“My late father used to say that no quality of human life was more important than dignity,” Yale law professor Stephen Carter recently commented on Bloomberg.com. He takes that concept someplace I wouldn’t have, but he is on to an issue that will be increasingly important as the Baby Boomers retire. Focusing today on companies helping people maintain their dignity as they age will lead you to good investment ideas.
Not Quite Right
Mr. Carter suggested that we re-frame many of our most contentious issues around the concept of dignity, which went too far for my taste. But the notion of dignity stuck in the back of my mind. Its importance finally came to me in a conversation with my father when he noted that, as a 70-year-old retired man, he felt marginalized—like his needs were less important than the needs of younger people.
That’s a hard pill to swallow for a man who worked and saved his whole life so he could enjoy a time when he no longer had to work. It was also a hard thing for me to listen to, because my father is no second class citizen to me.
More on the Way
My father was born at the tail end of the so-called Greatest Generation. He has, quite literally, done everything in his life a few years before the Baby Boomers. That has actually been a huge benefit to my father in many ways, since he was able to take advantage, unknowingly, of many of the trends the boomers would explode. So, you could say, that my dad is a trend setter.
That my father feels this way now, when the leading edge of the Boomers are just entering their retirements means that, in a few years, there are going to be a lot more people who feel the same way. To make matters worse, many Boomers haven’t saved nearly enough, so they will find themselves continuing to work, but likely at a much different level than before.
Investors should be focusing right now on companies that help this society’s elders retain their dignity. For example, healthcare is going to be important, but how that care is provided will help differentiate the winners from the also rans. Here are some companies moving in the right direction:
Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE:CAH)
Cardinal Health, Inc. (NYSE:CAH) provides pharmaceuticals and medical products to more than 60,000 pharmacies, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, and physician offices. As a middle man, the company isn’t all that interesting.