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Guest Aging in Place Post- Bree Baldwin

by Louis on September 28, 2010

Every two or three years, when my military family moves to a new place, we must learn the culture and customs in our new location.  Just over a year ago, we arrived in Maryland and have noticed an unusual custom peculiar to this area.  Every four months, the Verizon Stork drops a plastic-swaddled phone book on our doorstep.  We have asked locals why it is necessary to have a newly-minted phone book so often, but the locals, too, seem puzzled by this tradition.  When asked what they do with this abundance of yellow pages, the usual reply is, “We recycle them.”  This statement implies that the phone books are not considered at all useful, even as doorstops or booster seats. In this age of “instant” and Internet many people don’t even consider using a phone book to locate service providers so this custom seems like a tremendous waste of money, effort and resources.

Just like that phone book, many senior support services hand out a directory to older citizens, their families and caregivers.  Like a phone book, the intent of the directory is to enlighten people about services available to them, and give contact information for those service providers.  Unfortunately, a person hoping to build a network of support must call place after place in an attempt to piece together the desired services from an array of disparate businesses, agencies and programs.  It is a tiresome and frustrating process–the telephone equivalent of driving from store to store to get the items one needs for a single meal.  And no one wants to choose the important people in their lives (doctors, dentists, clergy, care providers, etc.) from a phone book, particularly in urgency, or at an emotional time when they are in greatest need, as is often the case when support services are being sought.

The current system for Aging in Place mimics that of the phone book—disconnected, fragmented and obsolete–, and it is time to think outside the book—um, box.  Louis Tenenbaum’s recently released report, Aging in Place 2.0, (published by MetLife’s Mature Marketing Institute) advocates just such a break with convention, where business, technology, resources and service come together in a cohesive, synergistic system to support people who want to age in place.  This new Aging in Place structure would benefit both seniors who wish to maintain control of their path of aging, as well as agencies, businesses, community groups, healthcare providers, and others who serve older adults.  It is a natural win-win idea that would make aging in place a real possibility for millions of older people who want to stay in their homes for life.  Let’s get rid of the phone book approach to Aging in Place and try Aging in Place 2.0.

Bree Baldwin is a graduate student earning her MS in Gerontology from Oklahoma State University through a distance learning program. She discovered her passion for Aging in Place during a recent course on Environments for Aging, and is hoping to pursue a career in this area. Bree is a self starter, the key prerequisite for distance learning.

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