I read a sad article today about the plight of many seniors who don’t have enough money to live on, and have to work well into their later years. According to 2016 statics, almost half of homeless people are over 50?! That is SO sad.
Many people earn barely enough to survive and/or don’t have benefits, and putting money away for retirement is not possible. Most wages, adjusted for inflation, have remained stagnant for decades. Most retirement plans now, instead of the employer guaranteeing a certain amount in retirement, they contribute to a plan managed by the employee, transferring risks of management and market ups and downs to the employee. Many people lost their savings and homes in the recession. Women, especially, lose work time to have children and/or care for aging relatives. Even with medicare, health care can be way too expensive. Benefits for low income people are terribly inadequate. My homeless (over 50 and single) friends in Seattle told me there is a 10 year wait for low income housing.
We didn’t have enough money to manage an adequate retirement in the US, even if we worked until we were 70. That’s why we are here. Now I’m glad because otherwise we have missed this wonderful experience. But, what about others who can’t move? It takes the resources and willingness to even accomplish a move and set up a new life, and success is not guaranteed. What happens to those who are managing because they are working well into their later years? What happens if they become unable to work?
I know, the answer is to get a good job with benefits. and do good planning for your later years. But, what if you don’t want a traditional job, or you can’t get one? What about the entrepreneurs, the artists, the family caretakers, lower wage service people, and others who aren’t on the traditional job path? They can be severely penalized in their later years. Joel was self employed, doing home repairs and remodeling by day, playing music by night. I held part time contract jobs for many of my years so I could maintain control over my work load and work-family balance, and supplemented that by self employed work. We are very lucky to be OK. But, how is it acceptable that so many other seniors suffer in poverty?
</rant> OK, I’m done with this soapbox for the moment, but suffering seniors and homelessness are things that really touch me.
But, we are in Panama now. It’s Jan 11th, Saturday, the first day all week that the wind hasn’t been blowing like crazy. Today it’s just breezy and there are some white clouds in the sky, but now that we are well into summer weather we are not expecting a drop of rain for some time to come. The water is off… again… today. I think it’s been at least a week since the water has been off every day, but thankfully it comes back eventually at night so we can refill our water tank. Word in the neighborhood WhatsApp group is that IDAAN (the water company) is working on something, and there may be lots more work to come over the coming months. People are starting to grumble. I give thanks every day for our water tank system.
There is a Blue Morpho butterfly flying around the yard as I type. It’s mid afternoon, 88 degrees. The family across the street is playing outside and the kids and hollering. It’s another great day in Panama. We are not living on the street in a cold place because of some planning, maybe, and mostly a lot of good fortune. Every day we wake up and give thanks for this life.