April 16, 2011

USA: Living out your years at home can be challenging

KANSAS City / Kansas City Star / Life / April 16, 2011

Winnifred Whited is among the fortunate who are aging in place.
It isn’t easy to age in place. In the coming decades, more of us are going to find that out.


The Kansas City Star

A treasured collection of china doll heads watches over Winnifred Whited from shelves in her cozy living room in the Kansas City house where she has lived since 1942. “I’m plugging along by myself,” said Whited, 98, who worked in a bag factory for 30 years. “I pray every night to be able to stay in my own home.”

Whited is doing what most old people want to do: to “age in place” — with a little bit of help when needed.

Since 1942, Winnifred Whited has called one Kansas City dwelling home. At 98, she has been able to continue her independent living with help from friends, volunteers and social services. Tammy Ljungblad

She has Snowball, her cat, and nightly phone calls from a niece. These keep her company between Meals on Wheels deliveries, visits from an aide who gives her a bath, and outings with relatives or friends who take her to the grocery or the doctors.

“I’m happy here,” said Whited, whose husband and son have died. “I crochet big afghans. I work my word puzzles. I sit out on the porch when it’s nice.”

Whited is among the fortunate. It isn’t easy to age in place.

Since Marie Norrise is physically unable to leave her Kansas City home, physician Nevada Lee makes a house call to see her.

In the coming decades, more of us are going to find that out. For the next 20 years, as 79 million baby boomers age, 10,000 people a day will turn 65, an average of one every 13 seconds.

And here’s another wrinkle: At least a third of Americans who reach age 65 are likely to reach age 90, perhaps frail and needing lots of help.

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