I was prompted to write this post after having read this one and not agreeing with everything on its list. I doubt if I would agree with it for people in their 30s, and I certainly have a different list for those of us who are "under 90".
My list below is written to parallel that one to some extent, which is why I included these items and not others. I'll be happy to make changes or additions.
1. A dark suit. People our age have many sombre events to attend, and a dark suit is often appropriate for them. It doesn't have to be black, necessarily. Just respectful and subdued. I don't have a black suit. This one will do for most situations.
And at our age, certainly not tailored!
2. Some nice dress shoes to go with that suit. Walking shoes, runners, etc. just don't cut it for those occasions.
My dress shoes are all quite old, but I try to get them repaired when possible.
3. However, comfortable hiking/running/walking shoes are a must.
4. Conservative investments. At least some of your investments should be conservative. When you are young, you can put only equities into your savings/retirement portfolio but as you approach senior status, the vagaries of the market can be devastating, so have some conservative investments, and maybe even a lot. My own retirement fund has only 30% equities in it.
5. Reasonable tools. I disposed of many of my tools when we moved into an apartment condo, but I still have an electric drill, a sabre saw, hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, and a socket set.
Update: Ms. Eclectic says she doesn't need all those tools. Maybe some pliers, a hammer, a screwdriver set, and a tape measure would be sufficient.
6. A convenient wallet. Credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, i.d. cards, medical cards, etc. We have enough cards to carry around that I use one of these. It seems as good as and much less expensive than the similar Bellroy, which is advertised all over the place.
And as we age, we come recognize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a velcro closure on the wallet.
7. Depends. Fortunately I don't need them yet, but they are infinitely superior to the alternative.
There is sometimes a lot of snickering from younger people about this topic, but consider this fact: in 2012, Japan sold more diapers for adults than for children.
8. A watch with big numbers. Once again, pretentions of elegance must give way to practicality. I prefer a digital watch with a bright night light (Indiglo) for night viewing plus the greenish daytime background for easier time-telling in the bright sunlight.
These are some of the watches I have. The pocket watches belonged to my grandfather and, as you can see, I never bothered to get one of them repaired. The Rolex is a replica (i.e. knock-off), but at least it is self-winding, not battery-powered. The digital Armitron has the right-sized face but sticks up a bit too high on my wrist. My preference is the Timex digital Expedition with a velcro strap.
Let me add that Ms. Eclectic also wears a digital watch with large numerals. I realize that many people just use their cellphones to keep track of the time nowadays, but it is much easier for most of us under 90s to use a watch.
9. A proper mattress. We are not going to sleep in our recliners ALL the time. Over the years, I have found that memory foam works best for me. But if it is too firm, I don't sleep so well. Initially we tried to get by with a memory foam topper, but now we use a king-sized Tempur-pedic.(but not quite this fancy!)
10. Flashlights. As we age and our eyes don't work so well, having a good flashlight is important. I have one on my smartphone, of course, but we also have several others, including a couple of the rechargeable kind that turn on when the power goes off -- invaluable.
11. Duct tape.
Right now we have black, grey, blue, red, pink, and brown. It comes in handy for so many different things.
12. Four-wheeler luggage (also called "spinners"). It is SO much easier to get around at airports or bus stations with four-wheelers than with two-wheelers.
13. A really good recliner. We know we are going to live in our recliner, so let's be comfortable while we're at it. In my case, the recliner is also my office.
Don't go for the bargain model because it will become lumpy and uncomfortable after only a year or two.
The one I have now is a La-z-Boy. I don't much like it, so I'm speaking from experience here. This one is noisy and not all that comfortable. I've had better ones. And as I age, I think maybe I should consider a power-lift recliner! ;-)
14. Nose and ear hair trimmer. Why are those the only two places where more hair grows as we age. Trimmers are inexpensive and they can help.
15. Electric openers. Especially jar openers and wine openers (corkscrews). Arthritis takes a toll, and these electric gadgets are immeasurably helpful. I have written about them before (see this), and I still think they are spectacularly useful and spectacularly fun. Also be sure to keep channel-lock pliers handy for opening champagne bottles.
16. A list of ICE [In-Case-of-Emergency phone numbers]. We have little lists on our fridge front, in our wallets, and on our smartphones.
17. A cellphone (and learn how to use it!). Make sure you have it with you at all times. Know how to call a few friends or members of your family; also know how to call emergency numbers! This is a lifeline in case you fall, are stranded, have car trouble, etc. It doesn't have to be a smartphone, but Ms Eclectic and I both love having smartphones.
I use a Samsung Note2 (on the right, above) most of the time, but I have a small pink pay-as-you-go cellphone with a different carrier (Telus) that I carry for emergency use whenever I expect I won't be on the Rogers System, e.g. when I'm in Saskatchewan.
18. A high-quality knife set. Dull knives are frustrating and likely to lead to injury, so get a good set and keep the knives sharp. We have several different knives from different sets, but they are all quite good, and I keep them sharp.
Notice two things of importance:
- We put the knives in the rack with the sharp edge facing up. That saves the sharpness on the blades. Many current knife sets have horizontal (instead of vertical) knife slots; that works, too.
- All our knives have steel right through the entire handle. That is generally considered preferable to knives that don't extend all the way through the handles.
19. A passport. You pretty much need a passport to fly anywhere or cross any guarded border these days, and you cannot get one quickly in an emergency, so get one and keep it up to date, just as a precaution.
Update: I listed a passport because even if you do not think you will be traveling internationally, you might change your mind. Having a passport and not having to rush around to try to get one is a good form of insurance. Marjorie has added that if you think you might travel a lot to the US, then getting a Nexus card makes sense, too.
20. A sewing kit of some sort. It doesn't have to be fancy, but a few pins and needles (and a needle threader or some self-threading needles might be a good addition) along with a few spools of thread always come in handy. At the very least, save a couple of the basic kits provided in some hotel rooms.
We actually have more than just the hotel kits for sewing -- more spools of thread and some decent scissors, etc. We also have a fancy sewing machine, but it is so fancy it overwhelms me. I'm not even sure any sewing machine is vital for under-90s. The last time I used one was several years ago to sew buttonholes in the corners of our serviettes (aka napkins). [see this and this]
21. An umbrella. Ms Eclectic and I don't agree on this. She doesn't carry or use an umbrella, but I enjoy having one. Actually we have 3 or 4: one in the car, one in each of my different shoulder bags, and one in the closet. I prefer the double-layered ones that seem more wind resistent (like the maroon one in this photo), and the push-to-open; push-to-close button is really nice.
We also like having hoods on our spring/fall/winter jackets.
22. A good hat to protect you from the sun. I don't know why, but it seems older people are more sensitive to the sun; I have been for years because of my baldness. I wear a Tilley much of the time, but I also carry a hat that folds up pretty small (see photo); Ms Eclectic is still experimenting.
23. A good, solid, easy-to-use stepstool. Changing lightbulbs will surely become an uncommon experience as we shift to using more LED bulbs, but every once in awhile we need to reach something that is up higher than we can reach (especially as we shrink in height and lose our ability to stand up so straight). And a chair sometimes is too hard to get up on, or not high enough or stable enough. This one has been in the family for quite awhile and is very useful (even for putting red reflector noses on deer-warning signs). If I were buying one now, I might consider a three-stepper.
24. Stain removers. I used to be grossed out by people who spilled food on their shirts during meals. Nowadays, I consider it a victory if I don't. Tide sticks are a necessity, as are spray spot removers for the shirts. Maybe I should buy more stain-repellent shirts and pants to deal with this?
25. An automatic card shuffler. People in older cohorts like to play cards (apparently more than the younger generations, but I'm not so sure about this). Arthritis attacks the knuckles makes it hard to shuffle. We gave our automatic card shuffler away because we don't need one yet, but when we do: Automatic card-shufflers to the rescue!
26. Lint rollers for both pet hair AND dandruff! Be sure to check that dark suit in item #1 before leaving home.
27. A good optometrist and optician. I like transition lenses (that go dark in the sun) so I don't have to worry about sunglasses. But I detest progressive lenses (no-line bi- or tri-focals) because the field of vision is too narrow with them. Whatever your tastes, make sure you have a good optometrist and a good optician to work with.
That having been said, I would likely order my glasses from Zenni Optical if they would produce tri-focals. The prices there are amazingly low.
28. Lots of remotes. We have at least 14. It makes life so much easier.
From the livingroom and dining room:
And from the bedrooms:
29. A subscription to a good cable/music system. We don't bother with CDs and downloaded music anymore. We just find a music channel on tv that suits our mood and listen to that. In fact, I gave away all but a few of our CDs (shown below) last year.
30. Good walking sticks. Whenever you go walking, if you use a cane, you look and feel old and decrepit; but use a walking stick, and you look fit and cool.
My cane is on the left; I have used it off and on over the past few years. You can imagine that when it is in my luggage, it arouses suspicion at airports!
One of my walking sticks is on the right. I take it with me whenever there is a slight chance I might be able to do some hiking (joints permitting).
Marjorie has added a suggestion that a cane with a collapsible seat might be a good idea for some of us at times.
31. A Tassimo or a Keurig. A potful of coffee is too much, and while I don't mind reheated leftover coffee, even I don't like leftover coffee that's more than two days old, so making a full pot just isn't worthwhile. Also with a Tassimo or Keurig, you can choose something different everyday.
And as you can see, we make sure we have LOTS of choice each time we use the machine. The only time it is a bother is if you are trying to make coffee for a large group of people.
32. Good socks. There is no point having good shoes if you don't have good socks. I recently gave about 30 pairs of socks to Mission Services, but I still have maybe 50 pairs.
33. Good underwear. Dontcha hate when it rides up? And make sure it fits properly. I buy mine at J.C. Penney in the US. I'm going to stock up the next time I'm there because I'm not sure how long that store will be around.
[You didn't really think I would put a photo of my underwear here, did you?]
34. A really good set of non-stick skillets. We have three different sizes, and the non-stick coating is like magic. We love them.
We don't store them this way; we put plastic between them to protect the finish. These are Heritage Artisan pans that we bought at Canadian Tire. They are on sale maybe once every three or four months and are very inexpensive then. And they are miraculous.
35. Spring for some nice sheets and bedding. My only regret is that nobody these days seems to make high thread-count sheets with bold geometric designs.
36. Good booze. Sure, you can buy standard, acceptable stuff for lower prices (and we do), but keep some good stuff around, too, whether it is vodka, gin, rum, bourbon, or scotch. I always try to have some Lagavulin, Caol Ila, or other good scotch around.
37. Practical dishes. Ms Eclectic and I have probably gone throught 4 or 5 different types of sets of dishes, but it turns out that the ones we like best are some white dishes we bought for maybe $9 per box of 4 place settings from Canadian Tire. They're not perfectly formed, as you can see, but they are just fine for us. And we actually like the minor imperfections.
The ramekins are from Dollarama, and suit us very well.
We also have some unique ceramic dishes -- the brown ones in the photo. I've broken a few bowls, though, and the "artist" doesn't use that glaze anymore, and so we've moved away from using them much.
Speaking of broken dishes, Corelle is the saviour of those of us who bang things around or drop them inadvertently. We have a bunch of Corelle serving bowls.
38. A decent car. The next-to-last car we bought was in a bit of an emergency situation. It was a great car (our son is still using it and having no problems with it), but it didn't really satisfy me. So we shopped a bit longer for the one we drive now, and it quite suits me.
39. A decent e-reader (or tablet with e-reader apps). Give away your hard-copy books. They take up way too much space and weigh a tonne if you're trying to pack a bunch of them along when you travel. With e-readers you can load up a bunch of books; furthermore, with e-readers nobody can see the cover and judge your taste in reading material.
40. Finally, get a computer and learn how to use it. Do email with your family and friends, and consider joining Facebook so you can keep in touch with friends and family from all over. Some people may think I spend too much time on the computer, especially on Facebook and email, but the contacts I have made, have retained, and have renewed have greatly enriched my life.
- MA suggests i.d. tags for grandchildren (not entirely in jest. See this).
- Phil says "headphones, especially for those of us with kids around the house." We rarely have kids around the house, and when we do I want to be with them and not shut them out with headphones. But I still love the suggestion. I would guess that several times a day I receive email with sound or music. I hate to disturb Ms Eclectic by playing those files through my speakers, so I use headphones to listen to them. My favourites, especially when I travel, are noise-cancelling headphones, but I have several others, too.
- JH suggests pants with elastic waistbands. He attached these photos.
and "About Town":
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