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.
I was headed for North Carolina to visit my son for Christmas. At the Albuquerque Sunport, I went through the TSA Pre line since I had qualified for Global Entry. No problem with my carry-on, but I triggered the security devices several times with my belt, keys, hearing aid batteries, etc. resulting in placing the items in a small plastic bowl. I had not returned my driver’s license to my wallet and laid it on top of the other items in the bowl.
When I got to the hotel in Charlotte, NC, they wanted an ID. I discovered that I did not have my driver’s license; however, the hotel desk clerk, looked at me and waived that requirement, and allowed me to check in. But, I did not have a driver’s license and I had to pick up a rental car the next morning. The evening was spent awake and sorting though every item I travelled with.
The next morning, after searching my belongings in detail, I googled Albuquerque Sunport lost and found. One of the four choices was a phone number for TSA. I called; the license had been turned in late the prior night, The TSA rep. was great. She said that they could FedEx it to me; took my information, credit card number, and the address of the Waynesville Bed and Breakfast where we would be staying.
I wrote down the tracking number she gave me and we headed to the rental car counter. They accepted my wife’s driver’s license and we rented a car.
The next day about 3:00, after tracking my credit card through Memphis, Ashville and Waynesville, it arrived at our Bed and Breakfast. I carefully put it in my wallet; and checked my wallet every few hours.
The FedEx envelope with my driver’s license.
Things I learned from my experience and a bit of research:
- Watch your identification documents.
- Carry your Global Entry Card with you; it can be used for identification at the airport.
- Get a police report for lost driver’s licenses.
- In NM you can get a temporary license for a lost license on-line if you are under 75 and don’t have any other problems; with me the problem was the age. I missed the 75 cut-off at 77.
- Google: “name of airport” + “lost and found.”
- Have someone with you who has a valid driver’s license.
- Driving without a driver’s license in your possession is a crime, may lead to your arrest and may cause increase in insurance rates.
- Have as much documentation as possible to show that you have a license, ie police report, photocopy, insurance card, etc. Have info on your cell phone and you may be able to talk your way out of it.
The big problem will be the car rental company; so, be a member of their frequent renter group, have another driver with you, and talk to a manager.
Since you are old anyway, it is a good time to rethink alternative forms of transportation.
Public, Uber, friend, spouse, etc.
I went to Panama on a Road Scholar trip. The trip includes tours of Panama City, a boat trip through the Panama Canal, and a train ride back, a chance to see how the new locks work and the chance to experience Panama. There are 10 things that made my trip easier. Fifty-five years ago, when hitchhiking through Europe, I had no money, few needs, and a lot of self-assurance. Today, at 77 I am a bit more careful, not looking for surprises, and aware of my age. So…
- No tips. Road Scholar is all-inclusive except for a few meals. I hate to worry about tipping.
- Health care. Get insurance. The real problem will be if you have to be shipped home; dead or alive. The cost for transferring your sick body back to the US can be debilitating, and may bankrupt you. If you do decide to permanently leave while abroad, consider cremation. Consider the insurance offered by the program and also look to your credit card.
- Get the American Embassy contact information. Know if there are any problems and know where to go for help.
- Take a Kindle or better an i-pad with kindle books downloaded on it. You can also adjust the size of the type. Books are heavy and a thousand plus books, including guide books, can be uploaded on a Kindle and new books ordered from your library or from Amazon while abroad. You are too old to be lifting books.
- Check your debit and credit cards and notify the card companies before you leave. You don’t want them denying your charges.
- Take two money belts. One from Eagle Creek to hold your pants up and to hold your money; and one to hold your passports, information, money and credit cards.
- Think simple and minimal. Jeans are usually fine. Wear them and take a light weight pair of pants that you can wash and use if you have to dress up. See what Road Scholar suggests. Suitcase. Rick Steves’ Rolling Carry-on.
- Wear walking shoes. Take yoga shoes/slippers for the hotel, etc.
- Light weight underwear that can be washed, or dropped off at a cleaners for a few bucks.
- Know a few practical things about Panama. They use dollars, have ATMs, English spoken in addition to Spanish, no visa required, jeans are fine.
You can really reduce your needs by packing like the geezer does for the beach.
ACOMA PUEBLO – SKY CITY
On Saturday, May 14, 2016 I visited Acoma Pueblo Sky City located 370 feet above the desert on a mesa 65 miles West of Albuquerque, NM. It has fewer than 50 permanent residents living in homes on seven acres of New Mexico mesa top.
San Esteban del Rey Mission dominates Sky City. Established in the early 1600’s, it now has no priest. A service is held yearly on September 2 and is open to the public. The church was started in 1629 and completed in 1640.
There is a still-used cemetery in front of the church, with burials in dirt hauled up from the desert floor. The church’s is 150 feet by 40 feet and has a dirt floor. It is simple inside and is undergoing some reconstruction, but is still 95% original.
The streets in Sky City are dirt. At intersections cisterns collect rain water. There are no utilities. No water, sewage, gas or electricity. There are some generators and port-a-potties everywhere. They were installing a huge water tank on Saturday, so the water problem may be alleviated.
Commercial port-a-potties have replaced the outhouses suspended over the edge of the mesa that I remember from 40 years ago.
Until the 1920’s there was no road to Sky City, just a single-file path cut into the steep side, which made it easy to defend. A movie company agreed to put in a dirt road in exchange for the right to film. In the 1950’s a second movie company paved the road. Today it is used for busses and on the week-ends for residents cars and trucks as they work on their houses.
The Acomas are matrilineal and the homes in Sky City are owned by female tribe members. The youngest daughter inherits. They cannot be sold. Non-Acomas cannot stay overnight and of course there is no Airbnb.
The residences are from one to three stories, and usually reached by means of ladders.
Each family is responsible for their own repairs and the only restriction is maintaining the earth colors, so in repairing the homes, concrete block, insulation and modern roofing is used.
Traditional Food can be had in the cafe at the visitor center.
Fifteen miles away, on I-40, is the Sky City Casino owned by the tribe and which provides income and tourists. The Casino has a hotel and an RV Center.
At the visitor center you buy your tickets, visit the museum and gift shop and eat at the restaurant.
You board a small bus and make about a 10 minute trip to the top with an articulate and knowledgeable guide. You can also walk up and down, but… remember your age.
- Tours: daily on the half-hour
- Location – 65 miles west of Albuquerque, NM, off of I-40.
- Hours: 9 – 5
- Cost – $20 for seniors
- Casino and Hotel –Sky City Casino Hotel
- Bus to top- Small bus
- Pottery- see museum and tables set up by residents.
- Toilets – Nice at Center on desert floor, port-a-potties on the mesa
- Museum – small but impressive – lots of excellent pottery
- The streets are dirt and rough. You can fall.
- Hot in the summer. Take a hat and water. Buy a bottle from tables
- Toilets are port-a-potties.
- Senior rate is $20.
- Senior Centers have tours at various times of the year – check bulletin boards and senior magazines at centers.
- There is an RV park next to the Casino.
- Never forget local Senior Centers. In Albuquerque, the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center, has a trip to Sky City Cultural Center $ Haaku Museum on May 25, 2016. Depart at 8:00 am – return at 5:00 pm. $9.50 for transportation and $20 admission.
- See the ABQ 50+ Activities Catalog.
- Sky City Cultural Center.
- New Mexico True
In this day and age there is too much information; and too much of it is false. I am buffeted by ads, politics, etc. At 77, I decided to take a look at what I really needed to know. There are 10 things, not perfect, but that will at least make my present life better and protect me from the stress of old age.
You are going to die anyway, so why worry about that. Figure out how to make today as comfortable and as interesting as possible.
Here is my list:
- Walk – Almost anyone can do this and it keeps you fit physically, mentally and socially.
- “Eat food, mostly vegetables, not too much.” Michael Pollan
- Wine with friends. Not too much.
- Index your investments. Unless you are too smart to be reading this blog, you can’t beat the market, so go with Index Funds, which beat most investment advisors and most funds. Set them to pay out the IRS Required Minimum Distribution each year on your birthday.
- Have a mentor. Mentors, or advisors, younger than you, are more important in old age than when you are young. You need someone to keep an eye on you. Think scams, illness, long-term care, etc.
- Socialize – if nothing else, sit out on your front porch and wave at people going by. Become a fixture. Most of us can at least get to the front porch; and, there are free shuttles to take you to church, clubs and the senior centers.
- Simplify – Life is way to complex for an old person. Reduce everything to its simplest form.
- Follow the money – In any situation, where is the money going. Check charities, investments, etc. Most things you don’t need and most investments are too good to be true. Old people are a target of scammers.
- Weights and exercise bands. – Do a bit while you are watching TV, etc. You need to be fit and you need muscles.
- Simple default protective devises. You should automatically grab for the grab bar when you get out of the shower; the rail on the stairs; your glasses when you drive. Default solutions can protect you. Some need to be learned like the new devices on cars; but, maybe you should not be driving anyway.
I am always looking for new and interesting places to eat; and, as you know, I am a fan of libraries wherever I travel. I have frequently eaten, or had coffee, at libraries in Tucson, Albuquerque, Largo, FL and other places, but these were simple snacks.
This week my granddaughter started college in Massachusetts and on her way, she and her parents went to the Tea Room at the Boston Public Library.
I urge you to expand your view of libraries on your trips to include any eating places. This one looks as good, or better than, the restaurants in major museums around the world.
Tea Room at the Boston Public Library.
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.
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.
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.
I hate to exercise, but not exercising is even worse. Since my goal is to keep present pain to a minimum, exercise is as necessary to me as sleep. I suffered from spinal stenosis in the past; at one time, I could not get out of bed. I needed to exercise to avoid the pain; so, I walk at least 2 1/2 miles per day and do stretching exercises “ordered” by a physical therapist. No more pain; no more spinal stenosis, at least that I am aware of. However, I can trigger it. If I go for two weeks without walking and doing the stretching, spinal stenosis is back; or, at least the pain is. Needless to say I don’t trigger it very often.
Traveling presents a problem; mostly mental, but I still find exercising on the road a problem.
Silver Sneakers is free fitness offered by a number of senior insurance policies. To find out if you qualify, go to the site, put in your info, and if you qualify, you can print out a membership card. They are located at YMCA’s across the country and at numerous health clubs. You just go to the web site, enter a zip code, and you get a list of places available.
There are 13,000 places nation-wide with free exercise, yoga and more. It covers the time when it is too cold or rainy to walk, or when you are in a place not conducive to walking. It gets you into a social atmosphere. Thus, when I visit my grand kids, I can take my card and do a bit of work on the treadmill, attend a yoga class, or try tai chi. It is also a good excuse to try something new; to get out of the “box” in a safe environment.
You might even tie it to your UBER membership and have someone drive you in a strange city; or, if you don’t have a car because your kids picked you up at the airport and they need their cars to go to work. Don’t be stranded.