America is getting older! Due to advances in many areas of society such as health care and nutrition American’s live longer lives that at any time in history. Yet, our country lacks a system of support and care to allow aging with dignity for older people. Your independence is of paramount importance as you age.
You need to be able to make choices in your life that allow for your care in the comfort of your own home and not be confined to a nursing home in your last days. Not only you and your family, but the entire community will have to become integrally involved in the daily lives of senior citizens to make this happen. Local, state and the federal government along with private charities and foundations will all have to do their part to make aging with dignity a reality.
Steps You Can Take
The following are some steps that you can take to ensure not only you but others can have a great life and enjoy it at home in their golden years:
- New face of aging – Stay active in your community. Banish that notion of an elderly person enjoying the rocking chair on the front porch. Challenge the status quo! Get out and be visible.
- Take charge of how you want to age – Decide how you want to live as you grow older. Make lists of contacts that can and will support you. You determine how your later years will play out.
- Document your care and treatment – Fill out an advance directive and share it with your family and doctor. Do this when you are still of sound mind and body so that your wishes will be followed.
- Be a good neighbor – Keep tabs on your neighbors, young and old. Recognize that others may need to be looked in on and helped from time to time. Do what you can to help yourself and others live in the community as long as they possibly can.
- Learn what resources are available to help – Be a source for what is available in the community to help seniors out. This could help a family member, neighbor or even yourself.
- Speak up and out – Express your thoughts and concerns to local boards that deal with aging. Keep elders needs in front of local authorities in both public and private areas.
- Become a leader – Take charge and become an advocate for seniors. This could be anything from starting a neighborhood group to check up on the elderly to speaking at community events.
- Long-term care – At some point in life most of you will need some form of long-term care. Stay up to date and involved on what your local and federal officials are doing on this issue. Don’t be afraid to speak out on the matter.
- Health care reform – This is a large and problematic issue for many of you. Stay informed on how changes in our health care system will affect America as you age.
- Social media – The reach of online resources is profound in today’s world. Use these resources to start discussions, learn about issues and connect with others about issues dealing with aging.
Growing older is a fact of life. The key to growing older is in aging with dignity. With the help of family and an engaged community informed and kept abreast of issues dealing with aging you can live a full life, at home. As an elder person you can still be a most valuable asset to your community. Make sure you can be that at home and not in a nursing home!