Taking responsibility for ourselves as we age

imageIt was really encouraging to see the turnout at the recent Thousand Oaks Council on Aging program about the Village Movement. Too frequently I meet seniors, young and old, who mentally live in “Never Never Land”—where they’ll never get old and they’ll never need help. So when a large group of seniors seem interested in a concept that, at its foundation, suggests we take responsibility and develop a plan for our future, it’s encouraging. No government or social service program will ever be able to meet the needs of the age wave that began just last year. Over the next 20 years our senior population will double and our 85-plus population will grow fourfold. It’s these statistics that motivated Senior Concerns and the Council on Aging to take the lead in exploring the village concept in our community. According to the Village to Village Network, “Villages are self-governing, grassroots, community-based organizations developed with the sole purpose of enabling people to remain in...

Single? Be prepared for the unexpected

on her ownI learned last week that almost half of the people over age 65 in America are single. Simply put, wow! While getting older has its benefits (if you don’t think so, you need to read this column more often), traveling the journey without a partner can be challenging or at least require some careful planning. Being single these days comes in all shapes and sizes—never-married, separated, divorced or widowed— and with varied living arrangements—living alone or with a partner, friends, children, grandchildren or relatives. Here are a few interesting facts about single seniors. The number of single seniors living alone is on the rise, up 17 percent since 1970. Almost one-third of all seniors age 65 and older are widowed. The median age of widowhood is 58 years. Certainly marriage does not guarantee any of us an easier ride as we age, but a marital partner may afford us another income, another option for health insurance or even a built-in caregiver. A spouse may be the yin to our...

California caregivers stressed, in poor health

stressed caregiverCompared to caregivers in the rest of the United States, those in California have higher levels of stress and poorer health. To many of us who work with family caregivers in multiple states, those facts seemed obvious, but we now have data to support our beliefs. According to the 2011 UCLA policy brief “ Stressed and Strapped: Caregivers in California,” baby boomer caregivers are at the greatest risk for stress induced illness. There are 2.6 million boomer caregivers between the ages of 45 and 64 in our state. According to the study, compared with older caregivers and non-caregivers of the same age, boomer caregivers are more likely to binge drink, smoke or be overweight. The majority have poor health behaviors because of the stress they are experiencing. But why are California caregivers more stressed than caregivers in other states? For reasons that include the demographic makeup of caregivers and the lack of a strong support system in our state, California caregivers...

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