Are the Baby Boomers fooling themselves? A recent survey conducted by the Associated Press and Life Goes Strong found that 64% of Americans born between 1946 and 1964 do not have a Living Will, Health Care Proxy, or Advance Directive to ensure they receive the care they want to receive, or not receive, if they are unable to communicate their wishes to a doctor.
An unscientific review of television commercials gives the impression that Baby Boomers are savvy investors, taking control of their financial future through investments and smart purchases. Why, then, are medical planning documents being ignored?
It is human nature to avoid thinking about death and disability, particularly one’s own. The youth- obsessed culture in America does nothing to help this; in fact, it feeds into the wish to avoid thinking about one’s death by staying young forever. The fact is, ignoring death and disability do not make them go away.
The problem with this refusal to confront the possibility of death or disability is that it leaves one’s family unprotected. Avoiding the idea of getting old will not protect someone from a tragic accident, and youth is not a shield against many debilitating diseases.
It should be noted that Living Will, Health Care Proxy, and Advance Directive measures are an opportunity to exercise control over one’s quality of life. There are difficult conversations involved. Most people would not look forward to explaining that they do not want to be kept alive on a ventilator, or to telling one child that another will be the decision maker if the parent is physically, mentally and legally unable to form their own decision. It is understandable that 64% of Baby Boomers have avoided these conversations and issues, but avoidance will only make things more difficult if one of these measures should end up being needed.
It is time that the savvy Boomer image projected by the media gets backed up. Instead of focusing only on financial planning, the Boomer generation needs to protect themselves- and their families- with smart health decision planning.