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The aging homesteader

 
pollinator
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Black Rubbermaid Stock Tanks: yes, it was a few years ago, BUT Amazon provided me with CHEAP tanks, the low shallow, 3X4 foot ones and the 3 foot deep, 2x3 ones for less than a hundred bucks. I stalked the site until they went on sale and they were kindly delivered, to my doorstep, at no charge!
 
master gardener
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Hi Brandon,

I am pretty sure that with adequate planning, I will be able to keep livestock until I am 85.  My wife is concerned because the back yard is full of corrals  and trenches to run water lines.  I am hoping that by spring I will have water run to all the corrals, hot water in the barn, and a water tank for the garden.  Most of what I need has been bought, and much of the work has already been done.  I am hoping that many steps will be saved.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Scott,

Our financial situations vary. Heck, mine vary greatly from year to year.  Our property lay out varies as well. Have you considered a lean-to greenhouse attached to your home?
 
pollinator
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That’s actually in the plans John. We have a log cabin and my wife wants it to look appropriate and not some junk like I’d build. She says she has a plan and knows what it is she’d like to see there. She’s saving and ask for two years to save. Can’t argue with that! For now I use the south facing cabin as a season extension along with cold frames.
 
John F Dean
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Your plan makes sense from here.   I have all the materials to put in one on our house.  The problem is that our climate has shifted significantly in the years since the planning began.  I had originally planned to put in a walk out basement and attach it to that.  The excavation was done. But in the past 3 years we have seen significantly higher levels if rain. That has increased the brush growth. It seems like all I am doing is cutting back brush from the house.
 
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The lean-to green house attached to the house is a good idea. I hope to have such a thing as my earth sheltered home has large south side windows and access. Mine, located over an antique door and between windows will protect the door and serve as an airlock in the winter.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Roberta,

If you decide to use your greenhouse as an airlock for your entryway, dont forget that you will be regularly allowing cold air into your greenhouse.  You may need to put up some kind of partition to protect the plants you may have in it.
 
roberta mccanse
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Thanks, John. I don't use this access much in cold weather. Rather I go in and out through the garage. There is a significant overhang there that shelters one or more vehicles and wood for the stove. The sun comes in low directly from the south where the greenhouse is proposed, but days are short in winter.

The garage, on the other hand, faces West at the bottom of the driveway. (Temperature in the garage never gets below forty four degrees.) Significant snow often requires four wheel drive in order to get up and out. Fortunately I have good neighbors with large snow equipment.
IMG_20200106_165852781.jpg
Overhang at bottom of driveway
Overhang at bottom of driveway
 
John F Dean
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Sorry I didn't get back sooner. It looks like you have a great arrangement.
 
pollinator
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As mentioned before on another thread, I am 70 and just moved to a new piece of degraded land to start all over again,  Of course, there are things that I can't do any more or can't do so well.

I do take some precautions, since as someone mentioned above, a fall at 70 is not the same as a fall aged 20, 30 or 40.

I cannot, like most people seem to do, deal with highly raised beds or kneeling.  The slight inclination forward with my upper body in both cases would just kill my back.  I squat, always have, seems very easy and natural to me. After all, any one who wants to cr*p in the woods needs to squat, and a long time ago, squatting would have been the position of choice to give birth, if not for the convenience of the gynaecologist.  Anyway, enuf said...  I squat and of course sometimes it gets a bit stiff, so I move and do something else.  I now vary the chores on a regular basis throughout the day so that my body does not stress over repetitive motions.  I know that accidents are more likely to happen if I am tired and my concentration goes out of the window.

I now reluctantly carry my phone (don't like phones) in case something happens and hubby is on the other side of the property and can't hear me.  For the same reason, I also wear a whistle on a string around my neck,  it doesn't take as much space as a phone and doesn't need batteries. Doesn't mind being dumped in the barn or falling in a pile of muck or getting wet.  We tell each other where on the property we are going to be working, just to be safe.  We also now have a very comprehensive first aid box.

I stop work before dusk as the eyesight is not what it used to be and make sure there is a hand torch in various places, just in case.  I make a list of things I need to do, as my memory is also slipping by the wayside.  I label things more than I use to as I sometimes no longer remember if the plant hanging to dry is rocket or mizuna greens.  I make myself some 'aide memoire', for instance a couple of nights ago, I forgot to lock up the chickens, so now I have a very annoying gadget hanging on my door keys that reminds me that before I lock my door, I need to lock up the chickens.

To my daughter's greatest worry, my special skill is to skid and fall down on compacted snow, so now I just slip on some shoe snow grip.  Just takes a couple of seconds and could possibly prevent a hip replacement.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/WOWOSS-Grippers-Durable-Anti-slip-Traction/dp/B07L5CTGKS/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=shoe+snow+grip&qid=1598972834&sr=8-9

Muddy slippery paths are immediately covered up with hay, straw or wood chips.  I am more careful with the dogs and watch where they go as they are more likely to trip me over - my reaction time is not as fast these days.

Heat bothers me more than it used to, especially with the heat waves we seem to get nowadays (we got 105F/106F this summer).  I therefore get up at the crack of dawn, work until the heat gets unbearable (any time between 10am & 11am) then go indoors.  I have a siesta in the afternoon - rest is essential - and go back out around 6 or 7pm until I can't see enough to carry on safely, which in June  can be as late as 10 or 10.30 pm in my neck of the woods.

I loooove chopping wood and still do it regularly, only now, sometimes, a larger log defeats me, I guess that's when wwoofers come in handy!

Don't like yoga either but yes, I, also indulge in a massage now and again, although sometimes more of a necessity than an indulgence.  All in all, I am slower and more careful and I dare say that as time goes on, I will adapt more and more accordingly, but there is still plenty of life in the old girl yet and I'm not ready to give up the life I love any time soon!
 
John F Dean
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Hi Olga,

Yes, the cell phone. Since beginning this thread, I have forced myself to carry a cell phone and a staff. The staff is a great assist on uneven  terrain.  Of course, I end up leaving it propped up against something because I dont really needed it, but it seems like using it is a good habit to get into.  .....  especially for the winter.

I dont know if your comment was deliberate,   but you raised a great point.  Learning how to fall is  important.   Normally, a guided fall is much better than fighting it and making a bad situation worse.
 
Olga Booker
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Ha, yes!  The staff!  I indeed have a collection of them - well, hubby has, he's a sucker for a well crafted staff and we have more than we'll ever need.  We call then walking sticks here and his favorite annoying tune is :"Olga, where is your walking stick?"

Well, I don't know what you mean about being deliberate but I speak through my own experience.  Falling seems to be a rather hazardous occupation of mine!

I stopped working after dusk after I tripped over a pile of wood that was not there in the morning and I didn't see in the dark - I broke my elbow!  That's another thing we do actually since this incident, we tell each other what we have done during the day, to avoid these kind of surprises. After I rushed into the kitchen and tripped over a dog who thought something exciting was going to happen, I fell really hard on my knees, head butted the angle of the kitchen cupboard, bounce really fast and hit my face on the stone floor.  It happened so fast I had no way of preventing it and found myself with a lump the size of tennis ball on my forehead, a split lip and bruised knees, hence my careful monitoring of the dogs whereabouts and another lesson learned: don't rush!




 
roberta mccanse
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Purity, per your discussion, above:

"concentrating on micro dwarfs. Much more fun to grow, nice to work inside when its 110 outside.....they aren't as stressed and we are all happy as clams with this arrangement. They are happier, they are easier to take care of....and like wise provide me with more than enough summer produce.  Because the (they?) are smaller, I have more variety."

I am fasinated by your having obtained "micro dwarfs" to help with your gardening. Wherever do you find these little beings? I could certainly use about a dozen of them to work in my gardens, indoors and outdoors as well. I assume that they don't eat much, can probably feed themselves. I could prepare a dormetory arrangement for them in my garage or perhaps they would prefer my Ferretear drop trailer? Please share your source so that I may engage a few, at whatever wage they require, before we have a hard freeze.
IMG_20200901_150106756.jpg
Welcome Micro dwarfs!
Welcome Micro dwarfs!
 
John F Dean
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Hi Roberta,

I know they may be classified as farm laborers, but I would advise you to check with the Montana  Department of Labor first. Besides, Keebler may drive up your costs. They probably pay better than you would.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Olga,

Yes, I have had several close calls with one of our dogs.  He is a herd dog, and he feels the need to stick close to his work....unfortunately, that would be me.

I meant to ask if you deliberately mentioned falls to bring up the subject of how to fall.  From your injuries, I take that to be probably not.
 
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Lorrine,

What you are doing seems to be working for you.  In order to sleep tonight, I do have to share. Suction hand grips, suction grab bars , etc. terrify me.  If they release at the wrong moment, a great deal of damage can be done.



Last year when DH broke his leg, he agreed with you. We bought otherwise, extra heavy duty mounts!
 
John F Dean
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Hi Jennie,

Thanks for getting back. I feel better. Those suction cup grips may have a place .... I am thinking maybe temporary use in a motel room, but even then I would be very worried.
 
Jennie Little
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Jennie,

Thanks for getting back. I feel better. Those suction cup grips may have a place .... I am thinking maybe temporary use in a motel room, but even then I would be very worried.



Moen made the ones we bought. And the rails to go with them.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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We also have the ones from Moen. They are for smooth surfacesn so would not be ideal for small tiles, but work great on our vinyl (?) tub enclosures.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Two other things come to mind, after reading a previous poster who mentioned now packing a cell phone for safety.

My husband has hearing aids (shout out to Costco for their "affordable" aids!); it has been shown that neglecting hearing loss leads to increased dementia - but that could be from the spouse bonking their partner on the head out of frustration!

He used to drop over $6,000 for his aids at a specialized hearing aid store. When his last set died I finally convinced him to check out Costco. For 1/3 the price he got BETTER quality aids than he would have at his old supplier. They lasted 5yrs. Just got his newest set from Costco, complete with custom ear molds for $2,300 and they have bluetooth so he can answer the cell phone or listen to music or sync to the computer. The cell phone though is super useful with our sketchy cell service; he can "park" the phone where there is reception, and the aids give him about 30 feet away from phone.

We also just purchased "walkie talkies" (again from Costco) 3 units for about $70. Range is supposedly over a mile, and easily covers our property AND when spouse takes to the road for his walks. Our cell service sucks and is unavailable on a large portion of our property and surrounding area. No longer do I have to stress out, drop what I'm doing, and go hunt the spouse down or scream for him from the back porch. This offers an extra layer of protection, and saves a ton of steps and worry. They are also more robust and hardy than a cell, and come with a sturdy belt clip, several weather stations and weather alerts that broadcast automatically in an emergency.
 
John F Dean
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The radios are a great idea as is the comment on the hearing aids. My wife spent a small fortune on hers. Going back to the radios it is critical to be dead certain of the actual vs advertised range.  It sounds like you are satisfied with your purchase.
 
roberta mccanse
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I have to second the recommendation for Costco hearing aids. I'm on my second pair. While visiting my daughter her little dog found them where I had left them one night. She chewed them up. I cried and took them back to Costco. Guess what. They were one week short of the two year warranty and Costco repaired them at no cost to me. (The little dog will be visiting me next week and I will lock up my aids at night.)

In addition to the previously mentioned aging in place features of my "no stairs" earth sheltered house I have to say that I also love my door handles. We put them on almost all of our doors, instead of knobs, found them reasonably priced at Restore. There is something to be said for being able to open the door with your elbow when your arms are full.

Note: I am still in the market for a few of those mini dwarfs. Keebler be Damned.
IMG_20190301_141238827_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg
The little dog.
The little dog.
 
master gardener
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Roberta - it's not the dog I wanted to see a picture of - it's the door handles!!! Yeah, the dog is cute, but I've not had much luck at our Restore, so I'm wondering exactly what you found. Just the standard "lever" version or something more unique but effective?
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Range of "walkie talkie's": My massage therapist is two blocks down and one block "over" and they worked from that distance. I think it said 1+ miles on land, 5+ miles on water, and 20+ miles high in the mountains.

They are Motorola T260TP, USB rechargeable, and can also be powered with regular alkaline AA. There are also something like 20 channels, fortunately, as the first day we were using them the channel was occupied by a hops plantation crew, about six blocks away. Couldn't understand why my husband kept asking for a new wheelbarrow in row six, or loppers in row twelve!

Oh, and yes, I second the lever style door handles!

Don't forget railings, ropes or grab bars on all stairs or sloping paths; cleats or strips every foot or two across sloping paths can also be useful to eliminate slipping.
 
John F Dean
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Hi Lorraine  

The important thing is if what you are doing works for you.  I was interested in the 2 way radios.... especially their range, because I am looking for something with a minimum of a real world 5 mile range.  The nearest community to me is 3 miles as the crow flies.  We have had some pretty serious tornados and ice storms in my region.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Walkie Talkie Range: Where I am, the wet coast, it is very hilly and forested, and we are on the verge where residential hits rural so lots of interference. We went on google earth to measure the distance to the massage therapist ( in the residential area), and as the crow flies, it is about 1km away, same distance to the hops farm in the rural district.

Haven't had the need to test it from a greater distance, but now am planning on taking it with me the next time I drive anywhere, to see how far it is good for!

Why would you need it to reach the nearest town? It would be great for the emergency weather broadcasts for tornado's though!
 
John F Dean
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My thought is that if I am going to get 2 way radios,  I want them to serve a broader range of functions.  A few years back a tornado swepted through my region in southern Ilinois  and southern Indiana.  Many towns were hit with serious damage.  Sometime after day 7 ...I think it was day 10, emergency  services got  notified that a small community in southern Indiana has been destroyed.  A Ham Radio operator got his damaged equipment reassembled and got the message out....all land line, cell phones, etc were down ....roads were blocked...police cars were destroyed.  No one noticed this small community was missing because they were addressing their own problems. It may be desirable to communicate with the outside world in case of such an event.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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Ah, okay, yeah, that would not be suitable for walkie talkies - my theory was these were for communication between residents of an acreage; to tell John down at the barn to remember to bring up henscratch, etc. I never thought of them being used beyond keeping in contact with acreage residents.
 
John F Dean
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My wife and I, due to her physical disabilities, maintain a pretty traditional job assignment of me taking care of the outside and she does the inside.  I come inside for a break every couple of hours....sometimes more frequently ....sometimes less. We have ample opportunity for fa e to face communication. So, radios have not been been purchased yet. They are a luxury for us.
 
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Anne Pratt wrote:Cheli, Margaret, welcome!  So happy to have you here.

This thread has had some discussion of modifications we can make to our practices to make gardening accessible as we get less strong and mobile, and I would like to encourage more of this talk!

What else, folks, can we do to make our homesteading lives last longer?

We talked about higher raised beds. What about specialized tools?  Modifications to pathways?  Perennial vegetables and flowers?  Congregate living?



I wanted to expand my garden this year but at age 76 the prospect of digging out sod was disheartening. My soil is also very rocky. I opted for straw bale gardening. I used 32 conditioned bales to provide a raised surface to plant into. Another plus is no weeding! I used landscape cloth for paths and did wide spacing. After the growing season ends I'll take up the cloth and spread the de-composting straw on the ground. That will be my path area next year and I hope to move to a Ruth Stout planting style after that. Most plants thrived in the straw- tomatoes in particular. I am now exploring was to preserve my harvest with dehydrating and fermenting.
 
Jennie Little
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I was going to suggest wider paths. Also, for me at least, I find gravel to be friendlier than brick or paving stones as I age. When I wobble I don't topple! (Or not as easily anyway.) And I don't trip over them; something I do all too regularly. That's true now, it may not be in 10 years.

You may have a different take...
 
master steward
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For paths between the garden beds, I like mulch.

I sometimes make my own to add to the existed mulch.  All plants are cut in small pieces before I throw them on to the ground.  Especially plants that have to be prune in the spring, like sage.

I am really against pebbles, pavers, or bricks.  It looks really nice.  It is known that older folks are prone to falls.  

I recently suddenly turned to say something to the dog.  I lost my balance and fell into the gravel.  Dear hubby could not help me up and I could not put my weight onto my knees because the gravel dug into my knees.  DH said he was going to call 911.  I said no, just hand me a towel.  With the towel under my knees, I was able to get up.
 
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I'm past 65 and all the ideas above (as well as the concerns) ring true for me.  I've been using raised beds but needing more space so next year I'm adding an in-ground garden.  I've found some garden tools that work better with my messed up hands and try to make myself use the hand truck and yard cart to haul things.  I forget that 40 pounds of chicken feed is kind of a lot to go hoisting around the property.  I'm also trying to figure out how I can use my tractor for more things.  I've started having balance problems so - am pretty leery of getting up on a ladder or onto the roof.  
The heat issue was really a problem this year too.  And as mentioned above, I finally decided to do only necessary tasks outside.  Welcome again and looking forward to discussion your visit has inspired.
 
John F Dean
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The issue of paths between raised beds gets tricky.   You can be comfortable knowing that no matter what you do it is wrong.  The problem is there are  multiple problems to be addressed.  It is true that wood chips make for a softer fall. However, wood chips may give you a poorer footing.  And, wood chips are awful for a walker with wheels and wheel chairs.

For whatever it is worth, I'm beginning to use wood chips in my garden with raised beds.  I also have a 12 x 24 high tunnel that has no chips.  If there is some point in time I need and assistive device to ambulate,  my gardening will be confined to the high tunnel with a hard dirt center path a hard dirt path down the center with the raised beds on either side modified to provide hand holds.
 
Lorinne Anderson
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For paths, what about those 2x2 rubber/foam mat/squares that lock together? They could be laid atop any smooth surface (dirt, concrete, mulch) be soft(er) in a fall and for kneeling on, and yet, still smooth enough for wheeled devices, including barrows.

Not sure they hit the permie definition, but they do seem to last forever...
 
Jay Angler
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Lorinne Anderson wrote:For paths, what about those 2x2 rubber/foam mat/squares that lock together? They could be laid atop any smooth surface (dirt, concrete, mulch) be soft(er) in a fall and for kneeling on, and yet, still smooth enough for wheeled devices, including barrows.

Not sure they hit the permie definition, but they do seem to last forever...

The soft foam "puzzle" type ones are great for kneeling on, but probably would be hard for wheelchairs, but they're easy to put down and take back up, so if the current danger is falls, it might be worth trying. I'm not sure how UV stable they are. My sisters put them at the bottom of my mom's basement stairs when she was getting frail but still going down to do her laundry. They certainly make for more comfortable standing on a concrete floor.

There are heavy rubber like versions that might be better for outdoor use that are sold as "anti-fatigue" mats, and some of those also lock together. Some would be suitable for wheeling things on, but it depends on the style, so it would be something to test before buying. There's also a *really* heavy rubber version that is fairly flat and used in horse stalls. There was some of that left here when we bought the house and I put it under the kid's swings. They've outgrown that long since, so I moved a piece to my outdoor fowl processing area and it's both comfier to stand on and warmer on my feet if I have to process in cold wet weather.
 
John F Dean
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It gets difficult when we try to get around the wheel issue.  No matter what, there are potentially serious trade offs.
 
John F Dean
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I still use a stove top tea kettle, but I would not be honest if I said I had never let one boil dry.  To lift an idea from another thread, there are electric tea kettles out there with automatic shut offs.  I am giving them a closer look.

Like most here, I live pretty remotely.  We have an excellent volunteer fire department,  but it is expecting a lot for them to be able to do much given the travel time.  I do have many fire extinguishers.  Even so, every fire hazard I can reduce, I will.
 
Jay Angler
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John F Dean wrote:

I still use a stove top tea kettle, but I would not be honest if I said I had never let one boil dry.

Things can get pretty chaotic around my place, so despite complaints from the "cheep" seats, I set timers.
"Mario" is the stove timer, because apparently it makes the same sound as the game "Mario" when he picks up gold. It has the advantage that it keeps on going until someone shuts it off.
There's a portable battery timer that I made a holder for that sits at the back of the stove. It only beeps for 1 minute, but it then switches to 'count up' mode, so you know how long past the beep you are.
When Hubby bought me a cell-phone (very nice camera and on our long property it can be an asset if I remember to carry it with me) I found its "timer" feature is quite easy to operate and if it's on my belt, I can't say I didn't hear it!

I'm known to set more than one if I think I'll be busy. The Bread Machine "beeps" when it's done, but is easy to miss and it automatically goes to "keep warm" mode which dries the bread out. We automatically set the portable one as back-up (it has a memory feature set to the bread machine cycle we usually use), but if I need to go to the field, I'll set my cell-phone one for 10 min short so I make it back to the house in time.

Yes, people complain that when I'm around things are always going "beep", but I've almost burned a couple of things lately because I wasn't expecting an interrupt and hadn't set a timer. Since kettles are a major fire risk - although mostly they cause smoke damage and less often burn whole houses down - I'll suggest that timers are a good back-up for those who don't have one that auto-stops.
 
John F Dean
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My wife has a hearing issue and a memory issue.  I am quite serious....and feel free to laugh ... we do.  She frequently forgets to put in her hearing aids.   Beepers can be of questionable value.  Now this has to be coupled with at least one additional concern ... her aphasia.   Yes, I can walk into the house and ask why the timer is going off, and she will tell me "it is for that thing." Fortunately, the memory issues appear to be connected to an infection she had a decade ago and does not appear to be progressive.
 
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