Category Archives: Publications of Interest
Articles of interest from published magazines, newspapers, other blogs or websites
WASHINGTON — Caught between kids and aging parents, the sandwich generation worries more than most Americans their age about how they’ll afford their own care as they grow older, a new poll shows. But most aren’t doing much to get ready.
Nearly 1 in 10 people age 40 and over are “sandwiched” — they’re supporting a child while providing regular care for an older loved one, according to the poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
Another 8 per cent may join the ranks of double-caregivers in the next five years, citing declining health of an older relative or close friend.
Dueling responsibilities can make some days feel like a tug-of-war.
“If my mom needs something badly, I get pulled away from my kids a lot,” said Kamila Al-Najjar of Santa Rosa, California, a lawyer with two children and self-described health advocate for her mother. She visits her mother’s assisted living facility at least twice a week and checks in daily by phone, to oversee a list of illnesses.
“You’re dealing with someone who is aging, toward the end of their life; then you have to deal with a teenager. I hear from my mom and daughter that I’m a nag. There’s no winning in it,” she said.
Adding to the challenge, 40- and 50-somethings tend to be at the height of their careers — and need to hang onto their jobs despite difficulties of caregiving, said Susan Reinhard, who directs AARP’s Public Policy Institute. Employer flexibility is a top issue as the population ages, she said.
“It’s not just their own financial security, it’s the financial security for their children and for the future,” Reinhard said.
After age 65, government figures show nearly 7 in 10 Americans at some point will need long-term care — from a relative, home aide, assisted living or nursing home.
Yet the AP-NORC Center poll found overall, most Americans 40 and older — 54 per cent — have done little or no planning to get ready for this often pricey reality. Only a third reports setting aside money for those needs. That’s even though Medicare doesn’t pay for the most common types of long-term care, and a nursing home can cost more than $90,000 a year.
Drill down to the 9 per cent of this age group who make up the sandwich generation, and their experience leaves them far more concerned about their own senior years.
About half worry about being able to pay for their future care needs or having to move into a nursing home, compared with just over a third of other adults, the poll found. Also, 44 per cent of sandwichers fear leaving debts to family, compared with 28 per cent of others polled.
But the poll found the sandwich generation no more likely than other middle-aged adults to be planning and saving, possibly because of time or resources.
Al-Najjar is glad her mother “saved all her life … so she didn’t have to stress out about stuff like that.” Caring for her has changed how she spends and plans for the future.
“It’s like a wake-up call,” she said. There are “a lot of seniors in the United States that don’t have that money.”
The squeeze isn’t ending as children grow up. Among currently sandwiched parents, 29 per cent have adult children living at home, the poll found; others are providing adult children with financial assistance, meaning some are sandwiched even after their children leave the nest.
Another challenge: Finding services to help seniors live out their days at home. AARP recently opened an online “livability index” to rank communities on such factors as accessible housing and transit options.
And the National Association for Area Agencies on Aging runs an Eldercare Locator to help people find local resources. Last year, the locator averaged more than 22,000 requests for assistance a month. A recent report found the top needs: transportation, mostly to get to doctor appointments; in-home services, such as meals and personal care; and finding affordable housing or making age-friendly home modifications.
“People don’t generally make these calls until they’re in crisis,” said association CEO Sandy Markwood. “If mom and dad need this as they get older, you should prepare for that, too.”
Carroll Burnett of Whitesboro, Texas, cared for his 88-year-old father, who’d suffered a stroke, for a year before he died in March.
“I felt good that I could take care of him,” said Burnett, a retired tool and die maker who had help from his wife and one of his three grown children. But he’s saving up: “I don’t want any of my kids to go through what I did.”
The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted by telephone April 7 to May 15 among a random national sample of 1,735 adults age 40 or older, with funding from the SCAN Foundation. Results for the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
Associated Press writer Stacey A. Anderson and AP news survey specialist Emily Swanson contributed to this report.
The clinic was in a dilapidated old building, yet the entryway retained a worn grandeur. Tapering, semicircular walls extended like welcoming arms, and a half-moon of sidewalk stretched to the quiet side street.
That’s where I first saw her, standing at the curb with her cane propped on her walker, squinting toward the nearby boulevard. The woman was clearly well into her 80s, with a confident demeanor and with clothes and hair that revealed an attention to appearance. She had a cellphone in one hand and seemed to be waiting for a ride.
I had been heading into the clinic for a 4:30 p.m. appointment, and when I came back out, night had fallen. But for her tan winter coat and bright scarf, I might have missed her leaning against the clinic’s curved wall. She still held the cellphone, but now her shoulders were slumped and her hair disheveled by the cold evening breeze.
I hesitated. On one side of town, my elderly mother needed computer help. On the other, our dog needed a walk, dinner had to be cooked and several hours of patient notes and work e-mails required my attention.
I asked this woman whether she was okay. She looked at the ground, lips pursed, and shook her head. “No,” she said. “My ride didn’t come, and I have this thing on my phone that calls a cab, but it sends them to my apartment. I don’t know how to get them here, and I can’t reach my friend.”
Test your balance by standing on one foot with your arms crossed in front of your chest and raising one leg so your foot is near but not touching your other ankle. How long can you hold the position? The average durations by age group are: 40-49, 42 seconds; 50 to 59, 41 seconds; 60-69, 32 seconds; 70-79, 21 seconds. If you are 50-plus and physically active, you probably will experience better-than-average duration.
Now try the same test with your eyes closed. Even if you are very active — unless you start your day with balance beam gymnastics or a unicycle ride — do not be surprised to find your time is not above average for your age group: 40-49, 13 seconds; 50-59, 8 seconds; 60-69, 4 seconds; 70-79, 3 seconds.
Maintaining a good sense of balance is a cornerstone of successful aging. It helps prevent falls and the fear of falling and contributes to a general sense of well-being, of feeling at home in one’s own body. Balance involves a complex interplay of physical and mental factors but depends on three sensory components: vision, the inner-ear (vestibular) system and proprioception, the subconscious sense of movement and position. For a detailed look at all three systems, see Scott McCredie’s “Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense.”
“I’ve felt it’s either get out and do something or sit at home and feel sorry for myself. So if I ever start feeling sorry for myself, I put my shoes on and take a little run somewhere.”
These are the words of 80 year old Anne Garrett, who set a pending American record of 2:13:23 in her 80-84 age group at the Surf City USA Half Marathon in Huntington Beach California. As reported in Runner’s World & Running, Ms. Garrett tells us that “[Running has] made me more aware of who I am and it has helped me not to feel sorry for myself, not to get depressed,” Garrett said.
Running became a way of dealing with the stress of a way of dealing with the stress of her husband’s illness. He suffered from Alzheimer’s for seven years. After he died in 2011, Anne found that running helped her cope with her grief.
Why do we do it? It’s not for immortality, that’s for sure. We’re old enough to rule that one out.
No, it’s probably some mixture of hope, fear and vanity, layered onto the fact that working out can actually leave one feeling pretty good. Beyond the immediate rewards, though, there are:
Hope that muscle strength and stamina will help us stay independent longer, helping us carry out daily activities in better health. This tactic is central to any personal strategy for aging at home
Fear that being weak will leave us unable to carry our own bags, more likely to fall, more vulnerable to dependending on others.
Vanity about looking good, having good posture, fitting into cute clothes, avoiding “dowager’s hump” (a dated term for ‘kyphosis’), and being able to dance at weddings. Read the rest of this entry
“With a Little Help from Our Friends: Creating Community as We Grow Older” – an excerpt
By Beth Baker from the website of the Center for a New American Dream (www.NewDream.org)
Beth Baker is the author of With a Little Help from Our Friends: Creating Community as We Grow Older, which tackles the issues of community and aging in place. Below is an excerpt from Beth’s timely, important new work.
As I was completing the manuscript of [my] book, our neighbor Ann sent an email inviting those of us on our block who are 60 and older to a potluck. She and her husband Merrill wanted to discuss aging in place here in our neighborhood. “I realize that for now, everyone’s mostly healthy and independent, so there might not be too much interest just yet,” she wrote. “But if there is, we’d like to discuss what, if anything, folks have thought about becoming aged, staying in our homes, and building some kind of cooperative network among us.”
We have a close-knit neighborhood, but still, Ann was surprised when 22 people from a three-block area crowded into their living room. Over plates of baked ziti, chicken, and salad, we began a discussion that echoed the themes in the pages of this book. All but one couple, who plan to move to a continuing care retirement community when they reach their early 70s, want to remain on the street. The questions flowed: How would we make our homes accessible? How would we ensure that people felt comfortable asking for help? What kinds of help were reasonable to expect? Should we include the younger families in our network?
What follows is an article about cultural differences between cultures, hypothesizing on a connection between how we think or ourselves and relate to others, and the crops we grow (Wheat vs. Rice).
Wheat vs. Rice: Teamwork, health and cultural inclusiveness could have to do with the crops we grow by Nicole Oran From MedCity News December 4, 2014
Americans and Europeans have a history of growing wheat, as opposed to countries in Asia which primarily grow rice. But what does that have to do with our health, our self-image and how we think about community?
Americans in particular like to think of themselves as autonomous, independent, and this is actually a unique trait compared to other parts of the world, according to anthropologist Clifford Geertz.
Friday November 28’s New York Times featured an article on Villages in their Money section. A youthful septuagenerian who was beginning to worry about the isolation he envisioned were he to stay in his home as he aged, and who didn’t want to have to rely on his daughters, presents a very realistic assessment of the value proposition a village can offer. He viewed it as a kind of “life insurance”, where you purchase it before you need it, and where you can tap into it as you need it. He has found new friends, has access to volunteers to assist him when and as he needs it, and has new social outlets he’d not previously envisioned.
I am a youthful sextuagenerian. I still work full time, get at least thirty minutes of cardio exercise each day, and I still drive at night, but I am beginning to think about retirement. I’ve begun to see friends move away to live in closer proximity to their children, to scan the obituaries where I do find that some of my peers have passed away, to use the nieghborhood teenagers to complete some of the more physicaly taxing homeowner tasks like mowing the grass and raking the leaves. I want a Village in place when I reach retirement in a few years, so I can ease into this Brave New World with enthusiasm and reap joy. My gym membership costs me about eighty dollars a month, far less than the cost of physical therapy co-pays which I’d very likely have to pay otherwise. I’d be delighted to spend a similar amount to be assured of the support I’ll one day need to stay in my home when I can no longer drive at night, or climb stepladders in order to change light bulbs inside and out.
A long-time friend came over for brunch over the weekend (she no longer drives at night), and she invited herself to come along to our Christmas celebration planned for New York. I was delighted– another person to engage in Scrabble games, to make a fourth for bridge, perhaps. I want my Village to facilitate those activities and others in my home and in the homes of others. I want my Village to help a small group of friends go out for dinner, or to a football game, or to host a movie night.
Click HERE to go read the article. What’s a Village worth to you?
Following is a recent article from Forbes about a report done by the Milken Institute of the Best Cities for Aging. They looked at two groups of cities – the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas and smaller urban centers. Charlottesville falls in the second category, and our rank was #22 out of 252. Reassuring, but there is still room for improvement, and I think there are ways CvilleVillage can help to improve our score.
Here Are The Best Cities For Successful Aging
From Richard Eisenberg In Forbes November19, 2014 (<— CLICK this line to go to original article)
But the one that impresses me most — and that I think anyone over 50 ought to review — just came out today from the Milken Institute nonpartisan think tank. In truth, this biannual list isn’t about the best places to retire, it’s about the best cities for aging successfully. There’s a big difference. “You won’t see the word ‘retirement’ anyplace in the title of our report,” says Paul Irving, President of the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute.
Read the rest of this entry
The ever-prolific Atul Gawande chatted it up last night with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, promoting his latest book, “Being Mortal.” The two discussed end-of-life care – and how patients and physicians should temper their pursuit of “doing whatever they can” in favor of living out life in a more meaningful way. For instance, Gawande noted that at the end of the 1990s, 17 percent of Americans died at home. The rest were in institutions.
“That’s not the way most people want to go,” Gawande said. Read the rest of this entry