My name is Mary Wark and I have chosen Frederick, Maryland as my place for aging. I am in that later sixties age bracket and have just gone through a period of making personal decisions about where and how to spend my “golden years”. Ways to stay is an Informational blog and social network website by an actual boomer planning to age in place.
Most people are familiar with the old adage of the forgotten middle child. The youngest draws the coddling of being the smallest, while the oldest child has all the expectations of being the first to do whatever. It harder to get attention when you are that one in the middle. It can seem like you are stuck on pause. When it comes to looking at the road ahead for those who are in the middle income category regarding affording the basic necessities of retirement, being in the middle has finally gotten some attention.
Of course the purpose of this particular study was to survey the market for investing in senior living facilities and communities. The silver tsunami of 10,000 people retiring a day will continue for several years and it will remain a big draw for investment. It seems that the demand will be there but not the bucks to afford all the lovely accessible spaces that are being built.
There may be more demand by 2029, but about 54% of middle-income seniors aren’t expected to have the financial wherewithal to pay for senior housing, even after using the proceeds from their existing homes, according to findings released this week by The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care, a nonprofit that tracks the market. Researchers defined middle-income seniors as those aged 75 to 84 years old whose financial resources—Social Security, pensions, 401(k) and other investments—annuitized using actuarial tables would yield roughly $25,000 to $75,000 a year or up to $95,051 for those 85 and over. These seniors are typically too wealthy to qualify for public means-tested programs like Medicaid but not flush enough to pay for senior housing out of pocket for a sustained period.
That last phrase – for a sustained period kind of bumps up against expected increased longevity for this same age group. Hark back to seniors and now boomers biggest fear of running out of money. Accountants are saying we in the middle between subsidy and buying that luxury one story villa, are not going to be able to buy what they are selling. It also raises the question for those who stay in their own homes as to how much money is needed to sustain what I call ‘living style’ (affording in home help etc.)
Okay so where is my usual kernel of hope that things will turn out better than it appears? First, this is the reason many seniors and boomers are staying in their homes and going to make that work. Second, I am glad to read a blogger on Senior Housing Forum address this big chunk of the the population as The Forgotten Middle. We finally have a name! Third, he suggests that the senior living industry has to produce a more basic product. In my view, the razzle dazzle of granite countertops in senior villas and sous chefs for assisted living dining may fade when there are fewer buyers.
If the largest share of seniors (40-43%) are going to be in this middle income bracket, this study should shake up the industry. They have to stop producing so much of what people do not want or can not afford. At this point my mind shifts to all the wonderful examples of village to village networks, cohousing communities, ADUs accessory dwelling units on the main properties and other ‘tiny’ home examples that are cropping up nationwide. And of course as I am always promoting new ways to co op and share resources for seniors to stay in their homes as they age. There is much room for invention and creativity on all sides.
If you want to get deep in the weeds of the whole original study with lots of supporting evidence, here you go:
This week my google alert feed on aging in place has been submerged in a wave of announcements about newer better electronics for safety at home and on the go. In preparing for my Staying Independent in Your Home class in May, I was not surprised when I reviewed the tech part of the presentation to find that some of last years products were now not so bright and shiny and maybe even non existent. It is a trillion dollar venture as companies try to steal the show with their more reliable more efficient products for aging in place.
Yes, I would hope that if you are relying on a fall detection monitor as an adjacent service to your I have fallen and can not get up response button/bracelet/pendant, that it works well and every time. I will hold to my personal mandate of not using brands names to let you judge for yourself what you think could make a difference for someone you love or maybe you own self in future years. Goggle medical alerts and you will be bombarded with info on specific products.
The latest greatest medical alert system has 4G connectivity and an 80 hour battery and better GPS and fall detection. The point is that they do keep improving the mPERS (mobile Personal Emergency Response Systems). Big brother issues aside, moving towards greater reliability is a good thing.
Another area is that of medication reminders. They go from classic to sophisticated. Missed or incorrect dosing of medication is a huge problem for those living alone. Dementia like behaviors and falls can evolve quickly from incorrect medication. If you can not rely on your own organization/memory skills there is everything from a talking robot monitor to a larger plastic pill minder with an alarm clock on it.
The fact that you have to speak to the robot to make it works seems counter to the logic of why you may need it in the first place. Also somebody has got to sort the pills and insert them in the machine or holders. A newer version has a lock on it with remote internet access and will alert the adult child minder if things are not on schedule. There is still a lot of work that need to be done here, or maybe there may be a finite limit to the safety of relying on non/remote human means.
Morale of the story: Stay tuned for even better versions of the above technological aides to help you be able to stay at home. It might be 5, 10 or even 20 years in the future when such interventions mean all the difference. Do not resent the ‘intrusion’, sometimes freedom comes in shiny packages that talk to you in your relatives voice or from being wired up to instant internet connections. A technological tide may lift all boats or at least those who pay the fee. You may be willing at some point to go along for the ride.
In the beginning warnings about the swelling demographic of older adults usually came with the imagery of a tsunami – a silver one of course. Certain areas of the country are already older, others not as much, so some preferred to say they faced a rising tide of the needs of elders. Pick your image to go with the following statistic.
From a recent policy brief at a conference on aging:
“In the next five years, more than 18 million people will turn age 65. By 2030, 73 million, or one-in-five people in America, will be 65 or older.”
It’s pointed out that this population is living longer than ever before. Between 2020 and 2030, the number of people 85 and older will grow by 35 percent. The number of those 100 and older will grow 52 percent.
It is hard to now what we do not know. Just how dire will this be? I hope the image is not one of people falling off a cliff. Stats like this imply that the needs are multiplying and we have to step it up with solutions to meet them .
In reading articles from my aging in place goggle alert on a daily basis, I am encouraged. Even tiny communities are approaching the challenge with non profits and just good old community know how. Nonprofits and for profit companies are forming to meet specific needs to keep people where they want to age- in their homes. On an international scale there are public private incentives for building affordable co housing.
There is a mountain of investment in the silver tech. Why not, it is a huge market. The arena of making the best medical alert or tracking systems and other gadgets is very competitive – may the best one win. There are simple home assistive products that once were only available from specialty catalogs that can be bought at you local drug store.
Many communities do not have strategic plans or a budget to enact them. I am choosing for the moment to try and offer a cautioned view that the response will keep getting stronger as the needs multiply. At this point I am speaking both as an observer and a member of the ominous demographic. But back to images, if the rising tide is going to change to a raging river, we are going to need a wider safety net.
I am adding a new section to my website to highlight some of the more interesting books and articles out there on aging. This will be both non fiction and fiction. Since the YA (Young Adult) and MG ( Middle Grade genres have taken off in commercial fiction, I figure why not accent OA (Older Adult) works that highlight both braving the trials and enjoying the freedom of getting older.
First in the non fiction category, I would like to review Ashton Appelwhite’s revised edition of This Chair Rocks.
by Mary Wark
They say attitude is everything, especially when it comes to age. You can be looking upon an older person or be that person of many years looking out on the world. As we move into the part of history where people over 65 will take up a bigger part of the demographics, those attitudes are going to count a lot more.
In Applewhite’s updated edition she hits at ageism from its inception as a definition in 1969 to how it is playing out now. What is important is how ageism will matter when so many of us are old at once. There are a lot of excellent references to government reports and the sociology of it all.
What is comes down to however, is your own effort to ward off the negative effects of ageism. Don’t accept a compliment that you look good for your age, diffuse it. Applewhite’s approaches the subject with deft clarity but there is no magic wand to stop what come so naturally to so many young and old.
Most books on aging have a limited audience, this one at least has an appreciative one.
You know it is too much about potential profits when you see the first real notice of the failure of the most promising Alzheimer’s drug on the pages of the financial news. Literally for at least three years I have been following the research by the pharmaceuticals giant Biogen on a drug with a nickname ‘adu’. In the final third phase, the research has been stopped cold on the basis of “projected failure to meet their primary endpoint.”
The head of Biogen made a statement about the complexity of treating this disease and at least thanked the subjects and their families for participating. As far as I know, no other drug trial had gotten this far. There is no talk of adjusting parameters in the study, that was done previously in the hopes of proving there is a way to prevent the devastating effects of all those tangles in the brain.
At this point my worst fear is that no other major pharmaceutical company will even approach this massive dilemma. With boomers aging into later senior hood in the next few years in even greater numbers, there are still other avenues being explored. The sheer numbers of adults that will over the age of 65 by 2030 is creating our own national emergency.
LONG DISTANCE CARE GIVING: THE BASICS by Harry Cline
As a long distance caregiver for an elderly loved one, you may frequently find yourself worrying about whether or not your loved one is happy, healthy, and safe. However, living far away from your senior loved one can make it difficult to keep up to date on the developments in their life while ensuring they take all the steps necessary to maintain their state of health. Here are some ways you can monitor your elderly loved one from any distance, as well as a few tricks to maintaining your bond across the miles.
Know Your Senior Loved One’s Needs
The first thing that you need to know when you are monitoring an elderly relative’s health from a different town is what your loved one’s needs actually are. Most seniors require frequent, or at least regular, doctor’s visits. Some may need checkups with specialists, like ear, nose, and throat doctors or ophthalmologists. While many seniors may be able to make their appointments themselves, do not assume that the senior in your care is fully able to manage it. There are a few questions you should ask to tell if they are able to make appointments on their own or not — first, do they know how to operate their cell phone? If so, do they have the appropriate numbers saved in their address book, and can they navigate from one call to another? Many medical practitioners also allow people to make appointments online — for some seniors, this may be easier. Make sure that they know how to access the internet and where to go for information on booking appointments.
In addition to their physical needs, you should also pay attention to what they need to stay comfortable around the house. If your loved one can’t keep up with regular cleaning, consider hiring a maid service to ensure the home stays neat, tidy, and clean. The same goes for the exterior as well, as many seniors find it difficult to tackle yard work, especially if they have a large lawn. Thankfully, there are many lawn care services available, which, on average, cost around $136. That figure, of course, will vary depending on the size of the yard.
Know Your Senior’s Friends and Neighbors
The second issue is the question of mobility. Some people continue to have good enough eyesight to drive late into life, while others choose not to drive because of the stress and strain caused by the operation of a car. If the senior under your care does not drive, it is important that they have some way of getting around if need be. You may wish to contact a trusted neighbor or friend who lives nearby to see if they would be willing to transport the senior in your care to their doctor’s visits, as well as to other places, like social events at the local senior center or the grocery store. If possible, introduce yourself to your senior loved one’s neighbors while you are in town to visit so that they can become familiar with each other and have a pre-existing relationship before it is necessary to ask them for transportation assistance.
If your senior’s neighbors are unavailable, there are other options. You could teach your loved one how to use a ride-sharing program like Uber (which costs an average of $2 per mile), though there might be a learning curve if they are not accustomed to using mobile phone apps.
You may think that it will be difficult to keep track of your senior loved one’s needs if you live in a different town, but it is much easier than you might think if you use modern-day technology to help out. Of course, always be sure to contact them regularly to stay up to date on their current abilities, needs, and the overall state of their life.
Here I am back to housing issues again. I have been trying to ignore the recent drip drip of complaints on how 2.5 million homes are being held hostage by seniors and boomers so the younger set cannot buy into the great American dream. Today I even read the expression ‘turning dyers into buyers’.
The focus should be on the fact that those who want or have to leave their current homes have very few alternatives. Fortunately to give me another perspective I came across one man’s solution on how to spend his golden years in both an affordable and safe manner. First he did a detailed comparison of how much it would cost to go to a retirement home or stay in a mid priced hotel.
From Facebook he found out that the average cost of a nursing home is $185 dollars a day or approximately $68,000 a year. The other option, a long term stay hotel with a senior discount was $60 a day. They have a lounge, a workout room, a spa, a pool, free toiletries, and a washer dryer room. The hotel is convenient to public transportation and there are many local restaurants besides room service. He mused he could move from city to city if he wanted and of course no maintenance fees except to tip the maid or janitor.
His most startling recommendation comes in the statement: “They treat you like a customer, not a patient”. He also noted that as his health declined there would always be someone around to call an ambulance or an undertaker. It takes a certain level of confidence and composure to approach this type of solution for your own housing needs as you age. But who is to say this is not a viable solution for this gentlemen? I would guess he probably has an outgoing personality that would help him connect with others. I imagine him out there on a good weather day doing more than feeding the birds in the park.
Financially, this is not a bargain basement price with $1800 a month for just a roof over your head. I would guess he does not have enough assets to afford the club atmosphere of upscale senior living and probably too much income to qualify for other government help or subsidies.
Why are people surprised or chagrined that seniors are holding on to their homes? There is a dire need for trying out newer co-housing solutions and shared housing arrangements. The costs to develop new real estate alternatives and are choking out solutions for those mid income folks who do want to move.
So necessity is the mother of invention. I wish this gentleman good health and interesting days.
Part of the mystique of being a boomer age senior is that we tend to believe Bob Dylan’s lyric that we will somehow manage to remain ‘forever young’. Our demographic has had certain advantages that have marked our progress through life. As a whole we are better educated because college was affordable back then. We have benefited from the knowledge about smoking, exercise and other health habits to at least make a conscious decision about lifestyle choices.
Another choice boomers seem to be making is to generally steer clear of traditional senior centers. They are still working, they have their own individual activities, health clubs, book clubs and more vigorous exercise routines. Pickle ball and senior water volleyball are two examples of transitional offerings at Y’s and community centers. What younger boomers want does not usually meet the reality of what older seniors need.
Many boomers avoid the senior centers, complaining about the food or see the physical activities as not demanding enough. There is an ageism among those who are aging that results in not wanting to be around those who are more evidently in continuous decline. Boomers tend to feel they ‘are not there yet.’ The village to village movement now has an average age of 78 which means younger seniors do not see the benefit of consolidating into local organizations to provide services to help keep them in their homes. Are boomers aging out there into their own cocoons?
Hopefully medical innovations for better health will lead to all seniors being active longer. There is a collective strong incentive to avoid the nursing home. As always we want to keep redefining ourselves as we become older. My concern is that all of this creates a certain inevitable isolation outside of your chosen group.
Those who volunteer with older seniors see the future and realize that yes, somehow we are all in this together. Forbes Magazine had an interesting article recently that points to the bigger picture. It explains the concept of QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Years) and altruism. In short it suggests that living healthier longer and contributing longer should raise the standard of life for everyone.
QALY can also be shared and distributed. For each year that we remain healthy, our acts and our contributions — anything from giving birth to paying taxes to work on scientific advances — could raise their QALY of other people all around the world.*
You can look to these extra years of wellness as a gift or a well earned prize. The point is that ultimately we are all in this together somehow building our own future. Better to think of it as a cause worthy of a contribution.
I have seen the same headline from four different sources. All scream out that the cause of the housing affordability crisis are boomers who are staying in their homes. I have been anticipating this. I am surprised it took this long to point the finger at the aging population’s recalcitrant need to stay in their own homes and communities.
Some relevant statistics, half of the the number of homes needed to satisfy younger homeowners are occupied by seniors. That is 1.6 million homes and they are not leaving. People are moving less in general. The average stay in a home is now up to 13 years. The same ‘traditional ‘ proportion of seniors are not relocating to warmer climates, signing into senior living communities and may I add are living longer. This is creating a bottleneck of millennial buyers ready to rehab that affordable older home with little to bid on.
It is disheartening to know that the approach is one of blame. If there is to be fault assigned here, what about the the fact that so few affordable downsizing options are open to seniors in their own communities. Why should seniors have to move out of state or out the county where they worked and made connections to find affordable housing?
If the only housing that is being built are inaccessible townhouses with multiple levels of narrow stairs or large 5 bedroom 4 bath mini mansions that anyone one would find cumbersome after the children leave, that logically means everyone will be leaving eventually. That is not an attractive or sustainable solution. It is amazing to me that few people look far enough ahead to understand the logic of this scenario.
Once upon a time you moved into a neighborhood and stayed maybe until you were the oldest folks on the block then figured it out as age and disability warranted it. Back then Long Term Care policies were affordable and covered more or you moved in with relatives.
Seniors are in a box that they did not create. Around them land values have changed to make staying in their own homes the only way to remain in their own communities. They have had fewer offspring. Senior housing as much as it is straining to cater to the tastes of younger seniors, has escalated in price pass assets and insurance polices.
Maybe, just maybe this impasse will bring better solutions. Think of it as a mass sit down strike against the status quo.
As we leave the first month of 2019 behind, I am reflecting on several different numbers and facts that indicate some positive developments for those who want to age in place and stay independent in their homes. First off, realize that the beginning of age wave started turning 73 years old this month. That means approximately 300,000 of the oldest boomers are answering the question again, “am I really old yet?”
I remember coming across an reference in the AARP articles on marketing materials calling those age 75 and up, to be the ‘true elderly’. Another article that started me on this path of blogging about aging and aging in place was by a physician who believed that by age 75 you should suspense any extraordinary medical treatment and let nature take its course. So, somehow the tipping point is supposed to be 75 years of age?
The bar for what is considered old has been moved along by our generation and others as they age. Yes, of course you can take the ‘age is an attitude’ approach at any age. You can be old at 60 in your mind if not in your body. Millennials reportedly now see old age starting at 59 but they no longer feel young by age 40. Yet the fastest growing segment of the population are those who are reaching age 85. There is a lot of room in there to define who is old and who is not.
But maybe we are finally moving away from tired old labels for older people and on to define age by wellness and independence. Yes, the maladies of an older body can drag you down in giving up on keeping up. I read an article the other day that noted retirees spend a lot of time preparing a financial plan, and that they need to also do a wellness retirement plan.
The numbers we should really care about are progress in more wellness and independence programs. Two to watch: Medicare Advantage is touting new plans that will help with in home adaptions and transportation etc etc. They exist in only 7 per cent of the existing Part C plans for 2019. That is 273 out of the 3700 plans nationwide. That must be expanded.
Other good news CAPABLE (Community Aging in Place for Advancing Better Living for Elders) has received a three million dollar grant to expand beyond 25 sites in 12 states to help low- income seniors stay in their homes safely. Habitat for Humanity also is now on board. The expertise to do just enough to help seniors stay at home is expanding and I do not mean a dozen variations on available grab bars. There is more than one way to age in place.
This is a delicate time and perhaps a transition from what do I do, to what do I have to do to stay at home. From my vantage point more flexible solutions are evolving and that is a good thing.