Age 55 Perks and Benefits

Boomers Find Path to Senior Games via Senior Centers

When I started retiring less than 10 years ago, I would have never in my wildest dreams thought I would be competing at the National Senior Games. Yet, I just returned from that event where I competed in two race walking competitions. It is an experience I will remember the rest of my life.

My unexpected path to the National Senior Games as it turns out, is a common one shared by many people I have spoken with. It began with me, as others, at our local senior center.

A few years ago I discovered Park Place Adult Center here in my town Johns Creek GA and began walking with the Park Place Pacers.  The men’s group was only me and Don from Cleveland and Lamond from New Jersey. We walked about 3.2 miles through Newtown Park three times a week, sharing the news of the day and stories from our lives.

Then at the annual North Fulton Golden Games we were pitted against 4 or 5 other local senior centers in a day of competition which included a couple of walking races. I heard about how good some of the other walkers were and we began training a little.

At the North Fulton Golden Games a gentleman 10 years older than me beat me in the one half mile race by 20 yards!  I was puzzled. Upon researching I found out he was race walking, a technique that makes you more efficient so you can walk faster.

I learned that the upcoming 2014 state level competition called the Georgia Olympics had a competition in race walking.  I signed up for some instructions in race walking and made the trip down to Warner Robins for the state meet last Sept where I came in 2nd in my age group for the 1500 meter race walk.

That qualified me for the National Senior Games in St. Paul MN in July 2015, so I signed up for the 1500 meters and the 5K race walks and began training a couple of months ago. The competition at the National Senior Games is fierce with 1200 athletes coming from all over the country to compete. The heat from my 1500 meter race, for example, shows 20 men coming from 19 different states for that race, many of which have been there before.

The experiences were valuable and enjoyable all along the way. Nothing like walking with new friends at your local senior center.  Competition at the state level gets those juices flowing while still fun.  At the National Senior Games level you are competing with the best but you don’t have to be a pro to enjoy it,  if you can make it that far.

Competing at any of these levels you will have the fellowship with others and enjoy their company. Everyone is happy and excited to be there. It is motivating as well to see what some people can accomplish in their 50+ lives. The training and discipline at the sate and national level is amazing.

I would encourage anyone to get involved with their local Senior Center, Active Adult Center, Adult Recreation Center, whatever it is called, and give it a try. Your life will be better for it. You will get some activity, develop some new routines on your schedule, and make new friends while sharing those activities.

Robert Fowler, age 67

PS: I came in 8th place at the National Senior Games and got a certificate and an experience I will remember. Who knows, maybe I will be going to the next National Senior Games which will be in Birmingham AL in July 2017. Hope to see you there. Find your senior center.  Here are some pics I took at the National Senior Games in Minnesota.

national senior games winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

basketball at national senior games

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

womens competion at National Senior Games

Originally posted 2015-07-19 21:22:47.

On The Road To Grandma’s House

Let us not forget the stories that Grandma can share with her grandchildren as they get older. Those are stories and experiences that a grandchild has missed. It is a time of the past that has lead to today.

Grandma visitYesterday, I learned that I would be a grandmother of a little baby girl in March of 2012.  This was very exciting news.  Then I began to think about events of the past and the future.  There are many stories and nursery rhymes about grandchildren on the road to grandma’s house.  I remember skipping road and going down the street to see my grandmother.  Then there was the ride into the hills to visit my grandmother from my Dad’s side of the family.  We lived in a very small town so neither trip took very long, but was fun.  I looked forward to those times, as many of us did.  The smell of fresh baked pies and family get together is still clear in my mind from those days.  The one thing that I do not remember is a visit to our house from my grandparents.  Have times changed?  I believe that they have.

Today there are single boomer grandparents living in the city.  Some of us are waiting to move into senior citizen retirement apartments.  Others are living in 55 communities and enjoying the good life.  A Lot of grandparents are attending events at their local senior center in order to stay active and social.  Many boomer grandparents are traveling to see the world at a late age.  Then there are those that are unable to travel due to illness, the economy or the necessity to keep working in order to make a living.

Some grandchildren live with their parents in the grandparents home.  Others may have grown children that live thousands of miles away.  As a boomer, can you relate with this?  Grown children sometimes expect the grandparents to visit their homes because it is more convenient for them, due to busy times in this generation.  Travel can be costly for parents and grandparents.  It is not as easy to skip rope down to Grandma’s house.

There are grandparents living in assisted living facilities.  I wonder just how many parents bring their children there to visit with Grandma.  I do hope they come on a regular basis.  There is nothing that can bring a smile to an older person’s face than the sight of a child.  That Grandma would enjoy a hug from her grandchildren.  There is something very special between grandchildren and grandparents.  The bonding is important to keep the family spirit alive.

Even though many grandparents are learning modern technology in adult classes, it is wonderful to have that grandchild that can help Grandma to learn.  Let us not forget the stories that Grandma can share with her grandchildren as they get older.  Those are stories and experiences that a grandchild has missed.  It is a time of the past that has lead to today.

Yes, it is important to take the road to Grandma’s House.  It is important to allow the bonding to take place.  Grandma’s house may not be as it was many years ago in story books.  The house may be different.  It may be larger, smaller, brighter or sometimes even darker than those we have read about.  Pies may no longer be cooking in the oven because times have changed.  The importance of grandchildren and grandparents bonding has not changed.  Boomers and boomer children let us keep that alive.  Take the time to take the trip on the road to Grandma’s house.

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Originally posted 2011-10-06 13:35:56.

Retirement Home Purchase And A Tree Fetish

If you are considering purchasing your retirement home, make sure you check out the trees that are in the yard. Here’s why.

trees

There are many things to consider when a person purchases a home for their retirement days.  So far, I think that it is best for me to retire in a senior apartment.  Now that I am divorced, I really do not want the responsibility that goes along with home ownership.  Of course if I found a small house, I would be willing to rent a retirement home.  When I was younger, I had the pleasure of owning several houses.  All of them had beautiful trees in the yard.  I have a tree fetish.   Something about trees fascinates me.  My tree fetish came with a price.

One house that I owned had beautiful large trees in the backyard.  It reminded me of being in a forest.   When fall came the leaves turned beautiful colors but fell off the trees. I did not have one of those munchers, just a hand held rake.  For days I worked and worked.  I swept the leaves up and put them in plastic bags.  The city would not take them away unless they were in paper bags.  I came up with a bright idea just to throw the bags in the old shed out back.  Then summer arrived.  The lawn mower was in the shed.  When I opened the door, I was met by hornets.  They chased me into the house.  Lucky for me, I had a friend that was not afraid to get my lawn mower out of the shed.  By winter the huge hornet nest had frozen.  It captivated one guy that I called who collected hornet nests.  It was so big and a great find for him.  He removed it when the weather got real cold.  Yes, hornets like leaves but not cold weather.

Then spring came again.  I had saved all my pennies for a weekend get away.  When I returned home, I found one of the huge tree limbs laying on my neighbor’s garage roof.  My home owners insurance did not cover so that was another expense.  Later the trees needed trimming.  Some of the branches had died.  The estimates were over $3,000 and my back account said $300.  In addition, the trees had poison ivory growing in them.  Lucky for me again!  I found a couple of guys that needed some bucks and they cut me a deal to do the trimming.

Then the day came that I wanted to build a deck.  Yes, you guessed it!  One of the trees had to be cut down because it was too close to the house. The estimates to have the tree removed were more than the estimate to build the deck.  Lucky for me though, I found the same guys needing a few bucks.  This time though they did not haul the trees away.  The city inspector was not pleased and I got a citation.  Now I had to dish out another $1,000 for tree removal.  Slowly, though I was loosing my tree fetish.

Actually I did loose my fetish when buying my next house.  There were no trees in the back.  It wasn’t long until I missed the good old shade trees.  My friend and I found a lovely house with many trees. She had a DISLIKE for gum balls which grow on Sweet gum trees.  She had fought the gum balls at her last residence.  The more she sweep up and put in trash cans the more that fell.  It is unreal how may gum balls that can fall from a sweet gum tree.

You guessed it.  The new house had sweet gum trees.  When it rained the balls fell. It sounded like hail hitting the roof.  that really makes for poor sleeping.  Brody, my dog could be heard howling when he stepped on the gum balls.  They hurt his feet.  Also it was not pleasant when I stepped on them either.  One’s ankle can twist and cause a serious accident.  When sitting out on the deck it was almost necessary to wear a helmet to protect one’s head from falling gum balls.  Needless to say, once again the trees had to come down.  Not only was this a sad day because of the lack of shade, there were no guys that needed a few bucks.  Oh my, tree removal is expensive.

So if you live in a small town or a city and are considering purchasing your retirement home, make sure you check out the trees that are in the yard.  A sweet gum tree is great if there is a large yard and the tree is not growing near the house.  Also, remember there are pine cones on pine trees.  They make great decoration during the holiday season but you may not want a yard full of pine cones.  There is a lot to look at and consider when buying a retirement home.  Make your expense list and take it from me.  IF YOU HAVE A TREE FETISH MAKE SURE THAT YOU ALLOW A GOOD SIZE PORTION OF MONEY ON THE BUDGET TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR TREES.

Happy retirement home hunting!  Make it fun!  Enjoy the journey and make it the place of your dreams!  Actually, a nice palm tree in one of those 55 communities in Florida is sounding real nice to me!  🙂

Originally posted 2012-01-26 20:58:56.

Retirement Lifestyles: How It Was and How It Is Today

Working Boomer takes a look at how lifestyles, health care, housing, retirement used to be and compares it to today.

In 1953, I was five years old and my parents were in their 40’s.  The small town in Arkansas where I lived lacked a hospital.  The physician in town was elderly and only worked part time. The local pharmacy gave out prescription drugs from behind the counter without a Doctor’s Approval.  Health care was lacking in many rural areas.  Some folks resorted to using home remedies to treat their own illnesses.  There were folks that made the difficult choice of keeping a roof over their families heads instead of health care.  For some renting was the only option.

After reaching the age for early social security, my parents were able to purchase their first house at the age of  62. They had worked hard all their lives in order to see that small social security check that would enable them to retire. Retirement for them consisted of planting a garden, visiting with neighbors, canning vegetables, growing flowers, and an occasional fishing outing at the nearest pond or river. Other than that, there were not many resources for other types of recreation or social affairs. Therefore, that is how it was.

Unlike my parents, I had the opportunity to own a home by the age of nineteen after moving to the city.  Jobs were plentiful in the 80’s.  Health care went through many changes during that period.  There were many physicians, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities all growing larger in number, offering specialized care.  No longer did one go to the pharmacy without a prescription to obtain a needed behind the counter drug.  Insurance companies paid a patients bill with out the high out of pocket cost that are seen today.

Today there are retirement communities, retirement jobs, and senior housing for those that can afford or qualify for them. There are over 15,000 senior citizen centers in the United States that offer all types of recreation and social affairs. In addition, they enable seniors to live and experience healthier lives.

Some boomers are like me; living on one income, working and waiting for more health care changes.  Others are struggling with taking care of aging parents while juggling their work lives and family responsibilities.  Some have postponed retirement due to the economy and job loss.  Then there are those that are trying to help their grown children that have had job loss during these difficult times.  Boomers are going back to school, taking on jobs to supplement their retirement income.  Some people are ready for retirement so they can relax, travel, and do things that they have waited so long to do. Therefore, that is how it is.

No matter how it was or how it is, one thing still remains the same. Life is life and it is important how we live it!  The past is the past.  In today’s world, we have the resources along with our wisdom.  It is up to us to be creative and utilize the resources that are available to us.  Each one of us has our own opinion as to what retirement means in our life.  We are the beginning of a big change yet to come!

Originally posted 2011-03-08 13:57:47.

Celebrating 100 years

Celebrating 100 years
By Sunny Lockwood

While many dream of traveling around the globe to see such wonders as the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China, there is an equally spectacular site in the western hemisphere. And it is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

What is it? The Panama Canal

This 50-mile waterway, connecting the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, changed our world. When it officially opened in 1914, it cut nearly 8,000 miles off the shipping routes from New York to San Francisco,

Considered the eighth wonder of the world, today the Panama Canal accommodates more than 14,000 ships a year carrying cargo ranging from automobiles to grain, on their passage between the oceans.

More than 10 percent of all U.S. shipping goes through the canal.

Cruising the Panama Canal

But for travelers who want to not only view interesting places but actually experience them, cruising through the Panama Canal is unforgettable. Cruise lines offer an array of such trips from a variety of starting ports.

Depending on a traveler’s pocketbook and calendar, transits can be partial (where the ship enters the canal, goes to Gatun Lake, then turns around and goes back out the same locks used to enter the canal) or full (entering the canal from one ocean and exiting at the far end into the other ocean).

When my husband and I cruised on Holland America’s ms Zuiderdam in 2012, it took more than eight hours to make the entire transit.

Our 82,000-ton ship barely fit in the locks, and being smoothly lifted and lowered 85-feet as the locks filled or emptied, was like riding a magic carpet.

There are three sets of locks at each end of the canal. Two lanes allow two ships to move through the locks at the same time. Each ship climbs up three locks at the start of the canal, and then down three at the end.

Lock chambers are 1,000-feet long and 110-feet wide.

One of the magical aspects of our transit through the locks, then through the nine-mile cut through the Continental Divide (think Rocky Mountains), then through the huge man-made Gatun Lake, and out the locks at the Canal’s far end, was that we and our ship did the transit exactly like that first ship had when the canal opened on August 15, 1914.

No computers at all. Everything is run by gravity and electricity. Gravity fills and empties the locks, lifting ships 85 feet above sea level at the beginning of the Canal, and then lowering them again at the end. And the electricity that opens and closes lock doors, and runs everything else at the canal is created by the canal’s dams. It’s all very self-sufficient.

Our trip was a spectacular and historic experience.

This centennial year would be the perfect time to visit this engineering wonder of the world. And cruising along its watery pathway is both inspiring and sobering (when you consider that more than 26,000 lives were lost in the building of this most famous short cut).

My only suggestion to make the trip more meaningful, would be to do some historical research into the building of the Canal. As you learn about the dream and how hard it was to make it all come true, you’ll appreciate the amazing journey across the Isthmus of Panama.

About the Author

Sunny Lockwood and her husband, Al, have traveled by foot, car, rail, air and cruise ship. Wherever they go, they capture unforgettable moments – Al with his camera and Sunny with her reporter’s notebook. Their work for newspapers and magazines has won national, regional and local awards. Cruising Panama’s Canal, savoring 5,000 nautical miles and 500,000 decadent calories is their first travel memoir. It’s available at amazon.com.

Connect with them on Facebook: Cruising Panama’s Canal

coming out of the Culebra Cut and into Gatun Lake
View from the Crow’s Nest, which is above the bow of ms Zuiderdam. We are coming out of the Culebra Cut and into Gatun Lake. Gatun Lake covers about 180 square miles and makes up the center of the Canal.

Originally posted 2014-07-06 18:15:33.

Planning for a Successful Retirement

Most of us know how important it is to stay flexible with our retirement planning due to life situations. Things can happen that will set us on a different

successful retirementMost of us know how important it is to stay flexible with our retirement planning due to life situations.  Things can happen that will set us on a different course.  Many of these have happened to me.  In order to not get discouraged, it is important to stay as flexible as possible.  Acceptance is the key.  Just know that it is okay to take a different road if necessary or even just because you want to do it.

Tips for a Successful Retirement

Here are some things that may require flexibility as you go into your retirement journey.

  1. Housing – You may own your home but decide that a smaller one would be less work.  Then a senior apartment or villa might interest you.  Recently, I looked into some that offered house cleaning services, meals, health care provisions, recreational activities and trips.  If you enjoy the company of those your age then a 55 community might be what you would like.
  2. Travel- Some people decide to travel after many years of raising children or working.  This may not have been something that you were able to do during your earlier years.  Maybe you have found that your finances in retirement may not include cruises or trips to Europe.  Consider touring your own city or a near by state.  There are bus tours that are offered at adult centers.  These groups have fun!
  3. Television has changed.  Some of your favorite programs are no longer there.  Try reading, going to the library, exercising at the senior center, volunteering, or starting a new retirement hobby.
  4. Maybe in your earlier years you had a mate but you now find yourself alone at retirement age.  Friends can be made at church, senior centers, and social media.  You might even want to join a site for dating which is for seniors.
  5. Then there are those of us that have not been so successful with finances due to life circumstances and changes in the economy.  There are part time jobs that you may want to consider to supplement your retirement or social security income.
  6. Maybe you thought that your grown children would always be there for you.  Instead, they may have had to move far away due to job needs.  In that case, look into long term insurance, learn about assisted living, have an immediate emergency plan.  Learn about the resources in your area that are offered through hospitals, churches, senior centers, and many civic centers.
  7. Times are changing.  Post offices are even starting to disappear.  Be receptive to change.  Take a computer class.  Take advantage of learning opportunities at a near by college or library.  Many courses are offered for free.
  8. Transportation- There may have been a time that you drove your vehicle.  Now, for whatever reason, driving is not possible.  Find our about transportation that is in your area.  Some areas have public transportation with discounts for seniors.
  9. Gardening and lawn care-  Plant what you love!  Try some new things that might grow easily.  It might even be time to invest in a riding lawn mower if your yard is large.  Then again, if finances allow, look into hiring some help for those hot summer days.  Also if you live where there is lots of snow, help another by having them shovel your driveway.  They can use the money and you can use the help.  It is okay.  After all we want to stay safe and warm in our golden years.
  10. Diet and exercise-  At one time you may have enjoyed all those high calorie and high cholesterol foods.  I am hear to tell you that weigh is much easier taken off in the early years.  Read all you can about healthy eating, exercising and then do what you can.  You may find you feel better and really enjoy it.  It doesn’t take an expensive gym or exercise equipment.  Walking can reduce stress and is very healthy.
  11. Support system-  Some of us lack a healthy support system of friends or relatives.  Socialization is important as we age during our retirement years.  This is something that I need to work on myself since I am a night shift worker.  Remember, you are not alone.  Keep trying to meet people that understand, are caring, and honest with you.  Reaching out can sometimes be hard but we must do it.  Again, there are many clubs that you can join to meet people.  There are book clubs, fitness clubs, bird watching clubs,nature clubs, travel clubs and many others.  Find your niche and go for it!
  12. Pets-  If you are able to care for a pet and like animals, then get one.  Of course you must be able to care for their health too.  They can make a great companion and supply unconditional love.  There are many shelters with loving pets that may just be waiting for your love.

As you can see from reading, I did not focus on finances for a reason.  Many times in life, we plan and our plans can be taken away in a day, week, month or year.  This happened to me as it has happened to many of you that are boomer age.  I hope that this blog has made you think, not worry.  Our brains need exercise to stay healthy.  I hope that you add many positive comments to this list for all of us to consider. What have you encountered in your retirement planning that has helped when staying flexible as things change to stay the course for a successful retirement?

Originally posted 2012-04-12 11:39:57.