Mind Your Body TV Episode 31 with Barbara Meltzer.
In 2007, Los Angeles public relations professional and aging advocate Barbara Meltzer told NBC’s chief medical editor, Nancy Snyderman, about a fear millions of baby boomers share with her. My guest for today’s video, Meltzer said she’s worried because she isn’t married and doesn’t have children. Like many of us—and that includes me—she wonders who will “take care of her” when she can’t manage her basic needs. But she knows the advantages and promise of age-friendly communities.
Childless female numbers are growing. According to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.
“Watching over my own mother for eight years pushed every fear button,” Meltzer told me before the video interview you see here. She has channeled her fear into positive action, implementing a busy “50+” division at her p.r. firm. She chairs the communications committee for the Los Angeles County Commission for Older Adults (LACCOA), and has produced a half-day symposium for the city entitled “Pathways to Positive Aging: Creating Communities for a Lifetime.”
Why age-friendly communities
No man or woman is an island, made readily apparent as we age and can no longer function as we did earlier in life. We need help. Enter the concept of age-friendly communities, places where we live and we die. They’re places, says Meltzer, with resources including accessible transportation, affordable housing and opportunities for both civic engagement and lifelong learning—a busy brain is a happier, healthier brain.
Rather than sit back and wait for “the perfect place” to materialize, Meltzer says we boomers need to become proactive, defining what we will need and taking steps now to ensure our needs are fulfilled.
It takes a village
AARP data verify that 90 percent of us want to stay in our homes when we age. Look around you at seniors who echo that same sentiment daily as the thought of “a facility” puts terror in their hearts.
One positive solution: The Village model. This grassroots effort materialized in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood in 2001. Neighbors joined together to develop services so older adults could stay at home, in their community. The sensible, practical concept has since been replicated nationwide in more than 100 active or developing communities where members pay reasonable annual dues in the range of $400 to $700 and avail themselves of numerous services and amenities.
(Photo courtesy: © Janet Best | Dreamstime.com)