It’s become a widespread, if woefully misguided,
catch phrase for forgetfulness … absentmindedness … that far-away look
you sometimes have in the middle of a conversation … the pause that’s
longer than expected when answering a question … that all-too-frequent
clarifying question to your spouse, “What was that you said again,
honey?” You know, that reference to “Senior Moments” (as if such
moments are largely the province of Seniors!).
I have many such moments, whether it’s forgetting
that third item on the mental “to-do” list, or forgetting the point
I’ve been trying to make after getting conversationally off-track with
stories and anecdotes of obvious enormous interest to me, but only mildly
engaging to the listener.
Thing is, I’ve been having these “moments” for
years, and at age 49, I’m still four months shy of the Golden Anniversary
birthday (and already the recipient of a membership offer from AARP and its
many attendant benefits, which I unabashedly accepted, and which are all
mine for a modest membership fee, of course).
Perhaps Senior Citizenship for me will actually mean
MORE retention of mental points, and MORE ability to conversationally
navigate several byways in making a larger point. And that’s precisely the
point of this column, and this month’s overarching theme of Senior
You see, the notion of Seniors as doddering, stodgy
residents of rocking chairs is as outdated as leisure suits and mullets.
The Golden Years may not always have a Midas glow, but
then again “Retirement” no longer means retiring from the brisk,
rewarding flow of everyday life. Working part-time, volunteering, traveling,
starting a second or even third career … these are but a few of the
exciting options that more and more Seniors are exercising every day, adding
zest and fulfillment and rounded edges to lives that earlier may have been
focused mostly or exclusively on caring for, raising, or providing for
With breathtaking (and life-giving) medical advances, a
standard of living that on average is the highest the world has ever seen,
and safer and more efficient automobiles and other labor-saving machinery,
the average life span of today’s Americans is nearly twice what it was a
mere hundred years ago, when the average life expectancy was about 47.
Today, the average life expectancy for men is about 76, for women about 79,
and of those who reach age 65, men will live on average to age 82, women to
age 85. Amazing.
So those who retire in their 50s, after 30 years or so
of full-time employment, could easily be facing (or, we hope, enjoying) as
much time in retirement as they did in full-time employment! And even those
who work until 65 or beyond frequently still have another 20 years or longer
of life without a full-time job.
So much time to have, so much desire to spend it
wisely, so much concern about making the retirement nest egg last, so much
worry about not being a burden to children or grandchildren. Life is surely
different, but it’s just as surely no less complicated in the Golden
The majority of our readers are age 50 or over, and
many still remember “when the lights came on” in Virginia’s rural
areas, thanks to neighbors helping neighbors form member-owned electric
cooperatives. We’ve always been focused on meeting your needs, first and
principally for electricity. But we’ve also always been concerned about
and involved in addressing the larger needs of the community, for affordable
health care, affordable housing, outstanding schools, good roads, and a
diversified job base, to name but a few of the items that make any area
livable and desirable and healthy, economically and socially, generation
For three generations, electric cooperatives have
helped improve the quality of life in communities all over the Commonwealth,
by being locally owned, locally controlled businesses providing a critical
service to areas that otherwise would not have had access to that service.
There are still some areas of Virginia that even today would likely not have
electricity if making a profit were part of the equation. With a
cooperative, of course, it’s not: We operate at cost, and if there are any
profits (we call them “margins”) at the end of the year, we later return
them to our members based on their electricity usage.
And thanks to electric service that’s been both
affordable and reliable, Virginia’s rural areas, small towns and emerging
suburbs have grown and prospered over the last 65 or 70 years. In many
cases, because of all the advances mentioned above and the general
prosperity Virginia has enjoyed, Senior Citizens have been able to live
comfortably in the communities where they were born, or grew up, or worked,
or did all of these things.
The Greatest Generation is still around, though sadly
in numbers that diminish daily. Members of the Baby Boom generation that
I’m a part of are still largely in awe of the accomplishments and courage
of the generation above, even as the oldest members of our generation turn
60 next year.
We hope you enjoy reading our special coverage of
Senior issues. These issues will affect us all and apply to us all, if
we’re lucky enough to reach a “certain age.” The good news today is,
that “certain age” as a marker of ability or options or mental sharpness
is rocketing toward irrelevance.
So here’s to Senior Moments: May we all reach them
and enjoy them abundantly!