Retirement bliss or worst-case scenario?

A commercial for a senior’s retirement living home this evening brought on an impromptu conversation between my son and I that has me thinking.

The setting for the commercial was the standard, happy and content seniors smiling and laughing and enjoying their golden years. Board games, a communal dining room with a chef that serves “gourmet meals”, lawn bowling and “supervised shopping excursions and outings”. At the same moment both my son and I voiced the sentiment of “I hope to all that’s holy that I never end up in a place like that”. It’s not that it’s a horrible place or that it’s a bad existence… but that’s it, it’s an existence.
There’s the concept that, at that stage of life you’ve worked, you’ve toiled and you’ve earned a time of ease and not having to worry about all the minutiae of life and struggles anymore. No more worrying about meals and bills to pay and chores. Just sit back and enjoy and be taken care of as you wait. For death. For your life to run down and your flame to just extinguish. But let’s think about that… it’s the horrifying sense of being “put out to pasture” that gripped me as I watched the commercial.

My son pointed out that the fact is that in that situation, you would be with everyone else from your peer group. His next remark being that the last time he was in a grouped setting with his peer grouping was high school and that wasn’t all that great. He actually shuddered…

Which begs the question; where are all the seniors with ear tunnels, tattoos and nose piercings in that commercial? I watched the people in the setting and thought how I wouldn’t want to spend every day, day after day, with people that I wouldn’t choose to spend time with now. Did all these people change as they aged? Were they homogenized by the years to the point that they just exist together in the end regardless of whether or not they would have ever chosen to socialize at any other stage in their lives? Do they look around and think “why am I having dinner with these people?” Or, almost worse, does that not even matter? Have they lost who they were?

It’s a sadness that pervades me when I think about someone living out a life of seeming surrender. Surrender to not living how they want or true to who they are. Of giving up. That, to me, is worse than the inevitable end they’re all whittling their time away towards.

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