Readers’ thoughts about aging

Last week in the “Today’s Moderator” feature, we shared the results of a new Pew Research Center survey: most Americans think families should take responsibility for taking care of our older citizens. Germans and Italians, in contrast, think the government should be primarily responsible for the economic well-being of the aging population.

A fifth of all Germans and Italians are 65 or older. The U.S. is younger by those standards, but by 2050, we’ll catch up to where Germany and Italy already are. We asked readers what they think are the economic and government implications of an aging America. Here are some excerpts of their responses:

We, the aging (I’m 90 years old), take care of ourselves. For the past several months I have been a resident at an assisted living facility. Medicare pays not one penny and my Social Security check won’t cover my expense. Without a decent pension from GE, I don’t know where I would be able to live. I remember hearing about the Butler County Poor House when I was a kid. I don’t know if there was such a thing or where it was, but I know there is no such thing today. However, where do people go who can’t come up with two to three thousand dollars a month and have no family to take care of them. — JOE ATKINSON, MIDDLETOWN

I feel strongly that we must take responsibility for our own healthcare with a diet and exercise that can prevent us from prematurely becoming victims to the typical diseases of aging. By doing so, we can eliminate becoming a burden to both family and society. I consider myself a worst-case example having been born with a congenital defect in my heart and following an unhealthy life style in my earlier years. Having undergone two open-heart surgeries requiring the replacement of my aortic heart valve, replacement of a section of my aorta and the addition of seven coronary bypass grafts to my heart I completely reversed my heart disease.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued me both a pilot’s license and a medical certificate after I proved with documentation that I had completely reversed my heart disease and grown new arteries in my heart. I have been able to run nine marathons and do aerobatics in a WWII vintage airplane. My story was released in book form last month. And yes, I am in my 70s and going strong. I will be running the Air Force Half Marathon in September as I have for many years. — CAPT. JOHN BELLUARDO, DAYTON

It is unfortunate that we must worry about the government involvement and cost of caring for our aging citizens. The problem stems from too much government involvement at a younger age. By subsidizing our younger citizens, those who are capable of being a productive element in our society, and “caring” for their needs, it becomes an assumption that it should and would continue throughout their lives. …

We still have people with no insurance or who are underinsured. Emergency rooms are still used as “sick call” areas instead of severe trauma needs. Those in the governmental health plans, loose their previous insurance, pay more in out-of-pocket costs, use subsidies they have to pay back, or are told that the plans won’t cover certain procedures. The last seems to be more of an aging discrimination issue as those over 70 can’t seem get certain procedures approved. Affordable nursing home care becomes also is an issue too many are facing. — JUANITA McCARTY

Other thoughts? Email connie.post@coxinc.com

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