The joys of aging
Observing the elderly up close rather than in Modern Maturity magazine, on TV or in Viagra commercials gives one a different perspective of the “Golden Years.” Most seniors I know live in the “Rusty Years.”
I am 80 years old and find the most positive aspect of aging is the 10 percent senior discount, even if I don’t need it. Other than that, it’s all downhill. You watch your body slowly deteriorate. Your skin loses its elasticity, hearing becomes dimmer, it’s difficult to sit down and more difficult to get up, your memory fades, and parts of your body wear out and have to be replaced. Much time is spent in the doctor’s office or hospital. Pills use up much of your income.
One of the more frustrating aspects of aging, for many seniors, is having acquired a great deal of wisdom through the years with no one interested in it. It’s difficult observing what’s going on in the world and usually knowing the outcome. Politicians haven’t changed much in the past 80 years except most of them are now owned by wealthy contributors instead of organized crime. It’s frustrating watching politicians still controlling the gullible public by fear and half-truths, which have become more prevalent with TV.
There are different groups of the elderly. There’s an active group that has enough money to vacation in warmer climates and travel. Another group lives on Social Security and has just enough money to survive. The third group is the incapacitated, who give their life’s savings to nursing homes.
The so-called active seniors gather in adult communities or spend winters together in RV parks or senior communities in the South. They spend most of their time playing cards, bingo or shuffle board. They spend a lot of time discussing bowel movements, arthritis and blood pressure. The few who do play golf, tennis or other activities now play the games so poorly they get little satisfaction from them. This group will decrease with the collapse of the stock market and the 2 percent interest they now receive on their life’s savings.
The other two groups have more serious problems. The group existing on Social Security leads a meager life and just exists with Meals on Wheels and other charities. Many have to choose between food and drugs.
My dog and I have visited nursing homes weekly for the past four years and they are mostly inhabited by my peers. These facilities are storage houses for the living dead. Many come into the homes with some quality of life, but I’ve watched them deteriorate to a vegetative state. We are more humane with our animals when they reach this stage.
I am yet an active senior, but don’t quite fit into the active group. I find RV parks and senior-citizen functions boring. It’s difficult fitting into any aspect of modern society. Entertainment is a thing of the past. TV, movies, and music are geared toward youth, as they evidently spend the most money. “The Parade Has Passed Me By” is a good description of this area of life for those in the “Rusty Years.”
The obituary column is our first-read piece in the paper. We not only look for people we know, but how many of the deceased are in our age group or younger.
I am not personally concerned about death, but my experiences with my parents’ deaths and nursing home visits make me concerned about how I die.
Death could be very interesting. I would finally know which religion was on the right track. As Woody Allen says, “I’m not concerned about dying, as long as I’m not there to witness it.”
The above may sound very depressing, but imagine how depressing it would be if I wasn’t taking Prozac.
Don Cooks lives in Nevada City.
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