Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Some Ideas for Christmas Gifts for Seniors

No one needs handkerchiefs anymore. Many people would love to come up with better gifts, but have trouble thinking of something both appropriate and indulgent. Why indulgent? Because many seniors can afford what they NEED, but hesitate to spend money on something unnecessary.

Here's some ideas:

  • Gift certificate for a plane trip, or transfer your Frequent Flyer miles to their account.
  • Gift cards at nearby restaurants.
  • Gift card for an Uber or Lyft ride. There are times you just can't drive - after visits to the eye doctor (particularly if they have to have drops put into their eyes), when recovering from injury or illness, when roads are unsafe, after dark.
  • 1 year's free fitness club membership.
  • Time and help - make a date to come over to help them wrap Christmas gifts, address cards, bake cookies. Let them set a date for a get-together with friends, and be the caterer and clean-up person.
  • Lawn service. Find a younger person to help them with weeding and gardening.
  • Window cleaning. At the same time, add in curtain or blind cleaning.
  • Gutter cleaning.
  • Snow removal.
  • Leaf clean-up.
  • Several times a year, pay to bring in someone to do the deep cleaning. I've had elderly relatives who missed dirt/grime, due to vision issues, or couldn't reach top cupboards, or had other issues that made a thorough cleaning difficult (for example, asthma or COPD causes problems with dust).
  • Spring for a holiday trip - assist them with their purchases for others, and make sure they get at least one really nice outfit for entertaining.
  • Podiatrist visit, followed by a new pair of shoes and good hosiery.
  • Haircut and styling, along with providing for the ride to and from. For men, a haircut and a barber shave - men tell me this is the ultimate indulgence.
  • Alexa - my daughter tells me this is so helpful in managing other electronics in the house, and it bypasses typing, which many seniors have problems with.
  • Amazon Prime.
  • A Kindle or Ipad to read on - the beauty is that seniors can magnify the type to eliminate the need for glasses in bed.
  • Go through the jewelry box with them. Find items in need of repair - necklaces, earrings, rosary beads. Get them fixed and box them for Christmas. Many of these have sentimental value far beyond the price.
  • Before taking them to the cemetery for a visit, head there yourself, clean up their loved one's grave, and put flowers on it. It will make their visit. See if you can pay someone to do this regularly for a fee, if you're out of town (no, perpetual care will generally not spiff up the headstone/grave that well).
  • Offer to assist with telephone calls to insurers/medical providers. This is unbelievably time-consuming and tedious - your help will be appreciated.
  • Help organize/label old photos - this is one that you will do with your senior. It's a great opportunity to learn who all of those people in the pictures are, before it's too late.
Do you have any more ideas? Put them in the comments.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Back After NaNoWriMo

I did National Novel Writing Month again this year.

I gave up about 1/3 of the way through. Life smacked me in the face a few times, and I gracefully bowed to the inevitable.

I had thought it would be easier this year, without a job. Turns out, the reality is more complex than I expected. Read about it here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Making, and Keeping, a Household Schedule

I'm not an organized or particularly neat person. As a kid, I cleaned up my room immediately after my mother pitched a massive fit about its disgusting condition.

Well, she was right - I only cleaned up when absolutely necessary. I did the same after marriage.

In my slovenly ways, I was encouraged by my husband, whose unspoken motto is:
If there is a flat surface, that's where I will put my stuff
It wasn't too bad when we were first married. There is only so much clutter that 2 humans can make in a 3-room apartment. A quick pick-up a couple times a week, deep cleaning once a week - we were good to go.

Even after we had kids, the mess was SOMEWHAT controlled by the fact that we moved - a lot. Some of the clutter never got unloaded from move to move, staying in boxes stashed in corners.

It got bad - REALLY bad once we stayed in the same place for more than 10 years. Fortunately, that house had both an attic and a basement, where a lot of the junk ended up.

When I moved to SC in 2005, I found that cleaning up wasn't that big a deal. I was helped by the fact that I didn't have all that much stuff, at first.

Every trip my husband mad down to SC, he brought vanloads of junk with him. Which, he left in the middle of the house when he left. Just about the time I found places for all that cr@p, he'd visit again.

It was beginning to look like a losing battle.

We moved again, and initially, the house looked good.

Then he started bringing stuff home again, from purchasing trips, unloading the other 2 houses, and - occasionally - stopping off at garage sales. When, last June, he had to bring home the entire contents of his classroom, I thought I'd lose my mind. The only thing that kept me together was the idea that I would be free of his stuff in the fall, when he went back to work.

As if.

Right now, as I am typing this, I'm surround by boxes, fileboxes, and stacks of stuff. There is a lot that he can't manage to either sort through or give up.

It's an emotional thing. He both fears that he will throw away something that will finally have a purpose, and that he will give up an essential part of his past. I'm not just asking him to give up possessions, but possibilities for his future, and remembrances of his past.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Attention Issues in Later Life

ADD and ADHD have been studied in schoolchildren, and adults in the working years, as well. There are medications for those individuals whose disability is manifesting at a level that hinders their coping skills. Meds have their place, but use over a lifetime is still a question mark. Long-term studies indicate that there are many side effects, and the effect on brain and body health over time is still unknown.

Seniors are in a unique place. Few of those with attention issues were diagnosed or treated. Most developed some coping skills. Sadly, some fell by the wayside. Those people with supportive spouses, who fill in with assistance, may not even be aware of the extent of their disability.

Things change as we age. For some, that helpful spouse may no longer be with them, either through death or divorce. That spouse may be suffering memory issues, and not be able to assist.

Life in retirement is different - the things that helped keep many of us on track - schedules, secretaries, colleagues - are no longer there.

Here is a link to a CEO who has some very valuable suggestions for those with ADD/ADHD. I found many of them to be useful for me, as well.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Lessons From Maria

Number One - don't be in a hurry to dump your landline.

On Puerto Rico, the cell towers are GONE. If the island were still using landlines, part of the service would still be available, even if some of the lines had gone down.

Some other things that have come out of that nearly complete disaster:

So, how does this relate to retirement?

One solution for stretching your retirement income is to move to a place where the cost of living is cheaper.

Some do that within the US; small towns and rural areas are often the choice of those leaving the cities after reaching the end of their working life. This can be a good choice, provided you consider these things:
  • Do you have a social network in that area? Or, will you be able to connect once you move? Without that social network, if a spouse dies or becomes ill or disabled, your life can be lonely, if not insupportable.
  • Do you have good access (within 1/2 hour or less) to good medical care? Are the hospitals known for cardiac care, cancer care, or other conditions that affect the elderly more than younger people?
  • Is the climate temperate? Will you be housebound in in the winter? is the heat too high in the summer to make outdoor activities enjoyable? Could you experience floods, hurricanes, mudslides, or other disasters on a regular basis?
  • Can you travel easily back to visit family? Will you miss out on seeing your grandchildren grow up?
  • Will you fit in, socially, culturally, religiously?
    • As a non-Mormon in Utah.
    • As a vegan in TX and other meat-eating, hunting locales.
    • As a proud, out cross-dresser or swinger or non-conforming person, who is determined to make sure everyone knows about your lifestyle. In many locations, they might not run you out of town, but they probably won't make you their best friend, either.
    • As an atheist in a small town. IF you can avoid proselytizing, you'll probably have few issues, but - if you insist on scouring the town of all traces of public display of Christianity, you might not fit in.
Am I saying that discrimination and social shunning are OK? No. But I am saying that if you're the one that's moving, you're the one that probably should plan on making the adjustments, just as you wouldn't plan on moving to France, and complaining that everyone doesn't speak English or stop smoking. That's not realistic.

All of the above apply to foreign countries, even those tied to the US, such as Puerto Rico. Additionally, you may find:

  • Hostility to US citizens, the possibility of being stranded in a country that has become involved in a war (not necessarily with the US).
  • Inability to buy a home - in some countries, you have to be a citizen
  • Inability to become a citizen - unlike the US, it can be difficult, if not impossible.
  • Laws/Rules/Cultural Expectations regarding women's role in society might provide a challenge for a woman who doesn't have a man to speak for her.
  • Language difficulties - yes, English is the most common 2nd language spoken. But, that means the basic communication, not necessarily the ability to hold forth on politics, culture, and other things. Not to mention medical terminology. The good news is MANY people in other countries welcome the opportunity to practice speaking English with Americans.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Unsolicited Testimonial

Finder for Fitbit - available for IPhone, and for Androids.

I've used it twice in the last week - it's absolutely AMAZING! I've bought 3 Fitbits (one got washed and died, another was lost somewhere at school before I found this app). It's one of the few products that does EXACTLY what it's supposed to do. It works like You're Hot - You're Cold, with a meter to indicated how close you are to the device.

FREE! for the Lite version.

This is an absolutely indispensable product for owners of the devices.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Tricks for Travelers

I've done a lot of business (and, some family-related) travel over the last 15 years. I've learned a lot about streamlining the process. Below are a few of the things that can make the experience better.

Air Travel:
  1. If you have a bag that is on the cusp of being too big to be a carry-on, DON'T check in at the gate. Instead, go through using your home-printed passes or phone app, and just get in line. IF it's too big, they will tell you to check it - but, generally, WON'T charge you for it. I didn't do this on a recent trip, and found a half dozen people with bags that were bigger than mine either being permitted to put it in the overhead, or just having it taken on the boarding ramp (again, no charge). The closer you are to your plane, the less likely they are to charge you.
  2. Ziplock bags are your friend. Use the Freezer type - they can make it through multiple trips without damage. Use for unmentionables, small electronics parts/cables, shampoo/conditioner/lotion, etc.
  3. Make copies of all ID and credit cards you will be carrying - if they are lost, it makes the job of notifying companies easier. Put those copies/list in a safe place.
  4. Even easier, use your cell phone to take pictures of those IDs and credit cards, store them online. Access to any computer will allow you to bring up the pictures. Don't forget to delete them from your phone.
  5. Keep a small amount of medication, hearing aid batteries, extra glasses, a change of clothes/underwear, a credit card, and ID in your carryon, just in case your luggage gets lost.
  6. If you sometimes need a cane or walker, take it. Invariably, if you don't, some body part will act up.
  7. Bring eye drops - pressurized cabins will dry you out.
Over the Road Travel:
  1. Spend time PLANNING your trip. What do/might you need? What can you either do without/buy along the way? Make a list and use it to pack containers - whether tubs or suitcases. If you add in something, add it to the list.
  2. Never forget to pack a swimsuit or shorts - really - even in the middle of winter. If you have to buy them, they will often be unavailable or at break-the-bank prices. Preparing for access to a pool/hot tub will allow you to take advantage of circumstances. There have been trips that were murder on these aging bodies, that were made bearable by our ability to benefit from soaking/swimming at the end of the day.
  3. Pack meds for twice the time you will be gone. Things happen, and you don't want to miss your meds - or, worse, have to pay full-price because it wasn't time for a refill at a discount.
  4. If you have asthma, pack your emergency meds or a Nebulizer - or both. It could save you having to make a trip to the emergency room.
  5. If you have ever been prescribed an Epi-Pen, get a fresh one, and make sure it's accessible.
  6. In fact, put all meds in a clearly labeled first aid container - except for 3 doses of daily meds (just in case your car is stolen/wrecked). Make sure that container is on top of all other luggage, in plain sight.
  7. Sunglasses, extra pair of eyeglasses, hat/visor, sunscreen, lotion. Muscle rub.
  8. Take breaks. Every time you stop, get out a cold drink - preferably water. Stretch. Stand. Walk around.
  9. Enjoy the journey - don't be hesitant to take side trips, extra stops for tourist attractions, festivals, or local celebrations. Have fun, take lots of pictures.
  10. When you do take pictures, make a note of the day/place/people in the picture - carry a small notebook for this, and write it down right away. Otherwise, you'll forget.
  11. Or, if you're the kind of person that Instagrams/Facebooks everything, just add a quick tag to the picture before you post.
  12. At the border of every state, stop at the Tourist Information Center, and pick up:
    1. Physical maps
    2. Information about events
    3. Coupons
    4. Park information
  13. If you already bought your Senior Lifetime Pass to our National Parks, congratulations! The price just went up - it's now $80/person. Still might be a good idea - check the places you can use it, and decide for yourself if you're likely to visit.

Some Ideas for Christmas Gifts for Seniors

No one needs handkerchiefs anymore. Many people would love to come up with better gifts, but have trouble thinking of something both appropr...