Seniors Talk About Seniors

seniors in sports car“Well, I think seniors are really doing OK,” she said, “Because every time I see a really expensive car, an old guy is driving it.”

{Read in 3 minutes}  So began a month-long conversation with our summer interns, who were looking forward to prom and high school graduation. Seeing the world through the eyes of young people is — forgive me — “eye opening.” I am not sure who learned more from the experience!

As they prepared for prom, the conversation often turned to fashion — a shared interest for both interns. Quoting a fashion icon, they told me: “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” However, they both felt strongly that older women should dress modestly.

According to the interns, as a teenager and young adult, you are exploring yourself, finding out who you are as an individual. You do this by trying out different clothing trends and different hairstyles and colors, but you should pass this stage at a certain point in time. “By 40 years old, you might look silly trying to pull off those fashion trends. To be honest, I don’t know how I would feel if I saw my own grandma wearing a crop top and short shorts, because that is just something, you don’t expect to see from an older woman.”  

Perceptions of “Old Age” are inextricably linked to health and physical fitness, not fashion. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the financial burden of health care can be very large for some Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those with modest incomes and significant medical and dental needs. Healthcare spending increases with age and is higher for women than men, especially among people ages 85 and over. Medicare beneficiaries’ average out-of-pocket health care spending as a share of average per capita Social Security income is 41%. By age 85, that percentage is more likely to be 74%.

With prom over, and graduation ceremonies approaching, I asked them what they felt were the most important things they learned at SilverSource. One of the highlights included meeting and talking with the seniors in our neighborhood outreach groups. They learned a lot about the specialized support efforts that go into caring for local seniors who are in crisis. We thought that once you retire everything was OK, but we realize now that it is not. Along with another group of touring interns from our local state representative, the consensus was “It’s complicated.” 

As people are living longer, more active lives, we celebrate good health and an active lifestyle. Run, Walk, Swim — go to the gym! For older people challenged by health and financial issues, we need compassion and a caring community for the folks who depend on all of us.

Kathleen Bordelon
Executive Director
Kbordelon@silversource.org
203.324.6584 x 301

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