Up until the last century few people lived past the age of 60 and most of those who made it that far spent their later years battling illness and physical impairment. Recent advances in nutrition and medical care have revolutionized aging. Today over 14% of the U.S. population is over 65 and 2% is over 85 and those numbers are rising fast. Over 10,000 people turn 65 every day and the number of people over 85 will triple in the next 25 years.
How are we going to cope with the exploding population of seniors, with the rapidly increasing lifespan and with the changing expectations of retirement and independence? The challenge is so great that neither government nor private sector solutions will be adequate to meet the needs. Community organizations like ours will have to play a key role to create and implement low-cost, community based ways to keep people out of expensive institutions, in their own homes, close to friends and family.
Even though Neighbors Who Care is a local organization we have become an important player in the regional and even national efforts to define and improve the ways that we deal with aging and provide support for those who wish to remain independent. We started 20 years ago with a dozen volunteers driving their neighbors to the grocery store. Since then we’ve grown to 500 volunteers providing more than a dozen vital services to 1300 of their frail and disabled neighbors. We’re on the leading edge of innovation. We created a novel program to support frail seniors being discharged from hospitals and rehab centers. We provide free meals to fixed-income seniors on those occasions when they are facing a choice between eating and paying for their medications. We have recruited a cadre of caring volunteers willing to help people at a moment’s notice when urgent needs arise.
The world is changing rapidly and Neighbors Who Care has responded by becoming a great organization, a great place to volunteer, a great place to multiply the impact of your donations and a great community partner. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed, winning a number of prestigious awards; however, the magnitude of the future challenges is so large that “great” is no longer good enough. Our new goal is to become a “transformative” organization; a laboratory to create and implement revolutionary new ways to keep the exploding senior population independent and fulfilled; to meet both their physical and their social needs.
We have built the foundation. What we need now is you. If you care about our community and you want to leave a lasting legacy, join us. We need your help to take the next step in our evolution from community leader to world leader. Together we can change the future of aging.
To see what we’re doing (and to have some fun) come out to our third annual Community Fair on Saturday, October 24, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Riggs Road and Alma School.
For more information contact www.NeighborsWhoCare.com or 480-895-7133.