The views and opinions expressed here represent those ofResident-X, a resident of the Center,and in no way represent the opinions of the staff, management or residents ofThe W.C.I.A.L. (aka: "The Center" or the "Asylum" or the "Facility)
Photos and graphics ©2014 Bruce Cooper all rights reserved, unless otherwise noted
THIS WEEK'S BLOG BEGINS BELOW
There has to be a certain time, a specific date or incident, a milestone if you will, which was significant enough in your life to make you stand back and say “Man, am I old or what?” This is one of the things that I was thinking about the other day when I realized that I had a lot of time on my hands. Enough time, it seems, for me even to want to think of such things. Maybe having enough time to think about stuff like getting old is a sign in itself that I am old. After all, as a young person I never thought of when I would consider myself old. I just figured one day I would get up, look in the mirror and say, “Wow, I’m old”. However, in reality it’s not like that. There is no specific date or time or even the way your body changes that makes you officially old.
Sure, there are times in one’s life where you come face to face with the fact that you ain’t no kid any more. For me it was when the cashier at the Bronx Zoo gave me a senior discount ticket without me even asking for it or having to show I.D. but I still did not think of myself as “old”. After all, I was still working and not old enough for Social Security and I wasn’t taking all of those old folk’s drugs for high blood pressure and Arthritis even if my prostate was waking me up at all hours of the night, which could happen to anybody, right?
Even the usual milestones associated with old age were not significant enough to wake me from my youthful complacency, like turning 50 for instance. Attaining fifty years of age used to be a big deal, half a century down the drain and all that. However, that was when the lifespan of the average male was about 58 so maybe it was a big deal, back then. Then of course, there are the questionnaires. You know the ones that, when you are applying for everything from a loan, or insurance or filling out a survey about your TV viewing habits, they ask you “what age group are you in?”, and you check the one that says “65 or older”. Sixty-five or older! to me that means anywhere from 65 to 165. Why would they want to pigeonhole me in the same group as an 85 year old? So when are we officially old? I’ll tell you. It’s when you no longer feel useful. Being old is more social standing than whether or not you are able to stand up, and it has nothing to do with whether you are working or not. It makes no difference whether or not you are drawing a paycheck, it’s more of what that paycheck can buy that makes you feel young. Having been out of work for extended periods in my life, I know this. I never felt older than when I was out of work, living on what was left of my savings and unemployment insurance and not having the money to go out and buy stuff that I, not necessarily needed, but wanted. I think they call that “discretionary income”. At that point, I was no longer a contributing member of society. I was a taker rather than a giver, useless like, like some old person.
This uselessness is one of the reasons I write this blog and am currently in the process of writing something a little more “bookish”. It makes me feel as if I was a paid up participant in the society in which I live, with my own membership card and everything. And, as long as I have this, old age may be more of a state of mind than a check from the state.
BTW: Even though I still do not have much discretionary income, I find that now that I am older I need less stuff. Wait a minute, maybe that’s when you know you are old, when you need less stuff. Now I’m going to have to rethink this whole thing.
I have written on this subject a number of times in the past, and evidently, since I am the only resident who actually has a problem with this, the situation has remained status quo. However, being the tenacious old bastard that I am, I am going to explain this to you once again. The continued use of the library by staff and others as a meeting room or boardroom or working space for visiting inspectors, coordinators, managers or what have you, is a violation of the sanctity that the residents who actively use the library have.
Because these “meetings”, for whatever reason are closed, the residents are prohibited from using the library during that time. Attempts by residents to use the room while these meetings are in progress are met with protests by the meeting group and in most cases, residents are asked to leave.
It has always been my position that this is one of the few, if not the only place, where a resident can go to enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet in comfortable surroundings. In addition, any other use of this room for whatever purpose especially where that purpose is to deny access to that room by any resident is just another way the Center shows a disregard for its resident’s wellbeing.
“There are no federal regulations for assisted living facilities (also known as board and care or residential Care facilities), and requirements are different in each state. All states require facilities to protect Residents from abuse, neglect and exploitation”.
What is Financial Exploitation?
Editor’s note; I am reprinting this entire article from the Consumer Voice.org because I think it’s important for you to read. So many of us have lost track of our finances as other life issues overshadow what we once paid close attention to. Remember, it’s still your money!
Financial exploitation happens when someone illegally or improperly uses your money or belongings for their personal use. Financial exploitation is the fastest growing form of elder abuse. It is a crime and is often not reported. Learn how to protect yourself. The four steps below will help you prevent, detect and report financial exploitation.
1. KNOW Your Rights
There are no federal regulations for assisted living facilities (also known as board and care or residential care facilities), and requirements are different in each state. All states require facilities to protect residents from abuse, neglect and exploitation. For more information about your state’s assisted living regulations speak with the facility administrator or contact your local ombudsman program or state licensing and certification agency
2. PROTECT Your Financial Information
• If you need help managing your finances ask someone you trust to act as your agent (for a power of attorney), use a daily money manager or a representative payee for Social Security benefits.
• See an Elder Law attorney if you need legal help protecting your money (e.g. estate planning).
• Receive your benefits (e.g. pension checks) by direct deposit.
• Protect your personal information. Do not give out personal information like your Social Security or bank account numbers unless you contacted the person asking for that information.
• If you do not understand a document, seek help before signing.
• To reduce telemarketing calls, sign up on the National Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov or 1-888-382-1222).
• Tear up or shred financial documents (e.g. receipts, statements) before throwing them away.
3. REVIEW Your Financial Information
It is important to check your finances and benefits often and look for warning signs of financial
exploitation. Some common warning signs include:
• The person helping you does not do what you ask with your money (e.g. purchase items for you, show you your bank statements, pay for your care and services).
• The facility gives you a discharge notice due to non-payment.
• You notice unfamiliar charges to your credit cards or receive statements for credit cards or accounts you did not open.
• A caregiver asks for, demands or takes money or gifts.
1 Links to assisted living (and nursing home) regulations for each state is available on the NH RegsPlus website: http://www.hpm.umn.edu/nhregsplus/NHRegs_by_State/By%20State%20Main.html4. REPORT Any Suspicion of Financial Abuse
Facilities are required to protect residents from and investigate reports of abuse. Financial exploitation is a crime. There is information available and agencies responsible for investigating reports of financial exploitation. If you suspect financial exploitation there are several things you can do:
• Share your concerns with the facility administrator, social worker or another staff person.
• Contact your local Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Ombudsmen are advocates
for residents in long-term care facilities and are trained to resolve complaints. For additional
information about the ombudsman program in your state and contact information, visit
www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman. Contact information for your local ombudsman program
should also be posted in your facility.
• Contact your state licensing and certification agency. Each state has an agency responsible for the licensing, certification and regulation of long-term care facilities and investigations of complaints.
To locate your state licensing and certification agency visit www.ltcombudsman.org/ombudsman.
• Contact Adult Protective Services (APS). APS investigates reports of abuse, neglect
and exploitation of elders and, in many states, individuals with disabilities. Every state
has APS services, but the services vary by state. To locate APS services in your area, visit
• Financial exploitation is a crime. Contact your local law enforcement agency.
• For additional information regarding elder abuse, neglect or exploitation visit the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) website at www.ncea.aoa.gov or call 1-855-500-3537
Read more... http://www.theconsumervoice.org/
How to Connect with the DOH
Since the main governing body for assisted living facilities in our state (NY) is the Department of Health, I thought it would be a good idea for us to let you know what information is available from them or how to contact them if you have a problem. As with any government agency, although the response to questions may not be as quickly as we would like, they will eventually get back to you.
Click on link below
One day it was just a pile of discombobulated cardboard and Masonite lying on the floor of the Franklin Center’s activities room and the next thing you know, there is an air hockey table in all its glory ready and waiting to be played.
As part of a commitment by the Center’s recreation department, this new game is one that all levels of players can enjoy. The rules are simple and the games can be played fast or slow. The rules too, are loose and are usually formatted to fit the house.
Now, before you go saying how generous the Center was to buy this relatively expensive piece of equipment for us you should know that this game was paid for with monies collected from various resident sponsored tag sales, bake sales and raffles.
Editor’s note; As of this writing, this table, like it’s pool table counterpart, has hardly been used. Most of the residents would just like to play Bingo all day or fall asleep in the lobby.
After being installed less than a week ago, the air hockey game has succumbed to the ravages of some gorilla or gorillas who evidently decided that this was a real hockey game and actually broke both of the plastic “knockers” rendering the game useless until they were replaced. While we don’t know who did it (Carmen doesn’t know or won’t say) we can only surmise that they may not have been broken by a resident but by a visitor or staff member, which prompted the addition of a warning sign pasted on the table’s edge.
Quietly, and without fanfare, brand new electric clocks have been mounted in the elevator lobbies on all floors. What may appear to the casual observer as a minor detail in actuality is a very big deal here at the Center.
Until recently, there were no clocks anywhere in the facility. Then, about a year ago after much pleading, a clock was installed above the menu board outside of the dining room allowing residents the opportunity of at least knowing when the next meal would be served. However, just having one clock, tucked in the corner of the lobby, was not enough for the time-confused residents who, not only don’t know what time it is but rarely know what the day is. Therefore, while the clocks are better than nothing, perhaps instruments with day and date as well as the time should have been installed instead.
The Wheels of Reparation roll slowly
It’s rare that one receives a check from the Asylum, but after almost a year after I submitted a bill for some missing laundry, I have been awarded the tidy sum of $37.95. I can assure all of you that this money will not be spent foolishly. BTW: How many pizzas can you buy for 37.95?
As part of what I consider to be a brilliant marketing move, Taco Bell, purveyors of pseudo-Mexican food, has decided to enter into the breakfast market in direct competition with McDonald’s, Burger King and every other restaurant that serves breakfast, and they are doing it with style. In their wisdom, and in keeping with their south of the border theme, Taco Bell will be featuring a breakfast burrito as well as some sort of folded waffle thing. This bold move by Taco Bell to make the breakfast burrito a mainstay of the All American breakfast gives me reason to, once again, ask that the Center’s version of such a burrito be introduced here, even knowing that such things as wraps and tacos have laid a bomb with our less than adventurous residents.
Editor’s note; as of this writing I have been informed that we will be having burritos for breakfast on a trial basis. The burritos will be egg and cheese with bacon on the side proving one thing... it never hurts to ask.
At some time in his or her career, every chef has an urge to Frenchify everything he cooks in hopes of improving the look, flavor or texture of the food. While this may work in some cases, there are instances where this “francification” doesn’t work and should never be tried. We saw an example of this last week when our illustrious M. Le Michael decided to do the unthinkable and add a French touch to the All American food staple the hot dog by substituting the traditional bun with a croissant. While the flakey pastry-like roll may work for a sandwich or as something to spread camembert on, it does not do well when it is wrapped around a hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind and you don’t stick a hot dog into a...shudder...croissant.
We cannot say for sure, but the decision to use more “size appropriate” (i.e. , smaller) bowls in which to serve cereal, and soup is just another example of the apparent downsizing of the portions here at the Center.
As some of you may remember, a few weeks ago I decided to conduct a small experiment whereby I poured the contents of a bowl of soup that was served to me, into an empty coffee cup. Expecting that the soup would come at least up to the top of the ostensibly smaller cup, I was astonished when I saw that the contents of the supposedly larger bowl barely approached the half way mark on the cup. This told me that we were being served about 3 ounces (by volume) of soup.
After writing that post, the size of the soup servings improved slightly with the bowls filled to almost the rim. Evidently, the extra ounce or two of soup was too much of a strain on the budget forcing management to purchase smaller bowls as to give the illusion of a full bowl of soup or cereal. Apparently, there is more than one way to skin a cat.
Editor’s note; the addition of the banana slices to the oatmeal is my doing, nice touch, huh?
It’s great to be hip, especially on Oscar night, therefore, wanting to be "with it", the staff here at the Asylum decided to reward us with the worlds thinnest pork chop. In addition, adding to the suspense of the evening was the fear of the unknown, and that being, “Will the chops be tough or tender”. Well, let this "on the red carpet" reporter tell you that, keeping with tradition of every past “pork chop night”, these chops, like the soles of a Manolo Blahnik shoe, were indeed tough. Unfortunately, the alternate meal that night was fish, and not one of my favorite fishy's either, so I had no choice but to foolishly go for what I knew in my heart would be a mistake. Never one to disappoint myself, I was right.
You can't be too thin or too rich.
It’s probably easier to find a twelfth person or dis-invite one of you friends or let the guy at the pizzeria figure it out than to follow these directions but for what it’s worth, you now know how to cut a pizza into 11 equal slices.
It’s Monday, and if you live in the Northeast, you are probably waking up to snow, lots of it. While the weather is difficult to predict, one thing that I can predict will happen for sure, the BLOG will be back again Monday March 10.
Previous blogs begin below
This is an editorial I have been holding back for the last four weeks in hopes that the insane way medications are handled here at the Center would be resolved, unfortunately it hasn’t. If anything, the inefficiency, sloth, and ineptitude, of not only the staff but the system itself has not improved one iota since I first became a resident here over 19 months ago. The only improvement has been in the reduction of long lines of residents waiting for their meds, which only happened because now those residents in need of insulin and other injected medications, have to wait on yet another line. I will try, briefly, describe what happened to me recently, but please remember that similar examples occur to other residents as well and on a regular basis.
A medication, which I have been taking every day for the last four years, was denied to me because, as I was informed, “The prescription says I am supposed to take this medication only every other day”. I explained to the med tech that I had been using this same medication (which I take in the form of a nasal spray) every day for four years both in the nursing home where I was a patient and here and that I think I know what dosage I am supposed to take. “I can’t give it to you because the prescription is written wrong”, said the tech. “I know, and I’ll have it corrected but meanwhile I need the medication”. “Can’t give it to you,” said the tech”. “I’ll get it changed I said”, and walked away without my daily dosage. That was day 1.
That afternoon I went to see the house doctor to have him rewrite the prescription to reflect that I needed to take it every day. The doc or the PA was not in so I gave the Rx to the medical secretary who said she would give it to the PA to correct.
The next morning I did receive my med, not because the prescription was changed but because, as the old prescription was written, I could get it every other day and this was “the other day”. I asked whether there was any indication that the Rx had been corrected in the computer and the tech said no. That was day 2.
The next day I had a scheduled appointment with the doc and at that time I told her the situation and she said she would take care of it. That was day 3.
The next morning I went to the med room as usual and, once again the computer screen showed and “Alert” for my Rx, again, no nasal spray. After I explained to the med tech that the PA assured me that she would correct the prescription, the tech told me that she would ask about it personally later that day. That was day 4.
Day 5, another sun arose and again I found myself in a situation that was more akin to a vaudeville routine than the dispensing of medication because, as I knew it would, there was no indication that anything had been done about changing my prescription. However, I did do something about it.
The tech on duty, taking pity on me and wanting to avoid a nasty confrontation, which she knew I was capable of, gave me the vial of nasal spray to use, which I did. However, instead of handing the spray back to her, I decided that I was not going to allow the “system” to dictate when and how much of MY mediation I should take and took it from the med room and back to my own where I will be using the spray until the correction is made. As of this writing, I am continuing to medicate myself.
As I mentioned earlier, this cumbersome, over controlled and poorly managed method of getting needed medication to the residents has been an ongoing disgrace ever since this place opened, a situation of which I have firsthand knowledge. I was caught up in this compassionless structure from the beginning when I was denied pain medication for almost a week because of a delay in “entering it into the computer”. In addition, although I was informed that instances of this kind would not happen again, I did not take into account that the system itself could never be changed if the people who are relegated to run it don’t do their jobs.
It is quite evident that there needs to be in place a system by which one person can do everything and do it quickly, a sort of “Med Tsar”. One person who can take a problem, bypass the red tape and see the problem through to its conclusion.
We should take our cues from the commercial pharmacies. If I was not a resident of this asylum and was given a prescription by a doctor all I would have to do is take it to my local CVS, give it to the nice man behind the tall counter, wait a few minutes and I would have my meds, in my hand, without any problem. If ever there should be a problem, the pharmacist would call the doctor and have the error corrected immediately. Why should this facility, or any facility, put people who are already under pressure, in a situation that stresses them out even more?
Editor’s note: Let me make this clear, in no way do I blame the techs whose only job is to follow the rules and regulations set down by management and the D.O.H.
Assisted Living Resident Demographics
More than half of all residents are age 85 or older, and nearly 40 percent of residents require assistance with three or more activities of daily living. The median stay in assisted living is 22 months, and an overwhelming majority of residents are female.
The population living in assisted living communities is:
54% Age 85 or Older
82.7% Private Pay
19% Receive Medicaid
42% Have Alzheimer’s Disease or Related Dementia
37% Need Assistance with Three or More Activities of Daily Living
Editor's note: The above statistics are interesting only because these numbers in no way reflect the demographics present at the WCIAL. While I do not have the actual figures I can guess that more than half are 70 years or older with very few private pay residents and most of the residents do receive Medicaid. While there appears to be an increase in residents with some form of dementia, I don't think our figures approach 42%. What this means is that this facility does not fit the normal perception of what an assisted living facility is or should be and therefore should be treated differently than most ALF's by the DOH and other regulatory agencies.
There will be a time when everybody who lives in an assisted living facility thinks of leaving. After all, as nice a place as it is that you may be living in, it’s not like home. There are the cramped quarters, the small closets, and the lack of privacy not to mention the food and the furniture. Maybe you would like to be able to do a little lite cooking or maybe you would like to have breakfast when you want to eat. In addition, there is the issue of control. After all, it’s your life, isn’t it. While there are many good reasons to leave, you have to know if you are ready to do it. Here are some things to consider.
Remember, you came to the ALF for a reason. Maybe it was because you have a debilitating illness or disability, which precludes you from functioning in a normal environment and you genuinely need the assistance of an aid to help you with bathing and grooming and dressing. While this alone should not be a hindrance for you having a place of your own, the extent of your disability should be considered. Even though home health aides are available, they may not be there 24 hours a day as in an ALF.
Another thing to consider is shopping. Will you be able to buy things for yourself? Even the simplest things like buying toothpaste and shampoo may be an insurmountable obstacle if there is no one to do it for you. Then there is the RENT.
One of the other reasons that you are living in an ALF is because it is all you can afford. Remember that an independent landlord will not accept Medicaid or Medicare as full or partial payment of your rent and your Social Security income may not be enough to cover even a small portion of the costs of living alone. If you are in this position, do not be discouraged, there may be help.
Another major obstacles that you will face is finding an apartment in the first place. If you are old and have money, this is usually not a problem. If you are old and on a fixed income, you do have a problem, it’s not that landlords don’t like the elderly, they just don’t want to rent to you because of the very laws that are set in place to protect you. As an example, there is a law in New York city and some other municipalities that protects seniors with limited incomes from rent increases for the rest of their lives, it’s called the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE). You may qualify if you meet these standards...
Tenants who qualify for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) Program can have their rent frozen at their current level and be exempt from future rent increases. For more information you can download "Your Guide to the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) Programs".
• Must be at least 62 years old;
• Rent an apartment that is regulated by the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) (i.e. rent controlled or rent stabilized apartments or hotel stabilized);
• Have a total annual household income of $29,000 or less and;
• Pay more than one-third of the household's total monthly income for rent.
There are some other conditions that apply. Go to the link below for more information
Or, if you live in Westchester County contact..,
District Rent Office
75 South Broadaway
White Plains, New York 10601
SCRIE Outside New York City
In the counties outside of NYC covered by the Emergency Tenant Protection Act, the New York State Division
of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) administers the SCRIE program. To apply for SCRIE, the tenant of
the rent regulated apartment must file an application with:
If you feel that you have been denied housing because of your age, the U.S. Government would like to hear about it. Go to their website and find out more...
Here is a great Housing Guide for Seniors in a downloadable format.
On a personal note, while I find living on one’s own to be fine for some, it is not for everybody no matter what your physical or mental condition may be. It is important to remind you of the one thing you will probably miss and that’s companionship. There may be no one to talk to for days or weeks on end. You will be eating your meals alone. There will be no organized activities for you to join in and nobody to assist you in dealing with things like government forms, taxes, and financial matters and maintenance. You most likely will have to clean your place by yourself and, that nice social worker in the office won’t be at your beck and call.
Yes, it’s great to be on your own, but just be aware of the pitfalls that await you on the “outside”. I wish you luck on whatever you decide.
Fancy, high-tech gifts may not be what they really want or need
Keep it simple, and useful.
I have always had problems finding that perfect gift for a friend or relative. If the recipient is a very young person and you give them something too large or too advanced, you can always say “They’ll grown into it”, however when shopping for an elderly person you do not have that option, your 87 year old aunt will not be growing into anything. Therefore, what can you give that special senior for a birthday or anniversary or anything.
From personal experience i have learned, do not give anything too complicated. This is not meant as a slur on old people it’s just that buying an appliance or piece of electronics with all the bells and whistles is not necessary. While Granny may need a new clock radio, she doesn’t need one that will wake her up in 10 time zones or that has five surround sound speakers and an alarm that sounds like the sinking Titanic. The same is true for internet devices.
Great uncle Charley never had any use for a cell phone but now he says he would like one, that’s great, but while he wants a cell phone he doesn’t want or need a smart phone. All he wants to do is make and take phone calls.
There are many residents here at the Center that have I-pad type gadgets. However, all they ever use them for is playing solitaire or other games; they have no idea how to go online or what social media is. My advice is to make sure they are at least aware of the other uses of the device and remember, never try to force anyone to accept or learn something they are not interested in.
Now that I’ve told you what not to buy, here is some things that the senior citizen in your life might actually enjoy.
• Jar Opener: There are jar openers that help a hungry jar owner open the lid by releasing the suction first. Ideal for people with reduced grip strength or wrist arthritis. Jar opener 1 or jar opener 2. (Credit: Lousie Aronson and Dandan Liu)
• Other kitchen products: Like a scooped bowl to help get all that’s in there.
• Reacher/Grabber: Recommended by someone whose parents used one in turn after one’s foot injury and then the other’s hip surgery.
• Handy bar: Use this moveable bar to get in and out of a car if you have weak hip strength. (From caring.com)
• Power Shovel: Winter’s here! This can help someone shovel who does not have the arm strength. (From caring.com)
• Arrange services: Call a local teenager to get the driveway plowed, or give a gift certificate for food delivery. Think practical!
• Nice cane! Cool canes and pill boxes are made by Sabi, who makes some nice looking and design savvy ones that are worth checking out. (Credit: Sarah Garrigues)
• Or consider a cane with a little color and maybe some crystals (just make sure you adjust it to the right height).
For more suggestions read the entire article...
Chances are, if you are a resident in an assisted living facility, a time will come that you will need to undergo a hospital stay. While these visits may be as short as an hour or two in the E.R., some may require you to spend days or even weeks in the hospital. Unfortunately, as we all know, hospitals (as well as nursing homes) can be vast breeding grounds for disease. Moreover, no matter how clean the facility looks and no matter how fastidious the housekeeping may be, no way can these institutions get rid of every virus or bacteria. Therefore, before you go, be aware of the things you can do to keep yourself safe.
What can you do as a patient or loved one of a patient?
Be informed. Be empowered. Be prepared.
Here are 10 ways to be a safe patient:
1. Speak up .
Talk to your doctor about any worries you have about your safety and ask them what they are doing to protect you.
2. Keep hands clean.
If you do not see your providers clean their hands, please ask them to do so. Also remind your loved ones and visitors. Washing hands can prevent the spread of germs.
3. Ask if you still need a ] catheter or urinary ] catheter. Leaving a catheter in place too long increases the chances of getting an infection.
4. Ask your healthcare provider , "will there be a new needle, new syringe, and a new vial for this procedure or injection?" Healthcare providers should never reuse a needle or syringe on more than one patient.
5. Be careful with medications.
Avoid taking too much medicine by following package directions. Also, to avoid harmful drug interactions, tell your doctor about all the medicines you are taking.
6. Get Smart about antibiotics.
Help prevent antibiotic resistance by taking all your antibiotics as prescribed, and not sharing your antibiotics with other people. Remember that antibiotics don’t work against viruses like the ones that cause the common cold.
7. Prepare for surgery.
There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a surgical site infection.Talk to your doctor to learn what you should do to prepare for surgery. Let your doctor know about other medical problems you have.
8. Watch out for C. diff (aka Clostridium difficile)
Tell your doctor if you have severe diarrhea, especially if you are also taking an antibiotic.
9. Know the signs and symptoms of infection.
Some skin infections, like MRSA, appear as redness, pain, or drainage at an IV catheter site or surgical incision site, and a fever. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms.
10. Get your flu shot.
Protect yourself against the flu and other complications by getting vaccinated.
By following these 10 steps you can help make healthcare safer and help prevent healthcare-associated infections.
Call it coincidence or just plain good sense, but somebody evidently has taken the “suggestion” that I proposed in last week’s blog seriously because there has been a dramatic increase in the size of the chicken legs that are a mainstay of dinner here at the Asylum.
Loyal readers of this blog know the dismay I have felt over the size of the portions we are served here especially noting that the chicken legs have been getting smaller and smaller. I have even suggested that they were not chicken legs at all but rather those of a small bird like a parakeet or pigeon. Today, I am here to tell you that we have turned over a new leaf or leg because last Tuesday evenings offering of baked chicken leg with gravy was a triumph over minuteness.
Thinking that once again we would be “treated” to the usual mini-leg, I ordered a double portion with no side dishes, just chicken. I even took out my camera in preparation of photographing yet another disproportioned dinner. However, when the chicken arrived I nearly fell off my seat because not only were the chicken legs large, they were gigantic. They were so large that they could only have come from a sumo-wrestler-size bird on steroids. I would hate to meet that chicken in a dark alley at night.
My hope is that we have finally turned the corner on the serving of childlike portions to grown men and women and that in the future only real size food will be served. After all, we are real sized people , aren’t we?
You can go one of two ways when you are a chef at an assisted living facility. You can be daring and explore your creative side and come up with innovative and delicious ways of preparing everyday foods, or you can do what the cook(s) at our little institution do and that’s to find the easiest way and not give a damn. Last Monday’s breakfast was just such an example of the “Swash buckling” method of cooking, thrown it up in the air and hope if falls on the plate. Where should I begin? Let’s start with the basic “swash buckling” recipe.
First, render an egg unconscious by frying it to one inch of its life. Next, slap a single slimy piece of semi-grilled ham and an equally slimy slice of American cheese on top of the egg and slip it all between two slices of over toasted English muffin all the while making no attempt to hide the burned spot or keeping the sandwich hot. Finally, add as a side dish, four burnt chunks of fried potatoes (also cold) and Walla! You got yourself the epitome of the No Thought Breakfast. Congratulations, you are now an official W.C.I.A.L. Chef.
The same amount of thought and care that went into breakfast was also the foundation for lunch. As poorly made as the fried egg and cheese breakfast thing was, the grilled cheese and bacon thing we had for lunch was worse.
The sandwich was ridiculously thin and devoid of one of its main ingredients, bacon. I counted maybe one thin strip, broken in half and placed between two thin slices of the same Ame
rican cheese we had for breakfast. Evidently, all knowledge of how to cook anything other than grilled specialties has been lost on the inept, thoughtless cooking staff that would not know a real
sandwich from a stack of newspapers. Fortunately, there is a Men’s Club meeting this afternoon where I can get some hot wings and maybe some fries that will hold me until dinnertime when I am sure they will find something else to grill, poorly.
Cold toaster waffles, really. As I look at those two very small waffles sitting on my plate next to a very flat sausage I get the feeling that there should be more. Perhaps a couple of fried eggs would add a little substance to this breakfast which appears to have been cooked by a not too talented chimpanzee, except that the chimp would know enough to at least find a way of keeping the food hot.
Despite what you may have seen on the streets, the following combinations DO NOT go together and should be avoided:
WORDS I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD HEAR IN THE DINING ROOM
“Sorry folks, we ran out of chicken"
March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, but the next issue of the BLOG just comes in, next Monday March 3.
Previous blogs begin below beginning with last week.
Monday February 17th is/was President’s Day; a day in which the U.S. celebrates not only the lives of two of our greatest Presidents but drastically reduced prices at Walmart as well. It is a day that both kids and mom love. The kids, because they get a day off from school and mom because she can get that shmata she saw at Lane Bryant at 20% off. But what about these two presidents whose birthdays happen to be in the same month? What if they could see their country today, would they approve? Before we speculate, let’s remember that these two men were very different, politically and socially.
You must recall that George Washington had money. He came from a wealthy family and lived in luxury most of his life. He had a big house and yes, he owned slaves. Washington was also an entrepreneur. At one time, he was the largest distiller and distributor of whisky in the country and of course, he was a military man. Lincoln, on the other hand was none of those things.
From all accounts, Lincoln was raised poor and remained that way until his death. There is no record of Lincoln ever making any money from his stint as president. Of course, had he lived past his term in office who knows what he would have done. However, what we do know is that Lincoln, unlike his predecessor of four score and seven years past, not only did not own slaves but also did not condone slavery.
Both men believed in freedom, Washington, mainly for white, wealthy male landowners, Lincoln for everybody else, and both men fought a war.
Lincoln fought his war from a seat in a Washington DC telegraph office while Washington sat on the back of a horse in the middle of many battles. Would these different lifestyles have had anything to do with how they viewed the world?, probably.
Washington would most likely be upset by how “socialistic” we have become. While he would not have known what communism is, he certainly would have known what socialism was having lived under British rule for all those years. I think he would be surprised at how much the federal government has involved itself in the everyday lives of its citizens, controlling everything from education and healthcare to regulation of business and commerce. Lincoln on the other hand might have appreciated government’s participation in the lives of its citizens. After all, he wasn't too keen on states’ rights, which ultimately led to the Civil War.
I’m sure Mr. Lincoln would approve of the Equal Rights Amendment and the way people of all colors have been integrated into our society but saddened by how, after almost 250 years, we still have not achieved full equality in this country. The divide between the rich and poor might also be of some concern for Mr. Lincoln while Washington, though he may not approve of it, would certainly understand it.
Both men, would be surprised at how many old people there are walking around, just the mere fact that millions of people now live well into their 80’s and 90’s as compared to the 40 to 50 year lifespan of the average male in their times. (Washington lived until age 67 and died of natural causes and we all know how Lincoln met his end at age 54).
I saved the best for last; Women. Can you imagine the surprise on both of their faces when they saw the average 21st Century women walking in the street? Would they think they were all hookers or trollops? Would they stare in horror or delight at at all those exposed ankles and (gasp) knees? What these men’s views on sex were we do not know. Lincoln had four sons with Mary so he may have actually seen her naked at some time. Washington, on the other hand, never had any children with Martha and enjoyed hanging with his military and political friends a lot...Hmmm.
Unfortunately, we will never know for sure what these two men would think of today’s America. The only thing they might really be surprised at is how we have come from a third rate agricultural economy of disassociated citizens to a position of a unified leader of the free world, Happy President’s Day.
Assisted living “Defined” by Fed’s
The final rule requires that all home and community-based settings meet certain qualifications including:
• The setting is integrated in and supports full access to the greater community;
• It is selected by the individual from among the setting options;
• It ensures individual rights of privacy, dignity and respect; and freedom from coercion and restraint;
• Optimizes autonomy and independence in making life choices; and
• Facilitates choice regarding services and service providers.
Implementation of the final rule begins March 17, but it includes a transition period for up to five years for states to comply.”
While this may be a “boon” for owners of assisted living facilities, it may also have some benefits for those of you who may be considering assisted living in your future or for those of us who are already in the “system”. Accepting government benefits as full or partial payment of the costs of assisted living means there will be a basic level of oversight in place, something that many states do not have at present. Every person who is considering moving to an assisted living location would be assured that at least the basic care they receive in New York is similar to that of what they would receive in New Mexico, as a resident of an ALF I know that the level of care varies greatly from state to state. Read the full story below.
Via the ALFA Newsletter
(Assisted Living Federation of America)
“ALFA Lauds Action to Define ‘Assisted Living’ as Home and Community-Based Setting
ALFA applauds the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ decision to expand its definition of settings eligible for Medicaid reimbursement for home and community-based services, which will help assisted living residents experience the independence and dignity they deserve.
The final rule addresses several sections of Medicaid law under which states may use federal Medicaid funds to pay for home and community-based services (HCBS). CMS said the rule reflects its intent to ensure individuals receiving services and supports through Medicaid’s HCBS programs have complete access to the benefits of community living.
CMS said in its announcement of the final rule that it is “moving away from defining home and community-based settings by ‘what they are not’ and toward defining them by the nature and quality of individuals’ experiences.”
ALFA appreciates that CMS valued its comments and feedback during the rule-making process.
“We strongly believe this rule is a positive step forward for Medicaid eligible seniors who deserve the opportunity to live in assisted living communities if they so choose,” said ALFA Vice President of Public Policy Maribeth Bersani. “Assisted living was started as a home- and community-based alternative to skilled nursing care 25 years ago. Our mission has always been to be person-centered and consumer-driven. We are pleased to finally have that recognition from CMS.”
The rule’s provisions establish a more “outcome-oriented” definition of home and community based settings than basing it solely on a setting’s location, geography or physical characteristics.
The CMS also specifies that service planning for Medicaid HCBS participants must be developed through a person-centered planning process addressing health and long-term services and support needs, which may include representatives who have been freely chosen by the individual to contribute to that process.
By Heather Kelly, CNN
“Would you let a robot take over as a live-in nurse for your aging parent or grandparent?
"In 2050, the elderly will account for 16 percent of the global population. That's 1.5 billion people over the age of 65, according to the Population Reference Bureau. Caring for those seniors - physically, emotionally and mentally - will be an enormous undertaking, and experts say there will be a shortage of professionals trained and willing to take on the job.
"We have to find more resources and have to get new ways of delivering those resources and delivering the quality of care," says Antonio Espingardeiro, an expert in robotics and automation at the University of Salford in Manchester, England, and a member of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society”.
I find this story fascinating in so many ways. If you take it on its face value, strictly as a scientific approach to elder care, it has some merit. However, if you think of it as science fiction, with a “2001, a Space Odyssey” quality about it and the mind boggles at the possibilities.
There could be stories about robots gone amok, continuously ripping off and putting diapers on old folks while some old dude yells for help which never comes, or some robotic wheelchair taking off on its own and “riding” the patient all the way to the west coast. In fact, I’m going to sit right down now and begin writing. Look for my book on Amazon soon.
Read the whole story...
Some good news, for a change…
Monthly Medicare Costs Hold Steady, Drop in 2014
"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced pricing structures for 2014 this week. The premiums for Medicare Part B will remain the same in 2014 as they were in 2013, according to CMS.
The centers said the standard Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $104.90 and the MedicarePart B deductible also will remain unchanged, at $147.
CMS also announced that the Medicare Part A premium, which pays for inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facilities and some home health care services will decrease $15 in 2014 to $426.
However, the Medicare Part A deductible beneficiaries pay when admitted to the hospital will increase $32 to $1,216 from this year’s deductible".
A GREAT PLACE TO HANG MEAT”
February 17, 2014, Yonkers, NY: Finding it “impossible” to bring heat to the corridor separating the main building from the Franklin Center Annex, the management of the W.C.I.A.L. has decided to take the Head Chef’s suggestion and “hang whole sides of beef” in the well traveled space.
Speaking exclusively to the WCenterBlog, the chef said that the temperature in the corridor was perfect for preserving beef as well as poultry and pork. “It’s more like an aging room than a freezer” said the chef commenting on just how cold that space was. “We don’t want to freeze the meat, just keep it cool”. The Chef went on to say that by buying and storing complete sides of beef, the Center would save thousands of dollars a year on meat bills. When asked if this would be an inconvenience for the residents who need to travel back and forth numerous times during the day, the management would only say that the meat would be there until the warmer weather returns. The first sides of beef were delivered to the facility last week.
We don’t know if someone took it for spite or just wanted a souvenir, but when we showed up for breakfast last Saturday morning the table card number sign was missing. Missing as well, was the “special” table 23 “holiday” card that the Faceless Foodie placed there to decorate his table. This week’s theme was President’s Day with a likeness of Lincoln on one side and Washington on the other. While FF can easily replace the inkjet printed holiday sign, the plastic coated table number sign may not be replaceable*. So, who took the signs, we have our suspects.
We are sure that the sign was not removed by any of the staff members because they would have no reason to take the number sign. This leaves only the diners who sit at our table during the first seating. Although we have seen the special signs that FF prints, removed in the past, this is the only time that the entire card was pinched. While most of you are thinking that this is a minor problem, it is actually a harbinger of something much more sinister. This apparent disregard for, not only the person who took the time to make something amusing and timely to decorate an otherwise dull table, but also a disregard for the facilities property and therefore the property of everyone else in the building. I hope that the perpetrator will see the error of his ways and return the sign sometime soon.
*Cost of plastic card replacement...$1.87
The only reason I did not take a photo of the actual breakfast we had last week is that I could not wait to cut into it and eat it. For the first time in the four years of what I like to call, my incarceration in the New York State Department of Health’s “save us from ourselves” management system, I have tasted an egg with a soft, runny yolk. Although I do not know if this sudden but welcome change in the way eggs are cooked was any of my doing (see blog of Feb. 3), or because the DOH has relaxed its archaic regulations regarding the temperature by which eggs have to be cooked, my fellow resident-diners and I are very thankful to see it become a reality. Thank you ever so much, it made my morning.
After a brief meeting with the chef at which I expressed my displeasure with the size of the chicken legs that were being served here recently (see last weeks blog), a concession of sorts was reached with the chef admitting that perhaps the legs might have been a wee smaller than normal. After being shown a recently ordered batch of chicken legs, still in the carton, both he and I agreed that the size of the legs in this new shipment was indeed larger than the previous week. In addition, I am happy to report that these same chicken legs, when cooked, did not shrink in size therefore offering the diners a more respectably proportioned dinner.
It’s a good thing that the menus posted here are not subject to any “Truth in advertising” laws because this place would have been fined years ago, here a couple of interesting examples.
After noticing that a bowl of soup that I ordered arrived only half way filled I decided to measure as accurately as I could the amount of product I was served. I poured the contents from the bowl into the only other receptacle I could find, an empty coffee cup which I figured, must at least be close to an actual measured 1 cup, the results surprised even me. The contents of the soup bowl (chicken minestrone) did not even come halfway up the cup, meaning that there was less than a cup of soup in the bowl. Is this just another sign of the decline of western civilization or is it something more sinister? And it doesn’t end there...
I have given up on expecting authenticity in the food served here. Corned beef and cabbage is never like what you had at home, Any chef who cooked a Fettuccini Alfredo like what we had here would be run out of Rome and the meatloaf would be banned from every truck stop in America therefore, when the shrimp lo mein was set before me I did not expect anything authentically Chinese. However, I did not expect the “lo mein” to be plain old chopped spaghetti and the shrimp mostly diced carrots, and why would they put string beans on this plate?
This is not a complaint about the meatballs (which tasted like they were stored in somebody’s musty clothes closet for a week,) nor is it a complaint about the sauce (which was bland as usual) no, this is a complaint about the spaghetti itself. Why did they find it necessary to chop the spaghetti? Chopping doesn’t make the dish look any better, or taste any better and it certainly does not make it easier to eat. All it does is to keep the diner from experiencing the one thing that makes spaghetti unique in the world of pasta, and that is to be able to twirl it on a fork. I mean really, why they would take away one of the premier aspects of a spaghetti dinner is beyond my comprehension. Since time immemorial, men, women and especially children have known the joys of twirling one’s pasta on a fork. Marco Polo delighted the crowned heads of Europe when he demonstrated the “stab-twirl-lift” method of consuming this new form of food. Finally, where would Lady and the Tramp be if the Italian Chef had given them chopped spaghetti to share? So, please don’t chop my spaghetti again, not only is it unnecessary but un-American as well.
Above ad from Wal-Mart
I believe the time for us to enjoy the benefits of Spam, has come. After all, we have been subjected to just about every other kind of processed food available here at the Asylum, so why not America’s own original processed sodium infused canned luncheon meat. While ham, salami, sausages and other meats of that type all have their roots in foreign soil, it is Spam, which is truly “U.S.A., all the way”. Perhaps a brief history of Spam will change your mind about introducing this all-purpose comestible to our diets.
“Spam is a canned precooked meat product made by the Hormel Foods Corporation, first introduced in 1937. The labeled ingredients in the classic variety of Spam are chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, and water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar, and sodium nitrite as a preservative. Spam's gelatinous glaze, or aspic, forms from the cooling of meat stock.
The product has become part of many jokes and urban legends about mystery meat, which has made it part of pop culture and folklore. Through a Monty Python sketch, in which Spam is portrayed as ubiquitous and inescapable, its name has come to be given to electronic spam, especially spam email.
Ken Daigneau, brother of a Hormel executive, named the product in a 1937 contest and won a $100 prize. Hormel claims that the meaning of the name "is known by only a small circle of former Hormel Foods executives", but popular beliefs are that the name is an abbreviation of "special processed American meat" or "shoulders of pork and ham". One popular belief says it’s derived from the words 'spiced ham”.
The good thing about Spam is that it has a unique taste of its own and needs no extra flavorings or even added salt. In fact, combined with other foods, Spam is a flavoring in itself.
Spam, although it may be eaten straight out of the can like dog food, is best when it is pan-fried or grilled.
Spam goes great as a side dish, an ingredient in omelets or in a sandwich by itself or with melted cheese.
Spam with pineapple and cheese makes a great topping for pizza, no kidding. In addition, Spam, diced and mixed into a salad, is a great substitute for chicken, turkey or ham.
I know there are some of you that turn up your noses at such plebian forms of edibles but believe me, once you have tasted Spam you will wonder where it has been all of your life.
Next week, “Hooray for Scrapple”.
Be sure to join us again Monday February 24 for another"extrvabloganza"
Past blogs may be found below
Suffering the consequences of a poorly managed, overwhelmed staff
Early during the second week that I became a resident here back in 2012, I suffered a debilitating back spasm, which made it impossible for me to get out of bed; the pain was just too much. Having been given instructions as to how to call for assistance if in trouble, I reached over for the call bell conveniently placed next to my bed. An aide came almost immediately, assessed my condition and called for an ambulance, which took me to the hospital where I received treatment and was released. I said to myself “This is good, very good, I can feel safe here”. As I said, that was back in 2012 when there were only about 85 residents in a facility built to hold more than twice that many. Today, according to the stories and reports that I have gathered from other residents and from personal observation, the time for an aid to respond to a resident’s call has been as long as 25 minutes or more, a delay that could be the difference between life and death. While a delay of 25 minutes may be the exception rather than the norm, it is obvious that the quick response to health emergencies as it is with maintenance, food service, and medication delivery, has been severely reduced. This curtailment of service is due to the fact that, although the population has increased (now about 160 residents), the number of trained and qualified staff has not followed suite. In addition, while it would seem that the fix to this problem would be to hire additional staff, much of the blame for the facilities inadequacies must be attributed to the lack of qualified management who is ultimately responsible for the selection, training and discipline of the employees they manage.
HHS strengthens patients’ right to access lab test reports
If you have ever had your car repaired or had any extensive work done on your home the mechanic or contractor will (or should) give you a detailed list of what work he performed and why. So why is it so difficult to get the same information from your healthcare provider? After all, isn’t it YOUR body they worked on and isn’t it YOUR money that paid for it. Here is some good news from the Feds on just this topic.
“As part of an ongoing effort to empower patients to be informed partners with their health care providers, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has taken action to give patients or a person designated by the patient a means of direct access to the patient’s completed laboratory test reports.
“The right to access personal health information is a cornerstone of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Information like lab results can empower patients to track their health progress, make decisions with their health care professionals, and adhere to important treatment plans.”
NIH study offers insight into why cancer incidence increases with age
As I have always said, it appears the N.I.H. agrees with me, no matter how hard we try to extend our lives by keeping fit, eating right, and not abusing our bodies, in the end it makes very little difference, our genes are pre-programmed to switch off at a certain time. For some of us it’s sooner, (too soon), and for others it later, much later. However, this does not mean that you should go nuts with your lifestyle. You still want whatever time you have been allotted to be fruitful, and pain free.
From the National Institute of Health
“The accumulation of age-associated changes in a biochemical process that helps control genes may be responsible for some of the increased risk of cancer seen in older people, according to a National Institutes of Health study.
Scientists have known for years that age is a leading risk factor for the development of many types of cancer, but why aging increases cancer risk remains unclear. Researchers suspect that DNA methylation, or the binding of chemical tags, called methyl groups, onto DNA, may be involved. Methyl groups activate or silence genes, by affecting interactions between DNA and the cell’s protein-making machinery”.
Signs that things are going downhill at the W.C.I.A.L.
PACKAGES WAITING AND WAITING AND WAITING.
Three of the above packages are mine. FedEx and UPS took only two days to deliver them to the building’s lobby. The packages came all the way from Texas and Michigan. It took someone five days to bring it to my room about fifty yards away
It’s been a cold winter, that’s for sure. Too cold to walk outside to get back here to my room in the annex, but wait, we don’t have to go outside. There is a nice indoor connecting passageway to protect us from the elements. Unfortunately, there is little or no insulation in this passageway so, in their infinite wisdom, the Center stuffed towels where the frigid air was coming in. Unfortunately, the towels did little good because the poor aftermarket-heating units are too inadequate to heat such an extremely cold un-insulated space. Therefore, the Center, again using its massive brainpower, decided that the best way to warm that space was to raise the temperature in the adjacent corridors to a sweltering 84 degrees in the hope that some of that overheated air would fill the freezing corridor with warmth, guess what, it worked. However, now it is so hot in the adjacent corridor that even a short stroll down the hall makes one dizzy, your rent money at work.
Editor’s note: Temperature was reduced to 74 degrees shortly after I wrote this post returning the passageway to its meat locker temperatures.
We can only hope it’s a coffee stain,
It was there all day.
Editor’s note: Stain removed late that same day
Don’t worry if the Firemen can’t get to the hydrant…
…the place will have burned down way before they get here.
Editor’s note: Fire hydrant remains snowbound
Last week, in the middle of a snowstorm our satellite system went out, as it usually does during meteorological events. The memo on the screen says "searching for satellite". Five hours later, DirectTV finally found the signal. It's a big solar system out there, I guess.
BTW: We are still waiting for our new TV package which is supposed to in place this month. Unfortunately, while the programming may be different we will still have to suffer the outrageous outages of DirectTV.
As if someone had received an advanced copy of this blog, and, in turn made sure I would get the smallest and most pitiful chicken leg ever to grace the plate of an adult human being I received for dinner Tuesday night, a leg that could only have come from a parrot or large pigeon, it was that small. Now we can add chicken to the bagels and other items that have become smaller and smaller. When I brought this undersized limb back to the kitchen, the staff looked at it and laughed. However, I did not think it was very funny and told them exactly what I thought of them and their pigmy chickens. They offered to replace the ONE leg (and I emphasize the ONE) with a chicken breast, I accepted. Unfortunately, the chicken breast(s) were so dry, so overcooked, and so impossible to eat that they could only have come from a chicken that had died of old age. There is something seriously wrong with the kitchen, it’s staff and it’s sense of how and what to cook for dinner or any other meal. Evidently the theory here is, it’s O.K. to serve bad food as long as you serve less of it.
Note: See next week’s blog and see why it pays to speak up and complain.
A Bagel Fabel
In a place called Yonkers, high on a hill, cloistered from the realities of the secular world, lives a group of people known as the “Residents”. The townsfolk prefer to stay far away from these reclusive people and rarely visit these “Residents”, who some say are possessed. However, those that have actually seen the Residents have reported that they are regular people, just like the rest of the townsfolk.
“Impossible” said the townsfolk. “They can’t be like us. We have heard that they are small, very small, and no bigger than a Barbie doll and that they live in small rooms and eat very small size food”
“I have seen that food with my very own eyes”, said a truck driver who once made a delivery to the Hill. “The food is small. So small that it would take a normal man just one bite to eat an entire chicken breast, hamburger, slice of pizza or bagel”.
The townsfolk recoiled in horror at the thought of being served a bagel so small as to be able to eat it in one bite.
“Rubbish, there are no bagels that small,” said the mayor of the town. “To be that small the bagels would have to be no larger than maybe three inches in diameter, and no bagel bakery would dare make a bagel that miniscule, at least not for regular people, do they at least get lox?”
“But it’s true, I have seen those very same bagels myself” said the Fire chief. “They are no larger than the head of a fork and, yes they do get lox but not the lox you and I might get. These people get their lox already mixed into the cream cheese!”
“Miniature bagels and the lox is mixed in with the cream cheese, and you say the rest of the food is like that too”, asked the town barber.
“Yes, the chickens are the size of parakeets and the waffles the size of playing cards”, said the truck driver.
“You say these Residents are normal size people like you and me?” asked the mayor.
“Just like the rest of us” said the Fire Chief who had seen these “people” with his own eyes.
“How do they live like that?” asked the barber, sounding concerned.
“They seem happy”, said the truck driver. “But that’s probably because they are kept heavily medicated and don’t know any better”.
The towns people just shook their heads, turned and walked silently away, content in the knowledge that they could go back to their regular homes, to their regular size meals and eat regular size bagels, with real lox.
Finally, the kitchen has come to its senses and for once, a proper side dish accompanied a meal that usually never needs one, and that meal is pizza.
In the past, side dishes have run the gamut from nothing on the side to string beans,
broccoli, and even pasta. I suppose that either by law, design or desire it was necessary for something to accompany even such a simple dish as pizza however, up until now all of the sides dishes just did not work. It was like showing a five year old a picture of a truck, a car and a banana and asking, “Which doesn’t belong”. Therefore, what does go with pizza? The only thing that could and should be a side dish for pizza and that is a simple salad, exactly what we had last Friday for lunch. And, it’s about time.
Still waiting for my “pracels”
A few days before Christmas, I ordered a couple of inexpensive items from an online merchant that I had been using for a couple of years and, while I knew that this particular vendor had a bad record of accomplishment when trying to deliver items on time, I took a chance anyway, wrong! While my account was billed, I still have not have not received the item. I emailed their customer service and, though I cannot say for sure where they are located, I bet it’s nowhere near North America, read their reply.
I guess I’ll wait a little longer for my “pracel”.
This Friday, February 14 is Valentine’s Day and I would just love you if you would come back here Monday the 17th for next week’s blog.
Read earlier blogs below
Before you read this editorial, you must read this review first. Go ahead, click on the link below, I’ll wait.
"Please learn from my mistake and DO NOT SUBJECT YOUR LOVED ONE TO THE HORROR THAT IS THE WESTCHESTER CENTER!”
Above quote from the Caring.com website….http://www.caring.com/local/assisted-living-facilities-in-yonkers-new-york
I hope the above quote got your attention, I meant it to. It is also almost completely without reason. The “review”, written by the daughter of a woman who was a resident of this facility points out some of the problems, which during the period she is referring to (c. August of 2013) were prevalent here and, although some of those situations still exist there have been vast improvements. While the problems she refers to in her evaluation of the Center are serious, they are not out of the ordinary in places such as this. I have been a resident here for 18 months, I know what I am talking about, and it would pay you to read on.
Yes, there have been problems with the distribution of medications with some serious errors made by a poorly trained staff. Let me state that better training and better management have all but eliminated these problems. I, personally have not had any of the problems to which she referred. The daughter goes on to site roommate problems.
Unfortunately, a number of the rooms here are doubles where two residents share the same room. This does cause conflicts between roommates who have different lifestyles, or need different levels of care or have psychological problems and, while a better matching procedure needs to be in place, it is impossible to know how two people will get along. My roomy was a perfectly lovely older man whom with I never had a problem. In addition, if I did have a problem I would have done what many of my fellow residents have done, I would have gone straight to the Case Management office and pleaded my case. To the best of my knowledge, the majority of roommate complaints are resolved to the resident’s satisfaction.
The reviewer said that, her mother complained (to her daughter) of no heat in her room. That may have been true, but it should be understood that mechanical problems happen, even in the best facilities and I can personally state that these problems are usually attended to promptly. I was here during that incident and I can personally state that the problem lasted only a day and while the room temperatures may not have been as hot as the resident in question may have liked, it was far from freezing. Finally, there is the food.
Anybody who reads the food reviews on this blog knows that I am very critical with the way food is served, cooked and prepared. However, while I complain, I also understand that there are policies put forth, not only by the facility itself but also by standards set in place by the N.Y. State Department of Health and diet conscious dieticians as well. In addition, there are budget considerations that make cooking anything close to a gourmet meal impossible. (See my blog post “D.O.H., get off my back” following this editorial).
Furthermore, let me say this. In assisted living as with everything else in life, you get what you pay for. The unhappy reviewer failed to state why she chose this facility over the other facilities in this same area, you know, those facilities that received four or more stars and glowing reviews, and that reason is money. The Westchester Center is the only facility in the county that accepts Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as payment of the “rent” for living here. The other highly rated places listed in Care.com’s website require much more money than Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid provide often thousands of dollars a month more. In addition, I have recently spoken to a state licensed Ombudsman, a person who tries to negotiate problems between the management of a particular facility and its residents. She has told me that most of the negative situations that exist in the government assisted residences also occur at the high priced private facilities. Also, there is one last thing that I would like to say that might be the most important of them all. I have found,“The better you are able to speak up for yourself, state your problems in a clear non-threatening or malicious manner; the better you will be able to cope with daily life in a facility like this”. It is important to remember that an assisted living facility is, in its own way, a microcosm of the real world, filled with all the imperfections that life throws at you. The very fact that the mother of this reviewer found it necessary to have her daughter call the facility and complain and not the resident herself makes me wonder if she should have been in an ALF at all.
Editor’s note: I will be adding this rebuttal to the present reviews on the Caring.com website in about a week. I hope perspective residents and their loved ones read it and email me.
Anyone who knows me or is a regular reader of this blog also knows that I am not a big supporter of most of the policies of this facility. I believe that this facility is mired in a state of mediocrity from which they can’t get loose. Some of this mediocrity is the fault of the archaic mindset of this facility’s management but much of the problems here are a direct result of the guidelines and procedures set forth by New York State’s governing body in charge, the Department of Health. In an effort to thwart the ills that, in the past (the distant past) have plagued health care facilities in this state, the DOH and other agencies have gone overboard with their rules and regulations. The very rules and regulations that are supposed to be for our safety and protection have made it difficult for institutions like assisted living facilities to operate in a manner that would make living in a place like this less of a daily struggle for its residents. Let me site one of these archaic, bureaucratic rules that to the rest of the world make no sense, cooking temperatures of eggs.
I have not had a poached, soft boiled or fried egg that has not been cooked into an unrecognizable state since I entered into the New York State regulated health facilities system over four years ago, because the DOH will not let eggs served in these facilities to be cooked at a temperature less than 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This high temperature effectively renders the eggs useless as anything more than flattened hardboiled eggs. The reason that the DOH sites as to why no runny yolks are permitted is that they are afraid of an outbreak of salmonella poisoning in these facilities. Normally, I would say “Thanks DOH” for looking out for my safety however; the regulation does not fit the situation. In researching this “rule” regarding salmonella vs. cooking temperatures, I could not find any recent large-scale outbreak in an ALF in New York, or practically anywhere else and besides, this rule does not apply to commercial restaurants, food trucks, or diners in the state. These establishments, unlike ALF’s, are allowed to cook their eggs to only 145 degrees. Why are we residents of ALF’s being singled out when it is OK for every other person in the state to enjoy properly cooked egg for breakfast? The same restrictive regulations also are the reason why I am not permitted to have a simple microwave oven or coffee maker or steam iron in my room.
Unlike some assisted living facilities in the area, this facility is not designated as an “enhanced facility”. Simply, this means that because the Center does not have a distinct and separate space and program catering to those residents with dementia, Alzheimer’s or other intellectual disability’s, ALL of the residents have to be treated as if we all had these disabilities. In other words, we are all considered, “demented”.
“It’s back down to normal, 110 over 87,” said the 12 year old* Physician’s Assistant who took my blood pressure.
“Great, well see ya” I said and began to pull my shirtsleeve down below my elbow.
“Wait, just second. I want you to continue the pills I gave you”, said the 12 year old.
“For how long”, I asked, annoyed that there was now one more pill I had to swallow
“Forever”, she said. “For as long as you have high blood pressure”.
“But if I keep taking the pills to control my blood pressure, how will you know if I really have high blood pressure? There has to be a time when it’s cured, right?” I asked.
“Studies have shown that once you have high blood pressure and need pills to control it, you will have to take the pills for the rest of your life” she replied.
“Again, how do you know if my blood pressure has not cured itself if I am constantly taking pills to control it?” I said, more annoyed than ever. “Can’t we stop the pills for a month and see if diet alone can’t control my pressure? I've been a real good boy”.
“I think you should continue with the pills,” she advised. I left the medical suite dejected.
“And so it begins”, I thought, my bout with one of the number one killers of old folks, hypertension.
Two weeks ago, I was told my BP had risen to a whopping 180 over 97. This was just not high but very high, especially for me who never had high blood pressure in my life. Even when my very existence was under stress awhile back, my pressure never rose above 158, so this sudden and dramatic rise had me worried. I began to evaluate anything that I might have done to cause this sudden and, disturbing, spike.
I had not deviated from my normal lifestyle nor was I under any particular stress. I don’t drink or smoke and have tried my best to stay away from women (Not a difficult thing to do around here) and I certainly did not take any illicit drugs or overdose on the ones I am supposed to take. I even went as far as to go on line to see if any of my regularly prescribed medications might have conflicted with each other causing the rise in blood pressure, but I found nothing. The only thing that I could think of was that, the day before my pressure was taken, I overindulged on some very salty snacks and foods at our monthly Men's Club meeting.
The “Men’s Club” a relatively new event here at the Center, always serves some nice “man-style” food, “help yourself” style. It’s “take all you want and hang the calories”, and the salt. Of course, being a lover of salty snacks, I was at the front of the line. I filled my plate with a stack of potato chips (salt) and a mound of French fries upon which I squirted a colon size ribbon of ketchup, (salt). I then moved on to the barbeque chicken wings with BBQ sauce (still more salt), and finished up with a plate of Buffalo hot wings with nice spicy, (and salty) hot sauce.
Therefore, I can only presume that all that salt, coupled with my advanced years and my slowly decreasing metabolism, especially where sodium is involved, caused the needle on the blood pressure cuff to reach its apogee. Of course, not all hypertensive people are elderly and not all the elderly have high blood pressure but the instances of contracting this “malaise” increases as one gets older. It’s god’s way of saying “It won’t be long now so get ready for it”. But wait a second, is that it? Am I to be an unwilling participant of the “Big Pharma” conspiracy to enslave all of us in a prison of tablets and time-release capsules? I think not, I have a plan.
My plan is to continue taking my blood pressure pills until they run out in about two weeks. At that point, I will not have them refilled (after speaking to the “doc”, of course) and try to control my pressure with diet and self denial. After a month without pills, I will have my pressure taken to see if I was able to control it without medication, the goal being never to take another pill again for as long as I live. Whether this will work out I don’t know, but I think It’s worth a try. I will do anything not to be one of those folks who live their life ten pills at a time, twice a day.
* Of course, the P.A., that takes my pressure and prescribes my meds is not twelve years old, she is probably in her mid-twenties, but to an old codger like me, I personally don’t trust anybody under 65. But then again, there are not too many 90-year-old doctors I would trust either. I guess I am just at that “certain age”.
It probably all started with a product called “Shake ‘N Bake”. You remember, you put some chicken parts in a plastic bag filled with a crumbled flavored stale bread-like mixture, shook the bag, coated the chicken and, instead of plopping it into a deep fryer, you put the chicken into an oven and baked it! This was supposed to be a way of having your (fried) chicken and eating it too. In theory, this method of cooking was to help one avoid the ills of frying by coating the chicken with something that tasted much like the batter that coated real fried chicken. However, there is a reason that one fries and not bakes a chicken it just tastes better. Unfortunately, the reason it tastes better is the same reason why, if you are watching your intake of artery clogging foods, real fried foods lose all the time. Look at this comparison, Fried vs. oven fried chicken. (I could not find a “fried vs. oven fried catfish” chart).
According to the chart, if you are baking instead of frying because you are watching calories, there is not much of a difference between the two. The total carbs don’t make much of a difference either but man, look at those cholesterol and sodium numbers, they are off the charts when you fry instead of bake. I can only presume that the same can be said for fried catfish as well. Therefore, as much as I hate to admit it, you good ol’ boys who never met a meal you didn’t like as long as it was deep fried, you lose. Why should everything I like be bad for me.
“CENTER’’ TO USE SLALOM
RACE TO TEST RESIDENT’S SKILLS
Yonkers, NY. February 3 2014.With the upcoming winter olympics in Russia looming in the distance, the Center in its wisdom has decided to keep the resident’s interest in the games alive by testing the residents “maneuvering” skills by letting them run a slalom-like course set up in the lobby. The course, fashioned from “caution” signs was designed to test both the residents and their equipment. For days, residents have been busy polishing, lubricating and tightening up their Rollators and walkers in preparation for the event which is expected to be heavily attended as this is the first event of its kind to be held anywhere in the country. While the Rollator Slalom is not yet an event in the Paralympics, promoters of the sport are hoping to influence the Paralympics governing board to consider it for the 2016 games.
It was a simple order, perhaps the simplest order anyone has ever given the serving staff, a ham and Swiss on rye with lettuce and tomato. I did not want it grilled or anything fancy, just a plain sandwich, a sandwich that is made every day in every food establishment in every city in America. Unfortunately, this most humble of all sandwiches was too much for the cut-rate kitchen staff we have working here to handle.
After waiting almost 20 minutes (Not unusual when you order something as special as this), the server came out to tell me that there was no rye bread left. While I waited for my blood pressure to return to normal, I decided that the same sandwich on whole wheat would be acceptable. The server returned to the kitchen, presumably to return with my sandwich. While she did return, 15 minutes later, and indeed there was a sandwich between two slices of wheat toast there was one important part missing, the ham part. I, of course pointed this out to the server who left me alone with the cheese only sandwich and returned to the kitchen once again. Five minutes later, the server brought out to me some slices of ham on a plate, presumably for me to make my own sandwich. I sent the ham, the bread, the cheese and the slice of tomato and lettuce back to the kitchen to be re-assembled and wrapped in a paper bag for me to take to my room so that I could finish my dinner, alone in peace, because all of my tablemates had finished their dinners and had left the dining room.
At one point this year I thought that I saw a glimmer of improvement in the way things were done in that clown college they call a kitchen but I was wrong. Things have become worse with no sign of improvement on the horizon. Nobody in or out of that kitchen gives a damn.
I have listened to all the superlatives attributed to natural, unadulterated and unadorned food, those foods that have nothing added to them that might detract from the pure taste of the item whether it is fish or foul, veal or veggie. While that might be true if the food you eat is farm fresh, right out of the ocean or picked fresh from the vine, in our industrialized society where the nearest “vine” might be a thousand miles away, it is virtually impossible to get fresh, raw or unpreserved food. That is why we must “flavor” our food in order to make it appetizing to our 21st Century palates, and the number one flavoring of choice, the flavoring that has been the foremost flavor enhancer for centuries is what I, and millions of people with high blood pressure can’t have, and that’s salt.
I had some soup the other day, and being the good little hypertensive that I am, did not add any salt to the bowl thinking that all those nice veggies floating around in the bowl would have enough flavor of their own to forestall any doubts that I might have had about eating unseasoned food, wrong. The unfettered concoction of veggies, rice and other stuff did not have the fortitude to make it on its own and failed miserably in the flavor department. Reaching, instinctively for the saltshaker, I stopped, almost in mid-shake, and said to myself “I can do this”. I put the shaker down and continued with eating my soup. After a few minutes of suffering the effects of sodium withdrawal, the soup began to take on a flavor of its own, not the full-bodied flavor of what I know fresh picked food tastes like, but flavor nonetheless. So, maybe this no salt thing will work out and as long as I take it easy with the one flavoring I refuse to give up, ketchup, I might make it in the salt free world after all.
Broccoli, I can take it or leave it especially when it’s plain, boring or just plain boring, however when a sauce, usually in the form of Hollandaise, Au Gratin or cheese is glopped on this inherently ordinary veggie it’s transformed into some much more palatable. Therefore, when I saw that the broccoli on the lunch menu last Friday was combined with, not only pasta but also sauce Alfredo, I was curious to say the least. While I have tasted veggies with all of the other traditional toppings, Alfredo sauce was something new to me and I was pleasantly surprised. The truth is, the broccoli was so good that I could have done without the tortellini, which was a bit too “al dente” and heavy. The broccoli with the Alfredo sauce could have easily stood alone as a side dish with any other main course. Therefore, I would like to propose that Alfredo sauce, or any other equally creamy, garlicky sauce should be part of the broccoli entourage every time it is served.
Anybody who ordered the Swedish meatballs and thought that they would get an adult size portion of meat thought wrong. Unless you were smart enough to ask for a double portion, all you received were two of the golf ball size spheres. All good things come to those who ask for it.
My prediction of what the final score of the Superbowl would be combined with the Seahawk's lopsided victory over the Broncos proves one thing, I know nothing about football. However I do know about blogs and I can predict with some certainty that the my next blog will be published on Monday, February 10th.
Earlier blogs begin below.
In this week’s edition
• Editorial: Censorship Revealed
• A life with pills?
• Mickey D’s sit in
• Assisted Living Biz: Defining ALF’s
• To Your Health: Veganism
Food Reviews from the Faceless Foodie
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THIS MONTH’S RESIDENT’S COUNCIL MEETING CAN BE FOUND ON THE RESIDENT’S NEWSLETTER FACEBOOK PAGE.
What they won’t let you read.
The uptight, anal retentive, corporate toadies whose sphincters haven’t loosened up since eating that undercooked chicken dinner last year found the following column “offensive” and therefore will not permit it to be printed as part of the next edition of the "Official" resident’s newsletter, effectively censoring and stifling the creativity of it’s readers and writers. Not wanting to make a First Amendment issue over this and considering the fact that there are alternatives to the print edition of the newsletter, i.e., Facebook and this blog, I will continue reproducing this and any other material THEY consider inappropriate.
Miss Blabbygal answers your questions on life, love and assisted living.
Dear Miss Blabbygal, I just met a woman who I was thinking of having “relations” with so I went to the doctor to get a prescription for Viagra. He told me that there is a possibility that I could have an erection lasting more than four hours. What do you think about that?
Signed, Over the Hill grandpa.
You lucky bastard!
Dear Miss Blabbygal, I have always enjoyed a little aperitif before dinner but they don't allow any booze here. I don't want to break the rules but I still would like a nip, any ideas.
I too like to “sample the sauce” now and then and, while there is no substitute for the real thing, I have found that a cocktail of two parts classic Listerine, one part Nyquil mixed with the juice of four alcohol wipes will do in a pinch.
Dear Miss Blabbygal, I am thinking of getting back behind the wheel again but my eyesight is poor, I don't hear very well, I'm a nervous driver and I have a short temper. Do you think I'm qualified to drive a car?
Signed, Not Mario Andretti.
Dear Mario, Happy Motoring!.
Now what was so bad, that it could not be printed in the Resident’s Newsletter?
I recently found out that my blood pressure is a little high. Actually, it’s a lot high, about 20 points too high, as a person who has never had high blood pressure, this was a surprise to me as well as disturbing. It’s not that I am worried about the numbers, I am pretty sure some pills will take care of that however, it’s the lifestyle changes that take place when you officially become someone who is marked as “hypertensive”.
I have already begun a low salt diet as well as cutting back on the amount of food I eat. Where this will all lead I don’t know, but I do know one thing. I will not be one of those people that take 12 or 14 pills a day and wonder why they still don’t feel well.
I will have more on this next week and in the weeks to come.
Not photo of actual restaurant in question
Fighting a McDonald’s in Queens for the Right to Sit. And Sit. And Sit.
From the NY Times
“For the past several months, a number of elderly Korean patrons and a McDonald’s they frequent have been battling over the benches inside. The restaurant says the people who colonize the seats on a daily basis are quashing business, taking up tables for hours while splitting a small packet of French fries ($1.39); the group say they are customers and entitled to take their time. A lot of time.”
I want you to read* the entire New York Times article about a group of elderly Korean-Americans who have claimed a McDonald’s restaurant as their primary meeting place much to the dismay of the restaurant’s management and many of its patrons. As a person who used to frequent many of these fast food places and have witnessed exactly what the Times article explains I have mixed feelings about what is right and what is wrong about this.
While on the surface, to the casual observer or someone who has found it difficult to find a seat because of these “sit ins”, you might side in favor of the management. However, before you make judgment on these folks you have to remember the culture from which they came.
In Asia, the Middle East and in Europe, frequenting a local restaurant, bistro or pub, and to sit nursing a drink, coffee or pastry is part of one’s daily routine. The “local” has always been a place to congregate with friends and hash out the day’s events, disseminate news and voice opinions. Therefore, it seemed quite natural to these elderly people, who have left their country, mostly to be with their children and grandchildren, to want to meet and be with others in the same situation, and places such as McDonalds seemed to fit the bill. On the other hand, this is not Seoul, Paris or Beirut and people here do not hang out in restaurants without buying something.
As I said, I have witnessed these “gatherings” for myself. One such incidence took place at a Roy Rodgers I frequented on a regular basis. Every Friday evening a group of seniors would sit in the back of this large restaurant, sip some coffee, talk, and joke among themselves. They kept their voices down and occasionally they would get up from their seats, go to the counter, and order some coffee, but few of them ever left. As far as I know, they stayed there all night. However, there is one thing that they did that our Koreans did not do, they appropriated anything that was not nailed down in other words, they stole.
They took anything they could put in their pockets like condiments, salt and peppershakers, napkins and stuff from the “Fixins” bar such as lettuce, tomatoes, relish and jalapenos. They doubled up some napkins and place the fixins in them, supposedly to use at home. Finally, the manager had to put all of these “tempting” items behind the counter where, if you wanted a napkin, pickles or salt and pepper, you had to ask for it. However, management never told these people to leave nor did they ever call in the cops.
What happens when you have snow on a glass-enclosed room and the outside temperature is hovering around 10 degrees and the snow starts to melt because of the heat escaping from the roof, icicles of course, big ones. Oh, and just in case you are wondering, this room is on the ground floor so nobody is in danger of getting stabbed by one, except maybe a passing skunk or squirrel.
Back to the basics
Every now and then, it’s a good idea to get back to the basics of what living in a place called an “Assisted Living Facility” is all about. The words “assisted living facility” encompasses a broad range of senior living selections and, while all facilities may be called an ALF, not all ALF’s are alike. The differences are so broad that sometimes we need to step back and look at what those differences are. After reading this you may have a better understanding as to why we here at the W.Center operate differently from some of the other ALF’s in the area.
What do the terms mean?
What are the Different Assisted Living Models in New York State?
Adult Homes and Enriched Housing Programs are the two types of Adult Care Facilities licensed in New York. Both provide long-term residential care, including housekeeping, laundry, and supervision, assistance with medications, personal care assistance, case management services, and structured activity programs.
The law requires enriched housing programs to provide less supervision and meals than it requires in Adult Homes. However, many enriched housing programs provide the same amount of supervision and meals as their adult home counterparts. Generally, enriched housing programs have apartment-style living. Adult homes provide private and/or semi-private rooms.
What is an Assisted Living Residence (ALR)?
Assisted Living Residences are licensed by the State Department of Health (DOH) and are one of only two types of residences that that may lawfully represent themselves as providing “assisted living.” The other type is an Assisted Living Program.
Assisted Living Residences serve the same types of residents as adult homes, enriched housing program, and provide the same services. However, the law requires them to provide certain additional disclosures and resident rights.
Currently, Assisted Living Residences are pending approval with the DOH.
What is an Enhanced or Special Needs Assisted Living Residence?
An Assisted Living Residence (ALR) can obtain additional certification to become an Enhanced Assisted Living Residence (EALR), which permits the ALR to offer aging in place services. It can also obtain certification to become a Special Needs Assisted Living Residence (SNALR) and offer specialized care.
ALRs with an EALR certification can admit and retain residents who exceed certain retention standards of adult homes, enriched housing programs or assisted living residences. If a residence has an EALR certification, individuals can continue to live in the ALR even if they need another person to help them walk, transfer, climb or descend stairs, or operate medical equipment. Essentially, an EALR allows residents to age in place.
Care for Residents with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
Many Adult Care Facilities and Assisted Living Residences can safely accommodate residents in the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These individuals are integrated into the general population at their residence. They receive the same general supervision, personal care assistance and structured activity programs that are typically provided to all residents. However, as Alzheimer’s or dementia progresses, individuals may develop the need for more specialized services because they have the tendency to wander, are less able to receive direction, and require more frequent cueing or one-on-one assistance. Residences with a Special Needs Assisted Living Residence certification have tailored programs to serve these residents and provide a secured living environment.
Assisted Living Program: A Cost-Effective Model
The Assisted Living Program (ALP) is a very cost-effective model of care for thousands of individuals throughout New York State.
The ALP allows Medicaid-funded nursing and home care services to be delivered in Adult Care Facilities (ACF) for residents that require services above and beyond what the adult home or enriched housing program typically provides. ALPs require a special state license and are the only residential care option that is covered by Medicaid.
There are nearly 5,800 approved Assisted Living Program beds in New York State, including 1,584 that were recently approved by the State Department of Health. Approximately 60 of the 500 licensed adult homes and enriched housing programs across New York State currently have the additional ALP license, with another 30 scheduled to come on line in 2009.
An ALP is a residence that serves clients who do not require 24-hour skilled nursing care and have a stable medical condition. ALPS can allow people to age in place using on-site home care services to address their personal care needs. This program provides care at less than half the cost of the Medicaid nursing home rate. In addition, the resident’s Supplemental Security Income covers room, board and some personal care in certain situations. When individuals are unable to access ALPs, they are left with no alternative but to utilize more costly institutional settings, such as nursing homes, where Medicaid will pay.
Basically, here is what you have to understand about what kind of facility we here at the Center live in and why we are prohibited from enjoying some of the amenities that residents of other ALF’s delight in. While the WCIAL is an ALF, it is not an “Enhanced ALF”, Which means it does not offer separate quarters or programs for aging in place or special needs care. What this means is, this facility does not separate those residents capable of living independently from those that need to be monitored. Therefore, they have to treat all of us equally which means that all of us are reduced to the level of the lowest possible denominator. That is why we can’t have microwaves, coffee makers, or irons in our rooms. I know I may be oversimplifying the issue but it is a start to a better understanding of why THEY do what THEY do.
The only solution to this “equality of inequity” is for the Center to change from what it is now to what we all know is needed, a separate area for those residents that need extra help, supervision and monitoring. Until such time we will have to suffer with the duality of living where we do.
Many residents here at the Center are on specialized diets, some because they are allergic to certain foods, or are diabetics, hypertensive or have a problem with gluten or lactose. However, there is one group of people that are vegetarians or, as we call them now, Vegans.
The First time I heard the word “vegan” I thought it was a reference to somebody from another planet as in, “Oh him, he’s a Vegan, he comes from Vega” or perhaps they were residents of Las Vegas, not realizing that these were the same people that preferred not to eat anything containing meat or its byproducts. In addition, a very dyed in the wool (sorry) vegan will not even eat fish or eggs, or any dairy products.
You could always tell a vegetarian, I thought. They had a certain air of superiority and smugness about them and looked with disdain at those of us carnivores that still preferred meat to veggies. However, today that self-righteous arrogance has dissipated somewhat by various studies and articles that say that an all veggie subsistence may not be as healthy for you as once thought.
Many of us here and elsewhere have become very health conscious as we get older and look to non-traditional methods of keeping healthy preferring dietary changes to pills. Therefore, in an effort to find out the pros and cons of veganism, I have done a little research on the topic and will present a very abridged version of the tons of information available to prospective vegetarians. In addition, I have provided links to some of the online information, which I found helpful in preparation of this article. Let’s look at some reasons why being a vegan may or may not appeal to you…
Vegan pros and cons
1. It is cruel and unethical to kill animals for food when vegetarian options are available.
2. Human anatomy has evolved to support a primarily vegetarian diet.
3. A vegetarian diet delivers complete nutrition and can provide health benefits.
4. A vegetarian diet can help alleviate world hunger.
5. A vegetarian diet reduces the chances of developing kidney stones and gallstones.
6. A vegetarian diet provides a more healthful form of iron than a meat-based diet.
7. A vegetarian diet helps build healthy bones because vegetarians absorb more calcium than meat eaters.
8. A vegetarian diet lowers the risk of heart disease.
9. Eating meat increases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
10. Vegetarians live longer.
11. A vegetarian diet promotes a healthy weight.
12. Studies show that vegetarians are up to 40% less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters.
13. Overgrazing livestock hurts the environment through soil compaction, erosion, and harm to native plants and animals.
14. A vegetarian diet conserves water.
15. Raising animals for food creates 18% of global greenhouse gases - more than the transportation sector.
16. Producing one hamburger destroys 55 square feet of rainforest.
17. Raising animals for food contributes to air and water pollution.
18. Many animals raised for food in the United States are not slaughtered humanely.
19. Raising animals in confinement is cruel.
20. A vegetarian diet reduces overuse of antibiotics.
21. Eating fish is not a more ethical or environmentally sound alternative to other animal protein sources.
22. Eating fish is not necessary to maintain optimal health, and can even have negative health effects.
23. A vegetarian diet would improve worker safety.
1. Eating meat is not cruel or unethical; it is a natural part of the cycle of life.
2. Eating meat has been an essential part of human evolution for 2.3 million years.
3. Meat is the most convenient protein source available. I
4. Eating meat provides healthy saturated fats, which enhance the function of the immune and nervous systems.
5. Meat is the best source of vitamin B12, a vitamin necessary to nervous and digestive system health.
6. Eating meat provides a better source of iron than a vegetarian diet.
7. A meat-centered diet can help with weight loss.
8. Raising beef is often the most efficient way to produce food for humans.
9. Vegetarian diets are not necessarily better for the environment.
10. Vegetarians do not live longer.
11. US meat consumption does not significantly contribute to global deforestation, or loss of US forest land.
12. Processed vegetarian protein options such as tofu can cause more greenhouse gas pollution than farming meat.
13. Becoming vegetarian will not help alleviate world hunger.
14. A diet that includes fish provides the body with essential omega-3 fatty acids.
15. Saturated fats from meat are not to blame for modern diseases like heart disease, cancer, and obesity.
16. Lean red meat, eaten in moderation, can be a healthful part of a balanced diet.
17. Modern slaughter techniques minimize the suffering of animals.
18. There is nothing inherently cruel about raising animals for food.
19. The right to eat what we want, including meat, is a fundamental liberty that we must defend.
20. It is not necessary to become vegetarian to lower our environmental footprint.
21. Vegetarian diets can cause the death of animals too.
22. Becoming a vegetarian is not the best way to improve safety for workers in the meatpacking industry.
IN ADDITION, REMEMBER…
ALWAYS CONSULT A PHYSICIAN BEFORE YOU MAKE ANY DIETARY OR LIFESTYLE CHANGES.
Is it just me…
Am I the only one who sends food back if it’s served cold, if the portions are ridiculously small, or because it just tastes like crap?, because if I am, we are all in a lot of trouble.
You see, all the rhetoric and all the complaints to our fellow sufferers and all the resident’s food committee meetings will not help if we don’t continue to show our displeasure with the way food is cooked or served. If we fail to directly act by sending food back to the kitchen they will think we don’t know the difference and they will serve crap to us every time we sit down for dinner. Therefore, I beg you, whether you are here at the W.Center or in some other senior living situation, please remember that you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, which extends to the food as well as every other aspect of your life. If the food isn’t to your liking, send it back. Soon, they will know that you like your portions “adult” size”, served fast and served hot.
How sad is this?
Deserts here at the Asylum are, if not great, at least adequate. However, every once and a while it appears that the pockets of our illustrious benefactors have become shorter and tighter initiating a series of “cost cutting” measures triggering a reduction in the quality and amount of desert served. The two, count em’ two cookies we had after dinner the other night is a perfect example of the abject pettiness that prevails here, two cookies for desert, really?
For the first time ever, I could not identify exactly what I was eating. Actually, if it were not for the menu I would not have had a clue. While it was true that the menu said it was chicken teriyaki, the look, texture and taste told me different.
Perhaps what threw me off, was the gloppy, thick paste, which covered the chicken breasts like the tail end of a lava flow. If this was teriyaki sauce, I’ll eat a rickshaw, or perhaps it was the color.
If I were making a cake, I could not ask for better looking icing that was spread over my chicken. The dark brown, glistening chocolaty looking sauce that covered the chicken appeared to have been troweled on with a knife rather than a ladle. However, it was the texture and primarily the taste that really put me off.
The texture of the “icing” was that of curry sauce that had not been diluted. It had the taste and texture that comes from not adding enough liquid to a bouillon cube, which results in an overly intense flavor. Unfortunately, although it looked like chocolate, the taste was salty, sweet at the same time, and slightly gritty to the tooth. It was obvious that the cook did not have any idea what teriyaki sauce was supposed to look like, or worse, taste like.
Something strange happened at dinner this past Wednesday evening. I finally received a decent, adult portion of meatloaf (and sides) without asking for “doubles” or “extras”. Could this mean that we have finally turned the corner on kid-sized helpings of food and that the kitchen has come to its senses about who we are and what we like? Although, it will take a series of such abundantly prepared meals to make a believer out of me, at least this is a start, a very good start.
I was thrilled, as were my fellow diners, last Saturday evening to find Linguini, with a choice of red or white clam sauce on the menu. This is something that is relatively new to the Center, in fact, the white clam sauce has never been offered here at all. Therefore, as a lover of all things clam and pasta, I could not wait to try both the chicken parmesan and the linguini in white clam sauce, and I did.
Due to some misunderstanding between the server, and me I somehow wound up with two main courses. Not only did I receive the main meal, chicken parmesan, already accompanied by a generous side of linguini but an additional full serving of linguini with the white clam sauce. Had I not been on a diet, I would have thought myself blessed and dug right in and most likely would have finished them both. However, mustering up all the will power my genetics could provide me with, I did no more than let myself taste a small helping of both, so how was it?, better than I expected.
The chicken parm was excellent, thick, tender and juicy with a nice layer of parmesan cheese and a well-seasoned tomato sauce. My other meal, a full bowl of linguini with white clam sauce, was swimming in a sea of tender clams and an adequate white sauce. I say adequate because I would have liked the sauce to be a bit more garlicky and a bit more oily, olive oily that is. The vegetable or corn or canola oil they used just does not make the grade if you want to be authentic. However, all in all the meal was creative, plentiful, and as close to “restaurant grade” as can be expected considering where it was made. My hat is off to Mike and crew for providing a very decent Saturday evening meal.
The next blog hits the webstand on Monday February 3, after the Superbowl. I hope your team wins; my team is in the Bahamas playing golf. However, for what it’s worth, here is my Superbowl prediction.
DENVER BRONCO’S 13
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS 10
Sorry Seahawk’s fans, but the cold weather and the quarterback will be a factor and I think Denver will take advantage of it.
Previous blogs begin below
The fiefdom of assisted living
Equality among its citizens has been the basis of American society since the founding of this country. This is what we base our Constitution on, and what our justice system strives for every day. However, as you and I know very well, this works only in theory but not necessarily in practice. While we may all be created equal, not all of us remain that way. As we grow older, some of us no longer have the capacity to deal with the stresses of everyday life facilitating the need for special care and attention not afforded to everyone else. They treat these people differently from the rest of us “old folks” because they must, for both their safety and our own, so much for equality. So why does a facility who is chartered to provide individualized care for those who need it, insist on treating everybody equally and, in turn, screw it up for the rest of us. In an effort to normalize everything, they create an environment where nobody is treated fairly.
This facility is home to all manner of people whose level of independence and competencies run the gamut from that of mild dementia to being more capable and lucid than most of the staff that run the joint and yet, they try to treat us all as equals. Moreover, what is worse, they do it, not with a gentle touch of kindness but with the heavy fist of a 9th century feudal lord. The attitude that prevails here is not one of benevolence and understanding but rather one of “I know what’s good for you and your opinion isn’t worth the paper your Social Security check is written on. This arrogance combined with little or no room for flexibility gives this place the feeling that it too, is as demented and bi-polar as are some of the residents here. In addition, they, in their narrow mindlessness, fail to see the error in this. They continue to rule this place with the benevolence of Attila the Hun. In fact, this all-controlling approach to assisted living has gone so far as to prevent a resident from undergoing a surgical procedure that would have changed their quality of life. The bottom line is, while this technique of trying to make everything the same in the hope of running an efficient and prosperous facility may be OK on the Ford assembly line but, it cannot, it must not work with human beings, we are not products we are people.
We don’t really know what was going on around the facility last week when men with video cameras and audio equipment could be seen skulking about the premises taking pictures and interviewing residents and staff, however, we can speculate. Anytime, you see the “Boss” dressed in his Bar Mitzvah suit and an entourage of corporate toadies trailing close behind, you know there is some kind of propaganda in production. While I have no problem with management wanting to update their pics for marketing purposes, I do have a problem with them recruiting residents to aid them in perpetuating a falsehood, Leni Riefenstahl lives.
“Tips for Dealing with Difficult (Even Impossible) People”
A day does not go by here at the Asylum that an argument between inmates does not break out. Sometimes these disagreements are founded in real animosity between the participants, but usually they occur because people “take things the wrong way”. It may take no more than a simple misinterpreted word or phrase to send some of the sensitive residents into a rage that often leads to physical action taken by one or both parties. But, what starts these arguments in the first place.
As I said, often it’s only a word or two, spoken in jest that starts thing off. However, more times than not, it is the “directness” of the residents that can infuriate even the most forgiving people. While most of us will just walk away from a person looking to make trouble, for some reason old folks (much like children) will tell you what they think of you, right to your face and wait for you to do something about it. Is there a solution, a way to keep the peace among people who don’t need any more conflict in their lives, maybe.
Perhaps what is needed, along with physical therapy, Bingo, or psychological counseling, is a class or two on how to get along with other people, even if you can’t stand them. This would be especially good for new residents who often come from non-social, sometimes isolated environments to one where close quarters and almost constant interaction with others is normal, in other words, “How to play nice with others”.
Here are some more ways to reduce conflict…
“In case you're wondering how to play well with others, we have a few ideas.”
Author Ori Brafman from the Huffington Post via OWN
1. I Am Really Ticked Off. Do I Have To Be Forgiving?
The last two years I've had several difficult personal and professional problems, which left me feeling mad, victimized and obsessed with a few people's General Awfulness.
This is what Hell feels like: to be obsessed with a generally awful person who isn't even aware of the turmoil he or she is causing. Heaven is to have forgiven -- or to have forgiven-ish, the best you can, for now. When your heart is even slightly softer toward that person, and you are less clenched and aggrieved, you've been touched by grace.
Grace is spiritual WD-40. It eases our way out of grippy, self-righteous stuckness. The question is, how do we avail ourselves of it?
I've learned that if you want to have loving feelings, do loving things. We think we'll eventually figure something out, and get over the grudge, and that this will constitute forgiveness. But, it's the opposite: We take an action and the insight follows. Any friendly action will do; intention is everything. We show up somewhere knowing the person who aggrieved us will be there, and we go up and say hi. If the person is a relative, we ask for help with the dishes. (This is very subversive.)
Any warm action will yield the insight -- life is short, and Earth is Forgiveness School.
All of my resentments have been healed. That doesn't mean I want to have lunch with those people, but my heart has softened, which is a miracle. One person still judges me, and bears false witness against me, but thankfully, that is not my business or my problem, because I have chosen freedom. Nothing is more wonderful.
Anne Lamott is the author of Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair.
2. What's A Respectful Way To Defend My Beliefs?
When I became a political commentator, I looked for a refresher course in persuasion. Unfortunately, Thank You for Arguing: What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us About the Art of Persuasion, by Jay Heinrichs, had not yet been published. (I highly recommend it.) I did stumble across the Monty Python "Argument" sketch ("This isn't an argument." "Yes it is." "No it isn't." "Yes it is."), which sounds a lot like our current political discourse.
I approach every argument as if I'm trying to get out of a speeding ticket: with humor and respect. I listen. And when things get tense, I pretend I'm in a restaurant, debating what to order. Public policy isn't coleslaw versus French fries, but persuasion starts with respecting that there are many valid choices. Another trick? Slow down. Powerful speech can come in at around 120 words per minute” angry or nervous speech can be about twice that. When all else fails, make a joke. There's no better tool for reaching across the "I'll." Yes, I just said that. A little pun, even a bad one, goes a long way.
Donna Brazile is a syndicated columnist, political strategist, and contributor to CNN and ABC News.
3. What's Code For "Mind Your Own Business?"
Dorothea Johnson is the founder of The Protocol School of Washington, and actress Liv Tyler is her granddaughter. They are the authors of Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top.
Liv: Say, "Thank you for trying to help, but I'm not comfortable talking about that right now." Often you can shut someone down by mentioning your feelings.
Dorothea: Offering thanks is diplomatic. Kill 'em with kindness!
Liv: Even if something really offends you, ask yourself whether it contains some truth worth exploring later.
Dorothea: And don't get argumentative about unsolicited advice. Take the high road. The low road is so crowded.
4. How Can Friends Stay Friendly?
Pals Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have coauthored eight books; the most recent is The First Affair.
Emma: Going back to grade school, girls find comfort in friends who have the same tastes they do. Any difference can provoke anxiety. Some of our greatest tension has been about whether a character's curtains should be cream or ecru!
Nicola: We're with Ben Affleck: Like a marriage, friendship takes work -- the same honest communication and frequent check-ins you need with a partner. Celebrate your conflicting opinions. They only make the relationship stronger.
5. Can I Maintain Sanity In My Nutty Office?
Even in toxic environment we can achieve a sense of calm, through meditation. No one has to know what you're up to. Spend five minutes sitting at your desk, with your back straight but relaxed; try not to look directly at your computer. Breathe at your normal pace and frequency, then sharpen your focus by noticing the sensations in your nostrils, chest, abdomen. You'll feel more balanced with each breath. And the next time a coworker frustrates you, be grateful that her nastiness comes your way only in two-minute bursts; she has to live inside that energy all the time.
Meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg is the author of Real Happiness at Work.
Maybe it’s time to fine.
I stepped outside the main entrance one morning last week to get some fresh air before breakfast. It was a bit chilly and I was not wearing a jacket so, after a minute or two, I made my way back to the lobby. I was about to go through the doors when I noticed a bunch of cigarette butts and two empty packs of Newport’s, lying on the ground waiting to be picked up by maintenance. It’s not bad enough having people smoking all over the place, do they have to dispose of their foul refuse, boxes and all, right in front of the main entrance in complete disregard of any rules or regulations or, for that matter, respect for their fellow residents, residents that wish to live in a clean, smoke free environment.
It’s apparent that “counseling” from Case Management, or dirty looks from passersby does nothing to keep these people from smoking wherever they want. Barring actual eviction from the facility, the next thing to do is to start a system of actual monetary fines. Perhaps by hitting them in their pocketbooks they will realize how expensive smoking really is.
Many months ago, when after almost a three-year absence from the world of the internet and e-mails I thought about all of the benefits I enjoyed by being “connected” so I bought a new laptop and logged on; I was back in “business”. However, I forgot all of the trouble one could get into when devious people try their best to get their hands on yourmoney, as a person with a new computer and a new email address, I was bombarded with all kinds of offers and “deals”.
Fortunately, I knew enough to stay away from them, but I had to admit that many of those offers looked very enticing.
The benefit, for scammers, of using the internet to ply their deceitful trade, is the cost. In the old days con artists would have to send out mass mailers, thousands of them just to get a few unsuspecting souls to “bite”. The cost of printing and mailing a brochure or letter as well as buying or compiling a mailing list could run into the thousands with only a 1 or 2% chance of a favorable return. Today however, those costs are negligible. There are no printing costs and no mailing costs and mailing lists can be obtained for little or no money and you know who the number one target of these scammers are, that’s right, senior citizens, but why?
These scammers target seniors, not because they think we are stupid but because they believe seniors, as a group, are trusting. Years of dealing with our own troubles makes us particularly sympathetic to the problems of others. Therefore, when someone writes to us asking for just “a little” help with his or her problem in exchange for possible financial gain for us, we listen.
The U.S. government has a new website, which focuses on seniors and finance.
For more information visit…http://www.consumerfinance.gov/older-americans/
Here is some quick and useful info for anyone who uses the internet.
TIME FOR CHANGE, PLEASE.
An open letter to the Food Service Manager, Dietician and Management.
Actual one day menu
To whoever is responsible for this dietary disaster:
As chairman of the Resident’s Food Committee, I receive many ideas, compliments and complaints from the residents regarding the quality, presentation and variety of the meals that are served to us daily here at the W.Center. Some of the complaints are constructive while others are just ridiculous and are promptly dismissed. However, as of late, many different people, representing a broad crossection of the population here who do not usually complain have submitted the same grievance to me, “Why so much chicken?”
We have always been served a lot of chicken here. I guess it’s just the way things have to be done when you are trying to feed many people cheaply but lately the instances at which these dishes are served have become closer together. Sometimes we are served a chicken-based meal two or three days in a row which is bad enough. However, as of late the chicken dinners have become even closer than that, we now have the “pleasure” of eating a paltry poultry meal TWO MEALS IN A ROW ON THE SAME DAY!, prompting me to ask the question “What the f—k is going on here?” Have things become so bad financially that chicken is the only thing you can come up with that will not break the bank? Is this the future of food service here, chicken at every meal, every day?
At one time, the residents thought it just odd or a coincidence and would laugh at the fact that chicken was served so often, but let me tell you, many of us are laughing no longer. Many of us are sick and tired of it and refuse to be subjected to this insult, not only to our need for variety, but to our intelligence as well, and while we are not professional meal planners the “professionals” here are supposed to be. Therefore, I beg, no I implore those responsible to please find a substitute for this avalanche of chicken for dinner. Moreover, remember, whether you call it broiled chicken, baked chicken, chicken with pineapple or chicken Marsala, it’s still CHICKEN!
Bruce Cooper, Chairman Residents Food Committee.
P.S. Due to dietary restrictions, I have recently discontinued the use of salt on my food, relying instead on the seasoning in the sauces and spices already cooked on and in it to flavor foods such as chicken and fish which inherently have little or no taste. Now, since I no longer put salt on my food I never realized how lousy some of the food tastes, being underseasoned and utterly devoid of flavor. It is as if there was no seasoning at all. And while the food looks OK, eating it makes me want to ask for a refund.
Where is Hamburger called a Steak?
Last week, Our Chef and food service manager here at the Asylum, Michael P. came over to my table to ask me if I thought it would be better to have steak and eggs for breakfast or steak with a baked potato for dinner. I was bewildered for a second because I never thought I would ever hear the word STEAK spoken here. Having lived for so long in a “Steakless" environment, the very thought of eating meat not run through a grinder made me woozy.
“I think it would be better for breakfast”, I said. “No, dinner”, I corrected myself. “It doesn’t matter”, I replied, sounding giddier than a 13 year old girl at a “One Direction” concert, I was just so glad to think that I might see steak again. However, as all fairy tales must sooner or later, this one came to an end last Monday evening when the “steak” that was served to us was not steak (as we know it), but, you guessed it, chopped meat.
Granted, it looked like steak sitting there on the plate. It was “steak shaped” and had grill marks and there was even a bottle of A-1 Steak sauce on the table. However, the lack of steak knives should have been a tip-off as to what was to come. My misgivings we not groundless, for upon my first bite it was not the firm yet tender texture of real beef that met my tongue but HAMBURGER. Yes, chopped and re-formed chop meat, how disappointing and so unfair. The substitution or renaming of ground beef and calling it steak is akin to dangling a ball of wool in front of a kitten and then not letting her play with it. This is just another of a long and tedious line of disappointments both in the dining room and elsewhere here. While it may be OK to do this to children, I really am getting too old for this.
My bi-monthly shipment from the BI-Monthly Condiment of the Month Club, arrived as scheduled the other day with another intriguing assortment of fast food condiment packs. Among the usual fare of Heinz and Mickey D’s ketchup (previously reviewed on this blog) came some newcomers. In addition to the ketchup were some cups of Tangy BarBeQue sauce, brown mustard, relish and something called Fire Sauce, which I suppose, is another name for hot sauce. Unfortunately, and unbeknown to my supplier of all things hot and spicy, my intake of these items must, at least for the time being, be curtailed. Would anybody like a bag full of ketchup packs?
Condimentally yours, Resident-X
Check back next Monday January 27, for more blog stuff.You can check out previous blogs right now by scrolling down below.
(Why we will never get rich.)
Most of us who live in assisted living facilities, and I mean real ALF’s not those high falutin so called Senior Communities with their fancy swimming pools, tennis courts and gourmet meals, are relatively poor. Most of us hover near the government’s poverty level for a single person of $11,490 per year with little chance of ever doing any better. The truth is, the only way we can ever even hope of becoming “comfortable” is if we win a lottery or if we inherit some money. Since most of our acquaintances are already dead and wouldn't leave us any money even if they could, and with the chances of winning a serious lottery greater than that of the next Pope being Jewish, we have only the government and Social Security to provide us with anything close to an income. However, even the government with its attempt to keep up with the cost of living, can’t prevent those meager increases from being whittled away at by people who seem always to have their hands in our pockets.
If you are a monthly recipient of a Social Security check you have, or will soon be receiving a letter advising you of an increase in the benefits that you will be receiving starting this month. “Hooray!” you say. “I sure could use that $20 or $25 extra dollars in my pocket”, you say. “I’ll be able to go to a movie once and a while, or go to a Burger King or maybe I could afford that better grade of hamburger meat instead of that 25% beef and 75% something else I am forced to buy”. You could say that if that increase did not already have other plans; take my little corner of the world as an example.
The very next day that I received MY letter notifying me of an increase to my S.S. benefits, I also received a letter from the management of the facility in which I live notifying me that they would be increasing my rent. Amazingly, that increase is in direct correlation with the amount of my increased benefits. This means that my dreams of wealth and prosperity, which I would have had if I were able to keep all of my increased benefits, are now decreased by 50%. Now, instead of pocketing a cool $20, I now walk away with a whopping ten bucks, which proves just one thing. The rich get richer and the poor get landlords.
Resident-X’s strange younger brother, Swami-x, has made his predictions for the New Year and as usual, they are bizarre. While the Swami won’t reveal his accuracy rate, he says that his sources are impeccable. In any event, for what it’s worth here are his predictions for 2014.
• Pope announces he will convert to Judaism. In a statement to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the Pope will say, “Why not, I already have the hat”.
• In the miscasting blunder of all time, Justin Timberlake will get the title role in the new film “The life of Yogi Berra”.
• The “Center’s” head chef will be taken away by men in white coats after cooking 200 orders of Lobster Thermidor for lunch one day. Just before they put him in the ambulance, he will be heard to say “Chicken, chicken every day it’s chicken”.
• Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Kate Spade, and other manufacturers of high priced luxury handbags will start manufacturing their bags in China. The items will be made by the same factories that are already counterfeiting their merchandise, thereby coming into direct competition with themselves. One Chanel executive will say, “We hope that eventually they will file so many lawsuits against themselves they will go out of business”
• The New York Mets will announce that they will stop playing baseball and become a National Hockey League franchise for the 2015 season. A Met’s executive will state, “At least with hockey you get to hit something sometime”.
• The Westchester Center will be the first assisted living facility in the state to start dispensing marijuana to its residents, illegally. In an interview with the AARP magazine, the Center’s director will comment, “Although the residents can have marijuana in their rooms they won’t be able to light them because we still don’t trust them with fire”.
• McDonalds will announce a new meal item geared especially towards senior citizens. The new sandwich will be called a “McRuffage”, a mixture of tree bark and whole grains on a whole wheat sesame bun. The special “senior menu” will also feature a 32 oz. cup of prune juice. Newly constructed “Seniors Only” restrooms will handle the “overflow” said a McDonald’s executive.
• A gross error by the Westchester Center will come to light as management will apologized for purchasing a brothel in Nevada. In a statement to the board of directors an unnamed executive will say, " When they call the place "The Chicken Ranch" we thought it was a real chicken ranch, who knew”. When asked if the Center would be selling the brothel, the same executive exclaimed, “Wait, not so fast”.
Photo editing for tightwads, like me.
Don’t want to spend hundreds on expensive editing programs, try this for free.
I am often asked, “How come my photos don't look like yours”. Why do my photos, shot with a $79 point and shoot look better than theirs shot with $1000 Nikon DSLR’s?” There are a couple of reasons.
First, I do something that an old professional photographer once told me, he said, “If your pictures aren’aren't good enough, you’re not close enough”. Therefore, I make sure I get close to my subject rather than standing far away. The second reason why my “cheap” photos look better than yours is what I do with them after I take them, they call it “editing”.
“But I don’t know nothing about editing no pictures, Miss Scarlet” you say. To which I reply, “You don’t have to”. All you have to know is how to click a mouse and you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to buy some expensive software. All you need is a program I found online.
Besides being free, Fotoflexer is very user friendly, just click on an icon, and play with the settings until you get the desired effect, and here is the best part, you don’t have to download anything. That’s right, this software is not software at all, it’s all online, you won’t use one single megabyte of disc space or worry about malware-laden downloads, it all stays in the cloud. You only keep the pictures you want to keep, but there is one thing.
This program is not Photoshop® nor does it attempt to be. Photoshop is professional editing software of which there is no comparison. However, genuine Adobe Photoshop costs about $700 with a difficult learning curve and more options than you will ever need and will frustrate the heck out of you until you learn how to use it. Fotoflexer is a no-brainer.
Therefore, please I beg you, as someone who cringes at the poor quality of amateur photos (and with everybody taking pictures with their cell phones, there are more and more of them out there) I see every day, do not let your pictures be seen by anybody before you run it through some sort of editing program. The world deserves pretty pictures.
More of us are using online shopping as our primary method of buying stuff, and not just for specialty items either. Using myself as an example, I will tell you that I have not bought anything in a real store for more than a year. Not because I don’t like shopping (which I don’t) but out of necessity. The assisted living facility where I live is located in a suburban setting, far from any shopping. And, while it’s a lovely area in which to live, the lack of public transportation and the fact that I no longer drive makes shopping, even for the most mundane items, difficult. Enter, online shopping.
I have been buying stuff online ever since I got my first computer back in 1995. I remember the first thing I purchased; it was a Nikon Coolpix 800 digital camera. It had only 3.5 megapixels and cost $200, we've’ve come a long way since then. However, for the time it was a good buy, which made me appreciate the reasons for buying online.
Since that time, I have purchased thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise from online merchants. I have bought everything from high-end photographic equipment and furniture to a tube of toothpaste and, with only a few exceptions, I have never regretted anything I received. In addition, if I did receive something that was not to my satisfaction I was able to return it without a problem, all because I learned one thing, ALWAYS BUY FROM A MERCHANT THAT HAS A STORE. A real “brick and mortar”* store, preferably, one that is in your neighborhood and, one that has been in business for more that twelve minutes.
It also helps to know the price of something before you buy it. Online pricing can be a prickly jungle fraught with danger and unscrupulous merchants that know you look at the price of something first and don’t read the small print. Legitimate stores will inform you about costs, availability, and whether or not the item is new or “reconditioned”, all of which will affect the bottom line that you will pay, and one other thing.
Something called “Gray Goods”. These items may, or may not be new and they may even have a factory warrantee but not from a factory that ships to the USA. Gray goods are merchandise that is not made for sale in the US, and are not sold by authorized dealers. If something goes wrong with the thing you bought, good luck getting it fixed free under the warrantee that came in the box. Additionally, if you try to return it to the store, if there is a store, they won’t have anything to do with it. Sometimes, even if you are willing to pay for a repair, the factory authorized repair center won’t touch it either, again read the small print especially if the price seems too low or out of line with most of the other stores you checked out.** Here is something else to look for before you give someone your credit card information. Check if the website is secure.
"HTTPS" stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure." It means that information exchanged between you and a web site is encrypted and cannot be hijacked by someone who might want to electronically eavesdrop when you type a credit card number, a password, a social security number, or any other personal information. Look for the “https” designation in the address bar on every website you visit.
Okay, you are ready to shop. You have found a store that you want to shop at and the merchandise you want. You compared prices and found the best deals. You made sure the merchandise is new and you are aware of the shipping, handling, and TAX. You have “saved” the items to your shopping cart and you are ready to enter your credit card info, DON’T. Check the items again and make sure of the quantity. If you only wanted one of something, make sure the quantity box says “1”. Returns sometimes require a “restocking fee” which may cost as much as the discount you thought you were receiving. Are you ready to check out, not just yet? I have found the best way to save money when shopping on line is to resist impulse. You see, merchants, whether on line or on the street depend on the impulse buyer for a large part of their revenue. Therefore, before you push that “GO TO CHECKOUT” button put everything on hold for an hour or a day. This will give you time to decide whether you really need the items or is it something you can do without right now. Then, return to the website, review your shopping cart and I’ll bet you will delete an item or two, instant savings***
Finally, as this blog was going to "Press", it was announced that Target was not the only merchant to be hit by hackers. Two or three other unnamed stores were hacked also. This should not stop you from shopping online if you remember to check your credit card balance frequently. Learn how to use your bank's website to check on your purchases and withdrawals, and remember too, you will not be responsible for any unauthorized transactions.
* Don’t be afraid of shopping in an “online only store”. Amazon has been doing it for years as well as other merchants. Just make sure you know whom you are dealing with. The website below will show you how you can check out a particular merchant.
**Inflated shipping charges and “gray goods” are most often associated with electronic items, especially cameras. Please, only buy these items from Factory Authorized Dealers.
***Conversely, another reason you may want to wait, maybe you want to add an item that you forgot like batteries, extension cords or an SD card for that new camera etc.
A boutique pig farm, located in the Midwest, introduced a genetically engineered “Pigmy Pig” to an audience composed mostly of food service managers of assisted living facilities. The farm, known as “This little piggy went to market farms” of Souixwee Iowa, says this pig can go from birth to broiler in less than a month.
“They’re smaller so they eat less and produce smaller size ribs, chops and roasts,” said an unnamed manager. “They’re just perfect for institutional feeding”.
The first place to use meat made from one of these animals was the cheap but innovative “Westchester Center”.
“The pork chops were so thin from those pigmy porkers that you could almost see through them” said the manager of that facility. When asked if they were tender the manager just laughed and walked away.
The Faceless Foodie’s “Eats to die for”
I have gone on and on about the restrictions that come with living in an assisted living facility but perhaps none is as apparent as the things we can and can’t have to eat. These items are so commonplace in the “outside world” that one would not even consider the possibility that one day you would be prohibited from having them on your plate. Nevertheless, the authorities have determined that for one reason or another WE CAN’T HAVE THEM. However, this does not prohibit me from still wanting them and wishing for them and so I present my list of food items I would kill to have.
1. “The poached egg”. The poached egg and its upscale cousin Eggs Benedict are probably my number one all time breakfast favorites, everything about them is good, the egg, the creamy egg yolk, the Canadian bacon, the English Muffin and the Hollandaise sauce. However, we are not allowed to have them here at the asylum because, in its perverted wisdom, the N.Y. State Department of Health has determined that eggs cooked at a temperature lower than 160 degrees will kill us outright. So, no poached, soft boiled or Sunnyside eggs over easy for us.
2. “Skirt steak”. One does not have to spend a lot of money to be able to afford steak once and a while, skirt steak or hanger steak fills the bill. This widely misunderstood cut of beef has everything you would want from a steak. It’s tasty, it’s juicy (very juicy) easy to cook and if prepared correctly, tender. However, once again for whatever reason nothing called “steak”, skirt, or otherwise, will ever cross our tables, the reason given… “It’s too difficult for the residents to cut and chew. The real reason, as I have come to realize, is that nobody here knows how to season and cook a skirt steak.
3. “Green olives”. There is, at least as far as I know, no reason why we don’t or can’t have green olives, but I have never seen them here. Instead, all we get are those bitter little black olives and those only show up in salads. This is a shame because the green olive offers so much more than providing a bit of protein in a Martini.
Besides adding a brighter taste to salads, they make a great addition to eggs and omelets as well as sandwiches and sauces. My all-time favorite sandwich is a “cream cheese and green olive sandwich on whole wheat toast. Don’t laugh, once you have tried one you will wonder what you ever did without it.
4. “Anchovy pizza”. There are two kinds of people in this world, those who like anchovy’s, and those who don’t, there is no middle ground. If I, as an anchovy person, meet a non-anchovy person on the street I will smile at them politely and move on because I know that from that point on, they will never “get” anything I say, that’s just the way life is, and it’s not only pizza.
Anti-anchovanists not only dislike our little, fishy, salty friends on pizza but will turn up their noses at a real Caesar Salad which, of course is historically made with anchovies. In addition, a bagel with cream cheese and anchovies makes a good substitute for lox.
Again, as with so many other foods, we at the Center will never see an anchovy as part of anything cooked here due to the complete disassociation with anything even the slightest bit salty. Doctors have instilled this fear of salt in the residents that the very mention of it has people fleeing to the far corners of the dining room in fear of dropping dead after just one gram.
5. “Spam.” I’m talking about the real Spam, the stuff that comes out of a can. Those of you who turn up your noses at just the thought of Spam have most likely never tried it. You don’t know of its spicy goodness, variety, and versatility. Spam is a great substitute for the blah burgers, the ho-hum ham, the benign bacon, and the sorrowful sausage we get for breakfast. Spam goes well with everything that any deli meat goes with and is especially good in salads. Just ask any Hawaiian, they will tell you that spam is “'Oi, 'oi loa, maika'i a'e”.
I probably will never see many other things here like lobster or Alaska King Crab or a corn beef on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing or Kishka or a chopped chicken liver sandwich or real southern fried chicken or anything else served to non-inmates of an ALF, but it’s so nice to dream.
Foods You Have To Eat Before You Die
By Julie R. Thomson from the Huffington Post.
Thank god, someone understands.
Ms. Thomson, in her article, actually lists 25 foods you have to put on your bucket list, most of which I have eaten and some that I wouldn’t eat even with your mouth. However, one meal item with which I can wholeheartedly agree should be on that list, one that I have stated many times as my all-time favorite lunch, and that is a grilled cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. In addition, while practically any decent tomato soup will do, we all know that a can of Campbell’s tomato soup mixed with a little milk instead of plain water is far superior to all others. I am thrilled that Ms. Thomson put this on her list if only to vindicate myself with my friends who think that a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich is too plebian to be included on a “must have” list.
Read the whole list…
It’s 12 noon, can anybody see my cutlet.
It actually looked good, and it was, a nice combination of tender grilled chicken cutlet, ham and melted Swiss cheese. There was a side of some corn salad something and that was it. One cutlet, one slice of ham and one slice of Swiss cheese. This is what passes for lunch here at the W.C.I.A.L.
I must confess, I’m on a diet. After trying to squeeze into a pair of pants I recently bought and thinking they must have shrunk and then realizing that they had not yet been washed, I felt that a modified weight loss program would be beneficial. Therefore, I have removed certain foods from my régime such as potatoes, pasta, bread (except for breakfast) and most deserts (except for ice cream). This is why, when I saw the size of the slice of cherry pie we got for desert the other evening, I did not freak out at its lack of substance. However, had I not been keeping my eye on the calories I would have been outraged. The slice (or should I say “speck”) of cherry pie was so small that my tablemate was able to eat it in less than three bites. In fact, if my sinuses had not been constricted by a touch of nasal congestion, It would have been able for me to inhale the entire thing with one good “snort”.
While I don't know why readers from Germany, Greece, Spain or India would be interested in reading about assisted living in Yonkers, I am glad to have them as new "friends". Thanks.
I'm already working hard on next week's blog to be posted on Monday January 20th. It would be lovely if you checked in then.
Previous attempts may be found below
I hardly ever begin this blog with a food review, preferring to save that rhetoric for the nether regions at the bottom. However, the meal that we were served this past Sunday afternoon deserves to be in a prime position where it can be given all the vitriol that a meal of that caliber deserves.
The meal, of what they called “Kielbasa with onions, peppers, and potatoes”, started out as a bowl of crap and went downhill from there. Of all the meals, I have consumed here (over 1600 of them approx.) I have never eaten anything so poorly prepared, cooked, and presented as that bowl of what I can only describe as being, “not fit for human consumption”.
I don’t know what they were thinking when they first saw a kielbasa and were trying to figure out how to cook it, but it is clear that they did not have a clue what kielbasa was supposed to taste like, look like or how it should be served. They tried to prepare it the same, as one would cook Italian sausage and peppers without realizing that kielbasa was not just another sausage. Primarily the kielbasa that I was expecting would have been a whole sausage, or at least left in its sausage shape and not sliced, but that’s not the reason for me hating this so much. There are so many other reasons for the contempt I have with this food, starting with the way it tasted.
That “thing” we ate had almost no seasoning. Whether it was the fault of the cook or the kielbasa itself I do not know, but this dish had none of that flavor (and texture) that kielbasa is known for, but it doesn’t stop there. Not only was the kielbasa not properly seasoned but it was overcooked (something that seems to be the norm here as of late) leaving the meat dry and juice-less. The potatoes, of which there were many, too many, were as poorly made as the kielbasa and any onions or peppers that were supposed to be come with the meal disappeared or were left at the bottom of the cooking pan never to be seen again. In short nothing, absolutely nothing was good about this meal.
Perhaps they should go back to the basics and not try to cook something of which they know nothing about, or they could consult an actual cookbook and then learn how to cook. However, what bothers me the most about this or anything else that is so poorly made as to render it inedible is that we deserve better, so much better.
Question: What do New Orleans Louisiana, San Carlos California, Chicago Illinois, Hanoi Viet Nam, Lansing Michigan, and Yonkers, NY like to do on New Year’s Eve?
Answer: They all read the WCenterBlog. THANKS WORLD!
The above is an actual screen capture taken from the web site that I employ to track my blog stats. As you can see on this particular day, we received “hits” from six very different and diverse locations.
Last week we observed the installation process of some new video security equipment and this week we know the actual location of some of those cameras. The new cameras, which are smaller and much less intrusive than the older and larger cameras we now have, apparently are being positioned in places that heretofore have not been scrutinized. The camera pictured here has been installed in such a way as to keep constant watch on the seating area just outside of the dining room. Other cameras were placed in the auditorium and in the kitchen of all places. The need for these new cameras is not altogether clear other than the fact that more and more our privacy is being picked away at.
Editor’s note: Perhaps the real question should be not why you are being watched but who is watching you.
It’s that time again, time for my visit to Ms. Paulette’s “salon du clip” on the second floor for my bi-monthly haircut.
Yes, it’s true that my hair does not grow that fast, at least not as fast as it used to. I find myself in need of a haircut only about every two months now, which is O.K. because haircuts here, even if you don’t have enough of it to hold in the palm of your hand, costs $15. For me it’s pretty much once over with the clippers and I am on my way. So, I have been thinking, why do I have to take a haircut at all? I don’t have much hair anyway, why not shave the whole thing down to the ground and go baldy. I started to contemplate the pros and cons of going “all the way”.
On the positive side, I will never have to pay for or waste time going to a barber. I have a very nice electric shaver and could take care of my hairless pate myself.
On the negative side, I will miss the only connection to my youth I have left, even if it is only a pitiful crop of side-hair.
On the positive side, I will never wake up with a tussled wad of hair sticking out the side of my head, badly in need of a hairbrush. In fact, I won’t ever have to brush my hair again.
On the negative side, I will never have to brush my hair again.
On the positive side, I will be “hip”, “with it”, “modern” and “trendy”.
On the negative side, I will look ridiculous.
This is a difficult decision for any man to make. Just as it is for a women, a man’s hair is his crowning glory, a “lions mane” if you will, that has defined him ever since he was a teenager when a tube of Brylcream and a pocket comb was as important as a cell phone and credit card is today.
I suppose that the very fact that I am questioning my decision to do this is a sign that I don’t really want to do it which, is probably for the best. In any event, I don’t have to make a decision right away so I guess I’ll sleep on it for a while. As always, your comments are welcome.
©2013 Bruce Cooper. All rights reserved
Photographers dream of days like this, a clear cold day, sparkling sunshine and a pristine pure white snow wind driven into a gently curving configuration.
Cheers and jeers from the year gone by
Boo’s…Center not “there yet”, still not all it could be.
Hooray…There is a slight improvement over last year.
Boo’s…Useless, clueless staffing.
Hooray … Some personnel changes were made, but we need more.
Boo’s…Vending machines moved to awkward location downstairs.
Hooray…Wait until this month’s resident’s meeting, power to the people.
Boo’s …Center is still admitting “patients” instead of residents.
Hooray…Care plans being revised for some of those people.
Boo’s…A lack of activities for men.
Hooray…New men’s club gaining in popularity
Boo’s… Food still needs improvement.
Hooray…Light at the end of the tunnel, management actually listening to residents.
Boo’s…No light at the end of this tunnel, still too dark in country kitchen.
Hooray … Promise to “look into it”
Boo’s…Transportation options still limited.
Ray…At least we haven’t lost the ones we do have.
Boo…Lobby still smells like toilet due to less than hygienic residents.
Hooray…The removal of some of those residents to other parts of the world.
Boo’s… Management still uptight toadies afraid of upsetting the status quo.
Hooray … Sorry, no hoorays on this one, they all still have their panties in a bunch
It had been tried many times in the past with poor results. However, it appears that Carmen (The Center’s Activities Director) has found the key to get men to come to a Men’s Club meeting, food.
There has always been a lack of male-friendly activities here mainly because the only activity directors we have ever had have been women. It’s only natural that women know what women like and to try to treat men, with our very different psyche’s like women, will only end in frustration for everyone concerned. You see, men are not as social as women are, at least not in the same way.
Get a group of women strangers in a room for no particular reason and immediately they will find something to talk about and in five minutes or less, they will have found out the other women’s history as far back as the 12th century, not so with men. Men need a reason and a place to congregate. Moreover, there are only a couple of places that fit that bill, bars or sporting events, both of which we don’t have here. However, there is one other thing that will cause men to gather around the fire wearing their loincloths and grunting at each other and that’s the chance that there will be something to eat and drink.
To her credit, Carmen recognized this idiosyncrasy of the male cognizance and provided a spicy offering to the assemblage in the form of hot wings and fiery chicken fingers. That, along with chips, fries and an assortment of soft drinks was actually enough to attract a small gathering of some of the Center’s male residents who surprisingly seemed to enjoy the affair. And so, to this we say thank you. And, while we don’t yet have any comparable events to fingernail painting, crocheting and jewelry making, at least we men have somewhere to gather and do what men do best, eat.
THE CENTERS “SOLUTION” TO THE COLD.
In a bold move to stop a bone chilling draft which permeates the corridor linking the main building with the Franklin Center Annex, the facility has gone to a low tech “fix” as a solution to the problem. Bath towels have been rolled up and placed strategically over the rather wide space left by the door’s not making full contact with the door sill permitting a cold refrigerator-like wind to pass through at will chilling the already cold space.
The move to “stuff” the doors was made both to alleviate the grumblings of Franklin residents, who have to pass through this area on their way to their rooms, but also residents of the main building that are also recipients of the draft’s icy fingers. While we applaud the ingenuity and quick action by maintenance, we hope that a more permanent solution to the problem is being taken under advisement.
You might remember the “test” we did last week on two brands of fast food ketchup packets, Heinz and the new McDonald’s “Fancy” ketchup. At the time we did the test we did not have access to any packets of Hunt’s ketchup, certainly a prime contender in the ketchup market. I am happy to say that, after an extensive search which required me to sample burger after taco after fried egg sandwich at various local merchants in and around the Westchester County New York area, I managed to procure a number of packets of the elusive Hunt’s brand ketchup. Therefore, I now present my updated report on “Fast Food Ketchup”.
After once again sucking the contents out of the major ketchup contenders, this time inclusive of the Hunt’s brand, I find, that while the Hunt’s is similar in texture to the Heinz, the Hunt’s may be slightly on the sweet side which will appeal to some of the younger ketchup users who’s epicurean tastes have not yet been molded. Adult “ketchuptonarians”* will find McDonald’s, with its thicker sauce or Heinz with its more “mature” formulation, more to their liking.
* Ketchuptonarian; A person who has used and enjoyed ketchup for a minimum of 50 years.
I have lost track of how many posts I have done regarding sleep, or the lack of it among seniors, in fact it is the main complaint not only here at the Center, but throughout most of the senior community. Nobody that I have ever spoken to here has told me they “had a great night’s sleep”. What a shame, sleep is so important to one’s well being. Sleep provides the brain with a means of cleaning itself erasing, if you will, all the garbage one has accumulated. It’s sort of like the “disc cleanup” or “defragmenter” features on your computer.
Every once and a while someone runs an article on sleep and how to improve it and, while you may have tried everything, here are some off-beat ideas that you may want to try to improve your sleep.
From the Huffington Post
10 Unexpected Things That Can Ruin Your Sleep
By Karen Borsari for Life by DailyBurn
"You've heard it all before: Don't watch TV or use the computer in bed. Have your last cup of coffee at noon. Don't work out in the evening... and yet you're still not sleeping! If you struggle with snoozing check out this list of unexpected sleep snatchers. Some of your healthiest habits may be keeping you from drifting off to dreamland."
1. You're an inconsistent eater. If you eat a balanced dinner most nights but indulge in happy hour and late night burritos a couple days a week you could be damaging more than your diet. Studies show inconsistent eating habits later in the day can negatively affect sleep. If you have dinner later in the evening, that's OK -- as long as you stick with it, every day. If not, skip the unexpected dessert and hit the hay. Consistency is key.
2. Your mouth is minty fresh. We'd never tell you not to brush your teeth before bed but you may want to try a new toothpaste! Research suggests the scent of peppermint stimulates the brain, making you feel more awake. Try an alternative flavor like strawberry or bubblegum instead.
3. You love a good book. You may have traded in late-night TV for a little in-bed reading in hopes of a better night's rest. Survey says, this may not be the best bet. Exciting, emotional and intellectually demanding activities before bed can result in poor quality sleep. Skip the tearjerkers and history tomes and try a sports or entertainment magazine, or other light reading instead.
4. You smoke before bed. You may think an evening cigarette calms the nerves, helping you get you ready for bed. Unfortunately, nicotine is not just a depressant but a stimulant, making it harder for you to fall asleep. If you can't give up cigarettes altogether, start by saying no to before-bed smoking.
5. You splash cold. Sure, washing your face with cold water helps close pores -- but it also stimulates the body, releasing energy to keep warm and stay awake. Try washing your face with warm water in the evening and save the cold stuff for that early morning wake-up call.
6. You charge up at night. You've stopped late-night emailing and no longer take your cell phone to bed but chances are, you're charging your electronics at night. Even the handy light that indicates your items are charging is bright enough to disrupt sleep -- especially if it happens to glow blue (blue wavelengths have the greatest impact on circadian rhythm). Try charging your tech in the morning while you get ready for the day or set up a charging station in your home office or living room.
7. You get warm and cozy. Cuddling up in a nice warm bed may seem like a good start to a restful night, but an increase in body temperature can disrupt sleep. If you snooze with a partner, pet or even a pile of blankets, it may be time to lighten the load and lower your sleep temperature. Just don't go too low; being uncomfortably cold is another surefire way to keep yourself from snoozing.
8. You love lemons. Tea with lemon might sound like a great alternative to an after-dinner espresso, but it might keep you up just the same. Why? The scent of lemon (and other citrus fruits) can boost mental stimulation and increase energy levels -- not what you need when trying to drift off to dreamland. To catch some ZZZs quickly, skip the lemon-flavored drinks and avoid washing your sheets with lemony fresh detergent.
9. You pop meds before bed.* It may be easiest to remember to take pills before bed but some vitamins, such as B6 and B12, and certain medications, including steroids, have been shown to affect sleep. Talk to your doctor about current prescriptions to find out if mornings might be better. Plus, those pills will be easier to remember once you've had a good night's sleep!
10. You don't DVR. Because TV watching is one of the few things on the schedule we can control, more nighttime television means less sleep for many Americans. In fact, in one study, more than 68 percent of participants watched TV for more than 55 minutes in the two hours leading up to bedtime -- precious minutes that could be spent sleeping. To minimize TV interference, DVR your must-see shows and tune in earlier in the evening or on weekends.
*This may be the number one hazard to sleep here at the asylum. The last meds are distributed at 8PM (for those that need to take them) immediately followed by the same residents jumping right into bed.
And here is one more reason sleep is important….
"Everyone wants to start 2014 off on the right foot. But, as many of us know all too well, the best New Year's intentions to get fit, lose weight, eat more nutritiously, stress less and save more money can easily fall to the wayside. (And often do, considering only about 8 percent of people successfully achieve their resolutions, according to University of Scranton Research, Forbes reported.)
However, it could be that the reason all your other resolutions are failing -- and the reason you're having trouble making sound food choices or keeping weight off to begin with -- is you're ignoring a simple yet powerful component of total health: sleep.”
We have all seen those ads on TV where the woman is lying on the floor, obviously in need of help, and she pushes the button on a pendant she wears around her neck and she is instantly connected to a help center who calls for assistance. This is fine but it only works when you are near YOUR hard-wired telephone in YOUR home but what happens if you are far from home and alone. ATT has the answer, a portable, mobile device that can sense when you are in distress maybe even before you do.
From Senior Housing News
“AT&T’s EverThere device is a small, wearable monitor that a user can press in the event of a fall, stroke or other health episode. Upon pressing the device’s call button, EverThere can identify the location of where a fall has occurred via GPS technology and connects the device’s user to a 24/7 call center for response and support using the AT&T wireless network."
"The device is a product of AT&T ForHealth, a practice founded in late 2010 with the focus of accelerating the delivery of innovative mobile, cloud-based and networking services and applications to help the healthcare industry improve patient care and reduce costs.
“This solution helps provide better care to elderly patients who are living independently, have disabilities or are prone to falls,” said Nasrin Dayani, executive director of AT&T ForHealth, in an email to SHN. “It can also increase the quality of care available at nursing agencies, adult day care services and other home care providers.”
I “X’d” out the photo I took of Wednesdays corned beef dinner to make a point. This was not the regular portion size that was served to the other diners at dinner that night. The only reason I got this comparatively mammoth serving of that night’s featured item is because I am on the food committee and management thinks that as long as I get an adult size serving of food on my plate, my displeasure with the childlike portion the other diners receive will be appeased. Good luck with that.
Unfortunately, I did not take a picture* of the “standard” serving size fed to my fellow residents because it was so small and they finished it so fast that there was not enough time. However, I will tell you that it was smaller than a meal that would be served to a child. It was a plate so devoid of anything protein (1 slice of meat, loads of broccoli and potatoes) that it belonged in a five year old’s daycare center rather than an assisted living center for adults.
After complaining to the chef in charge that night, I was told that only two corn beef briskets were ordered and that she was trying to make sure that everyone would get some, a nice gesture but one fraught with the specter of either miscalculation or fiscal irresponsibility. If I said it once, I said it a million times, don’t f—k with the food. What would have been so bad if there were three briskets ordered and cooked. Didn't anyone in that clueless kitchen ever hear of corn beef sandwiches or real corned beef hash? I would have loved to have one the next day for lunch. It’s time some honest thought be given to menu planning, portion sizes and how much to order and not be afraid to have some food left over. After all, we are Americans and leftovers are a part of who we are. …………..ff
THEY JUST DON'T MAKE STEW LIKE THEY USED TO
Maybe I am too much of a sentimentalist, too mired in the past to distinguish between what was and what is but then again, what is food but memories of meals gone by and the people that cooked them. This is why when I saw beef stew on the menu this past Friday, my thoughts went to what I remembered as beef stew, and it was nothing like what we got for dinner.
The beef stew I remembered was a stand alone dish made with potatoes, carrots, green beans an onion, large chunks of tender beef and it was never ever served over rice, pasta or noodles. It was usually served in a bowl or deep dish with dark, rich gravy recovered from the liquid that the stew was cooked in, real beef stew where the beef was predominant and nothing was needed to bolster its consistency.
However, this is a different time and a different place, a place where it is more important to “fill you up” than to feed you well. Therefore, I suppose I should return my thoughts of stews gone by back into the recipe file of my mind and learn to live with the reality of my situation, more noodles please.
The walls of the Center are adorned with reproductions of some of the worlds great art for all to appreciate. However I wonder how many of us have actually spent any time really looking at them as we traverse up and down the corridors. Here is a little test to see if you can identify the artist. This is not a contest and there is no prize.
Which picture was drawn by Matisse and which was drawn by Picasso? Both have similar styles and can be found next to each other on the wall behind the friends and family room. See bottom of blog for the answer.
Credits: All original photos and graphics ©2014 Bruce Cooper except cartoons, drawings and some additional photos such as the “wired not weird photo”, “men’s club photo”, and inspirational poster photo. Excerpt’s from articles lifted from the Huffington Post and Senior Housing News.
Answer to art question
We are well into the new year and you should have sobered up by now so you know that we publish a new blog every Monday. Just in case you did not swipe, buy or were presented with a new calender, the next blog comes your way Monday, January 13 2014.
If you want to catch up you can check out some past blogs beginning below. Don't go too far back, I tend to wander.
Another year has gone by here at my “home”, the Westchester Center. Actually, for me, it’s been 18 months since I moved in here lock, stock and cardboard box back in August of 2012. As I stepped through the doors that day, I was filled with trepidation and mixed feelings as I looked forward to a new beginning and at the same time, remembered where I had been and what I had lost.
I knew there would be challenges to face, what with me fresh out of a two-year stint in a nursing home where everything was done for me. I also knew that this might be “it” for whatever time I have left on planet earth therefore; I’d better make the best of it. So, how are things working out?
Overall it could be worse, a lot worse. I have always said that but for the grace of god and Social Security I, at this very minute, could be living in a Frigidaire box over a subway grate eating government cheese and wondering how I was going to make it through this winter, or even worse. I could be sick and alone in a hospital where they were waiting for me to die so that they could free the bed, a possibility that still exists. Therefore, with all the negative possibilities that I am faced with, I feel that I am in the best place for me at this time. So why do I kvetch* so much? Let me count the ways. My primary complaint regarding this facility, and I guess most facilities of this ilk, has to do with the definition of the word “independent”
The full name of this place is “The Westchester Center for Independent and Assisted Living”. My question is “When does the Independent part kick in?” My life has been controlled here from the minute I moved in, take food as an example. What I eat is set in stone. Can you imagine that we are not allowed to have eggs with “runny” yolks which means no poached, soft boiled or fried eggs Sunny side up, don’t laugh, it gets worse. When, where and if, I get my meds are so strictly monitored that often people wait for days before they are allowed the medications that have been prescribed for them and, allowing you to have your meds in your room requires everything but an act of congress. Additionally, a myriad number of other restrictive rules and regulations abound. For instance, what I can and cannot have in my room is another reason to question what is meant by “independent”. My friends on the outside laugh when I tell them I am not allowed to have a bottle of bleach in my room, or over the counter meds like Advil or NyQuil. They gasp in astonishment when I tell them that a microwave oven or a Mr. Coffee or even an immersion heater or hair dryer is “verboten” in my quarters.
My other “kvetch” has to do with the lack of privacy. There are too many people interested in when I’m in my room and what I'm doing there. Things were once so bad here in that respect that they had the nerve to have staff members actually come into my room (sometimes without knocking) in the middle of the night to “check on me”. They said it was to make sure I was “O.K.”, but we all know they were there just to snoop. Thankfully, much of that has stopped or been curtailed because we complained, as a group, which brings me to one of the reasons for starting this blog in the first place. I wanted to get people up off their wrinkled asses and out of their complacency and do something about their situation.
Another reason for writing this blog is to inform not only the residents but also the friends and family of residents and yes, even the staff and management about the less than resident-friendly elements that come with living in a place like this. I know any movement by management to “ease up” a bit on the “Big Brother” attitude will fall on deaf ears due to both state as well as self-imposed (corporate) restrictions but somehow, there has to be some way to relax some of these rules for those of us who really are self-sufficient individuals. They can either work in that direction or remove the word “independent” from the letterhead and call this place what it really is, an old age home for folks with limited means. I think they used to call it “The poor house”.
*Kvetch, a Yiddish word that means to complain, whine, find displeasure with mostly everything.
At first, when I saw a man pulling cable in the area of the country kitchen I thought that maybe our pleas for more and better lighting in that room were finally being answered. However, after further investigation I found that it was not lighting they were installing but more security cameras. Now, while I am not against more security, this sudden spurt of interest in our safety makes me wonder what is really going on here. Considering all the other things, we need here such as the aforementioned lighting, more clocks, more trash receptacles and a couple of benches outside the main entrance why, at this time does the Center feel it necessary to “keep an eye on us” even more than they already are. Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.
Due to recent renovations in the Case Management office, the vending machines had to be moved to a spot near the pool table on the garden level (lower level). The location is at the end of a long corridor making it difficult for less mobile residents to access. A proposal has been brought forth by a number of concerned residents that the machines be relocated to a spot in the country kitchen on either side of an existing hutch. Management, with its “holier than though”, narrow-minded, “we know what’s best for you” attitude has summarily dismissed this idea explaining that it would make the country kitchen look too “institutional” and ruin the ambiance of the area.
While I do not personally use the vending machines on a regular basis and have no trouble accessing them if I did, I find the dismissal, by management, to relocate the machines to a more reachable location without asking the residents themselves, deplorable. After all this is our “home” not theirs.
Therefore, I am asking the Resident’s Council to ask that a vote be taken on this matter at the next council meeting (in January) and if it favors moving the machines to the CK, than that decision should be brought to management and presented as a mandate and be implemented at the earliest possible time.
The reason for the lack of drinking cups in the country kitchen may surprise you, but it didn't surprise me. According to information circulated at this month’s resident’s council meeting, the reason for the lack of cups in the CK (except for the times when coffee is served) is that they are stolen, en mass, by kleptomaniacal residents, according to management.
Normally I would be appalled by such an accusation; it would drive me bananas, but not this time. You see, I know this to be true. It is true not only here at the asylum, but just about everywhere, that seniors shop, browse, or eat. Ask any managers of fast food restaurants or any establishment where condiments, napkins, fruits, vegetables, loose candy or utensils are left out in the open. They will tell you that if they see a group of seniors come in to their shops, they hide the free stuff and alert security.
This need to steal stuff is hard to figure out. I have witnessed this phenomenon myself and, it may not have anything do with money or the “thrill” of stealing something. I believe it’s all about “getting even”. Senior citizens figure that the world owes them something. After paying their taxes (Sales, income, state and federal) all of their lives and being screwed time after time by not only the government but by less than scrupulous merchants, they want “payback”. Therefore, the pilfering of small, relatively inexpensive items seems more like retribution than Grand Theft Auto. However, this still does not solve the problem of the lack of cups in the country kitchen, but fear not, there is a simple solution. Instead of having full open packages of drinking cups left out on the kitchen counter where any “sticky fingered” resident can glom a sleeve and put it his pull-ups, why not just use the built-in cup holder already installed on the cold water/ice dispenser?
At one time, there were cups in the holder, but every time they ran out, nobody ever bothered to re-load it. If the cups were all used up by 11:00 am, that was it for the day. This frustrated the residents forcing them to “stock up” whenever they saw a bunch of cups lying about, thereby wiping out the cup supply. Therefore, I propose that at the same time maintenance empties the trashcan let them check and refill the cup dispenser as well. If the residents know that this will be done on a regular basis and, they can depend on cups being available when they need them, the incidents of pilferage will diminish.
A new role for Medicaid?
It’s about time we started thinking about this, preventing illness by providing decent housing for individuals who are homeless and sick and are Medicaid recipients. It’s cheaper and makes more sense, but will lawmakers see the light?
From the New England Journal of medicine...
“With runaway Medicaid costs crippling states throughout the country, leaders are looking for innovative solutions to bend the cost curve. We in New York State are testing one such innovation: investment in supportive housing for high-risk homeless and unstably housed Medicaid recipients. These recipients include not only people living on the streets or in shelters but also thousands boarding in nursing facilities, not because they need the level of care provided but because they lack homes in the community to which they can return. New York Medicaid payments for nursing-facility stays are $217 per day, as compared with costs of $50 to $70 per day for supportive housing. Furthermore, preventing even a few inpatient hospitalizations, at $2,219 per day, could pay for many days of supportive housing.”
Read more at…
It doesn't matter how much publicity is given to America’s problem of high blood pressure and how devastating it can be as far as health complications are concerned or how many laws are passed limiting the amount of sodium manufacturers can put in our foods, we Americans love our salt, and the statistics prove it.
According to a recent study by the CDC, the amount of sodium we take into our bodies has hardly declined in the last few years, it appears, although we all know of the dangers associated with high blood pressure and we know that sodium (salt) intake increases that risk, we don’t seem to care. Why is this?
Primarily, the reason we season our foods so much, and by season I mean salt, is that we have been doing it for so long that we have lost our ability to appreciate food in its natural state. Vegetables have been so over processed that when we bite into a raw, fresh veggie we think it’s bland and tasteless. Therefore, what do we do, we pour salt on it and chomp away thinking we are eating something healthy because it’s raw.
Even foods like beef, chicken and fish have, because they no longer naturally feed and graze and are given “scientifically engineered” foods to eat in order to increase the body mass and “yield” of the animal, no longer taste like what they are supposed to. Moreover, to add insult to injury, they throw seasoning (mostly salt) in and on the finished item to make it taste better and then, we add some more at the table So, what’s the solution?
Unfortunately, the solution may be too late for this generation and maybe for generations to come. Simply put, we have to wean ourselves off the salt habit. New parents must learn how to keep salt out of the diets of their susceptible children by cooking with less salt and limiting the amount of over salted fast foods they eat. Conversely, fast food establishment will have to learn how to flavor their foods with seasonings other than those containing sodium. I hope that as each succeeding generation learns to live with less salt, many of the problems associated with high blood pressure will eventually disappear through attrition.
Read more at…
Fast Food Ketchup
Senior citizens are notorious consumers of fast food. Afternoons will find as many old folks in the local McDonald’s as kids. There are probably numerous reasons for this, one of which has to be the cost. There are not too many places where you can get a filling (if not nutritious) meal for under three or four dollars. In addition, besides being a source of cheap food, places like Burger King, Taco Bell and Wendy’s are some senior citizens main source of supply for napkins, dinner wear, salt, pepper and condiments like mustard and of course, ketchup. One fast food manager of a Roy Rodgers in Queens NY once told me he had to do away with the “Fixins” bar as well as the napkin holders, dispensing these items from behind the counter only, because seniors were taking them home by the caseload. With this in mind the Senior Consumer News™, a new service of this blog, decided that if you have to swipe ketchup from the fast food joint, you might as well swipe the one that’s best. This reporter sampled the little packets from a variety of fast food restaurants with some interesting results. All ketchup's taste pretty much the same, but there are differences.
McDonalds vs. the world.
A shock wave tore through the fast food world when McDonald’s announced that it was dropping Heinz as its supplier of ketchup. Although there is much speculation as to the reason for this shift, it is generally understood that Ronald McDonald got pissed off when Heinz hired a former Burger King exec. So who is doing the ketchup at the nation’s fast food giant now? Currently Golden State Foods supplies much of the ketchup used by McDonald’s franchises in the USA, with Heinz used in only a small number of McDonald's outlets. Don’t feel bad for Heinz however because the majority of the other restaurants continue to use Heinz as their primary ketchup supplier, but is there a difference between McDonald's “Fancy” grade ketchup and Heinz? The answer is yes.
After extensive testing by this reporter whereby I sucked out the contents of packet after packet of fast food ketchup, I can say with confidence that not only is there a difference but it is quite distinct. The new ketchup introduced by McDonald’s is definitely thicker with a distinctive tomato taste. In addition, while Heinz is still the ketchup leader*, Mickey’s has made a richer ketchup, which they say, compliments it’s burgers and fries. However, when push comes to shove, it is, as it will always be, a matter of personal taste for the fast food gourmet.
*Hunt’s brand ketchup is also a major player in the condiment market and is used extensively as takeout ketchup in smaller non-chain restaurants. Unfortunately, I did not have a packet of Hunt’s to test. However, I will put all of my efforts into locating some and report to you on my findings. ............................................F.F.
Little Rock AK. December 27: As part of a larger study of fruit, the National Institute of Brainy Stuff this week may have answered a question that has perplexed scientists for ions, why can’t you compare apples and oranges, the answer may surprise you. “They are not the same,” says Dr. Oranthal J. Peel, considered the foremost authority on fruit in the world. Dr. Peel went on to say that, this discovery might lead to other breakthroughs like why can’t we compare bananas to artichokes or rutabagas to cantaloupes.
For generations people have been mixing oranges and apples together and counting them both as one. “We now know you can’t do this and expect to get the correct answer,” said the doctor.
When asked why nobody thought of this before the doctor would only say “I guess we just weren't thinking”. While still in its infancy, the study could answer other great mysteries such as why the sky is blue or why men won’t ask for directions.
I have nothing to say about Sunday night’s dinner other than to say...
"It’s Chicken, not rocket science."
Considering that this place cooks chicken almost every day (sometimes twice a day as they did yesterday) they should know how to cook it by now. Instead, as happens more often than not, the chicken was dry, dry, dry. I know that the chickens start out as decent quality birds but somehow when our cooks get hold of them they are transformed into inedible pieces of meat devoid of moisture and flavor. Doesn't anybody know how to cook here? Oh by the way…
...cole slaw is not an acceptable “salad” for Sunday night dinner, or any dinner for that matter. What's the problem. Is lettuce and tomato too difficult too?
I am a soup lover. I suppose it stems from the fact that my mom was a natural soup cook, a “maven” if you will, who knew how to make great soup, a skill that is not as easy as it looks. There is more to making soup than just throwing ingredients into a pot and boiling them. However, how to make soup is not why I am here. I come to plead my case for Green Pea soup.
Yes, I know we have been eating something called “split pea soup” which rather resembles its cousin but pales in comparison to the mighty green pea which has more substance and body than those pitiful little split peas will ever have.
The first thing you notice about green pea soup is the color. There is no mistaking that bright, almost emerald green hue. This signals that the soup is made from fresh, natural green peas. The color of the wimpy split pea soup is that of the earth from which green peas come, brown or muddy yellow. While green peas are large and round like big green pearls, “splitters” are tiny, shriveled, colorless pellets. In addition, green peas cook up into a thick, green, velvety almost pudding-like consistency, which may sometimes have to be “watered down” to make it edible, not so split pea which rarely thickens by itself.
There are, for me, four great soups in this world. They are tomato soup, mushroom beef/barley soup, cabbage soup and green pea, any one of which would go great with a simple meat or fish dinner on a cold winter’s night. In addition, what could be better than coming home for lunch and finding a hot, gooey grilled cheese sandwich and a steaming bowl of thick green pea soup (croutons optional) on the table waiting for you? So, please bring back green pea instead of that inferior charlatan we now get and tell that other soup to make like a pea and split.
Green eggs, yum!
Why this bothers me so much I don't know, maybe because I know that there is an easy solution to eliminating that green/gray color from those hard-boiled eggs we love so much.
Every day, dozens of hard-boiled eggs are served to residents for breakfast. They are always available even when they are not officially on the menu. They are as staple an item as coffee or oatmeal, so why can’t they learn to make them right and by right I mean with the yolks yellow as god meant them to be.
I am told the discoloration is due to the formation of ferrous sulfide where the yolk and white meet. This is usually due to the eggs being cooked too long and not cooled off quickly enough after they are removed from the water. The solution to this is to immerse the eggs in cold water and set aside to cool. The other and more time consuming, method is to poke a pin into one end of the egg before cooking. While the discoloration won’t harm you, it sometimes adds a funky odor to the eggs. I don’t see why they just can’t cover them with cold water. This is just another one of those quality of life issues that piss me off.
Generally, I like the idea of the buffet-type service and have championed the use of this system as a regular way to serve breakfast to the “masses” every day. Buffets have proven to be efficient, fast and the diners like them because they can select what and how much they want. However, for some reason, it doesn't work here entirely as intended causing more bewilderment than efficiency, and the management isn't helping much to make these rare events any easier. Take this past week’s Christmas morning continental breakfast buffet for instance.
First, I don’t believe the announcement that a continental, open seating breakfast would be served Christmas day was made far enough in advance or clearly enough so that all residents were aware of the change adding more confusion to an already highly confused population. People did not know how to get the food or where to sit and there was no one there to direct them to the tables or buffet counter. In addition, there was a misunderstanding as to what time breakfast would be served. The sign posted on the calendar board stated, quite clearly, that breakfast on Christmas morning would be a buffet affair and that we should come for breakfast at our regular seating times of 7:30 or 8:45 am. However, they decided to change the rules in the middle of the game.
My shower was interrupted by a knock on the door shortly after 7:30 am by some staff person advising me that breakfast was underway and that I should come as soon as possible as there would be only one seating that day. This was news to me and to everyone who is used to eating breakfast at 8:45. I could hear people on my floor scurrying down the hall in a panic hoping to get to the dining room before the early seating gluttons devoured the last bagel. Those that did not heed the call and showed up at their usual second seating time found that they were indeed running short of some of the more popular items. It was bad enough that they changed the buffet to an open seating configuration but to do it at the last minute is unthinkable.
Who made this change and when I don’t know. The fact is, the decision was made so hastily that even Michael, our food service manager was unaware of the change and rushed over to coordinate the new arrangement. In the future please, decide on one time and stick to it. People here are not up for last minute changes and can’t deal with them, me included.
Credits for this post: The National Institute of Health.The Center for Disease Control and the New England Journal of Medicine. All photos and graphics ©2013 Bruce Cooper except for cartoons and drawings. Photo of green pea soup and “Healthy” headline were obtained from unidentified sources found online.
A senior moment or vodka brain cell caused me to make an error as to when the next blog will be posted. The correct date should have been Monday, Jan. 6 and not the 3rd.
Resident-X’s- W. Centers Low lights of the year.
Low points of 2013
I have never been a big fan of lists but somehow they have become obligatory in the media. No Network news program, national magazine or local political pundit would be caught dead without a year-end list in his pocket. Therefore, so as not to alienate me from the rest of America’s bloggers, I too will present my list of non-accomplishments that pertain to our little home here on the hill. Please remember, this is my personal list of failures. They are the things that I would have liked to see change this past year and would have changed if it were not for the foot-dragging attitude of the administration, the corporate bean counters, and the New York State Department of Health. These disappointments are presented in no particular order of importance.
1. Failure to allow qualified residents to have microwave ovens or coffee makers etc. in their rooms*.
2. Failure to have our cable TV selections changed.
3. Failure to get the seating area behind the Franklin Center opened for resident’s use.
4. Failure to get more clocks placed around the facility.
5. Failure to get a suggestion box placed outside the entrance to the kitchen.
6. Failure to have a quarterly statement of available funds in the resident’s account distributed to all on a regular basis and to have rent bills correctly reflect the actual amount owed by residents.
7. Failure to have resident’s “Banking Hours” extended to weekends, or the installation of an ATM machine.
8. Failure to get management to enforce no-smoking rules more strictly.
9. Failure to get more residents involved in committee’s and council meetings.
10. Failure to get more residents (and their relatives) involved in the Center’s Facebook page and other social media.
11. Failure to get benches placed at the main entrance for people waiting for transportation.
12. Failure for residents to be provided with free and proprietary transportation in the form of our own van. In addition, failure to get Beeline bus to install bus stop closer to the facilities entrance.
13. Failure to get the “Content restrictive firewall” removed from the facilities Wi-Fi internet access. We are adults here and should be treated as such.
14. Failure to get better lighting in the country kitchen.
Most of the above items deal with “quality of life” issues. They are the little amenities that would make the daily grind here more palatable. I have purposely left out dining room and food issues, of which there are many, because they are a work in progress and cannot properly be evaluated in a forum such as this.
Good news for us
From the N.Y. Times, Tues. Dec. 17 2013
Glaxo Says It Will Stop Paying Doctors to Promote Drugs
By KATIE THOMAS.
Published: December 16, 2013
“The British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline will no longer pay doctors to promote its products and will stop tying compensation of sales representatives to the number of prescriptions doctors write, its chief executive said Monday, effectively ending two common industry practices that critics have long assailed as troublesome conflicts of interest”.
How many of us take so many pills that we have long forgotten what they are for or even if we still need them. Even if we don’t take a lot of pills ourselves, all of us have stood next to a resident in the med room and had to wait until they swallowed pill after pill gulping down glass after glass of water just to get them down. Why does somebody need to take 14, 16, 18 or more pills a day?
Look, I am not a doctor and would never presume to know why somebody takes as many pills as they do or tell somebody to stop taking them, but I do have an opinion. Moreover, that opinion tells me that doctors have been throwing pills at the problem instead of trying to cure the underlying cause of an illness for years. It’s like a crooked auto mechanic who, when your car won’t start, tells you that you need a new starter, spark plugs and wiring when all you need is a battery charge.
Please, understand me; I do not think all doctors are crooks, all I am saying is “what’s the incentive for your doctor to try alternative methods if the drug companies are paying them to prescribe their pills?" Why should they tell you to stop eating fatty foods to lower your cholesterol if they can throw some Lipitor® your way?
Read the whole NY Times article at…
We all know that the chances of us being allowed to have even the simplest coffee makers in our rooms anytime in the near future are slim to none. Therefore, I propose that, until such a time comes when we will be treated as adults, a currently unused window in the dining room should be set aside for dispensing coffee anytime we want it. This would be accommodating in a number of ways.
Having a window located in the dining room would eliminate the need to have coffee brought out to the country kitchen in those little, hard to pour carafes. Additionally, the window could be used to dispense sandwiches and snacks at snack time as well as coffee eliminating overcrowding in the CK (Remember, the seats and tables are already in place in the dining room). Moreover, the area could be used as a late night staff break room.
While I don’t actually propose that the window be open 24 hours, I think the hours of 6 am to 9 pm are more than reasonable
And speaking of messes in the C.K. …
“Why so many people have taken to eating their meals in the country kitchen, I don't know. Why they leave the place looking like a garbage strewn pigsty, I do know. It's because nobody cares.”
Truthfully, I don’t know how long the food tray and garbage pile pictured above was lying on the counter. It might have been there all afternoon for all I know or only a few minutes but how long it was there is not the question, why any food refuse should be left there at all is the real problem.
I realize that some of the people who eat in the CK are not capable of removing the garbage themselves, or should they have to. Therefore, I ask that someone from housekeeping, maintenance or dining room staff be stationed in the CK during the time that people are eating their dinner so that the trays and other garbage is removed immediately after the resident has finished. This all goes to the lackadaisical attitude towards cleanliness that has prevailed here of late.
Although absent from the facility for a while due to the removal, transfer or withdrawal from the Center of some of our more "hygienically challenged" residents, the aroma of urine appears to have returned in all of its pungent profusion. Upon exiting from the dining room the other day I was immediately hit with that old familiar sent reminiscent of the inside of the men’s room at Penn Station after a particularly rambunctious drinking binge by some college students returning home after a night of bar hopping.
To be fair however, I must tell you that, because the odor of freshly brewed pee is concentrated in the sitting area directly outside the dining room (appetizing is it not?) the odor might have been emanating from the two restrooms located nearby and not from any particular humanoid. However, just because I can’t identify the individual perp, does not mean that some person or persons are not responsible for this new round of ubiquitous urination.
I know that eventually someone will roundup the usual suspects and inform them that there is a proper place to relieve ones bladder and that Depends™ are not to be used as a portable toilet and must be changed every time they have an accident.
Photo of the week
As a prelude to our resident's Christmas party this past Saturday, one of our residents in the guise of Santa's helper, entertained young and old alike by posing for photos. I think this young lady may have been thinking about a Christmas past as she sat on Santa's lap.
No Toilet Too Far
Need some exercise? Try the toilet.
For months, one of the major topics of conversation at every resident’s council meeting has been the condition of the wheelchair accessible bathrooms located on the main floor. The complaints range from people occupying the room too long, lack of toilet paper to paper (and other stuff) on the floor. The complaints are always met with everybody promising to be more considerate of other residents. In addition, residents are told that there is another, perfectly good wheelchair accessible toilet, which remains practically unused a short ways down the hall near the library. This toilet is large, very clean, and well stocked. (See photo). Therefore, why doesn’doesn't anybody use it, some complain that it’s too far away.
Personally, I don’t think it’s too far away but, then again I don’t use a wheelchair but even if I did, I would look at the trip as an additional way of getting some much needed exercise. Wheeling oneself back and forth, a couple of times a day to the restroom will do wonders for the arms and upper body and would eventually make those trips easier and easier.
New York, December 12: Hopes for the W.Center to host the prestigious 2014 “ Alfy” awards were dashed yesterday when it was announced that the awards ceremony would go to the “Bowery SRO & Flophouse” an ALF located in New York City.
The Alfy award, the Assisted Living Facilities Academy’s highest honor, is awarded to the assisted living facility (ALF) which has demonstrated the highest regard for its residents and staff. The W.Center, although not in the runnung for this year’s award, felt that it was an honor just to be able to host the ceremony which would have included a banquet, entertainment, guest speakers including luminaries from stage, screen and politics. The committee, which decides on which facility will play host to the festivities, decided against the “Center” because of the “Rather disgustingcondition of the physical plant” according to one committee member. Instead, the 110 year old Bowery facility (formerly known as a “beds by the hour” hotel) will have the honor this year. “Despite the pealing paint, the 15 watt naked light bulbs and mismatched folding chairs, we still deemed it in better condition than the Westchester facility” said a spokesperson for the award ceremony. Nobody from the Center was available for comment.
A few words about Christmas Dinner
I believe that I may be in the minority about this because; it appeared that everybody had a good time at this year’s residents, friends and family holiday luncheon. Unfortunately, I was not one of them.
The festivities started well with a very nice assortment of hors d'oeuvres passed out among visitors in the lobby. The eggnog and sparkling juices added an additional compliment to the festivities. However when it came to dinner I found the much touted beef tips to be too tough and too well done*, (at least the plate I was served), the dining room too crowded and too confused. Although the usual beverages were served with the meal, coffee was not served until desert (big mistake). Additionally, the so-called entertainer was too loud and too unskilled, and made up for his lack of talent by increasing the volume even more.
The only redeeming feature to dinner was the magnificent assortment of desert items in the form of petit fors, napoleons and other goodies. I think they should have had more hors d’oeuvres, more drinks and stuck with something a little less “adventurous” for the main meal.
* I am not the only one who felt this way.
The rather depressing looking sandwich pictured here may not be what one would call eye-catching. The truth is the presentation skills of the kitchen staff leaves much to be desired, however despite the fact that the sandwich looks like something picked out of a dumpster it tasted good. Not only was the flavor more reminiscent of what a tuna melt sandwich is supposed to be the construction was more in keeping with tradition.
Formally, what was billed as a tuna melt or grilled tuna with tomato sandwich was in reality an open-faced sandwich on a single slice of toast, usually burned to a crisp. Apparently, someone got the message that this was not an acceptable tuna melt sandwich prompting the kitchen to stick with convention and make a tuna melt the way it is supposed to be*.
* At one time, the best tuna melt sandwich was made at Denny’s restaurants. For some reason Denny’s restaurants removed this sandwich from their menu over ten years ago. Not only has Denny’s removed the melted version of the American mainstay lunch sandwich but also, they have taken tuna off their menu entirely. That’s right, you cannot get a tuna sandwich at Denny’s. Repeated attempts to get a comment from Denny’s on this matter have failed.
and then there is this…
Does anybody actually like macaroni salad?
Frequent readers of this blog know my aversion to those ridiculous side dishes that we are forced to endure on a daily basis here at the asylum. Unfortunately, despite my constant complaints and objections to such items, they remain, as a reminder that while good taste is hard to achieve, bad taste is as common as manhole covers.
Items such as macaroni salad, three bean salad, potato salad or anything that is made with ingredients that are usually served hot says to me “I cooked it yesterday; I’m too lazy to reheat it so I’ll serve it to those dolts and call it a salad”. As I have said a hundred times, “nothing goes with a sandwich except a pickle or cole slaw. My ancestors knew this and built great sandwich restaurants like Katz’s and the Second Avenue Deli around just this very position. Can you imagine a hot corned beef sandwich with a side of macaroni salad or, pastrami on rye with three-bean salad sitting next to it? It’s blasphemy I tell you, blasphemy!
It may not be exactly like you would get at your local take-out Chinese restaurant but it came close, and for an assisted living facility dining room, that’s considered very good. Wednesday’s Lo mein lunch, although lacking in authentic flavor and some much-needed condiments, was nonetheless fairly good with an added combination of interesting ingredients.
Included in this Asian favorite were bits of chicken, shrimp and crab with a smattering of peas and crisp chow mein noodles. All of this was combined in with a delicate oriental sauce of unknown origin. The only thing this very nicely concocted dish was missing was a bit of sesame oil flavoring and some Chinese mustard on the side. I will be sure to order this tasty item again the next time it shows up on the menu.
Having reached my limit of things made out of turkey for one week, I decided on something off-menu for dinner last Wednesday, and a chef’s salad seemed to fill the bill. Expecting the usual routine house chef’s salad, (not bad but usually a bit sparse), I was thrilled and delighted when a deli extravaganza (see photo above) was set before me.
I have always said that it is not what you know but whom you know that gets you the good stuff. Thanks May.
WE WON'T BE BACK UNTIL AFTER CHRISTMAS THEREFORE, LET ME TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO WISH YOU AND YOURS THE VERY BEST OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON.
THE NEXT BLOG WILL BE ONLINE MONDAY DECEMBER 30.
Last week’s blog begins below…
There is a serious situation taking place in the dining room, a situation so severe and heinous that I must forgo my regular editorial for this one. For the past three Sundays we have gone bagel-less at breakfast and this is no joking matter. Something very, very wrong is going on here. Let me begin by giving you a brief history of bagels at the Center.
When I first arrived at the Center, bagels were unheard of for breakfast on Sunday or any other day. For some reason they were simply left out. As the resident population of the facility increased and tastes more varied and refined the question of why we did not have bagels as part of the regular breakfast fare arose. Finally, after months of negotiations, broken promises and foot dragging, bagels became a regular Sunday institution. In addition, while we don’t get lox we do have a choice of regular cream cheese or a cream cheese and lox spread, something that has become very popular amongst the residents who look forward to this “treat” every Sunday. That is, until recently.
Actually, it all started about a month ago when shrinkage in the size and quality of said bagels became noticeable. However, we took that as a mere error in the ordering process, a glitch if you will made by a poorly trained bagel purchasing agent. However, when the following week we did not receive bagels at all we realized that there was more to the problem than just a mistake in the ordering process. Complaints ensued and a promise to rectify the situation was made by management. We thought the problem had finally been resolved until, a week ago Sunday when again, bagels failed to materialize for the first breakfast seating. It was not until well into the second seating breakfast that bagels somehow magically appear from the kitchen along with an excuse of “they were late making a delivery”, an excuse that everyone knows is lame.
As anyone who has ever ordered a large quantity of bagels knows, especially if the customer is one that automatically orders the same large order every week, a bagel bakery will risk life and limb often chancing personal safety to get that order to the customer on time. There is, in fact a convention that says bagels must be delivered not only on time but hot as well. Therefore, blaming the lack of bagels on the vendor just doesn’t hold water, there are only a couple of reasons why bagels are not delivered on time, or not at all.
One reason is that they were simply never ordered or the standing order was put on hold by management, a very real possibility in a place where giving a resident a second helping is considered a misdemeanor. On the other hand, and I think this is the more realistic possibility, the Center has not been paying its bills. A bagel bakery will do anything to keep a good customer including making deliveries when other vendors won’t risk it, however, they need to be paid.
Of course, I don’t know the real reason for us having to go without the one thing we really want on a Sunday morning but I do know that if this wrongdoing continues there is going to be a protest in the dining room the likes of which have not been seen since the draft riots of 1863.
It’s two thirty in the morning and a blast of icy air hits me in the face as I lay in my bed. Half- awake, I pull the covers over my head as if to hide, not only from the cold but also from the unseemly situation with which I have found myself. I know I should get up to check the radiator but I am just too damn sleepy and bedsides, my back is killing me making any position other than the horizontal one I am in painful. A few minutes pass, and the room is getting colder. I force myself to throw back the covers and get up. I grab a bathrobe from the closet and walk around the foot of my bed to check on the radiator that is located directly below a window, a window by the way, which is leakier than the Titanic on its maiden voyage.
There is no heat and the temperature outside is at the freezing mark. My room is colder than the inside of a Russian horse doctor’s valise. Did I forget to push a button or set the temperature, I don’t think so. I’m sure I didn’t touch the thing since the previous afternoon when it was working OK. So why is it so cold in here? I check the digital thermometer on the radiator’s heat control. The red digital readout tells me it’s 67 chilly degrees. I push the temperature button up to 75 then 76, the fan is blowing but only cold air is coming out. By the time morning arrives, the temperature is down to 58. It appears that once again, we’re getting the shaft back here in Franklin. Just another one of the constant indignities we suffer here on a daily basis and, I am sorry to say, it all has to do with money.
We all know that money, or the lack of it, is at the root of everything that goes on here. If the housekeeping isn’t what it should be it’s because they won’t pay the housekeepers a decent wage. If the meals are less than first rate, it’s because the food budget is that of soup kitchen on the Bowery rather than one that would provide us with attractive, palatable first quality food.
If frequent mistakes are made in the med room, blame low wages for the absence of well-trained professional med-techs or licensed LPN’s.
You can blame the lack of facility owned transportation options, (i.e. a van or mini-bus), something that practically every senior residence, ALF or senior center has, on our low priority status in the world of senior living. We are only a couple of steps above a homeless shelter or poorhouse, and then there is maintenance.
This facility is only a few years old and already it’s exhibiting symptoms of age and neglect that usually only show up in tenement buildings on the lower east side. Besides the obvious problems with the heating, there is crumbling concrete, unusable sitting areas and carpeting badly in need of a good cleaning (something that is only done to the rug in the main lobby for the benefit of visitors).
Now please don’t get me wrong. I am glad that I have a roof over my head, but I think that roof should cover a warm, safe place with food that is more than just “edible”. At this point in my life, I think I deserve better. I want to live in a place where even the humblest of our citizens can enjoy a dignified lifestyle that people, who may be more financially secure, are afforded. They say that a society is judged by how it treats the least of its citizens. As the gap between the rich and the poor widens, I fear many of us will fall in and never be heard of again.
Editor’s note: The average salary of an executive director of an assisted living facility is $80,358.00 ($6696.50 per month). The average social security check for a person over 65 years of age is $1230.00 per month.**
**source…ALFA and SSA.gov
One of those quality of life issues that I speak of often has to do with the removal of trash from public areas of the facility specifically, the country kitchen. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked by the only trash bin in that location and have found it overflowing with garbage. In addition, what is worse, I have returned and hour or two later to the same location and still, the trash had not been removed. What does this mean?
Not having the garbage removed from this heavily used area on a regular and frequent schedule means,
This situation can only be resolved if there is a concerted effort by maintenance to be more proactive in making sure that the removal of trash at this location is done more frequently than the rest of the trash cans. The trash in the country kitchen should be checked at least every half hour and removed at least once every hour if not more often.
Gravity is not your friend, except for keeping you and your furniture from floating around the room, it serves no useful purpose. This is especially true if you are a man or women of a certain age whose anatomy has succumed to the forces of the earth’s gravitational pull. The gravity of gravitation becomes very clear every time you get naked. For me, most of my appendages started to head south around thirty years of age. I noticed it first in the locker room of the local racquet ball club the wife and I belonged to.
Out of necessity, after a vigorous workout running up and down the court chasing after a little blue ball, I would take a shower. I was not in bad shape for a thirty something whose only real exercise was playing that stupid game twice a week. However. After emerging from the shower and on to the floor of the locker room, I noticed that there were some guys who were, let’s say, “better supported” than I. I would quickly pull the towel around my waist and try to get dressed as fast as possible less I was to be made the brunt of ridicule from some of the younger club members upon who the affects of gravity had not yet done its deed. At this point, for some reason, I thought about my wife who, at the very same time was taking her shower in the ladies part of the building. Was she experiencing the same feeling of being “let down”? I knew that certain things happen to a women’s body gravitationally speaking, even before they happen to a man, but women have a way of concealing their little flaws with an amazing array of undergarments that are designed for just such a time when gravity’s effects cannot be overcome by exercise and lotions,lucky them. Men don’t really have that option, at least not REAL men.
Yes, I know they have supporters for men that are supposed to “keep stuff where they once were” and other stuff out of the way of still more stuff, but very few men would be caught dead in one of those contraptions, let alone tell somebody he was wearing one. This is why I am here, there is help.
I was always a boxers guy. Not to brag, but I enjoyed the “freedom” of the loose fitting cotton shorts, that is until recently, when the forces of nature won the battle of the bulge and started to hang heavy on my nether regions. Having tried those tidy whitey white cotton briefs and realizing that these things were not made for anybody over 12 years of age, I decided to try those new fangled half boxer, half briefs. Hallelujah, I found crotch nirvana. I now had the support I needed without feeling that I was being molested by my underwear. Therefore, gentlemen there is no longer any need to be left “hanging” by your boxers or too “uptight” by your briefs. Boxer briefs are the answer. And men, don’t you tell me you stopped wearing those white jockey briefs years ago, I know you haven’t. I have seen what’s in your laundry bags when you leave them outside your door on laundry day and it ain't pretty. A couple of weeks ago I told you to stop dressing like a teenager, that goes for your undies too.
AN UNTAPPED SOURCE OF INCOME
It’s been awhile since I have come up with any suggestions for the suggestion box and, not for a lack of trying but sometimes my brain is overloaded with trivial matters like “should I have the chicken or the eggplant for dinner” and “where the heck did I leave my keys.” However, in a moment of lucidity, an idea arose as to how the Center could make some extra money, money that may benefit not only the Center but the residents as well. The idea came to me when I noticed an advertisement on the roof of a taxi that pulled up to the main entrance the other day. I thought to myself, “They put ads everywhere these days”, that’s when it hit me; there must be plenty of places around this joint that we could rent out for advertising, for example…the inside door of the toilet stalls could be used to sell incontinence products. [Next time use Depends]
Plastic surgeons could advertise their services outside the medical office. [Sagging? Need a lift? Call DR. Fleischer”]
Drug companies could place ads in and around the medication room. [Feeling low, get Lexapro]
The mind boggles at the possibilities. However, the best place to put an ad would be in the dining room, right on the tables in the form of a “table tent” or flag.
This would be perfect for local eat-in and takeout restaurants. [Don’t like the food? Next time try Emilio’s Italian Restaurant]
Rarely am I at a loss for words; however, the cheeseburger I had last Monday for lunch was so vile that I find myself speechless. It was one of the worst burgers I have eaten anywhere. This coming from a man that will eat a burger anytime, anywhere and is not too particular about what it’s made out of and has the gastronomic standards of a ravenous hyena. In a word, it was bad.
The first thing one notices when a burger, any burger, is brought to the table is the meat. McDonald’s has the good sense to make sure their sandwich is closed, assuring that the burger itself is not the first thing one sees. Unfortunately, the first thing one sees on our plate IS the burger, which is thin, overcooked and gray in color.
Next, there is the bun, a tasteless hunk of cold bread devoid of any sesame seeds. I would forgo the seeds if the buns were just served hot instead of that “right out of the refrigerator” temperature. The buns should be placed face down on the grill for a couple of seconds so they are warm at the very least. I guess the thinking back in the kitchen is “if you serve them hot buns, they’ll expect the meat to be hot and the cheese melted. And, speaking of the cheese, can’t they put a cover over the burger and cheese like the way they do in every burger joint and diner in the world so that the cheese actually melts on to the meat? However, this travesty of a lunch does not end with the burger. Even Mickey D’s gives you tomato, pickle and lettuce on their crap. All we got was a wilted piece of something green and a few thin strands of raw onion.
Usually the only redeeming feature of a burger meal gone bad are the French fries that go along with it, but even they were not up to their usual decent standards because, as in keeping with the rest of the meal they too were served cold.
It is apparent that the quality as well as the content of the food has deteriorated recently but, are things that bad that they had f—k with the burgers too?
Courtesy of the Resident’s Food Committee
Print, cut out and slip under the glass at your table. The next time you order toast, just point to the color chart to assure the toast comes out exactly how you like it.
(Don’t worry, nobody in the kitchen will spit on your breakfast, much.)
It wasn’t lobster, but it might have come from Newburg.
Although we never quite get the real thing (we will never see a lobster** at our door anytime soon), sometimes we get close. Such was the case with the seafood Newburg offering at last Tuesday’s lunch.
While it was unclear as to what kind of fish comprised the “seafood” part of the dish the “Newburg” part was tasty despite the absence of the Newburg sauces main ingredient’s, sherry, brandy and heavy cream but, however it was made, it worked well with whatever fish was in there.
Another deviation from the traditional “al la Newburg” recipe was the pasta the dish was served over. While I have had, Lobster Newburg served in a pastry shell, a casserole dish and over the traditional toast points, I have never had it served over bowtie pasta but then of course I have never had anything that was called “Newburg” made with anything but lobster either so I guess on a whole, this “Newburg” was 100% accurate.
One small point, it surprised me that many of the diners did not know what “Newburg” meant and many of the servers were not able to give a decent description of the dish either. Maybe a little “education” is necessary before any meal that includes something even slightly exotic is served.
** The only way a lobster will ever grace our dinner plates is if one accidentally swims up the Saw Mill River, walks across the parkway, crawls up the hill, finds the service entrance to the kitchen and commits suicide on Mike’s desk.
On the first day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
…a bunch of pills I did not recognize.
On the second day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Two Percocet and a bunch of pills I did not recognize.
On the third day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Three shots of Insulin, 2 Percocet and some pills that I did not re-cog-nize.
On the fourth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Four sprays a-naseling, 3 shots of Insulin, 2 Percocet and some pills that I did not recognize.
On the fifth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Five wipes a-wiping, four sprays a-naseling, 3 shots of Insulin, 2 Percocet and some pills I still did not recognize.
On the sixth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Six salves for rashes, five wipes a wiping, four sprays a- naseling, three shots of Insulin, two Percocet, and some pills I like but still don’t recognize.
On the seventh day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Seven techs a-laughing, 6 salves for rashes, five wipes a-wiping, 4 spray’s a-naseling, 3 shots of Insulin, 2 Percocet and some pills that I really, really like.
On the eighth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Eight drops for eye crud, seven techs a-laughing, 6 salves for rashes, , five wipes a-wiping, 4 spray’s a-naseling, 3 shots of Insulin, 2 Percocet and please, more pills I do not recognize.
On the ninth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Nine residents retching, eight drops for eye crud, seven techs a-laughing, six salves for rashes, five wipes for wiping, four spray’s a-naseling, 3 shots of Insulin, 2 Percocet and those great big pills I think I really need.
On the tenth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Ten cups of water, nine residents a-retching, eight drops for eye crud, seven techs a-laughing, six salves for rashes, five wipes for wiping, four spray’s a-naseling, three Insulin shots, two Percocet and some pills I that I think I’m gonna’ sell for cash.
On the eleventh day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Eleven cold compresses, ten cups of water, nine residents retching, eight drops for eye crud, seven techs a-laughing, six salves for rashes, five wipes for wiping, four nasal sprays, three shots of Insulin, two Percocet and just gimme’ those pills already.
One the twelfth day of Christmas, the med room gave to me…
Twelve ambulances rushing, eleven cold compresses, ten cups of water, nine residents retching, eight drops for eye crud, seven techs a-laughing, six salves for rashes, five wipes for wiping, four sprays a-naseling, three shots of Insulin, two Percocet and I think I took an overdose of pills.
Merry Christmas to all from
© 2013 Bruce Cooper, all rights reserved.
Please visit us again next week, December 23 for another edition of the wcenter blog. Older, and I am sure much better blogs may be read below.
As part of my continuing watch regarding the lack of adequate weekend staffing here at the Center and particularly the Franklin Annex, I have the following information.
I am pleased to inform you that for the past two weekends there appears to be an adequate number of personnel, health aids as well as housekeeping staff present, at least during the daytime shifts*. I found it encouraging, for a change, to have my room made-up and the trash removed at a reasonable time of day and not after 6:30 at night. In addition, there was a home health aide stationed on the floor. However, there is one concern about this matter that still bothers me, why was it necessary for me to complain before anything was done, and not just once either. I can only believe that this lack of oversight was due to the incompetence and lack of initiative of one of the weekend personnel managers. If there is a shortage of staff, it should be the responsibility of the manager to make sure that someone does the required task even if it means they have to get up off their asses and DO IT THEMSELVES.
*I can only account for the hours that I am awake. I don’t know what happens in the wee hours of the morning.
The sleep deprived residents of the Westchester Center for Independent and Assisted Living would like to thank who or what set off the fire alarm Saturday morning at approximately 2:30 AM. It is always so pleasant to be awakened from a sound sleep by the load shrill, slamming fire doors and flashing strobe lights of a clandestine fire alarm.
It has taken me many years to face the fact that I am addicted to ketchup, although I suppose I always knew it. At first, I thought that my fondness for ketchup was just a simple passion spurred on by the need to add “a little extra flavor” for my scrambled eggs and burgers. However, it was not until I came here, to the Center, that my need for that spicy, saucy stream of squeezable tomatoey goodness became more of a necessity than a want, a “necessity” fortified by its very absence from the table.
Never in all my life, wherever I have gone, whether it was a diner, fast food restaurant or someone’s home had I been denied ketchup. In fact, ketchup is so ingrained into American cuisine that it has been called the “National Condiment”. Just think about it. Sit down at any Denny’s, I-Hop, Nathan’s or any of the hundreds of local and national restaurant chains and tell me that there isn’t a bottle of ketchup on every table or a fixins’ bar with a pump full of the stuff. Nobody tells you how much of it you can squeeze on your burger, eggs, meatloaf, fries or hot dog. The bottle of ketchup, whether it is made of glass or plastic is a “given” on every table and in every home in America. Therefore, it was surprising and a bit disturbing to find, as I sat down to my first meal here at the Center over a year ago, that there was no ketchup (or any condiments) on the table as was common in every eating establishment throughout the land.
It’s not that they did not have ketchup, they just did not want to put it on the table, and if you wanted it, you had to ask for it. And, If and when you did manage to corral a server on her way to the kitchen she brought back, not a bottle but rather a pack or two of that take-out stuff they give you at the Mickey D’s drive through, hardly enough to satisfy the “ketchup jones” of a true addict. This denying of ketchup by management made me into the activist that I am today. I vowed that if it were the last thing I did in life, I would make sure that there was ketchup (as well as salt and peppershakers) on every table in the dining room, or die trying. Thank heavens it did not come to that, it would have been ugly what with me trying to o.d. on ketchup. I pictured myself being found one day on the bathroom floor surrounded by dozens of open packets of Heinz ketchup strewn about my room, one still clutched in my cold, dead ketchup stained hand.
Months went by. A series of endless meetings were held with empty promises from various food service managers all to no avail. Condiments were still “verboten” in the dining room. I wrote blog after blog complaining of this insufficiency. At every resident’s council meeting I could be seen painfully arising from my seat expounding the need for salt, pepper, mustard and of course ketchup. It was not long before I was known as “the condiment nut”, a title that I relish to this day. Finally, one day after months of condemnation and veiled threats from management to “look into my psychiatric background” I walked into the dining room and found both a salt
and peppershaker on the table, it was a start. A couple of weeks later I announced “total victory” when indeed, a big , beautiful red squeeze bottle of RED GOLD brand ketchup could be found sitting proudly on every dining room table. Wellington’s victory at Waterloo could not have felt as satisfying.
Of course, not all this newfound freedom helped my addictive obsession for ketchup. I now use more and more of it every day. I not only put it on eggs and burgers, I now find myself squeezing it on hot dogs also (sorry hot dog purists). Fish cakes as well as chicken fingers have not escaped a torrent of the “Red Monkey”*. I have even found myself shaking it on such non-ketchup type food as cold pasta, broccoli, bacon and tomato sandwiches and tuna casseroles. I have even thought about introducing a dollop or two to my bagel next Sunday.
I know I need help but I don’t really want to stop. After all, what’s the downside? Will I develop “ketchupabetes” or “hyperketchupism”? If I stop, will I suffer lycopene withdrawal? I know it’s dangerous to go “cold turkey (hmm...Ketchup on cold turkey) without the approval of a physician or deli counter manager so, I can only tell you that I will try to cut back on my use of ketchup. However, as you know, you never can trust anything a junkie tells you, especially one with a burger in one hand and a 32 oz. bottle of Heinz in the other.
*”Red Monkey”. Street name for ketchup. A ketchup addict is called a “lycopath”. If you treat ketchup as a religion, you are referred to as a “Lycopiscapalian.”
“Assisted living customers, including residents and families, are generally satisfied with their assisted living communities”.
The article below states that 91% of assisted living residents are satisfied with their assisted living communities. Considering they sampled over 1500 institutions, the figures seem amazingly high. This means a few things may be a factor.
Either the data is mathematically incorrect or they are downright lying. Secondly, this survey was conducted at ALF’s that cater to a wealthier clientele where they are paying (dearly) for the all of the amenities that make living in an ALF bearable or third we, at the Center, are really getting the shaft. I wonder if a similar survey taken here, or any facility where room and board is paid for mostly by Social Security and Medicare, would they get such a favorable result.
Consumer and Staff Satisfaction: Key to Success in Assisted Living
by Geralyn Magan, Published On: Nov 08, 2013
Assisted living providers won't be successful until they focus squarely on improving customer and staff satisfaction, says a new report from the National Research Corporation. The report bases its conclusion on a 2012 survey of customers and employees in 1,500 assisted living communities nationwide.
Assisted living customers, including residents and families, are generally satisfied with their assisted living communities. For example:
• Most residents (91%) and families (90%) say their assisted living community does a "good" or "excellent" job of meeting health care needs.
• Slightly lower percentages of residents (90%) and families (87%) say the community does a good job of offering personal assistance.
More than 90% of assisted living customers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the concern and competency displayed by staff. Residents and families are more likely to recommend a community to others if they give staff high ratings in these categories.
Other top drivers of customer recommendations were:
• Responsiveness of management.
• Attention to consumer choices and preferences.
• Home-like atmosphere.
Communities with higher staff satisfaction levels also achieve higher family and resident satisfaction, says the report.
Three factors were among the top drivers of employee satisfaction:
• Care/concern of management.
• Attentiveness of management.
• Assistance with job stress.
Less than 25% of nurses and personal care aides ranked their employers as “excellent” in these 3 measures in 2012. Only between 49% and 61% offered any positive feedback in these categories.
Other drivers of staff satisfaction included:
• Clear expectations by management.
• Fairness of evaluations.
• Support of career
A NOT SO WACKY IDEA
How many times have we sat down to dinner, read the menu and, when it came time to order, was told by the server, “Sorry, we ran out of the Salmon but you can have chicken instead”. Or, maybe it was “We don’t have any ice cream, they meant to write sherbet”. How many times has Michael or one of the cooks walked to the middle of the dining room and shout out menu changes? This is an archaic way of informing people of last minute changes to the menu. Why don’t they do what they do in restaurants and announce the daily “Specials” on a blackboard placed outside of the dining room either on the wall or on an easel. The blackboard would afford the freedom of correcting errors with the swipe of an eraser and a piece of chalk. Moreover, if they hide the chalk, there would be little chance of vengeful “suggestions” made by disgruntled diners.
Two-way wrist radios, hand held computers, cheese in a can. There was a time when these were just a figment of some futurists imagination. Now, of course, these miracles of modern technology are common, everyday items, invented by forward thinking geniuses. It now appears that there is one more “futurist” that can be added to the list, Mary Bysshe Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein”. However, I’ll bet that even MBS could not have predicted that, while she was sending poor Igor out to collect some human brains from the cemetery, there might soon be an easier way…
Article from the National Institute of Health
NeuroBioBank gives researchers one-stop access to post-mortem brains
NIH networks five brain banks to overcome bottlenecks
To expedite research on brain disorders, the National Institutes of Health is shifting from a limited funding role to coordinating a Web-based resource for sharing post-mortem brain tissue. Under a NIH NeuroBioBank initiative, five brain banks will begin collaborating in a tissue-sharing network for the neuroscience community.
“Instead of having to seek out brain tissue needed for a study from scattered repositories, researchers will have one-stop access to the specimens they need,” explained Thomas Insel, M.D., director of NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of three NIH institutes underwriting the project. “Such efficiency has become even more important with recent breakthrough technologies, such as CLARITY and resources such as BrainSpan that involve the use of human tissue.”
You can read the entire article at…
The case for Case Management
Renovations are almost complete at the Case Management office. Now that the bars have been fitted, the only thing left to install are the metal detectors and the privacy screen for the full body cavity searches*.
In their defense, the CM department does get some wacky people walking in and out of there and who knows which one of them may be armed.
Just the other day, an octogenarian male resident had his equally “octo” Mauser pistol confiscated after shouting his demands to see “Der Fuehrer”. However, Vanessa was not present at the time.
* The above story is, of course satirical, they will not be conducting any full body cavity searches.
What’s Going on here?
An incident at dinner last Thursday evening really pissed me off, so much so that I was forced to show my displeasure by going to the entrance of the kitchen and shouting at whoever was there. For the first time ever, not only did they run out of the alternate menu item (homemade manicotti) but there was none of the main course (stuffed cabbage) left as well. This unavailability of food unfortunately, has been happening more and more as of late as the population here continues to grow and, it’s not only the shortage of food that has become noticible. The size of the portions have decreased while the amount of cheap carbohydrate laden food items have increased*, so what does this mean? It means that either there is a failure by management to account for the increased resident population and they have made errors in ordering and preparing enough food for all or, they have cut deeply into the budget alloted for meals. A discussion of this matter will undoubtedly come up at the residents food council meeting this week.
*A good example of this was last Sunday’s lunch where the main course was bratwurst and roasted potatoes. The bratwurst was cut up into pieces and mixed together with the potatoes and, while the entire plate looked like there was a lot of food on it, it was quite obvious that only one small wurst comprised the meat portion of the meal while the potatoes were in abundance.
Pictures are usually not very useful when trying to describe how something tastes, but the photo of a taco salad cradled in a giant taco-like shell says it all.
Lunch Saturday, usually the dullest meal of the week was given a much-needed makeover when we were presented with not just a taco salad but one with a little something extra, a taco, or at least the next best thing to a taco.
The shell, instead of being made from the traditional corn meal based flour was more akin to a large Chinese egg roll however it somehow worked. This shell held a generous portion of nicely seasoned ground beef, beans and, on the bottom, a salad. A dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese topped this Tex-Mex creation, and the best thing about it was that when you were finished with the salad part you still had something extra to eat, the shell.
When we found out that, the reason there was no soup for lunch was because one of the cooks burned it I was both disappointed and elated. I was disappointed because split pea soup is one of my favs but glad that we were told the reason why we would not be having it for lunch. That is why I was very surprised when, at dinner, we were offered the same soup. Unfortunately, it was the exact same soup not served at lunch.
Not only was it the exact same soup but, it had a strangely “smoky” odor and taste. In addition, there was only half of a bowl full, which was ok because the soup that was in that bowl was cold, strike three.
Why didn’t they just forgo the soup and serve a salad instead, which would have been the reasonable thing to do but then who expects much reasoning to come out of that kitchen anyway
Need a break? Call for takeout.
I did something the other evening that I do not usually do, I called out for a delivery of Chinese food.
There are a couple of reasons why I don’t bring in food more often, the first being the cost. Doing take-out on a regular basis is expensive. Not only is there a ten dollar minimum but, you have to tip the delivery guy as well.
The other reason that I don’t bring in food from the outside too often is because, eating institutional food on a regular basis for such a long time as I have, has taught my digestive system to reject seasoned food. The first thing I notice about food not made in our kitchen is the way it has been seasoned meaning, there is some. The food here is often so bland (made that way to accommodate the delicate digestive systems of some of our residents) that I have forgotten what real food tastes like and, apparently so has my stomach and it lets me know it.
In celebration of a friend’s birthday, I decided to forgo our regular dining room fare and call up for take-out. After a few minutes of deliberation as to what kind of cuisine to have, we decided on food that has something for everybody, Chinese food. I have said it a thousand times; nobody knows how to cook like the Chinese. The Chinese have a way of taking simple, basic ingredients and with the addition of some sauces and spices, transform them into something spectacular. Unfortunately, it was just those special sauces and spices that caused a bit of intestinal distress for me and it’s all my fault. I went nuts and ordered something I hadn’t eaten in years, sweet and sour pork. Unfortunately, the rest of the night was spent restlessly rolling around in my bed clutching my over seasoned belly cursing myself for being such a glutton.
Don’t get me wrong, it was great and prepared just the way it should have been with tender battered bite size pieces of pork and a very nice sweet and sour sauce to pour over it. In addition, I ordered an egg roll and a portion of boneless spareribs to share with my friend. All of this came with an overabundance of fried rice. Of course, there were the usual condiments, soy sauce, hot Chinese mustard, duck sauce and hot sauce, all of which I squeezed on with reckless abandon forgetting that the spiciest condiment my digestive system has encountered in the last five years was ketchup and, for this I paid a price. Fortunately, my stomach has a short memory and by the time I get the urge to order out again I will have forgotten my trespasses and order the same spicy stuff again and, at least while I’m eating it, will enjoy every sinful morsel of it.
More from the wackiest kitchen on earth
Only here, at Chef Mike’s Bizarro Diner where they serve macaroni salad with hamburgers would they serve a hot open turkey sandwich only a couple of days after serving a full turkey dinner.
Your first inclination is to say “Why not make use of some nice turkey leftovers, it’s only good sense” and with that I would be the first to agree. In fact, I love leftover anything. I have turned leftovers into an art (ask me about my famous turkey Shepard’s pie). However, the turkey sitting on top of that single slice of white bread, covered with what tasted like gravy from a jar, was not that nice, sliced fresh turkey we had for Thanksgiving dinner but rather some slimy prefabricated turkey roll made from only who knows what parts of a turkey. Therefore, I must once again question the poor judgment and lack of good sense when it comes to menu planning. While it is perfectly tolerable to use leftover turkey for sandwiches, it is not acceptable to actually use processed turkey so soon after a real turkey dinner.
"Verum in lectus"
“In the menu, there is truth.”
Never let it be said that no one tells the truth anymore. Here, at the “Center” or as we like to call it “Mike’s Bizarro World Diner”, the truth is always told, on the menu. While most restaurant menus would have lied and told you that the eggs were cooked “over easy”, Mike’s menus are based on truth and reality…
…and hard, they were.
I actually had an entirely different article written and ready to go right here in this spot. The Article was mostly me railing against the giant portion of cole slaw vs. the timid portion of chicken and the way the cole slaw itself was prepared. I went on to remark that many people had complained to me about the chew-ability of the freshly prepared shredded cabbage and carrot mixture saying that it was just too hard to eat. They told me that the raw carrots were so hard they could not chew it. I even went as far as to put it on my list for the next food committee meeting. However, somebody must have made their displeasure with the slaw known before I had a chance to do it because, as I sat down to a lunch of chicken fingers and slaw, the mixture had reverted to the standard, store bought soft, mayonnaisey version that we all know and love. Nice going whomever you are.
//////////// END POINT
I am convinced; rather I know that I am made of at least 75 to 80% chicken because I am getting to feel sorry for my little feathered friends. I sense a certain kinship towards them. This sudden affinity for fowl comes to me because we are fed so much chicken (and turkey) here that I am sure some of the stuff that makes a chicken a chicken has made its way into the very nuclei of my genetic makeup. I am sure that if a strand of my DNA were placed under a microscope it would show the beginnings of a beak, comb and feathers floating around in it’s genomic ooze.
Randomly choose any menu on any day here at the Center and you will find at least one and usually two items made with or containing chicken and or turkey, take last Tuesday as an example.
On the menu for lunch that day, was CHICKEN noodle soup and grilled CHICKEN breast. For dinner on the same day, we were offered baked CHICKEN with gravy. In addition, if you included the cheese omelet we had for breakfast (eggs come from chickens you know) we would have had something CHICKEN three meals in a row.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with chicken. Chicken is low in fat (if you don’t eat the skin), versatile (you can bake it, grill it, fry it, boil it, smoke it, barbecue it and poach
it) and it’s a good source of protein too. The only thing you might not want to do with chicken is eat it raw. (Chicken sushi anybody?) But, don’t you think we have had enough. Even too much of a good thing can be a detriment to, if not one’s physical health, at least to one’s psyche. Not only has the very mention of chicken become a source of gallows humor here, it has become depressing as well, adding to the lethargy and general malaise of the place.
One only has to look upon the disappointed faces of the diners when they notice that, once again, chicken has reared its ugly beaked head from the dinner plate. I think it’s time we considered a life with a little less chicken in it. Meanwhile, I am going to get the cluck out of here and see if I can’t find some fatty red meat.
Thanks for reading. look for a new blog next Monday, December 16th
Previous blogs are archived below
The need for care does not end at 5 p.m.
It’s 5 PM on a Friday afternoon and everybody has left for the weekend, everybody that is, except us. We, the residents of this fine institution, have to stay here, all the time. While we are here every day, seven days a week all year long, the services that we need are not. Things occur on the weekends here that not only are inconvenient, but could be downright hazardous as well, take this past weekend for instance.
I live back in the Franklin Center annex or as I like to call it “No man’s land”. I call it this because at times we are deprived of the regular amenities that are afforded to the rest of the facility. There have been instances, (usually always on the weekend) when we do not see anyone from housekeeping or home health care anywhere on the floor, all day. One Sunday we did not see any staff until well after 6:30 in the evening. This means that the beds were not made, bathrooms not re-supplied with clean towels and no trash removed. While not having my bed made or my trash removed, may be a minor point the absence of a qualified home health aide borders on the dangerous. What if someone fell or injured him or herself, who would be there to answer the call bell or respond to a cry for help. No one, that’s who, which begs me to ask the question “Where the hell was everybody”. Why were we left without even the most basic of services and was anybody aware of this?*
I don’t care if there are no case management people on hand to hold my hand, or whether or not I can withdraw cash from my account or if maintenance can change a light bulb on weekends. I do worry that our health and safety may be compromised. The management has to realize that just because it is the weekend we are no less in need of the services that are in place here during the week. Our needs continue no matter what time of day it is or what day it is on the calendar.
* Evidently, no body was aware of the absence of personnel until Monday morning when I apprised H.R. of the situation. She was unaware of any personnel shortages too.
Editor’s note: I complained about the weekend staffing problem two weeks ago in an article on this blog with no results. I will not let up on this until the situation is resolved to my satisfaction.
Happy National Fritters Day.
While you might not be able to do anything about when you go, there is something that you can do about how you go, and you can do it now before the choice is no longer yours. I’m talking about “Pre-Arrangement”, funeral pre-arrangement that is.
Pre-arrangement is a fancy way of saying “Pay now, die later” and, yes, I know this is a grim subject for most of you, but I think it is something that should be discussed. After all, you are not getting any younger and I bet that every time someone you know passes on, you have thought about your own demise. I began to think about what kind of sendoff I would like to have when I turned 50 and realized that it was going to be all downhill from here on. However, it was not until I became seriously ill a couple of years ago and looked the grim reaper in the face did I decide to do something about it.
Actually, it was a social worker in the nursing home I was living at that asked if I had made any decisions concerning my “final wishes” because, they wanted to know what to do with my remains* if I died on them. I guess many people die without any family to pay for and arrange a funeral. I asked her what happens if there really was no one to claim the body, what happens to my “remains”.
“The city of New York holds your body for a while until they have made a full search for any relations that might want you,” she said. “If there is nobody, they bury you in a mass grave on Hart’s Island, New York’s Potters field”. For some reason, this did not appeal to me so, having nobody left in my immediate family to take care of things when I go, I took matters into my own hands and contacted a local funeral director over for a chat. I am glad I did.
As I awaited the visit from the representative of the funeral home to discuss my wishes, I thought about my late brother’s funeral eight years before. I remember, on the day he died, how his wife made one call to a funeral home and they took care of all the rest. On a day that was full of emotion and grief, at least the one thing she did not have to worry about was the details of planning a funeral, not to mention the expense, because they had pre-arranged everything.
Simple, straightforward and easy.
I met with the funeral director in the quiet surroundings of a private office at the nursing home. The man I met with represented a company my family had dealt with for years; we were, unfortunately, good customers. At this point, it should be noted that just because you have dealt with a particular Funeral Director in the past does not mean you will get a discount or receive any special treatment. If you never dealt with arranging a funeral and don't know where to go, ask your friends to recommend a reputable company.
Naturally, you will have many questions; any good funeral director knows this. The man that I met with was courteous, straightforward and was not pushy. He let it be known that I was in control, allowing me to make the decisions. Any funeral director that tries to steer you in one direction or another or makes you feel that you MUST have a particular service or product over another, should be shown the door.
The most expensive part of any funeral is the casket. The funeral director will show you a book with clear, unadorned photos of a range of casket styles and prices. Look through it, take a piece of paper, and mark the pages you want to come back to. This is one of the benefits of pre-arrangement. You have the opportunity to make a non-emotional decision based on what really is necessary rather than a decision based on sentiment. The same is true for the other services available.
You will be asked if you want embalming, flowers, special clothing (they won’t bury you naked). They will ask if you will need to be kept in cold storage for a couple of days or if you want an immediate burial. You will be asked if there will be a need for extra funeral cars besides the one you will be riding in, all of which adds to the cost of the entire affair. The funeral director should have a pre-printed list of all the services they provide along with their set prices. If it appears as if he is making the prices up as he goes along, say thanks and send him packing. By law, all services and their prices must be clearly spelled out in writing.
After all the questions and all the answers have been discussed, he will give you a total figure including all taxes and fees. This is what you will make out a check for and not a penny more ever, unless you decide to change something in the future. This is another reason why pre-arrangement is a bargain, you have “locked in” a funeral at today’s prices not what it will cost in the future which undoubtedly will cost thousands more.** There are a couple more very important things you will need, a cemetery plot and a headstone. Unless you intend to be cremated (BTW, you still need a casket for this), you will need a place to be buried in. The funeral director can help you with this too but be prepared to shell out a couple of grand for that hole in the ground and hundreds for that edifice and testament to your greatness here on earth. Once again, what you spend is up to you. Therefore, whether you want to go out in style or just go out, make sure you are happy with your choice and please, let somebody you trust know that you have made these arrangements, Pre-arrangement does not work unless somebody knows you did it.
* The very word “remains” will get you to think about the hereafter.
** Don’t feel sorry for the undertaker remember, he is collecting interest on that money for all those years you are not dead.
Anyone walking past the Case Management offices this weekend could not help but notice the extensive renovation being done to this area, most noticeably was the framework and subsequent installation of two glass-paneled doors.
As the physical work on the Case Management offices continues, one can only wonder what the need for such extensive renovation really is. Does the presence of these doors mean more or less access to this department?
Those of you that were with us this past summer may remember me telling you of the “Temperature War”. This is the name I gave to the conflict with the person or persons, who insisted on turning down the already frosty temperatures in the corridor of the Franklin Annex. At times, it was so cold in that hallway that one needed a sweater just to walk to dinner. To make things worse, any attempt by me to turn the thermostat up to a more comfortable 72 degrees was met later by an unseen hand reversing the dial to its former position of 64 or 65 degrees. However, I can now inform you that this will not happen again, the thermostat control has been permanently enclosed in a locked see-through box. I hope that next summer we will see some sanity in the way the temperature is adjusted back here.
It would be sacrilegious for any foodie, food writer or food critic not to say something about the number one food day of all, Thanksgiving, so here, for what it’s worth are my two cents.
I was fully prepared to pick through each component of Thursday’s holiday dinner with a fine toothed fork berating some items, praising others. However, instead of analyzing every slice of turkey and every lump of stuffing, finding fault with the gravy and complaining about the small portions, I am pleased to say that there was no need for any of that. The meal was good, in fact, it was better than good it was excellent. The tender slices of fresh carved turkey*, the tasty, well-seasoned stuffing as well as the smooth turkey gravy complimented by a hardy portion and abundance of sweet potatoes, kugle and broccoli gave this Thanksgiving meal that genuine homemade feeling. Therefore, instead of looking for things to criticize I had nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the food. The only problem for me was that there was none of my friends or even the people I usually eat with there to enjoy dinner with me. I guess they all went out with their friends and families. Therefore, even with over a hundred people present in that room I still managed to feel alone, something I am sure others there felt as well. However, instead of getting maudlin, as one tends to get this time of year, I will end this on a high note and say “thanks” for what I have and thanks too to the people that gave up part of their Thanksgiving to prepare and serve us dinner. Believe me, it means a lot.
* There was brisket too as a concession to Hanukkah as well as a drumstick for those who remembered to ask for it. I did, and it was terrific.
If you had the feeling that this Thanksgiving dinner was tantamount to eating at a homeless shelter, here is a little something from the ALFA newsletter that will only reinforce that feeling. Here is how a chef at a facility near Seattle Washington looks upon Thanksgiving dinner for the residents he serves.
Did somebody say "brunch"?
I could make up an exciting back story as to how salmon came to be served one night last week, I could say that Mike and I spent all day plucking salmon out of the Saw Mill River, but the very fact that we had salmon at all is probably exciting enough. While other fish like Tilapia, Catfish and Bass are as common here as spots on a trout, very rarely are we treated to the king of all fish, the mighty salmon.
Salmon is one of those rare fish that needs very little “enhancement” in the way of seasoning. In addition, salmon is a fish that must be cooked gently so that it does not dry out. Unfortunately, the cooks here have not fully grasped that particular nuance of salmon cookery and over baked it a bit. However, as I have said before, “even a dry piece of salmon is better than a wet piece of Tilapia any day”.
I have always said that if I had the money I would turn this place into a combination rib joint/bowling alley/bordello. All we are missing is the bowling alley.
All kidding aside, we actually did have a baby back rib dinner the other evening and, while it did not look like a rack of ribs one would get in a real rib joint, the tender meaty ribs were surprisingly good. My only complaint, and it’s a minor point, would be that I would have liked to have seen some barbecue sauce on the table. My only other complaint is, once again we were subjected to the “Dopey Side Dish” this time in the form of the worst side dish of all time. Where else but here would they serve succotash with ribs? I can just picture a family going into a barbecue joint in Texas, order a rack of ribs and a side of succotash, they would be exiled to Oklahoma.
Oh, there is just one other thing, and I hesitate to mention it because I think it’s only something that annoys only me, it is the way they serve the baked potatoes. They insist on slicing into them before serving them. I hate this for a couple of reasons.
First, I am fully capable of opening my own baked potato. Second, because it’s opened, it loses its heat and last, they don’t know how a baked potato should be opened. A baked potato should never be cut into with a knife; it should be opened only with a fork. The fork should be poked gently through the skin of the potato and then the ends squeezed together allowing the inside of the spud to “pillow” out, forming a fluffy mountain of potato meat ready to accept either butter or sour cream. Call me crazy, but that’s the way it should be done.
The truth is, more and more of our residents are taking advantage of this, because not only does fresh fruit taste good but also fresh fruit is so good for you. While dietary supplements are OK in a pinch, there is nothing like the real thing to get those vitamins in to your system fast and with a consistent purity to boot. Coincidentally, did you know that the number one produce item sold in supermarkets is bananas? Moreover, Wal-Mart reports that not only are bananas the number one produce item sold in their stores, it is the number one item overall sold at Wal-Mart’s period.
Therefore, the next time you see the server go by, ask for a banana, orange or an apple to take with you, and don’t forget to dispose of the peels and cores properly. Mice like fresh fruit too.
There was a noticeable difference in the clam chowder this time around and its name is garlic. Also in abundance was the soup’s namesake, clams. The white tender clams were so numerous that every spoonful was filled with them, that’s the good part. Unfortunately, as happens more often than not, the soup, as well as many other dishes, arrived cold, and believe me, the one thing you don’t want is cold clam chowder.
The reason why the soups and other menu items are served room temperature is that they are served from the server’s cart where they most likely have been sitting for at least a half hour plus the 15 minutes they were sitting in the kitchen, time enough to cool off the hottest of food. Of course, I could send it back to be reheated but this not only delays my dinner but everyone’s dinner down the line as the server has to shuttle back and forth between kitchen and dining room.
I would love to say that I have an answer for this dilemma but anything I could come up with would involve dishing the soup out fresh from the pot for each individual table, which would just add to the already slow dinner service. Therefore, unless they can figure out a way of placing a hot tureen of soup on each cart, we will have to suffer the consequences that come with trying to give table service to a large group of people, bon appetite.
Look for next week's blog on Monday December 9
Past blogs begin below
Thanksgiving is an American holiday that is about what America is all about, abundance and family, with which we have been richly blessed. We live in a country where too much ain't enough and, while there are some people around the world who hate us for that very reason, we can smugly sit back and say to them “We fought and died for that extravagance, now it’s your turn”.
This Thursday will mark my 68th Thanksgiving on this planet, my second here at the Center and, while some of those 68 meals were memorable, most were not and it had nothing to do with the food, it was all about the people.
Growing up, I can only remember the Thanksgivings at our house with my mom doing all of the work. I don’t know if she enjoyed cooking or it was just some compulsion she had to feed the world. I cannot remember ever going to anyone else’s house on that day. Even when I was older, it was always Thanksgiving at moms, a tradition that only ended when my father passed away. I guess there was no reason for her to please anyone after that.
During my brief marriage, We would attended Thanksgiving dinner at my sister-in-law’s house. She was a pretty good cook and there were always tons of invited guests who brought offerings of their own. Having very little of my own family left, I relished being surrounded by all the people, there was always lots of laughter and good cheer which lasted well into the evening. Then, there was the time that my wife and I decided that it was only good manners to exchange the favor and do a Thanksgiving of our own. I will only say that it was memorable only because it was a disaster. We invited too many people into our modest little house and, while the food was OK, we guessed wrong on the amount and ran short. It was the last Thanksgiving we ever had at our place.
The years passed and so did many of my friends and family. The wife was not around anymore so dinner at the in-laws was out. As my friends married and had families of their own, the invitations dried up and Thanksgiving for me consisted mainly of eating out at some local diner, which brings us to last year.
Last year was the first in almost three years that I had not “celebrated” Thanksgiving in a hospital or nursing home and the first time in a long time that I would be eating this holiday dinner surrounded by people who were in the same position as I. While it may seem to you that this is not the ideal thing to be thankful for, to me it means a lot. It means that I won’t have to be alone. I will be with those who are truly thankful, not because of any great prosperity or good fortune, (There is little of that here) but because we are aware that things could be worse, much worse. We could be living in refrigerator boxes over a subway grate on Broadway looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner at the Bowery Mission.
Therefore, whether you will be enjoying dinner here at the Center with the rest of us, or with friends and loved ones this year remember, while we may not be in the most ideal of places right now, we have what we need on a day like this. We have good food; friendly people, a warm environment and a roof over our heads, things that some people can only dream about, happy Thanksgiving.
I do not claim to be a fashionista* or even a good dresser but, I do think that I know what styles look good on people of our age, and what I have seen around here that passes for style ain’t good. I ask you, “Why do some old folks insist on dressing like a twelve year old, and you know who they are don’t you? You see them lounging in their loungewear in and around the lobby. They attend mealtimes in clothes designed for the gym or worse, the bedroom. They show parts of their bodies best left unseen. They wear the same clothes that their grandkids wear except that even their grandkids think they look ridiculous and don’t wear them anymore (maybe that’s how grandpa gets them in the first place). Therefore, as a public service to all those who don’t have a clue and for all of us that are just too nice to tell them, I present…
Resident X’s, Men’s Guide to good fashion.
(Some of this applies to women too.)
Knowing what not to wear is as important as knowing what to wear. These are some fashion no-no’s, for seniors.
• Wear long pants in public. No more shorts--you’re all grown up now, after all, aren’t you?
• Ditch the flip-flops. Or give them to charity. Consider shoes that effectively and attractively shod your feet, maybe even passing over tennis shoes for casual loafers.
• Look to women as an example.. Older women understand the strategies of covering what’s better left unseen.
Here are some tips for dressing casually and handsomely: In lieu of shorts and an oversized--or worse, undersized--T-shirt, how about an open-collared shirt, a sports coat, chinos, or even jeans when you walk around the place?
One more request: Please don’t use the old excuses that you wear these fashion disasters because you want to be comfortable or that it’s too hot. Real, grown-up clothes can be comfortable, even cooler than shorts and flip-flops because they protect from the heat and sun. In addition, most public places, the last time I checked, offer air-conditioning in the summer.
Here are some of the other fashion faux pas that I observe here on a daily basis.
•Dressing like a sports star. Let’s face it men, when is the last time you played any sports? Dressing like Carmelo Anthony doesn't even make Carmelo Anthony look good. The baggy sweats are not a good look for a grown man.
•Remember what I said about the shorts, the same goes for Hawaiian shirts. This is not a good look for anybody. It’s even difficult for you to look at.
•T-Shirts with “suggestive” material on them. While I am not a prude, wearing clothes with obscene language or graphics emblazoned on them is best left for a garage or brothel.
•Sweat suites. Those nice soft velour or fleece sweat ensembles (matching tops and bottoms), says to me, “I’ve gained 70 lbs. and I don’t give a s—t any more”, more pasta please.
•Hats. I don’t know when the switch actually happens, but there seems to be something in the male genome that gets switched on when they get over 65 that tells you to buy one of these hats”. The only men who should wear these caps are those who appear in 1930’s black and white British movies or who are 1950’s racecar drivers like Sterling Moss.
• Socks with sandals. We probably will not have to worry about this “look” until warmer weather comes around but it’s never too early to post a warning.
• Finally, wear clothes that fit. I know you are in love with those pants and they hardly look worn but let’s face it, you got fat. Those pocket T-shirts you bought when you were size “L” can no longer fit on your “XXL” body. And, when is the last time you were able to buckle that belt your brother-in-law got you for Christmas when you came back from Korea. Maybe it’s time to donate them to our clothing drive.
And just one more thing...
Dirty clothes are never, never in style. I think I see more men wearing soiled shirts and pants than any other fashion malfunction.
Gray, dingy T’s and stained pants just look lousy.
We have a laundry that does a good job at getting out stains and whitening those T-shirts. Now, that we have a place to iron our clothes, there is no excuse for looking like a slob.
Editor’s note: I could have taken photos of actual clothes worn by actual male residents here at the Center but, I did not want to embarrass anyone more than they have already embarrassed themselves.
*Fashionista…A person devoted to fashion clothing, particularly unique or high fashion.
Do those new couches mean new problems?
Improvements come slowly here at the Center but when they come, they come big. The newest arrivals were installed last Wednesday in the auditorium and, at first look; they seem like a good idea.
I am talking about the appearance of three new couches that were placed along the back wall of the auditorium. The couches are there in response to the need for more seats for residents waiting in the crowded lobby area in front of the dining room.
With the addition of these three couches, it is hoped that the need for residents to drag chairs out of the auditorium and into the lobby will come to an end. However, if I know this place, these new seats may not be the godsend they were meant to be.
First, it is nearly impossible to get residents to try new things, of which changing their seats is one. At this age, people become very proprietary over their immediate environment. If they have been used to sitting in the same place at the same time with the same people every day, they won’t want to change. I predict that fights will break out when people refuse to give up their coveted lobby seat. I may be wrong, but only time will tell.
Of course, it could go the other way. I was down in the auditorium when they were unpacking and installing the couches and being one of the first people to sit on them I can report that they are comfortable and easy to get up from, the last item being of utmost importance when it comes to seating for the elderly. Therefore, the very fact that they are comfortable consequently will mean that they will become the new “place to be” thereby lighting the fuse for new arguments, as I said; only time will tell. However, the one thing that I can predict with some certainty is that it won’t be too long before one of the couches will have to be removed because (I am sorry to say it, but you know it’s true) somebody pees on it. Did somebody say plastic slip covers?
Never let it be said that we are not pro-active here at the Center. By all appearances, it looks like Mike Acevedo will be ready as soon as the first snow begins to accumulate on the ground. I caught a glimpse of the Center’s truck outfitted with its winter gear parked out back. I noticed that not only is there a hefty plow up front, but what looks like a salt spreader on the rear. Hey Mike, can I drive huh please?
I bet you thought that all of those leaves that the landscaping crew was blowing around and collecting last week were hauled away to some giant leaf mountain somewhere, wrong. Instead of removing them from the premises, they were just gathered together, blown to a spot behind the facility, and moved up against the fence. Actually, this may turn out to be a good thing if, by next spring, they compost (decompose) to a point where we can use them as a fertilizer for our garden. Nature does have a way of making everything even.
It certainly is not getting any better and, in fact, it may be getting worse. The mess left by residents in the Country Kitchen grows by leaps and bounds every day as more and more residents use the CK as their main dining room.
The Country kitchen was always meant to be a place where residents could have a snack, play a game of cards, enjoy a cup of coffee and schmooze with their friends. It was never intended to be an alternate to the main dining room, something that seems to have been forgotten. Every day, residents can be observed having their meals delivered to them by the staff, and for some residents this is not just an occasional thing. There are, as you know, those residents that treat the CK as their own personal dining room. For whatever reason, they (or the staff) have deemed it O.K. for them not to join their fellow diners for meals. These people are served food just about any time they feel like eating while the rest of us have to adhere to the regular dining hours. What would happen if all of us decided that we would rather have breakfast when we felt like it, or eat lunch or dinner when it is convenient for us? There would be utter chaos. However, this nonchalant attitude towards when and where someone eats is not what bothers me the most. What really pisses me off is the way these contrarians treat the room by showing little or no regard for their fellow residents who have to wade through their garbage just to be able to find a clean table to sit at.
The subject of “self-bussing” has been brought up at the monthly resident’s council meetings. Residents have been asked repeatedly to clean up after themselves, to no avail. How long will it be before they prohibit food in the CK altogether?
Food service manager and chef, Mike Palermo, recently announced a new policy concerning taking meals in the CK. If you are more than 30 minutes late to your assigned dinnertime you will be served in the dining room, but you may not get much of a choice of food items, whatever is left, that’s what you will be served. There will be no more late comers eating in the CK. In addition, it was announced that all meals would one hour in duration from the time the doors open. If you come a half hour late, you will only have a half hour to eat. This is being done so that the staff has time to clean up and prepare for the next meal.
As mentioned in last week’s blog, the Center finally moved into the 21st Century by installing a new fiber optic Wi-Fi network connection for all of us who use the internet here at the W.C.I.A.L., and I can state unequivocally that there is a big difference. While the transfer rate of 65mbps has not changed, the connection times as well as download times have been drastically reduced. This is especially noticeable during business hours when, in the past, trying to connect to a website, view streaming video or download something took forever. Now that problem has, for the most part been resolved. However, one problem remains, that dopey, prudish, overly protective, narrow minded and archaic firewall which keeps us from watching so-called adult material*. While I can understand that some people may be offended by such content, many others here are not, so why the firewall? It all goes along with the attitude by which we (the residents) are perceived.
Just because some of us act like children, the vast majority of the residents are bright, aware, active, liberally minded adults who, are familiar in the ways of the world and have no trouble dealing with what some may consider salacious material. Add this to the fact that very few of the residents use the internet and the ability everyone has to reject such material if they should come across it, makes this obstacle to freedom of speech something best left for North Korea or Iran.
* As I have pointed out in the past, not just blatantly adult sites are blocked; such sites that deal with medical issues are obstructed as well. Try to buy something from Victoria’s Secret and see what happens.
Words and pictures
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Frost, Robert (1874 - 1963)
Remember when they made you memorize this poem
A report on how our Thanksgiving dinner worked out next week in the “View” section
Last week, the Meatball Fairy (No inference intended) heard my prayers and sent to us not one but two extra meatballs.
It was only a week ago that I told you of how Parmesan cheese was the best thing since bottled ketchup, that I happened to mention that there were only two ping-pong ball sized meatballs served along with some very strange bowtie pasta. Clearly, someone in the kitchen was listening and made sure that, at least at table 23, a proper portion of those meaty little spheres appeared on top of some rigatoni. And, while there seems to be some adversity towards regular spaghetti as of late, at least the rigatoni was more in line with what kind of pasta should be served with meatballs.
I certainly hope that this increase in the quantity of meatballs per diner was not just a fluke mistakenly dished out to us by an intoxicated cook and that, in the future; we can expect more of the same. Now, if we can only do something about that pasta.
I am convinced that the best-prepared meal of the day here at the Center is breakfast and it’s a good thing too, because sometimes things go downhill from here. However, I am not here to complain but to praise.
Ever since the kitchen switched from those prefabricated, hockey pucks we used to get to real, big fluffy flap Jacks the residents wait with baited anticipation for Pancake Day and, last Thursday, Pancake Day had an added attraction. Not only were there the usual man-size pancakes and some nice thick slices of bacon, but the pancakes had blueberries in them, and not just a couple of them either. There was a veritable bounty of the semi-sweet little berries firmly implanted in the golden brown cakes. Therefore, my hat goes off to Chef Michael and his crew for realizing that variety is the spice of life and blueberries are what adds excitement to what is usually a humble meal. Will strawberries be next?
The little game, designed to test the cognitive powers of children should be easy for any adult to figure out, so why can’t they figure out that absolutely nothing goes with pizza. No three bean salad, no potato salad, not broccoli or any veggie. Pizza is one of those foods that need no sidekick. There is nothing that will enhance pizza in any way, except, (as I have said many times before) another slice of pizza which fortunately they remembered to include with last Friday’s lunch. I just wish they would learn.
Being a man of advanced years one expects many things to shrink or become smaller and while I am not happy about it, I have learned to accept what has happened, it’s life. However, the one thing that I will not accept less of is my precious bagel.
One of the things that my fellow residents and I look forward to every Sunday morning is our weekly ration of bagels and schmear of cream cheese and lox spread. For the past few Sundays, I have observed that the bagels have become smaller and smaller. What started out as a medium has now shrunk to a small. When it comes to bagels, size matters.
According to an article in the N.Y. Times, the minimum size for a bagel should be 31/2 inches in diameter with the size of a standard New York City bagel in the 4 to 41/2 inch range. The bagels we are served here barely meet the minimum standards with a diameter closer to three inches.
Therefore, I request that because the rest of the breakfast was what I like to call the “Lazy Chef’s Breakfast” requiring little or no cooking, is so skimpy that at least the bagel portion should be more in line with the accepted norm. No more baby bagels please.
Now that you are stuffed silly with turkey, devoured copious amounts of sweet potatoes, gorged yourself with buckets of cranberry sauce and embarrassed yourself after eating all the pumpkin pie what next. Most likely you will do what millions of Americans do after a ridiculously lavish Thanksgiving dinner, take a nap. With all that tryptophan coursing through your necrotic veins and arteries, there is not much more that you can do. However, while millions of us will be taking a nap, very few of us know how to do it correctly. That, my friends, is what I am here for. I am the lord of the lie-down, the sheriff of snooze, his Royal Highness of rest and the regent of repose. In other words, I know how to nap. Napping is not a science; it’s an art and should be treated as such, so how do we nap?
First, let me say that thinking about napping will get you nowhere. Dozing off should be natural, occurring when it occurs. Setting a special time to sleep is also wrong. The best way to begin the process is just sit or lie down wherever and whenever you can, put your feet up (never above your head) and turn on the TV.
Never watch football or any sporting event. Bruce Willis action movies are also out. My favorite movies, guaranteed to put you away are “The Bridges of Madison County” or any movie starring Meryl Streep.
Never use alcohol as a relaxation aide. You will only wake up with a headache and start yelling at your kids for waking you up however, a “digestif”* immediately after dinner will hasten the relaxation process.
Removing one’s shoes is optional but be mindful of where you are. If you are an invited guest in someone’s home you might want to keep those fishing boats on, you don’t want to set off the smoke detector. The same goes for loosening of the pants. We know you made a mistake wearing those brand new jeans that you bought in a hurry without trying them on and, now your colon has been squeezed to half the size it should be. Consequently, I am not going to tell you not to loosen those trousers however, make sure everything is securely in place. There is nothing more embarrassing than having an errant body part poking out from your tidy whities.
Finally, there is no set formula or time span for a nap. Naps can be as short as five minutes or as long as two or three hours. However, the “Instituto por la Siesta en Mexico” who has studied napping ever since Vasco de Gama passed out into a bowl of chili, says that a nap to be called a nap and not sleep should be at least 15 minutes and not more than one hour. How long your naptime should be depends on how long has it been since your boss noticed that you were not at your desk or how much time you have until the next football game on TV. How you make yourself doze off is your business. For me it’s writing long articles on how to take a nap. It does it for me all the ti…….
* A "digestif" or "digestivo" comes after dinner as opposed to an aperitif which is prelude to dinner.