By Jim Hunt
One of the things that happen when you get older, is that you notice things that passed you by as a younger person. I can remember attending family functions and being around older relatives and having to repeat myself several times before they understood. Often, I would just nod and casually walk away and grab a hot dog. Sometimes they would ask me about school or my work and after a few minutes, I realized that they had confused me with one of my cousins or friends. These events became a game of avoidance and sometimes conversations with the other young people, about “Crazy Uncle Harry”, who doesn’t know what day it is.
As I whizzed past my seventh decade on this planet, I wondered when I might be “Crazy Old Jim”, the guy that can barely hear and wears an old “John Prine” t-shirt, that has seen one too many wash cycles. Getting older brings a lot of joy is so many ways, but it also has some pitfalls that younger people don’t seem to get. I thought I would talk about some of the things that I have observed and see if there might be a lesson to be learned. I don’t come at this because I am smarter than anyone, it is just that I have made many of those same mistakes as a young man and I don’t want another person to walk that same path.
Hearing is one of the things that seems to gradually dim as you get older. Whether it is from too many rock concerts or too many deer hunts, old people are often hard of hearing. I find that some younger people, when asked to repeat something, will say, “I said…. And then repeat what they said. While they might not realize it, this is somewhat demeaning to an older person. Rather than just repeating what they said, using “I said…” just emphasizes it and often makes the person feel that they are imposing on someone to repeat things. Another thing I often hear, is “Why doesn’t Grandpa just get a hearing aid?” As most folks know, hearing aids are one of the more expensive medical aids that are rarely covered by insurance. I’ve heard more than one of my older friends say that they just can’t afford the cost of hearing aids.
Technology is another thing that people sometimes joke about how inept, their older relatives are and that they can’t even turn on their televisions or use a smartphone. As someone who has continued to work and use computers, I am comfortable with technology, but I realize that it is just like any skill, you must stay current, or it quickly passes you by. I’ve been in many a young person’s house and see an impressive array of flat screen televisions and gaming consoles, but I crack a wry smile when I see the bathroom faucet dripping or a broken switch on the living room light, that this young “Elon Musk” hasn’t figured out how to repair. I’ll never forget the blank look on the kid at Lowe’s, when I asked him to cut a board ninety-six and a quarter inch long. He fiddled with the ruler for a few seconds before asking me how long a quarter is.
My granddaughter has taught me a lesson that I think applies to much of what older people are going through. When she is telling me a story, I often can’t understand her three-and-a-half-year-old vocabulary, and I will just nod and laugh when she laughs. She hugs me and says, I love you Grandpa. I think that might work with us older folks too! Have an Amazing day!