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The Best and Worst (perhaps) Retirement Options

Jon Kaufman
Jon Kaufman

Getting old is a frightening proposition my friends, and with each passing day comes another reminder of what lies ahead.  Every morning I look into the mirror and wonder “who is this relic before me with grey hair growing out of his ears?” Sadly, my fading reflection does not answer, staring back at me with the same anguished expression that I project.

A few weeks ago I traveled back to my native Long Island to visit with my sisters (Eve, Laura, Emily and Sally), and as sundry nephews and nieces for a few days.  During a Saturday luncheon (arranged by my younger sister Sally and held in her home) the table conversation got around to the subject of age and retirement, a topic which had not previously been discussed within this particular group.

Laura mentioned that she had recently received an email about a woman who had conceived a novel retirement choice, offering an alternative to the standard assisted living option.  The woman suggested that one could simply live on a cruise ship for the rest of one’s days, enjoying the benefits that these sea-faring hotels have to offer.  She would have a nice view of the ocean from her sea-side room, feast on the endless number of buffets aboard, meet new people every fourteen to sixteen days, and visit the ship’s doctor for any pressing medical needs.

“This plan was brilliant”, I thought picturing Janet and I on an endless voyage.  Never again would I need to worry about cleaning my room (actually I rarely worry about that anyway), running to the Getty Mart for milk and beer, or have to pay personal property tax on a car which has been sitting idle in my driveway for three years.  When it came time to shuffle off this mortal coil and join the choir invisible, a few stewards could guzzle a cheap bottle of wine in my honor, mutter a brief prayer or a bawdy maritime-themed limerick and hoist my lifeless mass overboard, avoiding that whole funeral and graveyard scene.

As the afternoon became evening, the Kaufman siblings began to explore other retirement options, perhaps more suited to our lifestyles.  Rather than spending the rest of our lives chewing Dramamine and smelling like halibut, several of us thought we might try a similar approach to the cruise tactic, but on land. Perhaps a senior friendly, warm climate location like Las Vegas would suit?

Imagine a tribe of sibling retirees establishing squatting rights at the Bellagio!  Many of principles created in the cruise model would still apply; Huge buffets, nightly entertainment, lavish surroundings and bus loads of white-haired nickel-slot playing friends arriving daily. We just trade sand for waves, that’s all!  The five of us could pool our Social Security money every month, select a family member to drop a bundle at the casino and, BOOM, we all receive free lodging and a complimentary bottle of champagne courtesy of the management who generally takes a shine to incompetent gamblers. With a little bad luck we could outlast Wayne Newton’s run on the strip.

Naturally there are some holes in this “Vegas invasion.”  After a while, we would no doubt be summarily tossed from hotel grounds forcing us to seek shelter elsewhere.  Considering the amount of hotels in Sin City, our wandering tribe might be able to stretch our adventure out for a few years, but what then?  Reno and Atlantic City would certainly have caught wind of our flock of geriatric nomads and ban us from properties as well.

No matter how we sliced it, it seemed as though the specter of old age still yawned before us.  I see my sisters as I have always seen them, not as aging women, but as the same beautiful, funny and intelligent people I grew up with.  Although we spoke of our twilight years, I could not help but feel a burst of youth that afternoon, for as long as we all age together we will remain as we always were; a family.

The next morning, the man in the mirror was smiling back at me. Thank you Eve, Laura, Emily and Sally!

By Jon Kaufman
Jon. [email protected]

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