Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Quaker Ageing and Retirement

I will be turning the big 65 next week and have to decide whether or not to buy into Medicare. I do not have the requisite 48 quarters of certified employment, having worked mostly as a volunteer and at struggling start up enterprises. So it will cost me $450 a month to buy Part A. Then another $115 or so for Part B, Then another $40 for Part D, even though I really avoid pharmaceuticals if I can.

I have no idea what Part C is.

If I do not buy the policies within the next three months, there is a penalty for each year that I do not buy.

Now I have always held the dream of ending up in one of those lovely retirement homes, like so many of the Quakers in my Meeting in Asheville lived in. There was one in Black Mountain that I visited when I was 55.. when my friends Polly Parker and Chris and Ollie Ahrens lived there. I really wanted to live there with them, playing Scrabble in the afternoon, worship sharing, hanging out in the library.

Quakers have a long history of concern of the elderly. But perhaps, like our idea of the penetentiary, we may not have gotten it quite right on the ground now and should revisit the issue. I see that the Kendall corporation, reknown in the field of elder care, has opened a new facility in NY which would be close to my cousin's family and my roots... I checked it out here

Was it worth it? I am sure it is. I am sure that everyone is paid a fair and just wage and that the care is top notch.

Could I afford it? Barely. Maybe. Perhaps.

It would mean paying into Medicare for propbably 10 or 15 years for services that I would not use. Money that I would use better here on the ground. I am surrounded by people who have nothing. And I do, indeed mean NOTHING.

On the way back from the dentist's office, I passed one of the local shoe shine boys with his shorts with no zipper.. now I have known him for five years and used to at least give him water but the local donas stopped me since they are just beggers.. he said he was hungry.. but I pinched his puffy cheeks with love. He was well fed..

But I know plenty of Haitians who are skin and bones. Death masks.

But more than that, it would LEAVE nothing in my estate. Nothing to leave to Friends Seminary which educated me so well and provided a safe haven amidst my family's divorcing, nothing for my small Asheville Meeting, nothing for Friends Journal which carries the word of Quakers far and wide.

Frankly, I just do not think that I am worth it. Not compared to good that the money could do elsewhere. This is not money that I earned. It is money that came from the genius of my great uncle, John Roebling, who engineered the Brooklyn Bridge. I have just tried to be a proper steward.

And I doubt that there would actually be any Quakers in those fancy "Quaker" homes. But I do want to thank them for their support of the Journal over all these years!

No Quakers that I know actually have any money at all. They serve as teachers and librarians and doctors. OK .. perhaps there would be a few.. but not the bulk. Many of the folks down at the Asheville Meeting are missing teeth. Just did not have the money for the dentistry what with the kids going to Earlharm or Guilford.

For myself, having lost my group Blue Cross coverage when I moved from Rhode Island to North Carolina and being denied coverage for a pre existing condition, I lived in great fear for years without medical coverage. I was actually relieved when I sold my house that they would not have anything to seize. I loathe the American health system.

When I decided to emigrate here, seven years ago, I thought my money would go further. I tought I could get someone to look after me if I needed it and whatever care I might need. Both my brother's had died young, at 52 and 69. I thought I might have a useful few years left, in which I might contribute. And that perhaps I might find a dancing teacher who looked like Antonio Banderas. Still looking for the dancing teacher but I have found all the rest.

Here there is only one medical insurance policy which covers one after 70. It only pays out $150,000 and costs $200 a month. When I asked the agent about the limit he explained that if you spend that much in this country, you are dying.

The Clinic Abreu, where the US Embassy sends its personnel, overlooks the sea and has actual suites and fine tiled bathrooms. I have been in there twice already and have already picked out my last room.

(That is if I do not actually get so discouraged that I do move to the sand spit of the Turks and Caicos where I would be provided with National Health courtesy of the British Government since I would teach English to the Hatians  // the population there is 90% black)

I live on the third floor as do lots of folks since elevators are rare. I do not have a car since they are expensive. Now I have a little place near the beach so I can be near the Haitians I am working with.. and my friends up there -- since it is hard to meet folks in the city... and my dog really loves it there since it is a French town and she gets to go into the restuarants...

They really need elders up there. Most of the population is under 15.

Apartments start at about $200 a month.

Oh How I Would Love A Quaker Meeting Here!

Please consider this as an alternate retirement option.

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