Living with Age: The elderly in America

Submitted by Jerry Halberstadt on Wed, 07/18/2007 - 20:22

Is 70 the new 60, or the new 70? How are the elderly, defined by the Census Bureau as those over 65, living?

Jerry Halberstadt proposes to undertake a series of photographic documentary studies that will help put a face to the facts and figures. Sponsors are welcome.

I will portray individuals, families, and communities. I will show people in their homes or wherever they may be, in independent living situations, in assisted living, and in nursing homes. I will show them caring for each other, being cared for, or being neglected. I will show them at work and at play, and with their children and grandchildren. I will show them isolated and in their communities. The work will bring understanding and awareness of the issues and opportunities of aging in America, including innovative varieties of family and community life.

The "elderly" covers a wide variety of experiences: age, gender, race, ethnic group, financial means, and health status are only a few of the important differences among the elderly.

According to the Census Bureau, people are living longer and healthier lives. But heart disease, cancer, and stroke remain the leading causes of death. And 80 percent have at least one chronic health condition while 50 percent have at least two. Older people are limited in their activities by chronic deseases including arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory disorders. Nevertheless the rates of disability and functional limitation are declining.

Thus, the elderly and their families are constantly striving to maintain their situation, or they are seeking to adopt and adapt to new patterns. When people can no longer live independently, do they seek assistance to remain at home in their community, or do they join with others for mutual support, or do they enter an assisted living or nursing facility? What new patterns of relationship and support emerge? If they go into an assisted living community, for example, can they retain family and community ties? Can they develop new peer relationships of friendship and support?

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Sponsorship and marketing opportunities

Do you need to tell the story of your organization for marketing, sales, development, and community outreach? Sponsors and partners for this undertaking are welcome. I am seeking partners with settings or facilities where I can photograph. Photos and essays can be licensed for informational and promotional uses. For example, an assisted living facility or chain would be able to use a series based on their own facility to promote a specific location or for national use. Photographs could be posted to the sponsor's internet site, used in slide shows and promotional literature, and displayed in the sponsor's site or in community exhibits. An exhibition of photographs can be an excellent educational and public relations device to encourage community awareness.

Photographs and specific topical essays will be posted on the internet, and may be exhibited in galleries or institutions, or published as a book.

More Essays and Photos on Living with Age
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We the American Elderly. Bureau of the Census.1993
65+ 1996 report
He, Wan et al, US Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, P23-209 65+ in the Unitd States: 2005, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 2005.