Saturday, January 05, 2013

Terrorized by Old Age



I have several friends, all single, who are frantically planning for the time they will retire. I should add that they all work in the private sector and do not benefit from the enviable pensions paid to retired government-type employees. They frankly envision a future of tiny tins of catfood doled out carefully.

Interestingly enough, my married/partnered friends have no such fears.

The ALONE status of the singles has them planning to pay off mortgages and RRSP themselves into deprivation. For now. All this when they are over 60, some well over, and finding the speed of the on-the-job young 'uns nipping at their heels alarming.

Did I miss that gene? I occasionally worry about my vulnerable status (will I have no money in another 5 years?). But worry is useless energy so it doesn't last too long.

But I do rail against a system that keeps artists of all types in poverty and particularly makes it so difficult for single parents (mainly female) to stockpile savings of any magnitude during their working lives. The patriarchy along with childcare responsibilities has ensured very few women will make what men earn in their lifetimes. Statistics show that upon divorce, a father will improve his lifestyle dramatically, whereas the lifestyle of the now single mother and her family will deteriorate. I experienced that as a single mother with two kids.

The sadness of the afore-mentioned frantic planners is that the stress and strain can take an enormous toll on their health and sometimes they don't make it to that magic Canada Pension Plan age.

The only time, after all, that we have, is NOW. So why fret and worry as the song said?It is a form of madness and steals our days like nothing else.

I knew I could not survive financially in Toronto and that was an intrinsic part of my decision to move out here to the edge of the Atlantic. Cities are expensive places to live, especially for elders without pensions.

And I'm also extremely aware that we have a damn good safety net in Canada, such as OAS.

Do we all just want too much when we retire? Endless travel and bonbons and golf courses and spas?

What exactly do we need? Do we have it all and just don't know it?

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34 Comments:

Blogger Irene said...

I think people's expectations of what a 'normal' lifestyle should be like is vastly unreasonable and probably not at all like their parents lived when they were children growing up. Has they been a bit more frugal while they worked, there may have been more saved up for their retirement. Someone dear to me spent his very high salary on luxury items and now has nothing to live on but his Social Security. Which is not such a bad thing either.

Sat Jan 05, 02:12:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

I was as frugal as I could be, Irene, raising 2 children and often working 2 jobs.

There were very few luxuries in my life and still aren't.

I don't miss them. I am so grateful for free health care and OAS and my desire for expensive trips, etc. or "Bucket List" items has completely evaporated.

Maybe I'm content?

XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 02:48:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Twilight said...

Do we all just want too much when we retire?
I suspect most of us wish for reasonably good health to remain with us for as long as possible, a wish above everything else for our later years, even that could be too much, but we'll wish for it anyway.

The rest depends on lifestyle before retirement, I guess. Mine never did include spas and golf courses, endless travel; a few bon bons were consumed now and then - that's about it. Complete freedom from the daily 9 to 5-ing is still the greatest wonder and luxury for me. The future? I'll meet that and deal with it when it comes, none of us can be completely confident in this 21st century world. :-)

Sat Jan 05, 03:08:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous Nick said...

I sometimes worry about what the future will bring, but as you say it's pointless because so many unexpected events could change the whole picture in the meantime. I might even drop dead tomorrow morning, who knows, and then where would all the worrying have got me?

Sat Jan 05, 03:26:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger ViewPoint2010 said...

I think the worry for so many approaching retirement is how we will manage. Regrettably for people who worked in the arts, the notion of a pension was pure fantasy – it didn’t exist and neither did incomes which permitted much in the way of retirement savings plans. Of course we did it for the love of the art and didn’t give much thought to retirement anyway. Now, as my retirement gets closer and my health deteriorates, I have real worries about what is ahead. Friends are talking about going into extended care facilities with a cost of $25-2800 per month. I know I’ll never be able to afford that and look instead at these infamous “special care homes” – privately operated profit centres where patient care from poorly trained, poorly paid staff comes low on the scale to profit. Classic case: one cookie for dessert because two would be too expensive! Truly frightening. One often finds oneself wishing for an early death so as to avoid the pits of old age. I am one.

Sat Jan 05, 04:18:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Molly said...

Health care is the biggest worry for people in the States since the system here is still stuck in the middle ages, so that insurance and pharmaceutical companies can grow rich while the poor go without care....

Sat Jan 05, 04:36:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

T:
Well I figured a desire for good health would be mandatory so didn't mention.
Health more than wealth as my beloved Gran would say.
I think from the data I gathered that elders don't want to have to say: I can't afford that. They want to be able to FEEL they can afford.
Does that make sense?
XO
WWW
Plus a lot help the grandchildren. I do. Why? I don't know. :)

Sat Jan 05, 04:48:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Nick:
Yeah there's no point, but I hear ya. Now and again it creeps into the back of my brain and chills it out.
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 04:49:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Veep:
I am so glad you are back amongst us debaters and instigators!
Yes, it is a worry when one is suffering from illhealth and no private pension to assist.
I am firm advocate of euthanasia centres.
I would like if when I choose to die I can do so.
though having said that, there is a personal care home a bit down the road that is truly remarkable in its tenderness and compassion. I know the owner so who knows? It might be the answer for me.
My biggest horror would be sharing a room with someone I didn't know well.
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 04:53:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Molly:
The rest of the world stands back from the US and its cavalier approach to the sick elderly and children and are appalled.
It is the foxes running the henhouse in extremis.
I will never understand how people vote against their own lives.
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 04:55:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Chris said...

I think it’s easy to say not to worry but a great deal harder doing it. As we age, this is especially true. Fortunately, we have social safety nets – ones not available to our parents and grandparents. I occasionally find myself looking at the obit section and seeing – to my dismay – deaths of people my age or younger. I also check to make sure I’m not there :) And you’re right, it does steal our days, but there’s no magic button we can push to make us not worry.

I agree that retirement and old(er) age is daunting for singles, but it’s no picnic for many of us married folk as well. I’m lucky to have a generous pension plan as does my spouse, but what good is it if we have poor health? And when did "I have to travel and play golf until I die" get in vogue? Our parents and grandparents never had such luxuries. Personally, I’d rather spend time at home with kids (and hopefully grandkids) complaining about the weather – and having my health. Sounds like a plan to me.

P.S. Glad to see you back VP. I do hope things go well for you

Sat Jan 05, 06:19:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Pauline said...

Quality health care here in the US is only for the wealthy. Most of us are not wealthy. And while worry is fruitless, it's also unavoidable, and serves best as a spur to take some positive action toward the uncertain future. I am fortunate. I have four children who've all offered to help me out if the time comes that I might need it. It's the most planning we can do, given the uncertainty of life and it gives me a measure of security.

Sat Jan 05, 06:47:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous Grannymar said...

I have given up worrying about the future. I have seen far too many people put things off until a retirement that they never lived to see. With a heart condition that could take me at any time, I live in the moment and enjoy it.

Sat Jan 05, 07:09:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Chris:
I continue to be astonished at those couples in my age bracket who take at least 3 cruises a year. it seems to be the MO along with golf, spas and interestingly curling.
Our parents were of a seriously different generation where my father would say: If I continue to have something to look forward to I'll die a happy man.
yes, may we all have something to look forward to!
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 07:29:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Stubblejumpin Gal said...

I don't think we want it all, or too much. Just to eat and have a roof over your head is expensive, and try to imagine paying for it if you're too tired or unhealthy to work or can't get a job. It IS scary and it DOES happen that people aren't prepared for every eventuality, but it doesn't necessarily fit that it's because they didn't work hard enough or save well enough when they were younger. Who can do it while raising children? Pretty hard for most.

Sat Jan 05, 07:29:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Pauline,
Yes you are extraordinarily lucky that your children are willing to step up to the plate.
I have one estranged adult child and the other has a debilitating disease which is highly uncertain in prognosis and she'll probably need care herself ar some point.
All so uncertain and unpredictable.
I'll just allow maybe 1 hour a week to fret about it all..:)
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 07:32:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

GM:
Great philosophy - grab life by the ovaries and squeeze it dry :)
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 07:33:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

SJG:
Exactly. We can never preach to others when their only choice is feed their children healthy food or stash money in a savings account.
I never had a penny left over from paycheque to paycheque and had to work 2 jobs often. I am amazed when I look back.
XO
WWW

Sat Jan 05, 07:36:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger ViewPoint2010 said...

WWW, I sensed early on that we shared an opinion with regard to death with dignity. For many people, it’s something they never think about until it’s too late.

Your concern about sharing a room is one that I understand. Many years ago when my mother became infirm due to illness, she had to go into one of those private care homes briefly. The only accommodation they had available was with two other much older women, both of whom had some degree of dementia which my 60-year old mother did not have. It was a very real nightmare for her. Fortunately, it was short-term before she could move into a state-run institution where she had a private room.

Later, in “another life” I served in a large urban extended care facility. The secure ward was the most challenging because so many patients had no connection to reality. The only option for them and for their less-troubled neighbours was increasing doses of medication – on the one hand to reduce the emotional and physical outbursts and on the other to dull the responses of those who were less-troubled.

The only saving-grace for me was I worked throughout the institution unlike the staff assigned to the secure wards who had very high degrees of absenteeism and emotional & physical illness.

It raised many ethical questions for me about quality of life and while I made some conclusions about my own life cycle and have encapsulated in a Living Will, I would be unable to extend that similar decision process to anyone else.

vp

Sat Jan 05, 10:01:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

A young marriage, 4 children, a short time of much the world had to offer. I thought I planned carefully and now only desire my cottage, garden, aging vehicles and health. Even with planning I did not think I would when I hit 70 start having health issues. So far I can handle and with a wise lifestyle hopefully it will not escalate. It also never entered my mind when younger and one check issued for couple that I would rely almost totally on social security. But the blessing of this small home surrounded by nature, filled with items from past lives, my garden, books, writing and camera and not wanting anything
and no bucket list brings me peace.
So where will it end - only time will tell. I will not leave my home and hopefully die in my garden.

Sun Jan 06, 08:07:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Anonymous Rummuser said...

WWW, I am retired, single but with a home and a small annuity which comes out of an Insurance policy that I had taken while in private sector employment. That was and is not enough to live a decent frugal life. Post retirement I went into business, albeit a small one which enabled me to take care of a reasonable standard of living.

As I write this, the business is being wound down due to changes in the market and I simply do not have the energy nor the inclination to go after a new line of business.

I need to sell off some of my assets to finance a life style that I would like to have and on top of the list is the home that I currently live in. It is too large for me and with the proceeds I can buy a smaller more suitable home or even an assisted living facility and have some spare cash to enjoy the rest of my life doing some things that I have not been able to do for 12 years.

No, I do not want endless travel and bonbons nor golf and spas. But I do want to stop working and have some fun! Is that asking for too much?

Sun Jan 06, 11:51:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Government Funded Blogger said...

My wife and I made sure that by the time retired at sixty we had no credit card debts no mortgage no car debt. Today we live quite comfortably.

That said my favourite quote about old age is 'don't worry about it it doesn't last too long.'

Sun Jan 06, 01:44:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Friko said...

My old age pension alone would leave me to starve to death. Luckily there are additional benefits for those who have nothing else.

I need a home, warmth, food, clothes to wear and not a lot else. I have all that, so I should be satisfied. I may not need it, but enough money for a glass of wine, a theatre visit, a book, a computer, a meal with friends make life sweet and I would hate to be without.

Sun Jan 06, 07:56:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

As a single mom, I do worry some. But I can't fret about it too much because there's still life to be lived.

Sun Jan 06, 09:43:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Veep:
I hear you and also you have the experience of your mum and working in such places.
Yes death with dignity in time and place of own choosing would be my desire indeed.
Not sure what you mean by this:
"I would be unable to extend that similar decision process to anyone else."
?
XO
WWW

Sun Jan 06, 09:50:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Ramana:
Of course it's not asking too much my friend.
But having fun? Wot? What is this "fun" thing of which you speak?
Is it an anagram?
XO
WWW

Sun Jan 06, 09:51:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

GFB:
Ah, you couple-talk me. Like I said in my post, couples talk a different lingo.
Secure.
Taken care of.
Shared Pensions.
Shared elder-care.
Shared dwelling.
Need I go on?
XO
WWW
PS Into threesomes? Anyone?

Sun Jan 06, 09:54:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Friko:
And you won't be. Our pleasures simplify as we get older. I hope my money holds out for my necessities!!
XO
WWW

Sun Jan 06, 09:55:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

SAW:
You can see from comments that the couples are not worried. Only us singles and not all the time for some of us.
QED
XO
WWW

Sun Jan 06, 09:56:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

OWJ:
Rescued you yet again from that swampy spam bucket. I like what you have to say, your contentment just shines through. Most days I feel as you do, loving my house, content with my tiny pension. No pressure. No fuss.
Good health is everything.
XO
WWW

Sun Jan 06, 11:41:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Secret Agent Woman said...

Yes, you are so right that it is different for couples. And I didn't even realize that until after my mariage ended. I get impatient now with people who don't acknowledge that it's easier to feel secure when ou have another person to rely on who is sharing the burden.

Mon Jan 07, 08:22:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

SAW:
Exactly. I am so glad I posted this as it bears out my point.

NONE of my married couple friends are concerned whereas ALL my single friends are.

XO
WWW

Mon Jan 07, 11:54:00 AM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Hattie said...

I agree with what you say. As a woman who married young and still is married to the man she started out with, I have no money worries or social worries of any kind. I'm not stupid enough to attribute this to anything but good luck.

Mon Jan 07, 04:04:00 PM GMT-3:30  
Blogger Wisewebwoman said...

Hattie:
Thanks for your comment Hattie, yes sheer good luck comes into it also.

I am absolutely certain that if I was in partnership my future would be assured barring ill health of course.

XO
WWW

Tue Jan 08, 01:42:00 AM GMT-3:30  

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