Being a Senior Citizen
Patrick M. Kennedy
Oh yes, it must be easy to be a senior citizen. You just work all your life, save as much money as you can, then quit work. It’s simple, so I am told. Collect your monthly Social Security check and travel the world first class. There you have it in a nutshell. It sounds easy. But there are a few other warnings and requirements that must be added to the mix. Being a senior citizen isn’t as easy as it seems on the surface.
First, age is one requirement, and a tough one to arrive at. Senior means I am older; it is a requirement and sometimes a negative aspect to retirement, but sometimes a positive side to the whole concept. According to most definitions a senior is a person older than another (or others), or a person with higher standing or rank. Age has a lot to do with this, and along with this, the physical and mental sides mean slowing down, being more careful, and thinking before leaping, so to speak. I didn’t follow the other lemmings off the cliff while at work, so why do it now. Being an individual is an important asset to being a senior citizen, of course, but knowing the rules and the best roads for me to travel are also important.
Following what others have done, will do, and can do, is not a totally bad thing for a senior citizen. Some paths have been beaten down for so long that the next person, the latest senior citizen, me, or you, it makes walking down them a little easier. As proof of this fact, in the year 2000 each of the nation’s 50 states had more people under 18 than 65 and older. In fact, in about half of the states the ratio was more than two to one. In 2030, 10 states are projected to have more folks 65 and older than folks under 18. The population of my fellow senior citizens is growing. There have been many people who before now walked down these passageways of experience to pave the way, and many more are yet to come. Things aren’t so hard after all. It is new to some like us, but old hat to others. Experience helps.
Experience comes with age, and experienced senior citizens know that some things are easier than others. I am told to follow their guidelines. It is best to learn from others and pick the right path. Being a senior citizen also means being smarter than most. But, unfortunately, the citizen part of senior citizen means responsibilities and having to deal with government red-tape, organizations and their bureaucracies, as well as other people. There are negatives and positives to this citizenship thing.
Dealing with the government can involve the afore-mentioned Social Security Administration as well as Medicare, Medicaid or SSI if needed, and the Veterans Administration for those who qualify. Questions, answers, information and more information are the keys here. You must talk to qualified people in these groups and friends who have been there before.
Organizations/businesses have their own triple-tier layers of agendas and goals, and if you are retired, I found that most of them don’t consider you part of their process anymore. You are out of the picture and a blur from the past … unless of course you own a bunch of shares in their organization, or it is a bank or credit union that has a wad of your money. Then you must bite the bullet and get involved with these organizations. Of course, if you get to the upper end of senior citizenship, you may have to deal with organizations that fashion and manage assisted-living sites and nursing homes. These are something that may be necessities in the future.
When it comes to dealing with people, most senior citizens have done it all their lives on a day-to-day and person-to-person basis, and are used to it. But new agendas are on the horizon for people-mixing scenes. No more work, cafeteria, and water-cooler conversations are available. Now it is pinochle or poker games, knitting bees or bowling alleys, or even the local senior’s club, your choice. Even group exercising activities are an outlet/inlet for conversations and meeting people. A group that actively works for the good and benefit of their neighbors is a first-rate way to socialize with peers. It is best to socialize with any group of human beings with common qualities similar to yours. “I’m a rebel rouser,” you’ll ask, “where do I fit? I guess I’ll find out,” you hesitantly answer.
Where to live from now on, that is possibly moving, is a significant decision that will affect all aspects of a senior citizen’s environment, personal relationships, and future decisions. Cold weather or hot, north, south, east, west, urban or rural, near friends or family, or alone, or even in a foreign country, all are factors in the decision about where to live. Of course, all these decisions must be made in conjunction with any other senior citizen who may be a permanent resident in your life.