Accurate census count is critical

Accurate census count is critical

Yes, this will be my second column on the upcoming census in as many months, but hopefully you’ll forgive me. After all, there’s a lot at stake here. What happens in 2020 will determine the fate of our region’s communities for the next 10 years.

Did you know that, according to the U.S. government, Ventura County is in the top 2% of counties “at risk” for undercounting in the upcoming 2020 census?

Why would Ventura County be any different than other counties? It seems, according to the federal government, that we have an overabundance of factors that will challenge census takers. Among them: potentially hundreds of individuals (if not more) who may be in the country illegally and who are fearful of being asked if they are a citizen (they won’t be).

A life is changed in the blink of an eye

A life is changed in the blink of an eye

This month, another adult child was drafted into the world of caregiving. Her name is Janet, and she is a 50-something schoolteacher with a husband and two adult children.

One would think that the most logical subject of her caregiving would be her frail 86-year-old mother who lives 2,000 miles away. And in some ways, you would be right. But that is only half the story.

Janet grew up one of two children. Her older brother, David, was a special needs child. Back in his day they may not have put a name to it, but he does not make eye contact, has learning impairments and only at age 50 was he stable enough to get his driver’s license.

Recent events highlight limits of age-restricted sites

Recent events highlight limits of age-restricted sites

Earlier this month 300 residents of a Newbury Park 55-plus mobile home park were left without running water for nearly a week. The stoppage, caused by a main break within the community’s private water system, didn’t get fixed until city and county officials intervened.

The ordeal got me thinking about the pros and cons of such living arrangements.

Age-restricted mobile home parks offer seniors an affordable alternative to single-family homes without the crowded living of an apartment complex. Most tenants pay rent on their space and own their mobile home. That means they pay a lower monthly rent and can live in a larger home.

Another benefit is that the parks’ amenities are designed around the needs of seniors and offer opportunities to socialize with people in the same age range.

Seniors: Start planning for new year now

Seniors: Start planning for new year now

What will 2020 look like for you? That answer is likely to be different for everyone, but there are a few things most older adults will have in common. 

For example, if Social Security is your primary source of income, you may want to think about tightening your belt a little. In 2020, seniors will be getting a 1.6% increase in benefits, which pales in comparison to the 2.8% cost-of-living adjustment they received going into 2019.

Additionally, the standard monthly Medicare Part B premium is increasing from $135.50 in 2019 to $144.60 in 2020.

Belt tightening can include getting a part-time job, taking in a roommate and reducing expenses.

One of the major areas of expense for older adults are healthcare costs. By this time of year, seniors have selected their Medicare

Giving a coffee maker a dual purpose

Giving a coffee maker a dual purpose

My friend, let’s call him Alfred, who is in his 70s, has been trying to devise a system to alert his close contacts if something were to happen to him while he’s at home.

He’s sensitive to the topic because his former girlfriend died in her home and it took over 48 hours for her body to be found. It pains Alfred to think of her having died and not being discovered for such a long time. She had a dog, and the poor animal was without food, water or his master for two days.

Alfred has a beloved canine companion, too, that he wants to be sure is fed and cared for if he becomes incapacitated and cannot call for help. He has an Apple Watch, which has a built-in electrical heart sensor, as well as fall detection and an emergency SOS—one piece of technology to help him in case he falls or his heart begins to fail.

It makes sense that seniors need to be counted in 2020 Census

It makes sense that seniors need to be counted in 2020 Census

 I recently attended a presentation by a partnership specialist for the Los Angeles Regional Census Center. She met with a group of nonprofits to explain details of the upcoming 2020 Census and to express the importance of each household completing the census.

According to AARP, older Americans have been more likely than other age groups to return their U.S. Census forms and make sure they were counted.

That is the good news, because there has never been a census in history that is more important to seniors than this upcoming one—because the senior population is growing at such a rapid pace and needs to be counted.

State Master Plan on Aging deserves review

State Master Plan on Aging deserves review

Recognizing that California’s over-65 population is projected to grow to 8.6 million by 2030, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order recently calling for a Master Plan for Aging to be developed by Oct. 1, 2020.

The master plan will serve as a blueprint for state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropists to build environments that promote an age-friendly California.

Our local Area Agency on Aging and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin have been hosting informational sessions about the needs of older adults in our communities.

In reviewing the myriad of topics to focus on, here are my top areas for consideration:

Seniors at risk during outages

Seniors at risk during outages

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his famous “hierarchy of needs” theory in 1942. At the time, he saw food, water, sleep and shelter as the most basic of all human needs.

I would contend electricity has now become a basic human need.

Without electricity, it would be extremely difficult to lead our daily lives: We wouldn’t have power to light our homes, communicate by telephone, access our computers, get news updates from our TVs, power medical devices, get hot water and refrigerate our foods and medicines. The list goes on.

Since its invention, electricity use has dramatically changed daily life. Like air and water, we now take electricity for granted.

So much so that proposed Public Safety Power Shutoffs feel like a threat to our basic human needs. A PSPS is an operational practice that SCE has used to preemptively shut off power in high-fire-risk areas to reduce fire risk during extreme and potentially dangerous weather conditions.

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Are America’s seniors facing an ‘aloneness’ epidemic?

Recently, my coworkers and I have begun to see a spike in the number of seniors in our community who go days on end without human contact. Yet when asked if they’re lonely, they say no.

These individuals are quite content with their daily schedule. In many cases, they’re proud of their independence—even if it means a lack of socialization and the absence of trusted resources.

This journey into aloneness can be likened to the tale of the boiling frog.

As the fable goes, if a frog is suddenly put into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water, which is then brought to a boil slowly, it will not perceive the danger and will be cooked to death.

A not-so-pretty analogy but one that bears truth for some seniors who, over time, have isolated themselves.

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

More and more older adults picking up pickleball

I’ve never been a sports-oriented person. I’m not sure if it’s the required physical exertion or the competitive aspect that doesn’t excite me, but I’d much rather spend my days pursuing a host of other activities.

So when my husband announced he wanted us to join a club and play pickleball, I was less than enthused.

Sure, I’d heard that pickleball was one of the fastest-growing sports in America and was being played by lots of older adults, but I really knew nothing about the details.

Pickleball is a paddle sport that requires two to four players using a solid paddle, hitting a Wiffle-type ball over a low net. Players use an underarm stroke to serve the ball and play it on a court that’s about one-quarter the size of a tennis court, so there’s less physical exertion.

The game was invented 50 years ago as a way for three dads to keep their kids occupied. The fathers creatively used materials they had around the house and yard to fashion the paddles, ball, net and court, and then made up the rules.

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