March 2010


by John Parker

Whether you decide to stay in your current home, remodel, or downsize, it’s imperative you make  your home safe and secure for your retirement years. Our generation is supposed to live, on average, much longer than previous generations, so it’s our responsibility to do everything we can to take care of ourselves.

As I wrote in a recent blog, a few months ago my best friend had an accident in which a ladder slipped and he took a terrible fall. He actually came very close to losing his life. Unfortunately, seniors have the highest mortality rate due to injury. Among those deaths, 50 per cent are due to falling. One-third of women eighty-five and older will be injured in a fall. For men, the statistics are only slightly less. The bottom line is: 1.6 million seniors are treated at hospitals each year due to falls. Half of those falls occur at home.

As my wife and I wrote in our book, The Best of Our Lives,  over the last few years we have gradually prepared our home for retired life. As somewhat recent retirees, we probably didn’t have to make every change so early in our retired life, but have been pleasantly surprised at how these changes have made  life much easier and more convenient.

While our book has a very complete list, here are some of the most important safety and security issues:

1. Get rid of clutter. Both the inside and outside of your house should to be cleared  of small objects that  might cause you to trip. Reconsider placement of low tables, plants, and other possible hazards. Keep your walking paths clear and reposition electrical and phone cords.

2. Inspect your living space and eliminate safety hazards. Remove or install slip-resistant backing on area rugs. Identify and repair cracks in flooring and find solutions for slippery tile. Eliminate sharp edges on furnishing and decorations.  

3. Inventory and update your kitchen. Consider replacing old cooking utensils with easy-grip types and one-touch bottle and can openers. Reorganize storage and place most frequently used items such as dishes at levels easy to reach. Always keep an updated fire extinguisher in a handy place.

4. Safety-proof your home and be prepared for emergencies. Install a security system and consider adding a “panic button” for emergencies. Keep flashlights and battery operated lanterns handy. Install motion lights, smoke alarms and nightlights. Keep a supply of water and canned food on hand as a backup. Strategically place telephones around your home and always have one next to your bed.  

Depending on your age, you may not need to make all of these changes right away. But over time, they will become more necessary for your safety and security. Some health care providers offer a service in which they will come to your home and help you with your safety and security issues.

Be safe, secure, healthy and happy.            

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The National Council on Aging reports that one out of three retired persons sixty-five or over has a retirement job. Many of these seniors are working because they find fulfillment in their jobs and don’t want to disrupt the life they currently enjoy. Still others, particularly in these difficult financial times, continue to work due to financial necessity. Whatever the reason, here are some guidelines seniors should consider if they decide to continue working:

1. Carefully evaluate your personal financial situation and determine if a desired job is financially feasible.  You need to know exactly how much you will make, how much you require, and any possible transition costs such as moving, housing, cost of living, insurance, etc.

2. Assess your personallity, interests, skills, and likes and dislikes to determine if you and your new job will be a good fit. It’s one thing to want a job, but quite a different thing to actually be a good fit for it. Both careerpath.com and Monster.com offer assessment tests online in their career advice section.

3. Do research on the company. Not all companies treat their employees in the same manner. Find one that treats their employees properly.

4. Network to make valuable contacts.  At this point in your life, you probably have more contacts than you realize. Once you have a comprehensive list put together, get out there and make those contacts.

5. Obtain the necessary skill upgrades or education for your new job. If you are convinced you have found the right job, then you may need to get additional training.

If you decide to start your own business as a second career, here are some excellent consideratons from Brad Sugars, author of fourteen books on business, including The Business Coach:

1. Find the market gap in the business you know. Find a need that isn’t being served by the business you came from and start a business that will fill it.

2. Turn your hobby or passion into a busines. This is a great idea. Like to fish, become a fishing guide. Known for your great desserts, start furnishing them to local restaurants. Love your favorite sports team, get a job at the stadium.

3. Use your connectons. Being a senior, you should know numerous people who can help you get started. Don’t be afraid to use these connections.

4. Investigate franchising.  The benefits are a low start-up cost and prebuilt systems and support materials.

5. Keep upfront expenses to a minimum. Start small and keep your debt low.

6. Avoid a forty-hour work week to start. While you might initially enjoy your new business, overdoing could burn you out.

The key to any job once you reach retirement age is to enjoy what you are doing. Working into the retiement years has both costs and benefits. If you decide to work, make sure the benefits are worth your time and effort. Money is surely important, but it should not be the only factor. This is your life, not the dress rehearsal. Value your retired life.

News:

We had a great time at our book signing at Barnes & Noble in Antioch, CA., on March 13. Thanks to all of those who came by to buy a book or just to say hello.

Have heard from many people about our television appearance, I’ve provided the link again.

Succesful transition to retired life from authors John and Trisha Parker – 2/2 

Don’t forget to visit Jen Parker photography.

Jen Parker | Family Photography | Child Portraiture | Newborn Photographer | B

As much as we might not want to admit it, growing older comes with varying degrees of mental decline. Specifically, the declines are in memory, information processing, and communicating with others. That’s the bad news.

The good news is current research tells us if we take the proper measures, the inevitability of severe mental decline can be virtually eliminated. In one study, men were tested when they were younger and then again at age eighty-one. Those who had stayed mentally active showed that “cognitive capabilities generally associated with advanced aging were neither extensive nor consistent.”

Here is a summary of “Retirement Rules” for staying mentally fit:

1. Get regular exercise – Be sure to get in your thirty minutes of aerobic exercise daily and add in a mental component. Believe it or not, dancing and/or shopping are two of the best combinations. Sorry guys.

2. Socialize – Talking, laughing, and discussing various topics with other people is actually good for your mental fitness.

3. Reduce your stress – This will positively alter the chemistry of the brain and buffer it from harmful stress hormones.

4. Increase your mental activities – You can do this by reading, writing, playing musical instruments, working puzzles, and participating in group discussions.

5. Vary your activities – Change things up from time-to-time. The brain gets used to the same activities so we need to seek new sights, smells, and activities.

6. Improve your nutrition – There are spcific foods (which I will discuss in a future blog) that actually improve your mental fitness. Seek them out.

Following these basic rules for mental fitness will go a long way in slowing mental decline. As the saying goes, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Great gift idea:

*** On a completely different topic, I know many of you seniors out there have lots of grandkids. After these kids have received every toy in the store, it’s difficult to buy them presents for their birthdays or during the holidays. I’ve got a great suggestion for you and it’s one my wife and I have taken to heart.

Go to:   www.jenparkerphotography.com    and see some of the beautiful work she does. She is the best child and family photographer I have ever seen and can provide you with unique photos and photo books that will become treasures for a lifetime. Take a look a her website and you will be amazed.

Latest book news:

Trisha and I recently appeared on the ABC San Francisco television program The View From The Bay.

Succesful transition to retired life from authors John and Trisha Parker – 2/2

We will be appearing for a book signing at Barnes & Noble  in Antioch, California, from 3:00 to 5:00 on March 13. Would love to see you there.

John Parker

www.TheBestofOurLives.com