The future of elder care in our country

In response to an apparent turn towards meanness in our country, I have heard lately a call for a return to civility and compassion. In addition, I have been studying trends in generational relationships and don’t like what I’m seeing.

In my recent piece on Boomer Cafe I asked, what responsibilities do baby boomers have toward younger generations? Now I begin to wonder, what responsibilities do younger generations have toward their elders who have worked hard and paid their way their whole life? A quick look through the articles in the June 2018 AARP Bulletin is instructional in this regard.

social-security-nest-eggFirst I came to an article called “Social Security and the Elections” which warns, depending on the makeup of the new U.S. Senate and House, “Congress might look to make cuts to programs such as Social Security and Medicare” to reduce a ballooning deficit caused by Trump’s gigantic corporate tax cuts.

Reality check: The Social Security Administration estimates that 21% of married couples and 43% of single seniors rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income. According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 36% of near-retirees say they expect Social Security to be a major source of income once they retire.

A few pages later in the new AARP Bulletin I found a lovely article about how the Japanese respect and love their elders, a population where 28% are already over 65, and 30,000 Japanese turn 100 every year. At every bank, post office or hotel counter they provide reading glasses of three strengths for elder customers. With the highest percentage of senior citizens and among the world’s highest life expectancy rates, it seems natural for them to show concern for elders’ special needs. They also provide special buttons for extra walk time at crosswalks for senior pedestrians, and special elevators for those in wheelchairs!

I found a final article from AARP particularly reassuring as it complimented my state, Colorado, for being the first to establish a plan for the needs of an ever growing elder population. Within twelve years, one in five Coloradoans will be 65 or older, so our forward thinking governor recently appointed a Senior Advisor on Aging. The purpose of this position is to “Coordinate policies that affect older residents and work with state and local governments and health care providers on better ways to deal with the needs of an aging population.”

My sister, Diane Carter, who has been active in providing long-term care solutions and one of our nation’s top advocates for the rights of the elderly, warns of the coming tsunami of needs we will face soon including affordable housing, transportation and access to health care for our seniors.

This is not the time to cut funds to support our aging citizens. It is instead time to prepare for a future with many more of them. Colorado’s new Advisor on Aging, Wade Buchanan warns:

“Most of the structures we have in place now, from our transportation systems to our housing stock to our health care systems, are designed for a society that will never exist again – a society where most of us are under 40.”

 

 

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7 thoughts on “The future of elder care in our country

  1. I used to work at a medical clinic helping people with their medical insurance, and many elders were on a fixed income that shocked me. Truly it amazed me how little income these older citizens had.

    I highly agree that cutting Social Security and other services (like Medicare) is doing a huge disservice and damage to our older population. We need to take better care of our young and old.

    Take care,
    Yari

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  2. One wonders when those who voted for this agenda will realize that they’ve voted against their interests. A society is measured by the way it treats the least among us, and we’re not rising to that occasion. Here’s hoping that we can shift the tides before it’s too late.

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  3. What Margot said. We are judged by how we treat our most helpless. Our children and our seniors. When children cease to be our driving force, and we can drive our seniors out to die in the wilderness, society is in serious trouble.

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  4. Affordable places to live is a huge issue. It’s sad to see elderly people who are homeless or living in horrid circumstances. With so many Baby Boomer women who never had children, it’s scary that they may not have someone looking after them if they become disabled. We have to plan ahead and hope for compassion for seniors as we move forward.

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  5. Our seniors right now have to deal with criminals out to fleece them (my mother in law was scammed once at a time she was recovering from a serious illness), with a medical system that is totally dysfunctional (and Medicare is incredibly complicated) and with rapidly changing technology that threatens to leave them behind (one of her doctors kept insisting she sign up for their “patient portal” despite the fact that she didn’t even have a computer?) I am scared for my generation (I’m 65) Medicaid, which pays for the nursing home bills of so many seniors in their final years, won’t have the funds for my generations – will we die, literally, in the street? That seems to be where we are heading.

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