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Aging Expert Optimistic About Seniors Flourishing in Their Golden Years

When reading story after story about mistreatment, abuse, and neglect at long-term care facilities, it is easy to get discouraged about the state of growing old in America. Many assume that aging will undoubtedly be an unhappy time, with the only goal being to not be completely neglected by caregivers.

However, our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that it doesn’t need to be that way. Instead of merely trying to exist without abuse, it is important for seniors to flourish in their old age–taking advantage of their situation to help others, grow, learn, and thrive as human beings. While we work on cases at the opposite end of the spectrum involving Illinois elder abuse and neglect, we know that the overall goal is not merely to eliminate neglect at these facilities. Instead the goal is to ensure seniors at these homes are able to live their lives to the fullest.

That goal is echoed by one of the pioneers in the field of geriatric care, Dr. Linda P. Fried. In an interesting new profile from the New York Times, Dr. Fried explains how new science in the field of aging needs to be embraced to improve the lives of seniors. As dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, Dr. Fried hopes that new research into these areas will lead society to “reframe our understanding of the benefits and costs of aging.”

For example, Dr. Fried is a pioneer of a “frailty assessment” which seeks to better identify health risks for seniors and the ways that stressors affect the body. The assessment is now a popular tool that, among many other things, can help ensure prevention of nursing home neglect. The research into the frailty scale show how many problems related to care result in a “chain reaction” of problems. Inadequate nutrition, for example, often leads to senior muscle loss. That muscle loss in turn causes mobility problems and lack of energy. Those concerns then lead to increased risks of falls or other dangers incidents. Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers understand that stopping this chain of events in its tracks is the duty of caregivers at nursing homes.

But how can seniors thrive?

Preventing nursing home abuse and neglect is just the start. Beyond that, senior residents need opportunities to use their skills in unique and worthwhile activities. For example, over a decade ago Dr. Fried started a volunteer program called “Experience Corps” which trained seniors to help in various tutoring programs for children in economically disadvantaged areas. Not only was the program a huge success in providing community support to children in need, but it proved incredibly beneficial to the volunteers themselves.

Small details of the volunteer program were thrown in to ensure the senior volunteers received various incidental benefits. For one thing, the layout of the program was such that seniors were forced to walk a certain length before reaching the children in order to provide a bit extra exercise. In addition, the health of the senior tutors was monitored and used in studies comparing them with seniors not in the program. The effects of the participation on health could then be monitored.

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