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Influx of retirees influencing U.S. healthcare industry

June 7, 2013

Today's older adults are changing the way most people view senior living. A more active group than generations past, modern retirees place an emphasis on social events, opportunities for exercise and continuing education. But that's the not the only way they've re-shaped how most people look at the elderly. Researchers from Concordia University found that as baby boomers get older, the senior population will considerably change the U.S. healthcare system.

Perhaps most significantly, the fact that many adults 65 and older are managing multiple chronic conditions will have the biggest impact. Experts found that an estimated 72 percent of seniors have high blood pressure while an additional 51 percent manage arthritis.Furthermore, 31 percent have heart disease and 24 percent have cancer. Juggling more than one medical condition at a time often requires seniors to spend considerably more on healthcare, and Concordia researchers found they contribute an average of $1,456 in out-of-pocket expenses. This is also reflected in the fact that adults 65 and older are responsible for approximately 40 percent of doctors visits and one-third of prescription drug use.

With an influx of senior patients, the healthcare community has begun to make changes to accommodate them. This has manifested itself in a number of different ways, but one of the most evident is the fact that the number of healthcare jobs is expected to increase by about 5.6 million by 2020.

Although boomers and retirees may change the face of healthcare in the coming years, they are already redefining services such as assisted living and retirement communities. While they still require healthcare services including physical therapy or medication management, seniors place an emphasis on maintaining independence and an active lifestyle.