LAGNIAPPE: The Raging Grannies
An Elder Bites the Apple

What Have You Learned at This Blog?

Now and then some of us mention how much we learn from one another at Time Goes By.

On the lightest level, without your suggestions, there might not be an Interesting Stuff list on Saturdays. I also wouldn't know that so many others share with me the changes that come with growing old – the good and the not-so-good. And you have no idea how many blog posts are suggested by your comments - if not always directly, by piquing my curiosity due to something you said.

Also, let me call out two 90-year-olds I've known through this blog for at least ten years. Millie Garfield and Darlene Costner, 16 years older than I am, remind me regularly – each in her own way and with great kindness – that I'm still a youngster at this ageing game and have a lot to learn about becoming one of the old-old, as they are.

Readers often tell me they learn so much here but they rarely mention specifics. During the past week, several commented about what specifically they had learned here and I'm going to quote three of them today.

Not uncommonly, I forget a lot of things I've written in the past. Patty-in-New-York reminded me about an important one.

”Can I tell you how I found your blog?” she asked. “I was house-hunting (not really, just as a pastime) online and came across a post you'd written about things elders should consider when purchasing a home or moving.

“Primary among them was to consider a one-storey house or at least to get a bedroom on the ground floor, because if you didn't have that, sooner or later you might find yourself sleeping in the dining room as illness or age overtook you. (I paraphrase, but that was the gist.).

“This resonated with me deeply as that exact circumstance happened with my Dad. Anyway, I've been reading ever since.”

That was a big consideration when I was shopping for a new home here in Oregon in 2010. I skipped over a couple of attractive places due to stairs and all old people should take this into consideration if they relocate.

Because they don't get much comment response, I sometimes hesitate to post what I think of as nut-and-bolts stories – hard information and facts about health, Social Security or Medicare, new services for elders – that kind of thing.

Last week, reader Scotti let me know they can make a real difference.

”I found myself this last weekend in the unfortunate position of having my Medicare Part D plan refusing to cover a medicine. I was unhappily thinking about paying cash because I had run out of my medicine and was beginning to feel sick.

“Calling all the pharmacies in town I found only one that actually had the medicine I needed on hand. But it would cost me $150 to pay cash (my copay would have been $40). Then I remembered your article and looked up my Rx on GoodRx.

“They provided me a coupon to allow me to get the medicine for $70. Still a lot - but I was relieved to be able to get my medicine and start feeling better.

“It may be several weeks for my MD and the insurance company to work out their negotiations - but I can get through that since I have a month's Rx for now.”

When I write about ageism – fairly frequently because I believe it is a major impediment to all elders' well being – I know a good-sized contingent of readers will dismiss it as unimportant - “names can't hurt me,” etc.

That doesn't dissuade me from continuing to bang the ageism drum and here is reader Elle Hayes telling us that reading Time Goes By

"...has made me more aware of ageism. Funny how I accepted ageist comments prior to your postings opening my eyes - and also funny how friends and family reacted, at first, when I tried to tactfully explain the similarity between ageist remarks, weight related comments, racial and religious bigotry.

“Now my grandkids are much more aware of what's acceptable to the mature citizens of our community and what is not. I also like that I speak out now; when someone calls me 'young lady,' 'oldster,' 'Honey,' 'sweetie' and other patronizing names, I say, 'Just call me by my name, Elle, and leave it at that.'”

And every time she does that, she makes a difference. More people, like her grandchildren for example, will come to respect old people and give them the same dignity they give younger people.

Aren't those three stories terrific? Let's see how many more we can share.

Today, tell us in the comments what you have learned about navigating this last era of our lives. It can be something I've posted or what someone passed on in the comments or just as likely, something turned up elsewhere in your life you would like the rest of us to know.

After all, among all of us TGB denizens we have hundreds of thousands of years of experience and knowledge.

Comments

I have learned I am not alone.

For me, all I've learned is all of the above that you've mentioned & then so much more. Primarily I've become more aware of this process of aging & how much I share with so many others. The other thing that is so important to me is how well you write & how easily it is to understand what you are saying...........does that make sense? Well it does for me! I've always been a "fan" of language & I don't want to lose that as I age. With your help I'm hanging on to that as well.
Also, I'm not particularly fond of this aging process & you have helped me stay calm & just relax as much as possible as I age. Thank you, thank you. Dee

For me you are a 'voice in the dark'. I have been reading for quite awhile now, almost 10 years. I wasn't a widow back them but have now been for a little over 5 years. Needless to say, I was inconsolable for quite a long while. In reality I always had someone to talk to and see things in a rational perspective. I lost that but then I started back to reading your blog. I needed to have answers about being a widow and if others experienced what I was going through. Moving or staying put, Social Security, balancing insurance plans and so many other life issues that I alone needed to handle. I have to admit that I had dropped off for a while but I went back whenever I had an issue. I was sure you had a post about it. I have shared your cost saving blogs with friends who I know are struggling with health plans and more recently the cost of prescriptions. I have also written letters, at your suggestion, about various political issues that affect us. I would have no clue what was going on politically if not for what I read on your blog. The news gives you little or nothing in depth in that regard especially when it pertains to seniors. I had also thought about relocating to Maine and your 4 years there helped me as well. Not sure about Oregon though. I'm an East coast girl! So thank you for all you do. Your diligent and thorough research is so appreciated.

I've learned to make the most of whatever I am and have at this age (73).

Another is the welcome and ready exchange of perspectives and solutions found in your columns and by the invaluable comments to them.

And the slaps of humor or the slings of despair, heartbreak or outrage.

This site makes me feel satiated. That sounds odd, but I'm too sleepy to express it better.


Most of all, you have been an inspiration to me. When I first re-booted my writing several months ago, I had many fears that a) I could never write again, b) no one would read me, and c) I would never learn the technology of setting up a blog. I looked at your range of topics and realized that I thought strongly about the things you do. I hovered around for a while, drenched in insecurities, but at last I plunged in. It has been great! Thanks for being an inspiration!

I have learned that a blog can be monitored and managed to keep the conversation civil, and that the task is one that needs vigilance.

Ronni, I have learned that you are a person of strength and insight who is not easily deterred when the task gets tough.

I have learned that the exchange of facts, ideas, and opinions on the internet can build a since of belonging that doesn't require the physical give and take that many of us have lost energy to provide.

The content provided and the comments have helped me to clarify for myself through further study through the links you provide and through taking some of the topics and comments to begin a journal.

I have known for years that writing helps to sort out our thoughts, but have been an off and on practitioner of that knowledge. This blog has motivated me to do that more consistently.

The ageism concept really hit home, esp. after a recent illness. I went to a new NP for a urinary infection and another age-related female complaint. This young nurse dismissed my trepidations by saying I needed to get a volunteer job to keep my mind off my ailments....said she sees a lot of this over-focusing in her retired patients. I didn't say anything at the time, but later fumed over her flippant dismissal of my concerns. I'm now searching for a new NP. Who needs to endure an ageist put-down when they're feeling ill?!

Most significant for me lately, and I have learned a lot from you over time, is that older people tend to drop things. I can stop checking neurological signs and just get on with cleaning up the mess. This sounds flippant, but it was a real relief for me.

I've learned that it's lonely when all your friends are younger than you, especially those that think good health is for all eternity. My husband is 4 years younger than me, and it's just now hitting him (at 52) "I'm not a young man anymore." (Buddy, you haven't been a young man for a looong time!)

Anyhoo, this blog is my connection to all things that are good about ageing, as well as my "what to expect, start planning for it now, and get comfortable discussing it!" I think I have learned to be more open and honest with my doctors....now, if I could just get more than 12.3 minutes of their time per visit....

I've also really appreciated people talking about housing and ageing, especially the "wish we hadn't bought into a retirement community and this is why" type discussions. This pushed me to start a Retirement binder with different pockets for financials, estimated costs of living, tax rate indexes by state for considering where to move, etc.

Time Goes By is like a neighborhood coffee shop where I can always drop by and chat with others my age.

Now when s done says, "Naw, you don't look 70, I say, "This is what 70 looks like !"

Yesterday I wrote an email to a playwright suggesting she use the term "elder historian" instead of "senior historian" in describing the sources for the vignettes in her production "Rare View."

I am working n writing my own obit.

I stopped feeling sorry for myself feeling lonely after moving to a new state, and got busy volunteering, making several new (much younger) friends and hopefully saving the lives of children through teaching parents and grandparents in AZ to keep their guns out of the hands of kids.

And that s what happens when I type in a small window on my iPad!Any suggestions for a good attachable keyboard?

I may be 16 years older than you, Ronni, but I have still learned so much from your posts and from the comments of others.

First, I have learned to stop calling our generation 'Senior Citizens" and I now refer to them as "Elders" . I correct others now when they use the term "Seniors". Words do have power. To be a senior is to be old; to be an elder is to be respected.

I have learned that many others share my ailments and the disabilities that come with an old body that nature is breaking down bit by bit. That is very comforting when you fear you are unique in things like forgetting words or being unable to remember important facts. Without your blog I would have worried much more when my language skills started to go South. Now I do not worry about senility and realize it's just another sign that my body is getting old and no longer functions as well as it used to.

I have learned the importance of speaking up when people make ageist remarks and when I need to be respected. That has made a significant difference in how I feel about myself.

I have learned that kind words and a hug can make my day and to always appreciate it when someone is nice to me.

Ronni, you may not have set out to be a teacher, but that's what your blog does. It inspires your followers to accept where we are in life and to enjoy the benefits .

Thank you for all you do.

One of the comments by SC Jones, "the sense of belonging that doesn't require the physical give and take..." is what I feel most. I've said before that it's like having coffee with a group of friends to exchange thoughts and ideas.

I lost two friends in the past two months with whom I enjoyed exchanging opinions-one via internet and the other living nearby. I'm not a "joiner" by nature and don't belong to any groups, so that leaves quite a gap in my social network. I live in a senior community and have many acquaintances but not many to have in depth conversations with.

I can't express enough how much I appreciate all the work you must do to keep us all so well informed. Keep on blogging!

It's not so much that I have learned anything from your blog Ronnie, (although, I have), it's more of having what I already knew reinforced by the good sense of your readers who appear to have their collective heads screwed on right.


You are my (s)hero. You set an example and inspired me into a post-work life full of direction, focus, meaning, opportunity, and fulfillment. You are the spiritual godmother of the workshops I run for "elder orphans." You helped me learn how to be old: Share what you know and learn from everyone you meet. Create a family from your community. Be brave enough to be vulnerable and ask for help. Read, listen, study and observe how the world really works, be as prepared as you can. Thank you, Ronni.

You have started me thinking about many things. You have made me realize that whatever is worrying me , I am not alone; this aging is not some terrible calamity to be feared and fought, as society teaches us to believe. It is a stage of life - a natural process.

Ageism is bothering me more as I realize how ubiquitous it is. Imagine if every drugstore featured a whole aisle of 'anti-puberty' products! Yet no-one blinks about the 'anti-aging' industry, which makes so much money by convincing people, from their thirties on, that getting old is a failure. After a lifetime of being hammered with that idea over and over, it's no wonder that the prevailing attitude to someone who looks over seventy is, "Oh, poor thing! She/he lost the battle." (Subtext: "But I won't! I'll be different!")

I'm less than a year ahead of the first of the postwar baby boomers. All my life, I've run into problems and opportunities just before a flood came along and changed everything. So I am hopeful that, when boomers start to realize that they are now on the receiving end of ageism, and it's not fair, and they don't like it... enough of them will decide not to put up with it.

What did I learn here? Many things. I learned, for instance, that female-pattern baldness isn't just me. I have plenty of company. So now I wonder why the few clips that work for soft, scanty, baby-fine hair are all designed for babies. Don't the manufacturers know there's a market out here for adult women who would like to fancy up what hair they have left? Well, apparently they don't. That may change in the next few years, but somebody has to tell them.

One thing I have noticed since reading your blog is that I've become accustomed to thinking about old age and what it brings, death for one. And I don't mind talking or thinking about these things that many people find scary or just don't want to think about. I'm pretty glad I can talk and think about it.

When I discovered this blog, and immediately began following it daily, I had just begun what would be almost two years of caring for my 91 year old mother-in-law who was unable to care for herself any longer due to advanced Alzheimer's. One of the first things I read here was your account of caring for your mother at the end of her life. It was comforting and inspirational and that, along with almost everything else I have read on the subjects of aging and caregiving over for those two years, helped me enormously.

Since that day in 2011 when I stumbled across Time Goes By, my husband and I have aged another five years ourselves, began collecting Social Security when our jobs ended sooner than we had expected, and have made several major transitions during that time. I can't even tell you how many times information gathered at this blog has provided help in navigating some new bump in our road. From Social Security updates and advocacy and Medicare information, to reviews of books on aging and gerontology, and tips on how to save money on all sorts of things, Time Goes By has been there to provide solid and well-researched advice. And the amusing stories and videos and musical entertainment on Saturdays and Sundays has just been the icing on the cake. Thank you Ronn!.

I most often link my blog to yours when you discuss healthcare. It is not a popular topic but a necessary one. 'Medical Illiteracy' is a term used in the medical world. Healthcare costs in America could be significantly lowered if we were a medical literate society.

I find people our age fall into two groups regarding healthcare.

1) They've developed a negative attitude somewhere along the way and work very hard not to have a positive experience. Not interested in learning about healthcare. It's all bad.

2) These people are still in good health and don't want to think the time may come when they'll need medical care. Their attitude is they will learn when they have to and not until then.

I appreciate every column you write of the topic of healthcare education. Keep up the good work.

I've learned that you (and a few others) do look at ageing and death in a balanced, clear, scientific, analytical, philosophical — yet personal, expressive, opinionated way. That it's possible to look beyond the world of me me me and yet be fully present in your writing. That an involved community of readers increases exponentially the value of an outstanding blog. Following your blog teaches me that I will find a way through my own tangled sense of identity. Deep thanks, Ronni.

In the 11 or 12 years I've been following your blog, Ronni, it has been a great comfort to me to read about your own personal, and your readers' ageing process and accept that a lot of the bodily stuff that could raise my anxieties is just part of the process. I so enjoyed your results of renewed vigour when you went through your healthy eating regime and dropped some weight and I've always been interested in the weird and wacky (to me) world of American politics and your take on what's happening and what people can do about it.

I come to your blog for some common sense when I feel surrounded by people in denial about their own ageing. And like others, I look forward to the laughs on Saturday and Peter's peerless contributions for Sunday music.

Thank you, Ronni, for all you do to inform, educate and entertain us. You are one in a million.

xx

Ronni,
I only wish I had discovered your blog years before I did. Since I learned this wonderful resource existed, I have looked forward to every post. I have learned...and continue to learn so much. SO MUCH , both from your reasoned articulate posts on this aging journey....and from the community who comment.
Grateful, from my heart.

All of the above - and that I need to start my own blog. And how very important it is that we tell our stories! The world depends on it - even if they don't know it yet!

Many thanks to all!

Ditto! to all the comments.

PS: I appreciate that Ronni has a wonderful sense humor. And she understands how much humor means to me. 😉

@Kathlene Nobel;
re: iPad Keyboard. I bought a little iPad keyboard that doubles as a cover for my iPad from a company called ...oh wait! I forgot what it's called ;(
I'll get back to you when I google it!

@Katyene Noble
re: iPad Keyboard again
The online company is zagg.com..or just google Zagg. They have a plethora of useful things on this site.
I no longer take my laptop when I travel, I just take the iPad with keyboard cover!
hugs
elle

Ronni..I also love your wry sense of humor.
And again, I have to say how much I appreciate Crabby when she comes out to play.
Your neighbor elle

I discovered your blog through a link when my mother was dying in 2009. It was so informative and such a comfort to know that there were other people who thought like I did. And so I join the chorus to thank you for providing a place where we can feel comfortable with who we are. We are not alone!
Regards
Leze

Echoing what others have said, it's not so much what I've learned from reading TGB but having an intelligent, passionate, funny, and like-minded friend stop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday with something interesting to say. Thanks, Ronni, for showing up on my doorstep promptly at 10:30am (ET) throughout the week. The welcome mat is always out for you.

I'm a day late in reading your post from Wednesday, so I have the benefit of reading everyone else's comments and being reminded of so many wonderful things that we have learned about or been made aware of because of you. I wish I could remember how I found you, but I wish it had been sooner.

I am disabled from MS and related issues, and I appreciate anything you and your commenters talk about in relation to disability issues. It makes me feel less alone especially when I am feeling down about having to wear a leg brace and special shoes, having to use a walker or a wheelchair, fearing a fall, having trouble with daily ablutions, etc.

My mind is pretty sharp for a 66-year-old, but my body is failing, and it's scary, but not as much as it would be if I hadn't found Time Goes By. Thanks so much to you, Ronni, and to everyone else.

The thing I most remember learning here on your blog was that when you moved to Portland that there was a 'bordello' just up from your new home on the corner. No wait... it was just a rumor that there was one on the corner. Hmmm... no, a neighbor told you there use to be one on the corner a long time ago. Well.... okay so I can't remember the actual facts about what I learned but I do remember something about a bordello!!!

I think the first thing I remember learning here was to use the word "elder." I had thought it would imply frailty, but you explained it did not.

The biggest thing for me was you sharing your experience of signing up for Social Security in person at an office. I had been doing as much as I could on line, but it wasn't easy even in 2011. I made an appointment, took a day off work, and went to my local SSA office. It was a wonderful experience! A graduation, matriculation, to the next stage of life!

I bookmarked that post, "A Rite of Elderpassage," at TGB on 18 October 2006, and share it often. My experience was much like yours, it felt great, and I celebrated with a glass of wine too. I think it was the beginning of me loving my age and who I am each day.

All the many things I've learned here since, and there are many, began with those two mind-and heart-opening posts.

Thank you Ronni.

@Alan G. You crack me up! And that's one of the many things I love about your blog, Ronni. Surprises and profundities, from you and from the college of elder thinkers and funsters who hang around these precincts. I feel like I am surrounded by people who are facing this thing called aging with humor and resillience and grace. Sometimes it's hard to keep int that ballpark, but invariably, I get dragged back to the good side of aging through your thoughts and those of the geniuses who hang out here.

I don't even remember when I first started reading your blog, Ronnie! It was when you first went to Maine, I think. I read how you were so unhappy with leaving Manhattan, and your semi-adjustment to living north. I watched your move across the country, and thought about how strong you were to do it. You are like my big sister giving pretty wise counsel. (I am the big sister in my life!)

You always give me something to think about in this aging activity. I am now 67 and have been retired almost 4 years from teaching adults. I love my life, ailments and all, and realize it's pretty much all about attitude. Thank you for all your information and ideas over these past years, and here's to many more!

PS I have a blog that I started in 2006 after I lost a grandson at 3 months. It started me writing about life, death, and all in between. But, I am not good at staying with it. I quilt, travel and visit with friends, and that seems to fill up my days at this point.

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