More and more seniors seem to be looking for alternative travel accommodation options. Today you have bed & breakfasts, Airbnb, Couch-surfing, hostels, refugios, and college campuses. Old people should ask a few questions and consider what they will be comfortable with. Since I turned 60, I have stayed in Airbnb’s, bed & breakfasts, hostels, refugios, houses and condos all arranged for in advance and at a distance, usually on websites. I have a few suggestions.
1. Will there be other guests? Are you comfortable sharing the facilities with strangers? Is the owner on premises?
2. Are there stairs? Does this give you a problem? Railings, carpeting, clutter?
3. Private bath? Do you have your own bathroom in your room? Does a bathroom outside your room have a secure lock? How many people use it?
4. Clean? You don’t need too much of someone else’s dirt at your age.
5. Kitchen? Can you cook? Store food? How many are cooking/cleaning at the same time?
6. How many people are you sharing with? Will you be comfortable?
7. Security? Bedroom? Bath? Entry doors?
8. Parking? Room for all the cars or do you have to walk in the dark?
9. Heating and cooling?
10. Access to owner/manager?
11. TV? Radio?
13. Bedside lights?
14. WiFi? Password?
15. Surroundings? Restaurants/pharmacy/urgent care/transportation/??
16. Photos – on webpage?
17. Comments on web page – read these and look for the negative ones.
18. Cork screw – Did you ever try to open a bottle of wine without one? Glasses, plates, silver, sharp knife, can-opener?
REMEMBER: You are old. You are interested in Comfort/Convenience/Security. You don’t want to stay in a place where you are uncomfortable.
1. Check out the web page.
2. Call the owner/manager and go over the specifics that are important to you.
3. Google Map the place – check out what is around there.
4. Say no if you feel uncomfortable; just don’t book.
5. Hope for the best!
Always have a PLAN B!
I am 76, vulnerable and cheap. A recent neighborhood burglary and car vandalism made me rethink our home security.
What is unique about most old people – my wife and I?
- We live alone.
- Our memories are not quite what they used to be.
- I am deaf.
- I think I am younger than I am.
- My support group is shrinking.
- I am cheap.
- I am fearful.
- Any system we use must be simple and self-operating. We can’t be bothered with any complexity.
- We travel and are frequently away from home.
I cannot protect us from everything; but, I can reduce the odds, my fear, and my paranoia. I can provide a video if I am the victim of a crime.
This is what I did.
- I turn on porch and garage exterior lights each night. My neighbors can watch. I have mixed feelings about this as there is an argument that you allow burglars to see what they are doing.
- I rewired the pyracantha along our back wall and tied the stems so that they covered the whole wall. I will let them grow taller in the future.
- I installed two interior lights on timers that go on and off automatically at various times in the evening. ($4.87 each.)
- I wired together wire tomato cages (I use these in the summer for my tomatoes. – or $2 each.) where the exterior walls adjoined my neighbor’s wall. Someone coming over the wall has to deal with the pyracantha, the wires and the cages, which they cannot see in the dark. Jail provides medical treatment.
- I installed a solar motion sensor light ($29.97) over the back door. This gives off enough light to see the back yard and becomes very bright if someone enters the yard. My neighbor can watch the burglar.
- I installed a Canary Security System and Camera ($199.95) tied into my smart phone. My smart phone beeps if someone enters my home office. I can watch whoever is there (even if I am in Iceland), activate an alarm, or call the police. The system records and retains the video for at least 24 hours, or longer if you subscribe. It is quite clear even in the dark. It goes on automatically when I leave the house, but I have to click “private” when I return home or it keeps monitoring. The BIG problem with this is that the first night I did not click “private” after I returned home. The next morning I had a video of a 76 year-old, nude man, coming out of the bathroom; now, I turn it off when I am at home.
When we are really old, our kids can access the Canary from their smart phones and monitor us. I will have to start wearing a robe.
The total cost of our security system was $239.70, plus tax.
I could have used a commercial alarm service, but that costs a lot more, and they call a neighbor, or us, giving the burglar time to get away You put your neighbor in harm’s way when they go to check on your home. If the police are called and it is a false alarm, you may get charged depending on your town.
We travel a lot, have no relatives in town, and worry about security when we are gone. This is not a perfect system, but for the cost, I don’t see how we could do more.
The net result is that I feel better, I have not spent much money, I have a simple system that even I can handle, and I will have a video of the burglar. I may even catch him by dialing 911 and advising the police where he is in my home and whether or not he appears to be armed. The video will be evidence.
In old age the geezer needs a KISS! (Keep it Simple Stupid!)
Most old people prefer books; not electronic readers like Kindle. There is a learning curve, like most things, before you are comfortable with an electronic gadget. If you are old, the learning is worth the effort. You will be out of your comfort zone for a while, but will soon find a new comfort zone that will suit you.
With a Kindle from Amazon there are 9 things that you can do that you can’t do with a hardcover book.
- You can check out books from many libraries at home and receive the book on your Kindle. All you need is a library card, no trip to the library required.
- You can change the size of the type; always good given old eyes. See below.
- Kindle books are cheaper on Amazon than the hard bound editions.
- A Kindle reader weighs less than most hard bound books. It can be the size and weight of a paperback or it can be incorporated into your i-Pad.
- A Kindle reader holds thousands of books.
- You can subscribe to magazines on Kindle.
- You can subscribe to newspapers on Kindle.
- You can get a lot of free books on Kindle, including the classics that you always meant to read.
- You have one book size gadget to carry around, not a lot of books. This is great for travel.
The New York Times has a book review entitled Seeing, and Thinking, Like Sherlock Holmes by Katherine Bouton in which she reviews Maria Konnikova’s, “Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.” I was struck by the following:
“Another thing we can learn from Holmes is the importance of continuous self-education. When Watson asks why he persists in pursuing a case that seems solved, Holmes replies: “It is art for art’s sake. I suppose when you doctored you found yourself studying cases without a thought of a fee?” Watson answers, “For my education, Holmes.” Just so, Holmes replies. “Education never ends.”
Twenty-first-century technology reinforces these values. Sequential scans of older adults who learn to juggle or to speak a new language show an increase in gray matter in the relevant areas of the brain. Further, Ms. Konnikova tells us, with application and practice “even the elderly can reverse signs of cognitive decline that has already occurred.” (The emphasis is hers — “out of pure excitement,” she explains.)” Bold is added.
The Complete Sherlock Holmes is available on Amazon.com for your Kindle for $2.99. The Kindle has an advantage over books in that you can increase the size of the print, which is important if you are 72 and have questionable eyesight.
To paraphrase: When Watson asks why he persists in pursuing a life that seems finished, he replies…”Education never ends.”
I plan to reread Holmes for more insight; if not education.
Old people have a “shelf-life, or “use-by” date. Thinking about your use-by date will help you focus on managing your life; especially your later years.
Wikipedia defines “use-by date” as:
Generally, foods that have a use by date written on the packaging must not be eaten after the specified date. This is because such foods usually go bad quickly and may be injurious to health if spoiled.
Foods with a “best before date” are usually safe to eat for a time after that date, although they are likely to have deteriorated either in flavour, texture, appearance or nutritional value.
The Geezer has modified the Wikipedia definitions for himself:
Old people have a “use by date” and care must be taken after that date. This is because old people usually go bad quickly and may become injurious to themselves or others.
Old people with a “best before date” usually are safe for a time after that date, although they are likely to have deteriorated in flavor, texture, appearance and value.
The problem comes in defining the dates; and, we have the same problem that the food industry has. Usually the dates are conservative and the food, or old person, is still “safe” for a period of time after the “date.” It is a guide that warns you to be careful.
Some senior “best before” dates have been codified:
Shelf lives are different for different people; just like food. You need to look in the mirror to determine your shelf life. Then you can best use your life before that date.
Know your “use by” date before it “matures.” You may not know that you are “going bad.”
The “use by” date can frequently be found on the left buttock.
Restaurant Impossible is one of my favorite TV shows, so of course it got me thinking. Why couldn’t Robert, or someone like him, come in and redo me?
Like the restaurants on the show, I am a mess after 75 years. I am out of shape. My finances are a mess. I don’t even know what all the pills I take are for.
I am in need of redoing! I need to be rehabbed. So, I wrote to Geezer Impossible and offered myself!
I am out of date; although a plus is that I have donated all my stained, checkered pants with zippers that don’t work to Good Will. I now wear relaxed fit jeans. Not much of an improvement, but a start. Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ), I am not, yet….. And, the fifty’s may come back.
I need a team to come in clean me up, shape me up, revise my life style, perhaps come up with a new style or at least a theme. Make me a modern “old man.” Are there “theme” old people?
Robert could meet with my family, friends, advisors, etc.; find out what they were doing for me, put them on notice that they need to shape up, then go to work on me.
He could have a group of experts; perhaps a doctor, a financial planner, a lawyer, a geriatric shrink and of course a dietician.
The result would be a new old man; with a modern theme. Instead of walking me through the door of a restaurant, Robert could walk my family through the door of my new living space and show me off. They could all marvel at how old people could be rejuvenated.
It might be necessary to do a series of old people makeovers to determine if this was a viable process. Data is important; and, of course we would need follow-up. How long could I endure my new theme.
The redo might be franchised. Old People Impossible, make overs for those over 75. Maybe even a TV show, preferably in the late afternoon, with wine.
After writing this, I woke up!
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:
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.
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.
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