Seniors with Seniors
Patrick M. Kennedy
A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person, said Mignon McLaughlin an early American Journalist who lived to be seventy. And that may be the difficulty that has to be overcome as seniors transpose from middle age to senior years. The old gray mate ain’t what s/he used to be.
Keeping that other person hanging around for much longer is becoming a problem with many seniors. How do you go to a stag party for the wedding celebration of a friend when she has to tag along? How do you go to the sewing bee when he is carrying your spool of thread? Seniors, who have traditionally depended on a loyal mate for their care and company, has become nearly a thing of the past. Seniors will increasingly fend for themselves rather than live in an unhappy relationship.
Seniors are living longer and longer and many in their 50s and 60s are reluctant to stay the course … that is … staying married to the same person and being faced with the prospect of a decade or more in an unhappy eternal bond. Over the past several years the divorce rate for baby boomers, most seniors, has surged by more than fifty percent while the rest of the population has stabilized in this function at a much lower percentage. Of course, it is also true that the percentage of seniors who have never married is climbing. Many seniors are just opting out of marriage and venturing into the world of old age by themselves.
It’s not easy. Most unmarried seniors live alone. And many are coming to grips with the seclusion and problems of living alone. Many unmarried, or recently divorced, seniors confront economic hardships that couples don’t face. Sometimes the income just stops after a divorce or a death of a partner: A job, after all these years of living off someone else or the government? Now is the time for change and sitting around isn’t going to change things.’ Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you’, said Thomas Jefferson. And most seniors want to be defined as individuals and responsible people. Life goes on and then …
‘Now I am on my own’ many seniors start out by saying. ‘I’ll be the life of the party even if it lasts until 8’. ‘I’ll become very good at opening child-proof bottles with a hammer’. ‘I’m a senior citizen and I think I am having the time of my life, aren’t I?’ The secret is to try not thinking about being retired or getting older. Occupy, occupy, occupy your mind with activities and the company of friends. You had friends when you were half of a couple, and it’s probably a surety that those friends are still there. You can’t completely abandon the life you knew before. But, ‘Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great’ … Mark Twain.
People are living longer these days, especially seniors, so it is best to make the best of the time ahead, even as a single senior.