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Aging and Health Policy

Jill Quadagno and Brandy D. Harris


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In many nations, people 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population, with the most rapid growth occurring among the oldest-old: individuals aged 85 and older. Illness and disability are not an inevitable component of advancing age. Many people remain in good health into very old age, and early diagnoses and treatment of conditions associated with aging combined with healthy lifestyle choices can mitigate the effects of age-related diseases and conditions. Nonetheless, population aging raises critical health policy issues because the elderly have more hospitalizations and more chronic conditions than younger people and use more prescription drugs and medical services ( Solomon 1999 ). Demographic trends indicate that health care systems are likely to experience unprecedented demands in the near future because health policies have not kept up with these demographic changes ( Victor 1991 : 63). Until the twentieth century, the major causes of death for individuals of all ages was from an acute infectious disease, that is, an illness or condition with a sudden onset, sharp rise, and short courses, such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, gastrointestinal infections, and pneumonia. Death rates from these diseases dropped dramatically in developed countries between 1900 and 1970 due to antibiotics and immunizations and public health measures such as improved sanitation and ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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