Just for old timers

When mariner was in his sixties and had just retired, he thought, “Being old ain’t so bad.” He felt the new freedom of not having to work long days and forever flying off to some contract. Then he rolled into his seventies. During that time, he moved to his retirement home in a small Iowan town. He did notice that, socially, he had no role in this town. He dismissed this thought and traveled often to see friends and family, take a cruise, have the joy of crewing on the Stars and Stripes, (the America’s Cup winner in 1987), and sailing in the Caribbean.

As he neared his eighties, he experienced a few significant illnesses, began to have back problems, arthritis and palsy. He had adopted gardening as his new raison d’etre. In his eighties, however, the body disappeared. (See Tim Conway’s oldest man at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-QqmJimv_U ). Where once mariner could lift two concrete blocks and toss them into his pickup, yesterday he almost needed a hand truck to move one block five feet.

But the body is its own story bound by genetics, health history and life experience. There is a more important side to being old: mental health. The time comes when we must change who we think we are.

While work rules and government policy suggest when to retire from full employment in the sixties, it is the decisions we make in our seventies that set our future happiness. Perhaps now you have a parttime job in a grocery store or perhaps you belong to organizations like PEO, Masons or even a bowling league. The time has come to move on.

Do not make the mistake of just jumping out of your social role into a deep pit where a recliner-casket, a television and delivered groceries shape who you are. The subconscious brain (the real boss) needs to communicate with other humans no matter how old you are.

Instead of cutting strings and disappearing, develop a new plan for how you will fit into society. For example, set a specific pattern for visiting friends, having friends to your home, perhaps joining a volunteer organization or a hobby-based club like reading, arts and crafts, etc. If you are fortunate, perhaps its time to move to a retirement community – designed to fulfill your new but antiquated needs. Perhaps move closer to your family to retain that togetherness that families provide.

While one is alive, it is a mistake to retire to a closet. Just reshape the way one can still have a good time in a different way. Be with people!

Ancient Mariner