As we get older, we become more resourceful and creative when dealing with everyday life and situations. What brings about this transformation? Hearing loss, failing eyesight and poor memory skills are just a few of the circumstances that have forced us to come up with alternative ways of tackling our daily routines. While the old methods served us well in the past, we find ourselves needing more innovative and interesting ways to compensate for these losses. I have been coping with these issues to a varying degree for some time now.
First, let me make the following profound statement. “I believe I can hear better if I have my glasses on.” Makes no sense, but it seems to be a true fact for me. It was after having uttered this comment to Steven that I realized I was contributing greatly to a new exercise program he had just recently enrolled in. This particular activity improves the mobility of the neck, head and eyes. It is called, The Eye Rolling Exercise. The only equipment required is a senior parent and one middle-aged child. This is how it works.
Senior parent – “You will never guess what I did today?”
Middle-aged child – Head is slightly tilted, eyes roll to the right.
Senior parent – “And Mary said…..”
Middle-aged child – Head is slightly tilted, eyes roll to the left.
The length of the conversation will ultimately determine the number of reps this exercise entails, but I think I’m safe in saying that my kids will have muscles on their eyeballs that will be the envy of any athlete.
This partial loss of hearing is not a new concern for us. Chuck has had hearing aids for years, but he never wears them. Once a year, he rummages through the junk drawer to locate them when the audiologist phones to schedule his annual checkup. Off he goes with aids in hand. They are definitely not in his ears. I asked him why he even bothered seeing the doctor, as he has absolutely no intention of sticking them where they were intended to go. His answer, “I get free batteries.” Honest to God! I also have a hearing issue, but not bad enough to warrant any further action at this time. So, Chuck and I have learned to adapt. The use of subtitles for all programs plus having the TV set at a very high volume are our somewhat successful solutions to this problem. Steven claims our TV is like a GPS. As soon as he is within a mile of our place, he is guided to our doorstep by the dialogue of Midsomer Murders blaring out. It works for us.
The use of a telephone, whether it is a cell or landline, is another area where seniors have had to make adjustments in order to fully hear and enjoy the conversations of others. Thank God for the Speaker button. I use that feature all the time.
Then just when we think we have our act together, another one of our senses, our eyesight, starts to diminish. Over the years, many of us have improved any shortcomings in this area by going through the different stages of using glasses, bifocals, reading glasses, etc. and these all worked well for a very long time. Until recently, I carried a magnifying glass in my purse so that I could read ingredients, directions, etc. on products while shopping. Then Tammy told me how she uses her cell phone camera to take pictures of the information she wants to read and then just zooms in for a closer look. Great idea which I now use. But there will come a time when even these aids are not able to do the job satisfactorily. Surgery may be the only option left. It is said that if you live long enough, you will eventually need cataract surgery. Well, I guess I have lived long enough, as I am currently on the waiting list for this procedure.
And now comes the biggie. How does the average person cope with memory loss issues? First, let me point out that there actually is a gain from this loss. Look at the amount of exercise – the steps, the stairs climbed – that would otherwise not take place if we didn’t forget things.
“Why did I come into this room?” Thump, thump, thump, back down the stairs.
“Oh yes, now I remember.” Thump, thump, thump, back up the stairs.
I wish I could find other ways and reasons for fulfilling my fitbit’s daily requirements. Maybe I could voice my intentions out loud just before moving into action. “Now Lynda, you are going upstairs to get your slippers.” But then, I talk to myself quite a bit as it is, and that is frowned upon by others. No sense encouraging more eye rolling.
While apps on my cell phone have helped me see and hear things better, it’s the phone’s camera that really wins the gold star for helping me deal with memory issues. On our recent holiday, I took many photos for a variety of different reasons.
As Steven was flipping through this massive collection he asked, “Mum, why do you have a picture of the front of a bus with the number 223 prominently displayed in its window?”
“Well dear, there were over 20 tour buses all looking alike at the rendezvous point for pickup and I wanted to make sure your dad and I got on the right one.”
Eyes started to twitch, not knowing whether to move to the right or to the left.
“Mum. Why do you have this picture of intersecting street signs?”
“Well dear, our hotel was located at that intersection and I wanted to remember the street names in case we needed to ask for directions.”
Eye movement went into full motion. I then grabbed the phone out of his hands and pointed to a picture of Chuck.
“Now see that picture of your dad,” I said. “I took it so I would remember which man to take home with me.”
The eyes did not move. Sometimes we seniors just have to take a stand.
Another app I use on my cell phone is Voice Memos. It works as a tape recorder and I highly recommend it for everyone. For those important times, like business meetings or doctor’s appointments when you just have to remember a lot of info at once, this little app is a Godsend. Instructions, directions, information, etc. can be retrieved at any time and there are no worries about what was said vs what you thought was said. It’s all right there in the recording.
I believe there is always balance in life. While a loss may seem devastating at the time, it often opens up the opportunity to replace the old ways with new workable solutions. As the saying goes, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” Just eavesdrop on a group of seniors and listen to their conversations. It will make you smile when you hear their methods of coping with everyday life. Too bad we have to wait until we are old to come up with some of these ingenious ideas.