Boomers, The Plastic Fantastic Generation

once upon a time....

As a boomer, I am part of the generation that implemented the “turn on, tune in, drop out” approach to life.  There seemed to be a major rejection of what existed before.  In fact, there was a social revolution of sorts, and not just in the United States, but on a global level.  We believed we were a turning point in the way things were done.  We were the future and the future was not going to look anything like the past.  Yet it turns out that most of us did not end up changing anything at all, at least in one area that we had purported to reject: consumerism.  In fact, our generation has done more to increase the strength of the consumer society than any previous generation before us.

Ironically,

….baby boomers are the wealthiest generation in U.S. history, both earning and consuming more than any other age group.12• Baby boomers have amassed $3.7 trillion in total earnings, as compared to the $1.6 trillion generated by the preceding generation.

How can that be?  Weren’t we the ones who recognized that materialism could not give us the true nourishment of spiritual and emotional needs?  Yet, our generation has been the most workaholic generation ever.  We have seen more wars fought during our existence than there ever have been fought before.  We have watched as the use of automobiles and the means by which they operate, fossil fuels, have increased to an amount unimaginable forty years ago.  It has been during our lifetime that the concept of time has narrowed into practical non-existence.  And, although our energy levels seem higher than those of previous generations, our health may not necessarily be better.  In the end, it has been during our lifetime that materialism has become so ensconced that we take for granted running to a store to purchase something we need, two or three times a day, having electricity at the click of a switch, and pretty much anything we want secured through paper money or a plastic card.

Now I am not advocating that our childish approach to rejecting the previous generation’s world was to be commended.  But there were some good things that did come out of “the movement.”  And since there are always two sides to a coin, let’s look at those.  The advancements that have occurred in this period of time have catapulted us into a world our great-grandparents would not be able to recognize.  Social sensitivities and environmental sensitivities increased.  Discrimination decreased.  But again because there are two sides to the coin of life, it seems as though the tolls that our advancements have taken on the environment are unprecedented.  Communication abilities are at a level we could not have imagined twenty years ago and our ties around the world make cultures that once were considered foreign, our neighbors.  Advancements in Science continue apace.  We are re-defining the aging process, or at least pushing it back by a good dozen years.  And hopefully, we will come up with a way to maintain our earth and all her gifts to us before we destroy her and thereby ourselves.

But with regard to consumerism, I still don’t understand how we ended up taking a left turn instead of the right turn we thought we were taking…..

 

What is this Website All About?

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Recently, a friend who is a social media guru, told me that my site did not effectively communicate what my message was.

Being a person who is aging in a society wherein aging is looked at in negative terms,  I decided to begin a website that explored all those aspects of life/society that affect the aging person, positively and negatively.  I am interested in exploring a more positive outlook towards aging.  Baby Boomers make up a large percentage of the population.  We should be working together to pro-actively create twilight years more to our making and liking, not follow, like sheep, society’s definition of what aging is all about.

Where does the story begin?  In some societies, the elderly are venerated.  In other societies, they are taken care of.  In our society, unbelievable amounts of energy and money are expended to avoid the aging process and to avoid death.

The real problem with all of this is that gerontology is looked on as dealing with “old” people and our concept of “old” is decrepit , demented, incontinent. Until we reach “old” (at least in our society) no one wants to deal with “old” and so the image of “old” continues to be perpetuated in the above fashion.

People need to recognize that those of us who don’t age, die. In other words, unless something else takes us away, we are all going to age. Unless those of us who are aging now (but are denying that fact, other than to laugh about “senior moments” or complain about the “new aches and pains,”) take responsibility for this fact, buy into it and prepare for it, we will not have the infrastructure in place to deal with it properly (which is where we are today in our society). Time for a paradigm shift. Unless the baby boomers (46-66) create that paradigm shift, we will have quite a mess on our hands.

Why do I say that we will have a mess on our hands?  In sheer numbers, the baby boomers outnumber those following them.  Studies show that younger folk do not seem to be attracted to service oriented jobs.  The traditional definition of family has been expanded to several parents/siblings/grandparents by virtue of high number of divorces and re-marriages, which will also have an impact on care-giving.  Not only that, but we, beginning with our parents, are the highest users of pharmaceutical drugs, all of which have some side effect which causes some other problem which necessitates taking more pharmaceutical drugs.

Now all of this is glorious news for the health care industry (note the word industry — their term, not mine).  What better scenario for profits than having an individual with a chronic illness who is totally dependent on the health care system?  And better yet, particularly for the insurance companies [-- one part of the triage that makes up the health care industry, the other two being pharmaceuticals and hospitals/doctors --]  is a person who is on medicare and has all these chronic problems because then 80% of the cost for their care is covered by Medicare.

This is a scenario that I find dismaying and will speak out against again and again.  We should never have allowed a service industry to become a profit making industry.  When we did, health no longer became the focus — profits did.  Making money did.  And when that happened, individuals’ health became compromised by the very system that claims to be proponents for health.

So in a nutshell, this website will (mostly) focus on our aging process and those steps we can take to better prepare ourselves (boomers corner) and it will focus on the health care industry by presenting articles that demonstrate the need for a major overhaul of that industry in the hopes of recapturing its original intent: health. (Health Blog).

At least for now…..

I would appreciate any thoughts you may wish to share with regard to this.

© Yvonne Behrens  2012

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To Stay at Home or Not to Stay at Home

George Shaw 4 copy

– By George Shaw
Most individuals, if given the choice, would prefer to stay in their own home later in life – even as their needs for care progress. There are a number of different home health care options for those who wish to “age in place,” yet depending on the actual level of care that is required, this option can become quite costly – especially if assistance is needed around the clock.

Some of the issues to consider when making the decision to remain at home or move into a senior care facility include cost and location. Proximity to family and other loved ones is certainly a primary factor in making this decision – regardless of whether these individuals will be the actual caregivers.

Certainly, we all enjoy our independence. It is great to be able to do the things that we want to do when we choose to do them. But for some who are getting older, physical mobility and / or cognitive impairments may make it difficult to live an independent lifestyle without the assistance of others.

While in the past, seniors with physical or mental impairments had no other choice but to move to a skilled nursing home, today there are many types of living arrangement options that are available. These can include:

Retirement Communities – As the group of baby boomers who are retiring continues to increase, there are a number of new retirement communities being developed across the country. These living arrangements typically consist of apartments or condos for those who can live independently, and they oftentimes provide amenities such as swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, and a myriad of planned social activities.

Assisted Care Living Facilities – Assisted care living facilities are ideal for those who can do most things independently, but they may need some assistance with basic daily activities such as bathing or dressing. These facilities typically consist of apartment type arrangements with a common eating area and planned activities.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities – Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs, are a relatively new type of living arrangement for seniors that consist of independent condos, assisted living quarters, and skilled nursing services, whereby the residents may move to different areas as their needs for care progress. These communities are ideal for seniors as they can stay in one area, even if they develop a need for additional assistance. These are also a great option for married couples as both individuals may reside in the same location, even if one needs a higher level of care.

In terms of expenses, in many cases, the cost of care in a facility or at home may be covered under a long-term care insurance policy. Today’s insurance plans have become quite flexible in their payment options for the many different care choices that are now available to seniors.

Who Gets Grandma After the Divorce?

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By 

Who from my family will step up and care for me as I grow older? That is a question a lot of baby boomers are asking themselves. Because the prospects are scary.
In a study reported in Long-Term Care Magazine, divorce and remarriage is changing the role of adult children in caring for aging parents and the quality of family relationships is often trumping genetic ties argues a researcher from the University of Missouri.
Lawrence Ganong, a professor and co-chair at the university’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies, found that relationship quality, a history of mutual help and resource availability influence decisions about who cares for parents and stepparents.
Ganong said: “How close family members are to each other, how much they have been helped by them in the past and what hardships caregiving might place on family members are important factors when people consider caring for older kin.”
Ganong and his research team presented study participants with hypothetical caregiving scenarios involving an aging parent or stepparent and a child or stepchild. Participants then responded to questions about their perceptions of who should provide care.
The majority of participants said biological factors are relevant in caregiving decisions, but they do not automatically require adult children to help older relatives.
“Based on what happens before, during and after marital transitions, family members may change what they think their responsibilities are regarding helping and providing care to kin,” Ganong said. “As a society that relies on families to provide much of the care for older adults, we need to better understand the effects of changes in families due to divorce and remarriage.”
Ganong recommended that middle-aged adults have honest conversations with parents and stepparents about expectations for caregiving and other types of assistance before needs arise.
Ganong’s study, “Who Gets Custody of Grandma After the Divorce? How Marital Transitions Affect Family Caregiving Responsibilities,” was funded by the National Institute on Aging.
So now I am praying that my stepson, whose mom I am divorced from, will stay married to my lovely daughter-in-law!