It has long been said that getting older is not for the faint-hearted. Indeed, the more days we survive on the planet, the more likely it is that some part of our bodies will break, need replaced, or start to twinge. I’m convinced that if I live long enough, most of my body parts will be replaced by technology or at least enhanced in some way with artificial means.
I was lying in bed this morning, contemplating not if, but how much, my knees would hurt when I finally got my feet on the floor. During this contemplation, it occurred to me that of my nearest intimate family and friends (14 siblings and besties), we’ve already experienced some significant changes to our bodies.
The highlights of these changes include two pacemakers, four hearing aids, and two back surgeries. Five of us have had cataract surgery, and of these five, three have had both eyes involved. Four of the group have had knee replacements, with one more scheduled for later this year. Four others are official cancer survivors.
Sadly, we have lost two of the group — one to cancer and one to a stroke. But the majority are plugging along, replacing parts as needed and sometimes just limping or aching because we don’t want to go through the process of replacement. Most of the members are either watching closely or taking medication for sugar, cholesterol, or blood pressure issues.
These are some of the reasons I was both interested and a bit intimidated by going through the process to apply for Medicare. I was interested in learning about this program, but it also served as a huge reminder that I’m no spring chicken anymore.
I approached my several phone call appointments to work through this process with some ambivalence. The first counselor with whom I spoke was quite polite and gave me the information I needed. So, mission accomplished. I applied for a card and set up the next appointment to choose my actual insurance plan.
The card arrived in the mail a couple of weeks later. So far, so good, I thought. I called on my appointment day, and the gentleman who talked me through the process of selecting a plan was quite pleasant and helpful. I was beginning to feel like the sting of getting older was not so terrible.
The final part of my journey was the actual application process. The person who conducted this call was not as warm and fuzzy as I would have liked. She actually chastised me for not answering “just yes or no” to her questions. (I didn’t realize “yes, I do” or “no, I don’t” would be problematic, but it is). She also treated me more like a task to be check off her list than a live person. The final result was OK, though. I was accepted to a Medicare plan and soon will begin my journey as an official old person.
Or maybe I won’t. If 50 is the new 30, then 65 is the new 45, right?
The writer is a retired public servant who volunteers at the Hospice store (For All Seasons) in Troy and teaches part-time at Urbana University. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.