The Graying of America

— Kathy Uveges, CDP

It is no secret that the aging or “graying of America” is in full swing. In 2006, the “baby boomer” generation (over 75 million Americans born 1946 – 1964), began turning 60 years old. The state of North Carolina’s 2015-2019 Aging Services Plan puts the state 9th in population of persons 60 and over in the United States, and 11th in population 85 and over. Estimates indicate that by 2025, 90 counties, out of the 100 in North Carolina, will have more people 60 and over than ages 0-17.

Today’s 65+ population is living longer than this same population twenty-five years ago.  Increasingly adult children are in the position of caring for an aged loved one at the same time they are raising children.  This happens so frequently that it has led to the term “Sandwich Generation” to refer to this group.  According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 out of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent. In addition, between 7 to 10 million adults are caring for their aging parents from a long distance.

An AARP study found nearly 90% of Americans 65 and over want to “Age in Place”, stay in their residence as long as possible and over 80% believe their current residence is “where they will always live”.  As the generations age, you or a loved one will face a situation when some help is needed at home, but how do you know when?

Here are 20 signs you need help:

Spoiled food that doesn’t get thrown away
Missing important appointments
Unexplained bruising
Difficulty getting up from a seated position
Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility
Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks
Forgetfulness
Unpleasant body odor
Infrequent showering or bathing
A strong smell of urine in the house
Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care
Dirty house, extreme clutter and dirty laundry piling up
Stacks of unopened mail or an overflowing mailbox
Late payment notices, bounced checks and calls from bill collectors
Poor diet or weight loss
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
Changes in mood or extreme mood swings
Forgetting to take medications, or taking incorrect dosages
Unexplained dents and scratches on a car

If any of these signs sound familiar to you, it is time to consider getting some help.  Fortunately, there are options available.  You can get help from friends, siblings, and other family members, as well as professionals.  There are multiple options available, including home companion care, adult day care, senior center programs, etc.  A member of the Aging Life Care Association (formerly known as a geriatric care manager, www.aginglifecare.org) can work with you to develop a plan to address more complicated situations.  Many companion care agencies like Seniors Helping Seniors®, inhomecarenc.com, will visit the home and perform a free needs assessment.  For those with limited resources, the local Area Agency on Aging, https://www.ncdhhs.gov/assistance/adult-services/area-agencies-on-aging, is a great place to start to find what options are available for you.

Kathy Uveges, CDP is the owner of Seniors Helping Seniors®