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Lifestyle Opinion Reader Contributed

Op-Ed: A Recently Retired Senior Survives in Suburbs

Deborah Ducoff-Barone. Courtesy photo

A recent retiree and her husband have decided to remain in West Hartford, where they have lived for 37 years, but despite her own pleasant lifestyle, ‘our suburban surroundings belie the pervasiveness of the world’s complexity and chaos.’

By Deborah Ducoff-Barone

I am a senior living in the beautiful suburb of West Hartford.

My retirement decision two years ago was not forced by business circumstances or the pandemic, but was voluntary on my part. I never had a definitive picture in mind of retirement, and in fact, it took me close to 18 months to adjust to it. Now that I have found my way creating a comfortable structure filled with meaningful volunteer activity, exercise and family engagements, I sadly realize I am preoccupied by the predominance of a bifurcated world.

I thought retirement would be a settling of life events, but that is not the case. On the one hand, I find happiness when focused on my endeavors. On the other hand, this happiness is limited due to the dismal state of worldwide affairs, which is the source of alarm and anxiety for me. I can’t help but be distracted when I internalize, in both mind and body, the following fourteen conditions:

  • Ukraine war
  • State of the economy
  • Voting rights suppression
  • Threats to democracy
  • Political polarization
  • Rise of ultra-extremist conservatism
  • Increase in crime
  • Anti-Semitism
  • Decline of the environment
  • Restrictions on abortion
  • Pandemic persistence
  • Racial inequity
  • Health care disparity
  • Mental health crisis

What a peril to our existence this list represents. Its items capture my attention every day and prevent me from being present in the moment. Life in retirement is anything but calm. I find myself far from being a collected individual, who now is without the worries that once prevailed in the corporate world where I worked.

The decision my husband and I made to spend our later years in the suburb we adopted 37 years ago stands as the best choice for us. However, our suburban surroundings belie the pervasiveness of the world’s complexity and chaos. Within this turbulence, I try hard to enjoy the pleasantries offered by my immediate environment, and I am slowly coming to terms with the many deeply troubling difficulties included in my list.

Nevertheless, this is a disturbing path for a senior who once harbored great optimism for the future. Knowing I have less years ahead of me than behind me, it is with trepidation that I consider the outlook going forward. Life in suburban West Hartford provides some solace for the survival of this senior who hopes for the best, yet is afraid the worst may be yet to come.

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