Survival Guide for Old Age: Sequel #1

As preparation for writing this sequel, I reread the original essay carefully. Thoughts crowded into my mind. What is the best way of presenting my stance? Can I even tackle this challenge?

But I am at least qualified to offer the memories accumulated from my own long lifetime. Besides that, my residence is a senior citizens’ home, an interesting launching pad for this essay. This effort is aimed at my generation in the hope that my viewpoint will aid them.

As these thoughts swirl around, I think back on my own life. My mind slips back thirty years. A sudden recession had struck the oil business. Imperial Oil, the company my husband Sheldon worked for, needed to cut costs. They started by offering their older employees early retirement. A common move, but Imperial did it with humanity and caring. The package offered was generous, and the program that accompanied it was amazing. Every retiree and his or her spouse was invited to attend a retirement information class. This course took several days to complete, and covered more aspects than most of us had ever considered. Advice about financial matters was expected. We got that, but also excellent information on the mental, physical, and social adjustments that accompanied retirement.   

Like most of us in that class, Sheldon and I were from the 1920s. We had experienced the tough years of depression, drought and social upheaval. It marked us for life – we were inclined to save seriously, be thrifty, and plan for our old age. We considered ourselves ready for the second half of our lives. As the years passed, though, Sheldon and I began to look at things differently. We came to realize that our greatest gain from the Imperial retirement course was our exposure to the other changes that retirement would bring.

Change – that inevitable factor of life! There it is again. Accepting it is the lesson I have had to learn over and over again. One part of me always wants to rebel, to deny what is happening. My more reasonable part reminds me that change is not likely to be stopped. How I handle it is my only live option. Growing old makes change harder, but I still have to deal with it. How? For me, there are three steps in the process:

Recognize the truth,
Accept the reality,
Decide what real options exist.

Amazing is it not? I have lived most of my allotted years. Changes, hard or good, are as natural as breathing. The possible responses stay the same. Why am I such a slow learner? Well, I am old and tired. It becomes harder and harder to adjust to yet one more change, be it small or major. Enough of change! I want to stick to what is familiar.

How do I move beyond my lethargy and head-in-the-sand reactions?

The answer may be as easy as the problem is difficult. I take a few deep breaths, and admit to myself that I cannot alter the course of a world in turmoil. Tackling that task falls to others, far younger than I. What can I do? I can focus on making the most of every day. Now, living in my last years, I must determine what I need to make me fulfilled and happy. Work that out and then pursue it with as much vigour as I can muster.

Will I need support and help? Of course! I turn first to the nearest and best – loving family. Then I take advantage of the excellent programs in my retirement home and local community centres. I try not to forget the important role that professional counselors provide. Taking advantage of experienced help is always advisable. I try to be aware and proactive, then live every day to the full. The world will be a little better off for the joy I experience, and share.

My next effort is to explore more ways to familiarize people, of all ages, with the interesting process of aging. I will concentrate on aids which are available now. Let’s look at today, and then make one more trip down memory lane. What made me what I am? How do I view the future? Can I come up with suggestions which would help those who follow, or should I settle for just cheering them on? Join me – the path is long, the questions intriguing, and the travellers few.


Filed under This & That

16 Responses to Survival Guide for Old Age: Sequel #1

  1. Your three steps are a steadying influence not only for their rationality but for the courage implied in facing reality and acting from that platform.

    I am going to post them on the bulletin board I bought my sons for their new business.

    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to pass on your wisdom!

    • Marjorie

      Laurna – Thank you for reading and commenting on this Sequel. It is always encouraging to get the opinion of my readers. I am somewhat reluctant to accept the label of being wise! Experienced, yes – years and years of experience behind me. That at least solidifies opinion! Good luck to your sons and their new business.

  2. Lorna

    Hi mom… thanks for that. I think the survival guide is appropriate for all ages:-)

    • Marjorie

      Nice to get your opinion, Lorna. While I was aiming at my generation in this sequel, you are right. I do not know of any age in life where one does not have to accept and face and act on challenges.

  3. Judith

    I like this line: “Change – that inevitable factor of life! There it is again.” 🙂

    • Marjorie

      Yes, Judith – Continual change is not confined to age! You two are experiencing your share. For all of us it seems the same, and we all have to recognize, accept and handle it. Good luck along the path.

  4. Eleanor Jackson

    Dear Marjorie,
    Thanks for your wisdom in this area. To learn to accept things as they are is one of the hardest lessons, but one I had to learn many years ago and continue to learn over and over. Most of us don’t like change. I’m about to embark on an another big change as I prepare to move into Assisted Living within the next 3 to 6 months. I find the change isn’t necessarily easier when I’ve made the decision myself.

    • Marjorie

      Eleanor – This will be a big change for you. Your track record is excellent as we all know, and you will handle it well as you have in the past. Perhaps there will be compensating good factors to this move. That would help balance off your dislike for having to make the change at all. Take care.

  5. Norma Wheeler

    Hello Marjorie;
    Thank you for this. One thing I have always admired about you is your positive attitude in the midst of any change. I hope as I grow older I keep growing in that wisdom as well. God Bless.

    • Marjorie

      Norma – so nice to hear from you. It gives me pleasure to know you read my blog. As for your comments – thank you, but remember – what alternative is there to being positive? Even if one suffers from difficult problems, being negative only makes things worse. Living where I do, there are many examples of people who live with tough situations, and still manage to enjoy the days that go by. They are good examples for all of us.

  6. barbara carlson

    Thanks for your post, Marjorie.
    Whenever I think about change, I remember what the OCD-stricken Mr. Monk (very droll TV detective series: “Monk”) said about change, “I don’t mind change — I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

    I just heard that the lovely treed/plants walk-way from our Tower to the South Tower in our large condo complex is going to be completely dug up next summer. A distant portion of this wonderful place to walk was “done” 2 years ago — now hot & ugly, the new “trees”/plantings boring and small — so I dread the outcome. (Not to mention, over a month, the noise of cutting down trees & drilling out the old concrete walkway.)
    Change I will hate, so I have taken to really appreciating it now, even more than I ever did. Same with people. I spent a wonderful lunch and afternoon with a friend yesterday: our times together will end eventually and knowing it makes each time special. Ditto, all my hours, with whatever I am doing.
    The bore of washing clothes takes on new meaning if I imagine that it’s the last time I will ever do it…be able to do it…

    My mother’s last words: Be thankful. (For what you have, for it will change, and then accept and appreciate THAT. Tall order, but worth the effort.)

    • Marjorie

      Barbara – Good to get your comments – but tell me, when in life did you not experience change? It seems to be a universal thing, this reluctance to accept it. As we get older, we dig our heels in sooner and harder, for all the good that does us! Your present approach is useful – good for helping you adapt and even enjoying the changes. Keep at it, you’ve lots of years ahead.

  7. Ian H.

    As the son of parents (father and stepmother) who are fighting the inevitable changes with all their might, and causing considerable grief to their children, I thank you for describing a way of being which seems possible and worthwhile. All the best, Mrs. G…Ian

    • Marjorie

      Ian – I have sympathy, both for you, and your parents! From where I stand, I see people putting off changes far too long. They get to the point where even the idea is traumatic, and the family has a real problem. Obviously you know this all too well.
      If you can keep your cool, but continue your pressure to help them understand that, hard as it is, change must come – and they may even be happier with the new situation – you may win. I so hope so, it is such a shame to waste those last few years. Keep in touch. We’ll hope for the best.

  8. Hi Marjorie

    It was lovely to be with you on your recent visit to St Davids. And as ever, your commentary on aging uplifts and guides us all. Thanks.

    Music is one of those touchstones. I’d like to share a lovely article on on how music brings back people with Alzheimer’s. The article references an award winning (Sundance 2014) independent documentary “Alive Inside” and has a few clips from the film.

    the article:

    the full 74 minute film is available on-line as a streaming film.

    • Marjorie

      Jock – It was very good for me too, to be in my “home” church and among all those who mean so much to me. Glad indeed that you are following my blog postings, thank you. Regarding your comments, and links to, articles about music therapy – very important stuff and well documented. There is so much to read I am only partially through it. In the past I have encountered some amazing stories about what music therapy can achieve, so will read on with interest and pleasure.