Archive for September, 2015

Imagining the Future for Our Elders

“Our elders quote the cock as saying that ‘it would not be good if one becomes the only person in the world, and that is why they crow every morning to show their number.’” Nigerian proverb. There are 439 million people in the United States. Almost 90 million of them, or 25%, are 65 years old and older. Most of these seniors are white. However, the United States is a majority-minority nation. That was the case for only four states back in 2015 – California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Texas, and the District of Columbia – when racial and ethnic minorities were about a third of the U.S. population, overall. Today, they make up 54%. The majority of the working-age population are racial or ethnic minorities, as are the majority of young-adult eligible voters.

The race-age demographic shift has influenced much of the political and social change that has occurred over the last twenty years, including increased investments in public schools, more supportive programs for youth, families, and children, and increased funding for government programs for seniors.

Because of work like the FrameWorks Institute’s report on ways to change public opinion about aging in America, attitudes about aging changed dramatically over the past few decades. Aging is integrated into discussions of social and economic policy across a wide range of issues, including health care, housing, race, poverty, education, government and human services.

The number of seniors ages 85 and older – the fastest-growing single segment of the population in 2010 – tripled since then to more than 19 million today. Funding for health care was a critical issue until new models of paying for and delivering patient- and family-centered care were developed.

People are living longer and spending less time in retirement. There was concern about this back in 2017, when social security payouts exceeded collections and began to dip into its trust funds to pay benefits. Changes to the system – such as increasing the retirement age to 80 years old – rescued the trust fund. This policy change allows seniors to save more for retirement and companies to capitalize on the skills and loyalty of experienced employees. Phased-retirement programs, flexible work arrangements, core training and workplace ergonomics are ways that many companies have “retired retirement” and adapt to an aging workforce.

The number of multigenerational households have increased significantly since 2015, when they were a mere 20% of all households. “Boomerangs,” “boomerees,” and “boomers” living under one roof is a social and financial safety net for many Americans, especially the most economically vulnerable. Housing developers are working hard to meet the demand for multigenerational housing, which was nothing more than a niche market two decades ago.

Long-term Care Czars, first established in California, have continued to lead federal and state agencies in implementing their long-term care strategic plans, and coordinating integration efforts across health and long-term care services. The Czars’ leadership and the establishment of Departments of Community Living can be credited with increasing access to quality, community-based long-term care services and supports and, consequently, the reduction in the number of nursing home placements and unnecessary nursing home admissions.

Much work is still needed to address income inequality, health disparities and the variety of needs among poor seniors. But, the gaps continue to narrow as minority-majority rules. The year is 2044.

September 18, 2015 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

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