Sunday, August 09, 2009

Do We Seniors Get Too Comfortable?

A comment on my previous post started me thinking. Sadie, of "Musings, Meanderings & More," wrote:

"For a while I worked as a waitress in a senior citizens facility. Although I really enjoyed working there, at times I became a bit overwhelmed with the reality of aging. While there, I noticed that too many of the residents became to comfortable with their surroundings and all the conviences that came along with living within one of those communities. They stopped planning and left everything up to managerment. Take that trip and any other that you can squeeze into your budget. And never stop planning...don't nix something that's free and fun, and can easily be trashed and started again from scratch. Stepping outside of the box will do you a world of good..."

Yes, I've noticed how easy it is to relax and do nothing, and some of that is good. However, I've observed that life is so good here at The Clare that it's easy to lie back in one's recliner, enjoy the gourmet meals, and gain weight. I've heard a few compaints on the same subject from other residents. Yes, we have a fitness program, exercise classes of all types, and almost any sort of activity imaginable. We have bicyclists, long-distance walkers, and a champion swimmer among us. No one forces us to eat three large meals a day, including desserts. I still suspect that the majority of residents are doing less than they're capable of.

The time will probably come for most of us that we will need assisted living and/or nursing care; that's time enough to forgo activity. Even at those levels, we can keep our minds active, if not our bodies.

So this easy life has its drawbacks. That's why I have changed my eating habits and resolved to become more active. I'll accept those conference invitations and keep going as long as possible. There's such a thing as relaxing too much, especially at a place like The Clare.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

When is it too Late to Plan Ahead?

During her later years, my late mother (she lived to age 95) often quoted one of her fellow elders: "I don't even buy green bananas." The point was, don't plan too far ahead. I always laughed at that, but now that I'm almost 77 and living in a senior residence, the quotation has more meaning.

When one is young, the future seems to stretch far ahead, offering endless opportunities. Sometime around 70, at least for me, the vista changed. I'm now reluctant to plan too far ahead. With no job and few responsibilities, it's easy to become recliner-bound and oblivious to all the opportunities that surround me. Two recent emails made me think again of the "green bananas."

First I heard from an officer of the Illinois Woman's Press Association, a group of which I am a member. She asked me what I could contribute to the National Federation of Press Women's national conference, to be held in Chicago in August, 2010. I can't help with media contacts (I have none), and assignments that require extensive walking or standing are out, too. I finally agreed to host and introduce a speaker (as yet unknown). Somehow, this event seemed so far away. Unconsciously, I wondered how I'd feel by then. Why? I have no known serious health problems except the usual age-related ones, but I guess I've already seen too much physical decline among my fellow residents to be confident about my future. On the otherr hand, the 101-year-old resident looks great, in spite of being tethered to an oxygen tank. Anyway, I now have an August engagement to put on my 2010 calendar--when I get one.

The other email was more surprising. As I mentioned, this blog was featured in the Story Circle Network newsletter recently, and is now one of six (thus far) member "Star Blogs." The author of the email asked whether I intended to attend the organization's conference in Austin, Texas, next Februry to participate in a panel on blogging. Well, Texas is far away, and I'm going to San Antonio for this year's NFPW conference in September, so I hadn't considered another Texas trip so soon. I'm not that fond of Texas. Besides, these conferences are expensiuve when one adds up the registration fees. airfare, and hotel costs. I tentatively nixed the idea. But then I began to think (I have plenty of time for that these days). Texas is certain to be warmer than Chicago in February, and I have no other cold weather plans. Why not go?

There was a time when I welcomed opportunities such as these enthusiastically, perhaps dreaming of fame and fortune. Money was no object, at least in my working years. Things are different now: fame and fortune have eluded me, and I've grown old. But as long as my mind lasts, why not enjoy such opportunities? My newly-resurrected motto has become Carpe Diem (seize the moment). I don't know for how long I can do so, but full speed ahead! I buy green bananas, too.