Along with others who work with seniors, I am always stuck with trying to come up with another, more suitable word to describe those of us who are no longer young. President Barack Obama’s recently proclaimed May 2016 as Older Americans Month. But, can’t we do better than “older American?”
Somehow I don’t see a big, older Americans celebration happening around here. No one in this country likes to think about getting old. Who likes getting that first AARP card? But there aren’t too many other places, in my opinion, that rival the valley in terms of age denial. For example, when I mention I work with seniors, invariably someone tells me about someone they know in their 80s who skis every day. They aren’t old, are they?
On one hand, this is what is special about our valley — the culture of fitness, youthfulness and adventure. Age doesn’t seem to matter. I have friends who are 20 years older and younger than me. On the other hand, if you can’t ski anymore or are faced with some age-related diseases and issues, it can really feel as if you don’t belong anymore. It’s a bit intimidating.
They say that age is an attitude. And, yes, that is part of it. Unfortunately, though, just because we live here and may have a great attitude, we aren’t immune to getting older and some of the challenges that can come with it.
The good news is that services have been developed and expanded during recent years in the valley that can meet the needs of older adults from active, independent folks to those needing a caregiver or medical care.
With the new Castle Peak Senior Care Community set to open this fall, we will have access to assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care. For those with long-term disabilities such as dementia who live at home with a family caregiver, there is Eagle Valley Senior Life’s Senior Spot Adult Day Program and Caregiver’s Assistance Fund. For isolated, home-bound seniors living independently, there are organizations such as 4 Eagle Senior Care that provide a friendly, helping hand.
We also have three licensed in-home care agencies: Visiting Angels, Home Care and Hospice of the Valley and Caring4You Homecare. For more independent seniors, the Eagle County Public Health and Healthy Aging Program offers a senior center in Minturn and in Eagle that offer nutritious lunches, evidence-based exercise programs and trips for shopping or help with getting to a doctor’s appointment. And for those older adults who ski every day, this area provides a wealth of opportunities to stay active. Personally, I wouldn’t want to get old anywhere else.
To get answers to any questions you might have about being or caring for an older adult, go to www.agingwelleaglecounty.org for some key resources to get you started.