When I officially became a retiree, I quickly realized that I was now being stereotyped. One young man told me, "Please remember to make sure your blinkers don't stay on as you drive down the road." He was joking, of course, But, I didn't find it funny for reasons that surprised me. Then I was told the usual crap about repeating stories that people have heard a hundred times, about seeing the doctor 3 or 4 times a week for an assortment of ailments, the proverbial rocking chair, etc, ad nauseum. I was shocked by it. Shocked because i never pictured myself on the receiving end of these jokes. Now, I realize how hurtful they can be. Yes, as a young lad, I partook of these jokes about Senior citizens as well. It was funny then. But, it sure as hell isn't funny now. I guess it's true that you have to walk a mile in someone's shoes to fully understand. Well, I'm really walking in those shoes now. But, you know what? I think people my age bring a lot of these hurtful words on ourselves. I understand because of how aging affects the mind one can't help but do a lot of those expected "Senior Moment" things. This is for those of us who still have most of our faculties about us.
1. Constantly complaining. When you are in a group of people and someone asks, "How are you doing?," don't go down a laundry list of things that ail you. How are you doing, is a natural part of a greeting in most cultures. People don't really want to know what is wrong with you. I know that sounds strange. But, it's true, so very true. Best way to answer this is , "Oh, I'm doing fairly well, how about you?" And then just drop it. Of course, I realize you are opening yourself up for the same by asking someone else how they are doing.
2. Don't judge, lest ye be judged. With our years, decades of experience, we think we know it all. With that knowledge comes a certain degree of a judgmental attitude. Just because things aren't done the way they were when we were kids, doesn't mean we should be holier than thou. Times change, and so do people. The clothes we wore as kids do not translate well to kids of today. It's very easy to sit back and say, "Well, in my day we would have walked 40 miles in 10 feet of snow to get to school." Sure you did. Times change. You have to accept that.
3. Volunteer work. I noticed a lot of us 50+ folks say a lot of denigrating things about life today. But, not many of us try to do anything to change things. Get out and volunteer in your community. You have a lot of knowledge to share. Make use of it in various things such as at the local animal shelter (which I do occasionally), local hospitals, church ministries, and so on. You have lots of time on your hands these days. Make use of it in a positive way.
4. Exercise. Just because you are retired does not mean you should sit around the house all day on the couch or easy chair. You would be doing yourself the biggest favor in the world if you exercise on a daily basis. Sitting around is dangerous. Blot clots, stroke, heart attack are all side effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
5. Socialize. You will find that once you leave the workplace, not many of your still working friends will make themselves available to you. I noticed this also within just a couple of months of retirement. That is a big adjustment. Sure, you'll have friends for life with some from your days in the workforce. But, make new friends. There are plenty of people to meet at (wait for it) the Senior Centers in communities and local churches. Get involved, cut a rug at weekly dances, mingle and just make new friends. I had to learn all this the hard way. I was stunned how quickly my so-called friends at work forgot me. That still hurts. But, I have new friends now.
Just because we are locked in with stereotyped words and phrases, does not mean we have to go down that road. In your retirement years, you can be different. Break the mold, be all you can be (No, I don't mean join the U.S. Army).