Once the front edge of the Boomer cohort began to reach its senior years, lifestyle and healthcare advertisers seized the opportunity to re-brand age 70 as the new fifty. I’m one of these ‘new’ septuagenarians and, to help you plan ahead if you haven’t joined us yet, let me give you some details on how I achieve the miracle of age stasis through the technical and chemical wizardry of modern medicine.
Let’s start at wake-up where, groggily, I open my eyes to find them full of goo. I lurch out of bed, careful to have my feet hit the floor evenly, and totter over to the can to round off my night with another hard-to-direct trickly pee. I grope through the drawer that holds my extensive store of pharmaceuticals to find an eyelid cleanser. I apply its special hi-tech froth to each lid. I’m in luck if I don’t scratch an eye as my far sight makes this mirror-based manoeuvre quite tricky. I have clinical dry eye – an itchy condition that provides a bragging advantage during chitchats between seniors.
As each eye in turn is to be kept shut for several minutes, I thank the elder gods that I practiced hard in childhood at winking. The process though sorely tries my still Type A personality, which attempts to kill time by grabbing one-eyed for the blinds to let in the day while fumbling for the remote in an attempt to get cable TV’s take on the weather.
Once I’ve washed off my lids, I head for the shower. My still-recovering vision and weak sense of balance make for uncertain progress once inside the glass. If I don’t scald myself or crack the frame stumbling I consider my day to be starting out well. After drying off, I grab a Q-tip and the rubbing alcohol bottle and bend down to dry between my toes. If I haven’t put my back out straightening up afterwards, that’s another victory.
Back in the bedroom I prise my hearing aids out of their overnight cleaning device. My trifocal eyeglasses really do need a clean before wearing but I need them right away to locate and push back in the tiny batteries that power up the aids. After some fiddling, my regular nighttime chorus of tinnitus dims enough for the reassuring sounds of a household already in action to penetrate to my attention.
If it hasn’t already slipped off to plug the shower’s floor drain, after wiping my specs, I peel off the medicated Band Aid that’s been softening a persistently painful corn. I paste anti-fungal onto the other big toe’s nail and wear Birkenstocks sockless over breakfast until the lotion is dry.
To my bowl of muesli and fresh fruit I add psyllium seed, glucosamine and plain yoghurt (for calcium), and count out my tablets and capsules, about a dozen in all shapes and sizes. I try not to think about how many ailments they are meant to solve. They go down best via a restorative mug of strong tea, without which I may stumble when eventually getting down off the kitchen bar stool. To finish off I delve into a tray on the counter for asthma inhalers, after which I gargle vigorously. Oh, and I mustn’t forget a morning squeeze of an Rx anti-inflammatory into my eyes.
Back upstairs to some sensible shoes – I threw out my fashionable footwear; they were an inessential conceit. If my day is to include any serious leg action, I’ll have to strap on a plastic-and-metal leg brace to stop one damaged knee from wobbling alarmingly (not to worry – I’m next on a knee surgeon’s wait list).
Folk have learnt not to expect me before mid-morning and, as I travel through my shortened day, an evening round of pill popping isn’t too far away. I recall this takes care of a half dozen more infirmities though I can’t always remember what. The tablets go down over supper with a glass of virtually taste-free near-beer (for weight control). Before I leave the table, in goes another round of sore eyes relief. It’s now appropriate to seek out my cardio-chair to spend ten minutes with a microwave-zapped flax bag covering my eyes. After, I’m allowed to read a little or watch TV provided I don’t overdo it.
An approaching bedtime calls for yet another routine – there’s that toe painting again, then reapplying the plaster and, after brushing my deteriorating dentition with a special restorative paste, slipping a ‘nightguard’ against tooth grinding over my top set. Next comes Velcro-ing onto my wrist a carpal-tunnel-syndrome prevention brace. Then I must smear a protective strip of ointment over each bottom eyelid. This causes a visual blurring that has me hoping like hell that the dogs have settled out of the way as I turn out the room light and lurch across to our bed. Any day soon a crash-landing is in the cards. I just hope someone outside hears the noise; WW III won’t wake my spouse.
I must admit there’s one component I haven’t yet figured out – I’m still pondering where I might fit in the full fruit of this lifestyle improvement regime, the leisurely fornications that it promised would keep me on the up-and-up.
by Ian Keith Anderson