This chapter highlights some of the current health programs and policies in place and changes in demographic trends for older adults living within American society. In addition, substantial changes within the social, political, and cultural expectations of communities over the past century pose challenges for policies and programs serving older adults. The chapter presents several issues emerge as realities within the context of policy development and program planning for older adults. These issues include changes in living arrangements, education levels, economic well-being, and rural population settings; trends in morbidity and mortality; and changes within the social, political, and cultural expectations of communities. Despite the availability of programs and services resulting from health policies, many programs have focused upon “medically necessary” services and have lacked a health promotion, health education, or community-based focus.
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- Go to chapter: Background and Demographic Profile of People Growing Older and/or People With Disabilities
This chapter helps the reader to understand the history of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specific components of the ADA and how the ADA provides resources to older adults and people with disabilities. The ADA, while groundbreaking, was not initially intended for people with disabilities rather than for older adults. As time progressed, however, the benefits of the ADA were much more far-reaching than originally intended, especially for aging adults with disabilities. The individual titles of the ADA have had some dramatically positive and specific impact for older adults wishing to remain in their homes or in their communities as long as possible. Although the ADA is still in its young adulthood, the benefits of the ADA have only grown as new and further linkages, such as the ADRCs, have developed in all regions of the United States.