Just In Time For Retirement

The older I get the more I accept the significance and gravity of the familiar adage “time flies”. From a day-by day perspective things feel about right – only occasionally does a 24 hour period slips through my fingers. Even looking back on the most recently passed week I feel I can account for the majority of moments passed. But the incredible speed at which years are now streaking by is a bit concerning. Here it is 2018 – where the heck did 2017 go?

In my early days it took forever to get to that next year older. How I wished I could accelerate into teen years and then jump to that magical 18 and finally pass the threshold of the sacred 21 years old. Time sure did not fly for me back then. These days I would be quite happy to decelerate to a slow, steady, memorable trickle of days going by.

It feels as if time runs at a different pace at different times in our lives.

Way back as a youngster, time was an insignificant component of daily life. I never worried about wasting time. I did what I wanted for as long as I wanted or until called in for dinner. Time mattered when it came to school, dinner time, popcorn time and bedtime. There was no need for a watch to keep me punctual. Because little stress was associated with being on time the day could be enjoyed wandering a bit, playing a bit more, and enjoying all along the way.

When I entered the work force things changed big time. Getting to work on time was essential if I hoped to keep my job. Being late to meetings was unacceptable and a tardy quarterly report could put you on the streets. Everything was on a schedule as I came to understand the true meaning of deadlines: basically get it done or you are dead.

Along with time pressures and deadlines comes the stress we all learn to cope with else sacrifice our health and sanity. Scurrying around madly in hopes of getting critical tasks completed on schedule introduced a constant level of anxiety – there just wasn’t enough time in the day. And that anxiety often followed you home, gnawing away at any chance for quality sleep and quick to re-enlist the minute you got up.

As a parent a new aspect of time emerges. While previously obsessed with one’s own time or lack thereof, as parents our time no longer belongs solely to us. Suddenly what is most important to others in our brood takes precedence. Scheduling becomes an order of magnitude more challenging with multiple lives involved. We surrender to the impossibility of being two places at once though often times find ourselves pulled and stretched in many directions. Where does the time go?

Is there any hope to slow down to a more acceptable, saner pace?

If you are fortunate enough to survive to this point mentally and physically intact, you may be in for better times, saner times, more reasonable times. Retirement time is a brand new experience and at least for me proved worth the wait.

Once retired you are no longer driven by external forces toward someone else’s ultimate end. Rather than struggling to survive the moment you can focus on living those moments. Instead of a flurry of vague scenes days begin to contain real content, filled with memories worthy of being remembered. Finally you have time for yourself.

Rather than worry about tomorrow you are free to concentrate on today. This moment – now – is what matters. You will never be right here again so make the most of right now. As the saying goes, “life is like a coin: you can spend it any way you want but you can only spend it once.”

It can take time to adjust to a new pace. Even six years retired I still find myself getting wound up when driving in traffic. Decades in Silicon Valley left me conditioned to rush hour traffic and the helpless panic felt arriving late for an appointment.  I still fight that reflex to push and get there as quickly as possible. Now I have time. Now I can go with the flow and get there when I do. But old habits die hard.

In retirement, you have time to focus attention on important little things. A thoughtful card given to a spouse, ample time to reflect upon your life and passions, relaxing wanderings in the park with nothing hanging over your head, a call to family of friends too long neglected. Now you have time to do something nice for someone. Now you have time to do something nice for you.

It is interesting as you focus on the quality of the moments rather than respond to in a knee-jerk fashion to outside stimuli you may face other challenges. For example, instead of wondering what time it is I sometimes find myself wondering what day it is. I joke with friends “I’m happy if I can keep the month straight!” How wonderful is it to not worry about approaching deadlines or responsibilities, to live the day as it unrolls before you, to go with the flow and wander wherever.

Yes time does fly. And yes it seems to do so even faster these days. But it is not just about the length of the day, it’s what you do with that day. Time may scamper quickly by. But memories we make are forever alive in our minds. Make the most of your hours.

LoveBeingRetired.com

Are You a Caregiver Seeking Peace of Mind? These Tools Can Help

Written by Nurse Susan

Are you a retired adult helping to care for an aging parent or sick spouse? You’re not alone. In fact, the Family Caregiver Alliance reports that of the over 40 million adults in the U.S. currently providing care for a family member, 34% are over the age of 65. Family caregivers take on responsibilities including providing transportation to appointments, refilling prescriptions, even administering medicine and helping with bathing, dressing, and toileting.

If you provide care for an aging parent or sick spouse, check out these helpful tools that may help bring you and your loved one peace of mind:

Medical Alert System

Have you considered installing a medical alert system in the home of the person for whom you care? Depending on their age and health condition, your loved one’s care needs can vary. If they have experienced any of the following in the past year, however, a medical alert system may be a helpful investment.

  • Frequent dizziness
  • Stumbling or falling (even if they didn’t injure themselves)
  • Medicine side effects like low blood pressure or drowsiness
  • Difficult walking or standing without assistance
  • Hospitalization (or a trip to the E.R.)
  • One or more chronic conditions (i.e. arthritis, diabetes, dementia)

Medical alert systems come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from free-standing machines that sit on a countertop or desk, to wearable pendants you take with you on the go. As a caregiver, you can always be ready to take quick action to help your loved one in the event of an emergency when they have access to a system that signals for help at the press of a button.

Digital “Baby Monitor”

Technological innovation has made keeping an eye on your loved one easier than ever. Digital monitors which are traditionally used in nurseries to keep an eye (and ear) on infants can also be repurposed for your loved one. While on the pricier end, these devices allow you to set up a camera in your loved one’s room which streams a live video feed for you on your smartphone or other mobile device.

Some monitors even let you move the camera around and up and down as well as speak through the device to your loved one or play music. Check in on them when you are out running errands or right before bed to make sure they are sleeping.

Social Media

This may not seem like a “tool” but you would be surprised all the resources and help you can find simply be connecting with other caregivers and organizations online. Private Facebook groups like Caregiver Collective and Caregiver Hub Support Group allow caregivers to share their stories, frustrations, and questions with each other in a judgment-free zone. And following groups like the National Council on Aging and the Family Caregiver Alliance on facebook and twitter keeps you up-to-date on resources, policy changes, and events which may benefit your loved one’s care. Getting on social media is free and with advanced privacy settings you can easily control who you engage with.

Fall Mats

While you can take extra measures to prevent falls in your loved one’s home, the fact is if they are elderly, and especially if they have motor impairment like you find with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, they are at a high risk for experiencing a fall. Many falls lead to serious injury in older adults, including hospitalization and life-threatening bone fractures or head trauma. In the event of a fall, you want to do everything possible to mitigate the severity of their impact with the ground.

Fall mats provide a helpful solution here, adding padding to the floor of commonly used areas like by the couch in the living room or by the bed in the bedroom. In addition to cushioning the blow of a fall, some fall mats are also designed to alert caregivers when they pick up on an impact like a person falling.

Knowing your loved one is safe and well whether you are present with them or not will always help to ease up on the stress and anxiety a caregiver naturally experiences. Simple tools like digital video monitors and fall mats can go a long way in providing peace of mind and a happier overall care experience.

Five Health and Safety Mistakes Seniors Commonly Make

Written by Nurse Susan

As you age, it becomes more important than ever before to take responsibility for your overall well-being.

Unfortunately, many seniors don’t prioritize things like health and safety — some willfully and some because they don’t know any better — and put themselves at risk for serious illnesses and injuries.

In order to maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible, make sure you’re not making any of these five common health and safety mistakes.

  1. Not Being Honest with Your Doctor

Many seniors are reluctant to discuss intimate health problems, such as urinary or sexual difficulties, with their doctor. They may also avoid bringing up problems that they deem trivial, such as stomach pain, jaw pain, or constipation.

By refusing to bring up concerns, or by waiting until they become unbearable, you’re setting yourself up for a more difficult healthcare journey. The longer you wait, the longer and more intense your treatment will need to be.

In addition to not addressing concerns, some seniors are hesitant to ask for clarification when their doctor gives them instructions. Often, it’s because they’re embarrassed to admit that they didn’t hear or understand the first time.

Don’t let embarrassment stop you from getting the clarity you need, though. When your health is on the line, a few minutes of awkwardness are absolutely worth it.

  1. Neglecting Health Aids

Whether it’s out of pride or due to forgetfulness, many seniors are guilty of neglecting health aids like walkers, canes, hearing aids, glasses, and medical alert devices.

These tools aren’t always fun to use, and nobody likes to be reminded that they’re getting older. But, these health aids can bring you and your loved ones safety and peace of mind.

If you find them uncomfortable or awkward, remember that it takes time to get used to using a new device. Use them regularly for a couple of weeks. If the discomfort continues, talk to your doctor to get an adjustment or replacement.

  1. Not Managing Medications

It’s important to take the time to put a system in place to manage your medications properly.

It’s very common for seniors to miss doses or accidentally overdose. Things get even more confusing when they’re working with more than one doctor. To avoid confusion and accidental noncompliance, seniors should make sure they have one primary care physician who oversees their whole medical plan.

When they have one person handling all their medications, they’re less likely to accidentally take two or more prescriptions that interact negatively with each other. They should also figure out a system that helps them keep track of their prescriptions. Daily alarms or pill boxes are all good options to avoid accidentally missing or doubling up on doses.

  1. Not Taking Advantage of Preventive Care

Many seniors forget to take advantage of the preventive care options available to them. Most insurance plans will offer free or low-cost health screenings that can help seniors learn about and avoid a number of common illnesses and conditions.

It can be tempting to skip these screenings, especially if you’re feeling fine when they’re scheduled. Remember, though, that you could have a condition but not be showing any symptoms. The earlier you catch something, the easier it is to treat.

  1. Disregarding Limitations

Many seniors are hesitant to acknowledge their limitations. Like it or not, though, you’re getting older and some things that used to be easy for you might be a little more challenging.

For example, you might need to start moving a little slower to avoid falls. Plan ahead and give yourself time to prepare for appointments so you don’t feel rushed. You also need to evaluate your ability to drive safely. It can be hard to give up driving and the independence that comes with it. But, you need to think about the safety of others and be willing to admit you need help getting around.

Are you guilty of any of these common mistakes? If so, it’s time to make some changes.

Small adjustments can make a big difference. Start by committing to just one change, and you’ll be living a safer, healthier lifestyle before you know it!