Tag Archive for: Sara Zeff Geber

Group of Senior Friends

8 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Fight Against Ageism

American popular culture worships youth, and our governmental policies aimed at supporting older adults are far from perfect. But there’s still good news when it comes to society’s attitudes toward aging. We asked Nexus Insights Fellows to name one reason to be encouraged about the fight against ageism in the U.S.

8 Reasons to Be Optimistic About the Fight Against Ageism

  1. “I am encouraged that ageism is now part of the national conversation. That wasn’t the case even five or ten years ago. Now we see universities including ageism in their aging services curriculum, multiple books being published on the topic, and even female celebrities embracing their gray hair and aging process. We have a long way to go in driving real change, but awareness is the first step.” – Jill Vitale-Aussem
  2. “Aging is one of the most unifying human experiences we have. I find hope in the elevated value of intergenerational engagement: the parent who returns to a new career after raising their children and is embraced by the team; the college student who chooses to live in a senior living apartment instead of the dorms. We have more opportunities now than ever to engage with people of all ages.” – Sarah Thomas
  3. “As young people are becoming increasingly aware of the probability of longer lives — century-long lives in some cases — more young people are seeing the ways in which our society needs to be redesigned to help them thrive over their life course. In such cases, these young people are acting in their self-interest but to the betterment of society more broadly.” – Ryan Frederick
  4. “I love what Julia Louis-Dreyfus has been doing to uplift aging. Brava!” – Jacquelyn Kung, PhD
  5. “Following the pandemic, I am encouraged by the interest in taking on challenges related to older adults that we have ignored for decades.” – David Grabowski, PhD
  6. “A decade ago at a White House Correspondents dinner, actress Helen Mirren lamented to me that there were no good roles for women over 50 in Hollywood. It’s been heartening to see a proliferation of smart, savvy films and TV shows featuring people over 50. Maybe Hollywood can save D.C. and do a film about a smart, savvy older politician?” – Jay Newton-Small
  7. “What I find encouraging today is that people of all ages are speaking out about ageism; not just older people. It’s that intergenerational effort that will ultimately extinguish ageism in our culture.” – Sara Zeff Geber, PhD
  8. “I am encouraged whenever I see people admit and own their age. That act helps others recognize that the person speaking is much more than a number (age).” – Dr. Bill Thomas

We also asked our Fellows to name what they think is the most damaging example of ageism in the U.S.

8 Ways Ageism Damages Our Society

  1. “Most damaging to the fight against ageism is our language. Our language reflects how we think, so when we can extinguish terms like ‘little old lady,’ ‘geezer,’ ‘over the hill,’ and ‘granny,’ we will have made a worthy start on changing the images people hold in their minds about older adults.” – Sara Zeff Geber, PhD
  2. “Ageism leads many to believe that caring for older adults is not everyone’s responsibility. Caregiving will always be a family issue, but it is also a policy issue. We should prioritize policies that improve housing, long-term care, and health care for older adults.” – David Grabowski, PhD
  3. “The most damaging example is the assumption that as we age, we have nothing left to contribute to our communities and society. The term ‘silver tsunami,’ for example, frames our growing cohort of older adults as a disaster, assuming that older people are nothing more than a drain on society. This messaging seeps into the minds of policy makers, aging services providers, and each of us as aging human beings.” – Jill Vitale-Aussem
  4. “Equating aging with decline creates a perverse, self-fulfilling prophecy that cuts older people off from their full developmental potential.” – Dr. Bill Thomas
  5. “I believe that the weaponization of age — particularly accusations of cognitive impairment as political cudgels — was incredibly damaging and stigmatizing for anyone grappling with that diagnosis.” – Jay Newton-Small
  6. “Ageism has limited our ability to design places — from metropolitan areas to neighborhood blocks to housing — that are welcoming and inclusive to people of all ages and abilities. The result is that there are fewer intergenerational relationships and older people may need to move away from their ‘home.’” – Ryan Frederick
  7. “Aging is not a disease. All too often we succumb to society’s ageist pressures to attempt to halt or reverse the aging process. The anti-aging movement that applies unnatural filters to every photo we take and pushes a definition of beauty that revolts against nature is dangerous. This unhealthy view of aging begins to damage society in our youth and we carry the burden of these unhealthy pressures for decades.” – Sarah Thomas
  8. “When I hear older adults described as ‘cute,’ I cringe.” – Jaquelyn Kung, PhD

 

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solo aging

Nexus Fellow Sara Zeff Geber Shares Solo Aging Expertise this Spring

Solo aging and retirement expert, Nexus Fellow Dr. Sara Zeff Geber, has been drawing attention to the challenges of aging alone, and urging aging services to address these challenges, for over a decade. With the recent demand for Dr. Geber’s expertise on the subject, it sounds like organizations across the United States are finally starting to listen.

And they should. The statistics show it’s past time to start thinking about solo agers. According to a Forbes.com piece authored by Geber, “Twelve million adults over age 65 live alone. That is 27% of the population–the highest rate in the world. The majority are women. By age 75, the rate of women living alone rises to 44%. With the mobility in today’s society, many family members live far away. Among boomer women, 19.4% never gave birth, so there are no children or grandchildren at all to pick up the mantle of caregiving. These numbers are very different from those of preceding generations.”

If we don’t address the needs of this sizable population, we’re in trouble. Who’s going to help them coordinate care? How will they combat the risk of loneliness and find community and purpose?

Dr. Geber wrote, “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A Retirement and Aging Roadmap for Single and Childless Adults,” which was selected as a “best book on aging well” by the Wall Street Journal in 2018.

If you want to learn more from Geber, the pioneer who coined the term “solo ager,” check out her upcoming speaking events below:

Upcoming Events

Meeting the Challenges of Solo Aging with Sara Zeff Geber – Acacia Creek

April 13, 2023 – Union City, CA

Learn the best tips and tricks on solo aging at the Acacia Creek Retirement Community

  • Planning for a life with meaning and fun after 65
  • Building community later in life
  • How to meet the challenges of aging

It’s Past Time to Think About Solo Agers – 2023 LeadingAge Leadership Summit

April 18, 2023 – Washington, D.C.

Hear from the expert who wrote the seminal book on solo aging, along with a panel of diverse providers and older consumers on how your organization can empower solo adults aging alone to make decisions about their future and thrive while aging solo.

The Panel

  • Sara Zeff Geber, Consultant & Educator
  • Stephanie Chong, Executive Director, Northwest Neighbors Village
  • Karen Zuckerstein, Member, Northwest Neighbors Village
  • Kera Wooten, Executive Director, Westminster at Lake Ridge
  • Jacqueline Evans, Resident, Westminster at Lake Ridge

Solo Agers Are Knocking at Your Door – Leading Age California Annual Conference

May 2, 2023 – Monterey, CA

Solo Agers, adults over 60 who have no children or are aging without family support, will need a community around them as they age. As Solo Agers begin to recognize this need, life plan Communities and other continuing care residential options will look appealing, but will those communities be ready to serve them in a way that supports who they are and who they have been?

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solo aging and urgent call to action

Solo Aging and Senior Living’s Urgent Call to Action!

For the last 12 years, Sara Zeff Geber, author of Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, and a Nexus Fellow, has been studying what she calls “solo aging.” It’s a concept that came to her when she realized that all around her, Baby Boomers were taking care of their aging parents, running errands, moving them into senior living communities, helping them with doctors appointments and insurance, and spending a great deal of time helping them navigate their lives as they aged. She began to think about herself and the many others without children, “Who is going to do that for us?”

“At least 70% of people are going to need some kind of assistance as they get older,” she explained, but solo agers won’t have adult children to help them with it. “We have a situation coming in 10 or 15 years that is going to take both the senior living industry and the government to help resolve.”

Sara Geber coined the term “Solo Ager.” She is the foremost thought leader in solo aging and is passionate about creating change in senior housing. More than anything, Sara wants to drag baby boomers out of their denial of aging and point them toward positive planning. Learn more about Sara Zeff Geber at Nexus Insights.

 

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Aging in Place to Aging in Community

From Aging in Place to Aging in Community: A 2020 Virtual Talk by Dr. Sara Zeff Geber

Aging in place can be a recipe for isolation and loneliness, according to solo aging expert and Nexus Fellow, Sara Zeff Geber, PhD. In a 2020 virtual presentation, she explains the risks, which include cognitive decline, depression, high blood pressure and more. The result? A decreased quality of life.

According to Geber, there are three types of loneliness:

  • Intimate/Emotional: Longing for a close confidante or intimate partner;
  • Relational/Social: Yearning for quality friendships and social companionship;
  • Collective: Hunger for a network or community of people who share a sense of purpose and interests.

In her presentation, Geber also explains:

  • What makes us happy in later life;
  • The importance of relationships and where they come from;
  • Opportunities to build community;
  • How building community can lead you to the right place to age.

Watch the full presentation:

The event was co-sponsored by Newton Free Library, 2Life Communities, Temple Shalom, and Newton Department of Senior Services.

 

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aging in place baby boomers

Why Boomers May (or May Not) Want to Age in Place

There are so many options between aging-in-place and a nursing home. Open-minded baby boomers should explore them all.

While many people plan to “age in place” and remain in their homes, it isn’t always the best plan, the best location, or the best house. It may not even be an option in later years when unexpected health or mobility issues, or even loneliness, play a factor. Does that mean the only other option is a skilled nursing facility? Absolutely not. According to an op-ed written in the Sun-Sentinel by Nexus Fellows Ryan Frederick and Sara Zeff Geber, PhD, other options include “age-friendly apartments, active adult communities, independent living senior communities, home-sharing, co-housing and accessible dwelling units (ADUs).”

What makes a place the right place, or the best place, when it comes to a happy life? Purpose, engagement, and social connection, according to findings from the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Frederick and Geber go on to explain how policymakers can support this, and how Boomers can make the right choice for their “bonus” years, the 21 years beyond retirement.

Read the full piece, ‘Aging in Place’ is not a plan. It’s denial – and it ignores an opportunity.

Ryan Frederick and Sara Zeff Geber are fellows of Nexus Insights, a think tank advancing the well-being of older adults through innovative models of housing and healthcare. Frederick is the author of “Right Place, Right Time: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Home for the Second Half of Life (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021). Geber is the author of “Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers: A Retirement and Aging Roadmap for Single and Childless Adults” (Mango, 2018).

 

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The Increase of Solo Agers in America and What that Means for the Caregiving Industry

In a Forbes.com article written by solo aging expert and Nexus Fellow Sara Zeff Geber, we learn that childlessness has nearly doubled since the silent generation–and it’s compounding some existing problems. Geber discusses the various reasons why many more people of childbearing age in the 1970s decided against having children. In addition, she points out that many baby boomers approaching retirement age will lack the family caregiving options that previous generations had.

Read the full article at Forbes

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housing for solo agers

What senior living providers need to know about Solo Agers

Adult children do many things for their aging parents, including helping them find a senior community. But what about “Solo Agers”? This term was coined by author and solo aging expert Dr. Sara Zeff Geber to describe those seniors who find themselves aging alone. Dr. Geber wrote the 2018 book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.

According to Geber, “A significant number of Boomers will not have adult children to help them with care or relocation if living independently becomes difficult or impossible.” She cites geriatric specialist Maria Carney, MD, and colleagues, who determined in 2016 that “approximately 22% of older Americans had no one to turn to in a crisis.”

In a recent article in the International Council on Active Aging’s The Journal on Active Aging, Geber points out that, while the COVID pandemic has brought into national focus the devastating isolation of those aging alone, it also made clear that there are opportunities for senior housing communities and the aging services industry to provide for the needs of solo agers. The important first step is to understand this cohort, and their unique needs.

“I noticed many of my contemporaries were starting to spend huge chunks of time and energy helping to care for their aging parents,” said Geber. “They were chauffeuring their parents to appointments, shopping for their groceries and other essentials, monitoring their medications, arranging for home repairs, and spending considerably more time on the phone and in person with them than they had in the past.” That got Geber wondering. “Who is going to do all the above for those of us without children? More questions arose. How many of us are there? What are our options? And how should we prepare?”

Among the differences she noticed that set Solo Agers apart:

  • Solo Agers (women and men) tend to be more highly educated and to have made a good living over their lives, making them excellent candidates for higher-end senior living.
  • Congregate living offers the advantage of built-in community, to help Solo Agers make social connections, and avoid isolation and loneliness.
  • Choosing independent living that is connected to communities that also provide options for higher levels of care can provide peace of mind to Solo Agers, who want to prepare for greater care needs in the future.
  • Many seniors find comfort in moving closer to adult children or grandchildren. Solo Agers may likewise choose proximity to loved ones, who may be extended family or friends.
  • Solo Agers have typically been living independently, as “masters of their universe” their whole lives, and will want choices for how they live that allow them to continue to learn, develop, and pursue healthy lifestyles.

What are the challenges for senior living communities? According to Geber, “the first hurdle will be selling the concept.” This involves knowing how to sell directly to seniors who may approach the community alone, and make their decisions without the assistance, encouragement or “cajoling” of adult children.

The second hurdle is to develop models of housing that appeal to Solo Agers. One good example, Geber suggests, is to build residences, such as Garden Spot Village’s Cooperative Living House, that house a small number of unrelated roommates. The home provides private bedrooms and baths for the residents and shared communal space. Roommates in these residences maintain some privacy and independence, but they also have the opportunity to develop friendships and even family-like connections, and to provide one another with mutual support, much like what happened in ”The Golden Girls” TV show from the 80s).

Another example is cohousing. Geber describes it as “generally a grassroots effort by individuals who want to create a way to live together in an intentional community.” According to Geber, “Senior cohousing is one of the fastest-growing segments of the cohousing movement.” It’s also “extremely attractive to Solo Agers.”

According to Geber, the window of opportunity has arrived. Boomers have already begun to retire, and the number of Boomers who are also Solo Agers is large and growing. “Many of these individuals will have no real need to continue ‘aging in place’ in their single-family homes,” she said. “They will remain there, however, unless senior living communities demonstrate a viable and attractive alternative—one that meets Solo Agers’ needs to maintain their social networks and participate actively in their communities.”

Download the full article here.

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saving for long-term care

Hey Boomer: Time to Start Planning How to Pay for Long-Term Care

Hey Boomer! Sara Zeff Geber has an important message for you: It’s time to make a plan for your long-term care.

In her recent Forbes article, “Hey Boomer: Medicare Won’t Cover Your Long-Term Care,” Zeff Geber, the author of Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers, and a Nexus Insights Fellow, shared some surprising facts. In a  2019 study by Bankers Life, “nearly half of the middle-income boomers surveyed believe they will need care in later life, but almost 80% of them have no plan or savings toward it.”

And, indeed, many seniors will need care later in life. Zeff Geber points to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services, which found that, “Men over 65 men will require an average of 2.3 years of long-term care; women will require an average of 3.2 years.” The expected price tag? “Men who turn 65 in the next few years can expect to spend an average of $142,000 on long-term care needs (nursing and help with everyday functions like bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.). For women, that figure is $176,000.”

Those large numbers are shocking enough. But, according to Zeff Geber, “A shocking 56% of boomers mistakenly believe that Medicare will pay for long-term (sometimes called “custodial” care). They are sadly mistaken.”

Geber offers some suggestions for Boomers to start getting prepared. “The best planning you can do for yourself is to save the money you will need for this kind of care.” Another option? “Take out a long-term care insurance policy.” And avoid the worst option, “Having your daughter/son/niece/nephew/sibling leave their family or work in order to provide you the care you need.”

Read the full article.

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Dr. Sara Zeff Geber on Senior Isolation and Solo Aging

Strategies for reducing isolation among solo agers – an interview with Sara Zeff Geber

Sara Zeff Geber, an expert in solo aging and a Nexus Insights Fellow, noticed something interesting. A lot of Baby Boomers were spending a lot of time, resources, and money taking care of their aging parents. And it occurred to her to wonder, for childless seniors like herself, “Who’s going to do that for us?”

That question launched a new line of research for her, and ultimately led to her book, Essential Retirement Planning for Solo Agers.

Zeff Geber was interviewed recently by Dr. Namrata Bagaria and Dr. Paul Merkley of Seniors Junction on their podcast “Ending Seniors’ Isolation, One Conversation at a Time.” The two asked Zeff Geber for her insights into reducing isolation and loneliness for solo agers.

Among the many insights she shared:

  • Solo aging is becoming more common. “Almost 20% of Baby Boomer women didn’t have kids.”
  • Everyone, even married couples, should plan as if they will be solo agers. “One spouse will almost always pre-decease the other, and you don’t have a crystal ball.”
  • “The research shows that isolation and loneliness are more deadly to us than 15 cigarettes a day,” said Zeff Geber. The most important thing, she suggested, is to build and maintain a social network.
  • As Bagaria points out, “Paul and I have learned on our journey that some people are naturally proactive about connecting and building a network and some have to pick up that skill.” Said Zeff Geber, “Learn to be a joiner; find a group that interests you; it could be a golf club, a book club, a dog-lovers group, or a similar-minded group at your church or synagogue”

Listen to the full podcast.

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Nexus Insights Fellows News 2021

Nexus Fellows Flash Bulletin: June 2021

The Nexus Fellows are leaders in the aging industry, helping to shape public policy and redefine aging and aging services. From books to podcasts, here’s a sample of some of the work they’ve been doing in the past month:

  • Jay Newton-Small, CEO of MemoryWell, is wrapping up a second year of their joint contest for Hilarity for Charity, Seth and Lauren Miller Rogen’s Alzheimer’s charity and Humans of Dementia Storytelling Competition. It’s a competition for high school and college students to write the best profile of someone living with Alzheimer’s. Winners will have the chance to meet Seth and Lauren Rogen during the virtual celebration. Additionally, MemoryWell has added three new members to their team.
  • Jacquelyn Kung, CEO of Senior Care Group at Activated Insights, was interviewed by Skip Lineberg, host of The Main Thing Podcast, about elder care, and her passion to improve the aging experience. “The main thing I’ve learned in my lifetime so far is that getting older is what you make of it. And I see it as full of good news. Socially, we get happier as we get older, and the research shows that.”
  • Jill Vitale-Aussem, president and CEO of Christian Living Communities, sat down with Senior Housing Investors Podcast to talk about her book, “Disrupting the Status Quo of Senior Living: A Mindshift.”
  • Sarah Thomas, CEO of Delight by Design, delivered the keynote on designing products and services for the aging population with Chief Medical Office of AARP, DR Charlotte Yeh. Additionally, she moderated two panels featuring the important work of seven agetech startups at the Rehab Tech Summit mini-Summit. Thomas was an expert judge at the AOTA 2021 Inventors Showcase, where 11 startups pitched their innovative products designed to serve people across the lifespan. The winner designed a novel gait belt that improves the safety of caregivers and residents in senior living and beyond.
  • Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Eden Alternative, The Green House Project, and Minka, recently traveled the country, talking with elders and their care partners in more than 125 cities. He learned about their hopes and fears, and listened to their stories. What did he discover? That people want better alternatives for senior living. “It turns out that older people pretty much want what everyone else wants: to belong to a community that includes people of all ages and remain connected to the living world,” Thomas said.
  • Nexus Founder & Fellow, and NIC Strategic Advisor, Bob Kramer, has joined the Edenbridge Health Board of Advisors to help expand access to comprehensive, integrated, community-based and person-centered care for the frail elderly through innovative applications of the PACE Program.
  • In the blog post, “Just Move It,” CEO of SmartLiving 360, Ryan Frederick talks about the importance of physical exercise for older adults. “Inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death and about 1.5 billion people in the world are inactive to the point that it risks their long-term health. At a health care conference several years ago, four recent surgeon generals were asked for one tip for successful aging. They coalesced on one word: move.”
  • Nexus Fellow Kelsey Mellard, CEO of Sitka, sat down with Sanjula Jain Jo on Her Story for a candid conversation about being a healthcare leader and her transition from the Midwest to DC to Silicon Valley, building a resilient team, and overcoming challenges.
  • Longevity economy expert, Jody Holtzman, formerly of AARP is proud to be on the advisory board of Intuition Robotics, which is mitigating loneliness among older adults with the companion robot ElliQ. “The growing mismatch between the number of people in need of caregivers and the availability of caregivers is a multifaceted challenge for individual families and society more broadly. Technology must be part of the solution. Companion robots like ElliQ and others in this space, like my friends at Joy for All/Ageless Innovation, have an important role to play.”
  • Caroline Pearson, Senior VP of Health Care Strategy at NORC at the University of Chicago, announced the release of new research from NIC and NORC that looks at the impact of the pandemic on seniors by care setting. “Mortality rates increase by complexity of care, but, in lower acuity settings such as independent living communities, they are comparable to surrounding populations.”

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