Why Oldsters are Mean

– And, No, we’re not like this all the time.

There is a general stereotype of senior citizens in this country whereby they are commonly described as either mean, cantankerous, grumpy, crotchety, irritable, impatient, sour, aloof or acerbic. There are reasons for this, most of which are caused by changing physical conditions. Allow me to explain.

As youngsters, it wasn’t uncommon for us to run around and bump into things, thereby causing a cut or scrape, but as we get older we seem to develop a magnetic attraction for bumping into things or stubbing our toes, resulting in a massive bruise the size of Peru. This is probably due to the blood thinners doctors prescribe to prevent strokes and heart attacks.

We also tend to suffer from a litany of body aches in our muscles and skeleton. It is not uncommon for lower back pain to develop or arthritis to take its toll on us, causing us to make an Advil milkshake after working in the yard. Want to really scare a senior? Just sneak up behind them and shout, “Shingles!” Weight also plays a role in our pains as we find it difficult to shed the pounds like we could in our youth. As a standard rule, if you cannot fit into a seat on an airplane, maybe its time to cut out the country fried steak and gravy.

While we’re on it, isn’t it amazing the plethora of pills doctors prescribe for seniors? Some people are required to take handfuls of pills just to make it through the day. After a while you start to think of yourself as a walking chemistry experiment. No, seniors do not want to do as the drug commercial’s suggest and, “Ask your doctor.”

It is not uncommon to develop hearing problems, due in large part to the head-banging loud music we listened to in our youth (thanks Led Zeppelin). We then start to wear hearing aids which we try to cleverly hide behind our hair or under a hat. Without them, we smile a lot, nod our heads, and pretend to know what people are saying around us.

In terms of eyesight, we may have had Lasik surgery to overcome cataracts and astigmatism, but we still find it difficult to read small fonts, particularly when working crossword puzzles. Cheater eyeglasses are helpful to avoid squinting, but you always keep a magnifying glass within reach.

Hair is important to both sexes. For men, as we start to lose it on our heads, it starts growing where it is not supposed to, such as ears, eyebrows, noses, and, Yes, elsewhere. Women become very concerned with the color of their hair. Some have noticed people treat them differently based on their color. A gray or silver haired woman is treated differently by the public than if they were a blonde, brunette, or redhead. Not surprising, they develop strong attachments to their beauticians.

Then there is the matter of peeing. In our younger days, we could sleep through the night regardless of the amount of beer or wine we drank. Not anymore. Now it is common to get up once, twice, even three times at night to relieve ourselves. Of course, it doesn’t help when we continue to get a drink of water or juice in the middle of the night. Some people are gluttons for punishment. Sleep deprivation obviously affects our mood.

These physical nuances play on the nerves of older people, but there are other elements which affect their temperament; for example:

We begin to notice we are becoming forgetful. Suddenly the names of old friends are hard to remember, as is remembering the titles of books, movies and music. House and car keys seem to mysteriously disappear and are found in unlikely places, such as the bathroom, a sock drawer, refrigerator, between the cracks in a sofa, or even worse, the ignition of a car. It is not uncommon for people to become unglued when they cannot find their keys, their wallet, or their purse.

As you get older you sense you are being taken for granted and, even worse, being targeted for various scams by robo-callers from Asia and Africa. “No, my computer is just fine,” I tell them, “and, No, I do not want to give you my social security number or bank account number so you can deposit a bazillion dollars into it. Get lost!”

These scams are very disturbing as smooth talking con artists find a way to prey on the innocent. Even when you demand they take you off of their calling list, they do not.

Want a fun way to get rid of such parasites? Use a foreign accent; the stranger the better. I like to use a heavy Swedish accent when I talk to such huckleberries. When I get such a call, I put down the phone and start speaking loudly,

Ya Ma, de man on de phone here says ve have a problem with our computer; that it has a bug and is infected, Ya. Jumpin Jiminy what are ve going to do? Ya Ma, you’re a right. Here, you hold the computer and I’ll spray it with de bug juice. Wow, dat was a close one.

By the time I return to the phone, the caller is long gone.

Finally, seniors suffer with the anxiety of change. Even the slightest thing seems to set them off, particularly if you alter the time they eat dinner. They believe they have a sense of humor, but do not comprehend the humor, music, fashion or movies of the day, considering all of it vulgar. Technology often pushes them over the edge. It’s a bit disconcerting for them to rely on their three year old grandson to program the television set or show them how to use a smart phone. Keep in mind, as we grow older we become more set in our ways; we know what works and what doesn’t, and any departure from this, large or small, throws us for a loop.

The next time you find a senior is a little mean or cantankerous, you now know what is causing them to act as such. Their only solace is knowing the next generation will have to follow in their footsteps and face the same problems. Misery loves company.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant who writes commentaries about the times we live in be it in the corporate world, the Masonic world, or our personal lives. His writings are well known on the Internet and are humorous, educational, and at times controversial. You won’t always agree with him, but Tim will definitely get you thinking.

To read more of Tim’s columns, please visit: timbryce.com