nations. One reason older American adults are in such poor health is the lack of healthcare insurance. Because they don’t have access to healthcare facilities and services, they don’t get preventive treatment and are more susceptible to chronic sickness.
Even if older adults are given excellent healthcare, there is still the possibility they are emotionally and socially neglected. As many as 12 million older Americans over the age of 65 live alone, and the pandemic has only highlighted their isolation. A vast majority, over 69 percent, of these older adults are women. These older adults are at risk of getting into accidents and may live without needed assistance.
Older adults represent a substantial percentage of the American population. Even if they didn’t they deserve respect and care. Acknowledging the problems they face daily is one step towards rectifying these wrongs.