“Can We Live Longer but Stay Younger? | With greater longevity, the quest to avoid the infirmities of aging is more urgent than ever.” – The New Yorker
Some view old age not as a fact to be endured but as a disease to be cured.
Illustration by Igor Bastidas
by Adam Gopnik
“Aging, like bankruptcy in Hemingway’s description, happens two ways, slowly and then all at once. The slow way is the familiar one: decades pass with little sense of internal change, middle age arrives with only a slight slowing down—a name lost, a lumbar ache, a sprinkling of white hairs and eye wrinkles. The fast way happens as a series of lurches: eyes occlude, hearing dwindles, a hand trembles where it hadn’t, a hip breaks—the usually hale and hearty doctor’s murmur in the yearly checkup, There are some signs here that concern me.
“To get a sense of what it would be like to have the slow process become the fast process, you can go to the AgeLab, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, and put on agnes (for Age Gain Now Empathy System). agnes, or the ‘sudden aging’ suit, as Joseph Coughlin, the founder and director of the AgeLab describes it, includes yellow glasses, which convey a sense of the yellowing of the ocular lens that comes with age; a boxer’s neck harness, which mimics the diminished mobility of the cervical spine; bands around the elbows, wrists, and knees to simulate stiffness; boots with foam padding to produce a loss of tactile feedback; and special gloves to ‘reduce tactile acuity while adding resistance to finger movements.'”
Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Human Services (DHS) today held the first of a series of information sessions for health care and service providers in preparation for the third phase of implementing the Community HealthChoices (CHC) program. CHC will coordinate health care coverage to improve quality for older Pennsylvanians and those with physical disabilities, serving more people in communities rather than in facilities, giving them the opportunity to work, spend more time with their families, and experience an overall better quality of life.
The third phase is scheduled for January 1, 2020, and will cover counties in central, northeast, and northwest Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
“The Department of Human Services has seen great success with the CHC rollout in the Southwest and Southeast,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “The phased rollout of CHC has given us time to listen to participants, providers, and stakeholders and hear their experience with the program so that by 2020, we will be delivering the best care possible to more than 400,000 seniors and adults with physical disabilities across the commonwealth. We look forward to expanding the service offerings to the final regions in January 2020 and are preparing providers and eligible participants for this transition.”
Ahead of the final implementation, DHS has coordinated efforts with the managed care organizations to host provider information sessions as well as participant information sessions. Throughout May and June, provider sessions are being held in various locations around the Phase Three zone. In the fall, participant information sessions will be held offering eligible community members the opportunity to learn more about this program and to gather resources and ask questions to choose a plan that will meet their needs. Information about which counties are included in the final phase of implementation is available here.
“CHC is providing options for so many Pennsylvanians in their communities,” said Acting Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “This is especially noteworthy because we know that the majority of older adults want to age in place. CHC is serving seniors so that they can have the opportunity to work and spend time with their families, all while having access to long-term services they need.”
CHC was established to enhance care and service coordination, improve health outcomes, and increase availability of community living options for individuals requiring long-term services and supports. By offering these services and supports in a managed care delivery system, DHS is working towards better quality of services for older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities as well as budget predictability. Preliminary data from the Southwest shows that in CHC’s first year, the rate of individuals served in the community increased from 49.7 percent to 52.2 percent.
“One of our top priorities is to continue to enhance the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of the supports and services available to serve more people in communities, giving them the opportunity to work, spend more time with their families, and experience an overall better quality of life,” said Secretary Miller. “This continued investment demonstrates a commitment to supporting elderly Pennsylvanians and adults with physical disabilities.”
CHC was first launched in southwest Pennsylvania in January 2018 and southeast Pennsylvania in January 2019. Currently, more than 210,000 older Pennsylvanians and adults with physical disabilities have an active voice when choosing how and where they receive their services and supports through CHC. The rollout in the remainder of the state will include approximately 143,000 individuals. When fully implemented across the state, CHC will impact more than 400,000 Pennsylvanians, 94 percent of whom are dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
This listserv has been established for ongoing updates on the CHC program.
This Time Magazine article begins, “Global life expectancy averages out to 71.4 years. That means, of course, that some parts of the world see much shorter life spans, while others enjoy far greater longevity.
“Five places, in particular, fall into the latter category. They’re known as Blue Zones —named for the blue circles researchers drew to identify the first one on a map — and they’re home to some of the oldest and healthiest people in the world. Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones and The Blue Zones Solution, told TIME why residents of these places live so long—and how you can steal their habits.”
When Older Americans Month was established in 1963, only 17 million living Americans had reached their 65th birthday. About a third of older Americans lived in poverty and there were few programs to meet their needs. Interest in older Americans and their concerns was growing. A meeting in April 1963 between President John F. Kennedy and members of the National Council of Senior Citizens led to designating May as “Senior Citizens Month,” the prelude to “Older Americans Month.”
Historically, Older Americans Month has been a time to acknowledge the contributions of past and current older persons to our country, in particular those who defended our country. Every President since Kennedy has issued a formal proclamation during or before the month of May asking that the entire nation pay tribute in some way to older persons in their communities. Older Americans Month is celebrated across the country through ceremonies, events, fairs, and other such activities.
Every May, the Administration for Community Living leads our nation’s observance of Older Americans Month. The 2019 theme, Connect, Create, Contribute, encourages older adults and their communities to:
- Connect with friends, family, and services that support participation.
- Create by engaging in activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment.
- Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others.
Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives.
We encourage you to connect, create, and contribute for stronger and more diverse communities this May, and throughout the year.
Yesterday, Lebanon County’s 50+ Festival was the place for the county’s seniors to visit scores of area resources providers including lots of Link to Aging and Disability Resources partners. Additionally, there were numerous opportunities for attendees to attend information workshops, health screenings and entertainment, too.
Here are some scenes from yesterday’s 50+ Festival:
AN OPINION: “Older adult finances and future senior housing options are out of sync” – Aging In Place Technology Watch
Rant on. A sad tale – reading the lament about the numbers of seniors who will not be able to afford assisted living in 10 years. The report is from NIC – the National Investment Center that provides research to the senior living industry. The upshot – 54% will be unable to pay the $60,000 average annual cost of assisted living (make that $93,000 in Washington DC), even if they sell their home. If one member of a couple is still living in the home, the number rises to 81%. According to the study, 60% of the population aged 75+ will have mobility, cognitive impairment or chronic conditions that would characterize them as good candidates for assisted living services and settings – but will not have the savings to enable them to move in.
There are some problems with this study’s message to the industry. First the affordability gap of assisted living and the population that could benefit. This has been a statistical fixture forever (move in age of 85 noted in 2012 and again in 2015). What has changed, if anything, is life expectancy. For those aged 65+, living into the late 80s or even the 90s is increasingly likely. Looking at life expectancy lasting to mid-to-late 80s combined with average savings for those aged 75+ of $16,025 for a couple with no children, it is no wonder that the steady state penetration of assisted living remains stuck at 10% of the likely population, at least according to the industry. According to NCAL, seniros stay 22 months on average, before moving to skilled nursing. With assisted living occupancy at 85% being attributed to over-building, but one might also posit that price-plus-life expectancy keeps even the willing and interested at home.
Consider the operating margin of 34% and the real cost – can tech help? This industry has been a real estate investment play from the very beginning. One executive interviewed for the NIC study observed, reluctantly, that margins could be compressed to create more affordable options, perhaps by building on less expensive land. Hopefully not from robbing the pay of CNAs who do the real hands-on labor – their average pay of $11-12/hour nationwide can’t be pushed down much further. Maybe high-end food choices could be trimmed, the lobby furniture more modest, or the long-shot on operational costs, noted in the Health Affairs the study: “Technology is already driving innovation. The implementation of an ever-expanding panoply of high-tech solutions such as artificial intelligence, voice technology, smart phone apps, smart sensors, and telehealth can help improve quality of life, and care, while reducing costs.” Right.
The margin question is about people — how to need fewer or boost pay to recruit. The staff-to-resident ratios may, in some states, already be too thin to handle assisted living memory care residents. For families of a resident, that means supplementing the $60K annual cost with the hidden cost of needed private duty home care aides (same hourly rate). For many, that additional cost may drive families elsewhere, to nursing homes or back home. But the real problem will limit expansion of assisted living is a shortage of available workers — for assisted living, skilled nursing and home care. Where to recruit this low-paid workforce in a high employment time, competing with wage levels of Walmart and McDonald’s? Finally, will we read the same lament in 10 years about the large population of now-aged boomers who cannot afford assisted living? Count on it. Rant off.
“Want to be part of the anti-ageism movement? Go Old School.
“Since its establishment last year, Old School, an online clearinghouse of anti-ageism resources, is picking up steam and gaining partners (Senior Planet is one), tools and a growing following. This comprehensive source of resources means to educate everyone about age discrimination: what it is, where it is, how to recognize it, and what to do about it. It’s the brainchild of anti-ageism activist Ashton Applewhite (author of the anti-ageism manifesto This Chair Rocks) and millennials Ryan Backer and Kyrie Carpenter, who happily describe themselves as ‘olders in training.’
“Ashton, a well-known advocate of fighting stereotypes and discrimination herself, launched the website last summer while she was finishing This Chair Rocks. Following in the footsteps of Pulitzer Prize winning writer and gerontologist Dr. Robert Butler, who coined the words ‘ageism’ and ‘the longevity revolution,’ Applewhite set out to dispel the constant barrage of derogatory comments about getting older. Like Backer and Carpenter, she kept seeing ageism everywhere from cheeky birthday cards about getting older, to advertising billboards and pop culture. (And it’s not just aimed at the old, they claim dubbing 20-somethings as ‘kids’ or being ’40 and irrelevant’ is equally offensive.)
“Old School aims to ‘make ageism as unacceptable as any other prejudice’ and wants the pro-aging community to join the battle. The sections offer Tools, Books, Blogs and papers, Campaigns, Speakers, Videos, Organizations and Podcasts for you to read, use and share.
“The most encouraging aspect of Old School is its outreach to you. The website explains itself as ‘….an ongoing, interdisciplinary collaboration that will only reach its potential with help from the pro-aging community.’ It urges visitors to participate: ‘If you have an ageism-related resource to contribute to Old School – not about positive aging or productive aging or healthy aging or conscious aging or creative aging, but explicitly focused on ageism’ they want to hear from you. Scroll down the main page to the “Submit” section.”
SOURCE: Senior Planet
“The World Health Organization has begun four studies intended to define ageism and identify ways to combat it.”
Credit: Lizzie Gill
by Paula Span
“It happened about a year ago. I stepped off the subway and spotted an ad on the station wall for a food delivery service. It read: ‘When you want a whole cake to yourself because you’re turning 30, which is basically 50, which is basically dead.’
“After a bunch of us squawked about the ad on social media, the company apologized for what it called attempted humor and what I’d call ageism.
“Maybe you recall another media campaign last fall intended to encourage young people’s participation in the midterm elections. In pursuit of this laudable goal, marketers invoked every negative stereotype of old people — selfish, addled, unconcerned about the future — to scare their juniors into voting.
“Adweek called it ‘comically savage.’ I’d drop the ‘comically.’
“And such jabs constitute mere microaggressions compared to the forms ageism often takes: pervasive employment discrimination, biased health care, media caricatures or invisibility. When internalized by older adults themselves, ageist views can lead to poorer mental and physical health.”
“More than half of middle-income seniors will lack resources for housing and care, study says” – The Boston Globe
(SUZANNE KREITER/GLOBE STAFF/FILE/2012)
by Robert Weisman
“For more than half of middle-income Americans over 75 years old, senior housing with health care services will be out of reach in the coming decade, a new study warns.
“The report, published Wednesday in the journal Health Affairs, is the first comprehensive look at a vast and growing demographic group researchers call the ‘forgotten middle’ — people who can’t afford private assisted-living facilities but don’t qualify for subsidized nursing home care unless they spend down the assets they accumulate during their working years.
“As the ranks of retired baby boomers swell and many live longer than their parents, the study projects that by 2029 about 14.4 million middle-income seniors — nearly double today’s number — will lack the financial resources for housing that offers personal care assistance.”