Sunday, October 29, 2017

"Age Has A Way Of Sneaking Up On Us"

It's amazing how the passage of time affects us. At an early age, we didn't mind the days flying by - although they rarely seemed to do so. The days until summer vacation, the end of year holidays, a special family weekend, our next birthday, a visit from our grandparents, or anything else desirable appeared to take a long time to arrive.

Then at some point, the days began to go more quickly. Not only that, the weeks, months, and years did as well.

We started school, went on to begin a career, and somewhere along the way started making plans for that day when we would retire, slow down, or change into a more fun pursuit. We were moving from novice employee or entrepreneur to a more seasoned, middle-aged one onward to senior citizen status. 

Being a senior is a moving target. The closer we get to it, the more we add years to what it means to be a senior. If we think back to our thirties or forties (for those can look back at those days), we thought about the time when senior discounts would be available to us - at age 50, 55, 60, 65, or some other age, depending on the services being offered and the type of establishment granting the discount.

The senior discount - whether we've reached that threshold in life yet or not - is a nice reward for years of service. It might be a free beverage (coffee or soft drink), a percentage off our food bill, a discounted airline ticket or hotel stay, a reduced fare movie ticket or rental car, a lower priced haircut (generally with less hair to cut anyway), a special price on a theme park attraction, or special retail shopping days.

Likely, this practice was initially started by businesses as a way of accommodating seniors on fixed incomes and to get them to venture out and patronize their establishments. Now, with many Baby Boomers still working, the fixed income isn't such a part of the equation, but the reward just for attaining the qualifying age is a great bonus.

We can be happy that we have finally qualified for one of life's little perks and to proudly request the senior discount when we are in an establishment that offers it - and then hope that we get a shocked look from the employee helping us that we don't look old enough to qualify for this discount, possibly even requesting to see proof of age. That could make our day.

Of course, we also could choose to essentially ignore the senior discount and downplay it - maybe it will go away. If it's offered, we may or may not take it. Otherwise, we'd just as soon not admit that we are old enough to receive it. We'd rather the world just think of us as a pre-senior.

Nevertheless, whether it's something we really like getting or we would prefer that people not make a big deal of noticing that we have achieved "senior" status, it's a coming-of-age, of sorts, that signals a point in life when we qualify for something just a little bit extra from merchants around us that we have been patronizing for years.

Speaking of coming of age, our homes do that as well. We maybe planned for the home we are in to be our forever home. We also could have acquired it a few years ago and never thought that much about moving from it. Now we are aging in place - by design or by default. This happens to us at some point, and it happens to our clients. It doesn't matter how we all get to this point - and it does seem to sneak up on us. What counts is how we deal with our homes from here moving forward.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.