There is No Going Back

Fond memories of days gone by are a joy to replay in our mind’s eye. Whether reliving a particularly happy time in our life or recalling a rare perfect confluence of all things good, our past can be a riverbed of precious nuggets waiting to be mined. Occasionally memories might even outshine the life we currently live.Do you ever find yourself tempted to return to that special place packed with special memories to do it all again? It was so perfect – why not go back? You might stay at that same wonderful bed and breakfast, maybe even in the same room. Is that spectacular dining spot still around, perhaps with that identical table and oh-so-memorable view? Maybe you take again that same wandering path through hillside vineyards or find once more the hidden wine shop tucked inconspicuously into an obscure corner of the village. Though memories may be clear, the way back is not always.

About nine years ago my wife and I visited an off-the-beaten-path restaurant in Intragna, Switzerland. Our table was one of about fifteen spread comfortable across one large room. The food was incredible. I swear I can still taste the truffle pasta. Through the window we gazed upon a little valley speckled with brightly painted houses the air resonating with bell-clanging cows while in the distance lurked the ever present snow capped mountains. As the meal unfolded we witnessed the slow progression of a spectacular sunset painting the world a royal red before closing down the day. Service was friendly and nine years later I still remember my first sip of grappa from those foot long bottles they acrobatically poured at meal’s end.

The memory remains crystal clear, like we were just there. Talk about the perfect moment.

Last year we revisited this spot excited to relive our nostalgic experience. I think we were realistic – we did not expect such a perfect moment but were hoping for something close.  It turns out our memories far out shined current day reality. The experience was not bad it just was not a good as before.  The food was not quite as tasty, the service mediocre, and the whole vibe was a bit off. That certain magic was missing despite some near misses.

Messing with perfect memories can be a risky proposition. What are the chances the second time around will be better or even as good? You can safely assume not everything will be the same. And there is always the chance they will be worse, inferior, not worthy of special memory categorization at all. Imperfections might actually pollute that perfect picture painted years ago. Is it worth the risk?

My dad grew up in Sioux City, South Dakota. Over the years he shared many colorful stories of his life adventures, some comical, some heart rending, all near and dear to him. A few years ago he took my mom on a trip to show her his old stomping grounds. You would expect signs of “progress” over the interim fifty-plus years (aka traffic, sprawl, dirt roads converted to highways, all the wonderful ingredients of growth). Not only were most of the familiar landmarks gone, they could not even find where the old farmstead had been. Little was as it had been when dad was growing up. Fortunately they were able to hook up with my dad’s roommate from medical school so the trip was still a success. That said it was not what they had hoped.

Revisiting and attempting to relive a perfect moment is a noble pursuit. What fun it can be to plan and make arrangements to do it all over again. We do all we can to get it right, down to the smallest detail, and hope for the best. If things do not work out exactly as we hope it will not be due to any lack of trying.

Some may choose to play it safe – leave that perfect memory alone and savor it in blissful review. Break out a nice Pinot Noir, bring out those pictures and take an invigorating virtual stroll down memory lane. Ah but those were good times.

But if you decide to play it safe what about those potential new memories that will never be realized? Although our second Intragna excursion was not on par with the first, while on the trip we discovered the beauty of Thun where we took a lovely boat ride around the lake and wandered the historical streets in search of amazing pastries. Other new experiences included walking the castle wall in Lucerne overlooking the city and nearby mountains, a quick ferry across the Rhine in Basel, and a truly amazing walk among the vineyards along Lake Neuchatel. Now we can add these new special memories to our existing database.

Good memories are a wonderful thing. While we are still able to why not make as many of them as possible. Cheers 🙂

LoveBeingRetired.com

Improving Road Safety for Seniors

Written by Sally Perkins

Retirement is a great time in which to pursue your passion, and without a doubt, driving could be one of them. According to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention, there are approximately 40 million licenced drivers aged 65 or over, which is great news for those wishing to remain mobile. Although it is true that age can bring about an increased risk of some types of accidents and injuries, simply being aware of these risks is an excellent way to continue to enjoy the independence that driving can offer. In this post, we highlight pertinent statistics to senior drivers and share ways to boost safety and enjoyment on the road.

Which Groups are at Risk of Accidents?

The risk of being involved in a fatal crash starts to increase among drivers aged 70 to 74, and is highest in those aged 85 or older. This is one reason why coverage for senior drivers tends to be higher. Interestingly, the statistics are not as simple as they seem. That is, the percentages can be attributed to an increased susceptibility and medical complications rather than to an increased risk of car crashes in over 65s. Males have a higher risk of fatal crashes than females. Some of the abilities that can increase one’s risk include vision problems and a decline (if relevant) in cognitive functioning (reasoning and memory).

Key Points Regarding Driver Safety among Seniors

Some issues that can affect seniors’ ability to drive safely include the fact that 80% of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis/joint inflammation, which can make specific movements which are necessary for driving (including turning and twisting) painful. Weaker muscles and reduced flexibility, meanwhile, can limit one’s ability to grip and turn the steering wheel, press the foot pedals, or reach for the doors or windows. Taking medication can also have an impact on driving ability. If you look at the statistics per person, seniors are less involved in accidents than younger brothers. However, if you look at the accident rate per mile, the rate is equally high in both groups.

Driving Errors Differ according to Age

Older drivers are actually more careful. They have a lower percentage of risks on bends and while overtaking, than those in their 50s. Seniors tend to have slower, more conservative, cautious driving styles. They are less inclined to take part in speeding, overtaking, zigzagging, and they are less likely to fail to comply with police instructions. However, they can be more prone to making errors that can lead to a crash, particularly in intersections on 60/70 mph roads. They can also be at fault in accidents having to do with right of way.

CDC Recommendations

In order to reduce driver deaths and injuries, the CDC recommends using seatbelts rigorously. It is also important for seniors to drive during the day (when visibility is better) and when the weather is optimal for this activity. They could also consider avoiding high-speed roads, when quick lane changing and faster reflexes may be necessary to avoid an accident. Drinking is a no-no, as it is for all age groups. Around 20% of drivers involved in fatal crashes had been drinking.

Additional Strategies to Reduce Accident Risks

It is vital for seniors to be aware of the specific risks they face, and those they may pose. Thus, family members can help them practice key skills such as negotiating intersections. Seniors can also make it a point to leave a large distance with the car in front, and make an extra effort to ensure they are driving within their lane at all times. Older drivers should go for regular assessments, to make sure they are wearing appropriate vision wear if glasses or contact lenses are required. Their eyesight in particular should be tested at least once a year. Seniors should also let their doctor know they are driving, so they can be informed if any medication they are taking may affect their driving abilities.

Finally, they should use GPS technology to study routes; streetview is an excellent way for seniors to know where they need to turn off or which exit they need to take. Planning before taking a route one is unfamiliar with is important, as is picking the best time of the day to travel. Distractions such as mobile phones and loud music or radios should be avoided, and if possible, public transport or carpooling should be considered for complicated or far routes.

When is it Time to Stop Driving?

Although many seniors need their vehicles to get around and complete tasks, it is important to know when it might be of interest to use public transport or to rely on family and friends. Signs include getting lost frequently, having frequent ‘close calls’, having difficulty reading signs or hearing sirens and other cues, and failing to obey traffic lights, signs, etc. Many local governments provide low cost transport for over 65s.

If you love driving, there is no reason why you cannot continue to do so after retirement. Being honest with oneself is key, since our safety and that of others is at stake. Yearly eye appointments, GPS technology, practicing key techniques such as negotiating intersections, and talking to our doctor about side-effects of any medication one may be taking can go a long way towards making driving a pleasurable and safe experience.

Ten Ways Seniors Can Improve Mobility and Maintain Their Independence

Written by Nurse Susan

Many seniors assume that limited mobility is an unavoidable part of the aging process. This definitely doesn’t have to be the case. By focusing on improving and maintaining their mobility, seniors can age in a healthy way, stay independent longer, and avoid falls and injuries that may negatively impact their quality of life.

Listed below are ten ways that seniors can improve their mobility to maintain strength and independence.

  1. Improve Balance

Focusing on improving balance is essential for seniors who want to avoid falls. Forms of exercise like yoga, tai chi, and pilates are great for improving balance. But, simply practicing standing on one foot (while holding onto chair or countertop) is also beneficial.

  1. Resistance Train

Resistance training strengthens the muscles and bones to improve balance and overall functionality. For seniors who are new to resistance training, bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups are a good starting point. Those who are more experienced can add resistance bands or weights.

  1. Utilize Mobility Aids

For those who currently struggle with walking, reaching, or other daily functions, it’s important to utilize mobility aids rather than simply avoid doing tasks that are challenging. Reach-extenders, canes, and walkers can help you stay active and avoid letting your limitations get in your way.

  1. Adjust Your Living Space

Making adjustments to your home can also improve your mobility and help you maintain your independence. Some good adjustments to start with include:

  • Adding ramps to the entrance of your home
  • Installing rails and grab bars
  • Getting rid of loose rugs and objects that you could trip over
  • Rearranging cabinets and closets to make items more accessible
  1. Work on Your Dexterity

If you improve your dexterity and grip strength, you’ll have an easier time handling tasks like opening doors and jars and carrying groceries. If you have a stronger grip, you’ll also have an easier time holding weights while you resistance train.

There are numerous ways to improve your dexterity and grip strength from the comfort of your own home:

  • Squeeze a stress ball or therapy putty
  • Do wrist curls with light dumbbells
  • Do hand and finger stretches
  • Practice picking up small objects like pennies or paper clips and moving them from one pile to another
  1. Tackle Household Projects on Your Own

There may be some household projects that you need help with — major projects like shingling your roof or mowing the lawn should probably be handled by professions! But, are there projects you’re outsourcing even though you could handle them on your own.

One way to improve your mobility is to challenge yourself to take on more projects. Don’t get carried away and do more than you can manage, but consider tackling tasks like changing light bulbs, vacuuming, and basic cleaning by yourself.

  1. Buy New Shoes

Sometimes, the solution to your mobility problems is simple. Changing your shoes could make a big difference in your ability to walk around and take care of other tasks. Look for shoes with plenty of tread to help you avoid slipping and falling. Your shoes should also fit comfortably and have plenty of support so that you can walk for extended periods of time without hurting your feet. Make sure you’re changing your shoes regularly, too, to avoid wearing them out.

  1. Change Your Diet

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help increase your energy and, by proxy, your mobility. Increasing your consumption of anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, nuts, and leafy green vegetables can also help reduce inflammation and joint pain that may be limiting your ability to move around freely.

  1. Get Your Eyes Checked

Conserving your vision with regular checkups will also help you maintain your independence. Not only will you be able to drive yourself to appointments, but you’ll also be able to spot potential tripping hazards more easily.

  1. Know Your Limits

Finally, while it’s important to challenge yourself, it’s also important for you to understand your limits. Avoid taking on risky activities that could end up making your mobility worse. If you’re not sure about a specific activity, talk to your doctor before participating.