[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]My sister is one of the best people I know – kind, sincere, and dedicated to her career in service to “oldies” (her word, not mine). After receiving a Masters in Gerontology, she now works as a social worker for aging populations. It’s especially awesome having a sister dedicated to elder care given that the mere thought of our parents getting older and needing help makes me start crying, so I am fully planning on making her do all of the tough decision making as our parents age.
The other reason it’s awesome to have a sister dedicated to older adults is that she’s opened my eyes to an entire series of issues related to aging populations and their unique needs from local government. My sister has (thankfully) put aside her grievances from our childhood (most stemming from when I pinned her down and spat in her mouth) and shares with me articles, ideas and perspectives that local government needs to consider as we plan for a rapidly aging global population.
And so, I’m starting a periodic blog about some of the creative solutions that local governments are employing to assist older adults. I’ll also try to dig deeper into the issues that people like my sister are paying attention to, with the hopes of opening our ELGL eyes at the same time.
To kick things off, here’s a cool article about a dorm in the Netherlands where college students live with elderly adults. A fun quote from the article:
For the residents, the students represent a connection to the outside world. When the students come home from a class, concert, or party, they share those experiences with their elderly neighbors. The conversation moves from aches and pains to whether a student’s girlfriend will be staying the night.
The article further details the research that links loneliness to mental decline and increased mortality, and how regular social interaction with friends and family has been found to improve health in older adults.
In the US, a program in Cleveland closely mirrors the Netherlands dorm, but there aren’t widespread living situations that pair students with the elderly.
I’m interested to learn more from ELGL members – what are your communities doing to foster and improve interaction with older adults? Any cool stories to share, or experiences we can learn from?
If you’re interested in thinking and talking about how our cities serve aging populations – drop me an email and help me write this blog series. The more voices and ideas we can share, the better.
(Plus, it’s my hope that focusing more ELGL attention on this topic will help me atone for the time I told our entire elementary school that the mailman was my sister’s real dad….).