How do you think seniors are doing?
We Have Work To Do
Even if the actualization of a thought is distant or unlikely, there are times when some things have to be said.
Here is today’s dream.
The Elder Tsunami
The “advanced” economies of the world are facing the rapid aging of their populations which means a growing burden on the societies as a whole. The birth rate is often low and getting lower which means less familial and societal support for the elderly. Who will take care of them as they age and become frail? Family is often distant or members few in number.
Time was that we lived in close family groups. No more. Instead we are fragmented. We need a realistic national dialogue about solutions. Perhaps, as the neocon obstruction dissipates we may see improved governmental programs, but it seems no matter what, it will be insufficient or impossibly expensive. And I must add that Paul Mason’s book Postcapitalism, that directs our attention to the future, is making my blood run cold. It is a complex and dense book but each area he touches on is being validated by current events. But the true import of the coming changes in the world economic system is not being recognized publicly—yet.
Certainly there are ideas out there to mitigate the coming trials. One alternative is social.
The Elderly for Each Other
I’m impressed by the progress that Habitat for Humanity has made nationally. There can be other forms of programs with societal support. The most likely source for the elderly is each other. Retirement is reached and then often there are healthy years before the inevitable decline. When I was working on my doctorate at Duke they finished a study which described a two year majo r decline before death that was common. Prior to that time, before the final decline the recently retired elderly could become more of a formalized volunteer force. It already happens somewhere, sometimes, but could be expanded.
The Elderly for the Young
In later years, having a cause is also useful. One cause I would recommend is making the commitment to support the efforts of younger generation. The future for the elderly dims but there is reason to support younger generations. I don’t mean to say that these things don’t happen. What is at issue is the societal institutionalization of an ethos where we as elderly focus more strongly on our collective wellbeing whether that is for the elderly or for the ones who will remain. We have not been doing this well.
System Efficiency and Personal Management
And then there is the matter of health. Another thing we must do is to finally create a less expensive and more efficient health care system. Currently we have a very haphazard system which is expensive. Each of us experiences it on a regular basis. And included in these changes for the health care system needs to be a change of viewpoint by the elderly. Many have been trained over the decades to assume that the medical personnel will define what must be done and they adopt a passive stance. It is time to change that societal viewpoint so that we take the highest form of responsibility for our own care informationally and by action.
In short, I would like to see a societal change in which the elderly, as they go through the later stages of life, work more closely together for mutual benefit. Secondly we should see to it that there is more organized societal support for the generations coming up. It is clear Millenials have felt overlooked and that needs to change. And the third item is long overdue reform of the health care system.
I know the response in many quarters will be that these goals are unrealistic or are already being undertaken. My response is we have not done enough and can do much more effectively.
I can dream can’t I? Are you dreaming?