senior living

Labor organizer Ai-Jen Poo says the U.S. doesn't have a plan for its elderly.
Flickr Photo/Elliot Margolies (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The annual Citizen University conference brings together community leaders, artists and activists to discuss the art and practice of citizenship. Their motto is “Let’s Do Democracy!”

The gathering evolved out of the work of the Guiding Lights Network, founded by author and educator Eric Liu in 2005. The theme this year was Citizen Power Now. To that end, participants focused on best practices for problem solving in a climate of political polarization.

Labor organizer Ai-jen Poo gave the keynote address, “The Future of Elder Care.”

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Memory loss is one of the symptoms of dementia. So is wandering. Over the last five years, at least 10 people in Washington state have died after wandering away from where they live. It’s a problem that communities will have to confront as the population ages. But not all police departments are prepared for these kinds of incidents.

There are different challenges when searching for people with dementia than for other missing person cases. Certain kinds of information play a key role, too. For example, when an elderly person is reported missing medical information is critical; it can mean the difference between life and death.

The Dangers Of Wandering For Dementia Patients

Jul 19, 2013

When people have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, they are at risk for wandering.  What that really means is they get lost. For an elderly person, that can sometimes lead to death. In Washington in the last five years, at least 10 people with some form of dementia have died after getting lost.

Jason Alcorn from Investigate West  has been looking into the problem in collaboration with KUOW and KCTS 9 and he tells Ross Reynolds what he’s found.

As the human lifespan increases, families are putting more time and effort into caring for their aging parents and grandparents. By 2008, it was estimated that the average woman could expect to spend more years caring for an older family member than for her own children.

But providing in-home care doesn't work for everyone. For many families, finding the right nursing home or assisted-living arrangement is crucial. Ross Reynolds talks about the issues surrounding elderly care with Wendy Lustbader, a p​rofessor in the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.