With more older people than children, the British magazine, The Guardian, wants to understand your concerns about our aging population, so they asked. I responded and ask you to as well. Here’s how I responded to their online form.
Tell us more about yourself.
I’m a 68-year-old retired IBM technologist, futurist, market strategist, consumer advocate, and founder of Modern Health Talk, where I write about health reform, the future of healthcare, and tech solutions for independent living to help seniors age-in-place. There I’ve published well over 700 articles, hundreds of links to related online resources, and over a thousand healthcare infographics and other content on Pinterest. I also respond to related articles in the mainstream news media when I have a different perspective to share, and I share those responses on social media. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook, and connect with me on LinkedIn.
What worries you the most about getting older?
I’m fortunate enough to have a full pension from 30 years at IBM, which combined with Social Security and Medicare, provides enough for a moderate and downsized lifestyle with few personal worries. I more worry about the nation and world as populations age and fewer young people are left to give care, drive the economy, and fund government. I’ve accumulated a long list of statistics describing the aging problem and market opportunity at http://www.mhealthtalk.com/home/healthcare-statistics/.
How does your country look after old people? Is it adequate? Are there better ways of doing it that you are aware of? How do you want to be looked after late in life?
America may have great trauma care, but we have poor health care because of misaligned incentives. As Dr. Mark Hyman wrote, “Money in politics is making our nation sicker, threatening our national security, widening our wealth gap, and ultimately destroying the very economic prosperity that the ‘money in politics’ seeks to achieve. It is undermining our capacity to care for our citizens and threatening our global economic competitiveness in invisible, insidious ways. The links, connections and patterns that promote obesity and chronic disease are clear, though. The economic and social impacts are clear. As health care consumes an increasingly large percentage of our federal budget, the negative impacts of money in politics have become too alarming to ignore, and never more obvious than in this election cycle.”
Are you retired – what do you wish you’d been warned about earlier in life?
I retired from IBM in 1999. Only then did I realize two important things as I looked for new employment opportunities. First was that my personality type was entirely opposite of IBM senior management. Taking the Meyers-Briggs test finally helped me understand why I could be a keynote speaker at a large industry conference and have hundreds of like-minded visionaries eating out of my hand, but I had difficulty selling disruptive concepts to my management team. I didn’t speak their language or truly understand their concerns.
I also realized the significance of IBM’s huge investment in my ongoing education (at least 1.5 months of top-notch technical, management, or personal development classes every year for 30 years), but that it didn’t translate into college credits or professional certifications. Together with the fact that I advanced my technical career without ever holding a management position with P&L and hire/fire experience, I was left at a disadvantage when competing with much younger job candidates who had masters degrees but not nearly as much experience.
Are you retired? What do you do with your time? What’s the best bit about it? How did you find the transition?
Yes, I’m retired, for 17 years now. But I work harder than ever, even though I don’t get paid for the important work I do. I’m only able to do it because I have an IBM pension and receive Social Security. I described my motives when giving a talk on “PURPOSE: Choosing WHY you live, not just how.”
When someone asks, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is my purpose?” Aren’t they really just asking, “What can I do with my time that is important?” or “What should I do now?” Find what’s important to you and somewhere to use your talents to advance cause or serve a purpose. You might start by watching the videos in Before I Die.
Do you know retired people who are inspiring because of their activities, attitude or contribution to society. Tell us about them.
I can’t think of a more perfect example than ex-President Jimmy Carter. He’s my elder hero and epitomizes living with purpose. Even at age 92 he’s actively engaged in helping the less fortunate worldwide, including doing physical labor building homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Scientists are predicting that medical advances will extend natural lifespans to well beyond 100. What is your view on this?
I come at this question from the perspective of a futurist who considers the extrapolation of known trends, the process of scientific discovery and technology, market drivers that can bring future developments in sooner, and inhibitors that can delay or prevent them. In “Who Should We Believe about Longevity & Other Claims,” I examined contrasting views of people who fully believe that innovation can allow man to cure aging and live potentially forever, compared to two researchers who claim than man can never live beyond age 122. Both claims are sensational enough to make great headlines and sell advertising in magazines and websites. Especially interesting is my Top-10 list of favorite quote and false predictions.
Please share any other information, including any personal stories that you have – and what you’d like us to focus our coverage on
I have been a consumer advocate for many years and worry most about the corrupting influence of Big Money in Politics and how that affects wealth inequality, poverty, the health of our nation, and its economy. Unfortunately, too few people have any real idea what that inequality actually looks like, or its trajectory. That’s why I’d like to end my remarks with this URL featuring the best video infographic I’ve seen on the topic and an excellent documentary with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.