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The Speed Bumps of Getting Older

category_bug_journal2.gif In response to the post here Saturday about the physical limitations that appear in our lives as we get older, Roberta, who blogs at Elusive Allusions, had this to say in a comment:

“I discovered that it took me two days to sew a pair of slacks that I used to zip up in 3 hours. It's tough when you're as impatient as I am and you can't lay blame by yelling at the top of your lungs, "Will you please hurry up!!" (Guess I could yell, but I'd look mighty foolish yelling at myself that way.) So I've had to resign myself to being in that class of dawdlers that I vowed all my life to never be a part of.”

Speaking of “elusive,” time is that. On the one hand, I am amused at the paradox of gaining newfound patience in many things I chafed at waiting for when I was younger just when my time on earth is demonstrably shorter. On the other hand, I wonder - not counting rest periods for some kinds of tasks - if they really do take longer to finish or if, in tandem with the increased patience, I no longer see the need to rush through them.

My wise and wonderful great Aunt Edith once told me that it took until her seventies to understand that if she had something more interesting to do, the house cleaning could wait - the dirt wouldn't go anywhere.

Because the inevitable slowing that comes with age happens so gradually we aren't much aware of it until it becomes acute, so it is probably as hard to know if one is slower than in the past as it would be to recognize one’s own dementia, if that were to happen. Does it take me longer to wash dishes or sweep the sidewalk or vacuum the living room? I have no idea, particularly if it is a chore that doesn’t require a rest period.

If one really is slower, however, is it the task that is taking longer or, as Roberta suggests, does one dawdle more? Dawdling for me is more akin to becoming distracted by something else and although I’ve not made a point to notice yet, I appear to have less ability, these days, to ignore stray thoughts and ideas that wander into my mind even when I’m intent on a such a task as writing a blog entry.

That leads me to wonder if, like the waning ability with age to tune out ambient noise which makes it difficult to hear close-up conversation in a loud room, do we also, in a sort of cognitive counterpoint to the physical aural change, lose the ability to ignore the extraneous chatter in our heads as we get older? Might that be what slows us down sometimes?

I don’t have any answers to this and no time for research these days, if it’s even been studied. But I’m curious to know if it’s just Roberta and me, or if dawdling and distraction are common among elders.


This sounds so very familiar. I've been noticing and thinking about this very thing recently. It seems I find it much easier to delay doing things that do not HAVE to be done in favor of those I want to do. Aunt Edith was right.

It also seems there is some sub-conscious process at work that begins attaching more or less priority to certain tasks because of the little time left to do them. It's like the conscious process we might go through if given 6 months to live - we would quickly prioritize everything in our lives.

And, the joints are stiffer, the muscles weaker, so yes, so do move slower...

Roberta! You can make a pair of slacks in two days? What are you thinking! Change your outlook! Pat yourself on the back and be pleased with yourself. I'm impressed and I'm sure others are so why not you? Don't look over your shoulder at your other self. You are you now and can accomplish a creative and useful task.
It's all mind set along with letting go. Of course we're different. We change. That's being alive and elders are masters at adapting.

visiting here each morning has become my newest will ronni shape the day's conversation, what will responders do with her ideas.
often i visit a commenter's blog. today--thank you, winston--more to consider, from another part of the country. sure, i get tired more easily, want to avoid noisy places, but the eagerness for exchange between/among thoughtful people continues. elderblogging brings a whole new dimension to my aging.

Speed bumps are quite manageable if taken very slowly and, from the proper angle.

Well it might be that or maybe we'd have done it all along but now just can. Think about how a teen does a job-- if they even do it.

At 71, I've learned to look at this time as finally being able to live at my own natural pace - which was always slower than most. Now I can do the things I love to do, not worry if they are practical or productive enough and follow the butterflies to see where they go. If not now, when?

I am 100% with Marylouise on this. I have made peace with Time. I used to consider Time the only enemy, and now we are partners. I guess it's a kind of acceptance that Time will outlast me, so there's no reason to use energy in conflict with it.

After all, "Time Goes By" and so do we!

Yes to dawdling and yes to distraction--I do well at either/both. Fortunately for me, I don't get upset about it (although Hunky Husband does) because they are issues that have always been present in my mind/head. It was a relief to reach an age where I could fall back on "What am I here for?" jokes in explanation. I don't think that I have developed patience with aging. Time goes by so much more quickly that I don't realize how long something has taken.

Well, I'm not very elder, but I'm always dawdling and often distracted. I find, however, that the less I have to do the less focused I am.

After my unplanned retirement, I found the days slipping away leaving me with no sense of accomplishiment. Now that I'm back in school and working on a major remodelling project as well as doing garden writing, I find that I get a lot more done in a day.

Maybe it's not just age, but circumstance combined with shifting priorities (that is, not everything is important enough to demand our complete or immediate attention).

"My wise and wonderful great Aunt Edith once told me that it took until her seventies to understand that if she had something more interesting to do, the house cleaning could wait - the dirt wouldn't go anywhere."

Hmmm, it certainly didn't take me that long! Unfortuantely, there is always something more interesting to do...I also discovered years ago that you don't have to iron stuff, and if you do, don't buy it. My mom used to iron my blue jeans, good grief.

And I've had material sitting in my closet for years, waiting to be sewn into something. Maybe Roberta can come visit?

And I've never been able to ignore the voices in my head. I do whatever they tell me. ;^)

I often accuse my nine-year old granddaughter of dawdling over her tasks, especially finishing dinner, so I don't think it is a habit restricted to elders.

More than dawdle, I just forget. I'll bag up the kitchen trash and carry it out to the garbage container outside, then return to the kitchen hours later to discover the trash akimbo in the middle of the floor still awaiting a new plastic liner. I meant to put in a new liner and put it away under the sink, but the thought got away from me somehow.

Here's to you, Roberta, Aunt Edith and all of us who have finally decided most types of dirt can wait. Cheers!

I like to daddle and consider it one of the benefits of growing older. I have always been a day dreamer, and I am probably more so now. Stopping to smell the roses is one of the perks of elderhood.

What's the hurry anyway?

The distraction becomes the attraction and the "task at hand" becomes insignificant. It's really only a general "slow down and smell the roses" kind of thing. After spending so much of our lives with our eye on the mark, nose to the grindstone and feet on the ground, it's now time to flit and dream and go with the flow


It's a good thing that you are making your move at 65. If you waited another few years it would only get harder.

I am not a dawdler but it just takes me longer these past few years to do anything, Time marchs on but I can't keep up with the marchers.

As I remember it now, when I moved from my home to a condo 10 years ago, it was a big job, packing and unpacking, but I did not find it as difficult as I find going back and forth to Florida.

Being 10 years younger when I made that move
was exciting and exhilarating, a new place and the opportunity to meet new friends kept my spirits up and my energy level up too.

Transitions get harder as time goes by but once you get settled and the unpacking is done you are going to pick up speed and have a great adventure.

I can just see you riding around in that spiffy red car, now that's exciting!

Cripes yes. I dwadle all day long. Only time it stops if when I plop in the bed at night or is it in the day??
Oh well, one thing leads to another and that to another and the first thing has not been finished yet. Dwaddle, dwaddle, dwaddle all day long.

Dawdle, daddle, dwaddle, dally, piddle, diddle, didle-daddle, goof off, laze, loaf, loll, delay, poke, procrastinate, tarry, amble, idle, fritter, waste away, take your time, don't hurry are all variations of the opposite of what we did the first part of our lives.

Having spent both youth & early middle age ensuring that exertion was kept to the bare minimum, & specialising in dawdling & distraction from early childhood, I find that most people my age are only now slowing down to my speed!

Ronni, I am honored and pleased to find an insignificant bit of conversation prompted you to write such an intriguing post. Obviously, from the comments, there are more than a few dawdlers that understand the dilemmas of those who suddenly (and quite unexpectedly) find themselves bonafide members of the Dawdlers' Fellowship.

I still find the more I have to do, the more I get done, though it's possible I'm not getting as much done as some years ago. Certainly that would be true of physical activities. At times I enjoy the rush of much to do, other times not, but not sure why.

If I don't have much to do, I get even less done and can truly say I dawdle then. But then, I enjoy those days when I don't do much, dawdle, and don't feel guilty.

Sometimes I deliberately don't do something I should do, just because I can. I derive secret private pleasure from having done so.

Am not aware of distraction from concentration, but maybe as noted, it is happening so gradually I can't tell yet. I am also unaware of any difficulty with aural problems concentrating in groups of people.

I do indulge in allowing threads of thought to come to mind more readily whenever writing, whether commenting on blogs or other, but then my mind has always worked in this manner, so not sure if I'm doing more of it. I don't experience this as distracting, but may be to others. Suspect a bit more discipline in this arena might be the order of the day.

I am freer, have been for quite a few years now, about doing what I want, not what might be expected of me.

I tend to think of it more as recognizing what's really important in life, exercising what some might call selfishness, basically doing what gives me pleasure. Part of the reason for this is, that I know it could all change, enjoy myself while I can.

There is some carryover into my part time work but not in any detrimental way. If, anything, the attitude frees me of some previous constraints, seems to not harm, maybe even benefit all those with whom I interact as well as me.

Yeah, your Aunt Edith had it right!

Just thought I'd add a bit more as my perspective has changed a bit since I wrote earlier.

Remember that old song, "What a difference a day makes..."? Well, I have come to the conclusion since my previous comment that, especially as I get older, what goes on in my days and nights does seem to make a greater difference than I realized compared to when I was much younger.

I sometimes find myself saying the words I want to hear and believe about how I feel, because I think the language we give ourselves is so important to shaping our experience. But it's also important to realistically recognize what is happening with our bodies.

Have come to realize that life events really can effect the dawdle and distraction quotient. Have been finding myself dawdling a lot recently. Seem to work in spurts, almost welcoming anything that comes along to distract me and give me reason to refocus my attention elsewhere.

At times the drive seems to have driven on without me. Start the day raring to go, but think there must be a speed governor that keeps ratcheting downward as the day wears on.

I really thought this was due to the fact I was just indulging myself based on life happening. After re-reading this post, set me to thinking that maybe we buoy ourselves up to take care of tasks at hand more easily when we're younger. Maybe we have greater limits on just how many tasks we can handle and for how long a period of time.

Maybe if we've had so much for so long, that when we finally get to a stopping place, we find ourselves needing to let down before we're really finished, but we really do need to stop and rest a bit.

Maybe, we just plain ole do run out of gas, sometimes described as those occasions when we begin to "feel our age."

I wonder if, just maybe, that's what I'm experiencing; if, just maybe, others have experienced the same?

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