Elder Occupy
INTERESTING STUFF – 4 February 2012

What It's Like to Get Old – on This Day, Anyway

category_bug_journal2.gif Well, I mean yesterday, Thursday. It's been happening about every two months for the past five years or so, as it did yesterday.

I awakened at my usual early hour and followed my normal routine. Fed the cat, made the coffee, read some news and answered some email for awhile before I showered, dressed and had breakfast - the usual for a winter morning: hot oatmeal with fresh fruit. Yesterday it was half a banana, some blueberries and homemade apple sauce.

Then I got undressed and went back to bed.

As I said, it doesn't happen often but fairly regularly. I wake, apparently feeling fine and ready for the day. But an hour later, I don't feel fine. I feel tired and a bit sick. Nothing I can identify - like a fever or a cold or aches or pains or anything I'd bother a physician with. I just feel crummy.

It's not that I haven't had enough sleep – plenty of that. I'm not a drinker except for wine at dinner with friends which has not been the case for a week.

And so I spent the morning sleeping, broke for a light lunch, went back to bed again and alternately snoozed and watched an episode of an old British police drama on Netflix that I've come to like.

In the late afternoon, I rose again, dressed and prepared for an evening community meeting feeling fine and dandy. In fact, feeling as though I'd spent the day resting in bed – whether I needed it or not.

A good while ago, I decided to chalk it up to old age – that sometimes the ol' body and mind need time off from life for a day even if they haven't been overtaxed. It's another plus for retirement: I do it because I can.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Mark Sherman: Idiot Moments


Good for you, Ronni, isn't it great to be able to do that when retired? Love it. Reminds me of a lady (co-worker about 15 yrs older than me) who every once in awhile would take a sick day to be able to "spend the day in bed." She said it worked wonders for her in outlook and good health. Not a bad idea.

As my mom, the sage (96) says, far too often: listen to your body. Sounds like that's what you do & I wish I could, too:)Dee

It happens to me more often, but I have a similar experience: I often wake up very early (3 or 4 am), wide awake, and rather than just lie there or toss and turn, I just get up and busy myself with something, usually either reading or working on a planned blog post. After about an hour or two, I find myself so drowsy I have to go back to bed for a couple of hours, and that extra sack time leaves me feeling as refreshed as if I'd slept for 8 hours straight. I'm sure there's a good medical reason for this, but I'm not too concerned about it.

Because you can...good enough reason.

I admire your ability to give yourself permission to do what your body so obviously needs. You'd think by age 79, with a chronic disabling disease for 55 years, I'd have learned by now. I am getting there, but slowly. I can give myself a day off now after a strenuous day or two, whereas until very recently I just couldn't. However, living in senior housing with 34 other residents in the building and a super, I fret that someone will come to the door, find me in bed, and think me lazy. Totally stupid? Silly? Of course! Maybe by age 80, ya' think?

I like this post. Reminds me of one of the most creative women I know. She adopted an all-day-in-bed reverie for one Sunday a month. She was in her 40's at the time. Not sure how many years she had been doing it. She felt like it rejuvenated her juices.

I love being retired. I do exactly what I want to do. It's fun discovering what that actually is sometimes.

It does seem like old age is a good day-bad day thing. Sometimes it varies throughout a single day. I think I'm more attuned to my body than I ever was when I was young, and could take feeling good for granted. I have to be more careful with myself because it is so easy to get injured.

Maybe your body was telling you to do that to build up your immune system which considering all the colds that run around during the winter, is a smart move at any age.

I've been sleeping an extra half day occasionally most of my life. Early on I used it to stand off a coming cold, or just escape, a very mini-vacation a few days a year. These days its to regain energy, I just don't recharge as easily as I used to, and with grandkids several visiting 2-3 days a week, definitely recharging and maybe escaping too :-).

I agree with those that suggest listening to the body. It's wisdom is greater than that of most physicians. As long as you don't think it's due to depression or other health problem, and it doesn't cause you any other problems, it sounds good to me.

Funny that I am reading this now as I just got up from my second sleep last night. I woke at 2am, couldn't go back to sleep and got up at 3:30 to drink hot chocolate, read my e-mail, and do some research. I stayed up until 6 am when I felt sleepy enough to go back to bed. I immediately went to sleep for 2 1/2 hours more. I can't say I feel rejuvenated, but I will probably take a nap later in the day.

I have these nights quite often now and have for several years. Thank goodness for retirement as I can indulge in my weird sleep patterns without guilt. The only thing that irritates me is falling asleep during my favorite TV shows and not seeing the end.

It is so wonderful to find I am not alone in this world of aging. I wonder how our mothers and grandmothers survived (or maybe they didn't) being old without having the world-wide support that your blog, and others, generate.

I'd keep track and tell the doc at your next yearly physical. I don't think that's normal even for old age.

Is it just me or is this (age+sleep issues) rarely addressed by doctors? I mentioned it to the ANP on a visit & she agreed, but the questions still don't include sleep. Oh Well. Dee

This sort of fatigue happens to me all the time and I thought I was alone. It seems as if it could be that so mething is amiss medically, but doctors don't want to address it. They hate women who complain of fatigue.

Our symptoms aren't quite the same. We don't actually feel sick and don't go back to bed. If we did we wouldn't be able to sleep. However, there are days every now and then when we wake full of energy and plan what we want to do and before we finish our breakfast the energy is gone and we putter around not doing anything much. The get-up-and-go just gets-up-and-goes-away. Thankfully, we don't have much that absolutely has to be done immediately.

To be clear, what I experience (I, me only - I can't say about you) has nothing to do with fatigue. I could perfectly do what I do every day and more if I really need to. But now and then I don't feel like it.

My dad, who was a stickler for doing everything every day no excuses, called it "the crud" and on rare occasions, let me stay home from school because of it.

I'm not sick. I don't need a doctor. There is nothing wrong with me. Just sometimes, I need a day off from the world.

Which reminds me, anyone still awaiting an answer to an email from the past few days will need to wait longer. Because of yesterday, I'm behind by 100 or more.

I totally understand Ronni, I book myself a "No Do Day" periodically but now and again I crawl back into the sack, mainly because I can. I ran shy on sleep for most of my life (single mom, busy career) and I feel I can now catch up on all those lost sleep hours.
Today I will nap and dedicate it that night in 1972 when I only had three hours sleep. :)

Sometimes one just must say, "All progress called off for the day - by lack of interest."
In my working days, I was even known to send everyone home at 2:00 pm - on a day when lethargy seemed rife in the office (average age, other than me, 24). The "kids" loved it - going to the beach with great enthusiasm - and worked all the harder/longer for it during other days/weeks!

Great post today-thanks

My wise sister calls these "mental health days". Sounds good to me.
Thank you for listening to your body and for letting us listen to you.

Well, living Portland, you don't get enough sun, and therefore enough Vitamin D. You should get that checked. I take a prescription 50,000 units of Vitamin D every other week. Makes all the difference. It's worth seeing if you have a deficiency. Regular vitamins don't provide enough D.

Oh, and it should be Vitamin D3 not just D2.

I marvel at how you manage to keep up your work on TGB day after day. You not only keep up the work, but make the subject matter interesting and topical. From my POV, you certainly deserve some time off whether it be on the beach or in bed.

I couldn't agree more Ronni. Sleep is the rejuvenator for the human body, no matter what age you are. The fact that as elders, who are retired, can take them as we need them is not an indication of our age.

I have talked to many twenty-somethings that express envy that I am able to take a daily afternoon nap following my part-time work in a kitchen for a caterer.

They stay up way too long simply because they can but then realize that they are depleted the next day at work when they need that energy.

Excellent idea. I do the same thing except I take my extra sleep throughout the day in sporadic 15-minute increments.


I did the same thing yesterday and slept off and on all day! I do that sometime and feel better after reading your post and the comments.

Great idea if you can do it without feeling out of sorts the next day. For me, that's on top of feeling guilty--for no reason whatsoever except that I guess I'm still caught up in the habits of 50+ years in the work force that say "be productive". Unfortunately, if I stay in bed for too many hours (more than 10-12), I'm stiff and sore the next day, so I guess my body is saying "better get moving".

I don't get up at 5:00AM anymore, though--more like 8:30 or 9:00. I often read until 1:00AM and sometimes get up and play with the cats/answer email/write posts at 3:00 AM. I do enjoy the flexibility. The cats do, too.

The only difference with me is that I snooze in a comfy chair. Ho hum! I feel a yawn coming on....... it's probably going to be another rest day (thanks to being pummelled in the dentist's chair earlier in the week.) You are being sensible, Ronni, listening to your body is the right thing to do.

I frequently learn something new by reading this blog - that's one reason I read it. I wasn't aware so many people often take "sleep in days." I know quite a few nappers, but you and most of the comments here talk about nearly whole days in bed. The vitamin D suggestion sounds right, but I don't know. I've never been a sleeper and never gone back to bed unless really sick, which, thankfully, is very rare. The habits of others that are not our own seem rare and exotic. Hmmm.

I'm 59 and on Sat. or Sun. I have slept half the day because I was so fatigued, I couldn't bear it. I attribute it to being unable to cope well with the stress of my job. I have a full-time desk job that has tight deadlines; I work 9 to near 9 2-3 times a week and never leave before 6. I don't do anything stressful in the evenings. Yet on Sat. or Sun. I feel I just have to spend half the day in bed. This isn't every weekend. Maybe once a month. I feel guilty as hell. But that's the way it is. I'm lucky I don't have anyone harping at me to not lie in bed half the Saturday. I remember my mother, who never worked outside of the home, often took an afternoon nap. I never understood that, being the twit that I was in my youth. Now I get it. Though I have to say that Mon. through Friday while at the office I never need a nap.

I have been having periods of what I called "molts" for all of my adult life that would require me to go to bed for a day or two. After these days in bed I would be fine for months. It just seemed like part of who I was to me, until I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE) in 1995. Fatigue might just be a sign of getting on, it might be just paying more attention but it also might be a medical condition that needs attention.

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