Aging and Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Caregivers, Family

Information, updates and interesting tidbits about healthy aging, senior care and family caregiving from across the country and around the world. In this issue:

  • Are older workers hogging all the jobs?
  • When seniors turn down the thermostat, are they putting their health at risk?
  • How can you help children understand the effects of Alzheimer's disease?

Does Delayed Retirement Keep Younger Workers Unemployed?

Americans are retiring later. Studies show that the average planned retirement age has risen to a record age 67—and in reality, many seniors are working well beyond that age. They put off retirement for economic reasons, and also cite the desire to remain active and engaged. More and more seniors say that their work is an important part of their life and they enjoy it.
Often as not, articles about this trend include quotes from younger workers who speak in a resentful tone, claiming that late-retiring baby boomers will mean fewer job opportunities for younger workers.  Some pundits say that older workers are "crowding out" the Gen X and Millennial workers from the labor market. But are these claims true? A recent study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College suggests the idea of a generation war in the workplace is a misconception. Examining data from 1977 – 2011, the economists demonstrated that in fact, older workers' employment has no negative impact on the hourly wages or annual income of younger people. The study authors said, "This horse has been beaten to death. The evidence suggests that greater employment of older persons leads to better outcomes for the young—reduced unemployment, and a higher wage."

You can read the study here. The Pew Charitable Trust also offers a discussion of the findings

This Winter, Protect Seniors and Their Pocketbooks

It's that time of year again! Most areas of the country have cooled down after the unusually warm summer, and furnaces are starting up. But many seniors, already overwhelmed by healthcare and other costs, put themselves at risk of hypothermia by setting their thermostats dangerously low. Dr. Lee Green of the University of Michigan says, "People think of hypothermia as something that happens in the bitter cold and blizzards. It actually doesn't have to be very cold for a person to get hypothermia." Green points out that even a relatively mild indoor temperature—just 60 degrees—can be dangerous for seniors, especially those with chronic diseases such as heart failure or emphysema.

To help with these concerns, the Eldercare Locator, a nationwide public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to educate older adults and their families about community resources available to help them stay warm economically. The team encourages families to:

  • Find out about energy assistance programs by contacting their local Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or
  • Take advantage of monthly budget plans and "no cut off" energy programs available through local utility providers.
  • Learn about ways to cut down on energy use with help from the EPA Energy Star program by calling toll-free 888-782-7937 or visit
  • Ensure home safety, such as the proper use of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, electrical cords and space heaters, and chimneys and fireplaces.
  • Have a back-up plan in case of weather emergencies.
For more information, download the free online booklet "Winter Warmth and Safety: Home Energy Tips for Older Adults." To find your local Area Agency on Aging, visit the n4a website.

Helping Children Understand Alzheimer's Disease

Holiday visits are a time when many grandparents and grandchildren reconnect. But when an older relative is dealing with the challenges of Alzheimer's disease or a similar condition, these visits can be difficult. It's important to talk to children about what is happening. How much and what kind of information you share depends on the child's age and relationship to the person with Alzheimer's. The National Institute on Aging shares suggestions for helping children understand and cope with these changes in their relative:

  • Answer their questions simply and honestly. For example, you might tell a young child, "Grandma has an illness that makes it hard for her to remember things."
  • Help them know that their feelings of sadness and anger are normal.
  • Comfort them. Tell them no one caused the disease.
Encourage children to talk about their concerns. Some may not open up about their negative feelings, but changes in how they act can be a sign that they are upset. A teenager might find it hard to accept how the person with Alzheimer's has changed. He or she may find the changes upsetting or embarrassing and not want to be around the person. The NIA suggests that forcing children to spend time with the person who has Alzheimer's could make things worse. Instead, give children information about Alzheimer’s that they can understand.

Visit the National Institute on Aging's Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center to find online resources for children
, as well as recommendations of books that you can purchase or request from your local library.