The Elderly Population

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The Elderly Population By: Michele Combs NSG 440 July 12, 2010 The Elderly Population During the past few decades, society and government have placed a great deal of concern and attention on the aging population. People over the age of 65 account for approximately 15 percent of the general population. During the next two decades, these numbers are expected to increase dramatically. Some predictions state that more than 70 million American citizens will be considered elderly by 2030. The elderly population is a group of citizens that require a great deal of medical and social assistance and protection. More than 70% of the elderly population has been diagnosed with a chronic disease (Pishchita, 2007). A growing trend of increased life span is occurring worldwide and producing a need to address issues and concerns for quality medical care and protection of rights among this population. Elderly patients have the same rights as any other citizen. However, many elderly individuals experience physical and mental conditions that do not allow them to exercise their rights. The inability of these individuals to exercise their rights, provide informed consent, and protect their legal rights classifies them as a vulnerable population. The aging process alone does not determine an individual’s vulnerability. Risk of vulnerability of an elderly person exists because of age, functional status, ineffective communication skills, change in social or financial circumstances, health, and chronic or terminal illness. These risks increase the chances that this population has for harm and coercion (Walsh, 2009). Society has a negative and pessimistic view of aging. Many individuals and health care workers classify the elderly as a group of useless and dependent individuals. As society portrays elderly individuals as worthless, the younger
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