What does it mean to be a senior citizen? An Internet search for the answer to this question turned up a number of answers, but nothing really definitive. Most sources agreed that a senior citizen is an older person; however, there was no agreement on one specific age at which one reaches this status. Even the government doesn’t have a single standard. Social Security benefits are available beginning at age 62, and Medicare eligibility begins at 65, but the “official” age of retirement according to the Social Office is 67.
To further complicate the issue, many business offer senior discounts – but the age requirement is anybody’s guess. McDonald’s offers Senior Coffee to guests 55 and older, most movies offer discounts to customers who have reach 60 to 62 years of age, and many restaurants offer discounts beginning anywhere from 55 to 62.
Senior citizen status can also be a matter of personal perception – when you find that first wrinkle or gray hair or the first time you squat down and can’t get back up without help. My fiftieth birthday was hard on me. I had just moved to a new town for a new job, so I was feeling old and alone. Then, I went to the bank to open a new account and discovered that, because of my advanced age, I qualified for free checking. That was when I decided that getting older wasn’t so bad after all.
A lot of people felt the same way about aging after August 14, 1935 when Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act. Many observed that day as Senior Citizens Day until 1988 when Ronald Reagan declared an official holiday and changed the date to August 21. National Senior Citizen Day has been set aside as a time to show the seniors in your life how much you love and appreciate them for the contributions they have made to you personally and to their communities, their nation, and their world. It is also a time to raise awareness of various issues that affect senior citizens. One of those issues is Alzheimer’s Disease.
When Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the mid 1990s, I knew very little about the disease. By the time she passed away in 2011, I had learned a lot. Here are some statistics from the Alzheimer’s Association website (https://www.alz.org) that you may not be aware of:
- Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S.
- More than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with AD and other dementias.
- These caregivers provided approximately 18.5 billion hours of care valued at nearly $234 billion.
- Between 2000 and 2017 deaths from heart disease have decreased 9% while deaths from AD have increased 145%.
- 1 in 3 seniors dies with AD or another dementia. It kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.
- Only 16% of seniors receive regular cognitive assessments during routine health check-ups.
- In 2019, AD and other dementias will cost the nation $290 billion. By 2050, these costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion.
- 5.8 million Americans are living with AD. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million.
- Every 65 seconds someone in the U.S. develops the disease.
By now you’re probably thinking that these figures are shocking but are wondering what they have to do with you – or maybe not. I have written two memoirs about my fifteen years as the primary caregiver for Mom and also for Dad who had vascular dementia. As I talk with people about my experiences, I meet very few who have not been touched in some way by the disease.
Through my lifetime, public awareness and concern have focused attention on many diseases that have now been eradicated or at least controlled. Alzheimer’s needs that kind of attention. When I wrote about my family’s long and winding road through Alzheimer’s that ended in long goodbyes, my intention was to amuse, encourage, and inspire other caregivers. Today, on National Senior Citizens Day, I hope to raise awareness of an issue that affects more seniors every day.
A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is the story of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend seven weeks touring the southeastern U.S. in a 40-foot motor home.
Alzheimer’s is a family disease, and A Long and Winding Road is a love story–not a boy-meets-girl love story, but a family love story:
The story of the love of a daughter for her parents and her willingness to take them into her home when they could no longer care for themselves;
The story of a mother and father who loved their daughter but no longer remembered exactly where they were or why;
The story of a husband who loved his wife so much that he stood beside her as they fought to survive the ravages of the brain-wasting disease that was stealing her loved ones away a piece at a time.
It’s also the story of a seven-week trip for four across sixteen U.S. states in a forty-foot motor home–a trip that involved stopped up toilets, wet jeans, laughter, and headaches that were far from the easygoing retirement the Brendles had imagined for themselves.
Linda Brendle takes you on a roller-coaster ride of emotional and spiritual challenges that many families are facing right now. Co-dependency, mental breakdowns, and finding love after divorce are just a few of the issues weaved into this journey of caregiving.
Buy on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Long-Winding-Road-Caregivers-Chaos-ebook/dp/B00LDV3W50
Mom’s Long Goodbye: A Caregiver’s Tale of Alzheimer’s, Grief, and Comfort
“Mom’s goodbye began with a red photo album and ended fifteen years later in a hospital bed in the Alzheimer’s wing of Southridge Village. This is her story and mine.”
Linda Brendle’s first memoir, A Long and Winding Road, told of the chaos that happens when four people, two of whom have Alzheimer’s, spend fifty-three days in a forty-foot motor home. It also told of the years and the life experiences that brought these four people together. After finishing it, many readers asked what happened next. Mom’s Long Goodbye is the rest of the story.
Based on blog posts written as the events happened, this memoir takes the reader through grieving a continuous loss, some of the initial changes Alzheimer’s causes, the transition from caregiving to assisted living, Dad’s death, Mom’s last year, and the grief and closure of her final goodbye.
Mom’s Long Goodbye strips away the façade of being the perfect caregiver and gives the reader a look at the denial, the anger, and the fear that come as a loved one loses herself a piece at a time to an insidious disease. Through sharing her own struggles, Brendle tries to assure other caregivers that they are not alone, that perfection is not required, and that comfort is real.
Buy at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Moms-Long-Goodbye-Linda-Brendle-ebook/dp/B07PG36Y2J
Linda Brendle began to write as a way of helping herself and others deal with the pain and frustration of family caregiving. Now that her parents are eternally healed, she writes about country life, her feral Kitty, retirement, and her amazingly patient husband David. She also writes fiction.
About Linda Brendle:
Linda began to write as a way of helping herself and others deal with the pain and frustration of family caregiving. Now that her parents are eternally healed, she writes about country life, her feral Kitty, retirement, and her amazingly patient husband David. She also writes fiction.
2 thoughts on “Happy National Senior Citizen’s Day by Linda Brendle”
Reblogged this on Linda Brendle's Life After Caregiving and commented:
Anaiah Press hosted me on their blog today – National Senior Citizens Day. When did this holiday begin, and what’s it all about?
Thank you to Anaiah Press for hosting me on your blog today. And happy National Senior Citizens Day to all who have reached that honored status and all who will one day be there!