I live in a home with three bedrooms. At some point I will need care; especially if I elect to live-in-place. I need a cheap solution; especially at night. Someone to allay my fears of the dark and to answer the phone, the door and generally be a human presence.
A caregiver who is really just an elder-sitter would cost me $20 per hour or $240 a night and I would be asleep. That comes to $87,600 per year; a bit much given my social security of $1600 per month and no pension.
My solution is a student nurse. She can make aging in place workable.
Average student loan debt for graduating nurses is $30,000. The average cost of board and room at UNM for a student nurse is $8580 per school year. This does not include non-academic periods. For three years rooming at the geezer’s, this would be a savings of $25,740; not counting the non-school year times.
I spoke informally to a lady at the UNM nursing school and to a fourth year student nurse, both of whom said it was possible to provide a nursing student with board and room in exchange for staying overnight at my house.
The student would live in one of my empty rooms, use the spare bathroom, eat the food from my “ice box” and check up on me, calling 911 as necessary.
She would be free during the day for classes; could have a boy/girl friend stay over, and could cut her student loans by at least $25,000.
She could do a paper on practical geriatrics for her geriatric course. She could study me, bring fellow students/professors around; and could generally get academic mileage out of her stay with me. I could be the guinea pig for geriatric research programs.
I could visit my kids during exams; and, we could work out something for periods when she had to be away.
She would have enough expertise; more than an elder-sitter; and, would know what to do in an emergency.
She would be better trained and vetted than the usual care-giver. I am afraid that someone is going to scam me or that a care-giver is going to steal my valuables and medicines. A nursing student has a career to lose if she does something unethical or illegal.
A win-win for both of us. She could even drop me off at the adult day-care on her way to classes. And could share my Meals-on Wheels.
When she graduates, she could provide me with a replacement from the entering class.
And I would be the envy of the senior community.
In 1971 a bunch of homeless people (hippies) took possession of an abandoned military base in the center of Copenhagen, Denmark and Freetown Christiania was born.
A few years ago I visited Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark. It has become one of the major tourist attractions in Copenhagen and home to about 600 people; and took me back to the 1960’s. Since 1971, Christiania has evolved and has become a co-op instead of a squatters’ habitat.
When I was there, there were signs warning about marijuana which was freely sold, although illegal; there were simple restaurants; there were all sorts of craft stands; and houses in various forms of construction. The organization was informal but in 2012 they voted on who could live there and had developed some form of ownership and property rights.
The hippies resisted all efforts by the government to remove them. They have entered into contracts for utilities and trash; and , have obtained not only the right to own the property, but have government loans to finance the property.
The set-up is largely like a co-op with the existing residents voting on new residents and making the rules, such as they are.
It is located a 30 minute ride or a 45 minute walk from the Central Train Station. You might still get illegal marijuana with little apparent risk from the authorities, but there may now be internal restrictions. Times are changing and hippies are growing older. Maybe they should look to medical marijuana?
It is worth a visit; especially if you grew up in the 60’s and it is going strong today. I don’t know how many of the original squatters are still there, but they would probably be in their 60’s.
It may even give you a few ideas as you grow older; and, feel the need of a delayed alternative lifestyle.
For more pictures and reasons to visit Christiania, see : Buzzfeed
Google: Christiania for up-to-date information and “alternative tours.”
I can’t help but update this blog to show you the New York Times review of the restaurant NOMA near Christiania.
A second update showing problems in Christiania is reported by The New York Times, even though it has become a major tourist attraction.
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.
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.
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.
The Guide – Eden Project Books, revised edition 2016.
Eden Project -http://www.edenproject.com/whats-it-all-about
Biosphere 2 -http://b2science.org
THINK OLD! TRAVEL MORE!
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.
Inside, which is free, you find artists, bakeries, local produce, music and crowds. Turn down your hearing aid.
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.
To learn more about the rail yards visit the City of Albuquerque web page.
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.”
Gertrude Winifred Tyler
2-4-1882 to 9-29=1980 – age 98
When I was between 5 and 10 years old, in the late 1940’s, I used to visit my grandparents in Villisca, Iowa. I would spend time with my grandfather’s two sisters, who were in their 60’s, and who were unlike any other women (housewives) that I knew. My recent interest in genealogy has proven how unique they were.
Gertrude Winifred Tyler was born in 1882 in Villisca, Iowa. She graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa in 1909 followed by a Master’s Degree in Education from Columbia University in New York.
In 1913 she opened Stevens Memorial Suining Girls Boarding School in Suining, Sichuan, China, for the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. She ran the school for around 30 years.
During this time she made numerous trips back to the US and I found her name listed as one of 19 US Citizens on the passenger manifest of the Nippon Maru, which arrived in San Francisco from Yokohama, Japan on July 16, 1919.
Gertrude had a large collection of Chinese wall hangings and artifacts. I have some of the hangings, but most of her collection is now in the Villisca Public Library.
Bertha Marie Tyler
9-6-1879 to 12-7-1971 age 92
Aunt Bertha, taught school in Orient, Iowa, graduated from Simpson College in 1912 and received her Master’s in Education and Psychology from the State University of Iowa in Ames, Iowa. She was then a school principal in Orient, Iowa and the Superintendent of Schools in Orient, Iowa for 16 years.
From 1934-1938 Aunt Bertha lived in Little Rock, Arkansas where she was the Dean of Women and Professor of Education for Philander Smith College, a college established in 1877 for freed African-American Slaves and still in existence and thriving today. The school was supported by the Methodist Church.
I wrote to Philander Smith College and they sent me an electronic copy of the 1935-36 College Catalog, which lists Bertha as the Dean of Women and Professor of Education. It also shows that tuition was $27 per semester, room and board was $15 per month and laundry was $4 per year. Tuition is now $12,564 and board and room is $8,250.
In 1938, Frank P. Tyler, Gertrude and Bertha’s father was in ill health. Gertrude and Bertha, abandoned their fascinating careers and came back to Villisca to run The Tyler Ice And Coal Company and the family slaughter house, which fascinated a 9-year-old boy on summer vacation.
The ice plant consisted of a huge room with a saline solution where they froze water into 100 pound blocks of ice, which were then split into smaller blocks and delivered throughout Villisca, as everyone still had ice boxes after WW II. Another part of the ice plant consisted of lockers where people stored their frozen food until they were ready to use it. The predecessor to the ice plant was a pond where they cut ice in the winter, stored it in warehouses insulated with saw dust and sold the ice in the summer.
The slaughter-house was a few blocks a way and only a small building where a couple of cows and pigs were slaughtered each week. The animals were shot with a .22 rifle and hoisted up on a winch to bleed out before being cut up. Gertrude and Bertha made blood pudding out of the blood and used every part of the animals.
My genealogy research so far has been on the internet; but, the next step is to track Gertrude and Bertha on the ground; visiting actual sites in Villisca, Iowa, Indianola, Iowa, Orient, Iowa, Columbia University, Ames, Iowa and maybe even Sichuan, China. It will be my own Genealogy Road Show, but will be on-site.
Last summer, my wife and I tracked her paternal and maternal ancestors through upstate New York and had great luck with local libraries, historical societies and genealogical societies, not to mention court houses and cemeteries.
This was originally published in the Albuquerque Genealogical Society Quarterly (July 2018)
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.
Since writing this in November of 2017, I have discovered that there are “coffin clubs,” which began in New Zealand and have spread to the United States. You can read about them in the August 2019 issue of The Atlantic.
If you are still interested, Google “coffin clubs” +name of your state.
I feed hummingbirds a mixture of one cup of sugar to four cups of water. The sugar is pure white, cane sugar. It is cheap; and must provide a sugar high.
Hummingbirds are at the trough all day and empty two feeders every day. They also eat at natural plants around the yard, but not so much.
I wonder if eating all that pure sugar is good for them. Can they make the annual migration to South America? Do they get fat? Do they have health problems? Are there obese hummingbirds?
They are like people. They eat what is easy; not, what they have to work for. People are obese. Will we see fat hummingbirds.
Something to think about.
Does fast food affect hummingbirds adversely?
I won’t stop feeding them. Like the fast food industry, I profit from the hummingbirds outside my window. I like to watch them; and, of course I count them. I am contributing to what I believe are hummingbird health problems; just like the fast food industry, with its highly processed, sugar-filled food have contributed to our health and obesity problems.
Next time you feed a hummingbird, take a look in the mirror. Where is your feeder with its high sugar concentration? Are you preparing to fly to Tierra del Fuego for the winter?
Take a look at the Wikipedia article on hummingbirds. Hummingbirds are also carnivores eating insects for the protein in addition to various forms of sugar.
Most people who itemize their taxes have trouble keeping track of everything. Old people have a real problem, keeping envelopes and other unnecessary papers; and, strewing documents everywhere in their house or car.
This is to help you organize and is not tax advice. Hopefully, it is common sense – something old people should strive for.
The KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principal applies to old people in spades. Especially in financial matters.
All you need is a bucket labeled for taxes. During the year, you throw everything in the bucket; except envelopes. (Why old people keep envelopes is beyond me; and they are a source of clutter, confusion and contribute to important documents that go missing.)
You throw in notes where you paid cash or by credit card and copies of all credit card statements. Copy the front and back of needed checks and drop the copy in the bucket. Note that things in the bucket are in chronological order, so if you need something before tax season, you can find it easily.
Copy last years tax return; or your accountant’s tax form.
At tax time, take the papers out of the bucket, sort them by tax form categories, and attach them to a copy of last year’s tax return. Change the numbers, insert new numbers and add in any new items.
You now have everything you need for your taxes, or for your estate.
People my age received their driver’s license 65 years ago; which was the last time they reviewed the laws and driver “best practices.” For the last 65 years, we have just coasted – have not taken a driver’s license exam and have not reviewed the laws. Our biggest worry is the eye exam.
The AARP offers a Smart Driver course; either on-line or at a 4 hour class.
We recently took the course in a four hour class at the local senior center. While we expected to be bored, it was informative and at least made us think. It costs $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members.
The best ideas we could relate to.
- Having a blind side mirror.
- Only making right turns if possible, which delivery services such as Federal Express practice; not because their drivers are old, but because of the savings in time and gas costs.
- Learning about roundabouts.
- The safety devices on new cars, including back-up cameras, blind side beeps, and several more. Beware, that these can also be confusing and distracting if you are old. They take getting used to.
- Timing lights at intersections.
- Stopping distances and following distances.
- Fog lines.
- Left and right mirror settings.
- Not pulling into the intersection while making a left turn.
- Seat adjustment for airbag protection.
- Steering wheel hand position adjustment; not 10 and 2, but 9 and 3. This protects your hands from the airbag in case of a crash.
- Anti-lock brake system.
- Lane markings.
- Space cushion around your car.
Then of course, if you take the course, your insurance company will give you a break; anywhere from 7.5% to 15%; which more than pays for the course. I think it also useful for you to have a record that you took the course. You never know when that may come in handy.
REMEMBER, you are OLD, and you will be described as “elderly” or worse in any police report or newspaper article.
THINK OLD! DRIVE OLD!
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.