With each passing year, the 78 million Americans who are considered part of the baby boomer generation — born between approximately 1945 and 1964 — get closer to retirement age. Given that this generation is one of the largest in history, it’s safe to say that their needs as they age, especially their healthcare needs, will have a major impact on society.
Studies back this up. While the baby boomer generation is known for its independent streak, it’s estimated that 12 million people will need long-term care by the year 2020, with boomers comprising a growing share of this figure. And with lifespans measuring longer than ever, it’s almost a guarantee that long-term care will become a necessity for millions of boomers.
The ways in which baby boomers are already changing healthcare are significant and will have long-lasting effects for generations to come. For medical suppliers that produce mobility parts like walkers and wheelchairs — and healthcare providers in general — they will be especially impactful. Here’s a look at three of the biggest changes brought on by the boomers:
Medicare and Medicaid will fall short for many boomers’ needs
Long-term care is one of the types of care not covered by Medicare or Medicaid, unless certain income requirements are met for the latter program. This means that the type of long-term assistance that many seniors will need will have to be paid for out-of-pocket or through insurance. It’s an important fact for both medical supplies producers and long-term care providers alike.
Baby boomers will stay independent through old age
Despite their age, the baby boomer generation will remain fiercely independent and hold on to their strong can-do attitude. In fact, one-third of retired boomers are still working in some way. This means that they’ll expect to stay active and independent in their own homes far into their retirements. This may mean that mobility parts and equipment like walkers and wheelchairs could become more popular than ever in years to come.
Healthcare options will become more diverse than ever
With an influx in demand for long-term care, mobility parts and equipment and more, it’s almost a guarantee that the landscape for senior healthcare will be more diverse than ever as baby boomers continue to age. This includes nursing homes, independent living communities, in-home care providers and everything in between.
As the baby boomer generation continues to age, the so-called ‘gray wave’ will impact the way the American healthcare system works forever — and these changes are already taking place. Making sure your medical practice or medical supplier is prepared for this generational shift will help it adapt more easily in the long run.