Barbara Carlson might have lost her money, but she hasn’t lost her enthusiasm. “I want to help every little old lady in Minneapolis,” she said. To wit, she offers these tips for elders dealing with financial crises:
Contact the neighborhood senior center. They’re a great source of information on what assistance is available and how to apply for it.
Protect your health. Schedule checkups with your doctor, exercise regularly — “You can do it in a chair, you can do it in bed” — and eat healthful foods. If you can’t afford good, fresh food, don’t be shy about reaching out to a food bank for help.
Keep your mind agile. Carlson plays mahjong weekly with a group of friends. To add to the pressure, they play for quarters. “If you go on a bad streak, you can lose $5 or $6,” she said. “If you’re poor, you have to win.”
Find a passion. She paints at a senior center.
Buy a vibrator. “This topic makes some people nervous,” she admitted, “but it’s important.”
Dress as well as you can. Looking good is the first step toward feeling good about yourself. “Shop at Goodwill or the resale stores,” she advised. “They’ve got lots of good stuff.”
Don’t go out without your dentures. (And, yes, she’s speaking from experience.)
Find volunteer work. “No matter how little you have, there’s always someone out there who doesn’t have as much as you do,” she said. “You can’t feel sorry for yourself if you’re helping someone else. We’re here for a reason — and it’s not to whine.”