Would you be OK having people with Alzheimer’s living in your neighborhood? Why or why not?
Absent a cure, Alzheimer’s will continue impacting thousands of Minnesotans emotionally and financially. It’s a disease that raises many questions that have to be solved in Minnesota:
Where do we house people with Alzheimer’s so they live with dignity – not in a warehouse?
How do we ensure they have adequate care, especially when they have no spouse or family? (Many people are living as singles these days or their family has moved elsewhere)
How do businesses deal with workers who are balancing work and caregiving?
How do Minnesotans pay for all of this? (Right now unless you spend into poverty and qualify for a nursing home Medicaid stay, you pay for your Alzheimer’s care out of your own pocket, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.)
According to the Prepare Minnesota for 2020 Report:
- Between 2010 and 2050, the number of Minnesotans with Alzheimer’s disease will soar from 90,000 to 200,000.
- As Minnesota experiences an historic increase in its older population over the next 40 years, the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is expected to double for people ages 75-84 and triple for those over age 85.
- The total cost of care for these individuals could reach an estimated $20 billion per year in Minnesota by 2050, most of that spent in the Medicaid budget for assisted living and nursing home care when families have exhausted their personal and financial resources.
Alzheimer's disease does not discriminate against who it affects, should we? We can do better than simply kicking or keeping people with Alzheimer’s out of our neighborhoods. With nearly 100,000 Minnesotans living with Alzheimer’s today, we have to.
Ecumen has opened this "honor site" and invites you to share a tribute to a Veteran today. While there, you can read former Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist's tribute to a soldier and farm boy from Hanska entitled: "The Day Corporal Denny Wellmann came Home."
Thank you Corporal Wellmann and all of our veterans for your service!
What would it take to make 100+ the new life expectancy of Minnesotans? With our state’s reputation for healthy living, could we become known as the global spot that helps you live the longest? And not only the longest, but the longest with good years at the end.
Twin Citian Dan Buettner recently wrote a popular article for The New York Times Magazine entitled: “The Island Where People Forget to Die.” It examined the lifestyle on Ikaria, the “enchanted Greek island of centenarians.” Ikaria sounds like a beautiful place, especially during a Minnesota winter, but could Minnesota become the state where people forget to die?
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, we have the second longest life expectancy rate, just behind Hawaii. I don’t know how many centenarians we have, but the U.S. has about 72,000 in total.
The following factors seem to be working together to contribute to Ikarian longevity:
- Sufficient rest
- Easily accessible, healthy, tasty food (the healthy food there is also the cheapest) Minimal processed foods
- Exercise (lots of hills, lots of walkers in Ikaria)
- Social place (feeling of belonging)
- Low crime rates (because people watch out for others)
- Religious Faith
Buettner emphasizes the ecosystem on Ikaria supports longevity. Ikaria has a strong sense of community and community behaviors that influence individual behaviors. Many places in Minnesota have a strong sense of community – it’s why we don’t leave. Could we parlay that into record longevity? I’m struck by the results of the Albert Lea “Blue Zones” project that mobilized community members in making simple lifestyle changes, leading to the following results:
- Life expectancy increased an average of 3.1 years
- Participants lost a collective 12,000 pounds
- An average 21% drop in absenteeism by key employers
- City employees showed a 40% decrease in health care costs
Pieces are in place to make Minnesota a place where people forget to die. Could the Land of 10,000 Lakes also become the global Land of Longevity?
The U.S. has about 15,000 senior centers, most of these grew out of the 1960s and the Older Americans Act with subsidies based on hot meals the centers provide.
Think about your aging for a minute:
Do you see yourself hanging out at a senior center? Do we really need to build more senior centers?
The senior center needs to be reimagined. “Community centers” in many municipalities are great opportunities to integrate aging into broader programming – not segregate it.
It seems a “community center” should be able to be the “senior center,” providing ageless programming, fitness classes, interesting speakers and other educational opportunities, and delivering in those instances when people want age-specific pursuits.