Back To CourseGerontology for Teachers: Professional Development
31 chapters | 310 lessons
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.Try it risk-free
Christine is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.
A group of older adults have arrived at their state capitol. Mel, who is in his 60s, has never been to the capitol before today. He's traveled here from three hours away with others from his local senior center. They are all here for Senior Day, an opportunity to talk with their legislators about their concerns, ideas, and needs, as well as to learn about legislation that most affects their age group.
Gavin, the person who organized the outing, gathers Mel and the others nearby the entrance of the capitol building. He briefs them on the issues they plan to address when they speak with their state senators and representatives. He asks for input from the group on the issues they want to address as well.
Mel listens intently, noticing how there is overlap between what Gavin tells him are the key topics and his own experience of these areas. Today, they plan to focus on three main areas of concern: elder justice, healthcare, and disparities between groups of older adults.
Mel also considers what concerns he wants to add that might not be as much on other people's minds. He knows of some areas that need attention that not everyone would realize. This lesson will discuss contemporary policy issues concerning older adults and relate them to the experiences of older adults, like Mel and Gavin.
One of the top issues that the group prepares to discuss with legislators is the Older Americans Act. Overdue for reauthorization in 2014, this Act is about half a century old and has seen revision and additions over the years. The current reauthorization would promote new initiatives for aging adults and continue the funding for many established programs. Delays are caused by other competing priorities and differing political views over how to fund these programs without increasing the federal deficit.
One of the areas addressed by the revised Older Americans Act as proposed is to require the federal government to play a greater role in addressing elder abuse and neglect in long-term care facilities. Elder justice is a key area of concern for Mel, Gavin, and the group, and almost everyone in attendance knows of someone who had received poor treatment by facilities or even by family members. Elder justice refers to the movement to give older adults a voice in response to criminal actions against them. Public policy in this area provides resources to prevent and address these abuses.
In addition to physical and emotional abuse, financial exploitation is of particular interest to older adults. Gavin has first-hand experience with this, last year falling victim to a scheme involving his veteran's benefits. The perpetrators, who he thought worked for the government, offered him a lump-sum payment in place of the benefits he was supposed to receive for the rest of his life. Gavin didn't realize they were not acting in his interest, and ultimately, he found himself in much worse financial shape as a result.
The Affordable Care Act, passed during President Obama's administration, also includes provisions related to the abuse of older adults, as part of the Elder Justice Act portion of this legislation. The group at the Senior Day event hopes to encourage their legislators to keep this important issue on their minds. They want to ensure that the Elder Justice Act is implemented as planned and that federal funds are allocated and used to protect seniors from elder abuse.
Gavin moves on to the topic of healthcare. Many healthcare issues concern them, from continuing funding for Medicare to offering older adults options for their long-term care.
A particular area the group has at the forefront of their minds is addressing the shortage of health professionals who have expertise in geriatrics. Several members of the senior center group mentioned how long they have to wait for appointments, and how often they have worked with a healthcare provider who has no particular training in working with aging adults. Mel asks why this is the case.
Gavin has researched this topic and so shared with the group that there are several reasons why there are not more doctors trained in geriatrics. One reason is that this field does not offer the best financial reward, as it stands today. Doctors, who often have large student loan debt upon completion of their programs, are often drawn to better paying fields. In addition, the schedules for those who work in geriatric care are often not as appealing.
The Affordable Care Act has aimed to address this issue through promoting accountable care organizations and other measures to help encourage this field to grow. Yet, Gavin, Mel, and the others will make sure legislators are made aware of this problem and can vote to promote measures that improve the situation. This issue is particularly worrisome because moderate shortage now could mean a devastating shortage later, as the number of older adults rapidly increases in coming years.
Within the population of older adults, some demographic groups face greater challenges than others. One of the women in the group, Karen, decides to speak up at this point. As a widowed woman, she has been living on her own for quite a while, and has noticed that the single adults she knows in her age group seem to be struggling the most. Many don't have the savings or support from others that married couples do. She asks that Gavin add an issue to the topics of the day, specifically the disparities between married and single older adults. Disparities are the differences between various groups of people, which frequently are linked with social and economic inequalities in society.
Gavin agrees and asks if anyone else in the group has examples of disparity among groups of older adults, to ensure their concerns are heard. Another woman speaks up and says that she is the primary caregiver for her grandchild. She says that she interacts with many older adults who experience this same situation and yet do not qualify for typical support because their income may be just slightly over the poverty level. This makes it hard to make ends meet as an older adult on a fixed income, with a grandchild who has many needs.
As other members of the group speak up, Gavin documents the various disparities that affect what a person's older years will be like. Marital status, caring for grandchildren, ethnicity, income, and education level are all brought up as factors. These will be discussed with lawmakers during Senior Day to ensure they are aware of what impacts an older adult in a big way.
Finally, it is Mel's turn to speak up. He talks about his experience as a person who was labeled as female at birth but who lives as a male now. He brings up his gender identity in order to highlight disparities for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT).
Mel shares how he and other LGBT adults have unique challenges not yet fully understood. Research into the impact of aging on this group of older adults is still limited. Senior Day will be an opportunity to let legislators know that their constituents are affected by this gap in research.
As Mel, Gavin, and the others in their group talk with legislators, they bring up the main issues affecting older adults today. They first discuss their concern that the Older Americans Act is overdue for reauthorization and also advocate to keep elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation as a top priority. They want to be sure that the Elder Justice Act is implemented, as part of the Affordable Care Act. Elder justice is the movement to give older adults a voice in response to criminal actions against them and provides resources to prevent and address these abuses.
In the area of healthcare, the group has several specific topics in mind, from continuing funding for Medicare to offering older adults options for their long-term care. As they talk with legislators, they will also plan on addressing the shortage of health professionals who have expertise in geriatrics due to less desirable salaries and schedules in that field.
As the group discusses the major issues of an aging society, they also acknowledge how certain demographics of the population may experiences disparities, such as barriers to medical care and less financial stability. Disparities are the differences between various groups of people, which frequently are linked with social and economic inequalities in society. Some of the demographics in question include marital status, caring for grandchildren, ethnicity, income, and education level as well as those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). Additional research may be needed in these areas and policy established to support these groups.
This video should help you to:
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CourseGerontology for Teachers: Professional Development
31 chapters | 310 lessons