The elderly population continues to grow each year. Current estimates place the percentage of individuals over the age of 65 at around 18 percent of the population. By the year 2020 that number is expected to rise to close to 25 percent. Research into elder care continues to be a strong factor in designing and developing treatment protocols and recommendations for individuals over the age of 65.
The International Network for Research on Elder Care was founded in 1998 and made up of a group of social and behavioral science researchers from several different countries whose interests lie in developing programs which would better suit individuals in their senior years. This group studies patterns and trends in diseases, functioning and disabilities that changed the needs in personal care for individuals who are elderly. They also evaluate patterns of exchange and communication between generations and include the care received by older persons who are unable to live independently and the impact this has on public policy. (1)
This organization was founded in response to feelings among members that their countries had common demographic patterns and that comparing their research would be fruitful for each country. Their goals are to formulate research questions, carry out projects, collaborate on comparative research, and produce findings that will be useful to policy analyst and providers of elder care services.
Great Britain has an individual Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) whose aim is to combine research with care so that outcomes of the studies can have practical benefits to elderly people. (2)
Recent research has included studies on individuals with memory problems looking for therapeutic treatment protocols which may or may not involve drug treatments. Trials involving the safety and effectiveness of new medications as well as integrating drugs already being used to treat other illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are currently underway.
Some benefits to participating in studies for the elderly are that study participants receive regular checkups. Participation in studies also offer an opportunity for both patient and caregivers to talk with staff to help understand problems that are associated with the particular problems and offering opportunities to meet other people who have similar concerns.
Making decisions about elder care is one of the toughest jobs that face an extended family. Families are faced with new services, industry-specific jargon and a number of alternatives that appear to be similar but may have differences which will significantly impacts the care your family member receives. After factoring in family dynamics and other emotional issues many family members who are the decision-maker can become paralyzed and unable to move forward.
Currently studies are ongoing looking at the difference in nutritional needs for the elderly, sleep requirement for the elderly and how metabolic changes will impact side effects of medications or medication interactions of drugs which are commonly prescribed for illnesses and diseases that seniors face. Other research studies are addressing the needs of individuals from space dementia or similar conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, the impact of bone loss and medications which may reverse the in the elderly and digestive changes which will impact the absorption of nutrients from the gut.