Senior in an exercise class

The demographic and background of the seniors currently residing in post-acute and long-term care facilities are vastly important in providing customized and individualized care. The majority of residents and patients in these facilities are of the baby boomer generation. Baby boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. They’re currently between 57-75 years old. There are approximately 69.6 million baby boomers in the current United States population.

The transition from adulthood to elder-hood can be difficult, and experts are postulating that it is more difficult on baby boomers than on previous generations because baby boomers invented youth culture. The baby boomer generation is more focused on preventing and delaying getting old than any previous generations, which means they spend more, sacrifice, and do whatever it takes to keep their youth.

One way baby boomers can prepare, be conscientious, and healthier into their aging years is to be mindful of their activity levels. The more active a person is, the higher their muscle density is, the stronger their bones are, and the more equipped they are to handle a stumble or fall. 1 in 4 Americans age 65 and older experience a fall every year, which results in 2.8 million injuries. The more active and stronger a senior is, the less detrimental a fall or accident will be for them. Seniors that are strong and active also report fewer neurological symptoms such as dizziness and balance-related problems, which also contribute to falls.

While being prepared, conscientious, and healthy is largely a very good thing for the baby boomer population, it also leads to unhealthy attitudes towards aging and dying. A study by Loeckenhoff found that “people may not view older relatives or friends as ‘old’ until the friend or relative enters… ‘the terminal drop’ -that last five or so years of a person’s life where, all other things being equal, they go into a relatively rapid decline from disease that swallows them”. This means that instead of having a healthy view, and mental processing, of aging and dying, people largely ignore the fact that they or others around them are getting older until they are “dying.”

It has been postulated that ways to improve the attitudes about aging, and older, Americans stem from valuing people who have experience and wisdom. When wisdom and experience are valued and respected, the aging population is viewed in a more positive light.

In the journey to respect and value elder people’s experience and wisdom, it can be wildly helpful to learn to appreciate the things they value. Seniors are often lonely in long-term care and short-term post-acute facilities. Humans are social animals. We are made to live together, and being social is of vital importance to the health of seniors. Though long-term and post-acute care facilities have seniors literally surrounded by their peers, and not marooned by themselves, many seniors feel lonely in these settings. Post-acute and long-term care facilities are mindful of this problem and have come up with many creative solutions to help their residents and patients through this problem.

When modern technology and past experiences are combined, the cure for loneliness in senior care facilities is found. Showing a senior a picture from Google Earth of the house they grew up in can be cathartic and exciting. Integrating the experiences, wisdom, and memories of seniors to help them feel grounded, included, and social in senior care settings improves their quality of life. This can also be found through streaming music that brings up memories, playing trivia games, and having the seniors take turns telling their stories.

In conclusion, the transition to elder-hood is proving to be a tough one for baby boomers. Baby boomers are more health-conscious than past generations, and they benefit greatly from being physically active, and they will continue to benefit from being and staying physically active. Along with being physically active, caregivers can help stave off the loneliness of the residents and patients with the help of technology and meeting the patients where they are, incorporating appreciation for their past experiences and wisdom.

https://www.providermagazine.com/Monthly-Issue/2014/Pages/0414/Cultural-Obstacles.aspx

https://www.providermagazine.com/Monthly-Issue/2020/June/Pages/Keeping-Residents-Active-Can-Forestall-Falls.aspx

https://www.providermagazine.com/Monthly-Issue/2013/Pages/1113/Staving-Off-Loneliness.aspx