Leaning into Change…

Maggie Sauer PortraitWith a new year, we all consider our resolutions and opportunity to change.  Well, the NC Foundation for Advanced Health Programs (NCFAHP) has been giving this a lot of thought in recent years.  Our founder, Jim Bernstein, embraced change and the innovation required to bring it to fruition.  Many of our “friends and family” encouraged us to change our name, saying: “It’s too hard to remember.”  Over the past year, we sent surveys to our partners and friends, held focus groups and at last reached a consensus on a new name.  Beginning January 1, 2016, NCFAHP will become the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, with the tagline: Moving People and Ideas into Action. Our website address will also change to foundationhli.org.  Thanks to each and every one of you that gave us your time and ideas.  We look forward to staying in touch and continuing to live up to the challenge our new name suggests and the legacy of Jim Bernstein.

Aging in North Carolina is another topic we have spent a fair amount of time discussing with our board and staff.  Much attention has been given to the “silver tsunami” yet we are still woefully unprepared to care for the very individuals in our country that have so gallantly contributed to our own well-being.  It reminds me of James Taylor’s song, “Secret of Life”:

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it. Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill. But since we’re on our way down we might as well enjoy the ride.

As we change, age and consider what this means, how can we help our seniors “enjoy the ride”?  Here are some of our state’s facts on aging:

  • NC ranks 9th nationally in population 60 and over
  • By 2025, 89 counties are projected to have more people 60 and over than 0-17
  • NC ranks 6th in the number of grandparents responsible for grand children under 18
  • 48 percent of older adults have two or more chronic diseases
  • In 2010, more than 170,000 people aged 65 and over had Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia. By 2025, this number is projected to increase to 210,000.

Attention to population health provides a perfect opportunity for us to consider the “ride” and not the crash!!  What are the things we can do in our communities that reflect value not just loss?  In February 2010, The Economist published an article “The Silver Tsunami”, discussing the management of an aging workforce.  Small changes in production lines helped maintain productivity.  Designing and modifying housing to support progression in age is critical to aging in place. A report prepared for The Duke Endowment: “Aging in the Carolinas: Demographic Highlights, Programmatic Challenges & Opportunities” presents a thorough review of our opportunities.  Jim Johnson concludes in the final paragraph of his report:

“What is needed in this space is a centralized hub for successful aging in place ideas and practices. Such an entity should serve five specific but interrelated functions: mobilize collective ambition, leverage intellectual capital, facilitate new venture creation training, foster social innovation, serve as a clearinghouse for information dissemination, and engage in succession planning.”

As we pause to honor 2015 and the new year, let’s not forget the shoulders we stand on in order to face the future.

-Maggie Sauer

CEO & President