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Social Work with Older Adults in Health Care and Residential Settings in the New Millennium: A Return to the Past

As we enter the new millennium, Americans are living longer, healthier lives. However, old age continues to be associated with an increased risk for certain diseases and disorders, and health care continues to be an important issue for older adults. Sensory losses, such as hearing and vision, can cause older adults to require assistance with activities previously accompHshed independently. Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, can lead to acute episodes that further impact functional independence. Although this cohort (age 65+) represents approximately 13% of the V.S. population, they account for 36% of all hospital stays, with longer average lengths of stays than those under age sixty-five (Duncker & Greenberg, 2(01). While a majority of adults over the age of sixty-five live in the community, including family settings, alone, and with non-relatives (Duncker & Greenberg), the need for residential options, specifically nursing hornes and assisted living facilities, represent another significant issue for older adults and their families.