ELDER MUSIC: Songs About Cities - Albuquerque
How To Fight For Yourself At The Hospital and Avoid Readmission by Judith Graham

Senior Discounts

Do you use senior discounts? The only one I am aware of using is movie theaters but I hardly ever go anymore. I wait for the films I want to see to show up on Netflix or Amazon or Hulu or even in discount DVD bins because theaters nowadays jack up the audio so high it actually hurts my ears.

But I'm not here to rant about that - at least, not today.

Discounts are hard to track. The first problem is age. It appears that most begin at 55 but 60, 62 and 65 are not uncommon and amazingly, even 50 turns up more often than you might think. It's not easy to sort out which stores think which age is old enough for a discount.

Another issue is day-of-the-week or day-of-the-month discounts. These are usually at supermarkets, usually 10 percent but they require one to remember if it is every Tuesday (or is it Wednesday?), the third Thursday and so on. I gave up a long time ago and besides, New Yorkers if not others know that it's not really a discount unless it's at least 25 percent off.

A Google search for “senior discounts” results in nearly five million returns. There are a lot of lists of links to senior discounts and they cover almost anything you would ever need in life. A short topic sampling:

Car rentals
Medical and Pharmacy
Food and beverages
Health and nutrition

There are many more but you get the idea. You can search by names of stores and restaurants too, AARP has its own list and you will rarely fail to find a discount when you search for something specific like, for example, “flowers senior discount” or "electrician senior discount."

In recent years, a cottage industry of objections to senior discounts has developed from people who believe it is unfair.

Ann Brenoff, writing at Huffington Post earlier this year, agrees but has a couple of thoughtful suggestions:

”Seniors aren’t the poorest among us anymore. The national poverty rate, according to the 2014 Census, is 14.8 percent. For seniors 65 and older, it’s just 8.7 percent, while for children under 18 it was 21.1 percent. Maybe it’s children we should be offering discounts to?

“Seniors, like my (now-deceased) aunts, would tell you how discounts are a way of honoring or showing respect to our elders. I fail to see how 75 cents show a whole heck of a lot of honor and respect.

“Maybe the way to honor them is to fund Medicare to the level where it would pay for some of the things most seniors actually need: eyeglasses, hearing assistance, and dental work?

“And if we really respected their age and the wisdom that presumably comes with it, why aren’t we hiring more of them instead of making them feel unwelcome in the workplace and telling them how they aren’t a good 'cultural fit?'”

Hear, hear, Ms. Brenoff. A lot of us have been saying these things for years – we just had not made what I see now is the logical connection to senior discounts.

Since none of those changes – discounts, Medicare and employment – are going to happen any time soon, here is a poem about it sent last week by TGB reader Tom Delmore that is funny, poignant and sweet.

It is from the poets.org website and is written by Ali Leibegott – titled Senior Discount:

I want to grow old with you.
Old, old.

So old we pad through the supermarket
using the shopping cart as a cane that steadies us.

I’ll wait at register two in my green sweater
with threadbare elbows, smiling
because you’ve forgotten the bag of day-old pastries.

The cashier will tell me a joke about barbers as I wait.
He repeats the first line three times
but the only word I understand is barber.

Over the years we’ve caught inklings
of our shrinking frames and hunched spines.

You’re a little confused
looking for me at the wrong register with a bag
of almost-stale croissants clenched in your hand.

The first time I held your hand it felt enormous in my own.
Sasquatch, I teased you, a million years ago.

Over here, I yell, but not in a mad way.

We’re laughing.
You have a bright yellow pin on your coat that says, Shalom!

Senior Discount, you say.
But the cashier already knows us.
We’re everyone’s favorite customers.


We happily will take any discount we encounter. We also qualify for AAA discount sometimes. The only discount we make a habit of taking is the Walgreens discount we get once a month, and which we will be getting tomorrow.

We buy toiletries and OTC meds using that discount. I also buy the few cosmetics I use that way.

We sometimes qualify for senior admission discounts, and we happily take them.

I believe I have been the beneficiary of a discounted cup of coffee at McDonalds before now that I think about it, but not recently. If the discount is offered we accept. Except for Walgreens, we dn't generally seek them out.

And there are plenty of seniors who live on small incomes.

I decided to stop dyeing my hair and let the silver shine; that $1000+ a year can go in to my savings rather than putting chemicals on my head. It's only about an inch grown out at the roots, but all of a sudden I am being given senior discounts, not even asking for them. I'm 55. I'll take them, and declare them interest on my new savings:)

When I was able to travel I used the Senior discount for my airline tickets and saved a lot by being able to fly on slow days. You had to be able to buy them months ahead of your trip as the few good flight times went fast.

I got my first senior discount before I was 50. I was buying a ticket to the Medieval Fair and looked up at the sign that said there was a discount for seniors over 50. I told the ticket taker that I would be 50 tomorrow (true) and she gave me the discount.

I didn't feel like an elder then, but I sure do now.

I do enjoy the senior discount for the (maybe) one movie I go to (always the cheaper matinees) every year or two. Probably wouldn't go at all without it. The only other one I use, and felt like a queen when it was bestowed (because I hadn't known about it before) is lifetime free admission (Golden Age Passport, now call America the Beautiful Pass) to all national parks and federal recreation lands. It was a one-time fee of $10, and considering a one-day admission now is $20 and one week is $30, it was like being given the Hope Diamond, because Rocky Mountain National Park is just an hour away.

Also worth noting, many places will honor senior discounts but only if you ask about them. I once bought some eyeglasses at a place that did not accept insurance. However, they said they'd honor either AARP or AAA discounts. I only had AAA, and it turned out to be better than the AARP would have been. Who'd a thunk a AAA membership would get you a discount on eyeglasses!?

I don't chase discounts, like some of the senior people I know, but if they come my way, like the 20% discount at my favorite pharmacy, I gladly take them. The only requirement is that you turn up on a designated day of the month, and present a points card.
Given what I'm learning about the current child poverty rate, however, I'd certainly be willing to transfer it to them.

@piedtype: I'm so glad you mentioned the "Golden Age Passport". It's by far the best discount ever for travelling retirees. We visited nearly all the National Parks on our single Passport. But I couldn't help feeling a bit guilty about this privilege when families had to pay so much for admission. For some it's prohibitive. I would glady trade my discount in if it could be given to a deserving family.

We use senior discounts often and multiply their effect in some cases by shopping with discounted gift cards. It can be challenging and fun to ferret out good offers. Our one golden rule is that we never buy any good or service simply because a discount is offered. It must be something we would buy at the regular price.

I don't thing senior discounts have much of anything to do with honoring us. It simply is good business. Some firms can up profits by luring new customers who are likely to appear during slack times. Others perhaps have found they make sales to seniors that the elders might otherwise not be able to afford at all. Still others are trying to lure a class of people to try a new product or service when their market research shows potential in that area.

I've always wondered how much encouragement to have more kids than they can actually afford/than the earth needs is provided by giving discounts for kids such as the federal government provides (I'm talking about income tax and military housing allowances, for instance.)

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