As we leave the first month of 2019 behind, I am reflecting on several different numbers and facts that indicate some positive developments for those who want to age in place and stay independent in their homes. First off, realize that the beginning of age wave started turning 73 years old this month. That means approximately 300,000 of the oldest boomers are answering the question again, “am I really old yet?”
I remember coming across an reference in the AARP articles on marketing materials calling those age 75 and up, to be the ‘true elderly’. Another article that started me on this path of blogging about aging and aging in place was by a physician who believed that by age 75 you should suspense any extraordinary medical treatment and let nature take its course. So, somehow the tipping point is supposed to be 75 years of age?
The bar for what is considered old has been moved along by our generation and others as they age. Yes, of course you can take the ‘age is an attitude’ approach at any age. You can be old at 60 in your mind if not in your body. Millennials reportedly now see old age starting at 59 but they no longer feel young by age 40. Yet the fastest growing segment of the population are those who are reaching age 85. There is a lot of room in there to define who is old and who is not.
But maybe we are finally moving away from tired old labels for older people and on to define age by wellness and independence. Yes, the maladies of an older body can drag you down in giving up on keeping up. I read an article the other day that noted retirees spend a lot of time preparing a financial plan, and that they need to also do a wellness retirement plan.
The numbers we should really care about are progress in more wellness and independence programs. Two to watch: Medicare Advantage is touting new plans that will help with in home adaptions and transportation etc etc. They exist in only 7 per cent of the existing Part C plans for 2019. That is 273 out of the 3700 plans nationwide. That must be expanded.
Other good news CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place for Advancing Better Living for Elders) has received a three million dollar grant to expand beyond 25 sites in 12 states to help low- income seniors stay in their homes safely. Habitat for Humanity also is now on board. The expertise to do just enough to help seniors stay at home is expanding and I do not mean a dozen variations on available grab bars. There is more than one way to age in place.
This is a delicate time and perhaps a transition from what do I do, to what do I have to do to stay at home. From my vantage point more flexible solutions are evolving and that is a good thing.