Memory Improvement Activities & Exercises for the Aging Brain

Memory Improvement Activities & Exercises for the Aging Brain

Memory Improvement Activities & Exercises for the Aging Brain

Memory Help For the Aging Mind

Memory Improvement Activities and Exercises For the Aging Brain. Okay, is this for real?  Is it honestly true that you can improve an already fading memory?

According to aging experts, yes. It is definitely possible to improve your memory and slow down memory decline, just by doing some simple activities and exercises.

Memory decline is a common issue faced by older people, which can affect their daily activities and overall quality of life. With age, the brain’s ability to store, process and recall information can decrease, making it more difficult to retain new information and retrieve old memories. This decline can be due to a variety of factors, including changes in brain structure, hormonal changes, and the natural aging process.

What Causes Memory Decline?

Memory decline can occur due to a number of reasons including decreased blood flow to the brain, changes in brain chemistry and structure, and certain medical conditions. Some of the most common medical conditions associated with memory decline are stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease.

It’s important to know that memory decline is not an inevitable part of aging.  There are several ways to help improve or slow down the process and keep our brains healthy as we age.

Activities that Stimulate the Brain

One of the best ways to keep the brain active and healthy is to use cognitive stimulation. Cognitive stimulation is engaging in activities that stimulate the brain and keep it active and engaged. Here are some examples of cognitive stimulation activities…


Reading books, newspapers, or magazines can help improve cognitive function by increasing vocabulary, improving comprehension, and exercising the brain.


Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and word games can help improve cognitive function by challenging the brain to think critically and problem-solve (see examples below).


Learning a new skill, such as a new language or musical instrument can help improve cognitive function by challenging the brain to learn and remember new information. Resources such as Duolingo and Rosetta Stone offer online language courses, and YouTube has a variety of free tutorials for learning musical instruments.


Physical exercise has been shown to improve cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain and stimulating the growth of new brain cells. Walking, cycling, swimming, and yoga are all good forms of exercise for seniors. All have shown to have a positive impact on memory and cognitive function in older adults. Resources like Silver Sneakers offer online exercise classes specifically designed for seniors.


Socializing with others can help improve cognitive function by stimulating the brain through conversation and social interaction. Some ideas for social activities include joining a book club, attending a community event, or taking a class. meetup.com is a great resource for finding local social events and activities. Studies have shown that staying socially active, whether it is through volunteering, joining a club, or simply spending time with friends and family, can help improve memory and cognitive function.


Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve cognitive function by reducing stress and anxiety, which can negatively impact brain health. One simple mindfulness exercise is to sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. There are many resources online that offer guided mindfulness meditation, such as Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer (my personal favorite).


Nutrition also plays an important role in maintaining good cognitive health in older adults. Eating a healthy and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, ,whole grains, and lean protein, can help to improve cognitive function, including memory. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon, have also been shown to have a positive impact on memory and cognitive function in older adults.


Finally, it is important to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep has been linked to decreased cognitive function, including memory. Older adults should aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night to help maintain good cognitive health

*It’s important to note that before beginning any new activity or exercise, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional, especially for those with existing health conditions.

Brain Games

In addition to the activities listed above, there are also specific brain games and apps that are designed to improve cognitive function and memory recall. These games include matching games, word games and puzzles. Some popular online brain games include:

  • Lumosity. Lumosity is a popular brain training app that offers a variety of games and exercises designed to improve memory, attention, and flexibility.
  • BrainHQ. BrainHQ is another brain training app that offers a variety of games and exercises designed to improve cognitive function.
  • Peak. Peak is a brain training app that offers a variety of games and exercises designed to improve memory, attention and problem-solving skills.
  • Sudoku. Sudoku is a popular puzzle game that has been shown to improve cognitive function by challenging he brain to think critically and problem solve.


There are also many resources available for older adults who are interested in maintaining an improving their cognitive function. Some resources include:

  1. Alzheimer’s Association. The Alzheimer’s Association offers resources and support for those affected by Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.
  2. National Institute on Aging. The National Institute on Aging offers information and resources on healthy aging and Bain health.
  3. AARP. AARP offers resources and information on healthy aging and brain health for older adults

In Conclusion…

In conclusion, while memory decline is a natural part of the aging process, there are many activities, brain games, and resources available to help slow down this decline and keep our brains healthy as we age. By staying active and engaged in cognitive activities, older adults can maintain and improve their cognitive function and enjoy a high quality of life well into their golden years.

I’d love to have you subscribe to my blog! I write about all things relative to women baby boomers. Through my blog posts, research, courses, videos and networking, I make every effort to connect women over fifty with each other.

I value your input, and would love to have you join us. You can visit Women Over Fifty Network HERE and poke around a bit first, or if you’re ready, you can just subscribe now below. I hope to see you in the comments!

How To Thicken Thinning Hair in Older Women

How To Thicken Thinning Hair in Older Women

Hair Thinning in Older Women: Causes, Remedies, and Solutions

Hair thinning is a common condition among older women, characterized by gradual loss of hair volume, thickness, and density. This condition can be caused by various factors, including hormonal changes, genetics, and environmental factors.

In this article, we will discuss the causes of hair thinning in older women, home remedies, procedures, and medications that might help, and how this condition might affect women emotionally and psychologically.

What Causes Hair Thinning in Older Women?

  1. Hormonal Changes: As women age, they may experience hormonal changes due to menopause, which can lead to hair thinning. The drop in estrogen levels during menopause can result in hair follicles shrinking and producing finer, thinner hair.
  2. Genetics: Some women are predisposed to hair thinning due to genetics. If your mother or grandmother experienced hair thinning, you may also be more likely to experience it.
  3. Environmental Factors: Exposure to pollutants and chemicals, such as styling products and hair dyes, can cause hair thinning in older women. Similarly, excessive heat styling, such as blow-drying and flat-ironing, can damage hair and contribute to thinning.
  4. Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, anemia, and autoimmune diseases, can lead to hair thinning in older women.

Home Remedies for Hair Thinning in Older Women

(Note: If product items are in red, they’re clickable links that will take you to the product description. There you’ll be able to learn more details, or purchase the product.)

  1. Healthy Diet: Eating a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals can help maintain hair health and prevent hair thinning.
  2. Scalp Massage: Gently massaging the scalp can stimulate blood flow to the hair follicles and promote hair growth.
  3. Aloe Vera: Aloe vera contains antioxidants and enzymes that can nourish the scalp and improve hair health.
  4. Castor Oil: Castor oil has been shown to increase hair growth and prevent hair thinning when applied to the scalp regularly.

Procedures and Medications for Hair Thinning in Older Women

(Note: If product items are in red, they’re clickable links that will take you to the product description. There you’ll be able to learn more details, or purchase the product.)

  1. Hair Transplant: Hair transplants are surgical procedures that involve moving hair from one area of the scalp to another. This procedure can be used to restore hair density and thickness in areas that have thinned.
  2. Minoxidil: is a topical medication that is applied to the scalp to promote hair growth. This medication has been shown to be effective in preventing hair thinning in older women
  3. Finasteride: Finasteride is an oral medication (prescription required), that is commonly used to treat male pattern baldness. Some women with hair thinning may benefit from taking this medication as well. Although prescription is required, it can be purchased online.

Products for Hair Thinning in Older Women

  1. Hair Thickening Shampoo: Hair thickening shampoos can help increase the volume and thickness of hair by coating each strand with a volumizing agent.
  2. Hair Fibers: Hair fibers are tiny, keratin-based fibers that can be sprinkled on the scalp to create the illusion of thicker hair.
  3. Volumizing Powder: Volumizing powder can be applied to the roots of hair to create lift and volume, giving the appearance of thicker hair.

Emotional and Psychological Effects of Hair Thinning in Older Women

Hair thinning can have a significant impact on a woman’s emotional and psychological well-being. Women often associate their hair with their beauty, femininity, and self-esteem, and hair thinning can lead to feelings of loss and decreased confidence.

Women who experience hair thinning may feel self-conscious about their appearance and may experience negative body image and low self-esteem. They may also feel a sense of loss, as hair thinning can be seen as a sign of aging and declining health.

In some cases, hair thinning can also lead to anxiety and depression. Women may become overly self-conscious about their appearance and avoid social situations that may highlight their hair loss.

They may also become preoccupied with their appearance and feel like they are losing control over their looks.

If you are experiencing hair thinning or loss of hair, and it’s affecting your mental or physical health, it’s important to seek support from friends, family or healthcare professionals. Talking about your feelings and concerns with trusted individuals can help you manage your emotions and find ways to cope with your hair loss.

Additionally, seeking professional help from a dermatologist, psychologist, or counselor can provide additional support and resources to help you navigate this difficult time.

Products I’ve Tried & Recommend

The below listed products are as seen on, and available through Amazon. I will always be clear about products I have purchased, used, and recommend as opposed to those I have not.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: Women Over Fifty Network is an authorized Amazon affiliate. This means that I may get a small commission on qualified products that you purchase through my recommended product link. My commission is based on the product’s listed purchase price, and does not result in an increased purchase price for you. 

Patti Huck

Blogger/Owner, Women Over Fifty Network

I have purchased and used both of these shampoos. Before using them, my long hair had become pretty lifeless. I had very little body left. I had my hair cut with lots of layers and that helped a bit to get some of the weight off.

But when I really noticed the extreme difference in fullness, was soon after I started using these shampoos. The difference was enough that friends commented “I didn’t realize you had so much natural curl” (I did as a kid, but I hadn’t seen it in years).

I’m not one to gush, and I’m sooo not a salesperson. I’m just sayin’ that my hair is definitely bouncier, fuller, and seriously feels thicker.

I bought both these shampoos and alternate them, so I’m not sure if it’s just one or the other that is working, or if they both work. I don’t really care. All I know is that I’ve added them both to my Subscribe & Save so they keep on comin’ and I won’t be without them! I absolutely, wholeheartedly recommend both these shampoos.


Also, Do Your Head a Favor…

Even if you decide not to try the shampoo, I highly recommend getting the scalp massager (they’re inexpensive). The handle works great to hang in the shower from the soap holder.

I use the massager to work in the shampoo, and at the same time it’s giving my head a great massage. It not only feels good, but it stimulates the blood circulation to my head.

I bought the two pack; one for each shower, but my husband started using the shampoo and had to also try my massager…and, well, you know how that turned out.


In Conclusion…


If you thought hair thinning was a condition you just had to accept, it SO isn’t! I thought the same thing and this post is the result of the research I did. I started with the easiest and least expensive suggestion (the shampoo), and I’m seeing results.

And just for good meausre, I’m also trying to be much better about nutrition and exercise. It can only help, right? If you try any of the suggestions in this blog post, I’d love to hear what you tried and how it worked. I’m sure others would too. So please share your experience and thoughts by commenting below. Until next time…


Suggested Products…

I’d love to have you subscribe to my blog! I write not only about ketones, but about all thing pertaining to women baby boomers. I do all I can to connect women over fifty with each other. You can visit Women Over Fifty Network HERE and poke around a bit first, or you can just subscribe below.

Keto Diet not Working for You? Try this Secret to Make it Easy.

Keto Diet not Working for You? Try this Secret to Make it Easy.

Keto Diet not Working for You? Try this Secret to Make it Easy.

What is a Keto Diet?

A Keto Diet, short for Ketogenic Diet, is a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. A Ketogenic Diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. When there is less carbohydrate in the diet, the liver then converts fat into fatty acids and ketones. The ketones pass into the brain through the blood and replace glucose as an energy source. When there is an elevated level of ketones in the blood, you are said to be in a state known as “ketosis“. The goal of the Keto Diet is to get you into a state of ketosis.

What Foods Can I Eat on a Keto Diet, and What Food is Off-Limits?

You can search for Keto Diet and find hundreds of meal plans and recipes online. One site that I thought looked particularly good was Women’s Health. Since the Ketogenic diet is a low-carbohydrate diet, that means you need to stay away from sugar, pasta and bread.
Food You Can Eat (in general)
  • Fish, seafood, meat
  • Vegetables that grow above ground
  • Cheese and eggs
  • Natural fats
    • i.e (butter, olive oil, etc.)
Foods You Should Eat Sparingly
  • Pasta, rice, potatoes
  • Fruit
  • Beer, Soda, Juice
  • Bread, Cakes, Donuts, etc.
  • Candy, Chocolate, etc.

What’s The Big Hype? Why is It Supposed to Work?

The body has three sources of fuel it can burn to get its energy: Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat. Just as a car needs fuel in it’s gas tank that it burns to enable it to perform, we need food to provide us our energy to perform Sticking stictly to a Ketogenic Diet will eventually put the body into a state of ketosis.  When your body is in a state of ketosis, it means it is now burning fat to fuel your body.

How Do You Know When You’re in Ketosis?

Urine test strips are available, like the ones below, that will give you a reading letting you know when your body has reached a ketogenic state, or is in “ketosis“.

If It Sounds So Simple, Why Are So Many People Falling Off?

Because it’s hard!

The Keto diet’s original purpose was not for weight loss, but to treat epilepsy in children. Those on the diet had to be monitored strictly by a physician. So even if you think you’re following the rules of the diet, as it turns out, you may not be. According to my research, it is extremely difficult to get your body into a state of ketosis on your own through diet alone, and even if you do get to ketosis, you may not be there long enough to burn much fat.

So What’s The Secret?

Pure Therapeutic Ketones. You start dumping ketones into your body to get your body into ketosis faster. The video below shows how they work and what they do. It’s only 4 minutes and it’s explained very simply (no scientific language). Hit the play button on the man’s nose and give it a watch.

Oh, I Forgot The Best Part…

As I learned more about Pruvit’s Keto OS, one thing kept jumping out at me. Pruvit claims that Keto OS will get your body into ketosis within 60 minutes, (the state when your body is burning fat), EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWING A KETOGENIC DIET!!! Not saying that it wouldn’t help you and your body to follow the diet, but if you’re drinking Keto OS you don’t have to follow the Keto diet because ketosis will happen anyway. Yeah. I was ready to give this stuff a try.

How Do You Get Them?

I am one of the biggest skeptics you’ll ever find. In my next post I will be sharing what my experience has been with this product, but I’ll tell you right now that it’s basically changed my life. If you’ve decided to get better with ketones right away, and don’t want to wait to hear my story, I can help you. Choose your option below.

Want to Try Them First?

To purchase a 5-10 day trial, Just click the button below. Try all the flavors. Be reminded what it feels like to feel good.

Anxious to Just Get Started?

If you want to skip the trial and just get started, click the button below and let’s get you some ketones!

A Note To My Readers:

When I started Women Over Fifty Network I made a promise to myself that if I found a product that made my life easier, or in this case improved it, I would share it with you in hopes of it making your lives better. This is hands down one of those products.

I will never recommend a product I don’t use myself, or a product with which I haven’t personally had results.

Stay tuned for my next post about my experience with pure therapeutic ketones.



Patti Huck image and signature

Struggling with Keto Diet | Women Over Fifty Network
Are You Over 50 and a Night Owl? Your Body Might Be Tired of It. Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.

Are You Over 50 and a Night Owl? Your Body Might Be Tired of It. Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.

Are You Over 50 and a Night Owl? Your Body Might Be Tired of It. Wake Up and Smell the Coffee.

I’m a night owl. When I think back, I guess I always have been. The fact that I’m also a teeeeny bit on the obsessive side has a little something to do with it.

For instance, I’ve always loved to read. Normally someone will read until “bedtime”, slap a bookmark in, and pick up where they left off the next evening. Nope. I remember even way back to my grade school years staying up half the night to finish a book I’d been reading.

I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like rules. And apparently, I don’t like a predetermined “bedtime”.

Having been a single mom who worked from home and had very active kids, I savored the quiet time after they were asleep, and usually extended it into the wee hours of the morning.

Throughout my life, even after my kids were grown and even after I had remarried at 50, I still continued that routine. I’ve owned few online businesses, and discovered that I did my best work after 11 p.m. No phone calls, no texts, no emails that needed immediate replies. I could focus better without interruptions, and my time was my own.

I’m sure you’re asking by now, “so where are you going with this?”. Well, here’s the deal. Lately I’ve been thinking that I may not be able  to stay up half the night anymore, and function on just 3-4 hours of sleep. Wha-a-a-t? I know – to most this is a no-brainer. To me, it was a shock.

I’d been waking up tired (a lot of times late in the morning), and was annoyed as soon as I saw the clock because I’d lost half my morning. I’d go through the day in a pissy mood, draggin’ ass, not feeling like exercising, irritable, grabbing a handful of…whatever any time I passed through the kitchen, and feeling every single one of my 63 years. I drug myself through my days only to stay up late again that night. It was a vicious cycle.

Every night I’d make my to-do list for the next day (I’m a major list-maker). It started at 7 am: Get dressed. Walk. Shower. Water plants. Clean up kitchen. Make bed.

During my supposed “focused” time while I was writing my list, it all seemed so doable. I loved that my chores and exercise would be done by 8:15, then I’d start my work day. But like the saying goes, “It looks good on paper”.

Each day I’d get up late, and right off the bat be behind. With emails already piled up needing attention, calls needing to be returned, decisions needing to be made, I was forced to start eliminating things on my to-do list. Guess which item never made the cut? You guessed it. Exercise.

I’d beat myself up for what I hadn’t gotten done, and stress out about what I still needed to do. My mind was very rarely in the present moment. I couldn’t focus on getting one thing done, because I was distracted by the bazillion other things dancing around in my head, or scattered across my desk.

My husband, who’s a schedule person, has been trying to convince me for years that I’d have more energy and be more productive if I went to bed earlier “like most people”, and got up earlier in the morning. I’m not one that’s good with schedules or restrictions. I have trouble doing something because it’s what “most people” do, or because “it’s good for me”. So I basically told him to mind his own beeswax.

In my mind I’m still 40, but this ol’ body hasn’t seen 40 in quite a few years, and I knew that sitting all day at my computer wasn’t doing it any favors. I was well aware that I needed to exercise and take care of myself, and not doing it was stressing me out. I knew I needed to make a change or I was going to stroke out.

So this morning, I got up at sunrise, put on the cool Nike’s my daughters gave me, and planned on taking a quick walk. It was already warm out, but not hot. It was quiet.

When I headed out my driveway and clicked START WORKOUT on my Map My Walk phone app, I had the normal chaos filling my head, but after a block or two, the chatter quieted a bit and I started to actually look around me. As the sun came up, I noticed how incredibly clear and blue the sky was. I could smell the flowers in the yards I was passing. I was aware of the birds and the sounds around me. Even though I was walking at a pretty fast pace, it seemed effortless. That thought filled me with gratitude that I’m physically able to walk without pain.

That one thought started a snowball effect. Instead of the usual mental lists, my head was filled with only thoughts of gratitude. I was grateful for the life I’d been given and that I’m still here to live it when so many others weren’t able to.

And it continued…I was grateful that my kids are all healthy and happy, that I’m still madly in love with my husband who has stuck with me through the good and the bad. I was thankful for my health, for the work that I’m passionate about and am able to do from home… Our home… My determination… My empathy… Our grandkids… My friends… The closeness that I have with my family.

I didn’t want to stop walking. My body felt strong and my mind uncluttered. For 30 minutes, I’d found quiet and peace within myself.

Returning rested and clear-headed, I realized I got more out of my half hour walk this morning than the four hours I normally spend, late at night, in my quest for quiet time. I loved being in the moment. I hadn’t visited it in a very long time.

Damn I hate it when Paul’s right.

So I suggest to you, take a breath today. Look around you. Take a minute and be thankful for what you have. It’s the little things that go unnoticed, the things you don’t see that you take for granted. Acknowledge them. Don’t live so strongly in the past or the future that you aren’t able to see the present. Life is short.

Until next time…


Patti Huck image and signature
Are you a night owl? Life is short | Women Over Fifty Network

One Size Fits…None. The Dressing Room From Hell.

One Size Fits…None. The Dressing Room From Hell.

One Size Fits…None. The Dressing Room From Hell.

Hey all!

I’m thrilled to be sharing this post with you! You know how much I love connecting you with other women over fifty bloggers, right? Well, let me introduce you to Marcia Kester Doyle. Marcia writes about all the pitfalls of aging on her blog “Menopausal Mother“, but helps us laugh about them. She was kind enough to let me share a chapter from her book “Who Stole My Spandex? Life in the Hot Flash Lane“. I’m pretty sure you’re going to love Marcia.

Be sure to comment below to let her know if you can relate to her experience going clothes shopping!

GUEST BLOGGER: Marcia Kester Doyle

Marcia, a humor blogger, muses on the good, the bad, and the ugly side of midlife mayhem. Give her a glass of wine and a jar of Nutella, and she’ll be your best friend. It’s rogue humor at it’s finest!

She is a BlogHer Voice of the Year 2014 recipient and VoiceBoks Top Hilarious Parent Blogger 2014. She was also voted as a Top 25 Blogger in the Circle of Moms Contest 2013. She is a native Floridian and married mother of four children, as well as being a grandparent to a feisty toddler

One Size Fits None. The Dressing Room From Hell

I hate shopping for clothes, which explains why I’ve never been accused of being a fashionista. It also explains why my daughters always call to ask what I’m wearing before bringing their friends over to the house.

After birthing four babies by C-section, I now find shopping for clothes less enticing than a root canal. I might enjoy it more if I was twenty-five pounds lighter, because shopping just isn’t as fun when I have to head straight for the Woman’s Plus department, where everything comes in black, white, or shower-curtain pattern.

My husband often accompanies me during my clothes hunting expeditions, usually because he is: a) bored with all five hundred cable channels, b) in need of replenishing his tube sock collection, or c) wanting to make sure I don’t spend all my cash on animal-print house dresses and takeout from Burger Barn. He parks his butt on a sofa outside the changing rooms and plays with his phone while I’m pondering the age-old question of zippers versus control-top panels.

I try to be frugal while I shop, but the problem with the clearance section is that there are only two clothing sizes left on the rack by the time I get there—hummingbird and mastodon. It’s always a challenge to find an outfit that doesn’t leave me looking like the exploding dough from a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls.

It’s the same adventure every time I go shopping. I shoot past the regular lingerie (like I’ll ever be able to squeeze myself into a hot fuchsia number the size of a rubber band) to the “Full Figure” aisle, where the bras hang like double-boulder slingshots. Then I whiz past the shoe section, jewelry department, and all those adorable maternity outfits. I think, “Oh, look at the cute, faux-denim stretch pants designed to hide a pregnancy bump!” before self-consciously rubbing my stomach. Nope, no baby in there—just the jelly roll the last kid left behind.

Once I’m able to find a dress that doesn’t resemble a large paint tarp, I grab a few more items (twelve, actually, because I have no idea what the size du jour is going to be—I need a sampler platter of three different sizes for each outfit). I then head for the dreaded dressing room with an armload of clothes that will most likely end up back on the rack. It’s always at this moment that I wish I lived in the 1500s, where everyone bought one-size-fits-all clothing from Dirty Smocks “R” Us, and dressed by dim candlelight to mask the effects of a stout-and-potato diet.

I’m wary of stepping into dressing rooms because I know there are some shoppers who use these cubicles for more than just trying on clothes. I know this because several of my children have worked in major department stores over the years, and they’ve shared a few nightmare tales that have scarred me for life. Department stores should consider posting helpful signs to keep paranoid people like me from worrying about stepping into DNA samples left by the previous occupants. The signs could flash messages like “FECAL-FREE ZONE!” or “MOTEL 6 IS DOWN THE STREET … THEY’LL LEAVE A LIGHT ON FOR YOU!”

Wishing to God for a shot of liquid courage before I enter the “chamber of truth,” I stall by the clearance rack for a few more minutes, until a skinny, perky salesclerk approaches me. She asks if I’m ready to try on my new clothes, and her chipper tone sets my teeth on edge. Can’t she see I’m breaking into a sweat over the fact that my actual dress size is about to be revealed?

I’m ushered into a mirrored cubicle the size of Thumbelina’s closet, and told to “have fun” while trying on the clothes. Have fun? The only way that would ever happen is if the dressing room included a well-stocked mini fridge. No, this is where the true horror begins. I shimmy out of my old, comfortable clothes and cringe as I view myself in panoramic funhouse mirrors that display my front, back, and sides. I’m immediately reminded of a peeled potato.

Concluding that the department store must have gotten a really good deal on mirrors from a traveling circus, I weed through my pile of clothing. One floral-print dress is reminiscent of something my grandmother wore in 1939. An orange blouse makes me look like an Oompa Loompa. An ill-fitting pair of jeans causes my flesh to ooze out over the waistband like Play-Doh. To make matters worse, I’m having to struggle into all of this torturous clothing under unflattering fluorescent lights that expose every fold, flap, bulge, and scar bestowed upon my body by childbirth and years of yo-yo dieting.

I decide on a few items of clothing that promise to lift, tuck, flatten, and flatter the body, and I notice that everything I’ve chosen is: a) made of NASA-approved spandex and b) one shade—black. So what if I end up with a bag of clothing resembling a mortician’s closet?

I approach the checkout counter, and it never fails—there’s always an angry woman ahead of me shouldering three returns and a missing receipt. To top it all off, she was clearly once the president of her high school debate team. My eye starts twitching as she engages in refund warfare with the young girl behind the cash register. Obviously neither one of these women knows that I’m already two hours late to walk a dog known for his daily bouts of IBS.

Once home, I face the daunting task of cleaning out old clothes to make room for the new. I’m a firm believer in recycling, and have found some creative ways to repurpose my granny panties with a needle and thread. With a garbage bag full of threadbare underpants and a few quick stitches, I can make an outdoor patio umbrella, a tent for camping trips, or an heirloom quilt for the grandkids.

I try the new clothes on again in the privacy of my own bedroom, but they don’t look as good as they did in the dressing room. This just confirms what I’ve believed all along—that department store mirrors are designed to make every woman appear as shapely as an hour glass. When I look in my own mirror at home, all I see is a potato dressed up in a shower curtain. A black shower curtain.

Chances are good that I’ll be returning all of my one-size-fits-none clothing to the mall—but only after a quick stop at the Burger Barn.

The Dressing Room From Hell | Women Over Fifty Network
Marcia has written for The Huffington Post, Humor Outcasts, In the Powder Room, and What The Flicka. 

She has been featured on numerous sites such as Scary Mommy, BlogHer, The Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, Midlife Boulevard, Boomeon, and BA50 among others.

She is a contributing author to the following books: The Mother of All Meltdowns, Clash of the Couples, Motherhood: May Cause Drowsiness, Sunshine After the Storm, To Bliss and Back, Parenting Gag Reel, and will be featured in the forthcoming anthologies: Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor, Mom for the Holidays, and How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Who Stole My Spandex? Life In The Hot Flash Lane is available on Amazon in both Kindle and Paperback formats.

Are We Getting a Glimpse Into the Afterlife as We Die? Or Are Our End-Of-Life Experiences Just Hallucinations?

Are We Getting a Glimpse Into the Afterlife as We Die? Or Are Our End-Of-Life Experiences Just Hallucinations?

Are We Getting a Glimpse Into the Afterlife as We Die? Or Are Our End-Of-Life Experiences Just Hallucinations?

Grandpa Needs Some Company

It was January of 1986. Kim, my sister, was waiting for me at Grandpa’s house. After five years of one personal crisis after another, I was making a new start. I’d bought a house in the neighborhood where I’d grown up. The reasons for my move were twofold:

  1. I wanted my kids to feel safe, surrounded by people I’d known since childhood, in the quaint neighborhood I’d treasured.
  2. I wanted to be closer to my grandpa so I could help my sister take care of him.

My grandpa, our only remaining grandparent, lived by himself a block from Kim and two houses from my new home. He’d fallen into a funk after Grandma died a few years prior, and my mom had became his savior. She ran his errands, cleaned his house, kept him company, and made sure he bathed.

He had just started laughing again when mom died. Her death devastated him. Two years later when dad, his only child died, he went into a full blown depression.

Kim had stepped in to take mom’s place running his errands, and making sure his house was clean. My brother, Bob, spent as much time with him as he could during his days off, listening to the stories he liked to tell about the cold winters back in North Dakota, and the years ‘at the shop’ where he had worked as a barber.

Although Grandpa was being taken care of, other than seeing us here and there, he didn’t get out much and we worried that he just wasn’t coming around. He had lost his spunk. Nothing much made him happy anymore.

It’s Time to Make a Plan

Having just moved in, I had unpacked boxes stacked everywhere, was juggling two jobs, and had two small kids who were feeling disoriented and needing extra lovin’. But Grandpa still weighed heavily on our minds and hearts.

We all talked about things we could do to perk him up. We put ourselves in his shoes to try to feel what he must be feeling. He had to be lonely waking up day after day in a dark, quiet house with nothing to look forward to, surrounded by memories of people he’d loved  and lost.

We came up with a plan. Bob would increase his visits. After taking a couple days for me to get settled in, Kim and I would spend a day gathering things that might lift Grandpa’s spirits…

  • Music to fill the quiet – we bought him a boom box (hey, it was the ’80’s), and music by Jim Reeves, his favorite.
  • A fresh new wardrobe – we chose soft comfy shirts, new undies, slippers, jammies, etc.
  • Things to brighten his house – new couch pillows, pictures, rugs, accessories, bedding.
  • Gadgets – some useful, some just to make him laugh, and some to keep his mind busy.

Our “plan” filled Kim’s trunk! We called Grandpa and asked if we could take him to breakfast the next morning. He happily accepted, and Kim and I couldn’t wait for him to see all the cool things we were bringing him.

Kim Got to Grandpa’s House Ahead of Me

I walked into Grandpa’s kitchen all amped up expecting to hear grandpa shout a smart-ass greeting from the couch chastising me for being late.  Instead, Kim hushed me before I could say anything, and I heard grandpa in his bedroom talking to someone on the phone.

Everything felt off. Grandpa was hardly ever on the phone. The expression on Kim’s face was odd. I’d seen it before. Dad had worn that same expression when mom was so sick and I’d ask him how she was doing. That frozen disconnected smile. Hesitation. Confusion. Denial. Fear.

Concerned that the caller had brought bad news (although grandpa’s continued animated chit chat contradicted it), I asked Kim who was on the phone as we made our way to grandpa’s bedroom.  “He’s not on the phone” she said.

Who Are You Talking to and What Have You Done With My Grandpa?

There he was, comfortably leaning against pillows in the middle of his bed. Although he had known we were coming to take him to breakfast, there were no signs he’d made any effort to get up and ready. His hair was all messy, he hadn’t put his teeth in yet, but he was looking up and smiling like crazy. He seemed unaware that we were standing in the doorway of his bedroom as he continued his extremely animated conversation with “Allie” – the pet name he had called my grandma.

He waved away my stunned “Hey grandpa” greeting with his eyes still riveted to his ceiling obviously anxious to continue his conversation with grandma. My speechless question to Kim was answered with, “He’s been like this since I got here”.

Where Are You? What Are You Seeing?

Kim told me that he was still in bed when she got there, and was acting weird. He knew who she was, but didn’t seem to know what time it was. Because he was acting so strangely, she told him he needed to get up so we could maybe have the doctor check him out. He told her he wasn’t sick. She said he just kept looking up, smiling and talking. She asked him who he was talking to thinking he’d tell her he was talking to God.

She was surprised when he told her that Vivian (my mom’s deceased mom), was visiting with him on her way to the train station. Then he waved good-bye to her and turned to Kim explaining that Adeline, his (dead) sister, had stopped by earlier and, just as if it had happened in real-time, told her all about the conversation they had had.

We stood there watching our grandpa, who wasn’t our grandpa, in his own world with his own people. We were left to stand on the outside looking in. He was so animated. He kept looking up, smiling, waving and appeared that he was part of something happening that was very busy and exciting. He’d often look up, give a quick wave and a chuckle as if someone may have called out a greeting to him.

It felt we were watching him at an invisible party where people were stopping by to say hello…or as if grandpa was moving through a crowd and would give a two-finger wave, like a little salute, when someone recognized him and called his name. There were periods of time that he would say something, and then appear to be listening to a response. Like we were hearing only his end of a phone conversation.

It felt so bizarre. Grandpa wasn’t normally the friendly outgoing guy that we were staring at now. He’d always been a little rough around the edges, and his humor had always leaned heavily toward sarcasm. Not a party guy. Not particularly easy going. That day he was acting almost giddy. He seemed happier and more relaxed than I’d ever remembered seeing him, but at the same time a little shy and embarrassed by all the attention he appeared to be receiving.

Okay Grandpa, the Party’s Over.

Trying to bring him back to planet earth, we kept telling him he needed to get up to see what we brought him. He said, “No”. We told him we bought him a phone to have by his chair. He said, “I don’t need it”.

I guess we thought that at some point he’d snap out of it. When he didn’t, we called an ambulance.

When the EMTs arrived and were wheeling him out of his bedroom, he kept telling them, “They think I’m coming back. I’m not coming back!.” He was pretty amused by that. Then he’d look up and say “They didn’t need to buy me all that stuff. I won’t be using it.” Kim rode with him in the ambulance. She said he seemed fine, and was joking with her, but continued to look up, and as if sharing an inside joke say, “They think I’m coming back!.”

Was Grandpa Really Seeing Grandma?

Did she visit him often?

Was she there that day to guide him to Heaven?

Glimpse of the Afterlife When Dying | Women Over Fifty Network

Grandpa Suffered Right Along With Grandma.

Grandma “Allie” had dementia and multiple medical conditions. Toward the end of her life grandma was plagued with hallucinations…little men trying to squeeze under her bedroom door at night, women hanging clothes on her backyard clothesline, loud parties outside her bedroom window and people peering in at her.

Each frantic phone call from grandpa brought yet another change in medication for grandma, and several hours of mom and dad calming and consoling grandpa. It was scary for him, but must have been terrifying for grandma. Bless her heart. Grandma was on a lot of medication, some with side effects that might have been responsible for the hallucinations.

Grandpa, on the other hand, took no medication.

Grandpa also did not have dementia. His mind had stayed as sharp as a tack. Until this morning.

I hate to admit it, but my first thought was that he was faking it. Knowing that Kim and I would both be there that morning, was he so lonely that he had staged this act to make sure we’d worry, tell Bob, and all start spending more time with him? Grandma’s drug-induced hallucinations and dementia had gained her (and him) a lot of attention and kept a steady stream of visits and phone calls from mom and dad. Was he so lonely that he’d go to this extreme to recreate that scenario for himself?

I’ve Never Forgotten That Morning at Grandpa’s

Looking back, I’m ashamed that thought went through my mind as I stood at his bedroom door that morning.

When grandpa had turned into a one-man welcoming committee that day, totally oblivious to us, it had rooted me in place in shock. Because it caught me so off guard it scared the hell out of me. Now I kick myself for not participating in his joy by asking him to share what he was seeing.

Fast forward 30 years.

As I was researching a related topic for a blog post, the title of a book caught my eye and took me immediately back to that morning at grandpa’s house.

The book was “Words at the Threshold. What We Say as We’re Nearing Death“. The author, Lisa Smartt, founded the Final Words Project, an ongoing study devoted to collecting and interpreting the mysterious language that is heard at the end of lives.

If you have any interest at all in this subject, you’ll be mesmerized by this book. It’s a quick read, and is filled with excerpts from last conversations with the dying that she has collected in her research. There are so many similarities of what people say and what they see during the final days of their lives. It sends a chill down the spine.

Would I Have Acted Differently?

I thought of grandpa repeating over and over that day “I’m not coming back!”.

He’d been right. He didn’t come back. The gifts Kim and I had brought him never left her trunk. We didn’t get to take him to breakfast. He’d spent a short time in the hospital, and then died peacefully.

Remembering grandpa, I was curious to see if there was any mention in the book of people who were close to death appearing to be speaking to deceased loved ones. After a quick scan, the heading “The Arrival of Deceased Loved Ones” jumped off the page at me. Oh. My. God.

On page 107 Lisa writes “If you hear a loved one begin to speak of or with a deceased friend or family member, you can ask questions and lean into that moment fully, for it may be a signal that death is near…

Grandpa knew.

Having recently lost both parents, was I so afraid of losing another loved one that I refused to acknowlege what I probably knew was true? I’m so glad that grandpa was so absorbed in what was happening in his world that day that he wasn’t even aware of our efforts to rip him away from it.

I’d like to think we’re greeted and accompanied to the afterlife when we die. Since fear of the unknown and feeling alone are associated with our thoughts of death, wouldn’t it be nice if instead of dreading it, we knew we could look forward to it being a pleasant experience? 

Have you been near someone as they were nearing death? What experiences did you have? Please share below. It may be helpful to someone who’s facing the death of someone they love, or their own death. I so wish I had read Lisa’s book or had talked to someone prior to my last day with grandpa.

Patti Huck image and signature