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Hugh Deadwyler column: What do I do when I get older?

I’m a senior now — and not in high school. I wish! But I’m still under 60. So I’m a “young” senior (does this make me a junior?) Actually, I am, because I’m named after my father.

But enough nonsense. I’m wondering, now, about becoming a more-aged elder and about what I will have, and what I will do, when I get older?

Must I start wearing a felt brim hat with a feather in the band? Or maybe one of those flat-top snap-brim driving caps?

Must I also be passionately involved in researching my ancestral forebears through the practice of genealogy; finding such things as deeds of property and a certificate of marriage for my great uncle once-removed?

Will I have to drive a Buick Special and eat out every night at a cafeteria? And must I, when I get older, helplessly wring my hands and withdraw all of my savings, in cash, when an unscrupulous contractor tells me I have to have a new roof, along with having my driveway repaved? (I don’t have a driveway, and besides, on the roof thing, I don’t own my house, I rent it.)

But does it mean, on the other hand, that if that contractor gives me a few more additional years, I would go for it?

No! It does not mean that. And, yes, there are older people who through lack of capacity, experience or social isolation do fall prey to those types of pitches. But they don’t typify “persons of age.”

The truth is that seniors are valuable, not only for their contributions to the lives of friends and family, but also in the world of work — and volunteering. Worthy seniors include both today’s elders and also members of the baby boom generation who are finding themselves “suddenly senior” as time goes by.

The senior boom is further reported by AARP Magazine that tells of an online entrepreneur who, initially, started an employee matching service for teens. But she then discovered that her clients (retailers, restaurant chains, and business-service companies) all wanted her to do something similar for workers ages 50-plus.

Kay Jackson, a spokesperson for Radio Shack says, “People in their 50s and 60s have a great work ethic, and they want to spend time with customers.”

The esteem with which corporate America is starting to view senior workers is exemplified, here in Salisbury, by my next-door neighbor.

Now retired, his “managed” retirement fund from where he worked for over a decade was completely lost in the stock market blowout of 2000.

Recently, my neighbor was eating breakfast with a friend at Jeter’s. He told his friend how prescription drug costs for him and his wife were taking an ever-larger bite out of their Social Security check. And he said how it might be beneficial for him to have a part-time job.

A woman at the adjoining table stood up and introduced herself. “I couldn’t help but overhear that you might be considering a part-time job,” she said. (She was the personnel manager for a major local retail chain.) And she added, “We really value our mature workers.”

She invited him in for an interview and now he works at least 25 hours a week with a flexible schedule.

Cultures other than our own have typically valued their elders more than we do. However, seniors are becoming less categorized by chronological age and more looked upon as valuable workplace and volunteer contributors. All in an ever increasingly appreciative society.


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