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Yes, Seniors Have Sex, Too

Why wouldn’t they? They’re people. But society’s stereotypes for older people don’t connect sex and seniors.


That’s why one of the most emailed stories in the country this morning was about the first comprehensive national survey of seniors’ sexual attitudes and activity. Conducted by the University ofChicago, it was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to the study, frequency of sexual activity dropped only slightly between the late 50s up to the early 70s. And more than half of those in the oldest age group €“ 75 to 85 €“ who were sexually active reported having sex at least two to three times per month, and 23 percent reported having sex at least once a week. There’s a lot of beneficial information in this survey that will be helpful in improving people’s lives, opening communications lines between people and their medical provider, and breaking down ageism Study co-author Edward Laumann, coauthor of the study and the George Herbert Mead Distinguished Service Professor in Sociology at the University of Chicago, said in HealthDay that “The linkage with sexual health is closer to other health issues and is not tied directly to aging per se. Sexual health, when it begins to deteriorate, may be an important warning sign, because it may be an early warning sign of more profound health problems.” Cornell University has developed a very informative web site on sexuality and seniors.


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America’s Most Livable Communities for Seniors

AARP Magazine recently announced it’s top cities for successful aging in the United States. Minneapolis and Saint Paul didn’t make it. Ecumen CEO Kathryn Roberts' recent editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune sheds light on why.AARP’s top 5 livable communities for seniors are Atlanta, Milwaukee, Portland, Boston and Chandler, Arizona. Atlanta’s regional commission is all over successful aging. In Milwaukee, they hosted a very cool senior housing design competition at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Aging Consortium and Aging Maven also highlights what’s occurring in Milwaukee in creating a livable community for all ages. Great stuff here for the Twin Cities and other communities.An idea: Minnesota and other states could start developing criteria that make a community a good one for successful aging. Once you get/earn the designation you could put it on your population sign, e.g., Rochester, A Great Age Community. Would show that the community is a livable community for all. For our Wisconsin readers: Ecumen CEO Kathryn Roberts will be giving the keynote address at HospiceCare Inc.'s annual conference in Madison at American Family Insurance’s headquarters on September 27th. The conference is entitled 'The Boomers are Here: Are We Ready?' Kathryn’s presentation is entitled: 'The Age Wave: America’s Opportunity for Transformation.' For more information on the conference, go here.


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Minnesota Policymakers Starting to Feel Age Wave

Some policymakers are starting to feel the ripples of the age wave and how it will impact America. Whether that impact is good or bad, will depend on the actions we take today.When you look at the Ecumen Age Wave Study, you can see how aging is a great opportunity for policymakers to have a hugely positive impact. Successful aging is an American issue, not a Republican or Democrat issue.According to Kristine Gerencher at cbsmarketwatch.com between January and June Congress introduced 14 bills that would positively impact family caregivers or those they care for.Last week we talked about legislation introduced by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Today she had an op-ed appear in the St. Cloud Times addressing senior care. The text of which is below. Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman also is taking a look ahead, seeing the substantial role that technology can play in successful aging and senior care, he introduced in February legislation that would create a consortium to foster development of technologies that would enhance independence, health and lower costs. The age wave is coming …Minnesota and the nation will soon experience major changes as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age and as more Americans live into their 80s and beyond.We know seniors want to be able to live independently and stay in their own homes as long as possible. Families, especially adult children, are essential in helping to make this happen.It is already a big issue for many families, and it will only get bigger.The number of Minnesotans older than age 65 is expected to double from 2000-30, approaching a quarter of the state’s total population.At the same time, the number of Minnesotans available to care for them will shrink. Although suburban communities will experience the most dramatic changes in the future, the impact is currently most serious in rural Minnesota.Most senior care comes from informal caregivers. Adult daughters and sons are increasingly responsible for helping their parents with tasks ranging from the mundane (like shopping for groceries and helping with chores around the house) to the more intensive (like managing personal finances and helping to make major health care decisions).Many caregivers belong to the 'sandwich generation.' They support their aging parents while also struggling to raise their own children, sandwiched by competing demands for caregiving.Caregiving can be an overwhelming responsibility for many families. It can be an exhausting and endless job. It does not get easier over time. As a result, many caregivers develop physical and mental health problems.Caregiving also comes with serious financial costs.Most caregivers report taking time out of the work force, cutting back on hours and turning down promotion opportunities.One recent study found women who provide care to an aging parent suffer about $8,600 per year in lost wages and benefits.Family caregiving also has a significant impact on our economy, costing businesses an estimated $33 billion annually in lost productivity.For all of these reasons, I am introducing federal legislation to assist our family caregivers.First, I want to provide financial relief by expanding the existing federal Dependent Care Tax Credit so families can claim tax credits for expenses incurred caring for their aging relatives who do not live with them.Families will be eligible for up to $1,200 in tax relief per year. While this will by no means cover all elder care expenses, it is a start.Second, I want to enhance support for family caregivers by promoting best practices in quality, coordinated care and by providing more direct support for family caregivers.The legislation will establish a National Caregiving Resource Center where families, public agencies and private organizations can learn about best practices and promising innovations.This legislation will also bolster support for the National Family Caregiver Support Program, which helps fund direct services to family caregivers.Third, I want to protect consumers and make it easier for families to prepare for their needs by requiring more accountability from the long-term care insurance industry.About 8 million Americans have bought long-term care insurance to protect themselves and their families.But one of the biggest complaints is the denial of benefits.The only recourse for consumers right now is to go to court, which is expensive and time consuming when people are most vulnerable and in need.My legislation will provide consumers with the right to have their claims reviewed by an independent board.These proposals represent small steps in addressing the needs of our nation’s caregivers. But they are important steps, and I hope more will follow. ...This approach is good for our seniors, our families and our businesses.And, because providing care to seniors at home is far less expensive than in a nursing home, it is also good for all of us as taxpayers.


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Ecumen Named a Best Places to Work

A huge congratulations to Ecumen’s team members, Ecumen has been named for the third straight year as one of Minnesota’s Best Places to Work. The award is bestowed by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. More than 200 companies vied for the 'Best Places to Work' designation. Ecumen was one of Minnesota’s top 10 large companies. Winners were selected based on anonymous surveys conducted by employees. The survey sought ratings on several topics: work environment, embracing innovations/new ideas, people practices, personal growth and development, people in the organization and how things work day-to-day.The Business Journal highlighted Ecumen’s dual commitment to delivering great customer experiences and innovating. Highlighted was the Ecumen Innovation Station, the growing Ecumen University learning program and Ecumen’s Family Helping Family initiative, which provides interest-free loans to employees facing household and family emergencies. In 2006, more than $175,000 was granted for a number of events from house fires to paying for funerals. Many employees donate to this fund through payroll deducation.Ecumen is being shaped by more than 4,000 team members. For insight from one of those people and ingredients that go into making a great workplace, read Ecumen CEO Kathryn Roberts ' article 'Does Your Workplace Have Soul?'


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Successful Aging and Exercising the Mind, Body and Spirit

Parmly LifePointes, an Ecumen community in Chisago City, Minnesota, is embarking on a very cool new journey built upon successful aging.Their new Vitalize! Wellness Centre, opening this fall , will have all the bells and whistles … TechnoGym weights and TechnoGym aerobic fitness equipment that digitally measure one’s personal progress, a warm-water lap pool, a warm water pool with a treadmill, herbal teas and great food, exercise rooms, massage, plus classrooms for lifelong learning that helps people explore, personalize and enhance dimensions of successful aging. Oh, don’t let me forget the feng shui garden.Patricia Montgomery, is the director of Vitalize!. A former college swimmer and corporate wellness director, Patricia, who is about to conclude her masters degree in holistic health at the College of St. Catherine, knows all about exercise of the physical type, but what she and the folks at Parmly LifePointes are focused on goes far, far beyond. As they look at wellness, they are going to be empowering people to empower themselves and exercise not just the physical parts of their being, but also the intellectual, vocational, social, spiritual and emotional parts.Vitalize! will be the place where a 25-year-old certified nursing assistant (what a great asset this will be for Parmly employees) and an 85-year-old who might have a chronic condition and lives in assisted living or the nursing home, go to take greater control of their life and how they travel through it.Vitalize! also will be open to the public. This isn’t Ballys or Lifetime Fitness, though. This is a completely different animal built on taking control of your own wellness no matter your age or your physical ability. And it’s built on the premise that aging is all about living …even at the end of life.


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Seniors, Baby Boomers and Work

Quick note, the most e-mailed story of the last two days on The New York Times web site was the story we talked about yesterday, where people, nonprofits and others are working to enable seniors to stay in their neighborhoods and age in community. Independence strikes a chord.How Long Are You Going to Work? Chances are you’re reading this from work. Will you be working into your 70s, 80s, 90s … Maybe you’ll be like Waldo McBurney … Recently declared America’s oldest worker, he’s a 104-year-old beekeeper in Kansas.When we asked baby boomers about their future work plans in the Ecumen Age Wave Study, 'retirement' isn’t really in their vocabulary. Most plan to continue working. But there’s an important caveat. A bunch of them said they’re going to be switching jobs and doing something they enjoy. Many said pay is important, but just as important were social connections and mental engagement.Senior Workforce Today About 6.4 percent of Americans 75 or older, or slightly more than 1 million, were working last year. That’s up from 4.7 percent, or 634,000, a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.About 3.4 percent of Americans 80 or older, or 318,000, were in the work force last year, up from 2.7 percent or 188,000 a decade earlier, officials said.That’s only going to grow and change the workplace and how people work. For example, could companies keep talent and people, and provide a flexible work schedule in exchange for health benefits rather than a full salary? Those are the types of questions Ecumen and other companies are asking as we enter this new world where there will be more seniors and fewer young people. Are there any ideas you have or have seen elsewhere?


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Successful Aging in Place, Successful Aging in Community

Here’s a movement that is quickly picking up speed and is only going to get more fervent as the age wave rises - the desire to package products and services that enable a person to age in place (More people are calling it aging in community' because they see themselves as being connected to the larger community, not just one place.).Ecumen leader Kathryn Roberts wrote about this in last week’s Minneapolis Star Tribune. Here you can access her article. Today the New York Times has an article about a group of people it says is part of a movement to make neighborhoods comfortable places to grow old, both for elderly men and women in need of help and for baby boomers anticipating the future.When you read this, one can see an opportunity for a number of America’s nursing homes and assisted living communities to diversify their offerings, create partnerships and to deliver their expertise outside of bricks and mortar. What do you think? Have you heard of others doing this?


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Delivering Eldercare Where and How the Customer Wants it

Two-thirds of baby boomers told us in our Age Wave study us that their ideal situation if they need care as seniors is to have it at home with a mix of family caregivers and professional caregivers. Look below at the 'language' HouseWorks uses. It is all customer-focused. HouseWorks is a Massachusetts-based home care company that has set out to completely differentiate itself from others in their marketplace. They highlight that they provide the best home care services, whereever 'home' is, including one’s condo, single-family home, assisted living community, or nursing home. I’ve highlighted a few areas below from the 'about us' section in their website where they use language differently than most home care organizations and further differentiate HouseWorks for their customers. From the beginning, HouseWorks was meant to be a different kind of private-pay home care company €” more flexible, more reliable, and more responsive than any of its predecessors.A better home care solution for seniors and their familiesFounded in 1998, HouseWorks is a local company dedicated to helping seniors live independently, no matter how challenging their circumstances. Today, HouseWorks is fulfilling its mission by providing the most responsive and reliable home care services in Eastern Massachusetts.HouseWorks' fundamental innovation has been its entrepreneurial approach to service delivery, a customer-driven approach that returns a sense of control to adult children and their elderly parents. Rather than telling customers what they can or should have, HouseWorks listens to what they want and bends over backward to meet their needs. HouseWorks' professional staff makes a direct connection with adult children of aging parents, speaking to them as peers and respecting their point of view.HouseWorks' dedication to helping seniors live independently goes beyond providing great home care services: it also means giving back to the community and forming active affiliations with organizations that share our commitments. Through the company’s remarkable growth and community involvement, HouseWorks is realizing its vision.


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The Age Wave, Successful Aging and Liveable Communities

Below is an article from today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune where Ecumen CEO and president Kathryn Roberts discusses how the age wave is an opportunity for the Twin Cities and other communities to create liveable communities that promote successful aging.

You can feel the winds picking up. Last week’s cover story in the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis asked: 'The Age Wave is Coming, Are We Ready?' Saturday’s Star Tribune discussed the explosive growth in parish nurse programs. And soon the Department of Human Services, which has a wealth of statewide research, will hit the road with public forums that compare our coming age wave to Hurricane Katrina. The inherent message: We’re not ready for what we know is coming.As the Twin Cities metro area sprawls, rows of homes rise like islands, with inhabitants needing wheels to leave them. Many area cornfields have been replaced with housing that pretends people don’t grow old.
But we’re aging in record numbers. As state demographer Tom Gillaspy says, 'These things usually creep along at the speed of a glacier. Not so with aging. In demographic terms, this is a tsunami.'Soon the G.I. Generation will disappear. Behind it is the misnamed Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1942. The Silents mark the beginning of the most educated, technologically connected, discerning seniors we’ve ever seen. And much of the metro area isn’t ready for them or for how they want to age.They don’t want to live in isolation. They want to be near family and friends. They want easy-access transportation. They want housing that’s near health care, learning, exercise, shopping, worship places and other gathering hubs that feed the mind, body and soul. And when they die, they don’t want to be in a sterile cinderblock room bunked with a stranger.Some places get it. St. Louis Park long has viewed aging as an asset. Dakota County just developed a significant aging plan. However, we need to share information and plan together, because there are some pretty cavernous gaps throughout the metro area. Our collective response has to be about more than determining where sewer lines go; it must be about creating vibrant communities for a lifetime.Atlanta, often derided for its missed foresight on transportation planning, learned from its mistakes. Its regional commission’s mantra is ensuring that 'Greater Atlanta is Great for a Lifetime.' It formed Aging Atlanta, with more than 50 public, private and nonprofit partners, to plan for the age wave.Aging Atlanta is digitally mapping its region’s senior housing, community services and transportation hubs to identify gaps, overlaps and potential partnerships across counties. It surveyed residents 55 and older to generate county-specific data that outline emerging seniors' work plans, housing desires, volunteer patterns, preventive-care use and awareness about paying for long-term care.Out of this knowledge, several metro Atlanta counties have new zoning ordinances that provide more universal design and low-maintenance single-level homes. They see senior housing opportunities that can be part of existing neighborhoods or new neighborhoods connected to churches, community centers, college campuses or shopping areas.We could borrow from Atlanta. But we could also add our own components, such as design charrettes that show how we can better integrate senior housing and age holistically with existing infrastructure.While health and housing have been combined in the private sector, in the public sector they reside in separate silos, largely funded by fragmented jurisdictions crossing multiple agencies and regulations. The Twin Cities area has a number of government-run independent living apartments that don’t have health services that could help people age in community.Aging in community minimizes expensive assembly-line care while maintaining valuable social networks. In Detroit Lakes we’ve found an entrepreneurial way to keep seniors in their apartments by working with government. We deliver mobile 24/7 assisted-living services to public senior housing. This could just as easily be occurring in metro-area counties.The Twin Cities area isn’t ready for the age wave. Nor is Atlanta, but it is preparing now for tomorrow. Aging isn’t partisan. We all do it. And, if we do this right, we should all benefit from it.


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Alzheimer’s: Different Approaches to Talking About It

Two different approaches to Alzheimers:A. If you get a moment, please visit Kathy Hatfield’s blog at www.KnowItAlz.com. Kathy is a caregiver in North Carolina. She is the primary caregiver for her 79-year-old father who has Alzheimers. Earlier in his life, he was a stockbroker in New York City. Her daily accounts are insightful, warm, compassionate and bring a genuine light-heartedness that only a caregiver could bring. What you take away is that 'yes' her father has lost much of his memory, but he is still very much her father, a human being, and someone who is still very much alive. Aging is all about living … . even at the very end of life. Thanks for sharing your blog with us Kathy.B. The New York Post, a tabloid newspaper recently broke a story that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner reportedly has Alzheimers. The Headline: Tragic Madness of King George. Peter Himler writes about it at his blog The Flack. Other blogs also hopped on this, using terms of senility, maddness, etc.Last month, Post sports columnist Phil Mushnick wrote that, 'All reasonable signs indicate that [Steinbrenner’s] dementia … is now so profound that he is being carefully hidden from public view.'Getting Rid of the StigmaGeorge Steinbrenner is a public figure (and one that a lot of people don’t like) but let’s get rid of the potshots and embarrasment that seem to be attached to losing one’s memory. Kathy hits it head on and doesn’t 'put her father in the closet.' Unless a cure is found, many of us reading this today are going to have dementia or Ahlzheimers. Consider these stats from the Alzheimer’s Association:- 26.6 million people worldwide were living with the disease in 2006.- Researchers predict that global prevalence of Alzheimer’s will quadruple by 2050 to more than 100 million, at which time 1 in 85 persons worldwide will be living with the disease.- More than 40 percent of those cases will be in late stage Alzheimer’s requiring a high level of attention equivalent to nursing home care.