General


Age and Judgment

I was struck recently by the concluding sentences of an article written by Nathaniel Morris, a Harvard Medical School student. Note his final words. “. . . health care providers must discern when to apply the powerful instruments at their disposal and when to carefully hold back. It often just comes down to clinical judgment, […]

Call the Concierge

My mother recently got a letter from her doctor informing her that he is going into “concierge medicine.” If she wants to keep him as her doctor—and she does (she’s 88 and has known him for years)—she will have to sign up for his new plan, paying a retainer fee of $3500 a year on […]

See, Hear, and Speak no Evil in Medicare

Although I was very grateful that Medicare was available when I retired two years ago, I’ve also been surprised and concerned about some of what it doesn’t cover. These concerns are especially in the areas of our eyes, ears, and mouth.  For my mouth, the timing could not have been worse. I had excellent dental […]

The Wisdom of Old Curmudgeons

The bad reputation of elderly curmudgeons is well known: angry guys raging at the declining world, their failed, decadent society, the younger self-centered generation, the crooks elected to public office, and the local trash pick-up dictatorship forcing the sorting out of bottles and newspapers. At the risk of being outed as one of those guys, […]

Albert Schweitzer’s Advice about Aging

A friend recently quoted a saying from Albert Schweitzer that was especially meaningful to him as he approached his 70th birthday: The meaning of maturity which we should develop in ourselves is that we should strive always to become simpler, kinder, more honest, more truthful, more peace-loving, more gentle and more compassionate.  This advice captured my […]

Alzheimer’s Association 2014 Annual Report

It’s that time of year again, when the Alzheimer’s Association releases its annual report: Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures. The 2014 edition doesn’t tell us much that’s new—which amounts to a good deal of bad news. The facts boil down to these:

A Caregiver’s Near-Suicide

An article on “caregiver burden” in the March 12 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) opens by describing a painful, nearly fatal, situation: Mrs. D, at 84 years of age, was the primary caregiver for her functionally impaired 86-year-old husband and shot herself 3 times in a suicide attempt. Mrs. D’s family […]

Shift Retirement Plans Away from Employers

Lots of proposals have been put forth for a new and better retirement system, but they don’t answer the question of how we get from here to there. (For examples of proposals, see the SAFE plan or the Guaranteed Retirement Accounts proposal.) We have a fairly extensive – albeit far from perfect – 401(k) system […]

Is 70 the “Right” Retirement Age?

I keep thinking about this notion that 70 is the “real” Social Security retirement age.  It is the age at which people get maximum monthly benefits, and if they work beyond this age they see their lifetime benefits decline.  But is 70 the right age?  “Right” can mean a number of things.  One issue is […]

Writing your Own Eulogy

“Begin with the end in mind.” (From Stephen R. Covey: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic.) Did you ever wonder about the veracity of the eulogies given at funerals? Was this really the same person you thought you once knew? I know, I know. Eulogies are meant to convey the […]