In December of 2014, we blogged about the Tri-State Conference on Aging, which we had attended. Since then, we have been invited to be part of an emerging coalition of diverse people and organizations that is taking a collaborative approach to address aging in New Hampshire – an effort of the Center on Aging and Community Living (CACAL) at UNH and the NH Endowment for Health. Robin LeBlanc, Executive Director of Plan NH, was asked to chair the work group that is addressing “Living Arrangements.” (You will hear more about that in the weeks and months ahead.)
Then on Monday, July 13, we attended a gathering at the CACL offices in Concord to watch the proceedings of the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA), which is held every 10 years.
A couple of immediate observations:
- The terms “elders” and “seniors” and “those who are aging” are extensively used as if this is a separate, special-interest population. Moreover, there is often (especially at the WHCOA) an “us” vs “them” context. But in fact, we are ALL aging. Indeed, many of us in the room at these meetings have white hair ourselves, and yet many continue to talk about “them”.
What if, instead of speaking in the third person, we switched to first person? “What do WE need as we get older; what do WE need to be considering ….?
- Most of the conversations we have been involved in and/or observed have seemed to be looking at getting older as a medical issue. True, as we get older, we face conditions not (usually) seen in younger folks. Most people over 65, someone remarked, have at least one “condition.” And after the age of 85, down the road about 50% will have some form of dementia (they project.) And true, healthcare services and medicines (and access to them and their affordability) are extremely important.
It was interesting to note that there was no mention of how to keep people healthy as they age. Here is an interesting article about a totally different approach to designing “senior” communities