Visual Acuity

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Ghosts!!?? Apparitions of some sort!!??

Okay, we don’t believe in ghosts.  But, what are those flickers of light in the corners of our eyes that create the illusion of elusive shadows lurking around the house?

Time to visit the eye doctor for a reality check.  Hmmm.  Just manifestations of eye issues, we’re told— “floaters,” leaky vitreous fluid, double vision (there are not two dogs coming toward you), macular pucker, stressed retinas, cataracts (get the upgraded lens), and corneal conditions….take your pick.

Ah…..another sign of aging.

Everyday visual challenges are exasperating.  Can’t read the number on the prescription bottle to reorder.  Can’t read the amount owed on bills.  Can’t read the due date for paying the bills.   Don’t these organizations realize that some of their customers are oldies?  Use larger print!  Seeable colors!  The easy answer?  A magnifying glass.  Oh, and yes, perhaps we should opt for paying bills online.

Wow.  Amazon really hypes magnifiers with lights for seniors, emphasizing that they end struggling to read tiny print.  The promo language also points out that these magnifiers are great for reading in bed without waking your partner, and are useful for parents and school nurses inspecting children for lice.  Okay.  Hadn’t thought of that.  Bad image!

We’re oldies, but we do own a cell phone and have learned to use its flashlight to read menus in dimly lit restaurants.  Carrying around a magnifying glass would be a bit embarrassing.

Not only has a magnifying glass now become a necessity to read fine print, a magnifying mirror has become essential paraphernalia.  Essential for nailing those black and white hairs growing from our chins, those errant hairs emerging from our ears and noses, and those seemingly foot-long ones jutting out of our eyebrows!  Yes!

Other visual challenges?  How about coping with the glare from headlights while driving at night or sun reflections during the day?  Yikes, those low, huge, setting suns are stunning…stunning in their ability to blind us!  What’s happening?  Those darn lenses are scattering the light as it enters our eyes rather than being focused precisely on the retina, creating an exaggerated glare.  Listen for glare warnings from traffic helicopters.  Really, weather reports include glare!  Wow, who knew?

And, it’s tougher when we are going someplace we haven’t been before at night because reading street names in the dark from a distance is almost impossible.  Love it when it is a numbered street.  Easy, 112th comes after 111th.  But, then they squeeze in a street with a name!  Rude!

Got a giggle when older friends would jokingly say they only dated individuals who could drive at night.  Thought they were kidding.  They weren’t.

“Visual acuity” is defined as the sharpness of our vision.  The test for visual acuity is our ability to identify which vile line of those tiny letters we can still see when tested at the eye doctor’s.  We flunk.  Who doesn’t need reading glasses at our age?  Thank heavens the eye chart for drivers’ licenses is more forgiving, and we don’t have to wear glasses while driving.

We recently wrote about being both literally and figurative thin-skinned.  Visual acuity is the visual equivalent.  We can’t see some stuff, and we really don’t want to see some other stuff.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Make your ophthalmologist your best friend.  Forget hoping for good grades on that visual acuity test.  Can’t read something?  Forget your pride and grab the magnifying glass.  When searching for that least noisy restaurant table, check out the lighting, too.  And, remember, the CEO of Uber said people won’t own cars in 10 years, so night driving won’t be a problem.  Of course, it won’t matter to us since by then the kids will have taken the keys and put Uber/Lyft apps on our cellphones.

Senior Moments

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What was the point I was about to make?  Did I close the garage door?  Lock the car?  Why did I come into the kitchen?  Ah…we label these senior moments.  Is dementia or Alzheimer’s just around the corner?  Nope.

Stop worrying!  Oops.  Actually, worrying about senior moments—those familiar lapses in memory—is healthy.  People with dementia aren’t aware that they just had a senior moment.

Let’s get real.  We’re oldies.  Our brains change, making it more difficult to dredge up certain facts or memories.  The hormones and proteins that repair brain cells and stimulate growth have begun to decline.  Age-induced forgetfulness is normal just like bad knees, sagging skin, and cataracts.

We oldies have probably brushed our teeth 50,000 times and closed our garage doors 40,000 times.  These repetitious activities are now automatic.  We are often thinking about something else while doing them…like…shall I listen to classic rock or jazz on my car radio?

Reality monitoring is a term used to describe focusing on common activities we do so frequently that we have difficulty remembering if we actually did them.  A reality check is easy, we’re told, because the actions we perform leave behind memory records that are different from actions we think about.  Okay, if you say so.

But, we do like the concept of reality monitoring to help us determine which repetitive activities we most frequently fail to remember.  Once identified, develop a ritual.  We put our seatbelt on as the garage door clatters down.  Done.  No worries.  Garage door closed.

It’s not just us oldies.  At any given age, we’re improving at some things and getting worse at others.  The brain’s processing power and detail memory peaks at age 18, according to research.   The ability to learn unfamiliar names peaks at age 22.  And, facial recognition peaks at 32.  Okay, we think we feel better now.

Research also found that people of all ages often forget who someone is and personal details about them.  And, forgetfulness isn’t limited to someone we’ve just met.  We forget acquaintances, coworkers, classmates, and friends.  We forget shared experiences.  Most younger people excuse the “forgetter;” but, apparently, the individual loses points in a dating relationship.

Oldies are even more forgiving because, well…been there, done that.  Plus, we’ve probably already forgotten what you told us.

And, we found this interesting theory called memory decay.  Hmmm.  How appropriate.  We know something but can’t retrieve the information.  The reason?  We don’t use the information regularly.  Yes, we once knew who sang Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head.  Storage of new information is also believed to interfere with recalling older information.  Never did “use it or lose it” make more sense!

We’ll close with one of our favorite lines we often quote to each other walking out of a store after shopping.  It’s okay to forget where your car is parked.  It’s not okay to forget what your car looks like.  Another reason to value handicapped parking.  It’s close in.  Makes it easy to spot your car!

Our wrinkled wisdom for today:  Write yourself notes.  Don’t be naïve.  You won’t remember in the morning.  Same with New Year resolutions.  Did we break them or just forget what they are??  Have a place for everything and everything in its place.  Don’t overdo it.  But, put your keys in the same spot when you walk in the door.  Have fun playing word games and online bridge.  Do crossword puzzles and Sudoku.  Great for keeping that aging brain with it.  Pay attention to each action you perform even if you’ve done it tens of thousands of times already.  And, remember that you said you would never drink that much again…ever again.

Huh??? What???

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There are a plethora of humorous greeting cards for sale that make fun of older individuals and hearing loss.  Surprised?  Nope.  Just think of it as a form of market segmentation aimed at us oldies!

Three old guys are walking together.  “It’s windy today,” says the first.  “No,” responds the second, “it’s Thursday.”  The third says, “I’m thirsty too.  Let’s have a beer.”  They can even get a bit racy.  Take the card with the doctor with a stethoscope who says to his aging female patient, “big breaths.”  “Yes, they used to be,” she answers.

Hearing loss ranks third among chronic health conditions affecting Americans.  And, researchers say the culprit is simply the noise that we all encounter in everyday life.  Teens and young adults are also at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.  Think about the impact on hearing from rock concerts and action movies.

But, let’s get real.  Age is the strongest predictor.  Nearly 25 percent of us between 65 to 74 and 50 percent of people over 74 are more apt to miss a bridge bid or mishear a comment.  Men are twice as likely to lose their hearing.  As they age, women have more difficulty with lower frequencies.

We’ve had some personal glitches.  We thought you said earring, or endearing or….  Oh, you are talking about hearing?  And, while listening to the financial channel, we couldn’t understand why they would be talking about vaginas.  They weren’t.  They were referencing something “for China.”  Then, it was prostate for pro state.  Euthanasia not youth in Asia.  The list goes on.

We love to eat out.  But, loud restaurants seem to be the norm.  We’re not alone.  It’s the top complaint from diners, according to the 2018 Zagat National Dining Trends Survey.  Restaurants’ modern, minimalist décor may be trendy, but those high ceilings and hard surfaces make conversation difficult.

Love the guy who wrote: From a health perspective, we should be as worried about the rising decibels of our favorite neighborhood joints and national chains as we are about their ballooning portion sizes.  Restaurant reviewers are ticked off as well and often list noise levels in their reviews.  Wow.  Our dining habits could be damaging our hearing.

You can ask the restaurant manager to turn down the music.  Sure.  As if that’s going to happen.

AARP to the rescue!  The group for oldies suggests choosing a booth not a table, sitting along the perimeter of the dining room so sounds aren’t coming from all sides of the restaurant, and avoiding tables near the kitchen.   But, here’s our favorite.  Tell the waiter that you read lips, so he or she will enunciate clearly.

Yikes, there are even apps.  One called SoundPrint takes a decibel reading to help you choose the quietest area of the restaurant to sit, drink, and eat. Normal conversation is about 60 decibels.  If the restaurant’s noise is 70 to 80 decibels, you’ll need to lean across the table and yell.  For perspective, know that New York City restaurants average 77 decibels.  New York City bars hit 81 decibels.  Yes, that’s New York.  But, we’re betting restaurants all over the country are equally jarring.

The best news?  Musicians’ earplugs.  They filter out loud sounds and allow you to hear quieter sounds.  Etymotics Research makes the earplugs, which can cost as much as $300, but sells a version for $15.  Amazon ranks these inexpensive earplugs at No. 386 for all electronics products—every electronic product you can think of.  That means that a fair number of people have already bought them and wear them to concerts, football games, movies, and, yes, noisy restaurants.  Imagine.  Enjoying the entertainment while being able to hear what your friends are saying.

Our Wrinkled Wisdom for today:  Go online to Amazon today and order the musicians’ earplugs.  Carry them everywhere!  Think of it as you would defensive peeing.  Let restaurant managers know you aren’t happy about the noise level and cite research about hearing loss for those working in that environment.  If he or she blows you off, just roll your eyes and know that the manager will be losing his or her hearing at quite an early age.  We guess that’s what is known as serving revenge cold.

Flying: Then and Now

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Remember when airplane travel was fun?  It sure wasn’t fun for the doctor dragged off that overbooked plane.  And, it certainly wasn’t fun for the women sitting near the guy who peed on the seat in front of him or those “exposed” to the exhibitionists masturbating for thrills.  Reports of sexual assaults on planes are way up, possibly because of increased reporting, though no regulatory body tracks reports.  And, airlines are flummoxed about what to do.  It’s not like the women can call 911!

These events made some noteworthy headlines.  But, we want to talk about incremental changes.  Safety is sometimes the reason.  But, predominantly, it’s the bottom line.  As ABBA’s song lyrics emphasize…money, money, money.

We appreciate that safety is important and the need to create the TSA after 9/11.  But, let’s be honest, it’s a pain to be at the airport two hours in advance of your flight to navigate the TSA lines and follow all the rules.

Remove your shoes, belts, jackets, jewelry, and hats.  Don’t have any liquid in your carry-on bag that’s more than 3.4 ounces.  Huh?  Oh, that jives with the European Union’s limit of 100 milliliters.  It’s the metric system, silly.  That unopened bottle of water from home won’t make it through security.  Friends can no longer meet you at the gate when you arrive.  You can lock your luggage, but only with TSA-approved locks the agency can open with a master key.  Big brother?

Don’t forget to tell a TSA rep that you’ve had a hip or knee replacement.  You can ignore TSA’s requirement that you bring a certificate or letter from your doctor.  You’ll just have to go through that special metal detector and wait for a same-sex pat-down.

Airlines hype cheap fares but forget the bennies.  We’ve been paying for checked bags since 2008.  No racks with magazines to read.  No pillows.  No blankets.  No free food.  Oh, maybe in first class.  Often no seat-back TVs.  You are expected to watch the airline’s library of movies and TV programs on your phone, tablet, or laptop.  Some planes and waiting area seating have been retrofitted with electrical plugs.  Keep your fingers crossed they are plentiful and working.

Passengers are packed in like sardines as airlines add additional seating.  Legroom?  Forget it.  In some cases, the retrofitting has caused windows to become unaligned with rows, a source of potential conflict that may require mediation if you and the person in the row sharing the window can’t agree whether the shade should be up or down.  Overbooking flights is, unfortunately, now standard and legal in order to compensate for customers who don’t show up.  No more empty middle seats.

And, wow, American Airlines is now saying it will shrink its bathrooms to 24 inches.  Airlines’ bathrooms used to be 34 inches wide on average, then dropped to 27 inches. The best stock market buy to take advantage of the aging of America may be relevant here.  Buy stock in companies making adult diapers.  One investment firm predicts a 48% increase in diaper sales by 2020.  American Airlines’ passengers of all ages may soon become part of that booming market.

The 2018 top 10 worldwide airlines were just named.  To rate high, an airline must demonstrate leadership in innovation for passenger comfort.  Hmmm…not one U.S. airline made it into the top 10.  Gee, wonder why?

Okay, we’ve been venting but there are some positives.   No more smoking on planes.  What young person would believe there once were smoking sections on planes and an ashtray built into the arm of every seat??  Many airlines automatically issue oldies a TSA pre-approved boarding pass.  Yes!!  Importantly, female flight attendants are no longer fired at age 32, or when they marry, or if they put on a few pounds.

Also, the fee some airlines charge for carry-on bags has proved to be positive.  It motivates passengers to check their bags so boarding and deplaning don’t take forever.  By the way, could we return to the logical boarding of the last seats first?  Oh, no, that approach is long dead.  We guess that’s because it gave precedence to the cheap seats’ access to limited overhead space.

So our wrinkled wisdom for today?  Book a window seat.  Scientists say that will reduce your chances of getting sick from the plane flight.  The odds of being sucked out a cracked window are pretty slim.  Oldies should feel free to board early with the people with disabilities.  Cranky doesn’t count as a disability, but they don’t ask.  Dress in layers; planes are oblivious to outside temperatures.  And, be sure to bring your portable charger.  A long flight without something to read or watch is definitely not fun.  As a backup, you might pack an actual book in your carry-on bag.  How retro!

Texting: a Foreign Language

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The hours kids spend on their phones are paying off. They have become fluent in a foreign language—texting. We get it. Texting is a way to communicate quickly with friends and family. Our fluency isn’t great. “C u l8r”—see you later—caught us off guard. LOL (Remember, grammar queens, no need for a period after text acronyms. Exclamation points, however, are just fine. OMG!)

A new study confirms what we suspected. The more kids send and receive texts, the worse their grammar skills become. IMHO

Sure, linguists will tell you language is very dynamic. We coin words, change definitions, expand usage, and watch popularity wax and wane. But, 70 percent of all text language is just plain incorrect English.

This is worrisome because text acronyms have become words for kids. Parents report that their kids are using these acronyms in their school assignments more than 60 percent of the time. And, then there is autocorrect, which can lead to an incomprehensible sentence and is creating a generation who can’t even spell common words.

We text. We are oldies yet we have embraced change! We break grammar rules all the time, knowing we are ignoring them for artistic and creative purposes. We start sentences with conjunctions…a no-no. Conjunctions include the words and, but, because, while, until, although, or if that are supposed to link sentences, clauses, phrases, or other words.

Okay, okay, okay. We swore we wouldn’t get into this fray. But, (see…we did it again…started a sentence with a conjunction) there are certain errors that are like fingernails on a chalkboard to us. Hmmm, we need to find another analogy since chalkboards, like rotary phones, won’t resonate with anyone but us oldies.

Please humor us! And, please correct the younger crowd when they screw up.

Misuse of the words fewer and less is really common and drives us nuts. Fewer is quantitative. It refers to things you can count, like mistakes in grammar or car windows. Use less as a modifier when it refers to something you can’t count, like rain or snow. We are constantly yelling at the television when ads and talk hosts misuse these words, shouting fewer when they have used less. And, these are the “guys” making the big bucks?

Irregardless is not a word! If you type it, your spell check tool will underline it in red. That should be a hint. It’s simply regardless.

Incorrect possessives have caused us to deface public and private property. The possessive is a word used to show who or what something belongs to. Ooops! Just ended a sentence with a preposition. Forgive us! Here’s the rule: always add an apostrophe “s” unless it’s a plural that ends in “s.” In that case, just add the apostrophe and nix the added “s.” That’s the Joneses’ house.

Think about the ladies’ room or the women’s dressing room, not the ladies’s room or the womens’ room. We took out our magic marker when we noted a restaurant had labeled the girls’ room the girl’s room. Oh, so this precludes more than one “girl” entering a bathroom with four stalls? FTFY! For those not in the know, that’s text for fixed that for you.

Lastly, spelling should count, too. Remember exiting is just the letter “c” away from exciting.

Our wrinkled wisdom for today? Good grammar and spelling still count, not just orally—as in spoken aloud, but in thank you notes, resumes, and especially business proposals and emails. We’d love to include tweets, but we would be wasting our breath. If you are emailing your boss, reread so autocorrect doesn’t foul something up. And perhaps most intriguing, we recently read that bad grammar can knock you off someone’s dating site picks!! Hotness points are given for knowing how to correctly use the homonyms their, they’re, and there. Bad grammar might keep you from meeting the one! Yes, sex could be a powerful motivator for all ages.

Oldies and the #MeToo Movement

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Has it really been just months since the Harvey Weinstein allegations hit the news? Since then, prominent men have been dropping like flies, losing their jobs as scores of women report aggressive sexual harassment and coercion in the workplace. Even our non-famous male friends and once co-workers are seriously rethinking how they behaved toward women throughout their careers.

The #MeToo movement has gone international, kept this important issue in the news, and birthed a new movement, Time’s Up.  Hollywood celebrities founded the group to promote equality and safety in the workplace for all women and raised millions for its legal defense fund.

We oldies feel that this can be THE watershed moment. Women are speaking up like never before. Let’s not let this moment go by. Let’s solve this problem…now.

We joined the workforce with birth control pills in our medicine cabinet. The pill became the symbol of the sexual revolution and liberation. We read Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, which urged us to choose to be more than a housewife and participate in and enjoy sex.

The 1970s brought the Civil Rights movement, women’s liberation movement leaders like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and Helen Reddy singing “I am woman; hear me roar.” We attended marches and protests for equal rights in the workforce. We thought we had made a difference. We thought we had “come a long way, baby.” Not far enough, obviously!

Yes, as young, working females, we were subject to sexual advances. We crossed our legs away from the male who put his hand on our thigh during a working lunch clearly indicating we weren’t interested. We put an end to unwanted flirting quickly and unambiguously. We dealt with it. We quit jobs when the boss was a jerk and told our friends not to apply. Today, we’d go to the Board of Directors and get him fired.

Interestingly, some are saying that the #MeToo movement has uncovered a rift between baby boomers—those of us who lived through the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s—and younger women of later generations. Rift? Hardly. A different perspective? Of course.

One area where we oldies appear to have a differing perspective is that we see a spectrum of sexual misconduct ranging from mildly offensive to egregious.

Many infractions do not come close to those of Dr. Nassar or Weinstein, or chronic abusers such as Ailes, Rose, and Lauer. Or wife beaters. That said, a man telling a woman she looks good is not the same as exposing his genitals. An unwanted hug is not the same as coercing a woman to have sex. Noting that someone looks tired is not body-shaming.

We want everyone to be smart, careful, and use common sense. Think twice about meeting in a hotel room. Clearly state what you want and don’t want. Say “stop” or “no” definitively. Sadly, research shows that 68 percent of millennials actively avoid face-to-face conversations. Young people apparently don’t know how to talk to one another. They could try this: step back and text “NO” in caps.

Let’s help our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and others. Let’s strongly support everyone who has suffered. Let’s advocate for inclusive, rational discussions among men, women, and LGBTQ. Let’s lobby for legislation that penalizes companies that tolerate cultures of harassment and against the use of the nondisclosure agreements that have helped silence victims of abuse. Together, let’s create dramatic, lasting social change.

Our wrinkled wisdom for today: Till all this is ironed out, we suggest a sports approach in both work and social situations since sports is a universal “language.” If someone does something improper or inappropriate, simply make a time-out sign with your hands. Use this hand signal as a teachable moment; and, hopefully, an entrée to or—to continue our sports analogy—the kickoff of a meaningful conversation. And, remember that American football has an illegal touching penalty. One could simply call “foul,” which would definitely be better than yelling—I’m calling a lawyer! Have another idea? We say go for it and let us know how it works out.

 

Our Midnight Confessions

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Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been quite a while since we uttered that opening line in a confessional—when we were young and practicing Catholics.  But, like Stephen Colbert of The Late Show, we admit we are guilty of some embarrassing things we keep secret.  Aren’t we all???  We reiterate Colbert’s standard disclaimer: “I don’t know if these are technically sins, but I do feel bad about them.”

Well, we don’t feel guilty enough about these secrets to actually go to Confession. And, admittedly, our “sins” may not fall into the venial category—a relatively slight sin—much less a mortal sin—a gravely sinful act that can lead to damnation if a person does not repent before death…or so we were taught.  However, like Colbert, we feel we will be better for confessing—even if we aren’t all that sorry.

So, here is our version of Colbert’s “Midnight Confessions” segment.  And we promise Stephen we won’t write a competing book.

  • Sometimes we don’t use toilet seat covers in public restrooms. We just sit down.
  • We drink directly from the juice container when no one is around though we spent years, nay, decades telling children and spouses it’s a no-no.
  • Even though it’s not green, we sometimes run the dishwasher when it’s not full.
  • We have mixed our darks and lights, overstuffed the washing machine, and generally abused it. Amazingly, it still works.
  • Now that the phone or television announces who’s calling, we sometimes don’t answer—especially when we recognize certain names.
  • We have arrived at parties with food we didn’t make, but put them in our own dishes and let people think we are talented cooks.
  • We aren’t adamant fans of professional sports. We do like the cute players and their cute butts, and an excuse to order pizza.
  • Sometimes we have candy or cake or cookies for breakfast. We just tell ourselves they are no more caloric than doughnuts.
  • Sometimes we correct grammar on signs and menus—in ink. Sometimes we email the company and point out the grammatical error in their advertisement.  Sometimes we actually get a thank you!
  • When we dropped the roast and the dog licked it, we wiped it off, put it on the table, and didn’t tell.
  • We’ve removed a rock from a national park, carried agricultural products over states lines, and washed dry-clean-only clothes. (We do dry them flat.)
  • Sometimes we pretend we took a shower, but we really just washed our armpits.

So our wisdom for today?  Confession is good for the soul, or so we were taught.  It generally makes you feel lighter—at least for a few minutes. And, we hope that our unburdening lets you know you are not alone.  However, honesty is not always the best policy.  Beware of collateral damage.  Think about listing your confessions on our comments section.  No names necessary.  We guarantee absolution!  And, hopefully, we’ll all have a giggle.