Shortages of physicians, astronomical increases in the cost of healthcare, the ‘Silver Tsunami,” lack of skilled caregivers, funding cutbacks, onerous regulatory climate, lack of technological inter-facing, and the list goes on and on of the roadblocks to quality healthcare for our aging population. You’ve heard bits and pieces of this for a long time. It’s in our societal makeup that in order for a topic to become newsworthy it needs to project hurt, harm, anger, or danger.
When well researched data and empirical evidence points to the ‘positive’ and, in direct opposition to what is validated as newsworthy, we hear little of the ‘good news’ of the future of healthcare, especially in quality senior healthcare and those who will provide that care.
Robyn I. Stone, researcher for LeadingAge, has a far different perspective. She suggests four challenging trends for the future.
1) Increasing Diversity: By 2050 only 58% of our elderly will be white, with the remaining 40% represented by Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians.
2) Growing Health Needs: 45% of older adults have chronic conditions. 70% of 80+ year olds have issues with mental health or substance abuse.
3) Financial Insecurity: 70% of 70 year olds (77% of 80 year olds) depend on social security for at least 50% of their income.
4) Regional Differences in Aging: Rapid growth in the aging population is particularly found in states like Texas, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona. Older people in cities like Charlotte, NC and Dallas, TX will be wealthier and healthier, than in states of the Northeast and the Midwest. These differences will require ‘customized’ programs for older adult healthcare.
Ms Stone then suggests that the quality of leadership she witnesses in LeadingAge leaders (LeadingAge is a large association of not-for-profit, senior healthcare organizations throughout the United States) brings hope that these challenges will be addressed in the future.
What are the attributes she sees in our leaders which elicits hope for the future?:
1) Intellectual curiosity.
2) A ‘can do’ attitude.
3) A strong commitment to alter organizations to meet the challenges of the future.
I believe true leaders are selfless, well read, articulate, and have a strong humility which allows that the skills of those around them to be developed and encouraged to move boldly forward.
*[Much of the information shared was provided by Robyn I. Stone, Dir. of Research, LeadingAge – Wash. D.C. in her article entitled: “210 Reasons to be Hopeful about the Future of Aging Services” Nov 13, 2013]
Are we citizens of a nation truly in turmoil? Are we lead by ‘the enemy’ who of course is anyone who doesn’t agree with us? What is happening to us? Consider these: National Health Care Reform / ‘Obamacare’ consequences and unintended consequences; Sequestration-forced reductions; Demands and counter-demands of the US House of Representatives versus the US Senate; John Boehner versus Harry Reid; Tea Party versus The Progressives; ‘Continuing Resolution’ government funding going unresolved creating a ‘limited’ government shut-down; World War II Memorial Park closures; Debt ceiling limit issues; Protecting, expanding, or retracting government entitlement programs; all this controversy, and more, is helping to create a national culture of distrust, angst, fear, miscommunication, and intolerance! Are our elected governmental officials, en masse, approaching malfeasance-in-office?
Some might feel that we are becoming helpless spectators, simply watching our nation lowering itself to having virtually no moral, ethical, or spiritual ‘standards’ in all matters governmental. The current atmosphere is alarming, frustrating, and tiresome. Seems there is no light at the end of this tunnel, only more tunnel!
But wait . . . Maybe there is something we can do! Maybe instead of demanding someone else to change, maybe we need to change! Maybe we need to set a better example! Maybe we need to carefully, graciously, enthusiastically participate in open and heart-felt discussions where we do more active listening than active talking? Maybe we need to first assume the good intent and mutual decency of others? Maybe we need to find the common ground? Maybe we need to elect officials who represent the voter before the party? Maybe we need to consider ‘moral character’ and not just elect ‘characters?’ Maybe being prayerful is appropriate? Maybe being a ‘winner’ doesn’t mean beating the opponent, but rather advancing a principle? Maybe being articulate is better than being loud? Maybe the prize can be compromise? Maybe we need less party leaders and more national statesmen and stateswomen?
Maybe these changes go beyond the reference to Washington DC, and should include how we treat the strangers we meet? Our neighbors? Our friends? Our family?
So what’s the plan so that I may change? I would suggest baby steps. I would suggest we take this one day at a time! I suggest we consider these ‘Reiki’ principles / prayer:
Just for today, I will not be angry.
Just for today, I will not worry.
Just for today, I will be grateful.
Just for today, I will do my work honestly.
Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.
-Dr. Mikao Usui
Congress reinstated a provision that allows those taking required minimum distributions from their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to save on taxes when they donate the funds.
Since they passed this in the first week of January, making it retroactive for distributions received in December 2012, for many it was too late for last year.
However, you can still take advantage of this for distributions you receive until the end of this year. For individuals 70 ½ and older under the new tax law, you can direct the custodian of your pretax IRA to transfer up to $100,000 in 2013 to a qualified charitable organization without having to count that distribution in your income. In return, you’ll forego the charitable income tax deduction.
Often referred to as the charitable IRA rollover provision, the measure may be especially helpful to charitably-minded retirees with higher incomes. Many are likely to face higher taxes in 2013, either in the form of the new 3.8 percent Medicare surtax on investment income (which affects joint filers with adjusted gross income above $250,000 and singles above $200,000) or because of the new limitations on personal exemptions and itemized deductions for couples with income above $300,000 (and singles above $250,000).
Tax rules require owners of traditional IRAs who are 70½ or older to take a minimum distribution, or RMD, each year. Ordinarily, that withdrawal counts as taxable income. But the charitable IRA rollover provision, which was first enacted for the 2006 tax year, allows retirees to donate up to $100,000 of their IRA assets each year to a public charity. The donor doesn’t receive a tax deduction for the contribution, but he or she doesn’t have to report the IRA withdrawal as taxable income, either.
[Contributor for this Blog article is Amy Johnson, Cedar Community Director of Philanthropy]