Book Review: "The Daughter Trap"

The new book, The Daughter Trap, Taking Care of Mom and Dad…and You, is written with much love by Laurel Kennedy: love for our elderly first, then for those of us who pretty much give up having a life to care for them when they become incapable of living on their own.

Although filled with excerpts from interviews with a cross-section of Boomers, from the youngest to the oldest of us, men and women, those caring for their own parents and those caring for in-laws, all of which serve well to let fellow Boomers know they’re not in this alone (and giving voice to the sadness, frustration, overwhelm, and myriad other emotions that go along with this gargantuan responsibility), what is most useful are her concrete action steps to be taken, resources to be accessed, and social/media discrimination that must be changed.Men still expect women to be the primary caretakers…even of their own parents, and our parents expect that, too; the media is rightly on top of the lack of services/resources for children in need, but still far too often ignore the fact that little exists for the aged and those who care for them. The few progressive/innovative programs that are out there, or trying to start, designed to give our parents wonderful choices for living fully even if they cannot do it independently, get little help or attention.

Boomers have, and continue to, change entire mind-sets, social values, and communal expectations. Laurel Kennedy makes it abundantly clear that this, the way we care for our elders and the emphasis needed on this issue if our society is ever to get to even adequate let alone stellar around it, must be our new fight. Good thing it doesn’t require sit-ins…that’s a little too painful at this point in our lives… It requires instead the use of our formidable influence in government and the halls of commerce, our consistent attention to the issue with the media, and our Boomer-proven determination to right another wrong.

Only we have the power and the ability to make this change; taking elder care from back- to front-burner.

Read Laurel’s book to find out why, and get some wonderful ideas on how, while you glean some very useful ideas/resources for elder-care if you are doing so now, or are about to take it on soon.

Then get on your Boomer high horse and start demanding better for them; in your community; in the nation.

It’s what we do, and our parents deserve it.

The Extremists & The Rest of Us…A Fairy Tale…

Once upon a time, in a land that was the mightiest throughout the world, the people in charge known as “Boomers” became very disgruntled and returned to their roots of activism; well, actually, only a small number of them did, but the media made it seem like it was lots & lots of them…

Yes, the protestors, on both sides of the political divide, became very ugly…ooops, uh, vocal… about their unhappiness with many things the rulers of the land were doing, things like:

  • Passing “health care reform” where the peoples’ money was to be used to keep lots & lots of loyal subjects from, well, dying because they couldn’t afford care
  • Or not passing any reform on the practices of big entities called “greed factories”…oops, sorry again, “financial institutions”]
  • Or not addressing a problem called “illegal immigration” whereby millions of people from other lands could sneak in without permission & get work, a  place to live, healthcare, and generally act like they belonged there…

The most well known protestors were called “tea partiers” (not because they were much for partying or tea…but that is another fairy tale for another time) and they were lead by a beautiful & vapid princess called “Sarah” who brought them to frothy heights of discontent with beautiful images of mustached tyrants, bucolic concepts of “reloading” as in guns,  and “death panels.”  And they were portrayed by the mainstream media as representing what most people of the land believed.

But low and behold, the tea partiers were actually:

  • only 24% of all registered voters, including the Boomers
  • overwhelmingly White & male
  • retired or semi-retired so they had lots of time on their hands
  • or unemployed so they had lots of time on their hands and they were really cranky…

These subjects’ main complaint was that government programs designed to help the people of the land, are bad…except the ones they use (as, alas, many of them were on a thing called “Social Security,” a government program designed to help the aging people of the land…or something called “unemployment compensation,” a government program to help people pay their bills while they’re out of work…).

And they vowed to take their revenge on any of the land’s leaders who voted for any new such programs like health care reform, which they didn’t believe to be needed since most of them would soon be eligible for “Medicare” – another government program providing medical coverage for older subjects…

But alack, what about the other 76%?  Where did they stand?  What did they want?  Why were their voices not resounding out across the land?  Where were the women?  The non-White ethnic groups?  The non-retired & employed?

Unfortunately for the mighty land, based on a type of governance called “democracy” whereby it was the peoples’ votes and knowledge of the issues that the rules of law were made, as it turns out the majority of its subjects didn’t vote, got there “issue knowledge” from 2 minute “sound bites” designed to inflame more than inform, or just stayed silent in their own discontent about the discontented minority.

Then there were things called “polls” whereby subjects were asked what they thought about things.  And one such poll in a part of the land called “FloriDUH” showed that most subjects were against the new healthcare reform.  Alas, the poll had what was called a “margin of error” (how likely the poll sampling reflects the rest of the land’s views) of 15% – a credible poll has a margin of error of no more than 3%; 10% is considered highly unreliable – which meant that the poll reflected the actual views of… those polled….  And they lived in a State where subjects regularly re-elected legislators who polluted the environments on which the main source of income was dependent (tourism), decried “government spending” while grabbing their share of it, and balanced their budget by giving their big businesses lots of tax breaks while decimating all the programs for their most vulnerable subjects (from the developmentally disabled to abused/neglected children).

Thus, over a short period of time, and with help from the entire range of main stream media, it appeared that a minority of the land’s subjects would be able to dictate what the majority would get & what they “should” believe.  Why did the majority put up with this?

Would they remain silent no more, understanding that so long as they did, the country would not be “majority ruled” any longer?!

We don’t as yet know the answer, but the moral of the story is:

In a land where the majority rules, and that majority is a “silent” one because they are either apathetic or “too busy to get involved,” the many will see their fate sealed by the will of the few…and in any other land, that is called “dictatorship.”

How Boomers Can Change the Healthcare System

Wow…..that’s quite grandiose, eh?  That we as a generation could CHANGE the healthcare system as we know it?

It isn’t, and we can.  Here’s how.

I’ll start with the problem in the system that is within our control.  A big chunk of what’s wrong with healthcare is not being discussed: that too many doctors have long since abandoned quality care for quantity billable hours.  Here’s the result and how each one harms the system:

  • When we feel that our doctor cares less about us than his/her bottom line, we are more apt to sue when things go wrong – we believe they do not have our best interest/care at the core of their work, as a result it is much easier to believe malpractice, malicious or otherwise;
    Harms the healthcare system through higher levels of frivolous lawsuits
  • When doctors are not taking the time to truly listen, learn about us, automatically get our records from our other doctors and collaborate with them on our care, the result is the need to order tests and lots of them – when you work in a vacuum, you need to gather information to fill that void, information that often can be gleaned from other sources rather than more tests;
    Harms the system through needlessly perpetuating tests, not based on our tendency to sue, but their tendency to do too little discovery on their own, using their medical arts training
  • Speaking of working in a vacuum, doctors today take a full-blown silo approach, attending to only their tiny specialty piece of our personal health-needs puzzle, as though their part of the body is completely disconnected from the other parts (not to mention the emotional/psychological aspects of our physical health) – it isn’t – all of the body’s parts work in concert, and specialists need to consider other systems/parts that impact their specialty’s – but too few do;
    Harms the system by again creating the need to order batteries of tests; also lends to more misdiagnoses, the need to see more doctors until you find someone who might put the pieces together for you, and mistrust that fuels lawsuits
  • Overbooking is the medical mantra – thus doctors expect us to wait for sometimes an hour, before being seen for a pre-scheduled appointment; beyond the facts that if we ran our businesses like that we wouldn’t have one and the practice is clearly disrespectful to us (treat our time as far less valuable than theirs), the most important problem here is that the person making decisions about our healthcare issues is in such a rush, there is simply no way s/he can do a quality job;
    Harm to the system is increased misdiagnoses or no diagnoses (once the most obvious cause for your symptoms has been ruled out, the medical shoulders shrug and you’re left still not knowing what’s wrong with you…or you’re sent to yet another specialist) both of which increase our costs (more doctor visits/tests), and once again, increase the lawsuit tendency.

Now here’s what we can do to fix it because, as I mentioned above, this is within our control:

  • Insist on better care – do not accept poor quality medical practice, as the more we accept it, the more of it we’ll get; let any doctor you see know upfront what you expect from him/her, and be prepared to seek other practitioners if you don’t get it – do not settle for mediocrity as though you have no choice
  • Insist that your doctors talk to each other, that your records be shared, and that your doctor listen to all of your concerns and existing medical needs/issues, regardless of the body part you’re there to address – neither they nor you know what’s impacting what until you discuss it
  • Do not wait more than 15 minutes to be seen – unless the doctor has an emergency or they’re fitting you in on an emergency basis – let the scheduling person know this intention when you make your appointment, and make checking on the doctor’s timeliness a part of your doctor-choosing decision; then follow through if they do make you wait longer than the time you’ve agreed to wait – let them know you’re leaving, and give them one more chance to do it right by making another appointment (if you wish); usually your return visit will be handled much better…
  • Become a well informed consumer/partner in your care – go to your appointments prepared, understand as much about what’s happening to your body as you can rather than fully depending on the doctor whose only half-listening anyway, insist on explanations for their recommendations, benefits/down-sides, etc. rather than blindly accepting what they decide – I have provided my doctors with alternatives they’d not considered as a result of my due diligence
  • Do not agree to tests with which you don’t feel comfortable or, after some research you believe to be unnecessary – you’d be quite surprised by how many tests you’ll find are more about CYA for the doctor vs. your well-being, once you’re more fully informed

We Boomers have no problem asking for what we want, we are the best educated generation so our research skills are excellent, and we are unwilling to accept the “status quo” (these are just 3 of our generational characteristics that come in handy, here) – much more so than any other generation, including our childrens’.  We can use these abilities to change the expectations we have of the medical professionals in our lives, thus changing the way our own doctors work with us.  By using only those doctors who meet all the above criteria, we are putting our dollars to work supporting best medical practice, not worst.  

And with 78 million of us, that will have a huge impact.  Over time, those with the best practice approaches will thrive, the rest will not. 

The resulting reductions in lawsuits, unneeded tests, and additional doctor visits as one specialist no longer automatically sends you to another before doing all s/he can to diagnose your problem him/herself, will make a nice dent in our healthcare costs.

Make cents?

A sign of the Times

You know, when I was younger I would curse the bevy of advertisements throughout our newspaper… “Annoying…!” I would mutter to myself. “Look at this, a full page just for an advertisement…disgraceful!” I would exclaim aloud.

Now, I thank every ad-salesperson on my paper’s staff, and every savvy business buying it.  They keep that paper coming to my door every morning, and I am extremely grateful.

Because how happy would we be if our newspapers go away…victim of younger generations’ apathy for the written word held in one’s hand?  With the prospect looming for giants like the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, this is not as far-fetched as we wish it to be.

I teach businesses how to reach the Boomer buyer, as many companies still cling to the last century trend of marketing to the 18-45 crowd (begun, by the way, in the ‘70’s to reach, you guessed it, Boomers…) and then wonder why they’re struggling.  Boomers have the highest levels of disposable income with the greatest willingness to use it, we represent almost 45% of the consumer market, larger than all the other individual market cohorts combined, and we spend a whopping $2.3 trillion annually on goods & services…that’s $400 billion more than any other age cohort.

And it is we Boomers who are the primary subscribers to newspapers/ magazines; the last generation to get our buying information from traditional media (papers, radio, and TV). 

So to you smart companies advertising in the newspaper, you’re doing exactly what it takes to reach us.  Keep it up.  And to my fellow Boomer readers, I ask you to join me in doing the smart thing and spend with these businesses.  We can simply complain that our newspapers are either disappearing or becoming a shell of themselves, or we can help bring them back. 

As a generation we brought the nation civil rights and the world human rights, to name just a few of the society-altering fixes for which we fought and won – we can handle this one easily.

Hang in there, print news…with we Boomers behind you, you’ll be just fine!

Time for all the baby boomers to grow up into Zoomers

(this is a reprint of an article from newsdurhamregion.com – bears spreading!)

Newfound attitude could have positive side-effects for those of a more mature age

Sep 25, 2008

By Grace Stevenson

I suspected it would happen and it has. The baby boomers have reached the age known as “senior” and are about to “reinvent the notion of old.”

My first indication of this came when the Oshawa Senior Citizens Centres lowered the age of admission to 55, putting to shame the many over 65 who, through the years, have refused to join this organization because of the word “senior” in its name.

Immediately programs were added to allow these new members to do what they wanted to do — exercise more strenuously, enhance their computer skills and enjoy evening and Saturday activities.

A more telling indication has been the decision by CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) to let Moses Znaimer take over their magazine. Deciding he hated all the usual words for those reaching a mature age, he christened us all Zoomers, an obvious evolution from the word Boomers.

But where does that leave us, we who gave birth to this boomer generation and still consider ourselves active members of society? We aren’t averse to the words senior and elder, considering them synonyms for wiser and more experienced. I was never a boomer and I refuse to be called a zoomer.

In his introductory letter in CARP magazine, now renamed Zoomer, Mr. Znaimer implies that seniors prior to his arrival on their scene, have “given up,” the man “stuffing himself into the same tux he bought years ago, the woman careless about her appearance because she no longer believes she’s attractive.”

Those are fighting words, Mr. Znaimer!

Just as the boomers took over every facet of life during my last 40 years — filled stores with clothes I couldn’t wear; assaulted my ears with raucous sounds that bore no resemblance to what I call music; and served food I’d never heard of in my youth; now they’ve filled my magazine with pictures of curvy young women and Adonis-like men and articles of no interest to my mature mind.

I did approve of one though. In it the author opined there’ll be no stigma about memory loss from now on, forgetting things will just be referred to as “data dumping.”

My first feeling when this magazine arrived was anger, fury in fact. But I now realize that, just as these boomers shaped the world their way through their growing up years, they’ll now change everything in their new world.

Mr. Znaimer is aiming for a membership of a million for CARP. I’m sure this dynamic man will obtain it. And when he does, the strength he’ll wield in advocating change will be awesome.

We’ll have more and better senior residences and nursing homes; numerous gerontology doctors and nurses; a never ending supply of subsidized caregivers for those who want to live on their own; and more handicapped spaces wherever we want to park.

Yes, life will be rosy for the Zoomers. I just have to stick around long enough to enjoy some of their spoils.