The ethos of Las Vegas may be new, new, new, but, actually, we’re a wise old city underneath. Shiny new subdivisions, constant Strip evolution and Downtown makeover aside, Las Vegas continues to be a major retirement magnet. Right now, about 12 percent of our state’s population is 65 or older, but that’s expected to grow to nearly 20 percent by the year 2030. In other words: Sure, we’ve got gaming and nightlife down to a science, but it turns out we’re also at the vanguard of the graying of America.
This means much more than having a wait a little longer for a tee time at your favorite golf course. It raises a more fundamental question: How can Southern Nevada get prepared to serve our growing population of silver citizens, with their unique health care, financial and lifestyle needs? One mere issue of a magazine can’t begin to answer the question, but we’ve tried to start some conversations about it in our Passages issue. Starting on p. 55, you’ll find FAQs, resource guides and feature stories that touch upon issues such as aging, death, grieving and moving on — handled, we hope, in a way that’s neither grim nor saccharine. We tapped local experts in fields such as finance, end-of-life care and relationships for their advice on commonly asked questions about death and dying. We also provide a curated guide to resources in the valley, ranging from in-home care services to rehab centers to classes and workshops that help with the grieving process.
However, aging, death and grieving are ultimately personal — but not private. That is, the trials and struggles — and yes, joys — of life’s final chapters happen in family rooms, kitchens, nursing homes and hospices, places where we live and work. Author and UNLV English professor Douglas Unger ruminates on that reality in “Being There,” p. 62. He recounts three “good deaths” — those of an aunt, his first wife, and his brother — in his family, occasions that, while heart-wrenching, also gave him the opportunity to play a meaningful role as a companion and caregiver in their final days. In each case, he took on the task of supplying “small good things” to the dying in a spirit of compassionate duty. Heidi Kyser’s story, “You never know their real intentions” (p. 66), tells a different type of personal story. She examines the case of Japanese socialite Reiko Kawasaki, whose death in Las Vegas in 2010 sparked a series of bitter court battles over her estate. Death is hard enough; Kyser’s story considers how it can often provoke the basest human traits — greed, jealousy, revenge — among the living who remain behind.
We’re not going total goth on you. Be sure to check our Q&A with the Black Mountain Institute’s new Executive Director Joshua Wolf Shenk (p. 44) and our critics’ first tastes of two new restaurants, one dishing up innovative Thai street food, the other revved-up Italian classics (p. 50). You’re sure to find it all enlightening and entertaining — no matter the color of your hair.