I “Old Age. A Beginner’s Guide” by Michael Kinsley
The title grabbed my attention but with full disclosure I admit I have not read his latest book. I was a little amazed that someone in his 60’s was experienced enough to write a book about aging despite his literary credentials, and brush with an early diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease. I inserted my recent shot of a tortoise taken on the Galapagos this winter as a symbol of aging — slowly but well! Hope you find it humorous!
Kinsley maintains in a book review that baby boomers will be living longer and will be churning out more and more memoirs as we age, and become afflicted with the diseases of older age. I guess he wanted to be among the first or be a trail blazer in this category.
The book is described as short, funny and packaged in a way to make it an excellent impulse purchase. I will be sure to check it out the next time I am at an airport!
Helpful or Humorous?
The review of this book will have us believe that the book is more funny than informative. This is a good thing. A sense of humor will get us far and with Kingley’s diagnosis this is a must have quality. He points out a fellow boomer, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle who apparently is well invested in living forever, and has spent a fortune to figure out a way. He is quoted as saying, ” Death has never made any sense to me.” Kingsley’s reaction is to retort: “Actually the question is not whether death makes sense to Larry Ellison but whether Ellison makes sense to death.”
He is also pragmatic in his attitude towards losing ones memory as we age. He predicts that one out of three boomers will eventually suffer from some form of dementia. Colorfully he describes his position by saying, ” They are jogging everyday, but will get Alzheimer’s anyway.”
The book apparently is not about old age. See first paragraph above! Kingsley makes a point of powerfully using this book as a way of possibly engaging boomers to think about their legacy. He suggests they try to eradicate the national debt by having their money taxed after death in a way that would accomplish something equivalent to the Greatest Generation’s achievement in World War II.
He’s a good writer and some of his essays are from the New Yorker and The Atlantic. This could just be my next impulse buy!
Baby Boomers And The Evolving Type Of Healthcare Living Situation
Do you cringe when you hear the term “Nursing Home’? I know that I do, and it is substantiated by witnessing older members of my family ending up in one. Some of the finest are not where I or apparently any of my peers would like to end up.
The baby boomers power has resulted in nursing homes realizing they need to restructure and reinvent themselves. Nursing homes that are trying to appeal to this segment of the market are changing but why not change their name? Some of the reinvention includes features like big screen TV’s, larger beds, Wi-Fi, and making the dining areas look less institutional. A new term has cropped up and its being called “transitional care”. This is where people go to heal when they can’t go directly home. The endpoint is that this is not a permanent stay but rather a place to feel better and go home. Medical professionals due to insurance constraints are being forced to work more closely with these centers to ensure that they don’t return to the hospital. It’s safe to assume that someone recovering from knee replacement surgery would not want to be living among older people.
Transitional facilities are trying to bridge hospitality and healthcare by bringing on specialists in these fields to keep on track. Rooms can have private bathrooms, food is more interesting and there are therapy gyms.
It seems that these transitional facilities can pave the way for baby boomers as we grow older. How nice it would be if we reach the point where independent living is no longer feasible that we have an option that does not resemble the nursing homes of our grandparents.
Now — we need to come up with a name that is uplifting – not off putting. Any ideas?
Positive Memories Are Nice To Have?
I think we all agree that focusing on the good things in life tends to be more productive or is it? Apparently, not when it comes to our investment portfolio. A recent WSJ article poses the question: How well do you recall the recent financial crisis? Most people, understandably want to move on, and conveniently forget unpleasant memories. This article points out that this feeling of optimism can be costly to us.
They compare our memories in our brains to a computer. Our brains operate totally differently than a computer. We most likely can’t recall how much the market dropped between 2007-2009. Research has shown that as we age there are “gaps and distortions” that can promote our taking risks that we would be better off not taking.
The Perspective Of the Older Adult
We assume that with age comes wisdom. This is true but older people also develop biases that can play with the details of their memories. There was an interesting study led by a Dr. Castel where he paired a series of faces with financial gains and losses. One example is the paring of a dark haired woman with a loss of $100 and a man with a beard with a gain of $50. Younger and older people in the study remembered the pairings associated with a financial gain more often! Additionally, younger participants more likely recalled big losses while the older group with an average age of 78 recalled people more when they incurred financial gains. Seniors were the group that were 25% more likely to forget the largest losses! These findings support other research that has been conducted that shows older adults pay far more attention to positive information.
What is The Impact On Our Financial Decisions?
This recent research may predict that older people will be blinded by a bull market. Their bias towards the positive and the gains in the market leads them to a sense of forgetfulness of the last bear market. This article suggests that ways of circumventing losses as we age is to set up a “financial autopilot” program. This program sets up target date fund for accumulating asset. For those already drawing money down – annuities can provide an autopilot for a paycheck.. They advise getting help with this as annuities can be tricky.
These autopilot defense programs can counteract any confusion on what our memories recall and distort which can lead to poor financial decisions.
Always nice to recall the good memories but not at the expense of our portfolio’s.