Sunday, November 04, 2018

Parents' auto accident causes severe filial problems for adult son ("The Ethicist" in the NYTimes)

Here’s a painful column by the Ethicist, Kwome Anthony Appiah, on p. 34 of the Sunday New York Times Magazine, “What do I owe my severely disabled parents?” 

The situation involves a major car accident overseas that leaves both parents severely disabled, and a sister deceased.  The accident appears not to be the parents’ fault.

The son is pressured by the grandfather to move back to another city even after the parents are finally medically evacuated home.  The son had lived overseas several months after the accident.
I was pressured to move for mother’s surgery in 1999 but did not, as, according to an arrangement, that would have resulted in job loss.

Friday, October 26, 2018

When seniors get challenging medical diagnoses, sometimes less treatment means more productive time left

I’ve talked about resilience on some of my pages. 

There is an importance of people stepping up to challenges and take risks to protect others. That has extended in recent years with the growth of organ donations and the willingness of strangers to participate.  Gay men were kept out of this activity for years with the blood donation ban, but that is slowly being lifted.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, in his “Skin in the Game” book, even argues that taking risks for others is necessary. And that includes the determination to fight for your own life hard even if that demands of others after an incident.

What about the same idea for the elderly?  

It is true that even in old age people can stay alive much longer than in past generations with modern medicine.  Yet families are smaller with fewer children and much more could be demanded of adult children than in earlier times.

I approach an important annual physical soon, probably in early November.

In time, the probability of finding something challenging increases.  We will all die of something. If we fend off one thing, eventually there will be something else.  This is simply the law of entropy in physics. Cancer, especially, really results from entropy.

Sometimes, there can be situations where doing less may mean fewer years of life remaining but the remaining time may allow more productive activity and independence.  This is especially relevant for single elders or those without extended family backup. 

Being pro-life ought to recognize maintaining independence and activity as a goal.  That could sometimes mean not doing radical surgery or chemo, in some situations.

Oct. 27

Paul Marantz Cohen's comments on Shakespeare's King Lear, which most of us had to read in high school, seem relevant (Wall Street Journal, today). 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Should seniors be "forbidden" to live alone sometimes?

Should seniors be able to insist on a “right” to live alone?
Reader’s Digest weighs in here, with ten warning signs, which includes Internet and social media behavior. 

 As far as unopened mail – there is just too much junk.

A Place for Mom obviously has a commercial motive for this advertorial blog post on the matter, but here it is. 

In various states, other adults (not always just relatives) can plea for court supervision or guardianship (or conservatorship). But for adult children and in states with filial responsibility laws, the adult kids may have no choice.

Here’s another one  .

None of these sources take up the problem of introverted seniors used to solitary intellectual activity.  They may not fit very well into the social climate of assisted living. David Malouf’s comedy short film “The Pharaohs” covers this problem.
For me, downsizing out of a house into a highrise condo (no risk from stairs) is a plus.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Wealth gaps occur within retirement communities, and can be narrowed by shared disasters

The Wall Street Journal, in a booklet article Oct. 3, notes the wealth gap growing within retirement communities, discussing Oakmont in the wine country in northern California.

Fewer retirees have adequate wealth from 401(k)’s after companies started freezing pensions in the late 1990s, replacing them with greater matching savings.
Recent wildfires seems to have brought the retirees together and put them more in one boat.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

You're retired and have assets, and suddenly your bank account is frozen. Can this happen?

Retirees who have parts of their wealth in trusts and other portions in their own name should be cautious in moving money around and “follow the rules” in their documents, even if no one is watching (like an attorney or executor).
Banks can freeze accounts for suspicious activity, as “Investopedia” explains here.   Unusually large deposits from suspicious sources (overseas) could trigger freezes.  It sounds reasonable that large deposits from trusts to individual accounts could be viewed as laundering in some cases.

Of course, sometimes debt collection or IRS collection can cause freezes of accounts. 
I found a site called “Daily Reckoning” that sounds a bit like Porter Stansberry, with supposedly “elite” to freeze the financial system, this time in case the Chinese suddenly greatly devalue their currency. I’m not sure I buy the logic of this.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Some active seniors want to end their lives before there is any disabling illness

Here’s an op-ed in the New York Times, Aug. 31, by Paula Span, “A Debate over ‘Rational Suicide’”, link.

My take is that when I was growing up, most seniors didn’t live very long when they developed serious illnesses because not much could be done.  People did not have the expectation of a long period of disability at the end of life, so no one had to think about it this way.  

I had a piano teacher who went into the hospital in May 1958 with colon cancer, apparently.  She died in two weeks.  I do recall that everyone dreaded colostomy and no one lived very long with one.

Now, it’s pretty important to make your wishes known.  The trouble is that malpractice fears and Medicare policies often force physicians to look for developing asymptomatic disease and to treat them. 

But, screening for diseases (like colonoscopies) may really make sense when started early enough in middle age.  But I doubt that aggressive treatment later in life can make much sense.
My own father died of aggressive prostate cancer just before his 83rd birthday (New Years Day, 1986).  But he was ill only for the last four weeks of his life. Until then, he did what he wanted.  He turned down what the most aggressive treatment would have been (essentially castration and feminization) as violating his own sense of sanctity.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

John McCain's mother seems healthy at 106 years of age

Roberta Wright McCain, John McCain III’s mother, is now 106 years old and appears to be in amazing health for the circumstances.

Her biography includes eloping in Mexico in 1933 to a Navy ensign. 

My own mother died shortly after her 97th birthday in December 2010, but had undergone coronary bypass surgery in May 1999.  At the time, at age 85, her life expectancy with the surgery was seven years. She got eleven, eight of them without much decline. The official cause of death would be aortic stenosis.