Author Archives: Wendy Lou Billings

Council on Aging’s Response to the President’s Proposed Budget

Dear Council on Aging Supporters,

We are so grateful for your support which allows us to serve the most vulnerable members of our community. The recent unveiling of the FY 2018 Budget Blueprint sent to Congress this week by the President has created many questions surrounding the impacts to seniors in Henderson County. I wanted to take a moment to address those concerns.

The proposed budget put forth by the President includes cuts to the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program through which states receive funding to distribute locally. The Council on Aging for Henderson County is a recipient of funds through this grant program. Currently, 1/3 of our overall budget is comprised of grant funds through the CDBG. What does this mean for seniors in our community?

At this time more than 435 adults in our community benefit from a hot lunchtime meal by way of our Meals on Wheels program. This vital service provides not only a nutritious meal but a watchful eye from a caring volunteer to ensure our neighbors are well cared for.

More than 105 adults in Henderson County utilize the Congregate Nutrition program at the Sammy Williams Center to participate in nutrition education, health and wellness classes, and enjoy a nutritious lunchtime meal in the company of their peers. The success of this program relies in part on funding from CDBG.

For clients with more complex health needs, the Council on Aging provides a Care Management program. This program is also funded by way of the CDBG. Care Management services allow a registered nurse to work closely with qualified social workers to develop and implement care plans to improve quality of life for our most vulnerable citizens.

The Council on Aging for Henderson County could not possibly sustain the client volume we have today if the CDBG is cut as it is written in the President’s proposed budget. The impacts to seniors in our community would be deeply detrimental.

We are so grateful to our community for the support you have provided the Council on Aging for more than 40 years. We need your support now more than ever. Please consider volunteeringdonating, or reaching out to your elected officials to show our local seniors that we stand behind them. To find your representative, visit http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep. Programs that directly impact older adults in our community are most certainly effective and their return on investment has been shown to be many-fold not only for seniors, but for those caring for them.

We appreciate you!

Trina Stokes
Executive Director

To read the full statement from Meals on Wheels of America, please follow the link below:

http://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/national/press-room/news/2017/03/16/meals-on-wheels-america-statement-on-budget-blueprint

United Way Day of Caring: Four Seasons Hospice & Council on Aging

On September 30, the United Way of Henderson County had their annual “Day of Caring.”  This is a day where the community steps forward and volunteers for special projects at nonprofits and schools. This year the Council on Aging team signed up for the Four Seasons Hospice pillow sewing project in the morning, and their team chose our “Tidy up the COA Grounds” project in the afternoon.  And did they ever! They clipped, mulched, and tamed the wild landscape. Thank you to Lauren, Heidi, Stephanie, Lorraine, Clara, Sheri, Chris, and Debi! Below are just a handful of the before and after shots.

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The Four Season Hospice Day of Caring Team!

The Four Season Hospice Day of Caring Team!

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Making butterfly pillows!

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That’s one giant bag of fluff!

 

Wine Around the World 2016: Oregon, USA

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. This event is sold out. If you would like to be on our invite list for next year and hear about our other events, you can subscribe here at COA News.

OREGON LEADS THE WAY

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by Patti Digh

Oregon has long been known as an innovator in community-based care options for older people who need ongoing assistance with daily activities. The state was the first to receive a federal waiver to provide home and community-based services for adults with low incomes who would otherwise require nursing home placement. Assisted living facilities, now common across the U.S., began in Oregon. In 2009, AARP ranked Oregon first in use of home and community-based services for older persons and adults with disabilities and next to last in use of nursing facilities. Other states and countries have studied Oregon’s assisted living, home care, and adult foster care programs.

“Toward an Age-Friendly Portland” is a Portland State University Planning Workshop Project whose aim is to create an “Age-Friendly Action Plan” for the City of Portland. Planning for age friendliness is a collaborative partnership among the people of Portland, City bureaus, Multnomah County, Metro, and many non-profit organizations and those efforts are directed at creating choices and opportunities for older adults to live healthy, vibrant, happy lives.

In the coming decades, Portland (and Oregon as a whole) will see a substantial increase in the population of older adults both in size and as a percentage of the population. Properly supported, this generational shift can result in a more resilient Portland with stronger neighborhoods where people can grow up and grow old.

Many of Portland’s efforts to improve livability for its older citizens have made, and are likely to continue to make, Portland friendlier to people of all ages. The City’s approach to increasing quality of life, including the Portland Plan’s “healthy, connected neighborhoods” concept, generally supports a high quality of life for older adults. Walkable, bikeable, mixed-use places that feature parks and social gathering spaces, located near convenient, accessible transit improves the ability of older adults to access the goods, services, and social and recreational opportunities they desire for a healthy and satisfying life.

Portland is focused on improving the quality of life for older adults and people of all ages by focusing on three things: Age-Friendly Neighborhoods, Age-Friendly Housing Options, and An Age-Friendly Transportation System.

The vision of this Age-Friendly Portland project is compelling: “In an age-friendly Portland, the lives of older adults abound with choice and opportunity. Portlanders will embrace the transition into late adulthood. Since growing older is not associated with a diminished quality of life, older adults expect to enjoy active and satisfying lives throughout their golden years. Elders look forward to encore careers, fulfilling volunteer opportunities, pursuing their favorite activities, and new adventures. Older adults maintain their autonomy, health, security, and social connections. In an Age-Friendly Portland, intergenerational connections bolster interdependent vivacity across the age spectrum. A network of healthy, connected, and complete neighborhoods will intentionally cater to the needs of older adults. Vibrant, walkable neighborhoods cultivate an effortless sense of community amongst people of all ages. The everyday lives of all people will overlap through expanded and inclusive social networks.

Barriers to intergenerational interactions have been removed, and the isolation of older adults is a memory of the past. Easy access to social gathering spaces like parks, neighborhood plazas, community centers, restaurants, and cafes enable Portlanders to stay active, healthy, and involved as they age. A range of social, educational, and recreational activities fuel friendships, curiosity, and resilience among seniors. Diverse and inclusive neighborhoods support safety and security throughout the city. Older adults will thrive in affordable, attractive, well-constructed homes of their choice. A diverse range of housing types and arrangements provide the opportunity for elders of all incomes to age in place or age in community. Flexible, adaptable dwellings facilitate new possibilities.

Older Portlanders also have the option to move into housing that better suits their needs at different stages of aging, whether that is a smaller home that requires less maintenance, an apartment close to family, or a familiar home environment shared with peers that offers living and nursing assistance. A well-balanced transportation system will enable older adults to safely and conveniently access the things they need. Older adults feel comfortable moving about the city no matter how they choose to travel. A walkable and rollable network of smooth, barrier-free sidewalks, walking paths, and functional crosswalks benefit all users, including those using mobility aids. Off-street trails, neighborhood greenways, and protected on-street bikeways provide a pleasant, low-stress bicycling and strolling experience.”

It’s an inspiring vision for the future. Let’s learn from Oregon and work to create an age-friendly country!

Wine Around the World 2016: Italy

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

ITALY IS THE OLDEST COUNTRY IN EUROPE

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by Patti Digh

Italy is second only to Japan in its proportion of seniors in the general population, so the country is having to cope with growing demands for long-term care while managing issues related to the health, social exclusion, poverty, and technological needs of the aging population. In fact, Italy has the largest proportion of elderly population in Europe. Italy’s Genoa is the oldest city in Europe, with 33% of the population being over 60.

Similar to most European countries, this is linked to the fertility fluctuation that occurred during the second half of the 20th century: the baby boom cohort (born between 1945 and 1964) is progressively reaching the old age, and it will continue up to the 2030s, whereas the baby bust cohort (born between the early 1960s and 1975) now constitutes the bulk of the working age population. This circumstance will lead to a top-heavy age structure, and is expected to last about 30 years, after which the end of the baby bust generation will enter old age.

To accommodate the needs of this aging population, two systems have evolved: formal care provision, which provides in-kind home and residential services and cash-for-care financing to informal caregivers. The second is the informal network comprised of family, volunteers, friends, and neighbors. This second system is possible in part because so few women between the ages of 55-64 are in the formal workforce.

In Italy’s cash-for-care scheme, a dependent person receives a care allowance from the state and, in many municipalities, this is supplemented with a means tested additional 300-500 euros per month for those over the age of 65. This has encouraged hiring private help to assist with activities of daily living.

A large number of those hired are immigrants employed to supplement the family’s support or cohabitate with the client. The wage differential and reduced costs of living for resident home care workers also provides economic incentives for immigrants. However, this quasi-underground system raises several concerns. First is the inability to maintain standards of care, particularly when the workforce lacks accreditation. Second is the concern that families or senior clients may exploit immigrant home care workers. Third, these workers often work in isolation from their families and communities for prolonged periods of times, which raises concerns for their mental health.

To accommodate this migrant workforce, Italy has undertaken a series of legal and policy reforms to formalize the system. Illegal migrants now have the means to gain legitimate workers’ status. Fiscal incentives have been introduced to discourage households from employing undeclared workers. Starting in 2007, domestic workers now sign contracts to reduce the potential for employer abuse. Finally, training and accreditation programs for migrant workers have been developed by local municipalities to raise the workforce’s skillset. At the same time, stricter controls for access to cash-for-care allowances for seniors are now in place.

A recent survey found that high proportions of adults in Italy (70 percent) help their aging parents with basic tasks, such as running errands, housework or home repairs, compared with people in the United States (58 percent). But Americans were more likely to offer financial support to aging parents: 28 percent of U.S. adult children have given financial support to a parent who is 65 or older, compared with 20 percent in Italy. Italians were also much more likely to provide hands-on care. In Italy, 26 percent reported providing personal care, compared with 14 percent in the United States.
The study also found that in both the U.S and Italy, people said they were more likely to have helped an adult child financially in the preceding 12 months than an aging parent. In the United States, 61 percent of people with at least one adult child said they helped with financial support, compared with 60 percent in Italy. Among its other findings, the survey says that people in both Italy and the U.S. who are 65 or older preferred to grow older in their homes, a concept known as aging in place.

Wine Around the World 2016: France

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

TRAGEDY IN FRANCE SPURS NATIONAL REFORM FOR THE ELDERLY

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Connected homes, communities, and cities are essential to creating age-friendly environments; and adapting housing is a first step in a “prevention approach” that ensures the health and wellbeing of older people in their homes. In Europe, communities are looking at housing solutions that safeguard the needs of older adults and also provide housing and services in a new way.

In the region of Aquitaine, France, a local initiative finances home modifications for older people on lower incomes. In partnership with a housing organization, pension funds, and insurance companies, the initiative renovates existing housing to the meet the needs of older residents, at an average cost of 7,000 euros (9,100 dollars). In the city of Boé in that region, they are adapting residential parks for ease of mobility and access to urban transport systems.

These kinds of changes are necessary because the population aged 65 and older is rapidly growing in France. In the mid-2000s, about 16% of their population was 65 and older. The share of the French population 65 and older will reach about 25% in 2030 and nearly 30% in 2050. The sheer demographic weight of people aged 85 and older will rise even faster, increasing from about 1 million people in the mid-2000s to about 2.5 million in 2030. Finally, over the same period, the number of centennials will likely quadruple, rising from about 15,000 to 60,000.

One of the main factors in this aging trend is the decline in fertility. Like most other advanced industrial countries, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, France witnessed a steep decline in the total fertility rate, though it has since stabilized. The long-standing French tradition of family-friendly public policy and, more recently, improvements to child care and family benefits that facilitate work–family balance are likely to explain this increase in fertility. Even so, France’s fertility rate still remains lower than the net reproduction rate and contributes to population aging in that country.

An increase in life expectancy is the other major factor in population aging. From 1800 to 1900 in France, the average life expectancy rose from 30 to about 45 years. In 2004, the average life expectancy reached 80 years. One key piece of demographic information that is missing concerns the growing ethnic diversity of the older population. This question is difficult in France, in part because French census questions do not refer to ethnicity or “race,” a situation related to a strong political opposition against “ethnic statistics,” as they are known in France, which derives from the universalistic, “color blind” political culture at the core of the French Republican model. But as many researchers know, aging is not a “color blind” experience, and knowledge about this reality can have direct policy implications.

A 2003 heat wave created a major political shock-wave in France, as it resulted in the death of 15,000 older persons. Limited access to air conditioning, as well as urban pollution, social isolation, and a lack of experience in handling such heat waves, led to dehydration and excessive sun exposure, which largely accounted for the high number of casualties. This traumatic episode helped push aging onto the policy agenda.

As a result, the French government launched an ambitious Aging and Solidarity Plan, granting massive investments for the construction or renovation of nursing homes as well as the development of new long-term care services. Other French policy initiatives included a national campaign against elder abuse and the “Bien Vieillir” (Age Well) National Plan, to promote healthy aging among people aged 55–75. A 5-year Alzheimer Plan was launched to support research, improve care, and both inform and mobilize citizens regarding this issue. Other public health initiatives launched that can directly affect older people, without necessarily targeting them directly. These initiatives include a plan against pain (Plan Douleur), a plan for palliative care, and a plan for suicide prevention.

Wine Around the World 2016: South Africa

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

SOUTH AFRICA’S ELDERLY POPULATION TO DOUBLE BY 2050

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by Patti Digh

South Africa’s elderly population is projected to double by 2050, according to a report released recently. Presently, the number of South Africans 60 years or older is around 4.209 million people. In 2050, this figure will rise to 10.06 million people. In the whole of the African continent, by 2050, the number of people over 60 will increase from just under 50 million to just under 200 million.

More than half of elderly people in South Africa live in extended households, but that’s changing with an upward trend in the prevalence of elderly single-member households (a huge increase from 16.3% in 1996 to 26.7% in 2011) and urbanization.

In fact, South Africa has a number of unique circumstances that affect the structure and situation of families. They include its history of apartheid, and particularly the migrant labor system. Poverty also greatly affects family life, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic has profoundly affected the health and well-being of family members, consequently placing an added burden on children and the elderly.

In South Africa in 2008, there were 859,000 “double orphans” (children both of whose parents have died), 2,468,000 paternal orphans, and 624,000 maternal orphans. A total of 3.95 million children had lost one or both parents by 2008, an increase of about a third since 2002. The number of double orphans increased by 144%. Although the HIV/AIDS pandemic in South Africa has stabilised, and the infection rate is now starting to decline, the number of orphans will continue to grow or at least remain high for years, reflecting a time lag between HIV infection and death.

What does this have to do with aging? The contribution of the elderly is especially important in countries with a high HIV/AIDS prevalence, such as South Africa, where many older people head what are called skip-generation households because the middle generation has died or become very sick from HIV/AIDS. Around 30 percent of older women in Sub-Saharan Africa head skip-generation households, according to the WHO. In some countries, the figures are even higher. In African countries outside South Africa, this is also true: more than four out of ten orphans are cared for by their grandmothers in Tanzania, and in Zimbabwe it is around six in ten.

In rural KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, the country in the region with both the highest proportion of old people and one of the severest AIDS epidemics. almost one in three older people are either now caring for sick adults living in the household or are raising grandchildren whose own parents are either dead or away in the cities on a long-term basis, seeking work.

One project in KwaZulu-Natal works with over 25,000 older people who are nursing their infected children and raise their grandchildren. Through information and training they learn about infection risks and the best care. They are enabled to help other affected people and overcome their own isolation. The elderly people are also supported materially: They receive sufficient food supplies, clothing and items that they need to take care of their sick relatives. The grandchildren get books, school uniforms, and other items the need for their education.

Another project supports these silent heroes: “Kwa Wazee” grants pensions to 1,000 grandmothers with 600 grandchildren. The project also advocates the formation of discussion groups that enable old people to help one another psychosocially and financially. The pensions increase the quality of life for elderly women and their grandchildren immensely, enabling them to buy food, clothes and other needed items. The nutritional situation stabilizes, the children can go to school again, and the grandmothers develop a greater feeling of self-esteem. The project also contributes to a national debate about improved old age security.

 

Wine Around the World 2016: Uruguay

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

URUGUAY PROVIDES A MODEL FOR ELDER CARE

waw-uruguayby Patti Digh

With the largest proportion of people 60 years and older, Uruguay represents the “oldest” nation in Latin America — indeed, in the entire Western Hemisphere. As with other Latin American and Caribbean countries, declines in infant mortality have helped spur increases in life expectancy in Uruguay.

Uruguay is also one of South America’s wealthiest and urban nations. In Uruguay, a girl can now expect to live to 78 years — some 27 years longer that her Haitian counterpart. In Haiti, still a largely rural society, 103 infants die for every 1,000 births — seven times the rate of Uruguay.

Decreasing birth rates have also influenced the growth in the proportion of older people in Uruguay. Their drop in birth rates reflects — among other things — relatively high achievements in education. Adult literacy is high, with 98 percent of female Uruguayans 15 years and older being literate, compared with 97 percent of males.

In recent years, Uruguay has established around 150 “grandparents clubs,” state-sponsored recreational centers for the elderly. The centers are part of an array of services that has made Uruguay, the “grayest” country in Latin America, an international model for treatment of senior citizens.

For about $2 a month, club members, some well into their 90s, enjoy all the yoga, aerobics and dance classes they want. Medical care is a few steps away at a well-stocked clinic. And, like all Uruguayan retirees, if they want a change of scenery, they can take a state-subsidized vacation at a dude ranch or beach resort.

In Uruguay, there are about as many retirees – 700,000 – as there are children in grade school. What could have been a social disaster has become a source of national pride. Uruguay has become internationally recognized for its treatment of the elderly. Even the Japanese have come to study programs considered more advanced than those in many wealthier First World nations.

Besides financial assistance to the grandparents clubs and subsidized vacations at two government-owned resorts, the state provides psychological therapy to help citizens adjust to retirement. Grants are offered to more than 400 retirement homes scattered around the nation, slightly larger in size than New York state. The poorest receive housing and low-cost access to private health care.

The Uruguayan Congress is preparing to debate a new bill of rights for the elderly to extend benefits further. Already, the state mandates that sons or daughters care for their aging parents or provide for them financially.

The kindness, however, has a cost. Almost half the taxes – which are higher than those in most of Latin America – go for pensions and social services for senior citizens. Sales taxes alone top 23 percent.

But it isn’t merely the state that embraces the old – it’s society.

“For us, it’s cultural,” said Elbio Mendez Areco, general director of Uruguay’s Labor and Social Welfare Ministry. “We go beyond the Latin tradition of family closeness. For us, it is a social crime not to give the elderly the attention they deserve.”

The government has launched “age sensitivity” classes for children this year, reinforcing the message that the elderly are to be revered and cared for. In other state-sponsored classes, the two generations do arts and crafts and sing songs. The program, less than a year old, is so successful that some children sent homemade cards to their new “adopted family” on Uruguay’s Grandparents Day.

Wine Around the World 2016: Slovenia

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

SLOVENIA’S RAPIDLY AGING POPULATION IS DRIVING INTERGENERATIONAL INNOVATION

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by Patti Digh

In Slovenia, aging-related expenses as a share of GDP will increase from 24.7% in 2013 to 31.5% in 2060. Out of 100 working age people in Slovenia, 27 were over 65 at the start of 2013, a number that will double to 58 in 2060, according to a recent report. The proportion of the population over 85 is also projected to surge from 2% at the moment to 7% in 2060.

In addition to the systemic reforms obviously needed to finance this rapidly aging population, Slovenia is looking at innovative ways to unite old and young people, using institutions familiar with the needs and abilities of both groups. They aim to tackle the stereotypes young and old people tend to have about each other.

The “Fruits of Society” house is the first example of an intergenerational centre in Slovenia, bringing together young and old in the Pomurje region. The project’s aim is to ensure additional help for the elderly by young people and, at the same time, help youth acquire new knowledge. Activities mainly revolve around socializing, joint projects, and promotion of a healthy lifestyle and voluntary work. The idea is to create a forum where ideas can be exchanged on how to deepen and extend intergenerational voluntary cooperation to other activities.

Traditionally, the elderly in Slovenia have been taken care of by their family members. Those who did not have any relatives were partially taken care of by a local community. However, a recent Slovenian study showed that three quarters of people would choose to go to a nursing home and less than one fifth (17%) would choose to live with one of their children because they don’t want to be a burden. Even so, the willingness of family to care for their elders is very high. Almost two-fifths of Slovenes see the solution as family care and co-living with disabled and elderly family members. Half of the respondents said that for them personally, caring for old people is one of the main tasks of the family. The biggest problem is not the willingness to care but rather the ability to care. Family care is less available due to the lack of support services rather than unwillingness to care.

The first need they have is common to all Slovenian family caregivers – the need for “respite care services” (47.1%) that are very scarce (almost nonexistent) in Slovenia. Two fifths of family caregivers wish to have “more frequent visits from a district nurse” and “larger accessibility of home help services.” The fourth and fifth most expressed things they miss are the “support from their relatives” and “the life they lived before taking over the caring responsibilities.” The needs of family carers reflect the real situation regarding family care of older people in Slovenia.

Currently there are only a few services intended for family caregivers and they are not provided on a national level. For example, there is no place that provides information, practical training in caregiving, and other support to family caregivers on the national level. Family caregivers urgently need broader community support and professional assistance in the form of home care and support, institutional day care, respite care services, needs assessment, counseling and advice, self-support groups, practical training in caring and protecting their own physical and mental health, weekend breaks, integrated planning of care for elderly and families, and so on.

Through one national program, family members are trained via short courses for better understanding and communicating with older family members, or about quality aging after retirement, in which the elderly are taught how to recognize and accept old age, practice active aging, and have quality relations with the younger generations.

Family members who have an elder in an institution learn to communicate well during their visits and to collaborate well with the residential care provider. Relatives’ clubs are being established inside nursing homes. The underlying principle is that one hour weekly of quality personal contact with an old person is an excellent opportunity for personal growth, and a good way to learn about intergenerational communication and prepare for one’s own old age.

Wine Around the World 2016: Portugal

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

PORTUGAL’S PERFECT STORM

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by Patti Digh

Between 1960 and 2012, the young population of Portugal greatly decreased and the number of elderly citizens greatly increased, changing significantly the population dynamics in that European nation. Why? Because of sharp fertility rate declines (they have the lowest fertility rate in Europe), the increase of life expectancy, and increased emigration in recent years, caused by unemployment and the economic crisis there. Over one-third of people under 25 in Portugal are unemployed and cannot find jobs in their own country, so they are leaving and Portugal is fast-becoming a nation of one-child families.

Under the current poor economic conditions in Portugal, the Portuguese population is going to continue to decrease, and the aging of the population that remains will likely result in the unsustainability of the country. For the elderly living in small families without children or a spouse, greater support from the community and local health services will be required, a situation that becomes even more acute in periods of economic depression. It is a perfect storm.

As reported in The Guardian, the recent fall in births across Portugal – to 89,841 babies in 2012, a 14% drop since 2008 and a 56% drop since 1960 – has been so acute that the government is closing a number of maternity wards nationwide. In an increasingly childless country, 239 schools are closing this year and sales of everything from diapers to children’s shampoos are plummeting. At the same time, in the fast-greying interior, petrol stations and motels are being converted into nursing homes.

Portugal is at the forefront of Europe’s latest baby bust, facing greatly increased social costs in some of the world’s most rapidly aging societies. By 2030 the retired population in Portugal will surge by 27.4%, with those older than 65 then predicted to make up nearly one in every four residents. With fewer and fewer future workers and taxpayers being born, the Portuguese are confronting what could be a real financial difficulty in providing for their aging population.

Experts predict that the population loss ahead for Portugal could be beyond even the worst-case predictions of nearly 1 million fewer inhabitants – or almost 10% of the current population of 10.56 million – by 2030. It has many bemoaning the “disappearance” of a nation, leaving them to ask: Who will be left to support a dying country of old men and women?

“This is one of the biggest problems we face as a nation,” said Jose Tavares, political economics professor at the Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon. “If we don’t find a way to fix this, we will be facing a disaster.”

The burdens ahead are also clear in communities across Portugal, where elder care is the largest single public expenditure. Recent national cuts have meant a reduction in the number of seniors towns are able to aid in their main adult day-care facilities.

To breathe new life into some areas, officials have sought to lure young people back, offering cash subsidies for new homebuyers in an attempt to stem years of losses of working-age residents to inland cities and more prosperous countries. Some towns are providing preschool for next to nothing, with children being minded in nursing homes, which thrills the residents. One clothing maker in central Portugal has started paying its workers a bonus for having babies, and towns are following suit.

Wine Around the World 2016: Chile

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

Aging isn’t just a biological process; it is also a cultural one. Frequently the average life expectancy bears on what age counts as “old.” For example, in the United States, where the average life expectancy is over 78 years, people are not considered “old” until they are in their sixties or seventies. However, in Chad the average life expectancy is less than 49 years. People in their thirties or forties are therefore already middle­ aged or “old.”

Over the next two weeks, leading up to our Wine Around the World event at The Cedars, let’s grab our passports and go on this amazing journey into aging in many cultures.

CHILE’S RAPID DEVELOPMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON AGINGchile

by Patti Digh

Chile is a developing country with a rapidly expanding economy. In fact, it is expected to become a “developed country” within 10 years, one of the first in Latin America to obtain that designation. This rapid economic growth has brought significant changes in social organization. For example, an increasing number of older adults are now living alone versus in an extended family, and Chile has one of the largest proportions of older adults in Latin America.

In fact, the number of elderly in Latin America will triple as a share of the population by 2050. By 2050, there will be one Latin American elder for every child. The result will be a dramatic slowdown in population growth and an equally dramatic aging of the population. Latin America’s median age will climb by 14 years, from 26 to 40.

This coming age wave poses two fundamental challenges for Latin America. The first is to create national retirement systems capable of providing an adequate level of support for the old without imposing a crushing burden on the young. The second is to boost living standards while populations are still young and growing. While the United States, Europe, and Japan all became affluent societies before they became aging societies, Latin America may grow old before it grows rich.

In particular, Chile is in what is referred to as an advanced demographic transition stage. The population over 60 years of age represents 13% of the total population. It’s anticipated that the aging population in Chile will continue to increase to represent 20.8% of the population by 2044. Thus, in the near future, Chile will experience “super-aging.”

And because of the gender gap in life expectancy in Chile, more women will be living alone, a new phenomenon in Chile, and may experience increasing isolation. Additionally, more women may face reduced economic status in their later years as most did not participate in the labor force and were dependent upon their husband’s salaries and pensions.

It’s important to note that life expectancy in Chile also varies by geographic location and is up to 10 years less among certain indigenous populations there (e.g., Aymara), attesting to pockets of underdevelopment and poverty particularly among Indigenous populations and in rural areas.

To promote healthy aging, the government of Chile has been providing a nutritional supplement to older adults since 1998, distributing micronutrient fortified foods to adults 70 years or over who are registered for the program through their Primary Health Centers.

In 2002, a national effort to focus on health issues related to aging was initiated in Chile, focused on improving living conditions and health programs specific to the needs of older adults, developing and implementing elder abuse laws, and enhancing access to public spaces so that older adults can participate in tourism or use public transportation at reduced rates. The importance of specialized health care for the elderly such as comprehensive geriatric assessments is becoming an increasing focus of attention, as the prevalence of risk of falls and chronic diseases increases.

Access to participation in meaningful activities can be challenging for older adults in Chile. In Santiago, the city is divided into provinces with each responsible for organizing events for older adults. Provinces with more resources offer enhanced activities including travel opportunities, free exercise facilities, and opportunities for social engagement. A rising concern, however, is the lack of meaningful opportunities to remain socially and economically integrated as one enters old age in Chile. Not surprisingly, there has been a rise of mental health issues and in particular, depression. In Chile, it has been reported that clinical depression in older adults has reached 47%, which is a much higher percentage compared to estimate of 16% and 19% for adolescents and young adults.

To answer these needs, Chile has developed “The Integral Policy for Positive Aging” with three general objectives: protect the functional health of older people, improve their integration into the different areas of society, and increase their levels of subjective well-being.