I attended the excellent Business Symposium at BGSU FIrelands College last week and heard keynote speaker Ed Barlow enlighten the audience on "The Future of the Firelands." The only thing I regretted was that more Erie County adults (ages 18-64) weren't there to hear how we need to prepare ourselves for the 21st century.
As a baby boomer who works in the field of geriatrics, I listened with a different perspective than most. And what I heard is that we baby boomers can't "dumb down" as we advance in age.
Allow me to paraphrase what I took away from this informative and inspiring evening
Message 1: Things are changing everywhere and in every way. For me, this means baby boomers cannot assume retirement today will be as it has been for those who have retired since 1987. Findings published by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College report that since the 1960s the average retirement age has been 66.
Today, the average retirement age is 63. But with the decline in Social Security replacement rates, increased longevity and the relatively low balances in 401(k) accounts, Americans risk serious income shortfalls later in life. (bc.edu/centers, "Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer")
Message 2: Become and remain current with technology and learn to speak a foreign language(s). This means all you boomers and early retirees should listen up! Preparing to have quality of life later in life means taking the journey of lifelong learning. Those Americans (of any age) who can speak Mandarin Chinese will be key to our economy and our own retirement income.
Message 3: Start a movement of "reverse mentoring." If you can't use a computer, guess what? It's time! Barlow offered a great solution to this problem. Hook up with an 11-, 12- or 13-year-old child and ask them to teach you how to use a computer. I just love this idea.
Any sociologist will tell you that the greatest amount of "social distance" is between adolescence and older adults. These two population groups rarely interact, and now we have a reason to change this social phenomenon. And I'm willing to bet it will benefit our community beyond improved computer skills.
Message 4: Health care costs are not going to drop. The only way to reduce the cost is for people to focus on preventative health care, not using more health care. According to Boston College, research surveys of "older workers" (those who are age 50-64), indicate that 15-20 percent of this population group will be too disabled to work at age 65. (bc.edu/centers, "Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer"). The difference is these new retirees will probably still need to work. People who have a high level of disability usually consume a lot of health care services.
Message 5: People age 65+ will still be needed for their knowledge in our economy. Although the percentage of older adults with a disability has been steadily declining since 1984, it shoots up from 9 percent for adults 65-74 to 21 percent for adults 75-84 -- and it shoots up again to 50 percent by 85 (bc.edu/centers, "Will People Be Healthy Enough to Work Longer"). But for some disabilities, the limitation could prove to be virtually non-existent if the older person can work in a technologically advanced environment or speak a foreign language.
If you are concerned about the economy and your retirement income, then I strongly encourage you to contact BGSU Firelands. They need you to get involved in a new movement known as IF (Initiatives for the Future). They are seeking local residents (of any age) to openly voice their ideas for designing an agenda that will revitalize our area economy.
Specifically, they are seeking people to host small "Community Speaks" gatherings. To lend a helping hand, call 419-433-5560 ext. 20617 or ext. 20632. Or e-mail IF-Firelands@bgsu.edu.
Q: I'm on generic Zocor (Simvestatin) but it's still very expensive. Is there some place I can get it cheaper?
A: There are several ways to help you solve this problem:
1. You can call Sally Roth (440-967-3288) and inquire about the next bus trips to Canada.
2. There is also a program called Rx Outreach. A 90-day supply is available by mail for $20. An application is done once a year. The original prescription must be mailed to the pharmacy. Call our office for more information at 419-624-1856 or 1-800-564-1856.
3. You can call our office 419-624-1856 or 1-800-564-1856 and ask if you qualify to use the Drug Repository Program. Many times, area nursing homes will donate this medicine to our Drug Repository.
Q: I'm new to the area and looking for something to do during the day. I like to travel, but I don't have a lot of money. Any ideas?
A: I suggest that you try the Erie County Senior Center for lunch and sign up for a day trip. Call a day before to reserve your lunch at 419-626-2560 or 1-800-701-3221. Ask about their dance classes, cards, Tai Chi classes and potlucks, too. There are several day trips coming up - Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Game, Champions on Ice in Columbus, the Lion King at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Wright-Paterson Air Force Base, Greenfield Village and the Cleveland Indians. If you need help paying for it, Serving Our Seniors can help you fill out an application for the One Day Trip Scholarship Program - Trips for pennies on the dollar!
Q: My brother passed away, and my sister-in-law found herself dealing with problems she said she could have avoided if they would have reviewed their "very important papers." Is there someone who does this? How much will it cost to have this done?
A: Starting April 6, from noon-2 p.m. in the Serving Our Seniors' office, I will work with a certified financial planner, Wayne K. Maslyk Jr., Great Lakes Benefits & Retirement Group, to help older adults gain a better understanding of their very important papers. To begin, we will see up to four people (couples/households). This meeting will provide interested parties a time to review papers they do not understand. Papers will be examined for common mistakes that occur when people fail to review/update their important papers. (i.e., POAs who no longer live in the area, witnesses of documents who are no longer alive). This appointment will also be used to go through a checklist of items that should be in place and/or updated. An example of a couple of the items would be: wills, trusts, power of attorneys, PODs and TODs, living wills, etc. There is no charge for this service. Call Serving Our Seniors at 419-624-1856 or 1-800-564-1856 to make an appointment.