Breaking Up With Contacts on Your Speed Dial


Who’s on your speed dial? Hundreds, maybe thousands of names. Many are obsolete.  

We feel it’s time to dial it down. Yes, it’s hard to do but most of us can take a giant leap toward simplifying our lives by culling many contacts from our speed dials and from our brains.

They’re taking up too much real estate. 

Speed dial, it isn’t anything that you did. We’ve had some wonderful years together, but enough contacts are enough. 

In an age when we’re trying to declutter and tidy up our lives as instructed by Marie Kondo and those who advocate Swedish death cleaning, we’re learning another lesson. Most of us not only have too much stuff but have too many people involved in our lives. We’re not British royalty where we need legions of staff to tend to our castles, palaces, stables, yachts, carriages, fancy cars and acres (thousands) of grounds. Moreover, we don’t have the payroll to keep so many on a retainer. 

Things change. We left our homes. We both got married and had kids. We lost our husbands. We both moved to New York State from the Midwest. We know nothing will ever be like what we had. Maybe, you were a hippie (delete places to buy tie-dye T’s) and now you’re an investment banker (list your tailor) or had a lot of therapy for your reluctance to accept change that obviously didn’t take (you’re a good patient). So, you hung on to the names just in case you wanted to share with others—or wanted to give it another try but you’ve found you never did. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve had to pare down our lists of phone numbers and addresses. Remember the rolodexes that we twirled around to find our key sources for work, health, beauty, homes, recreation and travel. Then, we switched to a list of contacts on our computers. These days if we totaled all the names, it might add up to one of those stats news people bandy about: Our contacts could fill two football fields, whatever size that means. We’re here to help so here goes. 

A short list of examples of what we can eliminate:

The nanny who used to change our children’s diapers. Our kids are now in their 30s and 40s. Stay in touch by phone, email or visits if you’re so inclined, however. Or if your children have children and that person is still active, maybe, keep it.

The lawn person. Margaret doesn’t have a lawn and the last person she used was undocumented. One day, he just disappeared. Her husband was a huge lawn mower but sadly he’s gone, too. 

The numbers of the ballet schools our girls attended when they were in grade school. Are we hanging on to these thinking they might become ballerinas? Or piano teachers when they rarely sit down and play. 

Numbers of the elementary, middle and high schools our kids attended and the contact information of their many friends who hopefully no longer live at home with their parents. 

Pediatricians. Thank goodness our kids finally grew up. We loved them but….they’re now able to choose their own docs. 

The bat guy who comes once a year to be sure they’re no longer nesting in your attic. It’s been remediated so cross batman off the list, or maybe keep just in case of emergencies. 

The window washer someone recommended but we never called. Some of these tasks we certainly can take on ourselves; maybe, not bats but windows, yes. 

The chimney sweep. What fireplace? Now we just crank up the heat. 

Pool guy. What pool? We sold our family homes long ago. 

Healthcare experts we no longer use since we’ve moved and maybe they have, too, or retired. Our ob-gyns since some of us females are saying bye-bye to our gyns since pap smears aren’t needed annually and sometimes not at all. After 75, we’re also told to say adieu to our gastroenterologists for having a colonoscopy every five or 10 years. Will we be around in 10 anyway? And if something is awry, we will be treated or just accept our fate. Keep the internist, dentist, dermatologist and shrink. 

The golf and tennis pros who used to give us lessons in sports we no longer play and never really mastered. We’re into walking; maybe, we need a walk expert to help us pick up our steps. 

Decorators and tradespeople who helped make our surroundings so chic years ago when we entertained. 

Travel pros. Logically, if we’re not scaling mountains any longer, we don’t need the email or text for the Sherpa we considered hiring when we thought about climbing Mt. Everest. What a bad idea we obviously realized. 

Pickleball pro we don’t need. All we have to do is ad-lib what we see everyone doing on the court, which is basically pretending they know what they’re doing by swatting at the ball. And we might not try this sport given the pinging noise and the arguments it’s causing in certain neighborhoods. 

Spanish coach. Who needs this any longer when you can learn some phrases and count to10 watching Sesame Street or some foreign language cooking shows. 

A short list of what we need to keep: 

Our internists for those regular aging tests—count back from 100 and name all the Presidents in your lifetime to test your memory. Oh, and the direction for counting the time where each hand goes, a test we need when we go for our well visit to the doctor. 

Orthopods to administer cortisone shots or other treatments for rusting parts that need oiling (think the tinman in the Wizard of Oz)—or replacing. 

Audiologists for hearing problems…and the cheapest best places to buy hearing aids such as Costco. Yes, Costco. 

Ophthalmologists for checks for macular degeneration and cataracts so we can continue to see where we’re going.  

Physical therapy places closet to our homes so we can make it there and back in one piece and deal safely with walking in general. 

Podiatrists—ooh, our aching feet and those bigger and bigger bunions! 

Chair Yoga instructors. Standing and exercising for some is too taxing. 

Crafts class teacher. It’s therapeutic sitting at tables and churning out potholders in various colors for our nearest and dearest. 

Grocery and gourmet food stores that offer takeout for when we can’t see to cook. We don’t want to leave on a burner. 

Cleaning helpers since we can’t bend to clean the toilet, mop the floor, sweep the dust away. You get the point. 

If we want to keep our teeth as we age, dentists, periodontists and endodontists as more dental issues surface. 

Fresh produce info for those of a certain age to get in line early. We want to make sure we get our fair share of the free fruit and veggies each month before they run out or rot. 

Numbers of continuing care and assisted living communities… just in case, along with a list of professional caregivers, urgent care and hospitals nearby…just in case. 

Trust and estates attorneys to draft those end-of-life documents that we’ll all need for, as we learned and have accepted, we won’t be here forever. And if you have a significant other be sure you’re on his or her documents so you can see them, some places don’t allow anybody but legal family members. Heard the story about the jealous kids not letting in the girlfriend? Well, listen up, it happens.

Number of your weekly bingo game place where you when you win you stand and shout “Bingo” and then dance and wave your board in victory. All this for a $1 and some change. 

Orthopedic supply store. We may one day need those metal walkers, portable wheelchairs and free-standing breathing machines and you’ll think: We never thought we’d see the day. Well, guess what! 

Seniors Real Estate Expert (SRES) to help us find the right place to live, maybe in an assisted or senior community. Oh, no, we hope but let’s face the reality. We may need to sell the family home or apartment. They also may be good at finding a caregiver. 

Time to pare down our contacts.

Some are obsolete.

Some are old.

Some are useless.

Some you cannot bear to delete. Put those on hold.

Some need to be added so we have to make room. 

Take your time to go through these lists to determine who makes the cut. Good luck!


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