The fastest growing segment in North America– next to middle age women calling 9-1-1 to report flocks of large birds with long beaks making nests in their husbands ear hair– is baby boomers.
Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964– in other words they were raised on canned cream of corn, chewed Thrills Gum, and watched Bonanza while dipping potato chips in dried onion soup mix mixed with sour cream.
These days baby boomers watch cable television networks with commercials that appeal to our achy knees, cataracts, high cholesterol, uncontrolled blood pressure, and nagging irritable bowels. We relate to the happy couples in these commercials because they are shown in typical baby boomers situations such as accompanying your spouse to ballroom dance lessons, hiking through the giant redwoods in the Muir woods, and something I know all my baby boomer friends do each day: sit in an outdoor bathtub overlooking a mountain range with beautiful wild flowers!
How many baby boomers are there?
Well put it this way: doctors report they are running out of special parking stickers for baby boomers suffering chronic knee pain to place on their dashboard that allow them to pull right up to the entrance of liposuction clinics.
Baby boomers are the subject of university-trained demographers who use their degree driving for Uber, after they complete their shift at McDonald’s where they ask customers if they want fries with their order.
Ned Nerdley, one of those demographers, has a theory on why there are so many baby boomers. Back in the 50’s and 60’s the government offered a financial incentive for couples to have children. Nerdley figures the offer of free money– combined with back seats in vehicles– led to a population boom!
It’s a good thing there are so many baby boomers: our elderly parents now have someone to drive them to their medical appointments.
Ask a baby boomer– and right after they complain about their grown children moving back home from college– they moan about taking their aging parents to medical appointments.
“Yes dad. It’s in my calendar to drive you to see your eye doctor tomorrow.”
Then hollering like a soccer parent who lost it….
“YES DAD. IT’S IN MY CALENDAR TO DRIVE YOU TO YOUR EYE DOCTOR TOMORROW!”
The third time is a charm…
“YES– DAD– IT’S– IN– MY– CALENDAR– TO– DRIVE– YOU– TO– YOUR– EYE– DOCTOR– TOMORROW!!!”
The surge of elderly people needing eye care has led to many different specialists. They can be found under ‘O’ in the telephone listings: opticians, optometrists, ophthalmologists, and “Oh my gosh I need more Depends.”
Everyone who works at the eye clinic knows right away how to deal with elderly patients. They’ve been trained in communicating with older people…
“GOOD MORNING. JUST SIT DOWN OVER HERE WHILE I PUT THESE DROPS IN YOUR EYES.”
“Dad she said to sit down here while she puts some drops in your eyes.”
“DAD– SHE–SAID– TO– SIT– DOWN– HERE–WHILE– SHE– PUTS– SOME– DROPS– IN– YOUR– EYES!”
The purpose of the eye drops is to enlarge the pupils to the size of those decorator plates at Pier 1: a process requiring thirty minutes, which is as long as it takes for a chair to become available in the waiting room.
Patients sit with boxes of Kleenex on their lap. Meanwhile, their son or daughter reads glossy magazines with cover stories such as ‘7 Ways Baby Boomers Can Downsize While Dealing With Toenail Fungus.’
Eventually it is time to be taken into the examination room…
This room is purposely darkened– not because of the high cost of electricity these days. It’s because eye doctors cannot stand to look at another elderly patient with tears flowing like Niagara Falls down their cheeks. I read in a supermarket tabloid that one eye doctor’s floor became so waterlogged that he planted basmati rice.
“So Mr. Smith I haven’t seen you for a year. Have you noticed any change in your eyes?
“Dad he wants to know if you’ve noticed any change in your eyes?”
“DAD– HE– WANTS– TO– KNOW– IF– YOU’VE– NOTICED– ANY– CHANGE– IN– YOUR– EYES?”
Using instruments that look like your old geometry set in high school, the eye doctor examines your dads eyes. He contorts his face, mumbling, ‘Hmmm.’ At least he’s holding the eyelids open so elderly patients won’t fall asleep.
“So Mr. Smith look over my right shoulder. You should see some large black letters on the wall. Can you read them to me?”
“DAD HE WANTS YOU TO READ THE LETTERS ON THE WALL.”
“DAD– HE– WANTS– YOU– TO– READ– THE– LETTERS– ON– THE– WALL!”
This is the time seniors say it like it is, “Why should I read the letters? Doesn’t he already know what they are?”
Eye appointments don’t take long– because elderly patients tend to fall asleep. So before you know it the kind eye doctor says, “Well, Mr. Smith. Everything is looking pretty good. Let’s book you in again a year from now. You do have insurance coverage… don’t you?”
In a future Living Retired column I will discuss what baby boomers are looking forward to: asking our children to take us to medical appointments.
Let’s just say it won’t be pretty.
Gary Chalk a Canadian baby boomer is a writer for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop blog and a member of Humor Writers of America. Each week 3,000 people across North America read Living Retired. To unsubscribe or to book Gary’s keynote speech ‘I Don’t Have Wrinkles, I Have Laugh Lines’ visit http://LivingRetired.press