Last week I read The Longevity Economy, by Joseph F. Couglin, who is the founder and director of MIT’s AgeLab even though he is only 56. His basic thesis is that businesses do not really understand old people and what they want or need. I was intrigued enough, at 78, to 1) sign up as an AgeLab volunteer and 2) over the last week, while on a trip to Tucson, come up with personal examples of how businesses do not understand old people.
Here are just a few of my thoughts:
1. Side mirrors on cars do not let you see a car next to you on either side and it is hard to turn your head. I bought a blind spot mirror from Amazon and stuck it on my mirrors before I left.
2. The bath tub in our first hotel was too high, with a step and inadequate grab bars.
3. The bed is high. I couldn’t sit on the edge and put my shoes on. I was unstable getting out of it in the middle of the night; and, I get up often – another problem of aging
4. The TV clicker is difficult to use, though this one was simpler than most.
5. The restaurant is great. It is quiet and you can share a plate, unlike a lot of restaurants.
6. In case we don’t want to drive the distance, we have options. We can fly, we can use Uber/Lyft and rent a car. A little more costly than the drive and stop but not much, and not the stress. We miss the non-stop SW flights from ABQ to TuS.
7. When we leave, ABQ, we notify our neighbors, set up on/off lights and hide the computer. When you think about it, we really don’t have much that the average thief would want.
8. The car is a Prius and after 6 years and 75,000 miles, we still average 55 miles to the gallon,which appeals to our geriatric cheapness. And it is easy to drive and park, although I would like a back up camera that is standard on new cars.
9. Freeways are ok outside of cities as we stick to the right lane. And use speed control.
10. We also plug the I-phone into the cigarette lighter so it is always charged. And of course, google maps gives us directions as to where we need to go.
11. We don’t drive at night on the freeway
12. Food and other items packed in plastic that old fingers can’t open. Knives are hard to use on plastic packages with arthritic fingers. Scissors are also difficult, but who travels with them.
13. The paper TV channel guide has letters too small to read. The TV clicker was confusing, no grab bars in the bath tub, , bath tub too high, so without a grab bar, difficult to step into. – For the blog I have enhanced the TV channel guide.
14. On the way back, we stayed at a famous old hotel, but again no grab-bars on the high tub and the bottles of shampoo and conditioner were over a foot tall and heavy.
15. Lights in hotel rooms are not designed for old people; nor is the placement and switches on lamps.
This is just a sample.
More to come.
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.
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.
Several weeks ago we went to visit a relative in Orange County, CA. We were supposed to go to Alpine, CA, but due to the fire situation, we ended up at their home in Orange.
A homeless family of feral cats had taken up residence outside their front gate; a mother and two small kittens. By chance, they trapped the female kitten in a fenced area next to the garage and adopted her. When we arrived, the kitten had disappeared. They had kept it in a closed second bathroom along with their washer and dryer. The cat was gone.
Using tuna as bait we hoped to entice the cat out of its hiding place. We thought she was behind the washer and dryer. The tuna was set out, and a string was tied to the washer/dryer closet door. The cat would come out, we would see the cat, jerk the string and prevent the cat from going back behind the washer/dryer. Nothing happened! For several hours we watched the door and held the string. Nothing.
We took a break, shut the bathroom door and a short time later, the tuna was gone.
Prior to our arrival, a four-foot cat cage had been delivered for the cat. We took a break and put the cage together; not a simple task, but the feral kitten could not run free.
The cage being ready, we turned our attention back to the bathroom again. Nothing. No cat. No tuna.
We went to Best Buy and bought a wireless camera that could be hooked up to a cell phone. We placed the camera in the bathroom and aimed at the washer/dryer and another helping of tuna. After some time, the cat appeared, ate the tuna and disappeared; but not in the direction of the washer/dryer.
We pointed the camera at the sink and toilet and set out another helping of tuna.
At 11:00 at night the cat came out, ate the tuna and disappeared behind the sink. We caught it on the cell phone. On checking the base of the sink, we discovered it was hollow and the kitten was hiding inside the base.
The kitten was moved to the cat cage and kept there except when it was being held. It is still feral – look at its eyes – even when it is being petted.
The mother and the brother are still waiting outside the house, but the sister is on the way to domestication.
Since this was first written, the mother has given birth to 2 or 3 more kittens; more feral cats. The next step is to catch the mother and take her to the vet for a bit of surgery.
Makes one wonder about all the feral children that are being separated from their parents at the border. But maybe being kept in pens with dozens of other children is not the same thing….. Maybe I just imagine that I see the kitten we captured in those kids. It is amazing how much the cat cage looks like the cages for immigrant children being held near the border.
Wireless Security Camera https://www.bestbuy.com/site/lorex-indoor-4mp-wi-fi-security-camera-silver-black/5824309.p?skuId=5824309
Cat Playpen https://www.chewy.com/midwest-collapsible-cat-playpen/dp/45740
Feral Cats https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_cat
Feral children https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feral_child
I like museums, but not for the reasons you might think. I have spent 60 years going to museums and have been overwhelmed by the shear volume of items and my lack of ability to be selective in my viewing. I have been to art museums, archeology museums, and science museums. I have been to big museums and tiny museums.
Museums have become a blur; they are useful, however; especially if you are studying something – you can see how in idea or a concept developed over time. You can get new ideas and make new connections to old idea; which is especially rewarding to an old person.
These days, I go to museums with altered goals. I am interested in the creative side of museums and the ways in which they present new ideas and spark creativity and imagination. I am interested in new connections to my distant past. I like large international museums because they have great cafes and almost always serve local wine. In fact, I usually start with the cafe.
Our recent trip to Indian Rocks Beach led us to the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida. It has all the art basics; a chronology from various schools with representative samples; including two Georgia O’Keeffe’s, which I appreciated, coming from New Mexico.
First, the Cafe . It is simple, pleasant, and worthy of the museum. It is located in the entrance hall and the food is great. With our menus, we received a plate of scones. They were so good, we asked if we could order some to take with us. We received an additional free plate of 5 scones, three of which we took with us.
Scones at the museum.
The menu gave us a variety of choices and allowed us to share a plate; a requirement for couples of our age.
Since I had a Bank of America credit card, my entry into the museum was free; next time, I will have my wife bring her card, so we can both get in free. Old people are cheap, even when they don’t have to be. Bank of America Credit Cards give free access to about 150 museums the first week of the month through its Museums on Us program.
Once inside, I did a quick run through, checked out the Georgia O’Keeffes and then went looking for the special exhibits, which I found more interesting and which touched some dormant part of my imagination.
The first was Selfies which was a collection of self photographs that preceded cell phones. Interesting.
The exhibit that got my attention was outside the museum, where Haider Ali, an artist from Pakistan, was painting a Prius. The exhibit, Live car painting by Haider Ali, reminded me of Espanola, NM where the City Council recently declared Espanola as the “Lowrider Capitol of the World.”
Prius by Haider Ali
Having gone through Espanola many times, and having been amazed at how stock cars could be modified and painted, I was surprised to find an artist from Pakistan painting a Prius in St. Petersburg, Florida. My first thought was that he should go to Espanola, some Sunday.
Finally, there were signs on lawn. An interesting idea that could be copied anywhere. Intriguing, because the only part that required skill, was coming up with the idea; everything else was done by volunteers.
The bottom line is that I enjoyed the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida, for all the wrong reasons, but which gave me something to take away.
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.
One of the hardest things for old people to do is to adjust to new surroundings. Especially if they involve internet technology, which means anything from an extension cord to a toaster and beyond. Everything is too complex for me. I can still remember when our phone number was Black 200 and we were on a party line. I could pick up the phone and ask the operator if she knew where my grandmother was.
Today, it is way too complex. For example:
We rented a condo in Florida, which is also rented to families with kids. I was faced with
The TV system which included three large TVs, a CD player, another player, cable, regular TV, and of course, NO radio.
SINCE I WROTE THIS, AND AFTER HAVING TROUBLE MAKING THE TVs WORK, I DISCOVERED, BY ACCIDENT, OR DUE TO MY AGE, THAT 3 OF THE CLICKERS DID NOT HAVE BATTERIES AND IN ONE, THE BATTERIES WERE DEAD. AFTER A TRIP TO THE DRUG STORE FOR NEW BATTERIES, THE CLICKERS WORKED AND I WAS ABLE TO MAKE ALL THE TVs WORK. I THINK THAT THIS SAYS SOMETHING ABOUT MY AGE. MY GRANDSON WOULD HAVE FIGURED IT OUT IN A MINUTE. (9/29/18)
Some of them you have to subscribe to. Some only work in conjunction with other systems. Some don’t seem to work. The TV in the living room does not get CNN, so we had to move to one of the two bedrooms to watch CNN.
Then you have to hook up to the internet, which means a series of numbers, letters and signs typed into a small key pad that you can’t see using old fingers that either hit the wrong key or two keys at the same time.
And, I forgot to mention the key lock box at the front door. It was set low and hard to see in the dark. It had little number that were not the size of my fingers. But, we got it done.
Where are my grandkids when I need them.
The closets were packed with beach paraphernalia, so, of course there was no storage space. Stepping over inflated, but non-deflatable, large toy inner tubes may be hazardous to my health. But, it ended up on top of the huge TV which was on top of a large cabinet which was in our bedroom and which got CNN.
There were several toasters, 4 coffee pots and the usual assortment of pots, pans, dishes, etc collected over the years reflecting the status as an AirBnb site.
The lights and fans (3 of them) were controlled by at least 2, and sometimes 3 switches each.
There were rules, of course. The one I liked the best said: “no hanging towels over the railing on the porch.” The best part was that there was a clothes drying rack ii the corner of the porch. My kind of place.
All in all, it is a nice place, but we are just in the first 24 hours, which is adjustment time. We have 27 days to go, along with the remedial construction on the building, since this is the off-season, and it is our third year in this building. At our age, we are afraid to try anything new and the off-season is cheap and more interesting than the rest of the year.
I come from Kansas, and tornadoes, so hurricanes interest me – sick, I know, but am still fascinated by the sea, the clouds and the storms.
Traveling for long periods of time, or staying in one new place for a period of time, requires a routine if you are old. A necessary part of that routine is exercise. The YMCA, the club of our childhood, provides the setting.
The YMCA is available nation-wide, is usually open for long hours, has skilled instructors, and a variety of programs. If you are old,it can be free.
The trick is to have a Silver Sneakers membership through your insurance plan. Free at home means free at most any place you travel in the US, and if you are visiting children and grandchildren, you need some place to go and something to do during the day. The Y provides that; without worrying about walking on strange and often busy streets. Exercise is the key to successful aging.
The best bet is an insurance-paid Silver Sneakers plan. This is good nation-wide at YMCAs and many health clubs. You have no excuse.
If you belong to a YMCA in your hometown, either through Silver Sneakers or with a paid membership, you can ask to have your name put on the Nationwide Membership List, which can be accessed by any YMCA in the country.
If you don’t have an insurance-paid plan, you can always pay a small fee to use the Y. It depends on the place, but most of them seem to have fee schedules topping out at about $75 per month. The schedules also seem to only go to age “64 and under,” so as an old person, it may be free anyway.
We are in Florida, for a month and checked into the Clearwater, FL YMCA. We were on the Nationwide Membership list, courtesy of the Albuquerque YMCA, which meant that we had a home YMCA and were eligible to use other facilities; however in Clearwater, it was limited to a max of 24 days, and the Y suggested we use our Silver Sneakers membership, giving us unlimited use of all facilities and access to all classes.
The Clearwater Y is a new and modern facility and has every class you could imagine, including Silver Sneakers exercise, chair exercise, yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, etc. In addition, there is a pool, a hot tub, basketball court, a complete weight room and every sort of exercise machine.
If you don’t believe me, check out the Clearwater Y.
It also provides numerous trips to local restaurants for lunch, other events, and classes on topics that should be of interest to old people.
If you want to go outdoors, there is a 1/4 mile walking/running track, but if you come from New Mexico, it is better to walk on the beach, which is also free.
Trainers are available for a reasonable fee.
Nationwide-membership in the YMCA
New Mexico is the place to go if you want to get off the ground. Last week-end we went to the glider field at the Moriarty Airport, 50 miles from Albuquerque. There we saw dozens of gliders and several tow planes. A 15 minute glider ride from Sundance Aviation costs $105 and you fly with an FAA approved, experienced pilot. The only downside is that you have to weigh less than 220 pounds and be under 6′ 5″.
Near by is the US Southwest Soaring Museum which unfortunately was closed on Sundays.
Naturally this got me to thinking, and I discovered over Albuquerque via Google:
Trike Flights – This is an air tricycle. You can get a 30 minute ride for $100 with a licensed Sport Pilot. For an additional fee you can have a video made showing you in flight. I frequently see these mechanical trikes while I am walking along the Rio Grande.
Plane rides at Vertical Lift Aviation.
Parachute jumping. Starting at $375 with Albuquerque Sky Diving.
Hang gliding with High Desert Hang Gliding.
All near or in Albuquerque and while I have only taken a balloon ride, the others have intrigued me. I have not taken any but the hot air balloon ride, an Albuquerque must, but am intrigued at 77 and sorry that I missed them earlier in my life. I am toying with the glider ride.
More my speed is the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway which will take you on a 2.7 mile tram ride to the top of Sandia Peak from Albuquerque. There is sking, a restaurant and great hiking. At your age, watch the altitude which is over 11,000 feet. You can always sit in the restaurant and enjoy the view with a glass of wine.
The big draw in and over Albuquerque is the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta held for a week every October, where up to a 1000 balloons participate in a mass ascension, among other events. And of course, there are hot air balloon rides then and the year around. The traffic is horrible, but if you have an RV, there is great RV parking next to the grounds. Balloon pilots and their chase crews are hard to keep up with at my age, especially in the evening.
There is also the Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Foundation Museum.
Most mornings I can see hot air balloons following the Rio Grande River behind my home, which is about my speed.
It is worth soaring above the New Mexico desert, there is no age limit, and it gives you some great stories and pictures to impress your grandkids with.