Thursday, October 3, 2013

Aging is Inevitable—Have a Plan


Whether assisting a loved one or creating your own aging agenda, care and housing matter

We all remember the commercial that proclaims, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up? When it first aired, late night comedians had a ball and there were many shared laughs. It’s not so funny now, as our population is aging at a rate never before seen in history.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau (November 2011): “The nation's 90-and-older population nearly tripled over the past three decades, reaching 1.9 million in 2010. Over the next four decades, this population is projected to more than quadruple.”
The U.S. Census also reports that, while only 1 percent of people in their upper 60s and 3 percent in their upper 70s are nursing home residents, the statistics rise to about 20 percent for those in their lower 90s, more than 30 percent for people in their upper 90s, and nearly 40 percent for centenarians.
Of course, 90-years-old may sound like a long way off for some, but we are living longer and this age group is growing. As is the entire group of people age 65 and older. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau released a report that received much attention. We learned that the 65 and older population grew faster (at 15.1 percent), than the entire U.S. population, which grew at 9.7 percent. This age group is expected to continue to grow as the first baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011.
Sure we live in a world that seems to be obsessed with youth, but savvy companies are beginning to realize that the senior population has economic and political clout. According to the marketing report “Selling to Seniors,” people age 50 and older control over 77 percent of all financial assets in the U.S. and account for more that 50 percent of all discretionary spending power. Furthermore, the U.S. Census confirms that more that 72 percent of all American citizens age 65-74 voted in the presidential election—the highest rate of any age group. So there is still some pep in their step.
Yet many of us are missing the challenges faced by those who are aging ahead of us. We don’t realize the struggles faced by those we love. They are not climbing the corporate ladder; they are living with the death of a spouse or the loss of their health. They realize their memory is failing and they worry that they will be confined to a place that is not of their choice. Often, the feelings of loneliness and abandonment weigh heavy on their hearts.
There is much we can learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before us. Remember that there is a quality of life felt at every age. Being able to love a favorite pet, chat with peers, and live a truly good life to the end is possible with the right help.
It’s time to start rethinking the way we approach aging. Embrace aging gracefully, and advocate personal care and assistance when needed. Allow options, plan for care now, and promote aging with dignity.
Remember to practice forgiveness, live with purpose, and be sure that those you love feel loved. Invest in them as they have invested in you. If you’ve fallen in your responsibility to someone you love, it’s never too late to get back up.
Home is at the Heart of a Rapidly Growing Aging Population
Know your options for life after raising a family and retirement. In general, there are four types of lifestyles for the aging.
Independent Living (Retirement Communities)
Provides the freedom to live independently with low maintenance responsibilities and a variety of amenities and activities, as well as a sense of community.
In-Home Care
Live independently with some assistance provided by an outside source.
Care can include: Medical care, household help, companion or caretaker servicSee complees, meal delivery, transportation.
Assisted Living Facilities
Live independently but with some assistance.
Care can include: Rental rooms, apartments, or houses, housekeeping services, meals, social activities, transportation, limited healthcare services.
Nursing Home
When independent living is not an option and regular nursing care is required.
Care can include: 24-hour access to medical care, custodial care (help with eating, bathing, dressing, or taking medications), skilled nursing care.
See the original article in Change Magazine:


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