Over the recent years, there has been a significant increase of incidence rates for various diseases in the elderly population (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease: APC = 3.96%, 95% CI = 2.67, 5.26%; renal disease: APC = 8.56%, 95% CI = 7.62, 9.50%; melanoma: APC = 6.15%, 95% CI = 4.31, 8.02%), which makes elderly care an issue of paramount importance (Akushevich, Kravchenko, Ukraintseva, Arbeev, & Yashin, 2013).
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The analysis of disease prevalence in patients over 65 indicates that the elderly tend to suffer from several conditions simultaneously, which allows speaking of the prevalence of disease clusters (e.g. diabetes mellitus is frequently clustered with hypertension, whereas depression can accompany more than 8 different diseases). There is rather extensive epidemiologic information concerning risk factors of various elderly diseases, which, nevertheless, does not actually foster any improvement since most of the facts are contradictory. Furthermore, the elderly tend to suffer from chronic diseases, which make their treatment or rehabilitation rather costly. For instance, a man of 65 having a serious disease spends $1000-2000 more than a middle-aged man does.
Florida ranges among the states with the highest population of senior citizens, living both on their own and in retirement homes. As a result of such prevalence, the issue of elderly care is one of the most important health care problems of the state. Despite efforts to improve the quality of elderly care, there are still some aspects that can be resolved only through a policy change on the federal or state level. The major problem that has to be addressed is the fact that senior citizens are frequently denied assistance during macro social work due to the funds they have saved throughout their lives (Netting, Kettner, McMurtry, & Thomas, 2016).
Description of the Policy
The suggested policy is intended for non-profit macro social organizations, which provide assistance to the elderly based on their income eligibility. Since funding is strictly limited, their major target group consists of people who are in a deep state of poverty. Yet, more people require basic food products and access to health care. Even those seniors who have some money saved over the years are rarely capable of providing for themselves since their savings are spent too quickly. The suggested policy will address the problem in the following ways.
First and foremost, a new federal program will create a category of elderly people at risk (depending on their real financial status, living conditions, and needs). New risk assessment guidelines will be introduced for macro social organizations that would allow them to consider all intricacies of each particular case, including possible factors that may put the elderly in the state of poverty in future, such as their personal habits, availability of facility members, and medical conditions (Lee & Chou, 2015; Navicke, Rastrigina & Sutherland, 2013).
The second aspect the policy will touch upon is the reconsideration of income eligibility based calculations since most alternative social organizations do not use them at present.
Legislators Involved in the Policy Development and Dissemination
Before policy changes could be introduced at the federal or state level, it is recommended to address local legislators such as the mayor of Miami and other local politicians. Their approval will allow performing a smaller-scale test that would use a small community with a big number of seniors as a target group. The results of the policy implementation will help legislators understand what benefits it brings about and correct aspects that require improvement before involving federal and state policymakers (Lingard, Martino & Rezai-Rashti, 2013).
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The Role of the APRN
The success of the policy will largely depend on the activity of the APRN. This is accounted for by the fact that nurses hold unique insights into every senior patient’s history and can identify the key points and communicate them to legislators. Their task is to make the policy personal, showing that real people with real problems will suffer if the attempt to change the current situation fails. The network of the APRN must be strong for nurses to be able to support one another and shape health policy through communication, cooperation, education, and partnership with policymakers (Netting et al., 2016).
Influence on Clinical Practice
If the policy is implemented successfully, it will considerably change the clinical practice for the better. It is supposed to lower the rates of poverty among senior patients and therefore increase their access to health care. As a result of this, improvement in their state of health is expected as most of the conditions they have will be addressed in due time thereby preventing aggravation and readmissions. For nurses, it would mean better treatment outcomes and fewer patients in ICUs due to prevention practices.
For the policy to be successful, it is required to ensure the cooperation of health care specialists with other professionals such as social workers, policymakers, accountants, etc. In order to avoid miscalculations, financial reports about the seniors living in the community are needed. Social workers must be able to analyze the conditions, in which seniors live and give recommendations concerning policy priorities. Finally, nurses are responsible for health assessment and timely care.
Due to the number of senior citizens in Florida, elderly care becomes one of the most pressing health care issues. Currently, the state does not provide assistance to those who have saved funds throughout their lives. Macro social work helps only people who live in poverty. Thus, a new policy is required to help those whose savings are insufficient. It must be introduced at the local level and then adopted by the state. To ensure success, a collaborative effort of social and medical organizations is needed.
Akushevich, I., Kravchenko, J., Ukraintseva, S., Arbeev, K., & Yashin, A. I. (2013). Time trends of incidence of age-associated diseases in the US elderly population: Medicare-based analysis. Age and Ageing, 42(4), 494-500.
Lee, S., & Chou, K. (2015). Trends in elderly poverty in Hong Kong: A decomposition analysis. Social Indicators Research, 129(2), 551-564.
Lingard, B., Martino, W., & Rezai-Rashti, G. (2013). Testing regimes, accountabilities and education policy: commensurate global and national developments. Journal of Education Policy, 28(5), 539-556.
Navicke, J., Rastrigina, O., & Sutherland, H. (2013). Nowcasting indicators of poverty risk in the European Union: A microsimulation approach. Social Indicators Research, 119(1), 101-119.
Netting, F.E., Kettner, P.M., McMurtry, S.L. & Thomas, M. L. (2016). Social work macro practice. (6th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson Education, Inc.