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Aging & Later Life Issues
As people age, life brings issues of economic, health, and functional concerns. Retirement for some may mean a life of freedom, but for most people, it presents a series of issues as social security payments are not enough to make ends meet. Medicare and Medicaid do not always pay all the costs that are needed for services, especially in home and community-based needs. And, living on social security, there are usually not enough funds to pay for a lot of insurance to help meet those needs. Functionality can become a problem, especially with illness, as the activities for daily living slowly deteriorate. There can also be problems of boredom and low self-worth learning to adjust from a work world to a retirement world. Many older people are forced to work as long as they are physical and mentally capable to meet basic needs.
When I am around an older person, I see huge volumes of history and wisdom. Older people have lived long, productive lives and have learned a lot about life and how to live it. Each one has had their own experiences in working, raising children, and living life in general. It is amazing hearing the stories they tell about how they raised their children, the work they performed, and how life was before technology changed the face of life. It is very interesting to hear how these people had worked through life's problems to meet goals and needs along the way.
As each one gets older, there are usually issues of not being able to perform the way they used to. Depression and frustration seems to set in when they cannot bend over to tie their shoes or have lost the ability to lift objects they got used to lifting, for instance. It is not easy for the older person to adjust to not doing things they were accustomed to their whole life. Some do better than others in accepting and working to better the things they can still do, while others have a harder time.
Still others are just as active as young people who jog every day or take long walks. Elders who stay active and busy with life, that leave no room for boredom, seem to do better than others. They stay full of life and still reap life's rewards of happiness and belonging. These are usually the ones who have worked hard to prepare for aging and the issues that aging brings or just refuse to sit back and deteriorate. Keeping the mind, body, and spirit busy gives a greater quality of life that provides a sense of self-worth, belonging to something important, and having the ability to give back to others in the community.
To me, old means losing activities of daily living due to the aging process. Being old means one is losing, or has lost the ability to care for oneself because of getting higher in age and the onset of chronic illnesses. Chronic illnesses are more common with the aging population that makes it difficult for the elderly to care for themselves and to continue to work. Many times, they lose the ability to work with the onset of the chronic illness as they lose abilities they had become accustomed to.
The thing I like best about older people is the wisdom, humor, and history each one carries. They tell awesome stories, have a lot of great advice, and usually add a lot of humor to the stories. Each one is unique in thoughts and feelings. And, each one cares about others in their own ways. Older people are also productive and hard working. Some are very determined to not give up on the abilities they still have and it gives a sense of purpose to continue on. Their determination can be very inspiring and is awesome to watch them still achieve and accomplish.
The thing I like the least about older people is the misery they go through when activities of daily living are gone and they are in pain with chronic illnesses. They suffer a lot of misery when they cannot care for themselves and are forced to live with illnesses they cannot control. It is hard to watch another human being that has feelings and emotions deteriorate away.
The secret to successful old age is staying active in mind, body, and spirit. Quality of life (Ragsdale, 2008) plays a major role in how successful an older person ages. The higher the quality of life, the slower they seem to age in mind, body, and spirit. The older person needs to have control of their life in all their affairs. The greater control they are given, whether in a home situation or a facility, the more quality of life they have. The older person should be the major person who makes decisions about their own care and how it is delivered as long as they have the capacity. Each older person has their own values and practices that need to be considered as well as social, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, and vocational activity (Ragsdale, 2008). Cognitive and emotional abilities of the older person should be enhanced in ways to produce higher outcomes of self-worth and dignity.
One of the greatest fears of older people is losing the ability to care for themselves. Research shows that nearly three-quarters of adults have never prepared for senior care and do not know how it will be paid for (Hogan, 2011). What is so scary about getting old is the idea of having to rely on others for needed care and how that needed care will be paid for, whether it is skilled nursing, home and community based, or a living facility when they can no longer live alone due to health issues and losing activities of daily living. The older generation does not want to have to rely on the help of their children and family.
As the growth of aging increases, the costs of health expenses will also increase (Eskildson, 2009). Private long-term care insurance has emerged as a leading alternative. The problem with long-term care insurance is there is uncertainty about the future payment benefits. There is also a problem with low income persons being able to afford the premiums to obtain and keep the policy.
For functional security the implementation of Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Plan offers daily cash benefits (Chernof, Spring 2011). This plan could help prevent nursing home placement by providing home and community-based services. It could also work with supplemental and wrap around insurance policies that can provide more of the costs and lessen out of pocket costs. Under the Affordable Care Act, there are new Medicaid State Plans and new government programs that can be considered when preparing for senior care that could also help pay or eliminate some of the out of pocket costs.
When an older person moves to a retirement home, it can be daunting at first in the respect that it is just not home and adjusting to a new living environment. There is also the idea that others will be involved with the decision making for the older person's care. Preparing beforehand can make the transition easier.
Quality of care should not just involve health care. It should involve the older person's preferences and values as well as a higher assurance of meeting all the person's needs, including social, spiritual, cognitive, and vocational needs. There are new trends in individualized care that focuses on the resident (Ragsdale, 2008).
The Greenhouse Model is a social model of care that contains small homes with skilled nursing and ten elders or less. Each resident has its own private bedroom and bathroom that creates a since of privacy like a home environment. All daily activities are planned around the homelike atmosphere, including food and social interaction. It stems from the Eden Alternative where recognition is given to individuality and the need for residents to know staff personally. The concept is to give control back to the resident in a homelike setting. It encourages integration with animals, plants, and children in daily life to increase quality of life. Other aspects contain wireless call systems that are not heard overhead, an outside area with patio, garden, and the ability of staff to monitor the residents. It also contains self-directed teams working together in order to problem solve resident and family concerns. The Eden Alternative focuses on holistic philosophy where each person has a personal path to wellness through social, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, and vocational activity (Brune, 2011).
Resident centered care is based on person-directed values and practices. Voices of elders and staff are considered and respected with decision making pushed to care staff. It contains core person-directed values of choice, dignity, respect, self-determination, and purposeful living. The Cultural Change Movement respects individual needs and desires, honors life patterns and accomplishments, and supports opportunities for continued growth. It enables continued productive contributions and encourages meaningful connections…[continue]
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