Stan's World - Smooth Riding
August 15, 2019
Despite my non-violent predilection, should I ever meet the person who coined the phrase “Growing old gracefully,” I would probably hit him. After all, how many seniors do you know who have aged gracefully? Some seniors I know may be less aggrieved than others, but virtually everyone I know has one (or more) afflictions.
I can’t speak for all seniors, but I have found aging to be, well, an interesting experience. We all know about “senior moments”: Why did I walk into this room? What’s the damn name of the person who’s walking towards me in the supermarket? Who did I just dial? Why didn’t the kids give all the grandchildren the same name?
There was a time when not only could I remember the names of every student I taught in college, but 10 years later I could even remember the grades I gave them. Fast forward to today: Names and dates? Fuhgeddaboudit. (Interestingly, I’ve retained the ability to process numbers. If every friend, relative, and client wouldn’t mind replacing their name with a numeric, I’d be in great shape. Meeting you in the supermarket would be a breeze: “Hey, 46, how have you been?”)
A few weeks ago, I decided I needed a new bike. I didn’t like standing on my tiptoes when I had to balance on my bike while stopped at STOP signs, so I started to view STOP signs as suggestions, not requirements. Realizing my days might be numbered with that sort of driving acumen, I walked into the local bike shop to inquire about a new bike. Maybe something with a lower bar that wouldn’t cause me grievous bodily injury when it was time to dismount?
The friendly young bike enthusiast showed me several bikes and let me do demo rides down the street with as many as I wanted. But the one I settled on was a bike that the manufacturer calls a Lowstep, which is probably slang for pansy. It makes mounting and dismounting incredibly easy.
Sensing my frustration that I was transitioning from a man’s bike to a unisex, or girl’s bike, the young bike enthusiast told me it’s their best seller. (He probably says that to all the girls, I mean guys.) In the end, practicality won out, and I happily drove home with it.
All I know is it’s comfortable (it has a shock absorber in the seat post) with a great ride due to the wider, and larger tires. It’s sort of cosmopolitan in nature; I could easily (though probably not quickly) use it to become a messenger or Uber Eats driver in Westfield. (Ultimately I might have to if the markets don’t recover.)
In a roundabout way, I’m acknowledging that we change as we age. While I may have started my adaption with a new bike, there’s a lot more work to be done. Attempting to grow old gracefully is hard work.
For years, Pearl has asked me where I keep passwords for our accounts. I keep them written in folders, with the old ones below the new ones, or on top of the new ones, or next to the old ones. But what would Pearl do if I didn’t come back from a delivery while riding my ol’ geezer bike?
We solved the problem by putting all of our passwords on a password protection program, and you should consider doing the same, even if you’re not a senior. Every password, for every log-in that requires a password, even if there are separate passwords for Pearl and I. All in one, secure location. When I finished, it felt almost as good as buying a girl’s bike, I mean a Lowstep bike. These programs typically require a master password; since all of your passwords will ultimately be protected by this master password, make sure it’s simple enough for you to remember but also complex enough to impede a hacker. In addition to letters, include numbers and symbols (e.g., #, %, !). Also, be sure to change it every 3-6 months to keep the fraudsters guessing. Popular password managers available today include Dashlane, 1Password, and LastPass.
I recently wrote about our hunt for a house in Westfield with a master bedroom on the first floor. While still unsuccessful, it speaks to the need for us to reset as we age. Most important of all, perhaps, is resetting well in advance of when we otherwise would have to reset. In other words, get rid of the steps before you can no longer walk up or down the steps.
I bought the new bike before I fell off the old one; falling off the old bike may have ended my biking days. While the new bike doesn’t mean I can’t be injured, it reduces the probability of some injuries, like those that might occur when gliding through a STOP sign.
If you’re aging, gracefully or otherwise, sit down and plan. Better yet, let’s do it together. What works around your house, and what doesn’t? Which parts of your life are getting more challenging, and what can be done about them? Does your partner, or a trusted family member, know about passwords? Bank accounts? How the electric bill is paid? Where’s the key to the safe deposit box? What’s the password for the ATM?
That’s all for now; I have to go. It’s time to start writing my next uplifting column – Arthritis: One man’s story of how he fell in love with his rheumatologist.