Beyond greeting cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, Valentine's Day is an opportunity to honor the relationships we have with the people who are closest to us. And we are learning that these intimate relationships are just as important to health as many other lifestyle and biological factors.
It’s a Saturday morning and two third-year pharmacy students and I are sitting in Norma’s living room. Norma is an 82-year-old retired elementary school teacher, and is accompanied by her two daughters, Cindy and Patty. Like many adult children caring for their aging parents, Cindy’s concern for her mother’s health and medication use is absolutely valid; she has hired me to review her mother’s medications because of concerns following Norma’s hospitalization last year.
Training opportunities for work with the older population are abundant as the cohort grows. Programs include online training modules, weekend workshops, specialized courses within university curricula and postgraduate certificates. And there are programs in university schools of social work.
With the aging of the Baby Boomers (among whom I count myself), a renewed emphasis on “aging in place” and the growing burden of long-term care on state Medicaid programs, the era of community health workers (CHWs) has arrived. CHWs have been engaged in population health in disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities for 50 years or more, but have moved rapidly into new roles as part of clinical care teams, spurred in part by healthcare reform.
At a time in our cultural development when household ownership of televisions stands at 96.7 percent and paid movie admissions account for tens of billions of dollars each year, one cannot underestimate the power of the moving image to entertain, educate and inform the public. There are countless academic studies about the influence that movies and television have on the development of attitudes and values.
There are some demographics about aging in the United States that the media loves to quote, and certain statistics are repeated again and again.
We can’t escape the fact that more than 10,000 people turn 65 each day in our country, a trend that will continue for the next 19 years. We are well-aware that there are more women living past age 80 than there are men. And we understand that, by the year 2030, the U.S. population will contain the largest cohort of elders that it will likely ever accommodate.
Love them or hate them, you have to admit that participation in online social sites can sometimes take you on tangents, catching you off-guard. My particular experience involved jumping from planning a knitting project to pondering the ways in which LGBT elders self-identify, and how the media can affect that identity.
GLBT elders have been called an invisible generation. A search of Google scholar using the terms “invisibility of GLBT elders” will show more than 2,000 journal articles referencing this phenomenon. Some older folks, especially those in the “pre-Stonewall” generation (those aging prior to the late 1960s), lived a discreet personal life, which enabled them to survive in a hostile social environment. Many in this WWII generation are proud they were able to hide their sexual orientation.
Social Security Works! Why Social Security Isn’t Going Broke and How Expanding It Will Help Us All
By Nancy J. Altman and Eric R. Kingson
The New Press, $12.75, 208 pages,