Advocates for the Elderly Patient: Negotiation of Patient and Physician Roles Dan O'Hair and Kelly S. McNeilis
Each day our population grows older. According to Cetron and Davies (1989), by the year 2000, the number of Americans over 65 will increase by more than 50%. At the present rate of mortality, it is projected there will be 34 million people over the age of 65 in 2000, but if mortality continues to decline at least at the present rate, that figure will climb to 38 million (Heath, 1986). The fastest growing segment of the U.S. population is the 85-and-older group. Whereas they now comprise 1.2% of the population, by 2000 that percentage will increase to 1.8%, or 4.9 million (Cetron & Davies, 1989). Even with the aging "baby boomers" being healthier, the fact that they will live longer means that ultimately they will have to have some help with routines of daily life. "In 1985, 90 percent of the elderly cared for themselves; by 2001 this will decrease to 80 percent ... because the composition of the elderly will change to include more 'old-old' people" (Cetron & Davies, 1989, p. 35).