Care of elderly should be priority for nation's policymakers - Deseret News

My friend Maggie will turn 104 next month and she'll likely throw herself a little birthday party and invite a 100 or so of her closest friends.

She sparkles — intelligent, good-humored, caring, funny. We've never had a conversation where she didn't ask first about my husband or how my daughter did on a particular test. She pays attention to the details and remembers from visit to visit, however infrequent. She can tell you what happened in her life yesterday or back in 1932. But she pays attention to your life, too.

Maggie relies on friends to take her to the grocery store and hires help to do her yardwork, but she still does her own laundry, and when I pull into her driveway, she's often at the sink washing her dishes.

I suspect she's not your average senior citizen. I know a great many older people who, though far younger than Maggie, are not as healthy — mentally or physically — or as independent and capable.

As baby boomers race toward retirement and beyond en masse, that's a serious issue. Americans right now are growing older in large waves — the number of those age 65 and older is expected to double in the next 20 years — and we are really not very well prepared to deal with the sheer quantity of individuals who will need some help.

We're not ready for the numbers we have right now.

Under the umbrella of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, a team of Utahns who are extraordinarily knowledgeable about the challenges and deficiencies of the eldercare system have been in Washington, D.C., this week to stump for policies and programs that would equip an eldercare workforce to help people stay in their homes as they need services.

Read the Deseret News story here.