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September 02, 1988 - Image 108

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-09-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I TRENDS

Retirement:
Turning
A Nightmare
Into A Marvel

Retirement can
be a new world
of opportunities
and pleasures
instead of
boredom and
unhappiness.

108

RUTH BROWN

Special to The Jewish News

L

oneliness turned Tanya
D.'s retirement into a
nightmare. After work-
ing as a bookkeeper for 25
years, she had retired to enjoy
the rest of her life together
with her husband. They had
been happily married nearly
40 years but a few months
after she stopped working,
her husband had a stroke,
became paralyzed and totally
dependent upon her. He died
two years later.
Tanya was devastated. Her
two married sons, with fami-
lies of their own, suggested
that she move in with them.
She refused. Friends, neigh-
bors and relatives visited her,
trying to ease the pain of her
bereavement. Yet, less than
three months after her hus-
band died, Tanya also died.
Heart attack, her doctor said.
Broken heart, her sons disa-
greed. They had seen how
their father's death had des-
troyed their mother's will to
live.
Of the eight million Amer-
icans over 65 who live alone,
more than three-quarters are
women. Of these, 81 percent
are widowed. Like many be-
fore her who had spent years
in the work force, Tanya had
discovered that without a
daily office routine to take up
her time she was disoriented.
Only her role as a wife and
homemaker had sustained
her. Then her husband's death
left her alone, forcing her to
make a new adjustment. She
couldn't. Life was too hard;
death was easier.
Had Tanya belonged to a
senior citizens center, she
might have adjusted more

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2, 1988

easily to life as a retired
widow. Centers often play a
role equivalent to that which
offices and factories played
in workers' lives prior to re-
tirement. A St. Louis Jewish
Community Center study
shows that of 100 men and
women over age 60 who partici-
pated in its leisure programs,
42 percent participated
regularly, 35 percent erratical-
ly, and 21 percent not at all.
The regular participants
showed the highest morale,
while the erratic and non-
users showed the lowest.
That the senior citizen cen-
ters open up new horizons in
art, literature, music, science
and philosophy is also
reported by Dr. Samma Shep-
ard, founder and director of
the Center for Unlimited En-
richment (CUE) at Queens
College, New York. She re-
lates the enthusiasm of a new
member who went on a day
trip to study the ecology of
Long Island Sound. "If I'd
known about CUE a long
time ago," the woman ex-
claimed, "I would have retired
earlier."
For 19 percent of all re-
tirees, however, boredom
turns retirement into a night-
mare, according to a survey
by D'Arcy, Masius, Benton
and Bowles, a New York ad-

vertising and communica-
tions firm. Some sit in front
of trailers in the Sunbelt,
winding their watches until
cocktail hour arrives. Others
live vicariously through
televised sports spectaculars,
sitcoms and soap operas.

Volunteer work is
only one avenue to
escape boredom.
Adopting a hobby
or practicing a
craft is equally
satisfying.

And some become cranky
and withdraw into their shells
or, like Sally K., succumb to
the lure of a religious cult. A
56-year old widow, Sally had
retired after 30 years as an
auditor for the Internal Rev-
enue Service. At first, she
loved the freedom from rou-
tine but after a few months,
began to miss her work and
colleagues. Her married chil-
dren no longer needed her; her
friends, whose activities were
mainly time-killing amuse-
ments, bored her. She began
to stay home, alone, most of
the day, going out only to
market.
Hoping that a change of

scenery might brighten her
spirits, her children per-
suaded her to go to Miami.
There, she attended a medita-
tion session in her hotel led by
an Indian mystic. His mes-
sage intrigued her and she
went again and again. Even-
tually, she joined the group.
Membership was not cheap
but her retirement pension,
together with the annuity left
by her husband, proved suffi-
cient to cover it.
What Sally did not know is
that people aged 50 and up
are now being targeted for
membership by the non-tradi-
tional religious organizations
in the retirement meccas of
Florida and California, ac-
cording to an article by Mar-
cia Rudin in 50 Plus
magazine. This age group
already constitutes more than
15 percent of the membership
of the Church Universal and
Triumphant (CUT) and 20
percent of the Reverend Sun
Moon's Unification Church.
They appeal to single, wi-
dowed, or divorced retirees
who feel abandoned by organ-
ized Christianity and Juda-
ism because they are no
longer part of a family group.
Sally might have been less
vulnerable if, drawing upon
her knowledge of audits and
taxes, she had volunteered to

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