“Every generation refreshes the world” was the voice over at the end of the Pepsi commercial during the 2009 superbowl. The soundtrack was a mashup of Bob Dylan’s song, Forever Young, with Will.i.am rapping about busy hands and swift feet.
Bob Dylan’s song was one of the hymns of the baby boom generation. The boomers have long been famous (some would say, infamous) for their desire to stay young, and many wonder what they will be like as seniors. Many predict that they will reshape the nation’s view of old age by staying active longer than their parents. Others worry that their numbers will break the generational contract behind programs like Social Security and Medicare: On October 15, 2007, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, 62, a retired schoolteacher from New Jersey, applied for Social Security. She was born a second after midnight on January 1, 1946, the first of a generation of 78 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. Until 2025, one of them will retire every eight seconds.
Aging has more dimensions than I could even begin to name in a brief article. There are the personal aspects of a life story with physical, emotional, and spiritual dimensions; there are interpersonal aspects of changing roles and relationships; there are societal aspects with economic and political implications. We are familiar with some of the questions; we have either asked them ourselves or heard each other ask them: Will I ever be able to retire? Why don’t they have shows on tv I’d actually want to see? How do I tell dad that it’s not safe for him to drive? Who will take care of me when I’m old? Can’t they make a phone that’s just a phone? How can I explain to my children that I don’t want to move to a nursing home? He says he loves my wrinkles, but I wish they hadn’t come so soon. What’s wrong with my eyes? Dad has Alzheimer’s – what am I supposed to do now?
During April and May, in a program series we call aging:360 we will get together several times to address various dimensions of aging. Our first meeting, Aging Baby Boomers, will be on Sunday, April 10, at 12:30pm in our fellowship hall. Kathy Zamata will introduce us to some key issues such as
- Increase in population and the need for increased services
- Planning for your future
- Staying independent and healthy for as long as possible
During that first meeting, we will also solicit your input: What questions do you have? What particular issues would you like so see discussed? The results of that survey will determine how we fine tune the remaining sessions, which will take place on Wednesday nights during April and May. So far, we have identified five areas we want to address:
- Medicare – navigating the complicated world of health insurance
- Caregiving – understanding Alzheimer’s disease and identifying resources for caregivers including communication, support, and respite
- Senior Housing – identifying resources to maintain as much independence as possible
- Legal issues – a look at wills, durable power of attorney, guardianship, insurance, reverse mortgages
- End of life – discussing questions around palliative care, hospice, funeral planning, and bereavement
If you would like submit your questions and suggestions now, you can do so with this simple form.