Latest from OWL

Good Health:  A Personal and Social Responsibility

Guest post by Bonnie S. Muheim, a health care consultant and freelance writer based in Washington, DC. 

One hundred years ago, people rarely saw doctors when they were ill.  Available medicines often did not do much to alleviate infection and disease, and treatments to reduce pain and suffering were few.  Life spans reflected these limitations.

Fast forward to today.  We have a broad network of medical specialists and subspecialists who deal with the entire spectrum of medical conditions, illnesses and diseases.  Scientific research has given us multiple categories of medicines and, within each category, numerous medications that can moderate, arrest and often cure illness and disease.  Happily, our life spans reflect the evolution of knowledge and the development of innovative and effective medicines.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are witnessing an unprecedented growth of older adults and, by 2050, there will be double the number of people age 65 or older in the United States that we had in 2010.  The growth can be attributed to baby boomers reaching senior status and the fact that Americans are simply living longer.  Where once our ancestors got sick and perished, nowadays our serious illnesses often can be managed with proper prevention, diagnosis and treatment.  Many acute or deadly illnesses, such as AIDS and some cancers, have become chronic illnesses.  Other potentially fatal conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, are now manageable with medication and close medical supervision.

The good news, too, is that while older Americans are living longer, they also are leading more independent, productive, and healthier lives.  Many are putting off their retirement and a new focus on healthy living is encouraging seniors to remain active and engaged in their families, jobs and community. Read more.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 03/23 at 10:42 AM

February Newsletter Released

This month’s newsletter includes a Huffington Post article by OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar entitled, ‘Another Social Security Red Herring?’.

Check out the full observer here.

Posted by Brittany Reid on 02/27 at 12:04 PM

Can we be adults about this?

There’s a high price to pay for political posturing: our public health. As the debate around the anti-vaccination movement rages on, it is important to bear in mind that the vast majority of Americans, across party lines, believe that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. According to the nation’s leading researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, Americans are making the right choice when they stay up to date with their vaccinations.

Unfortunately, despite the effectiveness of potentially life-saving preventive services, such as screenings and vaccinations, in 2013 only 25% of adults ages 50 to 64 and fewer than 50% of adults age 65 years or older were up to date. Politicians are making a mostly indisputable choice into a partisan hot potato about the reach of government and personal freedoms. By creating a debate around vaccinations politicians are generating more skepticism from adults, particularly adult women, who are making important decisions about not only their child’s vaccinations, but their own. According to one study, the largest contributing factor to uncertainty about vaccinations was a “conspiratorial mindset”. The political is detracting from the practical and undermining a proven prevention strategy: adult vaccinations.

Read more.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 02/09 at 11:35 AM

OWL ED Published in Huffington Post Article

OWL Executive Director Bobbie Brinegar was published in a Huffington Post article entitled, “Our Women Mean Business: Encore Careers After 40”. The article lays out the success of female entrepreneurs, highlights the difficulties women face in accessing venture capital funding, and introduces OWL’s initiative to help women gain the access they need to revolutionize the American economy.

Read more.

Posted by Brittany Reid on 01/23 at 02:19 PM

The secret to healthy aging

Guest post by Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging and founder of the active-aging industry in North America. Milner is also a leading authority on the health and well-being of the older adult. For the past six years, the World Economic Forum has invited him to serve on its Network of Global Agenda Councils, recognizing him as one of “the most innovative and influential minds” in the world on aging-related topics.

“How do we live a long and healthy life?” That’s the question I posed 12 years ago to Dr. Richard Carmona, then the Surgeon General of the United States. His answer? “Exercise. Eat right. Get plenty of sleep. And avoid alcohol and tobacco.” That was it! There I was talking to America’s top doctor, and he simply confirmed what I already knew.

Once I reflected on Dr. Carmona’s answer, I realized he had taught me an invaluable lesson. I learned that most of us know what we need to do to age well; we just don’t do it. Too often we fail to make the choices that can change our lives for the better—not only for today, but also for the years to come.

Read more.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 01/21 at 10:39 AM

Because you’re the wind beneath OWL’s wings

Your support is what keeps us soaring. Thanks for a wonderful year!

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 12/29 at 03:56 PM

You are still one of our favorite things

This is a wonderful time of year to wander the streets of the nation’s capital, taking in the holiday sights, a few of which I’m sharing here as part of OWL’s season’s greetings.  I’m not embarrassed to admit that I am still moved by this city’s overwhelming sense of history.

It’s disheartening that too many people associate Washington D.C. with nothing but discord and dysfunction.  While it’s true that we have no shortage of either, the city is much more than that. We need only to consider our past to be reminded of the many times we’ve worked through our differences.

So OWL’s hope is that we all can greet the coming year with open minds and a willingness to talk with people instead of at them. Together, imagine all the good we can do.

Warmest holiday wishes from the OWL National Team!

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 12/17 at 11:46 AM

Wall Street Journal Small Business Podcast Features OWL Venture Capital Access Campaign

The podcast (story starts at 6:20) highlights the finding from the Kauffman Foundation’s latest report—featured in the latest OWL Observer—that “accelerating female entrepreneurship could have the same positive effect on the U.S. economy that the large-scale entry of women into the labor force had during the 20th century.”

The report, based on a survey of nearly 350 female tech start-up leaders, investigated what contributes to the low percentage of women running high-growth firms. Among the challenges women cited: a tougher time raising capital.  Read more.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 12/09 at 02:36 PM

Beware Potential Pitfalls Enrolling in Medicare Part B!

Guest post from Mitchell Clark and Stacy Sanders, Medicare Rights Center

It is often reported that 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare every day. What is less well known, and often times misunderstood, are the rules concerning how to enroll in Medicare. While most people who become eligible for Medicare are automatically enrolled, others have to make a proactive choice to enroll in one or multiple parts of the program.

A recent analysis of call data from the Medicare Rights Center’s national helpline found that many older adults struggle to understand Medicare enrollment periods, coordination of benefits rules and the penalties associated with delayed enrollment. In 2013, Medicare Rights fielded more than 15,000 questions on its helpline, and the second most common call concerned enrollment (22 percent).

At age 65, retirees already collecting Social Security retirement benefits are automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. The same is true for individuals ages 64 and younger who are collecting Social Security disability benefits following a 24-month waiting period. For those not collecting Social Security benefits, it is necessary to actively enroll in Medicare, taking into consideration specific enrollment periods and existing coverage. If this transition is mismanaged, individuals new to Medicare may face a lifetime of late enrollment penalties, higher health care costs, gaps in coverage and disruptions in care continuity. Read more.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/25 at 12:10 PM

OWL Letter on Social Security Published in Washington Post

I’m surprised the Nov. 2 Business article detailing how readers would fix Social Security didn’t include information from the recent in-depth survey by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI). That report, which The Post did mention upon its release [“GOP pivots on Social Security,” news, Oct. 25], found that large majorities of Republicans and Democrats agree on ways to strengthen Social Security — without reducing benefits or raising the retirement age.

The support The Post found among readers for raising the earnings cap was even stronger in the NASI survey, with 70 percent of Republicans and 92 percent of Democrats agreeing that top wage earners could pay more.

People don’t want to ignore what they are constantly being told is a looming crisis, but when they learn about the range of options available, that alarm drops considerably. The only way we are going to have a fact-based discussion on Social Security is by presenting the facts. So cheers to The Post for including the fact that if wages had continued to rise as predicted in 1983, Social Security would be in much better shape — and more earnings would be subject to Social Security taxes. But jeers for telling only part of the story.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/12 at 03:05 PM

If MythBusters did an episode on Social Security, they might start here

• Did you know that half of the projected Social Security shortfall has been caused by lousy wage growth?
• That if our wages had kept pace with the projections made in 1983, the earnings cap for Social Security taxes would be about 27 percent higher than it is?
• Or that the baby boomers didn’t sneak up on us?

One of the most ignored factors in the predicted 2033 Social Security shortfall has been slow and unequal wage gains.

As far back as 1983, analysts could foresee that the baby boomer’s retirement would mean fewer workers paying taxes compared to retirees receiving benefits. Despite what many alarmists imply, we saw the boomers coming. After all, the last ones were born in 1964.
What the experts couldn’t predict was the significant slowdown in the average wage index. That’s the index used to adjust the cap on Social Security earnings.

Read more.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 11/10 at 03:19 PM

Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey with Trade-Off Analysis

In order to gain a better understanding of Americans’ attitudes toward Social Security and what they would choose to do to resolve the future financing gap, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) joined forces with Greenwald & Associates to look at the changes Americans favor and are willing to pay for.  NASI released its study “Americans Make Hard Choices on Social Security: A Survey with Trade-Off Analysis” on Thursday, October 23.  The 2014 study expands on an earlier study done in 2012.

The survey results showed that Americans do not mind paying for Social Security because they value it for themselves, their families and for the millions of other Americans who receive retirement, disability, children’s, and widowed spouses’ benefits.  The vast majority of those surveyed (86%) agreed that current benefits do not provide sufficient retirement income and 72% believe that benefits should be increased.  Overall, 77% agreed that it is critical to preserve Social Security for the future, even if payroll taxes must be increased to pay for the long-term security of the nation’s social insurance program. Read more.

Posted by Amy Shannon on 10/29 at 10:12 AM

Standing Room Only at OWL’s Fall Meeting in Chicago

More than 70 women and men attended the OWL fall meeting October 11. After being greeted by board President Margaret Huyck, Vice President Lida Rodriguez-Taseff facilitated the event. Christina Swoope, a Medicare expert from the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation, shared their latest research on the key role Medicare plays for older adults, particularly women. She also talked about the foundation’s newest interactive tool, which provides visual representation of income and assets of Medicare beneficiaries now and in the future.

Next to speak was Zelda Wisdom founder Carol Gardner, the newly appointed Secretary of the OWL board. She started with her very personal story of finding herself at the age of 52 divorced and deeply in debt. She took her divorce attorney’s advice to get a therapist or get a dog, bringing home four-month-old Zelda, an English bulldog. Another friend suggested that Carol use her creative skills to enter a local greeting card competition. She won, and the idea for Zelda Wisdom was born. Read more here.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/14 at 02:39 PM

OWL, Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, to Launch Campaign to Engage Missing 22 Million Women Voters

Women may consistently register and vote in higher percentages than men, but 22 million women who were eligible to vote sat out the November 2010 mid-term election.

That’s why OWL and the Sewall Belmont House & Museum are launching a campaign to encourage women to get to the polls. With experts predicting record-low turnout for the midterm elections, each additional vote carries more weight.  “The turn-out by women varies enormously,” said Celinda Lake, founder of Lake Research Partners. “In 2008, 66 percent of women voters turned out to vote; in 2010 46 percent turned out.”

It’s important because women tend to have a different perspective on politics. A bipartisan September 2012 survey by Lake and Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway found that regardless of political affiliation, 80 percent of women agreed on 80 percent of the issues. They also tended to support efforts to build consensus, solve problems and bring private and public interests together.
Read more here.
Read the Spanish language version here.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/08 at 04:14 PM

OWL, Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, al lanzamiento de la campaña para atraer la participación de 22

Las mujeres se inscriben de manera consistente y votan en porcentajes más altos que los hombres, pero 22 millones de mujeres que eran elegibles para votar dejaron pasar las elecciones de mitad de período de noviembre del 2010.

Es por eso que OWL y el Belmont House Sewall & Museum están lanzando una campaña para alentar a las mujeres a acudir a las urnas. Con expertos haciendo predicciones récord de mínima participación para las elecciones de mitad de término, cada voto adicional tiene más peso. “La participación de las mujeres varía enormemente,” dijo Celinda Lake, fundadora de Lake Research Partners. “En el 2008, el 66 por ciento de las mujeres votantes acudieron a las urnas; en el 2010, solo el 46 por ciento participo”.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 10/07 at 12:27 PM

Will we see you in Chicago?

You are invited to join the OWL Board of Directors and special guests at our fall meeting Saturday, October 11, 11:00 – 12:30 p.m., in Chicago, at the Hyatt Place in Hyde Park. The meeting is free, and open to the public.

OWL’s board Vice President, Lida Rodriguez-Taseff will facilitate an inspiring panel of experts, including Zelda Wisdom founder Carol Gardner, White House Conference on Aging Executive Director Nora Super, and Christina Swoope, a Medicare expert from the Henry Kaiser Family Foundation.  Read more here.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 09/29 at 12:17 PM

Sneak Preview of Zelda’s Dogma on Voter Registration!

OWL is pleased to share this special preview of Zelda Wisdom’s dogma for National Voter Registration Day. It’s a great day to make sure your registration is up-to-date, and to reach out to friends to do the same. Speaking of voting—did you know that 22 million women eligible to vote in the last midterm election didn’t? OWL and the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum are working to engage those women this fall.  (Yes, we’ve written about this before. But we’re doing it again because, yes, it’s that important.)  Read more here.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 09/15 at 03:17 PM

Letter to the Editor: The New York Times

If you didn’t know any better, Sunday’s opinion piece “When Did We Get So Old?” would have you believe that the biggest issue facing aging boomers is whether or not to dye their hair.  With only the briefest of nods to financial issues, the author focuses instead on the ‘psychological quandary’ she says is causing her and her peers the ‘most unpleasantness’ –being the oldest in the room.

Really? This warrants how many column inches?  That we’re a very large, very self-important demographic that has discovered that aging is icky?
Meanwhile, the web is replete with alarming statistics about how unprepared boomers are for the more important aspects of aging. How we’re working well past ‘retirement’ age out of necessity, that we have no savings and have given no thought to long-term care—concepts particularly true for women and people of color.

But instead of taking advantage of some of media’s most valuable real estate to point out that these are societal and not just personal issues,  this piece instead chooses to perpetuate the myth that all boomers are awash in cash and retirement savings, and are ready to SoulCycle their way into their 90s.

Posted by Pat Lewis on 09/05 at 02:18 PM

Letter to the Editor: Washington Post

Letter to the Editor Washington Post
September 3, 2014

John Delaney makes several excellent points in “The solution to fixing dysfunction in Congress”. One of the most critical aspects is low turnout, which is quickly becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. Faced with a dysfunctional Congress, people see little point in voting, which concentrates the voting power in an increasingly small set of hands – and the cycle continues. Any steps that we can take to enfranchise more voters, such as open primaries, can only strengthen our democracy.

Even women, who consistently register and vote in greater percentages than men (Post columnist Catherine Rampell wrote about this recently), are not exercising their power in midterm elections. In the 2010 midterms, 22 million women who could have voted didn’t; that’s why OWL, along with the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, is launching an initiative this year to engage these women.  After all, the only way we as individuals can have an impact now is by participating in the process, even if the process itself is less than ideal.

Posted by Bobbie Brinegar on 09/05 at 02:01 PM

Women’s Equality Day: We Challenge You

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has served as a real wake-up call about truly devastating illnesses.

And it’s also a wake-up call of how we as a nation tackle problems like ALS, or Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s- because this is where the government plays a vital, irreplaceable role.

And our irreplaceable role as citizens is to choose the people who determine the federal response.

Today, we celebrate Women’s Equality Day- the day the 19th amendment was approved in 1920.

What better way to celebrate this momentous day than by reaffirming our commitment to exercising the hard-fought right to vote in November?

Also- it’s way more comfortable than this...

Posted by Pat Lewis on 08/26 at 03:19 PM
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