Nonagenarians now represent 4.7 percent of the 65-and-older US population, compared to 2.8 percent in 1980. The U.S. Census Bureau has estimated that by 2050, the number of those living beyond 90 years will quadruple.
By the time we reach that age, we may have lost our spouse, other family members and most of our friends. We most like will have some disability which takes away much of our freedom. Driving a car is usually out of the question, although I know several folks who continue to drive at this age. They are less likely to be texting or drinking while driving, but their reflexes aren’t what they used to be.
When you live until 90 and beyond, the body no longer produces new cells to replace the old ones, so at this age you are slowly dying. There are options for those with need of memory care. Many facilities are now offering activities that challenge the memory and often those who love music will be stimulated by the sound of a piano playing. Those who have forgotten members of their family can be reminded through old photographs, stories from the past and more contact with family members. Anything that keeps the mind active is critical at this point in life. Our bodies may be falling apart, but if our minds are sound, we can live for a long time.
When we’re without a spouse or friends to rely on, many in this age bracket realize the need for moving out of the supposed comfort of their homes into a community of people with similar needs. I believe that most people thrive on other people. When we isolate ourselves, we lose interest in life. If we were socially active in our younger years, chances our we’ll want that in our aging years.
Many people do very well in nursing homes or assisted living facilities for that very reason. Activity directors are constantly looking for new things for their residents to be involved in. My mother in law spent almost the last twenty years of her life in a care facility and loved it. There are those who simply think this is the end of their lives and give up. You will see them lined up in their wheel chairs with no desire to go on.
My sister had a great idea for senior living places. She thought it would be fun to have a wine and cheese bar during the cocktail hour. I’d take it a step further and provide entertainment from among the residents. I think there are many hidden actors lurking behind those dear, aging bodies.
Since we are living longer in the United States, we need to make the most of those years. God still can use us, no matter what our age. It’s up to us to find a way to continue sharing our talents and wisdom for His glory, until we take our last breath.
“Old age is when the liver spots show through your gloves.” Phyllis Diller