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Bilge Rat
motors and controls.........
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8,605 Posts
I just turned 65 and if I can't convince my mind that I'm not 30 anymore, it's going to be bad..........

As others have stated, if I sit for very long, it's quite an ordeal to get up but once I'm up and about for a few minutes, I'm ok.

I'm about 20 lbs. overweight and if I lost that, I'd feel better.

I have a rough time in small spaces these days, I can't 'fold up' like I used to, also 50 lbs. is a lot of weight anymore, I doubt I could lift 100 and wouldn't try anyway.

Also, I have pretty much no balance anymore, I'm not sure I could walk a 2X8 plank and not fall off.
 

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Hackenschmidt
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12,215 Posts
Anybody try Omega XL? I see that commercial constantly. I was thinking about trying a bottle.
I know a lot of people that got some relief for their arthritis aches and pains taking fish oil, but only the ones that took a lot of the high quality / expensive stuff. Nordic Naturals was the favorite premium brand. Last I read the jury's still out whether that's good or bad for the rest of your body long term. The infomercial stuff (there are a bunch) isn't anything special except for the pitch.
 

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Registered
Electrician
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454 Posts
Here's my situation: I'm very successful doing resi work in close proximity to my home.
How do you survive doing resi work if you don't take on services, ceiling fans, attics, etc?

I'm curious because I'm 42, work a full time maintenance job M-F but love doing residential on my own nights and weekends. I feel like I would kill it for the next 10 years doing resi full time but then I'd be 52 and I think the job I would want then is the one I have now.
 

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Wannabe Apprentice
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157 Posts
I know nobody has time or feels like doing it, but I think the key to staying injury/pain free is stretching/mobilization exercises. Age works against us all, but if you work on keeping your body like a supple leopard as opposed to a tight bound weight lifter. Not saying yoga, although if that's your gig go for it.

It's never too late to work on this stuff too, you might feel like your body is too stiff to make progress, but constistency and even throwing a 10 pound weight in your hand to stretch will help you progress with those stuborn tendons.

Before I was working my 2nd job, I was doing a program called gymfit which was a version of gymnastics for adults and it really worked on stretching, mobilization and strength gains.
GymFit TV - GymFit TV By GymnasticBodies is where I joined. I really want to get back into it, just have to find time. I thought I could do push ups all day long from when I was in the military, but gymnastic pushups involve protracting your scapula at the top position and I found that I struggled to do 10 correct form when I was in the program doing these. I highly recommend it.

But just doing something like this would help out.
 

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Registered
Residential, lite comm., Industrial
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621 Posts
as another said, I have lost my balance almost completely. some days are better, some are worse. I dont believe i could do attic work anymore because of that alone.
If i dont have good lite to see by, i will fall over. Yes i feel that im falling but only after it starts. I have to be able to see that i am off balance to catch it in time.

My hearing is pitiful. I cant understand waitresses anymore. I say "what" to everyone. I have to ask them to talk loud and slow.
There is a constant sound of steam escaping inside my ears all the time. It is a high pitched squeal, it just isnt as loud as steam would be. some days i notice it, some i dont.

I have read that a lost sense of balance is a direct result of hearing loss in many cases.

YOUNG MEN, TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEARING !!!! It is so much worse than you can imagine to lose even a little bit of hearing
 

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5 Posts
I feel your pain, Greg.
When I was younger, I thought nothing of bending large wires, carrying huge loads up stairs or working outside in -35C weather.

Now, I'm 57 and starting to get arthritis in my hands. I also recently developed Reynaud's in my fingers and toes, so working in cold weather is completely out, (which means no outside work for me from December to April here in Alberta).

I'm 57 and am extremely fortunate to have found a maintenance 'manager' job where I can pick and choose what I do and when I do it, or I would have been forced to go into a specialty of some sort. (Fire alarm is my forte, controls are fun, too...)

I suggest trimming the services you provide. You're not getting any younger, and if you injure yourself doing difficult work, you may no longer be physically able to do the 'easy' stuff because of it.
At our age, we should be hired more for our expertise than our brute strength - Maybe there is another contractor you can refer customers to for the harder jobs?

You've earned the right to choose what jobs you do. If potential customers don't accept that, you probably don't want them as customers anyway.

Good luck in your endeavours!
 

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Premium Member
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19,625 Posts
Hey, maybe you're not so old ...maybe you have an injury or early arthritis?

Here's my situation: I'm very successful doing resi work in close proximity to my home.
I'm 60, still love this job, love old houses, love meeting new customers. I'm booking months in advance despite limiting what I do and where I go.
My business model is that I do all the work, customers get my cell number, I do really personal customer relations, and all my labor is guaranteed for ever. So I'm not crazy about hiring a helper. (I used to run a crew of 3-4 guys and my job became being a "manager" -boring).

However, I really should stop doing 200Amp services and hanging ceiling fans. It's not that I "can't", but it's taking a long time -and my hands, shoulders, back might ache for a few days. The last few 200 amp services, my arms feel numb the next day(s). My hands hurt, making a fist is difficult.

I don't need to do these jobs, but I'm wondering how 'normal' this is at 60?

Also, what should I say to customers? I don't know if they will care or not, but I don't want to get that reputation for being "too" old. I definitely don't want to sound weak. We're supposed to be hardy, manly men ...and I feel like a F'ing wimp. Wah.

I'm just starting to write responses to requests -and I don't want to message: "Hey, I'll do blah, blah for $XXXXX, buuuut ...you'll have to find someone else to hang that fan because I'm and ancient and decrepit old man".

When did you stop doing some of whatever you do?
And how did you tell your customers?
I believe if you are a Master of your trade, you have an obligation to continuously train others in your craft. With that said, you should always be on the lookout for a young person that might be interested in your trade. It doesn't need to be steady but, inviting someone along and paying them $20 per hour, even for a half day, might be enough to pique their interest in persuing a apprentiship or, helping them decide to enter a professional career. The worst thing that could happen is that a young person learns a trade where they can feed themselves and family with their knowledge and a few tools.
Best wishes
 

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339 Posts
Discussion Starter · #32 ·
How do you survive doing resi work if you don't take on services, ceiling fans, attics, etc?
Well, I'm taking the morning off while I wait for the day to warm up since I'm working outside. So here is a very long answer...

I do a ton of troubleshooting, panel swaps, I still do 100 amp services, adding receptacle circuits, dealing with knob and tube, adding/upgrading laundry circuits, basement workshops, some A/V work, outdoor lighting and receptacles, ring/similar doorbells, etc.

I think there are a couple things which have made my situation unique, so herein lies some explanation, along with some advice:

1). I live in a city. Sure, there are more electricians in a city than in rural areas, but once you get a reputation, there is so much work.
2). I treat every job as if it's a Yelp referral and I'm certain that the customer will review me. I have somewhere around 55 reviews on Yelp and all of them are 5-stars. I've never done any kind of advertising or marketing (except for posting helpful information online. I like being helpful, but that is absolutely a form of marketing). I literally live in fear of a four-star review. LOL. All my other reviews on google, Angie's list, etc are 5-stars/A so I will never hurt for work.
3). I love my job, I love explaining things to people, and I love talking shop. Homeowners love this. To make a somewhat sexist generalization: men like being part of the action. Explaining to them as if they are an apprentice usually works well. Women are often ignored by contractors and treated as if they not only don't know what's going on, but somehow can't. Treat women inclusively and respectfully, and they will never forget it. To a homeowner you are a hero, to a business, you are an expense.
4). About 10 years ago, I looked at the previous 10 years of invoices and averaged out my prices for everything and added 20%. This is now my system for doing estimates for free by phone or email. Residential electrical work is easy to bid. People like knowing what to expect and if you can quickly provide numbers, then they assume that you are professional, knowledgeable, and confident. Confidence sells itself... But you have to temper that with not being an arrogant a**. I tell people that my estimates are accurate 70% of the time, 20% of the time I charge less, and 10% of the time I charge more; I let them know that I take pictures of everything so that they can understand what I do and why I do it. Again, numbers are something they can wrap their head around.
I tell them if they want a fair price, I'll add 25% to my estimate, but it's a really bad idea because I would be ripping them off. I come off as cocky, but also honest (which is true).
5). I share information freely. For one thing, I give out my cell phone number. I have at least 5 reviews from people I've never worked for because I explained what a likely situation is, what the likely solutions are, and gave a ballpark estimate. When I get an instant sale on a first conversation people often tell me one of two things:
"You're the only guy who answered his phone / got back to me"
"You obviously know what you're talking about, so I don't need to look anywhere else"
I have about a dozen Google docs that I have prepared to send to customers on common topics like basic troubleshooting steps to follow before calling an electrician, knob and tube, tips on whole house renovation, afci/gfci protection, lighting, grounding and bonding, ceiling fans, new services, etc. I am 100% certain that most of my work has nothing to do with my prices, and has to do with the fact that I was helpful.
(I'm on the higher end for pricing in my area as far as I can tell; I charge almost as much as the big companies with fleets, offices, receptionist, fancy websites, and billboard advertisements ...but I have no overhead).
Posting links to Google documents in Facebook groups or neighborhood forums is free advertising that lasts forever because it shows up anytime someone does a search for something like "knob and tube" ... And of course my contact is information is in all of my Google docs. ;-)
I'm on three or four Facebook groups for 2 specific (close by) neighborhoods in my city. Every morning I get up at 7:30, and do "paperwork" and drink coffee until about 9:30 or 10:00. Part of my "paperwork" is answering all kinds of questions in Facebook groups. I am a trusted resource for probably hundreds of people, so my name always comes up when someone posts about looking for an electrician. When someone posts a question about an electrical problem, I am almost always tagged by someone responding. This is what I call "marketing": positioning myself as a valuable community member.
By the way, I rarely if ever show interest in the job so that it seems as if my motivation is altruistic. To some extent this is true, but I won't deny that I get a ton of work this way.. I just have to schedule it a couple months ahead.
Many of you may think that this is a waste of time, but I enjoy it. I like being a helpful person; it's one of the reasons I became an electrician. I like problem solving, I like articulating solutions, I like writing (...as if you can't tell from the length of this response. LOL).
 

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Old Grumpy Bastard
GOV/MIL contracting
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61,984 Posts
I admire you for thinking ahead, and about your customers.
Be honest and gentle with the good customers and try and help when you can.
Everyone else refer to someone you know for a fee. No sense letting a revenue stream dry up quickly. Or you could take one person under your wing and train them. Personally I like the idea of paying it forward if you can find someone who wants to learn the trade.
I have tried but most want 20 bucks an hour and can not dig a clean ditch.
I love this and tried it with a son-in-law and he bailed. I think hiring a young helper that wants to learn and has the ambition can be a great thing for you both. This last year I have had my 17 year old step daughter doing ceiling fans and some small things, which she has a knack for. I'd love her to go into the trade but she's more graphic design minded.
 

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Old Grumpy Bastard
GOV/MIL contracting
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61,984 Posts
It's coming to a body near you, Yours.

For you young guys that are reading this take care of your body NOW, don't wait.
My son is a hard time skateboarder and I warn him all the time "you'll be sorry"
THIS!!!

I try and teach this to every young person I work with. The "it will never happen to me" attitude is just plain stupidity.
Working in saddle bags or similar will get your back, hips, and knees at some point.
 

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Bilge Rat
motors and controls.........
Joined
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8,605 Posts
as another said, I have lost my balance almost completely. some days are better, some are worse. I dont believe i could do attic work anymore because of that alone.
If i dont have good lite to see by, i will fall over. Yes i feel that im falling but only after it starts. I have to be able to see that i am off balance to catch it in time.

My hearing is pitiful. I cant understand waitresses anymore. I say "what" to everyone. I have to ask them to talk loud and slow.
There is a constant sound of steam escaping inside my ears all the time. It is a high pitched squeal, it just isnt as loud as steam would be. some days i notice it, some i dont.

I have read that a lost sense of balance is a direct result of hearing loss in many cases.

YOUNG MEN, TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEARING !!!! It is so much worse than you can imagine to lose even a little bit of hearing
Same here, I'm almost deaf. Even hearing aids don't help much. It's to the point that I don't socialize much because I can't carry on a conversation. I get tired of asking everyone to repeat what they've just said and even more tired of them stating it in the exact same way. If I didn't hear it the first time, I won't hear the exact same thing stated the exact same way the second time, or the third time...........Maybe a high school class 'how to communicate with people who are nearly deaf' would be a good idea.

Given the sheer number of people who listen to loud music these days, there will be a large number of nearly deaf people coming up.
 

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Old Grumpy Bastard
GOV/MIL contracting
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61,984 Posts
I had to give up working in 2009 at 54 due to medical issues, so I moved south and retired on the water's edge. After a series of serious problems I became a dad again in 2017 and like magic I came back to life and went back to work.

Fast forward 4 years (new young wife, 5 step children, new home, new responsibilities) and I feel like a new man.

The more you move the more you can move, being sedentary is one step closer to a dirt nap.
 

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cool cat
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328 Posts
I'm 61 and planned on slowing down in a year or two to a 2 man shop and be more selective of what jobs I take on.Just like the rest of us ,once I get moving for the day the stiff joints start to loosen up to get work done.
 
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