Travel: A Remarkable Body/Mind Therapy for Seniors

Health Secrets

I hope the flight is on time

Do you sometimes feel like living in a cage? Not the sturdy, steel-bar kind but just as confining. It is your self-limiting thoughts that lock you in a lonely, uneventful and often miserable existence.

Your thoughts detain you in your comfort zone; fearful of the uncertainties that may come should you dare venture out. Thus you grudgingly accept your lack of purpose, of staring at the same old, scruffy walls of your home, eat microwavable meals, watch old and boring sitcoms, and talk to people as old as you and as locked in their own cages.

You find life to be such a drag.

Being a live-alone widower, I sometimes feel the same way – like a hamster going round and round its wheel. It is maddening. So each time I like a hamster, I get up, get out and just go before I implode.

You should do the same –when you feel the walls closing in on you, just go, anywhere, and loosen yourself up a bit.

A walk around the neighborhood is often good enough. If you want to explore, have an adventure, go for a long drive, or take a train or a plane trip to a far, far away place. Believe me, it is remarkably therapeutic to both body and mind.


How is travel good for the body?

It is a good exercise, especially for seniors, i.e., dragging your heavy baggage around, running after a taxi, or lining up in front of a check-in counter.

Exploring the streets of unfamiliar cities, or walking around museums, sightseeing or leafing through bookstores is exercise you couldn’t at home.

US News reported that a typical travel can make you walk up to 10 miles a day.


Why is it good for the mind?

Traveling exercise the mind as well.

Navigating new cities, exploring museums, chatting with new people, practicing new languages, and seeing new sights are all stimulating to the brain; they flex your mental muscles and keep your brain active.

Dr. Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis says, “With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”

Learning new things is good for the mind, so is giving it a rest.

Other benefits you get from traveling are:


1.  A change in scenery:
Travelling allows you to see new and different scenes.

You can walk through the clouds in mountain tops, or feel salty spree on your face while sitting on a quiet and lovely beach somewhere.

Though less frequent, but a scene in scenery is just as necessary for your body and mind as changing your linens, your underwear, or clothes.


2.  It is liberating:
Travel makes you forget, even for a while, your daily concerns and opens up a world of endless possibilities. It allows you to do whatever you want to do, and go wherever you want to go. That is freedom..

You can try out new things, explore places, or live outside of the norms you live by back home.

It can make you forget of your age and be as gleeful as a child again.


3.  Connecting with others:
Traveling gives you an excellent opportunity to connect with other people, i.e., the guy beside you in a bus, train, or plane, for example.

They are not just people who happen to be near you, but valuable sources of information, and possibly becoming good friends.

They can give you invaluable safety tips, interesting points to see, places to avoid, nearest police station or hospital.

If done amiably, a few minutes of friendly conversation can allow you to see them as they are, like how they live where they work, their marital status, or number of children, if they have any, etc.

While waiting for my daughter and her hubby who were window-shopping, I talked with the mall’s security guard. From him I learned so much about the city, which I could never have through walking around the shopping center.


4.  Allows you to find yourself:
In the course of a day, you are so engrossed with money, relationship, and health issues to know that there is so much in life other than fighting bushfires.

To see the horizon, you need to view it from a distance.

Traveling gives you that distance; it is seeing things from outside your cage. It allows you to see yourself from another perspective, i.e., your life’s purpose, your values, your needs, what makes you happy or sad, what interests you most in life, and your goals and ambitions..

Away from the maddening crowd, travel allows you to find yourself.

This year I have logged a lot of travel mileage. Most of them were with my daughter and her hubby who kindly took me along. The rest were solos.

Regardless of the mode, I always come home refreshed, rejuvenated and with lots of memories of the trip and a ton of pictures for posterity.

I plan to make three solos before the year is over and next year, when I turn 70, I plan to take a very long motorcycle ride.

That is how addicting travel is. Once it gets into your system, and make you want to do it as long as you can.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.


Simple Tips to Avoid Money Problems

Health Secrets

Got money problems?

Money problems can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sex or financial situation.

While younger people may be able to squeeze out of it with ease, the elderly often get mired in all the problems that come with lack of money.

Elderly people no longer have the agility, stamina, and resourcefulness of their younger counterparts. Being retired and living off a pension that hardly makes both ends meet, they are forced to skimp on things that could have made their retirement fun and enjoyable.

Because of this, elderly people are the poorest demographic in many countries including the U.S. A lot of American senior citizens are hobbled with money problems due to decreasing assets, high loan interest payments, and day-to-day budgeting problems.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, 44.4 percent of households led by people 65 and above are deep in debt due to a home mortgage, co-authored student loans, credit card and insurance payments, loan refinancing or default payments.

Are you one of them? Do you sometimes feel like a circus juggler trying your best not to let a ball slip through your fingers for fear of embarrassing consequences if one does?

If you are not, don’t be smug about it. Any of the unforeseen vagaries in life can send you from your high perch directly to a shelter for the homeless, or line up in soup kitchens. It has happened to a lot of people before, it can happen to you.

Before it does (knock on wood), try these…

Simple tips to avoid money problems:

I am living off a very small social security pension which is just enough to pay the bills. A little help from my children and the proceeds of my late wife’s real properties which we sold off allowed me to survive this far.

I know how it is to face money problems each day. It has also made me devise ways to cope with it.

Here’s how…

1.  A good attitude about money:
Money is a tool to sustain life, not life itself.

So use it wisely and prudently. Just because you have an ax doesn’t mean you have to hack at everything that comes your way.

Once it is gone, it is gone for good. And if you are a retiree with no means or replenishing it, you will soon be deep in money problems.

Howard Schultz said: “…I have never defined myself by my net worth. I always try to define myself by my values.”


2.  Live humbly:
Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

Nothing is lonelier than a man ridiculed and vilified after spending his fortune on his friends.

I learned this lesson from my father. When he was on top of his world, our neighbors drooled around his feet. When his fortunes reversed, he was smirked at as he passed by.

You will never be remembered for the expensive things you had, but by how you touched other people’s lives.


3.  Go for what is comfortable, not expensive:
This is my mantra since the beginning and taught this value to my children.

If it is good enough for the price you are willing to pay for, why buy something that will just put pressure on your budget?

Sadly, keeping up with the Joneses is one of the unwholesome values of man. That’s why there are more poor than rich.

Don’t be one of them.


4.  Learn from your mistakes:
Barely three months after retirement, I lost a third of my retirement package through an investment fraud. That experience still sends shivers of anger down my spine – not against the fraudster but for being so stupid.

Bill Gates said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s important to heed the lesson of failure.”

Remember you are beyond your prime when bouncing back from costly money mistakes is practically impossible.


5.  Save:
This is a no-brainer, yet so many people go into retirement with not enough savings, or none at all. In fact, according to 28% of people aged 55 years and above have no retirement savings.

The reasons are fairly common, i.e., credit card payments, child’s college education, small salary, mortgage payments, etc. While they may be valid, they don’t necessarily make it impossible to save.

If you spend first, then save the rest, you can never save. It is only by saving a little first then spending the rest.

You may have to for substitutes or buy what you need, not what you want. No matter how small, over the course of a year, a penny saved every day will be substantial tomorrow.


6.  Stick to your budget:
Thomas Boone Pickens, chairman of the BP Capital Management, makes a list before going to the grocery and buys only what is on his list. He carries no more money than he needs. According to him, “You couldn’t spend money you don’t have.”

Yet he has money, lots of it. He is worth at least $1 billion.

Next to saving, budgeting is one thing people don’t want to do, or won’t do. They say the money they have is not worth budgeting.

Wrong. The less you have, the more you need to make a budget and stick to it.


7.  Learn some DIY stuff:
David Cheriton cuts his own hair to save on barbers.

For a guy who is worth $1.7 billion, this might be carrying things a bit far. But it does make a lot of sense not to pay for things you can do yourself.

Each time I mow my lawn, my neighbors would tell me to hire someone to do it. I can, but I don’t want to. Not only do I save a few bucks, I also get to exercise.

There are so many things around the house you can do yourself rather than hire someone to do it for you.

Money problems among the elderly cannot be taken lightly. It can affect your physical and mental health, put a strain on your relationship, and may cause family breakups.

It can make your retirement life a living hell.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.