In this regular weekend feature you will find links to news items from the preceding week related to elders and aging, along with whatever else catches my fancy that I think you might like to know. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.
I've been a George Carlin fan since he began standup comedy decades ago. Of course, it helps that mostly he said things out loud that I'd been thinking privately and there's hardly any riff of his I disagree with. We lost a great truth-teller last week, and I'm not sure there's anyone to take his place. Here's a short Carlin piece on euphemisms for aging and death. (Hat tip to Nancy Leitz)
"Older" sounds a little better than "old," doesn't it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer. I'm getting old. And it's OK. Because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won't have to die - I'll "pass away." Or I'll "expire," like a magazine subscription.
If it happens in the hospital they'll call it a "terminal episode." The insurance company will refer to it as "negative patient care outcome." And if it's the result of malpractice, they'll say it was a "therapeutic misadventure."
You become 21, turn 30, push 40, reach 50 and make it to 60. You've built up so much speed that you hit 70! After that, it's a day-by-day thing: you hit Wednesday! You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle. You hit lunch; you turn 4:30; you reach bedtime.
And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards: "I was just 92." Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100-and-a-half!" May you all make it to a healthy 100-and-a-half.
Let's not depart from George Carlin too quickly today. This recent piece, The American Dream, is Carlin at his politically angry best. [4:49 minutes] (Hat tip to Darlene Costner)
Following on Carlin's American Dream, on Thursday 39 Senate Republicans blocked a bill - H.R.6331, which had passed overwhelming in the House - that would have prevented a 10.6 percent cut in reimbursements to physicians who accept Medicare patients.
The reason? Money for maintaining the pay level would have been taken from subsidies paid to insurance companies that sell Medicare Advantage (i.e. Medicare privatization) programs. Those subsidies cost taxpayers 13-plus percent more than it would cost traditional Medicare for the same beneficiaries.
Undoubtedly some of the 600,000 doctors who accept Medicare patients will stop doing so. Just what the country needs as the baby boomers soon begin reaching the age to qualify for Medicare. More here.
We all know that walking is excellent exercise for elders, but some places make it easier than others. Now you can find out how "walkable" your neighborhood is at WalkScore. On a scale of 0-100, my score here on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine, is 68. My previous address in New York City gets 100. How does your neighborhood rank?
I've been bothered for a long time that I use too many plastic bags. To cut down, I recently bought some re-usable grocery bags, but I accept plastic bags at some shops because they are good - even essential - for one chore: scooping out the cat litter box. I hadn't found a better solution - until now.
I discovered biodegradable dog waste bags made from corn starch. You can buy them at pet supply websites and stores (here's one brand; there are others). The manufacturers and retailers haven't yet twigged to the fact that they are good for litter box cleanup, so you need to look in the dog section. I've found all kinds of kitchen uses for them too.
No link associated with this item, just a question about which I'm genuinely puzzled. Senator Barack Obama held a fundraiser last week asking large-money donors to contribute to paying off Senator Hillary Clinton's $20 million primary campaign debt.
Even though the debt includes at least $11 million of Clinton's own money that she chose to spend on her campaign, political pundits mostly agree that paying Clinton's debt is the right thing for Obama and donors to do.
Am I nuts to think that Democratic dollars would be better spent on the Democratic presidential campaign and that if Senator Clinton owes more money than she raised, it is her personal debt? If I am nuts to think this, here's a deal for you: I overdid my credit card a bit last month and could use some help paying it off.
Many of the 47 million Americans without healthcare coverage are children, a condition few would deny needs to be rectified. On the other hand, maybe not. Here is a report from The Onion with new information you may not have considered. [1:35 minutes] (Hat tip to Lia of Yum Yum Cafe)