Written By:  Gayle Horton

The older we become the more independent we strive to be, and we certainly do not want to be treated as if we are “OLD!” The definition of old is ten years older than we are!

While adolescence is about the loss of childhood, old age is about the loss of adult status and power. Many older adults are dealing with the loss of friends, economic inflation trying to live on a fixed income, and their own impending death.

All personalities have deformities, but they are intensified as we grow older. The mask of socialization becomes less and less important, which leads to becoming more self focused, quarrelsome, forgetful, and suspicious.

Older adults also fear increasing cost of health care, feeling useless, and feeling lonely. They fear that they are more vulnerable with the increase in the crime rate, and decreasing physical and mental abilities. They also fear that they are loosing their independence when they can no longer drive, and they are being forced out of their homes.

Our health care system does not let people die today; we have a medicine, treatment, or surgery to keep them alive. To ensure quality of life, we all need to make certain that we have reviewed and updated our durable power of attorney for healthcare. When a family is faced with difficult decisions this document will provide great value to help the doctor’s follow your wishes.

Today we have more resources and options for older adults than ever before. We have retirement communities, assisted living, nursing homes, home care, and hospice.

With all of theses resources it is often overwhelming. It is important to consider working with an independent geriatric nurse or geriatric care manager to evaluate the situation objectively. This person will make good recommendations for your situation and provide the peace of mind that you are doing all that you can do during a difficult time.

The adult children often become involved during a crisis which usually forces them to make changes in their parents living arrangements. It is very difficult to manage the care for someone that you love from a distance. The older and more frail the person becomes, the more supervision they will need to keep them safe.

Alzheimer’s has changed the statistics in aging dramatically with 1 in 2 people being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 85, and 1 in 10 people age 65 and older. Heart disease still remains the number one cause of death today.

It is hard to tell how well the older adult is doing when you can only talk on the telephone, because they are masters at covering up the truth, and trying not to bother their adult children.

Most older adults want to stay in their own home until they die – but reality shows us that congregate living has a great deal to offer any older person. Socialization is the key to longevity and isolation and loneliness have been attributed to the high rate of suicide among older adults.

This generation only had one option available and they all fear the “Old Peoples Home” or “Nursing Home.” The real fact is that only one in every two people will live in assisted living and only one in twenty people will ever live in a nursing home before they die. Today 61% of our nursing home residents in the U.S. are people that can not afford to live in Assisted Living or at home.

The cost of home care on average is about $225 to $400 per 24 hour period. When you add the monthly and yearly costs for home care it is usually not a realistic long term option. Assisted Living is about one third of the cost of home care.

Medicare does not pay for the cost of care in the home, assisted living, or long term nursing home care. Older adults that are indigent would be eligible for the state’s Medicaid to pay for nursing home care. Long Term Care Insurance can make all of the difference when you are forced to pay for your own care if you have planned well for your retirement.

I find that men and women emerge a new self when they are psychologically well adjusted with their aging. Our Centenarians have the same thing in common, and we should listen to their wisdom.

  • They eat a healthy diet.
  • They get some form of exercise every day.
  • They have a strong faith.
  • They have something that gives them a sense of purpose in their life.
  • They also try to look at the lighter side of life, and they even laugh even at themselves.

It is important to remind an older adult that they may be facing a new chapter in their life, but it does not have to be the last chapter. We are a seed on this earth just like a tree…we need to keep growing or we die.