Age-friendly domains:
Community Supports and Health Services

We all need/needed/will need help and we all want to live in a community that can support us. Whether it’s community support or health services, we all will need at least a little of it at different points in our lives.

Consider two basic but important points about services:
  1. The need to be close by. Although the expansion of online services under COVID has opened the ability to connect virtually, some services can only be provided in person.
  2. It is essential that residents can both access and afford the services they need.

The stereotype of older people needing lots of doctors and prescriptions is a farce. While some people might need multiple health services, others require relatively few. There is no one type of patient. But what we do lack, especially in New Jersey, is enough healthcare providers trained in the care of older adults. This also reflects the national shortage of geriatricians, general practitioners and family practitioners. In addition, some health providers do not take older patients assuming they will have more complex medical needs.

An age-friendly health system addresses the whole person. Services for older adults need to include preventive care that covers a lifespan. Preventive and quality health services available at every age and stage of life can lead to substantially lower rates of illness, issues and need for health care services later in life. 

Supportive services not only help someone remain independent in their own homes but prevent health crises and reduce hospitalization, surgery and intensive treatments. Health services must also consider transportation and whether someone can get to their appointments. And, as more and more providers use digital health, are patients technologically able to participate in that option?

If this seems far away and not an issue for people of every age, consider this: Appropriate, accessible and affordable health care and support for older adults saves us all money by reducing Medicare and Medicaid costs, private insurance premiums and also supports caregivers.

For more on health care for older adults, watch our Aging Insights Episode 119 on “Aging Well with Your Doctors,” linked below.

If you missed our previous coverage on age-friendly domains,
you can read past issues of NJAAW News and Resources here!