Ok, so I am old, so my hearing and my eyesight is not what it once was. Yet every day, someone wants to sell me something, but they don’t know who I am. Businesses approach things from their point of view; even when trying to sell something to me. You would think that they would focus on me; not only their targeted customer, but for at least another 20 years, their customer who has the most money. In 20 years, old people will be broke; today many of us have money. Businesses catering to the old should realize this.
My wife bought a device for her mother that allows her mother to locate lost things; purse, glasses, keys, etc. It is a great idea; but, the only instructions are on the side of a 2 x 2 inch box in type so small that you can’t even read it with a magnifying glass. And, if your purse is lost, which it frequently is with old people; the device to locate the purse is usually in the purse. Go figure!
What is even worse; from an old person’s point-of-view, is that they have to ask someone for help thus admitting to old age.
Are there any geriatric tech writers? Look at the instructions that come with something you have bought. Were those instructions written with you in mind?
Don’t forget businesses that have receptionists who have such a low voice that you can’t hear them; or, more common, those that rattle off the information so fast, that you don’t get it.
How would you explain to your mirror how to put something together; or, how to operate something so that you could understand it? Even harder than explaining it to a mirror, is explaining it to a business. I especially like the low voice-tone and talking speed in audiologists’ offices. You would think an audiologist would realize that the only reason that you were there was because you were deaf. But they don’t seem to realize that when talking to you.
Restaurants forget, that while noise may increase turnover and profits, noisy places do not attract old people. Twice this week we have decided against restaurants because of their noise level. And, 50 % of restaurants fail in the first year and 75% in the first five years. Meanwhile, the number of old people is increasing. Restaurants that play music play it for the young help; they forget that two-thirds of their customers are over 65 and like to talk to each other, not listen to some loud off-putting music.
I could go on, and probably will, about services and products for old people being developed by people who are not old and who don’t understand old people.
When I was 73, I bought an age reducing clock. Now I am 71. You too can reduce your age. Buy an age reducing clock for yourself and be as young as the geezer.
Most people I know hate the idea of senior centers; even more than they hate the idea of growing old. I would agree with them if I could do anything about it. The best I can do is strive for a good old age; and, recognize the problems that come with this stage of life, just like I recognized and dealt with problems in earlier stages of life.
Which brings me to Senior Centers. There is one close to me. I joined for $15 per year. I can do ceramics, woodworking, sewing and most anything else I want. There are numerous classes in physical fitness, yoga, computer training. There are rooms for poker, pool and reading. There is a library of books that are free for the taking and a computer that you can use.
They serve breakfast and lunch. Coffee is 25 cents; a burrito is $1.50 with eggs, hash browns and bacon or sausage. You can just show up and eat it. You have to sign up for lunch a day in advance. If you are over 60, which I am, it is free with a suggested $2 donation. If you are under 60 it is $3.75. It is more than you can eat, so my wife and I can share a plate at $1 each, as a donation.
The best thing about the senior centers in Albuquerque is the trips that they offer. They provide transportation and lunch for a minimal charge. Today they were advertising a backstage trip to the Santa Fe Opera $16 which includes transportation to Santa Fe and admission. On June 19, there is a tour of an Alpaca Ranch in Mora, NM. In the past we have gone to the Crown Point Rug Auction where several times a year Native Americans sell their hand-made rugs, to dealers and anyone else who wants to bid. The only problem with this tour is the meal; the bus driver gets sandwiches from Costco. It is much better to eat the fry bread and Indian Tacos at Crown Point. Since the Auction is not over until after 10 at night, you don’t want to make the several hour drive back to Albuquerque.
You can also get legal help, accounting help, tax help and estate planning. There are more jewelry making classes than you can count. And of course painting and art classes. It seems that every old person wants to become an artist; or, maybe just a blogger.
The computer lab is great; no one shows up, so you have the instructor all to yourself. Then, book clubs, card clubs, beading and music.
Some of the trips this half-year; were or will be: Forensic Science Center ($2 transportation); Left Turn Distilling Tour (50 cents transportation); Hispanic Cultural Center ($2 transportation, $2 admission); Harvey House Museum ($5 transportation to Belen); San Felipe Pueblo Feast Day ($3 transportation); Chaco Canyon; Dar Al Islam Mosque ($12 transportation); Santa Fe Opera House Tour ($8 transportation, $8 admission). And those are just the trips that interest me out of 79 available day trips during the first half of 2015.
Most towns have senior centers; so if you are traveling look them up in advance and see what they have to offer.
The only downside is that you are with a bunch of old people, but…..
You might be happier sitting at home and pretending that you are not old.
To check out Albuquerque, see: Senior Centers.
In any other town, Google “Senior Centers.”
Like many old people, I am interested in learning something new; in my case genealogy, but also hiking and perhaps something totally new like wood carving. Almost every active old person is trying for a new hobby. Painting, pottery, writing a blog, hiking, etc. I have one friend who makes pottery and is good enough that she spent time on a cruise ship teaching pottery to other old people. An interesting and unusual experience.
Community colleges are full of courses that will teach you something. As are senior centers. The problem is that the materials that they use are frequently too complicated, too advanced or too long for old people.
While sitting in the Smithtown Public Library, I got to thinking about this; and, about some sort of handbook for old people. This naturally led me to think about how I learned when I was young. A tremendous influence on me was the Boy Scouts. So I checked the card catalog for the Boy Scout Handbook; it was at another branch. But, I did find the Boy Scout Merit Badge Series.
This was just what I needed. There are 132 of them. I checked the ones on genealogy, hiking, and wood carving. Each provided the basics for the topic selected and a list of resources; not to mention the tools that you need and how to use and care for them. Each provided several hours of interesting reading and was thought-provoking. Thought-provoking is good for the old.
Each provided something that we didn’t have 60 years ago, such as discussing GPS receivers; but, reminding you, that if the battery died, you were back to “navigating the backcountry with traditional tools.” Tradition, I know; GPS is a bit more difficult and dead batteries haunt me all the time, from hearing aids to cell phones.
I may order some; or check out my library at home. Travel should be enlightening, even if you are only in a strange library.
For more information go to: www.scoutstuff.org. The merit badge pamphlets are $4.99 each. You can probably afford a dozen. While at the site, take a look at the packs, etc. They have a lot more stuff than they did 60 years ago when I was paying 25 cents for a Merit Badge Pamphlet.
My wife is taking painting, so I may have to get her the Painting Merit Badge Pamphlet.
You might also try Amazon.com and get a $4.95 Merit Badge Pamphlet for your Kindle.
You are never too old to learn from the young.
Finances for seniors can be difficult. This is obvious both, from looking into my financial mirror and from the number of articles about seniors being taken advantage of. Who do you trust? Look in the mirror; that is not the person to trust after a certain age. How do you pick a financial planner? Do you need one? Who has your best interests at heart?
Today’s New York Times describes some of the problems. The author suggests a team, a trusted relative, etc.
The geezer thinks you need a mentor. Wikipedia defines a mentor as someone more experienced who advises someone less experienced. I suggest that you find a younger mentor; who, can advise you as you lose your experience and your ability to make “rational” decisions.
At some stage in life, you need a mentor. The best is a spouse or a child. After that, a professional that you can trust; a lawyer or an accountant; hopefully one that will outlive you and still be competent. This is someone who will monitor you and advise you, or your relatives, when you start to drift financially, medically, or mentally. Someone who can take action if necessary and who can shield you from yourself. You are your own worst enemy; like it or not. You still think you know everything; and, in reality you may be a joke.
This said, you should make it easier for the mentor. Your stocks should be in index funds; you should have one bank account; one credit card; and, all ordinary bills should be paid automatically. Your house should be paid off. There should be lists of information; financial and medical. The mentor should receive copies of accounts. You should have a credit freeze in place and your debit card should have a daily limit.
There should be a health care power of attorney; and, perhaps a regular power of attorney naming a spouse, child or trusted mentor.
Most importantly, you should reduce your life to basics. You should live simply without a lot of clutter. If you live alone, someone should check on you regularly and you should have some sort of alarm button that you wear to press in case of trouble. You should know how to use whatever you get.
Your home should be age-proofed. Nothing worse than falling when you get out of the bath and are not wearing your alarm button. Get some grab bars. Think of neighbors coming in and finding you naked on the bathroom floor.
The bottom line is that old age brings new worries. You need to minimize these. You need a mentor more than you did when you were young and starting out. Go for it.
You are traveling; and, of course you have to eat. Mostly it is too expensive and probably not good for you; but, at your age who cares?
I am interested in places and ideas for eating well but frugally. This means getting the most for your money, having a new experience and maybe meeting new people. And, as always, you may have a story to tell. No one is interested if you ate at a chain; however, going to a church supper in a small NM town will give you a story to tell.
Share a plate. Old people eat less. Most places will let you do it, though some charge an extra $3 or so. Always split a desert.
I have tried the following:
1. Eat at Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store. You get good food in reasonable quantities and can eat it in the store or take it with you. You will also feel good since it is organic, humanly raised and free of additives. Your grandchildren will love it.
2. Try a university. Parking may be a problem; however, they usually have salad bars and other interesting menu items. Sometimes you can even get a beer or glass of wine.
3. Hospitals have gotten better, at least in their cafeterias. I can remember when it was all fried, but now they have salad bars and other items that reflect their “dedication” to health. Don’t stay too long as you might catch something; they are places to avoid except for a quick meal.
4. Frequently, you can visit an assisted living facility and in exchange for listening to the sales pitch, get a free meal. This would be my last resort in most cases, having seen some of the food.
5. Some chains have reasonably priced healthy food. If you see a Chipotle or a Subway, stop. Two of you can share a burrito or a 12 in. sub, for about $6 to $8.
6. Picnic. Stop at a store and buy what you need for a picnic. Remember that left-overs may be a problem.
7. Frequent bed and breakfasts. Have a big breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a nice dinner with a glass of wine.
8. Service clubs, if you are a member. Watch for signs giving the day and place as you enter a town; or, go on-line.
9. If you belong to a private club, golf club, health club, or tennis club, check them out for reciprocity. Usually they can arrange for you to be a guest and use the facilities in another town. There will probably be a small fee.
10. Church suppers are always interesting; especially in small rural towns.
11. Small town events can give you interesting food.Try the Ramp Festival in Cullowhee, NC; or the matanza in Belen, NM.
12. Never forget museums; especially if you are in Europe. Some of the best food I have had has been at museums in Madrid, Vienna and London. The same applies to US museums. At least look at them.
Pick up small town papers. Visit your old home towns. Use the internet. Try something new. Check out small town chambers of commerce. Explore.
After 70, there are 10 things that you should master. Don’t just say you can do it, practice it until you can teach it.
1. USE Google Maps, with voice commands, on your smart phone. If you drive you need to know where you are going without trying to follow the small print on a map, guessing, or trying to look at the GPS.
2. INVEST in index funds. I am not competent to determine which stocks are best, and probably never was. Index funds are cheap and beat over 70% of mutual fund returns.
3. AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS. Your utilities, mortgage, insurance, etc. should be paid automatically out of your bank account or by credit card, if you are after FF miles. You can’t remember everything. Especially your long-term care insurance – you don’t want that to lapse. You don’t want to incur late fees. Check your bank account frequently to make sure the payments have been made.
4. USE E-MAIl. Everyone does it and you should too. My short-term memory is such, that it is good to have in writing. Make sure you remember your e-mail password; and, have it written down at home.
5. SMART PHONE. Get the simplest one possible and learn how to use it. If you get an apple, you can go to the Genius Bar where they will teach you anything; even, if you are so old you can’t learn. Keep apps at a minimum, know how to use them and know why you have them
6. QUICK MEDICAL CARE. You don’t need the emergency room just because you are old; unless you are dying, you will sit there for hours and end up feeling like a fool. Go to CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens, urgent care, or maybe even Wal-Mart. They have triage nurses/caregivers who can either fix you up quickly and cheaply, or call an ambulance, at a fraction of the cost. These are quicker and cheaper than emergency rooms. Have them check your drug list and see if anything looks funny. Old people take too many meds. They are the worst form of addicts and they don’t even realize it.
7. KEEP LISTS. I carry a 3 x 5 Day-timer. Pasted inside the cover is a list of phone numbers, a list of the meds I take, including non-prescription ones, and a list of my kids names, addresses and telephone numbers. Pasted on the cover is a business card with my name, address, telephone number, cell phone number and e-mail address. It is quick and simple. You should also have lists of bank accounts, credit cards, payments, etc. in a fairly secure place so that your kids can find them. Show the list of drugs to you pharmacist every time you go in; and, to your doctor. Remember, as far as meds are concerned, less is more.
8. GO SLOW. If you are old, it seems people want to rush you, especially if it involves a financial decision. There in no need to hurry. You have lived more that 70 years and can afford to slow down; especially if it will benefit you.
9. KNOW THAT YOU ARE OLD. Old age is about changes. Don’t fight them, consider them problems to be solved (or opportunities). You solved other problems over the last 70+ years. Prepare. Have a buddy who watches out for you.
10. BASIC EXERCISE. This is the most important. Have a basic exercise plan, even if it is only walking around the block every day. Walk, lift weights, stretch. You know you are going to die, but until then, you might as well feel as good as possible and exercise will help. If you see a physical therapist, ask him/her for a list of basic exercises and keep at it.
These are 10 things that you should know how to do, and do. Forget that you are old. Learn!
Sources of help:
1. Dummies books from Amazon.com
2. Senior centers
5. Other old people. Get together for coffee once a week and find out how other old people are dealing with problems
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID