In this module, there are two related discussions about life expectancy and the need to think ahead and plan ahead. Average life expectancy in the US is approximately 78 years and it is continuing to rise. Many demographers anticipate that it will top out around 88 years for females and 82 years for males. Some researchers believe that the average life expectancy could reach 100 in the next few decades with 110 and 120 possible with revolutionary advances in health and medicine (Weiss & Lonnquist, 2012).
As you work through this discussion, think about the aging population in aggregate form moving through this latter phase of life.
Before you begin, be sure to complete the readings and all learning activities. Then, complete Discussion 1 first followed by Discussion 2. It is important to complete the activities in that order.
Interview an individual over the age of 65. Follow the Life Expectancy and Social Planning Interview Script Be sure to stay ‘on-script’ so that responses are fairly standardized and able to be reviewed for patterns and trends. The best way to do this is to print out the script and explain that you will read the introduction and questions to be sure directions are clear and each health care area is addressed. After you complete the interview, be sure to summarize your interview and post it in M3D1.
After you have conducted your interview, summarize you’re the answers you received to each of the interview questions.
Then, read through the interview summaries that other students have posted and respond based on the following: the similarities and differences between the individual you interviewed and the individual interviewed by your classmate.
The Script: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me today about aging over the years. To begin, I would like you to think about your life as it was twenty to twenty-five years ago and then compare it to your life today. I will ask you to share your personal experience and thoughts about changes in society related to health and health care. I may need to take a few notes while we talk. When we are finished, I will compile all information for a discussion we are having in our medical sociology class. The information will be shared as group data, only; I will not disclose your name or link any information to you, personally. If for any reason you prefer not to answer a question, it is quite fine. Do you have any questions or concerns before we start?
• How has your health changed over the last twenty to twenty-five years?
• How has access to health care changed? By that, I mean, what were your healthcare needs twenty years ago and how did you meet them; and, what are your health care needs today and how do you meet them?
• Who have you received healthcare from over the years—physicians, nurse practitioners, folk healers, others?
• Do you have a Living Will, Advance Health Care Directive, or a Health Care Proxy? What factors or conditions contributed to the decision about having or not having this document?
• What about medications? Have they changed over time?
• Has your health insurance coverage changed? If so, in what way?
• Is there anyone, family or friend who will provide care if you need it?
• Do you have long-term health care insurance that covers home-care, assisted living, or skilled nursing care? If so, when did you get it? What factors or circumstances contributed to the decision to have or not have long-term care health insurance?
• How about the disclosure of health information? By that I mean, what you have experienced about disclosing or not-disclosing medical information. Has it changed over the years? If so, how has it changed and what do you think is driving the change?
• Are you using any resources within your community, such as a senior center? Why/why not? Do you think you will in the future?