From time to time I have written about the positive aspects of aging. I have said, and still believe, that I have more liberties now than I ever had when I was young. At my age, I can say and do almost anything and people will just smile and let me be, probably thinking that they shouldn’t argue with me because I have one foot on a banana peel and the other foot in the grave and I can’t last that much longer.
All of that may be true enough but old people worry about a lot of other things that we don’t usually worry about when we’re young. For example, when I was in my twenties and thirties, I was more worried about social conditions. Now that I’m so much older, I hear my contemporaries talking about their health problems and worrying that their children are going to put them into a nursing home and leave them there to die.
It might not be true that their children would do such a thing, but they worry about it nonetheless. They worry about falling down and breaking a hip and the fact that many older people never fully recover from it. They also worry about living alone and no one being there for them when they need the comfort and support of someone who loves them.
The younger generation would like to believe that old people are happier because we don’t have much of a future to plan for and worry about. True, we don’t have to make decisions about pension funds, life insurance, health insurance, climbing the corporate ladder to get a leg up in our career, but now we have a different set of concerns that get in the way of our supposed nirvana-like happiness.
Now we have to worry that our politicians, who keep stealing our Social Security funds to the point of almost bankrupting us, are going to, one day, pull the rug out from under us and dismantle the whole program that we have funded with our blood, sweat, and tears, not to forget, with our own money, as well. We also have to worry that they will dismantle our Medicare program.
While we don’t have this long-range future to worry about, we do have this long-range present to worry about. Our future is now. So, are we any happier?