Something has happened to the Boomer generation and its not a pretty picture. Too many of us are overweight, out of work, or simply feeling powerless in the face of mounting ageism, overly expensive health care, and a number of other financial, career, health, and, for some, even relationship issues we no longer feel we have any control over.
In the 1960s, we were the generation that led a revolution, and now now that many of us are in our 60s, its time for us to lead another one. In the U.S. alone, were 78 million strong which means we have the power to change the way things are. We just havent used that power in a very long time. Well, now its time, time to take back our dignity and use our power to once again be the generation of change.
Here then is my Boomer Manifesto: ten key areas where I believe we have the power to transform things for the better:
- Stay Healthy
- Keep Working
- Maintain Your Relationships
- Tend to Financial Security
- Improve Housing Choices
- Face Up to Legal Issues
- Travel Smart
- Be An Activist
- Build a Legacy
- Deal With Death
The reason I put health first is that without health, those extra years we Boomers are being given will be a curse rather than a blessing.
One of the main problems in this country is that good health costs money and requires time and attention. It can take more time to plan, prepare, and eat healthy foods and meals than grabbing carbohydrate and calorie-rich fast foods on the run.
Health insurance, a necessity, can be very expensive if you don't have a full-time job. Your plan will hopefully cover medical checkups and tests to detect those diseases that if caught early enough, have almost a 100% cure rate. But dont let the lack of money or a good health insurance policy stop you from getting the check-ups and medical treatment that you need. Pay out-of-pocket, if necessary.
Include eye checkups in that list of necessary healthcare concerns. Today, if you catch it in time, there are treatments for certain types of macular degeneration that did not exist even a few years ago, enabling your eye doctor to stop in its early stages what could be the cause of debilitating vision loss.
If you do not have healthcare insurance, or if your policy does not include checkups, or a specific procedure, find a way to pay for these health care expenses yourself. Make those health care costs a priority over other expenses that can be reduced or eliminated.
Next, lose the extra weight. You don't see many obese people in nursing homes; they just dont live long enough. We need to get our weight to a manageable and healthy number that we can sustain. In addition to having a healthy weight, get those cholesterol and blood pressure numbers under control too. If all you do is take a 30 minute walk everyday, it will make a difference.
Whatever it takes, as detailed in How to Live Better and Longer, make your health your number one concern as a Boomer, now and in the years going forward. You owe it to yourself, your family, and everyone else who cares about you and depends on you.
As we Boomers reach the age for Medicare coverage to kick in 65 we will all need to take the time to understand what Medicare covers, and does not cover, as well as what you may need to pay to supplement any gaps in Medicare coverage, a topic to be addressed in another column.
With the number of seniors over the age of 65 likely to develop Alzheimers and other dementias in their senior years, Boomers need to lobby to get more resources put into finding cures for these diseases as well as better tools for early detection and treatment. (See Boomers Come Face to Face With Alzheimers).
Next: Keep Working