Wednesday, 05 September 2012
Being Old is Time Consuming
Crabby Old Lady is worn out and it's not because she has been extra special busy lately. It's just ordinary living that takes up more time than it did when she was younger. Or, maybe, it's the consequences of ordinary living that weren't there years ago.
Take grocery shopping. Except for rare occasions when Crabby is cooking for guests, you would think her food needs would be minimal. For most of her life – in New York City – she carried her purchases home without a problem and gained some walking exercise in the bargain.
These days she drives but on many trips she can't carry the groceries into the house in one go. It's two and, occasionally, three trips to and from the car. Okay, she'll admit there is the walking itself and that's not a bad thing but Crabby usually has better uses for her time than hauling bags from the car.
Sleeping or, rather, lack of it is another time eater. Because many days Crabby Old Lady wakes after only four or five hours without a chance of going back to sleep, she is up at ungodly early hours and wears out by 2PM or so.
A nap eats up another couple of hours and then – and THEN, it's twice in one day she needs an hour to get mind and body functional again. Plus, here's a catch: without a nap, Crabby would fall asleep at night by 7PM and be wide awake at midnight. It's happened. Oy.
We have discussed here how our stamina and energy are not what they once were. For decades, Crabby whizzed through weekly house cleaning finishing by noon on Saturdays. Now she spreads it over an entire week – kind of never-ending cleaning, one room a day – but even so, she often needs to stop and rest between chores.
Cleaning house is boring enough. It's worse not being able to finish in the time Crabby has been accustomed to all her life until now.
And walking. As she mentioned, Crabby has always been a walker although in New York, it is just the way one lives and not “exercise.” But these days, Crabby's feet ache if she walks for more than about an hour, even leisurely as in window shopping and browsing a book store.
It's not pain and Crabby is not afflicted with bunions, corns and her feet are not deformed (just lucky, she guesses) from decades of high-heeled shoes. It's just that her feet get tired so she must stop and sit for awhile when she would rather be moving and getting things done.
Hair too. For most of Crabby Old Lady's life, shampoo and a brush were all she needed to keep her hair looking nice. A couple of minutes in the morning and she was out the door.
Now that her hair has become so thin in front and at the crown of her head, it takes a good deal of arranging to be presentable without looking like a female version of a guy's bad comb over.
Crabby loses the most time, however, to elder forgetfulness. You know, the same old stuff of finding yourself in the bedroom – or kitchen, or bathroom – wondering why you're there. Or being halfway through telling a story to a friend and losing the point.
And way too frequently, Crabby forgets the third item she wanted at the grocery, goes home without it and THEN remembers what it is and that the recipe won't work without it.
Back to the store. More time gone.
So far, Crabby doesn't have a condition or disease in need of regular attention that for many elders requires additional physician visits; prescriptions filled, counted and taken; treatments required; special diets, etc. But she can empathize with what must be frustration at the time taken up with care and maintenance.
There are dozens of other elder time eaters that may not consume more than a couple of minutes each but add up over a day or week.
[EDITORIAL NOTE: There is - well, was - an additional thought Crabby intended to insert here, but she's forgotten it. If it comes to mind, she will enlighten you in an update.]
There is no earlier era of Crabby's life that she wants to relive or return to. Through no effort on her part – it just happens – she has found each new period, decade, year to be more compelling than the previous one.
But Crabby doesn't think many people consider how damned much more time it takes just to be old and sometimes, just living an ordinary day wears her out.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmerman: Hair Today