Nancy Levant
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Senior House-Sharing: How to live in tough times

Senior House-Sharing: How to live in tough times

Having been force-cut to part-time employment at age 58 while still supporting my youngest child, and also force-designated as a “senior citizen” at age 55, I have since discovered that most people of my age have found themselves in similar situations they never anticipated.

I had planned to retire at 65 (having worked since I was 16), which later was upped to age 67, the age of full Social Security benefits in my state. Today I am nearing 61, and 67 seems like a long way’s off for someone who has already worked 45 years. Yet, it is apparent that 51 years of employment is the new mandate. The problem, however, is employers have cut employees to part-time to avoid offering health care benefits. Part-time wages for “seniors” lowers Social Security benefits, profoundly limits the ability to live reasonably, healthfully, and safely, and half-wages prevent us from saving money for eventual retirement and health care.

These common problems also affect younger people in the U.S. and globally, but the results for senior-aged people are more permanent as human resource departments continue to cut older workers in epidemic numbers, opting for lesser paid younger employees without experience and who are often less educated (lower pay scale).

Today’s senior citizens are confronted with financial struggles that are next to impossible to overcome. Equally, the dilemma exists that there are fewer people working, with many more collecting welfare and other social services, which makes the future of Social Security grim. Remember that Social Security, forcibly deducted from all paychecks, is not an entitlement. It is money forcibly taken from paychecks that were labored to earn. Social Security is our money, and I do not appreciate the government telling me at what age I can collect my money—particularly if my paycheck-deducted money has somehow disappeared into offshore accounts or global wars.

I, like many other seniors, am barely able to survive. Personally, I cut grocery buying to 8.5 months out of the year and am forced to forego things like cell phones and television service though I am required by my part-time employment to have high speed Internet and telephone service—a $120.00 monthly bill. Medical care was ended two decades ago due to the cost of employer insurance premiums, and dental care for all but my children ended when the costs became unaffordable 15 years ago. In a nutshell, times are tough and worsening.

I eke out a living but live in fear of being “let go” as so many of my friends of similar age have been terminated and replaced with people in their early twenties, and I fear that the termination of “senior” employees works hand-in-hand with efforts to guarantee that older people do not work long enough to collect full Social Security, which saves the government money…our money… which the government does not want to hand over. I figure my chances of remaining employed to age of 67 are next to nil.

As such, I have advice for people such as myself and many other senior citizens. Here is my list of recommendations:

1.      Remember the TV show “The Golden Girls”? Start talking to people with common beliefs and life-styles about cohabitation/house sharing, because most seniors cannot afford housing, automobiles, yard care, food, medical care, and home maintenance. I also recommend men and women house-sharing as both genders offer unique and necessary skills. Home-sharing is fast becoming very necessary.

2.      Really study and evaluate the cost of medications and whether they are helping you or damaging your brain and major organs. Early death saves the government from providing Social Security and corporate insurance companies from paying back your mandatory health insurance premiums.

3.      Car-share. Once retired, house-sharers can also share automobiles, their maintenance, fuel, licensing, and insurance costs. One car should do for three or four people who are retired.

4.      Food. Buying in bulk is necessary, saves money on gasoline and wear and tear on automobiles, and all food expenses should be shared. Eating at home vs eating out, and eating raw vs cooked foods helps to save on power bills. Eat more salads and fresh fruit. Buying meat in bulk is also cost efficient. Growing vegetable gardens is necessary as well and should be no problem for multiple seniors under one roof. Fire pit cooking is also an economical and fun way to prepare food.

5.      Get a shared house with a fireplace for power outages and extra heat, and preferably a house with a wood stove. Buying cords of wood in bulk is much less expensive than monthly winter power bills. If you have a house with wooded acreages, you can always find cutters who will cut your wood for free if you allow them to also take wood for free.

6.      Don’t be difficult “old people”. Instead be open to change, new life-styles, and new ways and opinions, and also leave familial baggage behind. Make a new home-based family based on conjoined resources, help, and friendship.

I admittedly have not yet gone this route but am considering my future as an empty nester, which I acknowledge is not going to be good. Therefore, let us all consider our futures and how we can best survive in this foolishly created economic nightmare; one that leaves “seniors” vulnerable to abject poverty. Most of us cannot work full-time or to age 67, 68, or 70 years-of-age. The only way to deal with this concocted and theft-based burden is to share it.

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