The social change website for young adults, www.dosomething.org, has an “11 Facts About . . .” series on topics as diverse as cyberbullying, blizzards, recycling and even old age.
Now, before you visit the site to see a few of these answers, let’s test your knowledge about old age.
True or false?
Eighteen percent of people over 65 live in nursing homes.
False. The actual percentage of people over 65 living in a nursing home is very small— only 3.6 percent. Most seniors want to “age in place” or live in their own home as they get older and look for services that will support them, including meal programs, transportation and in-home assistance. Even Medi-Cal has recognized that it’s less expensive and better for the patient to receive rehabilitation services in home versus in a skilled-nursing facility.
One in six seniors is malnourished.
True. Reasons include lack of funds and transportation, disability, medication interactions that cause a bad taste, and tooth or mouth problems that interfere with the ability to chew. Our communities offer a variety of meal solutions to help seniors get the nutrition they need. To learn more, call Ventura County Area Agency on Aging at (805) 477-7310.
By age 75, one in three men and one in two don’t get any physical activity.
True. Regular exercise and physical activity are important to the physical and mental health of almost everyone, including older adults. Competing obligations, chronic illness, lack of transportation, program costs, lack of family and friends to participate with are given as reasons many seniors don’t exercise. Lack of exercise will also result in an inability to age in place. Active senior centers offer a host of free or low-cost exercise programs.
One in eight seniors over the age of 65 falls each year.
False. Falling is much more frequent an occurrence. One in three seniors over the age of 65 falls each year.
The risk of falling increases as we age—over half of seniors age 80 fall annually. But these are just statistics: The actual number may be higher because many incidents go unreported by seniors and unrecognized by family members or caregivers. Balance programs, aids (canes, walkers), exercise and making the home secure are all things we can do to prevent falls.
An estimated one in 10 seniors is the victim of elder abuse.
True. Elder abuse is considered an intentional act that leads to physical, psychological or emotional harm. There are many financial scams defrauding seniors, including callers posing as the IRS or immigration department demanding money or posing as stranded grandchildren who need funds wired to them in order to get out of jail.
To report elder abuse, call the Adult Protective Services Ventura County Hotline at (805) 654-3200 or the L.A. County Hotline at (877) 477-3646.
Among those 60 or older, one in four will die without putting their end-of-life plans in place.
False. The real percentage is one out of every two!
Advance-care plans can be developed at any time, whether you are sick or well. These plans ensure that the healthcare treatment you may receive is consistent with your wishes and preferences should you be unable to make your own decisions or speak for yourself.
Lack of awareness, denial, confusion and cultural differences account for many of the reasons plans are not put in place. If you can get past the denial, consider coming to a seminar on the topic from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 26 at Senior Concerns. The seminar is free, but advance reservations are requested. To RSVP, call (805) 497-0189
Strong relationships are one of the most important contributors to a good old age.
So true. Investing in relationships brings innumerable dividends. Spending quality time with the people you love can bring validation, contentment, happiness and love. As someone who has been blessed with strong relationships with many seniors in our community, I can confirm that forging relationships with seniors can be personally rewarding, too.