The WCenterBlog is dedicated to the residents of the Westchester Center for Independent and Assisted Living located in Yonkers, Westchester County, New York and to seniors everywhere. The opinions expressed here are those of the editor and do not reflect the opinions of the Westchester Center also known here as "The Center", "The Facility" or the "Asylum". Please address all correspondence to: Resident-X@hotmail.com. All email we be kept confidential unless otherwise expressed. More detailed information about the Westchester Center may be found at our resident's newsletter Facebook page : All material (except where noted) is ©2014 Bruce Cooper. All rights reserved.
Ronni has informed us, via her Facebook page, that her blog has been the victim of a virus attack and that it is being worked on by her web hosting service. Pheeew, I thought we had lost her.
AN OLD ISSUE RESURFACES
While I do not want to make this place out to be some Orwellian hellhole I do believe that it is important for me to set things straight, to which i will start by saying, “KEEP YOUR F_ _ _ _ _ G noses out of my business” and by “business” I mean my room. Is it not bad enough that we are monitored 24 hours a day by a myriad of newly installed security cameras which watch our every coming and going? Is it not enough that our rooms and our personal belongings are periodically inspected with or without our knowledge? Is there nowhere (except maybe our toilets) where we can be assured of privacy? This issue should be on the minds of every resident in this facility. I knew when I came here that I would have to sacrifice a modicum of privacy however; I did not know how much of MY business was to become THEIR business. I realize that for safety reasons some activities which are normally considered no one’s business but their own are monitored here, and I am in total agreement with most of those reasons. After all, I don’t relish having to run out into the street because some idiot resident started a fire in his room, or has knives or guns in his dresser drawer, but at what point do the safety checks end and the invasion of privacy begin, the line is often blurred by the well- meaning but uptight, anal-retentive administration here. Let me tell you what prompted me to pursue this latest tirade.
Some months ago, a new policy was put into place here at the Center, a policy whereby (as per state regulations so they say) a “bed check” must be performed on every room, every night. I was furious at this new rule and told management that under no circumstances was I to be included in this Gestapo-like incursion and telling them that if they wanted to check other resident’s rooms at all hours of the night I didn’t care, just don’t bother me and, for a long while, this request was honored. That is until this past week.
Originally, when this “rule” went into effect, we were told that these so called “safety checks” would be as minimally invasive as possible. The understanding was that the staff member(s) assigned to do these checks must knock on the door before entering and that it would be done at a reasonable hour of the evening and, for a while, these instructions were adhered to. In fact my request for total privacy was honored and I was never disturbed again. Unfortunately, all of this good will and trust has apparently ended because, not once but twice this past week the evening supervisor and one of her little cohorts decided to take it upon themselves to break the agreement and, enter my room, while I was in bed, without so much as a tap on my door. I of course told her to get the hell out and went as far as getting out of bed, putting on my robe, and pursuing her down the hall at which point I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I was never to be bothered again and that I was very upset at what had just occurred. I hope that I said this with enough emotion and conviction that any ideas they may have of entering my room in the future without knocking would be erased from their minds forever.
Privacy holds a very high position on my list of wants, needs, and desires. Heavens knows I have little of it in the last 5 years and I think that now I am entitled to it. I don’t like to be treated like some seven-year-old at sleep away camp. I do not have to be “checked,” “looked in on,” or spied upon. Therefore, once again I must prevail upon the powers that be to respect my need for privacy and mind their own business and stay out of mine.
One of the downsides of living here at the Center is the lack of transportation options available to us. While many assisted living facilities have their own proprietary means of conveyance we have to rely on begging and “special arrangements” with our van service for our trips to malls, restaurants, or amusements. The only other option is Para Transit (the county supported handicapped door to door bus service) which is difficult to arrange, not free, and unreliable at best. Of course there is always cab service which is reliable but costs a fortune, so what’s left?
Many people who live in senior communities and assisted living facilities throughout the land have access to their own vans or busses that will take a single individual or a group anywhere at any time. This transportation is provided as a service deemed necessary for the well being (and sanity) of their residents. Unfortunately, due to the lack of resources (so they say) we here at the Poor Peoples Assisted Living Compound cannot have this service unless we are awarded some grant money which, supposedly has been applied for however, as per the information which I have gathered, the probability of us getting such a grant is next to zero. Therefore there is only one way for us to obtain such a vehicle and that is to go to the private sector and ask for a donation, surely, there must be an automobile dealership or group of dealers or merchants that would be willing to donate a handicapped equipped SUV or van to us. This would serve a dual purpose.
First, any donation would most likely be tax deductible for the donator. Furthermore, there would be added value from all of the free publicity which would ensue from such a gift. In addition, because the vehicle would be emblazoned with advertising, every time the van goes on the road it would be like a mobile ad for whoever the sponsor was. This would be a win/win situation for everyone involved. Therefore, I implore management to pursue this opportunity by contacting dealerships or trade organizations or merchant groups and asking them to consider such a donation the next time they are looking for a good cause to support. This would mean so much for all of us here.
Last week a devoted old warhorse passed away without fanfare and without any recognition for it’s years of service and, although its demise did not come easy, we can finally say it has passed on to its just reward and as promised, something new has taken its place. While many of you might say that 15 years is way too soon for a water heater to die one has only to remember that this faithful servant worked night and day providing blessed hot water to the great-unwashed residents of the Franklin Center. It was only until recently that this ardent dispenser of both blistering and tepid liquid ceased to function as it should and, although it tried its best, towards the end it was only capable of providing an occasional spurt of hot water despite the valiant efforts of Michael Acevedo and his crew to resuscitate it. Finally, with much thought and consideration, it was decided that the Center would have to abide by the wishes of the residents and remove it from life support.
We now have a brand new water heater which, so far, has taken up where the old family retainer left off providing us with hot showers, sanitizing hand washes, and fogged-up mirrors. However, until the remains of “Old No. 1” are removed from its temporary resting place outside of the building it served so well, the recollection of this cylindrical purveyor of heated water will live in our memories forever.
Maybe this is why you are so screwed-up now.
We see it every day here, nasty old people with nasty dispositions and some really disgusting habits and idiosyncrasies and we wonder whether they were like that as kids or young adults or they are the way they are as they got older. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s easy to say that all of your problems started when you were young but maybe they are right, here are some things that perhaps you should have avoided which now, in your dotage, has made your life miserable.
What are some of the things you should have avoided doing in your first 30 years of life?
• Getting married
• Having children
• Addictions that waste time, energy, and resources and keep you from focusing and working on your goals.
I recently read an article in an Iowa newspaper’s online edition entitled “Seniors in Assisted Living See Skype as Solution for Staying in Touch.” The article was about how a 90-year-old woman was afraid that she would never see her sister, who lived across the country, again prompting the assisted living facility’s “life enrichment director,” to come up with a novel idea. Using Skype’s technology whereby anyone with a computer can see anyone else live and as it happens, this 90-year-old can now see and converse with her sister. This gave me an idea. Why don’t we do the same thing here? Why can’t we set aside one day a week whereby any resident, with the aid of a qualified staff member or resident, could be set up in front of one of the computers in our computer center and for 15 minutes or so, connect with a friend or relative in a pre-arranged Skype video call. The person on the other end would also need to have Skype, which is available as a free download, and a computer or tablet equipped with a camera and microphone. All the resident would have to do is show up on time and sit. Additionally, any resident who already has and knows how to use Skype, could offer to let another resident use their tablet or computer to contact their loved ones in a more private setting. I think this is an idea worth considering.
Genworth 2014 Annual Cost of Care Survey: At Home Care Costs Increase in Massachusetts
Consumers Urged by Genworth CEO to Discuss and Create a Plan for One of the Nation’s Most Important and Pervasive Social Issues
from: PR Newswire
RICHMOND, Va., April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 11th year, the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey shows the cost to receive long term care services at home in Massachusetts through a home health aide increased over the past five years. On a national level, the survey shows a dramatic increase in facility based care, such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, while the cost to receive care at home through homemaker services or a home health aide is rising at a moderate growth rate. This is good news for consumers as almost three quarters of people needing long term care prefer receiving it in their homes, according to Genworth’s extensive claims data (Long term care claims Experience Data for Genworth Life Insurance Company and affiliates – December 1974-June 30, 2013).
Nationally, the 2014 median hourly cost for the services of a homemaker or home health aide hired from a home care agency is $19 and $19.75 respectively. Homemaker costs nationally have risen annually 1.2 percent on average over the past five years and home health aide services have risen, on average, 1.32 percent annually over the past five years. In Massachusetts, the median hourly cost of homemaker services is $23 and the median hourly cost of home health aide services is $25. The median hourly cost for homemaker services in Massachusetts has remained flat annually over the past five years, and the hourly cost of home health aide services has increased 0.8 percent over the same period of time.
By comparison, the median annual cost for care in an assisted living facility is $42,000 nationally and $62,964 in Massachusetts. The national yearly cost of assisted living has increased 4.29 percent annually over the past five years and increased 3.8 percent over the same time period in Massachusetts. The comparable cost for a private nursing home room rose 4.19 percent annualized over the past five years to $87,600 nationally, and increased 3.8 percent over the past five years to $134,320 in Massachusetts.
And then there is always this.....
The most cost-effective senior care alternative
By Harold E. Butler, Bunker Hill
“An old friend recently found herself in a bad situation. Being a widow, living alone, her health failing, she was forced to make a drastic decision. Having worked her whole life and living modestly, she was able to build a small nest egg to live on. Now, due to declining health, she is forced to move into an assisted living home with a nurse on duty.
The cost, $5,000 a month for room and board. Almost double what she earned when healthy and working. Her nest egg was wiped out in short order, even with the aid of Medicare.
With our aging population, this situation is experienced by thousands of others.
The "crime reports" in The Journal reports crooks, thieves and murderers getting 15 to 20 years of free room and board, with free medical care at the tax payer's expense.
The answer seems simple, senior citizens. Have one of your children buy you a hoodie sweat shirt, sun glasses and a plastic water gun at the Dollar Store and dress mom in these. Pin a "This is a stickup" note to the shirt, drop her off at a 7-Eleven store. Once she is inside, call 911 and report an armed robbery in progress.
With a little luck, she will get 10 to 20 years for armed robbery, with free medical care, room and board to boot. She will agree to the plan when she's told Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right can be seen every day. Don't forget, it is all free now.”
79 YEARS OF THE WORLDS BEST AIRPLANE
December 17, 1935
The Douglas Aircraft Company rolled out,
and flew the Legendary DC-3!
The DC-3 in this single event, with all its variants,
has rippled through the Aviation World for over 60 years.
Competing designers have proclaimed the demise of this valiant workhorse,
with each new aluminum show plane, but to no avail.
The DC-3/C-47/R4D/Dakota and its many other variants,
has touched the lives of people
from every country in the World, and from Pole to Pole.
The DC-3 was designed to
do the work of the world then -- and the DC-3 is still at it!
These over 1475 web pages, which are the labor of love,
dedicated to the DC-3/C-47/R4D/Dakota,and all its variants,
and all those who admire this venerable craft.
Did you know?...At one time stewardesses were required to have nursing degrees. Now, they would charge you $20 for a band-aide, if they even have one.
7 Worrisome Facts About Caffeine
By Melaina Juntti for Men's Journal
Yes, I know you are probably sick and tired of hearing about another pro or con story regarding the consumption of caffeine. The fact is, nobody really knows for sure if it’s good for you or not. The one thing we do know is that caffeine, in moderation, probably will do you no harm. However, in case you still are not convinced that overdoing caffeine may not be good for you, here are some more reasons why you might want to cut back a bit.
“What's the largest, least regulated and most misunderstood drug trade in America? That would be caffeine. In his brand new book Caffeinated, investigative reporter Murray Carpenter takes a deep dive into this white-powder stimulant. The author says we underestimate nearly everything about caffeine: its prevalence in our daily lives, its health benefits, its negative impacts on our bodies and patterns. Carpenter shares a peek into his book's most intriguing -- and sometimes surprising -- revelations.”
Caffeine makes us act like lab rats.
"With caffeine -- coffee and tea especially -- people develop very consistent patterns," says Carpenter. "They hit it hard early in the day and then fade off in afternoon. It's predictable self-administration, kind of like a lab rat pushing a lever that'll give them the next expected hit of a drug." These patterns become so ingrained that many of us don't even realize how long it's been since we've gone without. "People go months, years, even decades without skipping caffeine a single day, which says a lot about how powerful it is," he says.
Coffee packs way more caffeine than soda.
"Most caffeinated sodas have 35 to 40 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounces," says Carpenter. "Even if you drink five cans a day, that's a really moderate caffeine intake compared to what most coffee drinkers consume. The caffeine in coffee is more concentrated, so even a five-ounce cup of weak coffee has almost twice as much as a can of soda. Strong coffee could have three times the caffeine. A 16-ounce Grande coffee from Starbucks has almost as much as nine cans of soda." Energy drinks, of course, are a different store.
One cup of strong coffee a day is enough to get you hooked.
"From research, we know that most people who regularly consume 100 milligrams of caffeine a day will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop abruptly," says Carpenter. That's roughly three cans of soda or, depending on how strong it is, one or two cups of coffee. But even if you become dependent on caffeine, consuming a few hundred milligrams a day probably isn't too troublesome. "For most adults, 300 to 400 milligrams a day is considered moderate, although that varies dramatically depending on your size, genetic predisposition and many other factors," Carpenter says. "Some people, such as smokers, process caffeine more quickly, so they need more to get the same effect."
Overdoing caffeine can cause problems.
"One of the most common problems of getting too much caffeine is insomnia or sleeplessness," Carpenter says. "But caffeine's effect on sleep really differs from person to person. Some can drink coffee right up until they go to bed and then sleep like babies. For others, if they have caffeine after dinner, they'll lie in bed with their heart thumping and mind wandering." Caffeine also promotes anxiety, Carpenter says, which is already a huge problem for so many Americans. Caffeine can make it much worse. Another big issue: "Caffeine leads to a vicious circle of supplementation," he says. "You get all jacked up on caffeine to get through the day and then have to put the brakes on hard. People often need beer or sleeping pills to wind down. Then they wake up feeling drowsier than normal, so they have to go right back to caffeine to fire up."
It's easy to build tolerance for caffeine.
Negative effects aside, there's a reason we use caffeine -- and depend on it. "Caffeine is really powerful and effective for increasing mental acuity and focus," Carpenter says. Research shows it boosts athletic performance as well. However, these positive benefits usually wane the longer we regularly use caffeine. "Most people develop tolerance, so the coffee you drink today will not have the same effect as the first cup you ever had," says Carpenter. But caffeine tolerance differs from that of other drugs in that you can recalibrate it. For example, an alcoholic might quit drinking for years, but if he picks it up again, he'll usually be right back in the problem zone. Not necessarily true for caffeine. "With caffeine, you can reset your baseline pretty quickly if you quit for even a week," Carpenter says. "You'll go through withdrawals, but then when you start on it again, you will notice a bigger boost than you got before you quit."
Natural caffeine is no better than synthetic.
"It's really the same chemical, whether it's carved away from an ingredient in which caffeine naturally exists, such as guarana or kola nuts, or it's cobbled together in a laboratory," Carpenter says. "Synthetic caffeine is cheaper and much more widely used. But if both are pure, natural-sourced and chemical caffeine should have same effects. There's nothing wrong with natural caffeine, but there's no additional health benefit to it. It's more about if you don't want your caffeine coming out of pharmaceutical plant in China."
Caffeine isn't required to be labeled.
"The Food and Drug Administration doesn't require beverage companies to label caffeine content," Carpenter says. "Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper do it voluntarily, although it's in tiny print at the end of the ingredients list. You almost need reading glasses to see it." That's at least one good thing soda has going for it, since multiple studies have linked the sugary swill to obesity and diabetes, while diet soda is thought to mess with metabolism. "One great thing about caffeinated soft drinks is you can quantify your caffeine intake if it's listed on the can," Carpenter says. But labeling laws could soon change, prompted by the rapid rise of high-caffeine energy drinks. "FDA is currently wrestling with how to regulate caffeine in energy drinks," Carpenter says. "They're figuring out how to label caffeine count so you can look at a product quickly and see what's in there. Labeling coffee or tea would be a much bigger challenge. However, Lipton lists how much caffeine each bag contains, and it's pretty close to accurate."
For those people who think that Social Security recipients are a burden on society and are depleting the S.S. resources faster than it can be replaced and that we are putting an unnecessary burden on our children, here is something for them to ponder....
Rapid Growth in the Number of Seniors Who Pay Tax on Social Security Benefits - New Poll by The Senior Citizens League
Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) April 15, 2014
“A new poll released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) suggests rapid growth in the number of seniors who pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. The TSCL poll indicates that as many as two-thirds (66%) paid taxes on their Social Security benefits last year. “This number represents considerable growth over the past decade,” says TSCL Chairman, Ed Cates. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 39%, or 16.9 million Social Security beneficiaries, were affected by the taxation of Social Security benefits in 2005.
The growth is due to several factors. “Not only are there more Social Security beneficiaries who are working longer, but unlike income brackets, the income thresholds subjecting Social Security benefits to taxation are fixed,” Cates say. “That means a growing number of middle and even lower-income seniors are paying the tax on benefits,” he points out.”
I love my laptop. I love it more than my new-fangled tablet with its “virtual keyboard” however; the darn thing does get hot sometimes. In fact, it gets so hot that I can’t use it on my lap or even on a “meltable” surface. I am sure many of you have wondered what the temperature of your laptop is and how hot is too hot. Here is an article about how you can tell if your LP is too hot for its own good.
How can I test my laptop's temperature and what temperature should it be at?
By Melanie Pinola from About.com
“The biggest clue that your laptop is not running at an ideal temperature is if you're experiencing any symptoms of overheating. But most laptops naturally run hot, so a system utility that can access your laptop's internal temperature sensors can help you decide if you need to take steps to cool your laptop down further."
You can look up temperature specifications for your specific laptop's Intel or AMD processor, but most CPUs' maximum temperatures are around 100° Celsius (212° Fahrenheit). Before you get to that upper limit, though, your laptop will likely have all sorts of performance problems and may be shutting down randomly on its own. Optimal operating temperature is 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit) or below, according to the SpeedFan temperature monitoring program, though newer processors may go comfortably higher to around 70° Celsius (158° Fahrenheit).”
Sources: Intel, AMD, Kioskea.net
Who actually invented spaghetti is still up in the air. The popular belief being it was Marco Polo who brought spaghetti to the west after his trip to China. If that is true how come it took so long before Europeans were eating egg rolls, chow mein, and moo goo gei pan, but I digress? Although we may never know whether it was the Chinese, the Arabs or the Romans who first boiled extruded dough the one thing we do know is that it was never chopped into bite-sized pieces before it was served. So why do they insist on chopping spaghetti here? The answer may lie in the way we residents are viewed by the staff.
For some reason, people who are charged with taking care of a population of senior citizens all believe that we should be regarded as different from “normal” people. The thought is that we (old folks) need to have our food mashed, unseasoned and made smaller so that we, in our feebleness, can better swallow the swill set before us, in other words, we are to be treated as three-year-olds, fortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a known fact that we decrepit wretches, teetering on the brink of eminent death, prefer food that is prepared the same way that real people like their food and that includes un-chopped spaghetti. After so much has already been taken from us elderly (our money, our independence and, in my case, our looks) why take from us the pleasure of twirling those delicious long strands of spaghetti on our forks. Please, I beg of you, DON’T CHOP OUR SPAGHETTI.
Poorly cooked, poorly seasoned and poorly portioned, this meal was an abomination.
This is what bothers me most about the abysmal dinner we had the other evening. What they told us was salmon, turned out to be a piece of fish so small as to cause me to think it was some other diner’s leftovers. In addition, what there was of it, was cooked to within an inch of its miserable life and barely edible. In addition, the lemon seasoning was laid on so thick that it overpowered any taste that might have remained after being cooked into the horrid mess it was. However, what really bothered me was that nobody but me sent it back or cared enough to complain, this in spite of the comments and remarks I received from my fellow diners who were as aggrieved with Wednesday night’s offering as I was. It never fails to amaze me that the very people, who are the most vociferous in their disdain for the food and protest loudest at resident’s meetings, won’t say a thing to the kitchen when they are served crap like we were served that evening. In fact, the only thing that bothers me more than the complacency of the residents here is that the chef has no shame in letting a meal like that escape from his kitchen.
Here is a trick taught to me, not by some world-renowned magician or famed sleight of hand artist but by my brother who knew more restaurant maitre’ D’s than any other person I ever knew. What he told me has served me well for all the years that I have been eating out. “If whatever you ordered is not to your liking or not cooked properly or not what was advertised, send it back and order something else.” He also told me to be courteous, don’t yell or scream at the server or berate the chef, or your next sandwich may have an extra “ingredient” in it. This is something that I have unfortunately had to do on too many occasions here at “Chez Michel.” If I said it once I must have said it a million times. We deserve to be served food made with at least the same standard of quality, portion size, and preparation as would be served in any diner on any highway in America. Why this simple standard cannot be followed I do not know. It can’t just be a matter of cost because I can get a very decently prepared meal in most diners for under $10, which is the approximately the same cost per person per meal amount that is set here. However, upon further consideration, I do know why. It is because of the very same reason I stated before. The management knows that this population is a bunch of frightened sheep that are afraid to speak up, and what a shame that is. If the residents here were just a little more assertive, we could have so much more than what passes for food here on a daily basis.
Here, at the “Center’s” dining room, or as we like to call it “The Bizarro World Diner”, measurements do not always conform to standards that are internationally acceptable. Take for instance the unit of measure that is used by cooks the world over, the “cup”. The standard cup size, used in these United States is equal to 8 ounces of liquid. The standard coffee cup used here at the Center is a standard 8 oz. mug. Therefore, by using a coffee cup as a guide, one would assume that we were being served, at the very least, one full cup of soup (or close to it). However, after pouring the contents of the bowl of soup I was served for lunch last Saturday afternoon from the bowl to an empty coffee cup, it was clearly visible that the soup barely filled the cup halfway. Yes my friends, this place is so f_ _ _ _ _ _g cheap that they can’t even afford to serve us a full cup of soup.
We have come to believe that this facility spends on average, $10 per meal per guest. Therefore, unless the meatball sandwich that accompanied the soup costs $9.50, the meal came nowhere close to that $10 amount. While I understand that recently the facility spent money on a new hot water heater and a new trash bin. Has the purchase of theses items depleted the budget so much that we can't get a full cup of chicken soup?
Sunday lunch. Fish cake. served cold, tasted like a fish flavored Dr. Scholls innersole. Broccoli, also cold with yellow rice and peas, tasteless. Server laughed when she brought it to me. Had to use mayo on fish sticks because there was no tartar sauce. The only good thing about this meal was thankfully, there wasn't much of it. Mayonnaise Chinese calligraphy on fish cake, unintentional.
Next week's BLOG will find its way on to your internet access device on the Monday April, 28 the last Monday this month and, while it doesn't feel like spring in some parts of the country, those of us living here in the frozen Northeast can certainly feel the change, just like this blog changes every Monday morning.
PREVIOUS BLOGS BEGIN BELOW
I believe that 90% of the problems associated with old age can be dismissed by ignoring them or, if not ignoring them, at least not giving in to them. Although I understand that there are genuine physical limitations that are a result of body parts wearing out and devastating illnesses beyond our control, this does not mean that we can’t overcome them, this I know from personal experience. After spending 3 months in a hospital recovering from a life threatening illness and spending most of that time on my back and in pain, I was moved to a series of nursing homes to complete my recovery, or so I thought.
What I discovered most about nursing homes is that in their effort to aid old folks they, in actuality, hinder them from being all that they can be. As for my “imprisonment” in a nursing home I found that I was stronger than I thought, not physically maybe but, certainly mentally. My sole purpose in life during that time was to regain most, if not all, of my former mobility. Moreover, if it took months or even years to accomplish, it was alright with me. I made up my mind that I was not going to become “one of them,” and by one of them, I mean the other people I saw in those nursing homes.
While I was a patient in a very well managed nursing and rehab facility, the most depressing thing I witnessed was the utter lack of drive and ambition exhibited by many of my co-inhabitants. Many of the patients, both young and old, had given in to their disabilities and were perfectly happy to submit to the life that had been dealt to them and I have to admit that, at the beginning, I was among that group. You see, nursing facilities are not only part of the solution but part of problem as well. In an effort to help you ease your pain and discomfort, they cater to your disability by doing things for you that you should be doing for yourself.
From the day I entered my first nursing home (three in all) to the time I left for the assisted living facility I now live in, I was dressed by an aide, helped in and out of bed by an aide, and sometimes wheeled from one location to another by an aide. Moreover, at least at the beginning, I wallowed in the “luxury” of my self-pity and all the attention. Believe me; I could have existed that way for many years because it was just so easy and, if were not for an astute social worker, I might still be there. Somehow the social worker assigned to my case saw something that I didn’t. She took my unwillingness to participate in many of the social activities the home had for its patients not as a sign of depression but a sign that it was time for me to leave. Thus began my journey into the world of the “comeback.”
After three weeks of intensive physical therapy at the home, therapy of which I begrudgingly took part in, I got up from my wheelchair and began to use a walker and then a Rollator. I walked outside of the facility for the first time in three years and enjoyed it. It was then that I knew I really did have to get out of that place.
To say that my first couple of weeks here at the ALF were difficult would be putting it mildly, they were the most painful I had ever spent anywhere. The very act of getting out of bed without the helping hands of an aide caused me more pain than I could stand, so much so that, I was taken to a hospital for some shots and a prescription for painkillers, I began swallowing Percocet pills like M&M’s. Even with the pills, taking a shower was an adventure unto itself. There were body parts that had to remain unwashed because I was not flexible enough to reach them. Just putting on my pants, socks, and shoes took me a half hour and walking to the dining room left me exhausted me to the point that I could not move for the rest of the day. I wondered if I had done the right thing by leaving the friendly confines of the nursing home. Weeks went by as I watched my feet and ankles swell up to the point where I could not tie my shoes, my heretofore-unused legs were rebelling. I could have given up at that point and been released from the pain by having things done for me, but I didn’t. I thought back to a time before I got sick and remembered that I was a person who would think nothing of getting up and walking seven or eight miles a day. I realized that I was still that person and made up my mind to at least try to return to my former self.
After a year of forcing myself to do things without taking advantage of the assistance which very easily would have been provided for me, I threw away the walker and the Rollator in favor of a cane which I only sometimes use now. The increased mobility has relieved me of the aches and pains and I no longer take any pain meds unlike the majority (I am sorry to say) of many of my fellow residents who have become Percoset and Oxycodone junkies. I would venture a guess that there is probably not one person here that could pass a drug test, which brings us to the question, “Are the facilities that are put in place to aid seniors with their disabilities are in actuality enablers of the very conditions which make them the way they are”? While I am not advocating the dissolution of facilities that the elderly need to improve their quality of life, I am advocating that a new approach to that care be given consideration. There has to be a place where the disabled can be watched and kept safe while at the same time allowing them to do for themselves, as difficult as that may be at times. I know that there are people here that could be out of their wheelchairs and walkers right now but have not been given the incentive to do so. Sometimes, in an effort to be compassionate we become more of a hindrance to the elderly than a help.
Every year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) sends me a letter asking me to renew my membership even though I no longer have a car or even drive one for that matter. The last time I drove a car was on May 18th of 2009, a day before I was taken to the hospital for what would be a life altering experience. Upon leaving the hospital after a 3-month stay and spending the next three years in a nursing home I was forced to give up my home, most of my personal belongings and, worst of all, my Honda Civic.
To be truthful at first, giving up my car was not that big of a deal. After all I was in no condition to go anywhere let alone drive a car, but that was a couple of years ago. Now, as we approach spring and summer that old urge to get into an automobile and hit the road for parts unknown is tugging very strongly at my psyche, like an itch I can’t scratch and that’s too bad. I really loved driving. I like the freedom, the convenience and yes, when conditions were right, the speed. I remember taking my car to Floyd Bennet Field (an abandoned air base in Brooklyn) and clandestinely driving my little Honda as fast as it would go on one of the runways. I imagined myself as a flyer during WW2, in a Grumman Hellcat barreling down the same runway on some daring mission. I knew that if my Honda had wings it surely would be capable of flight*. Therefore, I began to ask myself what it would take me to get back behind the wheel, unfortunately, the answer was not encouraging.
First, I would have to buy a car although; having no money would present a problem. Even if I could get a car, I would have to insure it. New York State has one of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation with premiums running in the neighborhood of $2000 per year. Next, there is the gasoline.
I first started driving at the age of 16 when gas prices were about 35 cents a gallon and even with the poor mileage my Oldsmobile 88 got, a dollar’s worth of gas kept me going all day. Now, living on a fixed income, I would not be able to afford to fill up the car. In addition, there is me and my ability to operate an automobile safely, those five years away from a car has taken its toll. I can no longer receive sounds out of my left ear so I could not hear another car coming up alongside mine or the sound of an ambulance approaching from my left, and then there is my eyesight. A retinal infection resulted in the vision in my left eye to be out of focus and, although I could pass a DMV eye exam, I don’t trust myself any more. Finally, I no longer have a valid driving license, mine expired in 2011 so I might have to be re-tested, and I am not sure I could pass that test. All of these things are a deterrent to me ever getting back in a car again but it doesn’t matter. I still have that urge and maybe, after I win the lottery or somebody gives me a car, I will be out there on the road with the rest of you. So when you see a half blind, half deaf slightly off balance bald guy driving at excessive speed down a road near you, it will probably be me.
* Although the speedometer on the Honda goes to 120 mph, I could not get the car to go faster than 101, scaring the hell out of me. BTW, the takeoff speed of a Grumman Hellcat is about 86 mph. The Hellcat weighed about 12,000 lbs. The Honda about 2300 lbs. which means that yes, it would take off if it had wings.
Winston Churchill, Lyndon Johnson, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Harry Truman all were proponents of taking naps during the day, and so am I. Unfortunately, the art or science of napping has taken a back seat to such things as tweeting, surfing (the net) talking incessantly on the phone and, work. The truth is, we need to make time for napping.
My former place of employment encouraged us employees to offer suggestions on how to improve the productivity of the office and even had a nice oak suggestion box hanging outside H.R. to put those suggestions in. If they ever read any of them I do not know but I can tell you this, they never put my request for an office-wide naptime into effect. I wonder why. After all, I only suggested that at about 3 pm every afternoon, all phone calls should go to voicemail, computers put on “sleep,” the lights dimmed, and everyone should put their heads on their desks for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, a soft chime would sound signaling everybody to return to work. I was also going to suggest that milk and cookies be served, but I didn’t want to appear frivolous. As I said, nothing was ever done about it and I think I know why. There is an aversion here in the U.S.A. to anything that suggests that we are not at work at all times and, while I understand the “nobility” that work represents, I don’t understand why we are so bent on doing so much of it. This becomes evident when we see statistics which show that most American workers do not take all of the vacation time coming to them, which is why I don’t understand why napping seems so obscure. You would think a little nap would be a godsend. After all, we did it when we were young and, I can tell you now from personal experience, that we do a lot of it now that we are older. In fact, I look forward to my afternoon nap which, I am glad to say, can take up to three hours.
Maybe it’s just the fear of oversleeping or snoring which makes people afraid to nap, but it shouldn’t be, the body knows when it’s time to get up and after a few days of regulated napping, you will be awakening almost at 10 minutes on the nose. So, what’s the best way to nap?
As I said, I asked for a 10-minute nap, not 5 minutes or fifteen minutes. This is because studies have shown that 10 minutes is the perfect nap interval. People who took only a ten-minute nap did better on memory tests than their long-napping fellow worker. Whether you decide to power nap at your desk, in a conference room, in a parked car, or lying on a couch, the key is to sit slightly upright. Then you can avoid deep sleep and spring back into action. For those of us who are fortunate enough not to have to worry about work and can afford a longer nap, here are some suggestions on how to do it better.
Ultimate Napping: A How-To Guide
6 steps to the best nap ever.
Published on June 5, 2010 by Linda Wasmer Andrews in Minding the Body
A catnap might sound like the ultimate indulgence. Yet it’s a natural part of daily life for people in many cultures, not to mention more than 85% of other mammals. If you’re chronically overworked and under-rested, however, you’ll probably want to make every minute of your nap count. And if you’re a science junkie, you’ll undoubtedly want to ensure that your napping technique has the scientific stamp of approval. So just for you, here’s a snore-by-snore guide to the most efficient, most effective naptime ever.
Step 1. Give yourself permission.
If you've been perfecting your napping form for years, you can skip this step. But if you haven’t napped on a regular basis since preschool, you might have some lingering doubts about whether napping is really a productive use of your grown-up time. Rest assured: It is. In healthy, non-elderly adults, research has shown that naps can:
Step 2. Choose your time.
Nap too early, and your body may not be ready to sleep yet. Nap too late, and you may find it harder to fall asleep at your usual bedtime. For most people, an early afternoon naptime—starting somewhere between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.—is optimal. Napping at this time can help counter the classic post-lunch dip in energy and alertness.
Step 3. Pick your place.
If you can nap lying down on a couch or bed, that’s ideal. Not surprisingly, in a recent study from China, napping in bed was more refreshing than napping in a seat. But if you’re stuck at your desk or on a bus, it’s not a total loss. Both groups of nappers in the study experienced less sleepiness, decreased fatigue and an improved mood, compared to those who didn’t nap at all.
Step 4. Make yourself comfy.
Say sí to siesta with a restful environment. Make it as quiet and dark as possible by shutting the door, turning off the phone, switching off the lights and closing the blinds. The room temperature should be comfortable but not too toasty, which might make you oversleep.
Step 5. Gather your gear.
When napping away from home, a small pillow and light blanket may help you get cozy. If you can’t make the room dark and quiet, use a sleep mask and earplugs instead. Or put on earphones and tune into relaxing sounds, such as the Pzizz soundtrack for napping, which improved people’s sense of post-nap well-being in a study from New Zealand. If you need to be wide awake immediately after napping, drink a cup of coffee or can of caffeinated soda right before dozing off. The caffeine will kick in 20 to 30 minutes later—just in time to wake up.
Step 6. Grab 20 winks (not 40).
Think short. For healthy, young adults, research indicates that the ideal nap length is only 10 to 20 minutes. Such short naps boost alertness and performance without leaving you groggy afterward or interfering with your sleep that night. In contrast, naps lasting longer than a half-hour can cause sleep inertia—a sense of grogginess and disorientation that may linger for several minutes after awakening from a deep sleep. To ensure that you don’t snooze too long, set an alarm.
P.S. The Zzz-less Nap
Don’t worry if you can’t always fall asleep at naptime. As long as you don’t stress out over it, the rest and relaxation will still do you good. In fact, a study by British researchers found that just lying down with the intention of napping was enough to cause a drop in blood pressure.
Linda Wasmer Andrews is a health writer with a master’s degree in psychology. She's author of Stress Control for Peace of Mind (Main Street, 2005) and the Encyclopedia of Depression (Greenwood, 2010).
There is an app for everything from playing games with friends to starting dinner while you are driving home from work, but here are 15 apps that may actually improve your health and wellbeing. I will list only a few here, but you can go to the URL above to see them all.
Some of these are only for smart phones and some are for both smart phones and Android devices.
SleepCycle: Good health begins with a good night's sleep -- and SleepCycle analyzes sleep patterns to help awaken you at the optimal time. Using your iPhone's accelerometer, the app tracks your sleep pattern each night and maps it over time to show how factors such as alcohol or exercise can affect your rest.
VisionTest 2: Before heading to an optometrist, check your eyesight using a smartphone or tablet app such as Vision Test 2. This app tests for visual acuity, astigmatism, duochrome, color, and far field vision, and it includes an eye doctor locator, information about eye health, and quizzes. The best part: no eye drops!
ITriage: Feeling under the weather? iTriage helps you decide whether you need a neurologist, a general practitioner, or just an ice pack. Free for Apple and Android devices, the app lets you check your symptoms and your health records, find a doctor or hospital, research diseases, and, if it's an emergency, call 911.
Azumio'sInstant Heart Rate: Simply place your finger over your smartphone's camera, and Azumio'sInstant Heart Rate takes your pulse and displays your heart rate on the screen. You can track your rate at rest, while exercising, or over time and share it via social media, and registered users can export data for long-term storage or analysis.
HealthTap, a free iOS and Android app, offers answers from thousands of doctors in the US to users' health questions. About 50,000 physicians answer users' questions (although a disclaimer notes HealthTap "does not give medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment"). An algorithm determines which doctor is most expert and most likely to respond to each question. Physicians receive awards such as reputation scores, user comments, and peer accolades
As you know, I complain a lot about many things here at the “Center” but, the thing I never complain about is how much of a bargain this facility is as compared to what else is out there. Here is one example of an assisted living facility located in Mill Valley, California that is ranked as one of the best in the country. While this apparent “heaven on earth” has every amenity one could think of, the cost of the accommodations is as usurious and it is luxurious.
BEST SENIOR LIVING FACILITY
"After morning yoga, you can go for a walk and take in spectacular views of Mt. Tamaulipas and Richardson Bay. After lunch, it's time for watercolor class, or you can dig in the organic garden. At night, there are movies and concerts. Too often when we hear about "assisted living," it doesn't sound like living at all. Not so at The Redwoods, where a beautiful, 10-acre campus in the heart of Mill Valley is home to an active and diverse community of residents. The Redwoods offers more than 100 programs a week, including tai chi, line dancing and the Rock the Ages chorus, a singing group that covers rock 'n' roll songs from the Four Seasons to Jason Mraz. Retirement can't come soon enough."
Monthly and Daily Rental Costs
Pricing information effective October 1, 2012 - September 30, 2013
(Current waiting period: Over 6 months)
• One bedroom apartment
HUD subsidized 60 units currently closed to new applicants
Optional meal plans
• Evening meal $410.00/month
• Lunch meal $288.00/month
• Breakfast meal $228.00/month
• 10 Dinner tickets $135.00
• 10 Lunch tickets $95.00
• 10 Breakfast tickets $75.00
Assisted Living - Residential Apartments
(Current waiting period 1-3 months)
• Studio $3329.00/month
• Studio with snack center $3443.00/month
• 1-Bedroom with snack center (single) $4257.00/month
• 1-Bedroom with snack center (double) $4672.00/month
Assisted Living - Personalized Care
(Outside admissions welcome)
• Shared — standard $4949.00/month
• Shared — large $5563.00/month
• Private $6367.00/month
$500 (Non-refundable deposit) due upon completion of application;
balance due at move-in
(Community fees waived for residents in Health Care and in HUD-
Additional fees may apply:
• Transfer fee...$3000
Annual rent increases for residents generally range from 4-6%.
Increases are usually effective as of October 1.
REMEMBER; THE COST OF ROOM, BOARD AND EVERYTHING AT OUR LITTLE PLACE IS LESS THAN $1300 PER MONTH. SORRY, NO MOUNTAIN VIEWS.
Editor’s note: If you are thinking of sending off a check to Redwoods as a down payment be advised that there is a waiting list for some of the rooms. I would love to live there so to help me with the rent, I will be taking bids for one of my kidneys and/or a sizable portion of my liver. Send sealed bids to “Help Resident-x move to Mill Valley, c/o #1 Poorhouse Road, Jaundice, NY.
Cultural Senior Care
One of the biggest differences between traditional senior housing and Asian senior living is cultural care. Asian assisted living communities focus on cultural aspects of care that align with traditional family values and beliefs – from architectural design, to activities, to cuisine – that remind the residents of home. Cultural aspects of care include:
• Feng-shui architecture and building interiors
• Respectful cultural design including: Chinese gold coins, guardian lions and removal of the unlucky number four from the building
• Activities including: Calligraphy, mahjong and tai-chi
• Cuisine including: Traditional dishes like porridge, soup and noodles, fish, rice and steamed vegetables
• Caregivers and staff that speak multiple languages and dialects
• Activities including: Card games like hyakunin isshu, and folding of paper origami cranes
• Cuisine including: Traditional dishes like chawan mushi and oyako donburi
• Caregivers and staff that speak multiple languages and dialects.
I know that the last thing you are thinking about now is leaving the home that you have lived in for many years and moving to a place that is strange, unfamiliar and not anything that you are used to. However, you have to realize that no matter what your health and lifestyle is now, there will be a time when you just will not be able to do things for yourself like you used to. The decision to move to senior housing is not easy and should not be taken likely.
Although the following information was compiled by a particular assisted living corporation (Sunrise), the basic facts pertain to everyone thinking of making a move.
1. Your loved one has limited activity and spends much of the day alone
It’s almost impossible for one person, or even a group of very attentive family members, to match the kind of social interactions, mental stimulation, and overall activity that is provided in a good assisted living community. At Sunrise, we offer at least six activities every single day. Our residents enjoy afternoon socials, scenic drives, cooking classes, gaming clubs, walking groups, and numerous other opportunities. Being active is beneficial not only to a senior’s body, but to their mind and spirit as well!
2. You may not be equipped to provide all of the things your loved one needs
Caring for a senior at home can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to balance the physical needs of an aging senior with the demands of a busy life. From coordinating doctor’s appointments to keeping prescriptions filled and providing assistance with dressing and bathing, it seems there is always more to be done. Despite an attentive caregiver’s best efforts, it’s not unusual for things to become too demanding and difficult to sustain. A move to assisted living can bring peace of mind, and the knowledge that a team of professionals is overseeing your loved one’s health and physical well being.
3. Your relationship has suffered since you stepped in to the caregiving role. You miss being your loved one’s spouse, son, daughter, friend or grandchild
Being a caregiver can be especially hard on relationships. As much as we love the people we care for, the added pressure can build up, leading to resentment. It can also cause frustration with other family members who may be perceived as “not doing their part.” When a senior moves to assisted living, that stress is lifted. It allows families to focus less on caregiving, and more on enjoying the relationships they have with the people they love.
4. The cost of caring for your loved one at home is mounting
Providing care for a senior at home may, at first glance, appear to be the most affordable option. Unfortunately, there can be far reaching financial effects that many families don’t consider. Beyond the obvious expenses like paying for in home caregivers, many additional aspects need to be weighed. Families often forget to factor less obvious costs like the number of hours they may miss from work due to caregiving responsibilities. By using our Senior Living Affordability Calculator, you can learn more about what caring for your loved one at home really costs each month. Often, a move to Assisted Living just makes sense financially.
Editor’s note: The best advice that I can give to you if you are seriously in need of an assisted living facility is this. Remember that choosing a place to live is just like buying a new car from a new car dealer who will promise you anything to get you to move in. Therefore, just like buying a car you should take a “test drive,” not by staying at the facility for a week (they won’t let you do that), but by doing the next best thing, speak to the residents who are living there. Try to speak to them privately, outside of the building and prying eyes and ears. Most residents are very eager to tell you of their experiences and point out the pros and cons of the particular place you are considering. You will learn more from them than any fancy brochure or video.
As the April 15 tax deadline fast approaches, you probably have questions. Fortunately, we have answers. Every day until April 15, members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have agreed to answer selected tax questions. Below is an example of a question typical of the one’s many seniors may have at this time of year...
From USA Today
Q: My mother is 93, and after 100 days in a nursing home following hip surgery, she moved into an assisted living facility. She is on their highest service plan as she needs help with most functions. Her doctor has given us documentation stating she is chronically ill, and the document from the facility lists the care they give her on a daily basis, and I think that will suffice as her "care plan." I know all of her expenses at the nursing home are deductible. What about at the assisted living facility?
A: The cost of in-patient care (including meals and lodging) at a medical-care institution that isn't a hospital qualifies (as a deductible medical expense) if the individual is there primarily for the availability of medical care, and the meals and lodging are a necessity incident to that care. Therefore, since the inquiry states that "she is there due to her medical condition," it appears that the costs would be deductible as a medical expense.
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU CHECKED ?
I admit it, I’m a control freak, especially when it comes to my finances and, although I don’t have much of it left, I like knowing where it is, and what it’s doing at all times. This is why I know how to access my bank account on line, can check on my social security, Medicare and Medicaid accounts on line and once a year I get my free credit report, on line. For those of you who have been touted away from checking on your credit by those TV ads which tell you about unscrupulous sites that charge you for this information be afraid no more. At this site, recommended by the federal government, you can view and print out your score instantly. You don’t have to give them a credit card number and they don’t ask for any money. All you have to do is answer a few personal questions to prove your identity and within a few seconds your credit info, from all three credit-reporting agencies, will be displayed. If you want to print this info just be prepared to use a lot of paper. Most of these reports run about 25 pages each. Be advised that this report does not include your FICA score which is usually obtained only by paying for it. For more information and your credit reports, go to...
No Kidding, it’s Free
It’s hard to miss this bin.
A slow news week has forced me to look for something new to report and the only thing I could come up with is this: Joining the new trash receptacle recently installed in the country kitchen, this neo-classical outdoor trash container made its debut outside the main entrance to the facility last week. This latest edition to our fine troop of trash bins replaces the venerable older, smaller, and usually overflowing “swing-top” type container which had been in use since the summer. I hope that the larger “target” hole at the top of the bin will encourage residents and visitors alike to actually get the trash IN THE BIN.
Just mention the word “Atkins” to me and I will deliver to you a treatise on why everybody should be on that diet, and it goes far beyond the benefits of just losing weight. By reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet you will adjust, entirely, the way your body reacts to and processes sugars. In addition, while both Atkins and me make no medical claims, cutting out carbs and sugars completely has caused many diagnosed diabetics to stop using insulin and other diabetes meds altogether. I know this because I have witnessed this with my own eyes by observing one of my fellow residents over a period of eating no-carb meals. After a couple of months his blood sugar level was back to normal after climbing close to the 200 level. Additionally, his blood pressure, which was also in the high 180’s, was dramatically reduced as well. The truth is, the only people who should be eating foods rich in carbohydrates are those that do heavy labor or are involved in a rigorous sports regime, like a marathon runner, something that no person living here at the assisted living facility is doing or will ever do. Unfortunately, the people who make up our menu, like the New York State Department of Health, which sets guidelines for the amounts and kinds of foods that may be served to residents in such facilities, is a co-conspirator in this folly by actually requiring that some form of carbohydrate is served with each meal. If you are unfamiliar with what foods are considered rich in carbs, let me list a few that are served every day here at the W.C,I.A.L.
• All pastas (ziti, lasagna, spaghetti etc.)
• Rice whether it be white, yellow or brown
• Potatoes ( French fried, baked, mashed, hash browned, and home fried)
• Cakes, cookies and, pies, even those that are “sugar free.”
• Bread (Even though whole wheat is better for you it’s still “bread” which is starch which is a carbohydrate).
• Heavy sauces thickened with cornstarch or flour.
Look people, it’s simple, less carbs means less starch, which the body converts to sugar which, when we don’t “burn it up” through strenuous exercise, becomes fat. Therefore, what can we residents, who are at the mercy of the chefs, cooks and (god help us) the dieticians, do to reduce the amount of carbs we take in every day? It’s easy, refuse to eat them.
“But Foodie, you say, there won’t be enough to eat of we don’t eat pasta and rice and potatoes.” , to which I say, “wrong”, it’s just a matter of standing up for yourself and demanding that you are served just the protein portion of the meal, and a decent helping of it to boot. Here are some examples of what I have been doing lately.
When I see that there are potatoes served with my eggs for breakfast, I ask the server instead for “a double serving of eggs, and no potatoes.” I limit my bread intake to only one slice of toast and I never walk away hungry because I have eaten enough protein (eggs, sausage, bacon, ham etc.) to fill me up, not out.
Lunch and dinner can be handled the same way. Just ask for a double portion of whatever protein item is on the menu whether it is fish, fowl, or meat and say NO to the rice, pasta, and potatoes. Perhaps, after a while, the kitchen will realize that we will no longer stand for being filled-up with carbs and start making more of the protein items available to us. In addition, remember; please consult a health care professional before changing your eating routine or diet.
I am fortunate enough to sit at a table with three other men whose appetites are as good as they ever were. At a time in life where one’s desire for food is supposed to diminish, all four of us scarf food down in uncharacteristically hefty amounts, until recently that is. One of our mates was told by his doctor to drop the weight, and fast.
This gentleman, having had weight problems all of his life found that dieting did not help. After much consideration and evaluation, he and his doctors decided that lap band surgery, whereby the stomach is made smaller, would be appropriate. In preparation for this surgery my tablemate was told to start reducing his food intake by eating smaller and smaller portions of food which, I found had a surprising effect on my own food consumption.
I have always been somewhat corpulent. Even as a kid I would be ushered to the “husky boys” section of the boy’s department and, although I did slim down somewhat in the last few years, I still buy the 2XL size boxer shorts. Therefore, when I noticed my tablemate’s will power kick in when he went to smaller portions, I decided to do the same and cut back on how much I consume, with surprising results.
While I am not going to tell you that I have lost tremendous amounts of weight, I will say that I no longer desire the double portions of food I once routinely ordered and I do not walk away from the table hungry. I have also cut back drastically on the amount of carbs I eat, also because of my tablemates desire to lose weight, which goes to prove one thing, It really is a monkey see, monkey do world. With food, as with life itself, if we surround ourselves with healthy, aware, and competent people, some of that can’t help but rub off on us.
It’s all about timing
I have mentioned before that I am not a chef or gourmet or even a great cook, but I do know what I like and I do know how to make the things I like to eat. One of my favorite meals is beef stew. For me, beef stew encompasses everything a decent meal should have, and in can be cooked in one pot which makes it even more desirable. However, as basic a meal as beef stew is, it is not that easy to prepare correctly, and it all has to do with timing.
As we all, or should know, different foods take longer to cook than others. Carrots, for instance, take longer to become tender than potatoes, a fact that seems to have been overlooked by whoever prepared the beef stew we had for dinner the other evening.
The one problem people have when preparing stews (or any recipe that requires multiple ingredients) is the failure to properly time when each ingredient should be incorporated into the mix. This is particularly important when preparing beef stew which has a complex list of components with radically different cooking times. While the meat and carrots/onions/celery (mirepoix) part of the mixture takes a long time to become tender, the potatoes and most of the other veggies cook up in just a few minutes. Therefore, if you put these “softer” veggies in at the beginning of the cooking process they will virtually disappear into the gravy and become indistinguishable from the rest of the stew turning the whole thing into more of a soup than a stew. Such was the case with what was purported to be stew last week. While the carrots very nicely became tenderly incorporated into the mix, the potatoes all but vanished into the thick brown liquid which caused me to do some tabletop cooking of my own.
The alternate meal offering was a fish dish which had as a side some baked new potatoes. After noticing the apparent absence of any potatoes in my soup...er...stew, I asked the server for a side dish of potatoes which I cut up into small chunks and added them to the bowl of beef, carrot and onion combo. This not only made the concoction look more like a traditional stew, it made it much more palatable as well. My addition of just two small potatoes that were not cooked into oblivion was just what this meal needed. Therefore, here is my suggestion. Don’t try to cut corners when preparing one-pot meals requiring multiple ingredients. Instead do it right and take time to add each vegetable or flavoring at the proper time. It’s a little thing I know, but it can be the difference between a mediocre meal and a great one.
Every profession has its “tricks of the trade.” They are the little nuances that can make the difference between a business’s profitability and failure. Supermarkets know that merchandise placed at eye level on the shelves is more likely to sell faster. Consequently, by placing items at the ends of the aisle will make people think that it’s on sale even if it’s not. The same is true in the food service industry and, it appears that the management of our little pseudo-restaurant has learned one of these “tricks.” By putting the same amount of food on or in smaller plates and bowls, the food contained therein will look like more plentiful. Such was the case of a particularly overabundant salad we had last week, a salad that all but spilled over the edge of the bowl in which it was placed. Therefore, my hat goes off to the staff and management of the WCIAL dining room who have finally entered into the world of professional eateries, not by increasing the portion size or by making the food tastier but by decreasing the size of the container it’s served in. Congratulations, you saved 3 cents a serving.
Wow, was I surprised when I saw the size of the slice of pizza served to us for lunch one day last week, it was humongous to say the least. In the past, what passed for pizza around here was a Lilliputian size wedge of barely edible frozen pizza or a prefabricated round cheese-topped Frisbee. Therefore, when I saw a real pizzeria-size slice sitting on my plate I was taken aback. In addition, when I bit into the hot, gooey, cheesy, and liberally spiced pepperoni topped slice of heavenly goodness, I could not believe that finally, the chef came to his senses an ordered takeout pizza. I don’t know where he got this pizza from or how it managed to taste like something one would find in any pizza joint in NYC but I am so glad he did. It was a treat for me and many of our pizza-deprived residents. Thanks.
As a former customer service professional, I can appreciate this story.
During the final days at Denver's old Stapleton airport, a crowded United flight was canceled. The single agent was rebooking a long line of very inconvenienced and frustrated travelers.
Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk in front of all the others. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS."
The agent replied, "I'm sorry sir. I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these folks first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out."
The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that all the passengers behind him could hear, "Do you have any idea who I am?"
Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled warmly and grabbed her public address microphone. "May I have your attention please?" she began, her voice bellowing throughout the entire terminal. "We seem to have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come forward to the gate."
With the folks behind him in line now laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth, and spat out the words, "F*** you."
Without flinching in the least, the agent smiled politely and said, "I'm terribly sorry, sir, but I'm afraid that you'll have to stand in line for that, too."
The man retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly and cheered. Although the flight was canceled and people were late, they were no longer angry at United.
The next time we meet we will be well into the month of April and, even if it seems like winter is still hanging in there I can assure you that it is indeed spring. I know this because I saw my first robin the other day and, even though it was wearing a sweater and a hat it had at least showed up. Our next blog will show up on Monday April 21 and, while it is not a harbinger of anything, it means that I didn’t spend all week napping.
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An editorial triple header
I was so pissed off last week that a single-topic editorial would not do justice to my discontent, therefore I find it necessary to engage in this rare editorial trifecta.
PISSED-OFF EDITORIAL # 1
This is one of those “good news, bad news” situations where on one hand you hear something good that you have been waiting to hear for a long time but when you hear it you realize that it’s not quite right. Such was the case involving our new cable tv package which we have been waiting a long time for.
After more than a year of meetings, presentations, stalling and promises made and promises broken, we finally were unceremoniously rewarded with a revised Direct TV selection of stations and, while some of the promised channels were left out, in general the package was O.K. except for one minor error which could only have been made because of the stupidity and insensitivity of management who was responsible for the final approval of the package. That error had to do with what I found on channel 6.
Due to the vagaries of the cable TV package offerings, we had to give up some channels in order to receive others that we wanted. Therefore, we had to drop CNN if we wanted “E” or Comedy Central etc. However, instead of receiving a viable substitute on that channel we received something called “EWTN” the Catholic Global Network, twenty-four hours a day of religious doctrine and dogma; just perfect for a facility with as diverse a population as this one.
Now, don’t get me wrong I have nothing against Catholicism; it’s just that I was wondering why the other religions and denominations to which our residents belong were not given equal representation. However, after consulting with a couple of my fellow inmates I realized why this ecclesiastical oversight was made in the first place, the members of the administration do not watch TV, ever. This would be tantamount to having a director of maintenance who doesn’t know how to use a wrench or a dietician that won’t eat the food.
Fortunately, and only because of the swift and concerted efforts by members of the resident’s committee, was this debacle finally reversed and EWTN was dropped from the lineup. But this just goes to show you how very little attention is paid to the wants and desires of the residents who by the way have to pay for their TV. This is a perfect example of the way things often get shoved down our throats here.
PISSED-OFF EDITORIAL # 2
The tenement experience
There is no other way to say this except to be honest, I stunk. I stunk because, for most last week we inmates back here in what I like to call “Cellblock F” were without hot water. This meant that we could not shower or bathe properly which is something that I personally find so abhorrent that it literally makes my skin crawl. Moreover, it has nothing to do with the fact that the problem was a mechanical one. What is has to do with is the failure of the administration to be proactive and their failure to replace the defective water tank (which has been around here since 1999) before it nose-dived completely, causing unnecessary stress and discomfort to the residents involved.
PISSED-OFF EDITORIAL #3
Turkey s_ _ t
This is a rare occasion indeed. I hardly ever include complaints about the food here in the editorial section but an event which occurred last Friday evening made me so angry that I feel it deserves a place among the more controversial items. I would like to complain about the turkey, or what passes for turkey around here.
Essentially, we are served two kinds of turkey meat here. One manner of turkey is in the form of real, off the bone sliced turkey, like the stuff you get for Thanksgiving. The other is turkey roll which is a concoction of extruded turkey odds and ends compressed and formed into a sliceable sausage-like roll. In this state, the turkey is slippery, slimy, and not fit to be served to a group of naive old people who were expecting real sliced turkey. Furthermore, what made it worse was that not everybody who ordered the turkey dinner received the turkey roll. Some people, at the same table no less, were served the real thing leaving me and some of the other diners wondering what we did to deserve being fed that rolled turkey crap. However, being fed the inferior turkey was not what pissed me off. What got my gizzard in an uproar was the obvious attempt by the kitchen staff to try and cover up the fact that, once again, they failed to order enough of the real turkey to go around and tried to slip in the inferior product without so much as an explanation or offer of a substitute. This is another example of the contempt that much of the staff has for us residents. In the future we insist on being informed of the reasons for any inconsistencies in the menu and not just having the kitchen staff’s limited knowledge of how to run a dining room shoved down our throats.
My favorite senior blog, http://www.timegoesby.net and others, including mine, have been writing about how the perception of the elderly by others, has not changed much over the years despite the fact that Seniors are now more connected to the world, more active, more involved, and in better health than ever before. Nevertheless, the image of old folks nodding off at the drop of a hat, or hobbling around pushing walkers or taking forever to do the simplest tasks persists, why is this, I’ll tell you. We do it to ourselves and it pisses me off.
When I first entered into what I like to call the “Selective Senior Service System” which embodies such things as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, nursing homes, assisted living, and all of the other entitlements and services that come with getting old, I had never been around old people much. It was not that I had anything against them; it was just that I felt I had nothing in common with them. I perceived the elderly to be an inactive, un-hip, uninvolved sedentary aspect of society just waiting to die. Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. However, my negative feelings towards the elderly are not entirely without merit.
My first evening here at the Assisted Living Center, I saw things that, frankly, depressed the hell out of me. There were people sitting in the lobby waiting for dinner with sour, dejected, bewildered, and confused expressions on their faces. The atmosphere at the dinner table was even more depressing with little or no conversation and, when there was an interchange of ideas, it centered on what pills they were taking or surgery they had or how the soup was cold. Topics, such as current events were rarely discussed. When I attempted to initiate such conversations my tablemates, who were all older than I, looked at me as if I were from another planet. Apparently, if they watched TV at all, it was only game shows. It was as if everybody had given up, dropped out. I knew that if I gave in to this complacency, I too would fall prey to this downward spiral and would become a “zombiatric” too; fortunately, a core group of residents here felt as I did and refused to be stereotyped or pigeonholed into what society believed old folks to be. This group of residents took matters into their own hands and, when they felt that something was amiss, loudly complained about it, and got things changed. They also tried their best to get those less involved residents to be more active, join groups or committees with, I am sorry to say, little success.
I always believed that the so-called “ravages of old age” was god’s ironic little joke. On the one hand HE has given us (old folks) the knowledge and wisdom that only time and experience can afford, while consequently making sure that nobody will listen to us thinking that our lecturing and reminiscing are only the incoherent rants of a demented mind. Somehow, some way we (elderly) have to change our image. Maybe we could get the AARP to stop selling insurance and cell phones and other crap and hire a good PR firm or advertising agency to promote getting old as something to look forward to, instead of fearing. I can see the commercials now. There would be scenes of old people being carried on the shoulders of the young and placed on a pedestal where throngs of people would sit at their feet listening to every word. Old people would be treated like rock stars with a laser light show, smoke, and flames going off in the background like a Kiss concert. After the “show” everyone would flock to the GAP or Abercrombie and Fitch to stock up on the latest “Elder gear” like checkered pants that are worn above the waist, comfortable shoes, muumuus, and telephones with large numbers while cosmetic manufacturers would spend millions to come up with a cream that induced wrinkling.
Alright, I admit that a scenario such as the one I described is silly and there is no way anybody would deliberately want to look old, but let’s face it; we do need a revamping of our image. For too many years the 65 plus generation has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the demographic brackets, we don’t get any respect. Let’s try to change this by being the sane, competent, active, and aware people we have always been and while you’re at it, get rid of that white patent leather belt will ya!
NIHSeniorHealth.gov offers comprehensive information on end of life
“Few of us are comfortable talking about death, whether our own or a loved one’s. It is a scary, even taboo, subject for many. The end of a life, no matter how long and well lived, can bring with it a sense of loss and sadness. It can also be a reminder of our own mortality, so we may avoid even thinking about death.
This is normal -- but death is normal, too. All of us will face it at some point.
A new Web resource from the National Institutes of Health is aimed at helping people address a sensitive subject—the end of life. The latest addition to NIHSeniorHealth, the health and wellness website for older adults, the Life module provides visitors with information about the most common issues faced by the dying and their caregivers.”
The entire article is too long to reprint in its entirety here therefore I encourage you to read the whole article by going to the web address below. However, here are six important questions to ask your health care provider when you have been told “the end is near.”
1. Since the illness is worsening, what will happen next?
2. Why are you suggesting this test or treatment?
3. Will the treatment bring physical comfort?
4. Will the treatment speed up or slow down the dying process?
5. What can we expect to happen in the coming days or weeks?
6. If I or my loved one take this treatment or participate in this clinical trial, will it benefit others in the future?
Gargling: A Low-tech approach to healthcare
Some people might call gargling a Holistic approach to wellness, but using the word “Holistic” would give too technical a definition to this very simple and very ancient method of curing many ills.
At one time in this country gargling was all the rage. Labels on bottles of mouthwash, i.e. Listerine, would contain the words “Mouthwash and Gargle” on it as if it were expected that you would know that gargling was good for you. Listerine, Scope, and many other oral rinses are now all about bad breath and don’t promote their products as a gargle at all, at some point over the years we seem to have lost or forgotten how to gargle. Perhaps the simplicity and relatively low cost of the procedure causes many to regard it as some old wives tale and dismiss it without even trying it. Maybe even some of you out there have forgotten the benefits derived from the simple routine of gargling, let me elaborate by using this answer from Yahoo Answers.
“The benefits of gargling offer many advantages for oral hygiene.
At the very least, gargling routine gargling with a mouthwash solution will help maintain a clean oral cavity and proven bad breath.
This may in turn help to prevent the buildup of bacteria that will cause mouth, throat, and upper respiratory infections.
Gargling with medicinal antiseptic or antibiotic solutions will be a benefit in helping to topically treat infections of the mouth and throat.
Gargling can relieve minor mouth and throat irritations, and can be useful in treating the symptoms of colds and the flu.
Gargling with medicated or salted solutions will function as a topical treatment for sore throats as well. Gargling should be performed after brushing the teeth at least once a day to promote good oral hygiene.
Take Care As Always!!”
Salt-water gargle recipe and method
Author(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Best Practices and Fact Sheets. Date Published: 2014
“The demand for long-term care services will explode as the population ages and more people live longer with chronic conditions. Who will pay for these services and how will they be delivered? This issue brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides an overview of long-term care, the changing demographics in the U.S., who will pay for long-term care, and what can be done about it.”
From “the consumer voice.org”
Many people mistakenly believe that their general health insurance will payfor long-term care or that Medicare will cover it when they get older. In reality,neither health insurance nor Medicare covers traditional “custodial care.”Medicare will cover care in a skilled nursing facility or pay for skilled home home health care services only when medically necessary, such as following an inpatient hospital stay.Private long-term care insurance plays a very limited role in financing care.Many middle-class Americans—especially the baby boomers who began turning 65 in 2011—lack the personal savings to pay for this care for any significant length of time and generally can’t afford premiums for private long-term care insurance. Regardless of their finances, not everyone qualifies for long-term care insurance, and insurers might refuse to cover people with certain pre-existing conditions or a mental illness other than Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. And, when people do have insurance coverage, they might discover that it fails to cover all their expenses. It’s not surprising then that only 7–8 percent of Americans have insurance for long-term care. The rest usually rely on their own resources first, and when those are exhausted, they seek coverage under Medicaid.5 (Medicaid requires that people be poor or “spenddown” most of their resources before paying for long-term care coverage.) In an attempt to address the problems associated with long-term care, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 created the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a voluntary public long-term care insurance program. But the Obama administration decided not to implement CLASS in November 2011 after actuaries concluded the program would not be financially self-sustaining. Congress formally repealed CLASS in January 2013.
Television did not arrive in Brooklyn, or at least at our house in Brooklyn, until around 1953 mainly because they were so damn expensive. A black and white console model with a 12” screen like the one pictured above could set your old man back $500, lots of money to watch just seven channels. However, my father loved gadgets and new things and a TV met all of the qualifications so it wasn’t long before we had one. My mom and dad watched John Cameron Swayze with the news (only 15 minutes every night), my dad watched the Brooklyn Dodgers on channel 9, and I watched cartoons, Captain Video and, Howdy Doody. We had our old Dumont for many years until my father gave in and bought a TV with a larger screen. Nevertheless, I will always remember sitting on the floor, three feet away from that 12” screen and watching Flash Gordon, Rama of the Jungle and, Andy’s Gang.
Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago a survey form was handed out to all interested residents. The ten-question survey asked some very basic questions regarding you experiences here at the W. Center. Unfortunately on about 30 of the people who received this survey bothered to fill it out and return it. Therefore, while we appreciate every one of you who were concerned enough to answer the survey, the data received by a sample of only 30 residents is not enough to draw any useful conclusions, but we have not given up. We have again distributed copies of the form in the hope that more of you will decided that what you think matters and that you do have a voice in the way things are done here. If you have received or need a form, please see Carrie or Carmen. We need at least 100 responses to make a viable analysis of the information.
Editor’s note: After six days sitting on my windowsill to ripen it was still hard as a major league baseball. I ate it anyway.
We don’t know exactly what the thinking behind the supposed chicken potpie served here at Uncle Mike’s Bizarro World Diner was, but it sure was the strangest thing I have seen in a while with any resemblance to a real pot pie a mere figment of the chef’s imagination. The “pot” part consisted of an aluminum dish filled with what can only be described as a thick cream of chicken soup while the “pie” part was a ridiculous square of puff pastry unceremoniously thrown on top. There was no pastry either on the bottom or the sides of the tin cup leaving me to wonder “why even serve this.” If the chef and his staff can’t bother to expend a little effort and do it right than why do it at all. In order to even attempt to eat this abomination, I had to turn the whole thing upside down creating a form of “Chicken pot pie filling en croute.” They should have saved the time, opened a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup, and poured it over a slice of white bread toast and been done with it, at least it would have been honest.
Did I miss the memo?
The first thing I do right before I enter the dining room for breakfast is check the day’s menu as I did last Monday and usually there are very few surprises. However, last Monday I noticed an anomaly in the menu when I noticed that four of items had as the main ingredient, cheese. To the best of my knowledge this, whether by accident or design, is the first time that this has happened. Now, while I like cheese perhaps more than anyone here at the asylum, having it four times in one day is a little too much even for me.
The day began with, not a one cheese omelet, but one containing two different cheeses. Lunch did not deviate from the dairy-rich diet when we were offered, not meat but cheese ravioli. Moreover, even if you chose the alternate as your luncheon repast you still could not get away from the cheese because what was offered was a grilled American cheese sandwich, which brings us to dinner. If memory serves me, lasagna is usually made with cheese. Ball four; take your base.
I always enjoy when the chef tries his hand at traditional ethnic foods. Especially when the dish represents an ethnicity of which the chef is not a member, for example. The chili doesn’t taste Mexican (or Texan), the Chinese food does not taste Chinese, and, I am sorry to say, the matzo ball soup has no resemblance to anything my Yiddisher mama ever made.
Forgetting the fact that the matza balls themselves were strangely chalky with the texture and flavor of a cardboard box or that they sat in a murky un-chicken-like brown broth which was reminiscent of an onion soup I had at “Le Verte Galant” a French restaurant in the theater district. I guess the chef figured that the matzaball would act the same as the crouton usually found floating in traditional French onion soup. However, matzaballs are not croutons and do not belong in onion soup. In fact, a matzaball in any liquid other than chicken stock is sacrilegious and will be immediately reported to the New York Board of Rabbis. While I admire the effort chef, you could have asked any one of the dozens of ladies here that have been eating and making matzaball soup all of their lives and they would have given you a proper recipe, onion soup indeed!
Food, among other things, should evoke memories of places or events from our past, that first date with your wife to be, a graduation dinner or a fun picnic with the kids. So it was with last Friday’s lunch of fish cakes and French fries. As I stuck my fork into the fishy little hockey pucks I was transported back to a similar Friday afternoon on a day much like today in the cafeteria of Robert A. Van Wyck Junior High School in Queens, NY. However, unlike then, the “cafeteria” is a dining room in an assisted living facility filled, not with screaming 14 and 15 year olds but a very quiet group of 65 plus seniors. Still, the loathing I have for these prefabricated, bland, and heavily breaded baitfish laden discs, remains as succinct as ever. Nevertheless, I ate them anyway because the alternate, a poorly executed bowl of baked mac and cheese (another pre-pubescent favorite), was the only other offering. The only thing that could have made the fish cakes more 8th grade would have been if the fish cakes came with that canned and overly sweet-sauced Franco-American spaghetti*.
Well, it’s time to go, I just heard the bell for 6th period or, as I call it now, nap time.
*Photo of fishcakes and spaghetti stolen from...http://huntingfortheverybest.wordpress.com/
Photo from zagat.com
Even though Foodie doesn’t cook anymore he is fascinated by all things that have to do with food. There are many fancy egg-separating gadgets but none seems to work as well as this one which I came across courtesy of Zagat’s newsletter.
We’re well into April now which, means that we should start seeing those little green shoots sprouting from the ground as will our next blog which sprouts up from the primordial ooze on Monday, April 14.
Previous blogs may be found below.
For many of us old timers, tempura was our first introduction into the world of Japanese cuisine as sushi back then was virtually unknown here let alone eaten. The first thing we probably ate was shrimp tempura; it was fried shrimp without the heaviness of American battered and fried food. Somehow, the Japanese had managed to take the “guilt” out of eating fried food, while preserving all of the reasons we eat fried food in the first place. The delicate batter does not overpower the food underneath and yet has enough of its own identity to make it something worth trying. Chef Michael, in an effort to find still another way to cook chicken last Wednesday gave to us, tempura chicken fingers.
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