The term “senior citizen” might evoke images of nursing homes, walkers, and people of a “certain age.” In reality, reaching your later stage in life is often exciting. They call it your golden years for a reason! Now is the time to really explore your passions, relationships, and interests. The world really is yours to discover. Most seniors no longer have to worry about their day job or other responsibilities, so it’s a liberating time of growth.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Age Is Considered a Senior Citizen?
- What Discounts Do You Get When You Become a Senior?
- What Happens to Your Housing or Living Situation When You Retire or Become a Senior?
- What Are Some Other Perks for Senior Citizenship?
However, with this growth comes a lot of change. What exactly happens when you enter this new part of your life? What does it mean to be a “senior citizen,” and what age does it start? We’ll answer these questions and more in this guide, so you know just what to expect.
What Age Is Considered a Senior Citizen?
A senior citizen is just another word for an elderly person. Traditionally, this begins at age 65 since most people retire by then. However, with the average lifespan pushing back even further, the lines are beginning to blur when it comes to defining the age of a senior citizen.
According to the government, the official age for seniors is 62. This is because 62 is the age that people begin accessing their Social Security benefits. A senior citizen is simply anyone who’s slowing down in their life. They might be approaching retirement, or they’re already retired. They might need additional medical help, or they might live with a family member.
There is no such thing as one-size-fits-all when defining senior citizens. Many consider themselves a senior once they’ve retired, but don’t let this number hold you down. Age really is just a number.
What Discounts Do You Get When You Become a Senior?
One of the best parts about aging is the senior discounts. You’ve been paying into this economy for years now, so it’s about time things start getting cheaper. Let’s take a closer look at why types of discounts seniors can look forward to.
What types of discounts are for seniors?
Senior citizens get a lot of different discounts, and they might surprise you. Just about every big-name organization offers a senior discount in some form or another. Seniors get discounts on:
- Medical care
- Banking and investment
Local organizations often also offer senior deals, whether it’s a special senior shopping day or a year-round offer. Seniors typically get around 10-15 percent off services, travel, and meals. While restrictions do apply, who doesn’t love a good deal?
Why do seniors get discounts?
There are a few reasons seniors get so many discounts. Seniors are typically on a fixed income in their retirement. They’re no longer working, so they have limited assets that need to last the rest of their life in most cases. Because of this, companies offer deals to help seniors afford the essentials and the extras.
In addition, many seniors have more free time than ever before. Most choose to travel, explore hobbies, or try new things. This makes them a great target for marketing travel, entertainment, and service deals. Offering a low-cost rate makes these companies attractive for seniors and their families.
Senior discount programs
Another thing worth mentioning is senior discount programs. Membership programs like AARP and AAA offer tools and resources specifically for seniors. These membership programs take the initiative to negotiate lower costs with different businesses for their members. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see AARP offered as a discount as so many big-name services and retailers.
While there might be a fee to join one of these retired membership programs, they’re usually worth it when it comes to savings and deals. Another great resource for finding the best programs and offers is retirement magazines. It’s worth looking into if you’re serious about saving during your retirement years.
What Happens to Your Housing or Living Situation When You Retire or Become a Senior?
One of the many changes that happen during your golden years is to your living situation. While some seniors choose to live at home, many live with a caregiver or in a retirement community. Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all option when it comes to where to live as you age, but we’ll take a look at these different options.
Living at home
Many seniors choose to live at home for as long as possible. Keeping one’s independence is important, and many seniors in good health have no trouble living at home. They might either stay in their existing home or downsize. Many retired people downsize into a smaller community, usually a senior living community.
Retirement or senior living communities are for those 55+. These communities are a great way to meet other seniors and join in recreational activities. They’re also typically priced for those who are on a fixed income. If the senior wishes to live at home but needs extra help, a family member or other caregiver might move in with them.
Move-in with family
A lot of other seniors choose to move in with a family member, typically a younger relative. In some cultures, this is the norm, though many seniors might still protect their independence by living alone as long as possible.
Moving in with family also is an effective way to cut housing costs if the senior might be in need of financial assistance.
Nursing home or assisted living facility
Finally, for those nearing the end of their life, a nursing home or assisted living facility may be an appealing choice. These facilities are for those who can’t handle daily activities or care for themselves. Their needs might be beyond what their family can provide, or they might need specialized care.
These facilities offer 24/7 care for seniors as they age. They also provide a network of other seniors, activities, and rehabilitation activities. These are a good way to make senior life a little bit easier when health becomes a problem—start end-of-life planning to give thought to how you’d like your housing managed as you age.
What Are Some Other Perks for Senior Citizenship?
Though it might seem like senior citizenship is a montage of doctor’s visits and nursing homes, this is far from the truth. There are so many perks to entering your golden years, like the celebration of National Senior Citizens Day!
This is one of the few times of your life when your time is really yours. You’ve already put in years at your career of choice, and now it’s time to reap the benefits of your labor. Let’s explore some of the biggest perks of senior citizenship.
You’re free from your daily job
While many seniors choose to work part-time or monetize a hobby, there is usually no financial need to work a full-time job. You no longer have to worry about being promoted, getting ahead, or making that big raise. It’s just about doing what you love with the people you love, and that’s very freeing.
In addition, since you no longer have a full-time job, your daily schedule is your own. Because you don’t report to an office, you’re free to structure your day as you wish.
Travel is a possibility
Many seniors use retirement as a chance to see more of the world. Whether you have a retirement bucket list or you just want to see more of your own hometown, you now have the time to make this happen.
Because seniors get so many travel deals and discounts, it’s more affordable than ever to travel. There are also a number of senior-only travel groups and membership programs designed to make it simple to see more of the world. If you’ve been itching to explore, now is your chance.
Focus on your hobbies
Perhaps you loved painting in your youth, but you never had the time. Maybe you always wanted to hike your state’s tallest mountain. It’s easy to put things off when you’re juggling life’s daily responsibilities. Now that you’re free of your 9-5 job, it’s time to finally give those hobbies the time they deserve.
There’s no risk. Try new things, try old things, and explore new ideas. There’s no stress or problems to worry about, so why not lean into your interests? You don’t have to do what anyone else wants. It’s all about you and your wishes.
Embrace Your Golden Years
Aging might be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s so much to be gained by opening your arms to your senior years. From the guide above, it’s easy to see why becoming a senior citizen is an exciting time. While you should take the time to think carefully about your end-of-life plan and financial needs, the rest of your time is yours alone.
Are you ready to embrace your twilight years? Your retirement is a chance to let yourself do everything you’ve always imagined. You might not be as young, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still accomplish your goals and dreams. The world is yours to explore, now it’s time to get started.
- “Benefits Planner.” Social Security Association. SSA.gov.