As people live longer — and the last of the baby boom generation (born 1946-1964) hits retirement age — the average American will be older than ever. A 2023 Health Trends Report reveals that by 2034, one in five people in the United States will be 65 or older, according to projections from the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly matching the size of the population under 18 for the first time in history.
Providers will need to pay close attention in order to support older adults. The coming decades will bring the management of more chronic conditions and evolving forms of care delivery.
“We’re envisioning a new landscape for the delivery of healthcare,” Dr. Sharp says. “We’re focused on creating that continuum of touchpoints with those 65 and older to help support them in staying healthier for a longer period of time.” Jamie Sharp, MD, a physician and Vice President and Medicare Chief Medical Officer for Aetna, a CVS Health company.
Receiving medications through the mail offers a different kind of touchpoint and opportunity — and it’s on the rise among older adults, says Frank Moffett, Senior Vice President of PBM Government Programs at CVS Health. “Home delivery is critically important, whether it’s through the PBM mail service or a retail pharmacy. It makes things easier for older adults, which absolutely helps with adherence,” he says. PBMs, or pharmacy benefit managers, make managing prescriptions easier for providers, too, since monitoring medications is an important part of age-friendly care.
While consumer health care is back on track after three distressing years since the COVID-19 pandemic, many continue to struggle with medication adherence or fail to stick to their health care plan. Better communication could help. Most health care providers (94%) believe that interventions like text reminders or phone follow-ups support patients in following a prescribed care plan. Similarly, 71% of consumers say it is very or somewhat important to their health that they have customized alerts and receive reminders about screenings or checkups.
Nearly half of people 65 and older have now used virtual care, according to a report from the health nonprofits West Health and United States of Care. “We were certainly pushed into virtual care due to COVID-19, which accelerated a transition,” Dr. Sharp says. “Virtual care is poised to be one of the strongest tools in fighting any provider shortfall — and it will be especially helpful in reaching those with mobility problems,” she says.
It will take a combination of strategies to serve the growing population of older adults. The key will be to meet them in the places and ways they’re most comfortable getting their care. “We encourage those 65 and older to seek care in ways that are most convenient for them, including our brick-and-mortar locations staffed with clinicians, pharmacists and advanced care practitioners,” says Dr. Sharp. “For those who can’t come to us, we go to them.”