No More Golden Years
So you are blessed to have made it to your golden senior years. This is a time to rejoice, relax, and truly enjoy all of your life’s accomplishments. It is supposed to be your free time to enjoy the company of family, friends, and loved ones. It is also your time to live vicariously and partake in all of the things in life you were always too busy to do whether it is taking up a new hobby, learning something new, traveling, or simply being with family and friends. Instead, so many of today’s senior population are bogged down with debt, depression, poverty, or medical conditions and rising costs of prescriptions that they are unable to enjoy their golden years. This alarming trend is impacting so many of our beloved seniors yet we as a society are not doing enough to rectify this.
Like so many disparities related to race in today’s society, the COVID-19 pandemic helped to highlight the devastating impact those inequities had on people of color and particularly our senior populations. Many seniors of color unfortunately are not able to quit work when they would like to due to rising costs of everything from food to prescription medication and rent. Seniors are often penalized if they manage to have a few assets or live in a house they own which can count against them receiving critical healthcare coverage or other needs-based programs.
The pandemic helped to shed light on these issues as access to quality healthcare was already lacking as well as access to healthy living conditions. Too often families are unable to provide home assistance and have to put their loved ones in nursing facilities. Some of those same living facilities failed our seniors long before the pandemic came to rush their demise. The often expensive facilities lack quality care and almost always bankrupt families while trying to cover the costs and force them to sell off what little assets they have in trade for subpar care. If a senior is lucky enough to manage at home, many do not have pensions to cover their living expenses and as such, need to go back to work part time or sacrifice their quality of life.
As future generations evolve, we tend to learn from the mistakes made by prior generations. Sometimes although we learn, society throws curve balls that truly do not allow us to move forward. If a loved one gets sick the astronomical prices for healthcare or maintenance of a health issue can be enough to cause someone to make sacrifices in other aspects of their life quality.
Two things to learn. One, we must work to correct the lack of planning for the future that so many do in our communities by teaching our children and young adults the time to prepare for retirement is as young as possible. We must educate ourselves and our families on finances and estate planning. Secondly, we must pour resources into services for our eldest members and help raise awareness on various programs that can help. If you know of a local senior center, help to support them and consider volunteering. Also, recommend that the senior member of your family attend or do things to keep their minds sharp and their bodies fit. We want our most treasured population to continue to age gracefully and carefree. No one should be worried about debt or how to afford medication after sacrificing and working so hard in their lives.
The challenge may be to refocus a spotlight on this population and ensure they are not being left out of discussions on improvements to racial disparities in healthcare and in society. They are just as important as our youth. When we hear things like seniors being assaulted or robbed, these things must not be tolerated. Sometimes we are so focused on our youth that we sacrifice our old but is this the right way to solve problems? Equal attention must and should be given to ensuring that our senior populations are well taken care of and are not simply cast aside and disregarded by society. What can we do? We can reach out to the seniors in our lives and assist them when possible with their healthcare maintenance and financial wellness. We can do our due diligence to look for community resources to assist them such as food banks, free health screenings, senior centers, or programs that encourage social engagement, and programs that can help with living expenses. If during your research you are not able to find adequate services, then you should be working with your community partners and leaders to establish programs and resources for the senior community. Let’s be sure to do our part to spotlight this very important demographic that is often overlooked. Help them to achieve a rewarding life during their senior years after doing their part in taking care of us and contributing to society.