So what do you all think needs to change in terms of elder care? Furthermore, how can we provide better care, contain costs, and plan for the future? Almost all industrialized countries are in hot debate. Background Info: 100 years ago (in 1910), the average US lifespan sat at around 50 years. Less than 12% of the population (which was about 91 million in 1910) were older than 64 years. Families were huge, a lot of people died (especially at and around birth), and few people lived to a ripe old age. Also, family demographics were different as more people lived together. The top causes of death were almost all infectious disease; it may be hard to believe but diarrhea was a major cause of death in the early 1900s!! Today (from 2007 data), the average US lifespan is about 78 years. Most Western European nations have a slightly higher average lifespan. Almost all major causes of death are chronic diseases. About 15% of the population (which is about 310 million) live past the age of 64 (In Japan, around 22% are 65+!!!). Also, the birth rate has dramatically slowed and so there are fewer children and fewer persons ages 18-64 (which are the prime work years). All in all, the ratio of workers to dependents has changed significantly; there are many more dependents, fewer workers, and, a massive cohort (the Baby Boomers @ about 75 million individuals) are about to retire. All of those factors complicate the financial aspect and physical delivery aspect to providing adequate services in elder care. The lifespan is expected to increase, and the birth rate decrease. Fewer people are having to pay for more beneficiaries while the cost of living and the cost of medical care has increased. Private elder care is far too expensive for most people and sooner or later, older persons living in industrialized nations will have at least some aging-based services provided to them from the government. The bottom line is that there are fewer available resources to care for older persons and they will continue to decrease. All industrialized countries are facing current and/or future issues in elder care. How should we deal with this? Obviously, we need a system that is financially stable, but that system needs to also ensure a certain standard of quality care. I skipped a lot too so forgive me if I missed anything. Hopefully the Europeans will be able to explain their country's style of elder care in more detail.