No matter how old, celebrate each day

Published 9:20 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

From the time I was a child until sometime in my 20s, my perception of “old” meant people who were 30 or older.

On my 30th birthday, I thought I was over the hill. So when I reached that milestone I adjusted the bar higher.

Old age became 40.

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After I reached 40 until 60, I determined it was all downhill from that point forward and I accepted each decade without fanfare when it arrived.

Right before my 59th birthday, I started getting unsolicited mail that did nothing to bolster my morale. There were ads for burial plots, hearing aids, adult diaper coupons and final expense insurance applications.

Soon thereafter, my Medicare card arrived along with an AARP membership card.

At Frisch’s, the waitress even asked if I wanted the senior discount.

When you are 62, you have the option to begin receiving monthly Social Security benefits. Social Security is like a little prize for all those mornings you staggered out of a nice warm bed, drank too-hot coffee as you ran out the door and scraped ice off your windshield with a credit card because you couldn’t find any of the half-dozen scrapers you bought last winter.

Social Security is like a game of “Deal or No Deal.”

Behind door number one, you get to start drawing Social Security at age 62, but the amount will be decreased.

Behind door number two, you start drawing Social Security at your full retirement age and they’ll give you a little more money for being so patient.

Behind door number three, you hold out until age 70 so they give you almost double what you would have received had you taken door number one. I call this the “dangling carrot option.”

I didn’t know which option to choose, so I consulted with my accountant. He put it in terms I could understand. “How’s your health? Are you superstitious? Afraid to walk under a ladder? If your health is just so-so or you’re afraid you might get hit by a bus tomorrow, you should go on and start drawing your Social Security at the earliest possible age.”

Now, I don’t have any chronic illnesses, but I’m a total klutz so I chose door number one.

My perception of old has now been pushed out to age 70. The year I turn 70, my son will be 50, and I’ve already reserved a month at a spa to recover from the trauma.

When you’re born, your parents celebrate your time on Earth in days, weeks, months and then years. You become proud when you reach 16, 18 and 21.

At 65, they throw you a party and you begin a new phase called retirement. Then you make it to 70. They marvel when you’re still around at 90. Then, they whisper, “Bless her heart, she’s 100 years and six hours,” so as not to wake you from your nap.

Whatever age you are, I hope you celebrate every single day.

See you next month!

Anne Carmichael is a “Geri-Antics” lifestyle columnist for The Jessamine Journal.