Special Project

Kansas City is aging. By 2030, the population of people 65 and older living in the metro is projected to double. But can Kansas City handle the boom?

In an occasional series Aging In Place, KCUR explores the community and individual challenges of serving a multi-generational community.

Fringe Festival KC

What if your home could help you stay healthier? Today, we learn how smart toilets and sensor-packed floors could help more folks age in place and turn future houses into medical monitors. Then, we discuss a new, locally-produced film that examines how addiction to the internet affects the human psyche.

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Making plans for what happens to your possessions when you die can be tough for anyone. But for artists – it’s not just about stuff, it’s about a lifetime of artistic creation. And … what happens to it when they die?

Dan Margolies / Heartland Health Monitor

At Truman Medical Center’s nursing home facility in eastern Jackson County, Missouri, Dr. John Dedon drops by to chat with one of his patients, a spritely 82-year-old woman who’s lived there for the last four years.

“I’m just stopping by to say hi and see how you’re doing today,” he says, taking a seat next to her in the facility’s bustling hallway. “How are you feeling? Are people treating you O.K.?”

Dedon is probing not just for physical symptoms but looking for changes in his patient’s mood and affect. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3FM

For two decades, The Billie Mahoney Dance Troupe has riffed, shuffled and flapped to jazzy, syncopated rhythms year round.

Baby Boomers are aging and as they retire, challenges like financial concerns and health issues loom ahead. And as one generation begins to slow down, how can their younger counterparts harness their collective knowledge and expertise?

Guest:

Inspired by KCUR's series, When I'm 64, we examine the future of retirement. Will it still be around for future generations, or will it become something entirely different?

Guests:

When I'm 64: Peggy Pape

Apr 13, 2016
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City. 

Name: Peggy Pape

Residence: Kansas City, Missouri

Occupation: Office manager at Parkville Presbyterian Church for 26 years

When I'm 64: Sly James

Apr 13, 2016
Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City. 

Name: Sly James

Residence: Kansas City, Missouri

Occupation: Mayor

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City. 

Name: Marc Inzerillo

Residence: Kansas City, Missouri

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City. 

Name: Jon R. Gray

Residence: Kansas City, Missouri

Occupation: Lawyer for Shook, Hardy & Bacon

What does 64 feel like? “Feels great. It beats the alternative. The alternative would be to not be 64 and be dead somewhere. What I can honestly say is I am truly living the best time of my life.”

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

This profile is part of KCUR’s occasional series, Aging in Place. We’re showcasing the many different faces of 64 in metro Kansas City. 

Name: Linda Salvay

Residence: Overland Park, Kansas

Occupation: “I’m discovering my next career as we speak because for most of my career I’ve been in corporate communications and recently left that. I’m trying to make a career about all the other things I love to do but didn’t have time for.”

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

On average, about 10,000 Americans retire every day, and rather than “aging in place,” retirees increasingly are doing just the opposite.  

Take Diane Herynk, president of the Working Sams RV club. “Sams” is short for Samaritans. Good Samaritans is a national camping group with hundreds of local chapters. The Working Sams group is based in Topeka, Kansas.

“Once upon a time when this was a brand new club, everyone worked," recalls Herynk. “And no one could go camping until they got off work. But, now everyone is retired, but we’re still Working Sams.”

Cody Newill / KCUR 89.3

Every Tuesday and Friday, about a dozen seniors from the Santa Fe Towers Apartments in Overland Park eagerly drop quarters into the fare box of the 812 Flex route bus. 

Many of the passengers are old hats when it comes to public transit. They've got their fare ready well before they get on the bus, and some pull along wheeled baskets to tote around the groceries they'll get from Hy-Vee.

One of the riders on a recent Tuesday was a woman named Carolyn, who asked that only her first name be used. She's used buses to get around Johnson County for the past 7 years.

Until recently, the idea of living in your parents' basement might have been viewed with some derision. Now, more families here have been stacking two, three — or even four generations — under one roof. We take a close look at the growth of multi-generational living in Kansas City.

Guests:

Courtesy Photo / Ziegler family

Most of the people older than 65 in the Kansas City area live either on their own or with family, meaning a spouse or child or a grandchild. 

But most older people living with grandchildren are the caregivers in the house.  

It was different for me. When my mother died, my husband and three young children moved into the family home to live with my aging father. We lived together for 17 years.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Here’s a sobering stat: one-third of seniors 65 and older fall every year.

Everyone is susceptible to falls. People of all ages trip, stumble and bump into things. People who are young and fit don’t have much trouble bouncing back. But if for woman older than 80 in otherwise good health, a broken hip triples the risk of dying in the next year.

Dave Ranney / Heartland Health Monitor

A recent change in Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services policy will reduce access to services that help the state’s frail elders avoid often-costly nursing home stays, according to directors of the state’s Area Agencies on Aging.

“This will have an impact on case management services, which we believe are pivotal when it comes to helping our customers remain in their homes,” says Janis DeBoer, executive director of the Kansas Area Agencies on Aging Association. “Case management is the glue that keeps everything together.”

Laura Spencer / KCUR

A love of the arts doesn’t fade as we age. But getting older – and less mobile – presents some challenges for seniors who still want to experience arts and cultural events.

For our series Aging in Place, a few local seniors shared strategies for connecting with the arts — such as looking for new sources of transportation, reaching out to arts opportunities at home and volunteering.

Getting active in the arts in retirement

Age Is Relative

Sep 29, 2015
U.S. Army MWR / Flickr

The quest for immortality, or at least longer than we've got, is the stuff of science fiction. But the scientific community has plenty to say about the reality of extending the human lifespan. A glimpse at the future of aging, plus ethical and practical implications of living longer.

Guests:

Esther Honig / KCUR

On a muggy afternoon in June, John Bruhn drives through Kansas City’s Ivanhoe neighborhood, reading the house numbers out loud until he sees No. 3735. With a clipboard in hand, he walks down the path to a small, yellow house and knocks at the front door.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR

Finding love is a difficult task at any age, but once you reach the later stages of life, the challenge can be even greater.

Because meeting new people can be especially hard, some organizations across the country are creating opportunities to make it a little bit easier by hosting senior speed-dating events.

Last month, the Shepherd’s Center Central in Kansas City organized their own speed dating event targeted to people over the age of 55, the first event of its kind in the metro.

Dating is hard, even for those just beginning that scene. But once you pass the age of 70, the challenges can be even greater. We talk with two seniors who stepped outside their comfort zones to try a new way  of meeting people and a film director who holds the issue close to heart. 

Guests: 

Mid-America Regional Council

Kansas City metro-area seniors are healthier and wealthier than their parents, though their spending habits are most aligned with a different generation – millennials.

“Young folks and older folks kind of want the same things,” says Frank Lenk, director of research for the Mid-America Regional Council. “They want lots of amenities near them. They want to be able to have a walkable community with open space and parks around them.”

Elle Moxley / KCUR

Lori Dollman hooks her muscular arms beneath her mother’s and begins to count.

“One, two, three,” Lori says, helping 86-year-old Regina plod slowly into the living room of their south Kansas City home. In a nursing home, Regina would be a two- or three-person carry. Lori lifts Regina alone.

“We don’t need hospice,” says Lori. “We’re doing quite well. She now walks out of her room with me holding her. I wish I had another me, but there isn’t. So I hold her in the front, and we walk, slowly, out of the room.”

Timo Newton-Syms / Flickr-CC

Older drivers often face a difficult decision on whether to continue driving or not as they move into their twilight years, but an expo Wednesday seeks to help them stay safe and find alternatives.

The Get Up And Go Older Adult Driving Expo is meant to give aging adults information about a wide range of transportation options.

Johnson County Museum

Drive around some of Johnson County’s neighborhoods and you may be able to guess when the neighborhood was developed — based on the architecture alone.

Following World War II, ranch houses were being built at record levels. The single-story, open concept style was the perfect starter home for new families.

“It was the first house ever to be mass produced in the United States,” said Mary Van Balgooy.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

The vast majority of seniors – nearly 90 percent, according to a 2011 AARP study – want to stay in the homes and communities where they've always lived.

Ellen Becky Grossman is no exception. The 101-year-old Roeland Park resident has never wanted to live anywhere but the home she built with her late husband in 1948.

But like a lot of Kansas City homes of a certain age, Grossman's single-story ranch house wasn't ideal for aging in place. That's why she enlisted the help of David Groves, one of a growing number of contractors who specialize in aging in place renovations.

“You might see his work right at the front door,” Grossman says.

Elle Moxley / KCUR

When it comes to delivering meals to seniors, Don Davis is an old pro. 

“Every once in awhile they miss one, and it’s easier to count them ahead of time and not be short,” he says, sifting through two big cooler bags of food outside the Matt Ross Community Center in Overland Park.

Once he's sure the number of meals is right, he hoists them into the trunk and tells wife, Toni, it's time to hit the road. It’s about 10:30 a.m. when the couple begins their regular Friday route for Johnson County Meals on Wheels.