Oct 3 2013

Baby Boomers Breaking the Silence

Baby Boomers have always done things their own way, even when it has meant going against the grain and upending tradition. The same generation that gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement and the counterculture and sexual revolution of the 1960s is well accustomed to breaking down barriers that its members see as standing in the way of progress and the greater good.

Now, as the Baby Boomers age into their sixties and seventies, they are speaking up and speaking out to break what many have seen as a silence surrounding crucial end-of-life issues. In a recent TIME article, “A Good Death: How Boomers Will Change the World a Final Time,” personal finance and retirement reporter Dan Kadlec describes in detail how the graying Boomers aren’t letting their own end-of-life decisions be defined by the same silence and indecision characteristic of their parents’ generation:

For eons, folks grew old, endured the symptoms, and died when it was their time—according to God’s will, some would say, even if it involved fighting through lingering illness, pain and suffering, or years of mental or physical incapacitation. …

Boomers don’t see it that way…This will be the first generation to broadly eschew painful life-extending procedures and make the most of palliative care to live better in fewer days, and then die with dignity.

Baby Boomers have broken the silence in order to take control of their care. The generation that grew up challenging authority and questioning conventional wisdom wants care on its own terms, which, in this case, means making wants and needs explicitly clear before it’s too late:

You want to make decisions around all aspects of your illness and be certain that your wishes will be followed even if you are unable to see to it yourself. “People want more control in the months and days leading up to dying,” says Megory Anderson, founder and director of Sacred Dying Foundation. “They have clear ideas of where they want to die, who is with them, and what medical intervention is used.” …

“More end-of-life-care clinicians are coming to the understanding that aggressive treatment doesn’t universally deliver better quality or quantity of life, and isn’t always in the best interest or reflect the wishes of patients,” says Colleen Wadden, director of external communication for Providence Health & Services.

In short: the generation that has always refused to be quiet is speaking up again. MyDirectives is here to empower those voices to take charge of their own medical decisions with an easy-to-use online advance medical directive. As the Baby Boomers speak out to shatter the silence of their parents’ generation, the “Echo Boomers” – or the children of the Baby Boomers – should take stock in what the Boomers have to say and follow in their footsteps.


Baby Boomers

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