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Trends In Aging: Column to address issues with aging

By By Wendy McHaney
May 10, 2013 at 12:10 a.m.

Wendy McHaney

Since entering the professional world of senior care several years ago, I have encountered, almost daily, seniors and/or their family members who are confused and sometimes misguided about the options for the elderly on a variety of subjects.

Children want to know what they can do if they suspect dementia in a parent. The widow of a veteran wants to know if she can qualify for veterans benefits. What does Medicare and Medicaid cover? What are the financial options available if mom wants to move into assisted living?

About a year ago, I became a certified senior adviser, which provided me with a solid foundation regarding many of these topics, and ever since, I have wanted to find a way to educate our community about these issues and assist them in navigating the quagmire of information and choices.

While this column is one way to provide this, I also plan to offer symposiums wherein area experts in the fields addressed in the column can provide further information and answer questions.

Trends in aging shed light on the seniors facing dilemmas. According to the Census Bureau, the number of seniors is expected to grow from 39 million in 2010 to 53 million in 2020, then to 82 million in 2050.

Since life expectancies have increased dramatically in the last century, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. People are spending longer time in retirement.

Unfortunately, according to the Congressional Budget Office, about a quarter of baby boomers do not have adequate savings and will likely depend on government benefits.

And employers over the last decade or so have moved away from benefit pension plans in favor of contribution retirement plans, meaning that employees are more responsible for funding their own retirement plans.

As such, expert financial planning for seniors is becoming more important. Another trend affecting seniors is new patterns in family life. Rates of divorce and remarriage have also significantly increased from generations past, creating new questions with regard to estate planning.

Add to that this generation's geographic mobility, and roles and responsibilities become even more complicated when a parent begins having age related physical and/or mental difficulties.

My first column series will focus on senior living options in the Crossroads area, and future series will include financial and estate planning, funeral planning, and area senior social groups and activities.

The final column in each series will provide details regarding the upcoming symposium on that series' topic.

Wendy McHaney is a certified senior adviser and the owner and director of operations of Senior Helpers, seniorhelpers.com/victoria.

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