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Dear FRONTLINE

Having just read many of the comments from other viewers, I am dismayed by the "holier than thou" attitude of some retirees. Great...you found your Shangri-la, but aren't all of us, no matter age or current locale in this boat together? (At 61 I find myself wondering as did Marian). Perhaps if you are happy and fulfilled during your working years, you will be so in retirement...and vice versa. But I am dismayed that our society by and large excludes the elderly. We shall probably never recover the years when three or four generations lived together, as they continue to do in Italy, China and other countries. But the answer is not pity or individual arrogance.

The generations currently in their 70's, 80's and even 90's were told that the South was their paradise...warm weather, lower costs, etc...and what choice did they have but to believe? So let us younger "geezers", or "boomers" defer our condescension and explore possibilities for all our seniors. Some can afford to volunteer, some cannot. Why not find, and then compensate, seniors who wish to work in responsible positions, i.e....Day Care Centers, Youth Counselors, Ombudspersons, etc...our society can and must do more or there may go all of us...Grace of God or not.

Bill Berensmann
Millbrook, N.Y.
berensmann@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE

I thought that this was an excellent piece of journalism. I am a member of the infamous "Generation X" and this segment gave me hope. It told me that when you get down to it, man reaches his peak of emptiness and self-concern when he ceases to serve his God and his neighbor. Purpose, hope and meaning; these are continually sought after by persons in every avenue of life. This is why Qouheleth says, "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days draw near..." Show some spunk and give this message a spot.

Cordially,
Justin Atkins
Columbus, IN

Dear FRONTLINE

My wife and I watched your program on retirement and enjoyed the show over all. The disappointment with the show is it had an underlying theme of do not retire since we cant afford it. Rather than present a balance picture you chose to show only the downside to retirement. Your boomer doctor carried your theme in almost every discussion he had. We are on our approach to retirement and were amazed as to how many regretted this part of life. We listened to folks who were so focused on the end of life they saw nothing else.

Now you may wonder how we could have enjoyed the program with our comments so far. The show if looked at as a guide as to what not to do when one retires it can be quite useful. Considering this approach we have had many of our beliefs reconfirmed and learned a few more on paths we don't want to go down. Our compliments go to the many folks who commented on their very productive and enjoyable life retired. We both have come away from your program convince more than ever that retirement as soon as possible is the right path for us.

John Kozar
Colonia N.J.
jkozar@sprintmail.com

Dear FRONTLINE

Thank you for a thought-provoking, inspiring and yes, occasionally depressing portrayal of selected attitudes toward retirement. I hoped to find a broader perspective in comments shared here and was not disappointed. At 49, I have been downsized and am making a transition to freelance work at home - work I can do for many years to come. While it's great to escape the stress mill, daily commuting, and cut-throat corporate crap, the isolation and freedom from structure require an adjustment not easily made after 25+ years of go-go-go, Type A frenzy. This show afforded the chance to fast forward - and to consider, perhaps it's too soon for me to withdraw this far from the fray. The search for balance continues. Oh, and Howard Salzman is a treasure!!!

Patti Cleary
SF, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was impressed by the TV Frontline program when I saw people making their lives work and be alive in the structured physical 'confines' of their retirement building--they didn't need much more than themselves to come alive and stay alive.

Chuck Johnson
Los Angeles, CA
punkinpunk@aol.com

Dear FRONTLINE

I am 69 years of age, and have been retired for three years. Last night my wife and I watched your program, billed in the local television program guide as presenting, "Retirement options to help baby boomers enjoy their later years". We watched in dismay and disbelief.

We were dismayed that the "geezer" models presented were not "baby boomers", who, as a class, have been given much, but persons of my generation - a generation born in days of national economic depression, raised in times of world conflict, maturing through contribution to the design and achievement of major programs of national and world reconstruction - who, as a class, have given much, but whom you displayed as persons concerned only with what could be done for them in their retirement years to entertain them until death.

We were in disbelief that your program gave no attention to the retirement option of continuing a life of service to others through community-service organizations and projects, thereby gaining the positive enjoyment and satisfaction that participation in such efforts brings - to old and young alike. That is another genuine option, one being pursued by many of my generation - one that I would wholeheartedly recommend to any baby boomer, my own children included - one decidedly more achievable for most retirees, and ultimately more rewarding than the superficial life-style that your program offered.

W. Stanley Kruger
Lexington, VA

Dear FRONTLINE

Your show resonated loud & clear. I retired 3 years ago at age 64. I used to say "I have no hobbies" So I decided to take up golf. Never got around to it. My wife & I have been bicycling for many years both on weekends & on vacations. I stepped up my biking by joining first one & then 2 more recently retired men. We bike to lunch every Tuesday on round trips of 30 to 60 miles.

I also took on some volunteer work & we travel several times a year including one major bike trip. We see our grandkids once or twice a week & our children all live nearby(almost). I also bought a new computer to keep track of my investments, my friends around the country & other stuff. So far my money & my body are holding out & my wife hasn't strangled me yet. It helps, in southern California. We haven't had to move to a retirement community as our neighbors have been growing older too. Thanks for your incisive discussion of retirement & other things.

Tom Gordon
Huntington Beach, CA

Dear FRONTLINE,

"Retirement Dreams" gives a skewed picture of retirement years. All of the people displayed seemed to be seeking a means of finding a place for themselves in the limited and shallow activities portrayed. It did not show one example of the innumerable retirees who have found a marvelous way of spending their retirement by giving back a little of what they have received by performing volunteer work in innumerable ways and this includes professionals such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, accountants, businessmen, etc., etc., etc. They, too, should be portrayed as far better examples of those who have found a useful niche during their retirement years.

Mel Levi
Melevi@home.com
Longboat Key, FL

Dear FRONTLINE

It was interesting what that select, "younger" retirees in a upper middle class environment have to say. But as a still married, with the same woman, and 82 years and still active it is only a small snapshot of the problem. We decided a long time ago that we did not want to be in a death awaiting housing setup. But with most of our friends now dead the problem of activities has become more difficult. Maybe a new type of housing needs to be pushed, where couples can find new interests, etc. As I get older, the problems seem to have become greater, with less stamina and mental agility to solve the daily problems.

Frank Kadish
kadish@home.com
Phoenix,AZ
Dear FRONTLINE

Most of last night's program (or rather some of the retirees themselves) and the filmmaker's text in which he refers to retirement and old age as "the exit from the American dream": bummer! I mightily resent Marian's blanket categorization to this stage of life. I thought part of the American dream included living life to the most fulfilling extent possible. "Exit"? - no way. If one accepts his downer, one will end up like some of those people in the program; bored out of your mind, with nothing to look forward to but making it out of bed each day with no clue whatsoever as to filling the hours with satisfaction; again, what a bummer.

Actually, some aspects of the program were quite sad; the traps that people can and do put themselves into. Some of the people who've responded to this site exhibit much more common sense than some of those in the program who really should get off the couch or out of the chair and do something besides stagnate.

My husband and I took early retirement at 50, we're now 59. We've had the chance to do the things there never was time for. We've loved every minute of retirement, finances somewhat aside. Actually, my husband is much more contented and happier than when he was "productive". I fully subscribe to his theory that change is important, including something so simple as a change of seasons. So much for the retirement Mecca of Florida. His theory isn't limited merely to living venues either; however, we're planning to move now and become more mobile; probably living in quite a few places before making the last move to an area we like. The program did make me consider something I'd not thought of before - namely, the cluster syndrome. You can bet that we won't move to a complex housing 13,000 people!

Small is better! For our last move, we plan on entering a life-care retirement community but, now, a small one; even then, though, you're dead in the water if you don't reach beyond that retirement community to what the local area provides, learning institutions come to mind; whatever is available to provide a mix of ages. And to keep the mind active. If one refuses to reach out and get involved, refuses to keep the mind agile and merely gathers mold, then retirement is a dreadful, stifling situation. I prefer for my own emotional well-being to view retirement as affording new experiences to be enjoyed, not as a penalty for living.

Barb Toftely
Helena, Montana
arbit@mt.net

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was very excited to see that Frontline, a program that I have always respected as a reliable source of thorough and insightful journalism, was going to do a program on the important topic of retirement. But I have to tell you that I was extremely disappointed by the program. It focused on a small subculture of middle class retirees in caricature and treated their self-indulgent lives if they represented all retirees and all older Americans.

I have worked in the field of aging and with older people for 25 years. The show in my opinion, repeated dangerous stereotypes, frightened aging people unnecessarily, and fostered the ageism that is represented by the offensive term "geezer". It appeared to be based on very shallow research. It left out the many valuable contributions older people make as volunteers, family members and supporters of their peers and communities.

A follow-up program highlighting fulfilling retirement roles, for example, as RSVP or Health Insurance Counseling volunteers, is needed now to counteract this show. You missed an opportunity to make a real contribution to the national dialogue on the meaning of an aging population.

Dear FRONTLINE,

Your program dealt with a narrow segment of retirees but did illustrate the mindset of some in that age group. The brother especially who was still looking for an alternative to FL but unable to connect. For Boomers and Xers the money to fund those retirement dreams may be elusive. Those in 401-Ks and other retirement plans are getting record earnings but the many without retirement plans are doomed to working forever or living on family or Soc. Sec. The "retirees" of tomorrow will be single moms who worked in low paying jobs all their lives and didn't accumulate money for retirement. The government will end up taking care of them in the future. Thank God there are many retirees who lead active, productive lives and enjoy the independence they worked all their lives to attain. They may be a vanishing breed!

John Moore
Houston TX
GLOBALINSURE@prodigy.net  
 
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