Can Sex Keep Old People Mentally Sharp?

Crabby Old Lady's List of Nuisance Ailments

A few weeks ago, Crabby Old Lady complained about the time consuming aspects of growing old and found a lot of agreement from readers in the comments. Nobody tells you this stuff will happen when you get old so, for Crabby at least, it comes as a continuing surprise.

Today's post is closely related to those time wasting issues but specifically focused on nuisance ailments and let Crabby tell you, sometimes “nuisance” does not begin to cover it.

Some excellent medical advances notwithstanding, a lot of getting old is about making peace with these nuisances.

Crabby is certainly not talking about the devastating diseases more common to age than youth – not cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes, Parkinson's, etc.

Oh, no. She's talking about the day in-day out, pesky irritations that multiply as the years go by. What's amazing, is how many of them can stack up.

Crabby starts here with her own age-related nuisance list in no particular order:

TINNITUS The ringing in her ears - more frequently a rushing sound like a waterfall, but it changes from day to day – never, ever ends. It doesn't affect her hearing in general or diminish the volume of voices, TV or movies. It's just deeply irritating. Crabby longs to hear silence, something she'll never know again.

SKIN TAGS More formally called acrochordons. Crabby has several on her neck. They don't hurt or itch. They don't get any bigger nor do they get smaller or go away. They just sit there – one more minor, old age annoyance.

SEBORRHEIC KERATOSES Also known as toad spots are another skin growth that is benign although they can look like ones that are cancerous it's wise to check with a physician about them. For Crabby, they appear mostly on her back and like skin tags, don't hurt or itch. They do grow, sometimes to be as large as an inch or so in diameter.

Now and then Crabby asks her doctor to remove one but they eventually fall off in the shower on their own leaving normal skin beneath.

TEETH Just a few days ago, Crabby told you about her lengthy dental odyssey. In Crabby's case, teeth are not a new annoyance in old age. It has been a constant and expensive problem since childhood.

Even so, it is a big problem for elders. Somewhere, Crabby read that 25 percent (!) of Americans 65 and older have lost all their natural teeth.

HAIR LOSS Crabby Old Lady wrote about her hair loss at some length in 2013. Her solution then and continuing is to never leave the house without wearing a hat.

As you can see in the blog banner at the top of this page, Crabby had a lot of fun with different hair styles throughout her life and she misses that now although there is an upside in Crabby's case: nowadays, hardly any hair grows on her legs and under her arms.

It's the head that's the aggravation and the constant shedding of that hair all over the house. It happens to a lot of old people and remember, no matter what any snake oil salesman tells you, nothing known to mankind regrows hair.

URINARY INCONTINENCE When, following retirement, Crabby Old Lady allowed herself to gain 40 pounds, she discovered first hand the annoyance of urinary incontinence.

In her case, losing those 40 pounds eliminated (sorry, couldn't resist) the problem but Crabby was shocked to note that hardly any medical articles online about incontinence mentioned obesity as a cause.

There are other causes too which makes is a common ailment among old people.

DROPPING THINGS This annoyance was recently on the table here and Crabby is certainly not alone. Things just fall out of hands more these days than when we were young, attributable to weakening hand muscles and a diminishment of the sense of touch.

There seems to be no solution except vigilance – more annoyance to remind oneself to be careful.

That covers most of Crabby's list of nuisance ailments – a longer list than she imagined when she started writing this post. But she won't be surprised if your list is as long or longer.

Other nuisance ailments that come to Crabby's mind are constipation, stiff joints and muscles, sleep difficulties, general aches and pains that seem to have no cause so no solution and, of course, the ever-present forgetfulness of minor things.

Please don't misunderstand Crabby. If these are all the physical or health issues she encounters before her exit from planet Earth, she will be over-the-moon grateful.

Still, you have to admit the ongoing, daily nuisance of juggling it all is irritating – each one leaving Crabby to wonder what will next be added to her list. There really is nothing to do about them except try to find some equanimity. Complaining helps too.

Your list may be different from Crabby Old Lady's but she is guessing it is as much a nuisance.


When I do go in for my annual check ups someone always asks if I have any complaints, and I don't know what to say. Since I've never been this old before I don't know what it's supposed to feel like, but maybe it's supposed to feel like this.
Where I broke my femur hurts sometimes, and where I have the blood clot. I can't turn my head far without my neck hurting and don't sleep as well as I used to, but I see folks doing a lot worse. I'll probably have to have something done about the cataract, but not yet.
I think I'm doing pretty well.

Vision--Even though I've had cataract surgery, which for a couple years was great--no glasses for short or long distance. Now I don't see as well...supposing it's laser that needed next. But it's now such a nuisance to not see as well as I once did.

Sprained muscles that don't heal as fast--after doing exterior painting for a couple or three days last spring, pulled a muscle in the right upper arm, which is much improved but "still there". Not the bouncing back of youth.

Hearing--Couple months ago bought hearing aids for the first time--the work well, especially in groups--but another irritation of having to remember to put them back right where they came from, batteries that die, etc.

And, of course, "leaking" unexpectedly on occasion. Despite not being overweight, it has crept up on me--like mother, like daughter.

Though as you say, I'd not trade these annoyances for some of the "big ones". I am truly grateful for my health at 71, and I'll cheerfully put up with minor irratations if I continue my current state of health.

I miss silence also and have for years. I have a heavy metal cricket playing in my right ear and he never takes a break. I've generally learned to ignore it but I would love to have real quiet again.

I call this chapter of life " who knew" ?? I enjoy good health but a couple of months ago, out of the blue, came a bloody nose. Gushing from nose and throat...scary to say the least. End result being trip to ER to ENT specialist...the membranes in our nostrils just like our skin become thin and can bleed. The area was zapped, cauterized, end of problem. My joke to friends is "I never got that memo" -:)

Well, it's a bit comforting to know that I am not alone. I won't even get started here with a long list of my nuisances and, yes, it's good they are just that, nuisances we CAN live with (never mind talking about the BIG SERIOUS problems ....... I have some of those, too).

The thing about my many "nuisances" is that they are not obvious to others and, while I am sometimes struggling to cope, people around me are apt to say : "Hey, you look wonderful" or "It's great that you are doing so well." Oh, ha ha

I'm compelled to bring that corny old line out of the closet here :
I'm in good shape for the shape I'm in.

Someone wiser than I once said that these challenges are the price we pay for our ticket to the future. ;^)

My number one bother is insomnia and the following day of lowered everything. Blech!

Next is tinnitus which I've had for decades, so I empathize with the desire for silence. Mine is only in one ear which also lost its hearing.

No longer can I write more than a few sentences before my fingers stiffen or more likely become spastic due to some arthritis that kicks in. This also happens unexpectedly when using forks and knives, forcing me to drop them best as I can, put my hands under the table and wait for them to recover. For this I'm doing the hand exercises posted on Mayo Clinic, hoping to ward off any worsening or to prevent an accident.

At 72, and with the daily doses of forgetfulness and loss of focus, I can make do.

Me too - nose bleeds. Mine haven't been so bad that I felt the need to seek a doctor or emergency room. I can stop them within a few minutes. They are sometimes spontaneous and sometimes when I blow my nose.

We're definitely in a time of life for your "who knew" phrase. Nobody told me this stuff and I keep wondering what else I don't know that will show up. Maybe because old people have forever been made the butt of bad jokes for talking about their ailments and are therefore shy to speak up, the information doesn't get passed on to the next generations.

And these aren't things physicians ever bring up - at least not my physicians over the years.

Nasal congestion, leading to dry mouth at night, rashes that come out of nowhere and require prescription creams to heal, muscle spasms when doing something as simple as trying to put cream on my feet or getting out of the bathtub (despite daily exercise, daily walking and weekly weight-training).

Oh, and intermittent but frequent constipation and, yes, hair loss, gum disease (which had to be treated with surgery), grasping for the missing and very common word that won't come into my brain when talking. Making a mistake that needs to be corrected in every single sentence that I type. Insomnia for years, but I've learned to cope by not going to bed until I'm tired enough to keel over.

I turned 60 last fall and am in good shape, but I'm astonished at all of the petty annoyances that aging has already created. I cannot imagine how my in-laws manage to carry on at 95 and 87 without too much complaint. They must have all this annoyance, but exponentially worse.

With the exception of hair loss and nose bleeds I have all of the above mentioned age related nuisances and the older I get the more I get.

Chronic insomnia is my current biggest complaint. I get restless leg syndrome and my legs do a jig in bed keeping me from falling asleep. This is an every night occurrence now when it used to be just several times a week.

Swollen feet and ankles are an additional nuisance. At times I can't get my shoes on.

But the most surprising nuisance is that I am now an inch shorter and can no longer reach the top shelves in my cupboards.

Ah well, I guess we have to pay a price for these wonderful additional years we are blessed with because nothing in life comes free.

I don't know if my complaints have medical names, but here are some of them:

Wimpy Stomach: I hate that the older I get the less I can eat, both in volume and variety.

Hairy Ears and Nose: Why the hell do I have to mow my earlobes so often?

Light Lifter: It really bugs me that I can't lift the heavy stuff I used to lift. Seems like my only use to women was lifting stuff and killing bugs. At least I can still kill bugs. When I age past that skill I'll be useless.

Lost Nouns: Where the hell did my #@%&* nouns go?

Invisibility: Why have I become invisible to young people? I'd prefer not to hear or see them too, but I don't have that ability. Maybe another defect of aging.

TV Impatience: Only the absolute best TV can catch my interest, everything else is either boring or annoying.

Hunk Envy: All my lady friends drool over thirty-something guys. Makes me feel like a doorstop. And if I drooled over young women they'd think I was a dirty old man.

Isolationist: The older I get the more I want to isolate myself from the rest of the world.

Wimpy Skin: Like my stomach, my skin tolerates less and less.

Closed gullet: I can no longer swallow big pills

Night Peeing: I got to get up 2-4 times a night

Limpiness: You know what has lost interest in almost everything.

I guess that's enough confessions for now. If I thought a couple more minutes I could probably name another six.

Al those years learning the Palmer method, only to be reduced to scribble at best. ARGHH! Oh how I miss writing those lovely penned thank you notes, sympathy cards, etc. Thank goodness for email. And of course all of the above. However,, drinking more water during the day does relieve nite time BR runs.........counterintuitive, I know, but it does work. Worth a try. Dee :)

I have an odd detachment in one eye--not a retina detachment--that causes a blurry blob to pass side to side in the eye. Most annoying, and the most annoying thing I have to complain about. Although, there are also my creaky and painful knees. I exercise them, but I on some days they are stiff and painful.

I have male pattern baldness, so my hair is much thinner on top than when I was younger. I have to treat it carefully now. It doesn't have the strength and luster of former years.

I don't hear as well. I know hearing aids are in my future. I forget words, having to wait longer to call them up into my mind. And I seem to make more minor mistakes in tasks.

These are all irritations, but I feel that so far I can compensate for them. I don't know what I will do when I can no longer compensate.

Oy. I AM glad to have company here. I continue to be annoyed that our parents didn't warn us. I have the dropping-things syndrome, unreliable sphincters (sigh--spared nothing--Poise is my friend--and I already lost 46 pounds and am keeping them off, so obesity isn't the explanation), Sharpei-like folds on my torso, brown spots on hands and face, much thinner skin (literally), tags (don't care about those), tendency to isolate (bad! bad! NOT good for you!), tendency toward mild depression (NOT fun) and dry skin. This last one drives me nuts because I am a pianist, and I cannot play reliably at all unless I put Sort Kwik on my fingertips when I sit down to play, because the skin is so dry my fingers will slide off the keys if I don't. Aaaack!

Oh--one more: makeup just doesn't do what it used to. it is like trying to paint on a canvas that has not been stretched.

It's very good to know it could be worse. So far, my crowns are holding out, and I'm still playing with a full deck (I'll be 79 in August), though I notice word-retrieval problems and a terrible tendency to lose my train of thought in the middle of some crucial political conversation. Sigh.

One last thought: my sense of humor has always saved me, and that continues to work like a charm. Hold onto that one, guys.

Dee - I'm with you on the handwriting business. I always prided myself on my pretty/ even handwriting.
But now , between vision loss in one eye' (blurry in the other), and stiff finger joints, I cannot even read most of my own "to-do" notes .

I'm just waiting for the day when some of my checks are refused due to an unrecognizable signature . :-(
Most frustrating !

I don't have a leak problem but I sure as heck am not happy with how long it takes to pee these days. I could never understand why it took women so long in public stalls. I guess I am now one of those women.

Who knew your bladder could begin to loose muscle and begin to take its own sweet time emptying.

Many familiar irritations. It's amazing how losing some weight helped out with many of them; the pee problem, sore feet, sore knees, not to mention my blood sugar dropped.

Eyesight, not quite two years after cataract surgery, the sight in my left eye is not as good and my night vision has gotten poor again. I was told by another doctor that all the cataract in my left eye was not removed but that it can be fixed with a laser. I've lost 2" in height. My skin is dry as dust and thin, even a little bump can tear it and make it bleed a little. Bugger, I say. Oh yes, and now I have nose hairs I have to trim along with the ones on my chin. But like Kate after I while I just laugh about it, frequently!

These days, I'm feeling as if I'd worn out my feet -- though I keep using them. My frustration is that I'm in a medical system that is terrific on the big stuff that kills us but treats all the little irritations as beneath notice. I don't like that I'll have to go out of network (and self pay) if I want to see a podiatrist. So I'll just limp along for awhile.

More things that irk as I age.


Nobody mentioned this.

Someone rang our doorbell way after dark last night. I levitated. No, I did not whip open the door.


Nobody mentioned this one either.

Someone comes up behind me and taps me on the shoulder. Or they zero in two inches away from my face and tell me a long story, demanding my complete attention, even if a tsunami is heading our way.

And, even worse, sometimes they tap you as they talk. Not only do they close talk, but they also tap. Why do they tap you? I guess to make sure you are listening to their every word, or because they can't help it, or perhaps they believe you might pop off any second, so timing is essential.

Tap me one more time and I will knock you out cold.

"So, tap, I just had a second tap knee replacement, and tap my doctor said tap, he installed the tap best titanium tap hinge, tap."

Sometimes the tapper forgets he or she just tapped you, they missed a crucial tap, so they give you a few extra taps, in case you missed a word.

"Hi, Joe. Long time no see, tap, tap, tap, tap. "

And if your eyes should flicker once, by accident, and not because you are bored, or saw a UFO, well, that tap might escalate into poking. Pokes from taps. First come the taps, then the pokes.

You keep gently backing away, but that doesn't deter the poke tapping close talker.

Poke tapping close talkers. How do they survive?

Jim Harris, I like how you write.

I think the subject is pretty well covered by all the comments posted. I have some of the nuisances listed and may soon have more. So. . .do I "look forward" to these experiences? Hmmm. . .

So many of these are me, too. And the ones that aren't yet... I know the operative word there is 'yet'.

I don't believe anyone's mentioned farts! Please tell me it's not just me having a harder time exercising polite restraint, especially when I cough or sneeze. Which, you know, considering I have a chronic cough, can get embarrassing at times.

That cough. It's beyond a nuisance. Not one of the biggies, no, but having a constant nagging irritation in my bronchial tubes lying in wait to turn into a bad coughing fit whenever I'm chilled, or whenever I lie down to sleep, or sometimes just for no reason at all, really kills the quality of life I used to enjoy. I am learning to live with it.

My voice doesn't work. Well, it does, kind of... I can no longer sing. If I talk for more than a few minutes it triggers a coughing fit. This, from someone who used to sing in the church choir, and (among other things) read The Lord of The Rings aloud cover to cover doing all the voices - twice. I do miss my voice.

And then, my hands are no longer steady. They tremble, sometimes. At certain angles. Under some stresses. I've adapted --I hold spoons differently. I pause to make sure they're properly braced before I trust them to lift containers with liquids.

Every so often I spare a thought to thank those parts of my body that are still in there doing their job just fine. Thank you, hip joints, for not hurting. Thank you, hands... you may shake a bit, but you can still type about as well (or as badly) as you ever could, and you don't hurt either. Thank you, digestion -- you've been holding up pretty well, too, considering all the challenges I've thrown at you over the years!

At least we're all in good company...but don't bother to try to explain it to a twenty-year-old--they may sympathize, but don't truly understand.

Oh, and speaking of, does anyone have any experience with a split computer keyboard or a vertical "handshake" mouse?

That's it. Damages that never heal despite therapy, eyes that remain fuzzy. and ,oh boy, the cost of dental care.

Despite cutting off the tap at 6.00pm, night time leaks. Washable pads have been a blessing.

Once every month or so serious urgent cramps necessitating rushes to the nearest bathroom.

Directional hearing issue, sounds coming from over there are unreliable and could be behind or beside me.

Loss of good contralto voice, croaking only now.

Medications. I hate them.

BUT having lost so very many friends, this side of the daisies is A-OK.


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