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Where’s all ‘free’ time seniors have earned? – Quad

Many senior citizens have “earned” their free time. They have worked many years at jobs and/or taking care of a family. As retirees they should now be able to fulfill dreams or aspirations.

Time to garden, read or write a memoir; learn a new hobby or travel: raise bees or animals; sleep late; sew; fish; run marathons; fix up an old car; golf, ride a motorcycle, run for political office or head an organization, to name a few pursuits.

Some go back to college. Some get another career. Others volunteer for many worthy events including fundraisers, local festivals, leading children’s groups or teaching Sunday school. Many retired or semi-retired take care of ill family members or babysit grandchildren.

This brings me back to my main point: Time. (Several of my friends requested that I write a column about the busy lives of retirees. Many people assume we have a lot of time on our hands.) In reality we may be racing the clock. Some of us realize we can’t possibly do everything we had planned to do in the time we have left, such as read all the books we planned to read, finish writing one or various travel we had planned.

“Seniors just pray they have good health long enough to savor delayed activities,” said one of my friends. Some seniors had to get up extra early for a long commute to work. I did.

Now I would like to enjoy sleeping in. But the phones keep ringing. Service people are knocking on the door when I’m just awake, sipping coffee and not dressed for visitors.

Solicitors who call during the day interrupt my focus when I am writing. Even if I don’t answer the phone my thought process still has been interrupted. At this point in life I know which charities I will support, what type of financial investment I plan to follow and which politician I will vote for. If I need help in these areas I will make the call.

When I was teaching school I couldn’t accept these calls, why do I have to be bothered with them now?

Other time consuming issues involve seniors waiting longer than necessary for a scheduled appointment or other business because it is assumed they have nothing better to do.

Maybe some health examination appointments aren’t necessary. There must be a chart with ages and corresponding expected ailments for various ages that doctors use to decide when to have an otherwise healthy elderly person sent for tests.

(I do not like the word “elderly.” Good grief, who wants to be known as elderly? The definition is someone who is aging. Aren’t we all aging?)

Imagine the anxiety associated with impending diagnostic and invasive examinations for mammograms, heart issues or colonoscopies. (Some doctors may overreact for legal reasons. They want to protect themselves from lawsuits so they request more tests than may be necessary.)

We are like cars. After a certain amount of time has passed, we need various checkups. It doesn’t matter whether or not we have driven the car much. I tried that argument last week with the service manager at a local dealership, but it didn’t work especially since the car reported a certain amount of time has passed since the last checkup.

Joanne Wiklund said when she worked for Western Illinois Area Agency on Aging the “federal” way of describing retired people was senior citizens, elderly, frail elderly and last, frail.

“I have many friends moving through those years with class,” said Wiklund, “choosing to accept the circumstances of their lives with grace. They accept the blessings they receive and thank God for them. They also accept adversity the same way. They know where they are going and they are comfortable with that. Attitude makes all the difference in retirement.”

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