Should you Retire in Italy ?
So how is getting old in Italy ? According to my friend Giovanni who sent me this joke :
This is the way it should have been done:
I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should start out dead and get it out of the way. Then, you wake up in an old age home feeling better every day. You get kicked out for being too healthy; go collect your pension, then when you start work, you get a gold watch on your first day. You work 40 years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You drink alcohol, you party, you’re generally promiscuous and you get ready for High School. You go to primary school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a baby, and then… You spend your last 9 months floating peacefully in luxury, in spa-like conditions; central heating, room service on tap, larger quarters every day, and then, you finish off as an orgasm.
The above not being possible, let’s get together some facts : Italy has one of the lowest birth rates, and it has an enviable record of longevity. According to National Statistics Bureau, Italy has nearly 20% of its population over 65 years in age, and the figure is projected to rise to 34% by 2050. In contrast, there were only 14.3% of the population, who were 14 years or younger in 2005. The age-wise demographic distribution in Italy is certainly weighted with senior citizens in predominance, and will soon get further tilted in their favor.
While in Rome, I came to know of an 82-year-old widow, who lived all alone in the city of Milan. She had seven cats to give her company. Tired of her loneliness, she advertised for her own adoption. The response was overwhelming. After short-listing, and a brief trial period, she finally packed her bags; and happily shifted with a willing family with two teenaged children. She lived happily with this adopted family for the rest of her life. I am told that this happens frequently in Italy.
It is good to be a senior retired person in Italy. They get all the respect because of their long experience, wide knowledge and worldly wisdom. They get discounts at restaurants, have priority in super market lines, and get preference while walking on narrow pavements. They sometimes even admonish the young, if anyone of them fails to give them the due respect or privilege.
The are generally financially sound at this age, and are not dependant on their children. They comfortably spend their weekdays reading papers/magazines, strolling leisurely in the parks, and watching TV. On weekends, they usually spend time in playing with the children, and the grandchildren. Apart from some easy-to-do household chores, they also do help teenage children with their Latin lessons, other subjects, and in homework from school. The children in turn, accompany them to the doctor, or just keep them company, as required. It is a happy situation, indeed.
“An Old Age Home is the last resort in our culture”, says Messimo Petrini, a professor of Theology and Humanities at Rome La Sapienza University. He has developed a program to train caretakers to look after the senior citizens. Though a low paid job, it offers mental peace, satisfaction and solace as enough remuneration to some people.
There is a growing criticism in the country against the elderly wielding a lot of political power. Some experts contend that because of this, generational turnover has been slow to come. According to the critics, when the elderly make laws, they safeguard their own interests rather than promote the interests of the younger generation. Antonio Gollini, a demographer and a professor at the University of Rome, subscribes to this view. Another professor, Pietro Gavitaldi at the University of Turin, feels that the fact, that Italy is run by relatively old people, who innately nurture a lot of resistance to change, makes it more difficult to bring in the much-needed reforms in the country.
Whatever the current changing trends are, it is true that,, presently the senior citizens in Italy are definitely the privileged generation. They enjoy a special position, social security, and essential comforts of life that they deserve at their age. No wonder, Italians abroad are often heard saying, ‘When I get old and retire, I will be moving back to Italy.”