Mark L. Hopkins: Seniors doing for others
A few weeks back I wrote a column entitled, “Zombie Apocalypse.” It related to my concern with the fact that at this time in history our population is aging significantly and every single day another 10,000 seniors slip past the coveted age 65 mark.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel published an article in the Atlantic Monthly entitled, “Why I hope to die at 75.” His thesis was that those over 75 contribute little to society but take up an inordinate amount of the nation’s health resources. He said, “The nation would be better off if they were dead.” My “Zombie Apocalypse” column raised the question with seniors across the country regarding productivity of seniors in doing for others. The following is a sampling of their reply.
— In Adrian, Michigan, a lady (77) tells me she continues to work for the Department on Aging.
— In Anderson, South Carolina, a senior is involved in the AARP tax-aid program. He worked on more than 500 tax returns last year.
— Another South Carolina senior cites work with the League of Women Voters and services offered and forums held here and there in the region.
— A Hillsdale, Michigan, lady, (83) still gives private piano lessons in her home.
— A man (97) drives for Meals on Wheels and tells me that his activity is usual among his friends in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.
— A lady from Northwest Florida serves on boards and advisory councils and still has time to write books on genes and genealogy.
— A senior couple from Florida cites Baptist Disaster Relief and help with “Mended hearts, Inc.” a support group for those who have had open heart surgery.
— A lady from Imperial Valley, California, tells me she is a volunteer with the adult literacy program held at their local library.
— An Air Force Veteran (84) volunteers at the USO and for the Caring Connections and Children in Crisis Ministries at her church.
— A lady from Crestview, Florida, tells of a 92-year-old friend who serves as a Master Gardener consultant.
— A lady in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, operates cold night shelters and food distribution for the homeless. Several of her friends provide services for the homeless.
— Another Florida lady tells me of her mother who serves as a member of the retired military officers Association and the Republican women’s club.
— A Michigan lady, (84) talks of being a “field interviewer,” for the U.S. Public Health Service. In other words, she knocks on doors and asks questions.
— A Michigan couple, ages 84 and 85, volunteer at their church and at the local hospital Emergency Room.
— One distant friend from Iowa volunteers at Son Valley Youth Ranch each month.
Phrases such as “wearing out is better than rusting out,” and “use it or lose it,” dotted the responses from seniors from all over the country.
I must admit I was not prepared for the volume of responses that came from the “Zombie Apocalypse,” column. What I have shared in this column is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only are seniors all over the nation lending their expertise and services to a variety of community benevolences but they don’t mind telling you about it and sharing stories of their many experiences.
I live in a community of 50,000 with a YMCA, public library, hospital, free clinic, meals on wheels, more than 40 churches, and 60-plus united way organizations that all need volunteer help. Many communities have performing groups who provide entertainment to seniors groups, nursing homes, and assisted living centers. The possibilities are endless.
If I was wondering what a senior will do in retirement I wonder no more. One just has to look over the possibilities and take that all important second step. Get out of the house and keep moving. Wasn’t it old Satchel Page of the old St. Louis Browns baseball team who said, “Never look back, someone may be gaining on you.”?
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and the Anderson Independent-Mail in South Carolina. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states. Books by Hopkins currently available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble include “Journey to Gettysburg” and “The Wounds of War,” both Civil War-era novels, and “The World As It Was When Jesus Came.” Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.