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"SENIOR CITIZENS": Disposable Americans

Updated on June 26, 2008

New TV Show: "Who Wants to be a Senior Citizen?"


by Helen Borel

Introduction With a few current editorial fixes, this piece was written at 4:25 a.m. on January 2, 2001. It's a cautionary dramatization of what every American, who isn't wealthy - which means the majority of us - has to look forward to as we mature in a society rife with rampant and open ageism.

Here's how the game show goes: Right off the bat (or is it "old bat"), you have NO LIFELINES! In fact, the real purpose of this game show - "Who Wants to be a Senior Citizen"- is to get rid of seniors as quickly as possible (as in lousy nursing home care for Alzheimer's patients and other chronically ill elderly) - or at the very least, the aim is to hide seniors from public view.

The Fickle Fastest-Finger Test Dah-dah! Enter with the suspense music...Regent, the boy host. Ta-dah!

"I give my unworthy older folks the finger - oops, I mean here's the first fastest-finger test: Put the following items in order of importance to you, starting with the most important - A. Food B. Rent C. Health D. Some Income."

Ha! Ha! That's a trick question. No one got it right. They're all simultaneous needs. Without one, the others are compromised. We know that.

Social Insecurity Peanuts for 4-to-6 Decades of Hard Work

Here's the real plan, the rotten hidden agenda that will fix our Social Insecurity system once and for all: If we pauperize our "seniors" by excluding them from age-discriminatory workplaces and then "reward" them for 4 to 6 decades of work service with Social Insecurity peanuts, the nation can soon reduce its roster of Social Insecurity "beneficiaries" by attrition.

Attrition from illness and untimely death due to inadequate housing and poor diet up to starvation. Attrition resulting from questionable to negligible healthcare due to Medicare payment limitations, and high Medicare premiums plus extra Medicare Part D medication premiums - plus deductibles and co-pays - that further impoverish our elders and, because of lack of money, preventing them from actually going for the medical care they are paying premiums for.

Finally, attrition due to depression resulting from despair of having no residual money to buy a winter coat, to pay a TV bill, to go to a movie, or to take a bus to the dentist...and inability to pay the dentist, anyway.

So the "Who Wants to be a Senior Citizen" game is played in reverse - the more you have contributed to America and the longer you have lived, the less money you get in the game and the less right you have to be well and happy in your older years.

Eventually, You too will Get to Play in the Worst Game of All

See how easy this game is? And this is a very democratic process game. All Americans get to play it. Except, of course, the rich. Most of whom have inherited their wealth without lifting a finger, without developing any society-contributory skills; or they've acquired their wealth via the sweat, labor and ingenuity of their now "senior" retired employees.

But You Don't Get to Play Your Way because It's an Ageist Set-up

There are 7 levels of play to this game, starting with the one-million-dollar category. Sorry, fifty-year-olds, sixty-year-olds and seventy-year-olds, the only contestants eligible for this first question are, specifically dot-up-and-comers.

In other words, only 15-to-17-year-olds have a right to this question and here it comes Biff, Tawny, and Techie: "Who was an American painter in the primitive style who became an artist in old age? A. Moses Maimonides B. Moses, Prince of Egypt C. Grandma Moses D. Charlton Heston."

"Well, none of you nerdies got that one right, heh, heh. Too bad for the seniors, you all knew it but you can't participate."

"So here's the $500,000 question...." And so goes The Game of Life for American Elders. It's a Catch-22 game, if you live beyond 60.

Cut out of the workplace by ageism. Denied a liveable pension, by poorly invested Social Pension Fund monies contributed from their weekly paychecks over their decades of work, because of Federal fiduciary incompetence.

Poor healthcare due to draconian Medicare coverage restrictions. Nonexistent dental care (no Medicare coverage). Victims of ever-rising rents, food costs, utility costs...all paralleling laughable Social Insecurity "payments".

And the rest of the country - blissfully oblivious to their own march from youth to full maturity - self-righteously plays the actual game of "LET'S MAKE THE LIVES OF GRANDMA AND GRANDPA MISERABLE."

No One Wants to be a Senior Citizen in America

So folks, this is a dead game. No one wants to be a "senior citizen." It just happens one day when you wake up and realize months have accelerated into years, years into decades. And now you're at the mercy of politicians who won't legislate for senior quality-of-life goals," of potential employers who ignore your expertise, experience and skills because they just can't get past your date of birth.

Strangely, you're also left in the lurch by an EEOC (unequal employment opportunity commission) that doesn't enforce elder job rights; and by a disgusting but pervasive nationwide attitude that devalues older Americans, excludes them from remunerative work and then turns on these same job-seeking elders, complaining of their unavoidable need for public services.

Is this How You Want Your Grandparents to be Mistreated...or Yourself When You Age?

In the game of life, you're supposed to be respected when you've worked from youth to elder status. But in the good old U.S. of A., elders are disposable. In this kind of climate, don't be surprised at high levels of depression and suicide in the grandma and grandpa years.

Impoverishment, despair, disposed of, depressed...this too is your legacy in America due to ageism in hiring and tiny federal returns on forty-to-sixty years of your paycheck investments into a federal pension fund that taunts elders by claiming it is an "entitlement" like "welfare." And that irresponsibly does nothing to make these forced investments grow over a lifetime to enable a reasonable pension pay-out for a lifetime of hard and dedicated work.

This is their reward for laying the groundwork for improvements in your current quality of life... some of whom have actually, themselves specifically, invented something, changed something, upgraded something so that their children, grandchildren and subsequent generations may live better, more convenient, safer and healthier lives.

This is their reward for contributing their very best to this nation, for raising your parents and for loving you. A game of chance: Should I pay my rent or see the dentist? Should I not buy meat this month so I can pay my electric bill? Should I go for my 21st job interview when, despite my education and work history, the other 20 "inhuman resources" people at jobs I'm highly qualified for rejected me because I'm 69 years old? Should I just take some extra sleeping pills and be done with it?

This is a game you don't ever wish to play.

© copyright 2001-2008 by Dr. Helen Borel. All rights reserved.

For permissions and rights, email me and type in the Subject line "BOREL MEDICAL SYNDICATE"

To access my many articles on mental illnesses and psychotherapy, I invite you to visit


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    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 8 years ago from Ohio

      Wise and well written.....the Social Security system along with our government is pathetic. Leadsership doesn't care because they will still have steaks in their mouths when they get older.......they make sure of that. Thanks for writing this.

    • profile image

      helen 9 years ago

      thanx trish...glad you appreciated my message. best, helen/creativita

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 9 years ago

      Very powerful hub and food for thought. which, after reading this, is about the only food one can afford, thoughts.

      So very sad, but true.

      thanks for sharing,


    • profile image

      Helen 9 years ago

      Thanx, Mariesuewrites - As far as "read, walk, help others and attend functions...." Well said, but the problems I am bringing to light preclude that. It's quite difficult to take a walk (and relax and enjoy it), when you are worried where your next meal is coming from. Difficult to enjoy a good read when you haven't enough money for next month's rent (and can't get a job due to ageism). And, we'd all like to "help others," but first we must be able to pay the dentist, pay (deductibles and co-pays and premiums) for our health checkups, pay for our medications, buy some food and perhaps a new pair of shoes or a winter coat. Finally, lacking all the latter items, "attending functions" (in other words, having any kind of a social life) is out of the question, totally.

      Mariesue, I'm not talking about elders who don't know what to do with their lives or who don't have sharp minds or who are interested in being couch potatoes. I'm talking about "once middle-income" Americans who worked all their lives, saved their "extra" funds, paid into the Social Insecurity system for 40 to 60 years, and due to an illness or another unavoidable life event have depleted their savings, and due to ageism are given zero opportunities to work and recoup a modicum of financial well-being so they can live their later years paying for their own bare necessities. Many Americans fall into this category...Senior Citizen Centers don't help. What is needed are jobs so elders who can work can earn as long as they wish to and need to. Best regards, Helen (a.k.a. Creativita)

    • marisuewrites profile image

      marisuewrites 9 years ago from USA

      I have a soft spot for elders, and one day I hope to be one. We should all strive to help the elderly in our family and out. Good legislation, caring programs, and neighbors who are alert to abuse and needs are the answer. We can and should help ourselves as much as possible. Read, walk, help others and attend functions and activities that keep our mind working is a must. Thank you, for bringing this to the surface. It is depressing, but necessary for us to think about.

    • profile image

      Creativita 9 years ago

      Thanx for your commentary Constant Walker. There's so much more to be said on this subject, but I'm too aggravated about it to tackle it more at this point...and there are many other topics that need to be written about.

      Your mom is indeed very fortunate to have a son like you and other family members who care about her so she doesn't have to worry about the things I mentioned above that hurt so very many Americans.

      And, it's not just about poverty-elders...I'm talking about so-called "middle-class" elders who are being reduced to poverty because of the American mindset against our elders and the shamefully low Soc. Insecurity pensions the Fed'l gov't condescends to pay, and the financial irresponsibility of those investing our Soc. Insecurity dollars without any intention of investing that money for reasonable growth over such a long period of everyone's working life.

      Also, many elders, especially those with exceptional skills and professional training and expertise, wish dearly to work and earn their way...and to better their living and eating conditions and to look after their own healthcare. BUT AGEISM IS RIFE IN AMERICA. So many elders capable and willing to work fall through the cracks of an uncaring society. ...let me stop here, or I'll only get more aggravated about this subject. Thanx for your feedback...regards, Helen (a.k.a. Creativita)

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Creativita, tragically true. I cooked in a hospice home for a couple years and have seen this first hand. Thankfully, and I am SO thankful, my own mother, now age 69, is healthy, in good shape, and does not depend on medications, but still, she has the full support and any help needed by myself and my cousins.

      She knows, and is comforted by the fact, she will not want so long as even one of us breathes.

      Good hub. Important hub.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 9 years ago from South Africa

      Helen Change the locus and you pretty much have the same scenario here in South Africa. You touched a chord and are perhaps a little too close to home for comfort. Fantastic hub. I really enjoyed it, despite the chord jarring moments (which were most of them).