Don't look at age; seniors still on watch | Tish Gregory

Overlooking Puget Sound one summer day, my grandson and I were watching a para- glider being pulled by a speed boat. I commented, “I couldn’t do that.”  He replied, “You couldn’t do that anyway.”  Puzzled, I said, “And, why not?”  “Because that’s for adults,” he stated. I looked at him and asked, “Well, what am I?”  “You’re a grandma,” he said.

That’s when I realized I was now in that special category – “beyond adulthood,” or as the government classifies us – “seniors.”  They make note of it on our 65th birthday when we receive a birthday card from them – aka as a Medicare card.  In fact, Webster’s dictionary describes a senior citizen as “an elderly or aged person, especially one over the age of 65.”

Interestingly, when National Senior Citizens Day was proclaimed Aug. 21, 1988, there was no mention of a particular age in the proclamation.  It simply refers to seniors as “older people.”  The terms “elderly,” “aged,” “older” and “senior” conjures up a depressing image.  However, when the community is giving you thanks for all you’ve done in your life to make this a better America, I can accept the term “senior,”  just this once – or maybe twice, when a senior discount is being offered.

I read once that the reason seniors are more at peace is because they realize they no longer have responsibility for the future.  Wow!  I didn’t know that!  I better spread the word to all seniors – “You can stop caring now, as the younger generations have our back.”

To many, we look fragile and expendable. A lot of trends are showing this – kidneys given to younger patients; job seniority being eliminated in favor of younger workers who are raising families; difficulty finding work for the over 50 crowd; and proposed changes to Medicare regarding “end-of-life” medical decisions as it relates to cost of procedures versus benefit of longevity and quality of life.

To the younger generations, we are to blame for all of the world’s ills – poverty, greed, war, immorality, global warming. These things have and do exist on “our watch,” and the blame is not totally without merit. However, as they mature, they will realize that well meaning intentions are not enough.   Implementing them is long and difficult which will require them to overcome indifference and get into the fight.

But despite being perceived as old, decrepit, not caring and responsible for all the world’s ills, most seniors still care about the future in meaningful and tangible ways.

According to AARP, 4.9 million children live in a grandparent-headed household, of which approximately 20 percent have neither parent present.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2010 states there are more than nine million senior citizens serving as volunteers in many programs and projects that benefit all citizens.

According to the Census Bureau, in the 2008 elections, more than 75 percent of the 65-plus population were registered voters, and 70 percent of them actually voted – the highest percentage by age group.

Locally, on a much smaller scale, seniors at Leisure Estates, the 250-senior manufactured home community in the Renton Highlands, annually donate money, time and goods from their activities to help out the community.  The Renton Senior Center, Fire Station 12, Renton Food Bank and Goodwill, to name a few, have all benefited from their efforts and fund raisers.

All of this demonstrates we still consider it “our watch.”  And, if we are at peace at all, it’s because we know we are still a caring, productive and meaningful member of society.

Tish Gregory is a free-lance writer.  She can be contacted at tishgregory@aol.com.


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