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;
Outsource is a business term whereby certain activities are contracted out to other businesses or individuals. The reason is that the task can be done cheaper, safer or better by another and it allows the outsourcer to focus on its primary task.
This can be applied to old age. At 75, due to physical and mental problems, it may be cheaper, better and safer to have certain tasks outsourced. It may even turn out to be life-saving if you decide to climb a ladder and clean the leaves out of the gutters instead of hiring it done.
At 75 you need to think about what you can outsource and what you can do yourself.
Ten things that you might consider outsourcing:
- Anything that requires a ladder, a stool or standing on the couch to fix.
- Medical advice
- Paying bills – you can outsource with automatic payment plans, an accountant, or a kid.
- Legal advice
- Charitable donations
The list is not complete. You should modify it according to your needs. Old people are stubborn. They think that they are more competent than they are. They think that they can still do things, that they can’t do. The result is that they frequently injure, kill or bankrupt themselves when with a little outsourcing they could continue to live happy, productive lives.
The most important part of outsourcing is KISS. (Keep it simple, stupid.)
I read a lot about elder health. I get a lot of ads and a lot of advice. When I put it all together, I come up with about ten things that I should, and can, do. These are almost universally accepted, free and as near as I can tell, will do you no harm and probably a lot of good.
The amount of each of these that you do is up to you. Even a little bit helps. You can add to the list, but then it becomes cluttered.
How and when you do them is up to you.
The whole idea is not to live longer, but to live better.
- Drink water
- Drink wine, not too much
- Have friends; be a friend
- Think outside the box
- Avoid processed foods
- No clutter
And watch as I attempt to reduce old age to a series of 3 x 5 cards.
Life is a series of problems; and, problem solving. At 75 you are faced with a unique set of possible problems. These are problems which you might not have the time or the ability to solve after 75. You should be aware of them. You should plan for them; or, at least think about them.
Alzheimer’s is the worst. Not for the geezer. If he gets it, it slowly becomes someone else’s problem. The geezer really won’t care once he has gone beyond the initial stages. However, I can plan for it and for other problems. A more difficult problem is a spouse’s dementia. It defies logic; which says it all. It is not rational; and, is impossible to deal with.
The following is a list of twelve problems that I have found unique to a post-seventy-five life. These are problems that I worry about. The list is not complete, but is a base to work from. They could come at any time, but seem more unique to old age.
- Dementia/Alzheimer’s in a spouse
- Serious illness; you or your spouse
- Death of a spouse
- Elder scams and fraud
- Clutter and too many possessions
- Care – medical, home, companion
- Financial problems
- Transition to Alzheimer’s – The period from normal to “late stage” Alzheimer’s
ARE YOU READY?
The following magic 7 are essential:
- Advance Health Care Directive
- Automatic bill payment
- A mentor; or someone, preferably a kid, to keep an eye on you and advise you; with a Power of Attorney
- A living trust, if you have sufficient assets
- Experience with alternate transportation: buses, Uber, senior transportation systems, neighbors with cars.
- A social cohort; a group of people, about the same age, that you contact regularly
- Third party notifications on bank accounts, stock accounts, etc. when an unusual, or non-authorized event takes place.
Look around your house. You could almost be on one of the TV clutter shows. You trip over stuff that you haven’t seen, much less used, in the past 50 years. Most mechanical things you don’t even know how to use. And, where can you buy film for one of those old cameras; or get it developed?
I have switched to jeans, so have no use for all the stained, checkered pants with zippers that don’t work that I inherited from other old male relatives. The style is not coming back. And, how many three-piece suits that don’t fit do I need? And, of course, with cremation, there is no need for a suit to be buried in.
Your kids don’t want your stuff; and, you can’t even get your spouse to take it in the divorce. It keeps piling up.
Look at the bright side. You still pay taxes! If you pay taxes, you get deductions including charitable contributions, so….. Let’s donate the stuff.
You need to find a 501(c)(3) charity that accepts used goods. Your donation is tax deductible. My wife and I use St. John’s Thrift Store in Albuquerque or Assistance League. You can search the internet for a charity near you. You haul your stuff in, they take it, sort it, and sell it cheaply to support what they do. They give you a receipt that doesn’t list what you donated; that’s for you to fill out.
It is a win-win-win solution; some clutter is gone; you have done a good deed; someone gets to put your junk to good use; and, you can deduct the value of your donation from your taxes.
How do you value this stuff? Even though the non-profits can’t value it for you; and, you really don’t want to know what they think it is worth, there are on-line lists that will help you.
And, what does the IRS think about all this? No problem as long as you follow the rules.
It is easier than a yard sale; you won’t trip and fall over the stuff; and, you can reduce your taxes.
Try it; but, remember, you are not getting any younger. Donate while you can still drive to the thrift store.
WARNING! A thrift store is a dangerous place. I found a great denim jacket for $8 and several paperbacks for a quarter each. I was intrigued by a number of things I hadn’t seen for years. I may go back with my tax refund.
64 years ago I joined the Boy Scouts after being a Cub Scout. To advance in rank I had to earn merit badges, which I did; learning many interesting and useful things. Now at 75, I have rediscovered Merit Badge Pamphlets. They are even more relevant today.
I had no interest in genealogy at 11, but at 75, I am interested in my pre- Boy Scout roots; and, a good starting point was the Genealogy Merit Badge Pamphlet.
Pick a topic you are interested in. Then look for a Merit Badge Pamphlet. Ten sample topics out of 160; each selling for $4.99: Basketry, Wood Carving, Robotics, Dog Care, Pottery, Gardening, Fishing, Archeology, Programming, and Bird Study.
They are a source of useful information and just as they did 65 years ago, can lead to many new adventures; or, at least hobbies.
They will also give you conversation topics with your grandchildren.
I hate to exercise, but not exercising is even worse. Since my goal is to keep present pain to a minimum, exercise is as necessary to me as sleep. I suffered from spinal stenosis in the past; at one time, I could not get out of bed. I needed to exercise to avoid the pain; so, I walk at least 2 1/2 miles per day and do stretching exercises “ordered” by a physical therapist. No more pain; no more spinal stenosis, at least that I am aware of. However, I can trigger it. If I go for two weeks without walking and doing the stretching, spinal stenosis is back; or, at least the pain is. Needless to say I don’t trigger it very often.
Traveling presents a problem; mostly mental, but I still find exercising on the road a problem.
Silver Sneakers is free fitness offered by a number of senior insurance policies. To find out if you qualify, go to the site, put in your info, and if you qualify, you can print out a membership card. They are located at YMCA’s across the country and at numerous health clubs. You just go to the web site, enter a zip code, and you get a list of places available.
There are 13,000 places nation-wide with free exercise, yoga and more. It covers the time when it is too cold or rainy to walk, or when you are in a place not conducive to walking. It gets you into a social atmosphere. Thus, when I visit my grand kids, I can take my card and do a bit of work on the treadmill, attend a yoga class, or try tai chi. It is also a good excuse to try something new; to get out of the “box” in a safe environment.
You might even tie it to your UBER membership and have someone drive you in a strange city; or, if you don’t have a car because your kids picked you up at the airport and they need their cars to go to work. Don’t be stranded.
Approximately 60 years ago, I worked at a McDonald’s in Wichita, Kansas. I worked the evening shift after a day of spot-welding, making french-fries to pay for college. It was a summer job and taught me a lot.
At 75, I find McDonalds useful to me again. In the morning, both in Albuquerque, NM and on the road when I travel, it provides me with a “Senior Coffee” for 47 cents and an Egg McMuffin; frequently two for the price of one, if you participate in their survey, and get a validation Code. Thus breakfast for two this morning, with good coffee and fresh-fried eggs, came to $4.17 plus .29 tax for a total of $4.46; and, no tip.
Getting the validation code only takes a few minutes on your computer and at my age the hand-eye coordination is useful. The survey site marks a sample Promo receipt so it is easy to know how to fill in the survey.
I like the clean restrooms, the free Wi-Fi, and the staff; a bit older than when I was running the french fry machine in the late fifty’s. It makes a clean, safe, stop where I can check my e-mail, have a coffee and use the restrooms.
Groups of seniors seem to gather in the early morning at many local McDonald’s; and, on the road at the highway McDonalds. Most are great, one or two, I wouldn’t go back to, but for us McDonald’s has become a senior ritual not to mention a social gathering place.
I had 100,000 miles on my Honda Civic and it was time for a new car. I am too old too negotiate; and, as an old man, I am always afraid that I will screw something up. I like simple. I like a deal; even if I am the only one who thinks that I got a deal.
I decided on a Prius. Consumer Reports liked it. With expensive gas, 55 miles to the gallon sounded nice.
The sticker price on a 2013 Prius was $25,350 plus, taxes, license, etc.
I took my Civic to CarMax; they told me they would buy it for $7000 and the offer was good for seven days. I didn’t feel like arguing with a dealer over a trade-in and a young teacher friend needed a car, so I sold it to her for $7000; provided I could keep it until I got the Prius.
I have three sons, a brother, two sisters and numerous other relatives and friends who live around the country and whom I visit. Consumer Reports Auto Buying Guide let me enter a zip code and gave me a price and a dealer. I entered the zip codes of relatives that I visit. Spartanburg, SC, near where one of my son’s lives, had the best price.
I agreed to buy the Prius for $21146.97 plus optional equipment of $399, NM Sales Tax of $634.05, and NM License and Title of $79, for a total of $22259.02. This was all done by e-mail with my credit card for a $500 deposit. Two years of free maintenance came with the car.
The dealer put my name on the car and said I could pick it up any time in the next month.
I flew into Spartneburg, SC. the dealer picked me up at the airport, let me drive the car since I had not driven a Prius, filled out the papers and I was on my way in an hour. They gave me a 30 day transit permit, and I left.
I drove the car to visit my son, drove back to NM, seeing part of the country that I had never seen before, and stopping to see several old friends along the way. Two weeks later I received, a bill of sale, a check to the State of NM for the sales tax and a check to MVD for the license.
It was the easiest and cheapest car deal that I had ever done. It is now two years and 40,000 miles later and I still get between 55 and 60 miles to the gallon.
The savings, after deducting tax and license was: MSRP $3804.03; Albuquerque, Consumer Reports price, $3135.03; Tucson, CS price, $3135.03. Several others I tried were in the same range.
The downside was that I had to drive back from Greenville, but I visited friends and saw a part of the country I had not seen before. The hotels and meals were reasonable and the Southwest Ticket I would have bought anyway to see my son and I only had to buy a one-way ticket, so I really saved the cost of the hotels and meals. I didn’t lose any work as I am retired, so….
One of the problems old people have is that when they go to see the doctor, they can’t remember, or don’t understand, what s/he told them. Most doctors are not old, so they may not recognize that there is an old person in front of them. Even if they do, they won’t have a feel for what it is to be old.
At the end of the medical visit, ask the doctor if he would tell your smart phone what is wrong with you, what you need to do, and what the next step is. Also ask him if there is anything else you should be aware of.
This is simple. You already know how to take a photo of your grandkid. Just move from photo to video and press the button. It will record the doctor and what s/he says. You can then play this back. Don’t forget to turn the volume up. If you have a problem with this, practice with your grandkid. S/he will know how to work the smart phone.
You then have a diagnosis that you, or your kids, can listen to over and over. If the Doctor does not want to do this, get a new doctor.
You need to be clearly understand what is wrong with you and what you are supposed to do about it.
When you go to pick up your meds, ask the pharmacist what the medicine is for. While you are there, get a printout of all the medicines that you have taken in the last year. Ask the pharmacist if s/he sees any adverse reaction problems.