According to the CDC, “in the United States, the proportion of the population aged >65 years is projected to increase from 12.4% in 2000 to 19.6% in 2030,” (CDC, 2003, para. 2). Caring for this aging population is going to be one of the greatest challenges facing the health care industry. Not only will the number of individuals requiring care rise, but so will the cost. As poignantly stated by Crippen and Barnato, “unless we change the practice of medicine and reduce future costs, and explicitly address the ethical dilemmas we face, there may come a time when our kids simply cannot afford us” (2011, p. 128).
In this Discussion, you will examine the ethical issues that the United States and other nations must address when faced with the health care challenges of an aging population.
Consider the ethical aspects of health care and health policy for an aging population.
Review the Hayutin, Dietz, and Mitchell report presented in the Learning Resources. The authors pose the question, “What are the economic consequences, now and for future generations of taxpayers if we fail to adapt our policies to the changing reality of an older population?” (p. 21). Consider how you would respond to this question. In addition, reflect on the ethical decisions that arise when dispersing limited funds.
Contemplate the impact of failing to adjust policy in accordance with the changing reality of an older population.
Reflect on the ethical dilemmas that arise when determining expenditures on end-of-life health care.
Discussion: What Can Nurses Do?
Many people, most of them in tropical countries of the Third World, die of preventable, curable diseases. . . . Malaria, tuberculosis, acute lower-respiratory infections—in 1998, these claimed 6.1 million lives. People died because the drugs to treat those illnesses are nonexistent or are no longer effective. They died because it doesn’t pay to keep them alive.
–Ken Silverstein, Millions for Viagra. Pennies for Diseases of the Poor, The Nation, July 19, 1999
Unfortunately, since 1998, little has changed. For many individuals living in impoverished underdeveloped countries, even basic medical care is difficult to obtain. Although international agencies sponsor outreach programs and corporations, and although nonprofit organizations donate goods and services, the level of health care remains far below what is necessary to meet the needs of struggling populations. Polluted water supplies, unsanitary conditions, and poor nutrition only exacerbate the poor health prevalent in these environments. Nurses working in developed nations have many opportunities/advantages that typically are not available to those in underdeveloped countries. What can nurses do to support their international colleagues and advocate for the poor and underserved of the world?
In this Discussion, you will consider the challenges of providing health care for the world’s neediest citizens, as well as how nurses can advocate for these citizens.
Consider the challenges of providing health care in underdeveloped countries.
Consider the factors that impact the ability of individuals in underdeveloped nations to obtain adequate health care.
Consider strategies nurses can use to advocate for health care at the global level. What can one nurse do to make a difference?