Was it the hair or the humor? Why was Barbara Bush so popular?

800px-Barbara_Bush_at_LBJ_Presidential_Libraryphoto by Lauren Gerson; public domain

In the white house and after, Barbara Bush  was admired and adored. 83% of Americans rated Bush favorably throughout her time as first lady, making her by far the most favorably viewed first lady in recent U.S. history, says Gallup.

Makes me wonder if she was as popular to the masses when she was younger. In this 1966 picture when George Bush won his seat for Congress, she looks somewhat startled and passive, smiling with her mouth but not with her eyes!

George_and_Barbara_Bush_in_Houston,_Texas_on_the_night_which_George_Bush_was_elected_to_Congress_-_NARA_-_186373.tif

According to The New York Times, after she became first lady, she said her support for the Bush administration had limits: “I won’t dye my hair, change my wardrobe or lose weight.”  I bet that’s when she gained her popularity! An inspiration for us to revel in aging – to let the decades give us license to speak our minds and look as we wish.

Another outspoken octogenarian, Madeleine Albright, former first female Secretary of State, uses salty language unapologetically and says she found her voice only at age 55.  Do you think there’s hope for us – that Baby Boomer and younger women can one day brag about the wrinkles rather than Botox them? As Dr. Albright says on her book tour — “See something? ; say something; DO something!”

You can’t be worrying about what others think of you when you’re busy doing something significant.

Or is that just my excuse?

Medicare 101: What You Need to Know

A guest blog from Boomer Benefits

Most people know that Medicare is a national health insurance program for people age 65 and older and for certain individuals with disabilities or serious health conditions. Outside of that though, we don’t really have to think about Medicare much until we are turning 65 ourselves. Then we learn that Medicare has 4 parts and 10 standardized supplement plans and literally dozens of drug plan choices in every state.

Figuring out all these moving parts can be overwhelming because most of us have never had to make such complex health insurance decisions before.

Fortunately, while it seems confusing at first, Medicare actually works a lot like the coverage that we’ve each had before from a former employer. It includes hospital, outpatient, and drug coverage. There are premiums that we pay for certain parts, and there are some deductibles and copays as well.

Let’s break it down into pieces to make it simpler.

Original Medicare Benefits and Premiums

Back in 1965 when Medicare was created, they broke into two parts. We still call this Original Medicare today. Parts A and B are the basic building blocks of Medicare coverage. Part A covers inpatient hospital expenses including skilled nursing facilities. Part B covers outpatient medical benefits, such as preventive care, doctor’s visits, lab work and even surgeries. If Medicare is the primary insurance, people need both parts.

As long as an individual has worked and paid FICA taxes for at least 10 years in the U.S, Part A will cost nothing.  Those taxes have pre-paid the Part A coverage. People who don’t have the 10 years work history can qualify under their spouse’s work history if it is sufficient. They can also buy into Part A.

Part B has a monthly premium that is based on the modified, adjusted household gross income. For most new enrollees, this premium is $134/month, but it can be higher if earnings fall into a higher income bracket. Check out this chart to see the four tiers of income and their associated premiums: Medicare Costs page.

Medicare Cost-Sharing

Whenever beneficiaries access their Medicare benefits, there will be some cost-sharing that they are responsible for. Medicare Part A has a $1340 deductible in 2018. If someone has more than one hospital stay in a year that is separated by at least 60 days outside of the hospital, they could pay this deductible more than once. Also, if a hospital stay lasts longer than 60 consecutive days, Medicare begins to charge a daily hospital copay that is quite expensive. Benefits run out at 150 days.

Part B also has a deductible, but it is a much smaller annual deductible. After that deductible has been met, Medicare will pay 80% of approved outpatient expenses. The Medicare beneficiary is responsible for the other 20%

For this reason, many people enroll in some form of additional coverage. There are Medicare supplement plans that pay after Medicare to help fill in the gaps. These plans have no networks. Policyholders can see any Medicare provider in the nation, which is nearly 900,000 providers.

When a person first enrolls in Medicare, they have an opportunity to get a Medigap plan with no health questions asked. This is called the Medicare Supplement Open Enrollment.

There are also Medicare Advantage options, which are called Part C of Medicare.  These plans offer al the same Part A and B benefits, but that care is provided by a private insurance company instead of through Original Medicare. These plans usually have smaller networks in local areas but may have lower premiums than Medicare plans. Read more about those options here: Medicare Advantage vs Medigap.

Part D Drug Plans

For over 40 years, people on Medicare did not have outpatient drug coverage. Luckily Congress created Medicare Part D and rolled it out in 2006, so we now have very good Part D options.

Part D functions kind of like a pharmacy card. It gives beneficiaries access to a formulary of medications. Instead of paying the entire cost of the medication, enrollees pay just a copay. Beneficiaries enroll in Part D directly with an insurance company.

Every state has multiple Part D plans to choose from, but Medicare’s website has a Plan Finder Tool to help individuals find one that is cost-effective and carries all the needed medications.

Part D is voluntary, but we strongly encourage enrollment for anyone that doesn’t have another means of drug coverage, such as VA benefits. There are many expensive medications these days for conditions like cancer and chemotherapy that cost thousands and would be likely out of reach without Part D coverage.

No One Has to Go It Alone

It would be great if Medicare offered classes to teach us about how all this works. Since it doesn’t, you learn as much as you can through reading and researching. Start by visiting your local insurance agent or checking out Medicare’s website at www.medicare.gov.

 Danielle Kunkle is a co-founder at Boomer Benefits, where her team helps Baby Boomers navigate their entry into Medicare.

 

Caught in the Web of Time

autumn-1072827_960_720As the leaves turn, the sky changes, and school begins anew it always brings back childhood memories for me. Think of the autumns  you lived through. If you keep even the most erratic form of a diary or calendar books, you have some perspective. Have you changed? We scrutinize ourselves for lines or spots or receding hairlines, clothes that now tug, or shoes that don’t fit, but what about the INSIDE? Have you really changed over the years  – your dharma  – the essentials that make you, you?

Twenty years ago, when I was exploring why some people age so well and others don’t, I learned from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study that in aging we actually just enhance our essential selves. Hard wiring gets more fixed — though we create many more offshoots. That means that two 75-years olds are far different from one another than they would have been at age 18.  Nonetheless, the curious person becomes more curious; the grouchy one, more grouchy.

One advantage of the World Wide Web is to have an easy way back in time. To see the songs and books popular in our youth, the actual facts our memories may condense or blur. OMG is it REALLY 55 years since Marilyn Monroe died? Ah, i THOUGHT it was a Sunday when I was born! But had forgotten that the Berlin Wall was erected overnight in 1961.

Long-term memory remains even as we forget the name of the person we just met ten minutes ago. So although the Web is fantastic for instant facts and data, it’s more fun to try to name all the presidents with their vice presidents throughout your lifetime without any assistants, screen or Siri.

I’m astounded at the memories our older learners at Generations on Line recall. And very happy to provide them with onscreen instructions for those lapses in the unimportant though useful thoughts, such as how to make the @sign for an email address.

Here’s to autumn, to happy memories, to perspective, to hard wiring, and to the World Wide Web – whose first website was posted in 1990! (I had to look that up!)

 

That Einstein quote – and who really wrote it!

The other day someone sent me one of those circulating jokes titled “What Einstein Feared Most Has Arrived”.  NO! it wasn’t about Nukes. it was a series of photos showing a family at the beach….sitting on bench together — all staring down grim faced at their phones. A couple on a date, food in mouth, typing on their individual devices. Three young women clearly in a Museum of Art, seated on a bench, doing email. And Einstein’s quote: “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” But the grammar threw me, and I wondered if A.E. really ever said that. So, once again, through the fast free power of the Web I consulted the Quote Investigator (https://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/19/tech-surpass/) who debunked the attribution.

So who would issue this “fake” quote? Perhaps one of the 17 million older, wiser Americans whose perspective brings this phone fixation into greater clarity. We all talk about tech compulsion but since we also do it, we don’t rage. They do!

Our elders who are by chance or choice offline are building up defenses that makes them reluctant to join us, despite the obvious advantages of free instant information and connections.  I’ve met many of them over the past two decades as we created Generations on Line (www.generationsonline.org.)

Who are they, and why are they mad? “If I get one of those things, my grandkids are never gonna visit me — they’ll just ‘text’,” was one answer from a woman with warm eyes and a resolved smile. As we approach the contrived holiday of “Grandparents’ Day” September 10, perhaps a lovely compromise would be the gift of sharing this wondrous tool called the Internet with them along with a commitment to use it with them only to enhance and not replace the face to face to connection. FaceTime, anyone?

This author and her team have created free apps with large type and familiar language instructions on every screen. “Easy Tablet Help For Seniors” in Google Play and “Generations on Line” in iTunes and Apple APP store. I think A.E. would approve.

ALbert

What makes a woman beautiful?

How to look better at 75 than 50?

It’s in the eyes!

I looked around the table at 12 older women in a low income subsidized residence building last week.

At first I saw the posture, revealing or signaling a range of attitudes — from hunched helplessness to ramrod pride.

Then I noticed the mouths – frowning as though it was the normal state for that mouth. Or open in wonder, ready to laugh. Or tightly shut — perhaps so not to let the wrong words out. These mouths had worn this frame for decades.

Hair styles or scarves –one even in a shower cap  – can’t escape notice.

But what really told the story was the eyes.

The hooded, half closed ones that seemed to stop just behind the pupil with no visible interest in the present.

The crinkly, smiley ones that looked with obvious seeing.

Those smiling eyes moved with the moment. they revealed curiosity.

After studying aging – and why some people seem to age so well and others not for nearly two decades, I’ve learned the key to successful aging: it’s curiosity! The curious stay flexible in mind and spirit. They look beautiful because they are looking at you.

Here are some of my favorite beautiful women pictures.

Camel to care-giver!

he doesn’t ask for much — but…

So I now know what it means to be a family “caregiver” – which is a silly word because families always care for one another even in perfect health. Nonetheless, it has particular meaning when applied to an invalid – sudden or chronic. And wow – shredding up a quadricep while getting off a camel in Mongolia was sudden and unexpected! Makes for a great story, but also fascinating insights into the world of disconnected or connected medical support and the adaptive technologies and aidsneeded. Lots has been written about this – but I see it through the prism of my work in getting elders online. As my adorable husband —  whose quadricep was shredded – -maneuvers walker and cane up the many steps of our house, wearing a full leg fixed brace for months, he doesn’t ask for much – not pills, not pillows, not pets – all he wants is his iPad! That connects him to the real world and business as usual.

Think about life without connectivity next time you are researching schedules, ordering supplies, writing to friends, opening Facebook, checking the weather, browsing a catalog, or watching CNN online.

More than a third of people over age 65 – and far more than that over age 71 – have never used email or the Internet. Some know what they’re missing and others don’t. This little adventure in Nightingale land sure makes me grateful that I have devoted my professional life these past two decades to this cause. Generations on Line is overcoming the barriers of access, skill and intimidation that prevent our oldest and often wisest generations from connecting…..

Stay tuned and we’ll see how it all turns out!