biology of aging
Below is a description of an imaginary couple. Read the description first then continue on to the assignment.
Lester and Dorothy Winchester are now in their 80s and life has changed for them quite a bit over the last couple of decades. They were married in their early 20s and raised 6 kids in a large 2 story house on a farm in northern Iowa. They are fiercely independent and have been adamant about staying in their home as they get older.
For most of their life they have been able to provide for their family by growing corn on a 500 acre plot of land and growing vegetables in a large garden next to their house. They also raise chickens for the eggs and meat.
Mrs. Winchester likes to spend her spare time cooking and sewing. She also likes to host small dinner parties with friends on occasion and always hosts the family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. One of her other favorite hobbies is scrapbooking. However, Dorothy has arthritis and it has been progressing over the last several years.
Mr. Winchester, when not listening to weather reports and checking up on corn sales, likes to read books on the old west and World War II. He also likes to tinker with farm equipment, especially his antique 1949 Model A John Deere Tractor. Lately he has also taken to looking at farm and weather reports on the computer you got him last Christmas because they are updated more frequently online. Lester is particularly proud that he quit smoking 10 years ago after 50 years of smoking half a pack a day.
Both of them like to travel together in the offseason and one of their favorite things to do is to take their RV and go to national parks. They like to plan at least one national park visit a year.
You are going to pretend that you are one of the Winchester children. While Lester and Dorothy still seem remarkably fit for being in their early 80s they have definitely slowed down over the last decade and they are finally starting to show the wear and tear of a long, hard-working life. You have suggested that they think about moving in with you and your family or some other care facility but they will not have anything to do with it. They feel as if they are doing fine and that it is not necessary for them to move away from the home they have lived in for almost 60 years.
So you have decided that you are going to assess their lives and their home and are going to try and make their life in their home more comfortable and more amenable to the changes that they are experiencing.
This project will have you assessing the challenges your parents will likely face in this scenario and then you will come up with solutions on how to help them. For example, to help your father read farm and weather reports on the computer better you could go into the settings and increase the font size.
You should assess the likely changes in the following areas and address at least one change per category to the home or their lives that could help with those changes.
- Body build (changes in muscle mass, height and weight)
- Strength and endurance
- Touch and Balance
- Taste and Smell
- Cardiovascular function
- Respiratory function
The final product should be an assessment of each category and how it is likely to affect Dorothy and Lester as they continue to get older and the challenges they are likely to face in their home because of it. In addition each category should have at least one idea of how you could address these changes in their home and/or in their lifestyle.
Feel free to be creative but also be realistic. Imagine the constraints of your own household budget when helping as a guide to reality. Having a nurse live with them 24/7 is probably not a realistic solution not only because it would be very expensive but also because Dorothy and Lester would probably not want that kind of intrusion given their background.