Aging Across the Globe and at Home

As the aging population increases, it is more important than ever to support our seniors.

By Leah Felderman  

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Happy Aging Woman Enjoying Coffee

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Ever look around and, in amazement, realize that kids are getting younger? It's not just a trick of perception: they are getting younger and you're getting older! In fact, the world is getting older and it's not just due to shifting perspectives!

Below are some astounding facts provided by the World Health Organization (WHO)

This calculates to the world population of those 60 and older nearly doubling in just 35 years! The overall pace of population aging around the world is increasing dramatically. When societies experience a "baby boom" they will have a shorter period of time to adjust to the influx of new elderly citizens when these children of the "baby boom" become seniors. This is well demonstrated by the Baby Boomer generation of the USA.

The US Census Bureau gives us the following statistics:

While some countries have already experienced this aging population shift (Japan and Italy currently have older populations accounting for approximately 25% of their total population), it should be noted that this shift is less perceptible in high-income and industrialized countries that have the resources to shift towards their new aging population. The dramatic worldwide population aging shift, due by mid-century, will be more difficult to adapt to in low- and middle-income countries. Financial resources along with social infrastructure are key to assisting our older populations ease into their older age status.

Easing America's aging population into their golden years

Here in America the average life expectancy is approximately 80 years old: 81 for women and 76 for men according to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. Other sources will cite a variety of numbers incorporating details based on location/state of residence, lifestyle, ethnicity, and other genetic factors. However, for the most part Americans are extremely fortunate and can hope to achieve octogenarian status. Let's help ensure that we are adding not only years to our loved ones' lives but also infusing life into their additional years!

There are so many ways to help our seniors thrive in their golden years. From the larger ideals such as healthcare reform, to small but significant daily actions such as helping a senior with their groceries. Choose to be an advocate for our seniors, for if we are fortunate enough we will one day be in their geriatric shoes!

Support the aging in place movement

The elderly are not meant to be warehoused!
Yes, nursing homes do serve a particular purpose and provide excellent care for those less able to care for themselves. However, the proliferation of long-term care facilities and the abundance of healthy, able-bodied seniors that reside in such places is astounding! Closely analyze your situation and all available options to determine what is the best fit for your aging loved one.

Help your elderly loved one fulfill their wishes of aging in place!
Whether it is in the home they lived in all their adult life, a new home complete with modifications for their aging needs, or a Granny Pod in your backyard there are a wide variety of residence options to help your elderly loved one age in place.

Don't forget home care!
This is an essential component of helping your loved one aging in place. Whether they need a little assistance or a lot, realize that this is not a luxury afforded to the bourgeois but a necessary component of their aging in place journey. Home care varies widely; whether this is your first venture into home care or you have explored this territory before, take some time to read up on the different aspects of home care options available.

Fight ageism!

Ageism is discrimination against people on the basis of their age. Ageism, as it's applied to older people, involves the stereotyping of and prejudice towards our aging loved ones. Ageism is widespread and, unfortunately, so well incorporated into our society that it has become a passively accepted norm. Ageism excludes people from opportunities based on their age as demonstrated in the work place, social service opportunities, and as a consumer. Ageism subscribes to stereotypes such as the curmudgeonly, the kindly, the frail and sickly, etc. These stereotypes further marginalize our aging and elderly loved ones while negatively impacting their physical, emotional, and mental health. There are many ways to counter against ageism, such as:

Support businesses that are senior friendly both to their customers and employees.
Remember, age discrimination is illegal!

Be a business that is exceptionally senior friendly!
Make certain your store is accessible and inviting to our aging population with details such as lowered counters, non-slip floors, automatic doors, and well-trained staff to help accommodate your elderly customers.

Don't support stereotypes!
Mind your tongue and be conscientious of your diction when speaking! If you wouldn't make a similar comment based on somebody's gender or ethnicity, then don't make it about somebody's age!

Intervene if the situation necessitates it.
Be an advocate and speak up if you see a senior being treated unfairly.


Leah Felderman BA MA

About the Author

Leah Felderman is a proud alumnus of University of Central Florida (BA) and San Diego State University (MA). She has worn many occupational hats including teaching, hospitality management, government contractor and non-profit organizer. She is an intrepid international traveler having visited over 60 countries before happily settling down into her new life chapter of domesticity as a mom and Coast Guard wife.

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