In 1967 the Beatles song “When I’m Sixty-Four” appeared on the now iconic Sgt. Pepper album, and many, including this writer, considered age 64 “old.” (Of course, I was only 12, but 64 was old at that time.)
But when General Norman Schwarzkopf recently died at age 78, I did not consider him old.
So what happened to change my view of when old age begins?
Well for starters, I got old along with the 76 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 who are affectionately known as “baby boomers.” Boomers transformed America at every stage of life. Unfortunately, our nation was totally unprepared for all the change we brought every step of the way and now is no different.
Last year at an Aging in America conference, Ken Dychtwald, CEO of the consulting firm AgeWave, summed it up like this:
“We weren’t prepared for the boomers,” he said. “There weren’t enough hospitals or pediatricians. There weren’t enough bedrooms in our homes. There weren’t enough schoolteachers or textbooks or playgrounds. The huge size of this generation has strained institutions every step of the way.”
Then Dychtwald compared his New Jersey high school, with such overcrowding that students had to go to classes in shifts, to what’s in store for aging baby boomers in the coming decades.
“The boards of education had 13 years to see this coming. What was the surprise there?” said Dychtwald. “But it’s the same today with senior care and geriatric medicine and continuum of care. It’s staggering how unprepared we are.”
Yes, it is staggering indeed — and, as the saying goes, “we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Every time I go to a medical procedure that is not covered by insurance, I have a much better experience. While this is not unusual or unexpected, I am always surprised at the difference. Today, I went to the dermatologist to have some skin treatment and to have them look at some spots on my face. Grand total: $75 out of pocket but more importantly, the treatment I got going to the side of the office that was self-pay was so different than the treatment received on the other side where the insurance patients sat.
I strolled into the left side of the office at my designated time and only one person was ahead of me. I looked through the door to my right at about twenty or more patients waiting on the other side with a couple of slightly harried-looking receptionists dealing with them and the paperwork. Last time I was there, I went to the ”insurance” side. It wasn’t fun. It was tedious with paperwork to fill out, annoyed tones when I asked a few questions and a rushed session with a nurse practitioner where half my questions weren’t answered. This time, in the self-pay area? A polite assistant took me to a back room immediately, asked me how my day was and brought in the aesthetician to work her magic and look at the spots on my face. There was no rush and I left feeling happy and relaxed. Yes, I know going to the cosmetic side is much different than doing an actual medical procedure but honestly, not that much. Sometimes, you just want to go to a dermatologist and say, “what is this spot on my face and what do I do about it?” You just typically won’t get a cheerful reply or good treatment when you ask.
The Winston-Salem Journal published a series of stories about forced sterilizations performed years ago in North Carolina. Other states had similar programs, but most retreated in light of Nazi Germany’s notorious eugenics policies. North Carolina, however, expanded its program after WWII and didn’t end it until 1974.
Elaine Riddick Jessie, now in her late 50s, was sterilized at 14 in 1968. She and her seven siblings had become wards of the state, and five were sent to an orphanage. Jessie and a sister were sent to live in their grandmother’s crowded house. A man raped Jessie, and she became pregnant. Fortunately, the state didn’t kill the baby. Unfortunately, the state labeled the abused Jessie “feeble-minded” and killed her chance to have more babies. Her illiterate grandmother had signed an “X” on the sterilization consent form without knowing she was signing a sterilization consent form. Jessie didn’t find out until years later she was sterilized.
The North Carolina Eugenics Board sterilized over 7,600 people from 1929 to 1974, and 2,990 ranged in age from 10 to 19. But those days are behind us, right? Yes, and no. The days of forced sterilizations likely are long gone, and good riddance. But the days of minors “consenting” to sterilizations are upon us.
President Barack Obama believes pregnant minors should be allowed to have their unborn babies killed without their parents’ consent. The man who stated he was going to teach his daughters “all about values and morals” also said he wouldn’t want them to be punished with his grandchild “if they make a mistake.” What about sterilization? Would he want his teenage daughter to have herself rendered infertile?
A story on CNSNews goes into detail about an Obamacare regulation that took effect on August 1 that requires health care plans in the U.S. to provide taxpayer-funded (or free, in liberal terminology) contraceptive methods that include sterilization “for women with reproductive capacity.”
Because the recommendation doesn’t specify age, it theoretically could apply to any menstruating girl. CNSNews learned that Oregon allows a minor to consent to sterilization. In that state, a 15-year-old girl can give her “informed consent” to allowing a doctor to render her permanently barren. Whether her parents approve or not has no bearing on her choice.
Think of the average teenager and imagine the scenario. A 15-year-old girl who’s perhaps mature for a 15-year-old girl (benefit of the doubt) decides for whatever reason she never wants to be “punished” with a baby, or that she wants to have sex without worrying about getting pregnant right now. She brings her mature-for-a-15-year-old self to the doctor, tells him/her she wants to be barren, reads and signs the consent form, and has the surgery. Ten years later and more mature, she marries and desperately wants children but must bear the consequences of an “informed” decision she made as a 15-year-old girl. It’s appalling.