As a freelance journalist who has always worked remotely, I have found my daily schedule relatively unchanged since the outbreak of COVID-19. I awake, have my coffee and head directly to my computer to start working on my ongoing stories. The only difference is that I’m sorely missing my regular workouts at my local YMCA; instead I’m trying out online yoga and dance classes. But I’m finding I have less time for that, since I’m busier than ever. Editors have been reaching out regularly to assign me stories related to the epidemic. When my New York Times editor suggested a story on the unique challenges that caregivers of those with dementia face with the outbreak, I thought it was a great idea. And it gave me the chance to explore the ways that these unsung heroes are proceeding. Sometimes as a journalist, you’re able to cross paths with someone who inspires you. That was the case for me. I interviewed K.C. Mehta, who has been caring for his wife for seven years. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when she was 59. Mehta’s greatest concern is taking care of her and he’s trying his best to keep them both safe. Listening to him discuss the complexities of caring for her even under normal circumstances, all without complaint, demonstrated the strength of the many who are silently just trying to persevere. I was so pleased to be able to share Mehta’s story in this article. It provided a glimmer of positivity amidst a climate of despair. And it reinforced the reasons why I so treasure being a freelance journalist.
I spent the last two days at the What’s Next Boomer Summit in Chicago, an impressive gathering of 400 organized by Mary Furlong. Over the next 30 years, the population of those turning 65 is expected to double. It’s a daunting number, one that will transform the way companies do business in this country. Many of those attending the Summit were heads of start-up companies with products geared towards the aging industry. One woman is launching a service that allows grandparents to better engage grandchildren over Skype by developing games they can play together. Another is pioneering a device that monitors older people living alone that doesn’t require them to press a button if they fall. It automatically tracks their motions as part of a passive system. An owner of a facility discussed a new approach to treating Alzheimer’s patients, using the gentler term, “memory care.” It’s impressive how many people are using innovative ways to address the many issues that will surface as so many people enter old age. I look forward to writing several articles about this emerging, and fast growing industry, one that not only will be profitable, but hopefully will present some proactive solutions to the vexing problem of elderly care giving.