After a time living in a (very good) retirement community, I have come to appreciate the differences in life “before and after” this period of my own life and that of others around me. Some obvious differences are in how we spend our days and what the mirror tells us. These factors besetting “seniors” are almost always interrelated.
In the activities category, we find that pre-planning by signing up for trips, shopping, performances, etc., is the accepted way of doing what appeals most to us, made necessary for the staff to schedule the access and resources for our participation. “Looking back,” we recall that doing almost any special activity was subject to last minute changes, often by the sudden appearance of conflicting family activities. Now it is much more likely that activities scheduled will actually happen, if we just remember to enter them on our calendars and to look at the calendar every day! Our activities themselves have changed. A woman was recently heard to say, “I never dreamed I would so look forward to bingo!”
The other aspect of change in our lives is what happens to our bodies, as well as many of our minds, as time marches on. Legs that once ran a five-minute mile or a local marathon or that walked a crying baby or a family dog now move in cautious baby-steps, often stabilized by a cane or a walker. Backs that once marched proudly in a “pass in review” or that may have worked carrying heavy bags or boxes now move about, slightly stooped or bent almost double, needing an uplifted head just to see forward.
Apart from structural changes in our physical selves, our mental faculties undergo changes that are unavoidable to some degree, but nevertheless are manageable. Commonly found in my place are library books, jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles and, of course, the told and re-told life stories.
Looking back produces smiles as well as tears. We who are blessed with long lives and plentiful resources experience both.
—Tom Oswald

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