We know that our population is growing older and living longer. The first of 78 million baby boomers started turning 65 in 2011. Life expectancy in the United States is at an all time high. Those ages 85 and over are the fastest-growing segment of the population. Did you know that more than 48 million people are caring for older family members and friends? Current statistics show that approximately one geriatrician is available to provide medical care to every 10,000 baby boomers. The Affordable Health Care Act has made significant changes to Medicare which are still not fully understood by health care professionals, much less the general population.
Obviously, our older population is heading toward a crisis of care, which means all of us need to take more preventive action to maintain our wellness. Unfortunately, too many times we wait until a crisis lands us at our physician’s office, the emergency room, or a hospital stay. Waiting until after a medical crisis or significant change can have devastating effects on our future health, financial situation, and overall quality of life.
As we age, four important numbers are a “must know” to manage our wellness status and prevent a crisis. These are: (1) weight, (2) blood pressure, (3) cholesterol, and (4) blood sugar. Knowing these numbers will not help if we do not act on the information. Maintaining healthy numbers can reduce the risk of experiencing a life-changing health crisis, such as stroke, heart attack, and type 2 diabetes. Also, when we fail to manage these important numbers, we are at an increased risk of other injuries from a fall or accident.
Maintaining proper nutrition and adhering to the correct medication routine are essential in preventing chronic and acute disease processes and undesirable events. However, as we age, these two areas become more and more difficult to manage and monitor. Too many ER visits and hospitalizations are a result of improper nutrition, dehydration, or poor medication management.
So we know the importance of preventive action, but what about our aging population past the point of prevention? If you are a caregiver, or simply a concerned family member, when does it become time? If you find yourself worrying over, or asking the following questions, it is time to consider a retirement and assisted living community:
- What if she falls?
- What if he doesn’t take his medications right? Or forgets to take them at all?
- Is he eating enough?
- Are the yard, house, and laundry too much to handle?
- Is she lonely?
A critical mistake made by older adults is waiting too long to make a decision to move into an assisted living facility. Common complaints of our older population that lead to health care crises are not limited to the following: loneliness, unmet health care needs, depression, inability to keep up with the demands of a household, a complicated medication routine, and isolation from friends and family. Retirement and assisted living facilities offer lifestyle support that can often prevent a health care crisis, loneliness and unexpected depression.
When choosing a retirement and assisted living community, do your homework. There is a wide variety of philosophies and approaches on how best to deliver senior care in an assisted living or retirement community. Quality of care can be measured by staffing ratios, access to a physician and specialized health care professionals, and resident satisfaction.
Retirement years should be spent enjoying those things that bring special meaning to our lives, including family, helping others, developing new friends, enjoying hobbies, and developing new interests. In addition to choosing an option that will provide appropriate wellness and dining, you should consider a retirement community to maximize your potential for experiencing joy, maintaining your health, and fully appreciating your time with family and friends. Be confident that you are assured the type of lifestyle that is appealing and satisfying during the retirement years.
Retirement and assisted living communities offer a tremendous opportunity to renew a lifestyle that allows older adults to refocus on those things that often have been neglected over the years. Here are some specific strategies to pursue:
- Develop new interests. If work has been the major focus of your time and attention, cultivate new interests and keep your hobbies fresh. List those interests that you have never been able to pursue.
- Maintain a healthy diet. A healthy, fine dining experience provides a great opportunity to meet new friends and cultivate relationships. What better way to appreciate Sunday lunch than being served a great meal that is enjoyed with family and friends.
- Stay fit. Exercise is key to maintaining a balanced life and independence. Exercise shouldn’t be work, but needs to be fresh and interesting to maintain your commitment.
- Serve others. Retirement years are the perfect opportunity to effectively utilize a lifetime of experience, wisdom, and skills. Opportunities to volunteer at local elementary schools, reading programs, nonprofit organizations and other mission minded organizations are made available year-round.
- Stay well. Easy access to high-quality wellness professionals is essential to maintaining overall wellbeing. Residents have 24-hour access to nursing professionals and personal assistants trained in the art of hospitality and wellness skills. The goal is to reduce the risk of a medical crisis and provide the security of knowing that chronic health care conditions are being managed.
- Make smart decisions. Affordable options for retirement living are definitely worth exploring. Utilize all resources to make the right decision to maintain a well-balanced and secure retirement lifestyle.
If you are beginning to explore options for senior care, The Blake has subject matter experts to assist you in two locations in the Jackson metro area. Let us help you with your questions. To receive a monthly calendar of activities and newsletter, contact Kristen Lambert at 601.500.7955 or visit The Blake website at www.blakeliving.com.