I live in a home with three bedrooms. At some point I will need care; especially if I elect to live-in-place. I need a cheap solution; especially at night. Someone to allay my fears of the dark and to answer the phone, the door and generally be a human presence.
A caregiver who is really just an elder-sitter would cost me $20 per hour or $240 a night and I would be asleep. That comes to $87,600 per year; a bit much given my social security of $1600 per month and no pension.
My solution is a student nurse. She can make aging in place workable.
Average student loan debt for graduating nurses is $30,000. The average cost of board and room at UNM for a student nurse is $8580 per school year. This does not include non-academic periods. For three years rooming at the geezer’s, this would be a savings of $25,740; not counting the non-school year times.
I spoke informally to a lady at the UNM nursing school and to a fourth year student nurse, both of whom said it was possible to provide a nursing student with board and room in exchange for staying overnight at my house.
The student would live in one of my empty rooms, use the spare bathroom, eat the food from my “ice box” and check up on me, calling 911 as necessary.
She would be free during the day for classes; could have a boy/girl friend stay over, and could cut her student loans by at least $25,000.
She could do a paper on practical geriatrics for her geriatric course. She could study me, bring fellow students/professors around; and could generally get academic mileage out of her stay with me. I could be the guinea pig for geriatric research programs.
I could visit my kids during exams; and, we could work out something for periods when she had to be away.
She would have enough expertise; more than an elder-sitter; and, would know what to do in an emergency.
She would be better trained and vetted than the usual care-giver. I am afraid that someone is going to scam me or that a care-giver is going to steal my valuables and medicines. A nursing student has a career to lose if she does something unethical or illegal.
A win-win for both of us. She could even drop me off at the adult day-care on her way to classes. And could share my Meals-on Wheels.
When she graduates, she could provide me with a replacement from the entering class.
And I would be the envy of the senior community.
I feed hummingbirds a mixture of one cup of sugar to four cups of water. The sugar is pure white, cane sugar. It is cheap; and must provide a sugar high.
Hummingbirds are at the trough all day and empty two feeders every day. They also eat at natural plants around the yard, but not so much.
I wonder if eating all that pure sugar is good for them. Can they make the annual migration to South America? Do they get fat? Do they have health problems? Are there obese hummingbirds?
They are like people. They eat what is easy; not, what they have to work for. People are obese. Will we see fat hummingbirds.
Something to think about.
Does fast food affect hummingbirds adversely?
I won’t stop feeding them. Like the fast food industry, I profit from the hummingbirds outside my window. I like to watch them; and, of course I count them. I am contributing to what I believe are hummingbird health problems; just like the fast food industry, with its highly processed, sugar-filled food have contributed to our health and obesity problems.
Next time you feed a hummingbird, take a look in the mirror. Where is your feeder with its high sugar concentration? Are you preparing to fly to Tierra del Fuego for the winter?
Take a look at the Wikipedia article on hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are also carnivores eating insects for the protein in addition to various forms of sugar.
Five days a week bright yellow school buses take kids to school and six hours later take them home. The drivers are carefully vetted and trained. Drivers and buses are idle for six hours in the middle of the day; prime time for senior jitney buses.
They could pick up old people on a regular route; take them to a mall, medical center, senior center, etc. People could catch the Senior Jitney, by waving their AARP Card. The routes could be listed on a web site. Small buses could be used and a lot of them already have lifts for wheel chairs.
Old people are about as difficult as kids, so no additional driver training would be required.
With a regular route through zip codes with large numbers of old people, you might provide a useful service. They could even use regular bus stops. It might be set so that seniors could use their bus pass.
Miami has Jitney buses as do many cities in Africa and Eastern European countries.
Churches run routes for older members on Sundays in the US.
Census reports could be used to identify areas with the greatest needs; ie large numbers of old people.
Old people might feel safer in a bus dedicated to old people.
Just a thought. My home is a half-mile from the nearest regular bus stop, and a transfer is required to get any where I want, or need, to go. I can still walk to the bus stop, but for how long? By the time I can’t walk to the bus stop, I probably won’t be able to drive either.
In this day and age there is too much information; and too much of it is false. I am buffeted by ads, politics, etc. At 77, I decided to take a look at what I really needed to know. There are 10 things, not perfect, but that will at least make my present life better and protect me from the stress of old age.
You are going to die anyway, so why worry about that. Figure out how to make today as comfortable and as interesting as possible.
Here is my list:
- Walk – Almost anyone can do this and it keeps you fit physically, mentally and socially.
- “Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much.” Michael Pollan
- Wine with friends. Not too much.
- Index your investments. Unless you are too smart to be reading this blog, you can’t beat the market, so go with Index Funds, which beat most investment advisors and most funds. Set them to pay out the IRS Required Minimum Distribution each year on your birthday.
- Have a mentor. Mentors, or advisors, younger than you, are more important in old age than when you are young. You need someone to keep an eye on you. Think scams, illness, long-term care, etc.
- Socialize – if nothing else, sit out on your front porch and wave at people going by. Become a fixture. Most of us can at least get to the front porch; and, there are free shuttles to take you to church, clubs and the senior centers.
- Simplify – Life is way to complex for an old person. Reduce everything to its simplest form.
- Follow the money – In any situation, where is the money going. Check charities, investments, etc. Most things you don’t need and most investments are too good to be true. Old people are a target of scammers.
- Weights and exercise bands. – Do a bit while you are watching TV, etc. You need to be fit and you need muscles.
- Simple default protective devises. You should automatically grab for the grab bar when you get out of the shower; the rail on the stairs; your glasses when you drive. Default solutions can protect you. Some need to be learned like the new devices on cars; but, maybe you should not be driving anyway.
My blog on Christiania got me to thinking. Could old people, who need a place to live, social contacts and help, follow the example of the squatters in Copenhagen and take over (or, buy cheaply) abandoned prisons, hospitals, schools and homes to use in their declining years.
Could they take an abandoned prison used only for tours and convert it into living space for seniors using grants obtained under the Older Americans’ Act?
Or perhaps, old people could become ex-pats and get an abandoned United States facility in the Panama Canal Zone, even though title is now in Panama:
I think that most people my age (76) remember the 60’s and whether or not they participated, were influenced by the 60’s. Now that we are old, maybe it is time we applied a few hippie tricks; such as living in abandoned properties. Old people are heading toward homelessness in a big way; but, some of us still have a few tricks up our sleeves.
In Buffalo, New York and Detroit, Michigan, there are whole blocks of abandoned houses, owned by FHA, et al. Across the country you can find prisons, schools, military facilities, and government buildings, sitting empty because they have outlived their usefulness. To me they are an opportunity. If Detroit or Buffalo doesn’t appeal, try abandoned prisons, hospitals, schools and government buildings in any state. Take a look at: Abandoned Schools for Sale.
I am not advocating squatting, although it may come to that. I am advocating approaching the government and offering to take over these facilities for the benefit of old people. A block of empty homes in Detroit might be taken over for a $1 a house; redone with grants pursuant to the Older Americans’ Act, helped along by AmeriCorps – Vista, and funded by seniors’ Social Security Payments.
A block of abandoned houses could have a police satellite station on one corner, a Senior Clinic, meals-on- wheels, and a senior center on the other corners. In addition, there could be a central courtyard; safe, and social. Since old people are naturally snoopy they would watch the street all the time.
Be sure that some of the old people are young enough and competent enough to organize this.
Maybe we need the Gray Panthers!
I am 76, vulnerable and cheap. A recent neighborhood burglary and car vandalism made me rethink our home security.
What is unique about most old people – my wife and I?
- We live alone.
- Our memories are not quite what they used to be.
- I am deaf.
- I think I am younger than I am.
- My support group is shrinking.
- I am cheap.
- I am fearful.
- Any system we use must be simple and self-operating. We can’t be bothered with any complexity.
- We travel and are frequently away from home.
I cannot protect us from everything; but, I can reduce the odds, my fear, and my paranoia. I can provide a video if I am the victim of a crime.
This is what I did.
- I turn on porch and garage exterior lights each night. My neighbors can watch. I have mixed feelings about this as there is an argument that you allow burglars to see what they are doing.
- I rewired the pyracantha along our back wall and tied the stems so that they covered the whole wall. I will let them grow taller in the future.
- I installed two interior lights on timers that go on and off automatically at various times in the evening. ($4.87 each.)
- I wired together wire tomato cages (I use these in the summer for my tomatoes. – or $2 each.) where the exterior walls adjoined my neighbor’s wall. Someone coming over the wall has to deal with the pyracantha, the wires and the cages, which they cannot see in the dark. Jail provides medical treatment.
- I installed a solar motion sensor light ($29.97) over the back door. This gives off enough light to see the back yard and becomes very bright if someone enters the yard. My neighbor can watch the burglar.
- I installed a Canary Security System and Camera ($199.95) tied into my smart phone. My smart phone beeps if someone enters my home office. I can watch whoever is there (even if I am in Iceland), activate an alarm, or call the police. The system records and retains the video for at least 24 hours, or longer if you subscribe. It is quite clear even in the dark. It goes on automatically when I leave the house, but I have to click “private” when I return home or it keeps monitoring. The BIG problem with this is that the first night I did not click “private” after I returned home. The next morning I had a video of a 76 year-old, nude man, coming out of the bathroom; now, I turn it off when I am at home.
When we are really old, our kids can access the Canary from their smart phones and monitor us. I will have to start wearing a robe.
The total cost of our security system was $239.70, plus tax.
I could have used a commercial alarm service, but that costs a lot more, and they call a neighbor, or us, giving the burglar time to get away You put your neighbor in harm’s way when they go to check on your home. If the police are called and it is a false alarm, you may get charged depending on your town.
We travel a lot, have no relatives in town, and worry about security when we are gone. This is not a perfect system, but for the cost, I don’t see how we could do more.
The net result is that I feel better, I have not spent much money, I have a simple system that even I can handle, and I will have a video of the burglar. I may even catch him by dialing 911 and advising the police where he is in my home and whether or not he appears to be armed. The video will be evidence.
In old age the geezer needs a KISS! (Keep it Simple Stupid!)
Most old people prefer books; not electronic readers like Kindle. There is a learning curve, like most things, before you are comfortable with an electronic gadget. If you are old, the learning is worth the effort. You will be out of your comfort zone for a while, but will soon find a new comfort zone that will suit you.
With a Kindle from Amazon there are 9 things that you can do that you can’t do with a hardcover book.
- You can check out books from many libraries at home and receive the book on your Kindle. All you need is a library card, no trip to the library required.
- You can change the size of the type; always good given old eyes. See below.
- Kindle books are cheaper on Amazon than the hard bound editions.
- A Kindle reader weighs less than most hard bound books. It can be the size and weight of a paperback or it can be incorporated into your i-Pad.
- A Kindle reader holds thousands of books.
- You can subscribe to magazines on Kindle.
- You can subscribe to newspapers on Kindle.
- You can get a lot of free books on Kindle, including the classics that you always meant to read.
- You have one book size gadget to carry around, not a lot of books. This is great for travel.
Old People have a love/hate relationship with cars. They want the freedom to drive, but are also afraid when they do. They don’t like to drive after dark, on freeways, in busy traffic and in strange places. They live in fear that their kids are going to ride with them; and, then want to take away their licenses.
Old People should plan ahead and learn to move about without cars and without fear.
We were recently vacationing for two weeks in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Our Airbnb home was a block and a half from the beach in a quiet neighborhood. It was perfect for four of us. Of course, each couple rented a car. How else would we get around? But at 75, I started thinking down the road. (No pun intended.)
We could walk to the beach, walk to restaurants and walk to small shops for essential supplies. UBER was available for longer journeys; like the grocery store. The Indian Rocks Beach Library was only a block and a half away, complete with computers, wi-fi and a small bookstore with 25 cent paperbacks.
On Gulf Blvd. the Suncoast Beach Trolley runs every half-hour from St. Petersburg Beach to the bus terminal in downtown Clearwater. It is easy and cheap.
The PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) senior fare is $2.50 per day or $35.00 for a month of unlimited travel. Each Trolley has free wi-fi, so if the place you are staying doesn’t have free wi-fi, you can just ride the bus with your computer all day for $1.
It is a good deal, takes more time than a car, but…. I may soon be old. Parking is another problem, but that is for another blog.
My Indian Rocks Beach experience can be applied anywhere.
Any city that has a bus, trolley or cable car line, probably has a senior fare and a pass good for one-day to a year. In San Francisco, a pass good for bus, cable car and street cars within San Francisco is $15 per month.
In Albuquerque. New Mexico the senior pass is $12 per month if you are over 62.
You can check out any city you are going to by doing a Google search:
bus+name of city+schedule
This will lead you to the appropriate web page.
One work of caution, at least in Indian Rocks Beach, the bus stop sign that gives you search message sites doesn’t work. I sent a message and scanned in a code. Didn’t work. So, I waited on a bench, and pretty soon the trolley came.
Restaurant Impossible is one of my favorite TV shows, so of course it got me thinking. Why couldn’t Robert, or someone like him, come in and redo me?
Like the restaurants on the show, I am a mess after 75 years. I am out of shape. My finances are a mess. I don’t even know what all the pills I take are for.
I am in need of redoing! I need to be rehabbed. So, I wrote to Geezer Impossible and offered myself!
I am out of date; although a plus is that I have donated all my stained, checkered pants with zippers that don’t work to Good Will. I now wear relaxed fit jeans. Not much of an improvement, but a start. Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ), I am not, yet….. And, the fifty’s may come back.
I need a team to come in clean me up, shape me up, revise my life style, perhaps come up with a new style or at least a theme. Make me a modern “old man.” Are there “theme” old people?
Robert could meet with my family, friends, advisors, etc.; find out what they were doing for me, put them on notice that they need to shape up, then go to work on me.
He could have a group of experts; perhaps a doctor, a financial planner, a lawyer, a geriatric shrink and of course a dietician.
The result would be a new old man; with a modern theme. Instead of walking me through the door of a restaurant, Robert could walk my family through the door of my new living space and show me off. They could all marvel at how old people could be rejuvenated.
It might be necessary to do a series of old people makeovers to determine if this was a viable process. Data is important; and, of course we would need follow-up. How long could I endure my new theme.
The redo might be franchised. Old People Impossible, make overs for those over 75. Maybe even a TV show, preferably in the late afternoon, with wine.
After writing this, I woke up!
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: