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Solving the Dignity Crisis for Older Americans

With the aging of the US population accelerating, pressures on senior healthcare and housing call for new strategies and solutions to avert a crisis of lost dignity for millions of older Americans.

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As humans, one of our most basic and prized possessions is our dignity. The concept of dignity is complex and multidimensional, such that it warrants far greater treatment than a single article can provide. Yet I would like to concentrate on one aspect of dignity and its implications in senior living: the ability for each of us to maintain self-respect as we age by staying autonomous and physically and mentally capable. On an individual level, protecting dignity remains paramount to maximizing quality of life. On a national scale, it is vital to ensuring the health of our economy and society.

So, what factors threaten the dignity of millions of older Americans today? And what solutions can we implement to address them? These questions underly one of the greatest demographic shifts of our time, a trend known as the "Silver Tsunami." This refers to the substantial aging of the US population, in which every day 10,000 American adults turn age 65, with the number of people at least this age projected to reach approximately 98 million by 2060, a figure nearly double its current state.

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