It certainly is not a bowl of cherries at times! I was reading the article from a man who has “lost everything” who has a wife who cries all the time due to their circumstances. As I read the replies it came to me. We can choose to be the victim or the victor.
I don’t mean that he will suddenly be rich again or that he will overnight have oodles of cash in the bank, no, what they as a couple can decide is what they can do about their situation. If nobody cares, show you can care.
I speak from experience, and there are many weeks when the day before our pension comes in we have ten dollars in the bank. So I am not lolling about on a silk couch saying “let them eat cake”. I know how to make a small amount of money feed us sensibly, we pay our rent and the bills, and then have a juggling game to make the rest last. If a piece of equipment breaks down it can be a major hazard for us, or if the car needs repairs or the cat needs the vet. So what can you do if suddenly there is half the amount of money coming in, or even less?
We sold the house in Melbourne and had very little left over, long story, but it was because we had a mortgage when the rate of repayment was 17 per cent. We also lost on investments. We lived in a caravan for a few weeks at a beautiful little spot in Gippsland, then progressed to renting a mobile home, which was wonderful as it had three bedrooms and a new carpet and was ridiculously cheap to rent.
So, tips for older people in a bad situation?
Tip 1. Get out there, show what you can do. Downsize if possible. Look for ways to help others. Try a smaller town. I volunteered at the local hospital, visiting residents in the nursing home. Later a job came up as a home carer, only a few hours at first, but I took it, then eventually it led to a course for work as a personal assistant at the nursing home, showering, feeding and caring for the residents. I was about 63 when I eventually worked there, having completed and passed the course.
Later I added another course to my work skills. I trained as an activities assistant dealing with dementia sufferers, which helped me to work longer in a less physical occupation. Nursing was tough on the old body I gave up work when I turned seventy. I don’t even drive. I used a bike to get around when I did home care!
My husband joined Lions, helped in the community and became well known, so much so that they asked him to stand for council. For three years he was on Wellington Council. We had help with the car and telephone and a very small amount to assist with the travel and long hours away. So within a year or so we were both working. It made a huge difference.
Tip 2. Use any talents you have. Think what are you good at? Mow lawns, clean houses or help around the garden!
My husband was a good writer; he got occasional work on the local newspaper, doing reporting and taking photos.
I was good at painting, so I made and sold some craft items. It was small time but made the odd dollar.
Tip 3. Grab chances even if you aren’t sure you can do it. Friends used to clean a small country school. We helped once and they decided they didn’t want to do it anymore, so we offered and we were accepted.
This was a tough spell as my husband was going to council meetings until late some nights. I was working doing my home care during the day and we had to rush from one job to the other some days. Nobody could accuse us of being lazy. Add to this, my husband was on two committees and President of Lions. So those years from 60-70 were full on. It got quieter a little while ago, as we gave up most jobs then. Also the time had come to slow down. We miss the money we earned and life is tight sometimes, but now we have time to write and paint and smell the roses.
Tip 4. Be a savvy shopper. Shop when the supermarket puts meat out cheaper, buy the “special” vegetables as long as they are fresh enough they are fine, get your clothes in good op shops, I can dress very well on very little and I buy good labels. A Country Road top for $4.00 is a bargain after all. A pure wool coat for $11.00 takes some beating too.
But the story proves even if it seems hopeless and there is light at the end of the tunnel, try to go out into the world, make friends, listen to people, offer help, and perhaps like us you need to move to a smaller community, where I have positive proof that people care. When we moved into this house in the town, someone arrived with hot soup and fresh bread. Now that doesn’t happen in the city does it?
When the going gets tough, what do you do? How do you overcome your challenges? Tell us in the comments below!