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We're getting older and sicker. The solutions are there, but will we make the investments?

Published: Monday, October 31, 2022 - 3:13pm
Updated: Monday, October 31, 2022 - 3:45pm
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Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

There are more and more people over the age of 65, and that number is projected to hit 95 million by 2060. The challenge: We are seeing more costly illnesses and disabilities later in life. 

It comes down to lifespan vs. health span — we’re living longer but we’re not necessarily living healthier lives. That can lead to higher medical and caregiving costs. So, how do we change things? Sarah Tom is an assistant professor at Columbia University in New York. 

"And to me, it really comes back to making those investments, starting with pregnant moms and investing in things like early childhood education, in school food and nutrition programs," said Tom. "From a policy perspective, maybe it's not as compelling, and even sometimes, from a research perspective to say, 'Oh, well, if you spend these five extra dollars on someone who’s 5, it's going to actually pay off tenfold by the time they're 45."

Caregiving can also lead to poor outcomes for the person caregiving.

They also tend to be a family member like a spouse or adult child.

"I think that there also has to be more universal policies for being able to take time off from work to provide caregiving," Tom said. 

According to AARP, there are roughly 48 million people providing unpaid care to adult family members or friends. 

Aging Health + Medicine