by Victoria Brewster, MSW
I would love to get a discussion going regarding the needed services for older adults/seniors. No matter what country or community you live in, there are services lacking.
Baby-Boomers will enter the 65+age bracket at an alarming rate every year for the next 20 years. The oldest Baby-Boomer will turn 66-67 in 2013 and the youngest will turn 47. There are not enough services in place and this ranges from transportation to home care to health clinics to physicians, specialists, social workers, care/case managers, LTC or nursing home placements-the list goes on and on.
Society is not prepared! Baby-Boomers are also a very educated and informed group and a senior residence or nursing home placement is not going to cut it! Baby-Boomers want a living arrangement that is more personal, flexible and meets their needs-think retirement communities with a twist.
The book, ‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’ by Hillary Clinton is a good idea, but change the concept to one of community living for all ages and with the focus not just on children.
The communities of old were entire villages looked after the children, raising the children and in return the younger adults looked after and cared for the aging adults. This is the concept I have in mind, but again with a twist. Apartments or condos need to be geared for older adults who are in wheelchairs which means lower counters, wide doorways, walk-in showers/tubs. Everything on one floor so no stairs and easy to get into and out of the front door. Amenities close by-grocery store, pharmacy, barbershop or hairdresser, gym, entertainment, etc.
Transportation is a huge issue! Here in Montreal we are very lucky to have what is called Transport Adapte in French of Paratransit in English. It is a transportation service run by the local STM-bus service. One applies to the program and has a physician and other appropriate professional complete an evaluation as to why the individual needs the service-mobility reasons, mental health reasons, vision or auditory deficits, developmental disabilities…… within 45 days of the evaluation and application being received, the potential user has an answer and if accepted it is the cost of a bus ticket! Much less expensive than a taxi or private driver. http://www.stm.info/english/t-adapte/a-index.htm
Other communities need to put in place a similar system. Private drivers can be a solution for those that can afford it or a taxi. For those that are still able, we have a good public transit system involving the bus or metro for those in the city. What if you live in the suburbs or in an outlying area where this does not exist?
Older Adults will often rely on family and friends, but what if they cannot provide the transportation? Who does the older adult/senior turn to?
Individual agencies providing transportation is not feasible, but by not doing so-the older adult/senior is let at home in isolation which leads to another set of potential issues-loneliness.
Socialization is so important for people of any age. Staying at home and’ aging in place’ is a wish for many, but not a feasible reality. Senior residences, senior foster homes, LTC or nursing homes are an option, public or private, but it comes down to availability and cost which can be tremendous. How many seniors have $3000-$5000 to spend a month not including cost of medications and other expenses?
Please feel free to pass on ideas for solutions or any creative programs or ideas your community has in place currently.