Bob Dylan had it right, when he sang, “the time’s they are a-changing.” Of course, every generation since the beginning of time can lay claim to such an observation. Be it fire, technology, medicine, media, or children transitioning from Sesame Street to cell phones, we live in an increasingly fast-paced, costly and ever-changing world.The generation to whom Dylan sang, during the era of peace signs, Woodstock, psychedelic colors and the Vietnam War, sought to bring about change through voice and action. They became a part of history. Now, as the original Baby Boomers, they are still making history. They started turning 65 last year and are poised at the cusp of a huge aging trend! By 2030, 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 and older. Simultaneously, the number of 85 year-olds will increase by 50% and there will be three times as many centenarians.
So, what to do? How do we accommodate this aging population? Like a comet headed for earth, there is no way to divert this trend. Luckily, though, it’s not like the old days when the only option was a nursing home once a loved one could no longer live alone or with caregivers. Today, senior care is much more progressive and focuses on community services to keep seniors independent and in their communities for as long as safely possible.
The following services are available individually from various providers or can be found within a continuum of care, an organization that offers all these services under one umbrella from which a person can move seamlessly from program to program:
Home Care – Provides nursing assessment/care, physical, occupational and speech therapy, personal care services, laundry and much more in the comfort of a patient’s home.
Adult Day Services – Designed for seniors who live alone or with caregivers (who work during the day) and can benefit from supervision, medical services and social interaction during the day. Meals and transportation are typically provided.
Enhanced, Independent Living – Affordable apartments for independent seniors where rent also covers three meals a day, wellness checks, weekly housekeeping and scheduled activities and outings.
Assisted Senior Living – Apartments for seniors who need some level of assistance, i.e., an escort to the dining room, medication reminders, bathing and dressing as well as three meals per day, daily activities, outings, and transportation to medical appointments. On site medical clinicians and case managers are also available.
Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers – Facilities that offer short-term rehabilitation stays following elective surgeries, reconditioning after an illness, strokes, heart attacks, amputations and other diagnoses. Long-term care is also offered for seniors who need 24/7 nursing supervision. Also provided are on-site physician, optometry, audiology, dental, podiatry, dietary, social and recreational services.
Respite Care –This is for the caregivers of seniors who need to take time away and cannot leave their loved one unattended – the senior can temporarily reside at the skilled nursing facility and receive 24/7 nursing care.
So, yes, times are changing and seniors are living longer, but programs and models are in place to meet their needs. As for what other life changes might we anticipate in the future? Hmmm…the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind… (sorry, couldn’t resist!)
Check out the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services for more information about Aging in Place and Livable Communities at www.seniorcitizens.westchestergov.com.