Monday, March 28, 2016

The "second career" as "retirement" approaches

Rodney Brooks has a valuable column in the Washington Post Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016, in the Business Section, in “On Retirement”, “Plan the second act before the first one is over”.
He also says, keep your original long track job as long as you can. But until recently, it had become fashionable for big employers to expect expensive 55+ associates to consider buyouts and an early start on that dream future.

I probably made my own decision for my second career on Aug. 6, 1994, when I had just turned 51, sitting in a diner in Sterling, CO, having a burger, and reading an off-hand, obscure story in a local paper about another military gay discharge.  When I came out of the restaurant and resumed driving my rental car (toward Scottsbluff and eventually Cheyenne), I had resolved to write my book.

Once I had self-published and self-instantiated, there was no turning back.  I would keep working at my long-track old career until the end of 2001, even doing a corporate transfer to Minneapolis in 1997, before the post 9/11 layoff.

I did this at a time when it was possible to lead a double life, even somewhat publicly.  Now that seems impossible.  By the mid 2000’s it was apparent that if I was going to do anything else other than journalism and content creation, I’d have to bury what I had done, almost like in the movie “Containment.”

Just like new college graduates, retirees often find themselves pushed into selling other people’s stuff.  You can’t sell someone else’s message if you’re too much into your own narrative.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Seniors should assess their likelihood of poverty honestly

Mark Rank has an op-ed on p. 9 of the New York Times Review, Sunday, March 9, “Calculate your economic risk” asking, what are the chances you will experience poverty in the near future?

The probabilities in any age group are disturbing, and they seem related to the difficulty many people experience in bringing in enough steady income in legitimate labor (not cheesy hucksterism).

They also may relate to ideas like misappropriation of “generational wealth”.

The biggest risks are to people whose assets are in illiquid or volatile assets, including property and real estate, combined with low skills in ability to make a living through work.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Employers still wonder how to use seniors effectively in the workplace

Elizabeth Olson has an interesting story about the difficulty of pursuing age discrimination claims in the workplace in the New York Times today, “Trying to make a case for age discrimination”.

The story focuses on two professors at an Ohio college, but then ventures into the employment market in general.

Typically, in a layoff, employers create subgroups of employees and list them in such a way as to prove they didn’t discriminate for age.

But there’s no question that the higher salaries and often health insurance claims give employers an incentive to pare older workers.

Back before 2000, it was getting common to expect salaried professionals to expect to retire around 55.  The economy can no longer afford this, with an aging population adding whole old generations, and fewer kids.

There’s also pressure on retirees to become “hucksters” of life-style related things (sometimes estate planning, or tax preparation) for which it’s not too easy to make a go of things when too many people do it.
I’ll throw out the idea that seniors may have a lot to offer news organizations – because they remember how things were several decades ago, and can offer perspectives on political events missing from the commentary of thirty-somethings, so focused on tech.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

NY Times covers use of music and art to keep seniors healthy; also, the controversy over testing for Alzheimers genes

Jane E. Brody has a column under “Well” in the New York Times Personal Health column Tuesday March 8 (“Science Times, p. D7), “A creative path to healthy aging” .  Music, dance, painting and pottery are becoming useful in keeping senior minds, in retirement communities, active.  She mentions programs like EngAGE in California, and Music and Memory.  This is an area of possible employment or careers for musicians and entertainers.

One retirement community in Maryland (is it Brookdale?) has been running a TV ad with employees, even young males, describing the work of bonding with people with dementia.  The idea of orienting oneself to do that sounds, well, revolutionary.

The New York Times has a painful story by Gina Kolata on screening for genes that makes one more susceptible to early-onset dementia and Alzheimers, as early as age 50, same newspaper, p. D3  This has been reported also for Huntington’s Disease, especially in the UK.  There is an “essentialist” argument for screening before having children, as well as to let future adult children know what to expect.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Church forum on end-of-life care issues presents "Five Wishes" and "POST" directives

On Sunday, March 6, 2016, the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC hosted, after the pot luck, a forum called “Stepping on Out”, by retired physician Dudley F. Rochester, MD, from Charlottesville VA.  Dr. Rochester presented, on Power-Point, his “Handbook of End-of-Life Care Issues.”  I did not find the exact document online.
The presentation was in two parts, A and B (not the same as Medicare!).  Part A was “Medical considerations for end-of-life care”.  The main point was that, since people are living longer, they are likely to be disabled for a longer time at end of life. After age 75, the “great age”, very sudden death from cancer, heart disease, and of course accidents, becomes less likely, and a gradual decline more probable, especially for women.  The two biggest problems are likely to be frailty and dementia.

The range of care levels includes aggressive life-saving care, through limited medical care, to comfort care, which can include palliative care.  With six months or less life expectancy, Medicare will authorize hospice care, which usually starts at home.

Rochester emphasized that it is desirable for those above the “Great Age” to avoid the ICU, or Intensive Care Unit.

The doctor mentioned that aggressive CPR on the elderly can result in rib fractures, since pressure goes two inches. He discussed tube feeding, and indicated that through the abdominal wall is often more comfortable, and is usually preferable to intravenous feeding (the “IV Critic” problem).
In Virginia and most other states, you have the right to discontinue treatments.
“Part B” was “Expressing, recording and communicating your wishes.”  The important concepts were naming a “health care agent”, proving an “advanced medical directive” including a living will, and providing a durable power of attorney.  The word “durable” means that the provisions are in effect if you are incapacitated.

He provided a comparison of the Virginia AMD, the FiveWishes AMD , and the POST Adjunct to Advanced Medical Directive  allowed in Virginia in 2014.

There was no discussion of how services are paid for.  Medicare doesn't pay for most custodial care (except hospice, or short term skilled care when the patient will recover). There was no mention of filial responsibility, still an obscure topic. 
“Stepping On Out” is also the name of a charity in the UK that produces greeting cards made by adults with learning or intellectual disabilities.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Trump generally sounds "OK" in leaving current social security beneficiaries alone, but he does waffle all the time

Whatever other controversy Donald Trump creates, his stand on Social Security sounds reasonable.  Continuing “promised benefits” is not paying an entitlement, it’s “honoring a deal” (to pay back for FICA).

He also has suggested a one-time tax on the wealthiest (including him) to shore up the trust fund deficit, but it’s hard to see how that would work.

A site called “On the Issues” takes this up here.

But Market Watch reports on an interview by Scott Pelly in which at one time Trump had reportedly suggested raising the retirement age to 70.

But in November CBS News had polled the candidates on their positions on Social Security, with varying results.  At the time, Trump had denied he would raise the retirement age.   Steve Vernon wrote the story for CBS and Money Watch, here.