I know I’m getting old when I become overwhelmed by the product choices offered at grocery and discount stores these days. And just to make it more difficult, manufacturers of consumer goods are constantly changing the packaging making it all the harder to recognize the items with which you have become familiar.
This problem is all the more challenging for my 89-year-old father who cared for my mother at the end of her life and by necessity became the household shopper. He is forever getting the wrong size trash bags, picking up the large boxes of Kleenex that won’t fit in the boutique-size tissue holders and getting detergent without the “He” designation for use in front-loading washing machines.
Then there is the matter of manufacturers that frequently discontinue products altogether. You purchase a liquid soap dispenser for the bathroom and before you know it, the refills are no longer available. The moisturizer that you’ve used for years is no longer available and the cold medicine that has worked for you has been recalled. Ugh!
I’m still hopeful that I have not gotten too old to adapt, even if it takes a little more effort and causes some confusion, but for my father, it is far more difficult. I’ve thought that perhaps if I made a list of common items he buys with a complete description it may help, but I haven’t acted on my idea.
The other problem Daddy has is buying items he already has in the pantry. Interior designers who plan pantries with shelves so deep that they gobble up canned goods and boxes of crackers should have to live with their choices. Same goes for those who plan cave-like kitchen cabinets that require a person to stand on his head to reach the measuring cups that have slipped behind the mixing bowls.
Thankfully, some resourceful people are coming up with all sorts of more people-friendly kitchen options that eliminate some of this frustration. And the movement to age in place is giving birth to a variety of home accommodations to make things easier for older residents. Consider the lever handles that have replaced the modest door knob that caused difficulty for arthritic hands. Grab bars in the bathroom, higher toilets and wider doorways are also becoming popular.
So I guess as confusing as the proliferation of new products has become, it is good to know that some people are working to make life easier as we age. And, it is important to realize that much of the new product development is geared toward better serving the needs and desires of a changing population. Or, is it just a ploy to get us to buy more than we need or can use? Oops, I’m sounding way too cynical and I can’t stand crabby old people.
Kathy Silverberg. Secretary of Senior Friendship Centers' Board of Governors, Kathy is currently a newspaper columnist/ freelance writer, and previously was Southern Region Publisher for the Sarasota Herald Tribune and Editor/General Manager of four New York Times regional newspapers. She serves as liaison between United Way of Charlotte County and the Senior Friendship Centers. She is past chair of the Board of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, is a board member and past president for United Way of Charlotte County; and, is chair of Charlotte County’s Senior Leadership Council.