Senior Discount – Thoughts About Aging
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called a senior. I don’t feel like a senior. I don’t think I look like a senior. So why must I be referred to in this way? Yet, the government has determined that people of a certain age are entitled to old age benefits. But what they don’t seem to realize is the impact it might have on those of us who are still in the best of health spiritually, mentally, and physically, who might not appreciate being labelled with this particular moniker.
MYTH OF AGING
If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to admit, that part of the reason I don’t like the term senior, is that it reminds me that I am indeed getting older — that as each day that goes by, I get closer to death. Most people don’t even like to think about dying, let alone talk about it. Perhaps that’s also part of the problem. Maybe we need to talk about death more honestly and openly with each other so that when our time comes we’ll be better prepared for it. As it is, we live in a youth-oriented society that perpetuates the myth that aging is something to be feared, instead of revering the aging population and simply looking at it as another life stage.
The fact is, more people than ever before in history are living into their 90s, and even into their 100th year. Do you know what this means? That each and every one of you could potentially spend up to 40% of your lives being considered a senior. We have been gifted with additional time due to advances in medicine and increased knowledge of how to take care of ourselves so that we do live longer, healthier lives. In the June issue of Spirituality and Health Magazine, Dr. Deborah Gordon, hits the nail on the head when she says: “It’s about strategic aging not about recapturing our youth. It’s about maximizing our vitality in the present moment.” That’s something to think about, isn’t it?
I know when I turned 50, I was already starting to think about how I wanted to live the remaining decades of my life with purpose and meaning. I’m a writer. I can write for as long as I can put two words together. But, there are those of my generation who have been forced into early retirement. They feel lost and uncertain about the future. They don’t want to be invisible followed by a slow decline into the grave. So how do we come to some kind of consensus that embraces this additional time we’ve been given with a new vision, while accepting that, despite this extra time, we will still die one day?
I think we need to take the word senior right out of our vocabulary. Words determine how we live out our lives. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we’re getting older. Why just the other week my husband and I received a letter in the mail asking if we were interested in joining a retirement home. It seems that once you hit 60, it’s time to think about alternative life styles. Then there are people out there who want to know: Have you made up your will yet? And what about pre-arranging that funeral of yours? And let’s not forget about those senior discounts. All of these things send a negative message to the brain. In reality, people of the baby boomer generation still want to be challenged. We still feel like we have something to offering society, and we can offer it from a place of experience and wisdom that we never had up to this point. We need to redefine what the years between 55 and 75 will look like, and then we need to give it a new name. Yes, we will still die someday. Yes, we still need to talk about that more honestly and opening with each other. But must we hurry the process along? Why can’t we all simply acknowledge that before death comes to visit, we still have a full life left to live and a reason to celebrate?