Old People need something to do. Hobbies and crafts are the lifeblood of old people. Think of all the crafts classes at the senior centers and on cruise ships. Some of us even take up blogging. Look at the classes listed in magazines for seniors.
Try a test drive. I have picked out wood carving, but any hobby that interests you will do.
I went with my son to a store selling hardwoods in North Carolina, and while there he purchased a small $6 block of wood and a starter set of carving knives. He announced that he was going to start carving at the young age of 50. It got me to thinking about how one would start a hobby.
The first thing is to decide which hobby. Blogging required several on-line courses, a couple of community college courses, a meet-up group, and a lot of time. Wood carving seems much simpler; but, I am not about to try it. Will just use it as an example.
Wood carving starts with the block of wood and the knives. Then you need to know what to do! At my age, if I was going to be a wood carver, I would go back 65 years to a time when I could learn anything. I would then read the Boy Scout Merit Badge Pamphlet on Wood Carving; or, buy it on Amazon.
Having mastered wood carving with the Boy Scouts, I would then look around for more help and would of course resort to Google.
Google the following if you are interested in learning wood carving in Albuquerque at a senior center: Albuquerque + Senior center + wood carving
Try the following in your area for wood carving lessons and/or information:
Local community college.
The bottom line is that there are unlimited hobby resources available; you just have to look for them and try them out.
And, of course, if you want to spend a week learning to carve, try Arrowmont, a first class art school in Tennessee. “Birds, Bugs and Beasts: Carving the Natural” will teach you the basics of carving for $595 and $415 for a shared double room with three meals a day.
You should consider carving old people!
In the US there are 26,200 prisoners over 65 in state and federal prisons and 124,400 over the age of 55.
The geezer, who is 75, and an “opportunist” is thinking outside the box; or perhaps ‘inside the box.” If I have no money, little social security, no home, no assets, no family; and have to line up at the soup kitchen for meals and the free street clinic for medical care, maybe there is another way.
At 75, what do I need? My sex life is a thing of the past; there is no one to take care of me, I am frequently wet and cold; I am regularly exposed to every type of riffraff; and, can no longer fight off street predators. How can I live out my days in some comfort, be warm, eat regularly, and have adequate medical and dental care?
The answer is to rob a bank.
The sentence seems to be 10 years plus an extra 5 years if you have a gun. I need to check to see if the gun has to be loaded; wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. The 15 years takes me to 90 which is about my life expectancy on a good day and I don’t have to0 many of them. If I got in a fight or two, I can avoid good time.
The big problem is that I might get probation since I don’t have a record; so, I might have to rob the same bank twice; or, even three times.
Given the economic and social future of the elderly, prison doesn’t sound too bad; and, it can’t be worse than a nursing home; even if I qualified. If you can’t pay, Medicaid is the only answer. Assisted living is out of the question without money or long-term care insurance.
There is probably a downside, but I am having trouble seeing it.
The food can’t be worse than most senior institutions. If I have a room(cell)mate, he would probably be about my age. I would probably be in some sort of minimum security facility, but, given the gun I might be in a maximum security facility. The friends I would make would probably be better than the ones on the street.
Would I be safe? Probably. I am sure that most Federal Prisons take care of old people; albeit, reluctantly. There are work programs in most institutions and perhaps I could care for other old people if I couldn’t get assigned to the library. Win-win.
The New York Times has an article on California state prisons that have caregivers called ” gold coats.” These are inmates, usually murderers, who in exchange for a “gold coat,” and other privileges, look after the elderly; especially those with dementia. They protect them from the other prisoners, get them food, make sure they don’t fall; and, in general act as highly trained caregivers. They sound better than some in nursing homes I have visited.
Do I want to go this route? I suppose it depends on how cold and hungry I get; and, if I am competent to rob a bank when the time comes.
Or, maybe it would just be cheaper and better to move all of us old prisoners and “Gold Coats” to the “abandoned” military bases where they are keeping illegal immigrants.
I need a large “senior button” on my computer keyboard to take it into senior mode.
Pressing the button would disable everything I didn’t need including, without limitation, ads, spam, e-mails and anything except what I had specifically included.
The senior button has to be large, clearly marked and perhaps even a toggle switch or a button like the illustration that signals a bus driver that an old person wants off. I need to signal the computer that it needs to stop and let me off.
Pressing the senior button will disengage all the software and hardware, except for the following which would be in large print:
- E-mail from people I select.
- Skype in case my grandkids call.
- The obituary page of the local paper.
- Stock market update.
- Select telephone numbers that by clicking would dial select friends and family members.
- E-mail addresses with a picture of the recipient.
- An onscreen volume control so I can hear.
- Daily menu at the local senior center.
When the button was pressed a second time, it would re-enable the computer so that my grandkids could fix things.
This would be simple.
Think about it. old people suffer from too much, not too little; and not just in computers. Think about the world you occupy. There are too many choices that require too much time to learn.
At 77, I am a “good” driver; maybe a few problems with eyesight, hearing and attention span. I usually know where I am going. The AARP driving course for seniors lowers my insurance rates; and, I avoid driving at night, on freeways and with my kids, who watch me. They know that I saw my father take his father’s car keys. He and I agreed that he could keep his car as long as he didn’t drive it; so, it was parked for several years.
My car has a few dings. I renew my license annually, not for 10 years anymore. MVD and I joke about the eye test.
So, I joined UBER. It was scary. I didn’t know what I was getting into; and, learning to call UBER on a smart phone?? I had to know where I was going; I couldn’t just drive around looking for the place I thought I wanted to go. I also had to know where I was.
I tried UBER in Tucson; clicked on the UBER App; typed in my address and the restaurant address. It took three tries and a bit of deleting, but I did it.
In 3 minutes a picture of the UBER driver, car make and license number appeared on the screen. Two minutes later he was there; just like his picture, and took us straight to our favorite restaurant. The trip cost of $6.32 appeared on the screen; I clicked ok, clicked that the driver was great and he clicked that I was a great passenger. We parted company. We had a nice dinner, re-apped UBER. Same deal, different driver. Cost $5.47; total cost $11.79, no tipping, no money; the amount on my credit card minutes later. The drivers were both great, interesting, and I didn’t worry about the extra glass of wine.
AAA reports the average cost to own a car in 2015 was $8698. For two of us, that comes to $17,396. I don’t think I spend that much, but….. I don’t really want to find out.
My wife and I have two cars, even though we usually travel together. Kelly Blue Book says a dealer would give us about $25,000 for them. Do we need two cars? No cars? One car and UBER?
How many trips do we need to take? One a day? How far do we go? Mostly close to our condo. Seven trips a week; 14 UBER trips; averaging $10 per trip, which may be high. $140 a week; or, $7280 a year.
Using UBER we have a chauffeur, do not cause accidents, are calmer, etc. We even age better. Have you ever had someone say: “Do you see that car?” 10 times a trip?
The bus costs 50 cents and goes most places, but takes longer. Kids work, grandkids are too young and neighbors would rather car-pool with UBER.
The bottom line is: UBER could save us up to $10,116 per year. Even a $1000 savings would be worth it. The real bottom line is that our driving years will soon come to an END; our cars will be taken from us; we will move in with UBER and use the $25,000 for four years of UBER.
Maybe UBER will have caregivers in ten years…..; hopefully, with a car.
UBER is experimenting with programs for seniors, that include, senior-trained drivers, special cars, etc. No details yet.
The New York Times recently reported on UBER’s new ride sharing program which should interest seniors and save them money.
Since I originally wrote this, The New York Times has reported on ride-sharing which fills niches that UBER does not cover, yet. The one that interested me the most was Lift Hero, which provides rides for old people. The web page is down for maintenance, but keep checking. UBER was running a test program for old people in Tucson a few months ago, but I have not seen anything on this recently.
Transportation is a real and growing problem for old people; especially where public transportation is not available.
When you travel, think UBER. I have had success in Panama and Montreal, Canada.
A change of senior-mind-set is required.
Many of us have an advance directive or health care power of attorney. All of us should have one. It sets out what you want to happen in as far as your health care is concerned at the end of life.
The problem is that these laws and cases seem to require that you be competent, which may be difficult, especially if you are unconscious or have dementia.
Compassion & Choices has come up with a “Dementia Clause” that is either a separate document or included in your Advance Directive. Visit their website to determine what your state allows for end-of-life decisions.
Dementia does not seem to be a problem for the person with dementia; but is a horrible financial, mental and emotional problem for family members and loved ones.
l do not know if the “Dementia Clause” has been tested, but if you believe in it, what have you got to lose.? Basically it provides by reference to your “My Particular Wishes” or advance directive, that you do not want food or water and that you want to be comfortable. If it doesn’t work, you are in the same place that you would have been in if you didn’t have it; if it does work, you are saved from a horrible existence. It is your choice and you are not an impossible burden on your family.
Don’t listen to me! Ask your physician and your attorney? Some hospitals may not honor this, if so you will have to trust to hospice or your family.
It does seem that you have the right to refuse food and hydration, but remember that sometimes prisoners are force-fed and hydrated while on hunger strikes.
The idea is for you to decide, with professional advice, while you are competent. You want to avoid courts, law suits and undue bureaucratic fuss.
Here is the language from the Compassion & Choices form:
“If I am unconscious and it is unlikely that I will ever become conscious again, I would like my wishes regarding specific life-threataiuing treatments, as indicated on the attached document entitled My Particular Wishes to be followed.
If I remain conscious but have a progressive illness that will be fatal and the illness is in an advanced stage, and I am consistently and permanently unable communicate, swallow food and water safely, care for myself and recognize my family and other people, and it is very unlikely that my condition will substantially improve, I would like my wishes regarding specific life-sustaining treatments, as indicated on the attached document entitled My Particular Wishes , to be followed.
If I am unable to feed thyself while in this condition:
I do/do not (circle one) want to be fed.
I do/do not (circle one) want to be given fluids.
I hereby incorporate this provision into my durable power of attorney for health care, living will and any other previously executed advance directive for health care decisions.
TIME FOR THE GEEZER’S SHOT!
I have been reading a lot about robots and old people lately. We have a surplus of old people and a shortage of caregivers. Is a robot caregiver the answer? At 75 future care is a constant thought; for me and for my friends. I thought about a robot in my future over coffee on Tuesday morning. Like most of my thoughts, these are irreverent.
- A robot changing my diapers. Picture me, lying on a bed, naked from the waist down, with a robot, wiping me and putting on a new diaper. How would a robot hold me in place? It’s bad enough changing a baby, imagine a robot changing me! And, don’t forget the security camera that the robot is required to wear is going all the time.
- Could the robot identify strangers who came into my home? Then what?
- Could a robot prevent falls?
- A robot could probably take my vital signs; a smart phone can do that now with a little help.
- Can a robot cook? Thaw and heat a meals-on-wheels selection? Probably.
- Clean? I hope so.
- How will a robot react with other people around?
- Will a robot like my dog? Will my dog like the robot?
- How much would it cost to make my home robot friendly? Could I find a place where the robot couldn’t find me? If so, it would probably dial 911.
- Could I short-circuit a robot? Probably it would dial 911 if I did.
- What are the ongoing maintenance and repair costs of a robot?
- What are the costs of monitoring the robot and maintaining a call center to deal with calls from the robot?
- Would a robot scare me? Think of Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey – before the time of most current robot designers.
- Could a robot bathe/shower me without drowning me or short-circuiting the robot?
- Heavy lifting would be plus. A robot could save a lot in workman’s comp. claims or the necessity of hiring two caregivers for someone of my weight.
- Theft. Identify a stranger? If the robot was stolen, we could probably locate it using our i-phone.
- Could the robot take the place of my geriatric psychologist; listen to me, counsel me?
- Could the robot provide comfort to me when I slip into Alzheimer’s? Or would I have to have two robots?
- Paying bills? Is my robot trustworthy?
- The robot could probably sign in to Skype and give my kids several views of what I was doing at any given time. It could also provide a security video that was not erased for thirty days and which my kids and my doctor could access along with a running record of my vital signs, urinalysis results, weight, diaper changing, etc.
- The robot would be perfect for the new driverless cars.
- The robot could dial UBER.
- The robot could get together with SIRI and order anything I needed.
- The robot could exercise me; whether I wanted it or not. Picture a robot designed to exercise me; and, me, not wanting to exercise.
- The robot could be programmed for Robot Assisted Suicide; however, this might violate the First Law of Robotics.
- The robot might have a copy of my advance directive and not consult with me.
- The robot could file my taxes.
- If I have Alzheimer’s; can the robot deal with that? The robot is very logical; I would just be street-smart.
- How would the robot deal with my girl friend? Could I program it to stay out of the bedroom?
- If I needed surgery, could the robot do it?
The above are just the thoughts of an old man who might be a perfect candidate for a robot caregiver. Most people don’t realize that they are old until suddenly they reach the “tipping point” at which time, they are there.
At least, I have a number of ideas for future blogs. So, stay tuned.
Maybe I should just go with a therapeutic robot from Parorobots.com to pet:
Outsource is a business term whereby certain activities are contracted out to other businesses or individuals. The reason is that the task can be done cheaper, safer or better by another and it allows the outsourcer to focus on its primary task.
This can be applied to old age. At 75, due to physical and mental problems, it may be cheaper, better and safer to have certain tasks outsourced. It may even turn out to be life-saving if you decide to climb a ladder and clean the leaves out of the gutters instead of hiring it done.
At 75 you need to think about what you can outsource and what you can do yourself.
Ten things that you might consider outsourcing:
- Anything that requires a ladder, a stool or standing on the couch to fix.
- Medical advice
- Paying bills – you can outsource with automatic payment plans, an accountant, or a kid.
- Legal advice
- Charitable donations
The list is not complete. You should modify it according to your needs. Old people are stubborn. They think that they are more competent than they are. They think that they can still do things, that they can’t do. The result is that they frequently injure, kill or bankrupt themselves when with a little outsourcing they could continue to live happy, productive lives.
The most important part of outsourcing is KISS. (Keep it simple, stupid.)
I read a lot about elder health. I get a lot of ads and a lot of advice. When I put it all together, I come up with about ten things that I should, and can, do. These are almost universally accepted, free and as near as I can tell, will do you no harm and probably a lot of good.
The amount of each of these that you do is up to you. Even a little bit helps. You can add to the list, but then it becomes cluttered.
How and when you do them is up to you.
The whole idea is not to live longer, but to live better.
- Drink water
- Drink wine, not too much
- Have friends; be a friend
- Think outside the box
- Avoid processed foods
- No clutter
And watch as I attempt to reduce old age to a series of 3 x 5 cards.
Life is a series of problems; and, problem solving. At 75 you are faced with a unique set of possible problems. These are problems which you might not have the time or the ability to solve after 75. You should be aware of them. You should plan for them; or, at least think about them.
Alzheimer’s is the worst. Not for the geezer. If he gets it, it slowly becomes someone else’s problem. The geezer really won’t care once he has gone beyond the initial stages. However, I can plan for it and for other problems. A more difficult problem is a spouse’s dementia. It defies logic; which says it all. It is not rational; and, is impossible to deal with.
The following is a list of twelve problems that I have found unique to a post-seventy-five life. These are problems that I worry about. The list is not complete, but is a base to work from. They could come at any time, but seem more unique to old age.
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s in a spouse
- Serious illness; you or your spouse
- Death of a spouse
- Elder scams and fraud
- Clutter and too many possessions
- Care – medical, home, companion
- Financial problems
- Transition to Alzheimer’s – The period from normal to “late stage” Alzheimer’s
ARE YOU READY?
The following magic 7 are essential:
- Advance Health Care Directive
- Automatic bill payment
- A mentor; or someone, preferably a kid, to keep an eye on you and advise you; with a Power of Attorney
- A living trust, if you have sufficient assets
- Experience with alternate transportation: buses, Uber, senior transportation systems, neighbors with cars.
- A social cohort; a group of people, about the same age, that you contact regularly
- Third party notifications on bank accounts, stock accounts, etc. when an unusual, or non-authorized event takes place.
Look around your house. You could almost be on one of the TV clutter shows. You trip over stuff that you haven’t seen, much less used, in the past 50 years. Most mechanical things you don’t even know how to use. And, where can you buy film for one of those old cameras; or get it developed?
I have switched to jeans, so have no use for all the stained, checkered pants with zippers that don’t work that I inherited from other old male relatives. The style is not coming back. And, how many three-piece suits that don’t fit do I need? And, of course, with cremation, there is no need for a suit to be buried in.
Your kids don’t want your stuff; and, you can’t even get your spouse to take it in the divorce. It keeps piling up.
Look at the bright side. You still pay taxes! If you pay taxes, you get deductions including charitable contributions, so….. Let’s donate the stuff.
You need to find a 501(c)(3) charity that accepts used goods. Your donation is tax deductible. My wife and I use St. John’s Thrift Store in Albuquerque or Assistance League. You can search the internet for a charity near you. You haul your stuff in, they take it, sort it, and sell it cheaply to support what they do. They give you a receipt that doesn’t list what you donated; that’s for you to fill out.
It is a win-win-win solution; some clutter is gone; you have done a good deed; someone gets to put your junk to good use; and, you can deduct the value of your donation from your taxes.
How do you value this stuff? Even though the non-profits can’t value it for you; and, you really don’t want to know what they think it is worth, there are on-line lists that will help you.
And, what does the IRS think about all this? No problem as long as you follow the rules.
It is easier than a yard sale; you won’t trip and fall over the stuff; and, you can reduce your taxes.
Try it; but, remember, you are not getting any younger. Donate while you can still drive to the thrift store.
WARNING! A thrift store is a dangerous place. I found a great denim jacket for $8 and several paperbacks for a quarter each. I was intrigued by a number of things I hadn’t seen for years. I may go back with my tax refund.