Entitlements Undermine Independence

By dialing a phone number, pharmacies will deliver our subsidized pills for free. The local grocery store will shop for us and deliver our order of processed food ready to zap into the microwave. Restaurants will gladly provide their popular menu items. If we lack the desire to order and microwave our own food, volunteers with Meals on Wheels will appear at our door with subsidized, nutritious food on a regular basis. The eligibility requirements for this service are very lax, as I once discovered upon volunteering to deliver these meals. Some disabled elders on my weekly route badly needed the help, while a few freeloaders were clearly abusing the service, causing me to wonder why I was doing this job.

Sit in your easy chair, relax, and watch TV. Landscape workers will take care of every outside chore, year-round, to keep your property looking great. Efficient maid and homecare workers will appear weekly to look after the interior, ensuring that every room is spotlessly clean. We will not have to lift a broom or a finger, rinse a dish, or wash a shirt.

If we feel the need to go out and about, but stop driving, our caring society has that covered. A subsidized van is available if necessary, to whisk us to our appointments and return us home. Those over 80 in my community may use public transportation at no cost. With a nod to the driver, the bus will even lower its carriage to allow us to disembark with ease. If we feel adventurous, we can fire up our four-wheeled scooter and zip along any sidewalk that has been especially sculpted to accommodate it. If needed, a subsidized stairlift can easily be installed to transport us to our second-floor bedrooms with the push of a button. If we lack income, we can arrange for free snow clearing and income tax services. Should we suffer from loneliness, a volunteer service will send someone to visit or call us on a regular basis.

As an octogenarian living alone since my wife died, I am keenly aware of the nudges from family to consider a retirement residence or to take advantage of the multitude of services available to seniors. Thus far, except for the services of a house cleaner I have not considered these options.

Householders often make work for themselves, but it is often work that gives them immense pleasure. I enjoy the thrill, after tilling and planting my small vegetable garden, of seeing the green onions, lettuce, and beet tops pop through the soil in early spring. I look forward to planting a variety of tomatoes that I have nourished for six weeks, from seed in my sunroom. Filling my bird feeders is an ongoing task, but the reward is the joy of watching flocks of colourful birds hanging around my back yard year-round.

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