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.
I haven’t seen a Travel Merit Badge pamphlet, but ….
WARNING! DON’T RELY ON THIS; OR ANY OTHER BLOG. IT IS TOO EASY TO SPREAD FALSE INFORMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA, WEBSITES AND BLOG SITES. READ THIS, CHECK IT OUT AND USE IT AS YOU WILL; ALWAYS REMEMBERING THAT YOU ARE OLD AND MORE SUSCEPTABLE THAN MOST TO THIS SORT OF THING, ESPECIALLY IF IT INVOLVES HEALTH, MEDICINES AND AVOIDING DEATH.
How much medicine do you really need? What does it do for you? A simple idea: go to your pharmacist and ask her to look over all the pills that you take, both prescription and over-the-counter. Ask about interactions and dangers. Then rethink! Rethink with your doctor. I just can’t imagine how you can choose a pill to take, given the thousands in the typical drug store; not to mention on-line pills.
There are 5 tricks to healthy aging. The idea is to live well, not to live long. Your goal should be to live your best life, leave quickly and with as little pain as possible.
- Walk:– I have never seen, or heard of, any scientific study that said walking was bad for you.
- Strength training: Keep your muscle tone. Don’t do it at home, go to a gym, preferably one that takes Silver Sneakers or the YMCA. Just showing up will insure tht you do some exercises; at home it is too easy to skip it. Silver Sneakers and the YMCA are good across the country, so you really have no excuse. If you can’t drive – think it through. There are free services and now Uber and Lyft are everwhere.
- Eat non-processed foods: Follow Michael Pollan: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
- Simplify: Old age should be simple, not complex. You don’t need a lot and I have yet to see anyone who took anything with them. Downsize now, especially in your closet.
- Blog: You need something to do and you need to know how to use a computer and web sites. By blogging you learn new things, develop eye/hand coordination and are stimulated. It beats painting plaster of paris molds at a hobby center; I think. You need something to do. Anything that challenges your mind, no matter how silly or foolish it may seem to others.
Do you really want to save up for a life in a nursing home? A little planning and exercise will go a long way toward a happy, healthy life. Drop dead at a well-lived old age. Skip the nursing home.
Rethink end-of-life. Probably 99 % of us will die, so unless you suddenly find yourself in the 1%, you have a finite existence. You should make the best of it. I can find nothing positive about living the last few days/months/years as a vegetable, or in pain.
THINK OLD! LIVE BETTER NOW!
Transporting old people is a pain. They complain, are difficult to work with, and it is time-consuming. Think of a cross-country car trip with the Geezer. Not to mention the expense and the time missed from work.
The Geezer has developed “GeezerPack.” If you have a loved-one over the age of 70, packed (perhaps “boxed” is more accurate) and ready to go by 5:00 PM, live delivery anywhere in the continental United States is guaranteed by 10:00 AM the next day. Included is a packing box with a comfortable chair, portable light with extra batteries, boxed lunch, water bottle, tranquilizer, portable tape-player with the hits of the 50’s, oxygen, blanket, diaper approved by NASA and identity card.
Couples packs are available. International shipment is being planned. An emergency walker is also included. Each GeezerPack is also waterproof as there have been delays due to inclement weather.
The pack can be used at the destination as a temporary home. It fits through most doorways and stairways. It is clearly marked “THIS SIDE UP!”
We have shipped over 1000 seniors without a complaint.
Each GeeserPack is barcoded and you can track your loved one on your home computer or smart phone. Each GeezerPack is delivered to your address by two strong men and a truck. For a slight additional fee they will help rearrange your furniture. The box and chair are yours to keep.
Please carefully wrap your senior as sometimes the GeezerPack gets dropped or falls.
Frequent shipper cards available. Every 10th shipment is free. Get your card punched by the driver.
And, when you think about it; this is not so far-fetched. Think of all the astronauts sent into space and to the moon. Why can’t old people travel the same way?
DON’T DELAY, SHIP YOUR SENIOR TODAY!
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 where you can eat outside your comfort zone.
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.
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.
Last week I read The Longevity Economy, by Joseph F. Couglin, who is the founder and director of MIT’s AgeLab even though he is only 56. His basic thesis is that businesses do not really understand old people and what they want or need. I was intrigued enough, at 78, to 1) sign up as an AgeLab volunteer and 2) over the last week, while on a trip to Tucson, come up with personal examples of how businesses do not understand old people.
Here are just a few of my thoughts:
1. Side mirrors on cars do not let you see a car next to you on either side and it is hard to turn your head. I bought a blind spot mirror from Amazon and stuck it on my mirrors before I left.
2. The bath tub in our first hotel was too high, with a step and inadequate grab bars.
3. The bed is high. I couldn’t sit on the edge and put my shoes on. I was unstable getting out of it in the middle of the night; and, I get up often – another problem of aging
4. The TV clicker is difficult to use, though this one was simpler than most.
5. The restaurant is great. It is quiet and you can share a plate, unlike a lot of restaurants.
6. In case we don’t want to drive the distance, we have options. We can fly, we can use Uber/Lyft and rent a car. A little more costly than the drive and stop but not much, and not the stress. We miss the non-stop SW flights from ABQ to TuS.
7. When we leave, ABQ, we notify our neighbors, set up on/off lights and hide the computer. When you think about it, we really don’t have much that the average thief would want.
8. The car is a Prius and after 6 years and 75,000 miles, we still average 55 miles to the gallon,which appeals to our geriatric cheapness. And it is easy to drive and park, although I would like a back up camera that is standard on new cars.
9. Freeways are ok outside of cities as we stick to the right lane. And use speed control.
10. We also plug the I-phone into the cigarette lighter so it is always charged. And of course, google maps gives us directions as to where we need to go.
11. We don’t drive at night on the freeway
12. Food and other items packed in plastic that old fingers can’t open. Knives are hard to use on plastic packages with arthritic fingers. Scissors are also difficult, but who travels with them.
13. The paper TV channel guide has letters too small to read. The TV clicker was confusing, no grab bars in the bath tub, , bath tub too high, so without a grab bar, difficult to step into. – For the blog I have enhanced the TV channel guide.
14. On the way back, we stayed at a famous old hotel, but again no grab-bars on the high tub and the bottles of shampoo and conditioner were over a foot tall and heavy.
15. Lights in hotel rooms are not designed for old people; nor is the placement and switches on lamps.
This is just a sample.
More to come.
Warren Buffett says that 90 % of his estate will be invested in index funds.
There is no more to be said; especially if you are old.
What makes me think that I, at 78, can invest in the stock market? At 78, for me, it is time to get real.
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.
There is no truth to the rumor that cruise lines weigh passengers when they board and when they leave, and that the one who gains the most weight gets a free trip. But, it seems that way. There is food everywhere and all the time. I keep looking for the resident gerontologist.
That said, cruise ships also have great fitness facilities and an assortment of food that allows you to eat only what is good for you.
The fitness facilities on the Viking Sun are great and decidedly Scandinavian. The rule here is: “Showing up is half the battle.” If you can move down a deck or two, you will be one of a handful of people who use the facilities. It is like the health club you belong to. (for free with Silver Sneakers). There are a few dozen out of hundreds of members who actually show up regularly.
On our Viking Sun Ocean Cruise the fitness facilities stood out even if only used by a few of us. We are the new 1 %, only it is health not money that moves us into this category of old people.
Viking Sun has:
- A quarter-mile walking track with a half-dozen walkers. Great except for windy days.
- Fitness classes including yoga, Pilates, etc.
- Trainers for a fee.
- The best machines that I have ever used; and, I used them daily along with about a dozen others. (Out of 930 passengers, none of whom were children, there were few in the fitness rooms.)
- The usual spa treatments, massages, hair stylists, manicures, etc.
- A swimming pool
- A salt water whirl pool; a regular whirl pool; and a sauna.
- In addition and unusual on a cruise ship, a cold water bucket and the snow grotto. I tried the snow grotto – man-made snow in a glassed-in room kept at freezing temperature. I did not try the water bucket. These two reflect the Scandinavian love of hot and cold.
The snow grotto.
The cold water bucket.
Old people are stupid! Including me. I think I am the same person I was 20 years ago, even though my daily visit to the mirror tells me different. I think I can do the same things that I did 20 years ago, and that there will be no consequences. The worst thing is I think I am as competent and as smart as I was 20 years ago. WRONG!
Old people need hints to make life easier and more convenient, not to mention safer. The idea is not to live long, but to live well for as long as you can. Living in rehab is NOT living well. There are a few steps you can take. I will post them as I think of them and you can do with them as you please.
REMEMBER: Don’t focus on longevity, focus on living the best life that you can, while you can.
# 1 Grab Bar as Towel Rack
Why are grab bars important to old people?
Falls are one of the greatest causes of a miserable life. Think about it:
- You are prone to falling after a certain age.
- Grab bars are usually only in the tub or shower. Towel racks are not changed out. Yet, if you get out of a tub, the first thing you will grab for is a towel rack. So, why not replace the towel rack with a grab bar. One time grabbing hold of your old towel rack will convince you. Look at your towel rack. It sort of hangs on to a couple of screws. How many times has it come apart when you tried to hang a towel on it?
- You usually don’t wear your alert button in the shower.
- You usually shower alone; unlike years ago, a dim memory, if you even remember. Consider showering with a friend – for your own well-being, but two old people trying not to fall gives rise to a whole new blog idea.
- The bottom of the tub or shower tends to be slippery, thanks to soap.
- If you fall:
- It may take hours, or days, to find you if you live alone; or if your spouse is of questionable competency.
- If you break something, it is a trip to the hospital; then to rehab; then to assisted living: then ……….
- Breaks are painful.
- You may have locked the bathroom door.
- You don’t have your cell phone handy; and, it is usually not charged. And, you may not be any good at using it.
- You will feel like a fool lying naked on the bathroom floor when the para-medics break down the door to get you; or, when a friend who hasn’t heard from you for a few days comes to check on you.