Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Impact of Baby Boomers on Healthcare

The next generation of senior citizens is posed to live longer and be larger than any previous generation. Starting in 2011, the first members of the baby boomer generation turned 65 years old, joining the existing population of 40.2 million seniors living in the United States. By 2030, the baby boomer generation is expected to contribute over 80 million seniors to the American population.1

Given increased life expectancy rates, there could be an upwards of 120 million Americans aged 65+ by 2030.

Much like the baby boom forced public schools in the 1950s to increase their capacity due to demand, there will be a similar effect on the healthcare system in the years to come. Unlike public schools, however, the demand for healthcare will never stop and will actually increase as more seniors are living longer and with more chronic conditions.

Today’s seniors are said to already use hospital services at 4.5 times the rate of the younger population, which indicates that inpatient care will rise exponentially in the next 20 years as the senior boomers grow in numbers.2

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What are the Healthcare Implications of Baby Boomers?

The American Hospital Association predicts that 6 out of 10 baby boomers will be managing multiple chronic conditions including diabetes, arthritis, and obesity in 2030, which means that hospitals should prepare for an influx of boomers requiring inpatient care. By 2030, baby boomer hospital admissions are anticipated to be more than double what they are today.3 Acute care admissions are expected to grow to over 44 million in 2030, resulting in a need for over 238,000 additional hospital beds in the United States to meet the increasing health demands of the baby boomer generation.2

Seniors will account for over half of all hospital admissions in 2030 and are expected to occupy 59% of available hospital beds.2 This statistic has serious implications for healthcare facilities, as seniors are the population most at risk for a hospital fall. Consider the following statistics:
  • Seniors are 9x more likely to experience an inpatient fall4
  • Over 1/3 of seniors experience at least one fall each year5
  • 1 in 5 seniors experience a fall within a hospital setting6
  • By 2030, approximately 56% of admissions will be patients 65+3
  • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among seniors5
  • Falls cause more than 87% of all hip fractures in seniors and 25% of patients die within a year of the fracture5
By 2030, 80 million baby boomers will be likely candidates for falls in the United States. According to the statistics, 16 million falls will occur within a hospital setting in 2030. Today, only 8 million seniors are expected to experience an inpatient fall which means that between now and 2030, there could be a 100% increase in hospital falls. As even more seniors live even longer lives, falls could become an increasingly larger burden for healthcare providers.

How to Prepare for Baby Boomers

Projections expect that hospitals in the United States will require 238,000 additional hospital beds in order to prepare for the senior baby boomers.2 Considering that 59% of all hospital beds in the United States will be occupied by seniors, it is recommended that hospitals equip units with elderly-accessible hospital beds that help prevent patient falls.

Many hospital beds range from 18-20” from the floor, which is higher than many beds that patients sleep in at home. The unfamiliarity and increased height could result in more patient falls, as mobility issues can prevent older patients from climbing out of bed with ease. Not only do seniors experience mobility issues, but seniors are on average more prone to take multiple medications, face visual impairment, and experience forgetfulness or confusion, which are factors contributing to increased fall risk.

As a result, low hospital beds have been recommended by numerous organizations including The Joint Commission and Veterans Affairs to reduce the number of patient falls in hospital settings and prevent adverse effects such as hip fractures. Low hospital beds help seniors sleep safely and comfortably, and prevent fall injuries.

CHG’s Spirit Select bed is a solution for reducing patient falls with its low height of 10” from the ground. Seniors can benefit from the bed’s low height that allows patients to place their feet firmly on the floor when exiting, and the adjustable positioning feature for increased comfort and mobility. The Spirit Select is designed to keep patients safe has the needs of senior patients in mind.

Will History Repeat?

In the 1950s, the baby boomers had a significant impact on public school systems. New schools were built and capital equipment was purchased in order to meet the needs of the increased number of students, only to be no longer necessary once the boomers graduated and were replaced by a much smaller generation of students. There is fear that this may once again happen, but as life expectancy continues to increase and chronic conditions become more prevalent, the healthcare industry can be sustained beyond the baby boomers.

Adjustable equipment like the Spirit Select low hospital bed can help hospitals adapt to the changing demographics of patients. With heights ranging from 10” in the lowest position to 35.25” in the highest position, the Spirit Select can be used in a number of patient settings.

Hospital admissions are on the rise, and flexibility can help meet the needs of the diverse patient population.

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CHG Hospital Beds specializes in low hospital beds that are designed to prevent patient falls and related injuries within acute care environments. We are focused on patient and nurse safety and deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of our customers.


1United States Census Bureau. (2011). Age and Sex Composition: 2010. [Data file]. Retrieved from
2Solucient, LLC. (2003). National and Local Impact of Long-Term Demographic Change on Inpatient Acute Care. Evanston, IL.
3American Hospital Association. (2007). When I’m 64: How Boomers Will Change Health Care. American Hospital Association. Retrieved from
4Public Health Agency of Canada. (2009). Risk Factors for Falls and Fall-Related Injuries in Seniors. Public Health Agency of Canada. Retrieved from
5Learn Not to Fall. (2009). How Often Falls Occur. Philips Lifeline. Retrieved from
6Katarsky, C. (2011). Verdict: Fall prevention efforts aren’t working. Health Exec News. Retrieved from

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