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Senior citizen at last!

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George S. Chua

George S. Chua

I finally made it to the big 60 this month and it is a blessing that I have lived this long and while not in pristine condition, healthy enough to work and play golf! One of the biggest perks of reaching 60 aside from being alive, is getting your Senior Citizen card, giving you the 20% discount and the 12 % VAT exemption in restaurants, medicines and select products and services, not to mention the priority treatment in many government offices and cash gifts in certain LGUs.

However, the unsettling latest statistics (2016) from the World Health Organization (WHO) is that the life expectancy for Filipino males is 66.2 years old and females at 72.6 years old which puts the Philippines at a combined rank of 123 out of a total of 148 countries that is part of the WHO. While our life expectancy in the Philippines has been creeping up, our ranking has been falling off. In 1960, the Philippine average life expectancy was 53.4 years and our rank was number 85. Surpri-singly North Korea, which is shown in many western documentaries as having a deprived citizenry has a better life expectancy at 68.2 years for males and 75.5 years for females putting their rank at number 100! It is interesting to note that the top 3 causes of death in the Philippines is coronary Heart Disease (19.86%); Stroke (14.12%) and; Influenza and Pneumonia (12.27%). These 3 alone account for 46.25% of all causes of deaths in the Philippines.

For our readers who are already senior citizens, no need to get depressed. The WHO statistics are averages which include infant mortality and people who die early. According to the Social Se-curity Administration of the United States, males who reach 65 can expect to live up to 84.3 years and females who reach 65 can expect to live to 86.6. In short, the longer you live, your life expec-tancy gets bumped up! What this means is that if you already reach the average life expectancy, your new life expectancy is increased by about 20 years! I suspect as we achieve further improvements in medical technology, living conditions and the environment, the life span will keep on increasing.

Nevertheless, we are at the tail end of our life span and perhaps it is about time to harvest what we have planted in the last 40 years. Of course, if you did not plant anything, what did you expect to harvest? We will not discuss that situation here but let us talk about people who made sacrifices, worked well, made smart investments, and saved up for their retirement. My suggestion is to remain productive and do more of the things you like and enjoy. It would be great if you could make money out of the things you want to do. I know people who like teaching and are able to give lectures and get paid for it, much like those who like farming and are able to sell their fruits and other produce.

If you planned your life well, you should have been able to build up a significant amount of savings by now and made proper investments that would provide a superior yield to what banks would offer for time deposits. This should allow you more financial security and freedom to let you do more of real living instead of making a living. Having said that, doing totally nothing will probably cause you to die early since you have nothing to live for. You need to have a purpose in waking up every day and look forward to doing something. This is where your investment in family and friends will come in handy. For me, while I still am actively working, I am making a conscious effort to be happy and do more of the things I like, even if it means making less money and letting go of other business or career opportunities. As my 88 year old Mama would remind me, “what is all the wealth for if you are gone.”

(Comments may be sent to georgechuaph@yahoo.com)

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