February 25, 2013

Pay It Forward

The movie, Pay it Forward, was a minor hit in 2000. It starred Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osmet, and Helen Hunt. I felt the movie's message of doing good deeds for others was seriously diminished by the death of Haley's character and the darkness of the movie as it careened to an ending. But, the acting was excellent. If you don't remember this flick, here's the trailer:


 
 
 
So, why am I bringing this movie up on a blog about retirement? Simple: a reader made a reference to her looking for ways to pay it forward as she begins her satisfying retirement. A little different from the usual approach to volunteering, she suggested that younger retirees look for ways to help older retirees. I thought that was a very important comment. Why? Because we tend to think of retirees as a homogeneous type of person. Someone who is retired is just like anyone else in that category.
 
But, that is obviously not true. Someone who has been retired for a few years, or retired at a younger age than most is very different from someone a decade or two older. The needs, interests, and requirements are just as different as those of a 25 year old and a 45 year old. She got me thinking of ways to pay it forward in this specific case. What could younger retirees do to come to the aid of their seniors?
 
There isn't room on this post to list all the possibilities, but consider these examples:
 
*Help set up a computer so he or she can use it to communicate with family and friends by e-mail or Skype.
 
*Help with basic financial bookkeeping or organizing files.
 
*Drive to appointments or shopping trips.
 
*Become a surrogate family member or friend to someone who is widowed or lives alone.
 
 *Help sort through photographs or write down family stories.
 
 
And, to expand on her idea, an older retiree can certainly help someone newly retired in all sorts of ways:
 
 
*Help him or her understand Social Security or all the decisions involved in beginning Medicare coverage. 
 
* Support someone during the initial transition from employment to retirement with encouragement and practical tips.
 
*Share your experiences in finding how best to use your time and find your passion.
 
*Act as a surrogate grandparent to a grown child of a retiree who needs someone other than a parent to talk to.
 
 
The reader's comment and what it suggests are very important. I believe most of society thinks of retirees in a certain stereotypical way - certainly in terms of our needs and interests. We are all alike.
 
But, that is simply not true. When retirement is seen as another phase of life instead of the last gasp of a life, it becomes obvious that the wishes and requirements are different depending on the age of the retiree. Helping those older or younger than we are to navigate that journey can be a tremendous use of our knowledge, wisdom, experience, and time.
 
It is a tremendous way to Pay it Forward.
 


15 comments:

  1. Bob,

    I fall under the category of young retiree (53). When I go to OLLI classes, I'm usually the youngest person in the room and I see significant differences between younger and older retirees. I didn't really pay much attention to the differences, but this post has got me thinking. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't really considered the differences either until this topic was suggested by a reader. But, once you think about it there really are huge differences between the needs of a 53 year old retiree and a 73 year old person.

      Delete
  2. It's quite coincidental that you posted this, as just yesterday afternoon at my book club meeting I bumped into a bored retiree that clearly needed a hand in working to identify and bring some new passions into her life. The individual, a widow, kept stating how bored she was. She's actually far from boring to talk too, being very, very well versed in literature, so I suggested she consider hosting a few of our upcoming book club discussions. Initially she was unsure, but the more she gave it thought, the more excited I could see she was becoming.

    Such a small effort on my part, it's almost embarrassing. But what a difference it made in her life as she walked away brimming over with ideas. I loved seeing it happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you (and her), Tamara. Just being aware of someone else can make a huge difference. Tuning into that person will open up opportunities to help.

      Delete
  3. That's a great idea; I've found that reaching out to help someone else ends up helping me more than the other person.

    pam

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it alays the way? The payback from helping someone else is well worth the effort and time.

      Delete
  4. Great idea. I'll have to think on it for a while, but I'm a big believer in paying it forward.
    Thanks!
    b

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A friend of mine will turn 70 in a few weeks. He goes to teach a Bible study class at a center where the average person is in his or her 80's. They view the visits from this fellow with great anticipation because most are no longer able to leave the retirement center. It takes him a hour or two a week but pays off tremendously for them and him.

      Delete
  5. Agree, brilliant, refreshing idea that I hope to put into practice soonest. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tom, and thanks to the reader who suggested it.

      Delete
  6. Really good ideas here. One not mentioned involves living in a planned community. We were in one consisting of 70 townhouses for many years. Normally, the younger retirees held the homeowners association offices and part-time jobs, thus serving the older folks who not longer had the ability or desire to do the tasks. Sometimes the service was reversed. A few people held the service positions for many years and became the older retirees serving the younger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a good example. In the community where my dad lives there is a resident who helps older residents when they must move from Independent living to Assisted living. She takes care of selling and donating all the extra furniture and clothing that can't make the move and sends the money to the person(s) moving. It takes a real load off of people's minds at a difficult time.

      Delete
  7. I loved the movie and the concept. It seems to have caught on in many contexts. I had not thought of this one, though. I am fortunate to have been able to retire at a younger age than some, and to be in good health. I'm happy to help others when I can. I often give rides to or run errands for some of the more senior folks in my neighborhood on at my church. I know they appreciate it, and I'm sure I will when I'm older and need some help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betty and I just started watching the new Kevin Spacey series on Netflix. That role is very different from the teacher in Pay It Forward.

      Older seniors are often homebound. Any offer of a ride or even companionship can be very important. Good for you, Galen.

      Delete
  8. As a first-year snowbird, I'm in the midrange of ages in this part. I've had a couple of conversations with people 20 years older than me. Their needs and priorities are quite different from mine. Mostly they needed a listener, which I can do.

    ReplyDelete

Comment moderation is in effect.