Listeners Give Financial Tips For End Of Life

Tell Me More Editor Ammad Omar and host Michel Martin comb through listener feedback on the program's week-long series about aging and the end of life. They also discuss the death of Native American activist Elouise Cobell, and extend thanks to member stations who've contributed to Tell Me More's "In Your Ear" segments, including WOSU, WNPR, WDET and WVAS.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host: And now, it's time for BackTalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Ammad Omar is with us. He's an editor here at TELL ME MORE. Welcome back, Ammad.

AMMAD OMAR: Thanks, Michel.

MARTIN: Now, just a minute ago, we wrapped up our weeklong series on the end of life and on aging. We talked about the joys and challenges of aging in many dimensions, but we started the week by talking about financial planning.

OMAR: Here's NPR's senior business editor Marilyn Geewax talking about that on Tuesday.

MARILYN GEEWAX: People will sit down with their 401K and think a lot about: Should I be in stocks or bonds? Or they might think a lot about how much money they will have to live in retirement, but they give, really, no thought to how they're going to die in retirement. I mean, sooner or later, your retirement will end and, if you set aside a certain amount of money for that and plan for that, as well, you're in better shape.

MARTIN: Ammad, I understand a lot of listeners responded to that discussion.

OMAR: That's right, Michel. We got over 1,000 responses on our Facebook page. A lot of people wrote in with their own tips about getting their finances ready for the later years. Other people talked about how, as a society, we need to help Americans become aware of these challenges earlier in life.

One of our regular commenters on npr.org, Penny Lane, wrote this, quote: "As soon as a person turns 18, they should be sent a packet of information concerning wills, living wills, long term care insurance and how much money he or she would need to earn over their working lifetime in order to qualify for Social Security and how much more money they'll need to live on. Why do we wait until someone's 60 to start talking about the rest of their lives and how much it'll cost," unquote.

MARTIN: I'm sorry. I think that's an excellent idea. I really do.

Ammad, any other updates?

OMAR: Yeah. Over the last few years, we've also covered the story of Elouise Cobell. Cobell was an American Indian woman who led one of the largest class action lawsuits in history against the U.S. government. The lawsuit resulted in the federal government agreeing to pay $3.4 billion in compensation for mismanagement of Indian trust funds dating back to the 1800s.

Sad news. On Sunday, she passed away at the age of 65 in Great Falls, Montana. Here's what she had to say when she joined us on our program in June of 2008.

ELOUISE COBELL: We've got to remember, it's for over 500,000 individual Indians that need to have the restitution made to them, so there will be ways, but you know, I don't worry about that. I worry about getting that money on a treasury and put aside for individual Indian people because it's their money.

MARTIN: Mrs. Cobell is survived by her husband, her son and two grandchildren and we send our condolences to them and to all who cared for her.

OMAR: Yes, we do, Michel. And before we wrap up, we wanted to thank the member stations from across the country who contributed to our In Your Ear segments. Usually, in that feature, we hear from some of our guests about their favorite songs. This week, we heard from hosts and producers at several stations, including WOSU in Columbus, WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut, WVAS in Montgomery, Alabama. And Nick Austin, who's the host of New Soul Sunday on WDET in Detroit sent us this song. It's "Saturday Night" by Mos Def and the Brand New Heavies.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SATURDAY NIGHT")

MOS DEF AND THE BRAND NEW HEAVIES: (Singing) Saturday night, Saturday night. We make it - make it better Saturday night. We can all be free. Yeah. Picking up the pieces, ready to start a new day. Yeah. We have to get - that's what I like. Yeah. Baby, that's what I like. Yes, do that dance. Yeah, darling, that's what I like.

MARTIN: Yes. Thank you to all of our member stations for helping us out. It was a lot of fun. And thank you, Ammad.

OMAR: You're welcome. Thank you.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave us your name. You can also find us on Twitter. Just look for TELL ME MORE, NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SATURDAY NIGHT")

HEAVIES: (Singing) Well, mama, breaking bread. Saturday night, Saturday night. We make it - make it better Saturday night.

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