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Getting better, not just older!

By Norman Araiza

It goes without saying that nearly everyone reading this article has no problem passing for the senior discounts at most any theater in the world. Along with that advantage and a few others sprinkled about there are some privileges we can enjoy for getting to this point. There are, however, characteristics of people in this age group that can make their lives and the lives of those around them less enjoyable. As you read these characteristics bear in mind that I’m certainly not referring to you, my dear readers, but rather those that we may have the displeasure of hearing or seeing or being effected by.

The first characteristic I want to discuss is so common that it is largely accepted by the general public and that is Irascibility. Irascibility may be understood by the use of three words that include the cause as well as define the condition. Grumpy old men or grumpy old women! It’s as simple as that. I could use other terms: irritable, angry, short-tempered, mean-spirited, fault-finding, negativity, to name a few. But I think you get the idea. Irascibility is a clinical term that describes a symptom of the normal aging process that we refer to as Menopause for women and Andropause for men. This characteristic is the result of hormonal changes in the brain that occur quite naturally. I do not mean to imply that this is to be expected, accepted nor unavoidable or irreversible. It is common and not fun for anyone.This symptom develops slowly. In fact, it occurs so slowly that many of us fail to see it occurring. We may notice it in others and others may see it in us. But, as with all symptoms, awareness is the first step in treatment or controlling this life-debilitating symptom. Some may elect to treat this condition with Hormone Replacement Therapy, which can be very effective in alleviating but it is controversial. For the rest of us, behavioral medicine can be equally effective.

The next symptom is perhaps not quite as common in general but appears to be a common symptom of the over-50-crowd and that is what some people refer to as compulsive or incessant talkers. There is comparatively little research on this subject but we have all been victims of these attention thieves. These are the over-informed individuals that are so full of themselves or information that they feel compelled to tell us everything, ad nauseum. These are people that can talk incessantly while hardly taking a breath. Any attempt at having a dialogue quickly converts to a monologue with them taking center stage. They seem only to be interested in our ability to listen or at least provide a target for their blabbering. This infliction can occur at any age but it seems more prevalent in later years. The reason, I believe, is that in childhood years incessant talking is just not allowed. Parents, family members, and teachers confront this behavior. In later years, however, people may notice it but are reticent to confront it directly and it goes unchecked. This condition is best corrected after a courageous and honest self-appraisal and a daily commitment to be more interested than interesting.

In the spirit of growth and introspection next week’s article will continue to focus on traits that detract from us and interfere with our ability to connect more meaningfully with others.


Norman Araiza Candelaria M.A. is an American-trained psychotherapist enjoying a limited practice in SMA. He is available for consultation at 152-7842 or

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