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.
Old People need something to do. Hobbies and crafts are the lifeblood of old people. Think of all the crafts classes at the senior centers and on cruise ships. Some of us even take up blogging. Look at the classes listed in magazines for seniors.
Try a test drive. I have picked out wood carving, but any hobby that interests you will do.
I went with my son to a store selling hardwoods in North Carolina, and while there he purchased a small $6 block of wood and a starter set of carving knives. He announced that he was going to start carving at the young age of 50. It got me to thinking about how one would start a hobby.
The first thing is to decide which hobby. Blogging required several on-line courses, a couple of community college courses, a meet-up group, and a lot of time. Wood carving seems much simpler; but, I am not about to try it. Will just use it as an example.
Wood carving starts with the block of wood and the knives. Then you need to know what to do! At my age, if I was going to be a wood carver, I would go back 65 years to a time when I could learn anything. I would then read the Boy Scout Merit Badge Pamphlet on Wood Carving; or, buy it on Amazon.
Having mastered wood carving with the Boy Scouts, I would then look around for more help and would of course resort to Google.
Google the following if you are interested in learning wood carving in Albuquerque at a senior center: Albuquerque + Senior center + wood carving
Try the following in your area for wood carving lessons and/or information:
Local community college.
The bottom line is that there are unlimited hobby resources available; you just have to look for them and try them out.
And, of course, if you want to spend a week learning to carve, try Arrowmont, a first class art school in Tennessee. “Birds, Bugs and Beasts: Carving the Natural” will teach you the basics of carving for $595 and $415 for a shared double room with three meals a day.
You should consider carving old people!
Old people need to learn new things. And, at your age, all your mentors are dead. The problem is finding someone to teach you and having the guts to go and learn something. It is an uphill battle to admit at 78 that you are ignorant and don’t know everything. Old people are afraid of being wrong, stupid or foolish.
I suggest that if you want to learn something new that you start with a “Dummies” book. There are hundred of them and they cover everything from Dating after Age 50 to Beekeeping. Some of them are 20 years old, but most basic knowledge is also old and you can use a Dummies book as a starting point.
At least you won’t feel quite as foolish after you have looked through a “Dummies” book.
Note that there are a number of Dummies Books directed at Seniors, or of topics of interest to seniors; even topics that you might not want anyone to know you are interested in, such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia for Dummies, which you can order on Amazon.com. Get the Kindle edition, as you don’t want to leave it laying around, and it is cheaper.
When you are ready to buy, go to Amazon, which sells hundreds of “Dummies” books. Just search “Dummies + topic” and see what you get; or do the same thing at your local library.
Amazon should be your starting point. It is better than a card catalog, or the electronic equivalent. Then check your library; or if on vacation, the library in the town you are visiting. They usually have a good supply and it is free. Besides, going to the library is interesting anyway as they have numerous magazines, programs, cafes, etc. They also are frequently the location for the local genealogy society, and other interest groups.
For example, we go to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida each year. Except for White Sands, New Mexico has a shortage of beaches. We like the Largo Public Library in Largo, Florida which provides us with a book store, a cafe, genealogy courses, genealogy library and dozens of magazines in addition to a huge number of books for “Dummies.”
Some of the Dummies Books I found at the Largo Public Library of interest to old people, deal with laptops, tablets and smart phones, Facebook, fit over 40, social security, estate planning, genealogy, personal finance, dating after 50, and dementia.
Of special interest to those of you who are downsizing, maybe in anticipation of a move to “The Home” is: e-Bay for Dummies. Or, you might just want to buy a copy for your kids. Time to sell off all that junk, which no one in your family really wants.
You might be interested in:
And, of course, if you are an old blogger, there is always:
At my age, nothing could be more interesting than the 4th Edition of Beekeeping for Dummies.
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.
Condo Maintenance Work in September!
- Use a reliable rental agent; such as Airbnb.com or VRBO.com.
- Look at the pictures and read the reviews on the web page.
- Determine if you can cancel and the penalties.
- Why are you going to this particular place? Beach? Skiing? Museums? Family?
- Read the contract.
- Take dated cell phone pictures.
- Look for problems; especially old people problems – stairs, rugs, anything that could lead to a fall. Remember the public lights that guide you may also shine in your bedroom window. Construction may start at 8 in the morning. Remember, a beach condo is probably not designed, or furnished, for old people!
- Check all light bulbs – enough light to read by.
- Check, and pitch, food left in refrigerator, or stored.
- Batteries in tv clickers – take spares – I have had battery problems in the last three places I have rented. And, the battery was always the last thing I checked and in each case, fresh batteries made the clicker work. Usually, but not always, there are buttons on the TV – BUT, old people are addicted to clickers and don’t like to get up and walk over to the TV to change the channel.
- Locate instructions for all appliances.
- TVs and electronic devices are probably designed for someone 60 years younger than you. Best to bring a grand-kid with you, if you anticipate TV, computer or cell phone problems.
- Is there construction work taking place? In Indian Rocks Beach, FL, construction work takes place in September – See photo above.
- Are there cleaning supplies?
- Toilet paper, dishwasher soap, laundry soap? The owner, previous tenant, cleaning company all use different brands than you do. Get over it! Adapt!
- Sheets, towels, dishes, etc.?
- Parking spaces and car tags?
- Heating and air conditioning?
- Name and cell phone number of contact person for problems – ie lock box doesn’t work late at night when you arrive and you can’t figure out how to get in the unit.
- Deadlines for leaving – ie cleaning crew has to come in.
- Restaurant guides – can you walk there?
- Public transportation, if you need it.
- Uber or Lyft available?
- Light from glass brick walls, windows without shades, or from public areas?
- Read the book of comments.
- Communicate by e-mail so that you have a record.
- Insurance – damage, illness, death, cancellation for any reason?
- Seasons – On Florida beaches, September is the time to repair in anticipation of the high season, it is also hurricane season and low season – you probably got a good price, but you may have to put up with closed businesses, construction work, bad weather, air plane cancellations/delays, etc. SPRING BREAK – NOT A TIME FOR OLD PEOPLE – Think about it!
- Red Tide or other natural or man-made disasters. – Have you gone swimming in the ocean since you turned 70? Who is responsible?
- Why did you pick the place? low season, cost, hurricane, knew the area???
- What was disclosed?
- Don’t forget that your i-phone is a flashlight?
- Is there a library near by? newspapers, computers, books for sale cheap, information on local events, museums, etc.
- Hospitals, CVS clinics available? – Can your local pharmacy send meds to an out-of-state pharmacy? Old people must have their meds – lack of meds will panic an old person quicker than anything else.
- What do you do if you can’t make the TV work?
- Old people tend to make mountains out of mole hills on vacation; instead of adapting and enjoying.
What you can do!
- Call contact person.
- Notify VRBO.com or Airbnb.com.
- E-mail, so that there is a record.
- IS THE PERCEIVED PROBLEM WORTH THE EFFORT? YOU DIDN’T COME ON A VACATION TO MOVE TO A NEW UNIT, TO COMPLAIN, OR TO SPEND YOUR TIME RUNNING AROUND. WHY DEAL WITH WHAT IS REALLY NOT A PROBLEM – AND PROBABLY JUST A NUISANCE.
- You are not here to litigate, but to enjoy yourself.
After three weeks!
THINK OLD! Especially when you are on vacation.
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.
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.
Many of us have an advance directive or health care power of attorney. All of us should have one. It sets out what you want to happen in as far as your health care is concerned at the end of life.
The problem is that these laws and cases seem to require that you be competent, which may be difficult, especially if you are unconscious or have dementia.
Compassion & Choices has come up with a “Dementia Clause” that is either a separate document or included in your Advance Directive. Visit their website to determine what your state allows for end-of-life decisions.
Dementia does not seem to be a problem for the person with dementia; but is a horrible financial, mental and emotional problem for family members and loved ones.
l do not know if the “Dementia Clause” has been tested, but if you believe in it, what have you got to lose.? Basically it provides by reference to your “My Particular Wishes” or advance directive, that you do not want food or water and that you want to be comfortable. If it doesn’t work, you are in the same place that you would have been in if you didn’t have it; if it does work, you are saved from a horrible existence. It is your choice and you are not an impossible burden on your family.
Don’t listen to me! Ask your physician and your attorney? Some hospitals may not honor this, if so you will have to trust to hospice or your family.
It does seem that you have the right to refuse food and hydration, but remember that sometimes prisoners are force-fed and hydrated while on hunger strikes.
The idea is for you to decide, with professional advice, while you are competent. You want to avoid courts, law suits and undue bureaucratic fuss.
Here is the language from the Compassion & Choices form:
“If I am unconscious and it is unlikely that I will ever become conscious again, I would like my wishes regarding specific life-threataiuing treatments, as indicated on the attached document entitled My Particular Wishes to be followed.
If I remain conscious but have a progressive illness that will be fatal and the illness is in an advanced stage, and I am consistently and permanently unable communicate, swallow food and water safely, care for myself and recognize my family and other people, and it is very unlikely that my condition will substantially improve, I would like my wishes regarding specific life-sustaining treatments, as indicated on the attached document entitled My Particular Wishes , to be followed.
If I am unable to feed thyself while in this condition:
I do/do not (circle one) want to be fed.
I do/do not (circle one) want to be given fluids.
I hereby incorporate this provision into my durable power of attorney for health care, living will and any other previously executed advance directive for health care decisions.
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: