Two unrelated incidents this morning have given me cause to question the viability of life itself. At the risk of over-stating the cause for concern, please remember that most Boomers who are not already retired and living on a fixed income, will soon be doing so and should also be concerned. We did the best we could to save our money during our working years and now that our income is fixed and limited, I’m very worried that it’s not going to be nearly enough to last us until, you know, death do us part.
This morning as I was standing in the grocery store contemplating the purchase of toilet paper (or bathroom tissue as the ads euphemistically call it) I was overcome by how expensive it is. While trying to do the unit cost calculation per sheet or roll of toilet paper, I found myself wondering how large, low-income families ever manage to keep themselves supplied with this necessity. Even at four dollars off the regular price, I still paid $9.99 for nine rolls of Charmin’ which amortize out to $1.11 per roll not including sales tax, which as we all know must be levied because our omnipotent governments do not consider such things as feminine sanitary products or toilet paper to be necessities. All I can say is I’m certainly glad there are only two bums in our household that
need use these products or we’d never have any change left over for wine.
The second item that set me off was the discussion on the radio about the monthly cost of accommodation in an assisted living facility now averaging more than eight thousand dollars a month per person. Who on earth has that kind of money? That’s nearly two hundred thousand dollars of after-tax income every year for my honey and me, before I’ve even had my monthly mani-pedi.
My friends and I have frequent and heated discussions about how and where we’re going to live when the time comes that we need a little help. Ideally, we’d like to be in our own little commune of sorts (our experiences in the sixties weren’t totally wasted). We envision about a dozen single and married residents living in a campus-style complex with private living spaces and shared areas for socializing and perhaps having some meals. We’d like a driver on call to take us to the mall, grocery shopping and for the numerous medical appointments looming in our future. Someone to do our cleaning and perhaps some meal preparation would also be required. But paying sixteen thousand dollars a month for this privilege is absolutely out of the question.
As we drive by the abandoned Ontario psychiatric hospital buildings in St. Thomas, Ontario, I can’t help imagine that facility being beautifully converted into what we’re looking for. Balconies could be added to the small, individual buildings so we could get a bit of air and sit outside when the weather is conducive. Underground tunnels or covered walkways already connect the buildings and some of the space could be converted to dining rooms, variety stores, hairdressers and other amenities. We could bop around in golf carts in good weather.
Even prisons are getting smart about what kind of accommodation is needed to warehouse those of us who need a little help. Bungalow townhouses spoked out from a central caregiver’s pod would give us a degree of independent living, a patch of grass for sitting outside and the ability to be close to our friends. Each pod could accommodate several units and a shuttle bus would get us around town as needed. I’ve written before about the scary shortage of accommodation being built to satisfy the needs of Baby Boomers as they age. When is someone with some money to invest going to listen?
So, between the high cost of toilet paper and exorbitant assisted living fees, I’ve had my share of stress for the day. Short of stocking up on free supplies of mail order catalogues and flyers for the former and parking a trailer in the Walmart parking lot for the latter, I’m open to ideas. Or maybe I’ll just pour a glass of wine, cut back on fibre and que sera sera. I’ve made it this far so I figure I can handle whatever lies ahead – with a little help from my friends.