Aging parents and family

When is it time to have a conversation with a loved one about aging?

The holidays can provide such an opportunity

Minnesota’s senior population is doubling as baby boomers reach retirement age. Soon there will be more senior citizens than schoolkids in our state.

Minnesota must face the reality of a dramatically older society. The rapid growth in our senior population will personally affect nearly everyone in Minnesota: current and soon-to-be seniors, family members of aging loved ones, professional caregivers and policymakers.

When families gather for the holidays, it can be a time when changes in older relatives are noticed and concerns about their health and well-being are raised. Here are some signs that may indicate a caring conversation is needed:

  • Trouble with balance when walking, getting up from a chair or using stairs
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Decrease in attention to personal hygiene
  • Recent injuries such as cuts, bruises or burns
  • Forgetfulness and losing things • Neglect of housekeeping
  • Piles of unopened mail, newspapers or bills
  • Late notices for utilities or other bills • Car dents or scratches
  • Old and expired food
  • Overuse or underuse of medications

If people witness these warning signs and need help knowing what to do, they are urged to call the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433. Representatives offer assistance in evaluating the situation and share information about local resources that could help.

Patti Cullen, president and CEO of Care Providers of Minnesota, encourages families to look for signs that could indicate that aging family members need more support and be ready to start the conversation before help is urgently needed. “Even if your aging loved one appears to be in good health, it’s still important to start the discussion. A simple conversation can go a long way to helping your loved one age well,” said Cullen.

It’s more important than ever to be proactive in having a conversation about aging. At least 60,000 Minnesotans are turning 65 every year from now through 2030. The Face Aging MN campaign aims to raise awareness about the unprecedented growth in Minnesota’s senior population, how it affects all of us, and what we need to do to ensure all Minnesota seniors get the care and services they need.

“We all need to face aging, as individuals, as family members, as communities and as a state,” said Gayle Kvenvold, president and CEO of LeadingAge Minnesota. “Never before have seniors been such a large and growing part of our population. This is a conversation that is important to every Minnesotan.”

To see conversation starters for family discussions, find resources to help you and your family face aging, and to learn more about Minnesota’s rapidly growing senior population, visit www.faceagingmn.org. Face Aging MN was launched in 2015 by the Long-Term Care Imperative, which is made up of members of Minnesota’s two long-term care provider associations, Care Providers of Minnesota and LeadingAge Minnesota.

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