One hundred years ago, a person could only expect to live into his or her mid-50s. In today’s world, many people can expect to live well into their 80s, 90s, and even become centenarians. Never before in history have so many human beings lived for so long. This new longevity in our population creates a whole new segment of society that we haven’t seen in previous years and that has its own set of unique needs and aspirations. What’s more is that this trend is predicted to continue, as adults 60 and over are the fastest growing segment of the population – not just in the United States, but globally.
This video, called The Big Idea in 4 Minutes: Coming of Age in Aging America, created by Vital Pictures, provides some really interesting information and statistics about how drastic changes in how long people are living will affect all of the ways we set up our society. We used to think of the age of 65 as a traditional retirement age. Now, with people living twenty to thirty years or more past the age of 65, the producers ask – Is 65 really the ideal age to stop having the regular meaningful purpose of a career in our lives? Even a part-time career would give an older adult’s life more meaning. The video also explores how many different systems and structures will need to change to accommodate people living longer than ever before.
Living longer also means that older adults need to make their financial resources last longer. Living at home with the assistance of a home care provider can help older adults preserve their finances, as well as delay the need to move to an institutional arrangement such as a retirement community, assisted living facility, or nursing home. Today there are more people living longer in their own homes than ever before. This can also be attributed to older adults finding meaning in continuing to live in an environment that they’ve created and maintained for themselves over many years.
But as times have changed and as longevity has become more common, have we done enough to help older adults in our society maintain meaningful lives as they age? Studies by psychologists in the 1970s indicated that older adults thrived when given more autonomy and personal control over their lives, even when living in nursing homes, while those whose environments and activities were controlled by staff tended to decline, and were twice as likely to die younger when compared to their more empowered peers.
This article, entitled Making Aging Positive from The Atlantic, addresses the important issue of helping our older population find meaning and value in their later years in positions that allow them to use their abilities and life experiences.
Regency Home Care of Atlanta provides in-home senior care that is enriching and purposeful so that older loved ones can visit friends, go shopping, interact with our caregivers in a meaningful way, and stay engaged in the positive aspects of life. Contact us today to learn more.