Ethics in an aging society

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.

To prepare:

�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.

Post by Day 3 an explanation of the ethical standards you believe should be used in determining how resources should be allocated for an aging population and end-of-life care. Then, provide an analysis of the ethical challenges related to the preparation for the provision of such health care.



Ethical Issues with an Aging Population

            According to the Centre for Disease Control, the proportion of the people aged more than sixty five years will be at 19.6% in 2030. Caring for this population will be challenged in that the many people will require comprehensive care and the cost of health care provision will be high. As a result, extensive patient care and countrys’ health care expectations will not be met fully. Health care technologies are associated with increased costs and this places a burden on patients to settle on affordable health insurance (Moody, 2013).  

            Some of the ethical standards that are significant in limited resource allocation and healthcare provision to the elderly are full beneficence, autonomy, and patient-centered beneficence.  Justice is a cardinal ethical standard in this predicament. Every aged person should enjoy a share of the society’s benefits. These benefits should be balanced against the society’s medical needs. Cost-effectiveness is a significant criterion for determining patients who will receive medical services. Respect for patients’ decisions regarding their healthcare will help in determining patients that will receive comprehensive care (Moody, 2013).  However, patients should be educated adequately before making any decisions. On the same note, health care professionals have a role of promoting the patient’s welfare. They should remove and prevent harms that patients are likely to succumb to and balance benefits against the risks.

            One of the key ethical challenges in regard to end-of-life and geriatric care is if and the circumstances under which proper healthcare priorities will be set. One perspective is that sickest patients ought to acquire treatment first (Moody, 2013). However, this will deny valuable resources to patients who would have survived and enjoyed better life quality. Another ethical challenge is the point at which medical procedures may be stopped when dealing with patients with incurable diseases.


Moody, H. R. (2013). Ethics in an aging society. John Hopkins: Johns Hopkins University Press.