Posts Tagged ‘Baby Boomers’

Boomers to Inherit $8 Trillion

Our good friend Tim Takacs (from Tennessee) has an interesting report this week on a recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. You can read the report summary, and order the more-detailed paper from which the quoted information was taken, at the Center’s website.

Alive and Kicking: New Book Offers Legal Advice to Boomers

APRIL 16, 2007  VOLUME 14, NUMBER 42

Ironies abound as the leading edge of the “Baby Boom” generation heads into its 60s (and retirement). The generation that vowed never to trust anyone over 30 will shortly have to figure out minimum distribution rules from Individual Retirement Accounts, Medicare’s Part D coverage and its limitations, and how to deal with the physical declines and personal losses that accompany aging. A new book released this month may help them navigate some of the currents and shoals.

Authors Kenney Hegland (professor of law at the University of Arizona) and Robert Fleming (elder law attorney with the Tucson firm of Fleming & Curti, PLC, editor of Elder Law Issues and webmaster for elder-law.com) have announced the release of Alive and Kicking: Legal Advice for Boomers. The new book is available online at Amazon.comBarnes & Noble and by special order from bookstores everywhere.

“We were going to call the book Geezer’s Law, but cooler heads prevailed,” write the authors. The book is infused with humor, filled with sly cultural references, and fun to read. Dr. Andrew Weil, author of Healthy Aging, calls it “an engaging, even uplifting, book about a subject most of us who are getting on in life often avoid: arranging our affairs for our latter years to avoid medical, financial, and legal troubles. I will use it myself and recommend it to patients, friends, and loved ones.”

Topics covered include advice on health care, estate planning, divorce, remarriage, starting a business, living wills, nursing homes and more. You can read about how to protect yourself from scams, age discrimination and elder abuse. You can gain insight into the important questions that accompany the condition of aging: What can you do to make your own children treat you better than you did your parents? Will you have to give up both driving and sex?

“If you are getting older (or hope to),” write the authors, “you’ve picked up the right book.” Hegland and Fleming believe that the condition of geezerhood should not be accompanied by a loss of intellectual interest. Instead, “we’ll come and go, talking of Michelangelo, telling bad jokes, and reciting wonderful poetry: spoonfuls of spice with your maturity medicine.”

“Studies tell us that learning new things is good exercise and Alive and Kicking is one heck of a workout,” writes Joy Loverde, author of The Complete Eldercare PlannerBaird Brown, pioneering elder law attorney, describes Alive and Kicking as “a must read for anyone who wants to understand many of life’s imponderable questions,” and Professor Rebecca Morgan, former President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, calls it “a truly valuable resource for everyone needing to learn more about the issues that they, or their parents, will face”

Bipartisan Commission Fails To Propose Medicare Reforms

MAY 17, 1999 VOLUME 6, NUMBER 46

The National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare sounded like a good idea. Seventeen Commission members met for the first time in March of last year, and were scheduled to make a truly bipartisan recommendation on how to “save” the Medicare program by March of this year. On March 16, 1999, the Commission held its final meeting, and failed to make any recommendations at all.

The idea of a bipartisan approach to Medicare reform was written into the Balanced Budget Act of 1997. Its seventeen members included five U.S. Senators, four members of the House of Representatives, and a collection of doctors, nurses, health insurance industry leaders, lawyers and businesspersons. The final proposal was based on a concept of “premium support”–an idea that would require private providers and the existing Medicare program to bid for Medicare dollars, and guarantee Medicare recipients only so much coverage as the average bid would provide.

Although the final Commission report was not adopted, a majority of the Commission supported the premium support idea. Because Congress wanted to ensure that any recommendation was truly bipartisan, the Commission’s rules required eleven votes to adopt any proposal. Ten members supported the final report, so the idea of premium support might be expected to resurface in future Congressional actions. As Commission member Dr. Bruce Vladeck says: “In Washington, D.C., no bad idea ever truly dies.”

Critics of the premium support approach to Medicare reform sharply questioned projections of substantial savings from the proposed change to Medicare. Most economists challenged the assumptions on which the savings were based, and the Health Care Financing Administration (the government agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid) estimated that the Commission’s approach would save no more than 2.5% of the future cost of Medicare–far short of what will be needed to avoid huge predicted shortfalls early in the next century.

Huge (and unanticipated) budget surpluses in the last two years have led some to question whether Medicare reform is such a pressing need. Nonetheless, the evidence indicates that legitimate concerns about Medicare’s future arise from expected demographic and financial changes, including:

Medicare’s Part A fund (which pays for beneficiaries’ hospitalization costs) is projected to “go broke” in 2008.
Annual Medicare spending, now at just over $200 billion, will rise to between $2 and $3 trillion by 2030.
Medicare beneficiaries are now paying just under one-third of the cost of their medical care. In 1995, that amounted to an annual average of $2,563 per beneficiary. That figure is expected to rise dramatically over the next few decades, and to rise more quickly than increases in the general cost of living. Incidentally, private employers and so-called “Medigap” insurance policies are currently paying about one-tenth of the beneficiaries’ share.
77 million “Baby Boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1964) will begin to qualify for Medicare in 2011. The total number of Medicare recipients will double, to over 80 million in 2040.
If no other action is taken, the Medicare payroll tax will have to increase from its current 2.9% to 5.6% by 2030.

New Studies Show Children As Caregivers For Aging Parents

APRIL 7, 1997 VOLUME 4, NUMBER 40

Two recent studies demonstrate that children of the frail elderly spend more time and money on care of their parents than is widely supposed. Despite the popular image of “baby-boomer” children as self-involved and neglectful of their elders’ needs, the research indicates that the amount of effort invested in elder care has actually increased over the past decade.

In 1987, according to one of the studies (sponsored by the American Association of Retired Persons, the National Alliance for Caregiving and others), seven million families were involved in providing long-term care for parents or other relatives. That number has more than tripled, to 22.4 million.

Fully half of employed caregivers have missed work time to care for their elders in recent years, reflecting an increase from just over two-fifths a decade ago. Another surprise: almost half of long-distance caregivers are male, despite the stereotype of daughters providing all the care for aging parents. The average age of long-distance caregivers: 46–which places the average caregiver solidly in the baby boom generation.

Long-distance caregivers make up a distinct portion of the children providing care for elderly relatives. 70% of those out-of-town care providers are employed, and they provide assistance with everything from bill-paying to hiring and managing on-site caretakers.

The second recent study, commissioned by the National Council on Aging, shows similar results. The NCOA focused its study on caregivers who live at least an hour from their elders. While that study showed that only 15% of caregivers have taken unpaid leave from their jobs to deal with elder care responsibilities, it suggests that out-of-town caretakers provide more than just their time to support aging elders. In fact, the NCOA caretakers had spent an average of $196 per month of their own money to provide or oversee care, and spent 35 hours per month on making the arrangements and visits necessary to keep their elders safe and provided for.

The NCOA study (funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts) also revealed another important detail about long-distance elder care: the length of time such arrangements continue. According to the study, the average long-distance caretaker had been involved in helping out for just over five years.

Both studies demonstrate the reality of caregiving at a time when public policy debates focus on the spiraling costs of long-term care. According to the conventional wisdom, children (and especially baby boomers) are interested primarily in receiving their depression-era parents’ estates as quickly as possible. That is the view that invests policy determinations, from Congress’ recent attempt to make criminals out of parents who give away property before institutionalization to Medicaid’s refusal to provide any substantial home care alternative to nursing home placement.

Even as the American population ages inexorably, the public debate shifts away from reasoned solutions of the growing funding problem associated with long-term care and toward demonizing of the segment of society most likely to require assistance. The long-term care insurance industry, eager to develop a market in this growth field (a tiny fraction of long-term care costs is currently paid by insurance, with the majority of funding coming from the federal Medicaid program), has led the charge with a two-fold attack: accusing children of the frail elderly of greed while trying to frighten the elderly themselves with visions of bankrupt government programs and allegedly substandard care. Unfortunately for those who make the first claim, the AARP and NCOA studies clearly demonstrate that the elderly receive tremendous assistance from their children, even across long distances.

Population Trends Among The Elderly In America

FEBRUARY 5, 1996 VOLUME 3, NUMBER 32

The “Aging of America” is a familiar theme. Almost everyone knows that our population is growing collectively older, and that seniors are the fastest growing segment of our society.

Aging Americans are not monolithic, however. A number of demographic trends appear among the increasing numbers of the elderly.

The dimensions of the change in society are astonishing. Although only one in twenty-five Americans was over the age of 65 at the turn of the last century, one in eight are at least that old today. Shortly after the next turn of the century, “Baby Boomers” will begin to join the ranks of the elderly, and one in five Americans will be elderly by the time the last Boomers turn 65 in the year 2030.

Older Americans will be increasingly diverse in coming decades. Although about 10% of seniors are members of at least one minority group today, that percentage will double in 50 years. Hispanics, for example, will increase from 4% of the elderly population to 16%. But the biggest increases in the elderly population will continue to be among the oldest Americans.

Since 1960, the country’s population has increased by about 45%. The number of over-65 Americans doubled in the same period. But the over-85 crowd has almost quadrupled in the same period. And those trends will continue; by 2050, the number of over-85 Americans will increase by over 500%, and the ratio of over-85s to over-65s (currently about 9%) will triple.

Women live longer than men and so make up a majority of the elderly. In the first five years after age 65, women outnumber men 6 to 5; among 85-year-olds the ratio is 5 to 2. And women are more likely than men to require assistance with activities of daily living, and to live in nursing homes.

The “old old” are more likely to need help. About 1% of those aged 65 to 74 live in nursing homes today; among those over age 85, that figure increases to 25%. Half of the “old old” need help with activities of daily living, while only 9% of those 65 to 74 require assistance.

As the population ages, demands for nursing care and nursing home placements should be expected to increase, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of all health care needs and spending.

Q & A

Q: The attending physician for one of our nursing home patients has recommended both “Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) and “Do Not Hospitalize” (DNH) orders. The patient’s court-appointed guardian agrees. Our corporate policy seems to require that someone secure Court approval before the orders can be entered. Can this be the law?

A: No. Under Arizona law, a guardian has the power to make medical decisions for her ward, including the power to sign necessary consents and authorizations. In fact, it is clear (thanks to theRasmussen v. Fleming case) that a guardian can even authorize removal of feeding tubes in appropriate cases.

Arizona statutes do not specifically address DNR or DNH orders. There is provision, however, for a “Prehospital Medical Care Directive,” better known as the “orange form.” By executing an “orange form” a competent patient can express her wishes not to be resuscitated by emergency medical personnel, including paramedics. While this is not the same as a DNH order, it does address the same issues as a DNR. Both kinds of orders are “entered” by physicians, though consent of the patient, agent or guardian is required.

Guardians are specifically authorized to execute the “orange form” on behalf of wards. It is clear that a guardian has the power to make medical decisions generally, and the decision to approve a DNR or DNH order specifically.

Generalizations About Generations

JULY 17, 1995 VOLUME 3, NUMBER 3

Social science researchers have done extensive work on the characteristics of groups of people. Tucson consultant Connie A. Gajewski (of Sky’s the Limit Consulting Group) recently spoke about the results of some of that research.

Gajewski notes that generalizations about generations can be dangerous and can limit the way we interact. At the same time such concepts, if thoughtfully applied, can help us understand the groups and individuals we work with.

Most of the research involves working-age people, so some generalizations about the elderly may be difficult to pin down. Workplace research, however, suggests that we can be divided by age into:

Depression Babies

Born between 1929 and 1940, this group knew hardship and shortages from birth. Not surprisingly, in Gajewski’s words, they “grew up with a strong work ethic, learned to value conformity, accepted delayed gratification and learned clearly defined sex roles.”

“Depression babies” may, as a result, put work ahead of family, see women as subordinates, prefer clear and universal work rules and feel comfortable with traditional promotion systems.

Baby Boomers

The much-maligned and oft-discussed boomers, born between 1940 and 1965, are beginning the second half of their work life. Their upbringing during the 1950s and the Vietnam War years conditioned them to have a less traditional view of life and work than their predecessors.

“Baby Boomers” may push for change, decline to work late (or overtime), want to spend time with family and, in many cases, be in the midst of a mid-career change.

Baby Busters

The youngest working-age group, those born after 1965, are sometimes referred to as “Baby Busters.” They were the first generation of latch-key kids and learned to fend for themselves. According to Gajewski, the fact that they graduated into a bleak job market and rising college costs conditioned them to be cynical or to feel alienated. They are technologically advanced, having had access to computers during their youth.

“Baby Busters” may insist that their work be fun, may be willing to work at home or with flexible hours, are likely to not see their work as an essential component of their identity and to feel that they are not appreciated in the workplace.

These generalizations may be simplistic, but they establish some interesting starting points. What is missing from these observations is a similar set of observations about those born before 1929. Those who care to generalize should send us your observations: we will report on the ad hoc social science research in future installments of Elder Law Issues.

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