Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Elders and Wisdom

"The same technological progress that enables our society to keep an ever-larger percentage of old folks’ bodies going has simultaneously reduced the value of the minds within those bodies." -Philip Greenspun’s Weblog

As the demand for a technological driven society increases, those of us that are not brought up to instantly embrace all aspects of this shift are quickly left behind. No group is more overlooked than elders. Skills such as the ability to "help orienting a rooftop television aerial, changing the vacuum tubes in your TV, Dialing up AOL, Using MS-DOS, changing the ribbon on an IBM Selectric (height of 1961 technology), tuning up a car that lacks electronic engine controls, doing your taxes without considering the Alternative Minimum Tax and the tens of thousands of pages of rules" (philg - October 29, 2009) are great to have (how many of us actually have these skills?!). However, has any of us (okay some but not many) ever stop to think why we have developed these skills? No, not for the ease of use for whatever but, really, why? What is the ultimate purpose?
Should these skills be valued over the conventional knowledge known as "wisdom"?
The way I see it, regardless of your opinion on the technological shift of in our society, it would be more beneficial to include the wisdom of our elders. It is more costly both economically and socially more desirable to take into consideration 60+ years of experience. All that knowledge would go to waste if we fail to include elders into the decision making, process, outcome, evaluation, and so on within our own organizations.

As 2010 is approaching, I am hoping we can all reflecting the role of elders play in our lives. And remember, just because it is not immediately observable, do not mean it is not impacting us in some way.

Happy Holidays!

MNALL Job Opening

Minnesota Network on Abuse in Later Life is hiring a Training Coordinator. This is a nine month-20 hours/week position responsible for coordinating and facilitating a Violence Against Women/Office of Justice grant curriculum as developed and presented by the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life. Click here for more details and instructions on how to apply.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act

From Wider Opportunities for Women, our national partner

In February President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Among other initiatives, it provided a one-time payment of $250 to elders, disabled persons, and other beneficiaries of Social Security and SSI. The payment was intended to provide additional income to those struggling to make ends meet, and to stimulate the economy through spending on consumer goods. This one-time payment reflected an important step forward in helping low-income elders close the income gap. As shown by the Elder Economic Security Standard Index (Elder Index), every dollar matters for individuals or families who must choose between food, home utilities, prescription medication or other services or goods.

The one-time payment amounts to more than the typical older American's monthly health care expenses, as measured by the national Elder Index, and is almost equal to one month's worth of food costs. The payment is equivalent to nearly 10% of an elder's minimum annual food costs and nearly 9% of an elder's basic annual health care expenses, as measured by the national Elder Index.

The Social Security Administration announced that there will be no Cost of Living Adjustment in 2010. Members of Congress have responded by introducing new legislation, the Emergency Senior Citizens Relief Act, that will extend the $250 one-time payment for 2010. President Obama recently announced his support for the extension.
To track this important bill, please click here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Employment Opportunity!

The Elder Economic Security Initiative™ at Wider Opportunities for Women is searching for a Field Coordinator to join their team!
The Field Coordinator will provide strategic technical assistance and expertise to WOW's state partners in the Elder Economic Security Initiative. The Field Coordinator will be responsible for developing and implementing a package of technical assistance services and materials to assist state and local advocates in promoting elder economic security as well as intergenerational economic security.
Applications will be accepted until January 5, 2010.
Click here for full job description

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Quick Info about MinnEESI

(click on image for a larger view)

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

The Bright Side of C.C.R.C.’s

I wrote last week about an inherent drawback to continuing care retirement communities, or C.C.R.C.’s: Within one facility or campus, residents can graduate from independent living to assisted living to a nursing home — but nobody really wants to.

DESCRIPTION Greg and Evelyn Hadley.

Readers said they had noticed this phenomenon in their own families’ experiences. Still, several found the concept attractive, if sometimes imperfectly executed. “Imagine what it’s like to have to rent a truck and move all your belongings from one facility to a completely different facility,” Charles Hartshorne said. “I’ve been going through this with my parents, and I will definitely choose continuing care when my time comes.”

I thought it might prove illuminating to hear from someone who actually lives in one of these hybrid communities. So meet Greg and Evelyn Hadley. In 2005, still in their early 70s, they sold their four-bedroom suburban home and moved into independent living at Mary’s Woods, a nonprofit C.C.R.C. in Lake Oswego, Ore.

When their neighbors need to transfer to assisted living, reports Mr. Hadley, a retired businessman and consultant, “I have seen the natural human reluctance to move.” He isn’t sure how he will feel himself, years hence, if an administrator tells him it is time to move.

So far, he said, “I know of no one who’s put up a serious stink when the staff says, ‘You just can’t stay here anymore.’”

The Hadleys are unabashed C.C.R.C. fans. “We have never, ever regretted the move, even though some of our friends thought we were nuts,” Mr. Hadley said.

To quiet the skeptics, he wrote an essay explaining their decision, including this list of theoretical questions and the Hadleys’ responses — a sort of FAQ. I’m passing it along, edited for length.

(It is so rational it may prompt some readers to wish the Hadleys would adopt them, but they already have six children.)


But you are so young and healthy!


Yes, and we are very grateful. But we might not stay healthy forever. We find it very comforting that our community allows us to migrate from our current independent living status into assisted living, skilled nursing and even a memory unit if and when we should require that.


Why would you want to live with a bunch of old people on canes, walkers and scooters?


We learned early on that our neighbors all had very interesting stories to tell and had led accomplished lives. People are not defined by their canes, walkers or scooters. Many are very talented, intellectually stimulating and a lot of fun to be with.


What did you do with all the lovely things you had in your home?


We sold them or gave them away. Our children really didn’t want much of what we had, except for small mementos. We thought a lot of our stuff was important but learned that it wasn’t. Our lives are not defined by what we have accumulated. We want our lives to be defined by who we are.


It costs so much money. How can you afford to live there?


When we sold our home, the equity was more than sufficient to cover the buy-in fee, most of which will be returned to our estate. Planning our move, we carefully considered what would be covered by the monthly charges and what would be eliminated. For example, we no longer have to pay property tax, a gardener, home repairs or utility bills (except telephone). On the other hand, lots of things are included in our monthly charges, like 20 meals per month per person, maid service every two weeks, all repairs and maintenance, a wellness center with up-to-date fitness equipment, a long list of activities. We determined that we spent about $10,000 less on daily living during our first year here than we had the last year we were in our house.


Aren’t you giving up a lot of privacy?


If you seek privacy, it is very easy to find here. All of us have a cocoon called our apartment or villa. If you disdain the social interaction in the hallways, restaurants and other gathering places, that is your choice and no one will nag you about it. For us, the social interaction is one of the very best things about living in our retirement community. We have never felt so much a part of a vibrant community.


You’re going to cut yourself off from all your old friends and neighbors.


Come on, that’s just nonsense. When you moved to a new home or town earlier in life, did you stop staying in touch? Our C.C.R.C. is about 10 miles from where we previously lived. We still see old neighbors and friends and delight in entertaining them here. You will only be cut off if you want to be.


I can count on my children to help me out.


Of course you can; they love you and want what is best for you. But is that what you want? Do you wish to burden them with caring for you while at the same time they are probably raising their own families and are at the most productive time in their careers?

When my wife and I decided to move into a C.C.R.C., just before Christmas, we told each of our six children that our decision represented the most significant gift we had ever given them. Never will they experience the gut-wrenching anxiety of trying to figure out what to do with us. We are in a safe place now. No matter what the future brings, we can receive the level of end-of-life care that we needed. Don’t burden your children with your elderly care. They will be anxious and troubled enough as they walk with you to the end.