As Efty pointed out recently on our blog, sometimes thinking about aging can be daunting, particularly for young adults. There are a lot of ideas about aging that we sometimes get wrong, and that can make getting older or caring for an older adult scary. Having information can help.
Here are 5 things about aging that you may not know:
1. Balance may be a challenge
Balance problems affect about 40 percent of older adults, which is related to the risk of falling--a common risk for seniors. However, the fear of falling can also increase that risk. If you've experienced balance problems, feeling that you are unable to balance may feed that fear. Talking with a physician and exercises that improve balance can be helpful.
Through our partnership with UIC, our senior residents will be connected with the Matter of Balance program. This program is designed to teach participants practical steps to improve balance, and reduce the fear and risk of falling.
2. Dementia isn't a normal part of aging
While changes in memory are normal as people age, dementia and Alzheimer's disease are not. The Alzheimer's Society of Canada does a really wonderful job of differentiating between the two. Check it out here. While dementia is a brain disease with many different symptoms that can include memory loss, normal changes in memory are usually minor lapses in memory.
In fact, crystallized intelligence increases as you age. That sounds really cool, right? Well, it is. It basically means that older adults tend to know what they know really well, based on learning, knowledge, and experience gained over the years. There's a reason we associate wisdom with elders! One of the reasons that we believe that intergenerational programs like ours is important is because people of all ages have things to learn from and offer to one another.
3. People are living longer
According to Pew Research Center, there are a growing number of centenarians, like our 101-year old Upkeep & Repair client Jamesetta, in the world. And even if we don't make it to 100 or beyond, people are living longer. But as people are living longer, there are also financial and health challenges that individuals and society face. From employment, housing, and healthcare, things are changing. As people are living longer, the need for services for seniors is increasing.
4. Isolation may be a concern
Social isolation can affect your health as much as smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Seventeen percent of older adults are isolated, and 51 percent of older adults live alone and are at risk of being isolated. From big changes that happen in one's life to mobility limitations, there are lots of reasons that people find themselves disconnected from others as they get older. But aging doesn't have to mean being isolated! There are resources and services that can help people stay connected.
At H.O.M.E., we bring together a unique combination of services in a supportive, senior-centered environment that lessens the burden of social isolation that many seniors face. We believe that the human element is essential to our model. We know that sharing a bus ride, saying hello, sharing a joke and a story with others can make a difference too. Serving seniors with warmth, connection, and joy is our particular expertise. Since 1982, we have helped thousands of seniors to maintain their independence and remain a part of their community.
5. There is no "typical" older adult
The WHO points out that every person experiences getting older differently. There are lots of factors that impact the lives of older adults. Exercise levels, nutrition, economic security, social connectedness, and good ol' genes can impact your health and abilities as you age.
Understanding that every senior experiences aging differently and has different needs is important to us. When we talk about our value of "service to the elderly" at H.O.M.E., we mean that we seek to provide outstanding person-centered service through unique programs that address the problems facing Chicago's low-income seniors. You can join us!
You can support our mission by joining Partners in Independence Club. As a member of our Partners in Independence Club your monthly donation will help provide H.O.M.E. with a consistent and reliable source of funding that will allow us to make an impact on the lives of low-income seniors in Chicago.
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