Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
It seems as though there is a seasonal cluster to everything -- conferences (spring and fall), concerts (fall through spring), and... communication about surveys and studies. During the fall of studies announcements, we've seen some interesting and sometimes ironic juxtapositions:
Working. Turns out we're healthier if we keep working, we're not deficient as employees, and we're not so bad at learning new technology. Take a look at Health Benefits of Working in Retirement, combine with the 'idea' that they are really able to hold their own in the workplace today's NY Times 'Idea' from 2009, in the Myth of the Deficient Older Employee. Meanwhile, older workers don't necessarily want to retire. But then read Buddy Can You Spare A Job.
Caregiving, aging, available income. Caregivers of those over age 50 are themselves older, those they care for are older (> age 75) -- and the largest percentage are caring for their mothers. See this detail in the sub-report from Caregiving in the U.S. 2009 and combine that with an AARP poll on trends toward multi-generational housing. With that in mind, think about how those age 65 today, according to the CDC in 2009, can expect an average life expectancy of 84. Now juxtapose that with the fact that seniors are living longer on less money, and beyond age 75, are likely to have a disability.
Aging in place -- the hype is what we want. The housing dream, as told in the MetLife 55+ Housing study in September, is that the vast majority of those 55+ want to remain in their own homes -- aging in place. No matter that our houses may endanger us as we acquire a disability, may impoverish us with housing costs that eat up our declining income, and may suck the life and health out of aging caregivers. Given that there are 5.2 million with Alzheimer's and 3 million senior housing units, the math tells you that people with dementia are living on their own or with caregivers. Specious remarks, studies, and hype mark much of the talk about 'aging in place', but the "Aging in Place is best for those with Alzheimer's" comment from a nurse in the AARP-Microsoft study finally sent me over the aging in place edge:
Putting it altogether -- there's an elephant in the room. The facts are there. You can see it clearly if you look. Today, what is so cheerfully described as aging in place, with enough money in retirement or the ability to keep working, living in a one's own home, with the myriad of services that are needed -- THIS IS A MYTH. To make it a reality, we need some very new ideas to be fleshed out more carefully and new ways of lowering costs, redirecting innovation energy and funding of new initiatives, and I'm not talking about healthcare. What if we:
Let's spend some more time and energy in 2010 to dispel the hype about aging in place for seniors today and replace it with realistic, financially feasible, and well-understood strategies that make it possible. Surely, as Liz Boehm noted, aging in place (compared to Healthcare Unbound) has at its underpinning the element of hope for the future.
But if we can't get over the hype around aging in place, let's just rename the whole thing to 'aging successfully' -- whatever the place.
NCOA - National Council on Aging