The Need to Downsize our Lifestyle as we Advance in Age



By Cristina Valeriano



At a young age, many of us have been carefree, especially, those who belong to the upper echelon of the society. For the working class, the 15/30 wage is nothing but loose change compared to their family’s affluence. Also, for them, the job is just a reason for socializing and the jobsite, a venue for meeting friends.


But anything can happen, as what a popular adage says, “what goes up must come down”. Seriously now, rich or otherwise, there is a need to prepare ourselves in downsizing our lifestyle as we approach the threshold of our retirement. And for this writer, the situation is where I am now.


Retirement opportunity comes in many ways: one is in a package offered by the employer with the end objective of giving way to younger blood; two, is upon reaching the age of 60 which is an optional; three, is at the age of 65 which is the point of no turning back; and four, is when the company is in financial distress.


Retirees in the Philippines have lifetime securities, such as the pension from either the SSS or GSIS, aside from the “plans” that have been purchased while employed. With the soaring of the cost of living, the big chunk of the retiree population, though, has become helpless with their meager pension which is not even enough to buy two health maintenance drugs and a regular check up.


Downsizing of lifestyle needs a lot sacrifice on the part of the retirees, especially, if retirement came early due to uncontrolled circumstances. Worst is the situation wherein their children refuse to cooperate by maintaining their idle status despite having earned college degrees. Many retirees are found to be still supporting their idle “graduate” children whose alibi in failure to find a job is the distance of the workplace from home or the pittance wage which for them is not worth the sacrifice of waking up early in the morning.


Despite the aforementioned disheartening situations, it is worthy to note that many retirees find solace in their church and community volunteer service in place of the frequent partying with “amigas” or drinking sprees in beerhouses with “kumpares” before. Some venture into home-based business such as making bead jewelries and baking. But to keep them abreast with the happening in the world, many are into cyber-socialization, a laudable effort, for it does not only divert the attention of the retirees from the cafes and expensive restos, but keeps the brain working. However, it is important that leg muscles are stretched occasionally, so that, a weekly trip to the mall with the grandchildren is still very necessary for a grab of sandwich and juice!