Entitlements Undermine Independence

Needing a haircut, I plunked myself down into the barber’s chair, waiting for the slow-moving, 80-year-old barber to pick up his comb and scissors. He opened our conversation by gossiping about the previous client, who informed him that he and his wife had sold their house and moved into an all-inclusive, upscale retirement home. He was baffled as to why a healthy senior would spend $10,000 per month to live in such a sumptuous place.

I said, “For some years now, society has been in a frenzy to kowtow to us seniors, with a dizzying array of services, slowly and unintentionally transforming us into dependent invalids barely able to find the bathroom by ourselves”. The old barber, who had been cutting hair for more than six decades, 45 years of it in the same shop, nodded his head. He asked, “Why would a person in his right mind spend $120,000 per year so that he and his wife could sit around all day with no purpose in life except to devour a few bowls of soup, and engage in idle conversation with a bunch of strangers?”

We seniors are entitled to our entitlements, and let no one tell us otherwise. Critics who frown on our demands may face eternal damnation. Activists who aggressively lobby for free, or government-subsidized goodies on our behalf, are fast-tracked for sainthood. Just like war veterans, indigenous people, and the homeless, seniors have now become classified as a vulnerable species in need of extra special consideration by modern society.

More than 90 per cent of Canadian seniors still live in their own homes. Less than 10 per cent opt for retirement residences while some have no choice but to be housed in longterm care facilities. Although few old people can afford luxurious upscale retirement living, society has pulled out all the stops in its eagerness to make our elder years as stress-free, toil-free, and pain-free as possible. Whether we opt for a retirement residence, or remain in our own homes, we are bombarded daily with opportunities for societal help us to live our lives. To some extent this attempt to make available such a utopian lifestyle is a positive thrust, but it cajoles healthy seniors to give up being active seniors for helpless dependency.

The media ads directed at seniors urge us to take full advantage of services that many of us don’t even need- some free, some provided by retired volunteers looking to be useful, some subsidized, and others provided for a fee.

The world is at our doorstep. Search earnestly and there will be a senior’s service available to allow us to cop out of purposeful living, and exist by having others cater to our needs. Why bother cooking, cleaning, gardening, snow shoveling, shopping, driving, or doing laundry when volunteers, social agencies, or hired homecare providers are just itching to help? The list is long, and growing. If we succumb totally, then perhaps spooning some soup into our mouth will be the highlight of our day.

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Entitlements Undermine Independence

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Dr. James F. McDonald is a retired elementary school principal who lives in Dundas, ON.
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