For people who are over the age of 60, there is the perennial question, When Do I Retire ? Do I announce that I’m leaving at 65; do I stay until 66, 67,68 or do I stay until 70? Of course, the year that you were born will factor in regarding Social Security estimated retirement payments. If you have other investments-pensions you also have to decide when to start drawing the monthly payments.

This whole process of retirement has changed in America. I can remember when people retired at age 65 from their job, whether it was with the government, a company, a corporation. Usually, there would be a big farewell party. The Supervisor or the CEO would present a farewell gift to the employee who was retiring “i.e. maybe a plaque, a set of golf clubs or a pen or even a gold watch”. The transaction of giving this gift was seen as a sign of the employer’s gratitude for the hard work of the retiring employee.

Now, that has all changed. People will announce their retirement and two weeks later they are gone. There is no mention of a party, gifts, nothing. This reminds you of how the old deceased Premiers of the Soviet Union (USSR ) were handled. Take Leonid Brezhnev,for example, they laid his body in the ground to the sound of a funeral dirge.

Then bam! The music changed; it was more up-tempo ,and there was no further mention of him. It’s like the scene in Woody Allen’s movie “Love and Death.” The Diane Keaton character puts a bedsheet over the head of the still Woody Allen character and turns to the camera and says:

“ I don’t believe in a long mourning period.
Where do we go for lunch? “

Lots of people can feel, one way or another, that their life -time work is being dismissed when they leave. Right now, I know of several therapist friends of mine, that I have known for years, who are dead or who have moved away. My once large consulting group is now down to maybe one person.

It’s a strange feeling.

According to the Census Bureau for 2016, in the age group of 65-69 there were 16,820,000 people retired. For the age range of 70-74, there were 11,810,000 retires. (Telephone Conversation with Kristina 04/10/2018 1.301.763.3030.)

These numbers would not reflect necessarily those who are working part-time at one or more jobs. Many retirees are concerned with maintaining standards of living, when and if to sell property and what to do regarding plans for long- term care. Here illness of spouses, partners, adult children and other significant family members can have a great impact regarding what retirees do with living arrangements and health care expenses.

Not too long ago, I had a Supervisor, who by the way was a Chief of a service, tell me “Well, now we have to work hard to supervise and train these young professionals into the profession.”

I grimaced when I heard this, not because there wasn’t truth to this observation, but the sound, tenor and meaning was far too dismissive of those who were older and who had worked hard building a body of quality work.

The way some older adults are leaving the work force really does feel like that “it’s worse than the Gold watch! “

I’ve never known anyone who has longingly wanted to become “a human artifact. “

A lot of people want to continue to be thriving contributors in body, mind and spirit contributing to the greater good of the society and the world.

Where is Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers, when we need her?

May it be so.