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Conquering Loneliness:
Assisted Living May Be The Answer

I recently joined a Facebook group called “Elder Orphans” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/elderorphans/).
Essentially, the page is devoted to those seniors who have little or no close living family members and are worried that there will be no safety net available when they need it.

While there are a number of recurring themes expressed in the posts such as “Who will I leave my belongings to”, or “How will I make it on just my own Social Security, the one repeating lament appears to be loneliness.

I suppose there is nobody out there that has not had that lonely feeling at one time or another.

It is often imperceptible while, at the same time, being very real.
The feeling can hit you when you least expect it.
You all know what that feels like.
It’s that barren, soulless, vacant emptiness in the pit of your stomach that you can’t explain and leaves as fast as it appears.

While feeling lonely is usually not dangerous or fatal, it can present some very real problems which need to be addressed if, not for one’s peace of mind, then for very practical reasons as well.
Something that we all fear about being alone, is what happens if I get seriously ill?
Who can I trust to take care of my affairs if I am laid up in a hospital for a couple of months?
It could be as simple as who will take in my mail, look after my pets or water my plants to who will pay my bills and (heavens forbid) arrange for my funeral.

My personal fear has always been homelessness.
Without any close relatives, who would take me in if I suddenly became destitute or unable to afford a suitable place to live.

And it appears that I am not alone.
A story in Senior Housing News explains that, while Americans who are currently 82 years or older have a pretty good support system, the prospects are not so good for us Baby Boomers.

“From a senior care standpoint, the 9.6 million Americans who are currently 82 years old or older have it pretty good. After all, with about seven “adult children” for every one person over 80 years old, seniors have plenty of people looking out for them. But when the baby boomers’ time comes to receive care, they won’t be as lucky.
In fact, the impending caregiver shortage means the senior living industry may soon need to enter into crisis mode, according to the chief economist at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC).
“There simply are fewer children who are caregivers to take care of their elder parents,” Beth Mace said during a Sept. 15 session at the NIC Fall Conference in Washington, D.C. “It’s going to be a social crisis that really has to be addressed. Who’s going to take care of the aging population within the U.S.?”
The gap between the number of American seniors and the number of “adult children” who look after them is expected to narrow dramatically in the coming years. Today, there are about 7 people between 45 and 64 years old for every one person who is over 80 years old, Mace said. By 2030, that ratio is going to change from 7 to 1 to 4 to 1. By 2050, the ratio will be 3 to 1.”

Read article>>>

Well, there is a very simple solution to many of those problems, and it has to do with finding a community of people who are in the same situation as you.

If you are wealthy enough, finding friends and a place to live is usually not too difficult.
There are many senior living venues that, for a hefty fee, will provide you with all of the usual amenities of life while assisting you with many of the chores that confront us on a daily basis.
Many of these places are for active seniors who don’t have any health or mobility issues and, as I said, have money.
But what’s left for the rest of us who are retired and whose only source of income is Social Security or a small pension?

One option is assisted living. 
But there is a catch.
In order for you to be considered for subsidized living in one of these facilities, your net worth has to be near the poverty level and, you have to have some health issue that would cause you to need the services that an A.L.F. has to offer.
However, there are other options that may be right for you.

Check out this article by Daniel O. Tully, “Do I Qualify for Cheap Assisted Living? Confusing Medicaid with other government programs:

However, if you do meet these qualifications*, a whole host of opportunities await you. And, unless you are a hermit, recluse or just plain anti-social, you will never be lonely again.

Most assisted living facilities house about 200 residents older than 65 whose wishes, wants, needs and desires will be very similar to yours.

This gives you an immediate conversation starter.
Commiserating with other seniors instantly makes you “one of the gang.”

Most assisted living facilities try to encourage their residents to pursue what interests them.

If there isn’t a group that’s interested in stuff you like, start one.

And, even if there are no residents that you feel you can confide in, assisted living facilities usually have a staff of trained, licensed social workers who can help guide you through the barrage of health plans, Medicare/Medicaid forms and care options available to you. 

But, like everything else, assisted living is not for everyone.
It's a give-up and take situation.

You will lose a certain amount of independence and privacy while gaining the safety, security and sense of community you may want.

Finally, and I say this with much personal experience to back me up.

In the end, we are (or should be) responsible for ourselves. Only we know what’s best for us. Sometimes you just have to “Man up”, grab the bull by the horns and do things for yourself.

* Editor’s note: While I am not advocating that you falsify your application and make up an illness or disability, the criteria for what qualifies as a requirement for admission will vary. Consulting an “understanding” physician may be of some assistance to you by wording the application in such a way as to make you eligible.


See more “At The ALF” cartoons in our cartoon gallery...


What You Should Know and Do this Flu Season If You Are 65 Years and Older

It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, for example, it’s estimated that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group. So influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older.
Actions To Take This Flu Season:

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It’s a Medicare surprise for senior citizens, not paying attention 

Seniors, open your mail and read it carefully. What you don't know can hurt you.

A special Medicare provision that allows private health insurance companies to enroll individuals who become eligible for Medicare into their Medicare Advantage coverage is costing surprised patients lots of money, according to news reports. The little known rule, called "seamless conversion," means some health insurance companies are automatically signing members of its non-Medicare insurance plans into their Medicare plans when they reach 65, the age of Medicare eligibility.

Medicare rules require a health insurance company to send a letter explaining the new coverage, which takes effect unless the member opts out within 60 days, according to Kaiser Health News. But many seniors are tossing out these letters. They find out they've been auto enrolled only when they get a bill from a physician or a hospital.


It should always be up to the individual whether to believe all of the responses they get from the residents they question. 

As for myself, on the few occasions that I have been asked to give my opinion of this  facility, I try to keep my personal likes and dislikes out of the response.

I also try to give as broad an analysis as possible while trying to focus on particulars such as whether the prospective resident gets along with people or enjoys participating in various activities.
However, the one thing that I always do is to assure the person that safety and security 
Is the primary goal of this facility. ……………… bwc.


I have always had a weakness for hot open faced sandwiches, whether they are made of roast beef, brisket, ham, or as we had here the other day, turkey.

There is just something very comforting about three or four tender slices of meat served over a slice or two of bread and finished off with an ocean of smooth, hot gravy.

Combined with a side of golden brown steak fries, and you’ve got an almost perfect meal.

In fact, the concept of open faced sandwiches is so ingrained into the American cuisine that it is served in almost every diner or casual restaurant in the country.

The construction of such a sandwich should be a no-brainer.

A few thin slices of meat, a couple of slices of bread (preferably white bread, slightly toasted), and lots of hot gravy.

The gravy being the most important ingredient here.

Gravy can make up for many of the shortcomings of the kitchen.

Dry meat and slightly stale bread can easily be reconstituted by the addition of gravy while adding flavor and color to the dish.

Any cook worth their salt should understand the idea of an open-faced sandwich.
Basic food made with basic cooking techniques.

Unfortunately, our kitchen, which appears to be staffed by people with absolutely no cooking experience, fails miserably even when it comes to assembling this fundamental fare.

I don’t know why it was necessary to pile a mound of dried-out stuffing on top of the turkey like a paperweight.

Did they expect those few shredded slices of dry turkey to fly away?

I also don’t know why they put a glob of cranberry sauce on the plate.

I suppose that the chef read somewhere that turkey is served at Thanksgiving and that cranberry sauce is always served with the turkey so therefore, no matter when turkey is served, there should always be cranberry sauce.

But the stuffing and cranberry sauce are just minor mistakes when compared to the one very obvious error.

The one thing that was missing, and the one thing that sets this meal apart from all others, is the gravy.

The turkey was almost totally devoid of gravy.

There was some thin, meager juice from god-knows-where drizzled sparingly over the stuffing mountain, but that was all.

This left diners trying to chew and swallow the dry, white turkey meat which was mostly hidden beneath the stuffing.

I had to ask the server for a dish of gravy on the side before I attempted to eat any of it.

Unfortunately, the concept of gravy seems to have eluded the cooks here at the Asylum. And not only on open-faced sandwiches.

They rarely put gravy (or sauce) on anything, and when they do, it is used so modestly that one wonders if it was left out on purpose.
And, while I am aware that some people enjoy their meals with little or no gravy poured over it, never putting gravy on anything shows a complete lack of basic culinary knowledge.

Maybe next time, I’ll just bring my own……………………………………….ff.

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