All About Seniors: It’s the Economy Stupid

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, October 1, 2015



After recently completing a round of dental restoration I remembered this column I wrote several years ago. I hope you enjoy rereading it it as much as I did…..and take time to reflect on the message as well.
An old man placed an order for one hamburger, French fries and a drink.
He unwrapped the plain hamburger and carefully cut it in half, placing one half in front of his wife. He then carefully counted out the French fries, dividing them into two piles and neatly placed one pile in front of his wife.
He took a sip of the drink, his wife took a sip and then set the cup down between them. As he began to eat his few bites of hamburger, the people around them were looking over and whispering.  Obviously they were thinking, ‘That poor old couple – all they can afford is one meal for the two of them.’
As the man began to eat his fries a young man came to the table and politely offered to buy another meal for the old couple. The old man said, they were just fine – they were used to sharing everything.  People closer to the table noticed the little old lady hadn’t eaten a bite. She sat there watching her husband eat and occasionally taking turns sipping the drink.
Again, the young man came over and begged them to let him buy another meal for them. This time the old woman said ‘No, thank you, we are used to sharing everything.’
Finally, as the old man finished and was wiping his face neatly with the napkin, the young man again came over to the little old lady who had yet to eat a single bite of food and asked ‘What is it you are waiting for?’
She answered ——‘THE TEETH’!
Hope you got a chuckle out of that fictional story from cyberspace..…I did. But here’s a true story that happened to one of our senior couples just last week.
Quite abruptly, Mr. A lost his appetite for no apparent reason. Mrs. A was somewhat mystified, but since this wasn’t the first time, she kind of brushed it off for a day or two. As this self-imposed fast continued several days however, she got concerned and began fussing at him for not eating. There was no explanation, just silence. As the days rolled into a week, she got more concerned and turned up the volume a bit on the fussing, all to no avail. No explanation, just silence.
After about a week, Mr. A, who suffers from vascular dementia, presented his bridge and gold cap to his wife as an offering to explain his self imposed fast. It seems that during their regular visit to the dentist the week before, the hygienist was a little overly aggressive in doing her cleaning routine and when he got home, his devices fell out.
It’s the economy, stupid!”
I hate to quote Bill Clinton, but that was the explanation for Mr. A’s silence over the missing teeth. It seems that he’s been hearing so much bad news about the economy on the TV lately that he was afraid to give more bad news to his wife for fear they couldn’t afford to get his teeth repaired or replaced. I’m sure that for some seniors this would be a valid concern, but for Mr. and Mrs. A, it isn’t; they live in a very affluent assisted living facility and can afford to have this taken care of. It was an irrational response given the real facts. But to Mr. A, given his dementia handicap, it was a perfectly rational response to a bad economy.
The point of this whole story is this. If one of your seniors suddenly exhibits irrational behavior, go easy on the fussing but be a little more aggressive on the investigative end of things. There may be a rational explanation that could need medical   attention, especially where some form of dementia is involved.
Bon Appetite, as you share the bounties God has given to you!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors……see you next week!
Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors.  You can reach him at if you have questions or comments about this column.