About this Blog

Yes, this a blog to share helpful experiences and ideas with "old people." I reject the term "senior citizen" because I don't like those made-up terms whose only purpose is to disguise reality. A crippled person is no less crippled for being called "disabled", and a mentally retarded person is no brighter for being called "special". Even worse is "senior." I was a senior in high school and college, and I refuse to accept the condescending term "senior" at the age of 77. I have no special qualifications to advise elderly people (I like the time-honored terms "elderly" and "elders"), but I hope that by presenting some things I've learned, and receiving comments from readers, this blog will improve some lives. If you are under 65 years old, I suggest that you avoid this blog. You'll have time enough later to think about old age.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


For many years I had a problem which occurred during some meals.  I have virtually cured it with a discovery of my own.
In this condition, a conflict occurs between swallowing food down the tube of the esophagus and a counter-attack from the opposite direction.  The chewed food which is intended to go down is blocked by something that feels like a large bubble of air, making it impossible to swallow.  The esophagus becomes a one-lane street in which nothing can move in either direction.
That is not only very distressing, bringing the process of eating to an instant halt, but also seemingly insoluble when one is in the throes of it.  All too often the stalemate was broken only by going into a bathroom and vomiting.
Unfortunately, it was Dr. Malpractice whom I first asked about this problem.  All Dr. M. ever thought about was the risk of malpractice lawsuits.  In this case he responded to my question irritably, "Why did you get me on the hook about that?  It could be nothing and it could be something very serious.  Now I'll have to send you to the Mayo Clinic."  He gave me no advice on what my problem was or how to solve it.
I didn't continue to visit Dr. Malpractice for very long (and I didn't go to a Mayo Clinic).  Maybe he avoided malpractice lawsuits by getting rid of all his patients.  I rarely saw doctors during my life before 70, but over the years I asked three others about my problem, with no helpful results.  The last told me to sip a little hot tea, which is a good idea for relaxing the esophagus if one can swallow.
Looking online, I see that the condition is akin to "esophageal spasms", although I'm not sure of the correct name if there is one.
The point to this story is that I eventually discovered a simple cure! 
I had found some relief when I realized that deliberate relaxation could be helpful, as could pointing my chin toward the ceiling in an effort to straighten the esophagus.  I had sensed that it was important to keep the traffic moving south, and that sometimes the blockade might be broken by forcing myself to swallow mouthful after mouthful of water, if that was possible.  Eating slowly at the beginning, rather than eagerly gulping down an egg roll or barbequed rib, was important.  But the ultimate cure turned out to be posture.
I finally realized at the eureka moment that I was crimping my esophagus by slumping my upper body forward over my plate while eating.  The problem was probably aggravated because I was rather portly. 
So, I tried sitting up very erect, close to the table.  It worked!  My straight spine kept the tube from mouth to stomach straight, or at least unkinked.  It was a simple cure which no medical professional had ever suggested.
It continues to be important, in addition to sitting up very straight, to relax, breathe deeply rather than shallowly, and never rush the inflow of food.  A martini in advance helps ensure good results.
If you've never suffered the condition I've described this post will be of little interest, but I'd like for it to convey the suggestion that in many situations body positions -- posture -- may end physical problems which doctors have not been able to cure.
Please leave comments by clicking on "Comments" below.  You have the choice of remaining anonymous.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I learned this lesson from my grandfather when I was about 6 years old.  We were sitting in his house in Ocala, and Papa was telling me that he and "the boys" had gone to a baseball game the night before.

I laughed.
“You said ‘boys’! You're a man!  Why do you say ‘boys” when you’re as old as you are?” He was in his early sixties, with gray in his thinning hair.
His response was: “You never get any older. Your body gets older, but you stay just the same as you always were. Inside, I’m no older now than I was when I was your age.”
That may be the most important thing I ever heard from an adult.  It has stayed with me all my life.  I feel now as much as ever that it is true. 
Only the body ages.  The "I" is part of the eternal Now, which has no beginning or end and therefore no progression toward an end.  You are the passenger in the chariot of the body described in the Vedic writings of ancient India.  You are not the chariot, although you are the "enjoyer" of the chariot.  You are the "ghost" in the expression, "the ghost in the machine".  You are that Consciousness which watches the sights that your physical eyes bring you.  It's analogous to watching television:  You are not the television set.
A convenient word for this eternal Self is the "Soul".  Although I don't subscribe to any organized religion, I sense that my Self, my consciousness, is immortal and not a mere product of the body.  I also sense that the Person who woke up in my body this morning is the same as the Person who woke up in it when it was seven years old. 
Now this body has been in use for 77 years, and I don't like what is happening to it compared to its newer condition, but at least I know that "I" am no older.  If one truly feels this, some of the grotesque features of aging can become a bit humorous -- like sailing along in a little sailboat in a strong wind with parts falling off.
I highly recommend that you read "The Power of Now", by Eckhart Tolle, which eloquently expresses the eternal Now.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


This post will be about a method to avoid falling
down while walking.
One of our first great accomplishments in our early months on this planet was to go from horizontal to vertical. 
"He stood up today!"

This gravity-defying feat was followed by actually stepping forward, at least briefly, while vertical.   "She took her first steps today!"

After early childhood, our next reminder that for a mammal to stand erect and walk on its hind legs is an unnatural activity usually comes as we get old, at which point gravity once more becomes an adversary rather than an almost unnoticed part of living.  Most people over 70 learn that it becomes increasingly more difficult to walk briskly and increasingly easier to fall down.

Of course we all know that there is so much variance among human beings that the advent of hobbling will occur at widely different ages, so that one person of 75 may be as mobile as a 60 year old, while another of 70 may limp along like an 85 year old.

(Which reminds me:  What when does "old" begin?  During my younger years I set "old" at 70.  I was never one of those silly youths who thought people were old at 50 or even 30.  I decided, "When you are over 70, you are getting old."  You may think the number should be closer to 80, but the later you think "old" begins the better off you are psychologically.  We can talk about this some other time.)
Here is what I worked out for myself about walking without falling down.  It is so embarrassingly simple that I hesitate to write it, but it really did help me to use this methodical procedure instead of just spontaneously setting off to walk from one place to another:
1.  First, look at the goal to which you intend to walk.  For example, you're in the kitchen looking at the living room sofa.
2. Look closely at the entire ground between yourself and the goal.  Do a real survey.  Any wires or other objects on the floor?  Any steps up or down?  Any uneven surfaces -- edge of a rug, slightly raised tile?  Any corners you might run into?  Anything sticking out over the edges of tables along the way?
3.  When you begin to walk toward the goal, turn your visual attention to your feet and the spot where each foot is going next.  The important thing now is to watch where your feet are going.
4.  As necessary, pause to look up and quickly survey again the area between you and your goal, and then look down at your feet and continue in that way until you arrive safely at your goal.
I assure you it takes less time to carry out the phases of this procedure than it does to read about it.  I can also assure you that using the method will take less time than getting yourself off the floor if you fall down.
It occurs to me that the lesson underlying the need for the method I've described is that an activity like walking becomes so natural over so many years that it become unconscious.  We feel that it requires no attention, much less care.  But things change.