Elder law issues are growing in importance on a daily basis. The “graying” of America is a well-documented demographic trend. However, many still under-appreciate the true scope of the situation and the way in which it will continue for decades. For example, according to the AARP, more than 7,000 Americans turn sixty five years old every day. Clearly the number of seniors in the country is growing larger–but they are also living longer. Today there are roughly 5.5 million residents eighty five years or older–by 2050 there will be 20 million people in the country over eighty five. Our New York elder law attorneys appreciate the challenges we already face in providing appropriate care to seniors today. The challenge will only magnify in the years to come.
Making accommodations for the aging population will require work at all levels–from changes inside individual families up to federal government policy adaptations. Many believe that the task will fall heaviest on local communities, which are often on the front lines of these social policy situations, working to ensure senior community members actually have basic services available to maximize their quality of life. A new television program has recently been launched to share information about these concerns, entitled “Aging Well in America.” As discussed last week in Gross Pointe Today, the show is being spearheaded by a professor at the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University.
The show includes discussions of many issues similar to those faced by local families who have visited our New York elder law attorneys. For example, one program details the issue of “downsizing” where seniors move from long-time residences to smaller, more manageable homes. The gerontology professor explained that it is important for adult children not to rush aging parents through this process. Mental adjustments have to be made even before logistical adjustments.
In another episode, a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association discussed the National Alzheimer’s Plan. The policy proposal was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in January. It details an ambitious approach to provide more support to families with loved ones experiencing Alzheimer’s. It also calls for better prevention and treatment research along with enhanced care quality. However, it is yet unclear if the President will move forward with implementation of the plan.
There is only so much that individual community members will be able to do to influence policy regarding these issues. However, each elder law attorney at our firm appreciates that much can be done at the family level to prepare for the strain presented by these demographic changes. It is important to be educated on the issues and prepared to take action when necessary.
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