When I was 73, I bought an age reducing clock. Now I am 71. You too can reduce your age. Buy an age reducing clock for yourself and be as young as the geezer.
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.
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
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….
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.
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.
I am 73. I need clothing that I can wear everyday and everywhere, that is cheap, that is always acceptable and that can be washed. I do not want to check it when flying. I want to hoist it into an overhead bin by myself. I don’t want to worry about theft.
I have chosen black walking shoes, sandals, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 turtle-necks, 2 shirts, 7 socks, underpants t-shirts and handkerchiefs. I have one blazer and one hooded rain jacket. All, except for the blazer can be washed together, in one load. Everything is black. There is room for miscellaneous items.
It all fits on me and in the 14″x18″x12″ bag in the picture. I can go on an archeological dig, eat at a four-star restaurant, attend a wedding or a funeral, attend a concert and live out the rest of my life in a long-care facility with nothing more than what is on me and in the bag.
It is cheap, universal and requires no thought. It is easily replaced. It gives me a unique, but acceptable, appearance, and not an offensive one.
The New York Times had an article that got me to thinking about old age and the “next frontier:” Polygamy for old people. The article involved a law suit in Las Vegas that approved cohabitation that seems to amount to polygamy; one man, four women and 17 children. Maybe that is the answer to old age.
There are many more women over 70 than men. And, it gets “better,” or “worse” as you grow older. However, perhaps we should thing about it for a bit.
It would be cheaper. Most of us live in homes too big for us. One home for five people would cut down on housing expenses.
There would always be someone to look after you, hopefully.
Think of up to 10 children and 30+ grandchildren moving back into the next.
Think of the inheritance problems.
Hopefully, one of the wives would be young and could still drive.
How would you divide up the chores?
If one dies, could you bring in a new “spouse?”
Could you get a long-term care policy with four wives?
Would you have to be licensed as a long-term care facility?
What about zoning ordinances for single family residences?
Any chance of four marriage licenses?
What benefits could you tap?
A discount from Meals on Wheels?
If you spaced the wives correctly, there could always be a designated “care giver.”
Anyway, since this is an irreverent guide to aging, I thought I would bring it up as an alternative. Something is going to have to happen with 10,000 people a day turning 65. And, with the next generation not being financially prepared for old age, we might be back to communes, which we all remember.
If the 60’s could give us communes; and, if all the flower children are in their 70’s…. One thing about us, is we haven’t forgotten our youth. Imagine Hog Farm for seniors! I need to revisit Llano, New Mexico. It’s been 50 years.
My wife is not interested.
The New York Times article by a doctor with a terminal illness caught my eye. He built his own coffin. It may seem morbid to some, but if you have a terminal illness or are old, death is one of the things you think about.
Building your own coffin adds a human touch to death that seems to be missing today. Death has become mechanical and hidden; just a process that you hire done and which is kept out of sight. I remember when my grandfather died in a small town in Nebraska. An open coffin, supported by two chairs in the dining room, was there overnight. Someone was always sitting next to it, including me at age 8. There were constant visitors, food and much talking.
Terminal illness and old age seem to drain one’s life of purpose; coffin building may add meaning and comfort. It will surely get people talking.
The problem is that people facing death, whether through old age or disease, look at death differently. They come to accept that everyone dies; a concept unfamiliar to younger people. A purpose is important.
Coffin plans if you are interested.
Are you over 50, retired and bored? AARP has a suggestion: Mars
Today, they suggested Mars. It appears the ideal couple for this trip is over 50 and has been married long enough to get the kinks out. And since the round trip is only 501 days, if done in 2017, it is less time than you would spend with the Peace Corps. There are probably a few risks, but the Geezer, at 73, is already facing a few risks. Old age is the ideal time for new risks, a lot like your late teens and early 20’s.
There are a lot of plusses. Once you went through Mars “training” you would be in great shape. Your grandkids would really think you were “cool.” All social security could be banked/invested. It beats assisted living. You would have a lifetime of stories and could not only hit all the talk shows, but could “eat” off of your experience for the rest of your life. Any dementia, could be explained by the trip. You might run into a few aliens. And, of course, after the initial phases, it could solve the problem of what to do with old people; send them to Mars.
I can’t see a downside; and, at 73, that’s saying a lot. I expect a call from the Mar’s Mission at any moment.