Tiny Type, Packaging & Passwords… Being Old Is A Challenge


There are so many things going on that make life really tough if you are older that politicians’ comments about our “golden years” probably means the price of gold is dropping.

Take packaging. Have you noticed that it’s almost impossible to remove things from all the plastic “protecting” them? I’ve gotten checks for thousands of dollars surrounded by one layer of paper, often with part of the check face pointed out. On the other hand, taking out the refills for Febreze and other plugins requires tools. It’s for our security we’re told. Yes, can’t you just imagine all those housewives jonesing for their scent fix and stealing them from supermarkets? Maybe they’ll have people on street corners near Publix whispering, “Hey, you want a fresh sniff?”

And bottles have all sorts of complications. We used to be able to twist or pop the tops off. Now it’s “push down and twist and ignore those ridges that are digging into your arthritic fingers.” Of course, the vacuum-sealed jars are a barrel of laughs. I watched a friend who can still lift a hundred pounds at the gym struggle with that. Quick hint: grab a pointed knife and punch a couple of holes to get rid of the vacuum.

Shall we discuss the small print on so many food items? The print to inform us of all the chemicals inside is in (often government required) decent size print. Of course, almost none of us have any idea what each means. But to make certain we can read about the half gram of some substance we don’t understand, they make the cooking instructions really, really, really small. So, I stare at the instructions wondering, “Is that six minutes, eight minutes or nine minutes?” I move the package back and forth trying to see where any break in the print might give a hint. And sometimes I just have to experiment. Semi-cooked meatloaf is such treat!

The same is true of medications. I can read the front of the labels alright, but then there’s the packet with all of the possible issues, and it’s in really tiny type. Maybe I should actually know that if I take these pills for more than six months my whole system will change and by the end of the year I’ll be a unicorn. Old people use a lot of meds, and many of us can’t even really check out possible dangers.

The worst part for me is technology. Why is it that every time a phone maker “upgrades” their product, they change how customers are supposed to do things? Yes, it is nice that the cameras have been upgraded. Pictures are nicer, but ways to transfer them for texting, saving, etc., seem to change with each model. Why, when I upgrade from an iPhone 10 to a 12, do I have to relearn all the things it took seemingly forever to learn from my kids and even my grandkids.

And then there are the passwords. I have to be careful here because I usually don’t call them that. Often I tend to get profane. For the first 10 years of my phone and computer, I had one password for everything and had no problems. Then my brother-in-law pointed out it might be a good idea to use a second one for anything that had much to do with money. So I got along for another five years with two, and usually remembered which one.

Then the companies started to get cute. They contacted me ordering new passwords, and each one seemed to have its own rules. Instead of just letters and numbers, I had to bring in spaces, capital letters and all sorts of syntactical symbols. And then every once in a while, I get informed that I need to make another change and that I cannot use any of the passwords I used before. I went from having one to a sort of Heinz 57. And I have to have a file that holds them all because I can’t remember all of them. Oh, and the file has a password.

I’ve heard that some Inuit tribes long ago left old people who were considered useless on ice floes so they could die and none of the young folk would have to deal with it. Will our society be far behind, leaving us with food products we can’t eat and phones we can’t get into for help as we fade away?