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Archive for the ‘Aging’ Category

When your mate retires, expect change, and expect to adjust your life style.
Her husband has been retired for a year, and she’s ready to go back to work.

“Since he’s retired he thinks he has first rights to the telephone. He thinks he should be able to make his telephone calls first. If one of my friends calls early in the morning and wants to talk, heaven forbid. If I’m talking and he wants to use the telephone, he motions for me to get off. If that doesn’t work, he passes me a note or holds up a sign.

“Last week when I was out, he rearranged my dishes and spice rack. Then he tells me how much more efficient his arrangement is than the one I’ve been using for the past 37 years!

“If one of my friends stops by for a visit, he participates in our conversation. If I say, ‘We’re going out on the patio,’ he says, ‘I’ll join you.’

When he invites himself I think, ‘Go make your own friends.’

“Because he has more time since he’s retired, he’s always wanting me to invite our children over for dinner. Or he wants me to have friends for dinner and cards. I like our children and friends, but I’m the one who gets stuck with the preparation and most of the clean-up. And I get tired.

“When I go to the grocery store, he wants to go along. Yesterday I was picking out some strawberries, and he said, ‘They look bad.’ So I didn’t buy them, but I thought they looked perfectly fine. When I was getting the broccoli he said, ‘We haven’t had cauliflower in a long time.’ I knew what he was saying. ‘Get cauliflower instead of broccoli.’

“If I go outside to garden, he tells me to come in and take a rest or come in and have lunch. He is not respectful of my routine.

“I was signing up for a course at the botanical garden. When he heard me on the telephone he said, “Sign me up, too.” When I got off the telephone, I thought, ‘I’m getting myself a job.'”

This couple is suffering through a period of adjustment. She’s used to organizing and running the home, having the house to herself part of the time, and deciding her own schedule.

Her husband is probably lonely for companionship and hasn’t figured out how to handle all the additional hours he has recently gained with retirement. Because of his need for interaction and time structure, he’s coat-tailing on his wife’s schedule. It also seems he’s trying to run his wife’s life.

I suggest that this couple decide who is going to run what show. Perhaps he will start being responsible for the cooking on Tuesday and Thursday nights. If he hasn’t cooked in the past, he can sign up for a cooking course. This will give him contact with more people and a new interest and will help fill his time.

I also think a revision of who does what chores around the house is appropriate at this stage.

As to his desire to visit with his wife and her friends, the wife needs to hold steadfast to not always having him join them. This may mean that she will have to gently confront him when he says he’ll accompany them. She might say, “Tom, we need to have some girl talk.”

When a man or even a woman retires, it’s a period of adjustment for many couples. The main thing is for both people to figure out how they would like to live their life on a daily basis and then make a plan. Without a conscious plan, many relationships suffer the retirement blues.

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When my mother-in-law got to be in her seventies, her eyesight started failing. As the years went by, it became impossible for her to read or see television or even make out the faces of those around her. Whenever we had a celebration of some type and I’d invite her to come and be a part of it, she would ask how many people were going to be at the house.

Because she could barely see, it was hard for her to sit at our dining room table with 10 or 12 other people talking and laughing and figure out what was going on.

She didn’t complain much about her failing eyesight, but I knew it was devastating. She started listening to the radio more and more. She rarely turned on the television. She stopped buying the newspaper and magazines. When she needed to pay her bills, my husband or I would sit down with her and put our finger on the checks where she should sign her name. We got her a microwave oven and glued fuzzy velcro on some of the buttons so she could heat up a cup of coffee.

She still kept a few violets on the window sill, although I doubt if she could really see them. She also would go to the window with a plant and hold it up to the light to try to see it.

The most touching moments I remember were when our daughter would go to visit her, which was several times a week. She would give Anna Mary a hug, ask, “How’s my sweet little girl?” and then take her to the window where perhaps she could make out her face.

Not long ago, I had an experience that reminded me of my mother-in-law. A friend, whose mother was in her late eighties called and asked if I would talk with her mother. The mother was losing her eyesight and was feeling depressed. I said I would try to help.

The daughter sat in the waiting room while I talked to the mother about losing her sight and how her world was changing.

As we were talking, this woman suddenly said, “I don’t know if it’s the light in this room, but I can sort of make out your face.” And then she said, “Do you think my daughter could come in here and sit where you are sitting? Maybe I could see her.”

I immediately went to the waiting room and got my friend. She sat down in the chair I had been sitting in, and her mother tried to see her face. The mother had her daughter shift the chair one way and then another. Sadly, no matter how she strained to see, she could not see her daughter.

I’m sharing these stories today so you will take the time to look at your children and grandchildren.

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