Do Boomers Threaten Young Workers’ Jobs?

As life expectancy increases and the retirement income system contracts, households face an enormous challenge in ensuring a secure retirement. Working longer is the best way to increase retirement incomes. But some suggest that more work by older persons reduces the job opportunities for younger persons. Continue reading…

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Parents Forever

For many of my class reunions, lengthy questionnaires were sent out to get some idea of what everyone was doing and how their lives were turning out. There were questions about politics, marital status and fidelity, income, job satisfaction, health status, and a few others. The one category always missing was one of intense interest to me: how are your children doing and are you happy with them? Continue reading…

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Doctors Die Differently

Many years ago, my late father received a recommendation for carotid artery surgery. He had no symptoms, but his physician was concerned about kinking and possible narrowing of the artery. I described the situation to a vascular surgeon colleague. He thought the recommendation was questionable. I encouraged my father to talk further with his physician about the procedure. In their discussion the physician said, “I’m a worrier — I would do this for myself. But now that I hear more about your values, I don’t think you should do it.” Continue reading…

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“Mommy’s” Long Life with Alzheimer’s Disease

My dear 99 year old stepmother, Virginia, has just been discharged from the supplemental hospice care program within her Alzheimer’s care facility.  Why? Because she has survived for almost two years beyond the six month prognosis for survival required for inclusion. She has not died and is considered stabilized. Her advanced Alzheimer’s disease is now again being cared for solely by the regular staff and her privately employed morning aides.   Continue reading…

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Social Security: Should the Over-55 Be Protected?

As Congress and the President begin to grapple with the looming “fiscal cliff,” the topic of Social Security reform could receive renewed attention as part of any effort to address the long-term budget deficit.  Some have asked whether policymakers considering Social Security changes could learn anything from recent state and local pension reforms.  One of these reforms involves reductions in cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs) – a solution that seems fair to me.  This approach raises the inevitable question of whether the traditional notion of protecting those 55 and older from benefit cuts is appropriate. Continue reading…

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Do Not Transfer

They finally signed a “Do Not Transfer” order. The patient’s family had been reasonable enough, but they lacked medical expertise, and no one at the nursing home ever mentioned that an acceptable option could be to let a 92-year-old man live out his days, unencumbered by transfers to the emergency room for every attack of constipation or exacerbation of chronic pain. Continue reading…

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I’m Over 65 and Counting the Money

Not long ago, I retired from the clinical practice of psychiatry. One
of the factors that comforted me in making that decision was that I
was eligible to receive Medicare, so I wouldn’t have to try to obtain
some sort of expensive private health insurance or COBRA to tide me
over. Actually, I was 66, as I had to wait until my wife turned 65
this past July, for the same reason. Continue reading…

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Death with Dignity: A Response to Daniel Callahan

As someone who strongly supports the proposed Death with Dignity Act that will come before Massachusetts voters on November 6th and that is virtually identical to the law that has been in effect in Oregon for nearly 15 years and in Washington state for four years, I would like to respond to Dan Callahan’s arguments against it.  Continue reading…

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