I learned some time ago that itâ€™s unproductive to complain about what one can no longer do for a number of reasons â€” aging, infirmities, disabilities. I try to find a solution to the problem that satisfies me. It may not be the answer for someone else, but it accommodates my needs.
For instance: My grip is no longer as strong as it once was. I used to try to hold onto papers, a book, my purse and continually drop them. Worse yet, Iâ€™d lose whatever I was carrying without noticing it. After I mustâ€™ve dropped my keys in the parking lot of a shopping center without discovering the loss for a while, I decided to find a remedy. Now I put everything in a tote bag and wrap the handles around my hand so that I wonâ€™t let go. It works.
My handwriting has become shaky. Because of an essential tremor, my hand will suddenly jerk and a letter I was forming shoots away with a long tail or I make some other unintended shape. I mentioned this problem to a neurologist, and he suggested that I use a thicker pen or pencil so I would have better control over the small muscles in my hands. I can write much easier now that I followed my doctorâ€™s advice.
Unfortunately, at the moment my fingers will suddenly double tap a key on the computer or a number on my telephone. I can delete the extra letter easily and redial the numbers, but if this condition gets worse, I already have one solution in mind â€” at least for my computer. Iâ€™ve heard of a voice-activated program to accommodate a future need if that occurs. My designed-for-seniors cell phone also has a voice-activated option that can make calls to someone in my personal directory.
Travel has become so much easier now that I am â€śgood to myself,â€ť to paraphrase one of Hillelâ€™s famous sayings. I have a wonderful driver who not only takes me to BWI Airport, he gets my luggage checked in and he summons a wheelchair that I decided I needed a few years ago. A chair pusher takes me right to the airlineâ€™s departure gate. I follow a similar procedure when arriving at my destination except when a family member meets me at the baggage carousel. When I return to BWI, my driver then picks me up and takes care of the luggage until he has carried it into my home. This extra-special care adds a bit more to travel expenses, but I am grateful for his help.
When I think about veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who arrive back in the States, especially amputees, and all the accommodations they must make to the often traumatic changes in their lives, my needs seem minimal.
Editorâ€™s Note: Nora Caplan is a former Kentlands resident and 2002 distinguished city of Gaithersburg citizen of the year.