Death with Dignity Option is Popular Among Baby Boomers

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Among the Baby Boomer generation, an informal poll indicates that “Death with Dignity” is a popular option. That doesn’t mean that all Boomers would elect to exercise this “end of life” alternative. There is, however, widespread agreement that it is nice to have the option.

As of today, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington have Death with Dignity statutes. In Montana, physician-assisted euthanasia is legal by State Supreme Court ruling. The main opponents of giving this option to the public are religious groups, especially the Catholic Church. Yet in its brief history, states that embrace a terminal person’s right to choose the time of their deaths have not seen a rush for hemlock potions. And many who do acquire a prescription after satisfying strict prerequisites do not actually put the option into practice. It is just reassuring to have the choice.

The “right to die” issue splits friends and families. My golfing buddies are mostly for it. A broader group of acquaintances is split about 3-1 in favor of having the option. My wife, a lapsed Catholic, nevertheless opposes it and has told me that I’m on my own if that is my choice down the road.

Alternatively, hospice care has evolved to the point where a painless natural death in the arms of loved ones is often possible. So “death with dignity” is not wholly about dying. It is about how we choose to live the last months of our lives. There are still many illnesses and diseases that reach a point where the last months are vacant of any quality of life, involving pain, stressing out everyone and draining financial resources. Why endure that?

We Boomers are at the age where each of us has witnessed relatives and friends die lingering deaths. Some were peaceful; others were hell. To me, living a few months longer in a debilitated state is not how I wish to go or be remembered. Life is beautiful, until it isn’t. Most of us have long ago come to grips with the knowledge that one day death will knock on our door. We don’t fear death.

So we embrace the choice. We rejoice that now the decision on how we live the last months of our lives should we be diagnosed with a terminal illness is ours and ours alone. Most will still embrace hospice care. But for those whose are sentenced to painful or incapacitating deaths, we now have the choice to skip that “E Coupon” ride.

My Boomer friends and I fully expect that “death with dignity” laws will proliferate, especially since the American Medical Association has now adopted a neutral stance on the issue. And most Boomers say, “Thank God” for this enlightenment!” Knowing that we now have a choice makes the winter of our lives so much more enjoyable and meaningful.

Many Boomers are Uneasy About the Economy

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Whenever I get together with my Boomer friends, the conversation inevitably turns to a discussion of the nation’s economic stability. To be blunt, we don’t feel good about it. But it’s hard to quantify that feeling. It reflects the collective subconscious of those of us hit hard by the 2008 Great Recession and a generation raised on stories from parents who lived through the Depression of the 1930’s.

Perhaps our concerns reflect the harsh reality we experienced after seeing much of our hard-earned savings and home equity evaporate just a few years ago. The economic exuberance of today echoes the ambiance of the early 2000’s and is setting off physic alarm bells.

Boomers find it difficult to discount this feeling. Collectively, we have a lot of knowledge and experience, and it’s hard for us to justify today’s stock market highs. It appears that Wall Street is just churning money. Where’s the substance?

And unemployment rates are a joke. If you don’t count the people who have given up on finding a job, what’s the point? Also, a good portion of the jobs being created today are low-paying service-oriented positions which are not going to generate sales of big-ticket items like cars or homes. Add the economic servitude placed on college graduates by student loans and the long-term outlook is gloomy.

Well-paying manufacturing jobs are never coming back to America in sufficient volume to grow the economy. Most jobs done manually today (like truck driving, auto assembly, etc.) will likely be replaced by robotics over the next ten years. Yet no one in government is proposing national programs preparing workers for growth technologies of the future. Nor do we have programs for training young Americans who are not college-bound for the good-paying trade jobs that will remain. Where are the national priorities?

On top of this, we live in a country where 43 million people depend on food stamps and 20 percent of our population needs welfare programs to survive. This is an unstable situation that undermines the economy. Add to this the inequity of wealth distribution in America where according to the NY Times the “richest 1 percent in the United States now own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.” Why is “too big to fail” still part of our national lexicon? Is it any wonder why many Boomers feel uneasy about the national economy?

The Bottom Line for Baby Boomers

Boomers have gained a lot of wisdom over the years and we’ve learned to listen to our gut feelings. We are uneasy about the economy. It appears that Wall Street and the government is manipulated for the benefit of the wealthy. Armies of well-paid lobbyists flood Washington while average citizens no longer have a seat at the table. Nor do we see any long-term national priorities to carry America into the future. It’s no surprise that our mental radars feel the country is neither as healthy nor stable as newscasters and government agencies would have us believe.

No one is suggesting stuffing your retirement savings under a mattress. But our Boomer alarms are going off. Our collective wisdom is concerned. Enough so that many Baby Boomers are asking themselves, “How prepared am I to survive if the economy crashes again?” It never hurts to have a backup plan, my friends.

How Boomers can get Local High-Definition TV for Free!

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As mentioned previously in Boomers can Save Money by Cutting the Cable TV Cord, one way to significantly reduce TV viewing expenses is to buy a high-definitive digital antenna. This is a one-time, inexpensive purchase that provides free access to local channel broadcasts, such as ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.

How Much Does a Digital Antenna Cost?

Not much. One of the best models (see Best TV Antennas), the Mohu Leaf 50, sells for just $59 on Amazon:

  • Free TV For Life: Access High Definition Over-the-Air TV channels without a cable or satellite subscription, including ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, Univision and more. 50-mile range.
  • NOTE: Enables access to free channels only – does not enable access to paid channels such as ESPN/Fox News. Channel reception varies based on what is broadcast in your area, distance from broadcast towers, and geographical obstructions between you and the towers.
  • Crystal-Clear TV for Free: CleanPeak Filter technology filters out cellular and FM signals resulting in low noise, a clearer picture and access to more free HDTV channels in 1080 HD.
  • Multi-directional and Reversible HDTV Antenna: Paintable to match any decor, derived from advanced US military technology, no “pointing” needed and comes with included 16 ft. high performance cable.
  • TV Antenna Designed and Manufactured in the USA with a 1-year Warranty.

And there are a wealth of additional inexpensive choices, with new advanced models coming to the market frequently. Some start as low as $18. Just goes to show that more and more people are abandoning expensive cable and satellite TV packages!

Are Digital Antennas Difficult to Install?

Not really. Basically all you need to do is hook up a provided coaxial cable to the antenna connector on your TV. Most of the digital antennas are small panels that hang on an internal wall or window of your home, although some models are designed for attic or roof installation.

The Bottom Line for Boomers

Adding a digital antenna to your HDTV television is not difficult, but it is important to remember that results vary by location and terrain. We suggest reading “These are the best indoor HDTV antennas” to quickly gain an understanding of the pluses and minuses of digital antennas.

We also suggest that it is best to pay a few dollars more (literally $10-$20) to purchase high-end models that get the best results. Moreover, if you buy from an outfit like Amazon, for example, the product can always be returned if it doesn’t work to your satisfaction.

The inexpensive nature of ever-powerful digital antennas suggests that all Boomers should at least give these devices a look. If you have a questionable cable provider (like many of us do), digital antennas are a great backup when your service goes on the blink. And if the economy takes a nose-dive, a digital antenna can play a major role (along with streaming TV) in cutting the cable cord to dramatically lower your bills without sacrificing viewing variety.

Long-Term Care is a Ticking Time Bomb for Baby Boomers

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Baby Boomers are living longer and enjoying more good health than their parents. But sooner or later, most of us will likely need long-term care. And let’s face it – we are unprepared for this cost which can easily consume all our assets. Moreover, on a national basis, the country is ill-equipped to handle the long-term care needs of our generation.

How Much does It Cost to Live in a Nursing Home?

According to Google, “These costs can be staggering. In 2012, a private room cost an average of $248 daily, or more than $90,500 annually, according to a 2012 survey by MetLife. A semi-private room ran $222 daily, or more than $81,000 per year.” And costs have increased since 2012!

Does Medicare Help?

Medicare will only pay for care in Medicare-certified skilled nursing facilities or through Medicare-certified home health or hospice agencies. It will not pay for care in a continuing care retirement community or in an assisted living facility.

Medicare Part A covers up to 100 days of “skilled nursing” care per spell of illness. However, the conditions for obtaining Medicare coverage of a nursing home stay are quite stringent.

Does Medicaid Provide Anything?

Yes, Medicaid can be used to pay for long-term nursing home care in all states. Many states also allow their residents to use Medicaid waivers to pay for assisted living or in-home care if the services can be obtained at a lower cost. Each state has individual rules, regulations and eligibility requirements.

Medicaid eligibility depends on financial resources and assets. They will examine your finances for the past five years to ascertain what can be used to recover costs. If you own a home, that is usually protected while you are alive. But most other assets are up for grab. Once a Medicaid recipient dies, the state will go after their estate to further recover costs. It is best to clarify your options to protect an estate now while you are healthy.

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The Bottom Line for Baby Boomers

A tsunami of Baby Boomer retirees is about to overwhelm the nation’s long-term care resources. Only the wealthy can afford long-term care insurance and its ever-increasing premiums. Don’t count on this being a solution for the average Boomer on the street.

There are few long-term care solutions for the majority of Baby Boomers. As a country, we have yet to address the huge financial cost of caring for tens of millions of Boomers in their old age. Our nation has turned a blind eye to this looming crisis.

According to AARP, most Boomers want to age in place. This works well until healthcare becomes a burden on family or impractical to perform at home. That’s when Boomers will face financial challenges for which there are few answers outside of Medicaid, which is already stretched to its limits and has become a political football. So be prepared to face a government push to further grab your assets to offset costs.

It is likely that most Baby Boomers will wind up using some sort of Medicaid program in old age. Meanwhile, we can do ourselves a favor by participating in political movements endorsing favorable long-term care options.

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