Q. I'm curious; what are the biggest challenges that today's seniors face and what can we older adults - particularly those like me who are living alone - do about it?
A.: Senior citizens in America are enjoying longer lives, better health and better economic security, but the cost of health care for the elderly has risen dramatically, according to Older Americans 2010: Key Indicators of Well-Being, which was released in June by the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics. Here's the evidence:
After adjustment for inflation, health care costs increased significantly among older Americans from $9,224 in 1992 to $15,081 in 2006.
From 1977 to 2006, the percentage of household income that people age 65 and over allocated to out-of-pocket spending for health care services increased among those in the poor-near poor income category from 12 percent to 28 percent.
The number of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Part D prescription drug plans increased from 18.2 million (51 percent of beneficiaries) in June 2006 to 22.2 million (57 percent of beneficiaries) in December 2009.
Sadly, there was no significant change in the percentage of people age 65 and older reporting physical activity between 1997 and 2008.
The best way to keep health care costs under control is to do all within your power to stay healthy, which includes following a nutritious diet and exercising. Many older adults lose their spouses and begin a downward spiral into poor health, sometimes just because they are lonely.
If you find yourself in this circumstance, please consider a professional caregiving service. The local office of the Home Instead Senior Care network hires CAREGivers to go into the homes and care communities of older adults to help them with a variety of services and, oftentimes, just to provide companionship.
CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. Many of these CAREGivers are older adults who share common interests with other seniors. So ensuring that you have adequate help including companionship is one way that seniors can reduce their risks of falls and other issues that could impact their health.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact Joe DeLauter at 522-6533 or visit www.homeinstead.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.