Monthly Archives: February 2017

Only Child debunks attitude factor with seniors’ stress

Sitting in my garden relaxes me

Sitting in my garden relaxes me

It’s ALL in your attitude, we seniors are told about how we handle the stress in our lives. My emphasis on the word “ALL”. Attitude may have something to do with it, but not “all.” And some of the research on attitude and seniors’ stress is somewhat questionable.

Take the study from North Carolina State University, for example. Sure the research shows that seniors who have a positive attitude about aging can handle stress better. Read this article about the study

One big factor from this study stands out. THE NUMBER OF SENIORS INVOLVED IN THIS STUDY.  Are you ready for this? Forty-three. That’s 43. That sure covers a lot of seniors and wide spread over demographics. Come on researchers, get real. Even professional pollsters use over 1000, if not close to 2000 people. While not near perfect in numbers it is much higher than the paltry 43.

I question the widespread validity of a study that uses only 43 people.

There are certainly many other factors in seniors’ lives besides their attitudes towards aging. Here are a few factors, given at random:

  1. The health of the senior – not just cancer, heart disease or diabetes, and loss of or diminished sight, hearing and/or mobility, Health includes mental health. If you don’t consider depression and/or high anxiety (with our without intolerance to uncertainly – disclaimer here – I have this  – see this previous blog post), it doesn’t paint a realistic picture. Also, often physical illnesses can cause depression and anxiety.
  2. What is happening in a senior’s life?
  3. What has happened previously over many years in the senior’s life?
  4. Is the senior financially secure (as much as anyone can be these days) or living near or below the poverty line?
  5. Does the senior live alone?
  6. Where does the senior live – in their home (house, condo, apartment) or in a long-term care facility?
  7. Does the senior have supportive family and/or friends?
  8. Does the senior have some passion/some interest in life – something that gets them going every day?
  9. The senior’s innate personality – i.e., some people are hard-wired to be positive and some the opposite.
  10.  We must not forget the Pollyanna effect. You know, the “everything is great and wonderful in life” and ignoring the bad that does happen (and I know “bad” can be subjective). Remember the 1960 Disney movie “Pollyanna” starring Hayley Mills? She played Pollyanna and gave a good take on it. However, in the movie Pollyanna, a 12-year-old-child, fell from a tree when sneaking out at night. From that she became crippled.

Maybe the best way to get through the senior years is to be realistic. If something upsets you, acknowledge this and maybe you need to do something about it. I find that helps me. What I am still learning is to pick my battles. You can’t fight everything.

And have some passion/some interest (or two or three or more – mine are writing, helping other writers, acting in comedy skits, gardening, reading, TV, cooking and walking, socializing with close family and friends, and apparently the weather). Try to find a balance between being alone and socializing. Lighten up a bit sometimes. For example, so far in one month I’ve had to have two molars (different locations) extracted. For my first “meal” with my son who was at the first  dental appointment and drove me home, I heated up solid food for him and said, “We can eat as soon as I heat up my gruel (chicken broth).” Confide your problems to someone you are close to, but not someone who is judgemental or orders you around. And if necessary, see a therapist, even if only for a short time to get over the hurdle. Eat healthy, get some exercise, get enough sleep and try not to do too much.

I’m still working on the latter two.

My $5.00 worth anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Family and Friends, Health Seniors, Only child, Seniors

Only Child and Senior Loneliness

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

When my father died from brain cancer at 66, life turned all downhill for my mother. She had lost her husband of many years and had to go it alone. This was the mid-1960s so changes for women were just getting started. And although my mother had me, I was a teenager and really not much help for mom’s loneliness and her health, which after Dad’s death went from good to worse than bad.

First, it was her arthritis in her hands and feet, which landed her in the hospital for tests, disfigured her hands (rheumatoid arthritis) and damaged her feet to the point of what resembled wounds. I remember coming home from business school and finding her sitting in the living-room, one foot bandaged and propped up on a footstool. Her two visitors were not friends, but the managers at the insurance company where she had started to work when Dad died. They were not there to offer her support, but to try and convince her to quit her job which she was having difficulty doing. She had gone from typist to proof reader because of her fingers.

Fortunately I was able to get a job as a secretary later that year and help Mom with expenses, including doing the actual grocery shopping. But Mom’s health continued to deteriorate. She also had scleroderma, which gave her puffy cheeks and changed her voice to almost a squeak. She died at age 63. Official cause was a brain aneurysm but really the arthritis killed her. Because of the arthritis she fell off her vanity bench which gave her a never-ending headache. She figured she needed her eyes tested and had booked an appointment for an eye test but never made it as she went into a coma and died in hospital.

I have passed both my parents’ ages of death and have mixed feelings about it.  Although I may have escaped some of the medical conditions of my parents (although I do have arthritis – in my neck and bunions and the like on my feet), I still feel very wary going through the rest of my life. Yes, I have had my own medical issues to deal with, but I’m learning that there are two factors that make life very hard to deal with for a senior – living alone and being poor.

I have covered the being poor before, but living alone to my mind, is not the best scenario for a senior and happiness. Apparently, some studies are showing otherwise. See Loneliness among the elderly  where  surprisingly the majority of lonely seniors are married or living with a partner.  But my many years living alone have proven otherwise. Living alone means not having someone there to help you, to support you, provide companionship, and help you deal with all the crap life shoves at you. I realize that not all duos are good – some are abusive; some provide no support.

However, when I observe my friends who have partners of some sort, I see a plus. Sure, they have problems, health, maybe financial, etc. But they seem more positive, have that support (and some even say that) and are happier – the latter just radiates from them. My take here is if you have a good partner, you can deal with life better.

Partners can mean many things from the traditional marriage, to living common-law, to not living together all the time (i.e., maintaining separate homes for whatever reason – often financial – pension laws you know).

One friend who used to live in my neighbourhood had a long-term relationship with a fellow. Their relationship and its setup worked worked very well for them. Both lived in separate houses – in fact he lived just outside Toronto. But they spent weekends together at her place and travelled together. Sure they argued and had differences of opinions – most couples do. But they were supportive of each other, not only with health issues but house issues. And boy, my friend had a doozie when her mean next door neighbour shovelled snow from his driveway onto her gas meter and the entrance for the gas into her house – the latter was blocked and she got gas fumes in her house. She phoned both her partner and me. Both came over here. He got on the phone to the gas company and organized everything there. I insisted she stay overnight with me, but in the meantime she went back home (outside) to supervise the gas company arriving. Her partner and I had another thing to do for her – get some important legal papers off to Fed Ex before they closed to meet a deadline for her.

True, yours truly had some part in this. But consider the scenario without her partner. And remember I don’t drive.

My friend’s situation does not have a happy ending. Her partner was diagnosed with brain cancer and died shortly afterwards. Yes, she was there with him, but has been alone since then.

I have to deal with the crap in my life alone. My son does help where he can but he has his own life. I also have no brothers or sisters.

So, some statistics be damned, I still say a senior living alone is not the happiest and healthiest. Read 10 Dangers of Seniors Living Alone. And I have only covered the tip of that iceberg.

What do you think? I’d like to hear from seniors living alone and seniors with partners. I won’t bite, whatever you say.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her parents in another time and world

Only Child and her parents in another time and world

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Happiness, Health Seniors, Life demands, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Mother dying, Older Women living alone and health, Only child, Seniors and Happiness

Only Child’s health ate her life

Only child contemplates luck and health

Only child contemplates luck and health

Do you every wonder if  the happenings in your life are linked? Especially if the same or similar situations keep happening one right after the other. And you have no control over them.

Take my health issues and other bad luck, (please take them. I’m fed up with them). Now, it is another dental problem – the “twin” molar on the left bottom side has reached a similar situation. Over the weekend the problem reared its ugly tooth. Yesterday I had an emergency appointment with my regular dentist and his diagnosis confirmed my suspicions – the long-present cavity (with  several years’ filling) had moved to the nerve. Today, I phoned the oral surgeon’s office to make an appointment. Between the surgeon being off for the next week, his sparse schedule at the office (he has another office and I believe teaches at a university), and what I need to keep in my schedule, my appointment is not until February 27.

It is starting out as a repeat of last month’s nonsense. Like last month’s dental crisis, the surgery is  scheduled for the last Monday of the month. And like last time I will again miss the monthly meeting of my Literature Group at the Toronto Heliconian Club.

This similar situation string of events doesn’t stop here. Remember my watches going on the fritz? First the longtime one went kaput and it wasn’t just the battery; the cheap freebie backup watch did need a battery change. But as soon as that was done, the thin vinyl strap broke.

So I had to buy a new watch. I managed to get one similar to the good old one – at 25 percent off the regular price. Three days later – just after the first dental surgery I removed the new watch to show my son, and the metal expanding strap broke. Martin checked it out and said it was a defective band. I have since exchanged it at the store, but you can bet I keep more than a good eye on the band when it is on and when it is off.

Considering the similar patterns – dental and watches going on the fritz – and their simultaneous occurrences, I don’t think all this is coincidence. I see it as more bad luck being shoved my way  in waves. And you can bet I’ve been raising my fist to the sky a lot. Hey, I need some exercise.

Seriously, considering all the other crap shoved not just my way, but most people’s in these beginnings of 2017 (just look at all the snow on Canada’s west and east coasts, for example), I’m beginning to believe the first six weeks of 2017 are worse than the first six months of 2016. And anyone I talked to considered 2016 to be a bad year and they couldn’t wait for the new year.

Well, as I’ve said before it appears to be “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” Just who is controlling the fire is up for grabs. I have my own ideas, which I may share in a later post.

For now, it is worry worry worry, being vigilant and taking Motrin as needed for pain (which hopefully both  will continue only very sporadically) and the natural supplement Valerian to calm down and also to sleep.

Two days ago I weighed myself and discovered I’ve lost 5 pounds since last weighing myself – a few days before the first dental surgery. I’m below the normal weight for my height and build. It is a combination of stress and being forced to eat less. Any more weight loss and I could look like a skeleton. And Halloween is eight months away.

I still have other health issues lining up – annual eye testing (overdue by one month and counting) with the optometrist, plus the quarterly appointment with the ophthalmologist long ago scheduled for late March. These are important as I have to keep an eye on (pun intended) my eyes or I could go blind in my left eye. Plus the ongoing IBS, sinus problems, etc. etc.

If all this (and more) keeps up, I may have to consider pulling a James Darren.

And I don’t want to do that.

For now I’ll do more fist-shaking at the sky.

And write, write, write.

And read, read, read

And watch TV (and not just the weather network, but mystery programs).

Escapism is the key word here.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

 

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Only Child on dental matters

 What you don't want the dentist to use on for extraction


What you don’t want the dentist to use for extractions

My late dad once spent two hours in the dental chair getting one tooth pulled. My mom was so incensed, she transferred the three of us to another dentist. But it was going from the frying pan into the fire. The new dentist was more than scary. Think of the 1976 movie Marathon Man where the late Sir Lawrence Oliver plays a dentist who torments patient Dustin Hoffman. Our family’s new dentist didn’t hurt physically. But he looked scary and his talk was scary. I remember him telling me that I would lose all my teeth at an early age.

That dentist finally died. But I would like to tell his spirit that I’m in my late 60s and still have more than 95 per cent of my own teeth. I did just have one removed a week ago and the oral surgeon who removed it said “you haven’t had any teeth removed for a number of years.” He was right – over 30 years ago – those pesky wisdom teeth and one molar.

This oral surgeon was just the opposite to Dr. Scary – gentle, kind and friendly in his talk and helpful. And the actual tooth removal took – are you ready for this? – five minutes. Most time spent in the chair was waiting for the freezing to take effect. And today, freezing isn’t heavy (as in weight) but still leaves that area of your mouth feeling no pain.

I learned a few other lessons from connecting with this oral surgeon. Lessons that could be applied elsewhere in life.

If at first you don’t get what you need, be persistent. The first oral surgeon recommended by my regular dentist turned out to be questionable – the practice at the same address had three different names and it was debatable just who was actually there and when. The receptionist was rude. So, my son stepped in, phoned his dentist’s office and got the name and contact info of oral surgeon I went to.

Sometimes what you expect doesn’t happen – But a caveat here – this can go both ways. For me, all the worrying (based on past dental experiences and yes, I had one hour in the chair with a regular dentist trying to pull a wisdom tooth and having to go right away to a specialist – that was one of the aforementioned wisdom teeth. At that point I lived in Aurora, so my dentist was no longer Dr. Scary, just Dr. Incompetent.)

Be thankful for your family members who actually help you – my son also met me at the oral surgeon’s, paid for the surgery (I had paid for the consultation visit), drove me to the drug store afterwards, then home and stayed until early evening to make sure I was okay. On the flip side – not with my son, but for all of us – watch out for family members who don’t care.

Follow post-operative instructions and if you get stuck, ask for help. I got detailed printed instructions and also chatted with the oral surgeon about them. But not everything goes smoothly. With me the bleeding didn’t seem to stop, although it was never heavy. But I went through a lot of gauge in the first four days, so made a follow-up appointment. The oral surgeon said it was healing nicely and at this point to ditch the gauze as it was getting in the way of the healing to finish. That was a relief – not just that everything was okay, but that I could stop using the gauze. Anyone who has ever tried to eat with a pack of gauze in your mouth will understand what I’m referring to about here.

So, did I learn to stop worrying about things?

No!

There is too much crap in life shoved at us to deal with and if you become like Ms. Pollyanna, you could be in trouble.

So, I go back to the Brownie motto when I was a child – be prepared.

And if that includes worrying, so be it. At least it gets you doing something about it.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

What Dr. Scary reminds me of

What Dr. Scary reminds me of

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anxiety, Dental Surgery, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Worrying