Hands from http://www.elderguard.org/

Caring for the elderly has been a need since early in time. With more household having two wage earners, elderly care especially by those sandwiched between young and old has become an ever-increasing topic.

  • Whose responsible to help?
  • Who is responsible to decide if or when outside assistance is needed?
  • How are the costs of care provided when funds are exhausted?
  • How do we draw qualified people into professions that provide this care?
  • How can we slow or stall the need for elder care?

Personally and professionally I don’t know all the questions. Nor can I answer all the questions. I do believe awareness and conversation are important steps in caring for the elderly now and in the future.

A recent New York Times article by Judith Graham shared concerns regarding elder care in a rapidly aging world – specifically the growing ratio of elderly to young. In the article Ms Graham shares some important facts:

Almost 58 million people worldwide will turn 60 this year. By 2050, there will be more old people than children under the age of 15 for the first time in history…People live longer, with more chronic illnesses like high blood pressure or diabetes, in poorer health, requiring more attention from family members and costly medical care.

This sounds overwhelming to families, individuals, healthcare providers, insurance companies, and so forth. Ms Graham goes on offering this thought.

The best picture is this: People live longer, in good health, remaining productive, valued members of society who contribute in workplaces, communities and families through their later years, and are treated respectfully and supported economically and socially as they become frail.

In my views, the key is seeing people as “productive, valued members of society.” I apply this not just to the elders but to all ages. When we value the contribution of a person and see what they offer as being productive, we have created that first step towards seeing each other as people. Not statistics, not as a diagnosis, not as something less than human.

For this to happen, we need to be conversation, in relationship with other generations. This is why I offer intergenerational programming. Most of us find it easier to treat other with respect and value when it is what we have experienced and know is possible. By making these offering to the preschoolers and the adults who come with them to these groups, I aim for all to be a valued member of our group.

This is why I share my intergenerational ideas – so others will help grow this awareness and this experience.

One day, I hope to age into being a member of the ranks of the elderly who is productive and valued by society and those around me. For that reason, I will keep asking questions about caring for the elderly. I will keep demonstrating respect and value of my clients no matter their age or ability. I will continue to promote quality intergenerational programs that value what ALL members bring to the group. And I’ll keep the mantra from “Better People” by India Arie as my theme song: 

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