Several old ‘codgers’ were lamenting the effects of senior life and the aging process by telling how they were busier now than when they Gary whispering to Margaretworked full time jobs.  “I can’t seem to get anything done, but I am busy all the time,” was a frequent statement.  After an extensive discussion I challenged the seniors to try something to relieve the everyday stress.  

The major premise is that we all, and especially senior adults,  suffer from the “But-First-Syndrome”  I hasten to add the American Medical Association hasn’t recognized the “But-First Syndrome” as a disease, but that doesn’t mean that many people are not suffering from some of its symptoms.  Here are some of the symptoms that one of the members of the group noticed in his own life.

I decide to do the laundry.  I sit down with the intention of doing just that and notice the newspaper on the table.  I will do the laundry, BUT FIRST I am going to read the paper. After that I notice some mail on the table.  I’ll stick the newspaper in the recycle bin, BUT FIRST I’ll look through the mail to see if there are any unpaid bills.  As I leaf through the mail, I notice the empty glass on the coffee table from yesterday.  I am now going to look for the checkbook to take care of those unpaid bills, BUT FIRST I need to put that empty glass in the sink.  I head for the kitchen with the glass, but then I notice through the window that our poor flowers need some water.  I put the glass in the sink and see that the TV remote and the portable phone are both lying on the countertop.  I don’ know how they got there, but I do need to put them away, BUT FIRST I need to water those plants.

 By the end of the day, he says he manages to get some of the laundry done, the newspapers are still on the floor by the table, and the glass is now in the sink.  However, the bills never get paid, the checkbook was never found, and the dog ate the remote control.  There was so much he meant to do but he got sidetracked by the “But-First Syndrome.”

 Do you recognize any of this in your own life?  If so I can tell you by experience it increases with the aging process.  If you were in school you would be sent for an evaluation and the diagnosis would be Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Let me hasten to add you have none of these disorders but you have the normal impact of aging.  You will have some of the same discomforts as if you did have an abnormality; pain- primarily emotional, irritation- primarily with yourself, and there is always the occasionally mental overload.  Be of good cheer you are normal.

 The annals of Behavioral Psychology are filled with the importance of establishing a plan, working the plan and evaluating the results.   My challenge to my fellow seniors was a modified approach to bring closure to each activity before embarking upon a separate activity

A big, Southern hug for cousin Frannie Without closure you will find yourself with numerous projects that pile up and go unfinished and simultaneously cause stress levels to increase.  Additionally, memory lapses begin to occur. The old adage “everything has a place and everything is in its place” is a great motto to adopt.  If you presently do not subscribe to this type approach, it may prove difficult to get started. 

Forming habits require approximately three weeks of diligently working on the process.  Give it a try and see if you eliminate the “BUT FIRST syndrome.”

Finally, to my senior friends (65 and over), inactivity is the ‘kiss of death.”  You will find yourself finding and making excuses why you are not active.  Watching television is a passive activity, gravitating to social networking is a brain distracter, and the list goes on.  Suffice it to say you should not allow television or similar activities to dominate your life but rather engage activity that increases blood flow.  Instead of grabbing the remote control for the evening dedicate yourself to doing modified exercise during the commercials or walking around in the house. It is significant ‘men” you need brighter lighting when sitting or otherwise your brain will go to ‘la la land”

Remember the morning is peek time for activity.  Don’t fall into the trap of turning on the television or rushing to your ‘Facebook.’ Replace these activities by grabbing those walking shoes and getting 20 good minutes of walking. Your brain will thank you and on top of that you will remember tomorrow what you did.

 Research indicates there are  gender differences in brain function between men and women in this area.   Do not be surprised men if your spouse thinks you have the beginning stages of Alzheimer because you have forgotten something.  Let’s not add to this perception by getting an overdose of the “But-First-Syndrome, or becoming passive in your everyday life.

 One of the joys of growing old is the fact you meet lots of new people.  They must be new otherwise I would remember their name.   I love old people.  Cheers








Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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