Friday September 3, 1999
Age Wave visionary Ken Dychtwald's new book is finally out. Get it! Age Power: How the 21st Century Will Be Ruled by the New Old (Jeffrey P. Tarcher, New York, 1999) is a feast of facts, ideas, analysis, history, prognostication, and wake-up calls. We cannot think of a more enjoyable way to consume the information all of us need to prepare for the aging of the baby boom. Following is Amazon.com's description of the book and a few brief excerpts, two of which cite the Center for Long-Term Care Financing.
"The bestselling author of Age Wave reveals how the aging of the baby-boom generation will forever reshape our homes, families and businesses--and how we can be ready.
"In the past, few people had a chance to 'age.' Throughout 99 percent of human history, the average life expectancy was less than eighteen years. Today, however, we are witnessing an unprecedented generational shift. In America, the largest generation in history-the baby boomers-is fast approaching its senior years, in which the elderly will routinely live well beyond their eighties and nineties. While this is an exciting new stage, it begs uncomfortable questions:
-- With advances in longevity, at what age should people be considered 'old' and therefore eligible for 'old age' entitlements?
-- How can we adjust work, retirement, education, marriage, and family relations to accommodate tens of millions of us living to eighty--or one hundred?
-- What will we do when millions of Americans outlive the money set aside in their pensions and retirement plans?
-- How can we transform our health-care system to be ready for the coming onslaught of Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases?
-- What useful and productive roles can we create for elderly boomers, so that the age wave they are producing creates rich opportunities rather than crushing problems?
"In this breakthrough book, Dychtwald explains how individuals, businesses, and governments can best prepare for the challenges of a new era in which the priorities will be set based on the needs and desires of the elderly. He surveys how we each must make individual decisions right now to 'age proof' our families and ourselves."
From "Age Power":
"Over three decades 'Medicaid creep' has loosened up the requirements for eligibility, exempting homes, cars, businesses, trusts, annuities, and personal effects from the category of 'assets.' Although elders are supposed to be impoverished in order to qualify, nearly anyone who wishes to receive free nursing-home care and who can afford a decent lawyer can now be directed through Medicaid's various loopholes. As Stephen Moses, president of the Center for Long-Term Care Financing decries, 'Virtually anyone, regardless of income or assets, can qualify for Medicaid's long-term care benefits quickly by sheltering or divesting assets.'" (p. 150)
"The Center for Long-Term Care Financing's Stephen Moses explains how this dynamic occurred: 'In 1965, America was just starting to have a serious problem with long-term care. People were living longer, but dying slower, of chronic illnesses that caused frailty and cognitive impairment . With every good intention, the new federal Medicaid program offered publicly financed long-term nursing-home care. This benefit confronted families with a choice. They could pay out-of-pocket for the homecare and community-based services elders prefer or they could accept nursing-home care paid for by the government. The result was that the market for homecare withered, private long-term care insurance failed to develop, and Medicaid-financed nursing-home care flourished.'" (p. 151)
Dychtwald concludes his discussion of this topic stating: "Given the pressures of the age wave, if the middle-class masses continue to draw down Medicaid's limited resources, it will be wiped out. We all need to understand that Medicare will not pay for most of our long-term care needs, and Medicaid should be dedicated to supporting the truly poor. As a result, we and our families will be responsible for bridging the gap by self-financing our own long-term care and that of our loved ones [with, for example, long-term care insurance and reverse annuity mortgages as described later in the book]. The longer we wait to come to grips with this reality, the harder it will be to do anything about it." (p. 152)