“Old age ain’t for sissies,” stated that famous old dame, Bette Davis. I am beginning to understand what she meant.
If you are getting older, like I am and hopefully everyone else is, you are finding that there are new difficulties in your life style caused by physical and mental changes.
Changes in Our Bodies
We will at some point find our bodies losing one ability or another that it used to do freely, whether from neglect, abuse, a hard life or just aging. Loss of physical strength, back stability, night vision, arthritis are but a few changes I have dealt with. These losses have been the hardest for me because they affected my lifestyle. Hearing loss, failing eyesight, poor balance, muscle weakness, disease processes or just the aging process itself can sneak in and steal our vitality. What can we do?
Changes in Our Independence
Since I am 68 years young I began to think about what life may be like for me someday. I love my independence and the ability to go when I want to; where I want to; and for how long I want to.
Both of my parents had to give up driving because of decreased reflexes, attention and mental changes. I can imagine how I will feel when or if my sons tell me, ” Mom, you can’t drive anymore. You are not a safe driver.”
If you think about it, most of us will most likely face that humiliating adjustment someday. How can our kids prove to stubborn oldsters like us that we should hang up our car keys for good?
Our tendency is going to be to deny it, to excuse it or to attribute it to our kids trying to rule or ruin our lives. We may even go through a grieving process over this loss.
But accept it, we must. The above mentioned changes make us potentially dangerous as drivers. Just once not looking carefully enough left my 80 year old aunt in the hospital with two fractures in her pelvis! Just one second can make a big difference in the severity or occurrence of an accident.
Changes in Our Status
After years of being the experienced, wise, helping parent, we will soon need the experience, wisdom and help of our adult children. My parents, uncle and aunt developed Dementia or Alzheimer’s so, I am concerned that I too may eventually drift off mentally and impose sadness, grief and financial strain on my sons and their families. This is a common concern for many at my age.
When I was a nurse several of my patients commented on this, I reminded them that they took care of their kids when they were young because they loved them. So their adult “kids” should be willing to show their love for their parents when they need help. This reminder hopefully helped a few of my patients, but there is no way of knowing for sure that it helped anyone but me at the time.
Changes in Attitudes
Our attitude about our world changes. Remember how as a kid you heard your aging relatives go on and on about “the good old days?” The world is slowly becoming a different world which to us oldsters changes and disrupts our secure lives.
Favorite buildings are torn down, new roads and developments are being built where once grassy meadows grew. Governments change. Belief systems evolve and change. We are changing too and all of these other changes just remind us of it. I try sometimes to see changes as a challenge, instead of destruction of my secure little world.
I don’t know how men my age feel but as a senior female, I feel vulnerable. I think about my grandmother who many years ago was beaten up on the walkway to her country home by two men who stole $10 out of her apron pocket and a ring off of her finger.
So I am shoring up my defenses by being more cautious and wiser. I also try to stay informed about whatever is going on in the world. I live in a keyed entrance condo building with my own locked door, which does provide me with a great sense of security.
I am doing what I can to maintain the brain cells and heart muscle that I do have for my senior years to come. I rarely eat fried foods; I eat lots of non beef and low fat meats; I get plenty or enough sleep. I write this blog, stay engaged with friends and enjoy volunteering four hours a week at a thrift store.
I also continue to challenge my mind with Sudoku, reading, learning new things on YouTube, word games, and silly challenges on Facebook. I love to figure things out. I used to listen to the news once or twice a day but have since decided just to listen only enough to get a vague idea of how the same things that happened yesterday have happened again today but with some variations.
Sadly, although exercise is recommended, it is my weakness. I have some physical restrictions that make me afraid I might damage myself worse. It’s a Catch 22 kind of thing. However my Physical Therapist has taught me some core strengthening exercises and actually recommended Yoga and swimming: the two main exercises that I love.
Some say, “Ignorance is bliss.” I say, “Ignorance can kill you!” When dealing with repairs of things mechanical I used to leave those to my husband. He passed away over 10 years ago.
So now it’s up to me. But I have found confidence in some matters by looking up potential problems on the internet. I found out I could type in, “Car is making clunking noise” and found a video of different car sounds with explanations.
The internet and YouTube empower me with knowledge. Even though I may not know how to fix a problem I can do research and understand what may be wrong and what can be done about it. And there are always my sons and my brother who are wonderful resources.
The point is: Keep on living!! Look up new things to keep you involved, challenged and knowledgeable. Yes, you may not be able to do some things, but there are things you can do! Don’t just sit at home feeling angry, sad, helpless; Do something!!
There are videos on YouTube that can teach you how to paint, sketch, knit, write, cook, meditate, play an instrument, sew, anything!! There is a whole new world on the internet! There are also Meetup groups you can find on an app for your computer with links to people who may share your interests. You can create your own group if you can’t find one!
There is also a whole “old” world on YouTube. Excerpts or whole shows can be found om old Westerns, Carol Burnette, Red Skeleton, car shows, races, just about anything you could want to watch. There are countless comedians from the past to the present.
So don’t just drift off to sleep all the time. Get up, get out, get a bus, get a friend to drive you somewhere, and get joy in the life that you have left.