Count me in

| 20 Jun 2016 | 12:38

Graying New York


The first time I started to feel invisible was when my daughters were 14 and 17 and we took a trip to Mexico. I was in my 40s and still feeling young and peppy. However, men were eyeing my daughters up and down from dawn to dusk (and beyond), and I was feeling brushed aside, hardly there and not at all visible. It’s only gone downhill from there.

Friends have told me that, as seniors, they feel invisible. Though we crowd the streets of Manhattan, we feel brushed aside as a vital part of “what’s happening.” We have very few stores where we can buy appropriate clothing. We don’t habituate loud, noisy bars and we’d rather talk in restaurants than be drowned out by the pounding music that the young seem to require. While we can, and do, make fulfilling lives for ourselves, many of us don’t feel a part of the “real” world. I used to participate in paid focus groups, but have aged out. No one cares about my opinion anymore.

Magazines will have articles on how to look at 40, 50 or 60, but never any older. A friend tells me that, at dinner with her family and some of their young friends, people simply ignored her comments. Not out of meanness but simply because she was old and didn’t really count. For women, at least, this sense of invisibility sneaks up slowly and continues unabated. I don’t want to be ogled or receive wolf whistles, but something in me rebels against being not seen. No make-up or sexy clothing will change that (though sexy clothing is not my style). It’s another thing we have to accept ... darn it!

Urgent care centers and walk-in clinics are proliferating like dandelions around the city. It used to be banks and Duane Reades popping up on every block; now it’s medical care centers. They suddenly they seem to be everywhere. These centers were designed to be a niche between one’s private doctor and the emergency room, and are much cheaper than going to the ER for minor problems such as sore throats and urinary tract infections. Most of them take insurance, and almost all of them take Medicare. For me, that’s the major plus of these centers. So many doctors don’t take Medicare anymore, and to me that’s immoral. Who needs regular care more than the elderly, and it’s the poor elderly who suffer most because many don’t have the money for private care. Maybe the proliferation of these clinics will help change that. Some clinics are privately owned and some are associated with hospitals. The one I use, on 91st Street and Columbus Avenue, is associated with Mount Sinai Hospital, and that makes me feel more secure, though I’m told that the independent clinics are usually fine. There is a difference between urgent care centers and walk-in centers. Urgent care centers have enhanced capabilities and are set up to handle more serious illnesses. Whichever you choose, though, you will pay nothing (if they take your insurance), or much less than you would for a trip to the emergency room. Most are open weekends and some evenings and fill an important niche, and the fact that most take Medicare is the big plus for the elderly.

It’s a pleasure to see a movie for grown-ups, and “The Meddler,” with Susan Sarandon, is a very good one. The meddler (and she certainly is one) is Marnie, a 60ish woman who has lost her husband and moved to California to be closer to her daughter. She does meddle, to the point of being annoying, but she’s also a lovable character and there is a love interest with an ex-cop who rides a motorcycle, which is very touching. It’s a rare movie that shows older people dealing with love and desire. I wish there were more of these films for us seniors. I suppose they don’t make much money for Hollywood; hurray to Susan Sarandon for doing this, and for showing that we’re still alive and kicking — and open to life.