Thursday, January 29, 2015

Washington Post examines early-onset Alzheimer's, as in the film "Still Alice"

Susan Levine has a story in the Washington Post Thursday about early-onset Alzheimer's, link here, along with video.  Here it's called a "family disease", as was demonstrated in the recent film "Still Alice", reviewed on the Movies blog Jan. 17.

The symptoms seem innocuous at first but sometimes progress rapidly.  The story relates a teenage boy in Oklahoma becoming a caregiver to his mother at only 44.    Then when the boy became a man, he would develop the disease himself.

The problems for family caregivers, often much younger than with more common eldercare, are enormous.  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Ordinary "means tested" anti-poverty programs pay out more than Medicare and Social Security

George F. Will, a conservative columnist in a “liberal” newspaper, The Washington Post, notes today (Thursday, January 22, 2015, p. A15), in a piece, “The welfare state mushrooms”, that “means tested” anti-poverty programs benefit twice as many households (and probably more than twice as many persons) as Social Security and Medicare, which some GOP-ers are saying should become much more means tested (a line of debate that started with the first debt ceiling crisis in 2011), link here. It’s interesting, this column was easier to find online in a Mormon paper than the Post!
Will goes on to explain that entitlement is America’s fastest growing income source, and that it stems from a false application of European values that understandably followed feudal history.  Will thinks people have more capacity to prove themselves with merit.  True, but bad luck happens.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Retirement communities love "downsizing" forums

Should “empty nesters” downsize?
From a moral perspective, the answer is probably yes.  Families "need" the space.  But it’s not always easy.  And tax reform could make it harder, if basis rules for capital gains for inherited property are changed (to go back to when the family originally acquired it). 
The better retirement communities do offer security, stability, and low maintenance, and sometimes unwanted social life.   And they cost a lot. 
Indeed, a retired person alone in a house, with more yard than needed (increasing property tax) – supporting wild animals rather than people – wonders about the convenience of a modern high rise, where a trip won’t be broken when something breaks, because there is staff around to fix it. 
No wonder modern buildings in urban areas are expensive to live in.  But buildings with anything less than first rate construction can be vulnerable to massive problem and displacement of residents, too.  And even in Manhattan, it you don’t want a hurricane to put out power for a week, you’d better be midtown or further north.  (When you visit New York City, you usually don’t notice how low most the  City is compared to the DC area.)
An active retiree perhaps knows what he wants for the rest of his life.  He doesn’t want disruptions.  He wants to focus on his own goals.  Prepping a home for open houses takes a tremendous amount of time.  Sometimes it’s easier to stay put, but there is always the issue of problems you shouldn’t face in a modern, well-built community.  
In the meantime, retirees who want to sell older homes and downsize can face practical problems, especially with more lax construction practices in the past, with the use of asbestos and lead paint. 
The practical result is that in many older cities, local government zoning is more lenient with teardowns and the construction of “McMansions”.   There is always the “as is” market, like here

Friday, January 09, 2015

Conservative columnist wants to pay for some of Social Security with gasoline taxes, mixing apples and oranges

Charles Krauthammer has an op-ed in the Washington Post Friday, January 9, 2015, “Raise the gas tax, a lot”, to pay for reductions in the Social Security FICA tax, link here, p A17    I’ll set aside the discussion of whether lower oil prices are here to stay (don’t count on it), or whether a gas tax should fund carbon-removal technologies (yup!). 
But I really disagree with playing Robin Hood.  To simply pay for social security from another source is to sidestep the real debate on the sustainability of Social Security, and the whole idea of increasing retirement ages (with longer life spans), or even means testing.  After three years of debate (starting with the 2011 debate during the first debt ceiling crisis), it’s still unclear in many people’s minds whether Social Security is an annuity, or a kind of welfare.  In practice, it is largely the former;  legally it is a mixture. 
Let’s not conflate the two.  Discuss energy policy on its own merits, including how it affects city v rural people.  Discuss the character of Social Security, and whether there should be gradual privatization of some of it (which the GOP – now controlling both houses of Congress – wants), separately.  Don’t expect unprincipled quick fixes.  

Picture: those snow grains look like gemstones.   

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

AARP recommends that seniors stress both tech and people skills in the part-time job market

I’ve passed through this territory before on other blogs, but the AARP has an interesting article today on skills sought by employers for people 50+, link here. 
The highest paying job there is accountant (so you might have to be a CPA), at about $55 an hour.  But medical billing specialist, for which there is supposed to be a lot of demand (and I remember that was said ten years ago) pays around $17.   But the more interesting job ideas require people skills, like recruiter, or social media coordinator (the second page). That’s interesting to me, in that seniors are often old school, and are not as interesting in taking advantage of every gadget or app immediately.  In some ways, this may be safer for some seniors, who would not be as susceptible to hackers or loss of privacy.