In today’s New York Times there is a very good article about DWO (driving while old) and the role of driving rehabilitation specialists. The article contains a number of references to web sites, including an informative one describing the resources available in each state. It also describes what a driving rehabilitation specialist does and provides a link to the national organization.
The article made me aware, once again, of the increasing number of old people, their driving habits, their accident rates and the steps being taken to “help” them. It was informative, but appeared to be written from the point of view of someone under 65; which is probably good, as people over 65 become very defensive about their age, their ability to drive, and what they see in the mirrors every day: both the car mirror and the bathroom mirror.
It takes one to know one. I have discovered since I turned 65, that maybe I think a bit differently about things. Intellectually, I understand that I am getting older; as a practical matter, I fight it; helped along but any number of businesses that know just what I need. I may be more of a rebel than when I was in my teens. I won’t give anyone the least excuse to curtail my driving “privileges.”
I have taken the AARP Senior Driver Safety Class twice. The certificate is good for three years and you get a discount on car insurance. It lasts for four hours, has some good suggestions, makes you think a bit, and is a good refresher. It is non-threatening and everyone passes. It is something positive to have in your records and you can use it as an argument as to why you should not be evaluated; and, why you should continue to drive.
The geezer worries:
- If the driving evaluation results are negative, and I still drive, can that be used against me in a lawsuit resulting from an accident.
- What happens to a negative evaluation? You can’t reason with me when I need to drive.
- I am very sensitive to finding out and having documented, just how infirm I am and actually knowing what I can and cannot do. Some choices I do not want to make.
- In a perfect world, this would be fine, but I think I have to drive and have no acceptable alternatives; so, I am not about to do anything that would give anyone any reason to take my keys.
- Would the driving rehabilitation specialist report to DMV; to my kids; or, to my insurance company?
- am deaf
- after 40 years of driving with glasses, passed the MVD vision test and am not required to wear glasses. I am a bit nervous, as I am not sure of my vision. In an abundance of caution, I wear prescription glasses when driving; can see the road and signs much better; but would hate to be required to wear glasses again.
- am unhappy that I can only get a five-year license, instead of the ten-year license that I used to get.
- avoid driving with my kids when they visit; I let them drive. I remember my father missing turns, stop signs and not seeing other cars. No need to alert my children, who were raised to be responsible and who would take my keys, not to mention my car, to my increasing deficiencies.
- am careful about driving on free-ways, especially during rush hour or after dark.
- know all the side streets to get where I want to go, so as to avoid traffic and cops.
- am carefull about drinking
- am very aware that people under 65 think of me as a dangerous, but slow, old man.
- get obnoxious when I hear anything that might affect me just because I am old.
In conclusion, how do you convince me that I should be evaluated?
Remember, even though you are young, you are dealing with the GEEZER!
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.
You have to be creative to age successfully. You have different health, financial and social parameters. You are faced, not only with the familiar problems of a life time, but a host of new problems. Your ability to solve these problems has changed; and probably not for the better. You must think creatively and you must think out of the “box.”
Of course, there is always the box.
This should offend many of you; and, all of your children.
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.
OODA Loop: observe, orient, decide, act.
On Sunday, Thomas Friedman,* in the New York Times, described the airforce training principle for use in arial dogfights. Dogfight? Why does the Geezer immediately think of old age and fellow seniors?
Observe where you are, who you are and what your situation is. A mirror helps. List. Don’t judge at this point; just observe reality, not hopes or fears. Where are you in real time?
Orient yourself using a “senior compass.” Focus on health, economics, family, resources, life expectancy , dementia probabliity, insurance, and any factors unique to you; all the while looking in the mirror. Locate where you are in relation to these factors.
Decide what you are going to do: downsize, move, sell, get a roommate, hospice, long-term care facility. Your decision is based on your observations and orientation; not on what someone else does. The decision should be taken in consultation with your “WingMan.” Test your decision by asking: What happens if I do nothing? Where do I end up?
Act on your decision. You can make adjustments along the way, but you will have a plan thought out; hopefully prior to senility.
Now you are ready for battle; and, old age is a battle. Your goal is to increase the odds of a pleasant and reasonable old age. It will not be perfect, but will be better than “winging it.” Your “OODA Loop needs to be better than the OODA Loop of old age.
You need a wingman!
The ability to adapt to changing conditions is what allowed humans to evolve. On a smaller scale, it is what will enable you to age comfortably. Since over 99% of us will probably die, shouldn’t we seek comfort as we age?
Comfort is successful adaptation to changing conditions. How can you make the most of what you have, or don’t have. I am deaf.
Old people are reluctant to adapt. They insist on not moving out of large homes; they keep their clutter around them, to stumble over, they drive too long, the list is endless. You need to look in the mirror and maximize what you do with the reflection.
Comfort is the goal. If you are comfortable fat, dozing in a recliner, in front of a TV, so be it. I won’t try to change you. But, if you are happier and more comfortable living in a manageable environment, with friends, and having some control over your situation, then maybe we can share some ideas.
FEAR is part of growing old. As my granddaughter said: “Grandma, sometimes you have to face your fears.” Most fears can be dealt with. Remember: if you have a fear, someone has a way to make money out of it; and. it will be your money. Most fears either can’t be avoided or have a simple solution. Be proactive and accept the fact that you are old. Think about what might cause you trouble. Plan ahead, but let’s face it, most of us won’t. This blog is devoted to ideas to make your old age an adventure. I am one of you.
Every medical expert agrees that more than 98% of people die. Some even say 100%. What makes you think you will be different. Enjoy life; there is no percentage in focusing on dying. Whatever belief you have, it’s going to happen. Treat “old age” as a new adventure. Is it really any different than any other stage in life?
Falling is the curse of the old. Keep physically fit, have grab-bars, use a cane, get rid of clutter, remember you are old and be careful. Don’t let your ego get in the way of a fall. You may still fall, but the odds will be reduced dramatically.
3. Dementia and Alzheimer’s
The beginning is the worst; you know about it, refuse to admit it and try to cover it up. The end is someone else’s problem. In the meantime do your best to minimize the effects. Exercise, diet, get an ID bracelet or a GPS bracelet. Keep up with the research.
4. Running out of money
Nothing new here. Live beneath your means. You have to be smart to live well if you are poor. The same applies to old age; you need to be smart to live well while old. You are smarter than you think you are; you just need to apply yourself. There are more deals for old people than you would believe; but, again, your ego may get in your way.
5. Falling or being injured when away from home
Carry a cell phone with three telephone numbers coded in under ICE (In Case of Emergency). Use ICE 1, ICE 2 and ICE 3 in case the first two persons are not available. Carry ID. Have emergency evacuation insurance. Use a bracelet to indicate any special medical conditions. Don’t stop traveling or going out just because you are afraid.
6. Moving into a long-term care facility
Have long-term care insurance just in case. Think of it as going to college and living in the dorm. Be active. Try and avoid it as long as possible. Be creative. Maybe you could move in with someone else. And, it probably won’t be your choice.
7. Having no friends or family when you are old
Plan ahead. Go to church. Use senior centers. Make it easy for people to be around you. Don’t be obnoxious or know it all. Take care of someone. Have a pet. You can meet a lot of people walking a dog; and, besides it’s good for you and the dog.
It comes with the territory. Exercise, weight loss and diet will probably help.
Carry a notebook. Carry a tape recorder. Write on your hand. Reduce daily activities to habit. Have a friend remind you. Post-it notes on the fridge.
10. Some yet to be determined disease or injury
You are going to get something, you just don’t know what or when, so…… When it happens, make the best of it. Find a support group so at least you know what is going on and can see how others handle it.
These are just a few of the fears that will haunt you while old. Most of the answers are simplistic and you have heard them before. Prepare for them and forget them. Remember to question everything I say and get expert advice from professionals. Share your thoughts with us.