In 1953, I was five years old and my parents were in their 40’s. The small town in Arkansas where I lived lacked a hospital. The physician in town was elderly and only worked part time. The local pharmacy gave out prescription drugs from behind the counter without a Doctor’s Approval. Health care was lacking in many rural areas. Some folks resorted to using home remedies to treat their own illnesses. There were folks that made the difficult choice of keeping a roof over their families heads instead of health care. For some renting was the only option.
After reaching the age for early social security, my parents were able to purchase their first house at the age of 62. They had worked hard all their lives in order to see that small social security check that would enable them to retire. Retirement for them consisted of planting a garden, visiting with neighbors, canning vegetables, growing flowers, and an occasional fishing outing at the nearest pond or river. Other than that, there were not many resources for other types of recreation or social affairs. Therefore, that is how it was.
Unlike my parents, I had the opportunity to own a home by the age of nineteen after moving to the city. Jobs were plentiful in the 80’s. Health care went through many changes during that period. There were many physicians, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities all growing larger in number, offering specialized care. No longer did one go to the pharmacy without a prescription to obtain a needed behind the counter drug. Insurance companies paid a patients bill with out the high out of pocket cost that are seen today.
Today there are retirement communities, retirement jobs, and senior housing for those that can afford or qualify for them. There are over 15,000 senior citizen centers in the United States that offer all types of recreation and social affairs. In addition, they enable seniors to live and experience healthier lives.
Some boomers are like me; living on one income, working and waiting for more health care changes. Others are struggling with taking care of aging parents while juggling their work lives and family responsibilities. Some have postponed retirement due to the economy and job loss. Then there are those that are trying to help their grown children that have had job loss during these difficult times. Boomers are going back to school, taking on jobs to supplement their retirement income. Some people are ready for retirement so they can relax, travel, and do things that they have waited so long to do. Therefore, that is how it is.
No matter how it was or how it is, one thing still remains the same. Life is life and it is important how we live it! The past is the past. In today’s world, we have the resources along with our wisdom. It is up to us to be creative and utilize the resources that are available to us. Each one of us has our own opinion as to what retirement means in our life. We are the beginning of a big change yet to come!