It seems the answer to this question is both enlightening and troubling. The main reasons for our ineffectual handling of social policies for older adults are:
1. American Values:
Social programs were developed to aid deserving seniors who had paid into the system while working. As we devalue our Elders It becomes less important to ensure their wellbeing. Social Programs were first initiated as a back up to individual and familial responsibility to support older adults. Designed for incremental needs they do not properly address the underlying causes of the need.
2. Fluctuating Economic Conditions:
Americans are not always cheerful givers. When the economy is struggling, politicians often reduce funding to social programs.
3. The state of fiscal resources:
Reduced funding equals reduced resources
An additional reason we are slow to react is the system that makes us great. Policies and spending must move through our system of checks and balances. This makes it difficult to react quickly unless forward thinking has puts the answer before the problem.
Western European countries instituted social policies in the nineteenth century. Not only did they have a head start but they view Elders wellbeing as a societal responsibility to be carried out by the government. In addition other forms of government may be easier to navigate in this type of situation.
In summary people spend money and time on what is important. When older adults become important to us as a society, we will ensure they are cared for correctly.
Hooyman, N. R., & Kiyak, H. A. (2005). Social Policies to Address Social Problems. In N. R. Hooyman, & H. A. Kiyak, Social Gerontology, A Multidisciplinary Prespective (pp. 689-726). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc., as Allyn & Bacon.
- Seniors worth celebrating? Believe it (readingeagle.com)