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Ruminations

Here is something to ponder as the year ends. The "Baby Boom" generation is aging, causing the numbers of senior citizens to swell.

As the non-profit Population Reference Bureau's two year-old report, Aging in the United States, stated: "The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to more than double, from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and

the 65-and-older age group's share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent."

By the way, that's based on 2010 census data. "I think a lot of people will be surprised when they see the 2020 census numbers," Amanda Bernardo, a program manager in the state's Executive Office of Elder Affairs, said at a central Massachusetts forum held last week to discuss "Planning for Health Aging."

What are some of the things to plan for? Here are just two of the concerns voiced in the Population Reference Bureau's report:

• The number of Americans ages 65 or older who

require nursing home care is expected to jump from 1.3 million in 2010 to 2.3 million in 2030. That's a 77 percent jump in 20 years.

• The number of Americans with Alzheimer's disease is expected to rise from five million in 2013 to 14 million in 2050 – a 180 percent jump over 37 years.

At the same time, people are living longer. Again, from the Population Reference Bureau's report:

• The average U.S. life expectancy increased from

68 years in 1950 to 79 years in 2013.

• The gender gap in life expectancy between men and women is narrowing. In 1990, women lived

an average seven years longer than men. By 2013, the gap dropped to less than five years – 81.2 years for women and 76.4 years for men.

Take this information and picture your own town. Is it equipped to handle a surge in its elder population? Does it have a big enough senior center? Does it have enough senior/"empty- nest"-type housing? Is it helping seniors to "age in place"? Is it taking advantage of all their talent and experience? Do the restaurants in town offer "Purple Table" reservations for people

with dementia? Is your town "age-friendly" and "dementia friendly"?

Those last two are not just "buzz words." Serious planning for them is being done at the state level, but what's being about them in your town?

On a different note, please remember that there are a lot of folks in our area who may not be as well off as you are. Try to help them out by giving to the charity of your choice. Don't think of it as a hand-out, but a hand-up for someone who needs it.




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