A Sierra Nevada Forums panel on Tuesday discussed program options and services for seniors in Nevada.
Members from the Sanford Center for Aging at University of Nevada, Reno focused on aging gracefully.
“Aging is a natural life-long process we are all engaged in and one of our goals is to help everyone age well through life,” said Dr. Peter Reed, director of the Sanford Center. “We view aging and elders as almost a declinist attitude.
“We are pro-aging because there is an alternative to aging, and that’s death.”
Reed said the elderly population in Nevada is increasing. In 2013, there were 325,000 seniors over the age of 65, making up 13 percent of Nevada’s population. Reed said the number is supposed to increase to 20 percent in 2030 with an estimated 540,000 seniors.
One of the reasons the population is increasing is greater life span for seniors — age 75 for men and age 80 for women.
The panel discussed the importance of seniors and caretakers focusing on the well being of the elderly and not creating a stigma due to aging or chronic illness.
“We want to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease, we won’t have universal success no matter what programs and provisions we put into place,” Reed said. “But people don’t recognize that people can live well despite all those limitations.”
Dr. Kelley Macmillan, social services director at Sanford and Gary Aldax, operations director spoke about the variety of programs and services that are available to seniors, including state and federal programming and programming the Sanford Center and senior centers offer.
Macmillan said programs such as home and community based services help provide seniors opportunities to help prevent them from going to group homes, assisted living or nursing homes.
“People are afraid if they accept help or ask for it that people will say ‘you need to go to a nursing home,’ but now that’s not necessarily the only option,” Macmillan said.
Aldax said the Sanford Center offers programs all centered around enhancing quality of life and well being.
He said the center tries to do so through education, translational research and community outreach; including gerontology technology programs for students interested in the field of aging, a Nevada Geriatric Education Center to help provide information and resources to health professionals and the Geriatric Clinic which provides a multidisciplinary assessments for chronic care management.
For more information on the center, visit dhs.unr.edu/aging, call 775-784-4774 or email Sanford@unr.edu.