Getting older may come as a surprise. One keeps going at a nice pace until one day the engine doesn’t stoke up as well. In a short time, the legs start to complain and the arthritis makes the muscles yell. As getting around gets more difficult, we need to be more mindful of weather conditions, and not venture out when it is slippery. That broken arm or leg takes time and effort from our children and/or our friends as well as you. That also brings up the advice from all sides: “Now, don’t go out today.” “Be careful where you step.” “Don’t you think you should take a cane?”
Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to not say, “I can look out for myself.”
Socially, many old friends and acquaintances have been called to heaven; others have gone to live with their children, and some just can’t get out anymore.
If we look, we can find peer groups—church activities, senior centers affairs, DVAA performances, fire department dinners, etc. All that training and knowledge one acquired through life can be utilized to help others. The senior center can advise one of opportunities to assist in income tax preparation, teach reading, helping others study for their GED, visiting the homebound, running errands, driving others to a doctor’s appointment. Don’t forget the library for help and information.
Shopping is a bit different, since the amount we eat may have changed. Now we don’t need another shirt or pair of shoes. Instead of buying extras, we need to weed out and simplify. It is possible to find a home for your treasures that the children don’t want.
Antique shops will buy some things. You can donate to church or fire department flea markets, clothing rooms, hospital second-hand stores, the Salvation Army, etc. Don’t throw things away unless they are broken or torn. (For example: my mother’s wedding ensemble went to the historical society.)
If you have had a joint replacement or fall, don’t neglect physical therapy. The county will send a nurse to evaluate your condition and then send an occupational therapist and a physical therapist to get you up and going again.
Some of us need to get up-to-date with technology or to push ourselves to do a few flower beds because we can’t do a whole garden. The trouble is, everything takes three times as long as it used to. Now we have time to read those books, do those puzzles, contact old friends and look back at our life’s accomplishments and say, “Thank you, God.”
[Helen Reith Barr lives in Narrowsburg, NY and is the mother of eight children and 17 grandchildren.]