By Stephanie O’Neill, KPCC
(Photo: Getty Images)
It’s late morning as Linda Kerr of Canyon Country helps her 85-year-old mother navigate the indoor hallway of her Hollywood apartment.
“Be careful, Ma,” she gently cautions as her mother takes tentative steps forward. “C’mon, get closer to the walker — you’re walking too far away.”
The going is slow and precarious as Martha Kerr, who is recovering from a cracked vertebra in her neck, inches along the corridor guiding the walker for her mom. Her caregiver, Virginia, walks behind her with the wheelchair that will be used to transport Martha after the journey to the elevator is complete.
“The most important resource that a person with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia has is their caregiver — much more important than their doctors.”
This particular morning is a good one for the elder Ms. Kerr. She’s in good spirits, and she recognizes her daughter. On other days she’s more irritable, and she sometimes confuses Linda for her own mother. A series of strokes have left her with dementia. Today, the trek to the elevator lasts about five minutes and is the first leg in the Kerrs’ commute to the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center.
They’re heading to the hospital to get help and become among the first to enroll in UCLA’s Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program. Funded by philanthropic dollars and a federal innovations grant, the program is designed to help patients and family caregivers deal with dementia. Continue reading
California's aging baby-boomer population has policymakers and developers thinking about how to let them age at home. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
California may be the sixth youngest state right now. But it has an outsized population of Baby Boomers.
“They are turning 65 soon,” says Adele Hayutin, a Senior Research Scholar at the Stanford Center on Longevity.
“We’ll have a doubling of our older population over the next 20 years,” Hayutin says. “That makes us aging faster than the United States, which I think is a bit of a surprise to people.”
In a recent paper, Hayutin wrote that projections show in 2040 California’s population will be slightly older than the nation’s as a whole. That has implications for policy makers, developers, and residents — everyone who lives here will feel the effect.
And the sooner the planning starts the better, says Henry Cisneros.
Cisneros is the former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Clinton. He just co-edited a book with two scholars at Stanford – Jane Hickie and Margaret Dyer-Chamberlain – called “Independent for Life: Homes and Neighborhoods for an Aging America.”
“When we listen to older Americans themselves,” Cisneros says, “when they describe the things they fear about aging in place … it’s things like isolation, being left alone and not being able to negotiate neighborhood streets. Not being able to get to the doctor or grocery store.” Continue reading
By Kamal Menghrajani
Some paid caregivers are barely making ends meet. (Getty Images: Justin Sullivan)
Some people who care for vulnerable older adults are in dire economic straits, according to a new study [PDF] from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Hundreds of thousands of people provide care – from cooking and cleaning to bathing and dressing – for adults with disabilities or long-term illnesses who receive benefits from Medi-Cal. As it turns out, those who get paid for this work may not be pulling in enough money to make ends meet.
Geoffrey Hoffman, a researcher at the Center and lead author of the report said, “These paid Medi-Cal caregivers have incomes that are quite low compared to other Californians, about half as much monthly household income.”
“This aging population [of caregivers] is going to lead to great burdens on the health care system.”
He continued, “A third of them do not have health insurance. A number of them live in poverty or near-poverty, and, among those, a third of them have what is called ‘food insecurity’ – not enough food to put on the table every month.”
At issue is the amount that Medi-Cal is paying these caregivers. Even if you add income from other jobs, they earn a little over $11 per hour on average — close to minimum wage, and about two-thirds of the median income in California — making it difficult for them to live on their earnings. Many believe that the value of the care they provide is much greater than what they earn, but monetary constraints have led California lawmakers to decrease financial support for these services.
Researchers and health advocates have long been encouraging people to make their end-of-life wishes known. While most people say they want to die a natural death at home, few actually put those wishes into writing.
But at least equally important is thinking about how to enjoy quality of life while aging. A new book seeks to help people address these questions. Kaiser Health News interviewed Nortin Hadler, the author of “Rethinking Aging.”
I especially like the book’s tagline: “Growing Old and Living Well in an Overtreated Society.” Hadler is concerned about the medicalization of aging. “We’re taught and marketed that all changes in appearance and in function in older people are forms of disease that demand treatment,” he told Kaiser Health News. “But often, that isn’t true. Much that is termed a disease is a normal aspect of this time of life and needs to be viewed as such.” Continue reading