Changing Perceptions About Aging
For lots of us, aging is a somewhat scary prospect. It is a subject that many of us aren’t that comfortable discussing. As a society, we have gravitated to the negative aspects of aging, rather than the positives. Perhaps this is one reason there may be so many misperceptions and inaccuracies about getting older.
Fortunately, the ideas that many of us have about aging and the elderly are oftentimes false. There is a lot to know, understand, and learn as we look forward to living well in our Golden Years.
Myth # 1: Getting old sucks. While there are a few more physical obstacles to overcome – like the aches and pains we all talk about – seniors are finding that living with a richness of experience and fewer responsibilities is truly rewarding and even exciting. Seniors today are living full, active lives. They are continuing to work in their chosen profession later into their lives, they regularly volunteer for favorite causes, exercise daily – even running 5Ks and marathons, stay politically involved, and are committed to their children and grandchildren. In addition, one long-held belief — that romance fizzles as we age — simply is not the case. Studies are showing that sex declines only slightly for active senior citizens from age 50 into their 70s. Many senior citizens, particularly those in committed relationships, have active sex lives well into their 80s. Their quality of life continues to be rich and fulfilling.
Myth #2: Grandpa has two options: live at home or go into a “nursing home.”
The reality here is that there are now more choices than ever for senior care. In the past, the options for seniors were limited to continuing to live at home – sometimes dangerously – or going to what we all used to describe as a ―nursing home. Thankfully, today, there are a variety of options that meet the needs and lifestyles that seniors want to maintain. What is available allows seniors to retain the greatest amount of independence possible within a myriad of different atmospheres. Care options include Assisted Living with a variety of levels of assistance, adult day, in-home support, skilled nursing and more.
While the news about more available options is good, we continue to see that far too few of us plan ahead for the eventuality of senior care.
Myth #3: Someone else will take care of the details. This includes the idea that government subsidies will cover the cost of care when the time comes or that a doctor or hospital discharge planner will arrange for the type of care we would need at that time. Usually, that is not the case nor would either of those scenarios ensure that you or your parent entered the type of community desired.
If you or your parent hasn’t already thought about senior care or paying for it, you are not alone. There are three primary reasons why people don’t plan ahead:
Procrastination: They think the decision is way off in the future somewhere and they’ll deal with it then;
Denial: They don’t think they’ll ever need supportive services in the future;
Lack of correct information or incorrect assumptions (for example, many believe that government subsidies like Medi-Cal or Medicare will cover any care they might need).
It is critical to think through the details ahead of time, tour a few communities and contemplate the options available well before the time comes when you will want assisted living or some other type of care. Information is power and with all the options available today, you’ll be in the very best possible position to enjoy your senior years if you have planned ahead! In that process, one of the critical factors you will run into is paying for senior care.
Myth #4. Long Term Care is Not Affordable. Because people do not plan ahead financially to provide for their care in the event of infirmity or extended illness, they often assume that they simply cannot afford one of the options available for long term care. The reality is that choices may be somewhat limited depending on cost, but many care choices available are very affordable. Having the forethought to plan ahead for the type of care you will want or need often makes all the difference in quality of life for seniors and their families and ensures that the option selected most closely meets the needs and lifestyle expectations of the resident. One of the best ways to plan ahead is to purchase long-term care insurance while you are still middle-aged. Long-term care insurance is perhaps the best way to ensure you can afford to pay for what you will want later. Experts suggest consumers should be looking at long-term care insurance at age 40 and have a policy in place by age 50. In addition, senior care administrators in long term care facilities or assisted living communities can provide you with information on some programs that exist to help veterans offset costs of care.
We are all getting older. But, it’s good to know that getting older can mean getting better. As a group, seniors are more involved and living more fulfilling lives than ever before. Think a little bit differently about seniors, think about your own experience as a senior and start to plan ahead to ensure that your future as a senior is a truly golden opportunity.
Categories: Memory Care