Baby-Boomers: Mature but not Disposable
At my last physician’s visit a couple of months ago, I noticed a message on the whiteboard, “Only two complaints per visit.” Just reading it gave me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. From my perspective, it was one more assault on aging. The next assault on aging was my care provider, a physician assistant, that could not navigate the electronic health record, and after closing my electronic health record, could not reopen it to order a routine test that was due. I would have to wait another 90- days for that. When he told me that I could cut a medication that I had in half (my dosage had been reduced at a previous visit) without realizing that this medication was in capsule form, and has always been in capsule form, I felt as though I had been thrown on a heap of my peers in the health care cemetery. My health care was not important enough for this organization to give me a competent health care provider because of my age! Because I have a healthcare background, I shuddered at the thought of people, lacking the relevant knowledge that I have, being treated by this physician’s assistant, and others like him. I wondered where the checks and balances lay that a health care provider, deficient in some elementary areas of medical knowledge, could make decisions that would seriously impact a person’s quality of health.
In working as a private contractor, I have learned that many perspective clients want to tap into the knowledge and skills that I have acquired over the years at rates that are not comparable to what they would pay a younger person. I theorize here that there are at least a couple of primary reasons this happens and both are related to age. First, many workplaces push aging employees out of the market to make room for younger employees that lack the knowledge, skill, and abilities of the mature workers that they have eliminated. Many aging workers, not ready for retirement, operate as independent contractors, and many companies contract with them at rates far below the salary that they were getting when they exited their positions. It is a win-win for the companies. They utilize the aging employee to train the younger employee while the aging employee fills the gaps left by the limited knowledge, skill, and abilities of the younger employee. Because the aging employee is an independent contractor, the company pays no fringe benefits to that person. Once the younger employee has sufficiently “picked the brain” of the aging independent contractor, the employer discontinues or cancels the contract. The aging employee walks away having been raped of everything that they have acquired professionally over decades and moves on to another company, after losing a percentage of their dignity and self-worth, to begin the same process again.
Secondly, it is no secret to the world, that aging American workers hold no real value to much of this country’s federal decision-makers. That is evidenced by the move on their behalf to recognize Social Security and Medicare as entitlements, rather than benefits. Thus, you are obligated to pay into a system for years with the assumption that the system will be there to support you during those golden years, while law-makers draft policy implying that you get nothing for your money unless they decide to give it to you. These people fly on the wings of those who have abused the revenue flowing into Social Security for decades, and now want to penalize the aging citizens of this country for a mistake that they did not make! This attitude demonstrated by our elected officials says to the world that America’s seniors are vulnerable and hold no real value—that they are disposable. Thus, many employers view this situation as a means to get very valuable information at bargain basement prices. After all, isn’t whatever money they are offering better than eating cat and dog food or going without medications that seniors need to stay alive? There goes another piece of dignity and self-worth!
Fortunately, baby-boomers are monumental warriors and trail blazers! They wrote the manual on functioning above their feelings. They are the most educated and diverse group of retiring citizens in American history. They will buck the trends that are being set before them. They will vote for public servants that recognize their value and respect the contributions that they have made to American society and to the world, and they will advocate for public policy that implies that baby-boomers may be mature, but they are not disposable. They will develop and implement strategies that emphasize their past, present, and future value!
DR. L. JACKSON “Follow The Money”