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Charles Schmid: People 60 and over deserve a life, too

To the editor:

Many men and women are getting up in age. We all sit at home, sometimes wondering what to do with ourselves.

We read books, sit and play cards, watch some TV and just try to get through life. But you wonder if there shouldn’t be more. Of course there is walking, but still you want more.

For some 60 and over it is like you are at a standstill. You sit at home and there’s nothing to do. You feel like you have no life, really no purpose. This is what it is like every day for some of us. There are libraries, community centers and senior centers, that is true.

But what do you do? You can only read so many books. You walk only so much. Maybe playing cards just isn’t your gig. You can sew, but it’s not every day, year round. Some want to take karate, but are told, “You should try tai chi,” and you look at them like, “What the?”

One gentleman wanted to go to school to be a storyteller and it’s like he’s too old. This happens all the time with people all over the Valley.

We who are 60 and over don’t want to be treated like our lives are over. We want to do things we like and to feel like life is worth living. We want to feel useful. Some of us would love to practice martial arts and not feel like we are too old.

Open these halls and let people just walk in and practice for just a few minutes, what could it harm? Have groups that do different projects year round. Let some of these colleges have programs that seniors can take without all the red tape. People 60 and over are people too, so let’s all treat them like they are.

Charles Schmid

Easthampton

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EDITOR’S NOTE: A Feb. 27 letter from an Easthampton man, “People 60 and over deserve a life, too,” prompted strong reaction. The writer lamented at the outset that “Many men and women are getting up in age. We all sit at home, sometimes wondering what to do with ourselves.” He acknowledged that he can read, play cards and watch TV, …

Legacy Comments2

Sorry about that, it was Thursday's Gazette 2/2714 where I saw your letter.

Dear Mr. Schmid, I read your letter in Wednesday’s 2/26 Gazette with interest and sadness. You caught my attention by daring to name a dilemma in which you are not alone. How do post-60 folks find meaning and satisfaction and income after leaving what was their “job” or “career”? How will post-60 folks with still active minds, bodies, and willingness to contribute, address the bonus decade of unscripted years which kind of snuck up on them? What gives me hope is that regular folks like yourself with these needs are standing up and announcing: “There is need for place and a process and support where the post 60s can talk together about these issues and find some answers for themselves.” I’m finding that certain senior centers, libraries, social workers of all stripes, books, online resources, support groups and just regular folks are coming out of the woodwork and saying. “OK, we’ll provide a place for this conversation here.” Although the world may not yet be ready to knock on your door with a perfect solution for your particular needs, I believe that creative possibilities are springing up, nationally and locally. One being Encore.org. Another being local VolunteerMatch.org. Another being a local class at HCC I’ll be giving in the Fall, “I’m Over 55, What Next?” Clearly finding a way to match the talents of the post-60 crowd for the myriad of needs that exist, is an important thing to do. Clearly supporting experienced folks to reclaim life purpose is essential. So, keep raising the issue, asking for changes, proposing what you want, offering what you can, and inviting support. You may be one of the pioneers to lead the charge for the challenges that the “gift” of longevity is presenting to the boomer generation and those that follow. Martha Johnson, 74 Holyoke, MA. Author: Why Not Do What You Love?

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