New perspectives on aging and healthcare

Here’s my latest article on McKnight’s Long-Term Care News:


New perspectives on aging and healthcare

Three new books on aging and healthcare recently crossed my desk, each with completely different takes on our industry.

One focuses on ways in which companies, including long-term care organizations, can save on healthcare costs. In another, the author’s insights into elder wisdom can be used by facilities to add to the quality of life of residents. The final book offers an outsider’s view into how our field is perceived by older adults and their families.

Cost savings

In “Health-Wealth: 9 Steps to Financial Recovery,” author Josh Luke, Ph.D., a former hospital CEO turned “healthcare futurist,” argues that our healthcare delivery system is so badly broken that we should seek a new model for the healthcare needs of employees.

He outlines a method to implement a consumer-driven model that improves pricing transparency and control over costs. Some of the suggestions are likely to both reduce expenses and increase employee satisfaction. For example, an organization-wide emphasis on health and wellness can be a popular program with medical savings.

Other ideas, such as charging the employee a percentage of care costs over their maximum deductible, won’t be universally appealing but could influence workers to choose more affordable “centers of value” during a health crisis.

If organizations find creative ways to reduce healthcare expenditures for their employees, the market is bound to shift in unexpected directions — and that’s exactly what “industry disruptor” Josh Luke is hoping for.

Quality of life

The second book, “The End of Old Age” by Marc Agronin, M.D., offers a hopeful view of aging that will resonate with those in the field.

I was particularly struck by the fact that Agronin, a geriatric psychiatrist, began his book with a chapter on why we should grow old, addressing issues around end of life choices and the way we approach old age. The foundation of acknowledging that some people don’t actually want to live to old age is a crucial exploration that sets the tone for the rest of the book.

Subsequent chapters point to the value of aging in very specific ways. While older adults may not surpass younger people at tasks that require speed or visual acuity, for example, Agronin details five different forms of wisdom in which elders excel. The book includes tools so that others, such as families and staff members, can use his model to help elders make use of their strengths and recognize their purpose at this phase of life.

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New perspectives on aging and healthcare

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