GEEZER NEEDS A MENTOR!!!

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.

 


A DOZEN VACATION FOOD IDEAS FOR SENIORS!

You are traveling; and, of course you have to eat. Mostly it is too expensive and probably not good for you; but, at your age who cares?

I am interested in places and ideas for eating well but frugally. This means getting the most for your money, having a new experience and maybe meeting new people. And, as always, you may have a story to tell. No one is interested if you ate at a chain; however, going to a church supper in a small NM town will give you a story to tell.

Share a plate. Old people eat less.  Most places will let you do it, though some charge an extra $3 or so. Always split a desert.

I have tried the following:

1. Eat at Whole Foods or other gourmet grocery store. You get good food in reasonable quantities and can eat it in the store or take it with you. You will also feel good since it is organic, humanly raised and free of additives. Your grandchildren will love it.

2. Try a university. Parking may be a problem; however, they usually have salad bars and other interesting menu items. Sometimes you can even get a beer or glass of wine.

3. Hospitals have gotten better, at least in their cafeterias. I can remember when  it was all fried, but now they have salad bars and other items that reflect their “dedication” to health. Don’t stay too long as you might catch something; they are places to avoid except for a quick meal.

4. Frequently, you can visit an assisted living facility and in exchange for listening to the sales pitch, get a free meal. This would be my last resort in most cases, having seen some of the food.

5. Some chains have reasonably priced healthy food. If you see a Chipotle or a Subway, stop. Two of you can share a burrito or a 12 in. sub, for about $6 to $8.

6. Picnic. Stop at a store and buy what you need for a picnic. Remember that left-overs may be a problem.

7. Frequent bed and breakfasts. Have a big breakfast, an apple for lunch, and a nice dinner with a glass of wine.

8. Service clubs, if you are a member. Watch for signs giving the day and place as you enter a town; or, go on-line.

9. If you belong to a private club, golf club, health club, or tennis club, check them out for reciprocity. Usually they can arrange for you to be a guest and use the facilities in another town. There will probably be a small fee.

10. Church suppers are always interesting; especially in small rural towns.

11. Small town events can give you interesting food.Try the Ramp Festival in Cullowhee, NC; or the matanza in Belen, NM.

12. Never forget museums; especially if you are in Europe. Some of the best food I have had has been at museums in Madrid, Vienna and London. The same applies to US museums. At least look at them.

Pick up small town papers. Visit your old home towns. Use the internet. Try something new. Check out small town chambers of commerce. Explore.

 

 


Ten Things Every Old Person Should Be Able To Do!

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

3. Schools

4. Grandkids

5. Other old people. Get together for coffee once a week and find out how other old people are dealing with problems

FINALLY!!!

KISS

KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID 

 

 


EDEN PROJECT – Cornwall, England

Eden-biomes

Eden Project, St. Austell, England

We visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, England on May 15, 2014. We took the train from Paddington Station in London and the bus from the St. Austell station to the Eden Project.

The Eden Project, which opened in 2002, was built-in a 35 acre reclaimed, open clay pit, 180 feet deep. It was partially filled with soil and recycled waste. On top of this was built two enclosed  biomes; one a Rainforest Biome and one a Mediterranean Biome.

The Rainforest Biome is about 750 feet long by 330 feet wide and 150 feet high. It contains over 1,100 different species of plants and has areas devoted to West Africa, Southeast Asia, Tropical Islands and Tropical South America.

The Mediterranean Biome is about 90 feet high and contains over 850 different species of plants. It represents the Mediterranean, South Africa and California.

In addition to the two major Biomes, there is a Core educational, administration and museum building along with an Outdoor Biome. There is an outdoor stage, paths, parking and a land train.

Eden-scrapsculpture

WEEEman, 3.3 tons of sculpture made from the Electrical and Electronic Equipment waste thrown away in one person’s lifetime.

There are several restaurants serving a variety of “responsibly sourced, fairly-traded, direct sourced, organic, seasonal, and/or local and freshly made” food.

We spent a day there and could have spent more time. They have a lot of special events during the year, including “The Art of Stories,” “Harvest,”  and “Christmas at Eden.”

There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts” in St. Austell. We stayed for two nights at The Grange in St. Austell.

The Grange Breakfast Buffet. The full English breakfast is not shown.

The Grange Breakfast Buffet. The included full English breakfast is not shown.

It is easy to get there, even if you are old. Take the train from Paddington to St. Austell; check into a bed and breakfast: take the free bus from the train station to the Eden Project. Enjoy.

You should compare this to Biosphere 2 in Tucson, AZ and Arcosanti in Cordes Junction, AZ. You should think about how old open-pit mines and remote places can be re-configured as educational, research and residential communities for the future. Maybe you would like to live in one. Maybe it is a partial solution to the aging problem.

If so, go to their web pages; they all allow for interns, visitors, and maybe a new career.

Sources:

The Guide – Eden Project Books, Fourteenth revised edition 2014.

Eden Project -http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about

Biosphere 2 -http://b2science.org

Arcosantihttp://arcosanti.org 

 


RAIL YARDS MARKET

On Sundays from 9-3, May 4 – Nov. 2, you can visit the Rail Yards Market near downtown Albuquerque, NM. The site is next to the tracks and is in a huge old Santa Fe Railway repair shop. The market has over one hundred vendors and artists. It draws thousands of people. Outside there is plenty of free parking and a line of food trucks.

It is worth the trip. It is close to the Rail Runner Station and could be combined with a trip to Santa Fe and the markets there.  It is also near the Amtrak Station  and downtown Albuquerque.

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Entry to the Rail Yards Market building.

Inside, which is free, you find artists, bakeries, local produce, music and crowds. Turn down your hearing aid.

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Rail Yards Market on July 27, 2014.

 

Rail buffs, and most other people, especially those of us who can remember riding the train to college, will be fascinated by the interior of the Santa Fe Railway Repair Shop, now abandoned, waiting a new life, and used as the setting for a number of movies.

 

IMG_5201

Inside the old Santa Fe Railway repair shop in Albuquerque, NM

To learn more about the rail yards visit the City of Albuquerque  web page.

 

Street Food Institute student food truck.

Maybe you are looking for a second career in your retirement. Central New Mexico Community College in conjunction with the Street Food Institute  offers a course in “Street Food.” Maybe you should apply. Visit Craigs List to find food trucks for sale.

The bottom line is that for a few hours on Sunday morning, you can’t go wrong, and you will see a part of American History. Drive through the surrounding streets and see “new town,” which came into being with the arrival of the rail road over a hundred years ago. Then compare it to “Old Town.”

 

 


“HOSPITAL AT HOME” – a new medical benefit for the geezer!!!

On July 17th Presbyterian Health Services, which I had joined in January 2014,  sent a nurse-practioner to visit my wife and me in our home. She explained that they were just trying to set up a data base for us and see if there was anything we needed. They come once a year if you want. It is an interview, not a physical. Naturally, when she searched our names, there was not much in our data-base.

I will have them come each year because:

1. She checked the medicines we were taking, called our druggist and called our primary care doctors. There were a few things that needed to be sorted out. Old people frequently take too much medicine and don’t know what it is for. There are also a lot of unexpected interactions and the amount you take makes a difference.

2. She suggested several programs for us including Silver Sneakers.

3. She took our blood pressure and listened to our heart beat. She asked questions about our life-style and general health. She spent several hours with us.

4. We will be able to access our records on our computer anywhere in the world. So, when we travel and get sick, we can pull up our records for the physician who treats us in some foreign country. I haven’t tried this, but will report when I get my access information.

5. Most importantly she told us about a program that Presbyterian has called “Hospital at Home.” If you meet the requirements,  you can elect, hopefully in the emergency room, to either be admitted to the hospital or be sent home. If you are sent home, a doctor visits you once a day, a nurse up to 3 times a day, you are monitored, and they deliver the equipment and drugs you need. The hospital benefits because it is 32% cheaper; you benefit because you are not in the hospital. I haven’t tried it, but will if the need ever arises. It probably helps to have a spouse, significant other, or caring neighbor.

You can read more about this in USAToday.

The geezer is becoming more aware of his health and the role he has to  play. My idea is to be comfortable and pain-free. I haven’t figured out any way to live forever, but am working on it.

At a few weeks shy of 74, based on my present condition, my genes, my family history, etc., I can expect ten “good” years; ten “so-so” years; and, 4 years in the “home.”  So….

 

 

 

 

 


CHEAP DAY TRIPS – EVERYWHERE – CONTINUING EDUCATION!

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.

 

 


AFRICAN-AMERICAN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER AND EXHIBIT HALL

In Albuquerque, NM there is a Performing Arts Center and Exhibit Hall devoted to African-American Culture and History. It is a new, modern building located next to the NM State Fair Grounds at 310 San Pedro, NE.

 

African American Performing Arts Center & Exhibition Hall

African-American Performing Arts Center & Exhibit Hall – Albuquerque, NM

 

The Exhibit Hall is well worth a visit. The current exhibit is “Black Wings.”  This describes the role of African-Americans in aviation from the very beginnings to the present day and includes inventors, stunt pilots, daredevils and astronauts. It is a part of history that few of us are familiar with and reflects the contributions of African-Americans.

The Performing Arts center presents plays and musical performances. The next one is “The Ricky Malihi Jazz Ensemble” which will perform  on August 9, 2014.

As a traveler you should search sites in each town that you plan to visit for events that you might otherwise never consider. Every town has them.

While in New Mexico you should also search and consider visiting sites where the “Buffalo Soldiers” were stationed and  fought.  African-Americans were active in NM before, during and after the Civil War. Read more about them.

Visit the Center’s web page to discover a worthwhile attraction.

 

 


KINDLE THE geezer!!!

If you are old, the Kindle, or a similar e-reader, is the “book” for you. It is cheap and small. You can take it with you on trips. Get an adapter if you go overseas, but it works fine. Just go to Amazon.com.

For old people, like me, the best thing is that I can adjust the print size. Have you tried to read a paperback recently with your eyes?

I was flying back from Kosovo a couple of years ago and stuck my Kindle in the pocket of my soft-sided suitcase, which I then checked. Wrong move! My Kindle got smashed and was unusable. I had to buy a new one, but I was able to download everything I had purchased from Amazon.com onto the new one at no charge. Then a few years later I was able to download everything on my I-Pad, again at no charge. However, I still use the Kindle with its large print capabilities.

Kindle books are cheaper that hardbacks. And, you can get free books and cheap books from Amazon.com.

In Albuquerque you can check out Kindle, and other e-books, for two weeks for free. I presume that most libraries have this program. And, old people whom I know frequent libraries, so…..

It is small. See my post on geezer’s clothes for life. My kindle fits in the bag along with all those clothes.

Finally, the Kindle holds a huge number of books, both in the Cloud and on the Kindle. I keep travel books, especially about a dozen Rick Steves’ books, along with books I reread, such as Walden. My Kindle has over 500 books, including mysteries, the Complete Works of  Shakespeare, Thoreau and Emerson; not to mention a half-dozen books on how to blog when you are old.

I am trying to reduce the geezer  to his essence. Pretty soon I will be able to travel by Wi-Fi and my grandkids can just download me whenever they want to see me; otherwise I will exist as some sort of permalink.

 

 

 

 

 


LONG-TERM CARE – Find out what it’s like and do some good.

Dormatory for small childrenAssistant living bedroom with handicap bathroom

 

 

 

 

 

Most old people don’t have a clue about long-term care facilities. They don’t have any idea what they  want or where they want to be. They don’t want to think about it. As a result, their children or spouse has to made an ignorant last-minute decision. And, you are the one, who at an old age, with physical and/or mental problems, find yourself stuck in a new and scary environment.

Just because you are old doesn’t mean that you can’t find out what long-term care facilities are like.

No one wants to look for an assisted living facility or nursing home if they don’t have to.

What you should do now is volunteer as an  Ombudsman. Every state is required by law to have an Ombudsman program.  Basically you as a volunteer are trained and then assigned to one or more facilities which you visit on a regular basis. You talk to the owners, caregivers, family and residents.

You provide an official presence, which helps to keep the facilities on their toes. You  report any complaints, abuses or problems that the residents have. You may be the only person who visits them.

The benefit to you, besides doing something good and worthwhile, is that you get a first-hand look at a variety of places. You learn the level of care; you see the problems; and, you can compare large and small facilities. You are prepared to make a decision.

Interested?  Check the Ombudsman website for a list of ombudsmen by state and a description of what an ombudsman does. Call them and tell them you want to volunteer. You can be any age, even though most of them seem to be about my age, or older. You can  set your own schedule.

You are old, not stupid. Take charge of your life.

You need to know; and, you need to help.

When you end up in the “home,” you want to make friends with your Ombudsman.

old man