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Good knows, our spirits are willing and eager. If only our bodies would respond in like fashion!

If only we could jump out of bed in the morning rarin’ to go and keep going. If only the sun setting beneath the horizon, wouldn’t take our energies with it.

If only we could regain the enthusiasm of yesteryear, to find everything as important or they once were. Or as exciting. Or necessary.

If only then we seniors would be standing at the lectern, and not sitting in the audience.

O Lord, what we seniors don’t need is a pep talk. What we do need is a pat on the back, a word of praise that we are doing as well, and as much as we are. And that would spur us on to do even better.

Perhaps the young can imagine how it is to walk in the shoes of the old. But they can’t, nor should they know how painful the pinches.

I was so caught up in writing my response to invocation #43, I hadn’t realized it went onto another page. Reading the rest of the invocation, I’m struck by the statement “Perhaps the young can imagine how it is to walk in the shoes of the old. But they can’t, nor should they know how painful the pinches.”

This assertion is especially relevant today with politicians on one side quick to propose extending the retirement age and cutting benefits, and employers on the other unwilling to retain older workers, or expecting them to ramp up their productivity as they implement lean policies. It’s a losing proposition. 

Older Workers and Age Discrimination - infographic Older workers that aren’t shuffled out the door are expected to keep up with peers’ decades younger with more energy, health, and conceivably, more relevant education. Maturity, experience, and foresight become irrelevant. Once unemployed – from lay-offs, forced retirement, and other circumstances – older worker are faced with few choices. Employers prefer younger workers, and if an older worker finds a comparable job it’s often for less pay, and possibly no benefits because it’s a contract versus full-time position.

If an older worker has the financial freedom to retire, they may be chastised for becoming a drain on society by collecting social security and signing up for Medicare. Many older people, especially single and divorced women, who don’t have the financial means to retire are forced to overcome their “painful pinches” and work at low-income jobs at fast food restaurants, retail and grocery stores.

Older workers in America don’t need a pep talk, they need compassion, acceptance, and the ability to retire with dignity.