IMPAT – Improving Elder Care

elderlyIMPACT (a group of 27 faith congregations around Central Virginia) convened at its yearly 11th Assembly on Community Problems.  It was there that a presentation was given on how the community is joining forces to improve care for seniors, given that the focus of IMPACT last year was enhancing eldercare for 2016.

Peter Thompson, director of the Senior Center addressed the interfaith group discussing future plans it has to joint together to improve services and amenities including: civic and community engagement, housing and transportation, all of which are relevant to the lives of seniors.  Given that the aging issue is known as “the No. 1 demographic issue our commonwealth faces” (as specified by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service).  This sentiment was echoed by Catholic Church of the Incarnation Pete Kashatus, who explained that “last year, we learned that on average, [the cost of elder care services is] one-and-a-half times what the average person over 60 brings home in a year,”

A few months ago the agencies in the community were approached by IMPACT to improve coordination and thus identify the size of the “affordability gap” in order to set up a plan to make senior care services more affordable in the region.

In other news relating to improving the quality of life for seniors, thanks to the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA)., many seniors may soon be able to get a hot meal each day in Minnesota. The building will be at the former Eagle Valley High School ag/shop location and has received a donation of $100,000 from the NJPA toward the $1 million price tag of the project.  Rick Hest, President of Eagle Bend Senior Center pointed out that by providing meals to seniors it gives them a greater chance of being able to “stay healthy and to stay in their homes for as long as possible.”  Ultimately the Hilltop Regional Kitchen will be helping respond to the most basic needs of hundreds of seniors, while at the same time, repurposing a vacant building in the community.  The grand opening is slated for June 1, 2017.

International Day of Older Persons

older-personsAround the world people are increasingly recognizing not only the contribution the elderly are making, but also the extent to which they are keeping up with the times.

First, in Scotland it appears that there has been a huge increase in the number of elderly becoming comfortable with the Internet.  The most recent Scottish Household Survey found that, while the number of Internet home users was unchanged from 2014 to 2015 (80 percent) what had changed was how that number was broken up.  The increase of those over 75 using the Internet was significant; a further 6 percent of this demographic have started using the Internet.

The UN-organized International Day of Older Persons is marked around the world each year on October 1.  Apart from creating awareness of the contribution the elderly make and the respect they deserve, negating stereotypes about older persons and aging.  The UN Strategy on this comprises the Madrid International Plan of Action, whereby member states reaffirmed their commitment to human rights and dealing with age discrimination.  It also encourages continuing education for all age groups, especially the elderly.

In Ghana the day was also marked.  Joining the international voice in applauding the older persons who have contributed – in various ways – to the wealth of the nation.  The theme for this year’s celebration is: “Take a Stand Against Ageism” and the government in Ghana has been doing that through its dedication to enhancing various systems and structures that will improve the quality of life for the elderly.  One example of this is the Ministry’s dedicated desk which has been instituted for the sole purpose of addressing issues of older persons.  In addition, the National Ageing Policy (NAP) that was recently endorsed with the hope of ensuring that the “socio-economic development and human rights of the aged persons are protected and guaranteed.”

Increasing awareness, developing respect and understanding the differences of older persons is crucial if society is going to continue to evolve with its increasingly elderly population.

Fluctuation in Life Expectancy

diabetesAmericans are living significantly longer than they used to. While that is great news, financially it is becoming increasingly burdensome for the state. What happened many years ago was that social security was set at 65, as, at that time, life expectancy for US males was 68 and for women, three or four years more. Also statistically back then, most people actually passed away before having the opportunity to collect a lot of the money. So funding this was not so burdensome. Things have changed a lot since then. Life expectancy has now increased to late 70s, and along with it, the burden of social security funding.

Today there is increasingly more we can do to prevent premature death and also enhance quality of life. Preventing diabetes and heart disease (major causes of death) can be done via lifestyle changes. Keeping in shape and avoiding obesity are the main methods. Quitting smoking and cutting out drinking are two key ways to do this as well.

And of course, with an improved quality of life, medical expenditure diminishes and the state becomes less burdened. There is no reason for the elderly to stop moving. They can slow down, yes, but walking, swimming, and all sorts of gentle exercise are absolutely vital for maintaining a decent quality of life. In fact, some seniors even find weight lifting rewarding and the more they do this, the more accustomed to it they become. Weight lifting, Pilates and Yoga are particularly good for balance which tends to become more problematic later in life.

When it comes to life expectancy and quality of life for the ageing, there is a lot we can control.


Helping the Elderly Feel Young Again

QueenOften, feeling old, is just a matter of that…feeling it.  So if one makes a mental switch to feeling young again, sometimes that can be very positive.  One thing that is proving to be helpful to people moving into their golden years according to a study by Optegra Eye Health Care, is seeing famous people continue to lead full lives despite their age.

Some of those such individuals who are seen as inspiration today include: The Queen of England (approaching 90), David Attenborough (approaching 90), Dame Judi Dench (81), Dame Helen Mirren (70) and Joanna Lumley (70).

Indeed a survey found that 68 percent of adults feel younger than their age and are not letting old age or retirement stop them from living full, active lives.

And for those who need a little more help in the way of feeling younger, there is always Alfierobot. This “robot” is currently being created in an effort to help elderly people stay independent and active for longer. Nicknamed by those trying it out as Alfie, ENRICHME  (ENabling Robot and assisted living environment for Independent Care and Health Monitoring of the Elderly) is developing this in conjunction with the UK’s University of Lincoln.  Research is being undertaken to develop and test robots’ capacity to support seniors with ‘smart home’ technology to provide 24/7 feedback to seniors, caretakers and health professionals.