Monday, October 7, 2013

Aging in Place

As one who has received a personal invitation to join CARP, falls into the "aging worker" category, and is a middle-aged, menopausal empty nester, I admit this aging thing has been on my mind. And not in the superficial - "look-at-these-crevices-on-my-face" way. I've been paying close attention to our elders and thinking about how they spend the years and how we treat them. I have a vested interest in the outcome -- if I'm lucky enough to become a grand old lady -- I wonder what will be in store.

Apparently the elders club is a growing phenomenon around the world. Never in human history has our planet contained so many older people - or such a large percentage of them. And thanks to the aging baby boomers, the globe is tilting to the elder-agers, which explains the longevity of The Rolling Stones. I think the world is ripe for an elder revolution -- if they organized, they could rule the world.

Long-term care facilities are springing up everywhere -  sleeker, cleaner and better smelling than the dingy "old age" institutions of yesteryear. They offer professional care, activities, facilities, entertainment and lots of company - everything but what elders really want -- their families.

I think we make an incorrect assumption about older people -- that if we put all the old lonely souls together, they can keep one another company; sometimes being old is the only thing they have in common.

It's a dilemma - what do we do with our ever-growing elder population when they need special attention and care? Today people are living longer than ever before and I wonder how our society will adjust; how, or if, families will change.

My goal will be to age-in-place gracefully; age-in-place -- age where I live, sleeping in my own bed, surrounded by the people I love and who love me. But it may be an idealistic dream. I may need more help than my family can handle, and I may have illnesses or ailments that require medical interventions. I may have to learn to like bingo and paper mache classes and be content with biweekly visits from family who take their turn to drop by. I may have to live with my alcohol consumption limited to a weekly thimble full of wine or I may become a cranky old gal who hates being told what to do. Come to think of it, I already am a cranky old gal who hates being told what to do. And that does not bode well for my future caregivers!

Closing thought -- aging is reserved for the fortunate who live long lives -- and aging and all that goes with it is inevitable. We too will be old -- if we are lucky.

3 comments:

  1. Oh Lyn...you verbalized my exact thoughts. The only thing in common is ...age! My friends are running out on me....they're all going to 'facilities'..places.'...and I can't bear it. My 'new' friends whom I see everyday at the pool, are all in their 50's and early 60's...and I realize I could be their mom. I enjoy them but I realize I don't really belong with them.

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  2. Lyn...nice blog. I feel like I heard that story before and it resonates in the same true fashion. I am a senior and hope to keep active and self reliant until I fall asleep for the last time. There seems to be too much talking about aging this past week or so ...specially when the topic of people controlling the time of our death. I am getting confused. Polar Bear

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  3. Thanks. Most people would agree -- they'd like to stay in their own home if at all possible, for as long as possible.

    I'm not sure that retirement communities are created out of the assumption that "if we put all the old lonely souls together, they can keep one another company." Age-segregated housing, a for-profit enterprise, comes out of what might turn out to be a brief snapshot in time that capitalized on the emergence of a population of older people who were, thanks to Social Security and Medicare, suddenly healthier and wealthier than ever before. Great marketing, and the emergence of the Sunbelt and cheap airfare, took care of the rest. Now we're starting to see multi-generational housing re-emerge (but in a new way, just like fashion) and Baby Boomers are rejecting the model that worked for their parents. It's going to be interesting to see what develops! Rachel Adelson, author, Staying Power: Age-Proof Your Home for Comfort, Safety and Style (www.stayingpowerbook.com)

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