Women – “You’re single, aging and thinking about the future.”
So begins the new book, by Jill O’Donnell & Jackie Porter – Single by Choice or Chance (The smart woman’s guide to living longer, better). Rather than a traditional book review, here in the 2nd of two parts, I present views of the authors as shared through interview questions, and in conversation with them in late October.
In this segment, I directed the conversation with Jill & Jackie to look at future trends in eldercare, with a particular view on aging in place. One of the statistics considered in their book is that, by choice or chance – 43 percent of women over age 65 are single.
Increasingly, as I have witnessed first-hand, women in this situation are beginning to question more about how and where they will live in their later life stages, and in this process are looking for advice and support they can trust.
Authors Interview, Part 2
Mark’s Q: Jill, you have been a pioneer and leader in the field of elder care, since 1981. What things have changed the most (positive, or maybe not so positive) in terms of attitudes or approaches to eldercare?
Jill: When I started geriatric care management in 1981, I truly hoped things would have improved for those living in long-term care facilities by the time I hit 65. Today, these facilities are under-staffed with a lower standard of care.
At least on the whole, colleges and universities are tackling new forms of research and development in an effort to create a more positive approach to aging. Boomers who began hitting the magic number of 65 years of age in 2011, hoping to move on to more leisure time, are now faced with caring for aging relatives and really don’t know what services are available to help them.
Mark’s Q: Wearing your futurist hat – what are some top trends you see now that will significantly shape the way that eldercare is delivered between now and 2030?
Jackie: I think more people will be cared for in their home. It is definitely the more cost effective way as our population ages…people will have to start thinking about how they will fund caring for themselves as they age as I feel strongly less money will be in the system to care for them. I think technology will help to do more for people who need assistance in their home, which might help to reduce the rising costs of care.
Jill: That is a toughie. Things are moving so fast. Technology is definitely going to dominate the future. More people will renovate their residences to age in place. Chronic illnesses will be better managed, giving people with them a better quality of life. Better housing choices will emerge for lower income people.
Mark’s Q: Aging in Place. I know single women who have made a success of it and those who fear it, being alone. Yet I see AiP as having the potential of being a national movement that has so many points of connectivity in improving socio-economic conditions for everyone. What are your thoughts?
Jackie: I think elder women living alone for the most part need and want community. They want to be involved and feel like they are making a difference. No one wants to be isolated at this point in their lives. Urban planning that takes into account aging in place and giving elders the spaces to interact with their community and for the community to interact with them is essential.
Jill: Definitely as stated above! Some people claim we will have more shared or co-housing. People need socialization. It is what keeps us alive and active. Inter-generational housing is another possibility, where younger people are housed with older folk.
Interview Postscript: Reiterating my comment on the back cover of the book Single by Choice or Chance – “This quick, practical read, focused on various aspects of later life stages for single women, has enough common sense advice to benefit single men too.”
And for all he single older women remember, as is the stated at the end of Chapter 7
– Advocate for Yourself.
My special thanks to Jill and Jackie for our energizing conversation on an otherwise gray and rainy afternoon.