Following the enactment of Medicare in 1965, access to health care for older adults in the United States improved. At the same time, nurse researchers and policy leaders developed individual and family-centered care interventions and programs that led to improvements in quality of health and life. In the next 20 to 30 years, U.S. and global projections of an expanding aging cohort with potential increases in health care needs, coupled with continued nursing shortage projections, present challenges and opportunities to enhance gerontological nursing's approach to aging care. Invigorating a public health nursing focus on the needs of a population of older adults could enhance nursing's ability to create policy and programs of care that promote quality of life for older adults and their families. Nurses using public health approaches can lead and support social policies regarding the physical environment and daily life circumstances that contribute to health equity. Heightened attention to competencies in community/public health nursing education and promotion of public health nursing careers will be important policy considerations as we face the looming increase in a population of older adults throughout the world.
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