For a long time, New Mexico enjoyed a reputation as being hip and ‘in’ for younger generations in America. In fact, it was one of the youngest states, based on census numbers, within the country, but that trend is no longer holding steady. In fact, within a decade or slightly more, New Mexico could be one of the oldest, and it means a number of challenges lay on the horizon for its political leaders, especially in how the state will provide health care services and even in home care support.
The Baby Boomer generation is placing increased pressure on states all across the country. As an increase in men and women reach retirement age, they also reach a point in their life when they will likely require more health care services and potentially in home care support.
As The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center faculty, Dr. David Scrase, Dr. Mark Unruh, and Dr. Richard S. Larson noted in their op-ed article, Graying state needs more health care, published in the Albuquerque Journal:
“In 2000, 11.7 percent of New Mexico’s population was over 64, and we were ranked 39th oldest in the nation. But the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by 2030, 26.4 percent of New Mexicans will be 65 or older – and we will then rank No. 4.
Why will we have such a high proportion of seniors in 2030? The outmigration of our youth is a factor, but not the most important one. In fact, the state’s birth rate has been declining for some time, while the absolute number of New Mexico seniors will have more than doubled from 2000 to 2030.”
More Americans today prefer to ‘age in place,’ which means they would rather stay within the comfort of their home as opposed to heading to a nursing home, assisted living community, or to live with family. In order for some of these seniors to be able to do that safely, they might have to rely on outside help. Some will turn to family or friends, but that isn’t an ideal situation. Some will simply continue to struggle, thus putting themselves at risk.
As New Mexico faces a different reality for their future, changes will be necessary if the state is able to provide the optimal level of care and support its aging population requires. Shortages that go unchecked will more than likely leave some without access to the in home care services to keep them safe and healthier at home.
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