Do we have what it takes to create a compassionate community for aging?
Serving Our Seniors has found fewer retirees are volunteering. While I understand many older Americans volunteer their time to take care of grandchildren, and a trip to any store is evidence many are still in need of paid employment, this doesn’t negate the need for senior citizens to do their part to make their community a more compassionate place to live.
According to the U.S. Administration on Aging, Americans who live to be 65 years old today are likely to live 20 more That’s will live longer. National projections are the 85 and older population will grow from 9.9 percent in 2010 to 19 percent in 2020.
The Administration on Aging also reported “the median income of older persons in 2011 was $27,707 for males and $15,362 for females” (source: A Profile of Older Americans 2012)
With a burgeoning older population and nursing home care costing $60,000-$70,000 per year, it is obvious it is to everyone’s benefit to support an older person’s ability to maintain independence. But how?
If you want to live in a city, village or township, with a community culture that appreciates and respects older Americans, it will only happen when senior citizens who are not civically engaged actually become civically engaged. By that I mean, senior citizens being active contributors of knowledge, skills and abilities to promote quality of life in their community. A senior citizenry generating an interactive atmosphere for a safe, friendly and walkable community; a place that shows interest in one another. This is not only advantageous for people of older age. It is advantageous for people of any age. The side effect is more people can grow into advanced age maintaining their functional independence.
If you are one who is not civically involved and see no need to start now, let me bring this argument a little closer to home. For communities like Erie County, where 29.4 percent of its population is going to be age 60 and older by 2020; and Ottawa County, where 35 percent of its population will be age 60 and older, neither can afford to have a detached senior citizen population for 20 years (age 65-85).
It requires cultural change; one that involves sharing and caring more about one another. It can begin with something as simple as understanding what it is like for someone to have Alzheimer’s disease.
On April 28, Serving Our Seniors and the Alzheimer’s Association of Northwest Ohio will show a 20-minute documentary titled “Instead of Your Name” It’s a real story about a retired preacher’s struggle to turn his disease into a new ministry. It is followed by a question- and-answer session so you can be more knowledgeable and understanding of others you may know who are experiencing memory changes. It is scheduled for 1-2 p.m. at United Church of Christ Congregational, 990 State St., Vermilion, and 3-4 p.m. at Sandusky Community Church of the Nazarene. Call Serving Our Seniors, 419-624-1856, to RSVP.