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About the Series
It's An Age Thing, a new 13-part television series that takes a comprehensive and common-sense approach to the challenges of aging, premiered June 1, 2003 nationally on public television stations (check local listings). Hosted by NPR's Susan Stamberg, each half-hour episode was taped on location and focuses on a particular life issue, from housing to retirement to driving.
Working Past 65
One of the most interesting recent social developments is the difference in how people view retirement. Many people want to retire as quickly as possible to pursue other life-long interests. Balancing that is the growing number of older Americans who have elected to continue working well beyond the eligible age of retirement.
This program explores the different reasons seniors postpone retirement -- and why that decision may require courage in this rapidly changing world.
Our way of life revolves around the automobile, but we have a responsibility to drive safely. How do you know when you have to stop or if an elderly relative should stop? How can families and friends convince those who should no longer be driving to hand over their keys?
Experts involved in senior driving programs offer proven strategies to deal with this sensitive topic. Because we all believe that driving is an important component to remaining independent, this episode also illustrates how careful and creative planning can help the senior transition successfully from driving to creative ways of getting around.
Living Alone After the Loss of a Partner
Most married women -- and not a few married men -- will eventually live alone. Because many elderly couples have enjoyed lengthy marriages, the loss of a spouse can be emotionally difficult. Individuals who appear in this episode offer compelling life lessons on how they were able to get through this challenging time and regain their positive outlook on life.
Perhaps one of the best things we can do to secure our independence and well being as we get old is to remain both physically and mentally fit.
This episode focuses on seniors who have found ways to keep themselves both mentally engaged and physically healthy, illustrating an important theme in the series: the many benefits to society as a whole when more of its senior citizens take charge of a critical life issue.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
The 2000 census confirmed that more grandparents are raising their grandchildren than at any time in America's recent history. Even under the best of circumstances, this puts enormous pressures on the grandparents. Grandparents who have assumed this role have developed coping strategies such as support groups that enable them to get through a potentially trying experience.
This episode illustrates how senior housing options can be very good choices for certain older Americans. For those who decide that remaining in their homes is not the best choice, the initial challenge is dealing with the emotional reaction to leaving home and loved ones and moving into senior housing.
For many seniors, the wrong housing situation can lead to a variety of unsafe conditions such as dangerous stairs, poor lighting, or inadequate plumbing. It can also lead to loneliness and social isolation. Many of the people featured in this episode describe how senior housing has provided them with an opportunity to look outward rather than inward and remain as healthy and active as possible.
Remaining Independent in Your Own Home
Most older Americans want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. This episode shows how seniors who chose to remain independent can make their home senior-friendly and safe.
Multiple Generations Living Together
Historically a lot of families lived together for economic reasons, but in this episode we look at families who have chosen to live together for mutual support. Are more people returning to this way of life or is it something that works well for only a small percentage of our population?
This episode highlights families who have made this decision, how well they are coping and how the effect on grandchildren appears to be very positive.
The overriding goal for senior housing is to provide appropriate services in the least restrictive setting, but just what does appropriate mean? There is confusion on the part of all Americans about the definitions of senior housing, independent living, assistive living and nursing home level care.
Many retirement communities offer several and or all of these options. Seniors who have chosen retirement communities talk about making a choice that is right for them.
Education for Life
In addition to taking care of their physical selves, older Americans must remember to "feed the brain." This episode focuses on how seniors can re-enter the world of adult learning through a variety of methods. The goal is to help them remain mentally active by exposing themselves to new and interesting subjects.
Not surprisingly, the more they remain mentally active, the more likely seniors are to take charge of their own lives and how they age. Mentally engaged older Americans are capable of better navigating through the complexities of our society, including its health delivery systems.
Food for Thought
Proper nutrition plays a significant role in the health of all age groups but especially with the elderly. This episode illustrates good food choices and includes segments on food shopping and food preparation. It includes current up-to-date information regarding food handling and sanitation. Think leftovers and doggy bags!
Everyone would prefer to avoid the use of a nursing home, but there are instances when this highest level of chronic service makes the most sense. Older Americans featured in this episode describe how they went through the decision-making process and recognized that a nursing home is most appropriate in their circumstance. This episode also gives advice on how to make a good decision on the quality of care a particular nursing home provides.
Aging in the 21st Century
This final episode gives us a sense of how we can age better. It shows how technical improvements will allow people to remain independent in their own homes for longer periods of time and place less pressure on institutional-based services. It also features notable experts who offer clear and concise insight into how we can better plan our own aging.
Older Americans have always made good decisions. By taking a little time to learn, to engage in planning, and to talk about aging, we can do all we can to insure an enjoyable future with the best possible health.