Attaining six decades is the age that many people get fearful of. It is life’s reality check for many as they prepare to check out of their regular work schedules, something they have been virtually addicted to for 30 years or more without blinking an eye.
For some, it is trepidation as they prepare to pack from work stations and relocate permanently at home to face the realities of a nagging spouse. Incomes begin to shrink sooner and spending cuts set in. It is the time that two meals per day are just about enough.
Old age now becomes real as the first look in the mirror each morning reveals the wrinkles. Baggy eyes and the grey hairs that never seemed to have been there during busy active life now surface. For many ladies, regular make-up begins to gradually fade off as the reality dawns.
It is the age where joints ache badly and particularly for the ladies, high heeled shoes begin to give way to flat heels. If you are not lucky, your back may need support as you sit or lie down. Frozen shoulders set in making it constantly difficult to stretch an arm to join in communal prayers at church when your pastor asks for hands to be stretched for a prayer session. Senior citizen status is the age when suddenly one notices a change in one’s dieting, where cooked food becomes blunt and unattractive, yet one must eat to risk starvation or malnourishment.
The doctor may issue warnings against one’s regular intake of salt, sugar, red meats, oils, delicious soups like palm nut and groundnut soups. Indeed, the checklist never ends at that age. One’s favourite bites and sips become a stay away from. One’s diminished income gets impinged upon by doctors. But be happy because senior citizenship brings some pluses and preferential treats.
Time to count blessings
It is only now, in the deep of the year of six decades plus that I have been reflecting and realised that it is no age to groan about. It hurts badly to lose a dear one at that age as memories of the loss of my father at age 65, snatched by a disease that today is very curable still beats me. At the time, medical advancement was not so pronounced. Today, with all the medical advancement at our disposal, why should anyone worry about 60 years? It is time to count one’s blessings.
Time and time again, I have discovered that retirement is not a time of retardation. It is the time to pursue all kinds of activities and hobbies that one once dreamt of but never got round to doing. It is time to join and be active in one’s church activities and many more social groups, catching up with friends and relations. It is the time to go through the wardrobe and thoroughly sift out and begin to go on give-away sprees. The recipe that never got tried out suddenly comes to you. The visit to places of interest, to friends and relations, far and near begin to get space in one’s calendar.
It can be the age or ripened ideas, time indeed to pluck the flourishing ideas and place the wealth of knowledge and experience acquired over the years at the disposal of the church, society and community. Should such depth of accumulated knowledge be just discarded simply because one has crossed a self-inflicted age barrier? I don’t think so.
That is why I find it difficult to appreciate how and why we continue to peg the age of retirement at 60. Any wonder that some people still find ways to cheat the system and alter their dates of birth when they get employment?
We should begin to consider extending the age of retirement in our country to at least 65. We should not let rich minds rot away because of age barrier when in other countries such fertile minds are tapped into until a compulsory retirement age of 65 or 70 in some cases. It is not surprising that in America for example, in certain quarters, compulsory retirement age is not a matter of course. People stay on in their jobs till they themselves decide to bow out. In the media, for example, they have kept key news anchors and journalists whose names have traversed generations, allowing readers, listeners and viewers to benefit richly from the investments made in those employees over the years.
The caging we have set for ourselves regarding compulsory retirement age needs to be assessed. In my view, the social security contribution pot would even be enriched better if contributors stay on longer. Straight jackets may be needful in certain considerations of life but let us begin to look at extending the expiry date for compulsory retirement.