Can We Talk?

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The more time I spend with older people the more I realize that their greatest fear is being alone. Not just physically alone but having to fill up to 12 hours a day with something other than silence. 

Many elders are widows/widowers and some are just not very good at socializing. It’s amazing how happy a simple conversation can make someone when there’s not much else going on in their life.

So, next time you see someone sitting alone on a bench or staring off into space, try interacting with that person and you might both feel better!

The Name Game

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Ever notice how the more time you spend with people, the more you start to think like them? We all have those moments when we can’t remember what we were going to say or do. Some call them senior moments and some (more colorfully) call them brain farts. But we all have them at one time or another – some more frequently than others and some who flat out deny their very existence.

Living with my parents is sometimes like living in prehistoric times. I’ve come to realize that the remote control is a clicker, a CD is a tape, the cell phone is a ringer, the printer is a copier and the DVR is a recorder. It’s not that these ‘alternate’ names are confusing. It’s fairly easy to tell what my parents are referring to most of the time – especially when they… point.

It’s when the parentals are at a total loss for words yet they expect you to read their minds, nonetheless, that you become somewhat frazzled and impatient. It can go from one extreme to the other:

1) The Dangerous Chair – a comfortable chair that, once sat on, makes an octogenarian fall immediately asleep. This covers every chair in the home from the most comfortable recliner to the hardest, metal folding chair.

2) Squeaky thingy – this can be anything from the upstairs neighbors walking around on parquet floors to a door that needs oiling.

3) Ice box – an old fashioned name for a refrigerator/freezer.

4) Who-ja-ma-bob – again, could be a razor, an alarm, the doorbell, the tv… anything whose name doesn’t immediately register.

5) Thingamajig – see above.

And don’t even get me started on proper names. Whether it’s trying to remember a person’s name from the past, a character or actor’s real name from tv or even their only daughter’s name (I usually come in at about 5 or 6 down on the list – after my brother, my grandparents, their grandkids), I’ve gotten so used to it that I’ll basically answer to any of the above… especially if it’s for something really good that I didn’t even do!

Places People Meet

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When living in a co-op or condo community, you’re bound to run into your neighbors at some point. In our case, since my parents pretty much never leave their home for social occasions, that meeting of people tends to take place in the elevator.

It’s a very short ride so not much gossiping occurs during the trip down to the lobby. Once downstairs, people either head to their respective mailboxes or to their garages.

I’ve lived in many towns and I’m not one of those people who tends to run into friends and neighbors at the supermarket. Even when my kids were small and had various groups of friends, I seldom ran into their friends’ parents or their teachers or their coaches outside of school.

But here, where a large majority of homeowners are retired and/or widowed and have nothing but time on their hands, running into someone – anywhere – is pretty much a given.

Some of my favorite meeting places are:

1) The Gym – where they often fight over the single stationary bike (and the tv remote)

2) The Pool – where they often fight over the single lap lane (and the one remaining noodle)

3) The Clubhouse – where everyone wants to invite their entire family over for Thanksgiving (because who wants all those people in their home?)

4) The Clubhouse, again – where men and women have separate poker games (and heaven help them when they’re scheduled at the same time)

But I guess I’d have to say that my number one favorite place that people meet here is… the semi-annual homeowners meeting. It’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. People come out of the woodwork to air their grievances and hear what catastrophes everyone else is dealing with. I almost expect to see Madame Defarge, happily knitting away, while corporate heads roll under the scrutiny of the elderly!