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I can't help but wondering...what did elders do in the old days before television?

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i used to take my " then 82 " yr old aunt trike riding . i can see the passengers in my mirrors . ive seen some young kids enjoy themselves more but not much more .
edna was gellin like a felon .
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This isn't a hundred years ago -- more like 60, maybe. My country grandma did not have a television. She lived in a tiny house on the same property as the old farmhouse she and Grampa homesteaded. as a young couple, and which now one of her sons occupied with this family. She interacted with that family a lot, and they kept an eye on her. Grampa died in his 70s but Gramma lived on another 20 years. She loved cooking and would try to insist on feeding anyone who visited her. When she eventually got "senile" and couldn't safely live alone, she went to a nursing home. She was mostly bed-bound. The oldest daughter visited her daily and said she mostly slept or dozed. She'd mutter out loud. Aunt said she sometimes appeared to be reliving life events. "Who knows," said my Aunt. "Maybe she is content."

My city gram did have a television. I'm not sure how much she watched it. She knit, knit, knit until her eyes gave out, and she extended that by switching to colors easier for her to see. For several years I think her chief occupation was making up soap opera episodes. I'd visit in her high-rise senior apartment in the middle of down-town. Her chair was always positioned by the window. She'd have me join her there. There was a bar across the street and we looked down on the door area. Gram would say, "See that blond woman with the bright scarf? She is there nearly every day. There are two men interested in her. So far the two men have never been there at the same time. I think one of them might be her husband. Or at least they've known each other a long time. You can just tell in their attitudes when they talk to each other. The men aren't very savory characters and neither of them treats her well. In the afternoon like this it's mostly ok, but when they come out of the bar at night their behavior is worse." And on and on, speculating about the silent lives she watched out her window. Amazing.

(I guess you could say that each of my grandmothers were entertained in their imaginations.)

City Gram also went into a nursing home at the end. I don't believe she ever got "senile" but could no longer manage to cook for herself and keep her apartment clean.

Now it is my mother (the country gramma's daughter) who is in a nursing home. She definitely has dementia and also mobility issues. Sixty years ago she would have been bedbound, but by using a sit-to-stand machine two aides can get her up. She is thriving on bingo, live entertainment, sing-alongs, movies, crafts, and interacting with a few other women. When she was alone in her high-rise apartment (like my city gram's) she watched television constantly. Now she seldom does.

In my limited experience of that generation, elders tended to stay as active as they could as long as they could, doing the things they'd done all their lives. When health issues interfered with that, many of them were placed in nursing homes, which seemed to be more custodial than stimulating.
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100 years ago, the very elderly were rare. Families lived closer and there was always someone to take care of them.....BUT the median age was 49 for males and 54 for females! I dare say most of us on this Board would be 6 foot under by now if we were in 1916.
According to my grandmother in her youth the family sat in the front porch in rocking chairs, single girls did the same with their appropriate chaperons. Families went for strolls and chatted with neighbors, or watched the neighbor children play. She met grandpa, as he strolled by with his horse and stopped to visit......kid you not, I remember her stories very well. This would have been 1925.
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My grandpa told me they drank whiskey and played euchre. He taught me both at a very young age.
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The above message was responding to Pam. Oops -- didn't notice my message was in between.
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Unless you were old-style Baptist. They couldn't dance. My mother said they would sing on the porch while they shelled peas and husked corn. They listened to gospel music when it came on the radio. My mother still loves to listen to Bill Gaither. Some of the older singers were ones she grew up listening to.
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In 1920 the life expectancy was only 54 years. People didn't tend to make it through their working years, much less live into their declining years. Accidents, strokes, heart attacks, stokes, infections (no antibiotics), child-bed fever, death when giving birth, etc., limited life. I imagine that with all their was to do, people slept nights because they were tired. (Reminds me of Loretta Lynn's "Coal Miner's Daughter")
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Pianos were fairly common way back when. Classrooms had them. Bars had them. Instead of downloading i-tunes, you bought sheet music. You sang along. You pushed back the furniture and you danced.
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They talked - about their lives, adventures, and they read or sewed or played with grandchildren. And I'll bet their lives were all the richer for it too! My elderly aunt and I often shut off the tv and just talk - we share a bedroom now and we're "dorm buddies". Her life was so much more interesting than tv.
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My mother never watched TV - never did. Yet she now has a nice big flat screen in her room and we're paying a huge cable bill keeping it there - always turned off. I wish mom would show some intrest in the TV as since she recently lost intrest in her life-long love affair with books, she spends all her time sleeping or starring. Recently mom said she wants to live long enough to vote for a woman president so I'm hoping when the election comes near she'll show some intrest in the TV. And those are words I never thought I'd say - looking forward to more election coverage - ugggg!
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My dad barely watches tv but he does listen to music and claps rhythms on his legs and tables. Have you tried wireless headphones for music? He loves those and it might address the hearing problem. We also don't want him to be lonely and are with him as much as possible, but understand the "sticks like glue" because he did that with my mother through one stage. Only music keeps him occupied for an hour or more. His physical therapist suggested one of those mini cycles and he does cycle away on that (briefly). Again, we had to help at first while he learned. None of the dementia activity toys have worked with him. We bought a 9" ball and he plays catch with us or bounces it himself (we showed him how). I don't know what stage your mother is at but my father is advanced, severe dementia (between 6 and 7). At the moment, it is my mom and I both here (I am here for a six weeks) so we alternate. Also, we recently hired a caregiver for 4 hours a day which gives us support. Taking a tip from her, when she needs to leave his presence, she asks him if he "can please wait for me here? I'll be right back" (he does! I think because he likes being asked). Lastly, we keep bring him to the main living area or patio if we are outside, just so he feels he is in the center of the action (even if we leave the room) which makes all the difference. I'm not sure any of this will help but I also keep trying things.
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im not easily deterred .
my grandmother had 11 kids and they usually lived in a one room shack with a wooden floor when they were lucky . they must have had so much forest sex that the animals were redfaced .
RaaaRR !!
knitting , indeed ..
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I don't think very many people lived to as ripe an old age -- there just weren't as many people having to face age-related dimentia/delirium and the staring-at-the-wall years. I saw my great granny in the 1980s - she was 91 then and didn't move around much. She was confined to an upstairs bedroom and extended family and friends all took turns caring for and visiting with her. People used to live in closer-knit communities 100 years ago and they took visiting with the elderly much more seriously than people today. We're all so "busy." I also think Granny was able to knit and crochet until very close to the end, too. Knitting, sitting, watching out the window, rocking, visiting. That's what they did.
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they didnt have birth control either . ill bet they could make " 50 shades of grey " look like 50 shades of amateurish ..
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100 years ago it was common to lock away anyone with a mental defect, heck, it was common back in the 1950's. You might keep grandpa locked in a upstairs room... isn't it in Jayne Eyre that he first wife is locked away upstairs? There were no really effective drugs or therapies, and superstition often dictated they were possessed by evil spirits (why else would a good man be cursing and throwing feces your way??).
And as FF says, people just didn't live as long or survive the kind of disease that could lead to dementia like strokes. Although I take issue with the common perception that life expectancy was only 50 or 60, you have to remember that is an average that is skewed by the huge rates of childhood and infant mortality.
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1916: Believe it or not, you hauled a lot of water and you boiled it, because even if you had tapwater, it was not chlorinated. Dresses were long, and horses were everywhere. You spent a lot of time getting horseshift off your hem. You hauled rugs outside and beat them clean. You scrubbed floors on your hands and knees. No paper products, so you boiled clean diapers and feminine hygiene products (yikes!)
You enjoyed Norman Rockwell's first cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
Pershing was chasing Pancho Villa back to Mexico
The US sued Coca-Cola for "adulteration" because they took out the coca and replaced it with caffeine.
Terrorists lit off bombs in San Francisco's Market St. and Germans blew up a munitions depot in Jersey City.
Margaret Sanger opens a birth control clinic and is promptly arrested.
Gosh a lot of things have NOT changed.
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Marialake, I have a feeling dementia wasn't that well known.... back 100 years ago the average life span of a person was only to their late 50's or early 60's. Medical issues like heart attacks and cancers would take a person.

I remember back in the 1950's, I heard the term "seniel" being used for an adult who had memory problems. Back then the life span of a person was to their late 60's and early 70's.
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I meant- say 100 years ago.........when dementia reared it's head -what kept the elders occupied? Nothing holds my mother's interest for 2 seconds and I really try. She doesn't want anything to do with any of her old interests and adamantly refuses to engage in new ones. Radio is of no help as she is very hard of hearing but television distracts a bit and can be temporary "company." I don't ignore her all day but I need some form of privacy on occasion! She sticks to me like glue. Even in the bathroom. :(
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I remember my mom telling me how they would sit out on the porch on summer evenings and sing, and sometimes the neighbours would join in! Visiting was popular too, you always had to be prepared because family or neighbours might pop in at ant time. And of course nobody was sitting up until midnight or later, the went to bed by 9:00. Do you remember when TV used to go off the air for the night???
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They all sat on the front porch and kept an eye on the neighborhood. If a child did something bad they shouted "I'm going to tell your mother!!" They tended small gardens and grew their own vegetables. Prior to the 1970's, mothers did not work outside the home and grandparents often lived with grandchildren. Grandma helped do the canning and clothing repairs: buttons, knees, socks needing attention were not thrown away, but patched up and handed down. The radio was ALWAYS on.
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Elders listened to the radio. Played box games like checkers. And it would take the housewife all day to do the laundry as the old machines didn't have a spin cycles, clothes had to hand cranked to get as much water out, then all the clothes were put on clothes lines. Thus clothes had to be washed on a sunny day. I remember my Mom would roll up Dad's work shirts and put them in the refrigerator to keep damp so that she could iron them the next day.... that was before steam irons became popular.

I remember my Mom walking to the grocery store and carrying back items, thus the reason to go every day or every other day as you couldn't carry home a weeks worth of groceries in one trip.

Oh, the list goes on and on.

Plus our elders actually talked to each other and their children.... now a days, they text :P
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