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Jul. 15 2010 - 3:23 pm | 75 views | 0 recommendations | 2 comments

Death wish for boomers & elders?

Reaching for the hemlock in order not to be a burden…. this seems a little farther than most of us want to go. But the idea is crossing more than a few aging minds, reports CNN intern Sachin Seth on a recent blog.

Rather than burden their children with the daunting task of caring for them as they age, some baby boomers may be considering an extreme form of “relief.” Suicide.

Psychiatrist Mark Goulston says he’s been approached by some middle-aged patients who say they’d rather “take a bottle of pills” than inconvenience their children.

Dr. Goulston blames the problem on the impatient nature of “millennials” – the offspring of baby boomers – a trait he says was passed down from the boomers themselves.

Adding to their angst is their own experience of taking care of elderly parents, which sometimes leads to feelings of resentment. Baby boomers don’t want their own children to grow to resent and begrudge them when they get old and feeble.

There’s a video exchange between Goulston and CNN’s Don Lemon that’s worth watching, but won’t lift your spirits much.

Add to this don’t-be-a-burden dilemma — and it IS a dilemma that crosses the mind of everyone over 60 and most folks who have a parent over 60 — the bizarre situation of estate taxes right now and the whole business of dying gets seriously complicated. It was okay last year, when you knew estate taxes were magically going to disappear on January 1, 2010, so the focus was on staying alive until then.


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  1. collapse expand

    Incredible. Generation Y has been blamed for laziness, insubordination, and prolonged adolescence. Now they are being blamed for their parents wanting to commit suicide. Wow. We are not so impatient that we want our parents to kill themselves! Generation Y is not so incredibly unique, and it’s this kind of thinking that causes us to be discriminated against and scapegoated.

    I’m sorry that boomers feel so upset. The economic crisis has been hard on everyone, and boomers have been hit the hardest. It’s a time for families to pull together, reunite, and help each other out. Parents have a lot of wisdom learned through living that they need to share with the twenty-somethings trying to get a start in this difficulty.

  2. collapse expand

    I’m with you, Sam. I think we need a little less blame and a lot more pulling together. And I say that as a Pre-Boomer (the newest designation I’ve heard for the Geezer Generation, parents of younger Boomers.) I am very, very strongly in support of the right of terminally ill, mentally competent adults to choose to hasten their death (physician aid in dying should be legal in every state), partly because I am a wimp and see no great attraction to prolonged suffering and decline, but partly, I will admit up front, because I think the amount we spend on the last few days & weeks of life is obscene. But that suicide-for-the-kids sake idea is pretty ridiculous. Every generation has gifts to share.

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    About Me

    I’ve been a writer since probably before you were born: newspapers, magazines, trade publications and websites beginning with Beliefnet.com’s start-up issue. Working as a hospice volunteer and with AIDS groups led to a 1999 book Dying Unafraid (still in print and apropos) and more involvement with end-of-life causes. This is how to end any cocktail party conversation: “I write a lot about end-of-life issues.” So with Boomers and Beyond I’m working backwards and sideways and wherever concerns of these generations lead. I grew up in beautiful downtown Ashland, VA) and migrated through Atlanta eventually to San Francisco where I live with my final husband, Bud (my college Senior Dinner Dance date before we lost track of each other for 37 years.) Manhattan/Asheville/Atlanta kids, parents of my five flawless grandchildren, keep me attuned to Boomerhood. Full rather braggadocio disclosure: the Manhattan daughter Sandy is married to T/S super-contributor Miles O’Brien.

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