Are you lonesome? Would you like to have one more shot at having a four-footed friend in your life? It isn’t too late. You may not feel you can deal with the responsibility and hard work associated with adopting a puppy or a kitten, but please consider inviting a “senior pet” into your home. A senior pet for a senior person. It doesn’t get any better than that.
It’s a well know fact that pet ownership is good for you. People who have pets are healthier and happier, and whether you think so or not, they really are nicer people.
Don’t spend another minute alone. Someone out there needs you as much as you need them. Think about it: A senior pet will already be trained, and they will not chew or scratch or make demands that you can’t meet. Welcome a pet who will be perfectly happy to snuggle in your lap or settle for a leisurely stroll around the block. That doesn’t sound too hard does it?
Don’t let your age deter you. Unless you adopt a parrot, the chances that you will outlive your pet are still pretty good. The odds increase if you consider that contact with animals is known to lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and tension, and even prolong life.
Check with your state Division on Aging for special deals on foods and veterinary services for seniors with pets. The rest is easy; treat your senior pet the same way you would like to be treated yourself.
• Give them loads of TLC (that’s tender loving care).
• Remember that pets get arthritis too. Keep them warm in winter and splurge on a nice orthopedic bed, joint supplements, and good food.
• Incontinence can plague anyone. Consider medications, judicious use of pee pads, or britches like the kind people wear.
• Mobility issues. Make life easier on those with tender joints. A pet step, raised food and water bowls, gentle walks, or a carrier or pram for trips to the park.
The best friends are old friends. Adopting a senior pet will keep you young and make you a better person.
Who doesn’t like a picnic? Whether a romantic interlude for two, a family fun fest, a reunion, a company barbecue or a tailgate party, a picnic means good food and good company.
Potlucks and picnics aren’t as popular as they used to be, but I think there is still hope. It may be up to the senior population to bring back the “old-fashioned” style picnic. Let’s see if we can make “dining out” popular again?
Start by saying “yes” every time the opportunity presents itself; get out your recipes box and “wow” everyone with your best efforts. Appreciate that someone else had gone to a great deal of trouble to plan and organize the event, and they have invited you.
Picnics used to be fun. What I wouldn’t give to taste Mrs. K’s “made from scratch” angel food cake again, or Aunt Irma’s Heavenly Hash. Yum. Everything was so good; we ate until we could hold no more, and nobody died of food poisoning.
Picnics stopped being fun when every third person decided that were trying to lose weight, were allergic to something, or that they were on a special diet. On top of that people stopped bringing homemade dishes to pass, and substituted bakery or deli items; not the same thing.
We worry more about germs and food poisoning than we used to, but try to see that as a good thing. It is a known fact that sun and warm air are hazardous to your health.
• Prepare foods with clean hands and utensils
• Don’t thaw meats at room temperature.
• Keep separate coolers for drinks, perishables, and fresh food. Don’t leave the lid of the coolers open.
The basic idea is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold:
• Keep coolers in the shade
• Don’t allow foods to stay on the picnic table uncovered or in the sun for any longer than necessary.
• Don’t bring hot dishes from home as you can’t keep them hot enough to keep bacteria from growing
Too many rules: Perhaps, but if we keep things simple enough we might be able to resurrect the idea of neighborhood picnics again.
When did happiness become something that you had to work at? Weird huh. When we were kids we were happy all the time, well most of the time. Did you know that a child laughs about 400 times a day? An adult, on the other hand, laughs only 15 times a day and sometimes I wonder about that. What happened?
The concept of laughter has become so elusive that scientists have taken to studying it. Researchers now tell us that laughter is good for us. Wow, fancy that. A good laugh, it seems, can increase your heart rate, raise your blood pressure and increase your oxygen consumption. You can get the same rush jogging, but a good belly laugh is a heck of a lot more fun. By the way, if you are jogging, and you have a pained expression on your face, you aren’t having fun.
Seniors don’t laugh enough, but don’t give up on the idea, even if you have to “learn” how to have fun all over again; it can be done.
The first step is to figure out what it is that weighs you down and do something about it. In essence:
• Stop being your own worst enemy.
• Accept that you are human and that humans sometimes do dumb things
• Count your blessings
Laugh a little. Laugh a lot. Laugh with others, and even more importantly, laugh at yourself. Think of laughter as a stress management technique. The very same researchers who say that laughter is good for us admit that faking it is okay; faked laughter provides the same benefits as real laughter. Go ahead, try to muster up a little chuckle, even if you don’t feel like it.
Do yourself a favor and smile more. Laugh when you see a good movie, laugh with your friends and try hard to have fun. People who acknowledge their happiness are healthier and more creative than those who do not. If you have forgotten how to laugh try one of the many laughter yoga classes that are springing up around the country.
Our generation didn’t coin the term “helicopter parenting” but we knew what it meant. We stood by and tried to be supportive, but most of us wondered if our overly protected grandchildren were ever going to learn how to stand on their own two feet.
Maintaining a balance was hard work but we did it. The verdict is still out on how successful our efforts were, but don’t clap yourself on the back yet. Helicopter parents, now helicopter children, will be looking in your direction next. If you aren’t careful they will soon be micromanaging your life.
If you aren’t ready to give up your right to “do it yourself,” you need to break them of their hovering tendencies right now. It’s human nature; your kids will either ignore you altogether or they will swoop in and take over. The tendency to hover is a tough habit to break. Hovering (helping) is seen as being loving and protective, when in fact it could be just the opposite.
Over protection, as you know, encouraged dependency. You can either give up and let your children do everything for you, or you can set some boundaries, right now. Look at their tendency to helicopter for what it is, a quick fix. We all know it is easier to act (do everything for you) than to coach (teach you how to do it yourself).
It is important to establish early on (retirement age perhaps) that you are capable of making, or at least participating in making, life altering decisions. Assure them that you will ask for help when the time comes, but really mean it. Don’t sabotage your efforts by putting on your “stubborn face” because things will not end well for you.
It is important, at any age, to foster independence and autonomy. When your children hoover, the message sent/received is that they know what is best for you. There is a fine line between being concerned and being overly concerned. Being too helpful is almost as detrimental as not being helpful enough. Work as a team to figure to nurture independence.
A friend, recently retired, mentioned that she was interested in doing volunteer work but had not yet found her niche. Finding the perfect fit isn’t easy, especially if you would like to utilize and share a certain level of expertise from your previous life.
It is important to find a volunteer position that is right for you; one that fits in with your other commitments, and one that enables you to feel that you are making a difference.
What is volunteering?
Volunteering refers to any activity that you are doing for free. It means that you are willing to share your time and your expertise to benefit other people, groups, or organizations. Volunteering, serious or casual, is a labor of love.
Serious volunteering refers to a real commitment and is often what the newly retired individual is looking for. Less serious, or casual, volunteerism refers to wanting to help but not having the time or energy to make a fulltime commitment. Through no fault of your own, this is where they want to stick you.
Volunteering is a good thing.. Seniors like to feel useful and volunteering is an excellent way to do good. The idea of “giving back’ to the communities that have supported them is rich with appeal.
What keeps people from volunteering?
• they feel they don’t have enough time,
• they don’t feel that the organization really needs them
• they don’t believe they will make a difference
• they don’t feel welcomed by paid staff
Don’t give up. Keep looking until you find something that you feel passionate about. When interviewing, yes interviewing, just like a job interview but in this case, you are one asking the questions. You need to know that you are investing in an organization that treats you professionally, has a job description, and provides a quality training program.
You aren’t being selfish if you back off because the assignments are too routine, training isn’t offered, or if you feel that paid staff acts in a hostile manner. Your services are desperately needed and the experience should be a good one for all involved.
Stop being a “cranky senior.” A greeting card referencing “cranky seniors” may have you in stitches but in reality, a cranky senior isn’t funny at all. You may not think of yourself as being negative or cranky, but if your therapist, or your best friend, mentions that you need to rid yourself of your “negative ways,” it may be time to give it some thought.
Negativity isn’t necessarily a senior trait but if you have ever been scolded or elbowed aside by a cranky individual you know the feeling. You want to retaliate but being the polite person that you are, you say nothing, and negativity prevails. Try to remember that the cranky people in your life are not the boss of you.
You may have noticed that every group has at least one person with a negative attitude. They are never happy and they love to foster discord. These people pretend that they are looking out for everyone’s best interests, but are they? Could it be that they just enjoy making other people feel bad, just because they can?
Everyone has the odd “bad day” when nothing goes right, but what about the self-appointed “hall monitors” that feel that way all the time. These are the people who leap into the fray to spew self-righteous and condescending platitudes, which is another way of saying they are cranky or just plain mean.
What do they achieve by complaining that they don’t think the person using the handicap parking stall is handicap enough, or whether the dog under the table at their favorite restaurant is indeed a service dog? What is the goal here? What do they accomplish beyond making someone else feel bad?
• Evaluate your attitude; take a hard look at how you respond to various situations
• Gather facts and develop a little empathy
• Learn to smile, speak positive worlds, or shut up
• Be friendly and look for the good in people and situations
Use your experiences wisely and try to remember that other people have problems and they have feelings. Be tolerant; be nice. Cranky is not a good look on you.
What happened to keeping in touch? Each time a friend or relative gets lost in the shuffle we lose a little bit of ourselves. Family and friends are important. Keep in mind that one day you will be the one waiting and wondering; wondering if anyone remembers you.
When did keeping in touch become a chore instead of a pleasure? The latest AARP Bulletin had a blurb on the art of writing. The article suggested combining the “new craze” of coloring books for grown-ups with the “old craze” of letter writing (www.aarp.org/coloringbooks) by creating your own postcards. It sounded like a good idea to me.
We do our best to keep in touch, but everyone is too busy. Phone calls are rushed, e-mails are deleted and text messages are less than satisfactory. Long distance relationships have never been easy, but they are worth the effort.
Keep relationships alive the old fashioned way. I’ve known people who can condense an entire letter on the back of a postcard, but a paragraph or two is fine.
Keep in touch:
• A weekly postcard can make someone’s day.
• Send care packages: frequent gifts such as books, puzzles, hobby materials or magazine subscriptions are fun to receive.
• Include your children by sending some of those precious “works of art” and send lots of pictures.
• Write thank you notes for heaven’s sake, what is the matter with you. This question is fielded by advice columnists nearly every day.
Make communication a habit:
• Organize a desk or a work basket to keep writing materials handy. Little inconveniences such as not having a stamp or finding a pen can derail your good intentions in a hurry.
• Treat yourself to some pretty stationery, interesting postcards and all-occasion cards. Color your own little works of art.
• Keep a supply of postage stamps on hand.
Put reminders on your calendar. Resolving to write more often is one thing, but holding yourself to that resolution is something else. Tell someone you love them today.
A friend was having lunch with her dad the other day and was touched when a fellow diner volunteered to take their picture. The woman went on to explain that she had lost her dad recently; her biggest regret was that she had so few pictures of them together. Photographs matter. Once a loved one is gone or a special day is over, only the photo remains.
A cell phone camera is the perfect tool for shutterbugs everywhere. People are taking more pictures than ever and sending them on to family and friends instantly.
The young and beautiful are constantly snapping pictures of themselves, what they are eating, what they are wearing, and who they are with. The problem of not having enough photos is solved, or is it?
Some people do not like to have their pictures taken because they feel self conscious about how they look. They don’t want to be reminded of extra pounds, sagging jowls, or other imperfections so they turn away whenever a camera is pointed in their direction.
It is important for seniors to remember that the people who love you are not nearly as critical as you are. When people are asked what one thing they would risk their lives for in the event of a fire or other disaster they will often say “the family photo album.” Photographs matter; without photographs memories fade.
By refusing to have your picture taken you are doing yourself and those who love you a huge disfavor. It is time to:
• Let go of your former self image; don’t get stuck on the way you used to look.
• Look and feel good, even if you have to qualify the sentiment with “for my age.”
• Don’t cringe when you look at your photo. Remember what you were doing and who you were doing it with on the day it was taken.
Remember the good times and stop hiding from that camera.
Disavow yourself of the notion that a “gifted” or “talented” individual has to have a ridiculously high I.Q. Gifted individuals are all around you.
Gifted children are recognized early on and everyone bends over backwards to nurture their special talents, but gifted elders are a different story. With the exception of a few well known artists, activists, or political appointees the gifted elderly are pretty much ignored.
Gifted elders, after spending a lifetime excelling in various endeavors, need to be recognized as the capable individuals that they are. Unfortunately, in our youth oriented society, young people have come to believe that they know more about everything than the people who have been there and done that.
It is time to listen to our elders, before everything that we hold near and dear is lost forever. Stop treating parents and grandparents like children who have outgrown their usefulness; every one of them possesses a special gift or talent that could change your life.
Older people are often modest to the nth degree. They didn’t expect special treatment when they were growing up; more often than not their talents were taken for granted. The feather light pastry dough, the tiny stitches on a handcrafted quilt, the intricate design knitted into a ski sweater and the storyteller teaching your child how to read is someone’s gift to you.
You may think your parents and grandparents are content to sit back and watch the world go by, but are they? Don’t you think that you owe it to them to recognize their gifts and encourage them to keep on sharing?
All it really takes is for someone to take an interest. Encourage your gifted elders to keep on giving:
• participate in book or discussion groups
• volunteer for causes they care about
• work with others on worthwhile projects (community gardens, art clubs, and gifted youth centers)
• take advantage of local adult learning course
Appreciate excellence at every age. Our elders are still capable and gifted individuals who need to be given an opportunity to shine.
What will you get for Christmas this year? Seniors have a self effacing habit of telling everyone that they don’t need or want anything, and then feel slighted when they don’t get the “good stuff” they want or deserve. You have nobody to blame but yourself if the fancy wrapped packages under the tree contain candy that you don’t like, bath powder that you don’t need or another ugly tie that you will never wear.
You could hint that you might like to try one of those “new fangled” gadgets (the very ones you have been that you have been bad mouthing for years), and get something useful and fun instead.
I know you despair that kids these days spend too much time under the influence of their electronic gadgets, but what if you could use these very same gadgets to bridge the generation gap. If you really want to connect with your children and your grandchildren you need to get used to the idea that technology is here to stay.
If family and friends are scattered around the world you will soon discover that distance isn’t as much of problem. Thanks to technology you can share files, music, letters, photographs, and visits via your computer; the next best thing to being together.
Put things in perspective by thinking about you what it is that you want to accomplish. No idea? Let me throw out a few ideas to you:
Would you like to see pictures of your grandchildren on Facebook, write an e-mail letter, read a hometown newspaper, visit via a video conference, or just shop without leaving home?
Now is the time. You can learn how to write, teach or even play games with everyone in your family. Interacting and playing together is a great way to connect, even when you live far away.
Sign up for classes and plunge right in. The fact that you can learn anything, at any time, and at any place should be exciting. Technology is a great equalizer; you will no longer be defined by your age.