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Time is never on our side

I will admit right out of the chute that I have a conflict in addressing this issue of getting old because it describes me. Yet, that should not preclude me from writing about it.

Though I am well past it, people who arrive at the age of 65 have to begin thinking about “old age” because that is the magic number in qualifying for Medicare. Having Medicare is a good idea because, whether you like it or not, your medical costs start going up as you get older.

I joke about it with my doctor on my regular visits as fixing up the old “used car.” I don’t mean to be dismissive or cavalier, but that is the truth. As you get older, your old used car requires more lube jobs and oil changes. It is a good thing that President John F. Kennedy led the charge and then President Lyndon B. Johnson followed through to get old folks health-care coverage in 1965.

What “old” or “older” people soon figure out is that some of our systems, which have always functioned at a high efficiency, start to break down. The most common probably being high blood pressure and heart problems.

Thanks to a lot of pills and pharmaceutical advancements, these issues can be addressed. Yet, all kinds of problems can emerge with various parts of the “used car,” and there is not really an option to turn in the old model for a new car.

So, as you get “old,” you have a choice. You can follow a path of denial … “I am not really getting old,” or you can say “yes” to your predicament and try to live a healthier and more disciplined life.

Most young people, I think, believe that as you get older life becomes a breeze, you can just do what you want and cruise on into the sunset. “Enjoy retirement, don’t have to go to work, live the life!” The truth of the matter is that when you retire, you need to become more disciplined and involved in your own health care if you want to live a long and healthy life.

I remember the national debate in 1965 when Medicare was passed. There were contentions that it was going to result in “socialized medicine” and destroy the health care system in America. Harry Truman had tried to address the health care issue but without success. President Kennedy had advocated health care coverage for the elderly, but it was President Johnson who actually signed Medicare into law. Though there were some Republican votes for it, by and large it was the Democratic majorities in Congress that year that pushed it through. (1964 had been a big election year landslide for Democrats.)

I don’t know of anyone over 65 today (and that includes my Republican friends) who aren’t happy they now have Medicare. Without it, the “big ticket” costs like heart and back surgery or hip and knee replacements just wouldn’t be affordable for the vast majority of the aging population.

Even with Medicare, don’t think that getting old is a “piece-of-cake.” The old used car just keeps getting older and you have to keep dealing with it.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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