So what does our population do as it grows older?

By Alan S. Chartock | October 27, 2022


So what does our population do as it grows older? We all know that the older you get, the more problems you are likely to have. Memory loss and physical problems can plague people as they age. There are some things that might make life easier. You can take up residence in a community that is designed for older people. Many of who bought homes years ago find that they are expensive to maintain. Even though our homes have increased in value, they still take a lot of effort across the board to keep up. Many of us have resisted formal retirement because we simply don’t have the resources to keep living at the level which we have enjoyed and Social Security benefits don’t begin, in most cases, to cover the bills.

There are some myths about traditional retirement. One of these is that when you hit the magic age of 65, you retire. I have continued to work into my early eighties. I do that because I love my job. I value my productivity in the same way others have hobbies. The problem is that our need to work sometimes loses in a race to reality. First of all, there really isn’t enough work to go around. People will have to make up jobs as we go forward. If enough jobs don’t exist, we will just have to be more creative in creating them. There were several authors who predicted that by the time we reached where we are now, there would not be enough jobs. That has proved not to be the case.

Old age should be a blessing. All of our cumulative experiences are a road map to our character. We do tend to make the same mistakes over and over again and that is a big problem. It may be as simple as leaving dirty dishes in the sink with the expectation that someone else will clean up our mess. How many times have you felt that you should do the physically challenging act of kicking yourself in your own rear end? As human creatures we do tend to replicate our mistakes. You’ve got to wonder why, when we know that our behavior is counter-productive, do we do it again?

Think of the really stupid things that you did as a child and have continued to do later in life. When as a kid I was confronted by a bully, I could really feel the blood rising to my head. To this day, I have to confront my own temper in similar situations.

There was this one time when my kids were very young. My wife and I were taking a trip and the kids were in the back seat. Another driver got behind us and pulled up right to my rear bumper and I got furious. I slowed down to a crawl, which made the guy tailgating me even madder. So to the great consternation of my wife I literally stopped my car and the guy behind me stopped his car and I got out to confront the bully. Roselle was furious and started yelling at me to get back into the car. Her actual words were “Alan Chartock, get back in this car.” My tailgater then approached our car and said to my wife, “Don’t worry, lady, I’m not going to hurt him.”

I said, “Get away from that car.”

“Or what?” he asked.

“Or I’m going to have to hurt you,” I replied.

The guy, who was considerably bigger than I was laughed and said something like “Yeah, you and what army.”

That was a good example of my being a jerk, yet again. No matter how old we get, it seems that character never changes.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]