The American socioeconomic landscape is radically different than the one today’s senior population knew growing up. Stay-at-home moms are relatively uncommon. An extra adult in the house is more likely to be that recent college grad struggling in today’s economy than it is an aging parent. It may be a different world, but it’s also one that includes a number of senior care solutions that were rare or nonexistent in years past.
Fueled in large part by the nation’s huge segment of “Baby Boomers” now entering their retirement years, American enterprise, social services and communities are moving to adapt to this novel generation’s changing – and growing – needs.
One creative approach, one that applies to seniors aging in place who may require just a small bit of occasional assistance, is “villages.” The concept launched in Boston as the Beacon Hill Village in 1999. “We wanted more freedom and control than we found in models that focus on single issues, such as housing, medical care, or social activities. We wanted to be active, taking care of ourselves and each other rather than being ‘taken care of,’” the nonprofit organization explains. In practical terms, this means that participants pay a subscription fee to belong the village, which can assist with some basic day-to-day needs, like clearing a gutter or a ride to the grocery store. The services are simple, but can help provide a senior with a greater sense of social connectedness and independence.
Personal Care Aides Are Another Senior Care Solution
A more comprehensive offering, a sector growing rapidly to keep pace with the senior demographic, is personal care aides. These professionals may carry different designations in different states, but the core directive remains the same: filling the care gaps between informal care and a full medical setting. An aide may assist a client in her home, in an assisted-living facility or even at a hospital. Regardless of the setting, care aides are cost-effective professionals who may prepare a meal, administer medications, assist with daily grooming, or other similar tasks. So needed are these care aides that the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics forecasts 70 percent growth in these positions between 2010 and 2020.
Moving into more complex options for senior care, the U.S. Administration on Aging is constantly adding and enhancing programs to better cater to the needs of the nation’s aging population. These programs run the gamut, providing assistance in so many arenas, from legal aid to community based long-term care to diabetes self-management.
Whether considering one’s own future or caring for a loved one, the challenges that come with aging may cause a measure of anxiety. The easiest way to quell this anxiety, however, is to simply start looking for senior care solutions to suit particular needs. The number of options for seniors is growing. Often, it’s just a matter of finding them.