10 Reasons Crazy Old Ladies Really are Crazy
Have you encountered an old lady in a grocery store? Not observed them, but actually had an encounter? At times, it’s scary to be around old ladies. The ‘crazy old lady’ moniker is often fulfilled by some pretty rude and shocking behavior.
You wheel your cart to the checkout line, looking for any other shoppers who may have been in front of you. It seems no one was waiting in line. Then it happens. The shopping cart comes from your left, out of your peripheral vision. The sound of metal cart against metal cart is drowned out by the crazy old lady yelling, “You cut me! How dare you cut in front of me! Get your cart out of my way!”
There she is; a short, chubby, gray-haired old lady, with raging eyes. After her rant, she continues to use Herculean strength to push your grocery cart to the side and take her place in front of you. Of course, by now, you’ve backed up, allowing her to have a clear shot at the cashier. You don’t want to hear the additional squawking. That crazy old lady put the fear of God into you. How can an old lady have such strength? And why would a seemingly sweet old lady cut the line and then blame an innocent victim, yelling like a crazy person?
When people age, illness and other life changes sometimes bring out the ‘worst’ of them; the personality traits least desirable. Someone who’s been impatient most of their life can deal poorly with irritability and become enraged by small annoyances. An elderly person who was always a perfectionist, may take on a demanding temperament and be hard to please.
Whatever the origin of crazy behavior, here are 10 reasons crazy old ladies really are crazy, and why you should always let them win.
- Mothball Crazy
Elderly ladies and grandmas generally subscribe to mothball use to prevent insects from nesting in their clothing and their home. Mothballs give off a strong chemical odor easily recognized and hard to get rid of. Old ladies have used mothballs in everything for years; at times stashing them in with dry goods. The result is food items like pasta and crackers that actually taste like mothballs!
So why the strong smell? Mothballs are made from toxic pesticides—with ingredients that are almost 100% chemicals. Constant exposure causes different health ailments. The offensive odor is as toxic as the actual substance and is similar to inhaling a can of bug spray. Constant exposure to the vapor can cause serious, untreatable health problems. If ingested, mothballs cause irreversible harm in a small child or the elderly.
Prolonged exposure to mothballs, common in old people, will cause some level of poisoning. A few of the side effects include headaches, restlessness, confusion, and other psychosomatic symptoms. So perfuse are these affects, someone addicted to drugs, when drugs aren’t available, will look to find alternative sources such as mothballs. Sniffing glue, breathing the gases from spray paint, and yes, sniffing mothballs are often used as a ‘getting high’ choice. Mothballs are readily bought in almost any store at a small cost.
So can mothballs contribute to old ladies being crazy? While conventional medical groups may be hesitant to site mothballs as a mood altering agent, old ladies who hoarded them for years really may be mothball crazy.
- The Old Man Syndrome
Have you ever witnessed an old lady swinging her purse at her husband, who quickly ducks to avoid the impact? Or overheard the badgering of a little grandma as she complains to her husband that he’s just too stupid and slow? Although many long term marriages of 40 years and more go pretty smooth minus the typical marriage bumps, something tends to change once the ‘wife’ gets old.
A previously happy couple will become rivals and hold days of silence between each other because of trivial reasons. Geriatricians and family doctors see these relationships decay once the couple gets to their ‘golden years.’ The likely culprit to most of the bickering? The wife.
There are some couples who prefer to fight and argue their entire marriage. They believe it keeps them on their toes. Yet, once years go by to the point of this competitive arguing becoming fierce and belittling, the causes are investigated for mental and psychological causes. The crazy old lady swinging her purse at her confused husband is either impatient with him after 50 years of marriage, or actually dealing with mental disease.
Early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s will mimic a crazy old lady syndrome in women, while men tend to just give up and sit quietly in their favorite easy chair. Emotional changes like increased anger, frustration, and anxiety are presented in elderly early on. Later symptoms such as loss of memory and decreased thought processing are indicative of more advanced cognitive impairment. The more emotion based early changes come on slowly and aren’t usually recognized as a psychiatrically induced reactions. They are often equated to crazy old man and crazy old lady labels.
So the next time you encounter a crazy old lady accosting her husband, she is either worn out from years of marriage, or … really crazy.
- You’re Driving Me Crazy
Driving in Florida during peak ‘snow bird,’ or more politely, ‘winter visitor’ season is enough to cause a young healthy person to have a heart attack. Official traffic department signs are posted along busy streets that say, “Please Try Not to Honk.” Non-stop traffic comes to a full stop while an old lady decides whether to turn left or right; disorientated by the busy intersection. Senior drivers are slow, scary, and most of the time, oblivious.
That crazy old lady, driving like she’s browsing through a magazine, likely suffers from glaucoma or macular degeneration. Both conditions cause vision to dim and dwindle. Cataracts, untreated, are like looking through thick smoke: anything not within a foot of visibility is simply not there.
Along with diminished eye sight, the elderly no longer have the same muscle and nervous system reflexes. Because their responses are slower, that busy roadway outside the window appears to be going by twice as fast—thus the 20 mph crawl in a 40 mph zone. Another condition old people develop is a heightened awareness of backgrounds instead of the objects in front of them. People walking, a bicyclist, or other traffic are reversed and seen as background objects. This makes it hard for senior drivers to see smaller objects in the forefront.
Now take all these limitations, add them to the frustration of being old and the fear their license may be taken away, and you have the makings of one angry old person. Usually, they don’t bother rolling down their window to yell at other drivers, they simply keep driving; over the curb, into another lane, scraping that car too close to their parking spot. “Crazy old lady, she’s driving me crazy!” younger drivers grumble to themselves.
- Oh Yeah? I’ll Show You!
There’s been a new awareness on the subject of bullying—mainly in public schools and among children and teens. But adult bullying happens almost as frequently as child bullying. Because it’s not a common topic, adult bullying doesn’t make the press. The most unrecognized adult bullying is … senior citizen bullying among themselves. These silver-haired, cane wielding bully’s, with false teeth and sagging skin, are out there. And their advanced age doesn’t make them any less a bully than children and teens.
Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and senior centers are the breeding grounds for verbal intimidation, rude criticism, and sadly, even physical violence. This bullying happens in private homes and public places, but there’s a higher rate of occurrence in elderly facilities. Like a prison filled with competing criminals, these seniors have clicks, elite groups, and even ‘gangs.’
While the men will claim a dinner table for ‘men only,’ and ‘diss’ the old ladies, the women take bullying to a more organized hierarchy based system. The common places to inflict their bullying ways are the dining room, recreation areas, TV stations, or even with staff attention.
“Mean old ladies,’ the classic senior bullying group, are cliques of crazy old ladies who dictate the rules and who can be part of their elite system. They tend to control the facility and look upon outside residents as targets for insults, occlusion, and abusive commenting. The staff at many senior facilities, family members, and medical personnel struggle to keep the peace. But these gangs of crazy old ladies are tough to change and obstinate about their clubs. After years of being told what to do, they’ve become rebellious; a sort of rage against the machine mentality. Crazy old ladies they are!
- A Tale of Yesteryear
The salon was busy that afternoon. Five hairdressers were cutting, curling, coloring, and washing hair. In walks Rene, her purse wrapped under her arm and her big grin being framed by a head of matted, wild looking silver hair. The hairdressers slowed their pace, each hoping to avoid cutting and styling the crazy old lady’s hair. Not only was it a chore to get through, but she would talk nonstop the entire visit. Talking is normal in a salon, but Rene would tell the same five or six stories to each hairdresser again, and again, and again. And the stories were long and detailed. If they try to cut her off with a question or comment about her hair, she’ll immediately pick up where she left off.
“Crazy old lady,” one hairdresser whispered under her breath.
Why do old people, women more often than men, repeat the same stories to the same people? Crazy old Rene will tell the same story each visit to the same hairdressers: and never remember she told the story or who she told it to. It’s not just a memory issue. There are scientific and non-scientific factors to storytelling elders.
Old people may be looking to give meaning to the years they lived: to keep the memory alive and acknowledged. Like a living stage, they perform the fantastic and mundane scenarios they remember so others will never forget. The lonely senior may have conversations with a limited group of people, their need to be heard not fulfilled. And aging causes inconsistent short term memory, so seniors may forget they told a story twice already.
And with age comes a reduction in destination memory, as it is called by scientists. Destination memory is the ability to remember who you told the story to. Because of focus issues, elderly people forget which person they told the story to and when. The other type of memory, source memory, is not usually affected by age. Source memory is remembering who told you the original story or the actual experience they had.
That crazy old lady Rene? She may be crazy, but she is persistent, returning regularly to tell her tale of yesteryear.
- The Cat Lady
There’s a cat in the front window. Actually, a cat in each front window. Two more are poised on a tall carpeted cat station, seen through the living room window. You walk in the front and five cats rush you in an attempt to escape. “Oh, honey, don’t let them babies out!” Once the door is closed, the reality of how many cats this crazy old lady has is obvious; too many!
News stories are read of old crazy women who hoard animals; and they are mostly cats. A woman in Phoenix had 104 cats, with 10 of them being dead and hidden in the freezer. Another elderly woman living alone in Colorado had 83 cats. There isn’t a city in the entire United States, big or small, without a crazy old lady with crazy amounts of cats.
When it comes to hoarding animals, it’s mostly old ladies who have the highest numbers of cats and with a greater frequency than men. As much as 75 percent of cat hoarders are old women who are unmarried or widowed. These elderly women usually have no family or friends who check on them. While women are more likely to be the care taker throughout their lives rather than men, need to care for someone or something is also a reason for the countless cats.
When these old ladies take on so many felines, the numbers become overwhelming. On a fixed budget, they can hardly afford to feed themselves besides all the cats. But the drive to nurture and be sure these babies are taken care of is typically over the top.
These crazy old ladies with too many cats lost their ability to think logically. And without someone to be accountable to, crazy wins!
- Color Me Crazy!
There are many young women walking around, typically millennials, with the newest trend; gray hair. Gray hair on young gals; old lady gray hair. It’s a curious almost unappreciated switch. Young women dyeing their hair gray and old ladies dyeing their hair crazy colors. Grandma types are walking around with blue hair, red streaks, purple ends, and other bold combinations. The crazy old ladies state the main reason to be; “Just because we can.”
These senior ‘fashionionistas’ echo the idea they aren’t doing this to be noticed and don’t care about making a particular statement or to impress anyone. They color their hair for themselves: they like feeling young and crazy and having the freedom to break out of the standard old lady mold. Instead of an expensive salon, many dye their own hair, changing the colors at will. Nothing holds them back. The one statement they are making is: it’s okay to be old and crazy and to have fun.
These crazy old ladies with colored hair encounter some harsh feedback from family, friends, and strangers. Questions are asked like, “Are you doing some kind of dare for a fundraiser?”
“Is that Kool-Aid?”
“Did your hairdresser do that?” and…
“Are you crazy?”
There have been occasions when a younger person may notice and mention how they aspire to be cool when they get to be that old. These old ladies, crazy enough to dye their hair outrageous colors, are happy to break out of their well-ordered life. They no longer care about what other people think and enjoy doing things they never got a chance to do when they were younger.
- I’m Mad as Hell
In the 1976 movie titled Network, actor Peter Finch plays an elderly news anchor, Howard Beale, who is fired because his ratings were dropping. The anchor is given a two week notice, but doesn’t take his eminent departure with dignity. After a night of drunken lamenting with a coworker and friend, Beale announces on the next evening’s newscast he will kill himself on live television. The station fires him but his friend convinces the management to let him have one more night on the air.
Beale is not quite mentally stable at his age, and devises a plan to get even with the station. He takes his seat on the next broadcast and begins ranting about how life is so bad and he goes on an extended diatribe. The station, seeing a chance to raise their ratings, allows Beale to continue. On to their plan, Beale makes one more statement before he leaves: he convinces everyone in the city to open their windows and yell “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
The windows open, the people yell out the statement over and over again, and the crazy old man gets his way.
So why are elderly people more prone to defiance and outbursts? In the movie, Beale is a crazy old man, but the more outspoken societal elderly tends to be crazy old ladies. Where does this intolerance originate?
Old ladies are not accustomed to being dependent on anybody. They’ve raised a family or lived on their own, had a career, and learned to take care of business. But weakened bodies and a brain declining from age and dementia may bring out fear, which translates to anger. They know what they were able to do and don’t want to be put on a shelf to be rendered useless. Living a long life also means the elderly are likely to be fed up with younger people telling them what to do.
Like our news anchor, Beale, many an old lady has been deemed crazy once they decide to let it all out and tell people what they really think.
- Oh the Youth, Why are They so Wretched?
The classic novel and subsequent film, Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, includes a beginning scene where a knobby group of old men and women are around the dinner table at young Pip’s home. Conversation goes back and forth until an old lady states that the youth of the day were so wretched, indicating Pip too, was wretched. But Pip was actually a tolerant, mindful young boy.
To grow old is to, at times, adopt the mentality that younger people are inexperienced and grossly untrained in the things of life. Old people, grandparents included, may not like to be around kids. They’ve lived a long life taking care of their own children and at their older age, want some peace and rest. Children and young people appear to be inexperienced, unintelligent, nuisances, and many old people don’t want to give the time to ‘teach’ them.
Seniors may have had a poor upbringing, abusive childhood, or been orphans. They typically have frail health and weak hearts so the extra movement, noise, activity, and over stimulation of kids can be exhausting. Elderly women will be quick to yell at young children for minor offenses. The crazy old lady label is assigned to these frustrated seniors as they rant and rave at small children and young people without giving the seeming offender a chance to respond. The years of strife and busyness have driven them crazy already!
Old ladies are not happy about how society treats them. Medical personnel, family, and younger friends talk to them like their infants. Strangers talk loud and slow, assuming all old ladies are hard of hearing. The fashion designers stay the continuum with polyester pants and baggy floral blouses; maintaining old lady styles through the years. And makeup counters in department stores are lined with gorgeous makeup clad clinicians who have no idea how to relate to an old lady who still puts her best face on every day.
Older women are also being lost in the shuffle of retirement. If they didn’t have their own career to retire from, they find a continuation of what they did their entire lives, taking care of others and volunteering at the church soup kitchen. Men who retire tend to be happy and fulfilled, pursuing sports and hobbies they always wanted to learn. But old women are more miserable as they age and their husbands retire, when they are left feeling lonely as the husband starts their retirement phase.
Many women also outlive their husbands and their children have grown, married, and moved away. Depression and a feeling of uselessness creates a slow decline in well being. The walls close in on these women; walls of their own home, walls of that lonely nursing home room, walls of separation from children and grandkids, and walls society puts up because they are, after all, crazy old ladies. With some taking to park benches, falling into depression and neglecting their personal hygiene, or the opposite; donning crazy colored hair or sporting a new ‘biker babe jacket,’ being crazy is the deduced reason.
It’s no wonder crazy old ladies really are crazy.