Try harder approach has lost its power

Published 1:20 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2024

By Bonnie Brown


I am finding the aging process to be more challenging than I anticipated.  When I used to see an older adult struggling with something, I thought that they just needed to try harder, to be more careful, and not give in to the changes that aging brings.  

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However, as I continue the march into the decades that bring these changes, my approach to just “try harder” has lost its power.  Even trying harder to overcome and power through the challenges of aging doesn’t work as I hoped. 

For instance, I seem to be dropping things all the time.  At first I ignored that I was having to bend and retrieve objects until it almost became funny.  And I say almost because it’s just the opposite of funny for me.  It’s frustrating.  

I put on some makeup and wash my hands, only to drop the towel as I pick it up to dry my hands.  I take 2 pills in the morning, and I inevitably will drop the small Biotin tablet that seems to fly out of the bottle, missing my open hand, and lands somewhere in the immediate area.  And when I say the immediate area, that darn thing will skitter away, and I have to spend time looking for the tiny thing!  

By this time, I’m short-tempered and talking to myself.  Perhaps I should just pick up the towel or whatever object and toss it on the floor to start with.  Why does this happen so frequently?  Well, of course, I had to research a little to see what the explanations might be.  Turns out that as we age, decreases in touch sensitivity may cause us to drop things.  And along with that, our grip ain’t what it used to be.  How much grip does it take to hold on to a small pill?  Or a hand towel? So, a diminishing sense of touch and grip is my problem.  Perhaps.  I also think I am not focused on the task at hand.  I will be thinking about other things.  Many other things sometimes—what chore is next, did I respond to an email or text, what time is it, and what comes next.  I seem to be all over the page!

There is also this thing called dexterity, “the ability to perform a difficult action quickly and skillfully with the hands.”  Yes!  That’s definitely a diminishing skill for me.  Think about keyboarding, particularly texting in my case.  I’m not the texter whose thumbs can do the keys.  I’m old school and must have really fat fingers because texting is definitely challenging.  I also do the voice text which really brings out a lot of different words/thoughts that I never intended.  I don’t really have a Southern accent, but my navigation system in the car doesn’t understand me either.  And besides that, “she” gets really upset when I do U-turns.  

As I continue to drop things—and I’m absolutely certain I will—I plan to be more in the moment, concentrating on the task at hand.  I hope to drop only small objects, no knives, and maybe start knitting to improve my dexterity.  No, wait.  I tried that years ago and was a miserable failure.  Plus, my earlobes were resting on my shoulders from the tension.  I always look for the positive in any situation. 

I think I’ll just have to look at all the stooping that I do as I retrieve the dropped objects as exercise!