How To Improve Your Quality of Life In Later Years
Find Someone Or Something To Love
The happiest people I know invest their time in others. Volunteering at a school or library can have unintended consequences. Volunteering at a school may put you into position to be help a kid turn her life around. Helping someone learn a new language helps them be successful in a new country.
A couple we know, lead a group of young married couples. They have lots of fun hanging out with them. The younger married couples benefit from their knowledge. These friends have been married more than 40 years. They are intelligent well educated people who have invested their lives in young people. Bob is an amazing physics tutor. High school or college it doesn't matter what kind of physics, after 30 years as a PHD in physics, he can make this complex subject understandable. Believe me this is rare, many physicists speak in a foreign language when telling what they do. Cindy is a farm girl from Iowa, who can cater a wedding reception for 250 or teach computers to any age. This couple invest their lives in young people and stay young themselves in the process.
Another friend an engineer, loves dogs; her husband is allergic. She became a trained dog walker at her local SPCA. She gets exercise, and the opportunity to love on dogs without having to deal with a sick husband.
Ideas For Keeping Healthy And Happy
As years go by, I am watching friends and family members pass away with increasing frequency. It becomes increasingly more apparent that quality of life in later years depends on the plans you have made.
Eating well and leading an active life helps you maintain your health longer and recover faster from illnesses. Here are some ideas that may help you determine what you will do after you retire to stay healthy and happy.
As you get older your sphere of friends, family and acquaintances diminishes, so make friends of various ages. It may take some doing, but it may be the best thing you ever do in your life. Some ways to meet people of various ages:
- Go visit a convalescent home. Make a friend or two there. Those people have valuable stories to share. Remember to touch the person you visit in a convalescent home. They really respond to touch. Imagine never being touched.
- If you like kids you could volunteer at a school. Often they are looking for people who will listen to kids read.
- Go to the library. Frequently, tutors for English as second language learners are needed. If you are skilled in computers the library has computers and they need maintenance.
- Become a cat helper or dog walker for your local Humane Society.
- Join a gym or exercise group like Silver Sneakers.
- Join a club. Book clubs,retired persons clubs the possibilities for clubs are endless.
- Treat your family well.
- Be kind to everyone you come in contact with. People like to be around people who are interesting and laugh.
- If all you do is watch television you are probably not living a healthy lifestyle.
When The Decline Begins
Until two years ago Dad managed his diabetes and led an busy active life. He loved going to his Silver Sneakers exercise classes. When dad needed surgery two years ago his siblings took care of him. They nursed him through several surgeries. He kept saying to us, "Don't come until this or that, so I can be a good host". Finally we said enough. We are coming. Auntie, who helps dad the most, was going to on a trip. She is his wheels.
Maintaining his independence is tops on dads to do list. My brother-in-law went the first week of aunties trip, our family went the second week to help. We overlapped for a couple of days to compare notes and take care of legal matters. In the opinion of dad's sisters and daughter-in-law, dads house desperately needed cleaning. Seventeen years as a batchelor has not improved his housekeeping skills. I never though much of his housekeeping skills. He is tidy, but not clean.
My husband and his brother did car maintenance, and legal stuff. They left me to find a housekeeper.
As I thought of the perfect someone I was so romantic. Dorothy Sawyers gave Bunter to Lord Peter Whimsey to be his kindred spirit. Alice was the wise housekeeper that kept the Brady Bunch together and Jan Karon gave Puny the sassy, competent, wise young house help to Father Tim in the Mitford series.
Puny was really who I had in mind, I never expected to find anyone like that, but I was hoping. After calling five or six companies, and being told they only clean surfaces, I called individuals and left messages. I was beginning to panic. Time was running out. We only had two days before we went home to California. Only one gal called me back. She lived too far away.
Discouragement set in on that stormy November day. My ankle hurt like the dickens,but that is another story.
The weather improved, so dad decided to walk to his neighbors. We were afraid he would fall so we went too. It never ceases to amaze me how much he loves to introduce his children to people. While we were chatting on the porch the neighbor mentioned going to church. Well I knew churches sometimes knew people who would help so that conversation triggered an idea. Surely there must be someone who cleans houses at the church. When I called the church the next day, the secretary said, "I know someone". She took my number. By one pm I had a call. After I explained the situation,the gal said, " Sounds like I need to come right over and meet you all". I loved this woman right from the start. She didn't bat an eyelash at the dirty house. After two weeks of constantly cleaning the house it was still not clean to my standards. Believe me I am not a clean freak. My son spent an hour on the shower floor and if you saw his room you would know he isn't a clean freak either.
Miss Patty is sassy, competent and likes dad. She cleaned last week. When I asked dad how he liked the cleaning gal he said "She has some slick tools". Dad really liked her. Now Dad has a housekeeper he likes and who likes him. What does this have to do with quality of life? For dad, this improves his quality of life by giving him a little company on cleaning day. We are all relieved he has another person visiting him. The bonus is she will haul his trash away. My weekly trash collection service has recycling, green waste and trash bins. This was my biggest victory. He has no trash pick up where he lives.
The more trusted people who visit from time to time allows us to monitor dad while giving him the independence he craves and peace of mind we need.
Panic Buttons/Life Alert
We all thought life would be safer for Dad if we got him one of those buttons you hear advertised.
"Help! I have fallen down and can't get up". "No problem sir, we are sending help".
Very good if you have a large phone provider. Dad's phone company is little. We ordered one that was advertized nationally. Dad sent it back because it didn't work. Leafing through the pamphlets that come in the telephone bill we discovered that Dad's little rural phone company had a panic button that works with his phone. It had big writing,and was half the price of the one that didn't work.
You need to look at what is available locally for ways to help.
Dad went to college on a scholarship. He played a sport every season. He didn't really love sports as we all thought, but he only ate when the teams ate, so he played sports. He graduated at 21 with a BS in chemistry and a MA in electrical engineering. By the time he was 25 he had a wife and two sons. By 35 he had at least two patents in his name and 6 kids. He was highly respected in his field. To him, the second of 6 kids, independence is really important. For that reason his children have made a decision we don't like. It is our desire that dad move into town and be safe. He has four siblings within 50 miles and could live closer to anyone of them. A farm boy from Nebraska doesn't want to be safe, he wants to be independent. The main thing that keeps him independent is his telephone and neighbors. He talks with one of his sisters or brothers every day. They have dinner and play cards each week. The two eldest sons have a call schedule. I write letters. Dad doesn't get a ton of calls, but he gets a couple everyday. We evaluate how he is doing and call his siblings for local information.
Some years ago Dad set up an automatic bill pay. His bills roll through his credit card. Automatic bill payment is another way to help a loved one stay independent. With a small amount of monitoring this a great way to make sure the bills get paid.
Planning Takes A Hard Look At Reallity
Planning for your later years is essential if you want to be independent as your physical abilities decline. The dream retirement for many people is living in the country. It is wonderful as long as you are in good health. It is a nightmare if you are ill. Have a plan B for where to live when if you can't drive. Invest in "good" with others. Ultimately, the good relationships dad has with neighbors make his independence possible. They keep an eye out for him. He shares his newspaper with the neighbor across the street. She works long hours, so he walks over and leaves it on her porch. He gets some exercise in the meantime. On Saturdays and Sundays, this routine becomes a social event because he stays and chats for awhile. If the newspaper doesn't move, the neighbor up the street looks into why Dad hasn't picked it up. They look out for each other. Do you know your neighbors? Is your lifestyle going to carry you through frail health? What is your plan? relationships
For The Young
Ask older people to tell you stories about their lives. For a while high school teachers were giving students an assignment to interview a veteran. My mom was in high demand since she was a novelty. She was a nurse for 50 years. She was an army officer for six years. She was sharp on current events and where the country was going in the twenty second century. Record the stories they tell you so others can remember. One of my nephews interviewed dad. He sent us a copy, which is how we found out he had patents in his name.
Whether you are young or old you can make a difference in someones life. How you do that is up to you, Your reward is a better quality of life.
If you don't like people all that much find an animal friend. You could also find a project to accomplish.
There was a useless bit of land behind the local High School. It was an eyesore on a busy street. The area was overrun with weeds, the soil was awful. A retired gentleman started landscaping the area some years back. He lived in the apartments next door and had nothing to do. Today this useless area is beautiful. The city put in a bench and people along the bike trail enjoy the beautiful area this man created. He improved my quality of life because he was bored. You too can improve your quality of life, but how needs your creativity. An elderly little lady I know calls her friends, then posts in emails what they need. She certainly improves their lives. She improves my life with her charming writing. Sometimes I can help with the needs she post. She is always tickled to see me; I get the best hugs.
What will you do for somebody today?
Another amazing story I once heard concerned a lady who was an invalid on a fixed income. Her phone plan only allowed a limited number of calls a month. She figured how many calls she could make a day until the minutes were gone. Then began calling people in the phone book to tell them she was praying for them and to have a good day. She was amazed at the conversations that started and how much people needed to talk to someone.
"What you think, is what you are", someone once said. Having a positive attitude and being creative will improve your life and those around you. Habits developed when you are young make old age better or worse. You make the decision.
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