As is the case with so many thoughts I have lately, I can not help but consider how things are here in the US, where I live, versus the Philippines, where I wish to live. Sometimes it’s not a direct connection in my mind, but comes about after I’ve been faced with situations to deal with, and then later it becomes apparent that it will be much different in the future.

I’ve been noticing an aging issue(s) more and more recently here in America. As I drive a lot during the day because of my work, that is one of the first areas that it has become apparent, but there are many others.

The amount of senior drivers that are on the road now a days is alarming to me. Maybe it has always been this way, and I didn’t notice, but I don’t think so. It is COMMON to see 80+ year old drivers now, and there seem to be more and more of them. That makes a lot of sense, as people are living longer, are healthier and of course the Baby Boom has thrown a greater number of people into the equation.

Many of these drivers are amazingly good for their age. Certainly not all of them. My mom is 82, still drives, and does a good job of it. I’d still rather be behind the wheel if I’m with her (no offense, if you are reading this mom ;-) ). But driving is just one area of concern. Have you been to a Walmart or Target, or any large department store? I was at a WinCo recently (a large discount grocer) and they had 20 disabled parking spots in front of the store. It literally took up the entire area around the store front.

Once you get inside one of these stores you will now find that they are geared to the older crowd, as you may have trouble getting through the isle due to the motorized shopping carts that they all offer. Unfortunately not all of those are being used by seniors and/or disabled. Many of those are being used by the overweight US population that can no longer make it around a store on their own two legs….but I digress.

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The outcome of the growing aging population is increased health care needs. The health care business is booming here, aside from the insurance issues, and it is certain to continue to do so with the increased needs of the aging citizens. If you are looking for a career with a decent future, you could do worse than health care, IMO.

So that is where I started bringing this back to the Philippines, in my twisted mind. I am no expert on the culture there, but it seems to me that the entire way that elders are views there is just completely different. First would be the age that you are considered old. I don’t know what that is exactly, but it is MUCH younger than here. Second, is the treatment of your elders. They are treated with respect and cared for…that is the tradition. Third, and this may be more true in the rural areas and in the past, but it seems that once they hit a certain age it is expected that they will die, and it is just accepted. Part of that is obviously due to finances, but it doe seem to me to be thought of in as much more practical sense. “They are old now, it is there time”, or something similar. There is a limit as to the health care that will be provided, at least that is what I have experienced.

It is expected that at least one of the children there will take care of the parents when they are in need of it. That may be sooner than later, but it is the tradition regardless of when that transpires. Here we break the ties, and our parents will generally end up in a retirement home, if not a community. Not only is that expensive, but it is also causes a lot of stress on both sides of the equation. It’s not an easy issue, I understand that. It is interesting that though the typical filipino has a lot less money than the typical American, they can still manage to house and care for their elders.

I have also considered what my retirement in the Philippines means to me and my children. There will not be the need to put me in a home, I suppose. At the same time, I will not have the Philippine tradition of my children caring for me. I don’t suppose I’ll be in a financial situation to keep myself on life support, if I were to get to that position, either. So I am resigned to the fact, that when I am old and it is my time, it be just that. Hopefully I will have enough support of a new family to get by, and if not at least a helper is affordable, too.

I suppose I am similar to many foreigners that head off to other lands for retirement. I don’t see myself as the type to live in a retirement home or community. If it means a few less years on my life, so be it, I would rather be happy.