Slip Slidin’ Away

 

Lately I’ve been in a bit of a snit, and anyone would have to admit I have good reason for my crankiness: the attacks in Gaza and by Iran on Israel, the fecklessness of our legislature, a president who is frightening in his ineptness and cluelessness. Those are enough “nesses” to put anyone in a bad mood. And yet, I usually manage to pull myself out of my annoyance by remembering how much I have to be grateful for.

It wasn’t working this time.

Now, my family has a history of depression, so that reminder always lingers in the background. And in spite of my increasingly good health, I do have some aches and pains. But none of that rose to the level of dis-ease that I’ve been experiencing.

This morning, I finally figured it out.

I’m getting old. Not just older, but old.

I used to be a person who was a quick learner; when I learned something new, it usually stuck with me without a whole lot of effort. I used to be able to concentrate through long texts and grasp new ideas with ease. I’ve always been pretty good with names, and although my overall writing vocabulary pales in comparison with some of our other writers on Ricochet, a word I’m searching for usually “shows up” (or I try the synonym search in Word).

But I’m finding that only old and familiar things come easily anymore.

It annoys me. And it scares me.

I finally realized what I was experiencing through a new endeavor I’ve been working on. I signed up to volunteer for Convention of States and I’m very glad I did. Except that the learning curve has been daunting. I’ve been writing blog posts that address the U.S. issues of the day; topics can sometimes be a challenge, but there are so many appalling happenings in this country that I expect I won’t run out of subjects for a while. And my experience of how to format posts on Ricochet has gone a long way toward helping me feel less uncomfortable in a new environment.

But the format is new and intimidating and sometimes overwhelming.

The people at COS have been extremely kind and helpful and assure me that I’m doing well. But I don’t feel like I’m doing well. I feel as if I’m slogging along, frustrated with my lack of retention and the speed with which I’m learning. At the same time, I know that I’m overreacting to my experience, but that understanding is not always reassuring.

I finally realized this morning that my brain is not as adept as it was 20 years ago at learning new things. Of course, learning new things is precisely what will exercise my brain. But I’m spoiled about my past experience, and uneasy about my current inability to adapt.

I shared my unease with a person who has been coaching me with COS, and she was wonderful. She’s about my age, very bright and helpful, and she reassured me that she knew just what I was talking about, and added a few of her own struggles. And once again she assured me that I was doing a great job, and she was always glad to help. And I came away with a more positive and optimistic perspective.

My goal is to settle in to understanding and appreciating my current reality, and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Still, I can’t help feeling like a part of me, not just my brain, but who I am as a person, is slip slidin’ away.

If you’d like to share your own challenges, please do.

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  1. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Use it or lose it. 

    • #1
  2. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think there is such a thing as simple emotional exhaustion. It occurs usually when we can’t see when a stressful situation is going to end.

    The world has been and will continue to be in a state of crisis under President Biden. I was just listening to this interview on Fox News with Republican Representative Mike Garcia of California. In offering his opinion as to the fate of the three foreign aid bills the House is addressing–Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan–when he talks about the status of border control, he says (at about two minutes into the video) that he believes that nothing is going to happen to fix the situation until Biden is out of office. As President Trump said recently (I cannot find the clip at the moment), “Seven months is an eternity.” At the rate the migrants keep coming, it most certainly is. Larry Kudlow always says the number is somewhere between 10 and 40 million.

    Concentration is an element of learning, and I am finding it increasingly hard to concentrate on anything lately. I have experienced this before so I don’t think it is my age. It’s a reaction to prolonged stress, I think.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MarciN (View Comment):
    Concentration is an element of learning, and I am finding it increasingly hard to concentrate on anything lately. I have experienced this before so I don’t think it is my age. It’s a reaction to prolonged stress, I think.

    Excellent points, Marci. Thank you so much. I’ve had stress affect me that way in the past, too, but it usually clears up. I guess since I’m doing everything I can to be well, and I see no letting up of that stress in the near future, the best I can do is be patient with myself. Your words are reassuring.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I’m having a harder time remembering words. And important stuff, like ballplayers’ names.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Percival (View Comment):
    And important stuff, like ballplayers’ names.

    Now that really is tough!

    • #5
  6. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    At age 86, I have finally admitted that I’m not just getting older; I am old.

    Like Susan, I now have difficulty remembering some things, especially proper nouns. Recently, I couldn’t remember the name of the town I had lived in for three years. But, I could remember the name of a town near it; so, I Googled that town and followed the road to the town whose name I couldn’t remember.

    Google and Google Maps are a great help to those of us with memory problems; Google will often provide an answer if we give it enough “hints.” It’s also a great spell-checker.

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    At age 86, I have finally admitted that I’m not just getting older; I am old.

    Like Susan, I now have difficulty remembering some things, especially proper nouns. Recently, I couldn’t remember the name of the town I had lived in for three years. But, I could remember the name of a town near it; so, I Googled that town and followed the road to the town whose name I couldn’t remember.

    Google and Google Maps are a great help to those of us with memory problems; Google will often provide an answer if we give it enough “hints.” It’s also a great spell-checker.

    Ah yes, my partner in the elderly set. But, Jim, at 86, you’re doing amazing! And I’m finding ways to work around my brain fuzziness, but it’s not much fun. It does help to know that I’m not alone!

    • #7
  8. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    My challenges aren’t, I suspect, age-related (yet – I’m 61, so those are just around the corner), but the result of losing my husband. My late husband was very intelligent and very witty, with a wide range of interests. After my husband left the newspaper and worked from home, we started every day with coffee on the sofa, talking about anything and everything. I simply am not around that kind of intellectual stimulation and inspiration anymore.

    I’ve tried a few things to keep my mind active: I am teaching myself French, and I’m working my way through a long list of the great books (currently I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov). It’s not a great substitute for the conversations we enjoyed, but it helps.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    My challenges aren’t, I suspect, age-related (yet – I’m 61, so those are just around the corner), but the result of losing my husband. My late husband was very intelligent and very witty, with a wide range of interests. I simply am not around that kind of intellectual stimulation and inspiration anymore. After my husband left the newspaper and worked from home, we started every day with coffee on the sofa, talking about anything and everything.

    I’ve tried a few things to keep my mind active: I am teaching myself French, and I’m working my way through a long list of the great books (currently I’m reading The Brothers Karamazov). It’s not a great substitute for the conversations we enjoyed, but it helps.

    I’m so sorry, Jean. There is no substitute, but I’m very happy to hear that you are looking for activities to work your brain. Good on you.

    • #9
  10. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    At age 86, I have finally admitted that I’m not just getting older; I am old.

    Like Susan, I now have difficulty remembering some things, especially proper nouns. Recently, I couldn’t remember the name of the town I had lived in for three years. But, I could remember the name of a town near it; so, I Googled that town and followed the road to the town whose name I couldn’t remember.

    Google and Google Maps are a great help to those of us with memory problems; Google will often provide an answer if we give it enough “hints.” It’s also a great spell-checker.

    Ah yes, my partner in the elderly set. But, Jim, at 86, you’re doing amazing! And I’m finding ways to work around my brain fuzziness, but it’s not much fun. It does help to know that I’m not alone!

    I edit my senior’s community newsletter, so I have some stimulators to keep my mind active… lots of in-house proofreaders and critics.

    • #10
  11. Chuck Coolidge
    Chuck
    @Chuckles

    Old is relative:  Different folks are affected at different ages.  And it seems to affect different folk differently.

    • #11
  12. Nohaaj Coolidge
    Nohaaj
    @Nohaaj

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context,  you are all veritable Einsteins.

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    • #13
  14. Globalitarian Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    You’re lookin’ pretty smart there, Susie Q.  It’s working already.

    • #14
  15. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    We’ll worry if you start talking about your uncle being eaten by cannibals.

    • #15
  16. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    We’ll worry if you start talking about your uncle being eaten by cannibals.

    It might not be nice to talk about it, but was he eaten by cannibals?   

    • #16
  17. TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'. Coolidge
    TBA, sometimes known as 'Teebs'.
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    We’ll worry if you start talking about your uncle being eaten by cannibals.

    Probably drunk-driving cannibals who like to swing chains around. 

    • #17
  18. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    We’ll worry if you start talking about your uncle being eaten by cannibals.

    It might not be nice to talk about it, but was he eaten by cannibals?

    Highly improbable.  The one survivor of the airplane crash said they crashed into the ocean.

    • #18
  19. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    What is going on in the big picture can make us numb. Things are crazy, stupid, and maddeningly avoidable. And your work for COS makes it difficult to disengage and focus on happier thoughts. I like the notion of a “new founding” rather than a patch on the now degraded system. Maybe that’s a frame that will help.

    • #19
  20. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Every one here is doing so much better than Joey B.

    Based on that context, you are all veritable Einsteins.

    OMG, please save me from that destiny…

    We’ll worry if you start talking about your uncle being eaten by cannibals.

    It might not be nice to talk about it, but was he eaten by cannibals?

    Highly improbable. The one survivor of the airplane crash said they crashed into the ocean.

    Oh. I thought we were talking about Susan’s uncle.  Joe will say most anything.  

    • #20
  21. Bill Berg Coolidge
    Bill Berg
    @Bill Berg

    Admitting, accepting, and sharing our issues is huge. You are doing very well at that!

    Having lifetime anxiety/depression experience, my chief advice is accepting what is, abandon judging yourself and continue to move at your pace.

    I’m 67 and had a brain infection/surgery in 2019. In the immediate aftermath I could not remember my name. Strangely I have solid memory of what it was like to be in that state. I had a series of 4 seizures after that, the last being in August of 21. Each one was a setback, but not to the same level as the first. 

    Remembering names was never my strong suit, and that is worse now, but I DO remember my own name! I constantly mix up left and right, and my fine motor skills are lacking … I can barely sign my name, but I can type “reasonably”. You can judge for yourself if my writing is coherent! 

     I find that visiting mentally disabled people is gratifying to me. They often appreciate it, and they are frequently happier than the supposedly highly intelligent.

    My Christian faith saved my life in my worst depression and gives me hope. I believe you are Jewish, perhaps there is similar solace there. 

    Taking on being active in COS seems like a worthy challenge. I’ve looked at it some, and it looks to have some significant risks, HOWEVER, the direction we are going now is definite doom “soon”. 

    Will be interested in your COS journey. 

    • #21
  22. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    As I’ve watched my parents age (they are now 92 and 90), I felt that they often exaggerated the degree to which ageing was affecting them. I felt as an outside observer that I had a more objective view of their real situation. They would take an occasional slip of not remembering a name and turn it into a general, “I can’t remember names anymore.” I’m sure it felt like a general problem to them, but I tried to encourage them to realize that most of the time they did remember names. So I would give the same encouragement to you.

    And they found ways to compensate. When my dad could no longer carry a car battery, he started using a wheelbarrow to haul the battery to where he needed it. Jim McConnell, your use of Google Maps was especially was especially creative and shows that you have a lot of mental power remaining.

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Randy Weivoda (View Comment):
    We’ll worry if you start talking about your uncle being eaten by cannibals.

    Fair enough!

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bill Berg (View Comment):

    Admitting, accepting, and sharing our issues is huge. You are doing very well at that!

    Having lifetime anxiety/depression experience, my chief advice is accepting what is, abandon judging yourself and continue to move at your pace.

    I’m 67 and had a brain infection/surgery in 2019. In the immediate aftermath I could not remember my name. Strangely I have solid memory of what it was like to be in that state. I had a series of 4 seizures after that, the last being in August of 21. Each one was a setback, but not to the same level as the first.

    Remembering names was never my strong suit, and that is worse now, but I DO remember my own name! I constantly mix up left and right, and my fine motor skills are lacking … I can barely sign my name, but I can type “reasonably”. You can judge for yourself if my writing is coherent!

    I find that visiting mentally disabled people is gratifying to me. They often appreciate it, and they are frequently happier than the supposedly highly intelligent.

    My Christian faith saved my life in my worst depression and gives me hope. I believe you are Jewish, perhaps there is similar solace there.

    Taking on being active in COS seems like a worthy challenge. I’ve looked at it some, and it looks to have some significant risks, HOWEVER, the direction we are going now is definite doom “soon”.

    Will be interested in your COS journey.

    What a trooper you are, Bill!! You are a role model to me for pushing ahead and doing your best. Yes, I find great solace in my relationship with G-d.

    Some people are skeptical about COS, often because they haven’t read all the remedies in place to keep it going in spite of resistance. I’m convinced it has great potential, and I’m reluctant to think we have to throw out the baby with the bath water. I feel as if I’m actively working to save our country. I think our Founders gave us a divine goal and I’m hanging in there. I think I understand your satisfaction from working with the disabled. I find great reward as a hospice volunteer, calling the bereaved to see how they are doing. So we’re partners on the path!

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    As I’ve watched my parents age (they are now 92 and 90), I felt that they often exaggerated the degree to which ageing was affecting them. I felt as an outside observer that I had a more objective view of their real situation. They would take an occasional slip of not remembering a name and turn it into a general, “I can’t remember names anymore.” I’m sure it felt like a general problem to them, but I tried to encourage them to realize that most of the time they did remember names. So I would give the same encouragement to you.

    And they found ways to compensate. When my dad could no longer carry a car battery, he started using a wheelbarrow to haul the battery to where he needed it. Jim McConnell, your use of Google Maps was especially was especially creative and shows that you have a lot of mental power remaining.

    Excellent points, Steve. Your first paragraph is especially helpful!

    • #25
  26. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    There are times I still feel and act like a teenager.  The only difference is it takes me longer to do something stupid . . .

    • #26
  27. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Moses was 80 when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  When you have a mission, a lofty purpose, or hear a higher calling, age is just a number.

    • #27
  28. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Susan Quinn: a word I’m searching for usually “shows up” (or I try the synonym search in Word).

    You might have what a co-worker used to call “Noun-Disease” where you can’t think of a desired noun.  (It is never verbs or adverbs).  I certainly am getting that worse and worse.  There are times when I am roaring down the conversational highway and can clearly see the bridge out ahead.  I can only hope that I come up with the right word before I hit the gap.

    I have never been good with names – I think that is a good reason to get married.  My wife remembers names for me – with the bonus of knowing bird and plant names.

    But to the larger point – I think I am in the upper echelon of ages at Ricochet – I will be 77 at the end of this month and have noticed several changes:

    • Physical recovery takes a much longer time.  Last year was going to be the year my daily walk worked up to 10 miles.  We live in the country, so a walk around the block is about 10 miles – mostly on gravel roads.  Then, a pin in my ankle from an old break snapped.  It wasn’t a big deal, but I needed surgery to remove the pin and recovery time.  A year later, I am almost up to 2 miles.
    • I am reminded more and more of my father and father-in-law when they were older.  I really don’t like getting out and dealing with public.  A trip to the store or doctor or dentist will be enough to put me in the porch rocking chair for the rest of the day.
    • Perhaps the thing that worries me the most is what I am interested in.  I spent my career doing computer programming and I am amazed that for less than $100, I can put together a card sized computer (Raspberry Pi – if anyone cares) which has the computing power of the first main-frame computer I worked on.  At this point, I have 7  spread around the house connected through WiFi.  I have lots of plans and some successes – my main interest is solving computing problems with multiple computers in parallel.  That is going well until I look at my notes and see how long various projects take.  I am interested in it, but very easily distracted.

    The final difference may not be my age as much as the time we are living in.  I read a lot – it used to be current events or the early history of America.  Current Events – books like “Profiles in Corruption” by Peter Schweizer are depressing based on their immediate content and the history books remind me of the quote by John Adams : “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other”.  Those books remind me of the degree to which we have let down the founding fathers and ourselves.

    Instead, my reading is mostly brain numbing action/thrillers where the good guys are obvious and success is clearcut – did the bomb go off or not….

    Your work with the Convention of States sounds like a good way to keep active.  Let us know how that progresses.

     

     

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Member
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):
    Moses was 80 when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  When you have a mission, a lofty purpose, or hear a higher calling, age is just a number.

    It is just a number. But it also reminds us that everything ages and dies, as did Moses.

    • #29
  30. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):
    Moses was 80 when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt. When you have a mission, a lofty purpose, or hear a higher calling, age is just a number.

    It is just a number. But it also reminds us that everything ages and dies, as did Moses.

    But the soul is eternal. Here we are talking about Moses 3,336 years after he received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai.  His spirit lives on.  And how diminished our lives would be — or would we even be here? — if not for him, “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3).

    And keep in mind that with the coming of the messiah all Jews will be resurrected in the land of Israel and live there forever.  So you see, Susan, you can relax about getting older and about what comes next.

    • #30
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