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.
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.
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.
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.