“Our Aging Senses”

Frogs

When I was growing up, I was taught to be mindful of my surrounds to see, hear and speak no evil. My senses were sharp and quick back then. Now that I’ve gotten older I don’t have to put my hands over my eyes and ears, but maybe keeping them over my mouth isn’t such a bad idea. I often don’t hear half of what’s said. That, in turn, tends to distort what I think I see also. What slips out of my mouth is a distortion of my senses.

“What’s that? Did you say, Pat’s getting fat?”

“No! I said that’s a great hat!”

My Dad was an expert in this department, and he would come out with the funniest things he thought he’d heard. He’d have us all laughing and got a kick out it as much as we did. Now I do the same thing. Being able to laugh along with everyone else is a good thing. But it’s not always funny and sometimes even embarrassing. Worst of all it can be quite isolating.

I bring the topic of our 5-senses up because I’ve been hearing a lot of thought-provoking stories on the subject and how it relates to getting older. It is after all our hearing, vision, touch, taste and smell that gives us valuable information about our surroundings. One of the things I learned was that as we age our brains begin to shrink and that in turn makes our senses less sharp. That, in turn, makes it harder for us to detect the critical details that allow us to function socially as well as safe in the world. The more I reached the subject I realized I’d have to break this article up into sections. There is so much information about how each of our senses changes with age that I thought it was worth talking about one at a time.

When I have questions about the changes going on in my own life, I do my research. First, I’m looking to be informed. Second, I’m looking for solutions. If there are none, then I’ll find a way to live with it. It’s all about having the best quality of life and working with what we have. One thing I learned over the years caring for my loved ones was how vital it is to be informed but most of all to be the best advocate we can for ourselves.

So stay tuned, next week I’ll share what I’ve learned about hearing loss.

Through The Eyes of Babes

Have you ever wondered what it is about babies and toddlers that captures our attention?

Of course it’s because they’re so darn cute. But, more than that I’ve discovered that it’s because they remind us of the things we take for granted.

I remember how in awe I was when I watched my own babies discovering life. But I never appreciated it to the extent I could once I became grandparent. I wanted to carry them away to place where they would never lose it. Where the ugliness of life could never enter into the pure joy of life’s discoveries. Now out of 9 my youngest grandchild is 8 and my oldest 26. I wasn’t ready to be a great-grandparent yet. But in becoming one God had a deeper level of pure joy to show me through the eyes of our 14 month old great-grandson Ryder. As he stands in the rain for the first time in his life. With a smile looking up toward the heavens he lifts his arms as if praising God. Opens his mouth to let the rain in while trying to catch the raindrops with his hands at the same time. He jumps, dances, and giggles as he plays in the pouring rain. If I hadn’t been so awe struck I would have joined him myself. But, I am grateful for the reminder to open my own eyes to the things I take for granted. For those are the grace-filled moments when we get a glimpse of heaven on earth.

“The Gift of Socialization”

laughter and aging

Did you know in our senior years socializing is as important as eating a healthy diet and exercising?

I knew a guy who preferred being in the company of younger people. He said it was because they made him feel more alive than those of his own age. I love the various ages of the people in my life. They bring lots of new and interesting things to the table of life. But it’s my fellow senior friends that I feel the most at home with. As a matter of fact, I don’t feel old at all when I’m with them. I feel free to simply be me. I might notice my friends getting older at first glance. I do the same thing first thing in the morning when I look at myself in the mirror. The funny thing is once I focus in on my eyes everything else around me becomes a blur and I only see who I am on the inside. That part of me seems to be ageless and that’s the part I see when I’m with my senior friends.

If having a social life is that important. Then what are the things that get in the way? To each of us that will be different. Two of the things that get in my way is my anxiety issues and the other is my vanity. I’m not proud to admit to either, but I’ve been making an effort to work on them for a while now and it is getting better. Being a woman there is a part of me that enjoys looking the best I can. But sometimes I can be ridiculous. Like the other day when I was getting ready to go to my Silver Fit workout. Now that it’s getting warmer I put a short sleeve shirt on. Putting my arms out straight I think I could drift through the sky with the wings I have. Then I remembered where I was going, to Silver Fit with all the other ladies who’s arms wobbly-to-n-froe just like mine. Heck, even Jane Fonda has flabby arms. Accessories always help. So, I wore a pair of peachy pink earrings to match my short sleeve shirt.

Let’s face it if we want to swim with our grandkids then we’re going to have to put a bathing suit on. Let’s not forget the big brimmed hat we have to wear now to protect our skin. Then there’s the clunky shoes. I’d much prefer wearing a cute pair of sandals, but if I’m going to shop for hours with my friends. I have to wear comfortable shoes. But you know what I’ve learned? That the older I get the freer my spirits becomes, and that true part of me thinks nothing of saying, “who gives a shit what anyone else thinks.”

My anxiety has gotten so much better over the years. It’s the part of anxiety where I don’t want to burden others with what’s going on inside me. But often getting out and being in the presence of others is the very medicine we need to pull us out of our funks. This happened to me a few weeks ago. I was having some anxiety over the way I was feeling physically. I knew I was alright because my blood test came back normal. But why was I feeling so tired all the time? My friend came early to pick me up and we had time to sit and chat a little before leaving. All of a sudden all my woe’s and worries came pouring out, and with each complaint she said, “Connie, I feel that way too. It’s all part of getting older. You just have to keep pushing yourself through it. Some days will be good and some you will need to rest, but you never give up.”

“I didn’t know you felt this way too,” I said. “You always seem to have it all together.”

“So, do you most of time,” she said.

Knowing I wasn’t alone in what I was experiencing made all the difference to me. It reminded me of the years long ago when I’d talk with my friends about the different things going on with our kids or in our marriages. We’d say the same thing back then, “I didn’t know you felt that way too.” What a relief it was to know that what we were experiencing was normal. It’s no different as we get older. Who understands us better than those who are going through the same things as we are?

Feeling supported, feeling normal, feeling seen, recognized and validated and most of all having fun. That’s what having a social life is all about.

“Grow Old With Me!”

Love fail-funny old couple

Before Tom and I married we’d walk everywhere we had to go because we didn’t have a car back then. We’d walk the blocks of rowhomes where we’d see old couples sitting on their porches. What pressed upon our hearts was how miserable they seemed in each other’s company. We were young and very much in love with our whole life ahead of us. But, seeing this left such an impression on us that I remember saying, “Tommy if we’re lucky enough to grow old together. Let’s promise that we’ll never stop talking, caring and loving each other same as we do right now.”  

I’ve been reading the letters we wrote to each other when Tom went off to college. In this one he wrote, “You know Connie, we’re going to have a beautiful life together. People, will one day look at us when we’ve grown old and say what a perfect marriage they have.” As if I didn’t already love him enough reading those letters made me fall in love with him all over again. 

It’s easy to make promises when you have no idea what life will bring your way. Love is like finding a diamond in the rough but holding onto it isn’t enough. To find the real beauty that lies within it, you have to chisel away at all the stuff that hides it’s potential. There’s always been a sparkle that’s shined through our love. However, it takes a lifetime of trial and error chipping away and buffing before the true beauty of its light begins to reflect what we hold so dear.

We no longer let the way people choose to live their life make an impression on us. What we do see is the reality of what is ahead for us. We watched it as we lost our parents and now as we begin to lose more of our lifelong friends. There is no time to waste being miserable over the fact that we’re aging. There’s still so much living and loving to do whether it’s with our spouse, children or friends. It makes us hold onto each other a little tighter and appreciate the time we still have together. As long as we’re alive there’s still time to chip away at the diamond in the rough we hold in the palm of our hands. Maybe that’s been the mission in our life all along. To find the sparkle within ourselves and let it shine through us.

 

The Gift of Self-Giving

o-HANDS-OLD-YOUNG-facebook

One of my kids asked me what I was doing for Mother’s Day? I said, I didn’t even know it was coming up. I never thought much about my own Mother’s Day celebration. I was always focused on what I could do for my own mother and mother-in-law. It is after all a day set aside to celebrate the mother who raised you. It’s not supposed to be about celebrating yourself as a mother. They’ve both been gone a long time now. But we still think about them on this day remembering who they were and the things they did for us. Most of all how we wish we could still put our arms around them and wish them a happy Mother’s Day. There’s no one else to celebrate and thinking of myself feels selfish. But then I started thinking about it. Why shouldn’t I? I mean, if anyone were to ask me what the greatest accomplishment of my life has been I’d say without hesitation…raising my kids and being their mother. Maybe it’s part of embracing the many years of our life and the things we’ve accomplished. Maybe this is what my Dad meant when I turned 50 and he said, “this is your time now.”

So, as I’m contemplating the question of what I’m going to do for Mother’s Day. I’m also looking out the window at my gardens feeling overwhelmed by all the work I have to do yet. Then it came to me. There isn’t anything I want or need, but I sure could use some help this year getting my gardens weeded, mulched and planted while I’m still nursing my tennis elbow. Why not ask for the best gift of all…the helping hands of my own kids. It won’t even cost them anything, except their time. Doing what Mom’s do I even made sure to plan it on Saturday so my girls could enjoy their own Mother’s Day with their kids on Sunday.

Us Moms are known for being good party planners. But being the caregivers we’ve been has taught us best how to find ways to problem solve too. Leave it to a Mom to find a way to make everyone happy, but maybe part of learning to embrace our age means it’s time to include ourselves in the equation.

Happy Mother’s Day”

 

 

“Do What You Gotta Do!”

do it
It’s not as easy as it sounds to do what Dr. Roizen teaches in his book “This is Your Do-Over.” Creating a do-over in your life is literally what you have to do. Most importantly for it to work you have to be committed to the changes you need to do.

I start off with all the best intentions but it never fails that something happens to sabotage my efforts. Something like an injury, surgery, sickness or even a vacation. You’d think it would be easy enough to get back on the train to good health once you’ve learned all the tricks, but it isn’t. When you don’t feel good you sit, and when you sit too much that sedentary life begins to feel comfortable. Soon your back to feeling lousy and let’s face it…old again.

When I get like this it’s not long before I hear the words of my mother echoing in my head, “Well, you know, I am in my 60’s now, what do you expect.”

Okay, Mom, I can understand to a point what you were talking about now, but I also understand that I could have another good 20 or 30 years to live. I’m not ready to give up yet. As I keep reminding myself, aging is not for those who don’t have the fight in them to live. The bottom line is, if you want to live, you have to keep moving. That’s where living exists in the things we do, and you can’t create your do-over without doing the work it takes to do. “So, Just do it!” is what I tell myself, doooooo it!

 

“Summertime Senior Safety”

Summertime and the living is easy!

Man, listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing that song makes me want to go outside, sit in warmth of the sun with my gin & tonic, and a good book. The truth is I can’t lay in the sun anymore. I never should have all those years back when I lathered up with baby lotion to get a tan. I’ve been lucky so far that I haven’t had a skin cancer, but I’ve had a few big scares. I’ve read that the older we get the longer we’ve been exposed to the sunlight which is one of the many reasons we’re at higher risk for skin cancer.

I don’t know about you but I want to live, and a lot of that living has to do with being outside. I like to garden, walk on the beach, play in the pool with my grandchildren, watch them play sports, and walk my dog. So, how can I do that and be safe too?

6 steps for senior skin care

I did my research, and while many of the things I learned I was already doing. The things I read made me sit up and take those things a little more serious. I would encourage you to read them if your serious about taking care of yourself. I’ll have the site information at the end of this post. For now, I made up a reminder list of the important things we can do.

  • Be commitment to the consistency it takes to be the best you.
  • Check your skin on a regular basis
  • Stay out of tanning beds
  • Apply SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed to make sure you don’t miss a spot.
  • Pay special attention the ears, bald spots, hands and feet, and reapply exposed areas throughout the day.
  • Always use a lip balm of at least 30 SPF and apply several times throughout the day.
  • Sit in shade
  • As my friends would say moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

https://www.agingcare.com/articles/protecting-senior-skin-from-the-summer-sun-147114.htm

https://www.skincancer.org/healthy-lifestyle/anti-aging/seniors