AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE FOR SENIORS – I got my license 63 years ago and no one is going to tell me how to drive!Posted: December 13, 2017
The AARP Smart Driver Course, is worth the time and money. You can’t not afford to take it, and you aren’t doing anything but watching TV any way.
The course is available on-line and at various centers around the country. GOOGLE: “AARP SMART DRIVER COURSE.”
I just took it on-line. It took me four hours and I had two months to complete it; however, I did it in one afternoon. The reasons I took it are:
- Cheap – I got a deal and only paid $19.95 for the course.
- Update – It is 63 years since I got my license and a few things have changed; especially the way they mark the streets.
- Reminders – After 63 years (and 3 years since I took the classroom course) I need to have my mind refreshed; especially where my life and the lives of others are at stake.
- Insurance discount – this varies by state and insurance company, but I expect at least 5%.
- Not taking the course may work against you. The insurance company knows how old I am, and as much data as they collect, I am sure that they note whether or not I have taken the course. I have nothing to base this on, but then I may be paranoid about companies collecting information on me.
- Makes you aware that you are not alone in the way you drive at 77; and gives you some techniques to use. I especially liked turning left by going around the block in right-hand turns. The parcel delivery companies have discovered that they save a lot on gas and accidents by programming right turns for their drivers whenever they can.
- What insurance companies consider. It is always good to know. In New Mexico one insurance company considers a number of things, that as an old person you should at least be aware of.
- Medicine and booze. The course talks about the effect of liquor, as little as one drink, and its effect when taken with medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. Remember, you are old, you probably take a number of pills and your body may not react to them in the same way as it did 50 years ago.
- Physical and mental problems. The course reminds you of them, as if you weren’t aware already. You don’t want to be picked up for drunk driving when you can’t walk a straight line when sober at age 77. You don’t want your picture in the Albuquerque Journal at the end of the month as a convicted drunk driver.
- I tell people I took the course. It may head off attempts to take your license and your car. I received positive feedback and questions from other old people that I told about the course; so, I am telling you about it.
The course is designed so you have to watch everything and give feed-back before moving to the next segment. You can’t just click through it in a few minutes and get your certificate.
Old people are afraid of dying while on an international trip. Most are afraid of dying period; however, 99% of people die at some point, and once you reach 75 you are more aware of the probability that you will die; especially if you are going overseas.
Basically to make things easier, you need a 3 x 5 card:
- Embassy telephone number
- Insurance policy – Company and policy number.
- Airline and confirmation number.
- Emergency contact number.
- Home town physician and number.
- Hotel name and number.
- Family telephone numbers.
- Home town funeral home number.
- Tour operator number.
- Simple statement as to wishes. Cremate, ship home, bury abroad…etc.
- Travel insurance name, telephone and policy number.
- US Embassy number.
- The simple solution for your representative or next of kin:
- Travel insurance to pay for shipment of body, cremains.
- Contact the American Embassy where you are. They have a 24 hour number.
- Contact Funeral home in your home town.
- Carry on cremains in a sealed, TSA approved, container.
- Have foreign mortuary ship body to your home-town mortuary.
- Collect belongings
- Get copies of all paperwork – Embassy, police, doctors, hospitals, funeral homes, airlines, autopsy report, etc
- Notify: Embassy, family, police, funeral home,
Remember that what is a unique and terrible experience for you is a common event for the embassy, the funeral homes and the airlines.
Some useful web pages:
ACOMA PUEBLO – SKY CITY
On Saturday, May 14, 2016 I visited Acoma Pueblo Sky City located 370 feet above the desert on a mesa 65 miles West of Albuquerque, NM. It has fewer than 50 permanent residents living in homes on seven acres of New Mexico mesa top.
San Esteban del Rey Mission dominates Sky City. Established in the early 1600’s, it now has no priest. A service is held yearly on September 2 and is open to the public. The church was started in 1629 and completed in 1640.
There is a still-used cemetery in front of the church, with burials in dirt hauled up from the desert floor. The church’s is 150 feet by 40 feet and has a dirt floor. It is simple inside and is undergoing some reconstruction, but is still 95% original.
The streets in Sky City are dirt. At intersections cisterns collect rain water. There are no utilities. No water, sewage, gas or electricity. There are some generators and port-a-potties everywhere. They were installing a huge water tank on Saturday, so the water problem may be alleviated.
Commercial port-a-potties have replaced the outhouses suspended over the edge of the mesa that I remember from 40 years ago.
Until the 1920’s there was no road to Sky City, just a single-file path cut into the steep side, which made it easy to defend. A movie company agreed to put in a dirt road in exchange for the right to film. In the 1950’s a second movie company paved the road. Today it is used for busses and on the week-ends for residents cars and trucks as they work on their houses.
The Acomas are matrilineal and the homes in Sky City are owned by female tribe members. The youngest daughter inherits. They cannot be sold. Non-Acomas cannot stay overnight and of course there is no Airbnb.
The residences are from one to three stories, and usually reached by means of ladders.
Each family is responsible for their own repairs and the only restriction is maintaining the earth colors, so in repairing the homes, concrete block, insulation and modern roofing is used.
Traditional Food can be had in the cafe at the visitor center.
Fifteen miles away, on I-40, is the Sky City Casino owned by the tribe and which provides income and tourists. The Casino has a hotel and an RV Center.
At the visitor center you buy your tickets, visit the museum and gift shop and eat at the restaurant.
You board a small bus and make about a 10 minute trip to the top with an articulate and knowledgeable guide. You can also walk up and down, but… remember your age.
- Tours: daily on the half-hour
- Location – 65 miles west of Albuquerque, NM, off of I-40.
- Hours: 9 – 5
- Cost – $20 for seniors
- Casino and Hotel –Sky City Casino Hotel
- Bus to top- Small bus
- Pottery- see museum and tables set up by residents.
- Toilets – Nice at Center on desert floor, port-a-potties on the mesa
- Museum – small but impressive – lots of excellent pottery
- The streets are dirt and rough. You can fall.
- Hot in the summer. Take a hat and water. Buy a bottle from tables
- Toilets are port-a-potties.
- Senior rate is $20.
- Senior Centers have tours at various times of the year – check bulletin boards and senior magazines at centers.
- There is an RV park next to the Casino.
- Never forget local Senior Centers. In Albuquerque, the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, has a trip to Sky City Cultural Center $ Haaku Museum on May 25, 2016. Depart at 8:00 am – return at 5:00 pm. $9.50 for transportation and $20 admission.
- See the ABQ 50+ Activities Catalog.
- Sky City Cultural Center.
- New Mexico True
A number of former congressional staffers have written this guide listing best practices to make congress listen. It contains local advocacy tactics that work.
I am interested in old people applying the lessons. In 2014 people in the US over 65, constituted 28.4% of the voting population. Check your state. How many voted? How many over 65 voted? What does your state do for seniors? What senior benefits are being cut?
The next generation of seniors will have little money to support themselves. Families are spread out. Homeless seniors may be the future unless you do something.
What do you want from your government?
Seniors are interested in preserving:
- Social Security
- Consumer protection
- Fraud and scam protection
- Their assets
- Their health
and a lot of other things. Seniors have more difficulty finding jobs, have more medical problems and have less time to live than the rest of the population.
Seniors must do something! Is there a grocery cart loaded with your possessions in your future?
Seniors can make a difference:
- Seniors have time
- Seniors have a life-time network of people
- Seniors have organizations – church, senior centers, senior services, etc.
- Seniors have families and friends
- Seniors have more skills than they know
- Seniors need a purpose…
- And, Seniors are bored and need something to do.
The bottom line is that seniors can make a political difference.
Seniors just need guidance; and, Indivisible provides it.
When was the last time you were involved, really involved, in anything worthwhile?
Indivisible tells you what works and what doesn’t. It tells you where and how to start. It tells you that you what you can do at the grass-roots level. And, if the Tea Party could do it, you can do it.
Check your precinct voting record for the last election. A small turnout? How much did the conservative candidate win by? A few votes would have made a difference. Look what the Tea Party managed to do six years ago using a lot of the techniques set out in Indivisible. How many seniors voted? How many could have voted? Would those votes make a difference?
You can go to meetings. You can ask questions. You can call your elected representative. You can organize your neighbors. You can provide a ride to the polls.
It will only take a few “old votes” to make a change.
You can buy Indivisible on Amazon.com for $3.59.
Join an Indivisible group; or start one for old people.
Then, get off your ass, turn off the TV and see how you can make a difference for yourself, for your neighbors and for your grandchildren who will be old sooner than you think.
Look in the mirror! Who do you see there and what is that person doing for the society that has benefitted him/her?
There are now over 6000 Indivisible groups in the US.
You can check out the Albuquerque Indivisible Group.
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.
The New York Times article by a doctor with a terminal illness caught my eye. He built his own coffin. It may seem morbid to some, but if you have a terminal illness or are old, death is one of the things you think about.
Building your own coffin adds a human touch to death that seems to be missing today. Death has become mechanical and hidden; just a process that you hire done and which is kept out of sight. I remember when my grandfather died in a small town in Nebraska. An open coffin, supported by two chairs in the dining room, was there overnight. Someone was always sitting next to it, including me at age 8. There were constant visitors, food and much talking.
Terminal illness and old age seem to drain one’s life of purpose; coffin building may add meaning and comfort. It will surely get people talking.
The problem is that people facing death, whether through old age or disease, look at death differently. They come to accept that everyone dies; a concept unfamiliar to younger people. A purpose is important.
Coffin plans if you are interested.
I am 77. I need clothing that I can wear everyday and everywhere, that is cheap, that is always acceptable and that can be washed. I do not want to check it when flying. I want to hoist it into an overhead bin by myself. I don’t want to worry about theft.
I have chosen black walking shoes, sandals, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 turtle-necks, 2 shirts, 7 socks, underpants t-shirts and handkerchiefs. I have one blazer and one hooded rain jacket. All, except for the blazer can be washed together, in one load. Everything is black. There is room for miscellaneous items.
It all fits on me and in the 14″x18″x12″ bag in the picture. I can go on an archeological dig, eat at a four-star restaurant, attend a wedding or a funeral, attend a concert and live out the rest of my life in a long-care facility with nothing more than what is on me and in the bag.
It is cheap, universal and requires no thought. It is easily replaced. It gives me a unique, but acceptable, appearance, and not an offensive one.
We visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, England on May 15, 2014. We took the train from Paddington Station in London and the bus from the St. Austell station to the Eden Project.
The Eden Project, which opened in 2002, was built-in a 35 acre reclaimed, open clay pit, 180 feet deep. It was partially filled with soil and recycled waste. On top of this was built two enclosed biomes; one a Rainforest Biome and one a Mediterranean Biome.
The Rainforest Biome is about 750 feet long by 330 feet wide and 150 feet high. It contains over 1,100 different species of plants and has areas devoted to West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tropical Islands and Tropical South America.
The Mediterranean Biome is about 90 feet high and contains over 850 different species of plants. It represents the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.
In addition to the two major Biomes, there is a Core educational, administration and museum building along with an Outdoor Biome. There is an outdoor stage, paths, parking and a land train.
There are several restaurants serving a variety of “responsibly sourced, fairly-traded, direct sourced, organic, seasonal, and/or local and freshly made” food.
We spent a day there and could have spent more time. They have a lot of special events during the year, including “The Art of Stories,” “Harvest,” and “Christmas at Eden.”
There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts” in St. Austell. We stayed for two nights at The Grange in St. Austell.
It is easy to get there, even if you are old. Take the train from Paddington to St. Austell; check into a bed and breakfast: take the free bus from the train station to the Eden Project. Enjoy.
You should compare this to Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ and Arcosanti in Cordes Junction, AZ. You should think about how old open-pit mines and remote places can be re-configured as educational, research and residential communities for the future. Maybe you would like to live in one. Maybe it is a partial solution to the aging problem.
If so, go to their web pages; they all allow for interns, visitors, and maybe a new career.
The Guide – Eden Project Books, revised edition 2016.
Eden Project -http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about
Biosphere 2 -http://b2science.org