By Brian Callanan
What’s wrong with this picture? Well, there’s one person who clearly doesn’t know how to do tai chi – me! I’m surrounded by a class of older adults, very focused on their exercise, led by master Jing Chen Li at the North Bellevue Community Center. I’ve joked to a few people that the title of this picture should be “balanced journalism,” but the real story behind it is no laughing matter.
The subject of how we’re aging is not a comfortable one in American culture, but it’s becoming more and more unavoidable: 10,000 baby boomers in our country turn 65 every day. And we’re living longer, too. Life expectancy in the U.S. is steadily rising, and is now up to 79 years of age. These facts leave us with some difficult questions. If you’re an older person, what’s the best way to avoid outliving your resources? If you’re the caretaker of an older person, how can you provide a living situation that works for your family and respects your elder’s dignity? When’s the right time to seek assisted-living options?
Seattle Channel has produced a special called “Living Longer, Living Well” that works to answer these questions with some of the top experts in the field. In a panel discussion, we spoke with a wide range of thought leaders on aging: nonprofit providers of senior services in King County, Seattle’s Human Services Department, researchers focused on our LGBT elders, and the CEO of one of the largest assisted-living facilities in our state. To take a comprehensive look at how we’re aging, we interviewed older people and their caregivers all over Western Washington to focus on situations where our elders are living alone, living with family, and living in care facilities.
So, what’s really wrong with this picture? It could be the way we’re looking at it. It’s not about the guy in the blue blazer who doesn’t know his tai chi. It’s about the growing number of older people all around us that we might not be paying close enough attention to.
Here’s more behind-the-scenes photos from this special!