Health Care Treatment in Late Adulthood

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

In late adulthood, health care treatments often address chronic illnesses. Explore the common health issues of late adulthood and review what health facilities are available, including doctor's offices, outpatient facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice facilities. Updated: 10/04/2021

Late Adulthood

Casey will be 80 next year, but she's still active. She likes to go to football games and support her local college, and she plays bridge and eats lunch with her friends several days a week. All in all, she's enjoying her 'golden years.' But not everything is rosy. Casey has high blood pressure, which she has to take medication for, and arthritis, which can cause her pain and stiffness some days.

Casey is in late adulthood, which is the time of life after age 65. During that time, many people find that they struggle with health and health care costs more than they have at other times in life. Let's look closer at some of the health issues facing older adults and the health care facilities they can turn to for help when they need it.

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  • 0:02 Late Adulthood
  • 0:49 Health Issues
  • 2:57 Health Facilities
  • 6:13 Lesson Summary
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Health Issues

By and large, Casey is pretty healthy. Sure, she has to take blood pressure medication and she has arthritis that can cause her some pain and stiffness, but most days she feels just fine and healthy. Casey isn't alone. Most adults in late adulthood are healthy, though the majority have at least one chronic illness, or long-lasting medical condition that can be treated, but not cured. Casey's blood pressure and arthritis are examples of chronic illnesses.

Many people are surprised that when compared to younger adults, older adults experience acute illness less often. Acute illness is a medical condition with a sudden onset. For example, a cold or the flu is an acute illness. You get it quickly, but you also get over it quickly (unlike a chronic illness). So, people like Casey are less likely to get colds and the flu than younger adults.

But when older adults do get an acute disease, it is often more severe and longer-lasting than when people get it earlier in life. For example, when Casey was younger, she would get colds all the time. If it was going around the office or her kids' schools, Casey would end up with a cold. But she'd be better within a week. Nowadays, Casey rarely gets colds. But last year she caught one and ended up in the hospital with a severe respiratory infection! So even though she doesn't get sick as often, it's worse when she does.

Health care costs are a major part of older adults' budgets. Casey has to spend a lot of money on doctor visits and her medication for blood pressure and arthritis. That doesn't even include her hospital bills from last year! Lucky for Casey, she has enough money to cover her bills, but what happens when someone doesn't?

Older adults who cannot afford health care have higher incidences of physical and mental disorders, like depression. Further, some studies have shown that limited money for health care is linked with a shorter life span on average. So, Casey is lucky that she can afford to pay for her medical costs!

Health Facilities

When Casey was sick last year, she went to the hospital. Other times, she's just had to visit her doctor's office to see him. And just last year, one of her friends with dementia was moved into a nursing home. Hospital, doctor's office, nursing home - there are a lot of health care facilities out there, and people of all ages can use any one of them. But in late adulthood, many people find that they are coming in contact with more health care facilities than ever before. There are four types of health care facilities that are particularly common in late adulthood: doctor's offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice care facilities.

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