Archive for April 5th, 2011
Posted on April 5, 2011 - by Nurse Virginia
Ralph is what many would call an old codger. He likes to talk about how he paid his “dues.” He worked his time and now deserves to rest and enjoy himself. He enjoys riding around on his lawn mower, so he does cut his own lawn. But that is about it, if he needs anything else done around the house he gets someone else to do it.
While Ralph was an exceptional worker for 40 years, he has now been retired for 10 years, years filled with watching TV all day long. His list of doctors and medications gets longer every year. He would tell anyone that this takes up a lot of his time, just going to his appointments and getting to the drug store.
When Ralph gets his Social Security check, he feels no guilt – this is just the money he earned and has coming. But the numbers don’t add up. When Ralph decided to “pack it in” yes, he had contributed for forty years. But those forty years of contributions in no way touch the 10 years he has received $23,000 each year in Social Security payments.
We now know that a person who retires at 65-66 can realistically expect to remain much the same until they are close to 80. A good 15 years to be of service using the skills and wisdom the elder has acquired for the next generations.
How about a system where if the retirees doctor determines they still have the physical and mental capacity to produce, the retiree would be asked to volunteer. The need is great – from working mothers who desperately need child care, food programs for the hungry, VA hospitals who need transport people, States that have to cut their pay roles for human services – to churches that could use more willing hands.
What Ralph doesn’t know is that if he did get out of the house to do something for others he would really be helping himself more than anyone else. He would have more to talk about than the last conversation on daytime talk. Instead of focusing on what he deserves or is owed and past accomplishments, he could join everyone else in the present.
Volunteer –a person who freely offers to do something, an unpaid worker – doesn’t that have a much nicer ring to it than retiree?
Virginia Garberding, R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance