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The Current Public View of Aging

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The Current Public View of Aging

Experts in the aging industry know that growing older is normal. It is not a disease nor is it a decline. It means that older adults have an opportunity to age with grace, remain healthy and vibrant, and stay independent and function well while undergoing natural changes. 

A study by the research group, Gauging Aging, looked at the social, cultural, and economic factors that shaped the society’s views on getting older. They found that the obstacles to most hinder real-world solutions deal with the preconcieved framework:
 

  • The public sees aging as an opponent to fight against and to overcome.
  • The public views aging, and it’s related challenges as the responsibility of the individual.
  • The public misunderstands how longevity will affect our society and assumes it’s not their problem to solve.
  • The general public believes that sufficient community-based services already exist, and no more are needed.
  • The public sees Social Security as mismanaged and doomed.
  • The public does not relate to the discrimination that older adults encounter
     

As far as I can tell, there’s a disconnect between what actually occurs during the process of growing older and the experience an individual has. Both, the general public, and experts miss the mark. Should providers drop the “scare” techniques when marketing long-term care and stick to the facts and offer education? Wouldn’t that promote better decision-making for families and seniors?

Aging care is tough, and what’s needed is more knowledge and understanding by consumers and enhanced listening by the providers. What do you think?
At Seniorcare.com, we created the long-term care debate by asking 44 industry experts their take on the misconceptions of aging. (See their advice and opinions at America has a Major Misconception on Aging.) 

Related: Do the Single and Aging Have Different Needs Than the Partnered?

“Assess your or a loved one’s situation and start the conversation about future needs with family members so everyone can agree on a course of action.” Tom Burke, American Health Care Association.
“Be aware of your family’s medical history, so you can predict at some level the kinds of things you might face. Interact with older people to get a grasp on what aging looks like.” Donna Schempp, Former Director Family Caregiver Alliance.

“We need more media coverage on the aging topic as well as more grassroots efforts. Employers certainly have an opportunity to step up and help provide education and services through Employee Assistance or Health & Wellness programs.” Susan Baida, President, eCareDiary.com.
“Start having conversations with your family and decide how you want to age. Make a list of the values you wish to live by in your elderly years.” Bruce Chernoff, CEO, The SCAN Foundation.

“Human beings have a very limited ability to accurately predict or even imagine the needs of their future self. It is especially true when that future contains scary possibilities.”  Dr. Bill Thomas, ChangingAging.com.

How do we change the conversation from, “I won’t need it, so it’s not my problem,” to one that comprises, “It takes a village,” and “yeah, I’ll probably need assistance later on, so what can I do today to best manage the future needs?”

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