Aging Policy Opportunities

macro photography of brown plank

Many of us have experienced a difficult year. However, older adults faced challenges that many others did not experience. Older adults were more vulnerable to serious illness and death from COVID-19. The virus spread quickly in nursing facilities creating a third of the deaths in Michigan alone. Prior to the pandemic, as a country, we needed to make improvements to address the needs of the growing number of adults over 80 years old and our aging population. The imperative to improved aging policy was amplified by the challenges highlighted over the last year. 

Key aging issues that face our country, community, and our neighbors include rising health care costs, poorly coordinated treatment, and a lack of person-centered center. Our country’s long-term care system depends on a financial model that impoverishes people until their assets are depleted and Medicaid becomes the payer.  Family caregivers attempt to provide the bulk of care in a system where they do not have the necessary training, services, and supports. Transportation systems rarely support the needs of older adults who can no longer drive but want to remain in their community.

To ensure that the people we care about have the infrastructure and supports needed for healthy aging in our communities, we need to support policies and funding that address social determinates of health such a housing, access to food, and transportation. Funding for home and community-based services and caregiver supports can allow older adults to remain in their homes at less cost than living in a nursing facility. Advocating for local transportation programs and systems extend the freedoms and abilities for older adults to live independent lives.

My hope is we assess the challenges in our communities, states, and country with a heart for improving the lives of older adults through policy. The pandemic has shown us what needs to be enhanced so people do not continue to suffer. Let’s lean-in to make sure that our policy makers allocate funding and make policy choices that create a difference for our parents, family members, and neighbors.

Three things to learn about this week:

  1. Healthy Aging in Action
  2. Aging in Place 2011
  3. What Policy Makers Need to Know About Aging in America

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

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