As children, we roll down hills, climb trees, hop and skip, all of which help us develop balance and coordination while firing up new neural pathways in our growing brains.
What happens when we grow “too old” for such games?
We become less sure on our feet and more vulnerable to falls—which can be devastating for seniors and younger people with bone-density issues. And with little stimulating our cognitive function, our brains lose agility.
Some of the most difficult questions posed to those working in aging services come from people who have been diagnosed with an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease, which will render them unable to make decisions about their medical and end-of-life care.
Typically, people ask: how can I maintain dignity or ensure control over my dying after I become incompetent? How can I or someone else end my life if I become completely demented? How can I stop life-sustaining treatment or the force-feeding of my loved one?
There has been a concentrated focus on care transitions in recent years: now there are many models for ameliorating faulty transitions, but these models are not coordinated, nor do they adequately measure outcomes. The consensus at the March 16 National Forum on Care Transitions was that we are in a creative time of many solutions—bright news that portends better care for frail and vulnerable elders.
At the March 15 National Forum on Global Aging, Frank Whittington, associate dean of academic affairs at George Mason University, kicked off the half-day program by remarking on America’s penchant for superiority: “We have a serious tendency to believe that what we do is right, that we are Number One, and that the rest of the world needs to learn from us. Instead, we should search the globe for better models.”
The baby boom generation is aging, as is America’s workforce. By 2018, one in every four workers in the nation will be at least 55 years old. Developing effective health promotion interventions for these workers will be crucial to maintaining a healthy and productive workforce.
Last week we asked what you were doing for Older Americans Month and we got LOTS of great responses. Here are some of our favorites:
Graduating from USC with my MSW with a concentration on the elderly.
We know a healthy lifestyle is beneficial to our overall health and longevity. Recent research reaffirms the basic importance of healthy living, and a 2010 study by Kvaavik et al., published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (14; doi: 10.1001/archinternmed. 2010.76), found that regular physical activity, not smoking, eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables and mild alcohol intake helped to increase longevity.
The results of a recent study conducted for Kaiser Permanente analyzed physicians’, health reporters’ and Congress members’ social media discussion of certain prevalent diseases. Of the diseases identified in 2.3 million tweets over a three-year period, diabetes and cancer topped the list for physicians; HIV/AIDS was first for those in Congress.
The global population is aging, especially in developed nations: Japan and Italy are tied as having the oldest population cohorts in the world, with nearly one in five people ages 65 and older. The rest of the nations with the largest elder populations are in Europe, with the United States rounding out the top 15.