The Old Guy picks some gadgets that make aging a little easier

Author’s Note: I’m not getting paid to mention any of these items. I just thought you’d like to know about them.

When New York City announced that it would be slowly eliminating plastic bags from stores, I panicked. Not because I don’t believe in recycling, but because we were, up to that point, reusing the plastic bags we amassed from convenience stores and supermarkets to contain the waste matter from our cat, Lucas. He is a tiny little guy, but he makes great use of the facilities at our house.

So, it was with a sigh of relief that, while on a trip for pet supplies, we found something called The Litter Genie. This is a plastic container about four foot high that stands to the right of his litter. It contains a blue plastic bag that is removable via an inner scissor device. You wait until you can’t scoop any more litter into the hole atop the bag, open the container, remove the bag and pull a new one into place. The smell and sight of the waste matter are contained and the blue plastic bag gets thrown out with the regular garbage.

It works wonderfully for Lucas and I would guess for multiple cats, although you might have to change the bag a bit more often.

Next up…a cool device named Light It! After my fall last year, I became very self-conscious about going down stairs, especially in the dark. I know, I know. I could turn on a light. But, that interferes with the mental image of rugged masculinity I have of myself.

What a relief to find Light It! It’s a small light encased in a plastic bulb. It is rechargeable via a USB to USB 2 micro cord and it’s motion sensitive. It has three settings: off, auto and on, and in the auto mode, it will only go on for about a minute if an object passes in front of it. Just long enough to grab a glass of water from the kitchen sink or get into the bathroom and flick on the light.

Laugh if you will, but this little device has saved my butt (as well as my big toe) from disaster numerous times. And, let’s remember that one in four Americans 65 and older fall each year and, every 19 minutes, somebody dies from a fall. Falls result in 2.8 million injuries.

We can’t laugh these statistics off as “Well, ya know, getting old.”

If you want to live long enough to be able to laugh about that, you have to start taking it seriously now.

The last suggestion I have is very personal, so forgive me if I get a little sentimental.

I worked with my voice coach, Jerry Bragin, from 1990 until he passed in December of 2017. When I came to him, I had no singing voice left. Constant abuse from teaching and singing had rendered it so unusable that the other members in my band begged me to stop singing and let somebody else sing the songs I had written for the group. That did not go well.

Jerry and I met twice a month for many, many years. I would drive out to his home office in Hempstead and he would choose and record a song for me to work on, to be prepared for our next lesson. We shared a wonderful camaraderie and since he was an excellent pianist, I enjoyed listening to him set down tracks that I still play daily. I miss him like all get out.

Occasionally, he would ask me to retrieve his glasses from his desk. They were perched on what, to me, looked like a miniature version of the stone heads on Easter Island. The trick is the glasses would neatly fold over the bridge of the nose in the face, making a convenient and safe resting place for one’s glasses.

I thought of him one night when, upon retiring, I found I had no safe place to put my glasses. My nightstand was crowded to overspilling with books. My chest of drawers were too far away. And then, I remembered Jerry’s Easter Island figurehead. I searched for one online and had it in a couple of days. It sits proudly atop my bookcase, reminding me with a smile of my friend and mentor.

As I often say, it’s odd the things we take away from others in life. The little memories that we have of them become larger after they pass. The lessons we have learned take on added significance as we age.

I think the trick is to use what we’ve learned and add to it as we go. I learned how to bake and how to cook recently. I’ve also learned what I’m good at and what needs more work. That’s the best of this. The rest is unease and fear, and those can lead to rash decisions.

I want you to maintain a sense of pride in yourself and what you’ve accomplished. I want the fear and sorrow of this time to pass and I want to see all of you when it is done and give each of you a kiss and a hug.

Take it easy. Be kind to yourself and others. Stay safe, stay strong, stay in.

And hold those grey heads high!

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