I always laugh when a working friend tells me they worry about retiring: What will they do with themselves all day?
Those of us who have been retired for a while, who have gotten the hang of it, know the answer: that your days will fill up faster than you know—with medical appointments and trying to schedule appointments; with the never-ending task of getting rid of stuff; with doing all the physical exercises needed to combat (pick one): arthritis, bursitis, sciatica, back and leg pain, aging knees, and/or loss of balance and flexibility; plus the mental exercises to keep our brains sharp, whether it’s learning a new language or how to paint or play the piano; or doing a daily Wordle.
And then there’s all the time spent compensating for increasing memory loss. Some seniors retain their abilities better than others, but most everyone I know complains of forgetting names, titles of movies and books, etc. A medical condition has made my memory worse than others, so I spend a lot of my day writing notes to myself—on pieces of paper that pile up on my desk—reminding me to: take my car in for an oil change; make hotel and plane reservations for an upcoming trip; make an appointment for a Covid booster; sign up for a Zoom class. And then more time crossing out what I’ve accomplished (never enough, but it makes me feel like I’m getting somewhere).
I’ve learned to compensate for my poor memory by documenting all my professional visits, especially for medical reasons and as my doctor visits get more frequent. Without a written record (stored on my computer), I wouldn’t remember that my doctor wanted to see me in six months if my eyes were still hurting or to take this medication for 10 days twice a day; or that my car mechanic said I needed to have the rear brakes replaced the next time I brought my car in.
As soon as I make an appointment I write it down in my desk calendar. Even if I remembered that I’m supposed to meet my friend Barb for lunch, I might forget where and what time. And once I write it down, I can stop worrying about trying to keep all that information in my easily flustered brain.
If I don’t write myself reminders or file the information, that could mean hours spent tracking down the answers: going through my email, looking through all the scraps of paper on my desk or going through file folders for the concert time, or the name of the recommended acupuncturist, the company that painted our house or the handyman who fixed our fence.
I also religiously keep a daily journal, the better to help me remember trips I’ve taken, conversations with friends, and the names of people I met. Someday I’ll reread it and rediscover a life I forgot. And that’s where my day goes.