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.

My Retirement Plan – Fully Executed with New and Authentic Life Experiences

As we each learn to navigate our own personal retirement jungle it is nice now and then to hear success stories from fellow travelers. A reader of LoveBeingRetired shares her journey and proves once again Retirement is Only the Beginning!

Written by Lynn Lotkowictz

About two years ago, at age 63, I realized it was time to create a meaningful retirement plan. My 30+ year, very rewarding career in sales and management was winding down. My pension was set so I was lucky that I had flexibility.

Retire? But to what? I don’t play golf, crochet, play bridge or enjoy any of those interests my friends do. I adore my grandson and family, but they are 1,200 miles away so a weekend four or five times a year is the best I can do.

Travel, the outdoors, healthy endeavors and children are my passions. In 2013 I started to work on a plan for the next phase of life. The goal was for it be meaningful and rewarding.

I surfed the internet looking for travel ideas, cost-effective options and different ways that volunteering would be mutually beneficial with my interests, skills and passions.   My good friend bought me a book on volunteer travel. In my free time I read, analyzed and sifted through websites, books and talked with colleagues and friends.

I narrowed down the volunteer organizations to those that had places I’d like to go and involved my interest in helping young people. I called each group, asked lots of questions and, most important, asked for email addresses of people who had traveled with them. That, I thought, would be the best way to learn about the pluses and minuses of a program.

During my last two years of full time employment, I traveled to Crete, Greece with Global Volunteers, a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The trip was wonderful. I worked with the Morfosi school, an after school program that helps students practice conversational English. The location is breathtaking. The students are energetic and genuinely interested in learning. There was ample free time to enjoy museums, archeological sites and traditional dining. I worked with a team of volunteers who have similar goals and interests so I also made friends.

After I returned from my second trip (2015) even more enthusiastic than the first, I decided to look into some options to enhance my skills. Since many GV service program center around working with students on English, I researched courses that might give me some tips and new skills. There are some online courses in “TEFL” and a Eckerd College, here in town,  offers a four-week, day program through Via Lingua that qualifies you in some countries to teach English as a second language. I’m not planning to move to China or anywhere else, but think it would be useful to pick up some solid tips on teaching English as a second language and the more I learn the more impact I can have on the students.

My third trip with Global Volunteers Crete program was in October 2016 and it was my best experience to date. Why? After three trips to the same island, I’m familiar with the local bus service to comfortably get around. I know the best spots for an espresso, spanakopita (spinach pie) and a cool drink beachside.

The students remember me and their warmth is exhilarating.  It’s a joy to watch them mature from year to year and improve their skills. When I was leaving this year they hugged me and said we hope to see you next year.  By going back to the same program, I’m building meaningful relationships. I stay in touch with a handful of the students all year round via social media. I’ve made friends with the teacher and her family and am invited for coffee on the weekend with her friends.

My very generous boss wanted to throw me a retirement party.  I suggested he instead make a donation on my behalf to Global Volunteers for future trips, and he did!

(Dinner entertainment in Havana!)

In January 2017, my first month of official retirement, I took a trip to Cuba, also with Global Volunteers.   Along with nineteen other volunteers, ranging in age from 30-78 I spent s week on various work projects that included painting a fence, visiting with seniors at a care center and working with students on conversational English after school.  The beauty of this trip was we stayed in guest houses with locals (private room/bath etc.) in the neighborhood of Miramar.  This was a short fifteen minute ride from Havana.   Put simply, this was a wonderful authentic experience in a country that most Americans know little about as it has been off limits for most of our lives.   There was ample free time to visit museums, art galleries and experience the wonderful Cuban music/dance.   Some of us even went to the famed “Tropicana” show!

I am happy to report I’m executing my retirement plan exactly as I had planned!