I’d like to share some notable insights about the current landscape of aging. The more we know, the better we can prepare for the changes ahead for our elderly loved ones. These aging statistics offer valuable knowledge about getting older that allows us to understand the needs of our older loved ones and make life easier for them (with services like senior home care).
1) In 25 years the senior population will double
“Two factors—longer life spans and aging baby boomers—will combine to double the population of Americans aged 65 years or older during the next 25 years to about 72 million.” (CDC)
This rapid growth of the elder population brings new challenges to our economy, culture, and world as a whole—it is not something we have ever faced in history. As the aging population grows, the Caregiving Dilemma will continue to manifest itself for the foreseeable future. Knowing this, we have a responsibility to be prepared. Conversations about aging need to start happening sooner. We might have an idea about what our loved ones will want and need as they grow old, but how many of us have actually talked to them about solutions like senior home care? Communicate openly with your parents and other loved ones. I would encourage you to have that conversation today!
2) It’s hard for older adults to keep in touch with friends outside of the family
“Research suggests that older adults often have smaller social networks and less contact with members of their networks than those at younger ages, and that the loss of social ties is predominantly with those who are not family members.” (MetLife)
At all stages of life, it is important to create and maintain meaningful relationships. Children find this easy to do—everyone you meet is a friend! But as we get older, maintaining friendships becomes much harder, and creating new ones is even more of a challenge. In middle age, many of us become busier and more closed off. And the social networks of our elderly loved ones become smaller as they lose contact with acquaintances and non-relatives. We can help seniors stay connected by encouraging them to look up old friends, join a club or community group, or take on a new job to fill free time and provide a renewed sense of purpose to fend off feelings of isolation.
3) Socially isolated older loved ones are more prone to illness and depression
“Older adults who are socially isolated are at risk for a number of negative outcomes, including depression, chronic illness, and mortality.” (Medscape)
When individuals begin to lose their independence, it can be devastating if it means they lose their life as they know it. We help facilitate aging independently and allow seniors to remain in control of their lives as much as possible by keeping them active and engaged in daily activities. Staying active and engaged means being happier and healthier. Instead of running errands alone, bring your loved ones along. Take them for a walk in the park, to your kids’ soccer games, ballet recitals, etc. The human brain works like any other muscle in our bodies—the more we use it, the better it performs. When we do not exercise our brains, we begin to lose mental strength. Working the brain and moving the body release endorphins—hormones excreted by the brain that gives you a sense of well-being. Maintaining a happy, positive body helps keep you strong so you can fight off illness and feelings of depression.
4) 92% of seniors live with at least one chronic health condition
“Ninety-two percent of people over age 65 live with at least one chronic health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or cancer. Seventy-seven percent live with two or more such conditions.” (N4A)
The diagnosis of a chronic disease such as arthritis, diabetes or osteoporosis can be discouraging but does not have to be debilitating. An astounding 92% of seniors live with at least one chronic condition. We can help seniors maintain their normal lives as much as possible with proper medical attention and support. Consider arranging a couple of hours of in-home care a week to help!
5) 2 in 5 seniors need assistance to get through the day
“Approximately 41% of adults age 65 and over have limitations in activities of daily living (e.g., eating, bathing, dressing) and instrumental activities of daily living (e.g., household chores, shopping, meal preparation).” (MetLife)
Naturally, as our loved ones age they start needing more and more assistance throughout each day. This need for assistance may arise from a medical emergency but usually begins with a few small things that Mom can’t keep up with around the house. Perhaps the next time you visit, you see her pantry and fridge are almost bare, and maybe then you decide to fix a big dinner at her house once a week. At your weekly dinner, you start doing her laundry. Eventually, you find yourself going to her house every day to check on her. These small needs can turn into full-time caregiving without your even realizing it.
Be careful to assess the aid you provide to your loved one to avoid falling into the Caregiving Dilemma. How many hours a week are you spending with Mom? Are you neglecting other aspects of your life such as your kids, community obligations, or job?