October –Education Forum on Aging and Elder Care
Shawna Wasko of the Office on Aging at the College of Southern Idaho
On October 29, about thirty WRWF members heard from one of our region’s top experts on aging and elder care. Shawna Wasko, Public Information Officer for the Office on Aging at the College of Southern Idaho, shared much eye-opening information at the forum, which was held at the Senior Connection in Hailey.
Participants learn about the challenges facing a growing senior population
One in six seniors struggles with hunger and poor nutrition. One in six baby boomers age 60 or over will develop dementia in the form of Alzheimer’s Disease, and half of people over 85 have Alzheimer’s. Women who have experienced the loss of a spouse or partner are especially vulnerable. Studies suggest that the high incidence of dementia in American society is related to “life style choices” related to food, exercise, body weight, smoking, drinking and other things we presumably have control over. Ms. Wasko spoke extensively about the burden on caretakers who manage family members with dementia at home. She emphasized that caregivers need financial support and relief to avoid succumbing to stress. The senior population in our region is growing at a rate of eight percent per year. Almost seventeen percent of Blaine County residents are over age 65. While the senior population grows, federal funding for home and residential care for the elderly has decreased, and the burdens on families with infirm older people have increased.