Aging and Thriving: How to Live Your Best Life – Introductory Column
I grew-up in this area, and I’m happy to once again call it home, raising my family in a region with amazing advantages. The charm, different kinds of activities and breathtaking scenery make our region unique, but so do the challenges senior residents face.
New Hampshire has the third oldest population among the 50 states (American Community Survey 2016) and this hits close to home. About 20 percent of our residents are at least 65 years old; that number will grow nearly 40 percent by 2030 (The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies).
I’ve seen this change firsthand. I’ve worked in the senior living and health industry for many years, serving in leadership roles at Androscoggin Valley Hospital and St. Vincent de Paul Rehab & Nursing. I am now the Chief Executive Officer of the Morrison Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing facility and the new Summit by Morrison senior living community, both in Whitefield.
Through my work, I’ve seen the growing need for more resources to serve our senior population. As we have spoken to community members throughout the development of Summit by Morrison, we’ve heard similar questions and concerns from seniors:
Costly and timely home upkeep: many seniors love their independence but keeping a home can be costly and time consuming. While some may be looking to move to an apartment or community where they don’t have to worry about housework, others may be looking to downsize.
Unsafe winter conditions: while the snow is great for winter activities and important for tourism, it can also cause headaches and mishaps for seniors. On top of worrying about vehicles, driveways and slipping on ice, cold weather can have a negative impact on health.
Lack of transportation: it’s sometimes difficult for seniors who don’t drive to get around. Without public transportation, folks are forced to rely on private cars, friends, family and neighbors.
Access to healthy meals: lack of transportation can make getting to the grocery store tough, while aching joints and trouble walking or standing can make cooking difficult. Some seniors may lose interest in preparing meals altogether. Frozen dinners may seem like an easy fix, but most don’t have the necessary nutrition to keep seniors healthy.
Loneliness and isolation: if seniors live alone or don’t have transportation, they can go days without speaking to another person. Loneliness can be almost as bad for seniors’ health and wellbeing as serious medical conditions.
Many in our community recognize that these challenges require solutions. Hospitals are expanding affiliations with local physicians to improve the quality of care and organizations are expanding the range of services they offer to seniors in the area, to mention a few.
I’m hoping to help address and discuss these needs and concerns with this column. I’ll share information, insights and advice to help seniors and their loved ones navigate the challenges of aging, so seniors can stay healthy and active, and continue to appreciate and enjoy life in the region.