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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

Smart aging

 

By 2035, 11.5 million Americans will be over the age of eighty-five – more than double today’s number – and seniors will be living longer than ever before. Call it what you will – the graying of America, the age wave, elder boom or death of the boomer – but one thing is certain: our society must evolve to provide appropriate care for our growing elder population.

 

Boomers are not a shy bunch and will not go quietly into the night. History shows that the sheer number of this demographic is capable of changing entire industries and we are already seeing evolution in those professions, industries and services that cater to older clients. The increase in popularity of long-term care insurance and the fact that the caregiver industry is currently the fastest growing profession in America are both examples of the powerful financial machine known collectively as the boomer generation.

 

In “The Age of Dignity,” a book by new author Ai-jen Poo, it is suggested that the solution to address the challenges posed by our aging population is comprehensive policy changes at the state and federal level that support the care of the elderly at home. Care costs at home are normally less than nursing homes and the majority of older Americans would prefer to age in place. Poo believes that changes to caregiver compensation and better training for professional attendants could decrease the burden on adult children of the elderly, create safer environments for those aging in place and, as an added bonus, provide a boom in sustainable jobs for unemployed or underemployed Americans.

 

In addition to sweeping policy changes, Poo recommends consideration of innovative living arrangements aimed at helping the younger generation – the millennials – and the older generation alike. An example of such a mutually beneficial arrangement is having a younger family move in with a senior and, in exchange for the care of the senior, the family lives rent free or buys the senior’s home over time and at a discount.

 

There have been numerous positive steps forward with regard to the needs of our greying population. The Village project, originally started in Boston and now taking hold in many communities, seeks to build a community of “approved” service providers – think plumbers, grocery delivery services, caregivers – and introduce these vetted services to seniors who may need support. Carmel Foundation, 624-1588, introduced such a service which has been well received in our area.

 

We may live longer and it appears that steps are being taken to support that lifetime, but most seniors will say that, while they are interested in living longer, they only want to do so if they are both mentally and physically well. Enter the drug industry. According to a recent Forbes magazine article titled, “Brain Boom,” advances in genetics and clinical science could lead to a flood of new treatments for depression and Alzheimer’s giving hope to millions of patients. Investors are pouring billions of dollars into firms that are making advances in brain drugs and other age related disease treatments and this should give us all hope.

 

Stay tuned, dear senior. Between the forward thinking of policy builders like Poo and the brilliance of the scientists and researchers, we may all live to age 100 or more. Now we just need to remember to save our pennies and invest wisely so we can afford all these great things coming our way!

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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