Maybe you don’t like the term “senior citizen.” After all, our world too often disregards — even casts off — people over — what? — forty?
Routinely, current culture discounts the value and wisdom of life lived, noticing only the physically observable “signs” of aging — wrinkles and skin changes, physical “deceleration,” changing health realities, etc.
But the children, youth, and middle-aged among us all have a tremendous amount to learn from those who’ve been here many decades. Here’s where we find the folks who’ve already made their mistakes and [probably] learned their lessons. Of course they don’t know it all, but they have wisdom for somebody who’s struggling for the first time with the life issues we will all encounter: partnering, raising children, earning a living, staying sane.
Perhaps Senior Life Is Golden; It’s Definitely Different.
What’s so different when you hit (or pass) 60 .. or 70 … or 80? Consider this:
• You’re likely retired from working every day — at least we hope you are (though you may not be and that, too is an issue).
• Most likely your children, if you had them, have moved out (though you may actually be supporting them).
• Perhaps you’ve lost your partner and find yourself living alone, for the first time in many years.
• You may have a chronic physical shortcoming, one that isn’t life threatening, but which must be accommodated in your daily life (dizziness, arthritis, foot and joint pain, skin changes, softer bones, poor balance, gum and teeth deterioration, to name a few).
• You’re tired more often, yet you may have trouble sleeping.
• You may no longer be able to afford or handle the activities you’ve loved: gardening, walking, sports, dining out.
All these realities hit home and — maybe unexpectedly — they impact what, when, how, and even if you’re eating.
How Might Aging Change Your Eating Patterns?
Everybody is different, but here are some of the adjustments you may face in food planning, shopping, preparation, storage, and disposal:
• You try to manage food waste by cooking smaller portions, which means “cooking” more often or eating less.
• For simplicity, you rely more on canned and pre-packaged foods.
• You eat fewer, if any, fresh foods, due to spoilage potential and cost.
• You can’t reach or climb to higher shelves, complicating food and utensil storage.
• You can’t drive to shop and even if you can, it’s difficult to manage heavy groceries.
• Trash disposal is harder, too. Perhaps you must walk a distance to disposal bins.
• You can’t afford to replace kitchen utensils and broken appliances.
• It’s increasingly difficult to clean the kitchen; hand-and-knee activities are a thing of the past.
• Formerly simple tasks (lifting pots of boiling water or opening lids and packages) become treacherous.
• Cooking a family dinner is no longer feasible and you feel a sense of loss about holiday gatherings.
OurFoodNews:Senior Edition Is All About Helping
We see these problems and we know there are solutions. The challenge is to find answers and let you know what we’ve found. That’s what we plan to do in this important section of OurFoodNews: search the Internet to learn how government agencies, private initiatives and — most of all — other Golden Seniors are coping with these issues.
Poverty among seniors is a key part of this discussion. The AARP Foundation has instituted a “Drive to End Hunger,” noting that 9 million Americans 50 and over are hungry every day. That’s unacceptable and, frankly, it’s stupid. Together, we can do better.
So, please share what you know. Suggest ways to help folks who are getting older adjust, save money, find resources, reach out to one another, and continue to enrich us all.