A TGB READER STORY: Still Life With Banana and Avocado
Marijuana and Old Folks

The Mystery of How Time Slips Away

Hardly anyone disputes the belief that time seems to speed up as we grow old. If I recall correctly (not an automatic assumption), it starts around age 40. “I went to work Monday morning,” we might say, “and next thing I knew it was Friday.”

Anyone to whom this has happened more than once has a theory about the reason for it but that's not what I'm here to talk about today because a new twist on time's swift passage has turned up in my life.

Think of the new one as the micro compared to the original macro.

Until now, my complaints about time's speed were confined to the long-ish term as in the first paragraph above. Then, recently, I laid out the little boxes into which I count out medications for the coming week.

I have two of them – morning and evening - and I've been doing this for going on three years. I could do it in my sleep. It takes about five minutes and I'm set for the week.

Before I go any further, let me note that I hate this chore. I understand that is an over-the-top response to such a minor task but it is nevertheless true and may or may not relate to the the time issue.

As usual, two or three weeks ago, I didn't get around to counting out pills until nearly dinner time on Saturday. I was timing something on the stove but I knew this dumb little pill task takes no more than five minutes so I could do both at once.

I checked the clock as I started counting. When I finished, I looked at the clock again and 15 minutes had passed. 15 MINUTES??? Did I black out for ten minutes? If so, why was I still standing?

A few days later, it happened again. The walk to the mailbox and back takes about three or four minutes. This time, 20 or 25 minutes went by before I was home again. I know this because I was 10 minutes late for a phone visit with a friend.

Did I stop to chat with a neighbor? Did I wander over to the adjacent park? I had no memory of doing either. Where did the time go?

These small time slippages are turning up in my life more frequently. I'm not worried about incipient dementia or even plain old forgetfulness but I am trying to explain it to myself.

With the pill counting, did I get distracted and stop counting while I thought over something I had read? That's probably not out of the question although I don't remember what it was I might have been thinking. Or, could it have always taken 15 minutes and I thought it was only five?

Maybe the same thing happened on my walk to the mailbox. I do purposefully walk more slowly now to accommodate my COPD. I'd rather things take longer than to go too quickly and be left heaving for breath.

Or could it be...

It's a mystery to me and it doesn't seem fair, does it. I mean, already whole days speed by when we're old, even whole weeks. Now I have to fold missing minutes into my shrinking day?

Does any of this ring a bell for you?


I know that I chronically underestimate how long a task will take. And I do get sidetracked into thinking about something, neglecting the task at hand. Sometimes I use my phone to time things that I estimate at requiring five or ten minutes, say, and it usually takes double what I expect. But I find it hard to believe the facts and instead go with the magical thinking involved in my optimistic estimates!

IT rings a whole bell tower! I've told myself that it is because I do things, deliberately, more slowly because, now I own my time, and so I enjoy the privilege of not having to do things on the run.
Some other times it takes longer only because I'm not as nimble as I used to be. That is life if you are lucky enough to live long!

Yes, I get lost in my thoughts and don’t realize how long I am taking to do something.

This has happened to me enough times over the past decades that I've come to think of it as "captured by aliens." That is to say, it cannot possibly have taken me more than, say, 5 minutes to do this thing, yet half an hour has passed. So, perhaps I've been taken aboard a spaceship and they have now returned me unharmed to my life in progress, except for those missing minutes.

I've been worried about myself for weeks. I am relieved (well, somewhat relieved) to read today that I am not alone in LOSING time.

To where do whole hours vanish ? Some dark place maybe ? In the past month or so, I have (too many days) glanced at a clock on the family room wall. Gotta take my five morning pills, I tell myself, or soon it won't be morning. Uh, where did I leave that little yellow plastic container with sorted pills ?

Hours later (honestly) I am ashamed (shocked) to learn that several hours have passed since I had that thought. Hmmm. In my younger years I'd mutter a tsk-tsk as my friends would tell me of their parents "slipping" ~~ parents too often not taking daily meds. As the world turns.............

I've noticed that the 20 minute walk that equals a mile has now become closer to a 25 minute mile. And I'm not quite so early to everything as I used to be. It's good to slow down a little, though, right???? At least that's what I tell myself :)

Oh yes! Just this morning, just a matter of minutes ago!

It started when I didn't get out of bed until 6:45. That's a setback for the morning of about a half hour, but it's okay because I don't have to leave the house until 10:30 today. I did my usual morning routine, and threw a load of towels in the washer. After putting the towels in the dryer, I was sure it was just before 7:30. Ha! It was a few minutes to 8. Where did that 30 minutes go?

This happens on a daily basis around here. I know I've used 30-40 minutes for a task only to discover an hour or more has passed. And then the end of the day comes and I've not gotten all the things done that I had planned when I got out of bed.

Very familiar. Reminds me of my working days arriving at the hospital and not remembering the drive. I just walked my dog this morning. When I got back I couldn't remember how far we went. In all fairness I was distracted after learning of a friend's death

The computer is what sucks up my time. I sit down thinking I'll only be on it for fifteen minutes and two hours later I'm still here.

I put up my pills for two weeks ahead and, yes, I hate that chore too.

Yes, all of it!

Some days even have less hours then others and it's difficult to remember where yesterday went. Good thing I'm normal...?

Thanks, Ronni, for all you do.
Another long-time reader, but rarely comment.

I thought that this didn't apply to me. Time seems so slow, probably because I am so anxious to be done with winter.
But the joke's on me. Last fall I thought it was my granddaughters' 22nd birthday, but it was her 23rd.
I just put a birthday card in the mail for my great-granddaughter wishing her a happy 1st.
Just now I realized it is her 2nd.

Nina's 'abducted by aliens' response was my initial thought, too, but only because I had listened to a radio interview with someone who firmly believes this happened to her and her parents when she was just an infant; I'm not weighing in on that one way or the other.

However, Mary Jamison's reference to 'magical thinking' totally resonated with me. The disappearance of time is very much like my finances these days. In budgeting, I am constantly underestimating how much money is going to disappear down the black hole of inconsequential and minor expenses. Not a good thing when your retirement income is significantly lower than your income ten years earlier. I'm working on this and perhaps, in resolving the funds gap issue I will learn something about the time gaps as well. Perhaps I will be abducted by aliens in the meantime and resolve all my issues.

I don’t know if it’s the same thing, and I don’t know why it’s affecting me now, but my morning showers are taking much longer than they used to. I look at the clock on my bathroom wall when I get in and always do a double-take when I get out; how did a 5-10 minute thing take 20-25 minutes?

It’s not like I enjoy taking an extra long shower; I grew up on a farm where we relied on a well (and a pump that always needed priming) so we were taught to take ‘navy showers’ by our dad—get wet enough to turn off the water, soap up, turn on again to rinse off. I still do it, live in the city now (with an endless water supply) but old habits die hard. Still, until a year or so ago, I was in & out of that stall in 10 minutes tops. No more.

I too had the abducted by aliens idea, too many years of listening to Art Bell and George Noory. Time is rushing by for this senior, toward the end of a day I often think, how can it be 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. already. I write down major tasks and events each day on my daily calendar which reminds me of how much I have done.

For me, time goes by when I close my eyes just to rest them, and wake up an hour later!

It happens to me on the computer. I can waste hours on it, if I don't set an alarm for myself to get off.

Since I'm only accountable to myself, I don't give a twit about it ! LoL

How Happiness Keeps You Healthy (from my Insurance company, thought it apropos,

Research shows the genes of people with a deep sense of purpose in life are better equipped to fight disease and infection.

Share this article: that's what it said, and Yes, time flying by, look for quality.
For many people, happiness can be an elusive thing. Some try to achieve it by filling their lives with professional success and expensive toys, while others find it by living a purposeful and altruistic life.

A new study has found that true happiness—the kind rooted in virtue—can positively affect a person right down to his or her DNA. It may even prevent disease.

Experts call this type of happiness eudaimonic well-being. The other kind, based on superficial value and self-gratification, is called hedonic well-being.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) say the genes of people with high levels of eudaimonic happiness function better by keeping inflammatory gene expression low and antiviral and antibody expression high.

In essence, eudaimonic well-being keeps inflammation—which is linked to numerous ills in the body, including heart disease—at bay while still fighting off infection and disease.

That’s perhaps one reason Mother Theresa lived to 87, despite being around the sick and dying for so many years.

Happiness Is in Your Blood

To determine how happiness affects health, researchers tested the blood of 80 healthy adults. All were screened for both hedonic and eudaimonic happiness, as well as negative psychological and behavioral traits.

While the hedonic and eudaimonic groups reported the same levels of positive emotion, their genes told a different story, according to the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences<.

"What this study tells us is that doing good and feeling good have very different effects on the human genome, even though they generate similar levels of positive emotion," senior author Steven Cole, a UCLA professor of medicine, said in a press release. "Apparently, the human genome is much more sensitive to different ways of achieving happiness than are conscious minds."

Researchers say humans likely evolved this capability in order to fight changing threats, and carried it into contemporary society to respond to social or symbolic threats.

So there’s a chance that performing random acts of kindness may help keep you healthy. At the very least, it can’t hurt.

'Liking' Something Won’t Make You Happy

No matter how much someone "likes" something on Facebook, it doesn’t improve his or her well-being. In fact, it harms it.

New research published in the journal PLOS One shows that the more young adults use Facebook and other social media, the more their overall happiness declines. Specifically, increased social media use affects people in two ways: how they feel in the moment and how satisfied they are with their lives overall.

"On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection," University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead study author, said in a press release. "But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result—it undermines it."

Maybe it’s best if your acts of kindness involve face-to-face interaction, (Ronni, even at the mailbox, and walking out with the neighbors)

Ah me...I eat a little pot of yoghurt instead of a supper meal and we buy a week's worth. Where do they go? This morning I asked my husband if he was eating them now also. He looked at me in a baffled way ( list flavored yoghurt among his least favorite foods). So every week it seems to me that we buy again after 3-4 days only. Where have they and the days gone?

I'm with you on hating the pill counting...........and, at this point, I'm only counting supplements, nothing heavy duty. Still, an annoyance for some reason. And losing time, oh yes. My theory is that we have always lost (or gained) time. Remember as a child or young adult, having so much fun you were late getting home, and your parents were mad? Or the trip to the grandparents' house took forever, but coming home was accomplished so quickly? I do think I am a wool gatherer, that time slips away while I'm thinking about Betelguese or the pileated woodpecker, or a possible delight, etc. In high school I worked at the local supermarket as a cashier, and remember an old woman saying to me, "When you are my age the hours go slow and the days go fast." Hmmmmm, don't know about that, but it has always stayed with me.

"...time slips away while I'm thinking about Betelguese or the pileated woodpecker..." Oh, Salinda. You made me laugh out loud...in recognition. Ronni, I believe this is my reason for lost time. Left to myself, I pause to think about stuff. A lot.

OMG, I LOVE this blog!! Get info and laughs in one go...

I have noticed this recently too. Here is what I attribute it to. I went through a period of very intense stress that lasted several years. Now it has lessened and I am not as driven as I was then. I sleep longer, move slower, and stop and smell the roses (or I would if they grew here). So I don't get as much done now. It's a little frustrating but it's probably good for me, so I let it be. My parents, who both made it to 95, never talked much about what getting old was like, so I like reading your blog and hearing about your experiences even though I rarely post a comment.

Cindy's comment resonates with me, too. I also went through a period of intense stress for several years a few years ago, and after micromanaging every detail of my life in order to accomplish everything, I now enjoy meandering with much less purpose. And just for the record, my "abducted by aliens" thought is just my fanciful way of trying to come to terms with so much lost time!

Have you looked into any of the PillPack/Pill-pac/Multi-dose medication packet services, etc. that some pharmacies provide?

I see Time as a tyrant. Don't mind losing it. It's ruled my life all those years....now I can thumb my nose at it. As Linda says you can pause to think about stuff and not feel guilty.

Yes, it happens to both of us (I'm 80, my husband 85). We mostly think it's funny, but it is a nuisance for me if I have an appointment to go to. I hate having to watch the clock.

I love this time compressing thing. I don't have to pay for rush shipping on stuff I order online. To me, everything gets delivered the next day.

I've always been bad with time. I scored a P at home on the Meyer's Briggs and a J at work. I met my work deadlines but home? Several hours go by and it feels like 15 minutes. I've always been this way.

I have noticed that the past year went by quickly and now here it is the second month of the new year. Friends and acquaintances, all in the same age group or older, noticed the same thing.

Agree! I think with me, it's just that in my mind, I've underestimated how long the task really takes. I don't notice until one of those daily milestones hit, like dinnertime for the dogs. ALREADY?

Yes! I'm self-employed and work at home, and many's the day when it's bedtime and I realize that I accomplished almost nothing all day—very little work, almost no chores—and I can't think of what in the world I did all day!

I'm with you Elissa!
but then I KNOW I was busy all day! with very litlle to show

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