The reluctant senior citizen

When I was first asked if I wanted to join the talented group of writers at What’s Up Yukon and contribute a column that would provide a perspective as a male “senior,” I thought, “I don’t know. I don’t feel like a senior. I don’t even like to admit that I am a senior.”

These reluctant, even renouncing thoughts, became the seed for a mini-journey. Am I a senior? If so, why am I reluctant to say so?So what is a senior citizen? According to Collins English Dictionary:

“A senior citizen is an older person who has retired or received an old age pension.”

According to Merriam Webster’s definition, a senior citizen is:
“…an older person, usually over the age of 60 or 65especially one who is no longer employed.”

According to FindLaw Canada’s website, the age at which senior discounts generally start is 55. However, for many government benefits, you have to be at least 60 or 65 years of age in order to qualify. Most commonly, for the purposes of government benefits, the age of qualification for senior benefits is currently 65. Recently, there have been changes made to Old Age Security (OAS) eligibility. Starting in April 2023, the OAS age of eligibility will rise from 65 to 67.

Yet, if you are 55 and you visit an Arby’s and some McDonald’s locations, you can get a senior discount. (Burger King requires you to be at least 60.) If you move to the United States and join the American Association of Retired Persons, you are entitled to some discounts at the young age of 50. So whether you are a senior citizen or not depends on what year it is, what country you are in and where you are having lunch. Let’s break this down a bit.

According to both of the above noted dictionaries, a senior citizen is an older person. The average life expectancy for a male in the Yukon is 75, so potentially being in the last quarter of my life appears to put me in the “older” category.

I am now receiving an old age pension, so that puts me in the senior citizen category.

Am I retired and no longer employed though? Not really. After working full-time in the same profession for thirty years in greater Vancouver, I now live in Whitehorse. Soon I will receive T4s from five different employers for 2018, but I still seem to have time for volunteer work and my domestic duties.

My age? Even though I lived most of my life in Vancouver, somehow I ended up celebrating my 60th birthday in Tok, Alaska, this past May. Therefore, by at least a couple of age standards I am a senior citizen.

What is my conclusion based on these definitions and standards? There is enough evidence to conclude that I am a senior citizen, but still enough ambiguity for me to remain a reluctant one.

In terms of my personal experiences, the following are things that have definitely made me feel like a senior:

  • Realizing that the people who were training me for one of my new jobs in Whitehorse were easily young enough to be my grandchildren!
  • Going to an elder active activity and having trouble keeping up.
  • Not being able to continue with the “oh, my aching body” classes at the Canada Games Centre due to my aching body.
  • Having arthritis in multiple parts of my body.
  • Realizing all my favorite music is 40 years old or older!
  • Staying up late means going to bed after 10 p.m.
  • Keeping a big jar of prunes on the kitchen counter.
  • Wondering when I am going to fit my nap in, shortly after rising in the morning.

On the flip side, the following experiences have made me feel like I am not a senior:

  • Sledding down the hill at our friend’s house longer than their young grandchildren.
  • Discovering mountain biking in my late 50s and loving it, even after the occasional collision with a tree.
  • Flying through the air on the biggest zipline adventure I have experienced yet.
  • At 60 years old, being the fastest in my leg of the walking teams in the Klondike Trail of ‘98 Road Relay.
  • Embarking on new … ok.
  • Now, wait! I’m struggling to add to this second list while the list of why I am a senior keeps growing in my head.

Hmmm, I guess I am a senior citizen. 
Okay, I admit it. I want that senior discount at the drugstore, I just don’t want to say it out loud to the clerk.

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