Aging Social Policies: An International Perspective

Books

Robbyn R. Wacker & Karen A. Roberto

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    Robbyn dedicates this book to Jani, for her endless encouragement, love, and support to Paola Guelpa, for her friendship, enthusiasm, and sense of adventure for our “projects,” all of which helped make this book a reality—grazie mille cara amica mia to Dr. Patricia Keith, who was a valued mentor, colleague, and friend to Alta Wacker, who faces aging with courage and humor

    Karen dedicates this book to Steve, for his continual love, support, and understanding of my needing time “to write” to all the staff at the Center for Gerontology, who always do more than they are asked to Robbyn, for having the vision and taking the lead in making this book a reality

    We both dedicate this book to the many older adults who agreed to be interviewed and/or photographed for this book, who opened their homes and their hearts to us all in hopes that their stories would help us remember the connection between the policies we create and the dignity they hope to have in later life

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    Preface

    Authors’ Purpose

    The genesis for this book came during a 2-week study-abroad experience for gerontology students that Robbyn led a few summers ago. During that experience, she was reflecting on the fact that after having taught aging social policies for many years, there were two pedagogical issues that were always particularly challenging. First, because of a dearth of in-depth information available on aging social policies in other countries, students rarely had an opportunity to compare, discuss, and analyze the different ways other countries approached and constructed their policies. Taking students on a study-abroad course and seeing how they responded so positively to learning about various countries’ approaches to aging social policies was confirmation that we needed to replicate this learning experience as best we could in a textbook.

    Second, teaching about aging social policies is naturally focused at the macro level of analyses and on the elements contained in such policies. Thus, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the way in which governments choose to construct their aging social policies will have a direct effect on an older adult's quality of life. We thought that this link—the policy-person link—was an important element missing from textbooks on aging social policies, and we wanted to write a book that attempted to make the macro-micro connections apparent to the reader.

    Using these two issues as our framework, the purpose of this book is to describe U.S. aging social policy alongside a select sampling of other countries’ aging social policies and weave into our thinking interviews that we conducted with older adults from various countries around the globe to help give you some insight into their daily lives, thoughts, and concerns, which can be used as a reminder of how policies touch the day-to-day lives of older adults. While we were unable to include all the interviews we conducted, we have included photographs of many of the older adults we met or interviewed. We are very grateful to those who were kind enough to be interviewed.

    The book is organized as follows. All chapters begin with pictures of older adults, many of whom we interviewed, and end with interviews we conducted with older adults from different countries. The first chapter introduces you to the demographics of the worldwide aging phenomenon, and to get you thinking about the policy-person link, we conclude with a case study of an older adult to which you can refer back as you learn about the specifics of other countries’ social policies. You can use this case study to see the different effects these policies would have on one's life circumstances. Chapter 2 provides a brief discussion of the elements of the policymaking process and a discussion about key U.S. and international aging social policy initiatives. Chapters 3 through 9 cover specific aging social policies and provide an in-depth review of U.S. policy, along with three to five other countries’ equivalent social policies for comparison. We provide additional information or examples of programs influenced by policy in text boxes within many of the chapters and conclude each chapter with additional resources. We end the book with a summary of the challenges facing the future construction of aging social policy.

    As we selected the countries to highlight within each chapter, we attempted to provide a rich array of the ways aging social policies are implemented in countries facing the challenges of an aging population. Although it was not possible to include a description of aging social policies from every country throughout the world, we hope that you will be inspired to investigate other countries on your own. Finally, public policy is dynamic and ever-changing; as we sent this book to press, President Obama signed into legislation the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010), which marks the first major change to U.S. health care legislation in more than 40 years, and the government in France announced its intention to increase the retirement age. Thus, we encourage you to keep an eye on the ongoing changes in the social policy arena. We hope you enjoy reading this textbook, and we welcome your comments and suggestions.

    RobbynR.WackerUniversity of Northern Coloradorobbyn.wacker@unco.edu
    KarenA.RobertoVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universitykroberto@vt.edu

    Acknowledgments

    We are so very grateful to a number of people who supported us in this endeavor and helped make this book a reality. We would like to thank the many people in countries around the globe who helped arrange, conduct, and interpret the interviews—Paola Guelpa, Paola Corazza, Enrica Interlandi, Chiara Rimoldi, Eric Rousson, Veronique Frison, Enrico Terzo, Dott. Adriano Guala, Alberto Mello Teggia, Dott. Enrico Negrone, Agueda and Miguel Mazarrasa, John Kinski, Liz Jeannet, Phil Ochiltree, Rebecca Rogers, Annemieke Lippes, Laurens v. Hulst, Jérôme Pellerin, Chrysostomos Giannoulakis, Anastasia Giannoulakis, Vickki Klingman, Frances Braafhart, Guei-ying Lin, and Aditi Divatia.

    Thanks to Susan Collins, faculty member in the University of Northern Colorado's gerontology program, for sharing her insights and suggestions and to Sonja Rizzolo, who cheerfully lent her assistance in tracking down references. Jeanette VanGalder, Gloria Reynolds, Raul Cardenas, Thomas Smith, and Michelle Quinn—UNC colleagues—and Kisha Wacker Conroy all provided frequent support and encouragement from the beginning and at many points along the way.

    We also appreciate the assistance of the staff and graduate students at the Virginia Tech Center for Gerontology for their help in locating information, developing the chapters, and reviewing drafts—Carlene Arthur, Katie Barrow, Ryan Cook, Lauren Ermann, Laura Eubanks Gambrel, Brandy Renee McCann, and Marya McPherson.

    We are grateful to the reviewers who provided us with insightful and valuable suggestions on early drafts of the chapters:

    Heying Jenny Zhan, Georgia State University

    Stephen D. Gresham, Brown University

    William H. Dailey, Jr., California State University, Fresno

    Kathy Segris, Ball State University

    James H. Swan, University of North Texas

    Phyllis A. Greenberg, St. Cloud State University

    Finally, we wish to acknowledge the staff at Sage and especially Kassie Graves, our editor, who managed to have the perfect combination of patience, insight, and encouragement and who contributed greatly to our thinking about the book's direction.

    RobbynR.Wacker
    KarenA.Roberto
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    About the Authors

    Robbyn R. Wacker, PhD, is assistant vice president for Research, dean of the Graduate School and International Admissions, and professor of Gerontology at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Her research interests include international aging social policy and psychosocial predictors of community service use among older adults. Prior to obtaining her doctorate, she provided legal assistance to older adults through the Title III Legal Services program. Along with her administrative duties, Dr. Wacker continues to be an active researcher in the field of gerontology. She has published more than 60 referred presentations, scholarly articles, books (including Community Resources for Older Adults: Resources and Services in an Era of Change, 3rd ed., with Roberto, 2008), and conference proceedings. Dr. Wacker has earned numerous university and professional awards, including UNC's Academic Leadership Excellence Award, Outstanding Achievement Award in Sponsored Programs, and Mortar Board Excellence Award for Teaching, and was selected by the Harvard Graduate School of Education to attend its summer Management Development Program for leaders in higher education.

    Karen A. Roberto, PhD, is professor and director of the Center for Gerontology and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Her research examines the intersection of health and social support in later life. Her primary interests include older women's adaptation to chronic health conditions, family relationships and caregiving, and elder abuse and mistreatment. She is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and 30 book chapters and the editor or author of 9 books, including Community Resources for Older Adults: Resources and Services in an Era of Change, 3rd ed. (with Wacker, 2008) and Pathways of Human Development: Explorations of Change (with Mancini, 2009). Dr. Roberto is a fellow of the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, the Gerontological Society of America, the National Council on Family Relations, and the World Demographic Association and served as the 2009 chair of the Behavioral and Social Sciences section of the Gerontological Society of America. She is the recipient of numerous university and professional awards, including the Gordon Streib Academic Gerontologist Award from the Southern Gerontological Society and the Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Research Excellence.


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