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The gradual decrease in income, eventual dependency on other people and the government for financial resource, lack of activities to do, and the onset of physical and/or physical limitations as a result of aging are known causes of frustration, stress, and even depression among elderly people who have retired (Blekesaune and Solem, 2005, p. 80). In the case of Mrs. a, she has not experienced these negative feelings or emotions as she had been flexibly and intermittently engaging herself in house-, family- and community-related pursuits. However, she did admit that her husband's death had been a pivotal point in her life, when she felt that she, too, must be with her husband because, as far as she is concerned, she has already accomplished what she was supposed to do as a "wife, mother, and woman."
Interestingly, with Mrs. a, work and retirement is not the conventional kind of retirement one would expect from an individual who used to be in the workforce. For a housewife like Mrs. a, retirement only happens with the absence of her family. As in her case, she only felt that her work was done with her husband's death. But even before this happened, she felt that she has not stopped 'working' as a mother, as she has her grandchildren to think about as well. Thus, work and retirement for Mrs. A will only happen to her once life ceases to happen for her. Otherwise, she is still occupied, not actively "working" as the matriarch of her home and family but still being productive at 90 years old.
Inevitably, with aging and retirement comes the gradual decrease and eventual absence of an income. For the elderly, it is another challenge to face as they are not only facing limitations physically, but also financially. As with the frustration that comes with inactivity, lack of income can also cause undue stress and depression to the elderly (Bassuk et al., 2002, p. 530). Coping with the reality that one is already getting old and that s/he will never be the same person they used to be before are already tough experiences to undergo, and the stress of becoming financially immobile because of a lack of income could add to these hard realities that an aging individual must learn to accept and face.
Mrs a felt the decline in her family income gradually and not with the same intensity as other people who have worked would feel. By extension, her income declined with her husband's retirement, but even then, she had been prepared for this eventuality, as she and her husband have been preparing for his retirement from the military. Thus, both Mrs. A and her husband adjusted well to the latter's retirement. When her husband died, Mrs. A was financially cushioned with her husband's pension. However, she acknowledged that this was not enough especially since she started sending to school her great-niece. With the help of her children, she receives financial support from them intermittently, but even this she has learned she must not consider as a regular financial support. Thus, in addition to her husband's pension, she also benefited significantly from her quilting sales, wherein she managed to save a significant amount of money for her daily needs and to support the minimum required expenses for her great-niece's schooling.
Inevitably, as a 90-year-old woman, Mrs. A is constantly thinking about the idea of death and dying. She knows that at her age, she would soon be joining her husband and finally consider herself "retired from the world." The process of accepting that she would eventually die started as early as ten years ago, when her husband died. As she shared earlier, when her husband died, she felt that she must die as well, thinking that her purpose in the world ends with her husband's death. Thus, mourning for her husband's death had prepared her to accept her own impending death as well. At 90 years old, she feels that she has done enough in her life already that she can no longer think of anything else but the idea that her children and their families are surely going to have a good future and she will be "rejoining her husband in heaven." The only question, she said, is how her death is going to be. But despite this thought, she has accepted and is prepared to "meet Death."
Mrs a had experienced a healthy process of grieving, which gave her a more accepting attitude towards death and dying. Because of her husband's death 10 years ago, she has learned to mourn over the past 10 years of her life, and has reached the point of acceptance not only of her husband's death, but also on the idea that she would soon die (Maciejewski, 2007, p. 718). (as an afternote on this theme, Mrs. A commented that she hopes that her death would be from a natural cause.)
Bassuk, S. (2002). "Socioeconomic status and mortality among the elderly: findings from four U.S. communities." American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 155, No. 6.
Blekesaune, M. And P. Solem. (2005). "Working conditions and early retirement: a prospective study of retirement behavior." Research on Aging, Vol. 22.
Kilminski, a. (2007). "Cumulative index of health disorders as an indicator of the aging-associated processes in elderly." Mech. Ageing Development, Vol. 128, No. 3.…[continue]
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