LARRY PENKAVA COLUMN: A pop quiz for the elderly
Published 3:00 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023
When Jimmy Buffett died on Sept. 1, I, like many of you, was saddened.
I hadn’t really thought of him as being old, until I saw his age — 76. He was born just a couple of months before me.
What that really means is simple — I’m old.
Speaking of which, there’s an old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to disagree.
You never get too old to learn. The federal government understands that, which was evident to me when I started receiving information about Medicare coverage more than a decade ago.
The government will send you free booklets about Medicare that cover all the options seniors have. Just when you become old enough that you can’t remember why you went from the kitchen to the bedroom, you’re supposed to know what plan to choose from among a gazillion options.
Social Security is much simpler, providing just three choices. You can retire early at 62, cash in at your full retirement age (which varies according to what year you were born) or wait ’til you’re 70 for a larger payout and hope you live to see your first SS check.
We Baby Boomers — those hordes of kids born between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s — are staring old age in the face. You know you’re old when you spot several silver coins lying in a parking lot and ask a grandkid to gather them up, since bending over to pick up something off the ground is akin to doing Houdini-like contortions.
In fact, the famous lady known for calling out, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” was actually looking for an Indian-head nickel she’d dropped under her bed. The rest, as they say, is history.
Most of us geezers like to reminisce about years gone by — the pre-Maalox days, I like to call them. We recall when we were young and virtually superhuman — at least in our minds’ eyes.
I remember when visits with my brothers resulted in conversations about sports, careers and cars. Now when we get together we compare surgeries, medications and the latest classmate to have passed.
Senior adults — defined by most as those above the age of 60 — have thrust upon them a completely different vocabulary. Many of the new words are dependent upon gender: women focus on menopause and men talk about their “growing” problem.
But there’s a vocabulary list for us old folks as well. Below are a few of the terms we deal with when we enter geezerhood.
Actuary: one who calculates insurance risks and premiums according to statistical probabilities. In other words, someone who gets paid for making educated guesses.
Annuity: a sum of money, payable yearly, to continue for a given number of years, for life, or forever. I’m hoping for the kind that continues forever.
Formulary: a list of prescription drugs covered by a particular drug benefit plan. Some seniors’ formularies could fill the telephone book.
Generic: a drug identified by its chemical name rather than its brand name. Is it true that if all drugs were generic the evening news wouldn’t have commercials?
Geriatrics: a subspecialty of medicine that focuses on health care of the elderly. I used to think that referred to the acting ability of a boy in our neighborhood.
Labrum: a ring of cartilage that surrounds the acetabulum (the socket of the hip joint). When inflamed it feels like a ring of fire.
Laparoscopy: an operation performed in the abdomen or pelvis through small incisions with the aid of a camera. Better than a Kodak moment, when you consider the alternative.
Lasik: a type of refractive surgery for correcting myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. Also, a remedy for lost eyeglasses.
Otology: the branch of science which treats the ear and its diseases. Eh? What was that?
Roll-over: reinvested funds received from a maturing security in a new issue of the same or a similar security. Has nothing to do with Fido.
“Roll Over Beethoven”: a 1956 hit single by Chuck Berry. If you remember when that was on the Top 40 charts, you’re older than dirt.
Larry Penkava, who is studying for the vocabulary test, is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact 336-302-2189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.