Howard Gleckman – Caring for Our Parents (Podcast)

It is with great pleasure that I introduce Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents.  For those of you who have not read his recent book, it is simply fascinating.  Howard’s experience and approach as a journalist, combined with his obvious passion for elder care delivers an educational volume that is dense with fact and deep with emotion.

In this 31 minute interview, Howard  and I discuss the motivation for his book and the personal stories of several families  he interviewed during his research.  Howard also introduces several different models of elder care that are beginning to show real promise.  As a journalist who has covered the Washington beat for many years, I couldn’t let him off the hook with his predictions for health care legislation.

I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.  Howard’s goal, as he put it, is to inspire people to stand up, get mad and do something about the current state of elder care.  I think he achieves that with both his prior work and Caring for Our Parents.

Thank you for being a Leader in Elder Care, Howard!

About Howard Gleckman (in Howard’s Words)

I’ve wanted to write Caring for Our Parents for more than a decade, since my wife Ann and I helped care for her dad and mine.

I’ve written many short pieces about long-term care over the years, including some for Business Week, where I was senior correspondent in the magazine’s Washington bureau. I covered health and elder care as well as tax and budget issues there for nearly 20 years.

But this story needed more than short magazine articles. And I didn’t want to write a how-to book. I had a different project in mind: a close-up, personal look at our nation’s dysfunctional system of delivering and paying for this assistance. And I wanted to tell this powerful story through the eyes of real families.

My chance to write Caring for Our Parents came in 2006 when I received a media fellowship from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. At about the same time, I became a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and began writing for Kiplinger’s Retirement Report and other publications.

That gave me the opportunity to take a leave from Business Week and work full-time researching, reporting, and writing about the subject I felt so passionately about: long-term care services.

It was two years from my first preliminary interviews until I delivered a finished manuscript to St. Martin’s Press. I spent most of that time interviewing families and long-term care experts. But I also used the opportunity to volunteer. I became a senior advisor to Caring from a Distance, a non-profit organization that provides Web-based and telephone-assistance to long-distance caregivers; I helped give advice to seniors and their families at the Jewish Council for the Aging of Greater Washington; and I serve as co-chair of the Medical Quality Committee at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. and as an advisory member of the hospital’s Board of Directors.

As my work on the book wound down, I took on another exciting challenge: I started a blog on economic and fiscal policy called TaxVox. I’m now spending about half of my time as a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, consultant to the Brookings Institution, and editor of TaxVox.

I’ve also continued most of my volunteer work, and I’m spending lots of time writing and speaking on long-term care. Sometimes, I lecture to professional groups such as The National Council on Aging, the American Society on Aging, and the National Academy of Elder Care Attorneys. But my favorite audiences are made up of seniors and their adult children.

Your Senior Health Care Bill: $260,000!

I have always been a big fan of Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents.  In fact, he was the very first person I interviewed for my Leaders in Elder Care series.  If you aren’t familiar with Howard’s blog, you’re really missing out on a complete play-by-play of how the health care debate is impacting the cost of senior care.

This morning, he shared some startling statistics about paying for elder care that I have quoted below.  In this article, Howard has links to some fascinating studies about the out-of-pocket costs for seniors, and it is shocking.  It is mind-boggling to me how financing elder care will be solved as we move forward. He wrote:

A typical couple would have to save nearly $200,000 to pay for their out-of-pocket medical costs from the time they are 65 until they die, according to an important new study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. Add in nursing home costs, and they are likely to need $260,000.

But that’s only part of the story. About 5 percent of 65-year-old couples will face catastrophic medical and long-term care costs exceeding $570,000, according to researchers Anthony Webb and Natalia Zhivan.They estimate those expenses would have exhausted the total financial assets of 85 percent of all retirees even at the peak of the stock market in 2007.

As someone who has first-hand experience with out-of-pocket expenses and my Mother’s care, I was still so stunned by these numbers, that I could not write a conclusion to this article.  What do you say?

Obviously, I encourage you to check out Howard’s writing.  In the meantime, what are your thoughts about these big numbers?

Photo: bubble dumpster

New Podcast Series: Leaders in Elder Care and Howard Gleckman

We are in the midst of a massive generational shift.  Much has been written about the demographics of Baby Boomers and how it represents the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.

But not much has been written about the non-economic impact of Baby Boomers and how our system of elder care must adapt to care for them.

Regardless of whether you prefer home care, aging in place, independent living or assisted living, Baby Boomers require a new way of thinking.

They are living different lifestyles and have different preferences.  They are technology-savvy and more connected online.

There exists a small and growing group of individuals who are driving the change in elder care required to serve the Baby Boomer generation.  They are the authors and advocates, executives and lobbyists, professors and politicians.

They are the faces behind the change.

They are the Leaders in Elder Care.

What is Leaders in Elder Care?

Leaders in Elder Care is a new web site dedicated to sharing with you the leaders behind the change in elder care.  And we’re doing it in a way that celebrates their leadership, their ideas and their drive to make things better for a new generation of seniors.

We’re interviewing each one of these leaders, learning first hand their vision, their motivation and their contribution to making this Baby Boomer generational shift a reality.

Introducing Howard Gleckman

It is with great pleasure that I introduce our first guest Howard Gleckman, author of Caring for Our Parents.  Howard has covered long-term for many years, including several for Business Week where he was senior correspondent in the magzine’s Washington bureau.

In this 31 minute interview, Howard and I discuss the motivation for his book and the personal stories of several families  he interviewed during his research.  Howard also introduces several different models of elder care that are beginning to show real promise.  As a journalist who has covered the Washington beat for many years, I couldn’t let him off the hook with his predictions for health care legislation.

It turned out to be a great interview.  Take a listen!

Do you know a Leader in Elder Care?  Nominate one.