ELDER MUSIC: Mexico is Different Like the Travel Folder Says
A TGB READER STORY: What Have They Done to the Dictionary?

Old Age is Greedy

There sits on my desk a black, seven- by 10-inch, spiral note book filled with about 100 lined pages that I use to jot down notes about potential stories for this blog.

Because old age has robbed me of the ability to remember any “brilliant” thought for longer than few seconds, it is imperative that I immediately scribble down anything useful at the moment it occurs to me, or lose it forever.

Sometimes these notes are baffling, like that headline above. What was I thinking when I wrote that? And why – especially knowing how fleeting these thoughts can be - couldn't I have bothered to write even a handful of additional words to provide a hint or two about the idea?

But I still like the phrase and after spending 10 or 15 minutes trying my best to recall the original thought (to no avail), I've decided to run with it today in relation to time.

Old age is greedy: it wants all my time.

You name it, it takes longer now than even two or three years ago. Walking, because it is our primary mode of transportation, is a big culprit. I'm slower now and when I think, for example, I'll make a quick stop at the market – just a quart of milk and loaf of bread – it takes 30 minutes and that's not counting the drive to and from.

This is a different phenomenon than the one I mentioned not long ago about time disappearing as though I had blacked out for awhile.

In this case, I am aware of time's passage and I suppose it's irritating because I am still unaccustomed to how much I have slowed down, making my time estimates all wrong.

Not to mention that there are things I can't or don't do anymore and so need to find someone to help out. Change a light bulb? Are you kidding? No more ladders for me. But even when someone is here for a visit, I'm as likely as not to forget to ask.

It's perfectly true that finding oneself in the bedroom and wondering why is not an act exclusive to old people but I'm pretty sure the number of occurrences has increased. More time gone to old age.

The experts tell us it is not uncommon for old people to have trouble concentrating and that's another way old age has been greedy with me - my distraction level seems to increase by the day which lengthens any project.

Recently, I was picking up stuff I'd left lying around the living room, found a note to myself about a quotation I wanted to check out so I hopped on the computer to track it down. I couldn't have waited until I finished the task at hand? Apparently not.

That led to another click and another and you how that goes. Next thing I knew it was dinner time and I still hadn't straightened up the living room.

Folding clean laundry is instant distraction territory for me. Once I've wandered on to something else, it might be bedtime before I get it done and then only because I fold laundry on the bed and need space to sleep.

The biggest aid to old age's greed for my time is tiredness which has shortened my days to about eight useful hours. It takes near two hours each morning for me to get enough coffee and news in me to be ready to shower, dress and eat breakfast.

By then, it's 9AM and I know weariness will overtake me by 3PM after which little gets done. It takes careful planning to get all the things I once did in 12-plus hours a day crammed into such a short period of time.

In terms of slowing down, the trick, I think, is to make the effort to adjust to it as a new normal. I have been trying and I make small inroads. Occasionally now, I deliberately shorten the day's to-do list so that I can finish it.

There is no point in lamenting the slowdown in old age and there might be an upside. As much as I worry about what daffodils blooming in February portends for the planet's future, they put a smile on my face last week. At my previous speedy walking pace, I might have missed seeing them.

As with just about everything I have discovered about old age, I doubt I am alone in these changes. If we live long enough, they come to most of us. Is any of this familiar to you?

Comments

I think you're doing pretty well for yourself. The things you do by 9 a.m. take me until noon ... although I can usually keep chugging along until 4 p.m., or 5 p.m. on a good day.

I started to write a comment adding to your Greedy List but I can't remember what I wanted to say....and it was a good one.

YES! I am with you every step of the way.....if you'll keep track of where we are going, I'll try to remember why 🙂
a/b

There was a Facebook post this morning that echos your piece. It said, "I can remember song lyrics from the 60s and 70s, but I can't remember why I went into the kitchen." As Maurice said in Gigi, "Ah yes, I remember it well."

I am not that old (yet), but it seems I’ve spent most of my life walking down busy sidewalks, weaving in & out of people, impatient & thinking “why does everyone go so darn slow??” And now, for the last couple years, everytime I think I’m walking along at my normal brisk pace, younger people are easily walking around & ahead of me. It’s obvious they’re trying to let me know I’m not one of them anymore!

PS. Exactly 50% of the time I open my laptop to do something… what am I on here for?? Oh well, I might as well visit ‘Time Goes By’ and see who all has commented on Ronni’s latest… hmm, Mexican songs, interesting. I have a sudden urge to watch Carmen Miranda clips on Youtube. Head over there, get my fill… shut off laptop, pad into the kitchen to… wait, what was I coming in here for? Oh that’s right, I was getting on my computer to finish my taxes!

Greedy time is a Vampire, Ronni. I find such comfort in the sense of "not being alone" that often comes from your posts and those of the friends that comment,  A "Thank You" is nearly always  my first thought.

The spiral notebook on my desk is royal blue!  And that rascal is multiplying, as now there are 3....one on the file cabinet, one in my sewing room, and one near my favorite chair near shelves of books I'm sorting to pass on.  At least it gives a feeling of accomplishment to cross something off the list or tear out a whole page. :-)

Sorting and winnowing the 'chaff' so my son does not have to has become a "TIME VAMPIRE" to me.  Like you I am always surprised to realize how much that Vampire has taken.   Is there at least a laugh in finding out I can still be surprised?  Guess so!!

When I was middle-aged, I started noticing that my 'older' friends (past 50, ha!)and parents could not seem to just pick up and go out the door. They were forever fussing, seeing to this or that unrelated to the outing. I sat there with my coat on or the car running while they "just had to" straighten the blinds, make a "quick call", etc. I got so I would declare an earlier departure, to accommodate this pottering.

Now I am the old person, and still find drawn-out delay for a planned outing is a behaviour I don't want to fall into. ( I am speaking of a personal trait of "fussbudgetiness", not the limitations imposed by illness or cognitive changes.)

Those brilliant and even not so brilliant ideas which disappear within minutes, even seconds, so so so annoying and frustrating. I have been in the process of squashing the little voice which tells me I am truly truly losing "it." So thank you, once again for letting me know that I'm not alone. Like growing pains as a teenager, forgetfulness is part of getting older!

I've kinda tagged this chapter of my life as "accomodation". Being a widow twice, early in my 40 's and again a few years ago, it's all about me. Family is 100's miles away so I've learned what best works for me. I have household help every 2 weeks, I order food, meals online, hair salon 1x a week. Yes, it is all about me with no apologies. My health is good, I still drive, have friends, church for social connections. I answer only for and to myself. My wonderful years of marriage to two wonderful men was fun, wonderful and a blessing. So if I need a nap, I take it etc. I write my own script for living each day. If I need help, I ask and for years I have had younger guys and gals who do ladders and help weed my gardens etc. Being solo so long, I've had to make all kinds of decisions big and small. Through the years I've made wonderful and helpful friends and acquaintances. I'm very grateful and don't sweat the small stuff. 😊

Great post and comments this morning; this slowing down thing is clearly a phenomenon most, if not all, of us can relate to.

I recall a meeting, 15 years ago now, when I was 55 which seems quite young to me these days, in which I made a comment to my co-workers about how much more quickly and efficiently I had once been able to do a particular job. That was when I was still working for pay. I continue to work several hours a week, but on a volunteer basis. It seems a little odd to have such a specific marker for awareness of this decline, but there it was. Oddly enough, though, there are days in which I feel much more productive than when I was working a full-time job. Perhaps because I now have more control over what I choose to do with my time.

The introduction of the computer and Internet into my life added such a time-sink, but I have to admit that I love it nonetheless. I used to enjoy reading dictionaries and encyclopedias and other reference materials and can now accomplish in minutes what used to take hours, so there's some efficiencies. I'm just waiting for the USB port into the brain that will make it even more so.

I am a decade younger than you, Ronni, and I find time being eaten up so quickly by the routine things I once did without much thought. I somehow did the chores and worked all day.

In my 30s and 40s I was also raising a child along with teaching 100 or so high school students each day. I kept track of everything so well, or so I thought. Maybe I didn't do well keeping relationships going. I'm finding, now in retirement, that working on relationships takes huge amounts of time. I often push the chores aside to do relational stuff.

Ah yes...the story of our lives! Old age is greedy, indeed...stealing energy, time, memory, concentration, balance, reaction times, the ability to take our general health for granted, and the sense of relatively limitless time ahead....

What startles me the most is suddenly, clearly remembering something I'd not thought of in decades. But isn't it said that it's our short-term memory that goes first while long-term memory seems unaffected? I was standing in the bedroom the other day -- I don't remember why -- and suddenly in my head I was singing "Halo, everybody, Halo. Halo is the shampoo that glorifies your hair, so Halo Shampoo, Halo!" Yikes. Where on earth did that come from?

Me, too, re: everything you've posted about old age eating our time, our days. I've sat, stone-like in my soft corner of the sofa while Morning Joe on MSNBC grabs my attention once in a while. Possibly I should eat some breakfast......no, maybe not. Alternating time between ice packs or a heating pad on my muscle spasms should continue for a bit. Hmmm, I think I'm entertaining some depression this morning, too.

A white board with color markers and post-it-notes make up for the loss of millions of senior brain cells. I've even used the voice recorder function on my cell phone. Lately, if it ain't written down, I'll most likely forget it. I know there's something else I wanted to say but, well, guess what?

I now leave notes everywhere, a memory trigger. If the memory is complicated, I write notes on the notes. This method helps, but is no replacement for the memory I used to have. Old age is indeed greedy, and time lost is only part of the problem. We've noted that what took a couple of hours now takes about 4. We move, but not as quickly and items are forgotten
in the process. Yes, I often sit at the computer for one item but end up researching a dozen!
The cure for all this would make somebody rich, but not me. I just need the cure.

I 've read that in China and India, householders somehow, in their old age, were freed of all the tasks we so often speak of here, with some amount of resentment. They were free to attend to their spiritual life, to ponder their coming death, to love and be loved by family and friends. I remember an old man (India) who spent all his time at the temple, turning the prayer wheels. Now I think perhaps this was only the upper classes. An elderly Chinese woman in a Pearl S. Buck book sits each evening in her pavilion watching the heavens over head. One common thread for these old people was that they had younger ones to do for them. Most of us are so proudly independent, or have no family close by, or not enough funds, we're left spending vast amounts of energy on subsistence. Yesterday......a Sunday at that, I chafed at the amount of work I was doing, grabbed my coat, hat, mittens, heavy scarf to go sit in the middle of the front field, stare up at the long leaf pines quivering in the wind, and just be. I'll be doing more of this. I can be greedy too.

Oh, Ronni, another timely post. Are any of the things you mention familiar ? Well, yes...they ALL are. I am so aware of moving slower at everything. I do keep a busy schedule , but I make sure all my actives are in the morning. In the afternoon, my energy tanks empty. Even at best I am much slower than I was even two or three years ago. I now take a handful of medi cations daily. I decided to look up the side effects of each one. Of the 9 meds I take daily, 7 have "fatigue" as the first side effect mentioned. so I suppose I am lucky to be living alone and still driving ( daytime only.) In May I will be 85 and wonder how much slower I can get. Old age IS INDEED a greedy thief!

Several years ago, I realized I was arriving late to all my appointments and finally realized that I needed to start preparing myself earlier; it was taking me twice as long to get ready to go out.

I agree there are upsides. If I can let myself slow down, there's so much to be aware of: the sky, the smell of food, music, etc.

We had a good rain storm come through California over the weekend so I decided it would be a good time to weed the backyard since the soil would be moist and require less effort.

Yeah, right. After 3 hours I had barely made a dent and everything hurt. I might add that that I smoked a little weed before I started because I figured it would make pulling weeds more tolerable (it did).

I came in and took 2 Alleve and laid out on the couch most of the rest of the day reading a book.

Went out again this morning. Put in about 2 hours and I'm thinking I might be done tomorrow with a couple more hours. Hope springs eternal.

We live in a 55+ community so our small yard seemed manageable almost 10 years ago when we moved here. We downsized from an enormous backyard with vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Interesting what 10 years can do to us.

I do enjoy being outside and used to love to garden. Now it's mostly just maintenance. My husband's health has deteriorated enormously since we moved here so although he tries, he's not much help. Can't afford a gardener.

Age is without a doubt greedy in so many ways. But I'll take 2 Alleve again and try to finish my book. Life goes on.

Ronnie you so often hit the nail right on the head with your meanderings. This slowing on down thing just creeps up on us. Thinking I am still moving at a good pace from my car to the store entrance why is it that so many folks are passing me up? Living in the desert the dust just piles up. The other day I got out my blower and did both of the patios and couldn't raise a glass to take a drink afterwards cuz my arm was shaking so much. It ached for two days too. But now going on 87 I notice I can just sit and enjoy blue sky, bird songs and a good book on the patio and not feel at all guilty cuz I should be doing something productive. So I think we slow down to enjoy more things around us and that is not all bad. But sure would like to know where I put my glasses. :-)

Maybe I'm being crude here but I used to be a flier in the washroom, in and out in no time no matter whether #1 or #2. But these days? I need to put it on the agenda and allow for sometimes 15-20 minutes, reading material to keep me non-bored, and lawdie what patience is required! A guy I know installed a drop down wee table in front of the toilet so he could work on crosswords and/or use his laptop.

Matters are incredibly worse if someone is waiting for me as in hospitals or clinics or homes of friends.

All part of the slowing down. Everything slows down.

My long hair is now taking a huge chunk of my time. I am questioning my personal policies to enhance my own time efficiencies.

XO
WWW

I love it!
A drop down wee table.
Toilets should automatically come with one.
My dog already thinks it’s my office tho.

And after the day is suddenly gone, I look back on it with alarm knowing that time's speed is accelerating while I slow down quickly, before I know it, arriving at the end of my time. When I was much younger I had a sort of vision of myself in a care facility sitting on the edge of the bed realizing that the vision had happened and before I knew it. This causes occasional bursts of melancholy and reflection but I get over it, kicking myself in the butt, reminding self that my current purpose is to provide for and insure my wife's perfect happiness--its good to have a purpose as we head into the storm ahead.

Distraction has become my new norm. Start something , get distracted, hours later see the unfinished thing staring at me.
Brilliant thoughts float out of my head on gossamer wings in seconds, never to return.
And falling asleep sitting up on the sofa while in the middle of watching something on TV and coming back and realizing the show is over.
The list goes on.

Keep On Keeping On.

Experiencing much of the same 10 years younger than you.

I'm thinking that each of the items I encounter are just less and less important in the grand scheme of things.

When my husband was alive , I
Started to realize it took two of us to do what one of us used to do. Now I still do the things I feel are necessary but they do not have the same level of priorities. For instance. I can go without paper towels for a few days but definitely not milk so I know when I make my to do list whar may become not to do items. Morning takes awhile to get going. Morning joe. Coffee. Jackie Gleason on Alexa some fruit and roast
Then I sit and think for about 45 minutes.
Amount of sleep or quality of sleep is a big factor my brain is very chatty around three am. We are all on the same journey. I thank you ronni got your enormous and courageous honesty. You are the Columbus as we journey to this new land

Now when I don't seem to accomplish what I used to, I wonder if it has to do with the internet. Ten years ago I rarely went online except for work, now it is a black hole that swallows up hours of the day. What more would I do if I was not on the computer?

Pain often makes sleeping difficult for me, sometimes impossible until 4:30-5:00 am. I end up sleeping until 9:30-10:00 but wake in enough pain that I can barely function until my meds kick in some two hours later. Even then I'm so slow I'm lapped by snails. It's true. They stick out their tongues and laugh at me as they "whiz" past. If I'd only known they were going to do that at this point in my life I'd have gone ahead and salted the buggers when I picked them off my hostas years ago, instead of just carrying them down to the creek in a tin can and putting them down nice and safe among the wild ferns. It is *so* frustrating to look at a dozen tasks that need doing, which you *want* to do, and not be able to do a darn thing about it. I don't suffer from depression but there are days when I feel like a good cry might be in order.

Go right ahead, Deb! Sometimes a good cry is the best medicine of all.


A commode's wee little table,
Is a fact, not merely a fable.
Your computer, some tea,
And some Charmin T.P.,
You'll not leave, e'en tho you are able.


All of it. Thank you.

I think I try to do too much..lists, things around the house. I’m still able at this point, but I know it won’t last.

I find I get agitated by it all in my mind and feel pulled in every direction and this is all my own doing. Sometimes I take a half of a Xanax and it calms me down..

A house or condo, if you live alone, can sometimes take away from your freedom to just "be."

Sometimes I long for a small RV to just travel around and be free, but it’s not realistic as we age..

All of it, for sure! I never saw it coming, either. Nor, to be fair, does anyone under 60. One of the many surprises of this time of life.

Not only is old age greedy - it makes us greedy - greedy to grab all the experiences we can - to really enjoy the beauty around us - I agree with you Salinda- when I walk my dogs the beauty is sometimes breathtaking I wish I could capture it and take it home - glorious music that fills us and makes us forget for a time exactly where we are - fun times with family and friends wishing they would never end - perhaps as technology increases we can capture these experiences and relive them whenever we want through virtual reality perhaps? Here's hoping. Jeanette

I glued a Wonder Woman patch to my briefcase because I wonder what I was going to look up online, I wonder what I had for breakfast so I fix something different for lunch, etc. I was a few minutes late to a haircut and my stylist was calling around because he was worried about me as that had never happened before.

I do know that I try not too waste too much of whatever is left of my time wondering where it all goes.

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