Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Youth, Old Age and Other Anomalies

Ladies and Gentlemen ...

From the mouths of our youth: "My parents just don’t get it."
From the mouths of our seniors: "The kids of today just don’t understand.”

Hmm. How many times have we all heard that?

It's as if the older we get, the more unrelatable we become. Don't they know we were once young too?

And ... what's our excuse? Do we really not understand ..?

Allow me share 10 senior perspectives with you (I'm 84; I've earned the right!):

1. So, what is youth? A young person on their way to becoming a senior citizen is neither a strange life form nor an alien race. With any luck, we all start as one and end up as the other. And then what?

2. As youth we crave romance and love. As seniors we can fall in love and have romance if we chose to. Not too much difference there.

3. In our youth we learn about sex. When we become seniors, we can continue to have sex if we are healthy and choose to (snicker if you choose; certainly our years of practice allows us to even better meet our partners' needs. What a great thought)!

4. Seniors can be open books. If we choose to. Again, the right of choice has certainly been earned.

5. Seniors have that much more life experience from which we learn our lessons and build upon.

6. Youth makes mistakes. Seniors make mistakes. They're also, indeed, human! Go figure.

7. Seniors still have to go about the daily business of life.

8. Seniors have feelings, just like them young 'uns.

9. In fact, seniors were young once! OMG!

10.  Seniors never become immune to loss, though they may pretend otherwise. Or, they may shield themselves, like some of you, because from past experience they know that the pain of losing someone close can be near-unbearable. Many, however, develop different outlooks when confronted with the inevitability of loss, including their own mortality, which enables them to move forward with grace, or courage.


I have worked in hospice care. As in, I have aided some that have been in hospice care, and I have been there for families of hospice patients who needed someone to talk to during those most difficult of moments.

Does this make me special in any way? Of course not. It makes me human (there we go again).

I consider myself a fairly religious man. I am Jewish by faith and I study Torah, the Jewish holy book. I encourage all of you, regardless of faith, blood or culture, to find your spirituality and learn from your testaments.

Regardless of how old you are, it is never too late to learn. There is no substitute for knowledge.


Let's address the business of finance for a moment.

If you have a spouse, and that spouse asks for security .... and you both work hard towards that goal ... is paying the electric bill and rent enough?

I don't think so.

An overlooked aspect of the aging process is learning how to take care of one's finances. However, regardless of one's chronological age, if one does not apply themselves to this skill, you will fail.

The news recently featured a 75 year-old man who lost the majority of his savings when the economy crashed. Last year, at 74, he realized he had to go back to work. He's always eaten right, exercised and stayed healthy ... so he was optimistic he'd find something. He was right. He now works two jobs: working for a fast food restaurant behind the counter in the day, and at nights as a doorman for a Las Vegas hotel.

His wife, meantime, is ill and needs him home to take care of her.

I don't know the man, nor do I wish to be critical of him. I do, however, feel somewhat bad for him. Perhaps, if he had planned differently, or better ...

In my book, "How to Prepare for Old Age (If You Haven't Married into a Wealthy Family)" we will outline steps regarding how best to prepare for such financial emergencies. Note that there is no singular answer. My thoughts on the matter are based not only on personal experiences, but also on the successes of many who have been there before.

To summarize this entry I will say this: The only real problem with kids today ... is that many of them - not all - fail to plan. I've said this before, and I will repeat it until it sinks in.

More tomorrow, where we will discuss ... romance ...


Monday, October 28, 2013


My name is Bernard Otis. I am 84 years of age.

This is my very first Blog entry.

I actually did not know what a "Blog" was until yesterday.

Today's date is October 28, 2013.

On the day I was born someone whispered into my ear, “You are going to die.” They just forgot to tell me when.

Okay, that was a metaphor. But you get the picture.

A strange thing happened to me when I entered the world. I began to take a journey which, as I now understand it, will someday soon get me to a "final destination."

Now, to all of you young folks out there - or anyone else who is traveling with me - read what I have to say because it will surely help you on your way. Our journeys are the same, filled with much joy, some sadness ... My personal goal is to have you say, when you do get to your destination: "It was a good life."

What made my journey so interesting was that when I started out, I did not look or even act like the people I am about to describe.

What a strange group of people they were - certainly, I could never become one of "them." You know, the old ones, the men and women of my Detroit neighborhood who could barely walk, or talk for that matter. They couldn’t play baseball or tennis like I did. Surely they could not have sex. (Shhh, neither did I yet but you get the picture!) I don't even want to think about that. But these old people, they were so ... different. And they always seemed to forget ... everything.

If I was being nice, I would see an older stranger and ask, "What's your name?" Sometimes, they would just smile. I didn't even know if they could hear me, or even see me. I didn't know if they even remembered the answer to the question I asked. A public school friend once explained this condition as Old-Timer's Disease.

So guess what? As I traveled on I began to gradually change and become more and more like them. Even scarier was that my parents seemed to be moving in that direction also;  soon I found that instead of them taking care of me, I had to slowly start taking care of them

Before I knew it ... I 'was' one of "them!" I didn't think it could ever happen to me, but now that I'm here ... I'm having the time of my life!

And, though I do not fear the Reaper, I am also, emphatically, not ready to die. Along the way, I listened and learned what one has to do to be able to live a long purposeful life.

We all have the ability to choose. So ... choose life!

I've been told I have a pretty good sense of humor. I guess I need to these days, as this is what passes for humor in my world:

Three old guys, all hard of hearing, were playing golf one sunny spring morning. One says to another, "Windy, isn't it?" "No," the second man answers, "it's Thursday." The third guy, listening in, pipes up, "So am I! Let's grab a beer."

Actually, that's not half-bad. How about this one:

“An 85 year old woman is in the hospital near death and is being visited by her clergyman. She tells him that she has two final requests before she dies. He asks her what they are and she says, “First, I want to be cremated and second, I want the ashes scattered over Bloomingdales in New York.” He again asks her why she wants the ashes scattered over Bloomingdales and she replies, “That way I will be sure to be visited at least twice a week by my daughters.”

I learned so much though my journey I have been compelled to write a book and share my experience with you. It is entitled, "How to Prepare For Old Age (If You Haven't Married Into a Wealthy Family)". The book is a combination of my life story - and some wisdom I never had before. Maybe now I have - finally - found my purpose.

I will blatantly promote my book-in-progress throughout my blog entries, because it's my blog and I'm entitled to it! Actually, it's my blog and I'm promoting something I feel more strongly about than most anything in my life, save for family. I simply want to make a difference in this world.

And my vehicle ... is my writing.

Am I overstepping my bounds? No way! Who is this codger that believes he knows all there is to know about aging, about dying ... about living?

Certainly not me. I know no more than many, if not most, my age.

However, what I do hope is the difference-maker is that I'm putting the life down on paper. In the event, maybe from a cursory review of my good decisions - and otherwise - I will cultivate the audience I seek: the younger folk (defined as anyone who has not yet hit 84), who I sincerely hope will learn - and earn - from my experiences.

And maybe, also, I will leave something behind that my children, and my late wife, would be proud of.

Unaccountable others have written autobiographies. But my book, and this blog, are meant to be something more ...

So, because I still have plenty of work to do, I welcome you to my Senior Moments of life, love and wisdom ...


Bernard ("Bernie") Otis is the author of the upcoming international bestseller, "How To Prepare For Old Age (If You Haven't Married Into A Wealthy Family)". If you have a question or comment, please send me an email to seymour.otis@gmail.com.


Bernard S. Otis
Bernard S. Otis Consulting Services

Bernard Otis is a noted author, writer, sales trainer and speaker, and nationally-recognized business management consultant, customer service trainer, food service facilities planner, trained hospice caregiver and community leader.

He is the past president of the Rotary, Crohn’s Colitus Foundation, the American Telemarketing Association and numerous community groups.