Ok, so I am old, so my hearing and my eyesight is not what it once was. Yet every day, someone wants to sell me something, but they don’t know who I am. Businesses approach things from their point of view; even when trying to sell something to me. You would think that they would focus on me; not only their targeted customer, but for at least another 20 years, their customer who has the most money. In 20 years, old people will be broke; today many of us have money. Businesses catering to the old should realize this.
My wife bought a device for her mother that allows her mother to locate lost things; purse, glasses, keys, etc. It is a great idea; but, the only instructions are on the side of a 2 x 2 inch box in type so small that you can’t even read it with a magnifying glass. And, if your purse is lost, which it frequently is with old people; the device to locate the purse is usually in the purse. Go figure!
What is even worse; from an old person’s point-of-view, is that they have to ask someone for help thus admitting to old age.
Are there any geriatric tech writers? Look at the instructions that come with something you have bought. Were those instructions written with you in mind?
Don’t forget businesses that have receptionists who have such a low voice that you can’t hear them; or, more common, those that rattle off the information so fast, that you don’t get it.
How would you explain to your mirror how to put something together; or, how to operate something so that you could understand it? Even harder than explaining it to a mirror, is explaining it to a business. I especially like the low voice-tone and talking speed in audiologists’ offices. You would think an audiologist would realize that the only reason that you were there was because you were deaf. But they don’t seem to realize that when talking to you.
Restaurants forget, that while noise may increase turnover and profits, noisy places do not attract old people. Twice this week we have decided against restaurants because of their noise level. And, 50 % of restaurants fail in the first year and 75% in the first five years. Meanwhile, the number of old people is increasing. Restaurants that play music play it for the young help; they forget that two-thirds of their customers are over 65 and like to talk to each other, not listen to some loud off-putting music.
I could go on, and probably will, about services and products for old people being developed by people who are not old and who don’t understand old people.
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
I had never heard of “Orphan Trains” until a few weeks ago when I came across a notice in the Tucson Weekly, a weekly free alternative newspaper. (Wherever you go, pick up a copy of the free alternative papers for the most comprehensive, and unique, happenings in the town you are visiting.)
Orphan Trains operated between 1854 and 1929 and transported over 200,000 homeless children in New York, NY to every state in the continental United States. The children were often street children, but many were turned over by parents and orphanages. Remember that this was initially a few years after the Irish potato famine and many children hit New York without parents.
The children were loaded onto trains, frequently in the last car, with a woman who supervised them and arranged for their disbursement along the way. Their ages ranged from infancy to about 14; no girls over 12 for fear of sexual exploitation. They had no documentation, not birth certificates and virtually no chance of adoption.
When the trains stopped, locals appeared, either by pre-arrangement or by chance, and selected the child they wanted. They often broke up families.They were necessary to the development of the West and the railroads carried them for free or at a reduced fare.
Alison Moore has documented this in her book Riders On the Orphan Train. She and her husband appeared on February 16, 2014 at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in a multi-media show. Something none of us knew about.
Moore puts on shows all across the country. To find out when and where go to: http://www.ridersontheorphantrain.org/
It is worth it, free and will open your eyes to something you had no idea existed. You can also visit the Orphan Train Depot in Concordia, Kansas.
Keep looking for things that might interest you and that are out of your comfort zone.
An article on “Orphan Trains” that might interest you is found in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
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.
Given the number of baby boomers, the economic climate, and the scarcity of children, willing or able to take care of Baby Boom; the Geezer thinks that long-term care in 2023, if it exists, will be different; and, probably not to Baby Boom’s liking.
Geezer has profiled Baby Boom, even though profiling is not politically correct. Here is the Geezer’s baker’s dozen profile of Baby Boom and what she/he needs to look forward to:
- Overweight and loves processed and fast food.
- No long-term care insurance
- Little if any savings
- Children who live in another town; or, no children.
- Worried about Social Security
- Probably does not have a pension; or, if so, it is a small defined contribution plan and invested in the stock market by Baby Boom’s brother-in-law.
- While conservative, thinks that the government should take care of him/her.
- Ready to invest in a get rich quick scheme with savings/pension.
- Lover of prescription drugs
- Doesn’t exercise
- Worried about job and being employed until he/she can retire and if Baby Boom has to work beyond 65, who will hire him/her?
- Saving up his/her illness and health problems until he/she can qualify for Medicare.
- Thinks the value of real estate (his/her home) will keep going up; after all, they are not making any more real estate.
I don’t want to scare you! Most Geezers are ok. Geezers got old while the getting was good; Baby Boom may have missed the boat. Not to worry; Baby Boom will probably not read this.
I like the nurse; maybe she could start work before 2023.
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.
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.