As a young adult, I remember the day I called to let my parents know I’d gotten a job. Did it come with health insurance was my mother’s first question. Yes, was the answer; I could feel the relief over the phone. My parents had impressed on me the importance of insurance but at that age I really didn’t understand exactly how important it was.

Now I do. Over decades at Area Agency on Aging, we’ve heard literally thousands of stories from people of all walks of life trying to access the health care they need. For eleven years I served on a council appointing persons to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Directors to represent small business and individuals seeking coverage. Through Healthy Berrien Consortium we examined trends in access to care and established the Berrien Health Plan to provide basic health care for some of the uninsured.

By now most of us are back into a regular routine after the holidays. Our trees have been picked up from the curbs, decorations are down and presents put away. The only holiday remnant is when our feet find those pine needle stragglers. Hopefully, we also have some special memories of enjoying time with family and friends.  

Questions and Answers

Q:  We have a neighbor who doesn’t seem to get out much.  His family is not local and we try to help him by shoveling and picking items up at the store now and then.  I don’t think he has any serious health problems, he just doesn’t seem to know what to do, or even care about socializing.  What sort of resources are available that might help him become more active?

 

Asking around about favorite holiday memories, common themes come up. Childhood surprises and traditions are big. Special foods, traditional blessings, decorations, and song abound. But through all those things, the common thread is people.

We need each other; relationships are special. Family is usually front and center, but special memories and times often reach beyond family.

If someone were to ask me my most memorable Christmas, I would say … the Christmas that fell on New Year’s Day.

Along with a few thousand other U.S. Army draftees and recruits at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, I was in the final stages of basic training with the winter holidays coming upon us. It was decided that half of our battalion would go home on leave for Christmas and the other half would go home for New Year’s Day. I would go home with the New Year’s group.

Music & Memory

More than 5 million people in the U.S. have Alzheimer's, a disease for which there is no cure. One in eight baby boomers will get the disease, according to estimates. About 15 million family members in the U.S. are locked into what can become a heartbreaking nightmare of taking care of a loved one with whom they can't communicate. By 2050, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease may reach a projected 13.8 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Multiple generations living in one household is nothing new. Throughout our history children, parents and grandparents have shared life together in the same home often out of financial necessity, other times out of convenience.

What is new is the number of children who are being parented by grandparents. In the 1980s there were 2 million children under 18 living in the home of a grandparent, now there are 4 million nationwide and the number is growing. In Michigan 152,400 children under the age of 18 currently live in homes where the householder is a grandparent. Of those, nearly 26,000 have no parent in the home.

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