Those who are nearing retirement will need to pay more attention to their health than they did in years past. Thankfully, living a healthy lifestyle is not overly complicated, although it does take some effort and self-discipline. Following are some simple yet very effective healthy living tips that a person who is getting on in years will want to put into practice.
Wall St. Protests….Taking Up Where We Left Off
“How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry…. Yes how many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn’t see….”
Whether or not you were one of the protesters in our youth railing against “the man” (corporate greed and corruption), or the pillaging of the environment, the majority of us still agreed that rivers burning with pollution and companies making millions (billions in today’s dollars) by exploiting their workers or the public at large, and forever destroying pieces of the earth for their financial gain, were worth fighting to fix.
And now, we’re the ones being protested against.
We are “the man” we so reviled as youth. We are the ones in charge of Big Corp that guts the middle class so that CEO’s can buy that yacht and third vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard; we’re in charge of a Congress that votes to bail out Bank of America with our hard earned dollars and then refuses to ensure that the entity cannot ruin our lives again; we are the ones who have turned our backs on the environmental gains made as a result of our protests, through lifestyles that are built on rampant waste.
Some say that we just grew up…that once the realities of making a living and raising a family kick in, idealism jumps ship.
Some say that many of us really didn’t care about those things as youth, so simply continued to live our beliefs (it’s not greed when it’s “capitalism” because we all hope to get rich someday; the earth is here to serve our needs, not the other way around).
But, even if either, or both are true, neither falls even close to a good reason for leaving our children worse off than we are, ensuring that the top 10% make and keep 93% of our country’s wealth while they continue to lay-off workers and off-shore jobs, or that pillaging the earth of her beauty and resources is right way to get our needs met…
So, to the former, I offer a suggestion; that we think “and/both” rather than “either/or” – we can strive to have a good life without gutting the earth and harming others in the process.
To the latter, I offer this quote, not by a Founding Father or a high profile preacher, but from a comic book of our youth: “With great power, comes great responsibility” – which of course we all understood to mean great responsibility to care for the less powerful, to use our own capacities to better the common good – not line the pockets of the few and the rest of society be damned.
And to those who say that there are just too many things “out of our control” so what’s gone wrong over the past decade or more is not our fault, I offer this idea to ponder: That which you believe to be out of your control…is, even those things that are well within it. Think Bank of America is a corporate leech? Close your account with them. Believe in global warming as a real problem? Drive a fuel efficient auto and demand/use recycyled goods. Angry about off-shoring our jobs? Then buy only “made in America.”
Our kids are taking up where we left off oh those many decades ago. Which they must, because we left off.
Boomers….Beware “Entitlement Reform”
When we hear about the need to tackle entitlements if we are to have even the wisp of a hope of getting the federal budget under control, the two compelling questions become:
- Are Boomers “entitled” to Medicare and Social Security (is the term itself accurate), and;
- Is there actually a need to “reform” them?
First, to the question of entitlement.
I’ve paid into Social Security my entire working life (I started @ 16… that would be a ton of candles on my worker cake…), the promise being receipt of the benefits I’ve earned upon reaching a certain age.
The same goes for Medicare, which, like Social Security, is funded by payroll taxes; it gets additional funding by income taxes on SS benefits (which we will be paying) and interest earned on trust fund investments.
So…yes…we are entitled to them which is “beware #1”: Any argument to the contrary, often used to base debate on a complete overhaul of both systems, is incorrect.
Now, onto the need to “reform” them.
SS & Medicare were set up to pay for themselves, and in fact Social Security would be running a surplus were it not for the raiding of it over the decades to pay for other things. Medicare is indeed rife with fraud (I’ve seen it with these two aging eyes as billing took place for my father for services that never occurred…we reported it…Medicare ignored it), but the good news is, unless the Medicare trust fund is being handled by Bernie Madoff, it ought to be doing well, so that’s a plus.
So, unfortunately, we do need reform them, which leads to “beware #2”:
Any reform will be useless without the most important change, not even whispered on Capital Hill –
Legislators’ ability to get their hands on those monies for uses other than the purposes of SS & Medicare. Make both the Medicare & the SS Trust Funds off limits, period.
Once that’s in place, a few tweaks and we’re good to go. For Social Security:
- Change the formula for SS deductions so that income on earnings over $106K goes into the pot
- Allow those making over $106K a year to claim only the percentage of SS equal to the percentage of their income they invested
- Allow those making over a certain income upon retirement to not claim their benefits, if they wish to do so, putting that back into the pot
- Raise the age at which we can claim our benefits, to match life expectancy (which was the original formula, we just haven’t been following it)
Onto Medicare. This is one is simpler; rout out the fraud, and the system is solvent once more. Yes that will take some investment in more investigators, etc., but the pay-off will be huge, the ROI significant.
Boomers are in charge, we have all the influence needed to make these reforms a reality. We are entitled to these programs, so let’s be unafraid to fix them so they work well, now and through the coming decades.
Thinking for Ourselves…What a Concept!
A woman in Utah is suing Google because a route she took using Google Maps landed her at a 4-lane highway where she was subsequently hit and injured while trying to cross.
Relatedly, a 1998 study of London taxi drivers showed their hippocampi to be much larger than normal due to all the “mental maps” they stored over the years in their work; scientists fear if those same cabbies start to rely too heavily on GPS rather than their own brain power, their hippcampi will most likely shrink along with their self-developed mapping skills.
Folks in Florida, and no doubt other states, are indicating they’d vote for candidates based solely on their TV ads, in spite of (in Florida) both candidates’ dubious past business practices (one ran a company indicted for Medicare/Medicaid fraud; the other made his zillions on the subprime mortgage mess that put the state/country in turmoil)
We’re led to believe that “multi-tasking” is an important part of getting ahead in the 21st century, when research clearly shows that heavy multi-taskers have “fractured thinking” meaning they have greater difficulty filtering out irrelevant information, which in turn greatly reduces an ability to focus; our brain power actually diminishes.
Folks watch Glenn Beck/MSNBC, or listen to sound bites on CNN, using others’ thoughts, or blurbs that offer far too little information, to replace a cultivation of their own independent thinking and issue assessments through research, fact-finding, and good old deductive reasoning (comes in handy when politicians and media pundits contradict themselves, which they often do to sound good at the moment).
Before 24 hour news and the world wide web, we had to rely much more on discussions/debates with friends/colleagues/acquaintances – which also meant we weren’t as able to “filter” out those with whom we may not agree as we can now by attending to only the shows/web-info that feed our biases.
This in turn compelled us to rely more heavily on our own ability to form judgments and assess situations to make an informed decision (we knew that crossing a 4 lane highway has inherent dangers of which we must be keenly aware prior to attempting…); there was little else to turn to (well, the rumor mill will always be available…).
It also forced us to take a broader view of situations rather than continuously and by design sustain an “information bias” – the fact that some of those folks with whom we “debated” the issues of the day were not in agreement with us made us, at least for the duration of that discussion, hear opposing points of view and the thinking behind them. Even if no minds were changed at the moment, at least we got out of our very narrow perspective for a short time…and doing that enough times, over time, can make one a tad more broad-minded.
The more we abrogate independent, informed, self-developed thinking, just like not voting, the more we allow everyone but ourselves to ultimately control our lives.
No wonder we’re so angry.
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.