1st Edition

Dying in Old Age
U.S. Practice and Policy

ISBN 9781138496934
Published September 15, 2020 by Routledge
206 Pages

USD $44.95

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Book Description

Three-quarters of deaths in the U.S. today occur to people over the age of 65, following chronic illness. This new experience of "predictable death" has important consequences for the ways in which societies structure their health care systems, laws, and labor markets. Dying in Old Age: U.S. Practice and Policy applies a sociological lens to the end of life, exploring how macrosocial systems and social inequalities interact to affect individual experiences of death in the United States.

Using data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study and Pew Research Center Survey of Aging and Longevity, this book argues that predictable death influences the entire life course and works to generate greater social disparities. The volume is divided into sections exploring demography, the circumstances of dying people, and public policy affecting dying people and their families. In exploring these interconnected factors, the author also proposes means of making "bad death" an avoidable event.

As one of the first books to explore the social consequences of end of life practice, Dying in Old Age will be of great interest to graduate and advanced undergraduate students in sociology, social work, and public health, as well as scholars and policymakers in these areas.

Table of Contents

1.The Predictable Death  2.The Demography of Death  Part 1: Private Troubles  3.Life’s Final Weeks  4.Care for the Dying  5.Social Isolation  Part 2: Public Issues  6.Medicare and Medicaid  7.Advance Care Planning  8.Euthanasia  9.Conclusions

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Sara M. Moorman is Associate Professor of Sociology at Boston College, and a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. In addition to death and dying, Moorman studies life course predictors of cognitive function in older adulthood, as well as psychosocial experiences in older adults’ personal relationships.


"In this insightful and meticulously researched book, Moorman vividly shows why 'predictable' death is the new American way of death, and elucidates the policies needed to ensure a ‘good death’ for dying patients and their care providers."

Deborah Carr, Professor and Chair of Sociology, Boston University

"This book focuses on the unequal distribution of premature death in contemporary United States. Moorman employs fundamental cause theory to address this vexing problem, providing a compelling discussion to explain differences in health between African Americans and Whites, rich and poor, rural and urban residents and other disadvantaged groups. Her study, grounded in fresh analyses of national data on health and aging trends, comes at a time when understanding complex persistent inequalities in death and dying among the most vulnerable older adults and the potential burden it places on those who care for them, is paramount. With thoughtful new insights and policy prescriptions, Dying in Old Age: U.S. Practice and Policy goes beyond sociology and the scholarly research community to inform public officials as well."

Jacqueline Angel, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, The University of Texas at Austin

"Against the backdrop of a comprehensive collection of data and ideas related to trends in contemporary dying, Moorman makes a compelling case for the need (and the means) to adjust our social and health care systems to better serve people at the end of life. An important contribution of her book is the extent to which she documents how people in marginalized groups have been ill-served by our current system."

Mercedes Bern-Klug, Professor; Director, Aging and Longevity Studies Program, University of Iowa School of Social Work