Recognizing the Elderly Marks a Boon For Appropriate Care
Though Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary describes an “elder” as a person over 65 years of age, many 65-year-olds in today’s society do not classify themselves as elders.
A person’s chronological age does not necessarily mean they are “old.” There are many 65 and older persons who remain in the working world. Based on societal activity looking forward from 2009, there are more and more 65 year olds who will remain working or seeking jobs. Because of this shift, we may have to alter the very definition of an ”elder.”
Elder care can consist of a gamut of services. Each state, county and community has their own guidelines and types of services available to the elder population. The resources available range from private to public and are available not only on the Internet but also from local and state agencies. Senior centers, Medicare, AARP and United Way Agencies, to mention a few, exist to support the elder population.
To begin, let us focus on the positive side of elder care.
Due to the transient aspect of our society, there are many elders who do not live in an area of an extended network of family support. As such, there have sprung up independent and assistedliving communities and buildings. These elders want to, and are able to, have minimal or limited care services. Most want to maintain their independence for as long as possible, even if there is extended family close by.
Unfortunately, the majority of these types of facilities are for-profit, with residents having to pay not only rent but for certain specific services. Basic services may be included in lease agreements. These types of facilities reach out to all income levels, from luxury condominiums to those available on limited income and to those who need financial subsidization. There are many types of entrepreneurial businesses that have sprung up with fees for services to help our elders. The businesses may include helping an elder with moving, packing, looking for a different environment in which to live, companionship, traveling and driving, to name just a few. These entrepreneurial services are run by both the layperson and the professional with various licenses who have worked in service industries in the past and have decided to focus on elder care. There are some entrepreneurs who provide their services for free or on a sliding scale according to one’s income.
Seeking Status Quo
Do we have elders in our society who do not seek out services or change in their living environments? Certainly we do. Listed below are some of the most predominant reasons why.
Finances. Financial status is a main reason. Some elders do not want to make a move from a home too big for them to care for any longer. However, the home may hold many fond memories. It might be paid for. The elder may have lived there for many years with a spouse or significant other. Or it is where the elder raised a family. All of these situations mean the elder may not want to move to a new environment.
Apprehension. Some are just comfortable remaining in the familiar environment among familiar things. This in turn leads to many difficulties with the elder population. Money is tight, or perceived to be so. The elder may not want to spend money available on either the home or moving fearing he or she will outlive the savings. When a home is rundown, there is more chance of an elder having a medical event that will lead to deteriorating health over and above the natural aging process or a disease state. When an elder lives alone in a deteriorating home, he or she may not see the reasons for making any repairs or fix-ups like having old flooring or lighting replaced, both of which can lead to falls. If this does happen, an elder may be forced to move out to a nursing home or extended care facility against their will. And if the medical event is so severe, the elder may never get back to their beloved home and things again.
Health. Health reasons play an integral part in elder care. In addition to natural aging, diseases like cancer, diabetes and arthritis strike many in this demographic, and some elders do not accept the fact they are in declining health. When that happens, there can be elder abuse or elder neglect. According to Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, abuse can be emotional, physical, sexual or for financial exploitation. Elder abuse can be from a child, spouse, stranger or medical personnel. Financial status plays an integral part in elders’ health care. Elder care abuse can come from oneself, whether it is in the form of addictions, not taking the proper medications, or from external forces such as family (spouse or child) or caregivers.
Caregivers of the elderly can arrive from a variety of sources, be they services paid for by the elder or family in one’s home or caregivers in alternative living situations. When one considers the numbers of elders in alternative living situations other that their home, what we read and hear on the news is minimal. However, any abusive caregiver is one too many.
For the elders who have all their faculties and try their best to remain young at heart and mind, there are many types of activities that could come under the heading of elder care. Alternative living situations often have outings bussing elders who no longer want to or can drive to cultural events to keep them mentally and physically young at heart. There are programs at these facilities where people of all ages come to visit for a variety of reasons, be it school children who come in looking for “non-blood-line grandparents,” giving the elders something to look forward to, church or synagogue volunteers who visit not only during holiday time but frequently for companionship, allowing elders to share some of their life experiences and also entertainers who just want to have an audience.
Many times, we think of elder care as just being available to help out those in need. However, there are many elders who are not willing to admit they reap rewards from various types of elder care, paid for or provided free. We must also not lose sight of the fact that those who provide elder care also reap priceless rewards.
It may take a special person to provide elder care of any type.
No matter what type of elder care you provide, you will feel renewed and rejuvenated for having helped keep young those already young at heart.