GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 18

G R A N D PA RT N E R S F O R G R A N D PA R E N TS The Biggest Problem with U.S. Healthcare and How to Fix It! By Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D. While most of the current healthcare debate has focused on how to cover the tens of millions of uninsured Americans and who should pay (granted, these are critically important issues), after thirty-five years working at the intersection of gerontology and healthcare, I’m convinced that we have the WRONG healthcare system for our aging nation. If your train is headed in the wrong direction, it doesn’t help to give everyone a seat. And, since the U.S. currently spends nearly twice as much per capita on healthcare as all the other modernized nations, while our national life expectancy ranks a humiliating 42nd worldwide, it’s not that we throw too little money at the problem, but that we may not be spending it in the wisest ways. The Age Wave is Coming With the average life expectancy having vaulted to 78 (and rising), the 13% of our population over 65 now accounts for: 44% of hospital care, 38% of all emergency medical services responses, 35% of all prescriptions, 26% of all physician office visits and 90% of all nursing home use. And, the first of the 78 million boomers will become eligible for Medicare in only 18 months! The Four-Part Solution Solution #1: Multiply the amount of scientific research needed to delay or eliminate the diseases of aging In May 1961, President John F. Kennedy looked to the sky and stated, “I believe this nation should commit itself, before this decade is out, to landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth.” In response, we mobilized all of our science and energy to realize that dream a short eight years later. Similarly, in order to avert the costly chronic disease pandemics looming in our future, we must bring about a commitment of sufficient intelligence, creativity and resources to replace unhealthy aging with healthy aging. The dollars that have been committed to the life sciences to battle the diseases of aging, however, are woefully inadequate to get the job done. For each tax dollar we currently spend on treating disease, only about one cent goes to fund the scientific research that could delay or prevent some of these dread pandemics in the first place. For example, it is estimated that if we could postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s disease by five years, half of all the nursing-home beds in America would empty. Solution #2: Make disease prevention and self-care a national priority. Let’s be honest….we’ve become a nation of gluttons. We eat too much, exercise too little and then get angry at the healthcare system when we’re sick. This lack of proper prevention, self-care and disease management winds up being a key factor in many of our eventual struggles with illness. This is even true among the elderly. For example, 9% of the 65+ population remain chronic smokers, a third didn’t exercise at all in the last month, 40% are overweight and 23% are considered obese. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 50 percent of our potential for lifelong health is

GRAND Magazine - July 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - July 2009

GRAND Magazine - July 2009
GRAND View
Contents
GRAND Central
Grands Across the Sea
O, Say, Can You Sing?
Hear and Now
Ask GRAND
GRAND’s 2009 Sexiest Granddads
Nailing It
Reader's Write
Resources
GRAND Finale
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - intro
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND Magazine - July 2009
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Cover2
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 3
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Contents
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 5
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 6
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 7
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 8
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 9
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 10
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 11
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 12
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND Central
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 14
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 15
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 16
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 17
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 18
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 19
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 20
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 21
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Grands Across the Sea
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 23
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 24
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 25
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 26
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 27
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - O, Say, Can You Sing?
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 29
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Hear and Now
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 31
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Ask GRAND
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 33
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND’s 2009 Sexiest Granddads
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 35
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 36
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 37
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 38
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 39
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 40
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 41
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Nailing It
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 43
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 44
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 45
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Reader's Write
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 47
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 48
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 49
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 50
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 51
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 52
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Resources
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND Finale
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 55
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Cover3
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Cover4
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