Last month my friend and colleague Dan Haley, Wednesday Journal publisher, wrote a 650+ word, end-of-year editorial summarizing 2018 and highlighting important issues in the upcoming local elections: Development, Taxes, Equity. In the whole editorial, he didn’t use the word “aging” once. This is the same guy I worked and sweated shoulder-to-shoulder with on the successful ChangingAging Tour.
But he’s not alone.
We are in the middle of local election season. To date, in all the current campaign articles, forums, candidate statements, etc. the word “aging” has been virtually non-existent.
Every day in our country, 10,000 people turn 65. The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to more than double from 46 million today to over 98 million by 2060, and the 65-and-older age group’s share of the total population will rise to nearly 24 percent from 15 percent.
What will our villages look like in 10 years? In 20 years? In regard to aging, what we’ve been doing for the past 50 years, the way things are today, is unsustainable.
Aging remains the big, sweaty elephant in the room.
Do the current candidates know about our changing longevity and how it will affect almost everything in our villages? Do they have any insight into the importance of aging for the future of our villages? What do they know about aging and what do they think? We can only speculate at this point because their lips have been sealed. That, in itself, speaks volumes.
Dan’s editorial is correct — development, taxes and equity are important issues facing all of us. Aging, however, cuts through all three of these issues and will continue to increasingly impact all three.
There are no easy, quick answers. There is no template. But denying and ignoring both the present impact and the looming impact of aging on the future of our villages is an abdication of the leadership these local candidates are so anxious to assume. …
On another topic, River Forest was recently recognized as a dementia friendly community by Dementia Friendly America. Kudos to Village President Cathy Adduci for her leadership on Dementia Friendly River Forest. More on this next month. …
Lastly, Senior Services of Oak Park and River Forest Townships, with support from the River Forest Public Library, is sponsoring a Memory Café. Beginning this month, regular Memory Café gatherings will be held on the third Tuesday afternoon of each month, 1:30-3:30, at the Senior Services Nutrition Site, 130 S. Oak Park Ave. Memory Cafés offer a coffee house atmosphere and engaging, entertaining programs to individuals living with memory changes and their care partners.
According to Executive Director Pamela Mahn, guests who attend the Memory Cafés are never asked to acknowledge a diagnosis. Many café participants have not received a medical diagnosis, but may just be concerned about their memories or other expressions of possible cognitive change. The focus of the Memory Café is socializing as well as creative and cultural exploration, which are activities common to all of us. …
Breaking news! As we go to print, Arbor West Neighbors is organizing a community discussion on aging to which all the Oak Park trustee candidates will be invited. This event will happen before the start of early voting. Details to follow.
Marc Blesoff is a former Oak Park village trustee, co-founder of the Windmills softball organization, co-creator of Sunday Night Dinner, a retired criminal defense attorney, and a novice beekeeper. He currently facilitates Conscious Aging Workshops and Wise Aging Workshops in the Chicago area.