The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the lives of older adults, intensifying long-standing challenges in the US health care system. Persistent health and mortality disparities on the basis of race and socioeconomic status, staffing shortages and insufficient financial resources at some nursing homes, and a reluctance among Americans to make formal plans for their end-of-life health care are problems of heightened magnitude in the pandemic era. Policy solutions like extending Medicare benefits to younger people, increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, and facilitating formal conversations regarding end-of-life care may help Americans to age and die with dignity.

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