For Filipinos, while there are exceptions, generally speaking, retirement is staying put in or retreating back on their residence until the light switches off. There are countless others and I mean those in good physical shape who would rather ignore retirement even if they have reached the mandatory count. They would still be active and a select number of them would even venture into business or politics. There are no age limits in commerce or elective positions to be frank about it. It is just a matter of interest, or self-interest.
As long as they have the stomach, the patience, the endurance and the excitement of an adrenaline draining activity, the field is theirs for the taking.
In another vein, there are those who retired but were compelled to get up to respond to a calling. In the entertainment industry sometime ago, there was Dolphy. In contemporary politics, there was Rodrigo Duterte. In boxing, there was Muhamad Ali. In basketball, there was Michael Jordan. For a while, they have announced their retirement earlier but for some other reasons, they came back.
Retirement actually is a period when a person decides, or his organization adheres, to a limitation. When a person retires, he is expected to surrender everything—rank, power, influence and even the machinery where he derives his force or authority. It means passing on the torch, bowing out, surrendering or plain submission to the successor. It is inevitable. It comes as certain as the night. It is the stark reality in life. There is no such thing as entitlement when it comes to a grip on supremacy.
For the uniformed persons, its 56, like the military, police and other law enforcement officers. For those in the civil service, its 65. For the religious, I mean the priests, its 70 like those in the Judiciary. In some corporate offices in the private sector, its 45. In sports, its 35.
And there are those who retired earlier than the standard set by their respective organization or milieu. Hollywood actress Greta Garbo retired at the age of 36 and shunned public life until she died from a ripe old age without spouse and children. Nobel awardee for literature Ernest Hemmingway retired early due to debilitating ailments and alcoholism. Bill Gates, the richest man in the planet, retired early from his business to concentrate on his family’s philanthropic commitment. The list is almost endless.
A retiree sometimes retreats back with his family, or with fellow elderlies or would choose to do it alone, like hermits.
And there is the retirement home, hospice for those in need of medical and related social concerns. There are governments -run and some are privately managed. All these facilities are designed for geriatric care.
It has been said that the elderly people are very sensitive and difficult to understand. And it takes patience and understanding to appreciate their longings and requirements. Gone were the days when they can physically and economically contribute to family coffers. They are spent bullets already so to speak. If at all pension matters, it is the high cost of living which would instantly melt whatever its worth in a short while.
In western countries, care for the elderly can easily be obtained through privately managed nursing homes. Not so in this country since the elderly are usually attended to by family members themselves. Aside from the fact that distance and monthly mandatory expenditures for the subsistence, management and nutritional inputs, including medical and social services, may be burdensome to an ordinary household, the elderly himself would rather not allow himself to be separated from his family, let alone segregated from his house.
To a senior citizen, the twilight years is not only a period of reckoning, it is also a time for reflection. He is lucky if as early as his productive years, he has already anticipated the challenges and trials he will have to undergo.
As what my father, formerly a very generous man to the point of being a spendthrift and later would be so concerned with budget, would usually confide to me after he retired, “ Ayokong manghingi o kaya maging gastador. Natatakot ako baka dumating ang panahon na hindi ako mamatay kaagad!” His fears became a reality. Well, most of his peers died already, he lived to a ripe old age and never for once asked anything from anyone.