Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Could the pandemic lead some condo boards to appoint guardians for elderly owners?

Although I’ve covered this issue before, it’s well to bring up the issue of conservatorship and guardianship for elderly seniors living alone, especially if they have no relatives and own condos.

There are ways we can imagine that this can become more critical during the pandemic.

In Virginia, any adult can petition a court to take over an elder’s affairs and move the person to a safer location.  Presumably this could include a condominium board, after going through its own due process.

Generally, in the past two or three months, the concerns over surface hygiene and exposure to elevators in a building have not turned out to be critical issues.  As long as elders wear face coverings properly and others do so in a building and as long as larger gatherings indoors are avoided, the risk gets much less.

There has, however, been some attention to the idea that a European mutation (in effect since March) makes the virus more transmissible (but not more virulent) than the original Wuhan version.

There can be concerns also if a building has ventilation issues.

There is some new information on face coverings, maintaining that three-layer medical coverings (given out by dentists particularly) are more effective, limiting spread of droplets to only a few inches, whereas a bandana limits distance of droplets to less than 4 feet. 

Here is the basic link again on how conservatorship and guardianship work.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

A 30-year-old blogger gives advice on "filial piety" with your parents

Martin Goldberg, who used to call his channel “Economic Invincibility”, mentions filial responsibility at about the 11-minute mark in this video Sunday.  

He discusses adult children moving back into their parents’ homes to take care of them, or vice versa, but also “pans” assisted living centers for making adult children sign over waivers allowing the homes to seize the parents’ assets, which could mean the adult children lose inheritances.

That’s generally true.  In 1997, when my mother had hip replacement surgery and had a caregiver, I had to personally guarantee the payments by phone as her son, although mother had more than enough funds and it was not a problem.  In 1999, she went into a rehab center after coronary bypass surgery while I was then living in Minnesota (20 days covered by Medicare) and then we arranged a live-in caregiver, but that time no guarantee from me was required.  The caregiver had to be supplemented for one weekend over a green card issue, however.

Martin, by the way, bought a house recently, which has led to some interesting posts on his “Economic Commander” blog.  His view seems to be, yes, don’t do anything stupid with Covid (be careful; I think he is about 30) but try to do what you normally would have done with your life.  That’s raising some good questions about “equity”. 

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Could the bank system collapse because of CLO's? What happens to retirees then?


Frank Partnoy has a sobering article in the Atlantic, “The Looming Bank Collapse: The US financial system could be on the cusp of calamity.  This time, we might not be able to save it.”

The specific risk has to do with collateralized loan obligations, of CLO’s. I’ll leave it to the reader to follow the writer’s technical argument.

But, a dozen years after 2008, we’re starting to see re-securitization or re-financialization, something that some “doomsday” gurus like Chris Martenson and his Peak Prosperity have warned about, as contributing a lot more to social unrest than the issue of race the way the protesters present it. I’m seeing more interest in digital currencies again, even from rather “cool” and intellectually well-founded people, especially young adults.  For example, screenwriting guru Tyler Mowery, whose own writings (like e-books) show a sober thinking style like John Fish, has been advocating bitcoin and preparation for financial collapse on Twitter.

One item I wondered was with grantor trusts, is the FDIC guarantee limit on cash-like accounts $250000 for the entire trust?  I guess not, as with this FDIC FAQ.  It looks like you can put different deposits in different institutions and different products. 

But it is hard for me to believe that the relatively recovered (despite Thursday) securities market can hold up with massive unemployment and poverty that will only continue to increase unless we can get out of the restrictions more quickly.  Tom Gara of Buzzfeed news has warned about collapse in August. 

You probably do need some redistribution of real wealth after such a cataclysm to keep the economy stable enough to avoid some kind of revolution.

Monday, June 08, 2020

When does volunteering for seniors put them at risk?

The Washington Post had opined in March with Jessica Contrera and Ian Shapira, “Volunteering and coronavirus: when helping people could put them at risk.” 

The impact of this report may be blunted somewhat today by a WHO report that asymptomatic transmission is relatively less important than we had thought (Jaqueline Howard, CNN 

However the report needs to be understood in context:  someone can be pre-symptomatic, and spread virus before symptoms appear, or “paucisymptomatic”, and have trivial symptoms that don’t interfere with functioning. Loss, or aberrations of taste and smell, could count as the latter. A lot of younger adults have told me they had some temporary compromise of taste, but that it came back in a few days and that they had no other symptoms. This could mean that very mild disease (which resolves on its own) is much more common than we think, and could be spread to seniors.

Volunteer organizations like Food and Friends in DC have had difficulty maintaining services, and have had to set up social distancing for volunteers, and for now still prefer that older adults not try to volunteer in person. I suspect that will change in due course.

I want to emphasize, that I do believe seniors who are healthy and not physically handicapped, should do their own groceries and not ask others to take the “risk” (which is overblown). There is just too much asked of volunteers.  They should use seniors’ hours if possible and go early in the day, and prefer larger spaces.  Whether someone should check on them – good question.  I don’t want to be checked on except by people I am in touch with, but from a building’s perspective, I can see other arguments.

Friday, June 05, 2020

How should retired people feel about the unrest? "anti-racism" does not completely address the economic carnage around you

Well, how should older people (retired) feel about the protests and participating in them, when told “safer at home”.

I drove in (to Washington DC near the White House) and paid $25 parking (I really didn’t want to “risk” Metro yet) Wednesday, and walked around 90 minutes and made video clips and took photos.  A female Army veteran gave a good speech.  I got up closer (maybe than I should have for “social distancing”), right in front of the cops, to record it.

There are two intersecting problems (and I don’t mean intersectionality).  The COVID shutdowns have thrown a tremendous number of service workers and lower income people out of work.  I did turn over the $1200 “stimulus” to a charity to specifically help restaurant and bar workers in the DC area, because I have a personal desire to see them recover.  I give to things I have a connection to already (although I did support a friend making a “short film” for Give Directly).

When compared to Census populations, disproportionately many of the displaced workers are black or (non-white) Latino. So are disproportionately many service workers to take risks of exposure in their jobs.

Nevetheless, the inequality in the way Covid-19 has affected people involves a lot more than race.  That is one reason I tend not to appeal to calls for activism just directed at race alone.

It is true, the protests are about more than economic disadvantage;  many people in the black community say they feel threatened by police and especially fear for their teenage sons. They don’t think police will change unless white people will join them specifically for this narrower activism.  A “business as usual” approach in commentary is seen as sending an indirect signal that disparate behavior by police and some corporations will be tolerated.  This is similar to an argument used regarding the Internet and radicalization.

Yes, I have a problem: I have a lot of things “in my court” to support, and have an issue if I am expect to fight for things personally “not in my court” enough. We’re getting into a new area (well it used to be common) of personal moral judgmentalism that can blow up suddenly.

I am impressed by the tenacity and volume of the legitimate protesters. That will carry through in the future with climate change.

I am also alarmed by the scale of outside agitation, from both the far Left and the false flags from the far right.

Recently, Cameron Kasky, 19, and one of the survivors of Parkland who became an activist and has been making enough money for education at Columbia, said on Twitter, that he had given away 30% of his savings to those who needed it, and would no longer accept income from speaking engagements for political purposes.

I would expect activists to target inheritances now given the economic crisis from Covid, as I’ve noted before – you could call it soft expropriation.  It sounds like a matter of time (and I remember sitting in as a spy on “the Peoples Party of New Jersey” in 1972 when they wanted to confiscate all inherited wealth).  Everyone who is “better off” will perhaps face a reckoning if they have “done enough” while they had the “freedom” to do so.  It’s possible (but cumbersome and expensive) in most states to convert trusts into blind trusts no longer administered the original executor (outside of monies already lawfully distributed).  But state laws generally don’t make it very easy to change beneficiaries quickly because of political pressure. It’s inevitable, however, that we will hear this, and it might even get the attention of the tech platforms.

Yet, most of this has very little to do with race, except in terms of some sort of relative aggregate group privilege.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Seniors staying at home can assist journalists covering protests by online coordination

George Floyd protests in Washington DC, Lafayette Square

Anthony Russo has an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, of how to get out of the coronavirus catastrophe, with 10 suggestions.

Suggestion 9 is to incentivize older people to stay home, probably until there is a vaccine. 

It is not true that younger adults are safe from the virus.  It’s true that many younger adults show few symptoms and have a quick and robust antibody response. But some have developed the severe autoimmune M-CIS later.  A few have had blood clots.  And a few have indeed died, and others have had long periods on ventilators.

On the other hand, many young adults who went to beach parties and then protested in the last week are likely to develop antibody but very little illness from light exposure.

I stayed home last night, tracking two good friends separately covering DC’s violent protests (as independent journalists), telling them where new activity was, on Twitter, as reported on a local TV station.  One of them got an eye injury and had to stop.  I reported that to the local TV station but he seeks OK today.

It is true that seniors who stay home can sometimes coordinate volunteers or others active at events in crowds with social media.

But it is not acceptable to exclude people from public just based on age.

Picture from DC riots, May 30, Wikipedia, click for CCSA photographer attribution 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Washington Post accuses conservatives of wanting to "sacrifice" the elderly for the economy during Covid-19 pandemic

The Washington Post has a couple of disturbing pieces suggesting that younger Americans want to “sacrifice” the elderly or don’t care about them, as in this piece by Nina Kohn on May 8.  An earlier post in March (linked) by other authors after Spring Break was even more explicit.

NY State Andrew Cuomo plays up the moral aspects of this in his daily briefings, with his Matilda’s laws.

Not all seniors are helpless.  Many are capable to taking care of all their shopping and should not expect others to take risks for them, if they’ve already lived out their lives.

But the caring for the severely compromised still has to start in extended families, which are weaker than in the past. 

At 76, I have stayed OK so far.  There are situations that I can imagine that could become problematic. It is entirely possible I've already encountered the virus and not been harmed.  Maybe when I do the next blood donation (June 2) I will find out.  I would not expect to accept being put on a ventilator (the use of ventilators will diminish and newer ones, as from Canada, may be much safer). Given my own specific history, this would not be an honorable way to die.  Various op-eds have also noted that there has not been much attempt to honor "victims" who died (we have honored those who recovered), the way we would memorialize soldiers who fought and sacrificed in a conventional war.  

Picture: Enchanted Rock in Texas Hill Country W of Austin 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Trump wants workers displaced by coronavirus to take Social Security early, and pay it back with reduced benefits later

Trump wants to let distressed workers (losing jobs to the pandemic) to take social security benefits early, with the cost of reduced benefits later, cnbc story.

Not to mention there’s no attention to Social Security solvency in this idea.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Can organizational beneficiaries be changed on a trust (especially irrevocable) or even added as a result of external political trauma (like coronavirus?)

Can a trustee managing an estate, much of which has been lawfully distributed to him or her as an individual already, change beneficiaries of the estate?  Elderlaw Answers, for example, weighs in

The question seems relevant because, over a larger period of time, the trustee’s values or beliefs might change, often because of external events particularly if traumatic (like the coronavirus pandemic).  This might apply more to wanting to change organizational beneficiaries (non-profits) than persons.

A living person may have a trust in their own name only, and normally that will be set up as revocable. In that case, yes, the person can change the beneficiaries, although he/she must notify them.

A trust (which may have been made grantor trust by amendment) which has a deceased name on it is normally irrevocable.  Typically beneficiaries cannot be removed (except by death or bad behavior). A trust with only one person as Executor and committee of beneficiaries might be able to do so, although that would involve legal expenses for revisions – as among certain rights or powers that the executor explicitly retains.  Beneficiaries have rights, and in extreme cases could have executors removed.

I have maintained that an organization’s presence as a beneficiary does not mean that I am always politically loyal to them, raise money for them or call politicians for them, for example.  In 2014 or so, when I first said that, this made sense.  This position may not be as tenable now, with the social shocks from the coronavirus, particularly after I scale down my online presence as promised at the end of 2021, which I have talked about elsewhere. 

So this question sounds relevant.

Given the economic turmoil caused by Covid, there might be calls for people managing trusts to put more displaced persons on their own obligations as beneficiaries.  This probably requires a legal filing, and state laws protecting beneficiaries (and fiduciary responsibilities of the executor) might apply and need amending.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Wall Street Journal op-ed briefly states the case for locking down seniors (and those with health problems) and loosening up on everyone else -- but it can go Orwellian

The Wall Street Journal opinion piece “Targeted lockdowns are better” with the subtext “A new study finds they save more lives and do less economic damage” gets my attention again.

The MIT paper at issue is “A Multi-Risk DIR Model with OptimallyTargeted Lockdown” by the National Bureau of Economic Research” in Cambridge MA.  The paper at one point makes the seemingly offensive assertion that old people don’t make economic contributions.  (Ask who is running for president.)  Most of the paper, however, is a series of mathematical and statistical arguments, deriving equations and conclusions, that wind up with model estimates of lives lost or saved by partial v. total lockdown policy choices.  (The paper is a pre-print, not yet peer-reviewed.)

Some of interpreting this is, what do you mean by lockdown of seniors.  If you tell them to do grocery shopping only in senior’s hours that’s one thing.  I do that pretty much.  I can’t guarantee, though, I never violate it.  I probably comply with this idea 90% already.  (There is also plenty of drive-through takeout where you don’t go into a store.)   Maybe theaters could have seniors’ hours (some of them did before COVID, on weekday mornings.)   Travel gets to be an issue.  Hotel rooms are solitary, but when I travel I need to eat in places, too (well, there is takeout).  Air travel will eventually be necessary again (for me at least).

The danger is how this could escalate.  It could mean, if you don’t have someone [family] to have your back (that is, take the risk of being outside for you), we’ll put you away (guardianship).  Hopefully the courts wouldn’t allow that. But again you wonder in the future about seniors on the Metro, seniors allowed to keep their driver's licenses, and the like.  This idea can run away very quickly. You force someone who is independent into shameful social dependency (so that everyone else who is already dependent feels better -- this is psychological communism -- a surprising irony for a Wall Street Journal op-ed, although not for Massachusetts in general.) 

You may find businesses (bars) not allowing people over a certain age inside – right now public accommodations laws would discourage that, as young people sometimes want to stay segregated and not be the object of attention that can’t be reciprocated.  This gets into an entirely different area.

One big piece missing from all this:  younger adults have had severe disease, including strokes and heart attacks without as much lung disease.  Generally they haven’t died from these.  But you could have many young adults become disabled (neurological, kidney, sterility, etc) with many decades to deal with this, whereas some of the elderly (myself included) may have gotten through these decades without disability. Even children can have serious unusual “toxic shock” syndromes.  You have to be very careful about the “state” reallocating risks by force from one population to another (remember the military draft?)

The authors do assume that a vaccine (or “pseudo-vaccine”) becomes available some day.  You can still imagine testing everyone repeatedly, once a month in the meantime. You need the contact tracing, with the rules very carefully though out – for everybody.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Health departments could target seniors living alone if the fomite issue turns out to be even more important

Yesterday, on my “Issues” blog, I embedded a video from an ophthalmologist in New York City who maintains that hand hygiene is the key to shutting down the epidemic (as opposed to obsession with the six foot rule, maybe).  I won’t tell people to believe one theory over another if it varies from official advice .

There is a question of the fastidiousness needed, although the latter portions of his video perhaps play this aspect down. 

Many older people live alone (often widowed and many childless, but also singles, including LGBTQ)   Younger adults living alone tend to have fewer and newer possessions which are easier to keep clean (although in large cities younger adults may not have much space to move in).  The fewer possessions are partly a result of a culture where music and literature can be kept online in the cloud rather than possessed physically as a cd or dvd, vinvyl, or printed book. Older people are likely to have downsized from a house (as I did) and have a lot of clutter which makes hygiene (of the kind that this particular virus might demand) harder.   After moving into a smaller high rise space (with the attendant risk mow of being around more people on elevators) physically removing the clutter gets challenging.

Of course, residential homeowners are finding now that city services are getting a lot stricter about how trash pickup works.

There have been proposals that seniors over certain ages be isolated, and forced to depend on others to do all shopping for them.  I’ve noted here on this blog and the idea is offensive. 

But I can see that health departments could decide to focus on seniors, over a certain age, living alone, and interviewing them to see if they can handle the fastidiousness needed at home, particular if future research shows that the fomite issue is more serious (relative to the more common issues like being in crowds for a long time) than we had previously thought. Those who could not might be forced into guardianship in some states.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D-VA) phased plan for Virginia has a Phase 1 (starting May 15) where “vulnerable populations” (which by definition includes all seniors over 65 or 70) are “safer at home”, but the Phase 2 (more opened up) seems, taken literally, to require vulnerable populations “stay at home”, a rather alarming paradox. (Northam is an M.D. with military medicine experience.)

Slide 1


Slide 2


One observation that is a little scary.  In a few cases (maybe many in China), people's personal possessions have been destroyed when they were quarantined.  This seems to have happened a few times in other Asian countries, and at least once in he US in 2914 with respect to Ebola.  With a life's work at stake, you can't afford to be caught in this kind of trap. 

(Tuesday May 5 10:30 AM)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Nursing homes account for over half of Covid deaths in Maryland

In Maryland, nursing homes account for more than 50% of the deaths related to coronavirus, the Baltimore Sun reported today, in a story by Scott Dance, link

This is likely to be common in other states, as in Virginia there were over 40 deaths at one nursing home near Richmond.  And the first nursing home outbreak in Kirkland WA had been widely publicized. 

Confinement in a restricted space and lack of ability to move around and exercise obviously greatly increases the risk.

Families would have to consider bringing patients back home with doing their own intense caregiving.

My own mother stayed at home until the last four days in a hospice in December 2010. Imagine what this could have been like had this epidemic happened while she was alive. 

On the other hand, there are other reports suggesting that COVID deaths in the general population are undercounted because of people dying alone at home, particularly of strokes related to the coronavirus even if they had few other symptoms.

As an artifact, I can remember back in 1977-1978 when I worked on Medicaid MMIS for New York (for Bradford), on the reporting system, about a quarter of all the work we did was on reporting nursing homes.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Seniors living alone, and COVID19

As a senior living alone in a paid-for condo, I still wonder if “authorities” will get more nervous about the population I am part of.  I don’t have any special needs.
But from the perspective of others, the possibility of death alone, and not being found for some time, would sound like a concern that is heightened by COVID19, where possible infection could be unpredictable as would the course.
I expect more pressure on me as to why there is no one to “have my back”.  I’ve just never done that.
Update: May 9 
Jessica Contrera and Ian Shapera discuss the paradoxes that volunteers and non-profits have in serving seniors, in a world were "stay at home" is a privilege and a way to "volunteer".  Seriously, seniors who are active should be as self-sufficient as possible and shouldn't be excluded from volunteering themselves.  

Friday, April 17, 2020

Did the White House set an inadvertent trap for all "elderly" with its guidelines yesterday?

The White House’s guidelines, released yesterday, may contain a possible trap for some seniors if taken literally and interpreted that way by some states and health departments. This point has already been discussed somewhat on the “Bill on Major Issues” blog.

The problem is that the first two phases instruct “vulnerable” individuals to “shelter in place” and it defines all elderly individuals as “vulnerable”.   Even in phase three vulnerable individuals are to practice “social distancing.”

 How other language seems to allow them to work.
The problem comes that, on its face, that would require all seniors to arrange to have all their shopping done for them (although maybe delivery services could work).  Many apartment and condo buildings (for the general public, not 55+) are trying to arrange volunteer teams to do this.  But to do this for seniors who are active seems inappropriate.  Seniors without special conditions should not expect others to take the “risk” (whatever that is) for them. In practice, many situations are complicated enough that intact seniors are really better off taking care of these themselves.

This would raise the idea that seniors need to find “buddies” to do this for them and that those who could not could some day face legal attempts at forced conservatorship or guardianship.  Fortunately, in Virginia at least, that requires some time-consuming court supervision which would not be easy to pull off right now.

Keep in mind that many general public high rises and condos do have many seniors and disabled persons (using elevators) even though the buildings are not reserved for them.

(Update:)  Arlington County (I live in Fairfax, just barely) talks about a "buddy system".  I don't have anything like this in my social capital ("schizoid personality", maybe).  I wonder if a health dept interviewer would quiz me about this some day????   Thomas Friedman, talking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN, referred to the Trump plan as a "quarantine" for old and vulnerable people and recklessness for everybody else (no URL yet). 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

How does Home Health Care work now with COVID19 risks (for both caregiver and elderly client)? It seems unpredictable right now

A good question will be, how will families who depend on outside companies to provide caregivers be affected by the COVOD19 crisis.

A comprehensive article from late March in Home Health Care News is quite non-specific as to how this will go.

Some families want to take over themselves.  Others may find the opposite idea, that pressure will be put on them for “do it yourself” rather than paying for outside workers.
There is little out there that is specific about caring for elderly patients at home (not already in an ALC)  quarantined (close contact) or isolated (tested positive) with actual Covid issues.  An article from a paper in Bangor ME give some clues.
We’re probably looking at a paradigm where (as time passes) health departments will acquire hotels to place these persons in and have nursing staff to watch them.  What will be controversial is what they expect other relatives (who themselves may be elderly and at risk) to do. 
One other point: many seniors who do own condos and live alone can have normal issues of repairs.  Recently, I had to have a flapper valve on a commode replaced when it suddenly failed (it could have flooded) by an emergency visit from a plumber.  It's not the expense, but I was asked if I had been notified of quarantine by a health department.  (I hadn't.)  I've also had issues with a small freon leak in my HVAC.  The condo is used.  In the past, the disposal had to be replaced.  The refrigerator is used, and those don't last forever, and a visit to replace one would be activity intense.  Another item that can issues is the closet washer, which might get used a lot during a pandemic.  I haven't heard this issue discussed much yet.  

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Retirees with inherited trusts: what should be expected of "us" now given widespread hardship from COVID everywhere?

I’ve written some speculative columns on how this epidemic, as it plays out, might affect retired people with some savings or means, and I’ll go over some of it again.
Let’s make note of the fact that as a temporary measure, we’re printing a lot of money and giving it, however unevenly, to people thrown out of work. It won’t reach all of them, and it won’t be enough.
Some of these people may come back to work, outside of the gig workers and bars and restaurants. A big unknown will be, if we can test enough, will we find people who have antibodies (and how good are those?  There is the possible ADE issue). Some of that is based on the results from other countries showing that the percentage of totally asymptomatic, totally recovered people may be greater than we had though.  Uncertain.
You guessed it – we could put pressure on people with wads of unearned inherited wealth to help takle care of these people.
It will get murky and complicated. 
For example, we don’t know yet how well portfolios will hold up.  Even bond funds will get riskier if debts are totally forgiven (which the Left, with some justifiable moral outrage).  Could we get anywhere with suing China, or withholding our debt payments to them for their culpability?
If interest rates go below zero, then even cash is at risk.  I won’t rehearse all of Porter Stansberry’s stuff again.
My comments here are mainly about estates where much of the money lies in trusts.  Normally, trusts have rules as to how much can be distributed to each beneficiary, including the direct descendants (even if there is only one, as in my case). The trust executor (often the same person) has fiduciary responsibility for the value of the funds for the beneficiaries. Often the trust pays certain expenses (especially housing and supplementary medical care) for the holder, and most other disbursements until death are prohibited (except an initial one, which may be like 25%). The idea is to preserve funds for two major purposes: (1) long term care for “me” should something happen (2) special needs beneficiaries. 
Many families (especially larger ones) do make use of (2) and have beneficiaries with obvious special needs.
Still, we large trusts and balances, it sounds like it might be useful for states to consider changing their laws to allow more disbursement to those in need now, especially long-term unemployed workers, to help reduce the debt bubble for the entire economy.
Other ideas could be considered, such as encouraging trusts to take supervision and support responsibility for certain displaced persons (by adding them as beneficiaries, without legal expense).   Over time, that could become expected conduct of those capable of providing such assistance personally.
Persons with inherited resources would likely be required to pay for their own quarantine or forced isolation if they are taken to hotels.  And expect the debate on immediate means testing even for current social security recipients to come back. 

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

I tried senior shopping at Target this morning, and here is what happened

OK.  April fools.  I tried senior shopping at the Target store at Bailey’s Crossroads VA, a 1000-foot walk from my condo.

I got there and didn’t see the line at first at the other end.  Then I didn’t realize that the line (it was about 8:30 AM) was for “ordinary people”, not seniors or special needs.

Finally I woke up to this fact, and walked up front and they let me in. 

The store was not crowded.  Not many people had masks or scarves. It was pretty easy to stay 20 feet or so from people. I couldn’t find the box of separate oatmeal packages, although I have some.  I got bananas, some greens, desserts, frozen dinners, etc. and carried it back.

I won’t get into the issue of “decontaminating” the packaging of the food.  I really don’t think it’s necessary.

I’ll share CNN’s link by Scottie Andrew on virus-proofing your home.  If you live alone, it’s much simpler.
I’ll share “real David Hogg” (UNC Charlotte, not “that” David Hogg, although they are somewhat alike in social consciousness) shopping for a senior in Charlotte from WSOCTV.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to make this the point of what I did in public.  Check him on Twitter. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

New York State's PAUSE stay at home order, read literally, would prevent persons over 70 from buying groceries (except deliveries?)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “stay at home” order appears to forbid residents over 70 to go out and even buy their own groceries. Presumably they can order them for delivery.  Otherwise, the language could seem to leave open the possibility of their being forcibly removed to senior centers if they don’t have family to ask for help from.  The rules take effect at 8 PM Sunday night.
The policy was called PAUSE, or policies to guarantee uniform safety for everyone.

If over 70 (or if immunocompromised) they must wear masks in the presence of others and may exercise alone but not go into a business establishment, even a grocery store.

The New York Times article this evening has link here.

I would encourage the governor to ask grocery stores and pharmacies in the state, especially in NYC, to have occasional seniors-only hours once or twice a week, usually after opening and cleaning. 

There is another article that describes hospitals in NYC already running out of equipment in some lower income areas.

Cuomo was careful not to use the words “shelter in place” which normally apply to shooters or nuclear war.   

The text of the order is here
The need to overprotect people over a certain age is related to heavy skewing of deaths in elderly populations, but younger people have needed ICU equipment sometimes.
California’s similar orders (including San Francisco's "shelter in place") don’t appear to restrict people specifically by age.


Vox Recode has an article on how seniors communicate and order food. I prefer a seniors-only hour at regular grocery however, two times a week. 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Protecting seniors from coronavirus to flatten the curve could turn out to be dangerous to their rights

Let’s just do another review of the dangers for retirees, especially those with trusts and inheritances.
California has asked people over 65 to stay at home, period. 

The UK was going to make this mandatory for people over 70, as part of an ill-conceived plan the get younger people to develop “herd immunity” with mild cases (Atlantic article)
Maybe they will back off, it’s not clear.
There would be a particular danger that a senior who could not comply 100% with such an order could be placed into conservatorship or guardianship if a state wanted to be aggressive on such a policy. He or she could lose complete control of their own life and ability to use assets, even in their own name.  In a few cases where these ideas have been proposed, there have been suggestions that the senior should find someone to deliver food to them – ask for help on social media, which is pretty humiliating. Someone who did not have family connections could conceivably be moved to an institution, which might even be more dangerous.  This could effectively punish someone for not having a relationship or having had kids. Maybe that would meet legal challenge. But this could all fit into “flattening the curve”.
For the most part, the disposition of trust assets are controlled by trust texts and give a lot of weight to the stated rights of beneficiaries, in most states. However, there could be tremendous political or social pressure of people with inherited assets to attempt to make people who lose jobs in these shutdowns whole, to the extent that various other legislated policy proposals (mandatory paid sick leave) or continued payment by employers, or even business interruption insurance, fail.

It is very encouraging that some grocery stores are starting senior-only shopping ours, to allow seniors to remain segregated while doing essential shopping. This reported in Houston and in New Jersey so far.
Picture: Lake in Nevada from a plane (2018), and I won't try to fly until August at the earliest. 

Friday, March 06, 2020

CDC says persons over 60 should stay home as much as possible, to protect the community hospitals from a surge of severe COVID19 cases

CDC (as of Thursday, March 5) has issued new "voluntary" guidelines suggesting that persons over 60 or with any number of diseases (diabetes, cancer with chemotherapy) should try to stay home as much as possible. Here is the CNN link

However the CDC guidelines on staying home, read literally, “If COVID-19 is spreading in your community”…   so taken literally it does not apply to everyone over 60.

Micheal Osterholm and William Schaffner (Minnesota, Vanderbilt) both said that they themselves are over 60 and try to follow these guidelines.  This seems quite extreme as many people are in good shape at 60. 

The guidelines seem to be an attempt to reduce the number of infections in seniors so that hospitals (and nursing homes) won’t be suddenly be overwhelmed by critical care and ventilators, so this request sounds like a “community measure”.
I would hope that they would not take away senior’s driver’s licenses, or right to use Metro or rude anything as a (rather Marxist) “community step”.
The video – look at about 38:00.   

Sunday, March 01, 2020

How coronavirus outbreak could affect retirees with inherited assets especially

I wanted to make a sobering comment again about the current epidemic of COVID-19.
First, the markets.  You have to expect a lot of erosion of assets because many activities in the global economy are frozen.  Not only supply chains, it will be tedious for many people to be productive at work, and to avoid the quarantine traps.
Retirees often volunteer, and indeed feel pressure to do so, and many want to.  Volunteering in some cases might set up scenarios which increase the likelihood of exposure to a COV2-positive client (there are standards like being within 6 feet for a certain amount of time) and then health authorities might trace back to the volunteer.  A senior who lives alone might be unprepared for the additional tedium of isolation and could be forced into some sort of further isolation, as a penalty for volunteering. We’re not sure if this will play out, but it is a horrible moral quandary.
The latest evidence from the outbreak in Kirkland Washington this weekend (with a second death in the US) does seem to involve a nursing home, and elderly or infirm patents seem to be much more vulnerable.
Retirees who do have inherited assets would likely be expected to cover the costs to them of their own misfortune, perhaps as a perverse idea of Maoist social justice.  Inherited wealth is never as desirable and sometimes more vulnerable as a target (like in a Black Swan situation) than what you earned yourself.

Older people are much more likely to have fatal outcomes from COVID-19.  But seniors who are fit and active are probably much less vulnerable than those who are largely bedridden.  There are likely to be terrible problems in nursing homes and assisted living centers, leading to existential problems for their industries.

Election duty is tedious with long hours and somewhat militarized, and there has been talk that seniors with means should be expected to do it for Social Security. In the UK, there is talk of drafting a "dad's Arny" of retired healthcare workers to help treat coronavirus patients.
In Japan, some older seniors were expected to work on the radiation cleanup at Fukashima in 2011. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Aging in place 2020

Jennifer Barger has a useful article today in the Washington Post about aging in place. 

She discusses the idea of adding elevators to townhomes, and adding extra rooms to bungalows.

She also mentions the use of “volunteers” in many senior communities.  I’m not sure how this comports with seniors who still are very independent with their own activities and travel.
My own mother died in hospice at the end of 2010, four days after leaving her home since 1949.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Young woman living in Wuhan discusses the vulnerability of older people to Novelcoronavirus in video

Asian Boss” interviews a young woman in Wuhan living in a typical highrise at some distance from downtown. She somehow got permission from the government in China to air the video.  But it sounds credible. The video was posted January 31. 
She says that life is not as “bad” as the media makes it look, but few people are in the streets.  She felt ill for two days around Jan. 25 and tested negative.  She got better.  But it is possible to have false negatives and false positives. Sometimes infection seems to take a while to seroconvert or produce symptoms. 
What’s more important is that she says most of the severe illness and death was in “middle aged and old people with other conditions”, especially elderly.  Her comments have drawn some anger on Twitter.
The comments suggested that elderly men might be at particular risk.
There have been earlier reports that men are more often symptomatic than women because of subtle physiology of the lungs and testosterone. But this latest video would suggest it is mainly older men. 

There isn’t anything to suggest that runners or swimmers or bikers were at more risk because they tend to have more lung tissue;  the extra capacity probably still helps them.
My own situation is some low hypertension and mild arrythmia (since 2000) and lower lung capacity than usual since childhood (in conjunction with dyspraxia).  I don’t’ have a particular tendency for heart infarctions because that has to do with plaque explosions inside coronary arteries (a somewhat different problem from pulmonary weakness and vulnerability to a virus like this). 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Short film "Being 97" as a philosopher faces the end of his own experience on Earth

I thought I would share the short “Being 97” (2018) by Andrew Hasse, depicting Herbert Fingarette, as “A 97-Year Old Philosopher Faces His Own Death”.  The director is his grandson, and the subject has just passed away, according to the end credits.

There is music from the slow movement of a Schubert String Quintet in the background. Later the Arioso of Beethoven’s last piano Sonata plays.

He has to face the loss of independence and self-expression, and the need for a caregiver.

My own mother died three weeks after her 97th birthday, that was in December 2010.

He says, “when you die, there is nothing.  You are not going to be.”  But can you “be” as part of something else?
The Atlantic has an article by the director, Jan 14, 2020, here

He describes the absence of deceased spouse and family members as a “presence” (you remember Roger Ebert’s final “leave of presence.”)
I am 76.  It would be nice to have the body of a 20-year-old.  I  play backward many episodes in my own life, and how they connect up with moral ironies that are mine.  The smartest young adults today know a lot more than I did then.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Finland leads the way with "aging in place"?

Can remote health care keep seniors in their own homes, especially if living alone, rather than in assisted living?
In Finland, where over 20% of the population is over 65, there is a big experiment with remote care, described here in Laura Lovett, link. It gets more important with low birth rates. 
My own mother wasn’t computer literate (back before 2010) and I doubt really cold have been.

I could imagine how this idea could matter in my own situation.
When I visited a couple of cultural centers last summer, especially in Ohio (related to my book), I found the people rather clannish and emphasized togetherness.  And, yes, they are afraid of Putin in Russia.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Could many future inheritances be banned or current ones put in jeopardy by political polarization?

I do remember a night in December 1972 (before my “second coming”) in a drafty Newark, NH rowhouse hanging out with (or spying on) “The People’s Party of New Jersey” which at the time was associated with Dr. Benjamin Spock.  I was probably part of the enemy because I had a “good” “steady” decently paying job with Sperry-Univac.  I was the more privileged.  (These kids were all white.)

Oh, they whined about why we have to have capitalism, and they wanted to go after people that owned any inherited wealth, and confiscate it, vengefully, “for the people”.
The other day I ran across this article by Meg McArdle (who starts out by calling herself a “disagreeable person) in the Atlantic in June 2011.  It’s titled “Why do we allow inheritance at all?”

You can imagine all the schemes for a 100% inheritance tax. But the idea is bound to get traction with the far Left, especially with Warren or Sanders candidacies. 
It isn’t hard to think of the obvious flaws in an idea like this if you want to remain a social justice warrior. Suppose you were a childless relative or son or daughter who had given up personal independence and work and their own income in order to personally take care of you and that lasted a long time.  Caregiving is badly undercompensated by normal market properties.

Perhaps you could get around this by setting up trusts in advance to pay the caregivers properly.  But it is easy to imagine how this could be abused.

One idea that we should consider is allowing trusts to do more distribution to beneficiaries before the death of the grantor.  Typically “special needs” beneficiaries can claim something like 1% if the remaining value of a potential estate while the grantor is alive.  This could be increased as long as the funds were used only to provide services and not to promote political activity.

It used to be more common than it is today for distribution of inheritances to be predicated on conditions, such as raising a particular child in the family (the scenario for the movie "Raising Helen" or even getting married (heterosexually, as in the 1999 comedy "The Bachelor").

Inherited wealth could be penalized more than earned wealth in any wealth tax scheme.  Or it could count against Social Security benefits if we ever means test existing beneficiaries, which we could do some day (like if we have another debt ceiling crisis). 
Another concern is that self-published writers, bloggers, and vloggers who don’t need to make a living from the publishing itself could have an unhealthful outsized effect on policy.  This was actually an explicit controversy that came to a head in late 2005, as explained here (2014 post).  It gradually dissipated, as the comments note. But in a post-Charlottesville world where platforms and possibly paid hosts are concerned about “who” they do business with, they could well object to the injection of inherited wealth into speech that doesn’t pay its own way with normal visitor reaction (including analytics) or consumer support with purchases.  This might be very hard to enforce, but it seems at least tangential to the more recently increased concerns over the unhealthful dependence of the business models of Internet platforms on cookies and the selling of personal information.

Friday, January 10, 2020

With Medicare, required doctor visits for refills -- are they excessive and profit driven?

OK, I got the runaround getting a prescription refilled for arthritis medication.  I hadn’t kept up with their on-line app at the orthopedics specialist, and CVS told me refill was denied.

I call, get put on hold for 15 minutes, and I’m finally told I have to come in once a year now for refills.  Fortunately, they had a spot open for one of the assisting physicians.

So this is how Medicare works.  They want the appointments, the visits, the chance to charge $150 for fifteen minutes work. I try to be responsible, not overuse services, not go down the rabbit hole of doctors.

I have a feeling the same thing would happen with Medicare for All.  I suppose this is what happens in Canada’s single payer, too.

The warnings online for heart disease certainly set up cycles of visits.  Stress tests, catheritizations, maybe Holter monitors (maybe the Apple watch can do that now without the depilation). 

Seriously, especially in women, you can have advanced heart disease with relatively vague symptoms.  With a stent, you can usually be home and back to work pretty quickly.  But with a lower left coronary artery, or when there are many arteries compromised, or if they have become brittle, people can suddenly face “emergency coronary bypass surgery” (like David Letterman did in 2000).  That was pretty much happened with mother in 1999 at age 85 with severe angina.  There is usually a several week-long disruption including SNF care (the keyhole operation is possible).   As Regins Philbin said, they crack you open like a lobster (and that will please Jordan Peterson pr even Yorgos Lanthimos).  The Cleveland Clinic has a video noting at the end that patients didn’t realize how badly they felt before the radical surgery. But (except for mammary artery grafts) they don't last forever.

Princeton notes that the stress test only catches disease where plaque itself blocks most of the artery (where as many heart attacks occur when smaller blockages rupture suddenly). 

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Can a web hosting forever be done from the grave? A "dead hand"?

Jeff Reitman has a detailed exploration on a site called Tutsplus on whether your website can be hosted automatically and forever after your death, according to directions in your will. 
The short answer is, probably not.  But people have tried to set up automatic long renewals.
The Internet Archive probably will hold a lot of your stuff indefinitely if left alone, but even there, a lot of stuff doesn’t get all picked up.
The ultimate problem is that it takes people to respond to problems.  No automated system is perfect (although if we master space travel and evacuate Earth to other planets, we’ll have to get pretty good at this.)   A completely unattended operation could probably become a security honey pot, too.
Culture is changing, too.  Yup, world famous classics authors will be around forever (although English departments in politically correct colleges are running those too).  But tech companies are starting to think about ephemeral content, that nothing needs to last forever.  Remember the right to be forgotten?