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 love/hate relationship with cars. They want the freedom to drive, but are also afraid when they do. They don’t like to drive after dark, on freeways, in busy traffic and in strange places. They live in fear that their kids are going to ride with them; and, then want to take away their licenses.
Old People should plan ahead and learn to move about without cars and without fear.
We were recently vacationing for two weeks in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida. Our Airbnb home was a block and a half from the beach in a quiet neighborhood. It was perfect for four of us. Of course, each couple rented a car. How else would we get around? But at 75, I started thinking down the road. (No pun intended.)
We could walk to the beach, walk to restaurants and walk to small shops for essential supplies. UBER was available for longer journeys; like the grocery store. The Indian Rocks Beach Library was only a block and a half away, complete with computers, wi-fi and a small bookstore with 25 cent paperbacks.
On Gulf Blvd. the Suncoast Beach Trolley runs every half-hour from St. Petersburg Beach to the bus terminal in downtown Clearwater. It is easy and cheap.
The PSTA (Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority) senior fare is $2.50 per day or $35.00 for a month of unlimited travel. Each Trolley has free wi-fi, so if the place you are staying doesn’t have free wi-fi, you can just ride the bus with your computer all day for $1.
It is a good deal, takes more time than a car, but…. I may soon be old. Parking is another problem, but that is for another blog.
My Indian Rocks Beach experience can be applied anywhere.
Any city that has a bus, trolley or cable car line, probably has a senior fare and a pass good for one-day to a year. In San Francisco, a pass good for bus, cable car and street cars within San Francisco is $15 per month.
In Albuquerque. New Mexico the senior pass is $12 per month if you are over 62.
You can check out any city you are going to by doing a Google search:
bus+name of city+schedule
This will lead you to the appropriate web page.
One work of caution, at least in Indian Rocks Beach, the bus stop sign that gives you search message sites doesn’t work. I sent a message and scanned in a code. Didn’t work. So, I waited on a bench, and pretty soon the trolley came.
ADULT EDUCATION is the best part of aging. Whether for pleasure or to understand your daily activities, you need to make use of the sources available to seniors. An added bonus is that most aging studies encourage you to keep your mind active and to be involved. This does not mean TV; this means developing an interest, searching out the sources and gaining expertise,i
This blog was written as part of a University of New Mexico Continuing Education six-week course.
The course is: Blogging Your Way to Writing Success. It met once a week for two hours and was taught by an excellent instructor who is a professional blogger, journalist and writer. The cost is $75 and it meets during the day so you don’t have to worry about driving after dark. Parking is easy. The students are my age or a bit younger. It is a non-threatening course.
What other courses are there for old people? The following list is a list of courses in or near Albuquerque. If you click on the underlined word, you go to the web site for Albuquerque. Use the “search” terms to find classes near you; or make up your own search terms. Every town has classes, even if it is only the Historical Society of Villisca, Iowa. Any town you visit can give you a learning experience.
Either click on the underlined word/s or search the words listed.
- Oasis Search: Oasis.org + your town
- Osher Search: Osher + your town
- UNM Continuing Education – Search: Community colleges or continuing education + your town
- University of New Mexico – Search: College or university + your town
- Coursera – Search: Courser.org
- National Parks New Mexico – Search: National Parks – lectures or classes + name of park
- Albuquerque Public Library – Search: Library + town
- Meet up – Search: Meetup + town
- Groups like genealogy society, camera clubs, historical societies, Friends of the Camino de Santiago etc – Search: key word + your town.
- Senior Classes – Albuquerque – Search: senior classes + your town.
Drop by any senior center for a list of their classes, trips, books, cheap food and information.
This is only a short list. The trick is to search the name of the town and what you are interested in.
This is how you should live and travel.
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.
The important thing is to think outside the box;
Outsource is a business term whereby certain activities are contracted out to other businesses or individuals. The reason is that the task can be done cheaper, safer or better by another and it allows the outsourcer to focus on its primary task.
This can be applied to old age. At 75, due to physical and mental problems, it may be cheaper, better and safer to have certain tasks outsourced. It may even turn out to be life-saving if you decide to climb a ladder and clean the leaves out of the gutters instead of hiring it done.
At 75 you need to think about what you can outsource and what you can do yourself.
Ten things that you might consider outsourcing:
- Anything that requires a ladder, a stool or standing on the couch to fix.
- Medical advice
- Paying bills – you can outsource with automatic payment plans, an accountant, or a kid.
- Legal advice
- Charitable donations
The list is not complete. You should modify it according to your needs. Old people are stubborn. They think that they are more competent than they are. They think that they can still do things, that they can’t do. The result is that they frequently injure, kill or bankrupt themselves when with a little outsourcing they could continue to live happy, productive lives.
The most important part of outsourcing is KISS. (Keep it simple, stupid.)
64 years ago I joined the Boy Scouts after being a Cub Scout. To advance in rank I had to earn merit badges, which I did; learning many interesting and useful things. Now at 75, I have rediscovered Merit Badge Pamphlets. They are even more relevant today.
I had no interest in genealogy at 11, but at 75, I am interested in my pre- Boy Scout roots; and, a good starting point was the Genealogy Merit Badge Pamphlet.
Pick a topic you are interested in. Then look for a Merit Badge Pamphlet. Ten sample topics out of 160; each selling for $4.99: Basketry, Wood Carving, Robotics, Dog Care, Pottery, Gardening, Fishing, Archeology, Programming, and Bird Study.
They are a source of useful information and just as they did 65 years ago, can lead to many new adventures; or, at least hobbies.
They will also give you conversation topics with your grandchildren.
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
If you are travelling and want an interesting way to experience your destination, consider “Continuing Education.” In most towns with a university there is a continuing education program. All you have to do is search “continuing education” and the town or university that you are interested in.
Since I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, I use UNM. (ce.unm.edu) This link takes you to the Story of New Mexico. Here you can find lectures and trips around New Mexico. The nice thing about these trips is that they include transportation, a guide, lodgings in interesting places, and some meals.
I have selected, but not yet registered for (the catalog just came today), the following fall trips:
1. Visit Georgia O’Keefe Home and Studio – $95 on Oct. 7 or Nov. 14. – This tour is usually wait-listed.
2. Hopiland – Two days – Aug. 20-21 and Nov. 5-6 – $260.
3. Acoma Pueblo San Estevan Feast Day and Harvest Dance -Sep. 2 – $70.
4. The San Ildefonso Corn Harvest Dance – Sept. 8 – $70
5. Meeting the Spirituality of Northern New Mexico – Oct. 30-31 – $300.
6. The Confederate Invasion of New Mexico; Glorieta Pass – Nov. 7 – $92.
And a lot more. This is just New Mexico. You have to get on your computer and see what is available where you are going and when. I have done it in New Mexico, Arizona and Florida.
If you are old like me, you may not be comfortable driving in strange places, or after dark. You might also like to have arrangements made for you.
One of the best tours that I have taken was to the Crownpoint Rug Auction. It was great to have someone else drive me to Crownpoint; but, it was even better to have someone drive me back to Albuquerque at 1:00 in the morning after the auction was over. You can buy Navajo rugs from the weavers who wove them; and, at good prices.
A word of advice. Don’t eat the furnished “box lunch.” Go for the fry bread and the Indian Tacos that they serve at the auction. This trip was run by the senior centers in Albuquerque a few years ago. I have been watching for it to pop up again. An excellent source of trips is the senior center bulletin board; the centers are also good for free books, cheap coffee and cheap lunches. You can also find wi-fi. Next new town you are in, stop by a senior center and see what they have.