Drizzling this afternoon on California’s north coast — a steady, chilled damp in the air, a slip maybe above fog.
As a retiree, and a baby boomer, I’m witnessing our long dumb-ass tale approaching an ironic, befuddled end, or something — we’re living longer in deteriorating health with less medical insurance, and we’re not handling old age too well.
(Illustration found here).
We’re also overly-dramatic, self-centered and a bit on the petulant side, and apparently fairly ignorant — 60 percent of us haven’t a clue to how to handle retirement, and are ill-prepared for the fiscal/physical onslaught of getting old. We’re just too fucking cool to age.
Yeah right — us boomers have such a problem in grasping the aging process, classes have formed to instruct.
This got me going on the subject, last Friday from the Washington Post:
But boomers tend to see themselves as forever young and have sometimes been reluctant to embrace the last stage of life with the same gusto as their youthful activism, said Lylie Fisher, director of community development at Iona.
So Iona, which receives part of its funding from the District’s Office on Aging, launched Take Charge/Age Well Academy in September 2013.
Its core class is “Take Charge of Your Aging 101.”
There are now seven courses, ranging in cost from about $115 to $145, that focus on themes such as eating well, physical fitness and age-proofing the home.
The faculty includes regular instructors and guests.
During one recent class, Jason Dring, a geriatric physical therapist with the Isabella Breckenridge Center, discussed the physical dynamics of aging, such as muscle atrophy and the ways to combat it.
Then he demonstrated simple functional tests to monitor one’s physical capability and keep it in tune.
One such exercise required the participants to see how many times in 30 seconds they could rise from a chair without using their hands and sit down again.
“Thirty seconds is a really long time!” one woman said.
Then he gave them their scores, noting that a 65-year-old woman should be able to do between 11 and 16 repetitions.
“We are young/old,” said H. Weston Morrison, 67, a retired associate producer at WRC (Channel 4) who signed up for the classes.
“We are not old as our parents and grandparents [were], and part of that is we’re talking about aging.
“Our grandparents just aged.”
One great fallacy about getting old is the actual getting old — humans think young, can’t be helped, and getting old, bodies falling apart, all the dread bullshit — and are hard to accept, sometimes taking years to fully grasp an aging process, and understand it.
Apparently, we’re more stressed, less healthy and have slightly less health care coverage than people in the same age group did a decade ago, according to data in a report released early last month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — from Time magazine:
Exacerbating the potential for a crisis, those aged 55 to 64 — the core of the Boomers — are living longer than their predecessors did 10 years ago.
Incidences of all the chronic conditions featured in the CDC report saw slight increases from 2002 to 2012.
The rates above for high cholesterol and hypertension represent those who are currently taking medication to manage the condition.
Monitoring chronic conditions is essential for those aged 55-64 since diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol can increase the risk of illnesses like heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.
Boomers at every income level reported an increase in moderate to severe psychological distress, except those making 400 percent more than those in poverty.
The seeming paradox of a decrease in the number of deaths and the worsening of health is explained in part by Americans’ increased use of prescription drugs.
Adults aged 55-64 are taking more drugs than ever before, with a 29 percent spike in the use of anti-diabetic pills and a 54 percent increase in cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The trend toward prolonged treatment of chronic conditions signals how health-care workers and policymakers must prepare, in the coming years, for the largest-ever cohort to enroll in Medicare over the next ten years.
Boomers are druggies from way back before the joints ached. And we still a few years left — 55- to 64-year-olds have reportedly about 19 to 27 years left, give-or-take a year of two, and that’s even with a prevalence of serious psychological distress for us that was 22 percent higher in 2012 to 2013 than the decade before.
And then some odd shit — a layer of “elderly orphans” for 22 percent of Boomers. Census data from 2012 revealed about one-third of Americans aged 45 to 63 are single, a 50 percent increase from 1980; nearly 19 percent of women aged 40 to 44 have no children, as compared to just10 percent in 1980.
Via Consumer Affairs and Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, MD, chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at the North Shore-LIJ Health System on New York’s Long Island:
“There is potentially no structure to address this population as this population is hidden right before us,” added Dr. Carney, who calls the group elder orphans because they are aging alone and unsupported, with no known family member or designated surrogate to act on their behalf.
“Our goal is to highlight that this is a vulnerable population that’s likely to increase, and we need to determine what community, social services, emergency response and educational resources can help them.”
Despite the ironic cry from a 71-year-old Roger Daltrey for all us Boomers: “I hope I die before I get old.”
Can’t be helped, dude…never wanted to create a big sensation.