Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

The number of senior citizens in our country is growing faster than at any other time in our history. They are living longer lives, and many are in need of physical and mental healthcare that will be provided, in many instances, by members of their families.

Data from the 2010 U.S. Census stated that the growth of older persons outpaced that of young people. According to the Census, one of every five persons in our society today is beyond 50 years of age.

It is predicated that in 16 years, one of every five people in our country will be 65 years or older. With longevity comes health issues,  and often younger people are finding themselves having to care for aging parents or grandparents, while holding down  full-time jobs, and raising  their own families.

There are a number government programs and agencies that can be very helpful to the aged, and to those who are caring for them.  The United States Administration on Aging, for instance, provides information on resources for elderly persons that include at home services, legal issues regarding the elderly and care-giving options.

A web site, NIHSeniorHealth.gov, contains information on various diseases, and disorders that can affect elderly persons. Available in written and audio forms, the information is compiled by the National Institutes of Health and the National Library of Medicine.

The site Medicare.gov lists nursing centers as well as long-term care payment options and information on various drug usage plans. The Medicare site is interactive, and easy to navigate.

The National Center for Assisted Living   is a perfect tool for those who are faced with having to place a loved one in an institutional facility.  It outlines costs, dietary provisions, payment methods and social activities offered by various residential facilities.

As a part of the historic “great society” mandate, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Older Americans Act of 1965.  The administration recognized that the population was aging, and needed assistance.

In 2000, the federal government established The National Family Caregiver Support Program.   The program provided grant funding to state governments, allowing them to assist caregivers who were caring for aging family members that lived with them.

The emotional and physical toll on caregivers can be tremendous. The more knowledge a caregiver has about government programs, and other services that are available to assist in the care of a loved one, the fewer mental and financial pressures they will endure.

For instance, if an elderly parent’s social security benefits are extremely low, the caregiver might be able to access additional funding through the Social Security Department’s Supplemental Income Program, known as SSI.

Also, since many elderly patients are taking numerous prescription drugs, caregivers should become familiar with the Food and Drug Administration’s web site which contains information on drug ingredients, drug interactions, and recommended dosages for prescription medications.

Seniors have worked very hard to create a society in which we are able to live and proper. In their golden years we must be there for them, just as they were there while they were actively working and laying the foundation for today’s society,  and its  quality  standard of living.