SPECIAL REPORT: Aging in Amerca - The high cost of
living and dying
by Lenny Roberts
Live long and prosper, urged Mr. Spock. But as America ages,
we're finding that the longer we live, the less likely we are
to be prosperous.
When an aging parent begins to mentally and/or physically crumble,
it can mean the onset of emotional anguish and financial ruin
for both the elderly and their children as the problems continue
Baby boomers are now getting the reality that Social Security
and retirement are not that far off. These post-World War II
Americans have worked for decades, raised families and, hopefully,
sufficiently planned for their own golden years. But the security
that they have built can quickly evaporate because someone has
to be financially responsible for insurmountable expenses when
a parent needs long-term care, and it's probably not going to
be Uncle Sam.
America's health care system is in chaos, and, with unforeseen
related problems that accompany getting old, aging can be devastating
- even for those who are prepared.
With medical breakthroughs almost a daily occurence, there are
more Americans in their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond than ever before.
And there are many experimental procedures in the works to reverse
aging and eradicate diseases through stem cell harvesting and
other yet-to-be-discovered treatments that just a few years ago
seemed like science fiction.
Although they can strike anyone at any time, cancer, diabetes,
Alzheimer's disease and other terminal illnesses generally begin
to rear their ugly heads in people who have reached or surpassed
Doctors and hospitals often reject patients because they are
not required to accept what Medicare will pay them to treat qualified
seniors, leaving those patients who can afford it the option
of purchasing supplemental insurance through health management
organizations, or HMOs, just to stay alive. Others simply must
wipe out their life savings.
In California, Secure Horizons provides supplemental insurance
to seniors. But effective Jan. 1, Secure Horizons pulled its
operations out of two of the county's largest cities, Simi Valley
and Thousand Oaks. Other supplemental insurance is available,
but at a cost that is too prohibitive for many of the elderly
on fixed incomes. Because Ojai has a large senior population,
it could also be on the hit list.
Through this special report, the OVN will examine the issues
and, hopefully, provide some answers to the problems associated
with aging in America.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
Back to the news
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