The only thing more annoying than those television commercials for personal alarms is when you actually are down and can’t get up. Who hasn’t gotten stuck at least once on your hands and knees trying to retrieve that scrap of something from under the kitchen table or the dog’s ball from under the couch? The other day I got stuck on the floor after getting down to put felt pads under furniture legs. In fact, it’s reaching the point where I’m sometimes challenged to even hoist myself up out of a chair. The parts just don’t work like they used to. So many everyday functions I used to take for granted now require effort and a bit of choreography. During my daily walks with the dog, I’m conscious of every step—feet hurting, joints creaking, cracking or not responding the way they used to. Sigh!
It happens to the best of us. Jane Fonda recently posted a picture of herself the morning after a red carpet event wearing the same gown she had on the previous night. She had been unable to unzip herself and was forced to sleep in the dress. It’s reassuring to know that someone as glamorous, strong and capable as Jane Fonda is also affected by mechanical failure from time to time. We also appreciate her candor in showing her ‘morning after’ face that backs up the old saying by so-called beautiful people, “I don’t wake up looking like this”.
And on the subject of muscles that have atrophied, am I the only one who’s also having trouble writing now? I mean by hand with a pen and paper? I’ve discovered that today’s young people are not the only ones unable to execute cursive writing. Even scribbling out a few Christmas cards was a challenge. I spend so much time typing (that word surely dates me) everything on my laptop that I’ve almost forgotten how to use the mechanism that drives my handwriting. My hand stalls; the words don’t flow gently from my pen. In fact, my penmanship has become atrocious. Gone are the days of personal letters and notes beautifully written by hand using a fountain pen with lovely “washable blue” ink. We’re all using laptops, tablets and phones. In reviewing my own handwriting as I go through old scrapbooks, I can see my evolving personality over the decades. The beautifully executed cursive letters Mrs. Thompson taught me in Grade Two changed over the years—from forehand to backhand, to straight-up-and-down; from careful to downright sloppy. Use it or you lose it. (Click here to read In praise of cursive writing.)
We’re now witnessing a diminishing in the efficiency of our basic motor skills despite our best efforts at keeping active and mobile. Many boomers have already had hip and/or knee replacements which has restored our mobility to some degree. I consider my own double hip replacements a huge blessing. Not that long ago we would have been permanently immobilized and perhaps housebound if we didn’t have the option of being given new joint replacements thanks to our health care system. In fact, even the word ‘joint’ has taken on new meaning in our senior years. As we creak and groan through retirement, we can now celebrate the possibility that our creaks and groans may soon be alleviated by legal medicinal ‘gummy bears’ which don’t require that we inhale. Getting “up” with a little help from our friends may have taken on new meaning, if you know what I mean.