Aging not so gracefully with AARP

Having finished a nice and satisfying dinner, I curled up (i.e. sat down) with the latest AARP Bulletin. It wasn’t long before I came across the tests for seniors.

Feeling remarkably fit, I enthusiastically dove into the features. It would be yet another chance to prove what good shape I was in.

Right? Well …

The first test asked me to sit cross-legged on the floor. Sadly, I do know some even younger than I who’d have trouble there but a cinch, at least for me. Then (oh, yes, there was more) the test was in rising to a standing position without using knees or arms.

That was easy to picture: one simply raises his body with the strength in those crossed legs. I could imagine it easily.

But I sat.

And I sat. And I tried to make my imagination move my legs.

It didn’t work. I just kept sitting there. Finally, I had to use my hands. Could have done it with just knees alone too (I think) but what an ego-deflator!

I breathed a sign of relief to see the second test required no motor skills. It was simply to determine how far away from a jar of peanut butter one can stand and begin to pick up the scent. The left nostril was supposed to be a test for Alzheimer’s. The article mandated doing this with a partner who would hold the peanut butter while you held one nostril closed at a time.

Partner? Heck! Place the open jar on the counter, close eyes and one side of nose. Then walk . . . and sniff.

Maybe my peanut butter was just too old. (Certainly I’m not!) But I ran right into it nose first of course and still wasn’t smelling a thing.

OK, right nostril. My nose ran right into the open jar . . . again. I still wasn’t picking up any scent at all.

But now that I was there and the jar enticingly open, I stuck my finger in for a further test. Perhaps this was just cheap tasteless stuff.

Nope, it wasn’t.

To be sure, however, I tried it again.

Now I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve eaten peanut butter. I’m too aware of those lurking calories. Usually. But this was research, right? Certainly there can be no calories involved when one is undertaking serious research. Well, to confess, I lost count of how much “researching” I ultimately did and am not even sure if it was conscience or lost appetite which finally told me this experiment was over.

Dexterity was next. I know I cannot open a jar. Talk to me of the bottle of champagne still waiting for someone whose grip is stronger than mine. For jars, I do have foolproof utensils that easily do what I cannot.

I sleep fantastically well so I passed that easily.

I confess I flunked facial recognition simply because I don’t know Oprah much or Madonna at all. How about picking faces we old-timers might know? Lincoln perhaps. (I did know all the Presidents they pictured.)

So back to the floor and that sitting exercise. While down there I reread the AARP article. They (AARP) tested people to age 80. Maybe by then I could get the hang of it or accept the demerits for using hands, arms or legs. One could lose a point for each with a maximum loss of ten. (Go figure that one.)

While this is supposed to predict an earlier than expected death, I continued to read (while sitting on the floor cross-legged why not?) that “scoring just one point higher was associated with a 21 percent lower mortality.”

One point higher than WHAT? Because I don’t need all ten points to get me back up, does that make it OK? And what is the norm?

Can I settle for a nine?

Well, dang it, I will just as soon as I get off this bloomin’ floor!

(With my empty jar of peanut butter.)

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts released in June. Copies are available at Papaya Arts on the Boardwalk in Dunkirk and the Cassadaga ShurFine. Information on all the Musings, the books and the author can be found at