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.
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.
Every town has a library. When you travel, a library can be your best friend. You can find:
- Information about the town you are in.
- A bookstore that will sell books that the library no longer wants or which have been donated for as little as $1 for hardback and 25 cents for paperbacks, many of them recent best-sellers.
- Frequently they have cafes where you can get a coffee and food.
- They have computers that you can use.
- They have interesting programs and sometime trips for anyone who is interested.
- Local and national magazines; see what is going on in town and read the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal.
- And, finally there is a huge magazine rack with the latest magazines; most of which you don’t get, and which take you out of your comfort zone.
In the US there are 26,200 prisoners over 65 in state and federal prisons and 124,400 over the age of 55.
The geezer, who is 75, and an “opportunist” is thinking outside the box; or perhaps ‘inside the box.” If I have no money, little social security, no home, no assets, no family; and have to line up at the soup kitchen for meals and the free street clinic for medical care, maybe there is another way.
At 75, what do I need? My sex life is a thing of the past; there is no one to take care of me, I am frequently wet and cold; I am regularly exposed to every type of riffraff; and, can no longer fight off street predators. How can I live out my days in some comfort, be warm, eat regularly, and have adequate medical and dental care?
The answer is to rob a bank.
The sentence seems to be 10 years plus an extra 5 years if you have a gun. I need to check to see if the gun has to be loaded; wouldn’t want to hurt anyone. The 15 years takes me to 90 which is about my life expectancy on a good day and I don’t have to0 many of them. If I got in a fight or two, I can avoid good time.
The big problem is that I might get probation since I don’t have a record; so, I might have to rob the same bank twice; or, even three times.
Given the economic and social future of the elderly, prison doesn’t sound too bad; and, it can’t be worse than a nursing home; even if I qualified. If you can’t pay, Medicaid is the only answer. Assisted living is out of the question without money or long-term care insurance.
There is probably a downside, but I am having trouble seeing it.
The food can’t be worse than most senior institutions. If I have a room(cell)mate, he would probably be about my age. I would probably be in some sort of minimum security facility, but, given the gun I might be in a maximum security facility. The friends I would make would probably be better than the ones on the street.
Would I be safe? Probably. I am sure that most Federal Prisons take care of old people; albeit, reluctantly. There are work programs in most institutions and perhaps I could care for other old people if I couldn’t get assigned to the library. Win-win.
The New York Times has an article on California state prisons that have caregivers called ” gold coats.” These are inmates, usually murderers, who in exchange for a “gold coat,” and other privileges, look after the elderly; especially those with dementia. They protect them from the other prisoners, get them food, make sure they don’t fall; and, in general act as highly trained caregivers. They sound better than some in nursing homes I have visited.
Do I want to go this route? I suppose it depends on how cold and hungry I get; and, if I am competent to rob a bank when the time comes.
Or, maybe it would just be cheaper and better to move all of us old prisoners and “Gold Coats” to the “abandoned” military bases where they are keeping illegal immigrants.
At 77, I am a “good” driver; maybe a few problems with eyesight, hearing and attention span. I usually know where I am going. The AARP driving course for seniors lowers my insurance rates; and, I avoid driving at night, on freeways and with my kids, who watch me. They know that I saw my father take his father’s car keys. He and I agreed that he could keep his car as long as he didn’t drive it; so, it was parked for several years.
My car has a few dings. I renew my license annually, not for 10 years anymore. MVD and I joke about the eye test.
So, I joined UBER. It was scary. I didn’t know what I was getting into; and, learning to call UBER on a smart phone?? I had to know where I was going; I couldn’t just drive around looking for the place I thought I wanted to go. I also had to know where I was.
I tried UBER in Tucson; clicked on the UBER App; typed in my address and the restaurant address. It took three tries and a bit of deleting, but I did it.
In 3 minutes a picture of the UBER driver, car make and license number appeared on the screen. Two minutes later he was there; just like his picture, and took us straight to our favorite restaurant. The trip cost of $6.32 appeared on the screen; I clicked ok, clicked that the driver was great and he clicked that I was a great passenger. We parted company. We had a nice dinner, re-apped UBER. Same deal, different driver. Cost $5.47; total cost $11.79, no tipping, no money; the amount on my credit card minutes later. The drivers were both great, interesting, and I didn’t worry about the extra glass of wine.
AAA reports the average cost to own a car in 2015 was $8698. For two of us, that comes to $17,396. I don’t think I spend that much, but….. I don’t really want to find out.
My wife and I have two cars, even though we usually travel together. Kelly Blue Book says a dealer would give us about $25,000 for them. Do we need two cars? No cars? One car and UBER?
How many trips do we need to take? One a day? How far do we go? Mostly close to our condo. Seven trips a week; 14 UBER trips; averaging $10 per trip, which may be high. $140 a week; or, $7280 a year.
Using UBER we have a chauffeur, do not cause accidents, are calmer, etc. We even age better. Have you ever had someone say: “Do you see that car?” 10 times a trip?
The bus costs 50 cents and goes most places, but takes longer. Kids work, grandkids are too young and neighbors would rather car-pool with UBER.
The bottom line is: UBER could save us up to $10,116 per year. Even a $1000 savings would be worth it. The real bottom line is that our driving years will soon come to an END; our cars will be taken from us; we will move in with UBER and use the $25,000 for four years of UBER.
Maybe UBER will have caregivers in ten years…..; hopefully, with a car.
UBER is experimenting with programs for seniors, that include, senior-trained drivers, special cars, etc. No details yet.
The New York Times recently reported on UBER’s new ride sharing program which should interest seniors and save them money.
Since I originally wrote this, The New York Times has reported on ride-sharing which fills niches that UBER does not cover, yet. The one that interested me the most was Lift Hero, which provides rides for old people. The web page is down for maintenance, but keep checking. UBER was running a test program for old people in Tucson a few months ago, but I have not seen anything on this recently.
Transportation is a real and growing problem for old people; especially where public transportation is not available.
When you travel, think UBER. I have had success in Panama and Montreal, Canada.
A change of senior-mind-set is required.
Restaurant Impossible is one of my favorite TV shows, so of course it got me thinking. Why couldn’t Robert, or someone like him, come in and redo me?
Like the restaurants on the show, I am a mess after 75 years. I am out of shape. My finances are a mess. I don’t even know what all the pills I take are for.
I am in need of redoing! I need to be rehabbed. So, I wrote to Geezer Impossible and offered myself!
I am out of date; although a plus is that I have donated all my stained, checkered pants with zippers that don’t work to Good Will. I now wear relaxed fit jeans. Not much of an improvement, but a start. Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ), I am not, yet….. And, the fifty’s may come back.
I need a team to come in clean me up, shape me up, revise my life style, perhaps come up with a new style or at least a theme. Make me a modern “old man.” Are there “theme” old people?
Robert could meet with my family, friends, advisors, etc.; find out what they were doing for me, put them on notice that they need to shape up, then go to work on me.
He could have a group of experts; perhaps a doctor, a financial planner, a lawyer, a geriatric shrink and of course a dietician.
The result would be a new old man; with a modern theme. Instead of walking me through the door of a restaurant, Robert could walk my family through the door of my new living space and show me off. They could all marvel at how old people could be rejuvenated.
It might be necessary to do a series of old people makeovers to determine if this was a viable process. Data is important; and, of course we would need follow-up. How long could I endure my new theme.
The redo might be franchised. Old People Impossible, make overs for those over 75. Maybe even a TV show, preferably in the late afternoon, with wine.
After writing this, I woke up!
ADULT EDUCATION is the best part of aging. Whether for pleasure or to understand your daily activities, you need to make use of the sources available to seniors. An added bonus is that most aging studies encourage you to keep your mind active and to be involved. This does not mean TV; this means developing an interest, searching out the sources and gaining expertise,i
This blog was written as part of a University of New Mexico Continuing Education six-week course.
The course is: Blogging Your Way to Writing Success. It met once a week for two hours and was taught by an excellent instructor who is a professional blogger, journalist and writer. The cost is $75 and it meets during the day so you don’t have to worry about driving after dark. Parking is easy. The students are my age or a bit younger. It is a non-threatening course.
What other courses are there for old people? The following list is a list of courses in or near Albuquerque. If you click on the underlined word, you go to the web site for Albuquerque. Use the “search” terms to find classes near you; or make up your own search terms. Every town has classes, even if it is only the Historical Society of Villisca, Iowa. Any town you visit can give you a learning experience.
Either click on the underlined word/s or search the words listed.
- Oasis Search: Oasis.org + your town
- Osher Search: Osher + your town
- UNM Continuing Education – Search: Community colleges or continuing education + your town
- University of New Mexico – Search: College or university + your town
- Coursera – Search: Courser.org
- National Parks New Mexico – Search: National Parks – lectures or classes + name of park
- Albuquerque Public Library – Search: Library + town
- Meet up – Search: Meetup + town
- Groups like genealogy society, camera clubs, historical societies, Friends of the Camino de Santiago etc – Search: key word + your town.
- Senior Classes – Albuquerque – Search: senior classes + your town.
Drop by any senior center for a list of their classes, trips, books, cheap food and information.
This is only a short list. The trick is to search the name of the town and what you are interested in.
This is how you should live and travel.
TIME FOR THE GEEZER’S SHOT!
I have been reading a lot about robots and old people lately. We have a surplus of old people and a shortage of caregivers. Is a robot caregiver the answer? At 75 future care is a constant thought; for me and for my friends. I thought about a robot in my future over coffee on Tuesday morning. Like most of my thoughts, these are irreverent.
- A robot changing my diapers. Picture me, lying on a bed, naked from the waist down, with a robot, wiping me and putting on a new diaper. How would a robot hold me in place? It’s bad enough changing a baby, imagine a robot changing me! And, don’t forget the security camera that the robot is required to wear is going all the time.
- Could the robot identify strangers who came into my home? Then what?
- Could a robot prevent falls?
- A robot could probably take my vital signs; a smart phone can do that now with a little help.
- Can a robot cook? Thaw and heat a meals-on-wheels selection? Probably.
- Clean? I hope so.
- How will a robot react with other people around?
- Will a robot like my dog? Will my dog like the robot?
- How much would it cost to make my home robot friendly? Could I find a place where the robot couldn’t find me? If so, it would probably dial 911.
- Could I short-circuit a robot? Probably it would dial 911 if I did.
- What are the ongoing maintenance and repair costs of a robot?
- What are the costs of monitoring the robot and maintaining a call center to deal with calls from the robot?
- Would a robot scare me? Think of Hal 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey – before the time of most current robot designers.
- Could a robot bathe/shower me without drowning me or short-circuiting the robot?
- Heavy lifting would be plus. A robot could save a lot in workman’s comp. claims or the necessity of hiring two caregivers for someone of my weight.
- Theft. Identify a stranger? If the robot was stolen, we could probably locate it using our i-phone.
- Could the robot take the place of my geriatric psychologist; listen to me, counsel me?
- Could the robot provide comfort to me when I slip into Alzheimer’s? Or would I have to have two robots?
- Paying bills? Is my robot trustworthy?
- The robot could probably sign in to Skype and give my kids several views of what I was doing at any given time. It could also provide a security video that was not erased for thirty days and which my kids and my doctor could access along with a running record of my vital signs, urinalysis results, weight, diaper changing, etc.
- The robot would be perfect for the new driverless cars.
- The robot could dial UBER.
- The robot could get together with SIRI and order anything I needed.
- The robot could exercise me; whether I wanted it or not. Picture a robot designed to exercise me; and, me, not wanting to exercise.
- The robot could be programmed for Robot Assisted Suicide; however, this might violate the First Law of Robotics.
- The robot might have a copy of my advance directive and not consult with me.
- The robot could file my taxes.
- If I have Alzheimer’s; can the robot deal with that? The robot is very logical; I would just be street-smart.
- How would the robot deal with my girl friend? Could I program it to stay out of the bedroom?
- If I needed surgery, could the robot do it?
The above are just the thoughts of an old man who might be a perfect candidate for a robot caregiver. Most people don’t realize that they are old until suddenly they reach the “tipping point” at which time, they are there.
At least, I have a number of ideas for future blogs. So, stay tuned.
Maybe I should just go with a therapeutic robot from Parorobots.com to pet:
Today, old age requires creative thinking, planning and help. There are fewer and fewer do-overs; this is it. I will consider some alternatives; but mostly I will suggest that you think outside the box. As long as you are competent you should exercise your ability to be creative. Use these ideas as a starting point! Where will you live? What choices will you have?
The possibilities are endless; however, there are 5 basic parameters:
- Physical and mental ability.
- Care needed
- Social network, including family, religion, organizations, and other groups.
Take a look in the mirror. Who do you see? Make sure that your mirror reflects you, not the you that you wish you were.
Now for the fun; and, again, THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX. In the future, after you have had tIme to think about this, we will deal with each in a separate blog. With any luck these LIVING IDEAS will offend some of you!
- Stay in your home and share
- Charitable Trust
- Care giver – life estate
- Homeless shelter
- Group home
- Private non-profit assisted living home
- Charitable trusts
- Old mobile home
- Small town
- Camp ground
- Public space
- Trailer on school grounds
- Tiny house community
- Move in with family
- Live on the street
- Do nothing
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.
The important thing is to think outside the box;