Is San Diego Ready for an Aging Population?

July 22, 2013 - Paul Downey

According to a 2013 survey that was commissioned by Pfizer, Inc. and Generations United, San Diego area residents are concerned about our city and ourselves as we get old. With nearly 10,000 people turning 60 every single day and San Diego’s senior population growing by 75% to nearly 1,000,000 people over 60 by 2030, I am not surprised.

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(The tables are always full at Senior Community Centers)

The San Diego survey reveals the following findings:

  • 70% of respondents in the San Diego area agree their workplace values diversity of age but their top work related fear is not being able to get a new job (63%) followed closely by not being able to retire when planned (58%).
  • Only 22% of respondents feel the community is very prepared to provide appropriate healthcare facilities for older people and just 16% feel the community is very prepared to provide home caregiving.
  • Only 16% feel the San Diego area is very prepared with transportation options for older people and just 15% see San Diego as very prepared to provide housing for this population.
  • 56% of San Diego-area respondents feel U.S. politicians portray older generations in a positive way and more than half (53%) feel the media does, too.
  •  A huge majority (94%) agree that technology allows you to stay connected with the people in your life but that it’s a lot of work to keep up with (74%).

What does that mean for our city’s agencies and for Senior Community Centers? The survey shows we have some work to do educating San Diegans about the many fine resources that are available in our community for seniors. But it should also be taken as a wake-up call that we must be diligent about building a strong infrastructure to support the growing demands of an aging population. It is also a lesson for each of us, no matter our age, that we have both the opportunity and responsibility to do things that will keep us healthy, independent and able to fully enjoy our lives.

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The full press release can be found here: Wall Street Journal. Stay tuned to this Get Old Campaign and join the conversation at www.getold.com.

Cultural Competency: A Closer Look at San Diego’s Asian American Senior Population

July 12, 2013 - Paul Downey

The number of Asian seniors who benefit from our culturally competent services is growing. I am happy to announce that as of July 1, our Mandarin-speaking supportive services case manager Maggie will be available to serve our seniors full-time from Monday through Friday.

25% of the seniors we support at the Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center are Asian and of that, 14% are Chinese.

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(At Senior Community Centers’ Chinese New Year Celebration)

Working with culturally diverse seniors is very rewarding and can be challenging at the same time, especially when it comes to something as important as addressing healthcare needs that could prevent seniors from living healthy and independent lives.

According a recent cultural competency workshop by Yawen Li, PhD, Assistant Professor at the School of Social Work at San Diego State University, Asian health beliefs attribute illness to karma or curses. Combined with strong superstitions and putting a lot of power into alternative healing methods, Western medicine may be the very last resort to get help. While respecting the beliefs of Asian cultures, our support services team is ready help in a culturally competent way.

Since inception of the Chinese Outreach Program in 2011, our Mandarin-speaking case manager has conducted over 1,000 visits helping nearly 200 clients. The resolution rate for medical issues is over 90%. 

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(Maggie and a senior at the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center)

Our success rate is in part due to our collaborative partnerships, ongoing cultural competency training and dedicated staff members like Maggie. The following list shows ways to bridge some of the cultural differences between Asian American traditions and Western habits:

  • Be aware of differences among Asian American ethnicities
  • Avoid using stereotypes as portrayed in US media
  • Be aware of non-verbal cues as Asian Americans can be very sensitive to non-verbal communication (lack of eye contact implies not being respectful or not paying attention)
  • Use a title instead of calling by direct name
  • Work closely with family members that were identified by the senior as  the representative of the family
  • Be considerate of the high respect for authority figures within extended family and that the behavior or achievements of one person reflects on the entire family
  • Be aware that mental illness is seen as having “a bad gene” and is highly stigmatized
  • Explain problems and treatment alternatives clearly and be ready to have recommendations
  • Make sure the senior and family members understand what you are trying to communicate; nodding heads may just signify paying respect rather than understanding
  • Western cultures focus on self-expression through language while eastern cultures focus on affect and non-verbal expression
  • Language may not accommodate all that the individual thinks and feels

We are happy to have Maggie on our team full-time to help bridge some of the cultural differences to help seniors in need live a healthy and independent life. Find out here how you can support the Chinese Outreach and Case Management Program.

Are you Considering to Retire in San Diego?

March 27, 2013 - Paul Downey

Endless beaches, year-round wonderful weather, close proximity to the desert and mountains, a rich and diverse culture – San Diego has plenty of exciting activities to offer for an engaging lifestyle during retirement.

San Diego residents benefit from excellent health care and medical research facilities. UC San Diego Medical Center is ranked 37th in the nation for geriatric care.  (The full US News List for Geriatric Care has over 1,500 hospitals listed.)

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But amazing weather, casual beach living and excellent medical care are not enough to make San Diego a top destination for retirement. In fact, San Diego is one of the top 10 worst cities to retire.

“What makes it difficult to retire in the San Diego metro area are the high housing costs. People age 60 and older spend a median of over $1,000 per month on rent and $1,971 monthly on their mortgages, although costs drop to $436 monthly for seniors who have paid off their houses.”

While some retirees have the luxury to choose where to spend their non-working years, Baby Boomers that already live in San Diego may not have that choice and are bound to struggle with the high cost of living. Deep family roots and local investments may make it hard to pack up and settle elsewhere.

The 60+ population in San Diego is projected to increase from 531,980 today to 929,766 in 2030. This 75% increase compared to a 62% increase nationally (from 57 million to 92 million) will impact life in San Diego and the work of Senior Community Centers on many levels.  By 2030, 25% of the population will be over 60 years of age with an average life expectancy of 83 years.

Wherever you choose to spend your retirement, are you prepared for 20+ years without a set salary?  While Congress is still taking too much time to handle our aging population, it’s never too early for you to start planning. (Here is a good retirement planning guide from the US Department of Labor.)

Seniors and Sex: Older, Wiser, Safer

March 20, 2013 - Paul Downey

When the spring flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing, spring romance is just around the corner. Love is in the air and everyone is catching spring fever, including the seniors at Senior Community Centers, who are still dating, being social and being active.

Dating Seniors

Christine Holcomb, RN, Senior Community Centers lead nurse, she says “Just because you’re 60 or 80 doesn’t mean you don’t date anymore; it just changes the dynamics.” That’s why it’s important for seniors to have “the talk” with a trusted health care professional or family member to understand the issues surrounding safer sex.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2006 to 2010 reported cases of STDs in people ages 55 and up increased dramatically.

It is important to remember that safe sex should be practiced at all ages. Here are four tips to help seniors protect themselves in the bedroom:

  • Know Your Partner. Before engaging in any sexual relationship, you should know your partner’s sexual history and let each other know if you have ever been tested for STDs, what the test results were, and if either of you have participated in illegal drug use. HIV/AIDS can be transmitted via hypodermic needle.
  • Get Tested Together. The best way to protect yourself and your partner is for the two of you to get tested for HIV and other STDs before you start having sex.
  • Use a Condom. Until you are in a committed relationship and know each other’s status and history, make certain to use a condom every time you have sex.
  • Talk to Your Doctor. If you have additional questions regarding sex and how to protect yourself, consult with your health care provider.

Sex is a healthy part of aging. When seniors protect themselves from STDs, they can continue living a long, active life and they can enjoy their Spring romance in their future.

The full article was first posted on February 12, 2013 by Patch.com.

Governor Brown Announces Appointments

April 3, 2012 - Paul Downey

Senior Community Centers is delighted to congratulate Lora Connolly on her appointment by Governor Brown as the director of the California Department of Aging (CDA).   Her long-standing commitment to improving the lives of California seniors and her extensive experience on aging policy make her an outstanding choice during this critical time in the State’s history.

From the Office of the Governor:

Lora Connolly, 59, of Elk Grove, has been appointed director of the California Department of Aging (CDA). Connolly has been chief deputy director at CDA since 2002 and also served as acting director from 2004 to 2007 and from 2011 to 2012. Connolly was assistant secretary of aging and long term care at the California Health and Human Services Agency from 2000 to 2002 and chief of the Office of Long Term Care at the California Department of Health Care Services from 1997 to 2000. She worked at the Department of Health Care Services from 1993 to 1997 in multiple positions, including communications coordinator. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $129,796. Connolly is a Democrat. Read more of Governor Brown’s Appointments>>

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