Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Days of Golden Watches

Trey Smith

My current situation of involuntarily hermit-ness is providing me with some insights on the issues many seniors face upon retirement.

At the outset, it must be acknowledged that I was a bit of a hermit anyway. For most weeks, I probably didn't spend any more than 10 - 15 hours per week out in the social world. I was anti-social by choice. That time range has been whittled down considerably. These days I'm lucky if I interact with other people face-to-face for more than 3 or 4 hours in a week! Were it not for the frequent phone calls from my wife, brother, father and one local friend, I could easily go for several days without hearing another human voice.

When individuals retire -- particularly mandatory retirements based on age -- they often have trouble filling their time day after day. It's not uncommon at all for the newly retired to miss the hustle and bustle of many work situations. If a senior retires in conjunction with health issues, the feelings of loneliness and isolation can be prevalent.

Unless a newly retired person has a large nest egg -- the funds for travel, country clubs and other social outings -- they often face few options. This is painfully true for those who retire on little more than their Social Security. Some seek to blot out the pain of isolation with booze and drugs. Some become mean and cranky or, if they were always mean and cranky, they become more so.

One "remedy" that a lot of seniors fall back on is the television. It provides the opportunity to hear other human voices and this can be very important if you live alone.

Over the past two decades, I had gotten to the point in which I watched very little on TV. Aside from the local news, a few shows on ESPN, The Young Turks, Bill Maher and, maybe, a smattering of documentaries every now and then, I watched no more than a few hours per week. This pattern has changed, however, over the past month. With Della gone and no transportation of my own, I find myself craving other human voices. So, I watch more mindless television.

What can I say? It is what it is.

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