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SENIOR ADVOCATE

By Liza Horvath

 

Death of the Boomer

 

If a python eats a pig, the huge lumpy meal can be visually tracked as it makes its way through the comparatively slender body of the snake. Some baby boomers - those born between 1943 and 1964 – may not be aware of this, but we are the pig in the python. I am a boomer and as our segment of the population moves through life, our needs, desires and evolving beliefs and commitments not only shape our lives, but the lives of those around us.  

 

A 1948 Newsweek magazine article titled “Babies Mean Business” put the world on alert that the baby boomer demographic would be the largest consumers of services and products – and that marketers would be well advised to advertise directly to this generation. Additionally, with so many same age and ostensibly like-minded peers, this generation could band together and form cohesive strategies to remedy the “wrongs” of the world. 

 

For six decades boomers have dominated not only the economic, but the political and cultural landscapes, as well, and things have changed. Smoking cigarettes is out – medical marijuana is in. Formal religious observance is dropping, spirituality is growing. Woodstock, the Beatles and Bob Dylan have changed the face of music. 

 

Death – the final frontier – is about to change, too. Far too many boomers have been witness to a parent’s deterioration into mental or physical incapacity and felt helpless – either because the parent did not share their wishes and desires with regard to end of life care or due to the fact that the means by which we could ease the suffering and pain was either unavailable or illegal.

 

Boomers want a good life and, when it is done, pull the plug. Boomers want to live well, we are not interested in enduring pain or prolonged suffering and, unless there is a way to give us that good life again, most boomers want a smooth exit. Palliative care has come to the forefront and boomers are the early adopters. We do not want to suffer - even if it may hasten the moment of death.

 

Choosing death over suffering is a top priority for boomers as evidenced by the passage of laws legalizing aid in dying in Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana. Six additional states are promoting the adoption of laws to enable people to make their own choice regarding a time to die. California is not one of those states.

 

Despite no right to die laws on the books in California, a “good death” is still achievable - it is all about planning, communication and support. Boomers can, using an Advance Health Care Directive document, make thoughtful decisions about end of life care, commit those choices to writing and task a friend or loved one with making sure those wishes are followed. By having frank and honest conversations with medical care providers, family and friends, boomers are stating their wishes clearly and, by doing so, retaining control over the outcome.   

 

Even in death, we – the pigs in the python – seek to reform the landscape. This pushy generation now demands that we be allowed to die when we want to and be made comfortable in the process.  

 

Liza Horvath has over 30 years experience in the estate planning and trust fields and is the president of Monterey Trust Management, a financial and trust management company. This is not intended to be legal or tax advice. If you have a questions call (831)646-5262 or email liza@montereytrust.com

 


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