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What Makes a Good Life in Late Life? Citizenship and Justice in Aging Societies

A new Hastings Center Special Report calls on bioethics to “broaden its lens” to improve the experience of aging and tackle problems of injustice affecting older adults and caregivers.

Edited by Nancy Berlinger, Kate de Medeiros, and Mildred Z. Solomon

The United States is an aging society, where one in five people will be 65 or older by 2035. While bioethics scholarship on aging has historically concerned itself with issues at the end of life and the medical care of patients with chronic or progressive conditions, it is time for bioethics to look at the experience of aging itself and to articulate “a concept of good citizenship in an aging society that goes beyond health care relationships,” write Nancy Berlinger and Mildred Z. Solomon in the introduction to What Makes a Good Life in Late Life? Citizenship and Justice in Aging Societies, a new special report from the Hastings Center Report.

The report, supported by a generous grant from the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, features 16 essays by leading scholars and practitioners in architecture and design, bioethics, disability studies, economics, gerontology, health policy, housing studies, medicine, philosophy, political science, and urban planning.

All essays in this special report are freely available online.



Becoming Good Citizens of Aging Societies
Nancy Berlinger, Mildred Z. Solomon


What Can Thinking Like a Gerontologist Bring to Bioethics?
Kate de Medeiros

Precarious Aging: Insecurity and Risk in Late Life
Amanda Grenier, Christopher Phillipson

Solidarity and Care of Coming of Age: New Reasons in the Politics of Social welfare Policy
Bruce Jennings

Realizing and Maintaining Capabilities: Late Life as a Social Project
Michael Dunn

The Extended Body: On Aging, Disability, and Well‐being
Joel Michael Reynolds

Taking a Systems Approach to Chronic Illness in Old Age
Tom Walker

Age‐Friendly Initiatives, Social Inequalities, and Spatial Justice
Emily A. Greenfield

Co‐creating Environments: Empowering Elders and Strengthening Communities through Design
Emi Kiyota

Housing, the Built Environment, and the Good Life
Jennifer Molinsky, Ann Forsyth

Population Aging and the Sustainability of the Welfare State
Michael Gusmano, Kieke G.H. Okma

How Do We Fund Flourishing? Maybe Not through Health Care
Lauren A. Taylor

Improving Long‐Term Care by Finally Respecting Home‐Care Aides
Paul Osterman

A Good Life within Dementia
Tia Powell

Advance Directives for Refusing Life‐Sustaining Treatment in Dementia
Bonnie Steinbock, Paul T. Menzel

Aging: Drawing a Map for the Future
Daniel Callahan