Who’s hot? Well, surprisingly enough we’re not talking about buff 2l-year-old college kids. We’re talking baby boomers and the age 65+ crowd, nearly 32% of the population and 15%, respectively.
This hot group of individuals can determine the results of the upcoming election. Yes, seniors vote. Yes, they think it’s a right but also a privilege and they take this honor seriously. So they will be going to the polls on November 6.
Very serious issues are affecting seniors, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Healthcare reform and the economy are grave concerns because baby boomers and seniors are now wondering if they will outlive their savings or will be able to afford medical care and prescription drugs. The extended rate of unemployment, the turbulent stock market, the recession affecting home prices and possible tax increases all weigh heavily on boomers and seniors. Therefore, we are watching the presidential and congressional campaigns very closely and we will be a force to reckon with.
According to a recent USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, two thirds of seniors say government is trying to do too much in our everyday lives, but one quarter say that government is not doing enough to solve the country’s problems. Additionally, a growing number of seniors are concerned with diversity, not in a racially motivated way, but in “fearing unfamiliar change.” I have interviewed many seniors who are tired of the corruption in Washington. They want the bickering across partisan isles to stop and they want government to work for the good of the entire nation – meaning all generations.
Three major senior organizations focus on Obamacare and urge their members to vote. However, none of them explicitly endorses a presidential candidate in the 2012 race.
AARP favors Obamacare and says it represents “millions” of members age 50 and over, but won’t specify how many members it has. AARP has a support statement for President Barack Obama’s law on its website.
During the Oct. 3 presidential debate, Mr. Obama claimed that AARP rejects Gov. Mitt Romney’s proposal to expand healthcare options with vouchers. Obama said: “…AARP has said that your plan would weaken Medicare substantially. And that’s why they were supportive of the approach that we took.”
In reply, AARP’s Senior Vice President John Hishta issued a statement that AARP is nonpartisan and never consented to the use of its name by any campaign or political group.
The other two major organizations want Obamacare repealed on numerous grounds, including freedom from government control and patient privacy.
These organizations are the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) representing 450,000 members aged 50+, and the 60 Plus Association representing 7.2 million members.
AMAC Founder Daniel Weber believes Obamacare “may be the president’s undoing in November.” He said: “A clear majority of Americans want to see the healthcare law overturned, 53% to 42%, according to Rasmussen Reports. But seniors are overwhelmingly in favor of repealing Obamacare, 59% to 35%.”
60 Plus Association Chairman Jim Martin cited similar findings. He said a Politico/George Washington University poll shows “that the largest and most engaged voting bloc in the nation—senior citizens—are giving Governor Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan a 20 point advantage in the November election matchup, 58% to 38%, with 4% undecided.”
After helping to care for my late parents, I know voting is a top priority for seniors. I also know the best persons to help seniors vote are family members who love them. And after seeing my own parents feel helpless in certain situations, I’m so concerned about the issues facing our elder generation that I wrote my first book, “Time for the Talk: The Ten Step Plan for Effective Senior Caregiving Today.” In it, I outline the steps to take before crisis sets in with aging family members.
My book and website include the “Pre-Aging Agreement” so families can be proactive rather than reactive. Its concept is the perfect answer to begin the dialogue to develop a unified thought process. Family members should have “the talk” with their parents regarding their wishes and document everything from where they want to live to caring for their pets. Due to all the recent HIPAA rules and regulations, there is a need to compile medical, legal and financial information, in addition to reviewing resources that may be available for help. Have an honest family discussion and let the senior parents do the talking…you do the listening. It is profound what you can hear when you are not speaking.
So, all of you over 50, remember we are a “hot target” as it used to be called in media terms for the age group 25-54. Those days are long gone. My advice to you is be smart, watch the debates, get educated on what’s important to you, your family and our country. Make good choices because a lot of them are going to be thrown your way. On November 6, stand for what you believe and make a difference with your vote.
Clarice W. Dowdle is founder of the Atlanta-based Senior Caregiving Today. She is the author of “Time for the Talk: The Ten Step Plan for Effective Senior Caregiving Today.”