Category: Aging

When Do You ‘Put Your Affairs in Order’?

The Quippery

Unless your Doctor has given you notice that your ‘Best Before Date’ is rapidly closing in on your ‘Expiry Date’, you might not have thought about the most important thing you can do for yourself now AND leave for your loved ones when you depart this world.

This important thing costs no more than a sheet or two of paper, but it is priceless. It is a List of All the Things you know now – but might not remember later. It is a list of things the Executor of your Estate won’t know until they have rifled through your desk, file cabinet and all sorts of places obvious and obscure – so that they can wrap up your estate and deliver it to your rightful heirs.

Think about this: Do you keep your documents in obvious locations like your desk, file cabinet or a shoe box under the bed? Does your family know you also stash important papers in a fake cabbage (or lettuce) in the fridge, a former box for fish cakes in the deep freeze, a secret cubby hole, a hidden safe, behind a trap door, or in a plastic case under a paving stone in the garden?

The QuipperyOur Experience: The Car Guy’s Dad passed on to the Great Fishing Hole of the Beyond a few months ago – without making The List.  The Car Guy is the Executor of this relatively simple Estate and fortunately he knew that the Original of the Will was in a safety deposit box – but he didn’t know which Bank owned the box nor where the keys were kept. That was just the beginning of what The Car Guy didn’t know.

Fortunately, The Car Guys Dad kept just about everything in a desk and file cabinet (and a Safety Deposit Box that the Bank won’t release the contents of until some unknown date in the future). It  took weeks to sort through all the documents, make a list of  possible assets and trace accounts back to their source to see if they were still active. Multiple layers of Government, Banks and Financial Institutions had to be contacted. Each of them required a large number of detailed and correctly filled out forms.

The whole process is like doing a Jigsaw Puzzle, except you don’t know how many pieces there are and you don’t have the box lid to see what the picture is going to look like. This experience has been the incentive for us to make our List of Things our Executor will need to know. It has been a good motivational exercise that has encouraged us to reassess what we are responsible for, and what we can get rid of. If you are similarly motivated, here are some things for you to consider, roughly in order of when your Executor will need the information:

The Basics: Full Name (‘Fishin’ Fred isn’t going to be good enough); Birth Date and Place (somewhere ‘down East’ before the crash of the stock market’) is just a bit vague; Location of all government issued documents and the ID numbers.

Burial or funeral instructions – that aren’t in your will.

The Family: Names and Contact numbers for all Immediate Family; Parent’s full names, where they were born; Spouse – Full name and location of the original marriage certificate.

Government, Career, Financial Information: List Company Names, Policy or Account Numbers, and Contacts for: Employment, Pensions or benefit plans; Health and Insurance plans; Government Insurance and benefits; Income tax documents; Bank and Credit Cards; Investments.

Real Estate: Properties you own; Loans and Mortgages; Utility companies you have accounts with.

Affiliations: Groups, associations, memberships, newspapers, magazines and all those things that will have to be redirected or cancelled.

Online: Internet accounts and passwords.

Wrap it Up: list all the places where you keep documents and valuables. Explain what is in those places. Summarize  your assets and liabilities.

That is it! It will take some time to gather this information, but it will be as valuable to you now as it will be to your family when you pass on!

Have you been Executor of an Estate? Do you have a secret hiding places? Have you made a List?

 

He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

I’m helping my Dad downsize. He will probably be moving to smaller living quarters in the not too distant future. The ‘weeding’ process isn’t easy for him. He has a strong attachment to just about everything old in his apartment. His bonds to the distant past grow stronger, as the memories of the near past fade.

If he is willing to let me remove anything, it is only because he is very certain that a family member will take ownership of the item and treasure it as much as he does. Everything I have carted off so far is now safely stored in The Car Guys Garage, pending resettlement somewhere. The pile is fluid. Some of the things I put there last week must now go back to Dad’s place – a change of heart and mind.

As I was getting ready to haul another load down to my car yesterday, he suddenly said, “Take the chicken. I really don’t want that chicken.”

552-rooster-portugal-27

That surprised me. The chicken, (more accurately a Portuguese Good Luck Rooster, I suppose) sat in a place of prominence in his living room. I don’t know how he acquired it, but it was clear from the tone in his voice that he would be glad to see it go.

Since I know someone who might want the Rooster,  I put the bird on the handy catch-all ledge in my kitchen. A row of sharp knives is nearby – a rather appropriate reminder to the bird of the historical method of dispatching fowl, should the bird need to be kept in line.

As I look at all the ‘treasures’ that reside in my house, I think about which ones I would want to keep till ‘death us do part.’ What will be my ‘chicken’ when my children are carting some of my material memories out the door?

We all need some of the material things that provide continuity to our lives by always being there and always being the same.
– Andy Rooney –

Are you still in the accumulating stage of life, or have you started to downsize?

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Give Me the Good Old Parking Meter, Please!

You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen, it said ‘Parking Fine.’
– Tommy Cooper –

Parking Meters used to look a bit like Jelly Bean Machines.

I’ve become the family chauffeur since The Car Guy had his motorcycle accident.  I don’t mind driving, though it would be much more pleasant if all those drivers who never do a shoulder check would stop trying to occupy my car’s geographic location. Arriving safely at our destination, and finding a parking spot is always a relief.

The true challenge comes when it is time to pay for the parking. Gone are the days when I handed my ticket and money to a kindly attendant in a little booth at the exit or plugged my coins into a friendly machine that looked like it could dispense jelly beans. No, today I am faced with the pure evil of electronic ticket machines. They are the silent but efficient guardians of the place where I will abandon my vehicle in order to sit in a Doctor’s office for eternity plus a 3 minute consult.

There is no universal parking ticket machine. Each parking lot is the proud owner of a machine that was designed by someone who failed ‘your grandma might park here some day 101′. This means that each machine is unique in: the order in which you insert your ticket and credit card; the direction you insert said cards; the location where the pertinent buttons are; and the cryptic little symbols that replace a language I might understand. After three less than successful attempts to master three machines in three different lots, I figured out that the easiest way to pay the machine is to turn to the person directly behind me in line and say, “This will be much faster for both of us if you just show me how to pay this &%@#$ ticket.”

There was a time, not so many years ago, that I could board a plane in the Middle East – three layovers and 30 some hours  later, I’d be back at my Canadian home. All by myself, I could buy tickets, change planes, ride trains, even stay in a hotel.  Now I can barely negotiate a trip to the city if it means I have to park somewhere. How pathetic.

If your access to health care involves your leaving work and driving somewhere and parking and waiting for a long time, that’s not going to promote healthiness.
– Larry Page –

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Scanning my Mind and Computer for Memories

lady laptop

Do I plug this into my left ear or my right ear?

Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.
Unknown –

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could plug one end of a USB cord into your ear, the other into your computer, and download every memory that resides in your brain?  A nifty little software program, like an Access database but far easier to use, would sort the memories by year, topic and any other category you wanted. Then a Scrapbook program would create wonderful photo journals of your life.

I mention this because I believe the memory bank in my brain needs to be defragged. Bits of information keep getting mislaid. I found the date of my next Dentist appointment filed with the trip to Galveston in 1979. And The Car Guys office phone number is mixed in with the cost of my car in 1984. Retrieving information can be a challenge some days. It would be nice to have the contents of my brain on my computer – it has a much better search function than my head does.

I’m not just sitting idly by, though, waiting for the computer industry to fulfill my grand dream. I have piles and piles of other things that I can scan onto my computer. I won’t have to lug out photo albums, slide carousels and file folders full of wedding invitations and birth announcements. I’ll just power up my laptop, click on a year, and scroll down a page of memories.

The 35 mm slides and negs will be fairly easy to scan, as will old prints, cards, and letters. The 110 negs are going to be the challenge. Building my own 110 film holder isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I’m on Prototype 5, and it involves heavy card stock and my sewing machine…

Here are two of the photos I’ve revived in Photoshop Elements. The pictures certainly help me to retrieve the memories in my mind!

A small daughter was seeing life through rose colored sun glasses that day.

______________________

A successful launch sequence, lift off and landing!

Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.
– Henri Cartier-Bresson –

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Good News for Seniors – Not Everything about Aging is Bad

We could certainly slow the aging process down if it had to work its way through Congress.
– Will Rogers –

The Crabby Lady from the Complaints Department was in my office when I arrived this morning. “It’s a conspiracy!” she cried. “They are trying to kill us all by scaring us to death! Look at this headline in today’s news!” I looked at the paper she had shoved under my nose (The Paranoid Times). The headline read, “The Dangers of Breathing for Seniors“.

“It’s part of their series called “A Danger a Day”, and I tell you, they want to scare us to death so that the Government doesn’t have to pay out Seniors Benefits. Yes, the Government and the Media are in this together…” Before I could duck, she had slapped another yellow stickie on my forehead, and stomped off.

I peeled off her note and read: “Give me some good news about aging. I’m tired of all the negative crap.”

This jolted me out of my happy world of Sunshine, Daffodils, Paddling Ducks, and Hawks that swoop down and pluck up Gophers. Good News for Seniors. That wasn’t going to be easy when the whole world seemed to be heading into group hysteria over the perceived catastrophe of  Baby Boomers entering seniorhood.

After a lot of research, I came up with these three positive stories:

–  Scientists are finding more and more correlation between Heart Disease and the many forms of Dementia. Medications and lifestyle changes that have been used to promote heart health may actually protect brain health as well.  One study has even shown that treating high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s in people already starting to show signs of memory problems!

The Quippery– A three year study of 3200 Germans aged 75+, showed that seniors that drank a glass of wine or a pint of beer a day were less likely to develop Dementia and Alzheimers.

– Exercise continues to be of importance to Seniors. The good news is, the exercise doesn’t have to be at all strenuous. Being “active” can include physical activities such as housework, yard work, child care and just about any activity that requires standing up and moving around.

Now, it’s your turn to be crabby: There is no question that most of us will just keep getting older – what would you change in your life, family or country to make being a senior better?

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