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 discusses the history of the Medicare in the United States; specific components of Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D; and how Medicare provides healthcare resources to older adults and people with disabilities. Medicare, a healthcare program perceived to be a universal program rather than one based upon a needs test, currently provides healthcare to people who reach the age of 64. Comprised of four parts, it can provide hospital care, general healthcare, hospice care, home healthcare, and prescription drug coverage. The chapter provides an overview of the Medicare program, its various components, and aspects of healthcare that are covered through its component parts. Although there are currently no needs tests or limitations as to who qualifies for services, the chapter concludes with some dilemmas for the future of healthcare coverage, including “an empty pot at the end of the rainbow” and rationing of healthcare services and procedures.
Aging policy is shaped by a variety of demographic, social, and economic factors. However, these factors are not the only influences on the development of public policy or aging/disability policies. Philosophical paradigms and theoretical frameworks also influence the actual development of policy and play a strong implicit role in how public policy is drafted. Values and philosophies guide the development of specific philosophical paradigms and shape how aging and disability policy is developed and implemented. This chapter explores how these realities play a role in the development and implementation of public policy and aging/disability policy. It showcases some of the realities that may prevent the implementation of the policy or program as envisioned. As a safeguard against a subjectively devised policy and program base, objective evidence and empirically driven initiatives can be developed by aging and disability policy advocates.
- Practice Realities and Visions