As Bette Davis once said, “Aging is not for sissies.” We can’t be sissies to put up with the losses of old age, such as glowing health, work and careers, family, friends and the life we once took for granted. Even we lucky oldsters who get around well and live full lives no longer have the capacities we once had. Many of us have diminished hearing and finally give in to hearing aids. We deal with less than perfect vision, and often cataracts. Falls are more common and lead to more complications. We don’t have the energy we once had. I know fatigue is a problem for me and if I’ve had a busy day, I’ll often need more rest the next day. I’d love to travel, but my bad back and knees and that aforementioned fatigue make me wonder if I still ought to. And then there’s the subject of memory impairment, which so many of my friends are dealing with and which causes the terrible fear of impending Alzheimer’s. Often it’s not Alzheimer’s at all but something that happens over the years; we’ll go into a room and forget why we’re there. We’ll lose our keys and find them in a coat pocket. We’ll lift up the phone and forget who we were going to call. All normal, all scary. What’s going on with me?, we ask.
We’re getting older is what’s going on. There’s no winning that battle. There’s no use pretending that things are the same as they once were. The only way to deal with it is to accept what is true today and to try to make the best of it. This sounds Pollyanish, and I am no Pollyanna, believe me, but I can’t turn back the calendar. I think I’ll go hug my grandson. That always works!
Sometimes it’s the smaller challenges that can ruin that beautiful sunny day. Clothes shopping used to be an exciting excursion to department stores or small shops, but for women of a certain age, it’s no longer fun. Most of us don’t want sleeveless garments that end at our belly buttons, or skirts and dresses that expose our tender parts. We also don’t want pants that end at the hips and have to be constantly hiked up. I want my pants to button at the waist, and in fact, I sometimes want stylish pants with elastic waists if I’m wearing long tops. So shopping for clothes has become a hassle.
Luckily, my partner and I have a car and can get to Kohl’s on Long Island, which has classic, comfortable clothing for adults. Also, the department stores ouside of Manhattan tend to carry more merchandise for older people, but for Manhattanites without cars, it’s become a challenge.
Liberty House on Broadway and 112th has some good sales, and Eileen Fisher and Oska, both on Columbus Avenue, also have looser clothing that still has some style. There’s also Chico’s, which caters to the more mature woman. Basics can be found at the Gap and Ann Taylor Loft. One problem I have is that I’ve shrunk! I can no longer wear even petite pants but must find the very few short petites, or else spend $20 to have pants shortened, which I often must resort to if I want any clothes at all.
This is a good opportunity to tell you about the Service Program for Older Adults (SPOP), an organization dedicated to enhancing the life of adults 55 and older. SPOP offers mental health treatment for those 55 and older; bereavement support for adults of all ages, free of charge. They have substance abuse counseling for adults with a primary diagnoses of mental illness. They also have services for adults with severe mental illness, home visits for homebound clients an appointments at designated senior centers in Manhattan. SPOP can be reached by calling 212-787-7120, ext 514.