Time for a much needed vacation. You’ll hear from me later.

In the meantime, check out the more than 400 articles posted from May 2009 to July 2011.  You’ll find them by selecting from the various catagories shown in the column on the right or reviewing the articles on a month by month basis.  Thanks for your continued interest in Pre-boomerMusings.com.

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Is nostalgia an escape to the past?

Enjoying thoughts of times gone by does focus on what was rather than what is.  However, most people don’t live in the past, so an occasional trip back to the “good old days” is a pleasurable diversion.  This mental process may also provide a valuable perspective on how to more effectively deal with the problems we all face today.

Fishing in Kansas

Image by Clint M Chilcott via Flickr

 

Now that summer is here most New Seniors will, no doubt, have some favorite recollections of their youth.  From playing with friends and neighbors to get-a-way cabins by the lake or cottages by the ocean to going to camp or being involved in local activities the time was full but we always wanted to have more things to occupy our time.  Over the years, the reality of youthful impetuousness and the desire to be constantly entertained has given way to an appreciation, maybe a yearning, for those easier softer times.

Younger people may look at nostalgia as an older person’s day dream.  This may be because the young are not far enough away from life’s events for people, places and things to have a lasting impact or meaning on them.  Another reason that the past is significant is when the product, service or circumstance no longer exists.  And, the older you get the more things disappear and the more attractive those memories become.

In due time the Gen X, Y and whatever other generational groups come along will find their own moments of nostalgia.  These may be the quiet days before the Internet was invented, remembering their first cell phone, what was “in” prior to body piercing and tattoos becoming popular, or how enjoyable life was before the great recession.  Time will reveal what is worth remembering for today’s younger people when they become tomorrow’s older people.

New Seniors who were born in the ‘30s through the mid-‘40s are considered pre-boomers.  While the depression is not stored in their memory banks, WWII is.  They remember the war years and the ultimate victories.  The coming on the scene of television, 45rpm records, the Korean Conflict, 3-D movies, moving to the suburbs, and the birth of rock and roll were all important events in the lives of pre-boomers. 

Boomers did not start arriving until 1946, but they took what their older brothers and sisters had and expanded on it.  They experienced Vietnam with its protests, civil rights and the women’s movements, plus a whole lot more.  They are turning 65 at the rate of 4 million individuals per year and will continue to do so through 2030 until all 76 million of them have attained New Senior status.

What will be nostalgic in the minds of boomers as they continue the aging process?  Will it be the historic events such as those mentioned above, those that are frivolous in nature like or strictly personal situations that can be conjured up anytime they want to take a break from the stress and strain of modern life?  Whatever the reason remembering the good times can’t be a bad thing.   

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The price of freedom is personal responsibility

Many believe the government is encroaching more and more on the choices we make.  Official warnings are posted everywhere.  Often these are in the form of information such as the nutritional data on food labels or restaurant menus.  Other times we are told what to do to avoid danger, such as when pumping gas.  A dramatic example of government intervention is the new cigarette graphics program designed to discourage smoking. 

Unlit filtered cigarettes

Image via Wikipedia

 

Back in the ‘60s, the federal government decided it was in our best interest to have cigarette packages carry a warning that smoking could be a health hazard.  It appeared on the side of every package.  Soon it appeared in all ads as well.  The next move was the banning of all cigarette advertising on both radio and television.  Then, there were more and harsher warnings along with educational campaigns that spread the woes of second-hand smoke.  This led to smoking bans in restaurants and virtually anyplace outside of ones home or car.  Now, even these once safe havens are also under attack.  

Continued pounding away at the dangers of cigarettes achieved the desired result of reducing the number of Americans who smoked.  However, with this came reduced revenues, since tobacco products were an important source of tax dollars.  So, the government did what it does best and raised taxes on tobacco products, particularly cigarettes.  All the while, subsidies were still being paid to tobacco farmers.

Less than half the percentage of US adults smoke today compared to a half-century ago.  However, what seems to be a never ending quest to control the electorate, politicians and their bureaucratic colleagues are pushing harder to reduce cigarette usage.  This seems like a strange way to treat a legal product that generates considerable tax dollars.  But the decision has been made to scare people to stop or never start smoking in the name of better health for everyone.

Have you seen the illustrations that will be adorning the cigarette packages?  There’s a clean lung next to a smoker’s lung.  Another has a smoker sporting a tracheotomy.  And, of course, there is one that features a corpse, with the body obviously being that of a smoker.  There are others, but you get the idea.

Only the die-hard smoker in denial, a cigarette company executive or a politician from a tobacco growing state will extol the benefits of smoking.  Therefore, we will probably see tobacco usage decline further.  Taxes will be increased so the cash cow can continue to fund the projects aimed at shrinking the size of the market in this game of round robin. 

What non-smokers have to worry about is if the government will use the same heavy-handed tactics to stop us from eating the foods we enjoy.  This, then, becomes an attack on our freedom.  Are we willing to allow Big Brother to usurp individual choices and personal responsibilities in order to conform with what someone else says is good for us?  Isn’t it time to let the elected representatives know, as Americans, we still claim the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

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The greatest evil of all

No, it is not terrorists, countries possessing nuclear weapons or the street thug lurking in the shadows to take your money or possibly your life.  The evil is the growing numbers of generally good people – the person next door a family member or a life-long friend – who have lost faith in the American Dream and the desire to be free and achieve. 

A map of the United States of America, showing...

Image via Wikipedia

 

With more than 14 million workers unemployed and millions of others under-employed or lacking skills to get ahead the future looks rather grim.  And with manufacturing jobs going overseas, most of them unlikely to return, our once big consuming society is about to turn into a nation of individuals who are just-getting-by.

Government spending has done little to improve the situation.  To the contrary, the United States is deeper in debt than at anytime in the 235 years since our founding.  Our elected representatives can’t or refuse to find common ground on spending issues.  And, the unfunded liabilities at the federal, state and local levels are about to leave these government entities and individual voters broke.

Americans have always rallied to overcome adversity.  The question is will we be able to do it again?  This nation does best when we unite and work together to accomplish the seemingly impossible.  We did this through wars, financial crisis, physical disasters and more.  Yet many wonder if we have strayed so far from the founding principles that selfish interests will take precedence over consideration for the greater good.

The 76 million Baby Boomers were told they were special and acted that way.  Referred to as the “me generation,” they changed the national landscape over the past 50 years.  It was the baby boomers who fought against the war in Vietnam while fighting for civil and women’s rights.  They continued to make an impact throughout all these years. 

Boomers, for better and worst, helped make America what it is today.  Now, they are becoming New Seniors as the oldest of them turn 65 this year.  And, they will continue to do so at the rate of 4 million per year through 2030.  However, it must be remembered, this generation has not been known for making sacrifices.

The folks who are part of Gen X, and Y along with those coming after them are scrambling to provide for their families, as are the younger Boomers.  So, the New Seniors must act like the adults.  We have the experience and desire to make America the land of opportunity for our children, our grandchildren and their children as it was for us.

There’s a lot on our collective plates.  Besides stopping the spending spree, we must address the short and long-term future for both Social Security and Medicare.  At the same time, faith in America has got to be restored.  We have seen this happen before, yet many of those who have not experience great national problems are turning pessimistic and believe that America is on a path of decline.  This defeatist attitude is truly the greatest evil of all.  New Seniors can play an important role in overcoming such thinking.

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Do you want to live forever?

Even if we wanted to, there is no way we will get out of here alive.  However, through medical science our time on earth has been extended by many years.  The question is how long can and should life be extended?

Sunset on Morro Strand State Beach at Morro Ba...

Image by mikebaird via Flickr

 

At the beginning of the last century, the average lifespan for Americans was 47.3 years.  By 1950 that jumped to an average age of 68.2.  Today, we can expect to reach age 78.6, but women outlive men by 5.5 years, 81.2 versus 75.7 respectively.  And, by 2030 (the year all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older) the US average lifespan will reach 81.2.  However, by that time, women are expected to live less than 4 years longer than men.

But there’s much more to the subject than statistics.  New Seniors, those 65+, have firsthand experience that America is living longer.  Many of us got to be introduced to our great grandparents and most of us grew up having grandparents in our lives.  Probably we did not pay much attention to this phenomenon, but we did benefit from the mere fact that it happened. Now, as we reach the next phase of our lives, the subject of life expectancy has become more personal. 

The life expectancy numbers improve at birth because infant mortality rates have improved markedly in the past century.  Childhood disease in this country, such as scarlet fever and polio, have been controlled to the point were reaching adulthood is a better bet than ever before.  The deadly diseases such as cancer, diabetes, coronary and even AIDS have been arrested while not being eradicated.  And, death by influenza, the plague and dysentery are no longer a threat to most of our population.

So upon reaching 65 the majority of us are in pretty good shape, especially if we have watched our diets, exercise and have regular physical checkups.  Even with once fatal or debilitating illnesses, there are treatments that allow people to live longer, more productive and comfortable lives.  Nonetheless, all good things must come to an end, and that’s were the debate centers.

Some experts believe aging is a natural part of living.  They suggest every one over 65 has one or more disorders or diseases that must be addressed now or in the future.  As symptoms for these issues arise, specialists should be called in to deal with each individual problem with the family doctors acting as coordinators and overseers of the patients’ wellbeing.  Another group takes the holistic approach and treats aging as the disease with the various conditions that occur being part of  this disease.

Either way, we are not going to get younger, so New Seniors will have to let those following us be the guinea pigs.  In the meantime, if you want to live longer you could move to any of 20 countries with longer life expectancies than the US.  Or you could move to a location in this country that you don’t like.  This won’t extend life, but it will sure seem like it got longer.  Better yet, spend as much time as possible with those you love and your life will be richer and more enjoyable.  Isn’t that what it’s all about?     

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