SENIOR POWER Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow

By Helen Rippier Wheeler,
Thursday May 01, 2014 - 01:57:00 PM

Each May since 1963 communities across the country have celebrated Older Americans Month. To learn more about Older Americans Month 2014, contact the Alameda County Area Agency on Aging at 1 800 510-2020; to read more about it, subscribe to its Senior Update publication. This year’s OAM theme is “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.” It focuses on injury prevention and safety. The next Senior Power column will consider falls and their ghastly concomitant, fear of falling.

Here are some surprising 2012 statistics about the 43.1 million senior citizens in the United States. They are 13.7% of the total population.  

It is estimated that 9.6 million persons age 65+ are veterans of the armed forces.  

21.3% of the labor force consists of men age 65+, significantly higher than the rate for women of this age group at 13.4%. 

45.5% of senior citizens accessed the Internet either from home or elsewhere, and 71.9% reported casting a ballot in the 2012 Presidential election. 

Half of the population of Sumter County (inland central Florida) was age 65+ in 2012. Forbes magazine ranked The Villages, which is partly in Sumter County, as the No. 1 fastest-growing small town. The Villages is an age-restricted community controlled by several Community Development Districts and dominated by golf-playing, retired Republicans. If you read The Yearling (1946), Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ memoir from which the 1983 film, Cross Creek, was adapted, you have an idea of the then-rural environment. Author Rawlings wrote many of her books while living there. 


Bias is a preference or an inclination, especially one that inhibits impartial judgment, an unfair act or policy stemming from prejudice. There are three kinds of bias with which senior citizens and senior advocates must cope—expectation, restrictiveness, and negative attitudes. They all involve one’s age.  

Expectation is what we believe a person at a particular age should be like. It functions at all stages, of course.  

Restrictiveness dictates certain ages when people, depending on their sex/gender as well as their age, must do some things and must not do others. For many people, early adulthood is most restrictive. For example, parents are ashamed, chagrined at best, an offspring does not marry, particularly if a woman, secure an occupation particularly if a man, and have a child or two in either case.  

Negative attitudes constitute ageism and sexism. These views are most evident toward old age. Social policy is based on an assumption that everyone reacts to the process of aging in the same way.  



Triangle Square is the only affordable housing complex in Los Angeles that caters to LGBT seniors. "For LGBT (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender) seniors, affordable housing is scarce and often unwelcoming," by Hailey Branson-Potts (Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2014). 

The number of elderly people who are suffering from senile dementia or whose health is so bad that they cannot receive nursing care services at home has been on the increase as the graying of Japan’s population increases. The government needs to help establish a sufficient number of critical care nursing homes for the aged (tokubetsu yogo rojin homu, or tokuyo for short) in a systematic way. "A need for special nursing homes" (Japan Times editorial [Tokyo], April 21, 2014).  

Medicare is the government's health insurance program for people 65 and older and the single largest payer of health insurance coverage in the United States. Male physicians on average were paid $118,782 in Medicare reimbursements by the federal government in 2012, compared with $63,346 paid women doctors. According to NerdWallet Health, reasons for the gender gap included male doctors on average seeing 60% more Medicare patients than their female counterparts. Analysis of recently released data suggests that the gender of a medical provider could play a role in the number of services provided patients. The difference is particularly striking because Medicare pays men and women doctors the same amount for the individual services they perform on patients in the same geographic area. "Rx Gender gap! Male MDs earn way more than females in Medicare," by Dan Morgan (CNBC, April 22, 2014).  

"Teaching seniors to use the Internet reduces risk of depression," by Robin Erb (Detroit Free-Press, April 21, 2014).