21st Century Living
Lighten up Mondays.
“I’ll need to see your license and registration,” says the highway patrolman after stopping a middle-aged couple. “You were speeding.”
“But, officer,” says the husband, “I was way under the speed limit!”
“Sir, you were doing 63 in a 55 zone.”
“I was not speeding!” insists the man. “Your radar gun must be broken.”
At this point, the wife leans over,
“It’s no use arguing with him officer,” she says apologetically. “He always gets this stubborn when he’s been drinking.”
Important Article on Hiring a Caregiver Privately
Important Article on Hiring a Caregiver Privately.
The senior care industry is a dangerous maze wherein even the well-educated and well-intentioned providers of care fail to put any “care” in their caregiving. Whether at an assisted living facility or at home with private care, the path of least resistance is oftentimes the one taken and the accompanying attitudes reflect such feelings: “Man, I just gotta get over this shift! These people are driving me crazy!” “I know, I’ll just stick her in front of the TV while I catch up on my Facebook posts/soap operas.”
Don’t worry everyone – I’m not saying that there are NO ethical, compassionate caregivers, there definitely are – but attention must always be focused on those who don’t provide stellar care because the vulnerable amongst us are at the mercy of their care people. Those hidden in a private home are the most susceptible. Why? Because there are very few sets of eyes observing the day-to-day happenings. At a facility, the existence of ongoing traffic – family members, visiting ministries, long-term care ombudsmen/advocates – provides some sort of monitoring that a private home does not and can not provide.
The attached article – link above – is quite thorough. Please take the time to review it.
A classical flash mob video: Roll over Beethoven!
A five and a half minute portion of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy performed as a flash mob in Europe. Please take the time to watch this You Tube video – turn up your speakers – and get ready to feel better about your day.
When I played the video my crazy computer paused the video in several sections. If that happens to you, simply move the progression of the video up a couple seconds and it’ll continue.
Getting lost in a “Peek-a-Boo” world.
A fellow Blogger, Frangipani Singaporenicum, submitted an excellent article, “Mom is Back,” about the hurdles experienced when her mother traveled by airplane back home after a visit with one of her daughters. Frangipani’s siblings weren’t fully aware of the breadth of their mother’s disease so they thought that the mother would be in good hands at the airport because they had arranged for an airport escort to get the mother to her airplane destination.
Unfortunately, what could go wrong did go wrong. “Frangipani’s” mother has mixed dementia, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, and found herself in unfamiliar surroundings when she became separated from the airport employee – a stranger in the mother’s eyes – who was supposed to assist her. Getting lost in an unfamiliar environment is something that comes quite naturally to those with any type of dementia. And as often happens when a person is lost, we try to get un-lost. That attempt brought her mother to another airline terminal where a kind gentleman, noticing her distress, found the assistance she needed to get on the correct plane at the right time.
Those of us who have children – and please bear with me while I make this comparison – know how easily a child can wander away from our purview. We make a quarter turn at the grocery store to get a box of cereal off the top shelf and “POOF!” our child is nowhere to be found. I’m very familiar with this feeling because it happened to me many years ago when my adventurous daughter wandered away – causing me near cardiac arrest – and was subsequently prevented from exiting the grocery store by a Good Samaritan grandmother who knew better than to let my daughter run out into the parking lot. “But I only turned away for a second!” That’s all it takes.
So too can a person with dementia wander away because of something that attracted him; or more likely, with your back to him, he didn’t recognize you any more and walked away to try to find you. “But how can I keep my eye on him at all times?” You just have to.
SOME TIPS OF THE TRADE.
Public restroom challenges. If you or your loved one needs to use the bathroom, find one of the family bathrooms that now exist in many public places so that your environment is controlled, and everyone’s needs are met. Don’t think for a second that you can say to your husband, “George, you stay here while I run into the ladies’ room. I’ll just be a minute.” Be prepared to call security when you come out of the ladies’ restroom because in George’s mind, you disappeared, and the time frame of a minute means absolutely nothing to him. And forget about sending your husband into the mens’ room by himself to meet his potty needs. You’ll be waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and he just a) may not do his business; and b) may not come out on his own. If no family bathrooms are available, stand at the entrance to the public restroom and announce yourself: “Woman entering with husband who needs assistance!” You’ll find that those within will cover up what needs covering and not call security on you.
Medic-Alert jewelry. The Alzheimer’s Association strongly recommends purchasing a Medic-Alert/Safe Return device which provides 24/7 emergency response service. At least if your loved one gets lost, they will be reunited with you sooner. This service is available in 50 countries, and in 140 languages. The service speaks for itself so please check the link attached to research the many benefits of this membership service that, quite frankly, brings priceless peace of mind and provides a healthy dose of safety for your loved one.
Now they see you – now they don’t. The examples cited above would not be complete if I didn’t add a personal experience from my days of being my father’s primary long-distance caregiver. My dad lived in a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Southern Oregon. When first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he was very functional and remained in the assisted living apartment on campus that he had shared with his wife prior to her death in January 2007.
I stayed at a nearby hotel when I visited my father but spent most of the day with him on outings and/or spending time with him in his one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. At one point during an apartment visit, I announced to him that I was slipping into the bathroom, 10-feet away, and would be just a minute or two.
I was glad to have locked the bathroom door because partway during my “sit” dad was frantically jiggling the doorknob from the bedroom side of the door shouting, “Irene! Where are you?! Are you o.k.? What’s going on?!!” I was less understanding at the time and returned my own crazed shout of “Dad!!! Leave me be! I’m just going to the bathroom!!!” Knowing what I know now, I would have exited the bathroom and apologized for frightening him, and made every attempt to make him feel safe again. As Oprah Winfrey often says, “We do better when we know better.”
This unintended “peek-a-boo” event proved to me that my father did not have an understanding of the passing of time, but more importantly, that if he couldn’t see me, I wasn’t there. Back to the example of children, but this time, you’re the child.
You’re at play in your bedroom, having just left your mommy gleefully singing in the kitchen while she did the dishes. Your dolls are lined up on your bed, you’re engaging them in discussion, and all of a sudden you notice that mommy isn’t singing any more. You toddle out to the kitchen, and mommy isn’t where you left her!!! “Mommy! Where are you?! Mommy – I’m scared!!! Help me Mommy!!!!!” Your mother steps out of the adjoined laundry room and calms you down – “Irene, I was just five feet away; I didn’t go anywhere, I’m right here!” You run into your mommy’s arms and feel safe again.
Alzheimer’s and other dementia are very unpredictable diseases. What can be predicted, however, is that the onus will always rest on us to compensate for our loved one’s challenges. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles addressing dementia, we have the ability to adjust to the diseased person’s reality; not the other way around. It’s hard work for us, but it’s an impossible task for them.
Lighten up Mondays.
A businessman was dining at a fancy restaurant and – so the story goes – met Lee Iacocca (extremely successful President & CEO of the Chrysler Corporation from 1978 to 1992 and considered the 18th-greatest American CEO of all time.)
“Mr. Iacocca,” he gushed, “the American business hero! I’ve studied your career, and any success I’ve had comes from emulating you. Would you do me a favor? I’m with some colleagues. Please come by my table, say ‘Hello, Harry,’ and let me introduce you. It would mean so much to me.”
Iacocca agreed. He waited for the man to sit down and then walked towards his table.
“Holy smoke!” cried one of Harry’s friends. “It’s Lee Iacocca, and he’s heading this way!”
“Hello Harry!” Iacocca said. “Introduce me to your friends.”
Harry looked at him blankly, “Come back later, Lee,” he said. “Can’t you see we’re trying to have some lunch!”
Baby Boomer gray divorce – I’m just not gonna take it anymore!
Kind of like the movie “Network” in the iconic scene where the actor Peter Finch, as Howard Beale, says, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more!”
What is often left out from that quote is the statement made just prior, “I’m a human being. My life has value.” I think some spouses in their 50’s through their 80’s decide that after decades of a somewhat dissatisfying, or perhaps an abusive, marriage they realize that they have a whole lifetime ahead of them and decide that they deserve better. In an article from the AARP June 2012 Bulletin, one of the reasons for a late-in-life divorce centers around the fact that longer lives mean more years with an incompatible spouse. And even though the overall divorce rate in the United States has decreased since 1990, it has doubled for those over age 50.
Jay Lebow, a psychologist at the Family Institute at Northwestern University says, “If late-life divorce were a disease, it would be an epidemic.”
Wow!!!! I had no idea! I’m fortunate in that my second marriage at the age of 47 is still one in which I am very happy now twelve years later. There are those, however, with whom I am acquainted who stick to the dictum of “in sickness and in health, until death do us part” even through an abusive relationship (verbal, physical or otherwise) and, because they’ve been in it for the long haul, e.g., 30 plus years, they feel that they have no choice but to stay.
Why do those with abusive spouses – both male and female – cling to their marriage?
As I mentioned above – one reason is certainly the commitment to vows that were made at the height of a romantic relationship. And there are other reasons. An excellent therapist with whom I am acquainted who leads support groups for the abused told me that over the years, as abuse has prevailed in the household, the one being abused adjusts to each added level or intensity of abuse and becomes acclimated to each added degree. Added to this unwarranted commitment to their abusive spouse, they fear the unknown, even though it may bring about an abuse-free life. And without the help of good friends and powerful resources, a spouse in an abusive relationship may not have the tools that will give them sufficient confidence to make a decision that will benefit them the remainder of their life.
Divorcing later in life can often result in less time to recover financially, recoup losses, retire debt, and ride the ups and downs of the economy.
Some Baby Boomers out there have relished the security that their spouse or significant other has provided them in the form of financial stability. They’re thinking that perhaps it’s worth putting up with this person with whom I am incompatible to guarantee a comfortable enough life until one of us dies. Well – certainly that is a factor – but I personally believe that an individual’s life contains far more value than any bank account can provide. If someone is feeling devalued in their relationship, they have short-changed the remainder of their life. And if someone truly craves, absolutely longs for greater self-worth, nothing will stop them from satisfying that need. I guess you have to look at the options and determine if you’re willing to go with it:
living in a mortgage-free home without financial concerns with someone who tears you down, or renting a one-bedroom apartment with thrift store furnishings, that frees you from a relationship that has prevented you from being your true, and valued self.
But who will take care of me in my old age?
A 2009 National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP survey found that 66% of caregivers were female, with women providing on average 22 hours per week vs. 17 hours for males. In a divorce situation, “older men may make out better financially than women, but they don’t fare so well at finding someone to take care of them when they’re older. They often don’t have alternative care networks the way women do,” says Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. When asked who they will turn to when they’re older, single men often cite paid help – a pricey and somewhat difficult option to find. Some older divorced people have children or other family members who can assume the caregiving role, but not everyone does.
Gray divorce is occurring and there are certainly many factors to consider. I guess I’m of the belief that a bad marriage is not better than living alone. Whether you’re a Baby Boomer – or of any other generational group – only you can decide what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to obtain your sense of personal value. As far as I know, we’ve only been given this one life. This is not a dress rehearsal and there are no do-overs.
Lighten up Mondays.
Don’t you dread being on a commercial flight when the person next to you starts up a lengthy conversation? Here’s one that has a bit of humor tied in with it:
Striking up a conversation with the attractive woman seated beside him on a coast-to-coast flight, a would-be Romeo asked,
“What kind of man attracts you?”
“I’ve always been drawn to Native American men,” she replied. “They’re in harmony with nature.”
“I see,” said the man, nodding.
“But, then, I really go for Jewish men who put women on a pedestal, and I can rarely resist the way Southern gentlemen always treat their ladies with respect.”
“Please allow me to introduce myself,” said the man. “My name is Tecumseh Goldstein, but all my friends call me Bubba.”
Baby Boomer Nostalgia – vanishing fixtures in our lives.
The June AARP Bulletin had a brief piece on the fixtures of our every day life that either have already gone by the wayside or will do so in our lifetimes.
How many of you still have the following items as functioning items in your household or in your day-to-day living?
Answering Machine: a machine that records phone messages either on tape or digitally that is NOT a voice mail service with your home phone.
Home phones: many younger than Baby Boomer age are dispensing with their home phones and relying 100% on their cell phones. In most households that equates to at least two telephone numbers per household. I know it works for all of our adult children, but we’re still holding onto our land line – along with our cell phones of course.
Phone books: the internet and Smart Phones, have taken the place of this yellow book for the most part. I was in my car dealership getting my oil changed the other day and a customer walked up to the receptionist and asked her, “Do you have a phone book?” The look on her face summarized it all for me; it seemed to say: “Is this guy for real?!!!”
Printed encyclopedias. Research now-a-days can be done on-line (computer, tablet, phone) and, quite frankly, is far more accurate and up-to-date than volumes of books whose content is so very limited.
Rolodex. Every e-mail program has a Contacts function with ease of updating being a real bonus. I remember holding onto my Rolodex at work, even though I had also put info into my computer’s Contacts file, just in case I needed it. I dumped the Rolodex a couple months later.
Floppy discs & drives. Most people under 21 don’t know what this storage device is. Confession: when cleaning out my home office the other day I got rid of an unused box of those antiquated and limited storage items.
Film!!!!! Again, cleaning out my home office I found a roll of unopened Kodak 35mm film. I didn’t throw it away, however, because THAT is a collector’s item!
Analog clocks. All of my decorative clocks in my house contain numbers that go around a square or round face – you remember those don’t you? Many children now-a-days are only accustomed to the digital clock and can’t tell time without it.
Stationary & note cards. For me this is the most grievous vanishing fixture in my life. I will NOT stop sending letters and cards by snail mail – unless of course the postal service vanishes before I’m six feet under.
Toilet paper – WHAT!!!!! AARP reports that eventually, toilet paper will be replaced by toilet-seat bidets that will wash and dry at the touch of a button. Please say it isn’t so!!!!! Maybe they figure the wash & dry could add an additional benefit that would make us smile? I still don’t like the idea.
How many of you are now using items that you swore you’d never allow into your household just a decade ago? And what are you holding on to?
HUMOR!!!!! Men’s and Women’s Brains: are they different?
The difference between Men’s and Women’s Brains is a very entertaining video, and I think you’ll all find something in this humorous video that might resonate in your own life.
Please take the time to view the video, especially those of you who don’t think you have 13 minutes in which to be entertained by humor that might make a difference in your mood and/or your behavior today.
I wish the best for all of you on this first full day of Summer 2012.
But how am I supposed to do THAT?
But how am I supposed to do THAT?.
What a terrific article provided in the above link from the “Taking Care of Mom and Dad” blog site. The information provided in this article is valuable, and as Kelli mentioned on her blog, it’s not just specific to the state in which it originated, Oklahoma. The information provided is applicable everywhere because let’s face it – every caregiver pretty much needs the same questions answered and this site has many one-size-fits all solutions for all caregivers who are grasping to stay afloat on their caregiving journey.
This same website can also direct you to your own state’s valuable resources by clicking on the applicable section on the Homepage. It’s as easy as that! And don’t we all need something to be easy every once and awhile?
Life’s final deadline.
In the past year, I have lost two coworkers to cancer. Just recently another coworker left his job due to – you guessed it, cancer – so he could spend what remaining time he has with his family. These wonderful people were given a death sentence. They had a head’s up as to when their life’s end/deadline would occur.
Because I care for these people, I’ve been grieving and pondering what their remaining days and weeks were like.
What does one do when they leave their doctor’s office after receiving a fatal prognosis and a guesstimate of how much time remains for them? Of course the initial news floors them and their emotions run wild with rawness, sadness, fear, and maybe even extreme anger. But then they get home, hopefully surrounded by at least one loved one, and…then what?
I know much discussion will ensue of an emotional, practical, and perhaps even legal manner. That goes without saying.
But do you then get out your bucket list and see if any remaining items can be checked off before time runs out?
Or how about a game of Scrabble? Does that seem too mundane and unimportant in light of life’s waning hours?
I’m not trying to be cavalier about this matter and I hope I’m not coming off as insensitive. I’m really troubled by even thinking about having such a prognosis and filling out my remaining days in a valuable way. And again, I’m thinking about my coworkers’ final days and wondering what those days were like for these stellar people. How did they manage?
Personally, I have a very realistic outlook on death – it’s certainly inevitable. I’ve accepted the fact that no one can escape it. And of course I have my preferences on the manner in which I die. For example, if I’m fortunate, I’ll follow in my mother’s footsteps when back on September 24th, 1994, she went to bed none the worse for wear, and never woke up again. Since no autopsy was done, we don’t know the actual cause of death but on this my family can agree – if we have the choice, we’d like to be taken by surprise – in as pain free a manner as possible. If I’ve left no statements unsaid, no deeds left undone, I’d rather not have a calendar in front of me crossing out each remaining day in my life.
How would I fill my days if, like my coworkers, I’m given a death sentence of a finite period of time?
I don’t have the answer, so if by chance you’ve been part of life’s final deadline with a loved one or close friend, what proved valuable to you and your loved one? How did you manage not to think of the remaining time every minute of every day?
In short – how did you survive the process?
Seattle Times: Seniors for Sale, Part 1
My local newspaper ran an investigative report about the Adult Family Home (AFH) industry in Washington State. Depending upon where you live, a similar assisted living home may be called a Group Home.
In Washington State, no more than 6 residents can live in an Adult Family Home. These “businesses” popped up all over Washington State over the past several years as entrepreneurs realized how much money they could make taking in residents and charging thousands for rent and resident care. At this writing, there are close to 2,900 AFHs in the state. Since 2010, 446 of those were cited for violations of health or safety standards. Caveat: there are many Adult Family Homes that are doing an extraordinary job, but it’s the bad ones that make the Headlines and that’s the way it should be.
June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. I thought it appropriate to provide Michael Berens’ series, “Seniors for Sale” in six parts this week, but I provide it with a warning that this Pulitzer Prize winning expose can be very difficult to read, and watch. Nevertheless, awareness is key, so I hope all will benefit from his extensive work on this piece. Whether you live in the United States, Singapore, the United Kingdom, or elsewhere globally, abuse occurs world-wide and it’s the vulnerable adults in this world who are its targets.
Seniors for Sale – I provide this link to Part 1 of the series – “Ann.”
ADI World Alzheimer Report 2012 Caregiver Survey a Must DO | Alzheimer\’s Reading Room
ADI World Alzheimer Report 2012 Caregiver Survey a Must DO | Alzheimer\’s Reading Room.
I know that all of us want to see an end to Alzheimer’s disease. Many of you have Alzheimer’s or other dementia, and even more of you are helping to take care of your loved ones.
Rarely has there been an opportunity to provide input in such an international forum. This survey can be completed around the world. It is not just intended for one country. The primary topic of the attached survey revolves around the stigma attached to dementia. You will be asked questions about how your loved one is treated, how you are treated as the caregiver for your loved one, etc. Your responses are entirely anonymous. You will not be asked to provide your name, nor a physical address, nor your e-mail address.
I hope you’ll consider filling out the online survey. It was VERY quick, so you need not spend a lot of time on the survey.
The results of this survey will appear on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room website on World Alzheimer’s Day – Sept. 21, 2012.
Raise the retirement age and cure boredom?
In an earlier article, “Retirement planning – its not what you think,” I talked about the planning required to have a quality of life after retiring from one’s job that relies on spending your time in a way that pleases you, and benefits others.
My closest friend, Sophia (not her real name), is in her 80th year of life and for the seven years that I’ve known her, Sophia has struggled with boredom, but not just boredom per se. Sophia wants to matter; she wants to make a difference; she wants to contribute to the world around her. In a recent e-mail to me, Sophia said:
“There are too many active Seniors roaming around the coffee shops and Malls wondering what to do next. Even my friend Walter, at age 97, felt a sense of accomplishment yesterday when he washed all the bed linens and remade the queen bed – this done using his walker, back and forth.”
Sophia epitomizes the bored retiree that I discuss in my article, “Voices of the bored retirees.” We often think that when we retire we’ll be satisfied with being able to golf whenever we want; sleep in as long as we want; work in the garden whenever we like, and read all the books we’ve stacked up, but not had the time, to read. My father was one of those retirees who longed for the opportunity to be on the golf course as often as he wanted. A month post-retirement, he was bored with it all.
Another quote from my friend Sophia: “I really believe that much that we call Alzheimer’s is just a simple lack of interest in remembering what no longer matters. There is definitely a veiled space that occurs now and then when it is either too painful to remember, or not worth it to try. This, in addition to physical pain and boredom, can reach a kind of black hole.”
I know my friend very well, so I know that she doesn’t support that type of Alzheimer’s reasoning, but what she said really resonated with me. Too often we focus too much on what doesn’t matter, and far too little on what can matter greatly in our remaining years. Gerontologist S. Barkin believes that we have a responsibility to actively walk through our retirement (or Baby Boomer) years:
“What do we want to do for the remaining time in our life? We all should be mining our experiences and the wisdom therein to help with our present, and our future paths.”
Most of us, even when we’re enjoying the relaxation we so richly deserve in our retirement, truly strive to create a new purpose for our life. We want a reason to get up in the morning. We strive to contribute to the community around us.
Does the retirement age need to be raised in order for that to occur? Or can we be just as effective, and less bored, by cultivating a lasting purpose after we’ve entered the long sought-after retirement phase of our lives?
O.K. BABY BOOMERS OUT THERE:
- What’s your plan?
- What’s working – or not working – for you?
- What’s your cure for boredom?
Conversation with a Mentor.
This article from a fellow blogger who happens to live in Singapore is very timely in that it discusses how a caregiver might sort out their thoughts when caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
I really enjoy this blogger’s way of writing about her journey – she’s a caregiver for her mother.
I hope you enjoy it too!
Alzheimer’s Reading Room: Joy vs Grief.
The Alzheimer\’s Reading Room is the number one source of life news for the entire Alzheimer\’s community.
via Alzheimer\’s Reading Room.
The attached article reflects the sentiments of Bob DeMarco, a son who took care of his mother Dotty for over 8 years during a difficult Alzheimer’s journey. He rarely complained – which is stellar, but not required – and now a few weeks after her death, he’s falling back on the memories and finding joy amidst the grief.
Long-term care (LTC) insurance policies: Rejection hurts.
An insurance agent from a large, widely-known insurance company recently told me that 50% of all applicants for long-term care (LTC) insurance are rejected. Boy, with those statistics, it’s hardly worth pursuing, knowing that the hurt of rejection might be in your future.
John Matthews, Caring.com senior editor and attorney gives all of us a reality check:
“No one has a ‘right’ to buy long-term care insurance. That results in insurance companies refusing to sell policies to people they think are likely to collect on the policies soon, or who might collect for a long time. If an insurance company thinks the odds are that it might not make money on you, it won’t sell you a policy.”
WOW – that’s encouraging isn’t it?
While doing research for this article, I found the information provided by insurance brokers about LTC insurance to be very enlightening. Apparently many LTC insurance companies will accept you as an insured if you have had open-heart surgery, but will balk at covering someone who has arthritis. Why you may ask? I was told it is because the insured with heart issues will die before needing benefits whereas the person with arthritis will most likely become disabled and therefore cost the insurance company too much money in benefits payout.
Wow – that’s depressing, and somewhat maudlin, isn’t it?
I stand by my earlier article, Long Term Care Insurance Scares Me. Insurers are trying to sell a product for which so few are eligible. I thought I was scared before. Now that I’ve done my research, I’m petrified!
Please share your experiences trying to obtain LTC insurance. Whether you were accepted or rejected – we want to know. If you were rejected and appealed the insurance company’s decision – we REALLY want to hear about it.
Moving Mom and Dad – or your spouse.
Moving Mom and Dad – Leaving Home is an article from the June/July 2012 AARP Magazine. Statistics on aging are astounding, and scary. “By 2020 some 6.6 million Americans will be age 85 or older.” That’s an increase of 4.3 million from the year 2000. Time to celebrate – right? We’re living longer – and in some cases – thriving in our older age. The reality of the situation, however, is that eventually we’ll need some sort of assistance with our activities of daily living (ADLs) that might require a move to a care facility of some sort.
The stories presented in the attached article describe family instances where emergent circumstances warranted an emergent decision to move a parent into some sort of care facility. The best case scenario, as this AARP article suggests is that you, “dig the well before you’re thirsty.” Nice sentiment – but not always possible.
I have written numerous articles for my blog that address the difficulties the caregiver, and the one needing care, go through when making the decision to choose a long-term care (LTC) facility for a loved one. Below are links to each of those articles. I hope they prove beneficial to you.
Deathbed promises and how to fulfill them.
Caregiving: The Ultimate Team Sport.
Selecting a Senior housing community – easy for some, not for the rest of us.
Adjustment disorder: a long-term care facility side- effect.
Visiting a loved one at a long-term care facility.
A Hibiscus flower to brighten your day
Weekly Photo Challenge: Today.
A fellow blogger in Singapore posted the flower you’ll see when you click on the above link. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.
Medications: harbinger of cognitive decline?
Why can’t I remember how to use this can opener?
How in the world did I get lost driving to the supermarket – a route I drive at least once a week!
My words are getting all jumbled up and my sentences aren’t making sense.
What’s happening to me?
Are you one of the many people who started to take a medication to resolve a condition, or at least to make it better, only to end up with distressing – and life-changing – mild cognitive impairment?
How long did it take for you and your doctor to realize that this horrific change of condition was caused by a medication that was added to your health regimen?
What types of expensive, and grueling, tests did you go through prior to coming to that conclusion? Did any of you go through neurological testing?
And how long did it take for you to feel “normal” again once you took your doctor’s advice to either go off the medication or replace it with a medication that did not cause cognitive decline?
I am personally aware of several people who experienced cognitive decline after taking the Pfizer drug, Lyrica (pregabalin). This drug was originally intended for treatment of neuropathic pain and as an anti-seizure medication, but was approved for treatment of fibromyalgia in 2007. Additionally, cholesterol-lowering statin medications oftentimes cause the same cognitive outcomes. And with the Pfizer drug Lyrica, increased depression – even suicide or newly diagnosed depression – were directly linked to this drug.
As Baby Boomers, we’re entering a phase where, depending upon what ails us, we start adding prescription medications to our health regimen in an attempt to have a high degree of health and well-being.
We need to be completely aware of how a medication may affect us, but it’s unfortunate that most of our awareness is dependent upon the Patient Information Sheet provided by the pharmaceutical companies. These information sheets are sketchy, at best, and carry only half-truths, at worse.
Do you have similar experiences you can share? We’d like to hear from you because awareness, and education, will help us all.
Lighten up Mondays
At a wedding reception, a priest and a rabbi met at the buffet table.
“Go ahead,” said the priest, try one of these delicious ham sandwiches.
“Overlooking your divine rule just this once won’t do you any harm,” added the priest.
“That I will do, dear sir,” replied the Rabbi,
“on the day of your wedding!”
Baby Boomer + Aging Parent = a changing paradigm.
Planning for a wedding? FUN!!!!!
Putting together an extended vacation to a tropical paradise? EXHILARATING!
Figuring out how to help mom and dad with their increasing care needs? UNEXPECTED!
A recent National Public Radio (NPR) Story: Preparing for a Future that includes Aging Parents addresses the unexpected, and the unplanned for. Whether because we’re kidding ourselves or we really believe it, we oftentimes can’t imagine our parents as anything but the energetic, robust, independent mom and dad with whom we grew up. And if we don’t live near them, we’re falsely sheltered in our assumption that mom and dad are doing just fine; at least they were the last time we saw them during the Holidays! If we’re honest with ourselves, however, we’ll admit that our infrequent visits with the parents shock us greatly as we notice a bit of feebleness in their manner, because as the above story states, “time does what it does.”
Surprisingly, only 13% of some 4,000 U.S. workers surveyed for the 2011 Aflac WorkForces Report considered that the need for long-term care would affect their household. We love to live blissfully ignorant, don’t we? We have so many of our own stresses and pressures associated with running our family household, we’re just not going to entertain having to be on-point with our parents’ needs as well. Guilty!
I became a long-distance caregiver in the Seattle, Washington area for my father who lived in an all-inclusive facility called a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in Southern Oregon. The first eight years he lived there were worry free because my father was one of those robust parents who was on the path towards living to a ripe old age. He did live to a ripe old age, dying at the age of 89, but from the age of 84 until his death, Alzheimer’s invaded our family’s peaceful existence, and I found that even as a long-distance caregiver, I was on-point 24/7.
Caveat: my parents had purchased long-term care (LTC) insurance so none of us three offspring were financially responsible for my father’s care. But anyone who has been a caregiver for a loved one knows that care isn’t always equated to monetary expenditure. In my case, the constant need to travel to Southern Oregon to monitor his care and be the designated (self-designated) sibling best equipped to coordinate his care with the facility’s staff, lead to my decision to temporarily leave my career, which was, coincidentally, one in the long-term care housing industry. By the way – the answer was not to move him up to the Seattle area. His financial investment in this CCRC up to that point rendered that an untenable option.
Even though I absolutely relished this opportunity to give back to my father – and I truly did – it was very difficult on my household and me. My health temporarily suffered. Everything I did revolved around being available for my father and hopping on a plane at a moment’s notice. I lived in a five year period of dreading the ringing of my home phone or mobile phone because it most likely meant that something needed tending. And getting home and finding NO voicemails in our phone system was cause for celebration.
But enough about me.
Are you prepared for the eventuality of attending to your parents’ care or are you already on that journey?
Or maybe you are already caring for a spouse with medical or cognitive needs. How are you managing that difficult task?
Let us hear from you. Not talking about it won’t make it go away. It’s time to face the piper and be as prepared as we can for the inevitable.
Cost of Dying: planning for a good death, from advance directive to talking with your family
Cost of Dying: planning for a good death, from advance directive to talking with your family.
The article posted here is well worth the read. It is very comprehensive and reveals the nitty gritty of the decisions that are so important, and too often emergent, as we and/or our family members age.
When my husband and I set up our living wills/advance health care directives a few years ago, we did so as a living gift to each other. The attached article reflects that sentiment as well. With all of the details spelled out in advance, the surviving loved one is not thrust into an emergent decision that by its very nature holds one of the biggest responsibilities we can carry on our shoulders. To be sure, an advanced health care directive doesn’t take away all of the end-of-life challenges that occur but it does allow the surviving family members to feel at ease as they respect their loved one’s wishes that were expressly made known well in advance of the need for implementation.
Having these discussions with loved ones can be uncomfortable for some, but if framed in the guise of being a living gift to those left behind, the discussions take on a whole new meaning and can’t help but come out in a positive light.
Where do you find peace?
Do you find peace within the circle of your family; or does meditation or prayer, an inspirational book, or music fill your soul? Wherever the source – how do you keep that peace from slipping away?
Certainly when we’re exposed to sorrowful or earth-shattering news, any semblance of peace and calm seem to disappear, such as: acts of terrorism – both domestic and abroad; heartless school shootings; bigotry and hatred; and even devastating illness. How many times has your armor been pierced by such circumstances?
Too many to count. So how do we find peace amongst the chaos?
We can find peace in many small ways – probably the easiest way to do so is to acknowledge the beauty that surrounds us. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a creationist or an evolutionist, the beauty you see is the same. It’s always refreshing when I walk through my local plant nursery, Molbaks, to see the intricacies of flowers and their natural, yet seemingly unrealistic, colors. How did that happen? How can so much detail just happen and we had nothing to do with it? I relish the peace I feel when roaming the rows and rows of flowers and I capture that moment and take it home with me.
And the colors of sunrises and sunsets – what a joy to behold! Even though my house is located in such a way as to not be able to directly see the sun’s rising and setting, I still have the privilege of seeing its aftereffects in the pink and ruby colors of the sky. My mother’s favorite color was pink, so when the sky is beautifully colored in that tint, I credit my mother for this natural artwork, somehow executed from her heavenly resting place.
Celebrating even the smallest of victories in one’s life. Time and again I remind myself to acknowledge the small goodnesses and victories in my life. I learned this practice shortly after having a fairly major orthopedic surgery several years ago. The recovery and rehabilitation were lengthy so I had to take comfort in even the smallest signs of improvement so that discouragement didn’t creep in to rob me of the positive steps I had made towards recovery.
So too is it important to pay attention to all the emotional windfalls that come our way. A huge lottery windfall – such as recently happened (December 2013) in California and Georgia – isn’t the type of emotional windfall I’m talking about. We can experience far more authentic emotions that are not tied to money or things. Someone greets me with a smile or has a word of encouragement that I absolutely needed at that moment? That feeds my soul. I greet someone else with a smile and a hug? Even better – now I’m paying it forward! It’s been said many times before that the richest and longest lasting gifts are those that don’t cost a cent. As trite as it may sound, it’s still absolutely true.
Where or how does one find peace when hit with a wall of hurt – whatever that hurt may look like? In my experience, I have to force myself to look away from the hurt/pain/stress/negativity in order to clearly see some peaceful element, regardless of how small, that will convince me that all is not lost, because I still have this, whatever “this” may be. When we consciously turn away from the wall of hurt, we then have the ability to find some element of peace, somewhere, in our purview. That doesn’t mean that we ignore what is required to resolve the hurt that came our way, but we make a conscious decision to redirect our focus elsewhere so that all the focus isn’t on the hurtful things that have come our way.
Dona Nobis Pacem. I really like this blog entry entitled, Dona Nobis Pacem, from a blog written by Kathy that focuses on her quest to find peace after the death of her mom to pancreatic cancer. To be sure – finding peace is a journey, it’s not just a decision one makes – and Kathy’s article addresses the work required to attain peace. But initially she had to make a decision to simply start on that peace-finding journey, and doing so, she’s nearing her quest. I hope you will visit Kathy’s site and take the time to also watch the video she attached that highlights the song Dona Nobis Pacem – Give Us Peace.
Where do you seek happiness?
I came across a quote the other day from Marie Mountain Clark, one of an elite group of women who completed U.S. Air Force pilot training in the 1930’s. Ms. Clark died in 2008 at the age of 93.
“It is natural for a person to seek happiness in life; however, I believe that this desirable aim is never achieved if one attempts to find it directly. Instead, happiness is found indirectly as a by-product from devoted service to the lives of others.”
Thank you, Marie, for words by which to live.
Whether you’re in your 20’s, 50’s, or 80’s, life is too short. We absolutely have no guarantee of the next minute, month, or year. Why occupy what time we have, regardless of how long it might end up being, with tasks that provide no assistive value to others? Does this mean that we all quit our jobs and start a life that rivals Mother Teresa of Calcutta? Not by any means. What it does mean, however, is that in the hours that we’ve been given, let’s make as many of those count. A very wise man once said, “Do all that you can, in all the places you can, in all the ways that you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can.” – John Wesley
Define your passion; follow your heart; and make a difference in someone’s life. If your eyes and ears are open, you’ll know what that is.
Creating the next chapter of your life.
Do you seek new direction in your life?
Are you in the process of recreating yourself?
Well I’ve learned that it’s easier to know which direction you should go if you’re already in motion.
The world may have been created in a week, or zillions of weeks; either way, a lot of energy went into that creation and the world-in-process was not a stagnant one.
Trial and error. I constantly look for ways to improve myself and increase my effect upon the community around me. If I’m not contributing to a cause – regardless of how big or small – I figure, “Why bother?” But if I wait around for some sort of change to occur, I’m going about it in the wrong way and believe me, I’ve experienced enough trial and error to write a book on the subject. The trial and error approach works, however, if a person becomes well-informed and doesn’t take financial or personal risks that they can’t afford. After all, sometimes we need to discover what doesn’t work for us in order to find out what does work for us.
Living or playing to your strengths. My Baby Boomer direction was greatly influenced by Marcus Buckingham, one of the world’s authorities on employee productivity. (By the way, his DVD series Trombone Player Wanted, is worth looking into.) He suggests that to make your greatest contribution, it’s best to play to your strengths most of the time. I have taken to heart Mr. Buckingham’s strong caution against veering off ones strengths path. After all, when I’m creating a new me, why would I choose to do the lame-o, same-o with all its inherent dissatisfaction? That’s like doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That sure hasn’t worked for me. In addition to playing to my strengths, I also play to my passions. As a Baby Boomer creating my life’s next chapter, it makes sense to deliberately avoid activities that drag me down and weaken me and run to those activities for which I am most impassioned and inspired.
Find your niche and go for it. I know what I like to do and what I’m good at so I try to consciously remain open to opportunities that directly relate to those strengths. I thoroughly enjoy working with an older population of adults but I know what part of that experience I’m able to do, and what I’m not able to do. For example, I know my limits on “clinical atmosphere” so any involvement with older adults excludes my participation in a nursing home or hospital environment. But throw me in the midst of adults living in assisted living or dementia residential settings and I will make new friends of everyone with whom I come in contact. Add to that my enjoyment and effectiveness as a public speaker, I look for every opportunity in which to use those abilities. As a Certified Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman, I have the privilege of meeting with and advocating for residents in LTC settings. Additionally, I provide resident rights presentations at those facilities and at non-facility venues such as senior centers and city forums. It’s the best of both worlds for me – interaction with my target audience and feeding my passion for public speaking.
Recognizing an open door when you see one. On a recent Oprah’s Next Chapter episode, Oprah Winfrey interviewed Lady Gaga and at one point asked the singer how she came up with new song or album ideas. This is the gist of what Lady Gaga said: she imagines herself in a hallway, there are doors all along the hallway but she knows there’s another door coming up further down the hallway that is more appropriate but it’s not readily visible. Through trial and error she eventually finds the correct door/song inspiration. How does she know that’s the door through which she is to walk? When the door finally opens, the light floods in, she is able to block out all distracting noises, and her wishes and thoughts rise to the surface as a basis for her next song/album creation. I’ve opened some wrong doors in my life as a result of incorrectly thinking that just because a door opens, that means I’m supposed to walk through it. Again, trial and error comes into play and discernment takes a front row seat.
Not every door that opens is going to be the correct one. When I’m in exploratory mode, I have to be very careful not to walk through the first door of opportunity that comes my way – regardless of how enticing. When I make this mistake, I quickly discover that I’ve committed myself to the wrong project and have had to withdraw myself shortly thereafter. I didn’t look before I leaped – not a safe, or advisable practice to be sure. It’s worth me taking the time to weigh my options; write a list of Pros and Cons; ask trusted individuals for their input; and then make an informed decision. If it’s right for me, it’ll wait for me. If this new opportunity allows me to play to my strengths and my passions, everyone benefits and there are few, if any, casualties along the way.
What does the next chapter of your life look like? How are you going about writing that chapter? I’d love to hear from you because I’m pretty sure I have quite a few more chapters of my own to write.
What are YOUR Lack-Of-Customer-Service Pet Peeves?
Here are just a couple of mine.
Today I experienced the inevitable straw that broke the camel’s back regarding poor customer service that inspired me to write this article which, I warn you, will be full of complaints and negative energy.
I’ll start off with the incident that inspired the diatribe you’re about to read:
Grocery check-out lines. Purchased my weekly dose of grocery items today – a mere $225 worth. From the start of the transaction to its bitter end, the checker didn’t utter one word. No baggers were in sight so I started to bag my own groceries, even though there were two employees standing five feet from me at the self-checkout area with nothing to do other than to watch this Baby Boomer bag her own groceries. (Bagging groceries by employees is still a common practice at most supermarkets in Washington State, including this one.) The transaction ended with the checker putting a couple remaining items into a bag, handing the receipt to me, logging off his register, and walking away. Mind you, all my grocery bags still remained on the checkstand counter, leaving me no option but to personally place them in my grocery cart. I feel a letter to the manager forming in my brain – not the first letter I’ve written to grocery store managers.
Assembly line doctor visits. I’m convinced that doctors are required to meet a certain patient quota per day – at least my doctor is. The last few times I’ve visited her, she’s rushed me through the visit, even going so far as to do the following: 1) using a hand gesture to hurry me up – picture her hand going in horizontal circles in front of her while I’m trying to explain my reason for the visit; and 2) two weeks after major spine surgery this same doctor expressing her impatience by saying, “Hurry Irene, this appointment needs to end!” Sorry to have messed up your day, doc! How callous of me for talking to you about my horrific and painful surgery experience!
A surgeon’s god-complex. I just have to mention the aforementioned surgery experience. A neurosurgeon operated on me a year ago to perform an anterior cervical spine disc replacement and vertebral fusion: a four hour surgery, one night in ICU, a full year of recovery. At my two-month post-surgery appointment with this god-surgeon, I explained how difficult it had been going through such a drastic surgical experience. His comment, and I quote, “It wasn’t that drastic of a surgery.” Ahem. My comment, and I quote, “It may have been the 5000th cervical spine surgery you’ve attended but it was my first!” Imagine him minimizing my surgery, thereby dismissing my discomfort and recovery experience?! Grrrrrr.
Before my blood pressure rises to unsafe levels – which would take a lot because my normal BP is 96/65 – I’ll stop right here to let you vent about YOUR frustrating lack-of-customer-service experiences.
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