Unbeknownst to Many, Curmudgeons Day is January 29th!

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.” - W.C. Fields

Curmudgeon’s Day commemorates the birth of renowned curmudgeon W.C. Fields, who built his career on the hardships of his (mostly fictional) past, presented through comedic grumpiness and acerbic wit.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” - W.C. Fields

The word curmudgeon itself does not always have the most positive associations, due largely to a demeanor sometimes identified as “ill-tempered.” Definitions often Include words like bad-tempered, difficult, and cantankerous.

In our work with an aging population, we have met our share of curmudgeons and discovered the caring and fun-loving person underneath. Curmudgeons are often stubborn, independent thinkers, who aren’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers in order to live life by their own terms. They may not have much regard for authority, but they do enforce their own rules and standards.  This can make them difficult, but passionate; often passionately difficult.

Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.” - W.C. Fields

Janet lived alone until a fall led to a hip replacement, rehab, and then home with aides. She could be quite mean to her home health aides, and gruff with our client manager, but as she got used to the new routine and accepted being cared for, she mellowed out. Once we discovered that she loved animal shows, old movies, and could sing La Marseillaise, we were on our way to enjoying time together. 

George also lived alone after his wife died. He would swing from curmudgeonly—when asked to do something he was not ready to do—to outgoing and humorous once he was in a more social situation. In his case, a move to assisted living has improved his outlook on life, though it can still be a challenge to get him to change his clothes or allow for some decluttering.

Ellen has the beginning stages of dementia and the loss of some executive function. Most of the time she is convinced that she is handling her financial affairs just fine. While this appears true on the surface, with just a little digging we found that she needed help. We have had to walk the fine line of giving her independence and providing support, or facing her fury.

I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.” - W.C. Fields

While curmudgeons exist across many demographics, they are largely found in the aging population. As we age, life around us may change faster than we can handle which may also be compounded by frustration with our own diminished capabilities.

A curmudgeonly lifestyle may also be symptomatic of other issues; changes in behavior can be due to hormonal issues, chronic pain, or depression. Under such circumstances, even the previously friendly and sociable, may put up defenses that require persistence to crack.

The clever cat eats the cheese and breathes down rat holes with bated breath.” - W.C. Fields

In honor of Curmudgeons Day we invite you to take a moment to consider: Who are the curmudgeons in your life? And how do you get past the cantankerous person to the caring person beneath the surface?

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at Eddy & Schein in New York at 212-987-1427 or in Los Angeles at 626-395-7572.
Rebecca Schein Gideon Y. Schein,
Rebecca R. Eddy
Gideon Y. Schein

Eddy & Schein
212. 987.1427


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