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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Young Brain? Old Bones!

Mar 03, 2020 12:25PM ● By Eileen O'Toole

I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s my brain and time that keeps me overly busy.

My friends and I’ve been talking about how we get up in the morning thinking “I’ll do this and this and this today” only to discover when crawling into bed at night, “I only accomplished this.” We never seem to get to the end of the “this list.”

Yes, we know we’re slowing down as we age. Arthritic bones, achy weak muscles and vision changes plague us unmercifully. But the brain thinks slowing down is nonsense. Maybe the white stuff hiding in our noggin still thinks it’s in our thirties while the old body is grumbling about our seventies. And time doesn’t just slip away. It runs. How many Sundays can there be in a week?

The past couple of years have been hectic, demanding and stressful for me, and people are getting tired of my whining about being too busy to add another event or chore. But I’ve always been busy and short on time. That’s why I was excited about retirement. I would have the time to do what I didn’t have much time to do while employed. But why is this different? My busy is slower.

Life shoves itself into my time, as always. Family health scares, funerals and limited finances cause worry, naturally. Sometimes volunteer labor increases. Health appointments, one to three a week, slow me down more. We’re all facing more and more “can’t do this like I used to” even though the brain claims otherwise.

The old arthritic back objects to vacuuming and sweeping and raking. But mowing my acre is easier, though slower. I grow cobwebs for Halloween. As I age it becomes more difficult to hold a long-handled brush looking up to the ceiling. The old neck doesn’t like looking up anymore, especially while moving.

Then there’s the eyes. Even without creeping macular degeneration, the light changes with age. Lamps are more important. I’m an artist, and notice colors change dramatically between sun and clouds. Colors only come out on sunny days, while cloudy days blend shadows to all kinds of gray. For night driving, beginning at dusk the headlights glare like some kind of noise, the curbs disappear into the street pavement and it’s harder to discern stop lights from all the other lights. On dark roads, watching for deer becomes a problem. I either need better headlights or to avoid night driving.

Seeing the younger families around me, I know they’re far busier than I. I’m just slower. Much slower. It’s not about being depressed or stressed; I’ve never been very speedy about anything. Endurance is more of my pace and may work better than speed as I age.

Maybe the frustration lies in arguing with the young brain which says you can still do everything you wish to do while time runs out faster than the brain can conform. It’s a pretty weird feeling like I can leap out of bed in the morning but there’s no more leaping.

At least for me, some of these problems are a kind of exercise. Five minutes of pushing a vacuum, and the old back makes me sit down until the bent knees complain and five minutes later I’m up vacuuming again. Get up, do things, sit down. Then get up, sit down again and again.

At least I move up and down a lot. It just takes a lot more time.