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Crabby Old Lady Would Rather Stay Home

What's wrong with a lot of advice for old people is that it promotes living with the same goals and interests as midlife people.

A week or two ago, Crabby Old Lady read (or heard somewhere) about a woman's aged grandmother lamenting that everyone always wants her to go somewhere and do something when her choice is to stay at home.

Crabby knows how the grandmother feels.

Part of the reason – and nobody told Crabby this would happen when she was young or even middle-aged – is that it takes so damned long these days to get ready to go anywhere. Actually, everything takes longer now and it's exhausting.

You don't even see it coming. Whether it is the due to disease, debility or simple old age, you don't realize how slow you've become until you've been slow for awhile. At least, that's what happened to Crabby.

Crabby has always had an excellent sense of time, an ability to know how long a given task will take or how much time has passed since an earlier marker. It has been so much a part of her life that she never thought it as a “thing.”

Never, that is, until one day a year ago or so when she glanced at the clock as she started washing up the lunch dishes – a plate, a cup, a knife and fork, a cooking pan – and then saw when she finished that 15 minutes had passed.

That was a three-minute task at most. So where did 12 minutes go?

It happens all the time now and it feels like someone is surreptitiously speeding up the clock when Crabby isn't looking, snatching away minutes and hours that rightly belong to Crabby.

Time speeds by so quickly that most days Crabby needs to move several items on her to-do list to the next day. And the next. And the next...

It also means Crabby would rather stay home although not for those neglected to-do items.

Crabby well remembers the many years she was out of the house from early morning until late night without any consequence – it was just a normal day.

But now she would rather be home. Not every day. Not all the time. But more than younger adults would probably find tolerable.

As is frequently mentioned in these pages, people age at different rates. Crabby is 78, diagnosed with cancer and COPD. Her energy level is about half what it once was.

Some other people her age and older might be working full time or volunteering or have places to go, things to do every day. The afflictions of old age don't catch up with all elders at the same age or to the same degree.

But they are more common in late life than not, so most old people will find themselves making age-related adjustments, large and small, than they ever planned for.

When Crabby was younger, getting out of the house and off to some new experience seemed urgent and important. But now she finds there are plenty of compelling things to do at home: read books, write a blog, talk to friends on the phone or Skype, watch a movie. Or just sit and think.

All good reasons Crabby Old Lady would rather stay home most of the time.


I am not anti-social. (Well maybe a little.) I’m not ill. I’m not depressed. I am so happy at home doing my little daily things that I really would rather stay home. ...most of the time. And it does take so much longer to do anything but that’s just fine with me as long as I don’t have to be somewhere.

I continue to be out and about a lesser amount, and sometimes it's forcing myself to keep active as I, like Florence, like my in-home times.

I walk everywhere, partly for the exercise, and that often takes a couple of hours most days. So something had to go. Showers and wash hair is now every other or 3 days, makeup is no longer anything more than a touch of lipstick, criticism of how I look is not allowed, so choosing clothing is a snap (also cleaned out closet of those "but maybe someday..." clothes).

In general, I'm attempting to retrain my mind and level of satisfaction (which feels good!) to lesser standards of efficiency and cutting off the head critic at the pass. It doesn't always work. That's ok.

Me too Ronnie!

I now have to fit twice a week physical rehab. Into my completely occupied week. I am 82 years old. My 73 year old husband, who has 2 total knee replacements and golfs endlessly, walks happily and goes to a gynpm ( boring) sees me as having endless free time. I see my days filled--with what?

Get up at 6:OOa.m.
Make my own breakfast He makes his.
Both read NYT and listen to live performances of NY Met. Opera., do crosswords.
I prepare our main meal to cook later. We eat at ca 2:00p.m.

My morning time is filled, and I mean filled, with
cleaning my own bedroom and my own bathroom. Usually a good wash then dress. Once a week = shower and wash hair. Sewing--all my own clothing that does get sewn. (Dresses and smocks and jumpers), while
Listening to audiobooks. Answering and writing emails.
Then cooking main meal.

I am very tired after eating. Slump in my very comfortable chair. Read, watch tv. Very social time with husband. Ca 5:00p.m. lie flat for 2 hours with reading.

Then evening with husband, play board games (chess and word games), may watch tv, read, then bed at 9:00p.m.

No spare time, shopping with husband, friends' visits, all tucked into mornings when possible...

No evening meal, usually just piece of fruit and yoghurt.

For a woman with collapsed back, severe arthritis and congestive heart failure I am quite pleased with myself...

I prefer to be out of the house by 9 a.m. and back home by 1 p.m. I spend the rest of the day at home cleaning, laundering, gardening, reading, thinking, writing. That is a perfect day for me.

I too often wonder how I was gone from sunup to sunset most days when teaching. My weekends were spent running errands and doing all those other things I listed above. How did I ever accomplish so much?

I think time was a lot different 30 years ago. Someone is messing with time.

Turned 72 several days ago. Not what I used to be. Taking today's post into account as well as comments, I think it is later than I may think. I am borrowing money to finance major trips for 2020 and 2021, I mean challenging trips such as hopping on and off European trains or driving long distances across North America to take in National Parks. I think, based on rate of decline, provided nothing catastrophic hits, I need to get all this in over the next 2 to 3 years because, by then, around that time, I may not have the desire, energy, money or capability to travel. Yes, "it's later than you think" applies to us all and to me, as hard as it is to comprehend, also. I wonder, now, from afar, how my parents and grandparents dealt with aging--they never talked about it much and seemed to just get old and finally pass. Maybe they were better off? I'm not certain, but thanks to Ronni Bennett, here we all are sharing this arguably stinking situation that we try to make the best of.

I'm sure glad I traveled extensively on my expense account when I was young, and I'm really glad E and I saw the world twenty years ago; the challenge would be too great now. We're with Ronni on this one, leaving home for anything is a hassle. Heck, even going shopping is an all day experience when it didn't used to be. With the internet, library, and projects saved over a lifetime, why leave home? It's cold out there, and sometimes boring. B

Each year, as the winter approaches, I feel much more inclined to stay at home and go nowhere. This usually doesn't work out, for the most part, but I keep trying. We are at that point again this year, and with the setting back of the clocks next Sunday the days will become darker and colder. I do not cope well with darkness and cold, and would prefer to stay in bed and hibernate if I could.

It will be interesting to see what changes to this, if any, may come from the legalization of recreational marijuana in my state of Illinois on January 1, 2020. I intend to pursue sleep improvement, inspired by some of the comments made on posts here on that topic. Better sleep may help compensate for less daylight and may improve my energy level. A girl can dream (no pun intended).

I FEEL you guys! What is it with Americans having to be running around all the time? I did my time in the working world, as a mother, with a sick husband, and now I'm over it. The outside world is crowded, very noisy, and uncivil, not to mention full of viruses.

Energy? What's that? I have very little. Leaving the house is a major event, and one I don't relish. It's an effort, a hassle. I'd much rather stay home. Besides, I dress for comfort these days and that's not good for much more than the grocery store.


I'm in my 70s and in good health and have similar feelings about going out. There are several reasons.

The world has changed..

1. Traffic has increased with millions more cars in the last 10 years. My wife and I take a 1 hour train ride to see our Boston doctors. $10.50 round trip for seniors.

2. We are in a growth cycle. 15% of America wasn"t born here. They don't the rules of the road or America.

3. It costs a lot more to go out. Gas, diner, clothes and hotels cost much more than 10 years ago. My wife and I average $75 - $100 for diner at our type of restaurant. We don't see a lot of plus 65 year olds. They can't afford it.

4. it costs a lot of money to keep yourself looking good. Dermatology
over the counter skin products work but are expensive and workouts are harder to keep up. Seniors want to keep up if they go out

4. You don't have to go out as much. There was no Amazon home delivery 10 years ago.

5. Every year we are a little slower with less energy. Even if we're healthy.

6. 15% of the U.S. population is over 65! So it's really not our world today. 8% of marriages go 40 years and 5% make 50. And many seniors don't enjoy going out "solo".

7. Most importantly, no one wants to go out if they don't feel goid!

Hope this gives you a little "healthy" senior perspective .

I am 77 and by the time I take my dog for her three 30 minute walks during the day I barely have enough energy left to get ready for bed! I also agree with Mary and Susan! In just the past year or so I have noticed I am much happier at home.

I truly miss the old high-energy person I used to be. She mysteriously--and it seemed rather abruptly--disappeared about 3 years ago when I turned 80. Perhaps coincidentally that's about the same time that a highly unwelcome intruder (physical pain) decided to take up permanent residence. I do what I need to do to care for my household, 90 Y/O spouse and 2 senior kitties, but usually not much more. I walk daily, volunteer once/week and try to get out in the world at least briefly most days if only to do errands, but I have neither the energy (nor money) for much else.

This weekend I stayed home both days, which was O.K. It is what it is.

Listen up, everybody! TODAY IS HERE!

We all have memories of when we could do this or that, or how things used to be, or "the good old days" (Yes, Grandpa!). And most do not have expectations of something wonderful happening tomorrow, or next week, or...

But today is here. Let's concentrate for a bit on what is good about it. When you count your blessings... even very small things... how delicious is the cup of coffee I am holding; the wonderful e-mail from my daughter; the geranium blooming on my windowsill... well, you get the idea!

From my 90-year-old perspective I find that one is as happy --- or as UNhappy, as one is determined to be. Sure, things take longer to do. So plan on it, and enjoy the ride!

Especially great comments today, but--

Ronni, your piece today is absolutely at the top of your form! Terrific, from beginning to end. The irony. The wry smile. Perfect. Also, so reassuring. No, I don't have to be 40 anymore. Whew.

And thank you, thank you, Erika, for endorsing the weekly shower and shampoo! We are treating our dry skin!

Hi Kate: recent comment from my daughter "you are not all wrinkled like my older friends".

Years ago I worked with a woman who had been orphaned and she and her 4 siblings were raised by an elderly grandmother in the piney woods of Texas in a primitive cabin. When the last child left school and went to work this woman started making a shockingly strong container of black coffee, then retired back to bed each day to read piles of yellow back crime novels, She said to them "it's your turn to look after me now"
She lived Into her 90s, adored by them and great grandchildren. Way to go!

Margo Ford...

Of course, your advice is good but one of the points to today's blog post is that things change as we get old and there has been, for decades and maybe longer, a taboo against old people talking about what happens to us as we age.

We allow that at this blog. Not exclusively and much of the time we're talking about other aspects of growing old. But hardly anyone tells us about the wide variety of things that happen to people as we age and it's easy to think that you are the only one who wants to stay home, for example.

There is nothing wrong with talking about these things; they are valuable to share with one another. And I believe jokes, laments and outright cantankerous complaints are a good way to get through the really difficult ones, which today's is not.

There is nothing here today about happy or unhappy - just our various opinions on wanting to stay at home more.

Yep, home is where it's at for me. Have to admit it always was. I love seeing people now and then but not too much. Really, on a good day I am amazed that I get to live here, with the beauty of skies and fields and woods, birds, deer, coyotes, etc right out my windows! Even when I was young and off for an exciting trip somewhere, I'd look around very close to leaving time, and wonder why in the world I was going away???

I'm with you 100% on this post, Ronni. I solved one thing that would require my going out: electronic dog doors (house to enclosed back porch and from there to outdoors in the fenced yard). The dog is happy to see me when she returns, and it works perfectly for me. I'm 76 and happy at home. But I do get attacks of the Puritan sensibility that I should be busy. I don't always give in to it, but it can put a cloud over an enjoyable afternoon of napping, reading, and snacking.

The "thrill" of travel to far-a-way places is over. Now, the most exotic destination I can think of is a trip to the new Wegmans supermarket which just opened at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

It's been a long day -- and this made me cry. In recognition of me. Last week, I traveled for work -- early 70s and with cancer and inability to walk well or at all sometimes -- and it was a nightmare. I call the days when I have to 'dress like a grown up' (make up, even a little, and 'real' clothes) some of the difficult ones. Like you, I miss the days of get up and go - I used to walk EVERYwhere -- I'm an urban dweller and did everything on foot or subway. Now I limit going out bec it takes so long and so much energy to do so. It means I schedule my weeks carefully to see clients or others who must be seen.

And like you, I know there are others who are worse off and those 'better' - that is, able to just get up and go.

So today, I'm grateful for work and the internet so that I can at least see and be seen and interact.

I'd like tho' to get to a museum.....

So many ordinary tasks that used to be incidentally worked in and around my busy daily life now have become the major focus — and they take forever — after laundering, putting clean sheets on the queen-size bed was a time-consuming, energy-sapping task just the other day — housekeeping in general. I’m thinking if I can catch up and get the house interior more presentable I may have someone come in once a month or twice to cover all the bases — relieve me of these chores.

My more limited physical functioning began quite unexpectedly with a simple UTI, and when I was younger than I had imagined (early 80’s), though I knew only too well after working with the older population for years what a wide variance there was in aging effects and the age at which they might occur. Also, I knew “body parts wear out”, niggling big and little pains intrude, and pills don’t fix everything — that we just don’t bounce back from ailments as quickly as we once did. This is true for all with the more severely terminal diseases adding an additional complicating layer.

I’ve recalled my grandmother in her late seventies half a century or more ago, who visited my mother when I was in my early twenties and I was working. My mother said Grandma often stayed in bed ‘til around noon, then puttered around in her robe, but mid-afternoon would say she had to get dressed (an unwelcomed task) because I would be home soon and would want to take her out. I had my first car, drive-in restaurants had come into being and she delighted in going out for a piece of pie and coffee but drank postum at home and I loved pleasing her. One time she said, “Do you think it would be okay if I got a second piece of pie?” Of course it was.

Mostly what would be nice now for me would be to have family closer — not across the country — or at least within driving distance for a weekend visit — or to have those who called for spur-of-the-moment get-togethers if convenient. Moving east into cold snow country is undesirable. Observing others reports living closer to family doesn't necessarily mean their busy schedules will allow them desired visiting time .

Algo, a negative for me, is the curse of aging when so many old friends and Family have died, but I find pleasure in many solitary activities in my home as I always have beginning in childhood when I had periods of some isolation. My younger best friends and I don't get together as often as we did, but there is messaging and the phone. I have the benefit of so much tech, I can read at my leisure, lots of interesting sessions are available through a nearby senior center, but I enjoy the majority of my time at home. The slowed pace feels quite comfortable as I’ve adapted to this stage in my life.

And now from an old master....
Redefining what it means to be home is H.W. Longfellow in a bit of verse called "Cozy Cottage" in the late 1800's
"Stay, stay at home, my heart and rest; home keeping hearts are happiest. For those that wander they know not where, are full of trouble and full of care; To stay at home is best."

Although I couldn't always bring it about in my life, with work, kids, and a military husband, I like so many of our 'vintage' have always been a homebody. Now alone and more than ever, I can sit back, feed the birds, and enjoy the "pleasures of not going"....a quote from my own aging mother-in-law many years ago. Everyone feels right, ( AND IS !) from their point of view.

Ronni, you are right, of course... I feel that way myself.

I suppose my comment was because here, at the retirement home where I live, many people are stuck in the groove of the unhappiness of what has happened to them. Age happens to all of us if we are lucky, and I agree that it feels good to stay home and 'just be...'

( and to be grateful for that opportunity!)

New book titled "Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life" from 77-yr-old dancer/choreographer Twayla Tharp. Not related to enjoying staying at home!

In Twyla’s own words: “This book is a collection of what I’ve learned in the past fifty-five years: from the moment I committed to a life in dance up until today...it identifies a ‘disease’ and offers a cure. That disease, simply put, is our fear of time’s passing and the resulting aging process. The remedy? This book in your hands.”

Publisher's blurb: "From the details of how Tharp stays motivated to the stages of her evolving fitness routine, she models how fulfillment depends not on fortune—but on attitude, possible for anyone willing to try and keep trying. Culling anecdotes from her life and the lives of other luminaries, each chapter is accompanied by a small exercise that will help anyone develop a more hopeful and energetic approach to the everyday."

I haven't read the book but perhaps I will. I hope Ms. Tharp remains robust and maintains whatever motivates her to "keep it moving" into her 80s--that's when the rubber really started meeting the road for me.

Sometimes I think ageing MAY be somewhat less of a challenge for those who were athletic in their younger years (possibly they're healthier?) and for celebrities and others with ample financial resources. They can choose to remain at home or move to upscale retirement communities with many amenities; they can also afford any additional help they may need. That doesn't apply for many elders who are dealing with a variety of health issues on low-to-moderate fixed incomes.

For us, staying home is a way to conserve $$ resources as well as energy!

I am 64. I noticed a huge change in my energy level this year. I struggle with it. I don't get as much accomplished as before. When I return home, I just want to sit and relax. I can't push myself like I used to. I need to get out of the house for physical, emotional and social well-being, but I also enjoy being home and relaxing.

Based on my experience with an 80-something Pilates instructor who taught ballet and studied ballet at Julliard, I think dancers push thru their pain & discomfort.

I have been retired now since 2009 and will complete my 80th year this coming December. I am still rather active (yoga twice a week, church and bible study, mental health meetings, facilitating a family support group, some regular checkups for eyes, skin, and health welfare, trips to see children in other states). Sometimes, it really feels as though I am too busy! I do like to sleep later in the morning, so early morning meetings are not fun. Just today, a friend (younger than I am) said that she was doing a "staycation" this next week! That reminded me of one week last winter when winter weather kept me in the house for a full week - out of the house activities were cancelled and I enjoyed being at home and not being able to go anywhere. Looking forward to a possible week like that one this coming winter....if I am lucky!

As one of my clients with a chronic illness said to me 30 years ago, which certainly applies to me most days now, "I can get ready to go, or I can go, but I can't do both." Just getting through the day is an accomplishment at this point. I try not to stress about it, but I don't like being so constrained by pain and a lack of energy. However, there's not much to do about it but roll with the punches and get on with life.

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