Tag Archives: Aloneness

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

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

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

 

Leave a comment

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 on Luck and the like

Only child contemplates luck

Only child contemplates luck

Do some people have more good luck than bad? Do others have more bad luck than good?

I believe that is true and unfortunately I am one of the latter, at least as my life the past few years has shown. And before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I am definitely not the only one in this over-sized boat.

How do I figure this? If I go through my daily list of what I am thankful for and what I’m not (and the list varies from day-to-day depending on what is happening or happened recently), I find that the bad things take over a larger percentage than the good. Some of the good (like my writing and my garden and my son – in no particular order here) are big. But so is much of the bad.

Bad can be anything from being old, poor, not being healthy to being injured to death of close family and friends, to being alone. The list can be endless. A lot of the bad that happens to people is what comes under the heading of “unexpected things that go wrong.” These usually steal your time, your psyche, your life.

And yes, there is research, there are studies on good and bad luck. I don’t agree with all of it, such as maintaining a positive attitude 100 per cent of the time. That does not stop bad things from happening to people. Neither does a strong belief in God and that he will help if we pray to him. I (and I’m sure others) have proven that one incorrect. The studies don’t go into this latter aspect.

One thing I have learned from life, especially from my friends,  is those seniors who have a life partner do much better in life. Sure,  bad things happen to them, too – nobody is immune from that. But, they have a partner so have help, moral support. They are not dealing alone with the crap in life.

So what are some of the other things that these studies show?

Stephan Makri, PhD. from the City University of London,  says, ““I think that luck means different things to different people—some people use it as synonym for serendipity,” he says. “But others were clear that the two were different—luck was totally out of our control and there’s nothing we can do to influence it.”  By the way the article also quotes Dr. Yanlong Sun,  professor of microbial pathogenesis and immunology, Texas A&M College of Medicine, “As both a scientist and a person, I do believe in luck, that it is something I cannot manipulate or operate on.” The article also  quotes Richard Wiseman, psychology professor, the University of Hertfordshire, England, who has done several studies on luck. Wiseman says from one study “unlucky people seemed to demonstrate more anxiety.

Which begs the question? Are peope  unlucky because they are anxious? O are they anxious because they are unlucky?

Read the article on all this: “The Science of Luck” by Alexandra Osola, from Popular Science here.

What is some of the bad luck coming my way lately?

Computer problems, which I may or may have not fixed.

Two watches on the fritz at once. It better just be a new battery needed for each. With the big health issue I’m facing (see below), I don’t have extra cash for anymore expensive extra expenses. Also I need to keep track of my time, even though the powers that be may not be doing so.

Things going missing somewhere in my house. Disclaimer: I am not a hoarder and with what I do have I’ve been systematically sorting through and purging.

Ongoing health issues – the latest the biggie – the tooth extraction which comes up next Monday. I previously posted about the difficulty of  finding a good oral surgeon. But what is scary about all this is I haven’t had a tooth extraction for over 30 years and back then the situations didn’t go well. Mind you they were wisdom teeth (and that’s a misnomer for sure. Somebody goofed here in “creating” us). Also I have a lot of other health issues (which the surgeon is aware of – I did have to fill out a form and did have a consultation with him) including a compromised immune system. And then there is weather – it’s winter and if we get snow right after (like overnight after and the day after), guess who will be shoveling that white crap? The fellow who used to shovel my snow the past seven years didn’t show up this year. I tried to get someone else, but no luck.

And there is that word “luck” again. Hey, luck is a four-letter word, so what did I expect?

Dark days indeed. No wonder I often don’t get around to opening the blinds in the basement.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Balance, God, Good and Bad Luck, Health, Help and Support, Prayer, Seniors

Only Child’s health is eating her life -literally

Only child contemplates new health issue

Only child contemplates new health issue

Again with apologizes to Elizabeth Verwey (whose book is titled “My Business Ate My Life”) for my title above. Elizabeth’s book deals with workaholic entrepreneurs. My title refers to my health or lack of good health.

I now have another big health problem, although if all goes well when it is supposed to (hah! hah!) it is temporary. This one is dental, starting with pain and pressure in a lower molar on Sunday. This is the molar the dentist just filled in with a new big filling in February of this year to replace the one he did in 1999 that was falling out.

Definitely not right or fair but not much seems to be right or fair in my life this year. I saw my dentist yesterday afternoon and yes he said I have two options, root canal or have the tooth extracted. The conversation right after went something like this.

Me: :”I would rather kill myself than have a root canal.”

Dentist:”I guess you’ve made your choice.”

Me: “Any possibility of more fillings?”

Dentist: “No because the cavity has gotten into the nerves in the root so fillings wouldn’t work.”

And in case the above conversation makes my dentist come across as mean, he is definitely not. He is very understanding and he said the above kindly and quietly. We discussed the problem further. The upshot is that they don’t do root canals or surgery and I would have to see a specialist – which I should have known as I had to see a specialist in the early 1980s to remove an abscessed wisdom tooth. This one isn’t abscessed yet and I’m pouring on Oil of Cloves as necessary.

So, I have to see a specialist – an oral surgeon. One of the ones they reference is only one short bus ride from me and my dentist says the doctor is sympathetic to those using social services. I reminded him that I am not on social services, just have limited income. He said this dentist would still be sympathetic to my situation. We agreed early January for the surgery (pending getting an appointment for it. What do you want to bet that won’t be possible?). He gave me the specialist’s business info sheet and said I was to call him to book an appointment and then he would send them the x-ray he had just taken of the offending and offensive tooth. I thought the first part odd – don’t dentists do the calling to specialists and the booking? That is what happened in the 1980s. He also waived charging me for the x-ray and for my visit yesterday. “We were just chatting.” I could have afforded the low rate he was charging me for the x-ray but was still in shock about the necessary surgery.

Anyway I said I’d call the specialist’s office this week, thanked him and wished him a merry xmas.

So, supposing I get to this specialist in early January and the surgery goes well (big assumption and big presumption), there is still the problem of travel. Getting there by bus should be okay, but these specialists (as my dentist told me and as I remember from the 1980s) want you to have someone to drive you home afterwards because it is surgery and you do get drugged and get the freezing.

That might be a problem. Back in the 1980s, a first cousin once removed took me there and back (several trips because of the abscess) and I believe she even stayed over at my place in Aurora for a day or so afterwards. This cousin, whom I loved and was close to, died 12 years ago.

I am a senior on my own and while I do have friends, most of them don’t drive. Hey, it’s Toronto and we have public transit, such as it is (and don’t get me on that for this post). Two of my friends in Toronto, both near me geographically, do drive. Both have their own lives. One looks after a grandson once a week plus does other things on other days. The other one has her own health issues – knee problems requiring physical therapy twice a week. The third friend with a car lived next door – Tanya, the friend who died from cancer in February. I still miss her and not because she used to drive me occasionally to get heavy stuff – like garden soil).

So my choice of days to make an appointment is limited. I’m presuming because this oral surgeon is a specialist, there won’t be much choice and as there are others in the practice, he may not even work every day, although I thought I heard my dentist mention that they have Saturday hours. Good luck getting an appointment for then.

My son drives but has no car – he leases occasionally. I will see if he would be available. UPDATE. MY SON JUST EMAILED ME BACK AND HE WILL GET A CAR AND PICK ME UP AFTER MY DENTAL APPOINTMENT. FAMILY IS BEST.

Otherwise, I will take public transit home, no matter what state I’m in. Cabs are out of the question – not just for costs, but I will not be in any condition to call a cab afterwards and pre- booking won’t work as there is no guarantee about how long the surgery would take. I know this from personal experience – mine and others.

I may just have to lie and say a friend will come to pick me up and then afterwards “Oops, guess she couldn’t make it.” What are they going to do about it after the fact? Drive me home?

Even though I dread it and wish it wasn’t necessary, I will get the surgery done and in early January if I have any say in the matter. But as most things in life (mine, anyway), seeing is believing. That’s something I have learned from very hard experience.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Dental Surgery, Family and Friends, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Uncategorized

Only Child on dreading the day

Dreading the day or night? That can be a sign of having an anxiety disorder. High anxiety has followed me through most of my life from the early teens. It is my black dog and no matter what I do or don’t do, it hovers and often strikes. The difference may be just that some of the anxieties have changed since I turned senior.Sharon CLB mid 1990s

Well, it turns out that up to 15% and counting of seniors suffer from anxiety. Medical experts, research and the like didn’t cotton on to that for some time and instead focused more on seniors’ physical ailments, dementia and depression. See information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Now they are taking note.

That 15% figure comes from the NCBI  PubMed. And they are saying that a lot of us seniors with anxiety disorders got them first earlier in life (with some exceptions such as acrophobia). Research is also finding that the anxiety is chronic. They got that one right. I have a few other ideas of my own here. For example, today many seniors, especially women, live alone, so don’t have someone to support them emotionally. Not that all duos are supportive, but often you get some opposites in there, someone who will listen and offer some suggestions, hopefully in a non-judgemental, friendly way.

And I can hear the “pie in the sky” and “when cows come home on roller skates” skeptics reverberating in the background. I know that the above supportive scenario is the ideal situation rather than the norm. And I don’t know what the solution or solutions are to decrease this menace. Certainly less big problems popping up so often in people’s lives would help. And I’m not going to even go into how confusing, complicated and over-busy our world is today. Just think too much technology, to many things to -do and of course dealing with our weather around the world. Enough said about that here.

I will be looking into some more information on anxiety in older adults with some ideas on possible help (I don’t say solutions; the only solution may be to get the hell out of Dodge, but we will all be doing that at sometime. High anxiety can  make that happen sooner as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cognitive disorders. It’s that last one that bothers me.)

For now I would like your comments on anxiety – and it doesn’t matter if you are a senior or not. Anxiety really doesn’t belong to any age.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Seniors, Stress, Worrying

Only Child trudges uphill

Teddy  points out my  time being wasted

Teddy points out my time being wasted

Except for my garden, actually writing and meeting with old friends, this summer seems to be one big uphill venture for me. And that includes last Wednesday’s fall down – yes two days after being stung by a wasp. Then there is this on-again off-again respiratory sinusitis thing and other “normal” for me health issues.

My friends and I keep saying it’s just because we are getting old. I’m wondering if it is just that. We are all getting older and may not be able to do as much in a day as we used to. Our health may not be as good as when we were younger. But to yet again paraphrase that old Peggy Lee song “Is that all there is (to it)?”

My fall last week was 100 per cent someone else’s fault and I don’t mean God. No one pushed me either. But some careless b****** left picture wire outside and it blew onto the sidewalk up the street from me. I was wearing sandals and walking quickly to the main street to catch a bus. Normally I look ahead where I’m going, not on the ground. You guessed it, the unseen (then) wire got caught in a sandal and I went flying forward, sustaining a nasty large bleeding scrape on my right arm up to my elbow, a smaller scrape on my left knee, and bruises, bruises on my arms and legs. I’m still finding more bruises.

Of course with dripping blood from the arm I had to go home and apply first aid. But not before cursing the son of a ***** who left the wire out. So help me, if that person was around/and or I somehow could find out who he or she is, let’s just say they would be sorry.

It’s like I told my friend Carol the next day. This summer I have cursed so many people I don’t know for menacing acts.

It’s just turning into one of those summers, what with house issues and trying to find time to get things done. That includes my writing. When I finish dealing with the injuries and “ill health issues,” trying to organize my holidays and well, just getting out to get groceries it seems, I don’t have as much time to continue writing my third Beyond mystery book and promote the second one, Beyond Blood. Once into promoting and writing I get somewhere, but all that time I have to waste on the problems, etc. aggravates me.

Part of the problem is I have to deal with all of this on my own. No, I never want to live with anyone again, but a live-out partner would be nice.

Anyway, that’s enough ranting for now. I am getting together with some old friends and more of that is in the works. Sometimes looking back is better than looking forward.

And those who keep saying “moving forward” (I hate that overused expression) can take those two words and stuff them

My toonie’s worth.

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

If only Raggedy Annie could do some house repairs

Leave a comment

Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Falls prevention, Health, Health Seniors, Home and Garden, Life demands, Living alone, Old Age, Only child, Seniors, Seniors and falls, Writing

Only Child on going it solo

Growing up an only child had its peculiarities – some good, some bad. On the bad side, there is the obvious – no siblings to confide in, to help you get through your life especially if like me, you were bullied. Of course, siblings fight and tease each other, but for the most part I would suppose that is normal. There are always exceptions.

Throw in elderly parents – where one (Mom) pushes being pro-active where the Bully is concerned, and the other (Dad) is over-protective and you can be left going from one extreme to the other in dealing with what gets shoved at you in life.

Some only children withdraw into themselves and don’t have any close friends.

Following this going to opposites mentioned above, I did have close friends (besides the Bully) but I also kept my own counsel on many things. And I found I was confiding a lot in my mother – not everything, of course. She didn’t need a blow-by-blow account of my dates as a teenager, although she did almost embarrass me once, when a fellow was walking me home from a teen dance at the church. That was our agreement. I could go to these Sunday evening dances but Mom would meet me halfway walking home. In my memoir I write:

After putting on boots, coats, and hats (well, I did the latter), we amble up Donlands, past the bungalows. While we talk – I have no idea about what, probably about where I live as he thinks he’s taking me there – I dart looks in front. No Mom yet. Are we early?

We cross Plains Road and walk by Vince’s Jewellery Store, beyond the Donlands Cinema. I’m cranking my head over towards Joe, then down, supposedly to watch my footing in the snow. I sneak a look up the street and there she is.

Mom is heading our way and I want to duck into the Donlands Restaurant with Joe but I’m too chicken. Maybe it’s closed, I tell myself. But wait. Mom is doing her diplomatic thing. She pulls into a doorway, Hurst’s Drugstore, I think. Joe and I keep on talking and walking. I can feel Mom’s eyes on us.

When we stop for the lights at O’Connor, I turn to Joe.

“I can walk home the rest of the way myself,” I say. “Yeah. It’s just up there.” I point to my right.

“Okay. I’ll call you sometime during the week.”

“Okay. Good night.

“Good night.”

Fortunately, he doesn’t kiss me. Mom catches up with me. Now I’m in for it.

“I didn’t want to embarrass you so I stepped into the doorway,” she says. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home, Copyright 2014 Sharon A. Crawford).

Growing up solo did give me the background to learn to think for myself. Problem was it took me nearly 30 years to start doing so. When you grow up an only child cocooned by elderly parents, particularly if one or both are protective, throw in losing your dad to cancer when you are 16 and your mother to a brain aneurysm when you are 22, and then you get married three months later, you aren’t exactly prime material for sticking up for your rights. Instead you lean towards others taking care of you.

How can you change?
First you have to have a child; then get separated from your spouse or partner, and then get hit with medical and financial problems.

 

But growing up an only child can teach you to problem solve – mainly because you have to learn to go inside yourself and pull out some possible solutions. The flip side is you may have trouble asking others for help. And when you do, it comes out as a big whine.

 

It didn’t all come right away, but I’ve turned into a fighter- finally. True I’m often cranky and come on strong in anger, but I’d rather be that than a perpetual doormat.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Leave a comment

Filed under Aloneness, Elderly parents, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Social skills only children