Writing notes, making lists, searching for an object that has been misplaced – as we grow older, we invent a variety of ways to keep track of daily, weekly and other calendar events.
Perhaps you’ve heard, “I can’t find my glasses, I know I left them on the table next to my chair.” And the search begins. Where do those bifocals sometimes turn up? Answer – on the kitchen counter or hall table or possibly a nightstand in the bedroom.
Is life getting too busy or is there a real memory problem? There are some people who seem to be absent-minded all their lives. Let’s face it. Even the most organized individuals can have difficulty remembering dates, duties and appointments as the years go by.
A visit to the doctor and a short memory test may help. Look up the causes and stages of dementia. Maybe it’s time to slow down a little. Another relative used to quote (remember the cartoon, “Pogo”?), “We have met the enemy and he is us,” when there was too much going on. These winter months could be the time to take stock of life around you.
A sense of humor always helps. A relative who had a problem with words after a stroke would point to her head with a laugh and say “nobody’s home.”
If you’re in a winter doldrum, start the day with morning Mass. Pull up the shades and sit near a sunny window. Bundle up and take a walk on the sunny side of the street if there is no snow or ice. On the other hand, even if the weather is threatening, do you really have to go to the store or can it wait for a few hours or even a day?
We know that every year the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, we’ll still have six more weeks of winter in Wisconsin, so we might as well slow down and figure out ways to enjoy life.
Rather than be homebound, invite a friend or neighbor for a visit over a cup of tea or coffee. No need to fuss. A good friend will understand. If it’s difficult to get out, try a telephone call to renew or continue a friendship.
In early retirement, there may be a temptation to forget planning and just go with the flow in events and activities. Life’s deadlines just got a little less demanding, but this may be the time to get organized.
There are places to go and things to see when there are no job duties to tie one down. The “bucket list” has become popular and could be a good start. If you don’t have a list already, think about the places you’ve always wanted to go or things that didn’t get done.
It’s always a plus to have something to look forward to, even though circumstances may sometimes provide a deterrent. One Wisconsin couple had a goal of visiting every national park – traveling to the southern states in the winter and northern states in the summer.
The trips were planned well ahead of time as reservations in the parked filled early in the year. They enjoyed many hours of hiking the trails and seeing the wonders of the country. Revisiting the areas through their colorful scenic pictures filled many hours of their home stay time and they shared a wealth of stories with family and friends.
This may be the time when you’re finally going to get those photo albums in order. The pictures and stories can provide a good way to form a special bond with a child or grandchild.
Clear a tabletop or set up a card table to make room to work on a project, perhaps an hour a day. There’s no deadline, no need to hurry.
Letter writing is almost a lost art with the younger generation because of the almost instant communication and popularity of the Internet and ease of making phone calls.
For those of us who have lived in the pre-technical era, there is still something special about receiving a handwritten letter. For one thing, it can be reread and enjoyed at leisure and any time in the future, unlike computer messages that disappear almost instantly under a barrage of more incoming “friend” notes.
Today is rush, rush, rush with instant everything. Many of us wish that our too-active days would slow down a little and we could go back to the more relaxed, easy-going life. Make it happen.
Some call it progress, but are we really moving forward?
Note – my husband says misplacing items doesn’t apply to him – and then he started searching for his glasses (which are usually on his head).
The Alzheimer Association (1-800-272-3900) has suggestions and a helpful weekly e-newsletter at its website (alz.org). Check out “The Brain Behind Saving Yours” and the 10 common signs of Alzheimers.
(King, a member of St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, North Lake, is married to Thomas. They have seven children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.)