At 79 I am in the “at risk” group for coronavirus. I have no real underlying problems, other than old age. However, like all of my neighbors, who are of a similar age, I am concerned.
I was able to get gloves early on. (The next blog is on gloves.) I stay away from other people – six feet, except for my wife. I walk 2 1/2 miles every day. I buy groceries during “senior hour” even though it is early in the morning and I am exposed to a bunch of old people. We have enough food for two weeks. Until today, I drove to a nearby store to get a copy of the New York Times. Today, I had it delivered. So, except for a couple of trips a week and my walks along the Rio Grande River, my wife and I are isolated, “sheltering in place.”
The lack of a face mask concerned me, especially since the Federal Government can’t decide if a face mask is helpful, or not. Even if it is helpful, there are no face masks available for old people. Amazon could not deliver before mid-May; Walgreens was sold out; I had no doctor appointments scheduled, so I couldn’t steal a mask. And, the process of going around looking for face masks is dangerous, in and of itself. Talk about exposure. Web pages do not accurately reflect stock in the stores.
What is an old man to do?
I have a wife of 45 years. In that time she has accumulated a number of bras. She gave me one. It was good for two face masks. The elastic straps could be attached to one side with Super Glue. Bras are washable.
I have yet to convince my wife to wear a bra in any but the ordinary way; however, I am working on her. It would be nice to keep her around a little longer.
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.
I am 76, vulnerable and cheap. A recent neighborhood burglary and car vandalism made me rethink our home security.
What is unique about most old people – my wife and I?
- We live alone.
- Our memories are not quite what they used to be.
- I am deaf.
- I think I am younger than I am.
- My support group is shrinking.
- I am cheap.
- I am fearful.
- Any system we use must be simple and self-operating. We can’t be bothered with any complexity.
- We travel and are frequently away from home.
I cannot protect us from everything; but, I can reduce the odds, my fear, and my paranoia. I can provide a video if I am the victim of a crime.
This is what I did.
- I turn on porch and garage exterior lights each night. My neighbors can watch. I have mixed feelings about this as there is an argument that you allow burglars to see what they are doing.
- I rewired the pyracantha along our back wall and tied the stems so that they covered the whole wall. I will let them grow taller in the future.
- I installed two interior lights on timers that go on and off automatically at various times in the evening. ($4.87 each.)
- I wired together wire tomato cages (I use these in the summer for my tomatoes. – or $2 each.) where the exterior walls adjoined my neighbor’s wall. Someone coming over the wall has to deal with the pyracantha, the wires and the cages, which they cannot see in the dark. Jail provides medical treatment.
- I installed a solar motion sensor light ($29.97) over the back door. This gives off enough light to see the back yard and becomes very bright if someone enters the yard. My neighbor can watch the burglar.
- I installed a Canary Security System and Camera ($199.95) tied into my smart phone. My smart phone beeps if someone enters my home office. I can watch whoever is there (even if I am in Iceland), activate an alarm, or call the police. The system records and retains the video for at least 24 hours, or longer if you subscribe. It is quite clear even in the dark. It goes on automatically when I leave the house, but I have to click “private” when I return home or it keeps monitoring. The BIG problem with this is that the first night I did not click “private” after I returned home. The next morning I had a video of a 76 year-old, nude man, coming out of the bathroom; now, I turn it off when I am at home.
When we are really old, our kids can access the Canary from their smart phones and monitor us. I will have to start wearing a robe.
The total cost of our security system was $239.70, plus tax.
I could have used a commercial alarm service, but that costs a lot more, and they call a neighbor, or us, giving the burglar time to get away You put your neighbor in harm’s way when they go to check on your home. If the police are called and it is a false alarm, you may get charged depending on your town.
We travel a lot, have no relatives in town, and worry about security when we are gone. This is not a perfect system, but for the cost, I don’t see how we could do more.
The net result is that I feel better, I have not spent much money, I have a simple system that even I can handle, and I will have a video of the burglar. I may even catch him by dialing 911 and advising the police where he is in my home and whether or not he appears to be armed. The video will be evidence.
In old age the geezer needs a KISS! (Keep it Simple Stupid!)
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!
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;