The New York Times article by a doctor with a terminal illness caught my eye. He built his own coffin. It may seem morbid to some, but if you have a terminal illness or are old, death is one of the things you think about.
Building your own coffin adds a human touch to death that seems to be missing today. Death has become mechanical and hidden; just a process that you hire done and which is kept out of sight. I remember when my grandfather died in a small town in Nebraska. An open coffin, supported by two chairs in the dining room, was there overnight. Someone was always sitting next to it, including me at age 8. There were constant visitors, food and much talking.
Terminal illness and old age seem to drain one’s life of purpose; coffin building may add meaning and comfort. It will surely get people talking.
The problem is that people facing death, whether through old age or disease, look at death differently. They come to accept that everyone dies; a concept unfamiliar to younger people. A purpose is important.
Coffin plans if you are interested.
Since writing this in November of 2017, I have discovered that there are “coffin clubs,” which began in New Zealand and have spread to the United States. You can read about them in the August 2019 issue of The Atlantic.
If you are still interested, Google “coffin clubs” +name of your state.
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.
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.
If you are old, the Kindle, or a similar e-reader, is the “book” for you. It is cheap and small. You can take it with you on trips. Get an adapter if you go overseas, but it works fine. Just go to Amazon.com.
For old people, like me, the best thing is that I can adjust the print size. Have you tried to read a paperback recently with your eyes?
I was flying back from Kosovo a couple of years ago and stuck my Kindle in the pocket of my soft-sided suitcase, which I then checked. Wrong move! My Kindle got smashed and was unusable. I had to buy a new one, but I was able to download everything I had purchased from Amazon.com onto the new one at no charge. Then a few years later I was able to download everything on my I-Pad, again at no charge. However, I still use the Kindle with its large print capabilities.
Kindle books are cheaper that hardbacks. And, you can get free books and cheap books from Amazon.com.
In Albuquerque you can check out Kindle, and other e-books, for two weeks for free. I presume that most libraries have this program. And, old people whom I know frequent libraries, so…..
Your Kindle will also handle magazine subscriptions. The magazine on Kindle is better than trying to pack magazines for a trip; and, if you are like me, magazines tend to accumulate and accumulate and accumulate. Go Kindle.
It is small. See my post on geezer’s clothes for life. My kindle fits in the bag along with all those clothes.
Finally, the Kindle holds a huge number of books, both in the Cloud and on the Kindle. I keep travel books, especially about a dozen Rick Steves’ books, along with books I reread, such as Walden. My Kindle has over 500 books, including mysteries, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, Thoreau and Emerson; not to mention a half-dozen books on how to blog when you are old.
I am trying to reduce the geezer to his essence. Pretty soon I will be able to travel by Wi-Fi and my grandkids can just download me whenever they want to see me; otherwise I will exist as some sort of permalink.
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.
I am 77. I need clothing that I can wear everyday and everywhere, that is cheap, that is always acceptable and that can be washed. I do not want to check it when flying. I want to hoist it into an overhead bin by myself. I don’t want to worry about theft.
I have chosen black walking shoes, sandals, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 turtle-necks, 2 shirts, 7 socks, underpants t-shirts and handkerchiefs. I have one blazer and one hooded rain jacket. All, except for the blazer can be washed together, in one load. Everything is black. There is room for miscellaneous items.
It all fits on me and in the 14″x18″x12″ bag in the picture. I can go on an archeological dig, eat at a four-star restaurant, attend a wedding or a funeral, attend a concert and live out the rest of my life in a long-care facility with nothing more than what is on me and in the bag.
It is cheap, universal and requires no thought. It is easily replaced. It gives me a unique, but acceptable, appearance, and not an offensive one.
American Air Lines has introduced its Basic Economy Fare. Other airlines, except Southwest, are charging for checking, carry-on, and for anything that you can’t stick under the seat.
This is great. I am cheap. Now I am forced to travel as a minimalist, which is better for me. I can enjoy the journey; and, not worry about dealing with luggage.
Have you ever seen an old person trying to hoist their bag into an overhead bin? Not a pretty sight. Have you seen an old person dragging a large suitcase through the airport? Do old people really need to dress up when traveling?
I have written on this before. But now, I am forced to take a new look.
I like Rick Steves and have taken 4 trips with his organization. He sells the Euro Flight Bag (14 x 13 x 8) and it fits under the American Airlines seat with room to spare. I don’t need as much seat room since I have lost an inch or two in the last few years, and expect to lose a bit more as my pending osteoporosis develops. This bag should fit under any airline seat.
For any length of trip:
The jeans that I wear. Acceptable anywhere I might go, if clean and neat. Better than the checkered pants with the zipper that didn’t work of previous generations.
7 black t-shirts
7 pair of socks
Shoes that I wear
Light weight travel pants.
Light weight pants that I can sleep in, or use informally.
Toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, aspirin, ibuprofen
Tai Chi slippers
I-pad with over 500 books, NY Times, Albuquerque Journal and magazine subscriptions’
Pack-It Jacket with internal pockets.
Emergency rain jacket -ScotteVest
Notebook and pens
Glasses and hearing aid
3 shirts – long-sleeved or short-sleeved depending on weather.
Cell phone with camera and Google Maps
Questions to ask:
- Can I wash my clothes for the cost of checking or the carry-on fee?
- Can I lift a bag into overhead by myself?
- Do I have to pack anything different from what I wear at home?
- Will anyone laugh at me? Do I care?
- Can i wear this on a cruise ship?
- Will this work in winter? What do I need to add, besides a heavier jacket and gloves?
- Am I going to a place with stores?
- Do I need anything else?
Airline baggage limits are a positive. Like a lot of parameters they benefit you in unintended ways. There is a lot to be said for not traveling with a lot of stuff that you don’t need when you are over 75. Keep moving, but reduce your load.
You may need to earn a bit of extra money; simply support yourself, or just want a cheap new experience. Consider one, or all, of the following; some interesting, some practical, some simply offering a minimalist life style. You need to be creative if you are going to find a place with board and room, little stress, not too difficult and available.
The most important think is that you are challenging yourself.
You can locate these alternative living situations, by googling them and including the place you want to live.
1. Nursing Home/Assisted Living. These require round-the-clock care and in the smaller ones you can even sleep. Work a deal for room and board in exchange for the night shift. You might even get a small salary. Check state statutes and contact a few places.
2. Animal shelter – These require people to feed and care for animals. Pick one with a room for night caretakers.
3. Monastery – A lot of monasteries and nunneries have extra space and older priests and nuns. Trade caregiving, or some other skill, for room and board.
4. Security guard – A lot of places need someone on duty overnight. Might be some danger, but usually you are locked in, have a telephone or alarm, and might have to do a few rounds. Ideally you can live on the premises. A lot of school systems will allow you to park your RV or trailer on school grounds to provide a round-the-clock presence.
5. Camp ground – All camp grounds need help; especially in the summer. If you have your own trailer or RV, you can find work in private camp grounds or in the National Parks. A great opportunity for the summer is to manage a Refugio or pilgrim hostel on the Camino de Santiago. The American Pilgrims on the Camino offer training as a hospitalero in how to manage a Refugio. You can find out if you like this by walking the 500 mile Camino de Santiago.
7. House sitter – People with expensive or remote homes frequently need house-sitters; especially those with pets. If you are a minimalist and don’t mind moving to different places, this is a way to travel and to live for free. Take a look at housesitter.com.
8. Off-season manager – A seasonable tourist area requires someone to look after things off-season. Google “off-season manager.”
9. Companion – a lot of old people need a “companion.” They have large homes that they don’t want to leave. You can swap care, driving, shopping, cooking, etc. in exchange for board and room plus a small salary which will make your Social Security go a lot further. Google “senior companion care jobs near me.”
10. Cruise ship staff. If you have a skill that you can teach or if you are an older man who can dance, it is possible to get a job on a cruise ship. Think cooking class, investment advice, dancing, pottery, genealogy, computer skills, etc.
Seniors have eye problems. Thus large print books, e-readers and tapes are a great free source. Especially for best sellers, where the waiting list may be, 291st of the first 3 copies returned. You may want to turn to the large print shelf, which may have a much shorter wait. These books are also much easier for old eyes to read.
In addition, take a look at free e-readers, in a variety of brands, such as Kindle. You can usually check them out from a distance for a few weeks with a library card. There are a limited number, so you may have to wait here to, but usually the wait is not so long. E-readers also have the additional advantage that you can make the type larger.