As I was waiting for the list of patients to interview on Monday, I read an in-house bulletin. On the front page was a woman I met very briefly about three weeks ago at an annual volunteers meeting. I happened to sit next to her.
She was very charming and welcoming. She said she came in every day and worked in the AIDS center. She said, “Most of the patients who come in there are just babies. They are scared. I’m there to answer as many questions as I can and just listen. I serve them coffee and doughnuts while they are waiting.”
The meeting started so I didn’t have much more chance to talk with her.
When I read the article about her, I was astonished to see that she is 89 and the oldest volunteer. She certainly appears much younger, although it really is getting harder for me to judge ages.
She lives in a retirement village which means the young ones in her community are at least 55. If it is the community I’m thinking of, the median age is much older than that.
She used to be at the hospital every day to work in the clinic, but she has now cut that time back somewhat. No wonder she called the patients who come in to be tested or treated for AIDS “babies”. Many of them are still in their teens and early 20s.
I was astounded at how much good she does when she is at the hospital. The patients soon begin to look forward to seeing her when they come in for an appointment. They thrive on her hugs. Her medicine is just as important as something that comes in a pill bottle.
She is such a vital woman. In her walk, talk, and smile she appears to be someone more in her late 60s or at the most very early 70s. She drives by herself to the hospital and certainly doesn’t rely on any kind of hardware like a cane or walker to get around.
It occurred to me that people of retirement age are generally pushed out of corporations. Many times it is because they cost too much in salary when they can hire someone straight out of high school or college at a much lower rate. They are considered of limited value.
But let those persons work for free and they are welcomed with open arms for their wisdom and experience. Places like hospitals and other non-profits consider their contributions priceless. It is of no concern that no one will pay them for their expertise any more.
Perhaps I am too cynical. But it seems to me the urging of corporations to retire their older work force is just another example of the exploitation of so many different groups within the United States. Many of these people retired at a fixed income that has never really been touched by any COLA. Some of them are really in dire straits, but they still continue to give to their communities, many times on a daily basis. They still desire to be valuable members of their local communities and be respected even though in the work place they are told quite clearly they are no longer of any value. I just think something is wrong.
Namaste. Attic Annie