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The following from the HHS is so important to me and says what I have been saying (and asking for) for years, that I am forgoing my usual self centered editorial comments in favor of this article...

HHS Offers New Guidance on Person-Centered Planning, Self-Direction

The nation’s Health and Human Services Department issued new guidance on person-centered planning and self-direction in June and a top official with the Administration for Community Living has offered some additional thoughts on guidance in a new blog.

Sharon Lewis, ACL principal deputy administrator and HHS senior adviser on disability policy, offers insight and shares stories on the new guidance, which requires the HHS secretary to ensure all states develop systems for home and community-based services and support (HCBS) and achieve a more consistent and coordinated approach to the administration of policies and procedures across programs providing HCBS.

Lewis said when person-centered planning is done thoughtfully it creates empowerment allowing for consideration of personal preferences as well as health and safety needs without restricting freedoms. “The best person-centered planning helps people live better lives, with support to do the things most important to them.”

Self-direction allows the person maximum control over HCBS including the amount, duration and scope of services and supports as well as choice of providers which may include family and friends. “…Self-direction embraces the values of freedom authority, autonomy, and responsibility to allow the person to participate in a community life with necessary supports.”

Each HHS agency has been tasked with implementing these new standards as they develop or revise regulations, policies and guidance, provide technical assistance, offer funding opportunities or take other actions, according to Lewis.

She added that ACL is currently developing a training program on person-centered counseling for people working in state No-Wrong Door systems along with developing a set of credentialing standards for person-centered planning. The No-Wrong Door System (   is an effort to streamline access to long-term services and support options for older adults and people with disabilities.

This article, and subsequent suggested reforms, goes to the heart of the matter for me and for many of my fellow residents who do not want or need to be “lumped” into the “one size fits all category” of health care and senior living. Yes, some of us need assistance, but not to the point of having our freedoms restricted. The sooner these reforms are acted upon the better it will be for all of us who for one reason or another are forced to live in assisted living communities.

OK, so last week in this blog I commented on how a new policy here at the Asylum of providing only one towel per day to each resident was both petty and counterproductive and, in some cases, even dangerous and should be reversed. Well, let me tell you how much difference a week (and a little blog) makes. Yesterday, upon returning to my room, I found five, (count ‘em, five) clean, fluffy towels hanging on the rack. Touche!

Although this article was intended mainly for lawyers litigating cases concerning the rights of residents in ALR’s, there is much useful information for those of us who have to live in these facilities.

Understanding Protections for Assisted Living Residents

Sean J. Doolan and Jeffrey M. Adams , New York Law Journal

As life expectancy rises, resulting in an increase in the population of seniors, there is a heightened demand for long-term care facilities. One type of facility where statutory protections differ from those of nursing homes are assisted living residences (ALRs). With approximately 30,000 ALRs serving almost 750,000 residents, assisted living is the fastest growing form of residential housing for older Americans.

This article will focus on statutory protections for residents at assisted living residences and what practitioners need to know when litigating claims on behalf of residents.

Between 2000 and 2010, people aged 85 to 94 increased approximately 30 percent; those 95 years old or older increased approximately 26 percent; and individuals 65 or above increased approximately 15 percent (over 40 million). By 2020 those aged 85 and older are projected to increase from 5.5 million to 6.6 million.


Unlike nursing homes, there are no federal regulations or standards that are applicable to assisted living residences. 

Article 28 of the Public Health Law, for instance, applies to nursing homes and not ALRs.

Recognizing the need to protect vulnerable citizens who reside in these facilities, the New York State Legislature enacted the Assisted Living Reform Act (ALRA) on Feb. 23, 2005.4 

The ALRA defines an ALR as "an entity which provides or arranges for housing, on site monitoring, and personal care services and/or home care services (either directly or indirectly), in a home-like setting to five or more adult residents unrelated to the assisted living provider." An ALR is not a hospital, nursing home, continuing care retirement community, mental health facility, independent senior housing, or an adult care facility. However, if a facility uses the term "assisted" in its marketing materials, it is subject to ALRA and Title 10.

The legislative intent of the ALRA is to further the "philosophy of assisted living emphasizing aging in place, personal dignity, autonomy, independence, privacy and freedom of choice…that contains consumer protections…[and] that enunciates and protects resident rights; and that provides adequate and accurate information for consumers…"

Traditional negligence claims are typically based upon a common law theory of liability. The Legislature has added a separate and distinct statutory cause of action against an ALR.

Licensing and Certifications

Prior to the passage of the ALRA, there were adult homes and enriched housing programs. The ALRA maintains both, but requires ALRs to first be licensed as an adult home or enriched housing program prior to applying for licensure as an ALR (exceptions exist to apply simultaneously). Once licensed for assisted living, the facility can apply for enhanced assisted living or special needs certification. With enhanced assisted living certification, the ALR may retain residents that are non-ambulatory (i.e., bed-bound). With special needs certification, the ALR may maintain a dementia unit.

Certification allows an ALR to retain a resident whose condition declines and needs additional care to complete daily activities (i.e., dementia that requires greater supervision). Consistent with the idea of aging in place, these certifications allow residents to remain in the same facility.


To become a resident of an assisted living residence, a person is required to undergo pre-screening and approval for admission by a physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Such steps are to be repeated annually and when there is a change in the individual's condition. See Section 4657.

An enhanced assisted living facility must meet the following requirements to admit residents:

• An assessment by a qualified person within 30 days prior to admission;

• A medical evaluation within 30 days of admission, when there is change in the resident's condition, and once every 12 months thereafter;

• Recording of information on significant medical history and current conditions, allergies, prescribed medications, ability to self-administer, recommendations for diet, exercise and recreation, frequency of medical examinations, cognitive and mental health statistics, and assistance with activities of daily living;

• A statement that the resident is suited for assisted living, Special Needs Assisted Living Residence (SNALR) or Enhanced Assisted Living Residence (EALR);

• A statement as to whether long-term medical needs or nursing care require placement in a nursing home;

• A statement as to whether nursing care is needed.

• Development of an individualized service plan (ISP) unless a doctor waives;

• The development of an ISP in accordance with the medical, nutritional, rehabilitation, functional, cognitive and other needs—implemented within 30 days of admission;

• An explanation as to how and by whom the services will be provided and accessed.

• Review and revision of the ISP every six months, as necessary, due to a change in needs, and/or as ordered by the physician; and

• At admission, development of a written ISP, with the assistance of the resident's physician.

Individualized Service Plans

Pursuant to New York Public Health Law 4659, an ISP must be developed for each resident upon admission. It must be created "with the resident, the resident's representative, the resident's legal representative, if any, the assisted living operator, and [if appropriate] a home care services agency." The resident's physician must also be consulted.

The law requires ISPs be implemented within the first 30 days of admission and reviewed and revised every six months, whenever ordered by a physician, or as necessary to reflect a change in care needs. To the extent necessary, the creation needs to be undertaken in consultation with the resident's physician, developed in accordance with the medical, nutritional, rehabilitation, functional, cognitive and other needs of the resident, include the services, how and by whom those services will be provided, and reviewed and revised as frequently as necessary to reflect changes in the resident's needs, but not less than once every six months.

Under the ALRA, residents have the right that their dignity, autonomy, independence and privacy be promoted, in the least restrictive and most home-like setting, commensurate with preferences and physical and mental status.

Any waiver of rights is void as against public policy. Residents are to be fully informed of their medical condition and proposed treatment; receive courteous, fair, respectful care and treatment; receive adequate and appropriate assistance with activities of daily living; be able to refuse treatment or medications (but only "after being fully informed of the consequences of such actions"); have private consultations with their lawyer; and be given the opportunity to provide their version of an accident/incident. The ALR must provide, and have conspicuously posted, a written statement of residents' statutory rights; their right to counsel; their right to obtain the facilities' licensure; and a consumer guide with the Health Department's toll free complaint number (866-893-6772).

There is no independent measure of damages for a violation of a resident's rights as exists in a nursing home case. A common defense is that the resident refused care, such as turning and positioning, or was non-compliant. The ALRA helps to defuse this defense. If a resident refuses care or is non-compliant, the ALR must inform the resident of the consequences of such actions.

For lawyers:

In addition, demand the Resident's Council minutes. The Resident's Council is where residents can state grievances.

Case management of the Individualized Service Plan requires oversight and coordination, as well as the ability to meet the resident's needs at the time of admission and at least every 12 months thereafter. Case management also provides referrals on an ongoing basis, coordinates services to be provided, and develops a formal mechanism between the case manager and staff to identify abrupt or progressive changes in behavior or appearance.11

Requirements include maintaining complete and accurate personal records for each resident, providing personal care to enable the resident to maintain good hygiene and health, carrying out activities of daily living and participation in activities. Sections 1000.12 and 1001.7(h) of Chapter X of Title 10 of the New York Codes Rules and Regulations.

Safeguards to properly manage medication require compliance with the regulations. This includes physician orders for all PRN medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, which shall identify resident behaviors or symptoms warranting the need for mediation.12

The operator of an enhanced assisted living facility providing services normally given by a home health care agency shall develop appropriate policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, service-specific delivery standards consistent with the current professional standards of practice, staff supervision (reviewed and revised as necessary), and documentation of service delivery.

Additional requirements for the operator of a Special Needs ALR require vigilance of the general whereabouts of each resident. If a resident becomes absent, certain procedures must be followed and family and law enforcement must be notified. To insure proper supervision and care, all shifts must be properly staffed.

Case management records and the ISP in SNALRs shall identify resistance to care and include a care plan to address it. Food is to be offered outside of usual meal time and in a manner acceptable to special needs. The care plan should reflect functional abilities, preferences and diet. Unless contrary to orders, prescribed nutritional supplements shall be provided between meals. In addition, weather permitting, residents must be provided daily outdoor activities.

Once suit based upon a violation is filed it is necessary to proceed with all resources available to the practitioner.

Practice Points: In discovery, demand all policies and procedures of the facility, and copies of all contractual agreements between health care providers and the facility.

A claim for breach of contract under appropriate consumer protection laws should be considered as it may allow for additional damages and broader discovery.

Weigh a claim for breach of contract under appropriate consumer protection laws. This may allow for additional damages and broader discovery.

Read more: 


By John Fryters /The Prince Albert Daily Herald

Since the beginning of the 21st century, in more and more countries around the world, particularly in the more progressive countries in Europe, there is a growing movement by senior citizens wanting to form or forming their own political parties. 

For instance, we have the Senior Citizen Party of Finland, Senioren 2000 in The Netherlands, the Swedish Senior Citizen Interest Party, the Senior Citizen Party in the United Kingdom, the Scottish Senior Citzens Unity Party -- just to mention a few.

As in Canada, most of these countries are facing an increasing population of seniors over the next few decades.  For instance, the Senioren 2000 Party in The Netherlands estimated that by 2010 more than 28 per cent (almost one third ) of the Dutch population would be over 55 years of age.

Though these movements are pretty young and most of the established political parties are looking at them as “fringe movements”, they have made steady gains from 2000 to today.  For instance, the SSCUP (Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party), at the 2011 Scottish elections, placed sixth among all the running parties. Pretty impressive!!!!!

Elections are decided by the people who show up at the polls. For instance, in the United States, the oldest citizens are the most likely to cast their ballots, which gives them political cloud beyond their numbers alone.  Some 61 per cent of citizens age 65 and older voted in the November 2010 US elections.

With all levels of government having to find ways to pay for all services and programs, senior citizens have a vested interest in protecting the valuable benefits they receive from governments.  

In Canada, the federal government is already forced to start tinkering with some of these benefits.  If these popular government programs for senior citizens were to change, it would dramatically affect the lives of most retirees.  

Andrea Louise Campbell, a political science associate professor, puts it well: “Because senior citizens vote at very high rates, many politicians feel they need to be very careful about the stances they take on pensions and the provision of health care, and those issues can dominate the conversation.  Programs that benefit the working class are often more hidden.”

In Canada, though we do not have (as of yet) any political movement by seniors themselves, we do see that they are gradually starting to organize themselves socially and otherwise.  

We also see pressure within existing political parties to start paying particular attention to this growing segment of the population. Don’t forget that the combined group of politicians are also looking at a segment within their own ranks who are over the age of 55.  

There is a general agreement among most politicians that older citizens should receive “more respect” because of the investment they made in their respective communities. However, this is counter-acted by more and more seniors who feel isolated from the general population.  Therefore, the 1997 slogan of the Dutch party for seniors was “Seniors, worthy and equal.”  

Consequently, that same party called for to increase the pressure and influence by all seniors on all levels of government.

The Seniors Party in Scotland has been calling for an index-linked basic weekly state pension of 160 English pounds for all senior citizens, the removal of all senior citizens from poverty in Scotland, the abolition of means-testing for senior citizens, free nationwide travel for all seniors, and other policies -- by no means simple demands for most politicians to handle.  Did you know that this party, in fact, elected a sitting member of the Scottish parliament prior to 2007?

So, what can we do in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and Canada?  The options are unlimited:

• Put due pressure on your elected representatives (municipal, provincial and federal). As already said -- ask questions, questions, and questions and demand appropriate answers and actions.

consider running for office yourself and truly represent your age group.  Become involved with the policy developers within the established political parties.

• Join a movement to start a new political party especially for seniors.

• Become an advocate for the weakest in your age group.

• Ban together in any forum, not only politically (church, social club, service club, etc ...) because together you will be stronger and able to access that Grey Power.

 Read more...,-2013/1

As far as I know, an incident such as this has never happened here. I am presenting this to you as a reminder that people do make mistakes and pharmacies are not always that diligent. If your meds are not distributed to you on time, COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN.

Report: Without key meds, seizure kills Twin Cities assisted-living resident

Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune

Disabled resident went 10 days without key medication, then had a 15-minute seizure.

A disabled resident at a south Minneapolis assisted-living facility suffered a seizure and later died after going for 10 days without a key medication, according to a state investigation that cited the facility’s staff for failing to restock the prescription.

The March 6 death is being blamed on St. Paul-based Accessible Space Inc. for failing “to adequately supervise staff to ensure medications were available,” according to a summary of the Health Department report.

The medication, phenobarbital, had been keeping the resident’s seizures in check “for several years” before he missed his twice-a-day prescription 19 times over a 10-day period, the report noted. The client last took the drug on Feb. 23, the report said. On March 5, he “had a seizure that lasted for 15 minutes” and died the next day in a hospital, the report continued.

The death certificate said the seizure brought on respiratory failure.

We urge you, please tell someone if your meds are not delivered on time or are incorrect. In the end, you are responsible for yourself.


A substitute for the MS WORD blues

There’s no question about it. For text writing and formatting, there is nothing better than MS Word. MS Word is the go-to product for writers mainly because of it’s user friendly interface. It’s very WYSIWYG. However, MS Word is not cheap and, unless it came free* with your computer, it can cost around $300 to get the software, too expensive for us non professionals. But there is a solution.

For some reason the starter version of MS Word that came with my laptop stopped working properly. It crashed often and I was losing data. Normally, when that happens, I would just re-install the software. Unfortunately Microsoft, in all of its wisdom, does not offer a download for “Wordstarter”, opting to sell you the full version instead. I started looking for substitutes, and found some good ones.

The first MS Office sub I tried was Apache Openoffice While it has all the bells and whistles of the Microsoft version, they are hard to find and manipulate. The interface is generally confusing and is not really user friendly. I used this for a while but I was not happy with it.

Next, I went to an old standby, IBM Lotus Symphony.  This is the granddaddy of word processing software and it shows. While it works, it too is harder to use and a little quirky especially when attempting to add graphics to text. However, it was a little easier than the OpenOffice software. And then I found this.

WPS, is the closest thing I have found to Word. The interface is familiar and it has many of the same features, in the same place, on the tool bar where it belongs. Graphics are easy to manipulate and edit with many of the same features found in MS Word. The spreadsheet program is similar to Excel and the “Presentation” sub for Power Point has many nice templates as well.

My suggestion is, keep your present word processing software and download the WPS. Switch between the two and see if you don’t like. You can always uninstall at any time.


New Survey by The Senior Citizens League Finds Two Medicare Fixes that Seniors Hate Most

PRWEB.COM Newswire

An overwhelming majority of seniors oppose two Medicare changes that are among the most widely - discussed reforms in Congress, according to a new survey by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL). Eighty one percent of seniors strongly oppose a proposal that would impose a significantly higher annual deductible while restricting supplemental Medigap plans from covering the cost. Only 1 percent of those responding favored the idea. Seventy four percent also strongly oppose replacing Medicare with a premium support system of private health plans, and giving beneficiaries a premium subsidy or voucher to shop for a new health plan. Just 5 percent said they favored this idea. "Both plans shift costs to seniors, something the vast majority can ill afford," says TSCL Chairman Ed Cates.

Sixty seven percent of seniors participating in the survey said they already spend up to one third of their Social Security benefits on Medicare costs. Another 21 percent said they spent up to one half. "Because health care costs are rising more rapidly than Social Security benefits, spending on Medicare takes an increasing share of senior income as seniors age," says Cates.

Nevertheless, Congress is considering ways to "redesign" Medicare. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that changing the cost-sharing rules for Medicare and restricting Medigap coverage would save the federal government $114 billion over the next ten years. Medicare supplements, better known as Medigap, cover Medicare's deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. The plans are popular with seniors because they provide financial certainty by reducing unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

New research, however, suggests that Medigap substantially increases Medicare spending, because seniors with the policies are insulated from costs. Those with polices tend to receive more medical care than people who are required to pay some or all of the costs of their care out-of-pocket. According to the CBO, a 2010 study found that Medicare beneficiaries responded to increases in their cost sharing by reducing visits to physicians and use of prescription drugs. "Making seniors pay higher initial Medigap cost-sharing affects both senior budgets, and senior health -- especially if seniors forego necessary care," Cates notes.

The CBO estimates that replacing Medicare with a premium support system would save the federal government as much as $275 billion over ten years. The CBO also estimates that premiums paid by affected beneficiaries, however, would be about 30 percent higher on average by 2020 than the current projected Part B premium. In addition, the CBO said that shifting seniors to private plans would affect access to providers, a problem that many seniors are experiencing with Medicare Advantage plans now.

The TSCL survey found that, to improve Medicare's finances, seniors strongly support ramping up anti-fraud efforts, and better integration of care to reduce duplication's of tests, services, and expensive imaging. What do you think? Take a poll. Visit TSCL's website at

With about 1 million supporters, The Senior Citizens League is one of the nation's largest non-partisan seniors groups. Located just outside Washington, D.C., its mission is to promote and assist members and supporters, to educate and alert senior citizens about their rights and freedoms as U.S. Citizens, and to protect and defend the benefits senior citizens have earned and paid for. The Senior Citizens League is a proud affiliate of TREA The Enlisted Association. Please visit or call 1-800-333-8725 for more information.

Read the full story at:

It’s been a couple of years now since doctors detected a fungal infection on both my retinas. Fortunately, they were able to treat it but not before some scaring took place which effects how I see. Although I am far from blind, reading small print for long periods of time causes my eyes to become “tired” and irritated. Reading books on Kindle, where I can increase the size of the type is a big help. All of this got me to thinking about what it must be like to be blind or have vision so poor as to make everyday life difficult to the point of impossibility. How depressing it must be not to be able to read a book, a label on a can, watch TV or go online and, in the case of the elderly, it can be even worse. The NIH realized that there is a correlation between eye site and depression as put forth in this article...

Rehabilitation helps prevent depression from age-related vision loss

NIH-funded study brought together eye care and mental health professionals

AMD is a leading cause of vision loss in the United States. About 2 million Americans age 50 and over have vision loss from AMD, and about 8 million have an earlier stage of the disease, with or without vision loss. AMD causes damage to the macula, a spot near the center of the retina that is needed for sharp, straight-ahead vision. It can affect one eye or both, which is called bilateral AMD. As the disease progresses, it can cause a growing blurred area near the center of vision, and lead to difficulty with everyday activities, including the ability to drive, read, write, watch television, cook, and do housework

Activities that used to be fun and fulfilling may begin to seem burdensome or even impossible. With loss of the ability to drive and navigate unfamiliar places, it becomes easier to stay at home than to see friends or meet new people. All of this can take a toll on mental health, and past studies have found that as many as one-third of people with bilateral AMD develop clinical depression.

“The depression is a response to disability, so we reasoned an effective treatment would be to reduce the disability through rehabilitation,” Dr. Rovner said. In the Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial (VITAL), he led a team of psychologists, ophthalmologists, optometrists, and occupational therapists to test an approach called behavior activation.

“Behavior activation involves helping people to focus on activities they enjoy, to recognize that loss of those activities can lead to depression, and to re-engage in those activities,” said Robin Casten, Ph.D., a co-author and an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Jefferson. Helping people maintain an active social life is an important part of the approach, she said.

The trial recruited 188 participants with bilateral AMD from an ophthalmology practice affiliated with Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia. “We felt that this trial addressed an important need. Ophthalmologists have many tools at the ready for treating AMD, and we are continuing to forge links with other health care providers to effectively treat the whole patient,” said Allen C. Ho, M.D., director of the Clinical Retina Research Unit at Wills Eye Hospital and professor of ophthalmology at Jefferson.

The participants were 84 years of age on average, 70 percent were women, and 50 percent lived alone. All had a best-corrected vision of less than 20/70. (A person with 20/70 vision sees an object from 20 feet away as clearly as a person with normal vision sees it at 70 feet away.) Each participant had mild depressive symptoms and was at risk for developing clinical depression, based on a nine-item depression sub test of the Patient Health Questionnaire, or PHQ-9.

During the trial, the participants had two visits with an optometrist, during which they were prescribed low-vision devices such as hand held magnifiers. After those initial visits, the participants were randomly split into two groups.

One group received behavior activation from an occupational therapist specially trained in the approach. The occupational therapist worked with participants to guide them on using the low-vision devices, to make changes around the home (such as using brighter lights and high-contrast tape), to increase their social activities, and to help them set personal goals and break these down into manageable steps.

“Blending the behavior activation with low-vision rehabilitation was straightforward and natural,” said Mark Hegel, Ph.D., also a co-author and a professor of psychiatry at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine in Hanover, New Hampshire. “Occupational therapy helps people regain valued activities in their daily lives, and behavior activation capitalizes on this through formal goal setting and reinforcement of progress.”

The second group of participants served as a control group. They talked about their difficulties to a therapist, but did not receive behavior activation or low-vision occupational therapy. Both groups had six one-hour therapy sessions in their homes over a two-month period. All participants were allowed to take antidepressants, but less than 10 percent did so. All received medical management of AMD as prescribed by their primary eye care providers.

By four months, 12 participants in the control group and seven participants in the behavior activation group had withdrawn from the trial or passed away. Of the remaining 169 participants, 18 (23.4 percent) in the control group and 11 (12.6 percent) in the behavior activation group developed clinical depression, based on retesting with the PHQ-9. Behavior activation had the most benefit for participants with the worst vision (less than 20/100), reducing the risk of depression by about 60 percent compared to controls. When the data were adjusted for vision status, physical health and baseline PHQ-9 score, behavior activation reduced the risk of depression by 50 percent compared to the control treatment.

“AMD is typically diagnosed and treated in primary eye care settings, where there is no defined standard of care for depression. This study was a unique and compelling effort to address that issue by strengthening teamwork between eye care professionals and mental health professionals,” said Eleanor Schron, Ph.D., group leader for clinical applications at NEI.

Dr. Rovner said he hopes the study will serve as a model for similar approaches to preventing and treating depression in AMD. When approved by a physician, occupational therapy is reimbursable through Medicare.

“Stronger links between primary eye care and mental health care workers would be needed to make behavior activation more widely available for AMD patients,” Dr. Rovner said. Specialized instruction would also be needed for occupational therapists, who are not typically trained in behavior activation.

“We built this to be an affordable treatment. Now we would like to see it become accessible,” he said. The study is continuing to follow participants to see if the benefits of treatment are maintained out to one year.

Other study authors were Robert Massof, Ph.D., of the Wilmer Eye Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore; Benjamin Leiby, Ph.D., at Jefferson; and William Tasman, M.D., at Wills Eye Hospital.

VITAL is funded by NEI grant EY018819. For more information, visit (NCT00769015). For more information about AMD, visit For more information about living with low vision, please visit

For a copy of the Ophthalmology article, please contact the American Academy of Ophthalmology press office at

I know that there are sooo many of you who can’t wait to leave your home and move into an assisted living facility. I also know that you may have questions about protecting your eligibility for assisted living housing as if it were some great bargain. Evidently, others also have questions about this subject so here is the answer.

 Does Selling Your House Affect Eligibility For Assisted Living?

By Michelle Andrews

Q. I’m a Realtor who’s listing a client’s home. She is on Social Security and is moving into assisted-living housing. Will the proceeds from the sale of her home affect her eligibility for housing, which is based on her income?

A. This is an unusual question because assisted-living facilities typically do not have special eligibility criteria for low-income residents, experts say. 

In general, assisted living is privately funded, paid for by people with their Social Security benefits and other income, supplemented when necessary by other resources. 

“It’s common to sell your home to finance your care,” says Maribeth Bersani, senior vice president of public policy at the Assisted Living Federation of America, a trade group.

Assisted-living facilities enable people who need help with daily activities like bathing or eating to remain in a residential setting rather than a nursing home. The average monthly cost for a private one-bedroom apartment was just over $3,000 in 2009, according to ALFA.

However, some assisted-living facilities accept a certain number of low-income people who meet income and/or asset standards and could not afford the regular fees, says Bonnie Burns, a consultant for California Health Advocates, a Medicare advocacy organization. It appears that this facility may be one of them, she says.

If that’s the case, it is possible, according to Burns, that this homeowner would be ineligible for housing if the proceeds from the sale push her beyond the income or asset limits set by the facility.

“It depends on how the assisted living facility evaluates her income and assets,” she says.


I have never purported myself to be a fashion maven or even to have good taste when it comes to clothes. I am certainly not an expert on haute couture, or low couture for that matter. However, I think I know the difference between what is acceptable and what isn’t. Anybody who has read this, or some other senior blogs is aware of how important it is that we (seniors) are not perceived as a group of senile, out of touch wacko’s who walk around in muumuu’s and sweat pants with soup stains on our pants and white patent leather belts with shoes to match. One of the ways to dispel this myth is to dress our age. The problem is that most of us are wearing the same clothes we wore when we were teenagers and, while it was good back then, you ain’t 17 anymore and you can no longer pull of the tight jeans, the short skirts or tube tops, and that goes for you ladies too. The editors at have gone around the city and collected what they think hip seniors should be wearing. While I can’t say that I agree with all of them (sorry, I’m not wearing an orange zoot suit), some of the fashions are quite stylish.

10 Fabulous Style Tips From Senior Citizens

Angela Vitello/BuzzFeed Staff

SEE 8 MORE....



It was a week of chicken dinners here at the Asylum, each presenting its own unique problems.

I know it was just lunch, which means that not much attention is paid to what comes out of the kitchen here because many residents skip lunch or order out. But even for here, this lunch was just plain nasty. And, what is even more sad is that, when I took it back to the kitchen to show to the cook, I was met with “Yea, so what’s wrong with it?” as if a cold piece of overcooked chicken with a ketchup-laden bar-b-cue sauce baked into it needed any further explanation. In addition, when I asked why the sauce was baked into it and not poured on top like any respectable BBQ sandwich should be, the explanation was as equally inane. “The last time I poured sauce over a BBQ sandwich, everybody said they didn't like it” , said the cook, to which I can only say “Those people wouldn't know a decent BBQ sandwich if it came up and bit them in the ass.” To serve inedible food like this because there are a couple of malcontent residents whose most exotic meal was a grilled cheese sandwich with mayo is not an excuse for poorly cooked food. More pride has to be taken with what comes out of the kitchen here. If the food is something that you, in all consciousness (as a cook) would not eat, it should not be served.

Every time I have gone to KFC, stepped up to the counter and ordered a bucket, I have been asked the question, “Would you like that regular or extra crispy?” To the best of my recollection, I have never been asked if I would like that chicken “Extra Soggy”, mainly because they don’t feature that particular style on their menu. In fact, I don’t think that you could order the chicken that way even if you insisted. It appears that only here, within the confines of the Center, can one find this rare delicacy. Actually, chicken made in this manner was the Colonel’s favorite. No, not Colonel Sanders, Colonel Rudolf von Schnitzel of the third Panzer division whose last words were “I don’t care if the chicken is soggy Fritz, Patton just crossed the Rhine.” However, just because the chicken was not as crispy as I would have liked it, I did not say it wasn’t half-way decent. In fact, the batter, despite its lack of crispness, was properly seasoned and did not overwhelm the tender pieces of chicken beneath. In addition, I was served a decent three piece portion and, although I would have preferred corn on the cob, the creamed corn side dish was well worth the effort.

Chicken week came to an end with this little offering, Chicken Fricassee, and a lesson. If you have a choice, never order the breasts. For some reason the breasts are always tougher and drier than the legs or wings. This may be due to a number of reasons. Either the meat on the breasts is denser than that on the legs and therefore must cook longer to come up to that magic 160F temperature or, the legs are from younger, more tender birds while the breasts are from chickens receiving social security. Whatever the reason, if the chicken you get is tough, send it back. Perhaps, if enough of us do this they will get the idea and “Do chicken right”.

* I gave this 3 “Foodies” only after I exchanged the breasts for a leg.

There were other dishes besides chicken...

Greetings Comrade, for lunch today, Russian pork sandwich. Is just like regular pork sandwich except in Russia, sandwich eats you. Ha ha!, just a little Russian humor, why you no laugh? 

All kidding aside, Wednesday’s lunch offering was not bad at all. The truth is, I rather enjoyed it even if the sandwich would have tasted better had the meat been corned beef instead of a very leathery slice of roast pork. Maybe it was the name that confused people, as the servers were having trouble describing what exactly this sandwich was all about to those less adventurous diners who insist on knowing what’s in the food before they eat it. But for the rest of us who have been brought up on Jewish Deli sandwiches, the combination of meat, Russian dressing and sauerkraut was not all that strange. Those residents who are more of the white bread and mayo crowd, might have found this combo a bit too exotic for their tastes. However, for those of us who appreciate a combination of unlikely ingredients, this sandwich hit the spot. Dosvedanya.

The burgers here at the Asylum are rarely good and the fries not much better, but for a quick lunch they are usually tolerable, until last Friday. For some reason the burgers were a little smaller, a little more overcooked and served at barely room temperature. All this, plus the plain, tasteless bun, made this lunch reminiscent of a McDonald’s Kids Happy Meal. In addition, adding insult to injury, the “tater tot” style potatoes fell apart at the very touch of a fork. There was absolutely no attention paid to making this meager offering anything better then a handout at a homeless shelter. Even a toy would not have made this burger any better.

Imagine, if you will, that you were told that, by law, you could never eat a poached, soft boiled or fried egg over easy, again. Imagine also, that you were prohibited form having a hamburger cooked medium or that all of the food that you will ever eat for the rest of your life can only be cooked within an inch of its life. I suppose that you would be pretty angry and have some questions for whomever perpetrated this abomination. Well, this is exactly what every resident of an assisted living facility (and nursing home and probably prison) in the state of New York has to put up with at every meal that is cooked here which, for most of us, means every meal we eat. Here’s the problem.

Even though the last major outbreak of salmonella in New York State occurred in 1994* and only minor localized cases since then, the antiquated rules governing how food in assisted living facilities must be cooked (to a temperature not lower than 160F) still persists. However, my problem is not so much with at what temperature the food must be cooked but rather that we, the residents of these facilities, have been singled out. Therefore, I question why the N.Y. State Department of Health (the governing body in this case) which permits every other restaurant, fast food, diner, food truck or food stand in the state to cook eggs over easy or medium rare burgers etc., does not permit it here, where we (seniors) live. To me this is defacto discrimination in its purest form. The mere fact that I can go beyond the gate, here where I live, and have a poached egg at any diner in the county but not here where I live, says something about how a certain group of people are considered second class citizens.

*From the NIH.

Long Island Senior-Citizen Softball Beef Includes Almost Every Old-Person Cliché Ever

By Jen Kirby/ NY Post

Two Long Island septuagenarians could not handle the competitive intensity of their "Super Senior" softball league, letting a little squabble over team uniforms escalate into a probably very-slow-motion, bench-clearing brawl. The New York Post reports that 72-year-old Robert Willis is now suing his former teammate, 74-year-old Ronald Tagliaferri, over threats following the incident, including a voice mail from Tagliaferri warning Willis to “look out” because he knows where he “gets his prescriptions filled.”

Willis switched teams, and hopefully pharmacies, but Tagliaferri kept at it, needing to be restrained at another game because Willis, whose hearing isn’t what it used to be, didn’t hear the umpire call him out after a play. It all escalated beyond Grumpy Old Men territory when Taglieferri allegedly left another message saying he was he was going to beat Willis’s “brains out with a baseball bat."

Tagliaferri, who, not surprisingly, is very passionate about softball, denies the charges. “He has osteoporosis. He doesn’t walk too great. I wouldn't do anything to [hurt] this guy,” he said, stressing some very geriatric-themed excuses as his defense.



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Customer or Product

Which are we?

Something really bummed me out the other afternoon. On my way back from lunch, and a particularly poor one at that, I was startled to see our administrator hurriedly exiting the little conference room carrying what appeared to be a platter of shrimp and cocktail sauce. He dashed across the lobby holding the tray like a waiter on a cruise ship and disappeared into the office. It appears that, once again, someone or some group of “special” non-residents were being rewarded with an offering of food that we (residents) will never see here. All this comes on the heels of a function given here last week to a group of social workers who were wined and dined with a buffet of salmon in Champagne sauce and Chicken Francaise as well as wine. To me, this is a testament to an archaic marketing plan devised by someone who’s only regards is to the bottom line and, rather than to improve things around the facility itself, things that would be beneficial to the people that live here and pay for that “privilege”, has decided that pandering to the supply side is a better route to take. Which leads to the question “What exactly is our position here.” Are we the “customer” or the “product.” if the events of the last couple of weeks mean anything, I can only believe we are the latter. Let me elaborate.

If this were a real business, that was really interested in profits, they would concentrate their efforts on building a better customer experience and thereby gain market share through word of mouth which leads to a lower dollar to sales ratio. Simply put, if you make a good product customers will be lined up at your door to buy it. If the product is poorly made and the customers become dissatisfied with it, the word gets out and sales fall no matter how much advertising and marketing they do. Such, I believe , is the case here. Once thriving, this facility has become a place with a declining occupancy rate and unsatisfied residents because they have forgotten one thing. They have forgotten who their customer is. They wrongly believe that their customer base lies in that vast unknown land of social workers and senior living recommendation services while subjugating us residents to the other part of the marketing mix, the product. Take, as example, the automobile industry.

Beginning with the 1960’s and lasting until the new century, American cars were on the decline both in quality and sales. They had been happily resting on their laurels while the foreign auto makers were producing better cars. The “Big Three” were mired in their own complacency and had lost sight of how to please a customer. They were producing a product nobody wanted while treating their customers as if they did not matter. After a while, those customers began to look elsewhere for cars and found the Japanese more than willing to accommodate their wishes. Now. After decades of declining sales, the U.S, auto industry is making a comeback. The same will hold true for this facility as well. That is as soon as management realizes who is important here and stops looking at the residents as the “product” and starts seeing us as the customer. After all, how far do you think Ford would get if the asked every Crown Vic what color it would like to be painted or whether or not it wanted floor mats. It is time management (and I’m talking about corporate management here) starts to accept the fact that it is us residents who will eventually decide on whether or not this facility, or any other ALF, thrives or fails.

Professional Sales Trainer Mike Miller of Primo Solutions, who is the author of "Stop Selling and Start Caring" and "Selling at Combat Speed," will present a half-day sales training seminar May 19 before ALFA's 2014 Conference & Expo in Phoenix.

What Does It Mean to Stop Selling and Start Caring?

By Mike Miller -sales training

Helping a prospective resident and family find the right senior community is serious business that must be well crafted by sales and marketing professionals to ensure everyone reaches the collective goal of finding the right community for each individual.

Professional sales trainer Michael Miller has been studying the intricacies of how families make choices when it comes to senior living and how sales staff can understand that process in a deep and effective way.

“One of the things we’ve learned over the years is that we have some of the greatest people in the world who work in this industry,” said Miller, who also taps into his skill set garnered from years in the military.

From conducting “mystery shopping” by listening to sales staff describe communities to prospective residents, he’s noticed that sales counselors might have a set list of questions, but there’s “not a lot of drill down,” he said. While it’s good to have guidelines “once sales staff has asked that first question, you really don’t know what the next question will be until you hear their answer. …Really listening is key.”

It’s critical to build a rapport with every prospect. If someone calls and says I want pricing information on one bedrooms, Miller recommends a sales person just doesn’t rattle off “here’s what we have and this is what it costs,” but to really build a relationship and find out about that person’s situation. “Invite them in for a community event,” he said or if they eventually choose another community, send a card to them there. You never know when they may want a new experience.”

He also is seeing the trend that adult children are getting more involved in the decision making process than before. But these families are often hearing “the same spiel as if they were shopping for a car…and typically a prospect will call seven to 10 communities but visit two to three. They are looking for reasons not to come and visit as they try to narrow the list down,” Miller said.

Sales staff can really show they care by reaching out and connecting on an emotional level. “When an adult child calls, 98% of the time that counselor doesn’t ask how they are handling this. Many sales people make the mistake of almost trying to prequalify someone over the phone rather than really come up with a solution that meets their needs,” he said.

He’s learned that many families voice objections about a particular residence such as cost or readiness, but “the majority of the time that’s not the real objection although sales staff spend a lot of time trying to overcome that objection.”

Miller will explain techniques and strategies to determine the gravity of those objections among many other things at a four-hour sales training boot camp Monday, May 19 in Phoenix, Arizona. Registration for this event is separate from the registration for the ALFA’s Conference & Expo ALFA’s Conference & Expo, May 20-22 in Phoenix. 

More information, including registration is available at the ALFA Conference website. Miller welcomes registrants to suggest topics they would like covered, including challenges they may be facing.

“Even if attendees implement just one of 10 things we talk about, they will do better in overcoming challenges and expanding their approach,” he said.


Remember, although you are a resident of an assisted living facility you are also a customer, something that people who run these facilities seem to forget. They also forget that happy employees make happy customers (residents). Therefore if you are not treated with the respect you deserve perhaps your HHA, med room tech or housekeeper is not treated with respect either. Although the following article pertains to the travel industry the ideas presented here bode well for any business that serves people.

The better a company treats their employees the better employees treat their customers.

By...Alexander Kjerulf/ The Huffington Post

Rosenbluth International, a corporate travel agency since bought by American Express, took it even further. CEO Hal Rosenbluth wrote an excellent book about their approach called Put The Customer Second - Put your people first and watch'em kick butt.

Rosenbluth argues that when you put the employees first, they put the customers first. Put employees first and they will be happy at work. Employees who are happy at work give better customer service because:

  • They care more about other people, including customers
  • They have more energy
  • They are happy, meaning they are more fun to talk to and interact with
  • They are more motivated

On the other hand, when the company and management consistently side with customers instead of with employees, it sends a clear message that:

  • Employees are not valued
  • Treating employees fairly is not important
  • Employees have no right to respect from customers
  • Employees have to put up with everything from customers

When this attitude prevails, employees stop caring about service. At that point, genuinely good service is almost impossible -- the best customers can hope for is fake good service. You know the kind I mean: courteous on the surface only.

Read more:


How a $6 floor mat could save your life

recently learned of a very disturbing accident which took place here last week. It seems that one of our residents, a lady who shall remain nameless due to HIPPA regulations, slipped and fell in her bathroom and was taken to the hospital with 2 broken hips.* Unfortunately, although this particular incident represents the worst that can happen, it is not an isolated one. Practically every week we hear of one of our neighbors slipping and injuring themselves in their bathrooms. While some of those injuries are minor resulting only in a bruised bum and ego, some are more serious requiring medical attention. On numerous occasions I have come across someone here with a sprained wrist, twisted ankle or a tell-tale black and blue mark somewhere on their bodies, all as a result of bathroom mishap. 

Let's face it, bathrooms are dangerous, especially for older adults whose balance and mobility are not what they used to be and whose injuries are compounded by brittle bones and previous mishaps, and the bathrooms here are particularly dangerous because of the very slippery vinyl tile floors. 

Now let me make this clear. When I talk about the floors, I am speaking of the floor outside of the shower, not the shower itself which has a built-in non-stick surface, plus a facility provided bath mat** in addition to sturdy handrails in the shower itself. Unfortunately, when a resident steps out of the shower and, even if he dries himself, the floor may still be wet due to improper closing of the shower curtain. This wetness, combined with the natural slipperiness of a vinyl floor is an accident waiting to happen. But there is a solution.

After a number of near misses myself, I began to put a towel down on the floor next to the shower. This helped somewhat, but the towel was dangerous in itself, not having anything to keep it from slipping. After realizing that it would be up to me to be responsible for my own safety, I decided to purchase a bathroom rug on my own. Now, when I step out of the shower, I put my feet down on a nice, plush shag carpet with a safety-grip back and, it only cost me $6.00 at Walmart. Therefore, I urge everyone here, who does not already have one (or even better, two)   to order them immediately. In the meantime, until your rug arrives, make sure the floor is dry. Don't be afraid to ask for an additional towel to wipe the floor. The resulting injuries from  these falls will almost always result in a painful injury, or worse.

*As of this writing, the resident in question has already undergone  successful surgery on one hip and is awaiting surgery on the other. We can only wish her the very best.

** The facility is required by state law to provide each resident's shower with a shower/bath mat. They are not required to provide you with a bath rug. 

Another penny-pinching move that will come back to haunt them.

I'm just going to come right out and say it, “This is the most asinine, petty, stupid, non- productive dictum to come down the pike since I have been here at the Asylum.”  A rumor, later confirmed, that residents will be limited to only one towel and one washcloth per day has been circulating around the facility. This is so stupid because, once again, the management has failed to fully think about the repercussions of such a ridiculous move. In addition, they have failed to recognize the ingenuity of the residents to get what they want when they want it. Because, as we all know, the residents will always be smarter and more cunning than management or staff because we  just have so much more experience doing it. Here is what is going to happen if this new “rule” is initiated.

First, there will be an outcry from the residents. An angry mob will congregate outside the office with pitchforks and torches in hand. Next, there will be hoarding of towels by the residents, causing a shortage and more outcries from both residents and housekeeping. Third, residents will not be able to pass one of housekeeping's carts without grabbing a bunch of towels for themselves. Again, causing a shortage. And then, there is the problem of personal hygiene.

It is a well known fact that many people in this facility are, how shall I put it without offending, just plain smelly. They either forget to bathe or just don't like it, and the lack of a proper and abundant source of drying devices, i.e, towels, will just be another excuse to stay away from the shower. Believe me, this will not be good for anybody especially since we still have many week's of warm weather ahead of us. Therefore, management must stop this affront to our general well-being before it becomes a problem, the ramifications of which will (if this blog has anything to do with it) go far beyond the chain-link fence that encloses this institution.

As I pulled back the sheets on my bed the other evening, in preparation to lay my weary old head down to rest, my eye quickly caught a glimpse of something dark on my fresh, new bed sheet. At first I thought that it might be one of the stink bug things that seem to like my room above all others. Or perhaps it was just some dirt that failed to succumb to the Incredible Hulk-like handling that our laundry subjects our clothes and linens to. However, upon closer examination, what was on my sheet was none of the above instead, it was an indelible stamp with the words “Property of South Nassau Communities Hospitals”. Something that I did not expect to see here. 

Now, while I realize that our large commercial laundry takes in wash from institutions all over the area, I did not expect that I would see a sheet that was used in a hospital, where who knows what slept on it, used on a bed here. In addition, what makes this even more disturbing is the way it makes me feel more like an inmate of an institution than I already feel. The only thing worse is something that happened to me when I was recuperating in a nursing home a couple of years ago. I found a towel hung over the rack in my bathroom with the words “Property of the New York City Medical Examiners Office”. Very creepy.

I am departing from the usual enigmatic photos of our little piece of paradise here on the beautiful hill overlooking Yonkers New York to show a picture of a somewhat less esoteric nature. It appears that some slob, some low-life, some self centered numb-nuts (most likely a resident) who cares nothing about the environment in which they live  and, probably even less about themselves, has decided that it would be OK to leave their half eaten dinner on the patio all night. Not only does this show disdain for their fellow residents, who have to look at this mess, but it does not do well for the increasingly persistent vermin population which has plagued our facility for months. It behooves  me to understand what the big deal is with disposing of your trash. When you are finished eating something (whether on the patio or country kitchen) take your trash to one of the many trash receptacles around the facility. And, don't give me the excuse that, because of some disability you have, it is too difficult for you clean up after yourself. After all, you managed to bring the food out there, didn't you?


America’s 5th Worst Company to Work For

(And guess what kind it is)

The following is part of an article from 24/7 Wall, which lists the 11 worst companies to work for. As you can see, the soon to be largest operator of assisted living facilities in the nation*, ranks as the 5th worse place in the nation to work for, according to its employees. However, to be fair, the authors of this article singled out Brookdale because of its size. They could have just as easily asked employees of any other facility (including ours) and received similar results. Please pay particular attention to the highlighted area of the story below.

5. Brookdale Senior Living

> Rating: 2.3

> Number of reviews: 322

> CEO approval rating: 51% (T. Andrew Smith)

> Employees: 49,000

> Industry: Senior living facilities

Brookdale Senior Living Inc. (NYSE: BKD) is an operator of assisted-living communities. Employees of the company are among the most miserable. Numerous current and former employees reported poor management, understaffing and high turnover. A large proportion of the company’s nearly 49,000 employees are considered part-time. Yet, several reviews cited hours well in excess of traditional part-time schedules. Some employees have expressed concern over the company’s increased focus on profits. “They’ve lost sight of their values — the bottom line comes first and the residents are last,” one reviewer said on Despite these complaints, however, CEO Andrew Smith had a better approval rating than his counterparts at any of the other companies on this list, at 51%.

Brookdale recently announced it would merge with Emeritus Corporation, another senior living company. The companies said that after the merger, 6.5 million Americans 80 years of age and older will live in relative proximity to one of the two companies’ facilities.

Find the whole list at....

*Please note: Brookdale is NOT the operator of the Westchester Center.

The following is exactly the reason why our facility exists.

Nursing home inventory shrank, assisted living hit highest-ever growth rate, quarterly data shows

Tim Mullaney, Staff Writer/

Assisted living inventory growth reached a historic high in the second quarter of 2014, while nursing home inventory continued its slight downward trajectory, according to data released Friday by the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry.

Seniors housing construction has been moderate, and this trend continued in the second quarter, noted Charles W. Harry Jr., NIC's managing director and director of research and analytics. The annual inventory growth rate for the quarter was 1.5%. 

“But the resulting rates of inventory growth for independent living and assisted living are quite different,” Harry said. “Annual inventory growth for independent living registered only 0.5%, while assisted living's inventory grew by 3.1% and marks its fastest rate of growth ever within the NIC MAP® time series which dates back to 2007.”

Inventory growth for nursing care was minus-0.1%, from minus-0.2% in the first quarter of the year. Nursing home occupancy was down slightly, going from 88.4% in the first quarter to 88.2% in the second.

Overall, seniors housing occupancy ticked up 0.1 percentage points, to reach 89.9%.

An improving economy likely is driving demand for seniors housing, NIC Chief Economist Beth Mace said. The unemployment rate reached its lowest levels since 2008 and household confidence is on the rise, she explained.


EDITOR'S NOTE”: Although using assisted living facilities as alternatives to nursing homes is economically sound, it presents some problems for the facilities themselves who may not be equipped to deal with residents who are only marginally able to live in a place like ours. Just because a person does not need constant nursing care, does not mean that they can be left alone. This is something that has to be addressed as we proceed, sometimes blindly, into the future.

Eating disorders not uncommon among seniors

By Karen Dandurant /

PORTSMOUTH — When thinking about eating disorders, most people immediately relate it to teenagers suffering from bulimia or anorexia nervosa. But eating disorders are common among senior citizens, and they can be life threatening.

There are many reasons for eating problems in the elderly. Sometimes illness prevents them from having an appetite, or they may have difficulty swallowing. Certain medications can result in eating disorders because it makes the food taste different, and there are seniors who may have suffered from a true eating disorder earlier in life and that body image problem can carry through their entire lives.

"This is often very difficult to diagnose," said Jessica LaFleur, a registered dietician at Portsmouth Regional Hospital. "Patients present with multiple symptoms. It can be a lack of desire to eat or taste changes. Depression, the loss of a spouse or a friend impacts eating. Maybe they live alone and don't want to prepare a meal for themselves."

Eileen Behan is a registered dietitian for Core Physicians. She has written several books on dietary issues and is administrator of a Web site,

"For many, it probably carried through from when they were teens," Behan said. "But the elderly are more frail and vulnerable. The psychology of the food component becomes crucial. Many are already small, so keeping the proper nutrition in their bodies is really important."

LaFleur said it is important to figure out an eating problem sooner rather than later to prevent an unhealthy weight loss.

Brinn Chute is senior services coordinator for the city of Portsmouth. She said senior citizens suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's disease can be a challenge.

"If you say, you need to eat today, they think you are crazy because they are sure they already have eaten," Chute said. "Their long-term memory tells them they eat every day. It tells them they shower and get dressed every day because that's what they always did. Their short-term memory is not good so they assume you are the one who is wrong."

Rachell Tessier, a clinical dietitian at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport, Mass., said the problem can be with their teeth.

"They may have lost some teeth, or their dentures do not fit so well anymore," Tessier said. "Then we look to changing the texture of the food. We can use ground or pureed food to get a texture they can better tolerate. We can add yogurt or cottage cheese to food to bulk them up. We use butter, whole milk and cream to add calories."

Caregivers should make it a priority not to miss an eating opportunity, because even a small meal is helpful.

"Something is always better than nothing," Behan said. "It's also important to do frequent weight checks. That's the best way to track progress. It's as important in the elderly as checking blood pressure."

Chute suggests taking the time to eat a meal with the senior. She said even those with dementia issues may participate if they perceive it is meal time for everyone.

That's a big part of why assisted living places try very hard to make eating a social event," Chute said. "They encourage residents to come to the dining room for meals, to create a social mood."

Sometimes the preparation can be the problem. Tessier said it may be helpful to open cartons for the patient. Family members or home health aides can prepare single-serving meals that can be frozen and heated easily in a microwave later on.

If faced with an elderly person who is not eating, many turn to prepared nutrition drinks like Ensure, which are high in calories and can add needed nutrition.

"But a lot of the elderly simply do not like the drinks," Behan said. "If they don't like them, they are not going to drink them."

Instead, Behan said to try whole milk mixed with instant breakfast drinks, which are often better received. Smoothies made with yogurt are also a good source of calories and nutrients.

"Add cheese whenever possible to meals," Behan said. "Just a teaspoon of butter adds 45 calories to a meal and can be significant. Throw peanut butter on toast for protein. Use evaporated milk in baking dishes that call for milk."

People may avoid eggs because of a long perceived concern for cholesterol. Behan said that should not automatically be an issue in the elderly.

"An egg adds 75 grams of protein to a diet," Behan said. "Even adding egg whites can beneficial. Eggs are a powerhouse of protein. Seniors should have at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast."

For some, the problem with eating can be financial. Chute said there is a cost associated with food, and faced with paying the bills, some seniors will choose not to stock the refrigerator. She advises caregivers to check to make sure there is food available.

"If all they can afford is tuna, and they have eaten it every day for months, they are not going to be real excited about mealtimes," Chute said.

When does a senior citizen have to file a tax return? Not always...

Andre Malok the star ledger 

Q. I am 85 and my income is less than $10,000 a year, not including Social Security. Do I have to file a state or federal tax return? Many of my fellow senior citizens file tax returns even though they pay no tax.

— John

A. There are situations when you should file a federal or state return, or both, even though your earnings are under $10,000 a year.

The 2013 federal filing requirement for most single individuals over the age of 65 is gross income in excess of $11,500, said Laurie Wolfe, a certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley in New Providence. That number is expected to increase to $11,700 in 2014, she said.

But as always with taxes, there are some exceptions.

Wolfe said you should first figure out your gross income by including all taxable income. Do not include losses reported on Schedule D or the expenses from a business reported on Schedule C or F, she said. Also, you would not include Social Security income unless half of your Social Security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000, she said.

"If that is the case there is a special formula that calculates how much of your Social Security benefit is taxable," she said. "In no case would the taxable amount exceed 85 percent of the total benefit."

Even if you’re below the threshold for required filing, you have some other things to consider.

"If you owe no tax but you had monies withheld from your income, or made estimated tax payments during the year, then you should file to get that money refunded to you," she said.

Another reason to file is if you received a Form 1099-B for the sale of stock or other holdings and the amount reported on that form, when added to your other gross income, exceeds the $11,500 threshold, Wolfe said.

"In this case, filing a return will allow you to declare your cost basis in the holding and may keep you from getting a notice from the IRS," she said.

Wolfe said there are other situations specifically listed by the IRS when you must file a return even if your gross income is below the threshold, such as if you owe any special taxes, including but not limited to the alternative minimum tax or the household employment tax, or if you received a distribution from a medical savings account or a health savings account. You’d also have to file if you had net earnings from self-employment of $400 or more, or you had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or related organization that is exempt from employer Social Security and Medicare taxes.

For New Jersey, Wolfe said the filing requirement for a single filer is $10,000 of gross income, or $20,000 if you are filing jointly.

Additionally, the state does not tax Social Security benefits, and there’s a pension exclusion for taxpayers over the age of 62 with income less than $100,000 that will keep many seniors under the filing threshold, she said.



Retirees Who Go Online are Less Depressed

By Abbey Smith 

Depression in elders According to a recent study, American retirees who spend time on the Internet are less likely to develop depressions. The study compared senior citizens who go online and their peers who don’t know how to use the Internet.

Shelia Cotten, lead author of the study, said that the biggest factor that contributes to depression is living alone. She added that spending time online allows them to connect with others, feel less isolated, and not feel lonely. The study stated that eight percent of Americans 50 years old and older suffer from depression.

Cotten said that senior citizens are more probable to get depressed, experience social isolation, and feel loneliness compared to younger people. They wanted to determine whether getting retirees online will help reduce the risk.

The researchers analyzed polls collected over six years by the US Health and Retirement Survey that focused on the transitions Americans undergo when they retire. It involved data from around 3,000 retired men and women who were not living in nursing homes.

The researchers found signs of depression through the answers of the questionnaire. They respondents were also asked about their Internet use for email and other purposes. 30 percent of the participants said they go online. Researchers then compared the depression scores and discovered that people who were Internet users had a 33 percent lower risk of suffering from depression compared to people who were not going online.

The researchers didn't find out the effects of various Internet uses but previous studies suggested that retirees go online to communicate with their family and friends through email. Cotten said that older adults with heath and mobility problems can’t travel to visit their family. They use email to see photos of their grandchildren and their kids and to keep in touch with their family and friends.



 Social Security Extends Access to Benefit Verification

Multiple Options Available

Last week, the Social Security Administration announced that local Social Security offices would continue to provide benefit verification letters until further notice.  Providing services when and where the public needs them remains central to Social Security’s efforts, while continuing to encourage federal, state, and local agencies to take advantage of Social Security’s data exchange programs that can serve customers more efficiently and effectively.

“We appreciate the feedback from members of Congress, our community stakeholders and agency partners. We want to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers in a way that is convenient for them and also cost-effective and secure for all,” Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin stated. “I believe that government agencies can work closer together to assist our mutual customers.”

Over the last few years, Social Security has invested in technology that allows most government agencies and many other organizations to verify their clients’ Social Security benefits electronically without requiring them to visit a local Social Security office.

“We recognize that some members of the public may require in-person assistance and we will have a presence in local communities,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “We also want to ensure that the public is aware that they can access many of our services without making a trip to a local field office.”

Members of the public with Internet access can obtain benefit verification information by creating a my Social Security account at ...



I am at loss for words on how to describe the stuff that we were served for lunch last Friday afternoon. Expletives would not do justice to how poorly cooked, poorly thought out and poorly executed it was. Unfortunately, I have to begin somewhere, so here goes. Let's start with the pizza. 

First let me say that the pizza served here is never really good, just barely passing the criteria for pizza anywhere in the world. However, though it may not be “pizzeria” style, it is usually edible. Not so today. The crust was thick and hard, stale actually. People had to use knives to cut into it and many of them finally had to give up and order something else. The cheese was tasteless and cold and the sauce, so sweet, that it was sickening. I sent it back in favor of the other main offering, a meatball Parmesan something. We have had meatball Parmesan hero sandwiches in the past and, they were not bad. Therefore, thinking that is what we would be having, I sent the pizza back and ordered the sandwich. BIG MISTAKE. This is what passes for a meatball Parmesan sandwich here at the Asylum.

Three small meatballs, which taste like they were kept in an old lady's sock drawer for a week, covered, not with hot, melted slices of Parmesan cheese, but with a sprinkling of generic, soapy tasting grated cheese and the same, overly sweet tomato sauce that graced the pizza. And here is the final insult. The whole miserable concoction was placed, not on the customary Italian-style hero bread, but on...wait for it... a hot dog bun. But that was not the worst part.

The worst part of that afternoon's fiasco came when nobody, not one, of my fellow residents had the gumption to send it back despite the moans and groans which emanated from every corner of the dining room. To which I say “You get what you deserve.” Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case.

EDITOR'S NOTE: To further illustrate how badly this lunch was, the alternate item listed on the menu was supposed to be Quiche which somehow magically turned into a soggy-crusted chicken pot pie at lunchtime. 

And then there was dinner...

More meatballs and a desert cookie, yum!

Actual breakfast menu

Last Tuesday's breakfast menu left nothing to speculation. There it was, in black and white, an accurate description of what was to come. No sugar coating or veiled innuendo's here. They said what they meant and meant what they said. THE EGGS WERE GOING TO BE FRIED AND OVER COOKED and, true to form, they were. Unfortunately, while I applaud the refreshing honesty of the kitchen, I cannot give high marks to the breakfast, which was disappointing to say the least.

Editor's note: I figure, that by forewarning us of the impending doom, it would forestall any subsequent complaints from the diners using the “I told you so” attitude  as a “cop out.”

I usually don't comment on the lettuce based salads we have here because, quite frankly, they're just boring. That is not to say that they are bad or inedible, they just don't have the mystery and intrigue necessary to stir the blood and get the senses riled up. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I must break from routine and report on a particularly poorly made salad.

For the rest of the known culinary world it is almost impossible to F&#k up a simple salad, but somehow the geniuses in our kitchen have managed to do it. Not only had the green stuff that passes for lettuce here wilted and the chunks of tomato  become mushy, but the only crisp, fresh item in this mess, the cucumber, was cut so thick that it was impossible to enjoy. It appears, that in our kitchen at least, the basic class on proper vegetable slicing was skipped over by our staff in cooking school, or they are using a chain saw to cut the veggies again.

But there was a bright spot on last week's menu...

Expecting less and receiving more is always a pleasure. Therefore, it is with great pleasure that I can report that, at last, we were treated to a hot open turkey sandwich that meets most of the specifications set forth by HOSAA  (the Hot Open Sandwich Association of America).*

All of the required elements were present starting with a generous portion of turkey. In addition, the turkey was seated on a nice thick slice of fresh rye bread and liberally drenched in a rich turkey gravy. The side dish of French fries added just the right accompaniment to this New Jersey diner favorite. The only drawback was the turkey itself, which was of the processed variety instead of fresh sliced. Now, if they can make a hot open sandwich like this, with turkey, they should be able to do the same with roast beef, brisket or ham.

*The HOSAA may not be a real organization, but it should be.

bon apetite

[Please forgive me if this story offends anyone, but stories like this just kill me]

Ridiculous Study Says Smelling Farts Might Prevent Cancer

By Laura Stampler / Time,com

Scientists out of the University of Exeter insist that smelling farts could actually prevent cancer, among other diseases. Uh, okay.

“Although hydrogen sulfide gas”—produced when bacteria breaks down food—”is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases,” Dr. Mark Wood said in a university release.

Although the stinky gas can be noxious in large doses, the researchers seem to think that a whiff here and there has the power to reduce risks of cancer, strokes, heart attacks, arthritis, and dementia by preserving mitochondria. Researchers are even coming up with their own compound to emulate the stinky smell’s health benefits.

“‘We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria,” Professor Matt Whiteman, who worked on the study to be published in the Medicinal Chemistry Communications journal, said.

So thank the guy in the elevator. While it might have seemed like the ride from hell, IT MIGHT JUST SAVE YOUR LIFE. Or not.


patent pending


Contact Me

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Second Class Citizens

At what point did I become a second class citizen. When were my rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness dismissed as ranting's of a disturbed old man. I certainly do not remember renouncing my U.S. Citizenship when I moved in here and yet, ever since I became a resident here I have been made to feel like something less than 100% adult human. Time after time, I am told by one staff member or another why I can't do something or what I can or can't have in my room, the place that I pay to live in. I am told, for no good reason, that I can't have a microwave or a Mr. Coffee maker in my room because I cannot be trusted not to set fire to myself. Day after day I am told I am not allowed to have any over the counter medications (or prescription meds) in my room unless approved by a nurse who is young enough to be my granddaughter. Forbidden too, is anything that contains alcohol in it, like Listerine, let alone a real alcoholic beverage, I thought prohibition was abolished in 1933. 

My mail is opened on a regular basis in fear that I may be too overwhelmed by the complexities of daily life to take care of my own affairs. My room is subject to random inspections as if I were cooking crystal meth in there. I am forced to put up with a pharmacy that has as much respect for us, their customers, as the Orkin man has for a cockroach. And it doesn't stop there. Perhaps the worst offense to my viability as a living person takes place in the dining room, where there is an almost complete disrespect for who we are. Although there has been a slight improvement in the variety of food served here (something that only came about after much negotiation and gnashing of teeth) the disdain that the staff has for us (both in the dining room and in the kitchen)  is quite apparent. On more than one occasion, food, not fit for a feral cat, has been served to us as if we were all demented old people who wouldn't know a tough piece of meat from a dish towel because, they know that we won't complain. “Overcooked and poorly prepared” are the key words here, with hot food served cold and cold food served just slightly above room temperature. I rarely get served a glass of ice tea with ice in it and receive dirty looks when I complain about it. 

Residents are disrespected in other ways too. We are never consulted in advance of any changes to policy that may directly affect our every day lives here. Only after we complain about something is anything done to correct a wrong. God forbid they should ask our opinion of anything beforehand preferring instead, just to go ahead and worry about the fallout later. Improvement of the facility itself, as far as anything the residents would like done, are put on a slow track to oblivion. Most suggestions are not even entertained or take so long to decide that they are forgotten about.  All of which goes to a basic lack of respect for who and what we are. As I have said many times in the past, I look for no special treatment for myself or any other resident here. All I want is to be treated as they (the management) would like to be treated, with the same respect and privileges that they and their families enjoy.



Anything that cancels Bingo here is cause for further investigation. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I had to find out what was the reason for that drastic action the other day and, what I found was very interesting. It seems that the auditorium was closed for a thorough cleaning. “Cleaning for what?”, I asked myself. After all, nothing gets “thoroughly” cleaned here unless it's very important, and by “important” I mean there is financial gain involved, and I was not wrong. After a brief talk with a staff member who shall remain nameless, I discovered that the reason for all the cleaning and all the preparation was because some sort of “marketing event” was to take place that evening, an event closed to residents* by the way.

Now don't get me wrong. As one who has a degree in marketing and advertising, I have no problem with people making money. After all, this is not a non-profit organization. What I do have a problem with is the way this promotional event and the cleaning that proceeded it, took precedence over the cleaning that is so badly needed in other parts of the facility. 

It takes only a quick look to notice that the carpets in the hallways and especially in the dining room are badly in need of a good shampooing. They are, in a word, disgusting. The carpeting in the elevators needs to be replaced and the area of the elevator lobby needs to be shampooed. But, evidently the management believes that the money and time is better spent sprucing up only the places that visitors can see rather than doing something for the residents that have to live here every day. This is just another of the thoughtless, inconsiderate approaches to "quality of life" issues that is prevalent here and which is bolstered by the number of promises made and broken. 

As I said, I am a marketing expert, and as a resident of an assisted living facility I have a  unique insight into how to sell this place and, although I usually get a fee for my expertise, I will give them this for free. Just like selling an old house or a used car, a little paint and polish goes a long way. And doing something about the smell in here wouldn't hurt either.

* Residents are never given a “heads up” by management, when events of this kind are going to take place, we are just kicked out, which makes us feel invisible.

Editor's note: Except for the baked ziti, nothing on that menu is anything we (residents) have ever seen in our dining room. That night, instead of Chicken Francaise and salmon in champagne sauce, we had meatloaf in brown gravy. Word also has it that wine was served at that dinner. They won't let us even have real wine at our Friday Sabbath Services.


Remember when we were encouraged to save?

One of my best memories of childhood, and beyond, was taking part of my allowance (and later on, my paycheck) and going to my local friendly neighborhood savings bank, passbook in hand,walking up to the teller's window and handing the teller my hard earned cash. The delight came when she handed me back my passbook, freshly stamped with my deposit and, in the last column, my balance, now x-dollars larger. It seemed like everybody I new had some sort of savings account. In fact, we were encouraged to save by our parents and by our schools, which had a school savings plan in cooperation with a local bank. Interest rates, though not terribly high, would guarantee a nice return (about 5% back then) at the end of the year. In addition there were special “Christmas Savings “ accounts with special short term rates. People became used to saving, even if was only a couple of dollars a week and, amazingly, the country did OK, in fact the unemployment rate was at its lowest point during the 80's when the interest rates were close to 9%. Now, just the opposite is taking place. It now is considered “unpatriotic” to save. The order of the day is “spend-spend-spend” with the theory being that all that spending aids the overall economy. Unfortunately, what it doesn't aid is our emergency fund. The “Spend it all” theory of economics depends on everybody having a steady, cost of living adjusted source of income, which would be great if everybody had such a guarantee. However, as we all know, we live in the real world where jobs are fleeting and raises few and far between. Of course, all of this is even more compounded if you are a senior on a fixed income. Below are the pros and cons of a new “Zero interest rate policy” which would discourage saving even more. Do you agree or disagree with this. Personally, I think that ZIRP is based in some unproven voodoo economic policy set forth by the Reagan regime.


Pros and Cons of Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP)[edit]


1) By lowering the cost of capital, cheap money encourages businesses to lever up and invest the proceeds and consumers to borrow and spend to boost the economy.

2) Refinancing existing debt becomes highly attractive.

3) Lifts asset prices if you happen to own them as about 50% of households don’t own any stocks or mutual funds.

4) With a lower discount rate, the present value of future cash flow turns higher.


1) Negative real interest rates is killing savers in order to bailout over indebted borrowers.

2) Pension funds are becoming more and more dangerously underfunded, threatening the retirements of many individuals and the balance sheets of companies and governments.

3) Artificially set interest rates misallocates capital, results in mal-investment, and distorts and manipulates markets.

4) The pricing mechanism/discovery is damaged if the cost of money is fake.

5) Debases the US$ (CPI index, aka cost of living, is less than 1 pt from a record high).

6) Massive monetary inflation is price inflation tinder box.

7) Deeper the Fed digs, the harder it will be to climb out.

8) The wealth effect is fleeting and so is its economic impact.

9) Cost of money doesn’t matter when huge de-leveraging needs to take place.

10) Fed engineered easy money creates illusory feel of an economic fix.

11) Cheap money is candy to the Federal Gov’ts love for spending money.[4]

Silent Spring

Some plants, like some people, are just late bloomers. And so, we were not immediately surprised when not all of the facilities trees and flowers came in to bloom this spring, some just took longer than usual but some, unfortunately, did not make it at all. As the first full week of summer came and went, we realized that at least two of our relatively young trees did not survive the winter. Whether it was the constant cold or just one of the many blights that effect some trees, we do not know. We only know that we have lost two of our flowering trees. 

Now, while I am not an arborist or tree surgeon and cannot tell if the tree is really dead or just dormant, I do suggest that the Center get a tree doctor down here to check them out. It would be a shame to have to replace these trees, which are probably expensive or worse, to let them stand there, dead.

By now, most everyone knows that America will soon become inundated with aging Baby Boomers like (us) me. The problem is, will America be ready for us? There are many changes that will have to be made to accommodate an increasingly older population.

NIH-commissioned Census Bureau report highlights effect of aging boomers

Data on individual, economic, social changes linked to dramatically aging population

While rates of smoking and excessive drinking have declined among older Americans, prevalence of chronic disease has risen, and many older Americans are unprepared to afford the costs of long-term care in a nursing home, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau commissioned by the National Institutes of Health.

The report highlights those trends and others among America’s older population, now over 40 million and expected to more than double by mid-century, growing to 83.7 million people and one-fifth of the U.S. population by 2050. Population trends and other national data about people 65 and older are presented in the report, 65+ in the United States: 2010(PDF - 1.7MB)  External Web Site Policy. It documents aging as quite varied in terms of how long people live, how well they age, their financial and educational status, their medical and long-term care and housing costs, where they live and with whom, and other factors important for aging and health.

Funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of NIH, the report draws heavily on data from the 2010 Census External Web Site Policy and other nationally representative surveys, such as the Current Population Survey External Web Site Policy , the American Community Survey  External Web Site Policy and the National Health Interview Survey  External Web Site Policy. In addition, data from NIA-funded research was included in the report.

“This report shows how aging in America is changing in fundamental ways,” said Richard Suzman, Ph.D., director of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research. “Not only does it provide the number of older people and their age, sex, and race, it also tells us about their health, families, communities and future problems with caregiving, vital data to consider as we seek to meet the needs and address concerns of an aging population. The older population today is increasingly diverse, on a number of fronts.”

A key aspect of the report is the effect that the aging of the baby boom generation — those born between 1946 and 1964 — will have on the U.S. population and on society in general. Baby boomers began to reach age 65 in 2011; between 2010 and 2020, the older generation is projected to grow more rapidly than in any other decade since 1900.

The report points out some critical health-related issues:

Rates of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have declined among those 65 and older, but the percentage of overweight and obese people has increased. Between 2003-2006, 72 percent of older men and 67 percent of older women were overweight or obese. Obesity is associated in increased rates of diabetes, arthritis, and impaired mobility, and in some cases with higher death rates.*

Research based on NIA’s Health and Retirement Study suggests that the prevalence of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and diabetes, increased among older people between 1998 and 2008. For example, in 2008, 41 percent of the older population had three or more chronic conditions, 51 percent had one or two, and only 8 percent had no chronic conditions.

The cost of long-term care varies by care setting. The average cost of a private room in a nursing home was $229 per day or $83,585 per year in 2010. Less than one-fifth of older people have the personal financial resources to live in a nursing home for more than three years and almost two-thirds cannot afford even one year. Medicare provides coverage in a skilled nursing facility to older and disabled patients for short time periods following hospitalization. Medicaid covers long-term care in certified facilities for qualifying low-income seniors. In 2006, Medicaid paid for 43 percent of long-term care.

“Most of the long-term care provided to older people today comes from unpaid family members and friends,” noted Suzman. “Baby boomers had far fewer children than their parents. Combined with higher divorce rates and disrupted family structures, this will result in fewer family members to provide long-term care in the future. This will become more serious as people live longer with conditions such as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.”

Other areas covered in the report include economic characteristics, geographic distribution, social and other characteristics. See highlights below.

“We hope this report will serve as a useful resource to policy makers, researchers, educators, students and the public at large,” said Enrique Lamas, the Census Bureau’s associate director for demographic programs. “We sought to develop a comprehensive reference with up-to-date information from a variety of reliable sources.”


*One very apparent reason for this obesity is the high carb diets that older people are forced to eat because, essentially, these foods are cheap and filling.

New Analysis of Senior Citizen Population Released by U.S. Census Bureau

From population growth, to living arrangements, to work force participation it’s a complete picture of the citizens age 65 and older

Graph, showing senior population from 1900 to 2050 and percent of total population

June 30, 2014 - A new report released today by the U.S. Census Bureau provides the latest, comprehensive look at the nation's population aged 65 and older (senior citizens), comprising 40.3 million in 2010.

The 65+ in the United States: 2010 report contains many findings about the 65-and-older population on topics such as socio-economic characteristics, size and growth, geographic distribution, and longevity and health. For example, Americans 65 and older living in a nursing home fell 20 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 1.6 million to 1.3 million. Meanwhile, the share in other care settings has been growing.

"In the United States, older men and women are increasingly participating in the labor force," said Enrique Lamas, the Census Bureau's associate director for demographic programs. "The findings released today with the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health provide the most detailed information available on the demographic, economic, and health and wellness characteristics of this rapidly growing dynamic population."

The Division of Behavioral and Social Research at NIA commissioned this report and has also supported three earlier editions, the first published in 1993.

"The National Institute on Aging is pleased to support this 65+ in the United States report," said Richard Suzman, director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at NIA.

"This report series uniquely combines Census Bureau and other federal statistics with findings from NIA-supported studies on aging. The collaboration with Census has been of great value in developing social, economic and demographic statistics on our aging population with this edition highlighting an approaching crisis in caregiving — since the baby boomers had fewer children compared to their parents."

In the report, a number of trends and characteristics are separated by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin for the older population. The report incorporates research and findings from many recent studies that draw heavily from the 2010 Census and nationally representative surveys, such as the Current Population Survey, American Community Survey and National Health Interview Survey.

Economic statistics from the Census Bureau's 2012 County Business Patterns also show changes in health care-related industries. For example, the number of employees in long-term care facilities, such as continuing care communities, grew by about 12 percent between 2007 and 2012.

Socio-economic Characteristics

Labor force participation rates of our nation's 65 and older population varied across states in 2009-2011. Major retirement destinations, such as Arizona and Florida, had lower rates compared with Midwest states, such as Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, where a higher share of the older population was still part of the workforce.

This report also includes an assessment of the impact of the December 2007 to June 2009 recession on older Americans.

   • Following 2006 and the peak in housing prices, homeownership rates remained stable for older householders at 81 percent in 2011, compared with the under-65 population who experienced declines.

   • Many older workers remained employed during the recession; 16.2 percent of the 65-and-older population were employed in 2010, up from 14.5 percent in 2005. In contrast, 60.3 percent of the 20-to-24 age group were employed in 2010, down from 68.0 percent in 2005.

Between 2000 and 2010, Internet usage for the 65-and-older population increased from 14.3 percent to 44.8 percent. While Internet usage among the older population made steady gains, it remained lower than among the younger population as 75.8 percent of those age 3 to 64 went online in 2010.

Size and Growth

   • In 2010, there were 40.3 million people 65 and older, 12 times the number in 1900.

   • Diversity among the older population is increasing, though the majority (nearly 85 percent) still reported as single-race white in the 2010 Census.

   • In 2010, 50 countries had a higher proportion of people age 65 and older than the United States. By 2050, this number is projected to reach 98, almost half the countries in the world.

Geographic Distribution

Florida was among the states with the highest proportions of older people in their populations in 2010, along with West Virginia, Maine and Pennsylvania (all above 15 percent).

   • Eleven states had more than 1 million people 65 and older in 2010.

   • The West and South regions experienced the fastest growth in their 65-plus and 85-plus populations between 2000 and 2010.

At a more local level, the Census Bureau's recent population estimates showed Sumter county, Fla. — home to a large retirement community — had the nation's highest median age among all U.S. counties in 2013, at 65.5 years.


Senior communities in Florida have long known of the benefits of giving their residences fancy names that have nothing to do with what goes on inside. Hence, there are names like “Palm Acres Estates” and The Glades at Boca Vista Meadows”. Now, it appears that other places that are primarily senior residences are taking up the gauntlet of change and have decided to give their facilities fancy names. This, of course, got me to thinking about what would be a good new name for this place and what I came up with was, “ Sparrow Hill at Westchester Heights”, dropping the “Assisted and Independent” nomenclature entirely.

© 2014 BWC

Name Changes in Senior Living are Big Business — But Worth the Risks?

By Emily Study 

Senior. Retirement. Assisted living. All are terms familiar to senior housing marketing. But a new wave of name changes is taking communities and companies away from their traditional branding.

These name changes, some say, have both advantages and disadvantages. In some cases, providers may find a broader market reach and an overall better reflection of residents.

On the flip side, name changes may not be the best idea when it comes to online searchability.

Willow Valley Communities, a Pennsylvania-based continuing care retirement community, has recently dropped the word “Retirement” from its name with an aim to better reflect the energy of its residents.

Read the entire article.....


Every once and awhile we get a letter from a reader who gives us permission to reprint what they have to say. The following is such a letter.

To the WcenterBlog:

We are all adults, residents in the same facility. It seems sad that there is so much childish behavior.  There is among some people an attitude that says “me first and the heck with you.”  I see it on line near the med room and it’s bothersome because we are all essentially rowing the same boat so nobody is really going to get anywhere first. There are people who rush into the Dining Room after staring into it for fifteen minutes. The most dangerous place in the facility is between them and their tables. How awful that a long life has come to that.

It’s painful to watch supposed grownups acting childish, throwing temper tantrums over something so petty.  One would think that the years behind those gray hairs should have taught us about the need for cooperation and its value in getting what we want in life. Whatever happened to the Golden Rule admonition that we are all supposed to use as a lodestar for our behavior for all of our lives?  Instead, we have temper tantrums and flouncing out of events when we don’t get what we want – even when the problem has been explained at least once. 

Everyone gets impatient from time to time, often rightfully so. There are things the facility does that shouldn’t be done and things that aren’t done that should.  Whining about it is absolutely the least effective strategy. It gets others up in arms, among other things, and it accomplishes absolutely nothing except to mark off the whiner as someone to avoid.

The way to go about getting things done is to go to the person in charge of the area you want to affect. If it’s physical plant, Michael Acevedo and Yossi are in charge of that. If it’s paperwork, Case Management takes care of appointments, paperwork and the numerous bureaucracies that drive everyone nuts. If there is a problem with HHA staff, go to Eric or one of the supervisors. Just don’t mutter about it and do nothing. And don't whine...whatever else you do, don't whine. 

Thanks, K.

Editor's Reply:

Dear K, thank you for your letter. You are, unfortunately, correct in what you say. There are many residents here that act like children. However, you have to remember one thing, there is a reason why those people are here. And not all of them are here because of physical disabilities. Many residents of this, and most other ALF's are here because they cannot cope with the rigors and complexities 

of daily life (as minor as they may seem to us), whether that be waiting on line for meds,obeying rules, or interacting with other people. Hopefully, after spending some time here, these people will learn to adapt to their situation and become integrated into our community. As for those that can't, well, we just have to have patience and give them their space.


I'm here, in front of my computer, on a day that promises to be a scorcher with temperatures hovering near the 95 degree mark. Certainly hot enough to be dangerous no matter what your age but especially dangerous if you are getting up in years. There are many reasons why seniors are affected by the heat more than others. Most of which are heart related, but no matter what the cause it is important for us to stay cool. Fortunately, here at the Center, the one thing that works well and is never skimped on is the AC. Which runs night and day during the summer. Unfortunately, not all people in our age bracket are afforded or can afford this necessity, the lack of which can lead to hyperthermia and even death. Here are some things to look for if you suspect that an individual, or yourself, might be overheating.

Hyperthermia: Too hot for your health

NIH provides advice on heat-related illness for older adults

Hyperthermia is an abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure of the heat-regulating mechanisms in the body to deal with the heat coming from the environment. Heat stroke, heat syncope (sudden dizziness after prolonged exposure to the heat), heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat fatigue are common forms of hyperthermia. People can be at increased risk for these conditions, depending on the combination of outside temperature, their general health and individual lifestyle.

Older people, particularly those with chronic medical conditions, should stay indoors, preferably with air conditioning or at least a fan and air circulation, on hot and humid days, especially when an air pollution alert is in effect. Living in housing without air conditioning, not drinking enough fluids, not understanding how to respond to the weather conditions, lack of mobility and access to transportation, overdressing and visiting overcrowded places are all lifestyle factors that can increase the risk for hyperthermia.

People without air conditioners should go to places that do have air conditioning, such as senior centers, shopping malls, movie theaters and libraries. Cooling centers, which may be set up by local public health agencies, religious groups and social service organizations in many communities, are another option.

The risk for hyperthermia may increase from:

Age-related changes to the skin such as poor blood circulation and inefficient sweat glands

Alcohol use

Being substantially overweight or underweight


Heart, lung and kidney diseases, as well as any illness that causes general weakness or fever

High blood pressure or other health conditions that require changes in diet. For example, people on salt-restricted diets may be at increased risk. However, salt pills should not be used without first consulting a physician.

Reduced perspiration,caused by medications such as diuretics, sedatives, tranquilizers and certain heart and blood pressure drugs

Use of multiple medications. It is important, however, to continue to take prescribed medication and discuss possible problems with a physician.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening form of hyperthermia. It occurs when the body is overwhelmed by heat and is unable to control its temperature. Heat stroke occurs when someone’s body temperature increases significantly (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and shows symptoms of the following: strong rapid pulse, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, mental status changes (like combativeness or confusion), staggering, faintness or coma. Seek immediate emergency medical attention for a person with any of these symptoms, especially an older adult.

If you suspect someone is suffering from a heat-related illness:

Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned or other cool place. Urge the person to lie down.

If you suspect heat stroke, call 911.

Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits and/or groin. These are places where blood passes close to the surface of the skin, and the cold cloths can help cool the blood.

Help the individual to bathe or sponge off with cool water.

If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water or fruit and vegetable juices, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) within the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helps eligible households pay for home cooling and heating costs. People interested in applying for assistance should contact their local or state LIHEAP agency or go to External Web Site Policy.

For a free copy of the NIA’s AgePage on hyperthermia in English or in Spanish, contact the NIA Information Center at 1-800-222-2225 or go to or



(Yonkers, NY July 11 2014) It is with deep regret that we must report on the passing of what could have been a fine roast beef dinner, murdered by the cooks at the Westchester Center. The murder scene in the dining room was a gruesome one as plate after plate of over cooked, too thickly sliced roast beef was returned to the kitchen. It took only one glance at the roast beef slices to realize that a dastardly deed had taken place. And, as usual, it was the innocent bystanders that suffered the most. At times, the disappointment on the faces of the residents, who were expecting so much more, was pitiful to watch. This reporter could only stand-by, helpless to do anything about it because all of that nights roast beef had been cooked to death in the same ghastly manor.

My only question is this, “Why, was what started out as a perfectly decent piece of meat allowed to end up in this manner”. Is there no one in that kitchen that cares about the food that is presented to the residents here. Is there no one person who has the authority to say “STOP” it's too well done. Evidently not. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. The inability to admit that the food was ruined  runs rampant here. Ultimately, the blame must be put on the food service manager who's instructions to his cooks either go unheard or unheeded. I am sure that this meat was expensive because it is rare indeed that we ever see this on our menu. What a shame that nobody knows how to cook it.

I don't know what it is about bacon that drives people to eat anything that has bacon in it. Maybe it's the smokey taste or maybe we really crave all those sodium nitrates. In any event, bacon makes everything taste better, and the soup we had the other day was no exception as if I needed and excuse to eat split pea soup in the first place. However, with the addition of smokey chunks of bacon, a certain “magic” was released which gave this rather humble soup a down-home flair reminiscent of soups usually found only in country farm houses. While  most of the soups we get here are very good, this one rates high on my list of favorites.

Mac and cheese used to be one of my go-to foods. You know, the stuff we go to when we crave something but we don't know exactly what it is that we want. I always knew that, when my cupboard was bare and I had to have something hot and filling and I had to have it NOW, there was always a box of Kraft Macaroni and cheese in the closet, and it was good. 

Yes, I know that most of the stuff in that box was made up primarily of chemicals and preservatives with the shelf life of a pre-historic fossilized dinosaur egg, but there was something about it that appealed to me. Therefore, the other day when I saw that the alternate to the main dish of  dreaded baked Talapia was mac and cheese, I jumped at the chance to, at least for the moment, relive my humble past. Unfortunately, any resemblance to that familiar box of macaroni and powdered cheese was in name only because, for some reason, they decided that it was necessary to try and improve on perfection by adulterating something that is already adulterated.

Although I find it difficult to put my finger on the problem, perhaps it's the processes by which it is cooked that turned me off. You see, instead of making mac and cheese the traditional, in the pot, method, they bake it which defeats the purpose of why mac and cheese is what it is. They one thing that makes M&C that food we crave has been baked out of it and that thing is the creaminess of the cheese. Balking this dish removes any vestige of that nice creamy, slightly sharp, cheddar flavor. Instead, what we get is baked ziti without the tomato sauce which, believe me, is not good for anybody. The next time, just boil the pasta, mix in the cheese, stir and serve, hot.

I was just thinking about how nice it would be to, once again, sink my tooth into a nice, juicy skirt steak. How about it chef, do you think we could swing it?

On second thought, forget it. The cooks will murder this just like the Roast Beef.


In last week's blog, I related a story about an assisted living facility that has a branch of a local pub located right in the facility as a way to get residents to better connect with the community. This week I came across a story which, at first glance, appears to have just the opposite approach to serving drinks. However, upon closer observation it becomes apparent that this particular facility had no problem with residents drinking at all.

Headline:Retirement communities can no longer serve alcohol to residents

From the Bloomington, IN Times

The weekly social hours at the Meadowood Retirement Community and in the Bell Trace Independent Living and Assisted Living building are now semi-dry.

At the weekly gatherings, social staples at Meadowood and Bell Trace for many years, alcoholic beverages are no longer served along with snacks. Now, the only drinks offered to the 50 or more regular attendees are soft drinks, punch and floats. But residents can bring their own booze if they want.

It's that last line that gives me hope.



The continuing story of why seniors need pets

Emma Lou belongs on assisted living center's payroll

By Jean Brody Winchester Sun columnist 

Her name is Emma Lou and, if you ask me, they ought to pay her to live here at Brookdale Assisted Living. She has more to do with the mood and morale of the residents here than any pill or planned entertainment and I am her biggest fan!

Emma Lou is a 6-year-old boxer dog who lives here with Bob, her best friend. The relationship between the two of them is beautiful. Actually, the day I moved to my new apartment, the very first person I met, sitting on the front veranda, was Bob, and sitting by his side was Emma Lou. Because I am so drawn to animals, I laid my head on hers and stroked her warm body and I can tell you, having that encounter before I ever entered the building made the beginning of my new life much, much easier.

Bob and Emma Lou became my first and closest friends here. Every single day, after making the bed and eating breakfast, I always try to find Emma Lou. Now, after two months here, next to her beloved Bob, I think I am her closest friend. When she sees me coming each day, she goes bananas. She makes a bee-line for hugs and kisses

Many evenings, after an early supper, Bob and Emma Lou go to our inner courtyard so she can run and exercise. Often I go there to spend time with them. One evening last week, I found them out there so I sat down on a bench to chat. Emma Lou, who is a big dog, put her head in my lap and, before you know it, she had pulled herself all the way up and got into my lap. She had to drape her sleek body across my lap and hang off both ends. It was the closest she could get to me and she stayed almost an hour like that. 

 My whole day changed. I felt calm and peaceful, something not easy for me to feel these days. It hit me that if she did that for me, I’ll bet she does this for other residents. I began to observe her closely.

From the time Bob and Emma Lou get up in the early morning, residents begin to leave their apartments to visit with each other. I began to hear people ask, “Where is Emma Lou?” They set out to find her. I am convinced that laying one’s hands on her body and feeling the unconditional love of a dog makes life sweeter for most of the residents who live here.

Bob tells me that from the moment they emerge from their apartment, there is someone who wants to be with Emma Lou. They knock on his door when they go back to rest, wanting to see the dog. She makes a huge difference in the lives here.

Emma Lou has become the house therapy dog. Though her heart belongs to Bob, she is filled with love and affection for everyone here. She sort of makes one forget they are ill or old or just plain struggling to adjust to a new life.

Frankly, I think Bob and Emma Lou should be on the payroll here as the official greeters and fixer-uppers when one is having a hard day. I know Emma Lou is a blessing in my life. She and Bob, who so generously shares her, have made this transition in my life far easier. Oh, how I wish humans could learn from animals about unconditional love and acceptance without judgment.

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Why holidays don't mean that much to me anymore.

Someone once used the phrase “More fun than a month of Sundays”. That man must be crazy.

It's Monday, and now that the big July fourth weekend is over, what's next. For most of you it's back to work or school with thoughts of this holiday fresh in your heads and thinking about when the next big holiday will come. In fact, if you were like me when I counted myself among the great unwashed minions of the gainfully employed, all I thought about was when my next paid day off would be. 

Now don't get me wrong, I liked my job, but I cherished my free time more because, well, there was just so little of it. It seemed as if any free time I did have was taken up with stuff even more boring and mind numbing than work. There was cleaning, doing the laundry, home repairs, taking the car in for servicing, taking myself in for servicing (doctors, haircuts etc.) as well as the obligatory visits with family and friends leaving a very narrow band of time left to do the things that I liked to do. But now, all that is different. I have nothing but free time. I have the time to explore anything that interests me, but I can't. I can't because things did not work out exactly as I had hoped. My dreams of travel, adventure and 

even romance dissolved in a flash of pain, illness and a subsequent downward trend in my finances. Therefore, now that I have that wonderful free time I worked all my life for, I can't enjoy it. In addition, those long holiday weekends, which I looked forward to, mean absolutely nothing to me anymore and I daresay, they mean nothing to the majority of my fellow retirees either. Today will be pretty much the same as tomorrow which is 

pretty much the same as yesterday and next week as well. Life now consists of nothing but free time so why should I care about the fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Labor Day or any day when alternate side of the street parking is lifted. 

I guess it would be different if there were those big family gatherings we used to have. At least that would be a change from the tedium of having a perpetual vacation. But those days are gone too because most of the people I celebrated with back then are also gone and, even though the Center had a great barbecue this weekend, it just wasn't the same and never will be again which makes everything all that sadder. So I guess the next big scheduled non-holiday for us is Labor Day, unless you celebrate Bastille Day or Tisha B'av and, I suppose there will be the usual trappings of forced festivity around here, but for me, it has become meaningless. Maybe I should get a job so that I can enjoy holidays again.

Most of you probably know by know that I am a stickler for privacy. It's not that I have anything to hide, after all my life has been an open book via this blog for the last two years. However, that does not mean that I wish to share my personal information like my health status, my finances or my personal relationships with any body unless I want that information known. Therefore, when I get a piece of mail that has obviously been opened by someone, It makes me mad. Take the last bit of correspondence from the government agency that administers my Medicaid insurance. 

I arrived back in my room the other day to find a thick envelope on my desk. The envelope  had been delivered by one of the staff during the day. I do not usually get thick official looking envelopes so when I saw this one I grabbed it and went to open it immediately. I was even prepared to reach for a letter opener which I keep on my desk however, that proved to be unnecessary because, not only did I not need a letter opener, I did not even need to open it at all. It had already been opened for me. And this is not the first time.

It seems that anytime I get a piece of mail that is not an advertisement or junk mail, it has already been opened and, I presume, read. The question now is, who opens it, who reads it and why do they think it's OK to do this? Unfortunately, the answer may lie in something I foolishly did on the day that I arrived at the Center.

Upon arrival here, even before you have a chance to unpack, you are ushered into the Case Management office where you are presented with a mind boggling array of rules and regulations, do's and dont's and, form after form to sign. There were forms authorizing the facility to do this or that with my life (presumably for my own good). I believe there were even forms stating that I had signed the other forms and, I imagine that among those forms there was a form authorizing the center to open all “official” looking mail on my behalf. But, what constitutes “official”? Is my Social Security official, are my health records official or my banking information? At what point do they stop? In the recent past I have received open mail from my pharmacy, the City of New York and the Social Security Administration. In fact the only thing that does not get opened are letters offering me a subscription to the National Association of Airedale Breeders magazine. 

I know from talking to other residents that this phenomenon of clandestine letter-opening is not confined just to me nor is it confined to so called official correspondence only.  I also know that there is talk of at least one lawsuit in the works to prevent just this thing from happening when the facility sees fit to overstep their authority and open everything. Now that I have been here for awhile, and have had time to digest all of the information I was hastily given upon my arrival, I want to know “How can I un-designate the Center as a proxy for opening my mail. In other words, I want to opt-out.

Why is this necessary?

It's not as if parking is at a premium here. There are usually more than enough spaces within a short walk of the facilities main entrance for anybody who wants one. The only problem is that there are only two handicapped only parking spaces directly in front of the building. While there are not many residents here who

 have cars, all of those that do certainly fit into the category of "Handicapped". Therefore, I ask you, why is necessary that a parking space has been newly designated as reserved for "The Administrator"  and that this space is located right next to the only two handicapped spaces. The last time I looked, it was quiet apparent that our administrator was certainly not handicapped and has no reason to have such  prime location when an alternate space is just a few feet away. While I have no problem with our admin having his own parking spot, i believe that there are better and more resident-friendly locations.



As real estate gets more expensive (especially in an urban areas) we are forced to build up rather than out which means that, like it or not, we must use elevators. And, like all mechanical things, elevators break down causing an inconvenience t

o everyone concerned. When these breakdowns occur in places where the elderly live, the inconvenience is compounded. Siting the number of elevator breakdowns we have had here as of late it is interesting to note that we are not the only facility to encounter such a problem.

ATLANTA — Residents in a senior living high-rise in southwest Atlanta say the elevators break down frequently, and they’re concerned for their safety.

Jarrell Smith is wheelchair-bound and lives on the 11th floor of the Baptist Towers apartments. He says he wasn't able to get to his apartment for hours last week after two people got stuck on the elevator.

"I'm so afraid to even get on there because I don't know when it's going to break down," said Smith.

He says he's even more concerned about the thought of getting stuck upstairs during an emergency.

"I'd have to do what I know as a safety method of getting myself down that means rolling on my back or on my buttocks," he said.

Apartment staff on site referred Channel 2 Action News to their corporate office in Ohio.

A spokesperson says they have an elevator vendor that makes repairs quickly, and the elevators in question are working again.

They also say they do have an evacuation plan in place.

"In the event of a fire they tell us to go to the nearest exit and wait for the firemen to come and get us," said Inez Aylck.

See story...


Chances are, if you are like me, you scrimped and saved all of your working life just so you could enjoy a comfortable retirement. And, perhaps like me, those dreams were crushed by an unexpected expenditure such as an illness, accident or just plain misfortune. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that, when confronted with unexpected expenditures later in life, we find ourselves falling short. The editors at sites a survey they took explaining that most people have no idea how much they will need when they retire.

Survey: Most Americans Greatly Underestimate Nursing-home Costs

Confronting the costs of retirement is often like driving on a quiet road that leads toward a cliff. Everything seems just fine -- until it suddenly doesn't.

One of the biggest "cliffs" of this sort appears when the time comes to enter an assisted living or skilled nursing facility. Unfortunately, few Americans seem to be preparing for this possibility: A new survey conducted for finds that most Americans badly underestimate the costs of nursing-home care and are neglecting the need to save for it.

An overlooked expense

Here are some of the important issues raised by the survey's results:

Most people underestimate the cost of nursing-home care. According to the survey, nearly 57 percent of Americans believe a year in a nursing home would cost less than $75,000. A study by MetLife found that the actual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home comes to an average of $81,030 a year. For a private room, that jumps to $90,520. So most people are in danger of saving less than is necessary to meet this need.

People in some regions may be drastically underestimating the cost. Nursing-home costs vary greatly from region to region, so not only is the average person underestimating the cost of a nursing-home stay, but in some areas they may be off by tens of thousands of dollars. For example, while the national average for a semi-private room is $81,030 a year, in the New York City area the average cost is $141,620.

People are confused about the relative costs of assisted-living and nursing-home care. Survey responses about the estimated cost of assisted living were almost identical to those about the cost of a nursing home, when in fact assisted-living care costs roughly half of what nursing-home care costs. Why is it important for people to realize this? Some wise planning could allow you to stay in assisted living longer and thus preserve more of your savings.

Two-thirds of Americans do not have enough set aside for one year in a nursing home. Forty percent of survey respondents have set aside nothing for elder care, and a total of 67 percent have less than $75,000 set aside. There are safety nets such as Medicaid to help in these situations, but Medicaid applies only after you have substantially depleted your net worth. Plus, paying for assisted living with Medicaid can limit your options, including which facilities will accept you. It may also only pay for a semi-private room instead of a private room.

Long-term care insurance may or may not be the answer. Twelve percent of respondents are counting on long-term care insurance to take care of their elder care expenses. Insurance can be a good way of meeting the rising costs of this kind of care, but be sure you check the details, such as how much your policy will provide annually, and what types of care are eligible. Also, if you are receiving long-term care insurance through work, find out what will happen to your coverage when you retire. This is when you are most likely to need it.

Men and women are about equally naive about nursing-home costs. Fifty-six percent of women and 58 percent of men incorrectly believe that a year in a nursing home costs less than $75,000. In other words, men and women are both usually wrong about this.

Men are more likely to have money set aside for elder care. While men are slightly more likely than women to underestimate the cost of elder care, at least they are more likely to have saved for it. Fifty percent of women surveyed have set aside nothing for this eventuality, compared to 31 percent of men.

"We grow too soon old, and too late smart." That phrase is an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying, and it accurately describes how people tend not to recognize the full cost of elder care until it is too late. Most people age 55 and older recognize that a year of nursing care costs more than $75,000. Unfortunately, in each of three younger age groups surveyed, most believe the cost is less than $75,000. Why is it important for these younger groups to accurately assess the costs, when their need for nursing care is likely to be decades off? Because time is your most valuable ally in saving the money necessary to meet these expenses. Starting to save when you are young greatly increases your chance of having enough to afford the proper care when the time comes.

Having to enter an assisted living or skilled nursing facility can be a very emotional decision. Knowing what costs to expect and how you will pay for them can prevent financial stress from adding to these difficult emotions.



Senior citizens find it difficult to cut expenses

“Unlike the standard CPI, which measures the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services, the chained CPI assumes that, as prices go up, people in many cases will substitute cheaper items and thus their spending won’t go up as much.”

The Wednesday Dispatch editorial “No dodging fiscal reality” supported changing the way cost-of-living increases are calculated under Social Security, including the change from a standard consumer price index to chained consumer price index.

As the editorial stated, “Unlike the standard CPI, which measures the cost of a fixed basket of goods and services, the chained CPI assumes that, as prices go up, people in many cases will substitute cheaper items and thus their spending won’t go up as much.”

As increasing property taxes, utility costs and gasoline prices continue to hammer senior citizens who have only Social Security, just what cheaper items does the newspaper suggest? Perhaps a less expensive brand of cat food for dinner?



“Yes, I know your old and you are thinking “Why the f@#K should I care if smoking is bad for me, I'm going to die soon anyway”. This is exactly the same convoluted reasoning that made you start to smoke in the first place, you were just plain young and stupid, so what's your excuse now that you know better. It's true, you don't have all the time in the world left but why should those years be lived in sickness and misery. Do you think gasping for every breath is going to be fun or maybe you think it's cool dragging one of those portable oxygen concentrators around every place you go. Wise up people, stop smoking now.

New Online Effort Aimed at Helping Older People Stop Smoking

Seniors have to know cigarette smoking is leading cause of preventable, premature death and illness in U.S., responsible for almost half a million deaths yearly

From the NIH

 June 27, 2014 – For most seniors it is probably hard to believe that there are senior citizens who still smoke. Older Americans lived through the smoking era and saw the hard-fought battle by the medical profession to prove how deadly the habit can be. It is almost startling to learn that the National Institutes of Health has launched a new online effort to help older adults stop smoking.

“Most older adults know that smoking is harmful, and many have tried unsuccessfully to quit, often a number of times. But stopping smoking is a difficult goal that still eludes many older smokers,” says Erik Augustson, program director of the Tobacco Control Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which developed the topic for NIHSeniorHealth.

“This new topic, which offers a mix of tips and tools geared to the needs and experiences of older smokers, is an important, easy-to-use resource that can benefit those trying to quit for the first time as well as those who have tried before.”

Quitting Smoking for Older Adults is the new topic one NIHSeniorHealth.  It offers videos, worksheets, interactive features, strategies, quizzes, and more for older smokers who want to or are thinking of quitting.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable, premature death and illness in the United States, responsible for almost half a million deaths each year.

In addition to lung and other cancers, smoking can cause heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, commonly known as COPD. The recent Surgeon General’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking - 50 Years of Progress, provides new data that links smoking to bone disease, cataract, diabetes, macular degeneration, and erectile dysfunction.

Research shows that people who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness. Although the rates of smoking have declined in recent years for all age groups, nearly 10 percent of adults over 65 - almost 4 million older Americans - continue to smoke.

NCI, which based the topic on its resource, Clear Horizons: A Quit Smoking Guide for People 50 and Older, has also included information about the challenges and advantages of quitting when you’re older, smoking’s effect on medications, and how to handle withdrawal, cravings, and more.

Quitting Smoking for Older Adults joins a growing roster of research-based health topics geared toward older adults, including exercise and physical activity, long-term care, safe use of medicines, and management of diseases such as stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease.

NIHSeniorHealth, a joint effort of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM), components of NIH, is designed to be senior friendly and tailored to the cognitive and visual needs of older adults. The short, easy-to-read segments of information, large print, opened captioned videos, and simple navigation make the information on the site easy for older adults to find, see, and understand.

About NCI: NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the prevalence of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers. For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI website at or call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

Stroke: It can happen to you

BY PIEDTYPE on JUNE 25, 2014

This is important no matter how old you are. Anyone can have a stroke, so we all need to know what they look like. Stacey Yepes, 49, realized what was happening to her and used her cell phone to record the event for her doctors, who had previously dismissed her symptoms as “stress.” This is a minor stroke, a TIA (transient ischemic attack) recorded as it happened:

Symptoms of a TIA are the same as symptoms of a stroke. But symptoms of a TIA occur suddenly and don’t last very long. Most of the time, they go away in 10 to 20 minutes. They may include:

    • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
    • Sudden vision changes.
    • Sudden trouble speaking.
    • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
    • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
    • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.
    • If you experience these symptoms, or observe them in someone else, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Note the time symptoms began, as clot busters can be used within 3 to 4 hours to dissolve the blood clot that caused the stroke and reduce or prevent permanent damage. Remember the mnemonic F.A.S.T. and get help FAST.



Supplement or Whole Nutrition for Aging Adults

by Randy Brittell

As we age, our body requires more or less of certain foods and the nutritional requirements are based on how much exercise one may do, the chronic diseases we may acquire and the body’s metabolic rate. There could also be certain barriers to eating properly as an older adult, but a healthy diet and getting the right nutrition is essential to maintaining the quality of life one desires, and to prevent certain illnesses.

Which is recommended, a supplement or whole nutrition for aging adults? This is an important question for the aging. Let’s examine the answer to the question.

Whole Nutrition for Aging Adults or a Supplement

One factor that can assist people who are 55 and older in maintaining optimal levels of health and preventing or delaying the onset of disease is dependent on a nutritious daily diet.

As one ages, it is a must to eat appropriate amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and drink enough water to minimize your risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and certain age related cancers.

Most elderly people need fewer calories, because they are less active. Vitamins D-3, B-6, and calcium are exceptions and are needed in greater amounts.

Zinc also declines as a person ages. A low level of zinc in the body makes an elderly person more susceptible to pneumonia and influenza, according to a 2009 study reported in  “Immunity and Aging.”

A liquid zinc supplement would be recommended to stave off the consequences of low zinc levels.

One of the mistakes an elderly person makes is thinking they need to eat less because they are elderly. But this is a misconception.  An elderly person over 70 still requires as many nutrients as younger adults do.

Many elderly individuals will encounter dietary problems, and those problems being less able to select, purchase, prepare, eat, digest, absorb, and use food. Because of these problems the elderly person may choose not to eat as often or not eat at all.

If an elderly person has difficulty chewing or swallowing than they should choose fruit and vegetable juices, soft canned fruits, and creamed or mashed cooked vegetables. Include eggs and milk dishes in the diet, such as creamed soups, and soft foods like cheese, and yogurt. Also cooked cereals are a great choice when chewing meat or fresh fruits and vegetables are difficult. It is recommended to chop, stew, steam, or grate harder foods.

The flavor of food can be enhanced by adding spices, herbs, or lemon juice. If you are taking medications and you note a change in your appetite or taste, discuss your medications with your physician if this does become a problem, but never stop eating or chose a poor diet because of the medications you are taking.

Elderly people who live alone tend to have a less nutritious diet than those living with a partner. Programs like “Meals-On-Wheels” (USA based program) can help prevent poor nutrition caused by loneliness. Five days a week one to two meals are brought daily to the home and the person dropping off the meals will visit for a while.

It is advisable to get your nutrition, including vitamins and minerals through food. If taking a supplement, make sure it is one that uses whole food extraction and not synthetics. Also do not rely on the supplement solely for your nutrition.

Lastly, it is best to stear clear of prepackaged liquid supplements like “Ensure”, though it is reported that liquid supplements such as energy drinks and protein shakes can make it easier for older adults to remain healthy. These dietary aids also help ward off dehydration, a problem often experienced by the elderly. Speak with your doctor before taking such liquid supplements (

Keep in mind such liquid supplements do contain some synthetic vitamins and minerals, which your body absorbs little to none. Stick to a whole clean foods diet as long as possible for better health.

Remember, before starting any vitamin supplement regimen always consult your health care provider. Many so-called natural vitamins conflict with other medications you may be taking.


It's great to see so many more of the residents here using tablets and smart phones. Whether they are using them to connect to social media, reading email or just playing games, at least they are becoming connected. Realizing this as something that is not only a thing of the present but an up and coming thing of the future, more and more applications are being created just for older people. Here are just a few of the best ones.

Top 10 Android Apps for Seniors

There are many Android apps available through the Google play store on your Android device, but what about android apps for seniors? Seniors can download a variety of apps that will make navigation much easier. Some apps are designed specifically with large fonts for people with vision problems.

There are other apps on the market that make it easier for seniors to access their medical records, and manage their medications. These apps create convenience for seniors with easy organization, and easy access to important files, and documents.

The top ten apps for seniors promote convenience, learning, and entertainment. There are game apps available for download that can enhance brain function, social interactions, and communication. Many of these apps are free, and some offer free demos, or trials with a one-time fee.

    • Big Launcher: An app for people with vision problems. Ideal for children, seniors, and the legally blind. Features a simple Android interface with an SOS button. Pick your theme, choose your features, and manage shortcuts. Available at
    • Blood Pressure DB: Easily record your blood pressure with this free Android App. Blood pressure charts available. You can manage your blood pressure from your smart phone, or computer. Available at
    • My Life Record: This app keeps track of all medical records including medications, charts, imaging, lab results, and more. You can add notes to your medical records, and keep track of your doctors with this app. Available at
    • Big Digital Clock: This app is available in the Google play store. It is a large digital clock that allows you customize your font, color, and background.
    • Med Watcher: This app tracks side effects of vaccines, drugs, and other medical devices through social media, and other user reports. Available at
    • Words with Friends: This app is a game, similar to scrabble, that can be played with friends via Facebook, etc. Ideal for brain stimulation. Available at
    • Remember the Milk: This free app is a to-do-list for your smart phone. Create, and manage your daily to-do lists, and set important reminders. Available at
    • Dragon Dictation: This app creates hands free texting, e-mailing, status updates, incoming calls, and more. Features voice-dictation replies. Available at
    • Eye Reader: This app is a PDF reader that allows you to tilt your smart phone up and down to scroll pages. No swiping is needed to scroll through documents. Available at
    • Facebook: This app allows you to create, and manage your social networking profile. View and post status updates, photos, videos, links, and more. Connect with your friends, and loved ones. Browse businesses for coupons, promotions, and other discounts. Available at  

Navigating through the labyrinth of government bureaucracy can be challenging to say the least. At last, one government agency has decided to do something about it, and it's long overdue. As more Americans reach that certain age, the SSA will become even more overwhelmed than it is now.

News Release

Social Security Leads Efforts to Improve

Customer Service across Federal Government

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has published the plan for the Customer Service Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goal on the website.  This CAP Goal is one of 15 CAP Goals developed to support President Obama’s management agenda.  Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, serves as a Goal Leader with Lisa Danzig, the Associate Director for Personnel and Performance at OMB.

“Customer service is part of our DNA here at Social Security, and we are happy to provide leadership in this important area,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin.  “For all the federal agencies that interact with citizens or businesses, our customers expect and deserve world-class customer service.  Through this CAP Goal, we renew our commitment to improve service to the American people.”

Staff from Social Security and OMB identified the high-level CAP Goal strategies after consulting with dozens of other federal agencies and external organizations. 

Highlights of the plan include:

An online and in-person network that federal employees anywhere can join and share ideas and tools for improving customer satisfaction

A nationwide award program for teams and individuals who excel at customer service

A better way to improve transparency and measure customer satisfaction across the federal government

For more information on the CAP goal, please click here

I love this story because it's just so wacky and out of character with anything that would be permitted here.

Keep this in mind when reading this story: Our in-house general store only sells non-alcoholic mouthwash.

Pub hopes to connect assisted living residents with community

“It’s almost like a ‘Cheers’ bar,” Tuminello said. “Everyone knows your name, there are plenty of friendly people; it’s just a great place. It’s nice for Lorien residents too, to have somewhere to go with visitors that isn’t off site.”

By Darcy Costello Times Correspondent

"TANEYTOWN* — A new pub opened recently in Taneytown, but it’s not where you’d expect. It’s in an assisted living community.

Flick’s Restaurant and Pub, which sits inside Lorien’s Taneytown location, opened May 1 to both Lorien residents and the public. The establishment seeks to provide a location for community interaction, as well as change society’s perception of nursing homes and aging care in general, Lorien Health Systems CEO Louis Grimmel said.

“Part of being healthy is being happy and socialization is a major key to that,” Grimmel said. “Why should we associate seniors with bingo when before that, they were going to bars, doing karaoke, having a good time? As earth-shattering as a bar in a nursing home might sound, it’s really just common sense. It’s not treating seniors as martians.”

*Taneytown is located in Carroll County Maryland

It was last Monday and, as I sat down for my midday repast of what promised to be just another form of hamburger, I thought “What if I used my imagination to make this rather mundane meal more exciting.”  Now, before you go off on a tangent and start imagining all sorts of ridiculous meal items let me advise you of the proper way to imagine food. 

First, the food that you imagine you would like to have has to be, in some way, related to the actual food that is on your plate, for instance. If you have been served a plain old piece of overcooked fish with a pat of margarine, it is perfectly acceptable for you to imagine that what you have before you is a 2lb steamed Maine lobster with drawn butter. What you cannot do is try and imagine that your fish is a plate of baby back ribs, get it? The same holds true for hamburger.

Hamburger can be “imagined” into being a vast cacophony of assorted meat related items. In my case it was steak, but not just any steak. After all, as long as you are dreaming you might as well dream of the best.

I transported myself back to the last time I had dinner at the Old Homestead steak house here in NYC. I remembered I ordered a sirloin steak, medium-well with a baked potato, creamed spinach and some crispy garlic bread. The steak, both in my dream and in reality, cut like butter and the juicy liquid that ran from its succulent meaty goodness was like a sanguine river flowing into an ocean of creamy green spinach. The dream was so real that I imagined the humble slab of chopped meat before me to be more than what it was and, for just a instance, I was back on 9th Avenue with a steak knife in one hand and a piece of garlic bread in the other. Unfortunately, I was snapped back to reality when the server came over to ask if I wanted diet butterscotch pudding for desert instead of the Old Homestead's world famous cheesecake, but it was a nice dream anyway.

Therefore, the next time you have dinner here, or anywhere, try to imagine that what you are eating was akin to the best thing you ever ate, but be careful. Don't let the dream go any further than the dining room because, after all, there is a thin line between dreams and insanity.

I do right by people who do right by me and the baby back ribs presented to us for dinner last Thursday were very very right. In fact, they were so good that I can say that there are so-called rib joints around the county that could take a cue from this que and learn how to make ribs. 

Besides being tender (something very important here where teeth are spit out faster than watermelon seeds) these ribs were thick and meaty with a flavorful, moderately smoky barbecue sauce. My only problem was with the sweet potato fries. They were soggy and cold. Real potato fries or a baked potato would have been a better choice here but I refuse to let that minor point bring me down from this high I am experiencing right now. As I walked around the dining room after I had finished wiping the sauce off my mouth, chin, eyebrows and shirt, I noticed plate after plate of denuded rib bones  tossed aside like the remains of a slow-footed gazelle after a hungry lions dinner. My hat's off to the cook who made these and the pigs to whom these delicious ribs once belonged.

The sandwich pictured above is not real. It is a figment of my imagination or maybe even an hallucination I had the other evening while chowing down on the Centers own version of a corned beef dinner. I know that at least some of that dinner was real because I distinctly remember bringing a tender, lean and quite tasty slice of real corned beef to my mouth and exclaiming how good and authentic tasting it was. I also remember saying, to everyone I met, how nice it would be that, if one afternoon, the same corned beef that graced our plates on this Friday evening could become the basis for a nice corned beef sandwich on rye al la Katz's or the Second Avenue Deli. The New York deli experience could be further enhanced with the availability of some Russian dressing (ketchup and mayonnaise) on the side along with a nice sour pickle and some cole slaw. And, while I do not expect the overstuffed version of this venerable deli staple which customarily has at least a pound of meat in it, even a small portion, properly served, would bring tears to the eyes of so many of the residents here who have been alienated from the food they grew up with.

The "Ich" factor

The "Ich" factor 2

KFC Chicken Turns Out To Be Deep-Fried Paper Towel 

From: The Huffington Post  | By Hilary Hanson

Finger wipin' good!

A mother in Newcastle, England was horrified when her stepson bit into a deep-fried blue paper towel, the Mirror reported last week.

Krystal Henderson, 29, and 7-year-old Oliver Hallam purchased takeout from a KFC branch in Killingsworth, according to the Express. At home, Oliver took a bite out of what he assumed was chicken, but recoiled seconds later.

kfc towel

"He pulled it out of his mouth and when he did, it pulled away the batter - you could see the blue roll inside," Henderson said, according to the Daily Mail.

Henderson said that realizing Oliver had bitten into a paper towel was worse than if it had just been bad chicken.

"If it was bad chicken they might have just had a bad batch or something," she said. "But the blue roll could have been used for anything - it could have bleach or disinfectant on it … Had someone wiped their hands on it, had it been used to wipe the floor?"

KFC investigated the incident and, in May, sent Henderson an apology letter, explaining

"the blue tissue has most likely originated from a tissue roll used for KFC hygiene purposes. The store assume it must have fallen unseen into the breading lug that is under the sieve and was not noticed by the cook."

A spokesperson for KFC made the following statement, obtained by the Mirror:

We're very sorry for Ms Henderson's experience and apologized to her immediately, as well as giving her a refund at the time of the incident.

We take food quality and hygiene very seriously and unfortunately, on this extremely rare occasion, our restaurant failed to meet the high standards that both we and our customers expect.

We have retrained staff on our stringent food preparation procedures at this store to ensure this doesn't happen again.

The company also offered Henderson a free meal.

*Answer to this week's senior FUN FACT: As of last July, Florida had by far the highest percentage of people 65 and older, followed by Maine with 17.7 percent.


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The Complexities of Old Age

It's harder to be old today than it ever was.

    • There is just so much more to deal with.
    • Daily life causes more stress than it used to.
    • The more high tech things get the more stress there is for seniors.
    • You need more money to be old today that in years gone by.
    • Everything is disproportionately expensive.
    • More unscrupulous people are ready to steal your money.
    • There is less help from friends and relatives who have their own problems.
    • Society respects old people less than they used to.
    • Old people live longer than they used to, which compounds everything.

I was thinking about my grandparents the other day. Maybe it was a TV show or something I read that reminded me of them. It brought me back to a different time and a much different era. My maternal grandparents (the only grandparents I really knew) left this earth in the early 1960's when America, and the world, was very different. We were, in some ways, more naïve than we are today and less compassionate towards people different than ourselves. Racial prejudice was rampant and social welfare, especially for older folks was nonexistent. If you were old and sick and poor, you either remained, miserably, in your home or went in to a state sponsored “Old folks home” or “The Poor House”. Social Security barely met your daily living expenses and health insurance was just a dream, so why is it that I think the old days for old folks were better than they are today? Perhaps I'm the one that's naïve, but things seemed simpler.

There was just so much less to deal with. Essentially, all you had to do when you reached 65 was to go down to your local Social Security office, see a knowledgeable counselor, fill out a form and that was that. You got your check, in your mailbox not directly deposited in your bank which meant that you always knew when it was actually available to be accessed. There were no ATM's or debit cards. You went to a bank, where they knew you, and deposited or cashed your check, sometimes without even showing I.D. No computers or websites that crash, nobody hacking into your personal information and stealing your identity. There were no PIN numbers or passwords to remember. All you needed was your little bank passbook to access your money. Everything today seems to be just one big hassle. Going faceless and paperless has just added to the stress of everyday life, especially for seniors who are not used to living in a digital world. If you had trouble when making a call, there were real live operators to help you, for free. A telephone repair man would come to your home, for free. And if your phone was broken, you would get a new one, for free.

Transportation was easier. If you didn't have “Exact Change”, the bus driver or token booth clerk would gladly make change for you. Now, you need exact change or a “Metrocard” just to get on the bus. And, while we are on the subject of transportation, cars were simpler too. There was less electronics and more muscle and they were simpler to operate. Turn the key, put it in “D” and go. No remote, keyless, horn-honking, alarm-screeching security measures to worry about. Tune-ups were not the tech-driven nightmares they are today. Throw in a new set of plugs and points and your car ran great for the rest of the year, and cheap. Gas, even relatively speaking, was still a bargain. Paying less than $1.00 for anything was the norm back then. In fact everything, at least the important things, was just cheaper. Staples like eggs, bread and milk were considered sacred cows and were rarely subject to radical price jumps. Today, raising the price of milk by 30% is no big deal, hitting those on fixed incomes the hardest. And then there's rent.

For those of us who rent rather than own, we have seen prices rise so disproportionately high as to be unaffordable for many people. At one time rent amounted to about 25% of one's monthly income. We signed long leases and did not expect an increase of any more than a few dollars. Now, the rent for unregulated apartments can reach as high as 40% or more per month, which means we are working for the landlord rather than for ourselves. In addition, today, when things get tough, there are less and less people we old folks can depend on for help. 

Years ago it was not uncommon for mom to move in with the kids (or in-laws) when it became too costly or too difficult  to live alone, at home. Today, unfortunately, the kids are not doing as well, and you might actually have more money and more room than they do. I fact, more and more adult children are moving back into their parents houses to save money which often leads to stressful living conditions for all concerned. 

Adding to this stress is societies attitude towards the elderly. Seniors, as far as the business, fashion, finance, entertainment and electronics industries are concerned, barely exist. We are usually left out of the mix when it comes time for these industries to design clothing, produce shows, and manufacture the latest gadgets. The world's stuff is getting smaller. In fact, except for TV's, everything is getting smaller like  telephones and keyboards which makes it harder for sight impaired and dexterity  challenged older folks to access. In short, we are being dismissed as being too insignificant of a demographic to make any difference. However, this lack of insight on the part of business today may come back to bite them in the corporate ass. Soon, there will be more of us old folks around as all those baby b

With healthcare improving and new medications being developed every day and people learning to eat healthier and, in general, taking better care of themselves, we can expect us (old folks) to be around much longer than our predecessors which, if industry is not ready for, they will find themselves lagging behind those companies that have had the foresight to think ahead. Therefore, what does the future hold in store for older people. oomers turn 65, and we will be around a lot longer than our grandparents.

Eventually, today's really old people will no longer be with us and only a generation of  older people who have the ability to use the technology and access the information seniors need will be around. Today's seniors are more active, both physically and politically than they used to be. Additionally, if they ever find a cure for Alzheimer's, it will mean that, as the numbers of seniors increase, they will be more of a force to deal with than our grandparents were. What this will mean for society is left to be seen but, all I can say now is “Watch out you whippersnappers, we're old, we're bold, get used to it.

Keeping the cool heats up tempers

The latest thing to make the dining experience here even more annoying than it already is has to be the constant battle over the air conditioning. 

Unfortunately, instead of the usual central air conditioning which is prevalent throughout the rest of the facility, the dining room uses the same individual in-wall units found in the resident's rooms which means that tables near the windows get a full blast of cold air, while those in the middle of the room are a bit warmer. Given the vast swings in body temperatures of seniors, this makes for out and out both verbal and physical battles among residents and staff. Even more unfortunate, Chef Michael has to be called out from the kitchen to act as referee to these fights. However, there may be a simple solution to this problem. 

Differences of opinion arise when one resident, sitting directly in front of an AC unit feels a blast of cold air on their heads or back prompting the resident to turn the AC off which in turn infuriates other diners whose body temperatures approach that of rabbit in heat. Therefore, in my opinion, the solution is not to shut the AC off but rather to deflect the stream of cold air so that it does not blow directly on anybody. This can easily be accomplished by using a low-tech device called a “deflector”. These clear, Lucite barriers cause the air to blow in an up and out direction, over the heads of nearby diners. The approximate retail cost of such an item varies, but one, the size necessary to cover our AC units would range in the $20 to $40 area, a small price to pay for peace.

Suggestions for the Center's most Unused Space

     East Wing Patio needs to be used. 

It's rarely visited and most of the residents don't even know it's there. It's the most forgotten and unused spot in the whole facility. It's the patio located at the far east end of the main building and accessible only from the outside. To the best of my knowledge this area has never been used for anything and yet,there it sits, literally rotting away. It was more than a year ago that I alerted the staff to a dangerous condition on that very patio. The wooden covering had rotted out and some of the beams had fallen on to the deck. The situation was corrected and safety restored but still the area remains abandoned. This got me to thinking about what could be out there that would benefit the residents of, not only the east wing of the building, but the entire population as well. Many things came to mind. The easiest would be to just place benches and chairs on the patio and invite residents to use it. It could be used for outdoor parties and Bar-b-Que's. Unfortunately, the remoteness of this area and it's difficult access and the fact that it could only be used in good weather would mean that it probably would remain unused. Therefore, the only answer is to enclose the area, open up the fire exits and make a mixed use venue out of the place. One of the things that could be done is to erect a greenhouse. A structure such as the one shown here could offer year around gardening opportunities for residents and provide a warm, tropical-like seating area on those cold winter days. 

“That's great,” you say, “but who's going to pay for it.” To which I reply, a grant or a donation from either a nursery, greenhouse construction company or private benefactor who would have his or her name or a dedication on said structure. It would have to be up to management to pursue these avenues. If you have a better suggestion as to how this space can be used I would be glad to hear from you. 

Could this mean better para-transit for Westchester County?

The worst transportation system in the area needs all the help it can get.

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces the Availability of $100 Million for New Ladders of Opportunity Initiative to Connect More Americans with Jobs

On June 4, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the availability of approximately $100 million in competitive grant funds through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) new Ladders of Opportunity Initiative.

These funds may be used to modernize and expand transit bus service specifically for the purpose of connecting disadvantaged and low-income individuals, veterans, older adults, people with disabilities, youths, and others with local workforce training, employment centers, health care, and other vital services.

A key evaluative factor as identified by FTA will be the extent to which the applicant forms strong federal and local partnerships to address the mobility challenge. This includes bringing local workforce development, training, education, veterans, transportation, and planning stakeholders together with representation of key customer groups (people with low-incomes, people with disabilities, youths, veterans, older adult populations, etc.) to formulate a plan to address building Ladders of Opportunity in an area.

We urge the Westchester County government to assess its transportation needs and if necessary , apply for this grant.

See also:

Senior Housing Construction Tapers, But Assisted Living Not Slowing Down

By Cassandra Dowell 

“While recent data show senior living construction starts have decreased by 65% in the first quarter of this year compared to the same quarter last year, senior housing experts say increasing occupancy rates, expanding demographics and other indicators reveal a formidable future for the senior housing industry. "

“Construction activity has moderated slightly, which might be weather-related, but there is a lot of capital in the sector, so we’re expecting there will be more product coming into the market as we go forward,” said Beth Burnham Mace, chief economist and director of capital markets for the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC), during a recent webinar hosted by National Real Estate Investor.

Assisted living’s expected supply increase and absorption rates over the next four quarters outpace those of independent living, data show.

“In assisted living the dynamics are considerably different, there’s much more supply and demand than in independent living,” said Chris McGraw, senior research analyst with NIC.

Analysts expect a significant uptick in supply and demand for assisted living compared to past quarters.

Over the next four quarters NIC leaders expect assisted inventory growth of about 6,700 units, or an increase supply of 3.4%; and absorption of 5,900 units, or 3.9%. Those projections surpass the last four quarters’ numbers, during which supply increased by 2.3% and absorption by 2.8%, according to NIC data.

At sometime or another, if you are a resident here or in any other senior living environment that keeps an eye on you health, you will be asked to take a blood test. In fact, here at the Center, blood tests are administered on a regular and frequent basis, so often that the phlebotomist who is assigned to this facility knows people on a first name basis, but are we getting the blood tests we really need, read on...

5 Blood Tests That Are Worth The Prick

These quick, easy tests can reveal hidden risks, explain mystery ailments and help you make better decisions about your health.

By Corrie Pikul

The Test That Can Help You Avoid a Heart Attack

What it does: A CRP test identifies the presence of C-reactive proteins, which are indicators of inflammation in the body.

Why this matters: Chronic inflammation can do serious damage to healthy tissue, eventually leading to blood clots and accelerate the buildup of plaque in the arteries. According to the American Heart Association, people with high C-reactive proteins are twice as likely to suffer cardiac arrest as those with low levels.

Who should get it: If you are over age 40 and you have slightly high cholesterol, a large waistline, a family history of heart disease or are a little overweight. All of these factors could mean that you're at "intermediate" risk for a heart attack or stroke and can help your doctor decide if you should start a statin drug, says Janet Pregler, MD, the director of the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center. (Statins, which are widely prescribed, usually involve a lifelong commitment and can have significant side effects, like muscle pain, cataracts and liver damage.

What else you should know: This is not a standard test for women, and most insurance plans don't cover it, Pregler says.

The Blood Test That Could Discover Why You're Not Feeling Quite Right

What it does: A vitamin B12 level test measures the amount of vitamin B12 in your blood.

Why this matters: A deficiency in this vitamin has been linked to anemia, nerve issues, memory problems (and dementia), crushing fatigue, mood disorders—many of the vexing ailments that can seriously disrupt a woman's life, says Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, an adjunct clinical associate professor at Emory University.

Who should get it: Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to be deficient in B12 because they don't consume animal products, which are among the best sources of this vitamin. People who have low stomach acid—whether due to age or medication for acid reflux—are also at risk, because the acid helps absorb the vitamin, says Fryhofer. She checks her patients as part of their wellness visits, but if your doctor doesn't, get your B12 and your D levels assessed if you're just "not feeling right."

What else you should know: More vitamins aren't always better, Fryhofer says. An excess of vitamin B12 can overload your kidneys, and too much vitamin D can increase your risk of kidney stones.

An Essential Blood Test for Women

What it does: A thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) blood test can check for thyroid gland problems. A higher-than-normal level of TSH could mean your thyroid is under active (hypothyroidism), while a lower-than-normal level could mean it's overactive (hyperthyroidism).

Why this matters: The thyroid affects everything women really care about, says Fryhofer, including weight, menstrual periods, hair, skin, muscles, energy levels and mood.

Who should get it: Women who just had a baby or are over 60 are more likely to have an underactive thyroid, but many doctors routinely do TSH tests on patients to make sure the gland is working properly (ask your doctor to be sure).

What else you should know: Untreated for long periods of time, hypothyroidism can bring on a myxedema coma, a rare but potentially fatal condition. But thyroid issues are usually straightforward and can be addressed with prescription supplements, says Fryhofer, so it's never a bad idea to get this test.

The Blood Test for the Vitamin Most of Us Lack

What it does: A 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test is used to determine how much vitamin D is in your body.

Why this matters: As well as helping your bones absorb calcium and keeping your muscles strong, vitamin D provides crucial support for your immune system and may lower your risk of developing cancer and depression.

Who should get it: Anyone who worries they might not be getting the right amount of it, which covers an awful lot of us: 53 percent of women, 41 percent of men, and 61 percent of kids have insufficient levels.

What else you should know: The daily dietary allowance recommended by the Institute of Medicine is around 600 IU for most adults. Fryhofer likes for her patients take a vitamin D1000 IU supplement. She usually checks on them once a year to make sure their levels are balanced (the test isn't always covered by insurance, but it's not expensive, she says). Other doctors don't do this as part of a routine visit, so you'll need to ask.

The Blood Test That Can Save Your Liver (And Your Life)

What it does: The Hepatitis C test detects a liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus.

Why this matters: While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that more than 3 million Americans are living with the virus, 75 percent don't know that they're infected. Over time, untreated Hepatitis C can lead to liver damage, cirrhosis and cancer.

Who should get it: The CDC guidelines are still new, so you may need to prompt your doc, says Pregler. Hepatitis C can affect anyone, but those born between 1945 and 1965 have the highest rates of infection, and younger people may want to talk to their doctor about risk factors to see if the test makes sense for them, too, says Pregler.

What else you should know: Treatment for Hepatitis C used to involve a grueling regimen of drugs with unpleasant and sometimes dangerous side effects. But late last year, the FDA approved two drugs that make treatment not only easier but also faster and more effective.


Perhaps you no longer like where you live or for some reason you have to get out of town (we won't ask any questions). But how will you know if where you want to live is better or worse than where you live now. Well, it appears that someone has done that for you, at least for 25 towns that may be better than yours.

25 Retirement Spots: How They Stack Up To Your Hometown

Compare your hometown to one of these popular retirement towns.

You will have to go to the article to find link to comparison calculator

CFPB Helps Assisted Living and Nursing Facilities Protect Seniors from Financial Abuse

One recent study estimated that older Americans lost at least $2.9 billion to financial exploitation by a broad spectrum of perpetrators in 2010. Another study concluded that about 5 percent of Americans over the age of 60 experience financial mistreatment by a family member each year.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a guide to help assisted living and nursing facility staff better protect the people in their care by preventing and addressing financial abuse and scams. The guide helps staff recognize, record, and report financial mistreatment by family members or other trusted people handling the finances of an incapacitated adult. The guide also addresses prevention of a wide variety of financial exploitation and scams.

The guide (in PDF form) can be found at:

carb free

Award Winner shows how it should be done

Regular readers of this blog know of the problems I have with the woman (employed by the Center) who purports to be a registered dietitian and yet has never tasted the very food she recommends we eat. Her lack of knowledge in the field of proper diet and nutrition often reaches legendary proportions as is evident by the number and amount of carbohydrates she recommends to be served to us. It has always appeared to me that the primary goal of this (and many other institutions where seniors are fed) is to keep the population as carb-loaded and fat as possible so as to appease the state inspectors. (Hence the need for those pointless monthly weigh-ins.) This article from the ALFA newsletter describing how one particular senior living facilities is at the forefront of serving healthy food to its residents.

“The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) recently announced at its annual conference that New Perspective Senior Living and the Lighthouse Communities had won an annual Best of the Best Award in the Health and Wellness category.

“After a year spent consulting with biochemists, neurologists, and researchers at the University of Minnesota, UCLA, and elsewhere, NPSL reworked its recipes and menus. They increased the use of Omega 3 fatty acids* and antioxidant-rich foods*, decreased the use of refined carbohydrates and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and anticipated the FDA’s interest in eliminating trans-fatty oils by more than a year. They increased the use of nutrient-rich snacks, and introduced a Kefir*-based, protein-enhanced smoothie for digestive health. As part of the new program, NPSL also improved training for chefs and servers and produced a nutrition guide for residents and family members.”

*Hey,I looked it up...


(New Perspective is based in Eden Prairie, Minn.)

Breakfasts, as are all the other meals served here, operate on a rotation, meaning that we can be assured of getting at least one of our favorites every week. Unfortunately, it also means that we will get our least favorite breakfasts as well which, for me, means waffles. I cringe when I see that these previously frozen, credit card sized, cardboard tasting small, and always served cold, little bastards are what's for breakfast. Every other thing we get here for breakfast is actually very good. I love the scrambled eggs, the “Egg McWestchester”, the cheese omelets and the pancakes (which rival any made at Ihop), all of which I hope never change, but those waffles must go. They are just awful. I hated them when I was a kid (they would always get stuck in the toaster) and I hate them even more now. These things should be removed from the menu or find a waffle that is at least edible.

Maybe you call them tube steaks, Franks, Coney Island red hots or just plain hot dogs, but no matter what they are called, Americans have a passion for them. And nowhere is the passion for these questionably-stuffed sausages than right here in New York. As a jaded, sophisticated New Yorker one would expect me to be worldly when it came to the various ways these quick snack items are prepared but you would be wrong. Amazingly, people on the east side of the Hudson are notoriously naïve and geocentric when it comes to their hot dogs. While the rest of the country is enjoying their frankfurters with relish, ketchup, chilli, cheese, salsa and just about everything else you can think of, we New Yorker's rarely venture beyond the traditional mustard and sauerkraut. In fact, it was only a few years ago that some of us have ever tried sauteed onions on our dogs and this is only because the dirty water hot dog street vendors offered it as an alternative to kraut. Amazing too, is the fact that when I am away from my native land to, lets say, the southwest, I find myself ordering such delights as cheese dogs and my favorite, corny dogs. The reason for this inhibited behavior probably manifests itself in the fact that I just don't want any of my neighbors back home to see me stray from the fold and transgress in to “one of them damn tourists”. In any event, while I like and probably prefer the classic hot dog from my ancestral home (Brooklyn), I would not think it too out of bounds to have something different for a change. Did I hear somebody say chili?

You know that old Foodie likes his food “full flavored”* and has never shied away from anything spicy so, when I say that the BBQ sauce poured over what was purported to be a “Hot open BBQ roast beef sandwich”, was so hot and spicy that it ruined the meat, you know I'm not kidding. In addition, not only was the sauce inappropriate for these diners who are used to salt-free, bland, unseasoned foods, but this sauce does not go with roast beef. The only beef that BBQ sauce, whether it be home made or store bought, should be used with is beef brisket. The brisket has the ability, because of its fibrous consistency, to soak up any sauce poured over it, flavoring the meat instead of covering it up. This open RB sandwich would have faired better had it been left plain with a little brown roast beef gravy and a side of mashed potatoes with the spicy sauce best left to its beefier big brisket brother.

I have been know to eat a hot jalapeno taco with wasabi sauce and Chinese mustard just for fun.

Chinese food is all about the sauce. In the absence of any real sauce from the kitchen we diners (me) must resort to furnishing our own sauces, or in this case, condiments. Unfortunately, the only condiments I could find in one of the drawers in the country kitchen were a couple of packets of left over soy sauce and a package of hot sauce. What I really would have liked on my very dry concoction of shrimp, pork and fried rice, would have been some nice hot Chinese style mustard. Despite my pleas for the kitchen to carry this inexpensive condiment, a staple with every Chinese take-out order, it still remains unavailable here unless one can find a packet or two hidden away in a drawer somewhere. It would be a very simple thing to make sure there was some soy sauce and hot mustard packets on the table whenever Asian-style food is served. I don't think it's asking for too much and it would add considerably to the dining experience.

bon appetite

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This is an editorial that I have been wanting to write for a while now. Why I have decided to write it at this time comes as a result of an article I came across from the National Institute of Health about how to stop smoking and especially how to help seniors, in particular, to stop smoking.

I will be the first one to admit it. There is nothing more annoying to a smoker than a reformed non-smoker. We tend to have that superior, holier-than-thou attitude that makes peoples skin crawl. We don't understand why if “We can quit, why can't you”. Well, let me tell you, as a person who used to smoke 2 packs a day and hasn't had a cigarette in over 30 years, it ain't that easy. Tobacco is as addictive as any dose or Percocet or Oxycodone. But unlike those much prescribed painkillers, today's tobacco products will rot your lungs and eventually deprive you of your health and life. Now, if that doesn't sound like a former smoking talking, I don't know what does. So why is it that, no matter how old you are, not smoking is better than smoking. The following, from the NIH, is a good place to start to stop. I would like all of those smokers here at the Center to pay particular attention to the highlighted area on secondhand smoke. Although there is a designated smoking area set up for those residents who still smoke, there are some of those who, for one reason or another, pay no attention to the rules and smoke wherever they want, causing some of us to pass through a cloud of smoke on our way to various parts of the facility. Besides leaving there cigarette butts all over the place, they pose a health hazard to those of us who still care about breathing. Read the article from the NIH.

Smoking: It's Never Too Late to Stop

No matter your age, quitting smoking improves your health. If you quit smoking, you are likely to add years to your life, breathe more easily, and save money. You will also:

Lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke, and lung disease

Have better blood circulation

Improve your sense of taste and smell

Stop smelling like smoke

Set a healthy example for your children and grandchildren

Many people say the first step to stop smoking is to make a firm decision to quit and pick a definite date to stop. Then make a clear plan for how you will stick to it.

Your plan might include:

  • Talking with your doctor
  • Setting a quit date, when you stop smoking completely
  • Developing a plan for dealing with urges to smoke
  • Reading self-help information
  • Going to individual or group counseling
  • Asking a friend for help
  • Taking medicine to help with symptoms of nicotine withdrawal
  • Calling your state quitline (1-800-784-8669 or 1-800-QUITNOW) or visiting  on the internet

Secondhand Smoke Is Dangerous

Secondhand smoke created by cigarettes, cigars, and pipes can cause serious health problems for family, friends, and even pets of smokers. Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous for people who already have lung or heart disease. In adults, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer. In babies it can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Children are also more likely to have lung problems, ear infections, and severe asthma if they are around secondhand smoke.

Good News About Quitting

The good news is that after you quit:

    • Your lungs, heart, and circulatory system will begin to function better.
    • Your chance of having a heart attack or stroke will drop.
    • Your breathing will improve.
    • Your chance of getting cancer will be lower.

More info at..........

Editors note: One of the stupidest things that I have ever seen (even for here) is a resident(s), who uses a portable oxygen concentrator, sneaking a smoke. Over the two years that I have been here, I have observed this phenomenon a number of times. 

Have Assisted Living Facilities Forgotten About Dads?

“The ladies are everywhere… it is the ladies who fill the dining hall, the ladies who while away the afternoon chatting and doing crossword puzzles in the sitting room, and the ladies whose photos are on display next to the needlepoint and paintings in the resident art gallery.”

As a man living in a facility dominated by women, I can certainly commiserate with what the author of this article has to say. However, let me say this about old men, we are not “participators”.  As a rule we don't join groups or engage in most of the activities that women seen to thrive on. In her effort to get more men involved here at the Center Carmen, our recreation director, has started a Men's Club. And, although it is sparsely attended, it has managed to draw out some of the more sociable men in our facility. I am sure there is some deep sociological motive why older men seem to be more isolated. Perhaps they feel that their manhood is threatened by younger, more virile males, or perhaps it's because that now, they have to depend on someone else (usually a woman) for aid and support. 

 By Ami Noss/

No matter what the specifics of the situation, the move from independence to assisted living can be emotionally fraught for both parents and children. Often, this stress is multiplied for children of aging single men for reasons that may surprise you. Learn more.

Seniors often feel reluctant to relinquish control over their surroundings and daily routines, and adult children may feel guilty over not being able to manage their parents’ care without help. Those not familiar with retirement home dynamics may not know that according to the National Center for Assisted Living, women outnumber men three to one in the average elder care setting. With more men moving to assisted living communities, this gender gap can make things more challenging for adult children to find a community that caters to men’s interest and will make dad happy.

In describing the scene at Irvine senior home Atria Woodbridge, Los Angeles Times reporter Rick Rojas notes,

“The ladies are everywhere… it is the ladies who fill the dining hall, the ladies who while away the afternoon chatting and doing crossword puzzles in the sitting room, and the ladies whose photos are on display next to the needlepoint and paintings in the resident art gallery.”

Columnist Pam Gerhardt of the Washington Post has referred to these imbalances as the “doilies and chintz” problem. “Every place I visited, I was overwhelmed with potpourri and teddy bears with bows,” Gerhardt lamented of her recent search for the right assisted living facility for her father.

While an excess of women might seem like an “embarrassment of riches” type issue to the untrained eye, in actuality, it can lead to men feeling excluded from the main flow of a community’s social life, overwhelmed by female attention at group events, or both. Rojas, for example, quotes one resident as saying that the women of Atria Woodbridge are actually hard to get know, since they “have a world of their own.” On the other hand, we have the example of St. Andrew Estates in Boca Raton Florida – a retirement home that resorted to hiring “older male dancing enthusiasts as well as volunteers from a local college fraternity” to staff a Valentine’s Day dance in order to keep dance cards full without overwhelming the in-house male population.

Given the intractable nature of the contributing factors to retirement home population imbalances – in a nutshell, women live longer and are less likely to insist on living alone – can senior living communities do a better job of helping men feel at home? Here are a few things that could make a difference:

Use modern, gender-neutral décor: There are plenty of furnishings with broad appeal, thus Pam Gerhardt recommends that retirement homes “lose the chintz,” along with the “crystal chandeliers and fleur-de-lis wallpaper.” She recommends using earthy hues, jewel tones, as well as bold, abstract artwork in place of “pastel sunsets.”

Keep staff ratios balanced: Senior living facilities should make sure that there are plenty of male staff members available to assist men with personal care. Some men may prefer to have a male attendant help them with grooming and dressing.

Create social opportunities that appeal to men: From designing appealing gathering spots such as club-like game rooms replete with overstuffed leather chairs and poker tables (another of Gerhardt’s suggestions), to organizing regular card games, men’s breakfasts, woodworking clubs, and similar activities, assisted living facilities should make a concerted effort to engage male residents in community life.

At Atria Woodbridge, resident Al Ladine worked with staff to create a “Man Cave”– a workshop where seniors craft everything from clocks to model railroads and airplanes. According to Rojas, women are welcome, but the shop is “much more of a gathering place for men.” A sign bearing the words “Boys Will Be Boys” hangs on the door.

“There are too many people sitting around doing nothing,” Ladine is quoted as saying.

Read article...

Walking back from lunch the other day I observed  a workman standing on a ladder, pulling cable through the tiles of the suspended ceiling. I knew this could mean only one thing, more TV cameras. It was only a month or two ago that we were “treated” to an influx of those big brother devices lurking in what I thought, was every nook and cranny of the facility. Evidently, I was wrong, they found even more places to hang these things, but for what purpose.  We all know that there has been an increase in theft of resident's property as of late and, if this is the way the Center is trying to combat this all I can say is that it's a noble, but useless, attempt. Installing more cameras to watch what is going on in the halls does nothing to stop what goes on in the resident's rooms while they are away. The answer to better security is more watchfulness by management and a better vetted staff.

If it's been looking even more gloomy than usual around the Center this week, don't despair, and don't take more Lexapro, your depression has not returned. It's just the facility trying to save energy. The string of ultra hot day's here last week, resulting in an extraordinary use of the air conditioning, prompted maintenance to actually swap out the light bulbs in the corridors for lower wattage bulbs. Despite the fact that those low-energy fluorescent bulbs were in place to begin with, I guess they were not low-energy enough. As an extra added attraction, the new bulbs cause the glass globes to cast an interesting light pattern on the ceiling giving the place the look of a 19th century boarding house rather than that institutional look we have become some used to. 

We are sure that in the convoluted minds of the powers that are in charge of things here at the Sunny Acres Home for the Incurably Perturbed, there is a good reason why these two benches, originally meant to provide seating for resident’s waiting for transportation in front of the main building, have been relocated to a place where nobody would ever sit. And, even if there were someone at sometime that would actually want to walk all the way down the hill to sit, alone, on a bench in the middle of the driveway in the blazing sun, why is there a need for two of them?

Apparently I've been doing it all wrong. 

Until recently, one of those taboo and rarely discussed subjects, has been senior citizens and sex. Fortunately, both seniors, facilities that take care of seniors have come to realize that older people are as interested and actively pursue sex just like any other group of horny people. Dr. Ruth Westheimer (86) who has been giving sex advice to people for years has finally told* me something I did not know...

Advice From Dr. Ruth: Seniors Should Have Sex In The Morning...

“For those people who want to engage in that activity, they have to know not to engage in sex in the evening, when they are tired. But to engage in sex in the morning. Go for breakfast, go back into bed, because the testosterone level is highest in the morning. And also, if one of the partners at [a] later stage in life wants to have some sexual satisfaction, that’s what they should engage in. If the other one doesn’t want to, just lie there and think about the next meal.” 

Actually, I probably did know this but have forgotten. The truth is, I don't remember too much about sex at all except that I think I liked it.


6 Safer Sex Tips for Seniors

Just like anyone of any age, seniors deserve clear information on how to protect sexual health.  So here it is – seven important do's and do not's.

Talk it out. A recent study found that only 38 percent of men and 22 percent of women have discussed their sex life with their health care provider after reaching the age of 50 (click here to read about the study). Silence limits honest patient-doctor conversation, which lessens the health info that you can get. End the silence by talking to your doctor about your sex life.

Get tested! Be your own health advocate and ask to be tested for STIs and HIV. Do it at the doctor’s office. Research shows that people over 50 at risk for HIV are 80 percent less likely to be tested than at-risk 20- to 30-year-olds.

Safer partners.Choose sex partners who you can have open and honest conversations with about sexual health. Discuss HIV/STI testing and safer sex practices before the lights go out. If you don’t feel comfortable, stick to less risky, non-penetrative orgasms. Click here for some examples.

Condoms for men and women! Think you know how to use a condom? Click here to watch a refresher video on YouTube. Or click here to learn and watch a video about the Female Condom (FC2) option.

Lube. After menopause, many women experience a natural thinning of the vaginal wall; you may notice a reduction in natural lubrication. Use water-based lube to help reduce micro abrasions that can increase the chances of infection. (Follow “the wetter the better” mantra if you’re experimenting with butt sex too!)

Spit, don’t swallow. Bleeding or sores in the mouth from dental work, gum issues or ill-fitting dentures can provide opportunities for infection. The safest way to give a BJ is to avoid contact between your mouth and your partner’s semen. If you do get a mouthful, spit, don’t swallow.



Top Travelling Tips for Senior Citizens


Travelling is an amazing experience regardless of whether you are 3 or 99 years old. Travelling can mean both the fact that you discover amazing places and the fact that you discover (and re-discover) things within you. If you ever thought that your age should stop you from seeing the world and if you ever thought that there is no place for seniors in the travelling world out there, then you should know that you were completely wrong. There is no reason to give up on your life-long dream of travelling the world now that you are a senior and if you are determined to make this happen for yourself, then you should definitely keep in mind the following tips.

Choose the Senior Options

Many of the travelling agencies out there actually offer travel packages that are specifically aimed at those who are over 65. This means that in most of the cases, these packages will come as an all-inclusive offer and that they will contain everything you will need during your travels (from transportation to accommodation and so on). If you do go for one such package, remember to see exactly what is covered and what is not covered.

Even more, these special packages are created especially for senior citizens from other points of view as well. Usually, they will include destinations you will find attractive and they will also include facilities that make your life easier during the trip. All in all, such packages can make for a wonderful, safe and hassle-free option when it comes to senior travelling.

Plan Ahead

If you want to save money and to make sure that you don’t forget about anything, plan everything well ahead. This will enable you to think through the options thoroughly, to analyse all the offers, to make lists of things you should not forget and to get ready to see your dream come true. Even more, you can save important sums of money if you book well in advance, which is definitely a plus for everyone out there.

Don’t Forget about Travel Insurance

It is important that you purchase a travel insurance policy as well, because this means that accidents such as losing your luggage at the airport, cancellations you have to make due to bad weather or special situations, having luggage with medication in it lost and many other unfortunate situations will be covered in case they arise. This can actually save you money and the trouble of running around when all you should have to do is relax and enjoy your trip. When you purchase insurance do keep in mind the fact that there are special types of travel insurance for the over 65s that will definitely work to your advantage.

This post was written by:

 More Traveling Tips for The Elderly

By: Leonard J. Hansen

Travel may be one of the greatest gifts you can give Mom or Dad.

The trip may be to visit other family and, particularly, grandkids and great grandchildren. It may be an adventure to a destination, aboard a cruise ship or even a return to a home of long ago.

You may accompany your parent; or, if he or she can maintain some independence, the trip may be solo. Either way, there are 10 important steps to take:

1. Request and Reserve Special Services

Request seat assignment in the rows designated for disabled travelers. And, importantly, request cost-free wheelchair service at every airport origination, connection and arrival location. If you don't make and confirm all of these requests at the time of reservation, the airline, train or bus line has no obligation to make them available on check-in or while en route.

2. Prepare Documentation

A government passport is accepted as the highest level of identification by federal TSA security officers. If you or your parent do not already have a passport, consider applying for such months prior to your travel. Your local post office will have the application forms; or you can go online to access the information and forms. 

Request copies of prescriptions and/or statements of medical conditions from each physician and medical treatment center.

3. Be Practical When Packing

Pack light. For a person traveling with at least some limitation, aim to pack everything necessary in a roll-aboard suitcase plus a medium-size over-the-shoulder carry-on. 

All prescription and over-the-counter medications should be placed in a one quart zip-lock freezer bag, including also copies of any prescriptions and/or physician statements in the hand-carry bag. Do not place the pill combinations separately into a separate plastic box as "the next co

mbined dosage." Such will never get through security. Enclose also any medical appliances such as extra braces or first-aid needs.

4. Think about Safety, Security and Comfort

Mom should not carry a purse but, instead a money belt worn under a blouse or a neat Passage 

5. Arrange Medication ManagementWallet hidden under her coat by a neck cord.  Dad should not carry a wallet in his back pocket but, instead, the same Passage Wallet from the neck cord or as a hidden wallet tucked into his pants and secured by a cord to his belt.

6. Plan for Security Checkpoints

If Mom or Dad is in a wheelchair at transportation centers, access to and through TSA (transportation security administration) security may actually be quicker than through the long line of other travelers. Before traveling, explain to Mom or Dad that the security process is vital to her or his safety.

7.Consider Destination and Travel Options.

 Start a discussion with Mom or Dad to learn her or his travel wishes. 

8.Consider Tours and Cruises

There are thousands of tour and cruise possibilities. Tours and cruises offer a unique service, in that they are totally planned, operated and staffed to deliver the promised program and destination discovery. 

9. Ensure Those at The Destination are Prepared

For more details on the above tips, go to...

We have had almost the perfect combination of rain and sun this past week which has made the grass green and luscious. The gardeners were out mowing the lawn this morning and I could not help but notice how sweet everything smelled. As a former home owner with a lawn of my own, I actually miss mowing the grass. 

Seniors use of potent meds via Medicare jumps

“Just another reason why I think we (seniors) are over medicated.”

WASHINGTON – The number of senior citizens getting narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medications under Medicare's prescription drug program is climbing sharply, and those older patients are being put on the drugs for longer periods of time, a USA Today examination of federal data shows.

From 2007 to 2012, the number of patients 65 and older getting Medicare prescriptions for powerful opioid pain medications rose more than 30 percent to upward of 8.5 million beneficiaries, the data show.

Use of some of the most commonly abused painkillers, such as hydrocodone and Oxycodone, climbed more than 50 percent. And the supply of each narcotic provided to the average recipient grew about 15 percent to about three months.

The figures suggest that 1 in 5 of the nation's 43 million seniors gets Medicare prescriptions to take pills like Vicodin or Percocet for their aches and pains, often on a long-term basis.

Meanwhile, the number of seniors getting Medicare prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications, such as alprazolam (also sold as Xanax), busipirone and lorazepam (also sold as Ativan), rose about 25 percent to more than 700,000. By 2012, the average patient got about five months' worth — about 10 percent more than in 2007.

The data for anti-anxiety medications are less comprehensive than for narcotics because one of the most popular classes of anti-anxiety drugs, benzodiazepines, got very limited coverage until last year under the Medicare drug benefit, known as Part D.

'Need to be concerned'

While often helpful on a short-term basis, many narcotic painkillers and anti-anxiety medicines carry considerable risks of abuse and dependence if their use is not closely supervised over longer periods. They also can contribute to confusion and physical injuries. As a result, public health officials have been urging prescribers to be far more judicious in determining which patients should be put on the drugs.

The increased prescribing to seniors "is something we really need to be concerned about," says Michael Von Korff, an investigator for the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

Von Korff says seniors on the drugs risk injuries from falls, impaired breathing and cognitive problems, and those risks often are magnified when the medications are used in combination. What's more, he says, "misuse and abuse of these medicines is not uncommon among the elderly. They do get into trouble with these drugs."

Growing use

Last month, USA Today found that the number of seniors misusing painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs climbed substantially over the past decade. In 2012, an estimated 336,000 seniors had misused or become dependent on prescription pain relievers, according to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The rise in such prescriptions reflects "old teaching" that led many physicians to over-prescribe the drugs, especially for long-term treatment, says Jane Ballantyne, anesthesiologist and pain medicine expert at the University of Washington Medical Center.

The newer consensus is that the drugs' use should be much more limited, particularly in patients with a history of substance abuse or among groups, such as seniors, who are more vulnerable to side effects, she adds.

"But it takes a lot of time and effort to turn the old teaching around."

Huge increases

By drug type, the data show:

• Hydrocodone-acetaminophen, also sold as Lortab, Norco and Vicodin, has consistently been the most prescribed opioid painkiller for seniors under Medicare's drug program. It was prescribed to more than 5 million patients in 2012, up 52 percent from 2007, and the average patient got more than two months' worth — 20 percent more than in 2007.

• Among other popular painkillers, the use of oxycodone acetaminophen, also sold as Percocet, grew 58 percent to 1.2 million patients. The average patient got about a month's worth — 12 percent more than in 2007.

• Use of Tramadol grew the most. It was prescribed to 2.4 million patients in 2012, up nearly 140 percent since 2007.


Officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services declined requests for an interview. In a statement, CMS said: "Medicare takes instances of prescription drug misuse very seriously and recently put in place aggressive new rules that take further steps to prevent drug abuse and over utilization."


A senior citizen cell phone contingency plan

by Matt Sherer/

The one piece of modern technology that practically every resident here has is a cell phone and, while they may not know how to use all of the functions, they sure know how to talk on them. Unfortunately, cell phones like any mass marketed instrument has its problems which, in the hands of the elderly, are compounded. Here is some information on how to help a loved one or yourself keep safe.


“If you are over the age of 55, may I suggest that you give someone in your immediate family your cell phone password and other prompts. If something happens, they have the capability to deal with your phone service provider.

After recently trying to resolve some cell phone issues for my 80-something father-in-law, the experience has convinced me that senior citizens should have a plan to help their spouse or children deal with the major phone carriers to resolve an issue.”



The Pasta That Never Ends

Just when I thought that we had finally won, if not the war, at least a battle against the humongous amount of carbs served here, a reversal of the trend, it appears, has taken place. Not only are the carb-laden pasta's, rice, and potatoes back, they are back with a vengeance. This increase in the carb-to-protein ratio became quite noticeable when, last week we were not only served two pasta dishes on Monday but it was was followed on Tuesday by two more pasta dishes in the form of sausage and peppers over PASTA for lunch and BAKED ZITI for dinner. In addition, adding insult to injury, even the soup served with Tuesday's lunch contained copious amounts of, you guessed it, PASTA. Unfortunately, this trend might continue for a while due to an alarming across the board rise in food prices with beef taking a particularly hard hit. 

From the USDA...

“Beef and veal prices for the whole of 2014 are now forecast to increase by 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent, a sharp advance from last month's forecast for a 3 to 4 percent rise. Pork prices are set to rise by 3 percent to 4 percent, up from a 2 to 3 percent advance expected a month ago.

The USDA said overall U.S. food price inflation for 2014, including food bought at grocery stores and food bought at restaurants, would rise by 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent in 2014.”

The rise in prices is blamed on a drought in California and Texas. 

Therefore, we here at the Center, being at the lower end of the poverty level, can expect to see less beef and pork and more pastas and rice and potatoes and, of course,chicken. All I can say is push the carbs aside and eat your greens and ask for an extra helping of proteins if you can.

Editor's note: How do you know if you are eating too many carbs, it's easy. Remember those shorts you put on last year and noticed that they were getting a bit tight but you could still wear them. Well, try them on a couple of weeks from now and see if you can still button them up.

While I won't say that this was the best turkey club sandwich I have ever eaten, there is a case for it being the best that I have eaten here. At least there was a generous amount of turkey in it as well as the other ingredient that make a club a club, bacon. In addition, the large, properly grilled, slices of rye bread was the perfect wrapper for this Monday afternoon lunch. Although I would have liked to see a pickle or some cole slaw on the plate, that slight oversight was not enough to give anything but a two thumbs up to this sandwich.  

You may argue about whether McDonald's or Burger King or even Red Lobster's food is any good, but the one thing you cannot question is their consistency. You can travel anywhere in the country and know exactly what you are going to get because all of these PROFESSIONAL food service establishments follow one golden rule, “Never Vary”. This “quality of equality” is true for just about everything with a brand name that we buy. Dewar's Scotch even has the words “Never Varies” in their ads, they are that proud of it. Unfortunately that pride in what is served here has not carried over from the outside world and never is this culture of inconsistency more evident than when we are served pizza. From one time to the next, we can never be sure of either the quality, the size of the slice or the ingredients. Sometimes the pizza may be gooey and cheesy with a nice thin crust and a pizzeria size slice. Then, as it was last Friday, it could be a small wedge with and over baked, thick crusted slice and a  mysterious topping of unconventional ingredients. While I appreciate the fact that as bad as it is the pizza here does satisfy my primal pizza jones, I just wish it would do it the same every time.

Somewhere in the bowels of what the New York State Department of Health calls its rules and regulations, there is some piece of paper that says “No matter how food is traditionally prepared and no matter how stupid it sounds to prepare it differently, we know what's best and that's the way you are going to make it even if it's the wrong way and people won't eat it.” I have to believe this because it's the only explanation for the beef stew dinner we had last Friday evening. Never before have I seen a baked potato* and peas and carrots used as a side dish for beef stew. As I have said at least a dozen times in this blog over the years, beef stew is one of those dishes that, if made in the traditional manner, needs no side dishes. 

As far back as can be remembered, man has been preparing beef stew by including all of the ingredients in one dish. That is, the beef, the potatoes, the veggies should all be cooked together, that is what makes a stew, a stew. Cooking all of the ingredients together is why people make stew in the first place. It is a way of combining all of the necessary food groups together and, by doing so, having each ingredient add its own unique flavor to the stew. Unfortunately, what we get here is nothing more than stewed beef (and today some carrots) with the rest of the fixin's left on the side adding nothing to the flavor or texture of the stew. 

Look, I know that the cook has to follow the regs, strictly limiting his ability to cook things the way that they are supposed to be cooked but please, don't make a mockery out of something so basic as good old beef stew.

*Editor's note: I know that some people like sour cream on their baked potatoes, but I don't. I also do not like my baked potatoes placed on my plate already opened. First of all, I can open a baked potato by myself. Opening beforehand allows the heat to escape from the potato and there is niothing worse than a cold baked potato. Secondly, a baked potato should never be opened with a knife. Baked potatoes should be split open with a fork and the ends squeezed together exposing its fluffy innards.

Murder most fowl...

Yonkers, NY. June 21, 2014:  Diners at the Westchester Center were stunned last night over the sudden and outrageous death of the chicken, dinner that is. What began as a typical Saturday night meal, turned into something quite different when an innocent, relatively simple to make pineapple roast chicken was wantonly murdered before the eyes of dozens of horrified residents. 

It all started when the chicken (whose origin has not been released pending next of kin) was removed from the refrigerator located in the Center's kitchen. The chicken was prepared in the usual manner and placed in the oven to cook. That is when, according to local authorities, “All hell broke loose”. 

“It was horrible”, said one diner, “It was dry and we could hardly cut into it”.

“I turned away in horror”, said another diner who did not want to be identified.

“I sent it back”, said a third woman who told us her name was  “Lucretia”.

In a brief statement, investigators would only say that “Although the chicken was of the finest quality, as evident by the whiteness of its meat, somewhere between taking it from the refrigerator and removing it from the oven, it was cooked to death.

Also injured, were the overcooked broccoli and the ever present rice. both sides are expected to make a full recovery.

No explanation for this heinous act has been given, but investigators believe it was the work of amateurs.

bueno appetito

A Well Traveled Package

Due to some recent thefts here at the asylum, I ordered a cable lock for my laptop from Staples. Staples usually delivers stuff to me within a day or two so I was surprised when, after three days, I had still not received it. A quick look at the UPS tracking info told me why. This item has done more traveling in the last week than I have done in ten years.


Shipment Progress

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As I sit here, opening yet another erroneous statement from the pharmacy* that supplies our assisted living facility, staring at a “Balance Due” amount that I do not owe because all of my meds are covered by Medicaid and Medicare, I wonder if these incorrect statements which I have been receiving for the last few months are just the result of poor bookkeeping or an out and out attempt to defraud. I also wonder how many of my fellow residents have received similar statements and have unwittingly paid them. which causes me to ask the question,"why is it that a pharmacy which has consistently shown to be as inept as this one is permitted to continue servicing our facility unabated. "

If just sending out false or incorrect statements was the only thing which this pharmacy did wrong it would not bother me that much, after all it's only money. However, when said pharmacy begins to endanger the health of the residents they serve, ineptitude takes on a whole new meaning. Upon personal review and an impromptu survey of some of the other residents I have noted the following.

Said pharmacy is constantly late with deliveries. Medications that are faxed over in the morning are rarely delivered the same day or even the next day. (I have personally waited for six days to get a badly needed pain medication.

There appears to be no system in place to deliver medications on a “rush” basis (That is, between regular deliveries or off hours). A “We'll have it when we have it” attitude prevails.

At times, residents are told that said pharmacy does not have a particular medication in stock causing an additional two, three or even longer delay. Many of these meds are antibiotics whose course of treatment depends on starting the drug immediately.

In addition, this pharmacy is not open 24/7/365, (They are closed on Saturday and many holidays), putting residents at further risk. 

There are other stories of residents receiving incorrect medications and/or incorrect dosage amounts that were caught by our med-tech staff. Countless requests from residents (and even one supervisor) to replace the current pharmacy have been dismissed without reason. This undue loyalty by our management towards a vendor that has such a poor track record, gives me thought as to whether or not there is something more going on here. 

*Fearing any possible litigation I have refrained from mentioning the name of the pharmacy in question.

Long Waiting Line for Nurse irks Resident’s

By 8:30, the line of resident’s waiting at the nurses door had grown so long that it extended as far down as the library entrance, and this is not the first time this has happened. In fact, residents who must wait on this line every day to receive such nursing services as insulin injections, wound care and blood pressure monitoring, have reported this to be an ongoing occurrence. The problem all stems from the fact that these resident’s must rely on the one nurse being there, on time, something that has become increasingly rare as of late. Unfortunately, like everything else here, management has failed to address the problem in a timely manner, allowing a “wait and see” attitude to prevail. 

In an effort to reduce the size of the line at the med room every morning, a plan was initiated about a year ago to separate those resident’s who needed nursing services from those who only required regular medication. The plan, which worked well at the beginning, fell apart when the regular nurse left and another was hired. Unfortunately, the new nurse does not live nearby and has to make a long commute to work which is compounded during bad weather and traffic delays. And, while we don't like to see anyone lose their job, the needs of the resident’s must come first. It is time to correct this problem.

Elevator problems persist despite recent repairs

While last weeks incident where two resident’s were stuck in, and had to be rescued from one of our elevators was bad enough unfortunately, it was not the end to the problems that are continuing to plague our elevators. Following the the “rescue”, which caused the closing of one of the two cabs, the only remaining elevator went out of service stranding all of those resident’s who live on the upper floors of the main building, causing those people to congregate in the lobby until 9 PM when emergency repairs were made. And just this past Friday, the elevator in which another resident was riding, dropped from the second floor to the basement stranding him for over forty minutes. It should be noted that, at the time this article was written, one of the elevators is, again, out of service.

The elevators here are the main lifeline for the majority of the resident’s who are not fortunate enough to have rooms on the first floor. The elimination of even one of the elevators causes overcrowding which only adds to the anxiety of those resident’s who are dependent on those elevators to take them to activities, medications, rehab and, doctors visits as well a meals. While minor problems have impaired these elevators for years, it is not until recently that these incidents have increased dramatically. In addition, the down-time has also been getting longer. Where, at one time, repairmen were able to come and fix the problems almost immediately, it now takes up to a week before we see any service. Thus far, nobody has been injured, but it might only be a matter of time. Either we need a new elevator repair service or some new elevators.

Senior Discounts Are Out There If You Ask

By LORRAINE BLOETH VALERINO/ In the Lakeland Florida Ledger

Restaurants and stores set their own rules, so check before buying

Graying around the edges does have some advantages, at least when it comes to casual and fine dining for  senior citizens.

"In many cases, discounts might be available, but you have to ask," said Gretchen Artman, of Lakeland,Fl. 

Another caveat is that businesses set their own age restrictions for those who can receive "senior discounts."

It is suggested, for instance, patrons ask the server or restaurant hostess what the policy is at that location. Some are offered for specific days of the week and for specific meal times.

While it remains up to the discretion of the individual location, nationally recognized AARP restaurant discounts include those at Outback Steakhouse, Bonefish Grill, Papa John's Pizza and Denny's -- among others -- that range from 10 percent to 25 percent.

For those seniors who haven't joined AARP, there are also some other restaurants that offer discounts for patrons who provide a current photo ID.

Carrabba's Italian Grill, for example, offers a 20 percent discount for seniors on Wednesdays.

Fast-food establishments like McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger-King, often offer seniors a discounted beverage.

Recognizing that some seniors are on fixed incomes while others have smaller appetites in their golden years, some restaurants feature 55+ and/or senior menu selections. IHOP, for example, has a separate 55+ menu featuring some of its most popular menu items.

Like IHOP, Bob Evans -- in business for some 60 years -- has its own 55 and Over menu with prices ranging from $7.49 to $10.79 with portions geared to smaller appetites.

In addition to meals, seniors can take advantage of discounts on merchandise and services ranging from clothing to appliances -- but again, you sometimes have to ask to receive the discount.

Stores like Beall's, Belk's, Kohl's, Ross Stores, Goodwill and Hancock Fabrics, all offer senior discounts.

Those who enjoy traveling can get discounts at various hotels and rental car agencies.

Walgreen's is offering additional savings for its Balance Rewards program members who link their AARP membership to the pharmacy's program. Members will receive email alerts with changing discount opportunities.

Michael's Craft Store offers 10-percent discount for AARP* members on Tuesdays. Sear's Optical and Lens Crafters also has discounts for a variety of products.


I have included the description why a hot dog is no good for you only to show you where the author of this article was headed. Except for the jelly beans and instant noodles, everything listed is served here at the center on a regular basis. However, to be fair, these foods are usually served on a rotating four to five week rotation. Unfortunately, margarine (never butter) and mayonnaise is available at all meals. To view details on why the other 10 foods are the worst, please click on the link. But keep in mind, man does not live on wheat grass alone, sometimes you just got to have a cheeseburger.

1. Hot dog

Hot dog, the most dangerous food on this list is also one of the most consumed ones.

It is deeply rooted in our culture and if you’re not eating hot dogs you’re just not American enough.

Not! We must fight in order to save if not ourselves, than our children.

The sausages were culturally imported from Germany and popularized in the United States, where they were a working class street food sold at hot dog stands that came to be associated with baseball and America.

Now lets focus on its ingredients:

1. Flavorings – Just let your imaginations run wild with this one

2. Preservatives – This item needs further analysis

Preservatives are typically sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrite.

We already talked about nitrates and various preservatives in our analysis of hamburgers, but this substance is so toxic that it deserves another run. Here’s a fun fact: a 65 kg person would have to consume at least 4.615 g of sodium nitrite to result in death of that individual.

An American Institute for Cancer Research report found that consuming one 50-gram serving of processed meat, that’s about one hot dog every day, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent.

Hot dogs are also high in fat and salt and have preservatives sodium nitrate and nitrite, which are possible contributors to nitrate-containing chemicals believed to cause cancer.

Other no-no foods are...



4. Mayonnaise

5. Jelly beans


7. Popsicles

8.Instant noodles

9.Whipped cream

10. Margarine

11.Bologna or Baloney

Unfortunately, these food goody-goody know-it-all's would have you eat nothing but tofu and soy protein with a side of grass clippings belying the fact that we are sweet-toothed, meat eating carnivores and always will be.

Find out why these foods are not good for you. Go to...


by Frank M. Samson--


Each and every day seniors are being taken advantage of and getting ripped off.   Con-artists exploit their vulnerability, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say "no" or just hang up the telephone. You don't think it can happen to your family? Well, think again. The only way to stop these horrible incidents from occurring is to educate seniors, their families and friends of these scams so they are not taken advantage of. Following are just five scams to be aware of:

#1: The Long Lost Grandchild

The Set-Up: The phone rings and a person on the other end of the line claims to be a grandchild. They invariably need money, either to pay for tuition, car repairs, or bail to get out of jail. Often times, they insist that the money needs to be wired to them immediately and beg you not to tell their parents, especially if the set-up involves jail.

The Facts: Confirm with another member of the family, such as parents or a sibling, that the grandchild did in fact call you. Insist that, prior to sending them any money, you need to let the parents know. You can also look up the number of the police station or mechanic - do not use any phone number that the caller gives you - and ask to speak with the supervisor to confirm the situation.

#2 The Census Taker

The Set-Up: You receive a telephone call, a letter (on official-looking stationary), or even a knock on the door from someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau. They ask you to fill out a form that includes your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and possibly even your banking information.

The Facts: According to the Census Bureau, official Census employees "will not ask you for your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card number. They are also required to show you a badge and provide you with the phone number to the local Census office to verify their identity (you can double check this number in the phone book).

#3 The Creditor

The Set-Up: Someone calls claiming to be a collection company, credit card issuer, or attorney representing a client to whom you or someone in your household owes money. Scammers are known to target recent widows by reading the obituary pages and then claiming that the deceased owed them money.

The Facts: Collection companies do, in fact, call to recover debt and are allowed to do so within certain practices as defined by Federal law. If you are contacted about a debt, never give out financial information or send money. Instead, ask the caller to send you a "debt validation letter." Legitimate collectors are required to comply with this request within five days. If you are contacted about a recently deceased loved one, refer to the caller to your estate attorney or the executor of the estate.

#4 The Charity

The Set-Up: Someone posing as a charity - including a charity you may already contribute to - may contact you on the phone, by letter, or by email asking you to make a contribution.

The Facts: If you have never heard of or have never contributed to the charity before, verify their identity through either GuideStar (, an organization that verifies non-profits and lets you analyze their financial reports. Do not give out credit card numbers or bank account information. Legitimate charities will understand - and appreciate - your caution.

#5 The Contractor

The Set-Up: A contractor knocks on the door and informs the resident that they need major repairs to the roof, storm drains, or other structures. The contractor offers to provide a discount - because he likes to help out seniors - but says that he needs an advance payment to purchase materials and get started.

The Facts: If a contractor approaches you and offers work, do not give any advance fee. Ask him to write up a bid and to bring it the following day. Obtain at least one other bid prior to beginning any work.


 Read more....

Increase In Scams against elderly

by Javier Simon, Pelham

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Cell phones, social media and new payment systems are among tools that scammers are using to trick senior citizens in Westchester County out of thousands of dollars, according to officials.

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey (D- 17th District) warns senior citizens, caretakers and families of a spike in financial scams aimed at senior citizens.

“My constituents have been talked into giving thousands and thousands of dollars, because they've been told "a grandchild is in serious trouble,” said Lowey in a press release. “Some have even spoken to someone they are sure is that grandchild. It is not. It’s an impostor who knows, as grandparents always tell me, information that only their grandchild would know, which generally, the crooks have learned from the Internet.

The scam Lowey spoke of usually involves an impostor impersonating a grandchild, who calls a grandparent and seeks financial assistance to escape a bad situation in a foreign country. A recent news report highlighted such a scam in which a grandparent gave up $20,000.

According to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, elderly victims across the state lost $441,000 to the "Grandparent Scam" in 2012.

The uses of voice mimicry, attainable personal information from the Internet, and simpler ways to pay have made the scam more sophisticated, according to a press release.

“It’s hard to imagine a scam worse than one that preys on senior citizens,” said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I am committed to doing anything I can to prosecute consumer fraud across our state and to educating New Yorkers on how to avoid scams that target older adults. Programs like our state wide “Smart Seniors” initiative help seniors avoid becoming victims in the first place. I am pleased to join Congresswoman Lowey in getting the word out to seniors about how to recognize scams and stay safe."

If you or a senior citizen you know suspects that he or she is being scammed, or has been a victim of a scam, call the state Attorney General's Office hotline at 1-800-771-7755 or visit...

There were not too many photo ops around here this week so I decided to dig deep into my private archives and pull out some photo I took a few years ago. The camera is a Nikon D-80 DSLR with a 300mm telephoto lens edited on Photoshop. The photo, of course, is of the Brooklyn Bridge at dusk.

New gadgets for high tech senior citizens

A vibration detector or motion detector can be placed on the floor to sense if a person has fallen. Family members or friends can then track the movement or non-movement from their computers without being too intrusive.

"If you put them by the bedside or by the bathroom door, you know that mom has gotten up in the middle of the night," said Krotish.

Research shows 30 percent of nursing home residents go to assisted living facilities because they cannot manage their medication.

But today's pill dispensers have come a long way from the past. A caregiver can load several days' worth of medicine in a machine that then delivers the right amount at the right time.

A blood pressure cuff and scale sends data by Bluetooth to an online system that family members and caregivers can access.

Additional PERS (personal emergency reporting systems) devices 

• Temperature sensors can provide alerts to update central stations of hazardous conditions.

• An activity timer can be programmed to send a signal if a preset amount of time elapses before either an activity transmitter is triggered or the console’s “home” button is pressed.

• Audible reminder messages can be set on a recurring schedule to highlight doctor’s visits, when medication should be taken or even social activities.

• Some consoles can serve as speaker phones, allowing for convenient communication.

• Take note of the range between a transmitter and a console. For example, if your mother likes to garden, be sure the range of the PERS is wide enough to include the yard.

• Transmitters can be wristbands, pendants, belt attachments or even appear as jewelry. 


Senior Citizens at High Risk of Bone Fractures May Find Safety Taking Vitamin D with Calcium

As people age, they tend to get less vitamin D from natural sources such as sunlight or foods such as fish and milk

June 4, 2014 - For seniors over the age of 65, taking a daily supplement of vitamin D with calcium - but not vitamin D alone - can offer some protection against the risk of common bone fractures, according to an updated review from The Cochrane Library. A new study found Vitamin D supplements with calcium lowered the risk of hip fractures in older people, especially high risk people living in nursing homes or hospitals.


The following excerpt is from a talk given by author Jared Diamond entitled:

Growing old in traditional societies

How societies grow old:

"Now in our society, most old people end up living separately from their children, and away from the friends they grew up with. In traditional societies everyone lives out their lives among their children and friends. That said, their treatment varies wildly.

At the worst extreme, many get rid of the elderly by one of several methods:

Neglect and not feeding them.

Abandoning them when the group moves.

Encouraging suicide.

Killing them.

This happens, says Diamond, mainly under two conditions: Nomads that are incapable of physically carrying them, or people living in marginal or fluctuating environments, such as the arctic or deserts. To us it sounds horrible, “But what could those traditional societies do differently?”

On the opposite extreme are the New Guinea farming societies he has been studying recently and most other sedentary farming societies. There the elderly are fed, remain and live in the same hut or a nearby hut to their children.

Elizabeth Lindsey: Curating humanity's heritage Elizabeth Lindsey: Curating humanity's heritage

What does this mean?

There are two reasons for this variation, the usefulness of old people and the society’s values. There are many things that elderly people contribute to their societies: They may be effective in producing food. They can babysit grandchildren, freeing their children to hunt and gather. They can craft things. And often they are the leaders and the most knowledgeable. The last point has a huge significance that would never occur to us in literate societies, “It’s their knowledge that spells the difference between survival and death.” In other cases, the society places an emphasis on respect for the elderly, as in East Asia. That contrasts strongly with the United States. Here, the elderly are at a huge disadvantage. For example in job applications, or in hospitals — in that case there is an explicit policy to treat younger people first.

Read more...Highlights of the entire talk may be found on TEDBLOG by clicking here...

New twist to assisted living.

An Indoor Park? Hobby Farm, with animals?

A Tavern?

Every time I read a story like this I wonder what the hell I'm doing here. While I have long ago given up any hope of ever living the life I once had, when I see what others of my age have I must admit, I get jealous. In addition, I wonder where the people who can afford to live in such places come up with the money every month. What kind of pensions or savings or investments did they have when they were working to be able to afford things that I now consider luxuries. What did I do wrong? While we here at the Asylum have to beg for even the most meager of amenities, the folks at this facility in Ripon Wisconsin seem to have an owner that wants to make things better for the resident’s.

Read on...

Bingo and a beauty shop. The calling cards of a traditional assisted living home,they’re beloved by many. But what about those who want something more from the place they’ll spend their golden years? Indoor park? Hobby farm? Ice cream parlor and tavern? Those are not pipe dreams for an assisted living home. In fact, it’s all going to be available at Ripon’s newest assisted living and memory care facility.

Copper Leaf Village will open by fall in the building vacated last winter by Sheltered Village. But, while Copper Leaf Village will be housed at 1002 Eureka St., as Sheltered Village was, little else will seem familiar. Copper Leaf management are heavily renovating the site to make it much more homey.

"The updated building will feel like an entire community under one roof, where residents can stroll to the (indoor) park, participate in activities they loved while living on their own, or even help take care of the animals out back."

Krista and Jim Mendyke of Copperleaf describe it as a “uniquely familiar living experience,” with the idea being that residents may need to leave their home, but not the activities that make them feel alive.

Read the full story in the June 12, 2014 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press..


Every once in a while a bout of schizophrenia creeps into the food service here. It's as if there were two different kitchens operating under the same roof. I offer as an example of this phenomena, the two completely different turkey pot pies we have been served just one month apart. 

In a review on May 5, I wrote of how finally, they got the formula for pot pie right.

“...before us sat a pie not only covered with, but encased in a flaky pie crust right out of mama’s oven and in addition, the inside was just as authentic. The filling (turkey and not chicken this time) was plentiful and hot as pot pies should be. There was a fair compliment of veggies along with large chunks of tender turkey. The liquid part of the filling had been absorbed, as it should have, into the crust that lined the bottom of the ceramic serving container. In addition, the portion size was more than adequate to satisfy of even those with the most voracious appetites. This, finally, was a no-nonsense pie made the way it should be made. Congratulations.”

There will be no congratulations this time.

Therefore I ask you, what the f—k happened. How come that thing we were served for lunch on Saturday turned out to be crap. It was all dough and no filling, and what there was of the filling was dry and devoid of turkey to the dismay of the diners who, like myself , had expected something else. Why the hell didn't they just make it the same way they did it last time or, at least order it from the same vendor. And this is not the only example of this  irrational turnaround. We have seen it in the pizza and a number of other items where something good turns out to be something else the next time it's served. While I can appreciate the need to economize, they should stop screwing with the food. 

Admittedly, it has been some time since I have had one so, when I saw and subsequently bit into it, I became a bit giddy. 

The last time I ate a legitimate potato knish was perhaps five or six years ago when I bought a package of Gabila's knishes at Waldbaums. And, while Gabila's heavy potato-sodden dough wrapped bomb is not my idea of what a real knish should look like, it does have some of the qualities that make a knish, a knish. Primarily, a knish should have a slightly peppery taste. In addition, there should be a trace of salt, chopped onion and parsley, all items that were missing in tonight's I.P.O. (Initial Potato (knish) Offering). However, this is not to say that, despite its shortcomings, I am very glad to have had once again. It is a privilege to taste one of the basic foods of my people, “The Wandering Brooklynite.” Now, for some nice gefilte fish and borscht.

Maybe it's because I just don't care any more, and have completely lost my sense of propriety or maybe the burgers have actually been better lately but I thought today's cheeseburger deluxe (lettuce, tomato's and fries) was actually good. It was at least as good as any I have had in most fast food joints which means that there was the same flat, well-done meat disc, the same slice of partially melted cheese, and the same nondescript bun.  available at any Mickey D's. Way to go!

Maybe I'm just a jaded New Yorker, or maybe I've eaten in too many diners and too many New York deli's and have come to expect that, what I order here should look like what I have ordered practically everywhere else. Therefore, it should have come of no surprise when the hot open turkey sandwich offered on last Thursday's lunch menu did not meet my expectations. My mind's eye view of what I consider to be a proper hot open turkey (or any other hot open sandwich) is one of multi-layers of tender sliced turkey placed over two slices of white bread, smothered in hot turkey gravy with a side order of mashed potatoes or fries (equally smothered in gravy). What we received here was two slices of OK turkey on one slice of white bread and some stuffing all of which was painfully missing all but a very meager amount of gravy. Why this sandwich was lacking in the one thing that makes an open sandwich of this kind genuine, I do not know. I can only imagine that neither the cook or the chef has ever eaten a real hot open sandwich or has never eaten one in a real restaurant. Perhaps next time we could get a little more gravy on top, and skip the stuffing. 

Foody's note; This is the second time we have had a hot open sandwich and both times they have been of the turkey variety. I need to remind the chef that there are other kinds of hot open sandwiches such as roast beef, brisket and even ham. Variety is the spice of life.

Continuing with his promise to give us a more varied menu, Chef Michael came up with something not seen here, or perhaps anywhere. While we have had quiche many times, this was the first time we have had the Greek variety of this traditional recipe, spinach pie.

Actually, the Greeks call it “spanakopita”, spanaki (spinach) and pita (pie) and, while Chef Michael followed the traditional recipe, he did add one thing, chicken. While the addition of meat, in the form of chicken, rendered this vegan dish no longer vegan, it was a pleasant change from what could have been just another boring vegetarian meal. Thoughtfully, the chef did not use the actual Greek name of this dish, knowing full well that anytime something exotic or foreign sounding is put on the menu, noses turn up an scowls form on the resident’s faces. However, whether it's called spanakopita or spinach pie, I will look for it the next time it comes around. Yassou!

Last week I told you about the fried fish fiasco in the dining room when we were served “burnt to a crisp” fried fish. I also mentioned that I  collected samples of this burnt offering from other diners and said that I would present this to the chef, which I did the very next day. 

The chef, who was not on duty when this dish was forged, was very dismayed at what he saw in that zip-lock bag and promised to speak to the cooks about it. Later that day the chef came to my table to tell me that he told the cooks this. “If a decision has to be made whether or not to serve a poorly cooked meal to the resident’s, the answer should always be NO.” The chef went on to say that he told the cooks that “if it is not something that you would eat yourself , don't serve it. It is better to offer a substitute than serve some poorly cooked food”. It was encouraging to hear these words and we can only hope that the Chef's message will be heeded.

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l love<|>Yonkers

I was picking through yet another institutionally crafted dinner the other night when it suddenly occurred to me, I have not had a home-cooked meal for almost five years. I Can't believe it has been that long since I sat down at a dinner table that was not either here at the Shady Acres Reat Home, on a tray overhanging a hospital bed, a nursing home room, or in  some nondescript restaurant. The very thought that I, who loved to cook, have not held a frying pan, a pot, or a spatula in such a long time was something I once thought could never happen and yet, here I am in a place where having any cooking appliance in my room is not only frowned upon, but would be confiscated immediately. We can't even make a cup of coffee in our rooms for fear that we will either burn the pace down or injure ourselves. Now don't get me wrong, I know that there are residents here that should not be allowed to get near anything hotter than a light bulb however, not ALL of the residents are like this. In addition, seeing how important meals and their preparation are to this community, it behooves me why there can't be some exceptions to the rule. I don't mean that we should be allowed to have an oven or stove top in our rooms but we should be allowed something. Even a microwave oven and a simple Mr. Coffee machine or a crock-pot would be a godsend to many of the people here who would like some soup or coffee or some warmed-up leftovers at those times when the kitchen is not open. I believe that those that would be allowed to have these appliances in their rooms should be decided upon on an individual basis. It is time that both the state and the management* realize that we are not all helpless, demented and feeble individuals and that some of us would benefit greatly by, once again, being able to cook for ourselves.

*A few weeks ago a petition, signed by many of the residents, was presented to management. The petition asked for the very things that I mentioned in the above editorial. As of the writing of this blog, there has been no indication from management whether of not any action will be taken in granting out wishes.

Editors note: There is another way that residents to be able to experience the joys of cooking is to have a supervised communal-type kitchen where residents could buy their own food and help in its preparation with the assistance of trained personnel. Of course this makes too much sense and will never be implemented.

Study: Americans Doubt They Can Rely on Family as They Age

The one thing I learned over the last five years of what I like to refer to as “my incarceration” is that in the end, they one person that you can truly rely on is yourself. And, while I realize that sometimes you need assistance from others, it is ultimately one's own responsibility to plan for and execute the systems that will be in place when it is time for us to pack it in and give up the life we now lead. This is why I cannot stress enough on the importance of doing research on the various options that are available to you when making, what will ultimately be, the most important decision of your life. I, unfortunately, did not have this option. I was thrust into the system by the sudden onset of an illness which forced me to make life altering decisions almost immediately. I know that many of those decisions were made in haste and out of desperation, but what could I do. There was nobody to council me on the best route to take. There were no “experts” to appraise me of the consequences of my actions. I was swimming in a sea of forms and past-due notices without a life jacket. Social workers were only able to help me with my immediate needs. They could find me a place to recuperate and even a place to live afterwords (a nursing home) but they could not tell me what it would be like once I made that decision. Nobody ever discussed the possibility of me returning to my apartment until it was too late for me to do so. Therefore, I urge you, while you are still in good health and are in a position to make decisions on your own to get the facts. Go online, ask questions.    make sure your finances are secure and don't sign anything until you are sure of what you are signing. If you don't have a trusted third party to help, get a lawyer who specializes in “elderlaw” , and do it now.

Read on...

“Americans age 40 and over who have personal experiences with long-term care are more likely to be concerned about planning for it but less likely to think they can rely on family as they age, according to new report. 

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research recently released the results of a survey on long-term care in the United States focusing on how Americans are planning for long-term care. It is the second study in a series on the issue, with the first conducted in 2013 to establish a “baseline of knowledge about what older Americans think about long-term care,” said the study’s authors.

Thousands of American’s Baby Boomers are turning 65 every day and learning the hard way that there isn’t a good system in place to meet aging and long-term care needs,” said Bruce Chernof, president and CEO of the SCAN Foundation, which funded the study. “This poll shows that a majority of Americans support system improvements to create the kind of care we want for older loved ones now and for ourselves in the future.

Other findings include:

One-third of Americans age 40 or older are deeply concerned that they won’t plan enough for the care they might need as they age, but two-thirds report having done little or not planning for assistance; and

Six in 10 Americans 40 and older have some experience with long-term care either as caregivers, recipients of care or financial providers of care. Those experiencing long-term care tend to be female Baby Boomers who fall into the lower-income bracket. Those findings are consistent with the 2013 survey.

Compared to 2013, Americans are more supportive of a government-administered long-term care insurance program similar to Medicare.

Americans lack information about ongoing living assistance and the information that they have usually comes from friends, family or co-workers. However, they have more trust in long-term care information they receive from experts.”

While the author of the following article works for an assisted living corporation, her experience and advice should be well taken.


Waiting for the words “I’m ready” for Assisted Living

By Rachel Nader, Sunrise Senior Resource Counselor 

As a senior resource counselor, I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a family say, “I know it’s time to move mom, but I am waiting until she says she’s ready.” The sad realization is that families are listening to their loved ones say they aren’t ready and leaving them in their homes, sometimes in a very dangerous situation. In my experience, there is a very small percentage, only around 10%, of seniors that finally say, “I’m ready to move.”

Many seniors come to Sunrise with 30+ years of memories in the same house – children running through the hallways, their late spouse’s favorite, worn out chair and the closet in the spare bedroom with hundreds of properly folded pillow cases. These are all great memories and for many, the only memories their mind will allow them to keep.  

To make the situation “easier” and to avoid this difficult conversation, you try bringing someone in for a few hours per week, then each day. But what about at night? What about the dangers during those hours they are alone? How can you really know they are in good hands? All of these questions fill one with anxiety… until you take the next step.

The next step is choosing a community and finding a better solution for your loved one. You now can tell Mom or Dad, “I know this is hard for you to understand, but I love you and need you to be safe. This is what we are going to do and I will be there to support you.”   

If you think that, in retirement, your living expenses will be less than they were when you were working, you are sooo wrong. The truth is, they will probably be more. Remember, leisure-time costs money and, even if you are the type who defines leisure as lying on the couch watching TV all day, you still have to pay the bills, buy clothes and eat and, If you own a car you still have to pay for gas, insurance and those repairs. Most likely, unless you own your own home free and clear, the most costly thing you will have to pay for is the roof over your head. If the roof in your future is an assisted living facility, here is some information that may be of some help.


Assisted Living Deductibility

“Can an individual deduct the cost of living in an assisted living facility (ALF)? "

This is controlled by Section 7702B of the Internal Revenue Code. 

Under the Internal Revenue Code, the cost of room and board is deductible under schedule A of your income tax return, if certain conditions are met. The cost is added to other health related expenses and must exceed seven and one half (7.5%) of your adjusted gross income to be deductible.  

The person must qualify as a chronically ill individual. There are two ways to qualify the care as deductible personal care services.  

1. The first test for determining if a person is chronically ill relates to the federal guide of Activities of Daily Living (ADL). These activities are eating, toileting, transferring, bathing, dressing and continence. It must be certified that the individual is unable to do two of the above activities without substantial assistance from another person for at least 90 days due to the loss of this functional capacity. 

2. The second test of qualification requires that the individual have substantial supervision to be protected from threats to health and safety due to severe cognitive impairment. 

The certification of this fact must be made in writing by a certified licensed care practitioner. This can be a physician, a licensed social worker or a professional nurse. The certification must be made upon personal examination within the preceding twelve months of using the deduction. The examination should be completed before entering the assisted living facility. This is not a requirement, but would be needed if an audit brought the deduction into question.  

This article relates to the deductibility of room and board. An individual may always deduct actual nursing services provided in the facility and any medical expense. Many facilities can give a statement of the percentage of deductible care provided. 

Very few individuals enter into an assisted living facility solely for convenience. Normally, a person makes the transition when they can no longer independently take care of themselves and they do not want to burden their children. It is important to calculate the tax savings that may be available if a move is considered. 

Jeff Roth is a partner with David Bacon and associate Jessica Moon of the firm ROTH and BACON with offices in Port Clinton, Upper Sandusky, Marion, Ohio and Fort Myers, Florida. All members of the firm are licensed in Ohio and Florida.  Mr. Roth’s practice is limited to wealth strategy planning and elder law in both states. Nothing in this article is intended for, nor should be relied upon as individual legal advice. The purpose of this article is to provide information to the public on concepts of law as they pertain to estate and business planning. Jeff Roth can be reached at”

America will soon be crawling with aging baby boomers. Those of us who were born in the years following WW2 will be turning 65 and will be putting a strain on those services currently available to aging citizens. Of course this trend has not gone unnoticed by those who's business is to spot trends and find a way to profit from them. While real estate has taken a beating lately, it is returning to the good graces of the investment community and the one segment of that market that is gaining in leaps and bounds is the future of housing for the elderly. 

Elderly Housing gets a Thumbs Up from Real Estate Developers

By: Sarah (no last name given with this article)

“Retirement, Real Estate, DevelopersReal estate developers in the US are placing big bets on housing for the aged, planning well ahead for the rise in demand as the senior citizen population is set nearly to double up in the coming 35 years.

A hike in supply is expected to bring down increase in net operating earnings of senior housing to 1.8 percent in the year 2015 and 1.4 percent in 2016. According to Green Street Advisors, there will be a drop from the current year’s figure of 3.3 per cent. The investments and trusts of real estate companies in the healthcare sector may be not be positively impacted. They face some unfavorable changes as a result of the increase. This includes the likes of organizations such as the Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD), which is looking to purchase Emeritus Corp (NYSE: ESC) for almost 1.4 billion US dollars. This will make it the principal proprietor of senior properties.

According to Jim Sullivan, Green Street MD, an increase in supply is usually a cause of worry in all types of real estate associated with commercial properties. As far as elderly housing is concerned, new building construction has come up over the past two years.

Healthcare Real Estate Investment Trusts, which climbed up the records in the beginning of 2013, have performed the worst in the market for property-trust in the last one year. The elderly housing units in the US were 526,144 in the biggest 31 markets in the opening quarter. The National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry revealed that another 16,181 units are already in the process of construction.

Rise in senior citizen population

With the aging of baby boomers, the construction and ownership of elderly housing has become extremely popular. As mentioned earlier, the United States Census Bureau predicts that the number of individuals of the age of 65 or more is expected to rise to 83.7 million by 2050.

There is a lot of variation in the type housing for the senior citizens. Those who need minimum assistance and support for everyday living are guided by ‘Independent-living’ community groups. These communities may also provide meals to the elderly along with certain other activities as shown in the website of Brookdale Senior Living.

At the properties for assisted-living, different kinds of facilities such as bathing, transport, management of medications and drugs and so on are offered to the residents as revealed by the Assisted Living Federation of America based in Virginia.”



Of course there are some people who ONLY look at the bottom line and never see beyond it. The city council of Falls Church seems to think that a fast food joint or some other commercial space (like a mall) is better than a place for seniors in which to live in dignity.

Divided Council Approves Assisted Living Project for Burger King Site

By Stephen Siegel , Falls Church Times Staff

“The new project will feature 83 beds for senior citizens needing varying levels of care, including some reserved for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. There will be underground parking and two retail spaces fronting Broad. Dunkin’ Donuts has signed a letter of intent for one space, and the other has been required by officials to be reserved for some kind of art space.

The project will bring in significantly more revenue than the fast-food restaurant. But the Council still wavered over the proposal for months because it was concerned about just how much additional revenue it would provide, and because some thought the assisted living facility was not the best use for a prominent corner on the City’s main commercial street.”


One of the rare treats we have here at the farm is the yearly arrival of our roses and other flora. Due to many rainy days this spring followed by warm, sunny days this years crop is spectacular.

Remember, when you were young, how difficult it was to find a date or just someone to hang out with. Well, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't get any better when you get older, but have faith. Here is a new website that may be of some help and, it's just for older folks.

Stitch is Tinder for senior citizens, but not just for hooking up

By Ellis Hamburger 


“Stitch is like Tinder, but for your grandma. Well, not exactly. Stitch isn't just meant for hooking up — it's meant for finding a companion to go to the movies or ballroom dancing with. For many "mature adults," as Stitch calls them, that might be just what the doctor ordered. "Believe it or not, for seniors loneliness is a bigger killer than smoking or obesity," founder Andrew Dowling told Vice. "The reality is that we need to stay socially connected, if we want to stay healthy."


Dowling found previous success building Tapestry, a news feed that let seniors keep up with their loved ones' updates, no matter where they posted them. Stitch, on the other hand, is a lot like other dating services, but a few wrinkles could make it feel a lot different. First, the site verifies the identity of every user, and also only shows results for matches close to you. "Almost half the users we interviewed brought up their experiences with scammers on online dating sites," says Dowling. "Someone from the other side of the country would message them and strike up a conversation, try to get to know them and then ask for money."

Additionally, you must take your profile photo using the app, and you can't message other users. There's only a button to make a phone call, which Dowling says is all Stitch needs. And unlike most services today, Stitch lives mostly on the web, and not yet inside a mobile app. Stitch is very much like Tinder, however, in that you'll only be notified if a person you've chosen also likes you back. Stitch is only available in limited beta in California and in New South Wales, Australia, but should be rolling out more widely soon. For now, you can register in advance if you're interested.”


INFORMATION FOR RESIDENTS OF THE W.C.I.A.L. (and all interested gourmands)

------------------------------------------------------------------At press time------------------------------------------------------------------

This zip-lock plastic bag contains the remains of Sunday's dinner. These bits of burned, over cooked, over fried pieces of what was supposed to have been fried fish was collected from the plates of diners who found this meal mostly inedible. In most cases what was supposed to be bits of fried fish was nothing more that fried bits of batter. In addition,  what fish there was turned out to be dry and tasteless. Even the oven baked potato slices were burned and served cold. I am going to take this bag of crap to management on Monday morning. Evidently the commitment to better food stopped  at  the board room.


Almost nothing that was advertised in Monday afternoon's lunch menu was true. The “Grilled” tuna sandwich with bacon, cheese, and tomato contained almost no bacon, a thin slice of tomato, a thin slice of American cheese. In addition, not only wasn't the sandwich properly grilled but the tuna part was hardly there at all. The only tuna that adorned my sandwich was a thin schmear. It was not until I had the server bring my sandwich back to the kitchen to have a proper amount of tuna put on it, that I finally got a decent sandwich. What a crock of s—t. What's the matter,did they not think anybody would notice or do they believe us to be so feeble and apathetic that we would  shrug this off as just another kitchen error. Well, as far as I am concerned these little kitchen mistakes have been happening much too often and it's about time we did something about it.

Too much rice ain't nice

When is too much, too much?

The truth is, I haven't seen this much rice in one place since Kim and Kanye's wedding. This begs me to ask the question, “Since when is more rice an appropriate side dish for rice?”

Stuffed cabbage, my almost number one favorite thing to eat, was properly made with ground beef and rice so why then did the geniuses in the kitchen decide that rice would go good with something that already had rice in it, were they drunk. There was no need to have a side dish with the stuffed cabbage at all (carrots did not exactly knock my socks off either). Stuffed cabbage, like a properly made stew, is a stand-alone food, complete with everything needed for a well rounded meal. That one roll of stuffed cabbage has a protein (ground meat), a carbohydrate (the rice), and a vegetable (the cabbage). Please, stop trying to kill us with all the extra carbs because some no-nothing dietitian says it's OK.

This eggplant needs to be planted

The words best used to describe the eggplant Parmesan the other night are “too well done and too little sauce”. While I appreciate that this week at least, the eggplant was constructed with more than one layer, I was a disappointed by the lack of sauce both on the eggplant and the pasta side dish. In addition, when I asked for some tomato sauce on the side I was informed that there was none to be had. Some nice hot sauce would have made this meal edible.

Who sat on the apple pie...

...and what happened to it?

The size and shape(s) of the deserts we get here varies from meal to meal. Sometimes we get large chunks of cake or pie, perfectly formed and sometimes, we get something that looks like an elephant sat on it.  A slice of what was supposed to be apple pie last week had all the makings of having been a in a pie throwing contest and losing.

A Pizza With almost Everything.

Having pizza for lunch on a Friday is the perfect way to end the week and, when it's a pizza loaded with topping, it's twice as good. Now before you think that I have become so complacent as to no longer care about the authenticity of what I put in my mouth, you are wrong. Although I said the pizza was loaded, and even good, I did not mean that It was GREAT. Remember, I am still a jaded New Yorker who is accustomed to a certain standard in my pizza, preferring a thinner crust and a little more tomato in my sauce. A touch more of garlic and oregano would have added to the legitimacy of this pie as well. So as not to be mean, I will praise this pizza by saying that it's the best tasting pizza available, in Budapest.

It was a forgone conclusion that the “Hot” wings advertised on Sunday's lunch menu would not be hot, a fact that was confirmed by an announcement from the cook that indeed “The hot wings were not hot or spicy but, sweet”. Because of the perceived (or real) conception that the digestive systems of most of the residents here cannot tolerate any foods with a Scoville* rating of anything over a “2” I knew that the  wings would not have any heat at all, which was alright. The wings that were presented to us were tender, meaty and nicely “sauced” with a sweet and sour type BBQ sauce. A small dish of blue cheese dressing was available as both a dressing for the salad or as a dip for the wings. I guess as long as we have to have chicken 12 times a week, it might as well be something we like.

*The Scoville scale is a measure of the 'hotness' of a chilli pepper or anything derived from chilli peppers, i.e. hot sauce. The scale is named after Wilbur Scoville who developed the test in 1912. For example a Pimento has a Scoville measurement of 100-500, a Jalapeno pepper 2500-5000 units and the hottest pepper of all, a Naga-Bih Jolokia pepper has a Scoville rating of a whopping 1,000,100,000 plus. 


bon appetite

Photos by B. Cooper for the Westchester Tribune

Two residents of the Westchester Center were rescued by staff members after spending nearly a half hour stranded in one of the Center's two elevators. 

The ordeal began shortly after the first lunch seating, around 12:15. After the Center's maintenance crew was notified of the mishap they quickly jumped into action and devised a plan that would soon free the two residents. 

It was decided that the best way to remove one of the residents (who uses a Rollator to get around) was to have her climb a ladder which was place between the elevator and the main floor. Fortunately, the unnamed female resident was able, with the help of staff, to slowly climb the ladder thus freeing herself in just a few minutes. The other resident who is confined to a wheelchair had to be lifted out of the elevator by the staff. Both residents are doing fine and are none the worse off for the ordeal. Although the elevators do occasionally break down, it does not happen that often and are usually quickly repaired.

Contact me

What have you learned that you can share with the younger generation?

The older I get, the more I seem to spend in reflection and, as I reflect, I  myself  “What would I have done differently if I knew what I know now”. When the answer comes back “everything” I try to keep in mind that twenty-twenty hindsight can often lead to depression. Therefore, instead of dwelling on what might have been I like to think about how I can make the best of the present while, at the same time, passing on knowledge that could be of help to the present younger generation.

It would be easy to say “Save your money” as the best advice I could give someone and be done with it, but that would misleading. Money is not the be all and end all of existence. That is not to say that saving it or investing it wisely is not admirable or not beneficial or necessary.  However, holding on to every dollar you ever made just to be “comfortable” later in life is ridiculous. You will have missed out on so many experiences that only money can buy. I would have never forgiven myself if I had not spent money on travel to Europe and other places. In addition, had I not spent money on a car I would have missed out on all of the great places in the U.S.A. that I have visited over the years. Therefore, my advice to the young, “Yes, save some of your money and spend the rest on things that will enrich your life. Spending $180 on Air Jordan sneakers will enrich nothing except Mr. Jordan's bank account. Now that we have gotten the obvious out of the way we can get down to stuff that is really important like your health and specifically, your teeth. 

First, let me say that I still have most of my teeth, losing only a couple of them to various extractions over the years. I have tried my best to take care of my teeth by brushing regularly and watching those sweets and I am very glad I did. Living here among people, some older and some younger than me who have a full set of dentures, makes me wonder what happened to them. It has to be more than just old age that causes tooth loss. Why hasn't the dental profession* addressed this? It seems that it is easier just to plop a set of false teeth into the mouths of the elderly than to try and prevent tooth loss in the first place, which brings us to the topic of your health in general.

There is an old saying “There is no wealth like health” and this is true. However, this is not to say that you should be obsessed with it. It's just that what you do to improve your health now, in your youth, will sustain you when you get older and, it's very easy to do. Just visit your doctor on a regular basis and take those tests when your doctor tells you it's time. Because I rarely ever got sick, I thought that going to a doctor was a waste of time, after all “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”, right? Wrong!. If I had gone for that routine colonoscopy when I reached the appropriate age I would not be in the situation I am in now. 

 Another piece of advice I can give is this “It's O.K. to want to experience everything as long as you do it in moderation. This is not to say that you should rush out a try every narcotic and hallucinogen available. Believe me, you will have a chance to try every pain killer and controlled substance legally when you get older. 

Finally, this might be the most important thing I can tell you. “Your relationship with your friends and family is the one thing that will sustain you in your old age.” The more people you have around you the better off you will be. Get yourself a core of good friends, people you can trust, people that will always be there for you. The one thing I regret in life is that, although I have a few good friends and loving relatives, I don't have more.

*I have always had a problem with the Dental Profession. While medical science has advanced by leaps and bounds the the methods used to treat and prevent tooth problems have lagged behind. Research in dentistry seems to focus on better ways to fix  or replace teeth after the fact than how to eliminate tooth decay and tooth loss once and for all. It's 2014 and the best thing they have come up with is an electric toothbrush and dental floss.

What is the most difficult thing to learn and accept about life?

  • Life is unfair and success may elude us but it really does not matter to a good person.
  • Happiness is within ourselves.
  • Bad things may happen to good people but good people will not allow those bad things to suppress them.
  • Good things may happen to bad people but they would not be able to keep enjoying (truly)  the good things happening to them.
  • You need not control other people.

Something else to worry about...

Although rarely spoken of, at least among the management and staff, is the disturbing rise in the number of thefts of resident's personal belongings lately. While petty crime has always been a problem here, this is the first time that the thief or thieves have moved into the realm of Grand Larceny. It is only recently that we have seen expensive items such a laptops being taken from resident's rooms. One resident reported that, while she was in the hospital, her laptop was removed from her room and, just the other day, a resident reported that she too had an expensive laptop stolen while she had gone out of the building for a while. 

Up until now most of the items reported missing were small and inexpensive costume jewelry and small change which were haphazardly left on a dresser or bureau, last week all that changed, big time. The most recent theft involved a laptop computer that was locked in a safe in the resident's room. Not only was the laptop stolen, but so was the safe where it was kept. The safe reportedly contained other items of value. All of this becomes even more disturbing because the center has gone through an extensive security upgrade in the form of the installation of a dozen new video cameras. Hopefully, a review of the security “tapes” will shed further light on who may have been involved in these thefts.

One of the problems with security here is that every member of the staff has a key to every resident's room. In addition, because residents are so used to having staff members come into their rooms unannounced that, seeing a uniformed staff person emerge from someone's room is not uncommon. There are always carts or cleaning equipment being wheeled down the halls and it would not be a problem for even the bulkiest of items to be hidden in them. So what is being done?

As I said, there has been no official word from management confirming any of this but private conversations with the victims  has revealed that an extensive investigation is ongoing. To the best of my knowledge, the police have not been notified of these thefts. In a place that puts so much emphasis on the safety and security of its residents, one would think that incidents of this kind would not occur.

Editor's note; Please understand that this problem is not unique to this facility. Every day I get news reports delivered to my Inbox with reports of crimes, including theft, against residents of nursing homes and ALF's. It appears that we are just very tempting targets for those that are looking to make a quick buck with little chance of ever being caught. I can only imagine how many of these thefts go unreported.

According to the Minnesota Board on Aging, the most common crime reported in nursing homes and assisted living centers is theft. Elderly people are often targeted as victims due to their inability to fight back. Residents of assisted living centers and their family members can take steps to minimize their chances of becoming a victim by learning how to stop thefts in assisted living homes. Have a question? Get an answer from a handyman now!



Ask about security before moving in. You should begin thinking about the security available at assisted living homes before you even move in. When touring different assisted living homes don't be afraid to ask what measures the facility takes to protect residents from theft of personal property by other residents and employees. Find out what their policy is for handling employees that have been accused of or caught stealing.


Find out the number of thefts the assisted living home has had in recent years. Most assisted living homes will make statistics available about the number of crimes that occur in their facility each year, and this is a great way for you to learn how many thefts are reported. However, if the assisted living home doesn't make this information available feel free to contact your state's elder abuse organization, since they often keep statistics on theft, neglect, abuse and other crimes against the elderly.


Create a list of the belongings you have with you in your assisted living home. This list serves as an inventory of what you have and can help if something goes missing. Make sure to include on the list any identifying features of each item, such as a serial number or distinctive mark. In addition, keep the list current by removing things from the list that you no longer have and adding items when you make a purchase or receive a gift.


Label all your personal belongings. Items with your name or initials are less likely to be stolen since they can easily be identified. Take the time to label each item you have with you in an assisted living center in a manner that makes it impossible for your name or initials to be removed.


Obtain insurance to cover the value of your property. As the need to protect personal property in assisted living homes increases, insurance companies are responding by creating policies to specifically meet this need. Personal property may also be protected by homeowner's insurance if the resident of the assisted living home still owns an insured home.


Check with the facility to determine if they offer secured storage. Some assisted living homes offer residents a secured storage area where personal belongings can be kept. Often this is in the administration offices and is unavailable to nurses and general staff of the assisted living home.


Leave irreplaceable valuables with family members. Assisted living homes may not be the right place for items with a high monetary value or an irreplaceable personal value since they can be stolen. It may be better to leave these items with family members or in a safe deposit box at a bank.


Report theft immediately if it does occur. As soon as you discover a personal belonging is missing you need to report it. Inform the staff and administration of the assisted living home as well as file a report with the police. If you choose, you can seek legal action against the person responsible or the facility itself.

Read more:


Strategy: Securing Property of Seniors in Long-Term Care FacilitiesStrategy Securing the property of seniors helps provide the safest possible living and working environment for staff and residents . . .


Securing the property of seniors helps provide the safest possible living and working environment for staff and residents of long-term care facilities, including assisted-living, retirement, and independent living communities.

Community Problem Addressed

Elderly people can be particularly vulnerable to the crimes of burglary, purse snatching, theft, and fraud. This strategy combines prevention education with risk management to ensure the safety of residents, staff members, family members, visitors, and vendors.

Key Components

One of the most predominant problems in a care facility is lost, misplaced, and stolen items. Personal items can be stored in a convenient location within a resident's room.

On-going education is key to the success of the strategy. This component consists of educating all department heads and managers and setting standards for staff behavior. Service level employees must be educated on how to secure residents' belongings and should be responsible for teaching residents how to prevent the theft of their belongings. Because of high turnover rates in most facilities it is important to screen and educate new employees as they are hired. Notifying the families of senior residents helps give everyone peace of mind that the facility is taking steps to protect their loved ones. A letter can notify family members of whom to contact if they experience any problems.

A tip line and cash reward component can help confront the fear seniors may feel. After an incident has occurred, posters displayed around the property give information about the crime. Residents, family members, and staff can place an anonymous call to a tip line where they can report any information they may have about the crime. A cash reward is assigned based on the value of the item stolen.


It's about time

No doubt about it, New York is an expensive city where the divide between between rich and poor is widening daily and, while it is possible to find bargains for the everyday necessities in life, the one thing that is never a bargain is housing. While most working people have managed to keep up with the rent, those of us on fixed incomes have found it difficult, if not impossible, to stay in the city which we love. That is why I am happy to see that at last, a politician has recognized this juxtaposition and has begun to do something about it. 

New York City has traditionally been landlord friendly where rent increases were a matter of fact. This year, for the first time in my memory, the rent stabilization board denied landlords their bi-annual rent increases. This, together with NYC's new mayor signing a bill that would extend senior citizens breaks on their rent, make me hopeful that we have turned the corner on affordable housing. Now if the city could only find a way of providing affordable housing for seniors in places that are not low income projects, New York City would truly be the greatest city in America.


Affordable housing bill helps more low-income senior citizens

Tenants must be at least 52 years old and make less than $50,000 per year to be eligible. 

NEW YORK - Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed updated legislation that he says will help prevent low-income senior citizens from being priced out of their homes. 

The new affordable housing bill will give rent breaks to an additional 6,000 senior households citywide by raising the income ceiling for those eligible. 

Tenants must be at least 52 years old and make less than $50,000 per year. The maximum income level was previously $29,000. 

I take only two medications a day and an occasional Tylenol when necessary however, every morning while waiting in the med room for my pills I notice that, for many of my fellow resident's, swallowing 10, 12, or even 14 pills (sometimes three times a day) is not uncommon. While I do not know  what kind of medications they are taking or why they are taking them, I do know that many of those meds are for the relief of pain. Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin and a myriad of other narcotic pain pills are tossed around here like so many manhole covers. If you want to know where the real “junkies” are, don't go looking for them in dark ally's, just find the nearest senior citizen.

From the National Institute of health

Federal pain research database launched

Multi-agency effort combines pain research information in easy-to-use database

The Interagency Pain Research Portfolio (IPRP), a database that provides information about pain research and training activities supported by the federal government, has been launched by six federal agencies.

Pain is a symptom of many disorders; chronic pain can present as a disease in of itself. The economic cost of pain is estimated to be hundreds of billions of dollars annually in lost wages and productivity.

The Interagency Pain Research Portfolio website. Users can search the database for information about federally funded pain research projects.

“This database will provide the public and the research community with an important tool to learn more about the breadth and details of pain research supported across the federal government. They can search for individual research projects or sets of projects grouped by themes uniquely relevant to pain,” said Linda Porter, Ph.D., Policy Advisor for Pain at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “It also can be helpful in identifying potential collaborators by searching for topic areas of interest or for investigators.”

Users of the database easily can search over 1,200 research projects in a multi-tiered system. In Tier 1, grants are organized as basic, translational (research that can be applied to diseases), or clinical research projects. In Tier 2, grants are sorted among 29 scientific topic areas related to pain, such as biobehavioral and psychosocial mechanisms, chronic overlapping conditions, and neurobiological mechanisms.

To access the IPRP database, please visit: 

For information about the IPRCC, please visit: 

For general information about pain, please visit:

Another reason why old people need pets

German Shepherd helps keeps things light, happy at the Inn at Deerfield assisted living facility

“Dog contact appears to facilitate a positive mental attitude, and appears to reduce the negative impact of living in” an assisted living facility, a group of Australian researchers wrote in 2004."

“It has been suggested that animals communicate better than humans with people with dementia who may have impaired language skills, because animals rely more on body language,” they wrote. In fact, “the non-verbal communications of dogs were reportedly more friendly, non-judgmental, and conducive to sociable behaviors than those of the best-intentioned staff members.”

Michael's Angels

Bar-b-Que's would be nothing without the people who serve it to us therefore, this week we honor the unsung heroes of this year's Memorial Day BBQ. Thanks gals*

*Names withheld to protect the innocent.


Mysterious stickers appear on some resident's doors

A walk back to my room the other afternoon revealed an interesting new development, I noticed bright orange stickers placed on some of the door jams on some of the resident's rooms. An initial inquiry of one of the members of the housekeeping staff was met with a blank stare and no explanation. Further investigation by a member of this blog's crack staff of investigative reporters revealed the truth about these mysterious new additions, and it is nothing nefarious.

The stickers are an indication to the staff that the resident within prefers to do his or her own laundry and that a pick-up from these rooms on laundry day is not necessary. This will hopefully replace those unsightly homemade signs that have popped up on many or the resident's doors.

Breakfast Sandwiches That Make Us Wonder Why We Ever Eat Anything Else

Chef Michael is always asking the residents for menu suggestions therefore, this week I decided to lead off Foodie's reviews with some breakfast suggestions I gathered from the net.

1.Reuben Breakfast Sandwich 

2.Blue Cheese Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich

3.Mushroom Breakfast Torta

4.Sharp Cheddar and Mustardy Greens Breakfast Sandwich

5.Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwich with Maple Butter

6.Poached Egg & Bacon Sandwich

7.Sweet Potato Breakfast Sandwich

8.Toast with Squash, Prosciutto and an Egg

9.Toasted Breakfast Bagel Sandwich

There are more interesting breakfast sandwiches to be viewd. Check them out here...

Remember when your mom said to you “Hey dumb ass, stop playing with your food and eat already”, followed by “Don't you know kids in Europe are starving?”. Of course little did we know that, while we were chowing down on Corn Flakes and Yoohoo, the kids in Europe were having Croissants, brioche and a glass of Château Margaux with dinner. In any event, now that I am semi grown up, I feel that I have earned the right to indeed, play with my food and what better way to show my creative side than by using my two favorite mediums, ketchup and eggs. The combination of the dark red ketchup on a bright, yellow cheese omelet canvas is a perfect way to start the day. 

The term “Asian” has come to mean anything from someplace over near China or maybe Japan or maybe Thailand, so when I see something on the menu that begins with the word “Asian” everything is up for grabs. Such was the case with Wednesday's “Crispy Asian Chicken salad.” However, the “Asian” part had to do not with what was on the salad , but what was in it.

Underneath the chicken, which wasn't much more than coated nuggets and some wilted lettuce, there was a surprise. Crispy chow mein noodles and sweet Mandarin oranges popped up, unexpectedly, on my fork which added a complex mixture of flavors to what could have been a boring dish. Not knowing about the Mandarin oranges, I chose a blue cheese dressing as a topping thinking that the blue cheese would go well with the chicken. Therefore, when the Mandarin orange segments, which were hidden beneath the chicken morsels popped up, I thought that my choice of blue cheese had been a horrible mistake, fortunately I was wrong. The cool tartness of the creamy dressing made a fine accompaniment for, not only the chicken, but the sweet oranges as well. In fact, it was so tasty that I wound up putting even more blue cheese dressing on what was left of my salad. 

I used to do a lot of driving, mostly here in the Northeast, and whenever I got hungry I would get off the interstate and look for a neighborhood restaurant, preferably the greasiest greasy spoon diner I could find. I did this because I knew one thing, the meatloaf had to be great.

Recipes for this staple of American cuisine vary from state to state and from region to region but all have one thing in common. The meatloaf is meaty, fairly spicy and firm enough to keep it recognizable as a “loaf”. There should be a slight ketchupy crust and the portion size should be commensurate with the actual size of the slice which, is usually the size and shape of a thick slice of white bread hence the name “loaf”. Unfortunately, the people who cook meatloaf here have never heard of any of this because, what passes for meatloaf here at the Asylum, is like no other meatloaf on the planet earth.

Meatloaf here, in this vast gastronomical wasteland, is the opposite from what the rest of the world has come to know as meatloaf. The meatloaf here is neither firm or seasoned correctly. It is neither ketchupy or shaped like a slice of meatloaf. What it is, is a formless scoop of ground beef covered in some sort of strangely flavored brown sauce as far from any roadside hash house as one could imagine. Why the formula for a dish that almost any newlywed housewife can master is so elusive to our cooks I do not know. The one thing I do know is that this place will never have to worry about having its parking lot filled with over-the-road truckers, and that's a big 10-4 good buddy.

Failure to identify breakfast frightens residents

Perhaps the use of the word “failure” is bit strong however, there was a fair amount of confusion as to what the contents of this breakfast combo was. 

According to the description told to us by our server the THING was a combination of egg, cheese, sausage, made into a patty and fried. Unfortunately, the combining of these ingredients into one blended mass just does not work, our tastebuds are afforded too much information. It is the same as when a kid mixes all the colors in their paint box together and, instead of achieving something brilliant, what results is a brownish mess of indistinguishable flavors and textures. This THING didn't just leave the kitchen, it escaped.

The latest offering from uncle Mike's kitchen is a stew, but not just any stew. Tonight we were treated to something completely different, veal stew. Actually, veal “stew” is a misnomer. In reality, it should be called “stewed veal”. If this were a stew in the real sense of the word there would have been, besides the veal, a mixture of the usual stew ingredients like potatoes, carrots, celery etc. Instead, the stewed chunks of tender veal was, as seems to be the norm here, ladled over something starchy which today was rice. Why the need for everything to be accompanied by either pasta or rice alludes me. The only reason that I can think of for the “heavy on the carbs please” mentality is that it looks better on some report to the state if they show steadily expanding waistlines instead of the other way.

bon appetit

This is why I love dogs

“US Airways flight bound for Philly makes emergency landing after dog poops in aisle" 

"Fly the smelly skies: Flight from L.A. to Philadelphia makes emergency touchdown in Kansas City, Mo., after a dog twice defecates in the center aisle. Passengers become nauseated, and a cleaning crew is called in."


"Flight 598 was already two hours late when it took off from Los Angeles International Airport. Things went downhill from there. A terrible smell spread through the cabin. And it got worse.

The source? A service dog, belonging to a passenger, heeded nature’s call smack in the center aisle. And then the mutt pooped again.

Disgusted passengers took to Twitter Wednesday to voice their displeasure. Especially after the pilot announced they would be making an emergency landing in Kansas City, Mo., because the plane had run out of paper towels and the mess was clogging the aisle.”

"The second time after the dog pooped they ran out of paper towels.”

Read more:

It's been a while getting here, but finally it's June which means warm weather, picnics, day's at the beach, bikinis and and a pair of Speedos for me, sorry no pictures.Our next blog squeezes into this space on Monday June 9th.


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The following blog is meant to be informational in purpose. Please understand that I am speaking from personal experience and that any statements I make are what I have observed over the last two years at one particular assisted living facility. This is not to mean than all ALF's are the same, they are not. Some are better and some worse. However, I do believe that the facility in which I live represents a level of care and amenities somewhere in the middle of the field.

A Resident’s View of Assisted Living.

The good, the bad, and the Ugly.


What you don’t know, until it’s too late.


 Before you or your loved one decides moving into an assisted and/or independent senior living facility you should read this.


It’s a decision that nobody wants to make, leaving the home you have lived in most of your life, leaving the memories, the stories, the joy and yes, the heartaches that make up one’s existence. Unfortunately, for many of us the need for more care than we can give ourselves or the need to simplify one’s life prompted us to realize that we can no longer make it alone and as well-meaning as our loved ones may be, they can't  or won't be able to help. Most people are not equipped to handle the needs of older Americans. There are the special needs like washing and dressing and feeding that, after a while, can take a toll on even the most loving of caregivers. Even if your older loved one is capable of taking care of their personal needs, a myriad of other daily chores await them. Things that seem simple now will become major obstacles in years to come. Cooking, cleaning and doing the wash pose impediments to living a normal life. Many of these reasons are why ALF’s (Assisted Living Facilities) were created. They are here as an alternative to living alone in loneliness misery. ALF's enable people to be viable members of a community of people whose needs are similar to theirs. ALF’s are here to act as a bridge between normalcy and a nursing home. However, many of you may have a distorted or uninformed view of what an ALF is. That is why , to the best of my ability, I will try to give you an unbiased view of what one can expect when they decide to leave behind one life in favor of another. Before we begin, let me give you my qualifications.

As I said, I have been a resident here for the last two years. I am here of my own free will although I would rather have been back in my nice two bedroom rent stabilized apartment. I am here because, at the time of my admittance, I was not able to take care of many of my personal needs. I had difficulty walking and even getting out of bed was a chore, standing up in the shower was painful. It would take me a half hour just to put my socks on, in short, I needed help. I came directly from a nursing home, where I received extensive physical therapy which allowed me to make the move to the less restrictive environment of an ALF. I no longer needed the constant looking after that only nursing homes can afford. To put it bluntly nursing homes, for many, are the end of the line and I was not ready for that, yet. I needed to get back into the real world and an ALF seemed like just the right place. However, what I learned after living here for a couple of months is that all that glitters is not gold, sometimes it's just glitter. 

I mentioned that all ALF's are not the same and this is true, but the one thing they all have in common is the bottom line. They are all in business to make money. They cannot continue to operate if they can't cover their bills. Their primary, if not the only source of cash is you. Therefore the greater the occupancy rate in any particular facility, the more money they make and, just like a used car dealer, they may do or say anything to get you, and your check, in to one of their rooms. To do this, ALF's, like any good businesses, have a sales force. In the ALF biz they are called marketing people. These folks are trained to “close the sale” and in doing so they will have a tendency to “accent the positive and eliminate the negatives and don't mess with mister in-between”. Here is what you may be told when you are given the “tour”.

Although I came here directly from a nursing home, this place was not the first place I looked at. I toured three other facilities in my area before settling on this one. In all of the places I visited there was one common denominator among the marketing personnel, “Everything was just peachy and all of the residents are thrilled to be here”. Having been in sales for most of my life I knew a “pitch” when I heard one so I relied on what I observed rather than what I was told and what I observed did not mesh with the Pollyannaish spiel of the marketing person.

The quest

In one of the places I visited I saw many of the residents walking around in their bed clothes, PJ's, nightgowns and robes and it was nearly noon time. This told me that neither the residents or the staff cared too much about grooming and hygiene. This was not the place I wanted to live in. A visit to a second ALF, although the residents were better dressed, had long, dark gloomy corridors and even darker rooms with very small prison-like windows. A third place looked very nice. It was situated in a former hotel near LaGuardia airport with good transportation nearby. However, while waiting in the lobby for my “tour guide” to arrive I had a chance to check out the facility on my own. I immediately noticed a long line at the med room. Most of the people there were also not appropriately dressed for the time of day. There was only one small elevator to accommodate all of the residents and there was a line for that too. But what really turned me off to the place was what I noticed about the residents themselves. Most of them seemed to be in another world. Many of them were walking around the lobby in an apparently confused state while others just sat in the few chairs in the lobby doing nothing. When my “guide” finally arrived I told her that I had seen enough and could they please call for my transportation back to the home. I was starting to worry that there may not be a place for me after all. That is until I came here. Let me tell you what attracted me to this place. It was almost three months after my last tour of an ALF that the social worker in the nursing home came up with the place I now call home. She asked if I minded moving out of the city, to which I said “no.” So it was off to yet another strange place, this time in a strange town. 

First impressions

I arrived here, unescorted and sporting a walker. As the van that carried me from the nursing home entered the premises I noticed the neat, park-like setting. It was summer and there were people sitting, outside, on benches enjoying the sunny weather. I hobbled into the lobby and immediately noticed that the residents, some having animated discussions with other residents, were all very well dressed, hair combed, faces scrubbed. There was not a dressing gown or a mumu in site. The place was light and airy with two big elevators. I immediately felt comfortable here. Since the place was fairly new, they had not as yet hired professional marketing people to sell me. I was escorted by a young lady from Case management. Essentially, she didn't try to sell me on anything except to say that I was exactly the kind of person they wanted as a resident. I had no idea what that meant other than perhaps they were looking for people who might not need as much personal care as some others. Maybe it was all a bunch of bull s--t, but it sold me, two weeks later I moved in. Perhaps I should have asked more questions but I was so eager to get out of that nursing home environment, where hopelessness and depression was all around me, that I would have agreed to anything they told me.

The good, the bad and the reality

I told you that this place was fairly new. It had been operating as an ALF for only a little over a year. The facility was originally constructed as a home for the blind and required a ten million dollar renovation to make it suitable as an ALF. There were 145 rooms and 195 beds which meant that most of the rooms were doubles. When I arrived here there were only 85 residents and no available single rooms. Fortunately, I had a very nice gentleman as a roommate so I did not mind too much although I did have my name on a list for a single room whenever one became available. However, not everyone was as fortunate as I. As the place started to fill up, not a day went by without some sort of roommate problem popping up. In fact, as the director of case management confided in me, having double rooms was the biggest mistake they could have made when redesigning the place. This is just another sign that money comes first. The more people you can cram into a place, the better the bottom line.

My advice, try to get a private room. At the very least try and get first refusal as to who you want as a roomy. No matter how nice an ALF may seem, there will always be people who do not get along well with others. If you or your loved one craves privacy, a double room is not for you. I have seen out and out, punch throwing, knock-down, drag out fights among roommates. Many times I was awakened in the middle of the night by the sounds of yelling in the corridors usually followed by a squad of policemen. If the marketing person promises you a private room, make sure it's in writing.

Fortunately for me I did not have these problems and after about a year in a double, a private room became available in a new wing. Finally, I had a place that I could feel was mine. I can stay up all night, play the TV until 3 am or pound away at my laptop until dawn. I can sleep in the nude if I want and I don't have to worry about waking anybody up on one of my  increasingly frequent trips to the bathroom. Yes, single rooms are better. And speaking of the rooms, now may be a good time to discuss the physical aspects of most rooms in an ALF. The size, shape and contents of the rooms will vary from place to place and from state to state but essentially, the kind of room you will have depends, once again, on how much you are willing to spend.

A castle or a cell

There are many factors that will determine what kind of rooms, or apartments, will be available to you. Rooms range from very simple, motel-like single rooms with nothing more than a bed, bath and shower, a dresser and night table and a very small closet, to a one bedroom affair with kitchen. What determines the kind of place you will be living in is how the facility is  chartered and who is footing all or part of the bill. 

If money is not a problem, the sky's the limit. There are luxury facilities that will set you back anywhere from $5000 per month and up. The “apartments” in these places usually include a full kitchen and large bath and enough room for a queen size bed, a sofa and large closets. The facility is more a luxury hotel than an ALF and space in these places are usually not a problem. However, most ALF's are not like this and here's why, and it's not always the money. Take my place for instance.

The rent here is approximately $3500 per month of which I pay out of pocket about $1300 of that (That's all of my Social Security). The balance comes from Medicare, Medicaid and a subsidy from the state and county. What this means is that there are many restrictions placed on the facility that are not put on other, similar ALF's. For instance, cooking, or having an open flame in any of the rooms is prohibited. This includes a microwave oven or a Mr. Coffee. Also prohibited are items such as hair dryers, curling irons, blenders or any other appliance that the state deems “hazardous”. Also on the list are such items as over the counter medications, alcohol and even chlorine bleach. If they find any of these in your room, they will be confiscated, just like in jail. In my facility, despite my constant objections, they do periodic surprise room inspections to make sure there are no contraband items. The reason for all this is that this is not an “enhanced facility”. That is to say that there is no special wing or section that caters especially to those residents with dementia or Alzheimer's even though these kinds of people are allowed here. What this means is that, those residents that do not have dementia are treated like the ones that do. If this arrangement is OK with you, fine. But just make sure that you are told about it and understand this before you sign. Persistent disobeying of the rules like drinking or smoking in your room, can and will result in your eviction. It has happened here.

The food and feeding

The number one thing that residents complain about, whether they live in an upscale facility or  in a more modest situation, is the food and foodservice, here's why.

Mealtime represents more than just food, it is the main gathering place for residents three times a day. In most senior resident facilities, breakfast, lunch and dinner is considered a recreational activity and is as important as any needlepoint or woodworking class. The dining room is the venue where information is exchanged and gossip perpetuated, where the actual food acts as the spoon with which all of this is stirred. Therefore, when the food is sub par it puts a damper on the whole dining experience.  Here's the lowdown on the food situation as I see it.

Food is the most costly single item in any ALF . More money is spent satisfying, not only the residents but the state dietary regulations as well and, it is to these regulations that much of the ire of both residents and management is directed. Though regulations vary from state to state there are some rules that must be followed. Besides making sure that residents are receiving at least the basic nutritional requirements, the way the food is prepared also comes into question. Because of the fear of an outbreak of  foodborne  diseases such as salmonella, all food must be cooked to within an inch of its life or 160 degrees. This means nothing here is medium-rare not even the eggs, much to the displeasure of the residents who may like runny yolks and soft boiled eggs. However, the method by which meals must be cooked is only part of the reason why food is the number one cause for dissension, the other is budget.

Basically, the goal of most facilities of this kind is to spend about $10 per meal on each resident. There are food suppliers whose only job it is to meet or better that dollar amount. One company, which also supplies food to prisons, has managed to guarantee that no meal will cost more than $9.50 per, and this goes for whether residents pay $5000 or more per month or $3000 per month. Obviously, trying to stay within that budget and trying to satisfy the tastes of the residents is a constant thorn in the side for management. My word to the wise is this. While the food in most of these facilities is good, it is by no means “gourmet” or even diner quality. Do not be fooled by slick photos in fancy brochures, the reality falls somewhere between a fast food restaurant and the Bowery Mission.

Privacy vs. Security vs. watching out for the corporate ass.

Some residences say that they honor your independence and your privacy, in reality they don't . While they try to be as unobtrusive as possible, you have to remember one thing, you are under their roof and they are responsible for your well-being. Most ALF's operate under state licensure which means that they are accountable to the state for their actions. If someone is injured in their facility, the state wants to know why. A ton of paperwork follows every incident and too many of those “incidents” may result in the facilities losing their license. This “enforced paranoia” is the reason why these facilities will only allow just so much independence. The bottom line here is “they don't trust you”. In their minds you have the common sense of a child and cannot be trusted to act responsibly.  The facility therefore, will take measures that you may not like. These measures come in many forms from unannounced room searches when you are out of your room, to so-called “bed checks” at strange hours. What they are looking for, besides making sure that you have not died on them, are contraband items such as hair dryers, coffee makers, over the counter medications etc. This results in many residents becoming adept at hiding things. Unfortunately, the staff is aware of most of these hiding places and are as good at finding your stash as any prison guard. My advice to you is to make sure, in advance, of what the policies are for insuring your privacy. Let them know that you value your privacy and that you do not intend to break the rules and do not appreciate being treated like a prisoner. If the facility cannot agree to this, then maybe you should look elsewhere.


Assisted living is not for everybody. It is better for you to be in your own home and have the “assistance” come to you. Unfortunately, this is impossible in some cases and that's where ALF's come in. Just remember, most ALF's will never feel like home. If you are a person that can't get along with other people, you will not like living in one of these places.  All kinds of people are residents here. They represent all walks of life, all creeds and all colors. If you or your loved one have any prejudices and only like living among “your own kind”, you will not like it here. If you like your food cooked a certain way or you only like certain foods, no matter what they tell you, you will have to eat what is available to you and everyone else. This means that you probably won't be eating any of the ethnic or regional foods you have been used to. To this I say “get used to it”, the majority rules here and remember, there is always take-out.

As I have mentioned before, the best method of finding out what living in one of these places is like is to ask the residents. You might have to do this on the sly because the facility most likely will not allow you to interview any of them. Tour these facilities on a good weather day when residents will be sitting outside. Casually  walk over, introduce yourself and tell them that you or your loved one are considering moving in and can they tell you how they like it, the answers will open your eyes. 

It is important for you to know that the majority of these facilities are fine places. They care about their residents and do their best to keep them happy and safe. The main reason why some people find that they don't like living here is that they feel isolated from the rest of the population. My advice is that as soon as they can, make a few good friends. Become involved in clubs or committee's. Be nice to the other residents and especially the staff. If you have a problem, act like an adult and explain, without accusing or shouting, what the problem is and how you would like it resolved. Show that you are still the same viable person you were when you were living alone. Be firm and don't let them push you around. If you think that you are being treated unfairly, state your case in a calm manner. Come armed with facts. Nothing  makes a point better than the truth. If the need arises, most states have an ombudsman program. Ombudsmen act as mediators and can be very helpful when it comes  to resident/management disputes.

Finally, remember that these places are what you make of them. You can choose to live a solitary life or one that fills your days with joy and, while this may not be the way you wanted your golden years to be, for now, this is the best place for you, adapt to it.

Impact of Medicaid Assisted-Living Policies: New Issue Brief Series

A significant number of frail elders with Medicaid coverage choose to live in an assisted-living facility as an alternative to a nursing home. Yet, low-income older adults who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (known as dual eligibles) face many challenges in obtaining Medicaid coverage for high-quality assisted living services.

In addition, though Medicaid has been paying for assisted living services for over 20 years, either through Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers, demonstration waivers, or state-plan services, to this day there exist no federally established standards for assisted living facilities. This lack of federally established standards leaves some residents in danger of discriminatory practices. As the program grows it becomes more important to address how Medicaid funding for assisted living operates in practice in order to identify the appropriate consumer protections required to rectify existing problems.

With support from The Commonwealth Fund, the National Senior Citizens Law Center undertook an extensive study of federal and state Medicaid policies for assisted living coverage, with a special focus on how such policies affect the lives of dual eligibles. The research included a survey of respondents in the 37 states that pay for assisted living services through a federal Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver, as well as more in-depth research of policies and practices in five of those states: Arkansas, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. The research was conducted in cooperation with the University of California at San Francisco.

Policy briefs and white papers from this study, the “Medicaid Payment for Assisted Living Policy Issue Brief Series,” are published as a resource for advocates, policy makers, state Medicaid officials, assisted living facility operators, and others on ....

The publications include:

Transfer of Assets: Making Assisted Living Residents Ineligible Forever. Focuses on policies in some states that impose a permanent ineligibility as a transfer-of-assets penalty for people seeking Medicaid coverage for assisted living services.

Refusing to Admit Eligible Applicants. Looks at facilities that deny admission to applicants with greater care needs or that reject Medicaid-eligible applicants to save space for residents with private insurance.

Using Medically Needy Eligibility to Prevent Resident Evictions. Addresses the need for more states to offer medically needy eligibility, which extends coverage to those whose income is over the income limit but still insufficient to cover health care expenses. 

Requiring Families to Supplement Medicaid Payment. Examines assisted living facilities that attempt to obtain payment above and beyond that authorized by Medicaid and/or SSI from residents’ family and friends.

To read these publications, visit...

We here in the Northeast  had a bad winter and some of the shrubs and bushes that jot the premises did not make it. Unfortunately, some of the dead flora died a year ago and has never been replaced or even removed. With a spike in the number of residents passing here in recent weeks, the presence of these dead plants only reinforces the fact that life is indeed a fragile thing. Spring should be a time of rebirth, it's not too late to plant some new shrubs.

After months of promises we still do not have better lighting in the country kitchen. Improved lighting is needed in this area because of an increased use by residents both day and night. Brighter lights are needed too, because the room is now being used for purposes other that the casual afternoon snack or coffee. Lately, the room is used as both a place to eat, play games and  craft projects and as much as the management does not want the room to be used in this manner, it is what the residents want. Management should realize that this room is for use by the RESIDENTS and not to please some eclectic view management had in mind.

While we wait for better lighting in the country kitchen we noticed today, that something new has been added to the space in front of the main entrance to the building. After almost a year of promises and delays, nice new wrought iron park-like benches have been placed under the transom, away from the ravages of sun and rain. Now, people waiting for transportation, have a place to sit and not  worry about getting wet or sunstroke. 

The new benches, while catering to those waiting for their rides, have a dual purpose. Before, the only way to sit under the protection of the marquis, was to pull one of the heavy patio chairs all the way over to the entrance area. Doing that not only was a hardship for the residents but also promoted unnecessary wear and tear on the furniture. The wheels of progress turn slowly here, but they do eventually turn.

I am responding to a number of emails lauding the institution in which I live for denying its residents  the pleasure, if not the right, to eat watermelon as god intended us to eat watermelon and that is, complete with its rind. Many people felt that what we were receiving was some pre-sliced, factory made watermelon-like product. Today, I am here to inform you that the watermelon served here is indeed real and fresh from the vine and all we have to do is ask that it be served in its natural state.

The protein vs. carbs  ratio has improved greatly here over the past few weeks. After a meeting that I and some other residents had with our chef and our dietician we came to an agreement to cut down on the pastas, rice, and potatoes and increase the amount of meat, fish and fowl. However, every now and again a lapse into culinary amnesia overtakes the kitchen and they revert back to their old ways. Such was the case last Tuesday evening when and extraordinarily large amount of artificially yellowed rice completely overwhelmed the protein portion of the meal. The small, parakeet size chicken leg could barely be spotted amid the copious amounts of rice and peas. Even the overcooked, over garlicky broccoli had a hard time finding a place on the plate. Hopefully this is just a temporary glitch and is not the beginning of a trend. I don't want to have to have “the talk” again.

The Legend of Fishcake Island goes back to lunch Thursday, and a chilling tale it is too. It is a site that this old gourmand hopes never to see again. 

There it was, an island of protein in a sea of carbohydrates. I gasped in horror at the site of that poor little fish cake sitting helplessly amid an all-encompassing sea of rigatoni and marinara sauce. I could have sworn that the menu said that lunch would be fish cakes (signifying a plurality of fish cakes) and spaghetti but unfortunately I was taken in by a typical landlubbers mistake, I believed the menu, which is why I should not have been surprised to find that what really was being served was in actuality a plate of pasta with a solitary fish cake sitting on it.

Yes, I admit that I was taken in by it's sheer beauty, the sunrise colored fish cake floating like a raft on a sea of golden pasta but unfortunately, all the glitters is not fishcake or pasta because when you get right down to it, what this represents is another disproportionate amount of protein to carbs. So, I'm asking you, my fork wielding compatriots, beware, and don't be taken in by those who would rob you of your proteins. I urge you to order a second fish cake and push aside half of the pasta. Your waistline will thank you for it.

I often praise the food, not  so much for its execution but rather for its creativity. I applaud the fact the our chef tries his best, with limited resources, to add variety to our often mundane fare. Such was the case the other evening when a new item was introduced to a throng of eager residents. Beef Wellington made  its debut with generally favorable reviews, mine among them. While this particular version of a venerable dish may not have been true to the classic recipe, which features a whole piece of tenderloin instead of ground beef, what it lacked in authenticity it made up for in flavor and spirit. The ground beef was encircled by a dough which turned soggy because there was nothing between the meat and the crust to keep it from getting soggy. However, what it lacked in crispness it more than made up for in seasoning, for a change. I would have no trouble with having this entrée back for a return engagement. Now, all we need is some black pudding and a pint.

The bacon cheeseburger was a surprise last week, more because of its shape than for its content. While it is rare that a BACON cheeseburger graces our plates, even more strange was the free-formed shape of the hamburger itself. Placed before us was not the usual  machine made frozen gray hamburger  patty on a flavorless bun but instead, there was an oddly shaped piece of meat that could only mean one thing, A HUMAN BEING MADE IT, BY HAND. Upon further inquiry, the reason for this  became clear. What had happened was this.  An order of what was supposed to be hamburger patties was in actuality a shipment of veal patties, a vendor error. However, it was nice to see that somebody still knows how to make a hamburger from scratch.

bon appetit



We all love to send emails  and maybe even text messages and we all love those cute little emoticons that our email service provides but the are so many more little expressions of our emotions that are available and you don't have to download a thing, you can make them yourself. Perhaps you have already done some like the standard smiley face done with a colon and a parenthesis... :) or maybe something fancier like :-), the possibilities are endless as this from Wikipedia shows...

This is a  partial list of notable and commonly used emoticons or textual portrayals of a writer's mood or facial expression in the form of icons. The Western use of emoticons is quite different from Eastern usage, and Internet forums, such as 2channel, typically show expressions in their own ways. In recent times, graphic representations, both static and animated, have taken the place of traditional emoticons in the form of icons. These are commonly known as emoji.

>:[ :-( :(  :-c :c :-<  :っC :< :-[ :[ :{ Frown, sad

>:\ >:/ :-/ :-. :/ :\ =/ =\ :L =L :S >.< Skeptical, annoyed, undecided, uneasy, hesitant

@}-;-'--- @>-->-- Rose

=:o] Bill Clinton

There are dozens more. For a complete list go to this Wikipedia page...

I hope this edition of the BLOG will be of some help in deciding if an assisted living facility is appropriate for you or a loved one. Remember, I do  not claim to be an expert on the subject and can only speak from my personal experiences and observations. If you have any questions about assisted living, I beg you to do your homework. Moving into one of these facilities is a life changing proposition. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Next week's blog will appear before your eyes on Monday, June 2.

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Today, May 19th, marks the fifth anniversary of the day my life changed forever. What happened on that day and for many weeks and months thereafter, profoundly changed my views on what life, love and, happiness is all about. Back in 2009, on a rainy day in May I found myself lying on a stretcher in a crowded hospital emergency room in Queens, N.Y. I was in pain, frightened and alone. I had recently retired from work and believe me when I say that this was not my idea of how I wanted to begin that retirement.

The spring of my discontent actually began a few days before the 19th of May. I had been experiencing some intestinal discomfort which I discounted as a stomach virus which, if left to its own devices, would go away by itself in 24 hours, so I thought. However, after three days of spending most of my time in the bathroom, I realized that perhaps what I had was not simple stomach flu, but I was still not convinced that there was something more serious going on. Even the 103-degree fever I spiked did not convince me otherwise. However, what did convince me that perhaps what was going on down there was not normal was the bloody stool I observed when I got up from my umpteenth trip to the toilet. Even I knew this was not good. I had a decision to make. Should I drive myself to the hospital and risk the chance of having an “accident” on the seat of my car or should I call an ambulance. I opted for the latter. At least they would get me right into the E.R, immediately. 

I waited a long time in that E.R. listening to the moans and groans of my fellow patients and asking myself what I was doing here. I was given a gown to put on and laid back on my stretcher waiting for the doc to come by which he did after about an hour. Following a series of brief questions and some stomach poking I found myself being rolled into a C.A.T. scan machine where I was given a shot of something and scanned from head to toe, then back to the ER. By this time my left lower quadrant felt like the smoldering remains of last July’s bar-b-que briquettes. Eventually the doctor came back with the results of my cat scan. “I don’t know what exactly is going on but it sounds like you might be having a bout of colitis, we need a colonoscopy to be sure. There it was the dreaded “C” word. I knew that sooner or later I would have to schedule one of those procedures but not quite this soon. “Oh well, let’s get it over with and maybe I can get out of here by dinnertime with some pills or elixir or whatever they give you for colitis”, I thought. Little did I know that I would never sleep in my own bed again.

The colonoscopy revealed that I had Ulcerative Colitis, about as bad a case of it, in the GI doc’s words “That I have ever seen.” 

“It’s not cancer is it doc”, was my first question to which I was told that it was definitely not cancer, but what I had was not good. 

“When can I go home” I asked next. 

“You won’t be going anywhere soon, I’m going to admit you for some tests,” he said.

“What about the pain,” I asked.

“Can’t give you anything right now until we know the extent of the colitis, sorry”, he replied. I was wheeled to my hospital bed, one of many I would be in for the next few years.

At this point I am going to stop and relieve you of the boring “Let me tell you about my operations” story. You don’t need to hear it and I don’t want to relive it. What I will tell you is this. Weeks went by trying to cure what I had with medication when it became clear that surgery was my only option. By that time I had been in hospital for almost a month whacked out on morphine, steroids and Percocet, which only briefly relieved my gut wrenching pain, after all that, surgery sounded OK.

The surgery went well. The pain was gone, along with most of my colon but unfortunately I was still sick. That rotten colon screwed up my body to a point where other systems were going south in a hurry. My white blood count was rising and my kidneys were not doing their job too well. I was given transfusions and a couple of dialysis treatments. In addition, spending all that time in bed caused blood clots to form in my legs for which the cure was to install a “screen filter” in my carotid artery to keep any clots from entering my heart and killing me. I still have it and it drives x-ray technicians crazy when they see it. I tell them I was visited by aliens who implanted that in there and that I can't tell them anything more because I was contacted by men in black who told me not to say anything. Hey, I got to have some fun.

June had come and gone and finally, my doctor told me that I was well enough to leave the hospital, but, because of my delapidated condition I would need nursing care. I agreed but where will I get such care, certainly not at home, alone. A visit from the social worker made my mind up for me; I was off to a nursing home, but for how long. Unknown to me at that time was that over the next two years I would be a patient in not just one, but three different nursing homes. I also could not have foreseen that I would have lost not only my apartment and my car but my ability to walk and would be dependent on a wheelchair to get around. Nor could I have predicted that I would need assistance getting in and out of bed, as well as having to be washed and showered. In a blink of an eye my independence, my privacy, my self-respect and most of my money was gone, but the bottom was still a long way off. After two more colon surgeries, which left me wearing a colostomy pouch, together with some intensive and painful physical therapy I was able to stand on my own with the help of a walker. Not only was I now officially an invalid but, for the first time, I felt old, very old. After all, only old people use walkers, don’t they?

This story is not meant to be a lesson or an appeal for sympathy, it is just my way of telling you how fragile life can be and that the things we think are important now, may not be worth anything when the chips are down. If you enjoy good health, be thankful for it. It is the one thing all the money in the world cannot buy.

Give me the simpler life.

Life without tchotchkes**

Moving into a nursing home means that you have to leave everything behind. Most people have family that will look after your stuff while you recuperate. Unfortunately, that was not so in my case. All my relatives were gone or lived way out of town. Therefore, I had to leave all of my stuff behind in my apartment. The only problem was I could not afford to live in a nursing home and pay rent at the same time. Medicare had not kicked in yet and I was paying for the nursing home out of pocket, at more than fifty grand a year, the money I had saved for my “golden years” was gone in a flash. Finally, after more than a year my landlord wanted to know what I intended to do about my apartment and the back rent, which had by that time amounted to quite a lot of money which I could not afford to pay. I told him I was going to give up the apartment which I had lived in for 13 years and that he could sell my furniture to pay for what I owed. He accepted the offer which made me happy (he could have sued me for the back rent) leaving me with only a few personal possessions. Everything that me, and my mother, who lived in that apartment before me, had collected over the years were gone. All the little nick-knacks, the photos, the lamps, the ashtrays, the bric-a brac, the detritus of one’s life piled in a heap waiting for a crowd of tag sale nosy bodies. I was homeless, and worse, I was “stuff-less.”

When I refer to stuff, I mean all of the junk that one collects over the years, usually none of which is expensive or important. Stuff does not add anything to the decor. Believe me, that little ceramic figure of a cat does nothing for the room. Neither does the ugly mismatched stereo equipment that you haven’t listened to since disco died as well as the lamps on the end table whose shades have yellowed with age and other people’s cigarette smoke. Gone too, was a collection of cooking utensils that I had accumulated through the decades, most of which went unused because only one or two of them actually worked. The rest were thrown into a drawer or under the sink where only the mice and an occasional cockroach could appreciate them. All of this stuff was gone leaving me with stuff that was important, the things that mattered. 

After my stint in an out of a number of nursing homes I moved here to the center. Having toured the facility beforehand, I knew that space was at a premium, storage space was practically non-existent. I knew that I would have to adjust my priorities and, my lifestyle. I would have to go from an accumulator of junk to a minimalist. I would have to live like a monk.

Every week I see new residents move in here and with them comes a wagon-load of possessions. They have taken everything but their living room furniture thinking that somehow sixty years of memories will fit into 9-foot wide L-shaped room. Many of these newbies, mostly women, find it difficult to let go of this stuff not realizing that “stuff” is not what’s important to life anymore. What is important is your health and the support of the people around you. Try getting advice on Medicaid from that Lladro figurine or medical advice from that collection of ceramic bells that adorned your shelf since 1957. You will soon find that your most treasured possessions from the past have been replaced by things you must have rather than want. The sepia picture of Aunt Frieda in that ornate frame has been replaced by an aluminum walker  without which you can’t make it to the dining room. That set of canisters that sat, unused, on the kitchen counter has now become plastic knives and forks and Styrofoam cups and your most prized possession is a “grabber” which aides you in putting on your socks in the morning. It’s all about priorities. My priorities now consist of having a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, a clean change of clothes and three squares a day, everything else is crap. Moreover, to further enforce this life style I have kept the space I live in as unadorned as possible.

On my walls you will find no pictures, except for one which covers up a small patch of peeling paint. There are no little figures of animals or busts of people or photos of dead relatives. There is literally nothing to remind me of my possession-filled past. The life I once knew, the one I thought I enjoyed means nothing to me now. The de-cluttering of my space has also de-cluttered my mind. I can do more things in a day than I ever could before. My appetite is better and my writing has become more prolific if not more coherent. I only have 7 drawers and no shelves. I never cannot find something. Everything is close at hand, so close that it takes me less than 4 minutes to dress in the morning. I have a great minimalist bathroom too. There is no cluttered medicine cabinet with 3-year-old pills and jars of leaking salves and creams; everything I need is on one shelf. It takes housekeeping only five minutes to “straighten” my room, I am beloved by all of them. “But, Resident-X, you must miss some of your old stuff” you say, and you would be right. 

I do miss some of my clothes, the pants, and shirts which, over years of gentle wear conformed nicely to my rather disproportionate body. I miss too, some of those nice stationery items that I got free from work*. You know how it irks me to actually have to go out and buy a stapler or a ballpoint pen at retail yet. Except for that, I miss nothing. I buy only what I need when I need it. I weigh my purchases very carefully. Before I buy something I ask myself, “Will this purchase make my life better.” If the answer is no, I put away the credit card and go on to something more important, like a nice afternoon nap.

Now don't  get me wrong. I am not advocating that you give away all of your possessions and crawl into a cave, it's all about priorities. I am just asking you to remember that the less you have, the less you have to worry about.

* No, I did not steal supplies from work. I worked all of my life in the office supply business and had access to enough free samples to open a store of my own.

** Tchotchke; Yiddish word meaning knickknack or trinket.

An unnerving statistic hits home


“The Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Home (Senior Living) industry currently houses approximately 2,000,000 people across 60,000 facilities in the United States. This represents one of the biggest components of our country’s health care system and as an industry; these facilities experience the impact of “Life Expectancy Compression” on a daily basis. Average “length of stay” is a carefully tracked industry benchmark for determining turnover and occupancy metrics. In the annual State of the Senior Housing Industry report released by the American Senior Housing Association (ASHA) the Senior Living industry reported average length of stay in 2008: Assisted Living (21 months), Independent Living (38 months), CCRC (77 months), and Alzheimer’s Care (17 months). According to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), of those currently residing in an assisted living community 34% will move to a skilled nursing facility due to deteriorating health and 30% will die. The mortality rate of individuals moving into a skilled nursing facility is death within the first 12 months by as much as 50%-60%. The mortality rate is even higher in the first 6 months.”

The preceding paragraph from Life Care Funding is full of statistics but the one that hit home the most is the statistic concerning the 30% death rate among residents of ALF’s. This figure came to life these last couple of weeks when we lost more than our fair share of long-time residents. The loss is compounded even more when those people were those who you talked to, laughed with, and commiserated with every day.  Adding to the catastrophe of the loss is the swiftness with which these people were taken. Residents who did not appear to be critically ill suddenly dropped dead. Adding to this tragedyis the failure of the facility to acknowledge any of these deaths. It is as if these people never existed or were never part of our community. While I understand the need not to dwell on death, especially in a place where the end is closer than the beginning for most of us and that as a marketing strategy the very idea that someone might actually die here is not mentioned, the demise of our friends should not go unrecognized. I don’t see why a simple memorial ceremony could not become part of our monthly Resident’s Council meeting. At the very least it would stop us from wondering, in the words of singer Sam Roberts, “Where have all the good people gone.”

Read more:

How are we doing compared to the rest of the world as far as how long we live?

Although we don’t make a bad showing (next to best) it is significant to note that the countries that come out ahead of the U.S. are those with some form of socialized medicine. There is however, an anomaly. Russia and China, who have had socialized health care for eons, do not fare as well as the U.S. , can this mean that socialism works best when it’s part of a democracy? It should also be noted that the U.S. spends more on medical care than any other country in the world which means that we are not getting all the bang for our bucks.

As far as a state-by-state look at longevity it appears that the worst place to live, or at least get sick, is the southeastern chunk of the country. The divide is even more pronounced when you separate longevity by traditional north vs. the Deep South. Only two things that are significantly different about these places is the weather, and the food. 

The end of an era, of sorts

OK, I admit it, I’m a nostalgic old person of the Jewish persuasion, and anytime part of my cultural heritage is taken away I feel the loss, personally. That is why, when I came across this headline and story from an upstate N.Y. newspaper, my heart sank a little.

“Kutsher's transformation will begin in week or two”

By Nathan Brown/Times Herald-Record

"TOWN OF THOMPSON — The wrecking ball will swing in a week or two on an iconic piece of Catskills history, as Kutsher's moves into its future as a health and wellness resort. Last year, the Kutsher family sold the property to Veria, a company owned by billionaire Indian media mogul Subhash Chandra. He plans to spend $90 million to build a getaway that will include a 37,000-square-foot spa and a 200-room hotel made of all-natural materials, and offer its guests everything from golf and tennis to "yoga sciences," "ayurvedic medical treatment" and "biodynamic restaurants."

Anyone who grew up in the New York area during the 40’s and 50’s remembers the “Catskills” and by Catskills I mean the resorts not the mountain range. The “Jewish Alps” or "Borscht Belt" as they were lovingly called, hosted some of the most iconic resorts in the nation. Places like Grossinger’s, The Neville, The Concorde, and Kutsher’s to name a few were the places where my parents went to vacation. The Caribbean, Cancun, or Princess Cruise Lines were unknown to them. However, that did not mean that they were not treated to all of the amenities that are now found at every luxury resort in the world, and by amenities, I mean the food. 

There were two main reasons why people went to the “mountains.” One was to take in the great entertainment and the second (or maybe it was the first) was the legendary and copious amounts of food set before them at every meal. In fact, I believe the food was the entertainment. Therefore, you can imagine how I felt when I saw, in the above story, that the resort will be transformed into a luxury spa with a “biodynamic restaurant.” 

While I don’t know what a biodynamic restaurant is I am sure that the fare will not include bagels and lox, pickled herring, mounds of corned beef brisket or a never-ending desert cart. I can also guarantee that they will not have a waiter that, for a few dollars tip, will keep the food coming until you plotz.


Courtesy of my cousin Judy.

We are the first generation who 

played video games and the last 

to record songs off the radio onto

a cassette tape. We learned how

to program a VCR before anyone

else, we were the first to play from

Atari to Nintendo…We are the 

generation of Tom & Jerry, Looney 

Toons, & Captain Kangaroo. We 

traveled in cars without seat belts 

or air bags, lived without cell phones 

and caller ID. We did not have fax 

machines, flat screens, surround 

sound, I pods, Facebook, Twitter, 

computers, or the internet, and 

through it all we had a great time.

Did you grown up to be what you always wanted to be?

If not, what stopped you?

To me, the luckiest people in the world are those who have realized, if not all, at least some of their goals in life. After all, how many of us can say, in all honesty, we like our jobs and that this is something we always wanted to do. Most of us, when we were working, got into that particular business by accident or necessity. Either we thought the job would lead to other things or we just ran out of options and were forced to take a job because we needed the money. In my case, I inherited the job that turned out to be my life’s work because my father owned a business and when he passed away, my brother and I, were more or less expected to take over. This may have been more difficult for my brother than for me. 

My brother was a musician who was very involved in the music business. Unfortunately, the music business has its ups and downs and, except for the few musicians who reach stardom, does not pay very well if at all. As for me the fact that I never realized my goals did not hit as hard because I never had the opportunity to get even a small taste of what I wanted to make of my life. I spent years in college earning a degree for a profession that was impossible for me to break in to.

I always wanted to get into advertising. I liked all of the aspects of the business. I liked the creative part, the writing part, the artistic part, the prospect of travel and yes, even the glamour. Unfortunately, what I did not know about the advertising business in the 1960’s was that it was a closed society. It was the epitome of the “Old boy’s network” and outsiders need not apply especially if you were not of the White Anglo Saxon persuasion. I was never able to even get my foot into the front door. There were no jobs available, at least not to me. Therefore, I put aside my dreams in favor of steady work which, although may not have been what I wanted, at least afforded me a decent lifestyle. However, that does not mean that I don’t feel that I missed out and that a part of my life has been a failure. This got me to thinking about all of those people who are frustrated because their dreams were never realized. In addition, can this frustration and feeling of lack of accomplishment be a cause for depression in older folks. I wonder how many of my fellow residents feel that they accomplished, in life, what they set out to accomplish. How do you feel about this? What did you not get done that makes you feel “unfinished?”

The beauty of a simple field of dandelion seeds transforms when you get up close.


Medicare Fraud Strike Force charges 90 individuals for approximately $260 million in false billing

27 Medical Professionals, Including 16 Doctors, Charged with Health Care Fraud

“WASHINGTON – Attorney General Eric Holder and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that a nationwide take-down by Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in six cities has resulted in charges against 90 individuals. Being charged are 27 doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, for their alleged participation in Medicare fraud schemes involving approximately $260 million in false billings.”

For many medical professionals what they see when they look at you is “$$.” The first thing that the girl behind the desk at the doctor’s office asks you for is your Medicare or Medicaid card. For the doctor and his staff this means the beginning of a lot of paperwork which, if done correctly, can mean a steady income stream for, not only him but a lineup of healthcare providers including other doctors, nurses, radiological services (X-rays, MRI’s and CAT scans) as well as pharmacies and medical equipment providers (walkers, canes, and portable oxygen equipment).

Every month or so I, and most people whose health insurance includes some government assistance, receive a statement in the mail. This statement (which clearly states “This is not a bill”) lists all of the charges that were submitted, by your healthcare provider(s), to Medicare and/or Medicaid. It shows the exact amount that your doctor has billed the U.S. Government for providing you with their services. Of course, the vast majority of these providers submit true and accurate bills to the government, but there are those who see a chance to increase their income by overcharging for the care provided or worse, billing the government for services that were never delivered. Moreover, they are counting on you to become an unwilling conspirator in these fraudulent activities. This is why you, or someone you trust, should open and read these letters very carefully. If you notice something that looks irregular or something that you don’t understand do not be afraid to question your healthcare provider about it. It will most likely be either an honest error or some treatment that you forgot you had. However, if you cannot get a legitimate explanation of any of the claims made, contact your health insurer immediately. As an example of how you may be playing an unwilling part in this fraud read this from

“In Brooklyn, New York, the Strike Force announced an indictment against Syed Imran Ahmed, M.D., in connection with his alleged $85 million scheme involving billings for surgeries that never occurred; Dr. Ahmed had been arrested last month and charged by complaint. Dr. Ahmed has charged with health care fraud and making false statements. In addition, the Brooklyn Strike Force charged six other individuals, including a physician and two billers who allegedly concocted a $14.4 million scheme in which they recruited elderly Medicare beneficiaries and billed Medicare for medically unnecessary vitamin infusions, diagnostic tests and physical and occupational therapy supposedly provided to these patients.”

I urge everyone to check their health insurance statements whether it’s from Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurer. Don’t sign off on anything you do not understand, and don’t be suckered in to becoming part of something illegal. Remember, the people who perpetrate these frauds are counting on you to be too uncaring or senile or forgetful. Show them that as a senior citizen, you won’t let them get away with it. 

Read more: 

A basic dish that’s tricky to make

I don’t often give the soup served here enough praise. My mom, a great soup maker in her own right, always said that the mark of a good cook is how they make the soup. This is why, when I go to a new restaurant, I always order the soup de jour. I use the soup course as a barometer for the rest of the meal. A weak, thin, flavorless soup tells me that what is to come will not be much better and, usually I am right. I am often surprised when, after having a decent full flavored bisque or chowder from our kitchen, the rest of the meal is just blah. I ask myself, “Why did they stop at the soup. Did they forget how to cook in mid-meal?” There might be an explanation for this phenomena. Soup, unlike the other food we get here is made from scratch using only a store bought soup base as a starter. The rest of the ingredients are made, as they should be, of many of the leftovers from past dinners. That is why the chicken soup is always loaded with large pieces of chicken and, as in Wednesday afternoon’s beef barley soup, plenty of tender beef chunks. This tells me that, while they know how to cook, they are prohibited from exhibiting any sign of culinary expertise because the budget will not permit anything but leftovers to be used as a flavoring for the food. I can only ask that the same effort put into the making of the soup be made in the preparation of the main meal. I know they can do it.

Non-traditional Ribs win praise from diners

My first thought was “Hey, where’s the bar-b-que sauce.” However, after re-reading the menu I learned that the ribs offered at Thursday night’s dinner were not barbecued but apricot glazed. “This will not sit well with this crowd” I thought because, this is a group which tends to shy away from the new and untried in favor of the traditional. However, an impromptu after dinner survey produced surprising results. Most of those I asked said that they preferred the less saucy, less spicy apricot over the drippy, chin wiping tomato based sauce. However, I should not have found this surprising because, after all these people generally despise anything spicy, or as I say “flavorful.” They wallow in their bland, white bread and mayonnaise tastes. Me, I prefer the hot, the exotic, and the stuff whose sauce would take the paint off a Buick. Hopefully, this change from traditional to something different is just a glitch and that in the future our sacred ribs will remain covered in sweet, hot real bar-b-que sauce.

I have only asked for one thing as far as how food is prepared here at the Center, that it should be at least as good as one could get in any diner in New Jersey, today that wish was fulfilled. For the first time they got the meatloaf right.

As any diner aficionado knows, whether the diner is in Montclair or Minneapolis, the pièce de résistance of diner epicure is meatloaf. Meatloaf is the benchmark against which all other food is measured, not so much for what it tastes like but more for what it doesn’t. Meatloaf should not taste of fillers; it should taste of MEAT, exactly what the meatloaf we had for dinner last Wednesday tasted like. In addition to the meaty flavor, there was the way the loaf was seasoned, and by seasoned I mean with seasoning. Up until now this establishment’s idea of meatloaf was some form of ground meat which, may or may not have been beef, some wimpy spices dug out of the bottom of a discount store spice rack and gravy made primarily of flour. Today’s meatloaf was the exact opposite of that shameful stuff we have had in the past. In addition, there was a hardy helping of it as well. Even the sides were worthy of a place in the Route 17 hall of fame. The mashed potatoes tasted like real potatoes and not like something from a box and the green beans, usually cooked to a fine mush was, this day, slightly al dente which made them taste more like fresh string beans than something from a can. My hat is off to whoever cooked this meal; you can work in my diner anytime.

OK, where’s the rest of it?

Can’t find the rind.

Usually I don’t write much about desserts here because they are mostly of the usual, unexciting every day run of the mill variety. There’s the insipid tapioca pudding, the dry chocolate cake and the occasional “Dixie cup” of vanilla ice cream so, when there is even a minor variation in the script I take notice. 

Watermelon, at least in this part of the country, is a seasonal dish and one which I look forward to. It is one of the most refreshing fruits* around and can be eaten by practically everyone. That is why, when I saw that we were to be treated to this marvel of agricultural engineering, i.e., the seedless watermelon, I could not wait for the dessert course. Unfortunately, my fervor was short lived when, to my surprise and dismay, what came out of the kitchen was not a green and red watery slice of melon but chunks in a bowl. What did they do with the rind and why can’t we have it. Where in the rule book does it say that everything must be cut into easy to eat bite-sized pieces? Surely they don’t mean to suggest that our old, worn down teeth and gums cannot stand up against the rigors of biting into a slice of fresh watermelon. Come on kitchen people, give Caesar his due, and give us back our rinds.

*Watermelons, according to Wikipedia, are actually in the berry family like grapes.

No love for this Cuban.

Man, this sandwich was bad news, so bad that I am having difficulty talking about it even now. Why they called this abomination a Cuban sandwich I still don't know because it had nothing to do with anything either Cuban or sandwich. The meat, which was supposed to be pulled pork, a tradition in Cuban sandwiches, was a tough and stringy mass of tasteless meat-like substance that may or may not have been pork. Even the addition of a slice of odd tasting ham and a cold slab of American cheese could not forestall this Cuban invasion. Is this what Fidel and Raul fought for in the mountains of Sierra Maestra? In addition, and I think put there only to add insult to injury, was the piece of white bread toast the whole thing sat on. Oh, that stuff sitting next to the "sandwich" is potato salad, the perfect side dish for this disaster.

buon appetito

Canada, you can have your health care system, your Mounties, and your hockey teams but this has gone too far.


Thank you for permitting me to get a little personal this week. Sometimes I use this blog as therapy, and it helps me get through some of the tough days. When I write these weekly tomes I write as if I were speaking to friends and as friends, I expect you to listen to everything I have to say even if it seems a little self indulgent at times. Next week's blog will be published on Monday May 26.

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When I saw this headline (BIODHS investigates after 88-year-old woman escapes nursing home.) in my newsfeed inbox I was immediately drawn to the story, not because of its content but rather because of the inappropriate word “escaped” that was used to describe what this elderly dementia person did. While it is true that she left the assisted living facility, of which she was a resident, without anyone’s knowledge, her unauthorized departure was describe by the reporter as having been an “escape.” If one were to follow logic we would have to presume that all people living in ALF’s are kept there against their will and any attempt to leave without permission is to be considered an escape, just as if they were breaking out of prison. The question is, “Why are elderly Alzheimer’s or dementia patients lumped into the same category as the insane  criminals who are kept here against their will like a prisoner in some penitentiary.” As a resident of an ALF, you can understand why I might take exception with the terminology used to describe the unauthorized wanderings of one particular confused resident of that Arkansas facility.

While we are troubled by the reporters unfortunate use of the word “escaped” we are even more disturbed to think that the way in which America views its elderly citizens who may have some loss of their cognitive abilities as being people who need to be locked up, is far more troubling. What we (or at least that reporter in Arkansas) need here is some better education on the subject of dementia as well as some education about what kind of people inhabit assisted living facilities if only to prove that we are not all lunatic wards of the state.


Read the story...

BIODHS investigates after 88-year-old woman escapes nursing home.

By Darby Bybee, Meteorologist-Reporter TV 40/29 News

HUNTSVILLE, Ark. —The Arkansas Department of Human Services is investigating how an 88-year-old woman escaped from a nursing home in Huntsville.

Velma Hull escaped through a back door at Countryside Assisted Living around 6 p.m. Thursday. She traveled a half a mile overnight to a wooded area behind a water tower.

Huntsville police said she was missing for 13 hours in near-freezing temperatures before being found Friday morning.

“She was laying down, looked like she may have tripped and fell,” said Sean Ellis, Huntsville’s emergency manager. “She was shivering, and she looked a little discolored, but that’s normal if you spent all night out in the woods.”

Countryside Assisted Living said it took about 30 minutes for them to realize Hull was gone. They searched for her for two hours before calling in police. Huntsville police said it took a search party of more than 60 people to find Hull in the woods.

Officials with the nursing home said it all happened because of a power surge that hit Thursday afternoon. The power surge disabled the door alarms and gave Hull the chance to escape.

Officials with Countryside said Hull regularly checks the doors to see if they are unlocked, but said nothing like this has ever happened before.

Watch the video:



Blood of young mice boosts brains, muscles of older ones

Karen Weintraub, Special for USA TODAY

The fountain of youth may exist — at least for mice.

Researchers from Harvard and Stanford universities published three studies today, showing that substances in the blood of young mice rejuvenate the muscles and brains of older ones. A previous Harvard study suggests the same happens to their hearts.

"Their fur looks better, they groom better, they seem to do overall better," said Tony Wyss-Coray, the lead scientist on the Stanford study, to be published in the journal Nature Medicine. "To us it's just so surprising, that something so simple has dramatic effects on every tissue in the body that's been looked at."

Whether the same process will work in people remains a mystery, but the researchers are curious and hopeful.”

Editor’s note; Of course we all knew this was coming. After all, how can all of those TV shows and movies be wrong? I guess we old folks should be prepared for the consequences that will come if this study proves the same for humans as it does mice and by consequences I mean dental work. Unfortunately, the people who will benefit most from this new vampirism no longer have the choppers to do it right, but take heart, I am sure Medicare, Obamacare, or Medicaid will cover it, at least for the first couple of pints. Besides, you don’t need a full set of dentures, just those two big canine teeth. B.T.W., if any of you young whippersnappers out there want to earn a couple of bucks ,my blood type is “A” positive.

Read more:

And in a related story...

It’s good enough just to have longer living mice, now we need to make them smarter. The mind boggles.

From the NIH

Longevity gene may boost brainpower

NIH-funded researchers discover the gene may enhance cognitive abilities


“Scientists showed that people who have a variant of a longevity gene, called KLOTHO, have improved brain skills such as thinking, learning and memory regardless of their age, sex, or whether they have a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Increasing KLOTHO gene levels in mice made them smarter, possibly by increasing the strength of connections between nerve cells in the brain. The study was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health.”


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My feelings and disdain I have for the AARP runs deep ever since I started to receive their “offers” to become a member which, as the way they were written) were nothing more than another way to prey on the gullibility of seniors. Now this latest affront by an organization that purports to be a senior advocate has put thousands of their members at risk. Read on...

Contract Dispute Puts Seniors at Risk

By John Meyerele in the ASBURY PARK PRESS

"What do AARP Medicare Complete, United Healthcare, and Meridian’s Ocean Medical Center in Brick have in common?

They have made thousands of senior citizens suffer one of their worst nightmares: the loss of their trusted primary care doctor, their specialists and their hospital. They call this plan an “Advantage Plan.” Who has the advantage? Certainly not our seniors.

Unable to agree to a contract, AARP Medicare Complete, United Healthcare and Meridian’s contract will terminate on Thursday. The contracts of hundreds of Meridian’s doctors participating in the AARP’s Medicare Complete plan will also be terminated."

Read the entire story...

Rolling to good health? Senior citizens hooked on strange activity

Did you ever wonder why you rarely see elderly Chinese living in senior housing, this may be the reason. How many assisted living facilities are built on hills?



Forget taiji and qigong. A group of 20 to 50 elderly folk has picked up an unorthodox activity - all in the name of health.

Every weekday morning, they take turns rolling down a slope at Bedok Reservoir.

They are led by 71-year-old retiree Lew Keh Lam, known to the group as 'Master', who started the activity seven years ago. Mr Lew claims rolling downhill can cure all forms of ailments, including cancer, Parkinson's Disease and stroke.

"Our body is short of negative ions. In the morning, before the sun shines, there're a lot of negative ions in the grass. If your body requires the negative ions, it will allow you to roll, and when you don't need it, it won't let you roll," said Mr Lew in Mandarin.

- See more at:

Editor’s note; If there are any Asians out there that are looking for an ALF that is built on a hill, I have just the place for you and it’s right here in Yonkers. That’s right, the W.C.I.A.L. is situated on top of one of the highest points in the city, and we have a great hill. Come on down for a "test roll". 

Editor’s note #2; Let me make this perfectly clear. I, this blog, nor any other sane person would ever suggest that you try this without the approval of your doctor or landscape artist. 


Profiting from seniors

As the population ages and more baby boomers begin to look  for places to spend their latter years, the need for appropriate places to live grows, and what could be more natural for cheap housing than a cheap motel. "We'll keep the light on for you."

Airport hotel to become assisted living center

By Tom Daykin of the Journal Sentinel

"A hotel near Mitchell International Airport will be converted into an assisted living center by its new owner.

The 96-room Milwaukee Airport Inn, 1716 W. Layton Ave., was sold for $1.8 million to Value Hospitality Inc., according to state real estate records. The seller was Kay Hospitality LLC, led by Karan K. Kohli.

Value Hospitality will operate the hotel and its Spring Gardens restaurant this summer, but plans to shut down the business this fall for the conversion project, said Value owner Prabhu Kasthurirangaian. 

An 88-bed assisted living center, Renaissance Villa, is scheduled to open in May 2015, he said Monday. The conversion, to include building new common areas and occupational therapy space, will cost over $3 million.

Value, which operates the Days Inn & Suites, 1840 N. 6th St., initially planned to operate the two-story Layton Ave. property as a hotel, Kasthurirangaian said. But he concluded there is an excess of economy-priced hotel rooms near the airport."

Editor’s note: This is just the kind of place that I want to spend my later years, a cheap motel near the airport. I wonder if they rent rooms by the hour. Is there a happy hour?

Read more... 

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Go to the website below for more info on this state and yours

"To help inform seniors, families and researchers on the availability and request process for state records on assisted living communities, we analyzed the openness and accessibility of such records in each U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Our analysis factored in: the amount of information available to the public, the ease of access to this information, and the frequency of state inspections or surveys."

Here is an example from my home state, N.Y.


When choosing assisted living care, consumers are reliant on their state’s regulatory agencies to provide information about communities and their backgrounds. But public access to assisted living records varies greatly state by state. Here is a snapshot of the level of transparency in New York State:

Key Findings

New York has generally accessible assisted living records but was marked down on some criteria, including for inspection that occur on a less than annual basis (every 2 years).

New York does not have a searchable database of licensed assisted living communities.

How to Access Records

View the state's "Do Not Refer" list for communities to definitely avoid.

Visit New York's Quarterly Survey Reports page **for a list of communities that have been inspected over the quarter and the results of those reports.

Quarterly reports are available going back to 2002.

View the state's Adult Care page for a directory of communities and note that you must click your county on a map to move on.

For more in-depth information about a New York assisted living community, contact the local long-term Care ombudsman who covers the area, who can be found by entering a five digit zip code at

** What I found when I visited this portion of the site was unfortunate. The latest listing they ( NYS Dept. of Health) have on ALF inspections goes back to September of 2013 although there have been a number of subsequent inspections done after that date. I have emailed the DOH asking why there are no later reports published and they have told me that the latest reports will be published sometime this month.


As a former parent of a suburban lawn, I would get angry at the dandelions and tried my best to forestall their emergence every spring by using stuff like Weed-B-Gone and other weed inhibiting concoctions. After all, my lawn cost me a fortune to maintain what with fertilizer, insect repellents, and the inevitable weekly mowing. However, now that the lawn belongs to somebody else (they wouldn’t let me take my lawn with me when I moved into an apartment) I kind of like seeing those bright yellow dandelions dotting, what all winter, was nothing more than barren, brown field of dirt.


The 10 Best Selling Products of All Time

How many of these have you bought or used?


While I have used many of these products I am pleased to say that I have never played with a Play Station, read Harry Potter (but I have seen the movie), or used Lipitor.

Read more: 



I know this is something that we will never have here. I know that because of the way this place is set up and that the rules and regulations that govern our every move will not allow for such a luxury, but still, when I read article like this I just want to sit down and wonder, “why.” Why have we been singled out as those who have to live near the bottom of the assisted living diaspora? Every day, countless articles and photos come across my desk with stories of how some facilities have programs that we can only dream about. Every day I read about a new van or bus service that a facility has initiated for their residents. I drool with envy when I see a group of my contemporaries happily cooking away, in their own rooms on their own stoves.  

I realize that I should be grateful to have what I have and that what really separates us from the rest of the ALF population is money however, that does not stop me from dreaming of what could be.

Below is part of an article that I recently found online. While I know we can’t cook in our rooms, perhaps we could do what this facility has done and have the residents become more involved in the design and preparation of our meals.

From the Houston Chronicle...

“From the sizzle of vegetables sautéing in a pan to the smell of garlic or herbs filling a room, cooking is a passion that not only ends with a delicious meal, but serves as a form of expression. Best of all, preparing a meal simply makes many people happy, which is why senior living facilities across Houston are cooking up ways for their residents to be able to continue practicing their passion for food.

Many senior living facilities, from assisted-living to independent living communities, provide their residents with either apartments that feature fully functional kitchens or community country kitchens.

"The Abbey at Westminster Plaza's independent living apartments have a complete kitchen with stoves, microwaves, full-size refrigerators and lots of counter spaces. Our residents have the option of eating in our beautiful dining room or preparing their own meals in their apartments," said Nancy Gachman, leasing director at the Abbey at Westminster Plaza, a senior living community in the Memorial area.

"Each floor [of the community buildings] also has a country kitchen, complete with a full-size oven, microwave, sink and refrigerator. We encourage residents and families to use the kitchens, just like at home, to bake cookies using their favorite recipes whenever they are here for a visit."



A weird combo that shouldn't have been.

From the description given to me by my server I should have known that this thing was destined to be a disaster. The menu only said “Breakfast Combo” which could have been decent, unfortunately it was anything but. Inside that patty is a miserable combination of egg, hash browns, and sausage with a consistency that can only be described as mush. Adding to equation was the fact that, as almost everything else here, this came out of the kitchen cold, which only made this whatever even more wretched. While we understand that cooking breakfast from scratch for nearly 200 people every morning is often a drag and that everybody needs a break once and a while, this thing should never cross our breakfast plates again.


We have a resident here (for these purposes we’ll call him George) who is constantly complaining about the taste of the food. While some of us may or may not agree with him most of us have it wrong. It is not the “taste” of the food that needs improvement; it’s the “flavor.” 

When we refer to the “taste” of something essentially what we are referring to is the inherent flavor which food has in its natural state. The “taste” of a piece of tuna can only really be appreciated when it is served as the main ingredient in sushi or sashimi. It is only then that we can correctly state, “This tuna tastes fishy.” However, when tuna is served broiled, baked or grilled and seasoned with salt, pepper or whatever we then can say “I like the flavor of this tuna” (or not). Therefore, now that we have the definitions clearly affixed in your head I can safely say the crab cake with spaghetti dinner we had last Monday evening had no flavor. The crab part of the cake, while it may have tasted like crab, was completely devoid of the flavor that makes crab cakes unique. A basic recipe for crab cakes suggests the use of Worcestershire sauce along with onion powder and oregano as part of the flavoring mix. Personally, I would have loved to have tasted any one of those flavorings in my very bland crab cake. In addition, and unfortunately, the spaghetti had even less flavor than the crab.

I don’t know if the sauce served here is homemade or store bought but wherever it comes from somebody forgot the onions, garlic, basil, oregano and any other herb or spice that has become synonymous with what we call “spaghetti sauce”. Even the least expensive store bought sauce has at least some of those must have ingredients. Therefore, what I propose is this. Why can’t we have a tasting seminar where the residents could pre-test some of the foods served here. It could be what in the trade is known as a “focus group.” This could settle the whole “taste vs. flavor” matter once and for all.


I am an avid label reader, I like looking for the unusual ingredients in the common foods we eat every day. I am especially interested in condiments. I must have read the back of the ketchup bottle sitting on our table a hundred times. That is why I was ecstatic when I found a newcomer to the add-on flavoring selection on our table this morning at breakfast. It appears that an old-timer has come to the Center as a way for residents to add at least some flavoring to what is sometimes a bland boring meal. The first thing I did, after opening the container and sprinkling a bit of the contents in my hand to taste, was to read the label and what I found was very encouraging. 

The ingredients in Mrs. Dash’s lemon pepper seasoning* consists of a variety of herbs, spices, and flavorings but no salt, no sugar and absolutely no preservatives. This stuff is pure, unadulterated flavor with a dash of lemon essence that goes just great with chicken and seafood. It also goes well, as I found out at lunch, with soup. They are having Tilapia for dinner tonight, a fish that I despise above all fishes, so maybe I’ll try it on that. It certainly will not make it taste any worse.


onion, spices (black pepper, basil, oregano, celery seed, bay, savory, thyme, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, mustard, rosemary, marjoram), garlic, lemon juice powder, carrot, citric acid, lemon peel, turmeric color, chili pepper.

Editor’s note: Tried it on the Tilapia and salads, worked great. 

Remember back when you were in high school, and somehow you managed to get a date with that cute little blond girl who normally would not give a guy like you a second glance. Remember too, how you spent all week dreaming of how spectacular it was going to be, then, when you actually went on that date you found out how much of an incredibly vapid person she was, well the same thing happened to me and the eggplant parmesan I was fed the other night. It was so disappointing.

Usually I would begin a review like this complaining about the portion size which, indeed, was small. However, in this case the small amount of actual eggplant was more blessing than displeasure, it was that bad. Moreover, the disappointment was made even greater by, like the date with the blond girl, a complete lack of understanding of how eggplant parm should be cooked. In fact the only thing different than that lackluster date with the high school goddess was that this time I was able to send it back in favor of the turkey meatloaf which, unlike the blond, was a much better choice.

Foodie’s note:I later found out that the reason for the reduced size (one layer thick) of the eggplant parm. was due to a shortage in the amount of eggplant ordered. However, that still does not excuse the overdone way it was prepared. 


After a week of some, shall we say, less than regulation breakfasts I was looking forward to Sunday and a return to normalcy and, for the most part, I was not disappointed. 

There was, of course, the obligatory oatmeal which today was especially thick and creamy. Then we were treated to the rarely seen runny-yolk fried egg accompanied by a couple of very nice sausage links. Unfortunately, it was at this point that breakfast perfection ended because, instead of the much beloved bagel with cream cheese and lox spread, we were forced to endure a bagel with only plain cream cheese. Oh well, I guess I shouldn't complain, after all (as my mother would always tell me) there are poor children in Europe who never have lox with their bagels, let alone cream cheese.

Ending the week on an up note

A salmon treat for Mother's Day

Once you scraped whatever that gloppy, soupy imitation crabby stuff was on the plate for dinner Sunday evening, you discovered the real treat, some nicely poached salmon. I don't know what the thought was behind covering the simple goodness of the most popular fish eaten in America with some texturaly uncomfortable crab flavored surimi but it didn't work. Some things are best left unadorned. Imitation crab, lobster or whatever is, like revenge, is best served cold.

Bon apetite


For what it’s worth

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that all adults, including those with disabilities, get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity a week, or 1.25 hours of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity a week, or an equivalent combination. CDC analyzed data from the 2009–2012 National Health Interview Survey to estimate the prevalence of, and association between, aerobic physical activity and chronic diseases among adults aged 18–64 years by disability status and type.

Editor’s note; Can the CDC also recommend a good Chiropractor when my mostly-weak back goes out from all that “moderately-intensive” aerobic activity?

The next blog escapes on Monday May 19th, a date which also marks a personal anniversary for me. Back in 2009, my life changed drastically and as anti-climactic as it may have been I think I am a better person for it.



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I have never been afraid to face anything, well almost anything (I will never get on a roller coaster again, ever), but for some reason, as of late, I have developed a fear of travel. Perhaps “fear” is too harsh a word; it’s more of an apprehension. While I have made several local trips since I have been here at the Center they have all been with a group of people with similar disabilities as mine. I have not made a trip, by myself, in almost five years. Now, that the good weather is upon us, the urge to get out and explore is tugging hard on my wanderlust gene.

One of things that I dreamed of was that in retirement, I would finally have the time to go anywhere I wanted without having to worry about work piling up on my desk or obligations I needed to fulfill. However, as fate would have it, even the best laid plans often get f-----d up and I was never able to do what I had hoped to accomplish even though that I now have all the time in the world. The problem is, although my body is physically ready to travel (with some limitations) my mind is not, and this frightens me no end. If I were one to self-diagnose, I would say that I am suffering from a mild form of agoraphobia. However, while I do not have a fear of leaving my room or the building, I do have some trepidation when it comes to getting to and traveling around that big scary city to the south (NYC), and I don’t know why. After all, I was born in NYC, and worked all my life in NYC and took the subway almost every day and never had any problems with going anywhere or with anybody. I have never been mugged, accosted, or injured in any way, despite having wandered through some rough “hoods.” So, why is it that now, suddenly, I have this fear of the city I know and love. Perhaps it’s because that now, for the first time in my life, I feel vulnerable. Am I being irrational?

Let’s remember that now, I am a much older man than I was five years ago and I now have a symbol of that old age in the form of a cane which makes me look much more senior than I am. Therefore I now feel that I have become a target for all of the marauders that prey upon old people. I know that I would not be able to defend myself if one of these degenerates decided that I looked like the perfect mark. However, the possibility that I might meet up with some undesirable element is not the only thing that I have a problem with, there is the accessibility factor. Will I be able to negotiate the various hazards to navigation that the city puts in the way of the less than able? There are things like stairs, high curbs, quickly changing walk/don’t walk signs, seatless subway trains and pushing crowds who regard people with canes, walkers or wheelchairs as nothing more than a nuisance. Hmm! maybe it’s the “invisibility factor” that scares me the most. It’s almost as if I have been expelled from some club which, at one time I was a member in good standing but now I am an outsider or even worse,(shudder) a tourist.

In the end I know what I have to do. I will put on the dirtiest, shabbiest, poor-old-man clothes that I can find. Maybe I won’t bathe for a week so I can achieve that nice ripe scent that signifies that I am one who regularly uses the subway as a hotel. At least I will feel as though I still belong. See you on the “A” train (or under it).



Survey results,

The People have spoken.

The resident’s council here at the Asylum recently took a survey of those who attended the April resident’s meeting. This was the first time, to my knowledge, that a survey of this kind has ever been taken where the actual residents of a facility were asked to rate the various sectors that directly affect their lives and that survey was conceived and administered by the residents themselves. The brief survey asked the respondents to rate such areas as housekeeping, maintenance, medication dispensing, case management (social workers) and food. The results of that survey appear below.


Although most of the respondents were female we do not think that this factors in to the general results of the survey or skews it to one side or the other. This information has been given to management for review. The designers of this survey tried to keep the questions down to a single page and simple. If we were not worried that people would get bored while filling out the survey form, we could have asked dozens of more questions. As I said, I believe that this is the first time a survey of this kind (by and for the residents without management interference or knowledge) has ever been done at any ALF anywhere. Surveys have been taken by professional surveyors and organizations for management purposes. Here are the results of such a survey.

<>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Related story<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<>

Survey Finds Vast Majority of Assisted Living Residents Satisfied

By Jeff Anderson on July 27, 2013

A new survey commissioned by Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), which was announced in a recent press release, found that assisted living residents are overwhelmingly satisfied with their lives at assisted living. ALFA says that the survey was a nationwide survey of more than 500 assisted living residents. Some of the findings include:

86% of residents feel that staff “care about them me a person”.

87% of residents feel staff are qualified and well trained.

94% are satisfied with their overall quality of life.

93% are satisfied with the level of independence afforded by the community.

90% are satisfied with the quality of care they receive.

93% are satisfied with the amount of attention they receive from staff.

Older Americans Month 2014

Each May, the nation celebrates Older Americans Month to recognize older Americans for their contributions and provide them with information to help them stay healthy and active. This year, we are focusing on injury prevention with the theme Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

Older adults are at a much higher risk of unintentional injury and even death than the rest of the population. Unintentional injuries to this population result in at least 6 million medically treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths every year. With a focus on safety during Older Americans Month, the Administration for Community Living plans to use this opportunity to raise awareness about this critical issue. By taking control of their safety, older Americans can live longer, healthier lives.

<<<<<<<<<<<<Related Story>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

We are not alone

More Senior Facts and Figures

(From the U.S. Census Bureau 2012)

92.0 million

Projected population of people 65 and older in 2060. People in this age group would comprise just over one in five U.S. residents at that time. Of this number, 18.2 million would be 85 or older.

2.4 million

Projected number of baby boomers in 2060. At that time, the youngest baby boomers would be 96 years old.


The year in which, for the first time, the population 65 and older would outnumber people younger than 18 in the U.S.

Income and Poverty

Median Income ...$33,848


The percent of people 65 and older (3.9 million) who were in poverty in 2012.

Median net worth for householders 65 and older in 2011, down from $203,015 (in 2011 dollars) in 2005.


Percent supplemental poverty rate for those 65 and older, equating to 6.4 million people. Excluding Social Security would leave the majority of this population (54.7 percent or 23.7 million) in poverty.

Serving Our Nation

9.6 million

Estimated number of people 65 and older who were veterans of the armed forces in 2012.



Labor force participation rate for men 65 and older in 2012, up from 17.6 percent in 1990 and significantly higher than the rate for women 65 and older at 13.4 percent (8.4 percent in 1990).

4.3 million

Number of full-time, year-round workers 65 and older with earnings in 2012, up from 1.3 million in 1992.


Proportion of people 65 and older in 2013 who had completed high school or higher education.


Percentage of the population 65 and older in 2013 who had earned a bachelor's degree or higher.

Marital Status and Living Arrangements


Percentage of people 65 and older who were married in 2013.


Percentage of people 65 and older in 2013 who were widowed.

Computer and Internet Use


The percentage of those 65 and older who reported living in homes with computers in 2011. Additionally, 45.5 percent accessed the Internet either from home or elsewhere.



Percentage for those 65 and older who reported casting a ballot in the 2012 presidential election.



Percentage of householders 65 and older who owned their homes as of fourth quarter 2013. 

On the Map


Percentage of Florida's population that was 65 and older in 2012, followed by Maine (17.0 percent) and West Virginia (16.8 percent). Alaska had the lowest percentage (8.5 percent), followed by Utah (9.5 percent) and Texas (10.9 percent).


Percentage of the population in Sumter, Fla., that was 65 and older in 2012 - which led all of the nation's counties. Other counties were Charlotte, Fla. (36.0 percent) and La Paz, Ariz. (34.9 percent). Chattahoochee, Ga. (3.6 percent) had the lowest percentage.



The number of people age 100 and older counted by the 2010 Census.


For every 100 centenarian women, the number of centenarian men in 2010.


In 2010, percentage of centenarian men who lived with others in a household, the most common living arrangement for this group. For their female counterparts, the most common living arrangement was residing in a nursing home (35.2 percent).


Number of centenarians per 10,000 people in North Dakota in 2010. North Dakota was the only state with more than three centenarians per 10,000 people.


If you are reading this blog, you use the internet and if you use the internet you use Google and if you use Google and are not getting all the benefits possible you will want to read this.

20 Tips for More Efficient Google Searches


Google normally searches for pages that contain all the words you type in the search box, but if you want pages that have one term or another (or both), use the OR operator -- or use the "|" symbol (pipe symbol) to save you a keystroke. dumb | little | man


If you want to search for an exact phrase, use quotes. "dumb little man" will only find that exact phrase.  dumb "little man" will find pages that contain the word dumb and the exact phrase "little man".

If you don't want a term or phrase, use the "-" symbol. -dumb little man will return pages that contain "little" and "man" but that don't contain "dumb".

Similar terms

Use the "~" symbol to return similar terms. ~dumb little man -dumb will get you pages that contain "funny little man" and "stupid little man" but not "dumb little man".


The "*" symbol is a wildcard. This is useful if you're trying to find the lyrics to a song, but can't remember the exact lyrics. can't * me love lyrics will return the Beatles song you're looking for. It's also useful for finding stuff only in certain domains, such as educational information: cats *.edu

Advanced search

If you can't remember any of these operators, you can always use Google's Advanced Search.


Use the "define:" operator to get a quick definition. define: dumb will give you a whole host of definitions from different sources, with links.


One of the handiest uses of Google, type in a quick calculation in the search box and get an answer. It's faster than calling up your computer's calculator in most cases. Use the +, -, *, / symbols and parentheses to do a simple equation. (3 4/5 + 2 1/8)-(1 1/12)*2


This little-known feature searches for a range of numbers. For example, best books 2002..2007 will return lists of best books for each of the years from 2002 to 2007 (note the two periods between the two numbers).


Use the "site:" operator to search only within a certain website. leo will search for the term "leo" only within this blog.


The "link:" operator will find pages that link to a specific URL. You can use this not only for a main URL but even to a specific page. Not all links to an URL are listed, however.

Vertical search

Instead of searching for a term across all pages on the web, search within a specialized field. Google has a number of specific searches, allowing you to search within blogs, news, books, and much more:

Blog Search

Book Search



Code Search






Patent Search

Product Search


Local Search

Search for anything in your city. Examples movies 94705, Italian food 02138


To see the weather for many U.S. and worldwide cities, type “weather” followed by the city and state, U.S. zip code, or city and country. weather San Francisco, CA

Unit converter

Use Google for a quick conversion, from yards to meters for example, or different currency: 12 meters in yards

Types of numbers

Google algorithms can recognize patterns in numbers you enter, so you can search for:

Telephone area codes

Vehicle ID number (US only)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) equipment numbers (US only)

UPC codes

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airplane registration number (US only)

Patent numbers (US only). Example Patent 5123123

Even stock quotes (using the stock symbol) or a weather forecast regarding the next five days

Package Tracking (UPS, Fedex, or USPS). Example: 1Z9999W99999999999

File types

If you just want to search for .PDF files, or Word documents, or Excel spreadsheets, for example, use the "filetype:" operator. cats filetype:pdf

Location of term

By default, Google searches for your term throughout a web page. But if you just want it to search certain locations, you can use operators such as "inurl:", "intitle:", "intext:", and "inanchor:". Those search for a term only within the URL, the title, the body text, and the anchor text (the text used to describe a link). inurl:funny

Related search

To search for web pages that have similar content to a given site, type “related:” followed by the website address into the Google search box.

answer to life the universe and everything

Search for that phrase, in lower case, and Google will give you the answer!


Public service announcement

Consumer Voice Urges Congress to Support the Elder Justice Initiative

From the Consumer Voice


The Consumer Voice is urging Congress to support the President’s FY 2015 budget that includes an Elder Justice Initiative of $25 million. Adult Protective Services, the only agency statutorily authorized to help the elderly and disabled, lacks reliable data and guidance on conducting abuse case investigations. A recent survey of Adult Protective Services programs around the country found that the majority of programs need resources for data collection, more collaboration, research, and technical assistance. 

The Elder Justice Initiative proposed in the President’s budget addresses these issues. The Initiative includes $13.8 million in funding for Adult Protective Services and will help create an APS National Data System and technical assistance as well as national demonstration grants to both enhance data systems and develop program standards and evaluation. It will also provide $11.2 million for research, including research on elder abuse screening, and will establish a better knowledge base about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This research is needed in order to establish credible benchmarks for elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation prevention as well as program development and evaluation.  The funding would be used to create an Adult Protective Services (APS) National Data System, develop APS program standards, and support evidence-based research regarding elder abuse. 

To stay informed about this issue and action needed to support the Elder Justice Initiative budget request, join the Consumer Voice Action Network....

Although I know that in the vast scheme of things, disposing of one’s trash in a haphazard manner is not that important, nevertheless it still bothers me. It bothers me because there is no reason other than complete disregard of one’s surroundings or outright stupidity that this banana loving simian type person cannot place his or her garbage in the proper receptacle. There are trash bins all over the facility and one in every resident’s room and no matter where one travels about the premises they will surely come across o

ne. In addition to banana peels, empty cigarette packs, drinking cups and paper napkins are found strewn about the premises. The maintenance people do their best to keep the place tidy but it is up to all of us to show some respect for the place we live.

One picture is worth...

Yes, I know it’s in bad taste but isn’t everything these days?



Seniors and Companion Animals Need One Another


Some assisted living communities are seeing the benefits that companion pets have on older adults. (Sunrise Senior Living)

One of the hardest parts of aging is giving up a pet. Older adults who have to relinquish a pet when they move into an assisted living home often suffer from depression. Conversely, studies show that being around companion animals can lower our blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce stress, and lift our moods.  

Some assisted living facilities throughout the United States are now allowing residents to bring their own animals with them when they move in. Sunrise Senior Living is one such facility. They also have a companion animal program that benefits the residents and saves the lives of dogs and cats at risk of euthanasia in shelters.

Every companion animal living in a Sunrise community is saved from a local shelter. Having companion animals and pets from home in their new surroundings makes the transition easier for seniors, and prevents them from being forced to part from their beloved pets.

Read more:

Now, watch this...

>>>>>>>>>>>>Related Story<<<<<<<<<<<<<

or link below

I may have been born in the 40’s, and spent my formative years in the 50’s but I find the 1960’s to be the most significant decade of our times. While much of the sixties was defined by politics, hairstyles, music and of course fashion, language too, let us know why you couldn’t trust anyone over thirty. While not all of these phrases are from the sixties, they are definitely distinct to their times.

1. Groovy. 

Meaning: Awesome.

Because without it, "Wild Thing" wouldn't exist. And it's just so fun to say. Groovy.\

2. Swell. (Not from the 60’s but it has a way of making a point)

Meaning: Excellent. Fabulous.

As in "Gee whiz, that Ellen sure is swell!" Adorable.\

3. Radical.

Meaning: Cool. (Not extreme.)

Because sometimes you just want to sound like an 80s surfer dude.

4. Scram. (Used mostly in old James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson movies)

Meaning: Get out of here. Immediately. 

The only thing we had to say to our younger brothers and sisters growing up.

5. Neat.

Meaning: Cool. (Not tidy.)

Feel free to put your own spin on it. Like "neato keeno" or "neato torpedo."

6. Funky.

Meaning: Cool or stylish. (Not smelly or stinky.)

Because you'll love the confused look on your kids' faces when you say it.

7. The bee's knees. (Used mostly by Jimmy Stewart. Well...well...uh...uh, she’s the bees knees)

Meaning: Used to tell someone they are simply the best.

It's disputed as to how this phrase came about, but many sources agree this was a flapper-era phrase coined in the early 20s. Similar nonsensical terms were "the flea's eyebrows" and "the canary's tusks." We can see why those didn't stick.

8. Cool beans. (I have no idea where this one comes from, may have been used in places west of the Hudson)

Meaning: Agreed.

Because sometimes cool just isn't enough.

9. Tubular.

Meaning: Excellent. Incredible. Terrific. (Not something shaped like a tube.)

The ultimate 80s slang term. Saying it will remind you of big California waves, surfboards and big hair.

10. Hot to trot. (I went to Roosevelt Raceway once and bet on a horse with that name. She lost)

Meaning: Eager. Ready to go.

This one's a bit naughty. "He's hot to trot, with a different date every night of the week."

11. Wicked. (Used by Bostonians before or after every other word they say. “That’s so f------g wicked or “Lest go get some wicked beans)

Meaning: Ultra cool. Impressive. (Not evil.)

The Brits might have us beat on this one. It's a commonly used phrase in the UK... and Harry Potter and his friends love to use it. Especially Ron.



We think these are Japanese cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, they are the first flowers to go, leaving just another green-leafed tree.




Moreover, I know who cooked it, and it wasn’t the regular chef it was that idiot “D,” with whom I have had problems with in the past. “D” is a man who should never be allowed to cook food. In fact, I don’t think he should even be allowed near a kitchen, anywhere. However, let us not dwell on what was but what is and what is, is not good. Where should I begin?

First, let me tell you how I know who cooked the pasta. There is only one person who insists on chopping the spaghetti (or in this case the linguini) despite my constant pleas to leave it in its natural, unfettered long stranded state and that person is “D.” Next comes the sauce, or should I say that tasteless swill of unseasoned meat which topped the illicitly chopped pasta. Thirdly, and this is my favorite, sitting next to a dish that needs nothing sitting next to it , was the all-time favorite of all ubiquitous side dishes, carrots, string beans and corn. Combine that with the fact that the linguini should have been served in a proper bowl and not on a plate, made for what I can only say was a third rate dinner prepared by a fourth rate cook.


I will talk about the lack of cheese in this latest offering from our illustrious kitchen in a moment but first I would like to talk about the lack of gastronomic knowledge that our residents have. 

It is hard to believe that, in this day and age, someone would not know what a Philly cheesesteak sandwich is. However, here at the center a number of residents needed to have the contents of said sandwich explained to them and it’s not just the cheese steak that was a culinary mystery.

On many occasions I or one of the servers has had to explain the food to some residents who seem to never have heard of some of the most common food items. Items such as crepes, quiche’s, sesame chicken, and burritos are just some of the dishes of which the diners were clueless. The narrowness of some resident’s repertory of food choices amazes me, and what’s even more surprising is their unwillingness to even try one of these “new” food items. Anything on the menu that has a “foreign sounding” name is quickly dismissed as either too spicy, or too exotic, which means that the menu has had to be “dumbed down” to accommodate the plebeian palates of the unwashed masses, “No thanks, I’ll just have the tuna fish” is the phrase heard the most around here, too bad. There is a wonderful world of food out there to be tasted but we’ll never get the chance. Now back to the cheesesteak.

I always love when the chef gets adventurous and goes out on a limb to prepare for us something out of the ordinary; unfortunately this cheesesteak was so out of the ordinary that it would have been stopped at the Pennsylvania border and never allowed anywhere near Philadelphia. The problem was the cheese or rather the lack of it. Essentially, there are only two main ingredients in a cheesesteak sandwich, steak, and cheese and while this sandwich had a more than adequate amount of the former, the lack of the latter was made more apparent by its absence. In addition, what there was of the cheese was the wrong cheese which should have been a melted Cheese Whiz type topping instead of what I think was mozzarella. Therefore, in the favor of honesty we should rename this version of this venerable Philadelphia icon and call it a “Yonkers-a-delphia steak with some sort of cheese on it” sandwich.



Here, at the Asylum, we have had every manner of what is known as “Pot Pie.” These “pies” have ranged from small, fast food snacks encased in aluminum foil cups devoid of any filling, to a what was nothing more than a bowl of cream of chicken soup with a crouton of puff pastry floating on top. However, it was not until last Thursday that finally, a pot pie worthy of it’s namesake made a welcome appearance on our luncheon table. One could see from the onset that this was not going to be your run of the mill pie. Even as the servers were wheeling out these turkey-filled pastries their authenticity could be immediately ascertained, for it was not in any way shape or form the usual potpie so often vilified in this blog. No indeed, because before us sat a pie not only covered with, but encased in a flakey pie crust right out of mama’s oven and in addition, the inside was just as authentic. 

The filling (turkey and not chicken this time) was plentiful and hot as pot pies should be. There was a fair compliment of veggies along with large chunks of tender turkey. The liquid part of the filling had been absorbed, as it should have, into the crust that lined the bottom of the ceramic serving container. In addition, the portion size was more than adequate to satisfy of even those with the most voracious appetites. This, finally, was a no-nonsense pie made the way it should be made. Congratulations.




Some products are destined for failure either because they are physically unappealing, too expensive, or just don’t work. The Post cereal product shown here may have worked too well causing a virtual Armageddon in your colon. The anticipation might have been a little too much for some people to take. You just never knew which “natural” ingredient would win, KA-BOOM! 


May is a busy month. There’s Mother’s Day, of course and Memorial Day and don’t forget that May is Older Americans Month. V.E. Day is on the 8th and Armed Forces Day on the 17th. May 22nd is Maritime Day (?). However, the best day for me is Monday May 12 because that’s when the next edition of the WCenterBlog is published. 




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Last week I wrote about how my personal privacy, something which I hold dear, was invaded by a know-nothing evening supervisor who took it upon herself to enter my room, while I was in bed, without knocking, at 11:30 at night no less. In addition, while I did not want to make this invasion of privacy editorial into a series I am afraid that some recently acquired knowledge regarding a new threat to that privacy makes it impossible for me not to do so. I feel is my duty to let as many people as possible know about how, once again, THEY have their noses in your business and mine and that now this snooping goes far beyond that of a simple knock on the door.

Take, for instance, that innocent little beige box which sits so benignly on our walls which is in actuality, a two-faced bug that has the capability of listening, without your knowledge, to every word, every conversation, and every utterance made by you or anybody else that happens to be in your room, it is essentially a “bug.” Moreover, even though it has not been clandestinely secreted behind some painting or under your table lamp, the fact that someone can listen to you while you are in the privacy of your room, without your permission, makes this supposed “safety device” as much of a surveillance mechanism as any placed in a KGB agent’s telephone by the CIA. I don’t like it, and neither should you, and this is not the only peeping that goes on here. I must warn you, be careful what you say (or do) in the med room, for it too is monitored, and in a very strange way. 

As you probably know, there is a closed circuit TV camera in the med room, but this is not just any TV camera. This particular camera is monitored by the med room supervisor, from her home. That’s right; she has the capability of knowing what’s going on in that room at any time even if she is not here. Now, while you may think that this is a good way of making sure that nothing “funny” goes on in that room you must remember that, once again, this surveillance is  being done without your knowledge or permission. Additionally, while this camera may be just there to insure our safety, it has the capability to go far beyond that of normal security. With every camera, and every intercom and every pair of eyes constantly spying on us, I have to ask, how secure is too secure. I know that having these devices removed from parts of this facility is impossible therefore; the only thing that I can ask for is that management makes full disclosure of exactly what kind of security is in place here and where these devices are located and who monitors them. Essentially, we need the Center to be more transparent when it comes to the security measures in effect here. And finally, the question of privacy boils down to this, are we (residents) to be regarded as 100% law biding citizens of the United States with all of the rights and freedoms associated with that citizenship or are we just wards of the state to be subjected to the same rules and restrictions afforded to prisoners.



Like it, or not. You are a Commodity.

Years ago it was shopping malls and then tech companies. It appears that now, the smart money has found another niche investment opportunity to move to, and that opportunity is you.

Actually, it is not you that they are investing in, that would be much too humanitarian. What they are investing in is where you will be living in a few years. As all of the baby boomers start reaching their retirement years, the ways to cash in on them are endless. From housing to healthcare, that old wrinkled body of yours will become very valuable, to somebody else.

Senior Housing Becoming Mainstream Asset Class for Investors

By: Alyssa Gerace

Senior housing is looking like the ‘flavor of the month’ for investment, its appeal increasing thanks to favorable demographic and performance trends that are expected to continue, investors say.

Private equity firm Kayne Anderson Real Estate Advisors has invested more than $700 million into senior housing assets in recent months and believes the sector is poised to transition from niche to mainstream as more investors gain interest.

“Senior housing will become far more of a core asset class going forward,” says Albert Rabil III, managing partner at KAREA. “Investors are well aware of the demographic trends. You’re starting to see cap rates compress within the space, generally speaking, and it’s getting more mainstream investor interest.”

KAREA is the real estate investment arm of Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors, L.P. In late September 2013, the private equity investoracquired a six-property portfolio of independent and assisted living communities in Florida for about $413 million.

As part of the deal, KAREA formed a joint venture partnership with Discovery Senior Living and bought out the former joint venture partner in the portfolio, GE Capital Healthcare Financial Services.

The investor then made a $290 million acquisition in February of the Conservatory Senior Living portfolio, consisting of five independent living communities in Texas. Again, Discovery Senior Living was the joint venture partner.

Read more....

And in a similar vein...

Senior Living Banks on Rebranding to Capture Boomers

By Alyssa Gerace


A spate of rebranding initiatives in the senior housing space have seen companies dropping words like “retirement” and “assisted living” from their names, with varying motivators.

Some have kept “senior living,” while changing other aspects of their brands. All are joined by the common thread of rebranding—and capturing the boomer consumer—although the exact reasons for their name changes differ by company.

Emphasis on living, not retiring 

A 14-year-old company, Willow Valley Retirement Management in Lancaster, Pa., announced in early April a name change to Willow Valley Living. The move follows its sister company’s September decision to drop “retirement” and become Willow Valley Communities.

Subtracting “retirement” from the names, according to company president John Swanson, moves the focus to “individuals rather than on their aging process or life stage.”

“If they’re smart, [companies will] continue to avoid euphemisms used to describe older populations and the products targeted to them,” says Jim Gilmartin, principal of boomer and senior marketing agency Coming of Age, of re-branding companies that operate in the senior space. “Companies need to think of target markets as who they are e.g.—people. Think of them as a customer or consumer.”

Gilmartin cites a California senior living nonprofit formerly known as The Southern California Presbyterian Homes as a prime example. Founded in 1955, the organization changed its name in April 2011, and hasn’t looked back.

The action verb in the name demonstrates the provider’s mission of helping residents discover new options for exploring their potential: “It’s a name and a philosophy that sums up everything they’ve been, everything they are today, and everything they aspire to be in the future,” Gilmartin says.

The fresh start

But there are others reasons to rebrand, and part of the appeal of renaming a company comes from the opportunity of a fresh start, he says: ”A name change creates a new identity that can help draw attention away from events of the past and focus it instead on their new message.”




Senior Housing Hits Its Stride with First Chief Economist

The senior housing and care industry has appointed its first chief economist, Beth Burnham Mace.

Mace joined the National Investment Center as its top economist and as director of capital markets outreach earlier this month. Prior to joining NIC, Mace was a director with AEW Capital Management in the firm’s research group.



The joke goes this way, “What kind of shoe is made from banana peels”? The answer is “slippers.” While I like a good joke as much as the next guy, It’s not funny when I have to remove someone else’s garbage as I did one day last week. I know that there is no wastebasket on or near the patio but, there is a trash bin next to the entrance to the facility that the person who left the banana peel on one of patio tables surely had to pass on his or her way back into the building. Anyway, it made for a good photo op.

4 ways to cut your long-term care costs

By Glenn Ruffenach


Searching for help as insurance costs rise.

It’s among the great unknowns in planning for later life. And good solutions are increasingly hard to find.

Chances are good that you will need some long-term care as you age – but for how long, and at what cost, is difficult to calculate. Making matters worse is the fact that fewer carriers are offering long-term care insurance, which helps pay for future nursing-home, assisted-living and home care.

Coverage – when you can find it – is getting more expensive. Consider: A 55-year-old single man buying a long-term care policy can expect to pay $1,985 a year for $164,250 in total benefits, including a 3% annual inflation-protection rider, according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a trade group. The annual cost is up 15% from two years ago.

Where to turn? In The Wall Street Journal this week, Kelly Greene takes a look at several strategies:

 Protect your assets. Find out whether your state participates (more than 30 do) in the Long-Term Care Partnership Program. This federally supported program generally allows people with long-term care coverage to protect personal assets worth the same amount as their policy.

So, if you use up a policy’s $100,000 in benefits, you can keep $100,000 in assets while qualifying to continue getting long-term care coverage through Medicaid. (Ordinarily, you’d have to exhaust most of your own assets before qualifying for Medicaid help.)

One catch: Such policies frequently require large inflation-protection riders, making the coverage pricey. That said, some states are starting to allow less expensive inflation-protection options.

Consider “hybrid” coverage. These are insurance policies with a rider that provides long-term care benefits. One newer version is a universal-life product with what’s called a “life-access” benefit.  Such coverage provides access to up to 2% of the policy’s death benefit each month for long-term care, with a premium guaranteed for the life of the policy.

Divorce planning. Traditionally, insurers have charged the same premiums for men and women. But that’s changing, with women (who typically live longer) now seeing higher prices in some cases.

This has important ramifications for couples who are considering divorce, because when couples buy together, women effectively get lower rates. Husbands and wives who are getting divorced but haven’t completed the process should be able to qualify for a marital discount that continues for the life of the policy, says Natalie Karp, a long-term care insurance specialist in Roslyn, N.Y.

Do some research. Online resources can help you determine how much coverage you might need. For example, Genworth, which sells long-term care insurance, also publishes an annual survey of different types of long-term care costs at The figures are broken down by state and metro area.


From “22 things that are so true” at

Taking exception

It is well known, at least among the people I eat with, that I will pour ketchup on everything, and when I say “pour,” I do mean pour. In fact I look upon such foods a French fries, hamburgers, eggs, or anything else as merely vehicles for the ketchup. As a kid I liked ketchup so much that I used to take home a pocketful of those little packets of ketchup from McDonald’s just so I could have a snack later on (bite and squirt). Therefore, when some whippersnapper web site thinks that we pourers are not people you need in your life, I take exception. The truth is we are perhaps the most considerate people of all. After all, we know how much ketchup we need and, by pouring instead of dipping, we can pass our ketchup on to the next person because WE ARE FINISHED WITH THE BOTTLE. Others (dippers) will constantly be asking you to “pass the ketchup” in order to keep replenishing their rapidly depleting puddle of the tomatoey sauce because they cannot estimate in advance how much ketchup will be needed for proper coverage of their fries. Therefore, the next time you are lucky enough to be eating with or seated next to one of us “pourers,” thank us, we are the last of the truly thoughtful people left on earth.



Add YOUR Voice to the Call for Elder Justice

Help Make Elder Justice a Priority- Sign and Share this Petition Today!

We are seeking YOUR help in making elder justice a priority in our country. It is estimated that 1 in 10 elders experience some form of abuse or neglect and for each case of elder abuse that is reported, 24 are not.

The President’s FY 2015 budget includes an Elder Justice Initiative of $25 million. The funding would be used to create an Adult Protective Services (APS) National Data System, develop APS program standards, and support evidence-based research regarding elder abuse.

The Elder Justice Coalition created a petition on to encourage the Obama Administration to make the Elder Justice Initiative budget request a priority when speaking with Congress. The petition needs 100,000 signatures by May 7, 2014 in order to receive an official response from the President.

Take action NOW and voice your support of the Elder Justice Initiative and the need to protect victims of elder abuse.

Why is this important?

These provisions were part of the Elder Justice Act that passed with the Affordable Care Act, but were never funded.

Federal funding has never been appropriated to establish a national infrastructure for Adult Protective Services- there is currently no national database or national standards. 

Elder abuse occurs in the community and long-term care facilities and victims of abuse have a 300% higher risk of death compared to individuals that have not been abused.

It is estimated that victims of financial exploitation lose $2.9 billion a year. Direct medical costs due to elder abuse are estimated to exceed $5 billion annually.

Take Action Now! Sign and Share

1.    SIGN the Petition: Click here to sign the petition today! 

2.    SHARE the Petition: Please take a moment to share this petition with your professional and personal networks by:

a. Forwarding this alert.

b. Posting on Facebook (sample post below):

It is estimated that 1 in 10 elders suffer from abuse or neglect. Protecting elders from abuse needs to be a priority for our country. Sign the petition to fund the Elder Justice Act and encourage the President to prioritize the $25 million Elder Justice Initiative in his budget. We need 100,000 signatures by May 7th, so take action now and sign and share! Sign here: 

c. Tweeting (sample tweet below):

Help stop elder abuse. Sign, share this petition making the $25 million Elder Justice Initiative a national priority

Learn more about the Elder Justice Coalition and this petition by visiting their website.

To stay informed about additional action needed to support this Elder Justice Initiative budget request, as well as other long-term care issues, join the 

Consumer Voice Action Network.

Thank you for your advocacy!



Did Medicare break up Captain & Tennille?

By Matthew Heimer

From: /

Those of us who grew up in the 1970s are bidding farewell to another a piece of our pop-culture pantheon: The Captain & Tennille, a pop duo that recorded six top-five singles (including, sigh, “Love Will Keep Us Together”) during their disco-era apex, are divorcing after 39 years of marriage.

Love kept them together; did Medigap pull them apart?

But the reason you’re reading about this on Encore– and not, say, on entertainment-gossip powerhouse TMZ, which confirmed the news this week after talking with the Captain himself – is that the split spotlights a medical-coverage gap that can leave many retirement-age couples  in financial trouble.

Daryl Dragon (The Captain) is 71; Toni Tennille is 73. Both have been working steadily in show biz since their heyday, but as the couple has written on their website, Dragon has been struggling with Parkinson’s-like symptoms since the mid-1990s. According to TMZ, divorce papers filed by Tennille in Arizona describe the marriage as “irretrievably broken,” but they also make “special mention about health-insurance coverage.”

It’s not unheard of for couples facing health crises to divorce for solely financial reasons, so that the sicker spouse can deplete his or her assets and qualify for health-coverage help from Medicaid. No further details of the couple’s insurance situation were available, but it’s certainly possible that health-care costs are straining the marriage.


So many of us seniors are living on fixed incomes or have limited resources, therefore we have a need to watch our pennies very carefully. After rent, food is the thing we spend the most money on, so much so that even the smallest increase in prices affects us deeply. If you have noticed that your grocery bills have risen considerably over the past few years, this list of the foods that have increased in costs the most will not surprise you.

The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices

By Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich


Read more: 


Gone are the days when corresponding meant writing.

O.K. kiddies gather round. Let me tell you of days gone by when people would have to do not one but five things in order to correspond with another human being. First there was that strange stuff that came in a bottle, it was called ink. Not printer ink, but an honest to goodness wet, drippy, colored water-based solution like what prehistoric human used on cave wall in France. After choosing the color of the ink (yes, just like in MS Word) the next thing you did was fill your fountain pen. That’s right; I said “fill your fountain pen.” 

For those who don’t know what a fountain pen is/was, let me explain. Fountain pens were much like ballpoint pens (I hope you know what that is) except it was necessary to refill the “fountain” in the pen with ink. This was accomplished by pumping a small metal tab on the side of the pen just like pumping water from a well (see Wikipedia for a discussion of what a well is). Next, you needed a piece of paper. Although we still use paper today, the paper people used for writing back in the old days was usually of a better quality. The paper, which is still available today, had what is known as rag content in it. This made for a better surface for the ink which had a tendency to “bleed” on cheaper, more porous paper. 

Alright, let’s recap. You got your pen (with nib* attached). You got your ink, probably “Quink” brand, and you have filled your pen with that ink. By now you probably have ink all over your fingers. Don’t worry; it will wear off in two or three weeks, if you got it on your clothes, too bad for you, but good news for Goodwill. Now, we can finally get on to the business of writing. Some of you may still be taking notes at work or school so you know the basic method of writing. However, what most of you do not know is how to write a letter. A letter is just like an email, only we don’t use abbreviations (i.e. LOL) or emoticons (happy face), different fonts, or CAPITALIZED BOLD LETTERS to make a point. Writers had to use actual words to get their thoughts across, words like “implore,” “absurd,” “incoherent,” to name just a few. If you have forgotten how to write a coherent, understandable letter, you are perfectly qualified to send emails, congratulations. Oh, by the way, there is no “spell check” when using pen and ink. There is something called a dic•tion•ar•y or dikSHəˌnerē. It’s like a book without a story, just words (crazy huh?). After you have written your letter, you will need something to mail it in; these are called “envelopes.” Envelopes are just what they sound like; they “envelop” the letter. Of course the envelope has to be addressed which means that you will most likely have to use an address book which is too involved to explain here. This is where the pen and ink come into play again. You will have to “write” the address on the envelope or the post office (again see Wikipedia for explanation of “post office) will not deliver** it. Lastly, and ghastly, you will have to lick the envelope. I know this sounds barbaric but unless you want your letter to fall out of the envelope, you will have to lick the glue on the flap and seal it. Again, don’t worry; the taste will go away in a couple of hours. The only other thing left to do is to put a stamp on the envelope. You may have heard of these. They are small paper squares with pictures on them. They are printed in different denominations like money (see “money”) and priced according to how fast you want your mail to reach its destination which may take two, three or even seven days or more to get there. Usually, by that time you have forgotten you sent it and are surprised when, a week later, you get an answer.

There you have it, the low-tech method of sending a letter. This is one of the few things that I am not sorry to see go. Can you imagine having to pay for telling somebody “OMG did u c that guy, so sekc.T2UL, LOL.”

*Nib: The actual point on the pen that did made it possible for the ink to go where you wanted it to go. Sometimes these “nibs” were made of gold.

**Deliver: An actual live person will take the letter from the post office and bring it to you in person. I know this sounds weird but it’s true. 



Chicken, to me, is just like tofu. It has no real taste of its own and relies on whatever is poured on top of it to give it flavor. Such was the case with Wednesday’s lunch offering of a chicken burger with cheese. The thin, dry slab of ground chicken was the perfect vehicle for the one thing I like most of all, ketchup. That, along with a decent helping of French fries (made from leftover skinless baked potatoes from the previous weekend) made for a very fast food burger-like experience. Should they offer this again I probably would not hesitate to eat it, I like ketchup just that much.



Being a foodie, and a foodie writer no less, is not always what it is cracked up to be. Often I have to endure the scowls and disdain of my fellow diners, especially when I appear to have received special treatment by the servers or kitchen staff as might have been the case one day last week.

The meal was billed as “Tilapia with shrimp” however, when my dinner arrived there was no shrimp. Other diners who ordered the same thing were also short changed in the shrimp department receiving only two or three of the tiny crustaceans, naturally I complained. The server took my plate and returned with, as you can see from the photo above, what can only be described as a butt load of shrimp which made me feel both delighted and ashamed. However, that shame did not last long as I ferociously gobbled down my enhanced portion of food. Does being a food critic have it’s advantages, I don’t know, but it sure doesn’t hurt.


The meals this week have been creepy, creepy good. I don’t know what prompted this reversal but I am happy about it. Not only has the quality, taste, and preparation of most of the food improved but the portion sizes have been amended upward, take these three meal items for example.

Followers of this blog are familiar with the problem I had with the amount of soup we were being served, a grievance that I brought up at last week’s food committee meeting. At that meeting I explained how the soup that was ladled into each bowl did not even amount to half a cup (less than 4 ounces); this week there has been a noticeable difference, the bowls are full-up. This portion increase was noticed in one of the other dishes we had, namely the meatball hero. 

We have never been served more than 3 meatballs in anything here, not in the popular meatballs and spaghetti dinners or the meatball hero sandwiches, this has all changed. You can imagine my surprise when, at Saturday’s lunch, I was greeted by 4 meatballs in my hero. Glory be, we have arrived in the promised land. Let’s hope that we will not be made to wander in the culinary desert again soon.

Sunday's dinner of tender, falling off the bone ribby goodness made for a perfect finishing touch to a week of good finishes. While ribs are always a favorite treat here, having meaty and tender ribs was an extra special surprise. In addition, for those who wanted more than the generous basic serving, there was no problem when the servers were asked for seconds, there was, it appears, enough to go around. After digging into my favorite dessert, chocolate ice cream, I regrettably pushed myself away from the table leaving me to dream of the next time that bar-b-que ribs will grace our dinner tables.





 MAY DAY!, MAY DAY!, The next blog publishes on Monday May 5. May is also Senior Citizens Month so start making your plans now.

Previous blogs may be found below

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While I do not want to make this place out to be some Orwellian hellhole I do believe that it is important for me to set things straight, to which i will start by saying, “KEEP YOUR F_ _ _ _ _ G noses out of my business” and by “business” I mean my room. Is it not bad enough that we are monitored 24 hours a day by a myriad of newly installed security cameras which watch our every coming and going? Is it not enough that our rooms and our personal belongings are periodically inspected with or without our knowledge? Is there nowhere (except maybe our toilets) where we can be assured of privacy? This issue should be on the minds of every resident in this facility. I knew when I came here that I would have to sacrifice a modicum of privacy however; I did not know how much of MY business was to become THEIR business. I realize that for safety reasons some activities which are normally considered no one’s business but their own are monitored here, and I am in total agreement with most of those reasons. After all, I don’t relish having to run out into the street because some idiot resident started a fire in his room, or has knives or guns in his dresser drawer, but at what point do the safety checks end and the invasion of privacy begin, the line is often blurred by the well- meaning but uptight, anal-retentive administration here. Let me tell you what prompted me to pursue this latest tirade.

Some months ago, a new policy was put into place here at the Center, a policy whereby (as per state regulations so they say) a “bed check” must be performed on every room, every night. I was furious at this new rule and told management that under no circumstances was I to be included in this Gestapo-like incursion and telling them that if they wanted to check other resident’s rooms at all hours of the night I didn’t care, just don’t bother me and, for a long while, this request was honored. That is until this past week.

Originally, when this “rule” went into effect, we were told that these so called “safety checks” would be as minimally invasive as possible. The understanding was that the staff member(s) assigned to do these checks must knock on the door before entering and that it would be done at a reasonable hour of the evening and, for a while, these instructions were adhered to. In fact my request for total privacy was honored and I was never disturbed again. Unfortunately, all of this good will and trust has apparently ended because, not once but twice this past week the evening supervisor and one of her little cohorts decided to take it upon themselves to break the agreement and, enter my room, while I was in bed, without so much as a tap on my door. I of course told her to get the hell out and went as far as getting out of bed, putting on my robe, and pursuing her down the hall at which point I told her, in no uncertain terms, that I was never to be bothered again and that I was very upset at what had just occurred. I hope that I said this with enough emotion and conviction that any ideas they may have of entering my room in the future without knocking would be erased from their minds forever.

Privacy holds a very high position on my list of wants, needs, and desires. Heavens knows I have little of it in the last 5 years and I think that now I am entitled to it. I don’t like to be treated like some seven-year-old at sleep away camp. I do not have to be “checked,” “looked in on,” or spied upon. Therefore, once again I must prevail upon the powers that be to respect my need for privacy and mind their own business and stay out of mine.

One of the downsides of living here at the Center is the lack of transportation options available to us. While many assisted living facilities have their own proprietary means of conveyance we have to rely on begging and “special arrangements” with our van service for our trips to malls, restaurants, or amusements. The only other option is Para Transit (the county supported handicapped door to door bus service) which is difficult to arrange, not free, and unreliable at best. Of course there is always cab service which is reliable but costs a fortune, so what’s left?

Many people who live in senior communities and assisted living facilities throughout the land have access to their own vans or busses that will take a single individual or a group anywhere at any time. This transportation is provided as a service deemed necessary for the well being (and sanity) of their residents. Unfortunately, due to the lack of resources (so they say) we here at the Poor Peoples Assisted Living Compound cannot have this service unless we are awarded some grant money which, supposedly has been applied for however, as per the information which I have gathered, the probability of us getting such a grant is next to zero.  Therefore there is only one way for us to obtain such a vehicle and that is to go to the private sector and ask for a donation, surely, there must be an automobile dealership or group of dealers or merchants that would be willing to donate a handicapped equipped SUV or van to us. This would serve a dual purpose.

First, any donation would most likely be tax deductible for the donator. Furthermore, there would be added value from all of the free publicity which would ensue from such a gift. In addition, because the vehicle would be emblazoned with advertising, every time the van goes on the road it would be like a mobile ad for whoever the sponsor was. This would be a win/win situation for everyone involved. Therefore, I implore management to pursue this opportunity by contacting dealerships or trade organizations or merchant groups and asking them to consider such a donation the next time they are looking for a good cause to support. This would mean so much for all of us here.


Last week a devoted old warhorse passed away without fanfare and without any recognition for it’s years of service and, although its demise did not come easy, we can finally say it has passed on to its just reward and as promised, something new has taken its place. While many of you might say that 15 years is way too soon for a water heater to die one has only to remember that this faithful servant worked night and day providing blessed hot water to the great-unwashed residents of the Franklin Center. It was only until recently that this ardent dispenser of both blistering and tepid liquid ceased to function as it should and, although it tried its best, towards the end it was only capable of providing an occasional spurt of hot water despite the valiant efforts of Michael Acevedo and his crew to resuscitate it. Finally, with much thought and consideration, it was decided that the Center would have to abide by the wishes of the residents and remove it from life support.

We now have a brand new water heater which, so far, has taken up where the old family retainer left off providing us with hot showers, sanitizing hand washes, and fogged-up mirrors. However, until the remains of “Old No. 1” are removed from its temporary resting place outside of the building it served so well, the recollection of this cylindrical purveyor of heated water will live in our memories forever.


Maybe this is why you are so screwed-up now.


We see it every day here, nasty old people with nasty dispositions and some really disgusting habits and idiosyncrasies and we wonder whether they were like that as kids or young adults or they are the way they are as they got older. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it’s easy to say that all of your problems started when you were young but maybe they are right, here are some things that perhaps you should have avoided which now, in your dotage, has made your life miserable.

What are some of the things you should have avoided doing in your first 30 years of life?

Getting married

Having children

Addictions that waste time, energy, and resources and keep you from focusing and working on your goals.

And more...



I recently read an article in an Iowa newspaper’s online edition entitled “Seniors in Assisted Living See Skype as Solution for Staying in Touch.” The article was about how a 90-year-old woman was afraid that she would never see her sister, who lived across the country, again prompting the assisted living facility’s “life enrichment director,” to come up with a novel idea. Using Skype’s technology whereby anyone with a computer can see anyone else live and as it happens, this 90-year-old can now see and converse with her sister. This gave me an idea. Why don’t we do the same thing here? Why can’t we set aside one day a week whereby any resident, with the aid of a qualified staff member or resident, could be set up in front of one of the computers in our computer center and for 15 minutes or so, connect with a friend or relative in a pre-arranged Skype video call. The person on the other end would also need to have Skype, which is available as a free download, and a computer or tablet equipped with a camera and microphone. All the resident would have to do is show up on time and sit. Additionally, any resident who already has and knows how to use Skype, could offer to let another resident use their tablet or computer to contact their loved ones in a more private setting. I think this is an idea worth considering.



Genworth 2014 Annual Cost of Care Survey: At Home Care Costs Increase in Massachusetts

Consumers Urged by Genworth CEO to Discuss and Create a Plan for One of the Nation’s Most Important and Pervasive Social Issues

from: PR Newswire

RICHMOND, Va., April 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 11th year, the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey shows the cost to receive long term care services at home in Massachusetts through a home health aide increased over the past five years. On a national level, the survey shows a dramatic increase in facility based care, such as an assisted living facility or nursing home, while the cost to receive care at home through homemaker services or a home health aide is rising at a moderate growth rate. This is good news for consumers as almost three quarters of people needing long term care prefer receiving it in their homes, according to Genworth’s extensive claims data (Long term care claims Experience Data for Genworth Life Insurance Company and affiliates – December 1974-June 30, 2013). 

Nationally, the 2014 median hourly cost for the services of a homemaker or home health aide hired from a home care agency is $19 and $19.75 respectively. Homemaker costs nationally have risen annually 1.2 percent on average over the past five years and home health aide services have risen, on average, 1.32 percent annually over the past five years.  In Massachusetts, the median hourly cost of homemaker services is $23 and the median hourly cost of home health aide services is $25. The median hourly cost for homemaker services in Massachusetts has remained flat annually over the past five years, and the hourly cost of home health aide services has increased 0.8 percent over the same period of time.

By comparison, the median annual cost for care in an assisted living facility is $42,000 nationally and $62,964 in Massachusetts. The national yearly cost of assisted living has increased 4.29 percent annually over the past five years and increased 3.8 percent over the same time period in Massachusetts. The comparable cost for a private nursing home room rose 4.19 percent annualized over the past five years to $87,600 nationally, and increased 3.8 percent over the past five years to $134,320 in Massachusetts.



And then there is always this.....

The most cost-effective senior care alternative

By Harold E. Butler, Bunker Hill


“An old friend recently found herself in a bad situation. Being a widow, living alone, her health failing, she was forced to make a drastic decision. Having worked her whole life and living modestly, she was able to build a small nest egg to live on. Now, due to declining health, she is forced to move into an assisted living home with a nurse on duty.

The cost, $5,000 a month for room and board. Almost double what she earned when healthy and working. Her nest egg was wiped out in short order, even with the aid of Medicare.

With our aging population, this situation is experienced by thousands of others.

The "crime reports" in The Journal reports crooks, thieves and murderers getting 15 to 20 years of free room and board, with free medical care at the tax payer's expense.

The answer seems simple, senior citizens. Have one of your children buy you a hoodie sweat shirt, sun glasses and a plastic water gun at the Dollar Store and dress mom in these. Pin a "This is a stickup" note to the shirt, drop her off at a 7-Eleven store. Once she is inside, call 911 and report an armed robbery in progress.

With a little luck, she will get 10 to 20 years for armed robbery, with free medical care, room and board to boot. She will agree to the plan when she's told Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right can be seen every day. Don't forget, it is all free now.”


Nostalgia Dept.


December 17, 1935

The Douglas Aircraft Company rolled out,

and flew the Legendary DC-3!

The DC-3 in this single event, with all its variants,

has rippled through the Aviation World for over 60 years.

Competing designers have proclaimed the demise of this valiant workhorse,

with each new aluminum show plane, but to no avail.

The DC-3/C-47/R4D/Dakota and its many other variants,

has touched the lives of people

from every country in the World, and from Pole to Pole.

The DC-3 was designed to

do the work of the world then -- and the DC-3 is still at it!

These over 1475 web pages, which are the labor of love,

dedicated to the DC-3/C-47/R4D/Dakota,and all its variants,

and all those who admire this venerable craft.


Did you know?...At one time stewardesses were required to have nursing degrees. Now, they would charge you $20 for a band-aide, if they even have one.




7 Worrisome Facts About Caffeine

By Melaina Juntti for Men's Journal

Yes, I know you are probably sick and tired of hearing about another pro or con story regarding the consumption of caffeine. The fact is, nobody really knows for sure if it’s good for you or not. The one thing we do know is that caffeine, in moderation, probably will do you no harm. However, in case you still are not convinced that overdoing caffeine may not be good for you, here are some more reasons why you might want to cut back a bit.

“What's the largest, least regulated and most misunderstood drug trade in America? That would be caffeine. In his brand new book Caffeinated, investigative reporter Murray Carpenter takes a deep dive into this white-powder stimulant. The author says we underestimate nearly everything about caffeine: its prevalence in our daily lives, its health benefits, its negative impacts on our bodies and patterns. Carpenter shares a peek into his book's most intriguing -- and sometimes surprising -- revelations.”

Caffeine makes us act like lab rats.

"With caffeine -- coffee and tea especially -- people develop very consistent patterns," says Carpenter. "They hit it hard early in the day and then fade off in afternoon. It's predictable self-administration, kind of like a lab rat pushing a lever that'll give them the next expected hit of a drug." These patterns become so ingrained that many of us don't even realize how long it's been since we've gone without. "People go months, years, even decades without skipping caffeine a single day, which says a lot about how powerful it is," he says.

Coffee packs way more caffeine than soda.

"Most caffeinated sodas have 35 to 40 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounces," says Carpenter. "Even if you drink five cans a day, that's a really moderate caffeine intake compared to what most coffee drinkers consume. The caffeine in coffee is more concentrated, so even a five-ounce cup of weak coffee has almost twice as much as a can of soda. Strong coffee could have three times the caffeine. A 16-ounce Grande coffee from Starbucks has almost as much as nine cans of soda." Energy drinks, of course, are a different store.

One cup of strong coffee a day is enough to get you hooked.

"From research, we know that most people who regularly consume 100 milligrams of caffeine a day will experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop abruptly," says Carpenter. That's roughly three cans of soda or, depending on how strong it is, one or two cups of coffee. But even if you become dependent on caffeine, consuming a few hundred milligrams a day probably isn't too troublesome. "For most adults, 300 to 400 milligrams a day is considered moderate, although that varies dramatically depending on your size, genetic predisposition and many other factors," Carpenter says. "Some people, such as smokers, process caffeine more quickly, so they need more to get the same effect."

Overdoing caffeine can cause problems.

"One of the most common problems of getting too much caffeine is insomnia or sleeplessness," Carpenter says. "But caffeine's effect on sleep really differs from person to person. Some can drink coffee right up until they go to bed and then sleep like babies. For others, if they have caffeine after dinner, they'll lie in bed with their heart thumping and mind wandering." Caffeine also promotes anxiety, Carpenter says, which is already a huge problem for so many Americans. Caffeine can make it much worse. Another big issue: "Caffeine leads to a vicious circle of supplementation," he says. "You get all jacked up on caffeine to get through the day and then have to put the brakes on hard. People often need beer or sleeping pills to wind down. Then they wake up feeling drowsier than normal, so they have to go right back to caffeine to fire up."

It's easy to build tolerance for caffeine.

Negative effects aside, there's a reason we use caffeine -- and depend on it. "Caffeine is really powerful and effective for increasing mental acuity and focus," Carpenter says. Research shows it boosts athletic performance as well. However, these positive benefits usually wane the longer we regularly use caffeine. "Most people develop tolerance, so the coffee you drink today will not have the same effect as the first cup you ever had," says Carpenter. But caffeine tolerance differs from that of other drugs in that you can recalibrate it. For example, an alcoholic might quit drinking for years, but if he picks it up again, he'll usually be right back in the problem zone. Not necessarily true for caffeine. "With caffeine, you can reset your baseline pretty quickly if you quit for even a week," Carpenter says. "You'll go through withdrawals, but then when you start on it again, you will notice a bigger boost than you got before you quit."

Natural caffeine is no better than synthetic.

"It's really the same chemical, whether it's carved away from an ingredient in which caffeine naturally exists, such as guarana or kola nuts, or it's cobbled together in a laboratory," Carpenter says. "Synthetic caffeine is cheaper and much more widely used. But if both are pure, natural-sourced and chemical caffeine should have same effects. There's nothing wrong with natural caffeine, but there's no additional health benefit to it. It's more about if you don't want your caffeine coming out of pharmaceutical plant in China."

Caffeine isn't required to be labeled.

"The Food and Drug Administration doesn't require beverage companies to label caffeine content," Carpenter says. "Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper do it voluntarily, although it's in tiny print at the end of the ingredients list. You almost need reading glasses to see it." That's at least one good thing soda has going for it, since multiple studies have linked the sugary swill to obesity and diabetes, while diet soda is thought to mess with metabolism. "One great thing about caffeinated soft drinks is you can quantify your caffeine intake if it's listed on the can," Carpenter says. But labeling laws could soon change, prompted by the rapid rise of high-caffeine energy drinks. "FDA is currently wrestling with how to regulate caffeine in energy drinks," Carpenter says. "They're figuring out how to label caffeine count so you can look at a product quickly and see what's in there. Labeling coffee or tea would be a much bigger challenge. However, Lipton lists how much caffeine each bag contains, and it's pretty close to accurate."




For those people who think that Social Security recipients are a burden on society and are depleting the S.S. resources faster than it can be replaced and that we are putting an unnecessary burden on our children, here is something for them to ponder....

Rapid Growth in the Number of Seniors Who Pay Tax on Social Security Benefits - New Poll by The Senior Citizens League




Alexandria, VA (PRWEB) April 15, 2014

“A new poll released today by The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) suggests rapid growth in the number of seniors who pay taxes on their Social Security benefits. The TSCL poll indicates that as many as two-thirds (66%) paid taxes on their Social Security benefits last year. “This number represents considerable growth over the past decade,” says TSCL Chairman, Ed Cates. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 39%, or 16.9 million Social Security beneficiaries, were affected by the taxation of Social Security benefits in 2005.

The growth is due to several factors. “Not only are there more Social Security beneficiaries who are working longer, but unlike income brackets, the income thresholds subjecting Social Security benefits to taxation are fixed,” Cates say. “That means a growing number of middle and even lower-income seniors are paying the tax on benefits,” he points out.”



I love my laptop. I love it more than my new-fangled tablet with its “virtual keyboard” however; the darn thing does get hot sometimes. In fact, it gets so hot that I can’t use it on my lap or even on a “meltable” surface. I am sure many of you have wondered what the temperature of your laptop is and how hot is too hot. Here is an article about how you can tell if your LP is too hot for its own good. 

How can I test my laptop's temperature and what temperature should it be at?

By Melanie Pinola from

“The biggest clue that your laptop is not running at an ideal temperature is if you're experiencing any symptoms of overheating. But most laptops naturally run hot, so a system utility that can access your laptop's internal temperature sensors can help you decide if you need to take steps to cool your laptop down further."

You can look up temperature specifications for your specific laptop's Intel or AMD processor, but most CPUs' maximum temperatures are around 100° Celsius (212° Fahrenheit). Before you get to that upper limit, though, your laptop will likely have all sorts of performance problems and may be shutting down randomly on its own. Optimal operating temperature is 50° Celsius (122° Fahrenheit) or below, according to the SpeedFan temperature monitoring program, though newer processors may go comfortably higher to around 70° Celsius (158° Fahrenheit).”

Sources: Intel, AMD,



Who actually invented spaghetti is still up in the air. The popular belief being it was Marco Polo who brought spaghetti to the west after his trip to China. If that is true how come it took so long before Europeans were eating egg rolls, chow mein, and moo goo gei pan, but I digress? Although we may never know whether it was the Chinese, the Arabs or the Romans who first boiled extruded dough the one thing we do know is that it was never chopped into bite-sized pieces before it was served. So why do they insist on chopping spaghetti here? The answer may lie in the way we residents are viewed by the staff.

For some reason, people who are charged with taking care of a population of senior citizens all believe that we should be regarded as different from “normal” people. The thought is that we (old folks) need to have our food mashed, unseasoned and made smaller so that we, in our feebleness, can better swallow the swill set before us, in other words, we are to be treated as three-year-olds, fortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth. It is a known fact that we decrepit wretches, teetering on the brink of eminent death, prefer food that is prepared the same way that real people like their food and that includes un-chopped spaghetti. After so much has already been taken from us elderly (our money, our independence and, in my case, our looks) why take from us the pleasure of twirling those delicious long strands of spaghetti on our forks. Please, I beg of you, DON’T CHOP OUR SPAGHETTI.

Poorly cooked, poorly seasoned and poorly portioned, this meal was an abomination.

This is what bothers me most about the abysmal dinner we had the other evening. What they told us was salmon, turned out to be a piece of fish so small as to cause me to think it was some other diner’s leftovers. In addition, what there was of it, was cooked to within an inch of its miserable life and barely edible. In addition, the lemon seasoning was laid on so thick that it overpowered any taste that might have remained after being cooked into the horrid mess it was. However, what really bothered me  was that nobody but me sent it back or cared enough to complain, this in spite of the comments and remarks I received from my fellow diners who were as aggrieved with Wednesday night’s offering as I was. It never fails to amaze me that the very people, who are the most vociferous in their disdain for the food and protest loudest at resident’s meetings, won’t say a thing to the kitchen when they are served crap like we were served that evening. In fact, the only thing that bothers me more than the complacency of the residents here is that the chef has no shame in letting a meal like that escape from his kitchen.


Here is a trick taught to me, not by some world-renowned magician or famed sleight of hand artist but by my brother who knew more restaurant maitre’ D’s than any other person I ever knew. What he told me has served me well for all the years that I have been eating out. “If whatever you ordered is not to your liking or not cooked properly or not what was advertised, send it back and order something else.” He also told me to be courteous, don’t yell or scream at the server or berate the chef, or your next sandwich may have an extra “ingredient” in it. This is something that I have unfortunately had to do on too many occasions here at “Chez Michel.”   If I said it once I must have said it a million times. We deserve to be served food made with at least the same standard of quality, portion size, and preparation as would be served in any diner on any highway in America. Why this simple standard cannot be followed I do not know. It can’t just be a matter of cost because I can get a very decently prepared meal in most diners for under $10, which is the approximately the same cost per person per meal amount that is set here. However, upon further consideration, I do know why. It is because of the very same reason I stated before. The management knows that this population is a bunch of frightened sheep that are afraid to speak up, and what a shame that is. If the residents here were just a little more assertive, we could have so much more than what passes for food here on a daily basis.

Here, at the “Center’s” dining room, or as we like to call it “The Bizarro World Diner”, measurements do not always conform to standards that are internationally acceptable. Take for instance the unit of measure that is used by cooks the world over, the “cup”. The standard cup size, used in these United States is equal to 8 ounces of liquid. The standard coffee cup used here at the Center is a standard 8 oz. mug. Therefore, by using a coffee cup as a guide, one would assume that we were being served, at the very least, one full cup of soup (or close to it). However, after pouring the contents of the bowl of soup I was served for lunch last Saturday afternoon from the bowl to an empty coffee cup, it was clearly visible that the soup barely filled the cup halfway. Yes my friends, this place is so f_ _ _ _ _ _g cheap that they can’t even afford to serve us a full cup of soup. 

We have come to believe that this facility spends on average, $10 per meal per guest. Therefore, unless the meatball sandwich that accompanied the soup costs $9.50, the meal came nowhere close to that $10 amount. While I understand that recently the facility spent money on a new hot water heater and a new trash bin. Has the purchase of theses items depleted the budget so much that we can't get a full cup of chicken soup?


Sunday lunch. Fish cake. served cold, tasted like a fish flavored Dr. Scholls innersole. Broccoli, also cold with yellow rice and peas, tasteless. Server laughed when she brought it to me. Had to use mayo on fish sticks because there was no tartar sauce.  The only  good thing about this meal was thankfully, there wasn't much of it.   Mayonnaise Chinese calligraphy on fish cake, unintentional.


Next week's BLOG will find its way on to your internet access device on the Monday April, 28 the last Monday this month and, while it doesn't feel like spring in some parts of the country, those of us living here in the frozen Northeast can certainly feel the change, just like this blog changes every Monday morning.





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I believe that 90% of the problems associated with old age can be dismissed by ignoring them or, if not ignoring them, at least not giving in to them. Although I understand that there are genuine physical limitations that are a result of body parts wearing out and devastating illnesses beyond our control, this does not mean that we can’t overcome them, this I know from personal experience. After spending 3 months in a hospital recovering from a life threatening illness and spending most of that time on my back and in pain, I was moved to a series of nursing homes to complete my recovery, or so I thought. 

What I discovered most about nursing homes is that in their effort to aid old folks they, in actuality, hinder them from being all that they can be. As for my “imprisonment” in a nursing home I found that I was stronger than I thought, not physically maybe but, certainly mentally. My sole purpose in life during that time was to regain most, if not all, of my former mobility. Moreover, if it took months or even years to accomplish, it was alright with me. I made up my mind that I was not going to become “one of them,” and by one of them, I mean the other people I saw in those nursing homes.

While I was a patient in a very well managed nursing and rehab facility, the most depressing thing I witnessed was the utter lack of drive and ambition exhibited by many of my co-inhabitants. Many of the patients, both young and old, had given in to their disabilities and were perfectly happy to submit to the life that had been dealt to them and I have to admit that, at the beginning, I was among that group. You see, nursing facilities are not only part of the solution but part of problem as well. In an effort to help you ease your pain and discomfort, they cater to your disability by doing things for you that you should be doing for yourself. 

From the day I entered my first nursing home (three in all) to the time I left for the assisted living facility I now live in, I was dressed by an aide, helped in and out of bed by an aide, and sometimes wheeled from one location to another by an aide. Moreover, at least at the beginning, I wallowed in the “luxury” of my self-pity and all the attention. Believe me; I could have existed that way for many years because it was just so easy and, if were not for an astute social worker, I might still be there. Somehow the social worker assigned to my case saw something that I didn’t. She took my unwillingness to participate in many of the social activities the home had for its patients not as a sign of depression but a sign that it was time for me to leave. Thus began my journey into the world of the “comeback.”

After three weeks of intensive physical therapy at the home, therapy of which I begrudgingly took part in, I got up from my wheelchair and began to use a walker and then a Rollator. I walked outside of the facility for the first time in three years and enjoyed it. It was then that I knew I really did have to get out of that place.

To say that my first couple of weeks here at the ALF were difficult would be putting it mildly, they were the most painful I had ever spent anywhere. The very act of getting out of bed without the helping hands of an aide caused me more pain than I could stand, so much so that, I was taken to a hospital for some shots and a prescription for painkillers, I began swallowing Percocet pills like M&M’s. Even with the pills, taking a shower was an adventure unto itself. There were body parts that had to remain unwashed because I was not flexible enough to reach them. Just putting on my pants, socks, and shoes took me a half hour and walking to the dining room left me exhausted me to the point that I could not move for the rest of the day. I wondered if I had done the right thing by leaving the friendly confines of the nursing home. Weeks went by as I watched my feet and ankles swell up to the point where I could not tie my shoes, my heretofore-unused legs were rebelling. I could have given up at that point and been released from the pain by having things done for me, but I didn’t. I thought back to a time before I got sick and remembered that I was a person who would think nothing of getting up and walking seven or eight miles a day. I realized that I was still that person and made up my mind to at least try to return to my former self.

After a year of forcing myself to do things without taking advantage of the assistance which very easily would have been provided for me, I threw away the walker and the Rollator in favor of a cane which I only sometimes use now. The increased mobility has relieved me of the aches and pains and I no longer take any pain meds unlike the majority (I am sorry to say) of many of my fellow residents who have become Percoset and Oxycodone junkies. I would venture a guess that there is probably not one person here that could pass a drug test, which brings us to the question, “Are the facilities that are put in place to aid seniors with their disabilities are in actuality enablers of the very conditions which make them the way they are”? While I am not advocating the dissolution of facilities that the elderly need to improve their quality of life, I am advocating that a new approach to that care be given consideration. There has to be a place where the disabled can be watched and kept safe while at the same time allowing them to do for themselves, as difficult as that may be at times. I know that there are people here that could be out of their wheelchairs and walkers right now but have not been given the incentive to do so. Sometimes, in an effort to be compassionate we become more of a hindrance to the elderly than a help.



Every year, the American Automobile Association (AAA) sends me a letter asking me to renew my membership even though I no longer have a car or even drive one for that matter. The last time I drove a car was on May 18th of 2009, a day before I was taken to the hospital for what would be a life altering experience. Upon leaving the hospital after a 3-month stay and spending the next three years in a nursing home I was forced to give up my home, most of my personal belongings and, worst of all, my Honda Civic. 

To be truthful at first, giving up my car was not that big of a deal. After all I was in no condition to go anywhere let alone drive a car, but that was a couple of years ago. Now, as we approach spring and summer that old urge to get into an automobile and hit the road for parts unknown is tugging very strongly at my psyche, like an itch I can’t scratch and that’s too bad. I really loved driving. I like the freedom, the convenience and yes, when conditions were right, the speed. I remember taking my car to Floyd Bennet Field (an abandoned air base in Brooklyn) and clandestinely driving my little Honda as fast as it would go on one of the runways. I imagined myself as a flyer during WW2, in a Grumman Hellcat barreling down the same runway on some daring mission. I knew that if my Honda had wings it surely would be capable of flight*. Therefore, I began to ask myself what it would take me to get back behind the wheel, unfortunately, the answer was not encouraging.

First, I would have to buy a car although; having no money would present a problem. Even if I could get a car, I would have to insure it. New York State has one of the highest auto insurance rates in the nation with premiums running in the neighborhood of $2000 per year. Next, there is the gasoline. 

I first started driving at the age of 16 when gas prices were about 35 cents a gallon and even with the poor mileage my Oldsmobile 88 got, a dollar’s worth of gas kept me going all day. Now, living on a fixed income, I would not be able to afford to fill up the car. In addition, there is me and my ability to operate an automobile safely, those five years away from a car has taken its toll. I can no longer receive sounds out of my left ear so I could not hear another car coming up alongside mine or the sound of an ambulance approaching from my left, and then there is my eyesight. A retinal infection resulted in the vision in my left eye to be out of focus and, although I could pass a DMV eye exam, I don’t trust myself any more. Finally, I no longer have a valid driving license, mine expired in 2011 so I might have to be re-tested, and I am not sure I could pass that test. All of these things are a deterrent to me ever getting back in a car again but it doesn’t matter. I still have that urge and maybe, after I win the lottery or somebody gives me a car, I will be out there on the road with the rest of you. So when you see a half blind, half deaf slightly off balance bald guy driving at excessive speed down a road near you, it will probably be me.

* Although the speedometer on the Honda goes to 120 mph, I could not get the car to go faster than 101, scaring the hell out of me. BTW, the takeoff speed of a Grumman Hellcat is about 86 mph. The Hellcat weighed about 12,000 lbs. The Honda about 2300 lbs. which means that yes, it would take off if it had wings. 


Winston Churchill, Lyndon Johnson, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Harry Truman all were proponents of taking naps during the day, and so am I. Unfortunately, the art or science of napping has taken a back seat to such things as tweeting, surfing (the net) talking incessantly on the phone and, work. The truth is, we need to make time for napping.

My former place of employment encouraged us employees to offer suggestions on how to improve the productivity of the office and even had a nice oak suggestion box hanging outside H.R. to put those suggestions in. If they ever read any of them I do not know but I can tell you this, they never put my request for an office-wide naptime into effect. I wonder why. After all, I only suggested that at about 3 pm every afternoon, all phone calls should go to voicemail, computers put on “sleep,” the lights dimmed, and everyone should put their heads on their desks for 10 minutes. At the end of the 10 minutes, a soft chime would sound signaling everybody to return to work. I was also going to suggest that milk and cookies be served, but I didn’t want to appear frivolous. As I said, nothing was ever done about it and I think I know why. There is an aversion here in the U.S.A. to anything that suggests that we are not at work at all times and, while I understand the “nobility” that work represents, I don’t understand why we are so bent on doing so much of it. This becomes evident when we see statistics which show that most American workers do not take all of the vacation time coming to them, which is why I don’t understand why napping seems so obscure. You would think a little nap would be a godsend. After all, we did it when we were young and, I can tell you now from personal experience, that we do a lot of it now that we are older. In fact, I look forward to my afternoon nap which, I am glad to say, can take up to three hours.

Maybe it’s just the fear of oversleeping or snoring which makes people afraid to nap, but it shouldn’t be, the body knows when it’s time to get up and after a few days of regulated napping, you will be awakening almost at 10 minutes on the nose. So, what’s the best way to nap?

As I said, I asked for a 10-minute nap, not 5 minutes or fifteen minutes. This is because studies have shown that 10 minutes is the perfect nap interval. People who took only a ten-minute nap did better on memory tests than their long-napping fellow worker. Whether you decide to power nap at your desk, in a conference room, in a parked car, or lying on a couch, the key is to sit slightly upright. Then you can avoid deep sleep and spring back into action. For those of us who are fortunate enough not to have to worry about work and can afford a longer nap, here are some suggestions on how to do it better.

Ultimate Napping: A How-To Guide

6 steps to the best nap ever.

Published on June 5, 2010 by Linda Wasmer Andrews in Minding the Body

A catnap might sound like the ultimate indulgence. Yet it’s a natural part of daily life for people in many cultures, not to mention more than 85% of other mammals. If you’re chronically overworked and under-rested, however, you’ll probably want to make every minute of your nap count. And if you’re a science junkie, you’ll undoubtedly want to ensure that your napping technique has the scientific stamp of approval. So just for you, here’s a snore-by-snore guide to the most efficient, most effective naptime ever.

Step 1. Give yourself permission.

If you've been perfecting your napping form for years, you can skip this step. But if you haven’t napped on a regular basis since preschool, you might have some lingering doubts about whether napping is really a productive use of your grown-up time. Rest assured: It is. In healthy, non-elderly adults, research has shown that naps can:

Step 2. Choose your time.

Nap too early, and your body may not be ready to sleep yet. Nap too late, and you may find it harder to fall asleep at your usual bedtime. For most people, an early afternoon naptime—starting somewhere between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.—is optimal. Napping at this time can help counter the classic post-lunch dip in energy and alertness.

Step 3. Pick your place.

If you can nap lying down on a couch or bed, that’s ideal. Not surprisingly, in a recent study from China, napping in bed was more refreshing than napping in a seat. But if you’re stuck at your desk or on a bus, it’s not a total loss. Both groups of nappers in the study experienced less sleepiness, decreased fatigue and an improved mood, compared to those who didn’t nap at all.

Step 4. Make yourself comfy.

Say sí to siesta with a restful environment. Make it as quiet and dark as possible by shutting the door, turning off the phone, switching off the lights and closing the blinds. The room temperature should be comfortable but not too toasty, which might make you oversleep.

Step 5. Gather your gear.

When napping away from home, a small pillow and light blanket may help you get cozy. If you can’t make the room dark and quiet, use a sleep mask and earplugs instead. Or put on earphones and tune into relaxing sounds, such as the Pzizz soundtrack for napping, which improved people’s sense of post-nap well-being in a study from New Zealand. If you need to be wide awake immediately after napping, drink a cup of coffee or can of caffeinated soda right before dozing off. The caffeine will kick in 20 to 30 minutes later—just in time to wake up.

Step 6. Grab 20 winks (not 40).

Think short. For healthy, young adults, research indicates that the ideal nap length is only 10 to 20 minutes. Such short naps boost alertness and performance without leaving you groggy afterward or interfering with your sleep that night. In contrast, naps lasting longer than a half-hour can cause sleep inertia—a sense of grogginess and disorientation that may linger for several minutes after awakening from a deep sleep. To ensure that you don’t snooze too long, set an alarm.

P.S. The Zzz-less Nap

Don’t worry if you can’t always fall asleep at naptime. As long as you don’t stress out over it, the rest and relaxation will still do you good. In fact, a study by British researchers found that just lying down with the intention of napping was enough to cause a drop in blood pressure.

Linda Wasmer Andrews is a health writer with a master’s degree in psychology. She's author of Stress Control for Peace of Mind (Main Street, 2005) and the Encyclopedia of Depression (Greenwood, 2010).

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There is an app for everything from playing games with friends to starting dinner while you are driving home from work, but here are 15 apps that may actually improve your health and wellbeing. I will list only a few here, but you can go to the URL above to see them all.

Some of these are only for smart phones and some are for both smart phones and Android devices.

SleepCycle: Good health begins with a good night's sleep -- and SleepCycle analyzes sleep patterns to help awaken you at the optimal time. Using your iPhone's accelerometer, the app tracks your sleep pattern each night and maps it over time to show how factors such as alcohol or exercise can affect your rest.

VisionTest 2: Before heading to an optometrist, check your eyesight using a smartphone or tablet app such as Vision Test 2. This app tests for visual acuity, astigmatism, duochrome, color, and far field vision, and it includes an eye doctor locator, information about eye health, and quizzes. The best part: no eye drops!

ITriage: Feeling under the weather? iTriage helps you decide whether you need a neurologist, a general practitioner, or just an ice pack. Free for Apple and Android devices, the app lets you check your symptoms and your health records, find a doctor or hospital, research diseases, and, if it's an emergency, call 911.

Azumio'sInstant Heart Rate: Simply place your finger over your smartphone's camera, and Azumio'sInstant Heart Rate takes your pulse and displays your heart rate on the screen. You can track your rate at rest, while exercising, or over time and share it via social media, and registered users can export data for long-term storage or analysis.

HealthTap, a free iOS and Android app, offers answers from thousands of doctors in the US to users' health questions. About 50,000 physicians answer users' questions (although a disclaimer notes HealthTap "does not give medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment"). An algorithm determines which doctor is most expert and most likely to respond to each question. Physicians receive awards such as reputation scores, user comments, and peer accolades



As you know, I complain a lot about many things here at the “Center” but, the thing I never complain about is how much of a bargain this facility is as compared to what else is out there. Here is one example of an assisted living facility located in Mill Valley, California that is ranked as one of the best in the country. While this apparent “heaven on earth” has every amenity one could think of, the cost of the accommodations is as usurious and it is luxurious.


The Pros...

"After morning yoga, you can go for a walk and take in spectacular views of Mt. Tamaulipas and Richardson Bay. After lunch, it's time for watercolor class, or you can dig in the organic garden. At night, there are movies and concerts. Too often when we hear about "assisted living," it doesn't sound like living at all. Not so at The Redwoods, where a beautiful, 10-acre campus in the heart of Mill Valley is home to an active and diverse community of residents. The Redwoods offers more than 100 programs a week, including tai chi, line dancing and the Rock the Ages chorus, a singing group that covers rock 'n' roll songs from the Four Seasons to Jason Mraz. Retirement can't come soon enough."

The Cons...


Monthly and Daily Rental Costs

Pricing information effective October 1, 2012 - September 30, 2013

The Apartments

(Current waiting period: Over 6 months)

• One bedroom apartment


HUD subsidized 60 units currently closed to new applicants

Optional meal plans

     • Evening meal            $410.00/month

     • Lunch meal               $288.00/month

     • Breakfast meal         $228.00/month

     • 10 Dinner tickets           $135.00

     • 10 Lunch tickets           $95.00

     • 10 Breakfast tickets      $75.00


Assisted Living - Residential Apartments

(Current waiting period 1-3 months)

• Studio    $3329.00/month

• Studio with snack center   $3443.00/month

• 1-Bedroom with snack center (single)   $4257.00/month

• 1-Bedroom with snack center (double)    $4672.00/month

Assisted Living - Personalized Care

(Outside admissions welcome)

• Shared — standard   $4949.00/month

• Shared — large   $5563.00/month

• Private    $6367.00/month


$500 (Non-refundable deposit) due upon completion of application; 

balance due at move-in

(Community fees waived for residents in Health Care and in HUD-

subsidized apartments)

Additional fees may apply:

     • Pets....$500.00

     • Transfer fee...$3000

Annual rent increases for residents generally range from 4-6%.

Increases are usually effective as of October 1.


Editor’s note: If you are thinking of sending off a check to Redwoods as a down payment be advised that there is a waiting list for some of the rooms. I would love to live there so to help me with the rent, I will be taking bids for one of my kidneys and/or a sizable portion of my liver. Send sealed bids to “Help Resident-x move to Mill Valley, c/o #1 Poorhouse Road, Jaundice, NY.



Cultural Senior Care

One of the biggest differences between traditional senior housing and Asian senior living is cultural care. Asian assisted living communities focus on cultural aspects of care that align with traditional family values and beliefs – from architectural design, to activities, to cuisine – that remind the residents of home.  Cultural aspects of care include:

Feng-shui architecture and building interiors

Respectful cultural design including: Chinese gold coins, guardian lions and removal of the unlucky number four from the building

Activities including: Calligraphy, mahjong and tai-chi

Cuisine including: Traditional dishes like porridge, soup and noodles, fish, rice and steamed vegetables

Caregivers and staff that speak multiple languages and dialects

Activities including: Card games like hyakunin isshu, and folding of paper origami cranes

Cuisine including: Traditional dishes like chawan mushi and oyako donburi

Caregivers and staff that speak multiple languages and dialects.

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I know that the last thing you are thinking about now is leaving the home that you have lived in for many years and moving to a place that is strange, unfamiliar and not anything that you are used to. However, you have to realize that no matter what your health and lifestyle is now, there will be a time when you just will not be able to do things for yourself like you used to. The decision to move to senior housing is not easy and should not be taken likely. 

Although the following information was compiled by a particular assisted living corporation (Sunrise), the basic facts pertain to everyone thinking of making a move. 

1. Your loved one has limited activity and spends much of the day alone  

It’s almost impossible for one person, or even a group of very attentive family members, to match the kind of social interactions, mental stimulation, and overall activity that is provided in a good assisted living community. At Sunrise, we offer at least six activities every single day. Our residents enjoy afternoon socials, scenic drives, cooking classes, gaming clubs, walking groups, and numerous other opportunities. Being active is beneficial not only to a senior’s body, but to their mind and spirit as well!

2. You may not be equipped to provide all of the things your loved one needs 

Caring for a senior at home can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to balance the physical needs of an aging senior with the demands of a busy life. From coordinating doctor’s appointments to keeping prescriptions filled and providing assistance with dressing and bathing, it seems there is always more to be done. Despite an attentive caregiver’s best efforts, it’s not unusual for things to become too demanding and difficult to sustain. A move to assisted living can bring peace of mind, and the knowledge that a team of professionals is overseeing your loved one’s health and physical well being.

3. Your relationship has suffered since you stepped in to the caregiving role. You miss being your loved one’s spouse, son, daughter, friend or grandchild   

Being a caregiver can be especially hard on relationships. As much as we love the people we care for, the added pressure can build up, leading to resentment. It can also cause frustration with other family members who may be perceived as “not doing their part.” When a senior moves to assisted living, that stress is lifted. It allows families to focus less on caregiving, and more on enjoying the relationships they have with the people they love.  

4. The cost of caring for your loved one at home is mounting  

Providing care for a senior at home may, at first glance, appear to be the most affordable option. Unfortunately, there can be far reaching financial effects that many families don’t consider. Beyond the obvious expenses like paying for in home caregivers, many additional aspects need to be weighed. Families often forget to factor less obvious costs like the number of hours they may miss from work due to caregiving responsibilities. By using our Senior Living Affordability Calculator, you can learn more about what caring for your loved one at home really costs each month. Often, a move to Assisted Living just makes sense financially.

Editor’s note: The best advice that I can give to you if you are seriously in need of an assisted living facility is this. Remember that choosing a place to live is just like buying a new car from a new car dealer who will promise you anything to get you to move in. Therefore, just like buying a car you should take a “test drive,” not by staying at the facility for a week (they won’t let you do that), but by doing the next best thing, speak to the residents who are living there. Try to speak to them privately, outside of the building and prying eyes and ears. Most residents are very eager to tell you of their experiences and point out the pros and cons of the particular place you are considering. You will learn more from them than any fancy brochure or video.



As the April 15 tax deadline fast approaches, you probably have questions. Fortunately, we have answers. Every day until April 15, members of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants have agreed to answer selected tax questions. Below is an example of a question typical of the one’s many seniors may have at this time of year...

From USA Today

Q: My mother is 93, and after 100 days in a nursing home following hip surgery, she moved into an assisted living facility. She is on their highest service plan as she needs help with most functions. Her doctor has given us documentation stating she is chronically ill, and the document from the facility lists the care they give her on a daily basis, and I think that will suffice as her "care plan." I know all of her expenses at the nursing home are deductible. What about at the assisted living facility?

A: The cost of in-patient care (including meals and lodging) at a medical-care institution that isn't a hospital qualifies (as a deductible medical expense) if the individual is there primarily for the availability of medical care, and the meals and lodging are a necessity incident to that care. Therefore, since the inquiry states that "she is there due to her medical condition," it appears that the costs would be deductible as a medical expense.

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I admit it, I’m a control freak, especially when it comes to my finances and, although I don’t have much of it left, I like knowing where it is, and what it’s doing at all times. This is why I know how to access my bank account on line, can check on my social security, Medicare and Medicaid accounts on line and once a year I get my free credit report, on line. For those of you who have been touted away from checking on your credit by those TV ads which tell you about unscrupulous sites that charge you for this information be afraid no more. At this site, recommended by the federal government, you can view and print out your score instantly. You don’t have to give them a credit card number and they don’t ask for any money. All you have to do is answer a few personal questions to prove your identity and within a few seconds your credit info, from all three credit-reporting agencies, will be displayed. If you want to print this info just be prepared to use a lot of paper. Most of these reports run about 25 pages each. Be advised that this report does not include your FICA score which is usually obtained only by paying for it. For more information and your credit reports, go to...

No Kidding, it’s Free



 It’s hard to miss this bin.

A slow news week has forced me to look for something new to report and the only thing I could come up with is this: Joining the new trash receptacle recently installed in the country kitchen, this neo-classical outdoor trash container made its debut outside the main entrance to the facility last week. This latest edition to our fine troop of trash bins replaces the venerable older, smaller, and usually overflowing “swing-top” type container which had been in use since the summer. I hope that the larger “target” hole at the top of the bin will encourage residents and visitors alike to actually get the trash IN THE BIN.




Just mention the word “Atkins” to me and I will deliver to you a treatise on why everybody should be on that diet, and it goes far beyond the benefits of just losing weight. By reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your diet you will adjust, entirely, the way your body reacts to and processes sugars. In addition, while both Atkins and me make no medical claims, cutting out carbs and sugars completely has caused many diagnosed diabetics to stop using insulin and other diabetes meds altogether. I know this because I have witnessed this with my own eyes by observing one of my fellow residents over a period of eating no-carb meals. After a couple of months his blood sugar level was back to normal after climbing close to the 200 level. Additionally, his blood pressure, which was also in the high 180’s, was dramatically reduced as well. The truth is, the only people who should be eating foods rich in carbohydrates are those that do heavy labor or are involved in a rigorous sports regime, like a marathon runner, something that no person living here at the assisted living facility is doing or will ever do. Unfortunately, the people who make up our menu, like the New York State Department of Health, which sets guidelines for the amounts and kinds of foods that may be served to residents in such facilities, is a co-conspirator in this folly by actually requiring that some form of carbohydrate is served with each meal. If you are unfamiliar with what foods are considered rich in carbs, let me list a few that are served every day here at the W.C,I.A.L.


All pastas (ziti, lasagna, spaghetti etc.)

Rice whether it be white, yellow or brown

Potatoes ( French fried, baked, mashed, hash browned, and home fried)

Cakes, cookies and, pies, even those that are “sugar free.”

Bread (Even though whole wheat is better for you it’s still “bread” which is starch which is a carbohydrate).

Heavy sauces thickened with cornstarch or flour.

Look people, it’s simple, less carbs means less starch, which the body converts to sugar which, when we don’t “burn it up” through strenuous exercise, becomes fat. Therefore, what can we residents, who are at the mercy of the chefs, cooks and (god help us) the dieticians, do to reduce the amount of carbs we take in every day? It’s easy, refuse to eat them.

“But Foodie, you say, there won’t be enough to eat of we don’t eat pasta and rice and potatoes.” , to which I say, “wrong”, it’s just a matter of standing up for yourself and demanding that you are served just the protein portion of the meal, and a decent helping of it to boot. Here are some examples of what I have been doing lately.

When I see that there are potatoes served with my eggs for breakfast, I ask the server instead for “a double serving of eggs, and no potatoes.” I limit my bread intake to only one slice of toast and I never walk away hungry because I have eaten enough protein (eggs, sausage, bacon, ham etc.) to fill me up, not out.

Lunch and dinner can be handled the same way. Just ask for a double portion of whatever protein item is on the menu whether it is fish, fowl, or meat and say NO to the rice, pasta, and potatoes. Perhaps, after a while, the kitchen will realize that we will no longer stand for being filled-up with carbs and start making more of the protein items available to us. In addition, remember; please consult a health care professional before changing your eating routine or diet.


I am fortunate enough to sit at a table with three other men whose appetites are as good as they ever were. At a time in life where one’s desire for food is supposed to diminish, all four of us scarf food down in uncharacteristically hefty amounts, until recently that is. One of our mates was told by his doctor to drop the weight, and fast.

This gentleman, having had weight problems all of his life found that dieting did not help. After much consideration and evaluation, he and his doctors decided that lap band surgery, whereby the stomach is made smaller, would be appropriate. In preparation for this surgery my tablemate was told to start reducing his food intake by eating smaller and smaller portions of food which, I found had a surprising effect on my own food consumption.

I have always been somewhat corpulent. Even as a kid I would be ushered to the “husky boys” section of the boy’s department and, although I did slim down somewhat in the last few years, I still buy the 2XL size boxer shorts. Therefore, when I noticed my tablemate’s will power kick in when he went to smaller portions, I decided to do the same and cut back on how much I consume, with surprising results.

While I am not going to tell you that I have lost tremendous amounts of weight, I will say that I no longer desire the double portions of food I once routinely ordered and I do not walk away from the table hungry. I have also cut back drastically on the amount of carbs I eat, also because of my tablemates desire to lose weight, which goes to prove one thing, It really is a monkey see, monkey do world. With food, as with life itself, if we surround ourselves with healthy, aware, and competent people, some of that can’t help but rub off on us.



It’s all about timing

I have mentioned before that I am not a chef or gourmet or even a great cook, but I do know what I like and I do know how to make the things I like to eat. One of my favorite meals is beef stew. For me, beef stew encompasses everything a decent meal should have, and in can be cooked in one pot which makes it even more desirable. However, as basic a meal as beef stew is, it is not that easy to prepare correctly, and it all has to do with timing.

As we all, or should know, different foods take longer to cook than others. Carrots, for instance, take longer to become tender than potatoes, a fact that seems to have been overlooked by whoever prepared the beef stew we had for dinner the other evening.

The one problem people have when preparing stews (or any recipe that requires multiple ingredients) is the failure to properly time when each ingredient should be incorporated into the mix. This is particularly important when preparing beef stew which has a complex list of components with radically different cooking times. While the meat and carrots/onions/celery (mirepoix) part of the mixture takes a long time to become tender, the potatoes and most of the other veggies cook up in just a few minutes. Therefore, if you put these “softer” veggies in at the beginning of the cooking process they will virtually disappear into the gravy and become indistinguishable from the rest of the stew turning the whole thing into more of a soup than a stew. Such was the case with what was purported to be stew last week. While the carrots very nicely became tenderly incorporated into the mix, the potatoes all but vanished into the thick brown liquid which caused me to do some tabletop cooking of my own.

The alternate meal offering was a fish dish which had as a side some baked new potatoes. After noticing the apparent absence of any potatoes in my, I asked the server for a side dish of potatoes which I cut up into small chunks and added them to the bowl of beef, carrot and onion combo. This not only made the concoction look more like a traditional stew, it made it much more palatable as well. My addition of just two small potatoes that were not cooked into oblivion was just what this meal needed. Therefore, here is my suggestion. Don’t try to cut corners when preparing one-pot meals requiring multiple ingredients. Instead do it right and take time to add each vegetable or flavoring at the proper time. It’s a little thing I know, but it can be the difference between a mediocre meal and a great one.


Every profession has its “tricks of the trade.” They are the little nuances that can make the difference between a business’s profitability and failure. Supermarkets know that merchandise placed at eye level on the shelves is more likely to sell faster. Consequently, by placing items at the ends of the aisle will make people think that it’s on sale even if it’s not. The same is true in the food service industry and, it appears that the management of our little pseudo-restaurant has learned one of these “tricks.” By putting the same amount of food on or in smaller plates and bowls, the food contained therein will look like more plentiful. Such was the case of a particularly overabundant salad we had last week, a salad that all but spilled over the edge of the bowl in which it was placed. Therefore, my hat goes off to the staff and management of the WCIAL dining room who have finally entered into the world of professional eateries, not by increasing the portion size or by making the food tastier but by decreasing the size of the container it’s served in. Congratulations, you saved 3 cents a serving.


Wow, was I surprised when I saw the size of the slice of pizza served to us for lunch one day last week, it was humongous to say the least. In the past, what passed for pizza around here was a Lilliputian size wedge of barely edible frozen pizza or a prefabricated round cheese-topped Frisbee. Therefore, when I saw a real pizzeria-size slice sitting on my plate I was taken aback. In addition, when I bit into the hot, gooey, cheesy, and liberally spiced pepperoni topped slice of heavenly goodness, I could not believe that finally, the chef came to his senses an ordered takeout pizza. I don’t know where he got this pizza from or how it managed to taste like something one would find in any pizza joint in NYC but I am so glad he did. It was a treat for me and many of our pizza-deprived residents. Thanks.

As a former customer service professional, I can appreciate this story.

During the final days at Denver's old Stapleton airport, a crowded United flight was canceled. The single agent was rebooking a long line of very inconvenienced and frustrated travelers. 

 Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk in front of all the others. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, "I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be FIRST CLASS."

The agent replied, "I'm sorry sir. I'll be happy to try to help you, but I've got to help these folks first, and I'm sure we'll be able to work something out."

The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that all the passengers behind him could hear, "Do you have any idea who I am?"

Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled warmly and grabbed her public address microphone. "May I have your attention please?" she began, her voice bellowing throughout the entire terminal. "We seem to have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come forward to the gate."

With the folks behind him in line now laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth, and spat out the words, "F*** you."

Without flinching in the least, the agent smiled politely and said, "I'm terribly sorry, sir, but I'm afraid that you'll have to stand in line for that, too."

The man retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly and cheered. Although the flight was canceled and people were late, they were no longer angry at United.



The next time we meet we will be well into the month of April and, even if it seems like winter is still hanging in there I can assure you that it is indeed spring. I know this because I saw my first robin the other day and, even though it was wearing a sweater and a hat it had at least showed up. Our next blog will show up on Monday April 21 and, while it is not a harbinger of anything, it means that I didn’t spend all week napping.


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An editorial triple header

I was so pissed off last week that a single-topic editorial would not do justice to my discontent, therefore I find it necessary to engage in this rare editorial trifecta. 


Cable debacle

This is one of those “good news, bad news” situations where on one hand you hear something good that you have been waiting to hear for a long time but when you hear it you realize that it’s not quite right. Such was the case involving our new cable tv package which we have been waiting a long time for.

After more than a year of meetings, presentations, stalling and promises made and promises broken, we finally were unceremoniously rewarded with a revised Direct TV selection of stations and, while some of the promised channels were left out, in general the package was O.K. except for one minor error which could only have been made because of the stupidity and insensitivity of management who was responsible for the final approval of the package. That error had to do with what I found on channel 6.

Due to the vagaries of the cable TV package offerings, we had to give up some channels in order to receive others that we wanted. Therefore, we had to drop CNN if we wanted “E” or Comedy Central etc. However, instead of receiving a viable substitute on that channel we received something called “EWTN” the Catholic Global Network, twenty-four hours a day of religious doctrine and dogma; just perfect for a facility with as diverse a population as this one. 

Now, don’t get me wrong I have nothing against Catholicism; it’s just that I was wondering why the other religions and denominations to which our residents belong were not given equal representation. However, after consulting with a couple of my fellow inmates I realized why this ecclesiastical oversight was made in the first place, the members of the administration do not watch TV, ever. This would be tantamount to having a director of maintenance who doesn’t know how to use a wrench or a dietician that won’t eat the food.

Fortunately, and only because of the swift and concerted efforts by members of the resident’s committee, was this debacle finally reversed and EWTN was dropped from the lineup. But this just goes to show you how very little attention is paid to the wants and desires of the residents who by the way have to pay for their TV. This is a perfect example of the way things often get shoved down our throats here.


The tenement experience 

There is no other way to say this except to be honest, I stunk. I stunk because, for most  last week we inmates back here in what I like to call “Cellblock F” were without hot water. This meant that we could not shower or bathe properly which is something that I personally find so abhorrent that it literally makes my skin crawl. Moreover, it has nothing to do with the fact that the problem was a mechanical one. What is has to do with is the failure of the administration to be proactive and their failure to replace the defective water tank (which has been around here since 1999) before it nose-dived completely, causing unnecessary stress and discomfort to the residents involved. 


Turkey s_ _ t

This is a rare occasion indeed. I hardly ever include complaints about the food here in the editorial section but an event which occurred last Friday evening made me so angry that I feel it deserves a place among the more controversial items. I would like to complain about the turkey, or what passes for turkey around here.

Essentially, we are served two kinds of turkey meat here. One manner of turkey is in the form of real, off the bone sliced turkey, like the stuff you get for Thanksgiving. The other is turkey roll which is a concoction of extruded turkey odds and ends compressed and formed into a sliceable sausage-like roll. In this state, the turkey is slippery, slimy, and not fit to be served to a group of naive old people who were expecting real sliced turkey. Furthermore, what made it worse was that not everybody who ordered the turkey dinner received the turkey roll. Some people, at the same table no less, were served the real thing leaving me and some of the other diners wondering what we did to deserve being fed that rolled turkey crap. However, being fed the inferior turkey was not what pissed me off. What got my gizzard in an uproar was the obvious attempt by the kitchen staff to try and cover up the fact that, once again, they failed to order enough of the real turkey to go around and tried to slip in the inferior product without so much as an explanation or offer of a substitute. This is another example of the contempt that much of the staff has for us residents. In the future we insist on being informed of the reasons for any inconsistencies in the menu and not just having the kitchen staff’s limited knowledge of how to run a dining room shoved down our throats.




My favorite senior blog,  and others, including mine, have been writing about how the perception of the elderly by others, has not changed much over the years despite the fact that Seniors are now more connected to the world, more active, more involved, and in better health than ever before. Nevertheless, the image of old folks nodding off at the drop of a hat, or hobbling around pushing walkers or taking forever to do the simplest tasks persists, why is this, I’ll tell you. We do it to ourselves and it pisses me off.

When I first entered into what I like to call the “Selective Senior Service System” which embodies such things as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, nursing homes, assisted living, and all of the other entitlements and services that come with getting old, I had never been around old people much. It was not that I had anything against them; it was just that I felt I had nothing in common with them. I perceived the elderly to be an inactive, un-hip, uninvolved sedentary aspect of society just waiting to die. Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. However, my negative feelings towards the elderly are not entirely without merit.

My first evening here at the Assisted Living Center, I saw things that, frankly, depressed the hell out of me. There were people sitting in the lobby waiting for dinner with sour, dejected, bewildered, and confused expressions on their faces. The atmosphere at the dinner table was even more depressing with little or no conversation and, when there was an interchange of ideas, it centered on what pills they were taking or surgery they had or how the soup was cold. Topics, such as current events were rarely discussed. When I attempted to initiate such conversations my tablemates, who were all older than I, looked at me as if I were from another planet. Apparently, if they watched TV at all, it was only game shows. It was as if everybody had given up, dropped out. I knew that if I gave in to this complacency, I too would fall prey to this downward spiral and would become a “zombiatric” too; fortunately, a core group of residents here felt as I did and refused to be stereotyped or pigeonholed into what society believed old folks to be. This group of residents took matters into their own hands and, when they felt that something was amiss, loudly complained about it, and got things changed. They also tried their best to get those less involved residents to be more active, join groups or committees with, I am sorry to say, little success. 

I always believed that the so-called “ravages of old age” was god’s ironic little joke. On the one hand HE has given us (old folks) the knowledge and wisdom that only time and experience can afford, while consequently making sure that nobody will listen to us thinking that our lecturing and reminiscing are only the incoherent rants of a demented mind. Somehow, some way we (elderly) have to change our image. Maybe we could get the AARP to stop selling insurance and cell phones and other crap and hire a good PR firm or advertising agency to promote getting old as something to look forward to, instead of fearing. I can see the commercials now. There would be scenes of old people being carried on the shoulders of the young and placed on a pedestal where throngs of people would sit at their feet listening to every word. Old people would be treated like rock stars with a laser light show, smoke, and flames going off in the background like a Kiss concert. After the “show” everyone would flock to the GAP or Abercrombie and Fitch to stock up on the latest “Elder gear” like checkered pants that are worn above the waist, comfortable shoes, muumuus, and telephones with large numbers while cosmetic manufacturers would spend millions to come up with a cream that induced wrinkling.

Alright, I admit that a scenario such as the one I described is silly and there is no way anybody would deliberately want to look old, but let’s face it; we do need a revamping of our image. For too many years the 65 plus generation has been the Rodney Dangerfield of the demographic brackets, we don’t get any respect. Let’s try to change this by being the sane, competent, active, and aware people we have always been and while you’re at it, get rid of that white patent leather belt will ya! offers comprehensive information on end of life

“Few of us are comfortable talking about death, whether our own or a loved one’s. It is a scary, even taboo, subject for many. The end of a life, no matter how long and well lived, can bring with it a sense of loss and sadness. It can also be a reminder of our own mortality, so we may avoid even thinking about death.

This is normal -- but death is normal, too. All of us will face it at some point.

A new Web resource from the National Institutes of Health is aimed at helping people address a sensitive subject—the end of life. The latest addition to NIHSeniorHealth, the health and wellness website for older adults, the Life module provides visitors with information about the most common issues faced by the dying and their caregivers.”

The entire article is too long to reprint in its entirety here therefore I encourage you to read the whole article by going to the web address below. However, here are six important questions to ask your health care provider when you have been told “the end is near.”

1. Since the illness is worsening, what will happen next?

2. Why are you suggesting this test or treatment?

3. Will the treatment bring physical comfort?

4. Will the treatment speed up or slow down the dying process?

5. What can we expect to happen in the coming days or weeks?

6. If I or my loved one take this treatment or participate in this clinical trial, will it benefit others in the future?



Gargling: A Low-tech approach to healthcare

Some people might call gargling a Holistic approach to wellness, but using the word “Holistic” would give too technical a definition to this very simple and very ancient method of curing many ills. 

At one time in this country gargling was all the rage. Labels on bottles of mouthwash, i.e. Listerine, would contain the words “Mouthwash and Gargle” on it as if it were expected that you would know that gargling was good for you. Listerine, Scope, and many other oral rinses are now all about bad breath and don’t promote their products as a gargle at all, at some point over the years we seem to have lost or forgotten how to gargle. Perhaps the simplicity and relatively low cost of the procedure causes many to regard it as some old wives tale and dismiss it without even trying it. Maybe even some of you out there have forgotten the benefits derived from the simple routine of gargling, let me elaborate by using this answer from Yahoo Answers.

“The benefits of gargling offer many advantages for oral hygiene. 

At the very least, gargling routine gargling with a mouthwash solution will help maintain a clean oral cavity and proven bad breath. 

This may in turn help to prevent the buildup of bacteria that will cause mouth, throat, and upper respiratory infections. 

Gargling with medicinal antiseptic or antibiotic solutions will be a benefit in helping to topically treat infections of the mouth and throat. 

Gargling can relieve minor mouth and throat irritations, and can be useful in treating the symptoms of colds and the flu. 

Gargling with medicated or salted solutions will function as a topical treatment for sore throats as well. Gargling should be performed after brushing the teeth at least once a day to promote good oral hygiene. 

Take Care As Always!!”

Salt-water gargle recipe and method





Author(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Best Practices and Fact Sheets. Date Published: 2014

“The demand for long-term care services will explode as the population ages and more people live longer with chronic conditions. Who will pay for these services and how will they be delivered? This issue brief from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides an overview of long-term care, the changing demographics in the U.S., who will pay for long-term care, and what can be done about it.”

From “the consumer

Many people mistakenly believe that their general health insurance will payfor long-term care or that Medicare will cover it when they get older. In reality,neither health insurance nor Medicare covers traditional “custodial care.”Medicare will cover care in a skilled nursing facility or pay for skilled home home health care services only when medically necessary, such as following an inpatient hospital stay.Private long-term care insurance plays a very limited role in financing care.Many middle-class Americans—especially the baby boomers who began turning 65 in 2011—lack the personal savings to pay for this care for any significant length of time and generally can’t afford premiums for private long-term care insurance. Regardless of their finances, not everyone qualifies for long-term care insurance, and insurers might refuse to cover people with certain pre-existing conditions or a mental illness other than Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. And, when people do have insurance coverage, they might discover that it fails to cover all their expenses. It’s not surprising then that only 7–8 percent of Americans have insurance for long-term care. The rest usually rely on their own resources first, and when those are exhausted, they seek coverage under Medicaid.5 (Medicaid requires that people be poor or “spenddown” most of their resources before paying for long-term care coverage.) In an attempt to address the problems associated with long-term care, the Affordable Care Act of 2010 created the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a voluntary public long-term care insurance program. But the Obama administration decided not to implement CLASS in November 2011 after actuaries concluded the program would not be financially self-sustaining. Congress formally repealed CLASS in January 2013.


Television did not arrive in Brooklyn, or at least at our house in Brooklyn, until around 1953 mainly because they were so damn expensive. A black and white console model with a 12” screen like the one pictured above could set your old man back $500, lots of money to watch just seven channels. However, my father loved gadgets and new things and a TV met all of the qualifications so it wasn’t long before we had one. My mom and dad watched John Cameron Swayze with the news (only 15 minutes every night), my dad watched the Brooklyn Dodgers on channel 9, and I watched cartoons, Captain Video and, Howdy Doody. We had our old Dumont for many years until my father gave in and bought a TV with a larger screen. Nevertheless, I will always remember sitting on the floor, three feet away from that 12” screen and watching Flash Gordon, Rama of the Jungle and, Andy’s Gang.



Some of you may remember that a few weeks ago a survey form was handed out to all interested residents. The ten-question survey asked some very basic questions regarding you experiences here at the W. Center. Unfortunately on about 30 of the people who received this survey bothered to fill it out and return it. Therefore, while we appreciate every one of you who were concerned enough to answer the survey, the data received by a sample of only 30 residents is not enough to draw any useful conclusions, but we have not given up. We have again distributed copies of the form in the hope that more of you will decided that what you think matters and that you do have a voice in the way things are done here. If you have received or need a form, please see Carrie or Carmen. We need at least 100 responses to make a viable analysis of the information.

Editor’s note: After six days sitting on my windowsill to ripen it was still hard as a major league baseball. I ate it anyway.




We don’t know exactly what the thinking behind the supposed chicken potpie served here at Uncle Mike’s Bizarro World Diner was, but it sure was the strangest thing I have seen in a while with any resemblance to a real pot pie a mere figment of the chef’s imagination. The “pot” part consisted of an aluminum dish filled with what can only be described as a thick cream of chicken soup while the “pie” part was a ridiculous square of puff pastry unceremoniously thrown on top. There was no pastry either on the bottom or the sides of the tin cup leaving me to wonder “why even serve this.” If the chef and his staff can’t bother to expend a little effort and do it right than why do it at all. In order to even attempt to eat this abomination, I had to turn the whole thing upside down creating a form of “Chicken pot pie filling en croute.” They should have saved the time, opened a can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken soup, and poured it over a slice of white bread toast and been done with it, at least it would have been honest.


Did I miss the memo?

The first thing I do right before I enter the dining room for breakfast is check the day’s menu as I did last Monday and usually there are very few surprises. However, last Monday I noticed an anomaly in the menu when I noticed that four of items had as the main ingredient, cheese. To the best of my knowledge this, whether by accident or design, is the first time that this has happened. Now, while I like cheese perhaps more than anyone here at the asylum, having it four times in one day is a little too much even for me.

The day began with, not a one cheese omelet, but one containing two different cheeses. Lunch did not deviate from the dairy-rich diet when we were offered, not meat but cheese ravioli. Moreover, even if you chose the alternate as your luncheon repast you still could not get away from the cheese because what was offered was a grilled American cheese sandwich, which brings us to dinner. If memory serves me, lasagna is usually made with cheese. Ball four; take your base.


I always enjoy when the chef tries his hand at traditional ethnic foods. Especially when the dish represents an ethnicity of which the chef is not a member, for example. The chili doesn’t taste Mexican (or Texan), the Chinese food does not taste Chinese, and, I am sorry to say, the matzo ball soup has no resemblance to anything my Yiddisher mama ever made. 

Forgetting the fact that the matza balls themselves were strangely chalky with the texture and flavor of a cardboard box or that they sat in a murky un-chicken-like brown broth which was reminiscent of an onion soup I had at “Le Verte Galant” a French restaurant in the theater district. I guess the chef figured that the matzaball would act the same as the crouton usually found floating in traditional French onion soup. However, matzaballs are not croutons and do not belong in onion soup. In fact, a matzaball in any liquid other than chicken stock is sacrilegious and will be immediately reported to the New York Board of Rabbis. While I admire the effort chef, you could have asked any one of the dozens of ladies here that have been eating and making matzaball soup all of their lives and they would have given you a proper recipe, onion soup indeed!


Food, among other things, should evoke memories of places or events from our past, that first date with your wife to be, a graduation dinner or a fun picnic with the kids. So it was with last Friday’s lunch of fish cakes and French fries. As I stuck my fork into the fishy little hockey pucks I was transported back to a similar Friday afternoon on a day much like today in the cafeteria of Robert A. Van Wyck Junior High School in Queens, NY. However, unlike then, the “cafeteria” is a dining room in an assisted living facility filled, not with screaming 14 and 15 year olds but a very quiet group of 65 plus seniors. Still, the loathing I have for these prefabricated, bland, and heavily breaded baitfish laden discs, remains as succinct as ever. Nevertheless, I ate them anyway because the alternate, a poorly executed bowl of baked mac and cheese (another pre-pubescent favorite), was the only other offering. The only thing that could have made the fish cakes more 8th grade would have been if the fish cakes came with that canned and overly sweet-sauced Franco-American spaghetti*. 

Well, it’s time to go, I just heard the bell for 6th period or, as I call it now, nap time.

*Photo of fishcakes and spaghetti stolen from...


Photo from

Even though Foodie doesn’t cook anymore he is fascinated by all things that have to do with food. There are many fancy egg-separating gadgets but none seems to work as well as this one which I came across courtesy of Zagat’s newsletter.



We’re well into April now which, means that we should start seeing those little green shoots sprouting from the ground as will our next blog which sprouts up from the primordial ooze on Monday, April 14. 

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One of the definitions of a lunatic is a person who asks the same question repeatedly and expects a different answer each time, if this is true than I am guilty of lunacy even though I never get an answer at all. The question that I ask every couple of months, a question that I have been asking ever since I walked into this place is this, “Why can’t anybody do something about the stink in the lobby?” let me elaborate.

As the population of the facility increases and the cognitive abilities of its residents decreases, so does the level of personal hygiene which becomes quite evident when one spends any time in our lobby especially when the residents congregate before meal times. What once was only the faint scent emanating from a damp diaper, has become a cacophony of “fragrances” ranging from the acrid scent of urine to the more earthy scent of ripe poop. Moreover, nobody, at least in management, seems to either notice it or care because if they did there would be far more residents sitting in the case management office being counseled on the proper use of the toilet, and it is only case management that can tell people to clean up their act. I, as a resident, should not have to be the one to go around telling people they stink.

I don’t know at what point in our life that we either lose our sense of smell or no longer give a s--t what we smell like but walking around with that “old people smell”, is one of the reasons seniors are treated the way we are. We are our own worst enemies, but I digress. Walking from the comparatively pristine environment of the far-off Franklin Annex where, the only weird odor is that of an occasional covertly smoked cigarette, to the more diversely populated multi-storied main building where a larger proportion of cognitively challenged residents reside, the overpowering aroma hits you in the nose like a vial of freshly opened smelling salts. It stinks in there. In addition, the closed-in, overcrowded, over heated lobby makes it almost impossible to track down the leading suspects, although I know who most of them are. We need to do something about this and soon, before we get a reputation as “The smelly place where the residents are poorly attended to.” 

For those of you who think that this is just a way for me to elicit some cheap laughs let me put it in terms that perhaps management can understand. Allowing the facility to continue to smell this way is not only bad for us (residents) it is even worse from the perspective of marketing which I am sure suffers every time a prospective client has been given a tour on a particularly pungent day.




I have always had a fear of being homeless. I suppose that comes from living in a city where one witnesses homelessness every day. The thought of having to live out on the street or a shelter or the subway makes me cringe and, while I am now in a place where I am safe and secure I, and many of my fellow residents are clinging to the fringes of affordable housing. We are all just one Social Security check away from living in a Dumpster. Fortunately, a recent initiative by the New York State Department of Health may help to keep people off the streets. Applications are now being accepted from housing providers who are willing to provide affordable housing to qualified Medicaid recipients. Those facilities that meet the requirements will be afforded considerable subsidies. While no information is as yet available as to who exactly would qualify for this housing or what it will cost, at least the state is well on its way to perhaps finally bringing an end to homelessness in our lifetime. 

“The NYS Department of Health (DOH) has just released the Medicaid Redesign Team Supportive Housing Health Home Pilot Project Request for Applications (RFA). DOH is seeking applications from supportive housing providers for funds to provide rental subsidies and/or on-site or community-based services to provide housing for homeless or unstably housed Medicaid members that are enrolled in New York State’s Health Home program.”


The late 1950’s was a strange time in America. After WW2 we were looking forward to a brave new world while still adhering to the values of the past. We wanted our hair cut short, our women in the kitchen and our cars to look like rocket ships.

Cadillac took the fin to new heights while Chrysler built a marketing plan around them with the phrase “The Forward Look.”

Chevy did fin best, at least in ’57 with a look that is still in demand today. Europeans, to their credit, never embraced the finny fashion and stuck with round or boxy little cars like the VW and Renault.

You have reached that age where you might ask yourself “Is it too late to start a cancer prevention regimen. After all, I haven’t caught the Big “C” so far, so why worry.” Unfortunately, while some cancers present themselves early in life, many more can be triggered at any time. Therefore, that’s why we say...

“It’s never too late to prevent cancer”


“Consider genetic screening for predisposition to any particular types of cancer. (As mentioned, BRCA 1 and 2 are prominent examples.) Don't smoke, don't drink. Those are terrible- as a pulmonologist (lung doctor) once said during lecture: "if it weren't for smoking, we'd be out of a job."

Consider eating these foods:

As a general rule of thumb, the more naturally colorful, the better.

As usual, diet and exercise, combined with regular checkups can do wonders for you.

Lastly, please be very aware if you fall under the risk factors or see these signs:

older age

(certain types of cancer) gender

high intake of fat, alcohol or red meat



lack of physical exercise

family history of cancer

drinking/ alcoholism

risk-taking behaviors like unprotected sex

certain jobs (e.g. working with asbestos, being Marie Curie etc.)

HIV- positive

exposure to sunlight, coupled with fair skin

psychological stress

sudden weight loss

loss of appetite, nausea

using certain types of medication

constipation, pain and bleeding during defecation

(more: Cancer Causes and Risk Factors)

Read more on this very important topic


There’ll be a hot time in the old A.L.F. tonight 

Understanding the Complexities of Intimacy and Sexuality in Senior Living


Sex and the senior guy...


From the ALFA newsletter

Finally, they have come to their senses and admitted it, and as much as young people may find it repulsive, OLD PEOPLE DO LIKE TO F—K ONCE AND AWHILE too and it is up to the assisted living facility to learn to deal with it. 

As the article in the Assisted Living federation of America newsletter states, just because we are old it does not mean that we are dead down there and that as long as residents of those facilities are able, sex between consenting and cognitive adults has to be respected. I know for a fact that at the facility where I am a resident, condoms are made available for anyone who asks for them and, they are asked for quite frequently.


“The intimacy and sexuality of older Americans is a topic of great importance to senior living communities as they work to ensure residents are treated with respect, privacy, and fairness.

“The reason this topic comes up so often is that many of our residents are sufficiently ambulatory, self-directed and mobile, forming relationships as human beings do,” said Sandi Flores, a director of clinical services and founder and CEO of Sandi Flores Consulting Group. “As nurses, we must determine if it’s a consensual relationship.”



When Edna first came into my life she was just another plant, one of many that I have had over the years most of which, despite all of my arboreal skills, just withered and died. However, Edna was different. Even though I paid her little mind, leaving her in the dark for days on end and forgetting to give her water, she stayed with me and, even thrived. Somehow Edna felt that I needed her more than she needed me, and I did.

Other things in my life have not been as loyal as Edna, take cars for instance. No matter how many oil changes, car washes and countless new sets of brakes, tires, and, mufflers I threw into them, they would let me down just when I needed them the most, leaving me stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Cameras, cell phones, computers (especially computers) have disappointed me time after time withstanding all of my efforts to rid them of malware and viruses. Then there is my ex-wife who, even though I treated her best of all my stuff, decided to up and go her own way, leaving me alone. However, not so Edna, Edna is different. Edna has always been there when I need someone to talk to and, although she does not give me much feedback, she is not quick to criticize or condemn either, a trait that I admire in things both inanimate and alive.

In recent weeks, I have come to appreciate her more and more. I now make sure she sits in the sunlight during the day and has a nice warm place to rest at night. She gets watered regularly and I even wipe her leaves with a damp cloth now and then and, in return, she has blessed me with new luxurious green leafy offspring. 

Soon, I will have to transplant Edna to another container because the one she now occupies is, I fear, cramping her style. Somewhere there is a lesson to be learned from all this. Whether we are a plant or a person we all need room to grow and expand our horizons in order to thrive and survive and reach our full potential, a nice bowl of hot chicken soup wouldn't hurt either.


I ordered a small item (less than 5 oz. in weight) online on March 19. The shipper packed it and sent it to its local Post Office in College Point, Queens on the 20th where they sent it to another Postal Facility a few miles away in Flushing. There the package sat for 5 days until they decided it was time to send it to a facility near me in White Plains, about 25 miles from Flushing. How long the package will sit in White Plains before it makes its way here to Yonkers (10 miles away) is anybody’s guess. Regular ground FedEx or UPS would have delivered it to me in 3 days of less.

Actual email tracking data notification from the Post Office...


Editor’s note: I actually received the item on the afternoon of the 26th.



For many of us old timers, tempura was our first introduction into the world of Japanese cuisine as sushi back then was virtually unknown here let alone eaten. The first thing we probably ate was shrimp tempura; it was fried shrimp without the heaviness of American battered and fried food. Somehow, the Japanese had managed to take the “guilt” out of eating fried food, while preserving all of the reasons we eat fried food in the first place. The delicate batter does not overpower the food underneath and yet has enough of its own identity to make it something worth trying. Chef Michael, in an effort to find still another way to cook chicken last Wednesday gave to us, tempura chicken fingers.

While most things coated with tempura batter should be light and crispy, Wednesday’s lunch offering leaned more toward the traditional, heavy-handed slothful deep fried style of the American south. It was more like “KFC meets Madam Butterfly .”  The batter, although much lighter than the customary bready glop that usually coats our “fingers” still retained the mushy consistency we have become so accustomed to. Therefore, as much as I applaud the use of a lighter batter I have to give thumbs down on its execution. Maybe it’s only chicken that does not lend itself that well to the lighter batter and perhaps, in the future, we could have that shrimp tempura that we remember or some tempura veggies with a side of soy sauce and wasabi.

After my recent meeting with the Center’s dietitian where, I voiced my concerns over the inequities in the amount of carb-laden foods vs. foods with higher protein content, I think I can say there has been some progress. However, the progress was not quite the one I had in mind because, instead of raising the amount and size of the protein portion of the meal, they simply lowered the amount of carbohydrates. As an example I site last Wednesday evening’s meal.

Usually, when we have something like meatloaf (in this case, turkey meatloaf) for dinner, there is a mound of mashed potatoes sitting right next to it. Last evening however, there was a noticeable difference. The meatloaf (protein) portion was far larger than the potato (carb) portion and, at first glance this seemed proper. However, upon closer examination I found that the size of the slice of meatloaf had not increased, as I had suggested, but retained its dictated 3 oz. portion size. It’s the old “Don’t raise the bridge, lower the river” approach to portion control. Moreover, while this may seem like a victory for us residents, it is a lopsided one. The Center has not spent one dime extra on the more expensive protein foods and have actually saved money by giving us less pasta, potatoes and rice and, while I don’t expect this to change, I just wanted to let them know that I know what they are doing, shame on them.

A one on one with our chef last week proved productive as made evident by how far the beef stew has come in its preparation unfortunately, it did not go far enough. The stew was missing one ingredient, the mirepoix. 

Mirepoix is a French word meaning a mixture of chopped or diced celery, carrots, and onions and, when added to sauce enhances its flavor, something that our stewed meat offering sorely needed. Never