Industry News

Changing Perceptions of Aging

Episode Summary

In this insightful podcast interview, Viola Monreal, Director of the Area Agency on Aging, shares valuable insights about serving the needs of our rapidly growing senior population.

Monreal begins by addressing common myths and misconceptions about aging. Many people assume that seniors want to disengage from life, that most will develop dementia, that they can't use technology or remember things. But in reality, many seniors today stay active and independent well into their 70s, 80s, and beyond. They exercise, travel, take classes, use smartphones and computers, and contribute their wisdom and experience to society.

Dementia is not an inevitable result of aging. Less than 5% of seniors have Alzheimer's, and there are ways to reduce risk through diet, exercise, and cognitive stimulation. We must challenge stereotypes that portray seniors as helpless and depressed. They still need social connections and mental engagement.

Monreal explains the comprehensive services provided by Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) to support seniors in the community. These local government agencies receive state and federal funding to serve adults 60+ in every county of Texas.

Key programs include:

- Caregiver support and training on topics like fall prevention and managing dementia behaviors
- Respite care like summer camps to give family caregivers a break
- Help accessing transportation, home-delivered meals, and other basic needs
- Housing navigation to find affordable rentals and apply for waitlists
- Ombudsman advocates to address concerns about care facilities
- Benefits counseling to understand Medicare and apply for assistance

The AAA also partners with insurance brokers to offer guidance on Medicare choices. During Open Enrollment, they hold clinics where seniors can get personalized advice.

For those caring for loved ones with dementia, the AAA provides virtual reality tours. These simulations build empathy by letting caregivers experience the disorientation and confusion of dementia firsthand.

The AAA helps seniors modify their homes for accessibility, mobility, and safety. Grab bars, shower seats, wheelchair ramps, and other adaptive devices allow people to live independently for longer.

Monreal stresses that her agency's services are available to all seniors based on need, not income. Their goal is to promote healthy, engaged aging with dignity. Even in advanced years, seniors have much to contribute when given the resources and respect they deserve.

With 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day, it's crucial that we understand and support our aging population. By partnering with organizations like AAAs, we can help seniors in our communities thrive.


(0:00:03) - This podcast features a presentation about perceptions of the aging population
(0:00:37) - Viola Monreal is the director of the area agency on aging
(0:02:05) - Some people think of aging as our grandparents, even if they're not
(0:05:28) - Many people have different myths about aging and some of them are myths
(0:09:26) - Area agency on aging offers training on caring for people with dementia
(0:21:09) - AA and ADRC offer housing counseling and respite services
(0:28:20) - The Broker link is where you can get free resources to help your insurance business

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