There are 42 million people in the U.S. aged 65 years or older. With aging comes new changes, challenges and opportunities. Grace Smith, executive director of the Council on Aging of Middle Tennessee, joined us on a recent episode to explain Older Americans Month, healthy aging and available resources. View her segment here.

For more than 30 years, the Council on Aging has worked to address the unmet needs of older adults and caregivers through information, advocacy and education and by being a catalyst for comprehensive solutions. The organization has taken action on issues affecting seniors including community engagement, consumer fraud, elder abuse, end-of-life planning, retirement and much more.

The Council’s current top priority is improvement of senior transportation. Plans to reduce this growing problem include the implementation of a door-to-door transportation service similar to Uber and other ride-sharing tools.

Beyond transportation, the Council assists with many day-to-day issues and obstacles that older adults face including:

  • Declining health
  • Uncertain housing options
  • Worry about financial security
  • Becoming the target of scams
  • Loneliness and lack of social support

If you are a caregiver of a senior citizen, the Council on Aging’s number one piece of advice is to help your loved one avoid isolation. Always encourage seniors to stay connected to their community, whether that means regular interactions with their neighbors, faith community, local establishments or a senior assistance service like Meals on Wheels. When a senior becomes isolated, they are at the greatest risk of falling victim to a scam.

For more information about senior services in your area, the Council publishes a Directory of Services for Seniors. Free copies are available through all public library branches, the Council office and online at COAMidTN.org/directory. To learn more about healthy aging and available resources, visit the National Council on Aging’s website at NCOA.org.

Did you know as a person gets older, certain parts of the brain actually shrink?

Including areas important to learning, memory, planning and other complex tasks. Older adults can take action to help preserve a healthy brain as they age. Regular exercise and physical activity, a healthy diet with fruits and vegetables, and engaging in intellectually stimulating activities improved brain health and provides other benefits from overall healthier living. For more information on maintaining a healthy brain as you age, visit AARP.org/health/brain-health.

Did you know more than ten million memory-impaired people in the United States could benefit from specialized Alzheimer’s or Dementia treatment and programming?

An estimated 5.2 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease… and at least five million more memory-impaired elderly could benefit from specialized treatment. Of those, an estimated 200,000 people who suffer from early onset Alzheimer’s or Dementia are under the age of 65.

As baby boomers continue to age, there is an increased need for Alzheimer’s education and research.  Andrew Sandler from Abe’s Garden – an Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Center of Excellence – talks about Alzheimer’s and dementia

Did you know for every person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, there are 10 to 12 others directly impacted?

Family, co-workers and neighbors are often the primary caregivers for those suffering from the disease. Being a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be daunting, but caregivers are not alone: the Alzheimer’s Association provides support groups, online resources and a 24/7 helpline. Call 1.800.272.3900 to receive support and reliable information on Alzheimer’s.

Did you know one American develops Alzheimer’s disease or dementia every 67 seconds?

Of Americans aged 65 and older, 1 in 9 has Alzheimer’s, and for people age 85 and over, 1 in 3 will develop the disease. Memory loss diseases are progressing rapidly; in 2050, it’s estimated that one American will develop a memory loss disease every 33 seconds.  Alzheimer’s will cost an estimated $1.2 trillion in this country alone if nothing is done to stop the epidemic.