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It hasn’t been a great week for me here at the ALF. 

Two long-time staff members are leaving. I’m having a strange reaction to some new medication I’m taking. My electric shaver is no longer working which means I will have to shell out about $80 for a new one, and I lost a friend, raising my already fragile anxiety level sky high. The only good thing is I know there are people around that will help get me over these bumps in the road. Companionship is one of the positive things there are when one is a resident of an assisted living facility. ALF’s provide (or should provide) much more than an occasional shoulder to cry on. But what exactly is an ALF required to do? As it stands today and depending upon which state they are located in, the answer to that question can vary quite a bit.

The problem with regulating assisted living facilities lies in defining what they are. Their definition differs from state to state and can range anywhere from a rooming house for old people to a geriatric resort/medical facility/retirement home. And in that lies the problem. If they can’t devise a standard definition of what an ALF is, who has jurisdiction over the operation of such facilities?
The only thing that most locations can agree on is, assisted living facilities are not nursing homes which, are well defined.
“In response to reports of widespread neglect and abuse in nursing homes, Congress enacted legislation in 1987 requiring nursing homes participating in Medicare and Medicaid to comply with certain quality of care rules. This law, known as the Nursing Home Reform Act, says that  nursing homes “must provide services and activities to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being of each resident in accordance with a written plan of care.” To participate in Medicare and Medicaid, nursing homes must comply with the federal requirements for long term care facilities.”
Under federal nursing home regulations, nursing homes must:

l     Conduct initially a comprehensive and accurate assessment of each resident’s functional capacity. (42 CFR §483.20)
l     Develop a comprehensive care plan for each resident. (42 CFR §483.20)
l     Prevent the deterioration of a resident’s ability to bathe, dress, groom, transfer and ambulate, toilet, eat, and to communicate. (42 CFR §483.25)
l     Provide, if a resident is unable to carry out activities of daily living, the necessary services to maintain good nutrition, grooming, and personal oral hygiene. (42 CFR §483.25)
l     Ensure that residents receive proper treatment and assistive devices to maintain vision and hearing abilities. (42 CFR §483.25)
l     Ensure that residents do not develop pressure sores and, if a resident has pressure sores, provide the necessary treatment and services to promote healing, prevent infection, and prevent new sores from developing. (42 CFR §483.25)
l     Provide appropriate treatment and services to incontinent residents to restore as much normal bladder functioning as possible. (42 CFR §483.25)
A complete list can be found at >>  http://www.nursinghomealert.com/federal-nursing-home-regulations-and-state-laws

"But, while the federal government maintains a certain control over the nursing home industry, its oversight over those facilities that call themselves assisted living facilities remains in question. That’s because, in some places anyone can open a facility and call it assisted living. Only if they accept Medicare and/or Medicaid funds, do the feds get involved. "

Why do we need the standardizing of regulations across state lines?

First there are the consumer aspects to consider. 

Assisted living facilities are, not only expensive to run, but are expensive to live in. And just because a fancy brochure says one thing, what guarantee do I have that it will fulfil those promises? In some places, none.

Who regulates and oversees the goings-on in these facilities? In my state (N.Y.), it’s the NY State Department of Health. And they do it with an iron fist. They set standards for food, environmental services, staffing, housekeeping and distribution of medicines and medical services. They perform unannounced spot inspections which may include personal interviews with residents. They meet any infraction of the rules with loss of a license for those facilities that constantly show a disregard of the regulations. This guarantees that any perspective resident of an ALF will get the same basic care in a lower- end facility as they would in an upscale one.
“There is little in the way of federal standards around Medicaid-funded assisted living facilities, leaving states mostly in charge of regulating them. So without clear guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), these facilities largely operate under a hodgepodge of rules set by states’ long-term care departments.

A sad result of that lack of regulation was seen at Valley Springs Manor, a California assisted living facility that closed with no warning back in 2014, leaving 19 residents inside without care. The incident gained national attention when a cook and a janitor stayed behind until the residents were safely relocated, shining a light on how little is required of these facilities.”*

One would think part of the licensing procedure for assisted living facilities would be proof of financial stability so that an incident like the one above won’t happen. I can’t think of anything worse than waking up one morning to find they have abandoned you. If done right, federal regulation of these facilities would end such a threat.

America’s population, like many other countries, is growing older. And the need of places for older people to live grows with it.

Assisted living is a ten-billion-dollar a year industry. New facilities are popping up daily. This means that there is fertile ground for both good and bad elements to take advantage of. 

History has shown that, if left up to the individual states to oversee these facilities, it’s easy for many important details to be overlooked. Our seniors have to know that when they check in to one of these places, their safety, security and wellbeing will be the last thing they have to worry about………

  Editor’s note: To better understand how the regulation of ALF’s differ from state to state, take a look at this survey. https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/assisted-living-policy-and-regulation-state-survey
*source: https://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-assisted-living-oversight.html

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Breaking Down The Complex World Of
Social Security Spousal Benefits
By Jamie Hopkins

Social Security is part of the bedrock of retirement security in the United States. For one-third of all retirees, Social Security represents nearly all of their retirement income. For two-thirds of retirees, Social Security makes up more than half of their retirement income. Overall, Social Security represents nearly one-third of all retirement income for retirees. A recent Gallup research study showed that roughly 57 percent of retirees indicated that Social Security is a “major” retirement income source.

The importance of the system is obvious as is the need to understand the best claiming strategies.

Many people are familiar with how their own Social Security benefits work – but fewer are aware of how spousal benefits work. And spousal benefits can be complex with numerous claiming options and factors to consider.

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Once Again, Is AARP Advocating For
Older Americans Or For Itself?
By Patricia Barnes

In 1996, the New York Times said the AARP’s credibility would be at stake if it proceeded with efforts to license its name to managed care plans for a fee because “the policies that might be best for the elderly are not always the policies that are best for the bank account of the A.A.R.P.”

Undaunted, the AARP charged full speed ahead.

Since then, the AARP’s for-profit financial juggernaut, AARP Services, Inc., has earned so many billions from big insurance companies that it stopped publishing its annual report on its web site in 2013. And it has expanded to other businesses that are too numerous to cite.

Meanwhile, an unprecedented number of older Americans are being driven into bankruptcy due, in part, to astronomical health care costs. Research shows the rate of U.S. citizens over the age of 65 who are filing for bankruptcy increased about 204% from 1991 to 2016. This reflects an almost five-fold increase in the percentage of older persons in the U.S. bankruptcy system. Older Americans report they are struggling with inadequate income and unmanageable costs of healthcare. 


Boomers Fondly Remembering Their
Favorite Childhood Brands

By Barry Silverstein

(This article is based on the new book, Boomer Brands: Iconic Brands that Shaped Our Childhood, by Barry Silverstein, published by GuideWords Publishing.)

If you’re a boomer, do you have fond memories of the Saturday morning TV shows that entertained you as a child? Those shows were engaging, but they were also vehicles for brand advertising. Chances are that’s how you first got to know your favorite cereal, soft drink and snack food brands.

“Boomer brands” such as Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, Good Humor ice cream and Hostess Twinkies claim a cherished position in our memory banks. These brands largely influenced what we pressed our parents to purchase, and what we craved as kids. The brands we knew and loved then, we remember to this day.


12 apps that are actually helpful
for senior citizens
By Carrie Rogers-Whitehead

Smartphone adoption among senior citizens nearly quadrupled from 2011 to 2016, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

In 2011, 35% of all adults had a smartphone while 11% of seniors did. Just five years later, 77% of all adults carried a smartphone while 42% of seniors owned the addictive little devices.

As more seniors adopt smartphones, app developers have worked to meet the unique needs and challenges of this demographic. Seniors often have less experience using mobile phones and can suffer from a lack of confidence when using their devices. Other seniors may be limited in their smartphone use because of physical challenges.

Fortunately for any tech-connected senior, there’s an app for that. Here are 12 apps designed for the elderly among us:

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Growing old is all about loss.

As we age we lose our hearing, our sight, our finances and, sadist of all, our friends and loved ones. At the A.L.F. , death is a monthly, if not a weekly occurrence. And this week was no exception. But this week was different. The only real male friend I had here suddenly passed away. And all the Lexapro in the world could not get me out of this deep funk I feel. In fact, I was so bummed-out this week I was thinking of not writing anything for this post. 

Al (real name) died alone, in his room, sometime Friday morning. Al was a dialysis patient for many years and, when he did not meet his thrice-weekly transportation to the dialysis center they sent an aid to his room. He apparently died sometime between 11pm and 9am. But from what? There is a lesson here.

When not at dialysis, Al was my table-mate for most of our three-meals-a-day here at the A.L.F. Next to sex, nothing promotes intimacy as does dining together. During those meals, people (especially old people) discuss their illnesses with each other as if they were presenting a case at a medical convention. I knew all his ailments and malady’s, and he knew mine. Therefore, it was not unusual for him to complain of a pain just north of his bellybutton. I asked if his ulcerative colitis was acting up. He said this pain was different. It felt more like indigestion. That was last Tuesday evening.

Wednesday he was in the lobby waiting for his dialysis transportation as usual. He has a sour look on his face. “I’m so sick”, he lamented. I urged him to speak to someone at his dialysis center if he did not feel well. I did not see him again until 7:30 Wednesday evening when he came to my room and asked me if I had any anti-acid. I gave him a Zantac pill. I pleaded with him to seek medical attention if that pill didn’t help. Unfortunately, he never took my advice. And so ensues the mystery. What could have caused someone to die who’s only symptoms was stomach pain? As it turns out, many things. One of them quite serious.

Angina, or chest pain caused by lack of blood flow to the heart, can feel a lot like heartburn.
"The major key is if you're getting heartburn when you're doing strenuous or moderate activity," says Dr. Ryan Madanick, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, in Chapel Hill.
If you're 50 or older and getting heartburn—especially if you haven't had this kind of pain before—it can raise suspicion of angina. Suspicions can also be raised if you're younger but have heart risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease.

The there is this. And this is what I am leaning towards as it applies to Al….

Abdominal aortic aneurysm**

"An abdominal aortic aneurysm is an enlarged area in the lower part of the major vessel that supplies blood to the body (aorta). The aorta runs from your heart through the center of your chest and abdomen.

The aorta is the largest blood vessel in the body, so a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm can cause life-threatening bleeding.

Depending on the size of the aneurysm and how fast it's growing, treatment varies from watchful waiting to emergency surgery."

Unfortunately, unless the family requests it, there will be no autopsy, and we will most likely never know the true cause of death. But a point is made nonetheless.

Don’t be brave. If you are in pain, and it’s a pain you have not experienced with such intensity before, seek medical attention. When you reach a certain age, very little can be cured with over-the-counter medications. There were many sources of medical help Al could have received here. We have a nurse, a doctor and a number of health aides available here. All he had to do was to tell somebody. But he didn’t and I lost a friend and I feel lousy. …………………………

*source: https://www.foxnews.com/h
**Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/abdominal-aortic-aneurysm/symptoms-causes/syc-20350688ealth/9-serious-conditions-that-mimic-heartburn

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8 Dos and Don’ts of Dealing With a Grumpy Spouse

When dealing with a spouse who’s is a bit grumpy, we often forget to simply ask why he or she is upset, says David Kaplan, chief professional officer of the American Counseling Association. Try to find out what's bothering your spouse. Once you identify it, you can figure out the best way to handle it. Counseling can be helpful if a prolonged bad mood is due to common issues such as difficulty adjusting to retirement or dealing with the aging process, says Kaplan.

1. Never take anything personally,

2. While you can’t control your partner’s mood, you can help shape it.

3. Though it’s easy to go from a bad mood to an argument, never react to your spouse’s mood with name-calling or put-downs,

4. Talking about the cause of a bad day or mood can help,

5. The way you confront your spouse about his or her bad mood matters.

6. Pay attention to your tone of voice and body language,

7. Anger is like a hot potato. If someone punts it to you, it’s really easy to get hot yourself

8/ When dealing with a spouse who’s is a bit grumpy, we often forget to simply ask why he or she is upset

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A Clearer Map For Aging: 'Elderhood' Shows
How Geriatricians Help Seniors Thrive

By Terry Gross

Geriatrics is a specialty that should adapt and change with each patient, says physician and author Louise Aronson. "I need to be a different sort of doctor for people at different ages and phases of old age."

Dr. Louise Aronson says the U.S. doesn't have nearly enough geriatricians — physicians devoted to the health and care of older people: "There may be maybe six or seven thousand geriatricians," she says. "Compare that to the membership of the pediatric society, which is about 70,000."


4 cities in the USA where you can live
on Social Security benefits alone

By Katie Brockman

If you're behind on your retirement saving, you're not alone. Half of adults over age 55 have no retirement savings at all, according to a survey from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, and only around a quarter of U.S. adults are considered financially healthy, a report from the Financial Health Network found.

When you're nearing retirement age with little to no savings, you'll likely end up relying on your Social Security benefits to get by. That's not necessarily an ideal way to spend retirement, because the average beneficiary receives only around $1,400 a month, according to the Social Security Administration. There's also the possibility that benefits could be cut in the next few decades, so if you still have time to save for retirement, it's best to save as much as you can.


Excessive Napping Linked to
Cognitive Decline in Older Men

Excessive napping may be an early warning sign of age-related cognitive decline in older men, according to a 12-year study by UC San Francisco scientists.

The researchers used wrist-mounted sensors to track sleep–wake habits over five days in nearly 3,000 men over the age of 65 living in community housing situations, then followed-up with cognitive assessments over the subsequent years.
older man napping on couch

The authors previously reported that men who napped for more than an hour a day at the beginning of the study were two to three times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease within 11 years. Now, a study published June 18, 2019 in Alzheimer's & Dementia extends those results to suggest that napping may also precede the risk of dementia and cognitive decline more broadly.

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Is That Big Mac
Draining Your Brain?
Dementia Linked To Fast Food

“Fast Food Linked To Dementia, ‘Irreversible’ Brain Damage”

Being a consumer of vast quantities of fast food in my lifetime, a headline like that caught my attention. Let’s face it. We all know that fast food is not that great for you. Lots or fats, lots of salt, and loads of sugar are not exactly what the doctor ordered.

I did not grow up eating fast food. For the most part, it was non-existant in the late 1940’s and 50’s. I don’t think I had my first McDonald’s burger (or any fast food) until I was well into my teens and began to drive. I think it was somewhere in the wilds of New Jersey that the lure of the twin arches called to me like one of Homer’s Sirens. I found the burgers to be much juicier than the ones my mom made. Little did I know that the “juiciness” came from a higher percentage of fat in the ground beef than my mothers leaner chopped sirloin burgers. The bun was better too. I don’t think a sesame bun was available outside of Micky D’s. In any event, I was hooked.

Taco Bell, KFC, Roy Rogers, Arby’s and New York street food such as the greasy-water hot dog, by-the-slice pizza, and the gyro became part of my culinary repertoire. Little did I know all that seemingly delicious food would slowly turn my brain into something akin to a “special sauce.”

Before we demonize fast food altogether, let us point out that the study done on the connection between fast food and dementia also said that it was not just the food that was the problem, but the unhealthy lifestyle that usually accompanies the fast food culture. 

“According to research conducted by a team from the Australian National University, people nowadays eat an extra 650 calories more per day compared to 50 years ago. Lead researcher Prof. Nicolas Cherbuin said that people’s unhealthy eating habits and lack of regular exercise puts them at serious risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The unhealthy lifestyle was also linked to the deterioration of the brain’s functions.

He added that prior research suggested that the brain’s deterioration happens slowly, but their study has shown that the process hastens due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. He claimed that people who eat too much unhealthy food and lack exercise to burn calories are highly likely to suffer from dementia and other signs of cognitive issues such as brain shrinkage.” *

We could apply the results from a study like that to practically any aspect of modern life.

Not only do we eat too fast, but we drive too fast, talk to fast work too long and play less than we did sixty or seventy years ago. All in an effort to accumulate things that, contrary to what we think, complicate rather than simplify our lives. 

Cell phones are great. I wouldn’t give mine up without a fight. But what have we really gained? What we have earned in they way of the ability to have constant contact with the world, what we lose is the lack of privacy and solace. We have lost our “alone time.” We are never out of touch of anyone. “They” can find us wherever we are. This means that we now stand a better chance of being interrupted when we actually do find the time to ride a bike or take a walk or play catch with your kids.

So let’s not put the cause of dementia solely on fast food. Nor can we blame it entirely on our lifestyles. There are other factors to consider. And, oddly, it is one benefit of living in our times. Better health care.

It’s no coincidence that people are living longer than our ancestors.

Two thousand years ago if you made it to 35 they considered you an old person. This statistic did not improve by much well into the 19th century. Now, living relatively decent lives to 85 or 90 is not that rare. Unfortunately, although the body might chug along on all eight cylinders, the mind has had longer to fill with sludge. Therefore, the very thing that keeps us alive also means we now have a longer time for illnesses we never saw in older folks to emerge.

And then, there are the dolphins.

The last time I visited a Burger King I am sure I did not see any dolphins on line ordering a Whopper. And yet, according to a study by lead researcher and neurology professor at the University of Miami Dr. Deborah Mash, there is a link between Alzheimer’s signs in dolphins and humans. Her team joined forces with researchers from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and discovered that beached dolphins’ brains exhibited signs of beta-amyloid, the toxic protein that many researchers think leads to Alzheimer’s symptoms.

“In addition to beta-amyloid, the scientists found that the dolphins had been exposed to cyanobacterial blooms that come from toxic algae. This bacteria has been found in contaminated drinking water and certain fish. The recent discovery caused the researchers to conclude that some aquatic creatures we ingest might affect our brain. The study supports previous research that explored a connection between cyanobacteria and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. Mash thinks that if we avoid certain types of seafood or eat it in moderation, we are less likely to be exposed to toxic substances that could harm the brain. However, more research needs to be done to determine whether cyanobacterial exposure is causing Alzheimer’s symptoms.” **

Well, there goes my order of “Fillet-O-Fish on a bun. And, blimey, there goes me fish-n-chips too.
The study used the brains of dolphins that beached themselves. They got lost. Just like uncle Ralph when he wandered away from the home and wound up in Coney Island asking when the next train to Pittsburg was leaving. It appears, even the Dolphins are eating the wrong kinds of food. 

Maybe it’s inevitable. The longer we live the chance that we will become more dotty increases.
The Bible (Psalm 90, verse 10) states “The days of our years are threescore and ten.” Which, if true, means that I have outlived my stay by three years. Maybe I’ll take a trip down to Miami and see if I can find some demented dolphins to swim with. I bet I’ll feel right at home……………………………………………
*Source >> https://www.medicaldaily.com/fast-food-causes-dementia-436765
**Source: https://www.beingpatient.com/alzheimers-signs-in-dolphins-and-humans/

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9 Jobs You Can Do From Home

Working From Home:

Whether you already work and want to make more money or are retired and looking to supplement your income, there are jobs out there that fit the bill.

“Many people who are retirement age opt for 'patchwork careers' — they piece together a variety of jobs they can do from home or on their own schedule,” says Christine Durst, a home-based career expert and co-founder of "Theratracerebellion.com" Here are nine great make-extra-money suggestions.

“The offshoring movement — which sent so many phone-based customer service jobs overseas — has turned around and become a ‘homeshoring’ movement, creating thousands of home-based customer service jobs in North America,” says Durst.

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Study finds over a quarter of adults
aged 50+ are deficient in vitamin D

by Trinity College Dublin

Over a quarter of adults aged 50+ are deficient in vitamin D according to researchers from Trinity College Dublin who announced their findings today (Thursday, June 13th). Over half (57%) had inadequate serum vitamin D levels, of which 26% were classed as vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D has a known role in bone health, with growing evidence for beneficial effects on muscle strength and other non-skeletal outcomes. The study was recently published in the international, peer-reviewed journal Nutrients.

Better understanding of factors that contribute to vitamin D deficiency is needed to identify people most at-risk. Determinants of deficiency identified in this new study were female gender, advanced age (80+ years), smoking, non-white ethnicity, obesity and poor self-reported health. Researchers therefore identified a profile of older people more likely to be at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Being of a healthy weight, retired, engaging in regular vigorous physical activity, vitamin D supplement use, sun travel in past 12 months and summer season were positive determinants, and therefore potentially protective factors against vitamin D deficiency in older people.


Weighing risks and benefits of
drug treatment for major depression

Depression is a common and serious problem for older adults. Some 15 to 20 percent of people aged 65 and older who live independently deal with symptoms of major depressive disorder. For residents of nursing homes, the rates of depression may be as high as 50 percent.

For some people, medication is an effective part of treatment for depression. However, when considering whether to prescribe antidepressant medication for older adults, healthcare providers must weigh the safety risks these medications pose against the often modest benefits they can provide compared to other options.


Supplements for Brain Health
Found to Have No Benefits

More than a quarter of adults in the United States age 50 and older take at least one supplement for brain-health reasons.  (26% according to the recent 2019 AARP Brain Health and Dietary Supplements Survey).  Brain-health supplements generated $3 billion in sales globally in 2016 and are projected to reach $5.8 billion by 2023.  It’s a massive waste of money.  Despite adults’ wide-spread use of brain-health supplements, there appears to be little reason for it. 

The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) is an independent collaborative of scientists, doctors, scholars and policy experts from all over the world brought together by AARP.  After undertaking an evidence review of brain-health supplements’ potential effectiveness, the GCBH determined it could not endorse any ingredient, product or supplement formulation designed for brain health.  Instead, the GCBH concluded that for most people, the best way to get your nutrients for brain health is from a healthy diet.  Scientific evidence does not support the use of any supplement to prevent, slow, reverse, or stop cognitive decline or dementia or other related neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s.

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Dodging the Bullet

Unless I get hit by a bus or choke on an over-cooked French fry, I most likely will be around a few more years. At least I will not die of kidney disease. Not soon anyway. A visit to my nephrologist on Monday confirmed that, although I have 3rd stage kidney disease, it probably will not progress any further. This diagnosis was like music to my ears.
For the last month I have been concerned over the results of a routine blood test which showed a high level of a substance called creatinine. The way the doctor explained it, “Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine phosphate in muscle, and is usually produced at a fairly constant rate by the body. Too much creatinine in the blood shows the probability of kidney disease.” A formula which takes into consideration the patient's age, weight and other things plus the amount of creatinine determines what stage kidney disease one has. Stage 5, or end stage, being the worst, usually requires dialysis treatments. According to my doctor, stage 3 is far, far away from that. This was the diagnosis I hoped I would hear. The reason for the rise in creatinine remains some what of an enigma. 

The body needs calcium. Often we don’t get enough. When calcium levels become too low, conditions such as osteoporosis can occur. A high calcium level can be just as perilous. Guess what? I have been taking medication for excessive calcium levels for the last 7 years. This excess calcium causes crystals to form in the kidneys. As long as these crystals remain small and sand-like, no problem. If however, they clump together, Bingo; you got kidney stones. How did this all come about?

Our bodies are marvelous things. All those parts and systems working together and humming away like a well-oiled machine. But, despite its resilience, when one component goes bad, the rest of the body can collapse like a row of dominoes. Often, illness comes on violently and progresses rapidly. Sometimes so much so, that unless treatment begins immediately, death may follow. And even if your life is spared, the trauma and the attack on the body generated by that illness can cause a myriad of problems down the road. In my case it was ulcerative colitis which brought about virulent infections which affected every part of my body, including my kidneys. Fortunately, then as now, I lived through it. For what reason I have yet to discover. Dodging the bullet or cheating the reaper is a thing with me. 

My first close encounter with death came when I was about 9-years-old. I was climbing a wrought iron picket fence when I became impaled on a spike. The spike came within a 1/4 inch of severing an artery which could have caused me to bleed to death. Amazingly, there was a doctor's office across the street where I receive emergency care.

Fast forward 30 years. I’m walking down a street in the financial district of NYC when an out-of-control car jumped the curb, brushes the back of my pants and crashes through a bank window taking two pedestrians with it. Had I been only one step slower, I might not be here today.

I am not going as far to say that somebody up there likes me. Or that G-d has a plan for me. But one has to question the sensibility in keeping me alive. The frightening thing is, what happens when the role He has planned for me comes to fruition without me knowing it? Will I see a vision? Will a heavenly finger point at me any say in a stentorian voice, “That’s it for you?” Perhaps that’s all a little too weird to think about. 

The doctor told me there isn’t really any treatment for 3rd stage kidney disease except to monitor the numbers and for me to drink a lot of water. In any event, I live yet another day. A day for me to tell my tales, laugh my laughs, sing my songs, and contemplate my existence. Not bad for a Tuesday, huh?……………………………………………….

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How to file a loved one’s taxes
after they’ve passed away

Bill Bischoff

A loved one who was “financially comfortable” has passed away. What happens now tax-wise? Good question, especially if you’re the one responsible for taking care of such matters. This column addresses some of the most important tax-related considerations in this scenario. In two earlier columns, I covered other tax issues. Please read those along with this one to see the full picture. See How to avoid painful tax issues when settling a loved one’s estate and 5 key questions when you’re responsible for a loved one’s estate.

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What happens to the aging brain?
By Randy Meier

Many senior citizens call me and report the various scams and frauds they encounter, whether they lost money or not. And often in these calls, the senior will comment, “I think they are targeting us seniors.” In some kinds of scams that is certainly true, but until last week, I’d never considered one big reason scammers zero in on seniors.

The bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks. He replied, “That’s where the money is.” And that’s a huge reason seniors are targeted for many scams. That’s where the money is. AARP reports 83% of the wealth in the US is held by those over age fifty. The age demographic with the highest net worth is those between seventy and eighty years old.

I learned this last week listening to National Public Radio’s program Marketplace which broadcast a week-long series, “Brains and Losses,” exploring fraud and the aging brain. Researchers acknowledge that age itself doesn’t predict a loss of ability to resist scams, but they did identify a condition, “age-associated financial vulnerability.”

Continue reading >> https://www.clintonherald.com/opinion/columns/what-happens-to-the-aging-brain/article_b9b19987-a3e7-51df-9486-02c1b6903910.html


Baby boomers aren't to blame for
Social Security troubles, study suggests
By Ann Schmidt

Baby boomers are often blamed for putting a strain on Social Security, but a new study has found that the generation may not actually be responsible.

A new report from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has found that the problems facing Social Security today are a result of the way the program was developed in the late 1930s.

Social Security programs have increasingly been facing the threat of long-term insolvency. An official forecast released in late April projects the 84-year-old Social Security program will only be able to pay about 80 percent of the benefits promised in 2035.

“At or around 2034, you're either going to have to cut Social Security benefits very sharply or you're going to have raised taxes to basically keep benefits as they were," MarketWatch columnist Brett Arends told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto at the time.


Advice from AARP on how to
plan for long-term elder care

This week, the two U.S. Senators from Pennsylvania released a list of troubled nursing homes across the country that are considered a “Special Focus Facility” or a candidate for SFF.

Seventeen facilities from Florida were on the list compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Seven of them are in the Tampa Bay area.

WMNF asked AARP Florida spokesperson Dave Bruns what families should pay attention to when a loved-one needs elder care.

    “These issues just don’t start with selecting a nursing home. The issues start when family members begin to understand that an older loved one needs assistance with activities of daily living. And, that can start years, sometimes a decade, before somebody ends up in a Skilled Nursing Facility.

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Do You Feel Your Age? *

Do I feel my age? More now than I ever have.

Ten years ago, when I was 63, if you would have asked me if I felt 63, I would have answered you with a resounding “NO.” In fact, until that time, I hadn’t really thought much about getting old or feeling old.

Collecting Social Security (a sure sign that one has attained a modicum of crustiness) still did not make me feel old. I looked at it more like a payoff one gets for leaving the workforce. Even when I reached 65 and was eligible for Medicare, the thought I may be an old man never crossed my mind. 

One would think a two-year stint in a nursing home surrounded by nothing but old people in various stages of decomposition could make me question my senescence. But it didn’t. It was not until I left the nursing home and entered the strange world of assisted living did my “coming of age” moment arrive. Here I came face to face with people who, though chronologically my age, looked, walked, talked, and thought years older than I believed myself to be. This was enough to give me pause and question my status. Was I them? Are they me? Do I look to them as old as they look to me? That evening found me in front of a mirror inspecting the face I had looked at for over 60 years from a different perspective. 

Okay, there was gray hair. But I have had gray hair since my 40’s. so, no surprise there.
There was that waddle under my chin which disappeared quickly as I pulled my face tight against my ears as if to mimic the results of a cheap facelift. Not that. A lot a younger people have that. I checked for wrinkles. A slight crease at the corner of each eye. Hardly what one would consider being a wrinkle. My chin, however, proved more troublesome. 

Something placed two pronounced creases on either side of my nose, which has turned that space into a “muzzle” any Cocker Spaniel would be proud of. Odd, maybe, but still not elderly looking. So why was I suddenly questioning my age? A minute later, I found out. I turned from the mirror and grabbed the handles of my Rollator which I had been using to get around ever since I left the nursing home. As soon I took my first step, reality set in. I bent over the Rollator and began to push it slowly towards my destination, the bed. Walking, something I had done without giving much thought to all my life, had become burdensome. My gate had changed from that of a middle age man to one who, if someone did not know otherwise, would be that of a decrepit (and probably senile) old codger. 

On the edge of my bed I sat, contemplating my newly realized state.

I looked down at my hands which suddenly looked crooked and misshapen with wrinkly knuckles and crinkly palms. My feet told a sadder tale. My toes appeared as if they all wanted to go in different directions. They did not line up next to one another as they should. Little tufts of hair grew on each one. The small toe at the end looked like it was hiding from the others in shame. Yup. Definitely old toes and feet. Stopping the inspection there, fearing any further scrutiny would only make me feel older, I fell asleep thinking how smart it was of me to have made those pre-need funeral arrangements a few years back.

That was 5 years ago. I still had not attained the age at which I truly call people old. It’s the magic number that has defined the elderly throughout history. Seventy. Setenta, soixante-dix, siebzig, سبعون. No matter how you say it, it sounds old. The site of a 70-year-old able to do anything elicits oh’s and ah’s from an adoring public.

“Look, that old man just walked up a flight of stairs without dying. How spry he is for his age.”
“It’s amazing that a man his age can use a computer and knows how to set the time on his clock radio.”

At 70 I entered a new world. The world of perceived decrepit-ness and senility. 

A year earlier, at 69, I still would have been in the world of the “sixty-ish.” If 60 is the new 50, then being 69 meant that I was a man in his sixties. Not old.

“Is it true, Martha is marrying an old man?”
“Oh no, he’s only in his sixties.”

It doesn’t matter that the old dude is 69. He’s only in his sixties.

Look. It all boils down to it’s not how others define you, but how you define yourself. 

I know that I am no spring chicken. My body denies my efforts to act like 17 every day.

I am a realist. I know that I have a limited time on this plane. But I am stubborn enough not to make it easy on whatever entity has it in for me. 

Yes. I feel my age. So what?…………………………………..bwc.

 * Today’s topic inspired by an article by Bruce Horovitz for KHN.com (https://khn.org/news/why-your-perception-of-old-changes-as-you-age/amp/?__twitter_impression=true)

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Nursing Home Ratings:
Who Can You Trust?

On June 3, 2019, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) released a report called Families’ and Residents’ Right to Know: Uncovering Poor Care in America’s Nursing Homes. It included a list of nearly 400 nursing homes around the country where inspectors found serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems but whose names had not been publicly disclosed by the government. These nursing homes, with a “persistent record of poor care” do not appear on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare site with a yellow triangle icon resembling a “caution” sign the way other homes, in the government’s Special Focus Facility program, do. The reason, according to the report by Senators Casey and Toomey:”a result of limited resources” at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

You probably saw the viral Facebook post by the Texas man who said he planned to move into a Holiday Inn rather than a nursing home because it would cost  less. That’s a radical idea, and not an especially smart one. But with the average annual cost of a private room in a nursing home topping $100,000, according to Genworth, it pays to do diligent research to find a facility for your parent. And that means looking at nursing home ratings.

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See more cartoons in our cartoon gallery


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Half of boomers are cutting back on sugar
By Matthew Rothenberg

Survey shows this generation is restricting sugary snacks at a higher rate than its younger peers

Two out of every five Boomers are cutting their overall consumption of sweet snacks.

Does your health regimen include limiting sugary snacks and opting for reduced-sugar versions of your favorite treats?

You’re in good company, according to a new survey from Innova Market Insights, which found that U.S. boomers are cutting back on sugar at a higher rate than their younger peers.

One-half of boomers are buying more reduced-sugar products, while two in five are cutting their overall consumption of sweet snacks, Innova reports.

While the company did not have comparative U.S. figures for other age groups, it did point to global statistics that 76% of boomers had taken some steps in the past year to reduce their sugar consumption, compared with an average of 68% for all demographics.


When the Care is as Burdensome as the Condition

Harold Peterson’s* cardiologist prescribes medications for his heart disease. His primary care physician prescribes medications for his high blood pressure and also determined that his hip pain needed to be addressed. He referred Peterson to an orthopedist, who recommended surgery.

Peterson, who is in his 80s, lives with a variety of chronic conditions, and he’s far from alone. One in four Americans has multiple chronic conditions — ones that last at least a year and require ongoing medical attention, limit activities or both. The already high ratio of Americans with more than one chronic condition jumps to three out of four people ages 65 and older. Some of the most common chronic conditions: high blood pressure, arthritis and diabetes.

Someone who deals with chronic conditions is typically treated by a variety of specialists, as Peterson is. Each doctor runs tests and prescribes different medications and self-care homework. It’s not long before a person can feel overwhelmed and overburdened by his or her long list of appointments and care routines, says Dr. Mary Tinetti, an internist and chief of geriatrics at Yale School of Medicine.


How baby boomers are
reinventing the retirement home

No longer content to sit out their golden years in a nondescript condo, some baby boomers are looking to retire in an environment that reflects their lifelong passions and interests, and they're willing to pay for it.

Enter the niche retirement community: housing options that have very specific themes for retirees looking to stay active and engaged with kindred spirits. Some seniors are dancing the days away with fellow Parrot Heads in a Jimmy Buffett-themed community. Others are creating masterpieces with fellow artists at an art colony. Still more are taking college-level classes with other academically-inclined retirees. There's even a specific community for retired postal workers.

"People definitely want to be involved and they want to have access to continuing education, and to volunteer and to have places to socialize," Danielle Arigoni, director of Livable Communities at AARP, told The Week. "The degree to which any community is offering those amenities, I think that makes it really appealing for people."

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Downsizing This Blog (Maybe)

Usually, around this time of the year I asses the position of this blog in the universe. I gather the stats from two or three sources, look at the responses from readers on which topics evoked the most interest, and search my soul for a reason to continue. What I have found is not good.

Despite my efforts to reach a broader audience by changing the domain name and adjusting the editorial content, I have failed to attain the results I had hoped for. Readership (as far as overall visits is concerned) has dropped in the last two months. Thankfully, I have kept my loyal return readers, a stat, for which I am grateful. But the question remains. Do I want to put as much effort into this thing as I have and, do I want to do it twice a week? I’m leaning towards ‘No’.

Keeping in mind that, for much of the country the good weather has set in meaning that folks have a lot of better things to do than read someones insipid blog, I am putting off a final decision on this matter for at least the next two or three weeks. An alternative would be to scale back the blog (downsize if you will) and only write an editorial once a week (for Monday) and post news and other features only on Thursday’s. This would afford me an opportunity to explore some topics I have stayed away from because of the time to research them. 

And then, there is something else that may influence my time. My health.

I mentioned recently that they have diagnosed me with 3rd stage kidney disease. A diagnosis that took me by surprise. I have an appointment with my nephrologist on the 17th at which time I will know more about my condition. I just came back from having an ultrasound test on my kidneys and bladder along with a CBC and a urinalysis. They will transmit the results to my doctor. If all is well, the only treatment will be “wait and see” if the condition progresses. Or, they might prescribe me some medication. If they have found some icky stuff on my kidneys, well, who knows what will happen. I any event, this has been an unwelcome glitch in my life. Fortunately, being Jewish, I am pre-conditioned to hope for the best but expect the worst.

Anyone who has ever attempted a blog knows that it is more than just a way of expressing one’s thoughts hoping to find like-minded people who will support their views and values. It becomes, not only personal, but an important part of one’s day. Dedicated bloggers devote blocks of time just to compile, write, format, and publish their offerings. For retired people like myself it gives my day structure and a relief from the boredom of a daily routine. But one must also question the time spent on the blog vs. how much of an audience there is that would find value in it and adjust that time accordingly. I rapidly approach that point. For now, however, the status will remain Quo.…………………………………


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Keep senior citizens safe in the sun

Keeping your older relatives and neighbors safe in the sun goes beyond protecting their skin.

We invited Tom Pechar with Synergy Home Care of Wilmington to talk about some of the extra challenges seniors face when the temps outside heat up.

Tips to stay safe in the sun:

Drink Up: Seniors need to drink plenty of water or juice, even if they’re not thirsty. Dehydration is the cause of many heat-related health problems. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, which can contribute to dehydration.

Dress Cool: We’re not talking about the latest fashion trends. When it’s hot out, seniors should wear light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and a wide-brimmed hat.

Mind the Midday Hours: During extreme heat, seniors should stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. when the temperatures tend to be hotter.

Take it Easy: Seniors should avoid exercise and strenuous activity, particularly outdoors, when temperatures are on the rise.

Aim for A/C: If a senior’s home isn’t air-conditioned, he or she should seek out a public place with air conditioning during times of extreme heat, such as a mall.

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3 Food Trends Inspired By Millennials
That Older Consumers Are Eating Up
By Joseph Coughlin

“I begin my day with a breakfast smoothie with something green in it,” Jen reported proudly. She went on to describe lunch, “I have a salad, then maybe a snack in the middle of the day. For dinner I have one of those kits delivered with a big salad with protein and two vegetables for dinner.” With a smile she volunteers, “But, whatever I eat, I try to watch the carbs.”

Hearing this description of food choices, smoothies, “something green,” and meal-kits, might cause many of us to roll our eyes, and to mutter quietly,…”Millennials….”

But those of us muttering to ourselves would be wrong – very wrong. Jen is not a Millennial. Far from it. She is a member of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab’s Lifestyle Leaders, an extraordinary group of adults 85-years old and older that work alongside AgeLab researchers and students to explore the lives of the oldest old. Silver-haired, and leaning into the conference table, as if to ensure her place in the discussion, Jen was providing vivid details during an AgeLab session exploring the food choices, and meal behaviors, of the 85-plus.

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Senior Hunger Surges As Boomers Swell
The Ranks Of The Nation's Elderly

By Ted Knutson

The massive Baby Boomer generation which brought America the happiness of rock & roll and the Ford Mustang en masse is poised to trigger a surge in a scourge:

The number of Americans turning 65 each day has doubled since 2000.

At the same time, seniors afflicted with very low food security has soared nearly 250 percent.

If food insecurity is not addressed, the number of seniors facing hunger will soar to eight million by 2050 the Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks, warned in a new study.

Already half of older Americans are malnourished or at risk of being malnourished, the Senate Aging Committee was told at a recent hearing.


Impaired vision tied to perceived
discrimination in older adults

Older adults with impaired vision are at increased risk for perceived discrimination, which in turn is associated with poorer emotional well-being, according to a study published online May 30 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Sarah E. Jackson, Ph.D., from University College London, and colleagues analyzed data from 7,677 participants (mean age, 66.7 years; 52.4 percent female) in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing to assess the association between perceived discrimination among people with visual impairment and well-being.

The researchers found that participants with poor eyesight had increased odds of reporting perceived discrimination versus those with good eyesight (odds ratio [OR], 1.41). Additionally, participants self-reporting both poor eyesight and discrimination had increased odds of depressive symptoms (OR, 2.14) and loneliness (OR, 2.17) as well as lower quality of life and life satisfaction compared with those reporting only poor eyesight and no discrimination. At the six-year follow-up, prospectively reporting perceived discrimination was associated with an increased risk for depressive symptoms among participants with poor eyesight


Does aging make us more
susceptible to financial scams?
By David Brancaccio

The plan is to visit one of the scenes of the crime, the gift card rack at a local Walmart.

Department store gift cards are a favorite money transfer device of fraudsters. Over a two-week period, just after Thanksgiving 2017, Judy got caught in an elaborate scam that cost her close to $200,000. That is a fortune to most of us, and it was a fortune for Judy.

Judy is a registered nurse, skilled in the operating room. Well into what most would consider their retirement years, she still does fill-in nursing work. She goes to exercise classes a few times a week.

“I look back and I can’t imagine what I was thinking,” Judy said. “I was like a robot.”

“I just knew I had to go to Walmart, knew what kind of cards he wanted me to get, get into the car, tear off the back, give him the numbers,” she recalled.

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Snap, crackle, pop. No, that’s not a bowl of Rice Krispies doing its morning thing. That’s the sound I now make getting out of bed. At first, I found this cacophony startling. It sounded and felt as if every bone in my body had suddenly come loose from whatever keeps them together. Now, because it’s a daily occurrence, I’m startled if I don’t hear it. With the noise comes the pain. Usually, short bursts of electric shoot from one nerve to another coupled with cramping muscles and a hip joint that feels as if it somehow became dislocated overnight. This, kiddies, is one thing no one prepares you for as you get older. So as not to scare you I will tell you that after you get up and walk around, most of those aches and pains will, if not go away, at least lessen to a point that does not hamper your mobility. If the pain does not subside and only worsens, a trip to the doctor may be in order. 

We all know the old saying, “It’s not so bad being old if you think of the alternative.” This is a cop-out by people who are trying to make the best out of a bad situation. With futile results. I suppose if they allowed us to ease slowly into old age, the shock might not be as bad. In fact, there are many people I know of whose transition from stud to dud was hardly noticeable. A few gray hairs at the temples. Two or three “crow's feet” around the corners of the eye or a slightly expanding waistline are the only signs of approaching decrepitude. There are old curmudgeons like myself who experience “the change” differently. And it ain’t pretty.

 One day I was a vibrant, active sixty-year-old, and three days later I’m laying in a hospital bed feeling every day of those 60 years. Fortunately, I survived, but the long hospital stay was the start of my “coming of aged.”

There’s nothing that makes one feel old then having to use a wheelchair to get around.  The wheelchair is a great equalizer.Not knowing how many of you have ever had to use a wheelchair for an extended period, I can tell you it may be the most degrading single thing there is.

I don’t know why, but “upright” people have a tendency to, not only speak loudly to people in the chair, but more slowly. As if you are disabled AND deaf and mentally challenged as well. Having to look up at people when trying to carry on a serious conversation puts one in the position of a three-year-old asking mommy for a cookie. 

“Can I please have my f---ing Percocet now nurse? My f---ing back is killing me”
“Now be good Mr. C. You must wait your turn like all the other children.”

That, alone, is an incentive to work hard at physical therapy. However, getting out of a wheelchair is only the beginning of a road paved with potholes. Usually, a person does not just hop out of a chair and walk as they normally did. There is a gradual transition from chair to walker to Rollator to cane. And each one puts its unique stamp on your psyche.

Try this experiment. Go to a place that sells mobility aids like a surgical supply store or even some drug stores. Find the walker department and try one out. Take a step, lift the walker and put it in front of you, then take another step. Do this for 20 steps. At the end of twenty steps, if you do not feel like your 85-year-old grandmother I’ll send you a crutch tip for your trouble.

The pace, the position of the body along with having to lug around that cumbersome piece of tubular aluminum, gives you a whole new look at life in the slow lane.

I walk with the aid of a cane now. My sense of balance does not work that well. This may be for me having gone deaf in one ear as the result of a conflict of medications.* I need a cane to keep me from drifting to the left like an old car badly in need of a wheel alignment. It’s not really that bad. And, if used properly, can give one a sense of security. It’s more like a fashion accessory than a mobility aid.
Wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and Rollators are just part of the paraphernalia of aging. There are other ‘must haves’ when one goes over the hill. While most of those accouterments deal with health issues, some items are merely desperate attempts to regain one’s youth. This usually manifests itself by how one dresses.

While older ladies still put themselves together, we guys are clueless with fashion. We adhere to one rule. “If it looked good on me when I was 17, there’s no reason it shouldn’t look good now.”

This would be okay if we just didn’t wear everything we own all at once.

Checkered shirts are okay as are striped pants. Together, not so much. But that fashion faux pa does not discourage them from combining the two. Fortunately, there are only a few who follow that form of haute couture. Most old dudes fall somewhere in between what is fashionable and what is practical. Baggy jeans, held up by suspenders, a lumberjack shirt and a pair of Dr. Scholl tennis shoes with Velcro closures are the uniform of the day here at the ALF. I must admit that, except for the suspenders and lumberjack shirt, that’s what I wear most days. It’s not a great look, but a look none the less.

Before I am accused of being ageist because I poke fun at my fellow oldsters let me say this. Shut up. Nobody enjoys a good ribbing more than a senior citizen, as long as it’s made in jest and, by other seniors. Unfortunately, there are those that make fun of old people because they think we are dumb, inept, smell funny or dress oddly. And still, others because they consider us too old to learn new things or be of value to a community many of us have lived in all or our lives. And then there are those that shun the aged, not because of the stereotype the media has made of us, but because they see us as their future. And it doesn’t look good. To them, I give this advice. Now would be a good time to make nice to old people through the legislation you pass and programs you enhance. And remember. There but for the grace of God go I. ………………………………..

* This was the opinion expressed by some doctors. Unfortunately, it can’t be proven ending any chance of a big malpractice lawsuit.

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Best Ways to Manage Life Insurance
Proceeds After a Spouse Dies

I handled all the household finances and bills throughout my 32-year-marriage to my husband, Dale. But when he suddenly died of a massive heart attack at 57 last year, I was so traumatized by the loss, I couldn’t think clearly about managing his life insurance proceeds. In an instant, I had more cash rolling in from it than either of our incomes had ever produced.

Luckily, I have a family member who’s a finance expert. He helped me make key decisions about how best to handle the money. That meant figuring out things like what debt should be paid off, how much to leave in liquid assets (like bank accounts and money-market funds) and setting up a budget.

But not everyone has someone like that. If you don’t, here’s what I suggest you do if you find yourself needing to manage life insurance proceeds after the death of a spouse.

Continue reading here >> CLICK HERE <<

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Where is workforce really booming?
Among the oldest workers.

Older workers are the fastest growing part of the U.S. labor force. The number of workers age 65 to 74 will be 55% higher in 2024 than in 2014, the Labor Department projects. And the projected increase for workers 75 and older is 86%.

For some senior workers, it’s about earning needed income. For others, it’s about improving one’s lifestyle by giving of one’s talents. Among employers, the hiring boom is partly cyclical. In a tight job market, McDonald’s for example announced it was teaming up with AARP to recruit seniors to fill 250,000 openings this summer. But companies also see it as a long-term shift in their employment base. For many, age diversity in the workforce helps them cater to older customers as well as young ones.

A bias against maturity persists, as some prominent age-discrimination lawsuits attest. Still, opportunities are growing for people like Darneese Carnes, who hit a mental low point after losing her job in her mid-50s. Now, after help from a nonprofit called Operation Able, she’s happy in a job for Boston’s iconic duck-boat tours. “I love driving!” she says. “I love people.”


Connect to Older Adults:
Technology to Improve Wellbeing

When I first connected with Linda (name has been changed), she was in her early 70’s, retired, and serving as the primary caregiver for her mother with dementia. Linda had joined a clinical trial I worked on as a clinician, and we were testing the effect of an app-based program aimed at improving symptoms of depression and anxiety. These are symptoms Linda struggled with for most of her life.

A bit older than our average research participant, and with countless barriers to receiving traditional mental health services, Linda was exactly the type of person I hoped technology-enabled mental health programs could benefit. Still, I had some concerns about her ability to engage with the program.

Although research shows older adults (age 65+) have lower levels of technology adoption compared to younger generations, this age group is embracing technology at a rapid pace and they are more connected than ever before.


Many older adults fall at home
in well-lit rooms

By Lisa Rapaport

Elderly people who fall may not always be stumbling over things in the dark. A new study suggests most of these falls at home happen when there’s plenty of light.

Falls are a leading cause of disability and diminished quality of life among older adults, but much of the research to date on the underlying causes of these incidents has relied on medical records that don’t illuminate exactly what led to the accident, researchers note in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

The researchers examined data from weekly online surveys of older adults to get a detailed picture of what factors contributed to 371 falls reported over a four-year period. The study included 120 people who fell at least once, as well as 38 who did not.

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NEXT BLOG Thursday JUNE 13TH 2019

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Walking For Fitness:
It’s not for everyone.

It was just a mere 16 years ago that I went on a fitness binge. For me, this meant getting any of my body parts to move even when they were uncooperative. Like most men in their 50s I had become comfortably sedentary. 

It’s not that I lay on the couch all day, eating Cheeto’s and watching TV. I had a job which required me to get up and out of bed, get down to the subway and make my way into the city where, I would plop myself down in front of a computer and listen to people’s complaints for the next 8 hours. And then, do the whole thing in reverse. By the time I walked thru my door in the evening, I had had it. All I wanted to do was to eat dinner and lose myself in some mindless prime time programming. Naturally, this routine was not conducive to a healthy lifestyle. I put on weight and was feeling more exhausted than I should have. I decided to do something about it. 

I searched about for a diet I could live with and settled on Atkins* as having everything I needed. But I knew it would take more than just adjusting my food intake to improve my health and promote weight loss. The dreaded “E” word reared its sweaty head. I knew I had to exercise, but how? The thought of joining a gym, putting on a pair of shorts, and perspiring with a bunch of other out-of-shape Rocky wannabees, turned me right off.

 I needed something that was low impact and, most important, not boring. Oh, and it had to be something that would not cost me any money. The only thing that fit the bill was something that most physical fitness experts agree on as being one of the best things you can do for your body. And that was walking.
Having walked for over half a century, I figured I could do that without too much trouble. The only thing I did not count on was the amount of walking I would have to do to attain any health benefits. According to most people who have studied this stuff, 10,000 steps a day is a minimum if you want walking to do any good. But just how much time does it take to walk 10,000 steps? As I found out, it was more than I thought.

I mentioned I didn’t want to spend any money no matter what exercise regimen I decided upon. That’s not entirely true. I bought a digital pedometer that clips on to your belt and records the number of steps you take. And, while I can’t guarantee that the count was accurate, for my purposes it was accurate enough. So, how many steps is 10,000. More than I thought.

I started the count just as I left the door to my apartment. It was two blocks to the subway and then almost 12 blocks from the subway to my office. Sounds like a lot of walking, huh? The total number of steps I took during the day (including any walking I did in the office and the couple of blocks I walked to and from lunch), only amounted to about 7500. Twenty-five hundred steps short of my goal. It disappointed me. I would have to walk more during the day. Fortunately, living in New York City, the solution was simple. Thanks to the subway.

On the average, they space most subway stops ten blocks apart. It would just be a matter of finding out how many steps 10 blocks comes to. 

The station nearest my job was the West 4th Street station on the 6th Ave. Line. The next day I decided I would get off one stop sooner, which was 14th street. This now meant that my walk to work was now over 20 blocks. A daunting proposition, especially in the dead of winter with the wind blowing up through the “canyons” of lower Manhattan. But, I was young and full of piss and vinegar and I didn’t mind the walk at all. In fact, I looked forward to it. The extra 10 blocks (actually 20 blocks because I did it on the way home too), brought my total number of steps well above the 10,000 mark. And, I felt great. 

The walking plus the Atkins diet enabled me to lose over 70 lbs. in about 9 months. Not a quickie diet, but one which I could stick with. But that was then and now is now.

I’m 20 years older now. And I feel every one of those years. The thought of walking 10,000 steps or even 1000 steps is beyond my comprehension and my ability. The years have taken their toll on both my physical body and on my willingness to do anything that involves exerting any energy.

Two or three years ago, I could force myself to walk around the property here at the ALF. It wasn’t great exercise, but it was something. Now, I have no desire to do so. 

My hips hurt and my back. I tire more easily and get bored quickly.

The staff encourages all residents to walk more. But they don’t know what it takes to do that. I literally have to “psych” myself up just to get out of a chair. And getting out of bed becomes an almost religious experience. I know it’s not good for me, and I will most likely feel the consequences of my actions as time goes by. They told me I could use the stationary bicycle in the physical therapy room. All I need now is the motivation to do it. But I have to ask myself. How much pain am I willing to suffer just to gain a few more years? I’ve had more pain in the last 10 years than most people will have in a lifetime. When is enough, enough?……….

*Atkins is a low-carb diet that allows you to eat more food than most popular diet plans. It worked for me. However, please consult your healthcare professional before starting any weight loss regimen.

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What Do I Do If I Lost My Credit Card?
By Ben Luthi

If you've experienced that sunken feeling that comes with losing a credit card, the most important thing you can do is to avoid panicking.

Whether you think someone has stolen your wallet or you've simply misplaced your card and can't find it, there are some steps you can take to limit any potential fraud that could occur. And the sooner you start taking those steps, the better.

Take these five steps to limit your vulnerability to fraud, cancel your card and get a new one:

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For older women, just 7,500
steps a day lowers mortality
By Elaine St. Peter

In the world of step goals and activity trackers, the number 10,000 can sound like a magic one. A large body of evidence shows that physical activity is good for health and longevity, and many wearable devices that track the steps a person takes each day come preprogrammed with a daily goal of 10,000. But few studies have examined how many steps a day are associated with long-term health outcomes.

A new study led by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital sought to address this knowledge gap by examining outcomes over an average of more than four years for older women in the Women’s Health Study who had measured their steps for a full week. The team reports that, among this cohort, as few as 4,400 steps a day was significantly associated with lower risk of death compared with taking 2,700 steps a day. Risk of death continued to decrease with more steps taken but leveled off at around 7,500 steps a day — less than the default goal in many wearables. The team’s results were presented Tuesday at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting and published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“Taking 10,000 steps a day can sound daunting. But we find that even a modest increase in steps taken is tied to significantly lower mortality in older women,” said I-Min Lee, an epidemiologist in the Division of Preventive Medicine at the Brigham. “Our study adds to a growing understanding of the importance of physical activity for health, clarifies the number of steps related to lower mortality, and amplifies the message ‘step more.’ Even a little more is helpful.”


Social Security Benefits Have Lost 33%
of Their Buying Power Since 2000

By Maurie Backman

How's that for depressing?

Millions of seniors collect Social Security in retirement, and for a large chunk, those benefits constitute the bulk of their income. Unfortunately, those who rely on Social Security too heavily risk struggling financially during their golden years, and new data from the nonpartisan Senior Citizens League is further driving home this point.

Social Security benefits have lost a whopping 33% of their buying power since 2000, according to a new report. And even though recipients saw a pretty generous cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, in 2019, that boost was effectively negated by other rising expenses.

Food and medical costs -- things seniors tend to spend a large of their income on -- rose more so than other common expenses, leaving beneficiaries to bear the brunt. And despite the fact that the average monthly Social Security benefit rose by $39 this year, that increase wasn't enough to compensate for the fact that the overall cost of living is rising more rapidly.


US life expectancy grew in past century,
but so have serious health woes for the elderly

By Erin Blakemore

In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States was just 47.3 years. Today, it is 78.6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many people will outstrip that average.

But is that advance really worthwhile if it only means more time feeling old and infirm? In a feature article online and in the May 20 edition of the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik talks to researchers and innovators trying to make old age feel younger.

It’s a tricky paradox: More life doesn’t necessarily equate to more youth. And as Gopnik reports, senior citizens actually hate products that could improve their lives but are clearly designed for older people.

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I have been using a computer since 1989 or there-about when I began work at a company that had recently switched from an analog way of keeping records and order entry to digital. It wasn’t a PC as we know it today. It was a simple black-and-white screen that required the user to type in commands to find what you were looking for. They called it DOS (Direct Operating System), and it worked well for those who learned how to use it. It was not what one would call “user friendly.” I took a while to get the hang of it. That’s probably because I came to the wonderful world of computers a little later than many of my friends.
Many of the people I knew had computers at home. There were names such as Atari, Commodore and Coleco. But as far as I could see it was foolish to spend $700 to well over $1000 ($4000 to $6000 in today’s $$) just to play games or store recipes. I guess in that regards; I was not much of a futurist. But despite me, somehow the darn things became popular both at home and in business. 

Soon, the Apple I-Mac and Microsoft’s windows PC’s, computers became the invaluable tools they are today. However, for many older Americans, the computer and all of its offshoots like Tablets, Smart phones, Smart watches and many other tech products remain a mystery and something they might even fear. Living here at the A.L.F. near to many older seniors (those born before 1945) the gulf that divides “Techies” from “Technophobes” is clear. Fortunately, among those that are not tech savvy is a sub-group of folks willing to try anything. 
They have taken a while, but many embraced specific pieces of hardware. The Smart phone and tablet being the forerunners, with the laptop or Mac Book taking a back seat. And, even those folks that have become used to using a tablet stay clear of things like email, Facebook and any other apps that require inputting data. This is a shame. Because there is so much that seniors could find helpful in their daily lives.

 SeniorNet.org -Seniornet.org    - lists some of more useful tech items for older Americans.*

Must-Have Technology for Seniors

Video and computer games. Whether it’s World of Warcraft, Angry Birds, or the Nintendo Wii, video games have been shown to improve cognition, mental agility, and even physical health for seniors, with devices such as the Wii Fit. Not only that, video games can promote social interaction. 

Skype. Speaking of social interaction, one piece of software every senior should get familiar with is Skype. Communicating with family long-distance is a snap, you can view your loved ones in real time, and it’s available for smartphones, tablets, and regular computers.

Health tracking software. If your senior loved one has a computer or a mobile device, they should be aware of the wealth of software and apps available to help monitor their health, remind them of medications, and even track their nutritional needs, empowering them to take charge of their own wellness. It’s a branch of technology that’s invaluable for caregivers, too.

Wireless internet. Most of the technologies on this list wouldn’t be possible without wireless internet. If you want your senior parent to take full advantage of these devices, make sure their residence is internet-ready. Even nursing homes are using wireless internet technology to make it easier for residents and care providers to communicate quickly.

Wireless home monitoring. Home monitoring systems that employ sensor devices can be, literally, lifesavers for those seniors who live alone, either at home or in assisted living. They can detect emergencies such as falls, report unusual behavior, and even track vital signs—without intruding on privacy.

GPS. If you’ve got a senior loved one who is concerned about getting lost, or who has dementia and occasionally wanders, GPS technology can immediately alert caregivers to their location if they leave their comfort zone. There are separate GPS trackers that attach to the wrist or clothing, as well as smart-phone GPS apps.

While I agree that the above tech-ware is useful, asking older seniors to embrace all of them may be dreaming. I felt it necessary to narrow the list further with the tech I feel every senior should use.

Tablets and smart-phones are great, but they lack one thing. A real keyboard. While young people, whose fingers and minds are nimble enough to maneuver around those on-screen virtual keyboards that pop-up out of nowhere on hand-held devices and disappear just as quickly, seniors find them practically useless. And voice commands rarely work or deliver the wrong information further alienating the older user.

Therefore, I recommend either a tablet with an attached real keyboard, or a small Android OS laptop (11” screen or smaller) as a primary device. Since most seniors know how to type, an actual keyboard automatically makes the device more “friendly.” Having the ability to type in a question for Google gives the new user a gateway to the internet. Believe it or not, many of the folks here at the ALF do not understand how to go online using their present devices. They spend most of their time playing the games that came with the gadget. 

Okay, so now the senior can access the internet. What is there to do? Probably too much. Billions of pages of articles, blogs, shopping, and social media. It’s overwhelming. That is why I have listed the basics here. It’s not everything, but it’s not meant to be. I know these folks. They will embrace anything they find of value and little that isn’t. They have no time for fancy crap. They want basic tools that bring them joy, information and camaraderie. Enter social media.

For this discussion I will include email as part of social media. Every senior should have an email account and become used to checking it at least once daily. Email has become the prime** one-to-one communication media on the planet. There are many free and well-known email services available.
Since my first home computer (a Compaq desktop dinosaur) I have used Hotmail (also known as Outlook) as my email provider. Microsoft is constantly upgrading the service and has made it one of the most reliable and user friendly email providers around. Google’s Gmail is another free and practical service. For seniors, email is more than a way of chatting with friends or complaining to retailers about the pants that don’t fit. It can be a way of staying up-to-date with the world. Email is a way of letting others know of your whereabouts. It is a way of sending links to articles about new medications and other information vital to a seniors health and wellbeing. Nobody can read every article from every magazine. But others can, and, they can send them to you. The other reason for having an email account is that no online vendor will let you buy anything unless you enter an email address. This brings us to one of the other reasons for seniors to go online. Shopping. 

Let’s face it. We don’t get around like we used to. Many of us have given up driving and depend more and more on public transportation to get us where we have to go. While this is for a visit to a friend or a trip to a library or restaurant, it’s not so good if the mall or supermarket is your destination. How are you going to get all of those new purchases home? Most merchants don’t and supermarkets don’t deliver anymore. But there is a solution. One I have been using for nearly 5 years. 

In the New York City area we have a few services that allows the user to place and order online and even have it delivered within hours. Among these are Pea-pod, Fresh Direct and Instacart.*** 

I prefer Instacart because they send a real person to your local supermarket and pick your order. They will substitute unavailable items with items you choose. In addition, they let you know exactly when the driver will be at your door and even send your their picture. To date, they have never disappointed me with their service. This kind of semi-personal service is invaluable to anybody with mobility issues who just can’t get to the store.

The article in SeniorNet.com mentioned Skype as must-have tool. I agree with that. The basic service is free and, once set up, is fairly easy to use. And, they can use it with both hand-held and traditional computers.
And finally, there is Facebook.

Despite that Facebook has come under harsh criticism as of late, it remains the most widely used tool for people to interact with each other. And, for seniors, any chance to lessen their isolation is a godsend. I know, that if it weren’t for Facebook, I would have lost contact with many dear friends and relatives who live too far away from me to visit. Facebook makes me feel I am still part of their lives. I know their kids, grandkids, and their pets. I can even go on vacation with them so-to-speak. I can converse privately with them when I feel blue or depressed. And the best part is, most of the kids have left Facebook and are texting instead, leaving it all to ourselves.

There are hundreds of great apps available that seniors will find useful. A good word processing app like WPS makes writing anything (like that great novel you have been trying to finish easier). And, let’s not forget the entertainment apps like Netflix or Hulu which, for a modest sum, allows access to thousands of movies and TV programs.

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. However, you can show them how their lives could be so much better if they just tried. ……………………………..

*Source >> https://seniornet.org/blog/10-pieces-of-technology-seniors-should-embrace/
** I’m excluding Instagram and instant messaging and other text-based media as they are best used by young people who know the various codes word to use. (BFF, LMAO, POS etc.)
*** Instacart also delivers from other stores like CVS.

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How to sleep better:
Tips and home remedies

By Jenna Fletcher

2.New mattress
3.Limit alcohol
4.Regular bedtime
5.Sleep-friendly bedroom
6.Wind down
7.Large meal
8.Large beverage
10.Bedroom only for sleeping

Getting enough good-quality sleep is essential for a person's physical and mental health. Some simple sleep hygiene practices and home remedies can help people sleep better.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people aged 18–60 years get 7 or more hours of sleep each night. However, 7–19% of adults in the United States are not getting enough sleep, according to survey results, while an estimated 50–70 million people have an ongoing sleep disorder.

Chronic sleep deficiency can increase a person's risk of certain health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, depression, and diabetes. Tiredness can increase the likelihood of injuries, for example, due to drowsy driving or operating heavy machinery without full concentration.

In this article, we look at some tips and home remedies for getting a better night's sleep. We also cover when to see a doctor.

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Older adults expect to lose brain power,
but most don't ask doctors how to prevent dementia

Many Americans in their 50s and early 60s are worried about declining brain health, especially if they have loved ones with memory loss and dementia, a new national poll finds.

But while the majority of those polled say they take supplements or do puzzles in an effort to stave off brain decline, very few of them have talked with their doctors about evidence-based ways to prevent memory loss.

As a result, they may miss out on proven strategies to keep their brains sharp into their later years, says the poll team from the University of Michigan.

In all, nearly half of respondents to the National Poll on Healthy Aging felt they were likely to develop dementia as they aged, and nearly as many worried about this prospect. In reality, research suggests that less than 20 percent of people who have reached age 65 will go on to lose cognitive ability from Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia or other conditions.


For seniors, handing over car keys
is never easy to do
By Rebecca Maitland

It’s a touchy subject for many, and it was not that long ago that when the day came for a senior to turn over their car keys, that it meant a loss of freedom, possible isolation, and loneliness. Today, there are so many transportation options — from Uber, Lyft, taxies, Metro, and private senior transportation companies — that no senior, even if they are wheelchair bound, or have difficulties getting around, should think they are “stuck at home.” Moreover, most retirement communities provide transportation for their residents, a great benefit of living in those communities.

All of these options mean seniors can continue living a full life. They can be as busy — or busier — as always.


Life expectancy has increased in the past century,
but so have health woes for the elderly

By Erin Blakemore

Adam Gopnik writes that the AgeLab researchers found the “most effective way of comforting the aged . . . is through a kind of comical convergence of products designed by and supposedly for impatient millennials, which secretly better suit the needs of irascible boomers.” (Brigitte Lacombe)

In 1900, the average life expectancy in the United States was just 47.3 years. Today, it is 78.6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and many people will outstrip that average.

But is that advance really worthwhile if it only means more time feeling old and infirm? In a feature article online and in the May 20 edition of the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik talks to researchers and innovators trying to make old age feel younger.

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At The A.L.F

This past Monday, Memorial Day, we had our annual Friends and Family bar-b-que here at the A.L.F. And, as I was stuffing myself full of burgers, hot dogs, chicken and ribs and basking in the sun of a brilliant mid-spring day, I overheard a comment one of my fellow residents made to his guests. 

“I have no stress", he said. “For the first time in my life, I have no stress.”

I smiled slightly as I heard this. For a while I thought I was the only one who felt the same way.
You can say what you want about assisted living, but the one thing I can say in its favor is that they have eliminated most (if not all) of the things that cause one stress in daily life.

If you are fortunate enough to live in a state that has a well-regulated assisted living program, one which assures a certain standard throughout the industry, then most of anything that should cause one worry should no longer exist. This includes such things as rent, utility bills, food, and medical care.

Yes, it was great to be young, free, and independent with a job that paid good money. And, if you were diligent and invested that money wisely, you even had some left over for all the little perks that life has to offer. The nice apartment, the late model car, the ability to dine out and travel to interesting places. And, as long as you had a job, there was no reason you should ever have that lifestyle interrupted. But just having a job insures nothing. One must also be able to keep that job. And in that lies an often unseen factor. Stress.

Few people can say that they worked in a stress-free job. Even if you own your own business, the stress can be debilitating. You are under constant pressure to perform at a high level just to keep the job that has afforded you the lifestyle you made for yourself. And, while younger employees may cope with the stress, older employees are not that fortunate. As anyone who is a middle-age person or older knows, stress can come from circumstances outside of the workplace. Things that, for younger people, don’t exist.

There is the stress associated with family life. Suddenly you find you are responsible for the welfare of others. The wife, the kids and, sometimes older, ailing parents. Add to that your own age-related health problems, and you have more than your share of weight on your shoulders. And, what makes things worse is that the stress becomes a debilitating factor of its own.

Long-term stress can harm your health.*

“Health problems can occur if the stress response goes on for too long or becomes chronic, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. With chronic stress, those same life-saving responses in your body can suppress immune, digestive, sleep, and reproductive systems, which may cause them to stop working normally.

Different people may feel stress in different ways. For example, some people experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability. People under chronic stress are prone to more frequent and severe viral infections, such as the flu or common cold.

Routine stress may be the hardest type of stress to notice at first. Because the source of stress is more constant than in cases of acute or traumatic stress, the body gets no clear signal to return to normal functioning. Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, and mental disorders like depression or anxiety.”
For years I wondered why my health took a dramatic turn for the worse shortly after I lost my job. Having never been seriously ill in my life, this attack to my system came as a surprise. 

My doctors too were at a loss to explain the cause of my illness. Attempts at growing cultures which would have possibly led to a non-surgical cure were futile. Only recently have I come to realize that stress might have been an underlying factor.

At sixty-years-old I found myself out of a job. My unemployment benefits and some severance pay was fast running out. Efforts to find meaningful employment went for naught. I could see my secure way-of-life ending. How would I pay my rent? I would have to get rid of my car. Would I have to take some menial job just to keep a roof over my head? And what about health insurance? I was too young for Medicare and soon, I could not afford the $350 a month private health coverage. For the first time in my life, it worried me. Not good for anybody. Especially a 60-year-old out-of-shape man.

These were some things I thought of as sat on the sun-drenched patio of the place I now call home. Fortunately, those problems are in the past. My life here at the A.L.F. all but assures me of an almost problem-free existence. I have found the perfect place for me now. And, while it might not be what one would consider an ideal situation or one that somebody should aspire to, I have the security I need at a price I can afford. 

For anybody resisting entering an assisted living facility I would ask you to consider the lessening of stress as a factor. Even if you have the resources to live an up-scale life, the comfort of knowing that one can exclude the small intrusions that make one’s time on this planet subject to angst should be more than enough incentive to make you at least look at assisted living as a viable alternative.  ...................

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7 reasons why being in pain is a pain
By Franklin Warsh, MD, MPH

I’m now walking the second mile in another man’s moccasins, and it’s no more enjoyable than my first mile.

Many doctors cringe when they see a chronic pain patient on their day’s schedule or at least certain chronic pain patients. Some of that dread isn’t directly caused by the patient but rather the deluge of third-party administrative demands: workman’s compensation updates, disability applications, insurance forms, lawyers’ letters, etc.

Still, even when the patient comes with no untoward paperwork needs, pain patients can be a difficult bunch to cope with. If it’s not the long wait for a referral that has them in your office every other week, it’s the pills that didn’t work. If it’s not the physiotherapy that aggravates things, it’s the escalating dose of opioid that’s pushing the limits laid out in the guidelines. Even the patients you have a fabulous relationship can wear on you — to say nothing of those days when you’ll do anything to get them out of your office.

Can we learn anything when that patient is a doctor?

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Middle-income seniors risk falling
through cracks in housing market

By Tara Bahrampour

WASHINGTON - Mary Gerace has lived here since 1963 and loves it. But at 73, she worries that someday she may become too frail to stay in the rent-controlled third-floor walk-up apartment where she has lived for 42 years. Then, she fears, she won't be able to afford to remain in the city.

"I'm fine now, thank goodness, but a surprise fall or a serious illness could change that," said Gerace, who retired three years ago from working in human resources at a small company. The low rent on her apartment, which she shares with her brother, enables her to own a car, eat out sometimes, and take occasional day trips.

But local senior housing facilities she has looked into cost many times more than what she now pays, and far more than her savings would cover. "As I look around the Washington area, I realize that I'm going to have to look outside of here," possibly to another region of the U.S., she said.


Tattoos: It's Never Too Late for Body Art

Tattooing is such an ancient art that some tattoo tools found in Europe are estimated to be 12,000 years old. But it’s only in the past few decades that tattooing has started to lose its stigma. It was actually illegal in Oklahoma until 2006 and banned in New York City between 1961 and 1997.

Tattoos were originally used by people who identified with certain groups or as symbols of rebellion. The art has since gradually moved to the mainstream and is now popular among people of all ages, even those who never thought they would take the plunge.

“Growing up, the only tattoos I saw were on men, and they were big and ugly, and scary,” said Stanice Patricia Myttenar, a 78-year-old retiree who lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. “I thought there was no way I’d ever do that to my body!”


New report says more parents
helping adult children financially

By Michael Finney

Half of American parents say they sacrifice retirement savings to financially support their adult children.

The Bankrate survey found higher earners with adult children are more likely to dip into their savings, while lower-income parents are more likely to have never saved for retirement at all.

In fact, one in six parents making less than $50,000 said supporting their grown-up children prevented them from putting away anything for retirement.

Meanwhile, 60-percent of those with adult children and a household income of 80-thousand said they've cut back on their retirement savings in order to pay for their adult children's bills.

Those include cell phone and car payments, insurance, housing and student loans.

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Empathy and Old Age

I admit, until ten years ago I didn’t care much about the suffering of others. That’s not to say that I wanted people to be in pain or that I would not try to help someone who needed it. But because I was in relatively good health, I could not relate to what others might feel. I believe that this is how most people go about their lives. Not that they are hateful, or uncaring. They just don’t know what it’s like to struggle with even the most minimal tasks of daily life. So, what changed the way I look at people who can’t manage like the rest?

Anyone who has ever had to undergo physical therapy, even short term, knows how agonizing it can be. The pain from whatever injury or surgery put you there, lingers on long after the initial shock. This is especially true if the injury has affected your mobility. Not being able to walk without the aid of a mechanical device does things, not only to your physique, but to your mind. It’s a double blow to your body that takes more effort to overcome than most people are ready for.

After an extended hospital stay, where I spent most of my time on my back, I lost the ability to stand and walk. I left the hospital on a stretcher and found myself in a nursing home/rehab facility in Queens, NY. Subsequent surgeries led to more hospitals and other rehab facilities. Each time my progress seemed to go in reverse. A year and a half went by before I could stand up by myself. Add to that another 6 months of painful exercises until I could transfer form a wheelchair to a walker. People in worse shape than me were my constant companions. I could see the pain on their faces. And soon, I could feel, not only my pain, but the pain of others as they struggled to regain some piece of their former lives. I remember one incident well.

It was early in my rehab. I could stand up only with the help of a physical therapist. As I strained to rise, I noticed an old man working by himself on the parallel bars. With every step he took, a grimace appeared on his face. To this day I cannot explain what happened next. I began to feel his pain too. Not physically, but emotionally. A deep feeling of sorrow and empathy overcame me. I began to cry. I don’t know if I was crying for him or for me. But the feelings were real and strong.

I never had feelings that intense again. Which is a good thing because now, as a resident of an assisted living facility, I am surrounded by people who live with pain. However, I have not lost the affinity to know when someone is suffering. And now, instead of turning away, I want to make that pain go away. So I listen. I listen to people kvetch.* And by doing so, I hope to absorb some of that pain. But don’t misunderstand. I don’t do this for some altruistic gain. I do it because I believe that man cannot live as an individual unit. We are all connected. We are a collective organism that can only survive if the problems of one become the concerns of all. This is a lesson learned by many. Unfortunately, we learn it too late in life. 

I am not the only resident here that has become emotionally involved with their fellow residents. Except for those residents in the late stages of cognitive decline, most of us have become empaths. We come to the aid of a resident who has fallen or who does not feel well. I have seen people, who can barely walk, hold the arm or push the wheelchair of someone who is having difficulty. People share things with those who are in need. Everything from food to grooming aids and even toilet paper. I have even seen residents share pain relievers like Percocet or Oxycontin. It’s as if we have all suddenly joined an exclusive club whose only qualification for membership is to have been “around the block” a few times and have experienced things that others would find difficult to even think about.

A poem, written in 1895 by Mary T. Lathrap, puts much of this into perspective**

“Judge Softly”

“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows
That were his, unknown to you in the same way,
May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins.
Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain.
Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own,
And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice
Should whisper as soft to you,
As it did to him when he went astray,
It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow-minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.”

We hope you had a safe and healthy Memorial Day………………………………..

* Kvetch, a Yiddish word that means to gripe or to complain. 
 ** Source >> https://jamesmilson.com/about-the-blog/judge-softly-or-walk-a-mile-in-his-moccasins-by-mary-t-lathrap/

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What to expect as you age

Your body undergoes many changes with aging. Although there are some normal age-related changes, including in a person’s memory and thinking, dementia, or severe memory loss that interferes with daily life, is not part of the normal aging process.

What is normal aging?

Signs of aging can start as young as age 30. The process of aging includes many changes in the body:

    Heart and blood vessels: Stiffening of arteries and blood vessels makes the heart work harder. Physical activities such as walking long distances or walking uphill may become more difficult

    Bones: Bones shrink and reduce in density, making them more fragile and likely to break. Cartilage in joints may start wearing away, which can cause some pain or stiffness

    Muscles: Muscles lose strength, flexibility, and endurance over time. Muscle mass decreases 3%–5% every decade after 30 years of age, and that rate increases over age 60

    Bladder and bowel: The ability for the bladder to stretch and then go back to its normal shape may be reduced. This may cause the bladder to hold less urine than before, resulting in more frequent trips to the bathroom. Changes in bowel can lead to constipation

    Skin: Skin loses elasticity too, resulting in wrinkles in some people. It also thins and becomes more delicate, making it easier to get bruises and cuts

    Vision: Changes in vision can include far-sightedness, a result of the hardening of the lens. Cataracts, a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision, may develop. This can cause blurry vision and ultimately blindness if not treated

    Mental health: Aging is a process with many changes, and it may take a little getting used to. Some people may be depressed, although others may have a sense of fulfillment and feel happy with their lives

    Memory and thinking (cognition): Normal aging may mean slower processing speeds and more difficulty with multitasking, but routine memory, skills, and knowledge are stable and may even improve with age. It’s normal to occasionally forget recent events such as where the keys were last placed or the name of the person you just met

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People Over 50 Are Avid Tech Users -
So Why Are They Ignored?

By Jessica Baron

When we talk about technology use, we tend to think about what Millennials are buying, what Gen Z is into, and the effects it has on children. When we think about older adults, specifically those aged 50 and up, the articles start to address safety and mobility issues, fraud protection, and assisted living gadgets.

But here’s the thing, people over 50 are a huge, diverse market for tech. Not all of them fit the mold of less-than-savvy grandparent just using technology to keep in touch with the kids. They are embracing technology from wearables to social media to video games at a steady pace and according to a 2018 AARP survey, they’ll spend over $84 billion a year on technology products over the next 10 years.

Today, 91% of American adults aged 50+ report having a computer and over 80% between the ages of 50 and 64 report having smartphones. While the majority of older adults use technology to keep in touch with friends and family, let’s explore just a few of the unexpected ways in which this growing demographic engages with tech.


Senior Hunger: 5.5M Older Americans
 Struggle To Find Enough Food

By Beth Dalbe

Some 5.5 million Americans depend on Feeding America's network of 200 food banks for healthy, nutritious food.

Hunger among senior citizens is in many ways an invisible crisis, but the troubling reality is that 5.5 million older Americans are skipping meals or going entire days without eating anything. And with more Baby Boomers leaving the workforce every year, the problem is getting worse, not better, even with a strong economy.

"Oftentimes, all food insecurity is under the radar, but this is a really, really important topic," said Craig Gundersen, the lead author in The State of Senior Hunger report released Tuesday by Feeding America, a Chicago-based nonprofit that operates 200 regional food banks and 60,000 food pantries around the country...


'Zombie cells' buildup in your body may play role in aging

Call them zombie cells — they refuse to die.

As they build up in your body, studies suggest, they promote aging and the conditions that come with it like osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease. Researchers are studying drugs that can kill zombie cells and possibly treat the problems they bring.

Basically the goal is to fight aging itself, which hopefully will in turn delay the appearance of age-related disease and disabilities as a group, says geriatrics specialist Dr. James Kirkland of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. That's in contrast to playing a "whack-a-mole game" of treating one disease only to see another spring up, he said.

The research has been done chiefly in mice. Earlier this year, the first test in people was published and provided some tantalizing results.

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Counting My Blessings

I awoke this morning at around 6am and glanced around the room. The sun, whose rays were now streaming through the slats in the blinds, shed its light on my humble abode, the 10 x 20 foot room I call home. “Not much to show for 73 years on this planet”, I thought.

There, were my prized possessions. My laptop that allows me interaction with the world. My dresser, atop which sits my TV and Roku device that provides me with news and entertainment. And a small refrigerator, the content of which comprises two bottles of V8, a chunk of Cheddar cheese, a bottle of hot sauce, and a half empty bottle of soy & ginger salad dressing. I also have a bed, a clock radio and a very tiny closet which houses my entire wardrobe. “Shabby”, I thought as an old Peggy Lee song, “Is that all there is?”, found its way to my brain. But then reality set in and I realized that things could be worse, much worse. It was time for reflection and to count my blessings.

Like most folks who have been around for a while, I had collected a lot of stuff over the years. And, while I am sure that at the time It all seemed very important, I now realize, in the grand scheme of things, it meant little. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy having all the trappings of affluence, I did. But the effort it took for me to accumulate all of it made me forget what really was important. 
People rarely think about their (good) health as a blessing, until things go south. I suppose it’s part of the human condition that makes us believe that our body’s immune system will always be there to protect us from all the little evils that want to do us harm. Until, it doesn’t. However, once realized that we are not the perfect machine we thought we were, every day becomes a blessing and, we should cherish it.

People need certain basics to make us feel human. In these regards, I feel privileged. Though not fancy, they meet my needs, and meet them rather well considering my circumstances. 

I have a space of my own. It’s a place where I feel safe and where I can go when I need to be alone. Not luxurious, but more than adequate. I often wonder why any single person needs anything more.

I addition, I receive housekeeping services, laundry service, clean linen and towels and maintenance when needed. I have heat in the winter and lovely air conditioning in the summer. There is even an exterminator just in case any unwanted visitors wander in.

WiFi, cable and telephone is provided at a nominal fee and I never see a utility bill.

There are medical professionals on the premises, and someone is always there to assist me should I get into trouble. And, though not a gourmet’s paradise, I get fed three times a day. 

Another thing about being where I am is I know that there are people here that care about my wellbeing. Not the same as a relative or close friend might care, but enough to make me feel safe. 

Finally, and perhaps the most important thing of all is, I am not alone. As I get older and my circle of friends become narrower, the importance of interacting with other people becomes even more important. And here, at the ALF, there are plenty of humans to confide in, commiserate with and even have a good laugh with when you’re feeling blue. 

Am I rich? Hardly. Would I like to have my old life back? Yes. Am I bitter that things did not turn out as I had planned? Maybe a little. But I don’t let my misfortunes outweigh what I have. A stress-free environment where I can lay my head down at night and dream of the future……………….

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How To Help Middle-Income Seniors
Pay For Their Long-Term Care Needs

By Howard Gleckman

Recent articles in the journal Health Affairs attempted to attach numbers to a problem that millions of American families are intimately aware of: Many middle-income older adults cannot afford to pay their out-of-pocket costs for health care and senior housing. And the problem is going to get worse once the Baby Boomers begin to hit their late 70s and early 80s, the age at which they will require more substantial medical and personal care.

The article, by Caroline Pearson and five co-authors, focused primarily on affordability of senior housing such as assisted living. They projected that in 2029, when the oldest Boomers will reach their early 80s, one-third of middle-income seniors will not be able to afford supportive housing and medical care. Among those with no home equity, eight in ten will not have the money to pay for facility-based care.

Remember, the authors are not looking at all seniors, but rather than share of middle-income older adults who will not be able to afford care. Effectively, no low-income seniors can afford significant levels of paid care, thus most will land on Medicaid.

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Older Americans are relying too much on
Social Security as a main source of income

By Paul Davidson

If you're planning on relying solely on your social security check for retirement, you may want to reconsider. Here's why.

Many older Americans view Social Security as a financial workhorse for their golden years.

Yet the program provides far less income than they think, partly because they tap the entitlement before reaching retirement age, a new survey shows.

Forty-four percent of older Americans who are retired or plan to retire within 10 years see Social Security as their main source of retirement income, according to the February survey of 1,315 adults age 50 or older by the Nationwide Retirement Institute, a unit of Nationwide Financial. And 26% believe they can live comfortably on Social Security alone.


Net benefits: why the elderly are going online

Any time a new social media platform or app comes out, my mind is sufficiently bamboozled. It took me far too long to get my head around Snapchat. In the end, my 13-year-old nephew told me I was too old and wouldn’t “get it”.

“Go back to Facebook, ” he said, which apparently is for dinosaurs like me. I’m 35. I grew up with slow internet, when being social meant talking to friends face to face and the word “app” was not in the dictionary. In a short space of time, technology has moved fast. So fast, that it may be daunting, terrifying and intimating to someone whose confidence in the digital world is decidedly limited.

While Snapchat may have me stumped at my tender age, people over the age of 60 have become the fastest-growing group of computer and internet users, despite changes, updates, new algorithms and faster devices making technology a minefield. This group are fighting any technology fears they may have and taking control of it to ensure they are capable of “aging in place”.


Physical and mental health of seniors linked to optimism, wisdom and loneliness:
Findings can be used to develop new,
health-focused interventions in aging populations

By Honor Whiteman

Ten thousand Baby Boomers turn 65 every day. By 2029, the entire generation born between 1946 and 1964 will be at least that old. What happens next concerns millions of Americans.

Advancing age is broadly associated with declining cognitive, physical and mental health. In a new study of older adults living independently in a senior continuing care facility, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine analyzed how distinctive factors, such as wisdom, loneliness, income and sleep quality, impact -- for good and bad -- the physical and mental functioning of older persons.

Writing in the May 8, 2019 issue of American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, a research team headed by Dilip Jeste, MD, principal investigator of the study, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine and director of the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging, found that physical health correlated with both cognitive function and mental health.

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Springtime At The A.L.F.
…an old mans fancy turns to thoughts.

I guess there isn’t anybody who doesn’t like spring. Unless you are a polar bear or a ski resort operator. If nothing else, it signals the end of winter. I could recite all the cliches associated with the vernal equinox like “It’s the season of rebirth”, or “renewal” and leave it at that. But for people living in assisted living facilities it means much more.

Primary in our happiness in welcoming spring is because we have lived to see another one. We lost many dear friends this past winter here at the A.L.F. and we miss them. So, just having made it to this point is reason to rejoice.

There are other reasons this season is so agreeable to seniors. It gives us the opportunity to get out of the building and breathe some fresh air. For the gardeners among us, it means a time to sew some seeds and plant some plants. And, those few of us who are sun worshipers, the brilliant sun and mild temperatures affords a chance of catching some badly needed rays. And, maybe even a tan. But spring, despite it’s brilliance, does have its faults.
If there is something called “late onset hay fever”, I’ve got it. This reaction to everything from tree pollen to mold spores is new to me. I never had it until I came here to the ALF where I am surrounded by flowers, grass, trees and everything else that sheds. Originally I thought, as a city boy, my system had not been in contact with all of those irritants and, therefore, wasn’t used to them. But then I remembered that I had a house on Long Island that had flowers and grass and trees and was not bothered by them at all. So, the only thing I can blame all this coughing, sneezing and watery eyes on is old age and the possibility of my immune system going haywire. Fortunately, a couple of OTC allergy pills usually relieves me of most of the symptoms. 

I addition to my bouts with nature, spring has recently elicited in me a yearning to do something I have not done in over 10 years. Get into a car and just drive. 

Because of circumstances both financial and physical, I knew I could never drive a car again. My eyesight and my hearing had deteriorated to a point where I felt uncomfortable behind the wheel. Add to this a slower reaction time, and I voluntarily gave up my license. But that does not mean that the urge to drive and, be able to experience the freedom that only a car can give has disappeared. And now that spring and the good weather has arrived, that urge has become stronger. It almost wants to make me go to the DMV to see if I could get my license back, rent a car and head for the open road. Then I remember that the price of gas has gone up in the last 10 years and tolls and everything else associated with car travel and that I can no longer afford it. Unfortunately, there is no OTC pill for that. Gesundheit.……….

There’s An Affordable Housing Crisis in America.
Something Else to Blame On Old People

It is only since the onset of the current administration have we leaned that old people are responsible for all the world’s ills.
Any middle school, high school, or college kid can tell you how all of us Baby Boomer era and older seniors caused air pollution, overpopulation, destruction of the rain forest, depletion of natural resources, lack of fish in the ocean, autism, auto-immune disease and the high cost of energy.

They have blamed us for putting a strain on America’s Social Security system, health care, and prescription costs. And, what’s even more unfortunate is that most of the blame comes directly from the federal government which appears to have placed the elderly in its sights and is keen to pull the trigger. But now there is something else they blame on us. The lack of affordable housing. Here’s their reasoning.
 We didn’t die when we should have. That’s right. We have the audacity to want to live longer. Unbeknown to the younger generation, we didn’t have the good sense to drop dead at 65 or 70 like our founding fathers, and are just hanging around to make their lives miserable.
Because we are living longer, we are staying at our jobs longer. This means that all those Millennials who just graduated college and can’t get those $100,000 a year jobs someone said was waiting for them even though they have no experience and a poor work ethic. How dare corporations keep an employee who has 30 years on the job and comes to work every day?
And now, they are making the same argument for the lack of affordable and even not-so-affordable housing.
According to curbed.com,* here are the main factors driving up the cost of housing.
“Baby boomers—those aged 55 or older—are living longer and more independently than previous generations. They’re also more likely than previous generations to be divorced and living alone. This means they have freed less housing stock up by elderly people dying or moving into assisted-living facilities. Sometimes, boomer homeowners are looking to trade down and compete for entry-level homes with other generations, putting upward pressure on prices on homes in the lowest price tier.”
“Millennials (defined as those born between 1981 and 1996), who grew up in the shadow of the Great Recession, have had a harder time finding jobs and thus often live with their parents for longer. And with millennials born in the 1980s now in their 30s, they are finding competition for entry-level houses from the generations before them—including older people who have already built up equity in existing homes. As with Generation X, these millennials’ continued presence in the rental market is driving up demand—and rental prices.
For millennials in their early 20s looking to move into their first rental after college, the pressure on the rental supply from older generations—and older millennials—is making it harder to find an affordable place, leading to what might be a long-term shift in young people living with family well into their 20s.”
Is the solution for us to “drink the Kool-Aid cocktail” at a prescribed age and leave all those nice rent stabilized apartments for the 30 somethings? Or, should planers consider the possibility that middle-class people are the backbone of any city?a And, driving them away because of the refusal to build affordable housing instead of luxury co-ops is a sure way to sound a death knell for the city………………………………….

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A Guide to Medicare Advantage/Part C Costs

Enrolling in a Medicare plan is a big decision. While you’re able to switch plans each year if you’re unhappy (in some situations more frequently) you still want to choose the best plan for your needs the first time. This means taking your out-of-pocket costs into consideration along with other factors. Medicare covers a wide range of medical services, but most are not free. Here’s what you should expect to pay out-of-pocket throughout the year if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage/Part C plan.

Premiums are the amount you pay each month out-of-pocket for your Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. The estimated average monthly MA plan premium for 2019 is $28, this cost may vary significantly. Some could be $0, while others could have premiums over $200.

To join an MA plan, you must also be enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B. It’s important to remember that Part B has a separate premium that you are responsible for paying even if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage/Part Cplan. The standard Part B premiums in 2019 is $135.50. per month.  You may pay more if you delayed enrolling into Medicare Part B and have a penalty, have higher income, and/or have under 40 Social Security work credits.

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Why Assisted Living is
Beneficial for Both Parties?

By: Ashley Graves

If you are concerned about the health and well being of your loved ones or senior parents then you will need to look for a facility that will offer the best support and assistance for their everyday tasks. Among the other options, the assisted living facility offers a host of benefits for the baby boomer generation for ensuring that they will have a comfortable and stress-free retirement life. Hence, if you find any of your loved ones is facing difficulty in carrying on the everyday chores, then you should consider moving him/her into this facility. You should also find out why assisted living is beneficial for both parties so that you can rest assured that you have selected the best option for your loved ones.

The most important reason why you should consider this option is because it offers long term professional care for seniors. Moreover, it offers round the clock assistance for the aging generation who might be incapable of carrying on the day to day activities themselves. If you are residing in California, then long beach assisted living is definitely worth your consideration as it offers a safer living environment for your loved ones. The round the clock assistance and supervision by experienced and trained medical professionals and nurses offers you complete peace of mind as your loved ones are in safe hands.


How Social Security Will Survive
By John Wasik

I'm always fascinated -- and frustrated -- with the tug of war over Social Security: Will it survive? Should we expand or privatize it? How do we bolster it for those who really need it?

Full disclosure: As someone who is looking forward to receiving it in a few years, I have a vested interest in seeing it survive. Privatization is a bad idea that needs to be put out of its misery.

When an efficient public program that lifts people out of poverty is run efficiently, it helps everyone. That's what Social Security has been doing since the mid 1930s. That why it's been expanded to include disability, survivors and spouses. It makes sense and it works. There is no private company that will duplicate it.


Americans have 'incredible' misconceptions
about Social Security

By Brittany De Lea

Older Americans – including current and future retirees – appear to have a meaningful lack of knowledge about Social Security and how it can boost their retirement income streams, according to a new report from the Nationwide Retirement Institute.

“What’s a little disappointing is that there continues to be an incredible number of misconceptions about Social Security,” Tina Ambrozy, president of financial distribution at Nationwide, told FOX Business. “The report showed that people really don’t understand the way Social Security works … [down to] even understanding what your income would be.”

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At The A.L.F.,
Putting On The Pounds
Is Easy

Once every month the staff asks the residents here at the A.L.F. to line up in the auditorium to have their weight taken. Why? That’s exactly the question I asked the first time they asked me to step on the scale. The answer was, “The Department of Health requires that we take and report the weight of all residents.” This, naturally, prompted me to repeat my question. Why? The answer to that question was not as forthcoming. The answers ranged from, “Because it’s the law” to “I don’t know.” I decided that until somebody could give the real answer, why New York State has to know how much I weigh, I would not take part in the program.* I have never received a satisfactory answer. They no longer bother to ask anymore. This does not mean that I don’t have my own ideas on the matter.

In the state’s favor, I think they want to know if we old folks are being fed enough food. Unfortunately, what they don’t understand is that weight gain is not necessarily a sign that people are eating well. They may eat a lot, or just eating the wrong kinds of food. In their effort to make sure we don’t go hungry, the state is unwittingly encouraging obesity. They do so by forcing the facility to show that the weight curve among residents skews high rather than showing an overall loss of weight. Therefore, it’s to the facilities advantage to keep us fat. And, it’s easily done.

As any dieter knows, the best way to lose weight (especially if you don’t exercise) is to reduce your intake of carbohydrates. Foods like potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta add calories which, when we get older and more sedentary, is harder to lose. Marathon runners “carbo-load” on pasta the day before the big race because it provides the fuel they will need to run 26 miles. There are none of us here at the ALF that could run for 26 feet. So why are we given so many calories producing foods? It’s all about the stats.
Look at this chart…

Even a non-expert would question the significant drop in weight among residents from one year to the next. The State’s immediate reaction to stats like that would prompt them to question if someone gave the residents enough to eat. I any event, it would not look good. For, the facility there’s an easy solution. Feed them more. But not just more food, more weight-producing food. Enter the carbs.
It took about a year after I moved here to realize that the ratio of proteins to carbohydrates was way out of whack. I noticed that almost every meal contained a starchy side dish. 

Breakfast usually always had hash browns or home fries besides the eggs and bacon. Then lunch would feature a pasta dish like spaghetti and meatballs, with the emphasis on the spaghetti.

Dinner brought no relief. Once again, a carb-loaded side dish (usually another potato) sat alongside a puny protein item. On over one occasion the baked potato offered as a side was twice the size of the meat dish it accompanied. There was no doubt in my mind they did this to make sure those weight numbers showed an upswing. I felt it was time to make someone aware I knew of what they were doing. The problem was, how should I do that without it sounding like an accusation?

My first step was to attend the monthly food committee meetings we hold here at the ALF. At, these meetings the food service director entertains inquiries and suggestions from the residents. Naturally, I brought up the carb-to-protein ratio question. His response was that he wasn’t aware of the discrepancy and would look into it. The status remained Quo. Subsequent meetings with the corporate dietitian** who appeared concerned, offered no relief. It took almost two years, and two changes of food supervisors, before they attempted to correct the situation. Unfortunately, like most corporate initiatives, the transformation was half-assed. Instead of increasing the protein portion of the meal, they cut back on the carbs. We now get about 4 ounces of protein vs. 3 or 4 ounces of starch. Sadly, it’s a ratio we’ll probably have to live with. 
Thankfully, they can’t force me to eat everything on the plate. Residents can ask the staff not to serve these side dishes to them. But that leaves one with a rather skimpy meal that may leave the resident hungry. It takes great willpower and discipline not to want to visit the vending machine and push the “Snickers” button two or three times.

I believed that with age, my appetite would diminish and I would become one of those skinny old men who has a hard time keeping his pants up without suspenders AND a belt. No such luck. I haven’t weighed this much since when I first retired. Hopefully, there will be relief soon with the addition of some exercise equipment in our physical therapy department that may be open for the resident’s use. I must look for a pair of sweatpants. Extra large……...............................

Editor’s note: Inspiration and information for this post came by way of…
*The only person, besides myself, that needs to know my weight is my doctor. I have no problem getting on his scale.
**The chef submits menus to the corporate dietitian who is overseen by the State dietitian who must approve all menus. These menus are submitted 3 months in advance and, once approved, cannot be easily substituted. The wheels of progress move very slowly.


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A Guide to
Retirement Community Contracts

There are many options to consider when planning for retirement. What can really be confusing is making sense of the different types of communities available, not to mention the types of contracts each community offers. There’s one thing you can be certain about: Today’s retirement communities are vastly different from those your parents or grandparents considered 20 or more years ago — and that’s a good thing.

Today’s retirees can find vibrant communities where the focus is on embracing the type of lifestyle they’d like to live. Whether it’s an emphasis on nightly social events, group cycling events, exploring their spiritual side or learning a new skill, this new generation of retirement communities is designed for living life to its fullest.

With so many lifestyle and care options come plenty of contract options, too. Here’s a guide to understanding the types of retirement community contracts and the amenities and health care plans each type offers. We’ll start by defining some industry jargon you need to know: the CCRC.

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We are leaving older adults
 out of the digital world

By Jessica Fields

May is national Older Americans Month, and this year’s theme is Connect, Create, Contribute. One area in particular threatens to prevent older adults from making those connections: the digital divide.

Nationally, one-third of adults ages 65 and older say they’ve never used the internet, and half don’t have internet access at home. Of those who do use the internet, nearly half say they need someone else’s help to set up or use a new digital device. Even in San Francisco – the home of technology giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Google – 40% of older adults do not have basic digital literacy skills, and of those, more than half do not use the internet at all.

Mastering digital technology has become a key component of what it means to fully participate in society. If we do not provide technology access and training to older adults, we shut them out from society, worsening an already worrisome trend of isolation and loneliness among the elderly.


How to Protect Yourself From Robocalls
By Octavio Blanco

Phone companies and others offer apps and devices designed to help reduce robocalls by blocking or identifying suspicious phone numbers that could be fraudulent. Those numbers could be those that Federal Trade Commission collects on a blacklist or that the artificial intelligence algorithms in the apps or devices have flagged as suspicious because of the sheer volume of calls they make.

Consumers who downloaded these apps and responded to a Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted in December 2018 said they work to varying degrees.

Here are some options to try...


Polypharmacy: How to Keep Older Adults Safe

Thanks to shifting disease patterns and advances in medical care, life expectancy has been steadily rising in the United States over the past century, with more people living into very old age than ever before. Everyone’s goal is to enjoy good health and independence well into one’s golden years. However, certain factors can worsen our quality of life as we age, including a range of illnesses and the side effects of medications used to treat them.

Risks Include Falls from Dizziness or Drowsiness

This risk is even higher in cases of “polypharmacy” — that’s the term doctors use to describe the use of multiple medications by one person. “There are innumerable adverse effects of polypharmacy — almost anything one can imagine,” says Robert A. Murden, MD, an internal and geriatric medicine physician at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center. “Some of the most common and serious, however, are sleepiness or dizziness, which can result in falls and fractures, and interactions between two or more medicines.”

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Chances are, if you are as old as I, you have made many compromises in your lifetime. Most of these “accommodations” are minor ones.
The Mr. Softee guy tells you he ran out of strawberry. No biggy, vanilla will do.
Your significant other says she (he) doesn’t want to go the Islanders game tonight, but just wants to spend a quiet evening at home. You wanted to go to the Nassau Coliseum, watch hockey, and drink a lot of beer. Not wanting to leave the love of your life home alone, you compromise by buying a twelve-pack of Bud and watching “Slap shot” on Netflix. Not as satisfying perhaps, but it goes a long way towards maintaining domestic tranquility. Unfortunately, not all compromises are as easily come by or as readily accepted as that. As a resident of an assisted living facility, compromise often means just giving up.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m not trying to discourage anyone from considering assisted living as an alternative to ageing at home or any other form of senior living. However, it’s important that you realize that you will no longer control many aspects of your life. Take privacy as an example.
You might feel that when you close the door to your bedroom, turn out the lights and slip between the percales, they will leave you alone for the rest of the night. This is not necessarily so in assisted living. Anyone with a key to your room (and that’s just about everybody) has the right to “check in on you” any time. But there is a solution. Compromise. After many intrusions I came to an accord with management. But it wasn’t easy. At least not for me.

For nearly three years, my life and my body had been an open book. Everybody knew everything about me. From my financial condition to the medications I take and the illnesses for which someone prescribed them. I had been under constant observation 24/7/365. It was as close to being in prison as one could without having committed a crime. And I was sick of it.
Moving from a nursing home to an assisted living facility, I believed would finally get the privacy I deserved as an adult human being. Little did I realize that ALF’s are as restrictive, intrusive and as controlling as any nursing home. Therefore, when an aid walked into my room
at 11:45 pm just as I was preparing to get into bed, I was furious. I told her to get out and leave me alone. I might have even let some expletives fly. I thought that would take care of the matter once and for all. Unfortunately, I did not account for her tenacity. For the next three nights the same thing occurred. I was livid. It would take more than just words to stop this incursion. I needed a barricade. After a quick search online, I found the perfect solution.
It was a doorstop with a built-in alarm. You only had to wedge the doorstop tightly up against the door. It would thwart any attempt to open the door and a screeching alarm would let the intruder know I was not happy. Two nights later, shortly after midnight, my new device did its job. As much as she pushed, she could not open the door more than an inch. And, with the alarm wailing away her efforts to enter my room had ended forever. I thought. The next day I was visited by the administrator.

He informed me I could not restrict access to my room and that the state required a “bed check” every night. I told him I had the right to privacy and that I would continue to keep people out. We were at an impasse. Time to compromise.
I asked if the aid had to enter my room on these nightly checks. The answer was no. They only had to determine if I was there and okay.
So, if they knocked, and I said something like “I’m okay” they would not have to enter? I asked.
“That’s okay with me.” He replied.
So now, there is only a polite knock on my door and my “good night” response in the evening. Nobody comes in unless I say it's okay to do so. It’s not the perfect solution. They may still come and go as they please. But now, there is at least some sense of privacy where there once was none. Compromise.

Maintaining privacy is just one area you will have to find a solution to. Others include maintaining a balance between relaxation and utter boredom. If you still drive or can take public transportation, just getting away from the facility for two or three hours will go a long way in maintaining your independence and your sanity.
The least compromising place in any facility is the dining room. As a resident in an ALF you will have to give up any idea of ever eating what you want again.
Because of the institutional nature of assisted living, menus have to be set and published a month ahead so that the state’s oversight office (such as the Department of Health) can approve it. They permit little in the way of substitution. Therefore, you can never get anything “made-to-order.”

If you want scramble eggs instead of the hard-boiled eggs on the menu you’re out of luck. The only compromise here is to not have any eggs at all. Or, order your breakfast delivered from the local diner.
Other examples where compromise is necessary are not being able to order your medication from a pharmacy of your choice. Sitting at a table in the dining room with people you may not like. The alternative is sitting by yourself in the dayroom. Watching a movie in the auditorium or subscribing to Netflix. As you can see, most of those “compromises” will cost you money. Which brings us to the final compromise. Sticking to a budget.
Unless you are wealthy, you are living on a fixed income. After your rent and incidentals like haircuts, personal items and the occasional Chinese takeout dinner, there’s not much left. For the first time in your life you will have to decide if you want to spend your money on things you want vs the things you need. Nobody said compromise is easy. .................…

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The Difference Between Personal Care and
 Assisted Living Communities

By Toni Kelly, LPN

Moving your loved one or yourself out of the family home and into a more supportive setting is an emotional, uncertain and perplexing situation.  Questions abound regarding costs, location, services, and amount of oversight needed.  The current market is geared toward the baby boomers, who are coming of age, and is intent on offering an array of senior living options. Each present a large variety of models and services, which can lead to the confusion in making a choice.

Many people refer to personal care as assisted living. That reference was true until 2011, when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania carved out two separate definitions and licenses for two very distinct entities.

Personal care communities provide shelter, meals, supervision and assistance with personal care tasks. Typically, older people or people with physical, behavioral health or cognitive disabilities live in a personal care community. These individuals are unable to care for themselves but do not need a nursing home or medical care.

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Seniors owe billions in student loan debt
By Mark Strassmann

America's college loan crisis comes to $1.5 trillion worth of debt. But if you think it's only a young person's problem, think again. Many struggle to pay their monthly minimum, like Seraphina Galante, a 76-year-old social worker in San Diego.

"This is a mountain that I will never be able to climb. I am terrorized," Galante said.

CBS News met Galante on the campus of San Diego State University, where she got her master's degree 19 years ago. She still owes nearly $40,000. Galante is one of more than 3 million people over 60 still paying off college loans. Like her, many went back to improve their job prospects, while others are paying off loans for their kids or grandkids' education.


How to make senior living more appealing

“No one wants to live in a nursing home.”

Two speakers shared that sentiment, which anyone in the long-term care profession has heard too many times to count, when the journal Health Affairs convened a panel April 24 to discuss the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care-funded study sizing up the middle market need for independent living, assisted living and memory care communities.

The study projected that at least 54% of the 14.4 million middle-income older adults in 2029 in the United States will lack the financial resources to pay for senior housing and care. Researchers suggested private and public efforts that could help meet the challenge.

But even if people could afford to live in a senior living community, would they want to?


How to Protect Yourself From Robocalls
By Octavio Blanco

Phone companies and others offer apps and devices designed to help reduce robocalls by blocking or identifying suspicious phone numbers that could be fraudulent. Those numbers could be those that Federal Trade Commission collects on a blacklist or that the artificial intelligence algorithms in the apps or devices have flagged as suspicious because of the sheer volume of calls they make.

Consumers who downloaded these apps and responded to a Consumer Reports nationally representative survey of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted in December 2018 said they work to varying degrees.

Here are some options to try.

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Mental Health,
Why Everyone Should See A Shrink

This post is a discussion about depression, a medical condition. I am not a doctor. Therefore, any information gathered here which you feel you may have to act upon needs to be discussed with your physician or health care professional.

To be honest, I had my doubts about using depression as a topic for the blog. Not that I don’t think it’s important or relevant, but because I knew I would have to divulge things about myself that, to this day, I feel uncomfortable discussing. However, since this is a post about the stigma associated with anything that has to do with mental health, discussion and openness is exactly what it needs. My diagnoses of depression came about seven years ago and, like many people who suffer from this illness, it was a complete surprise. But fortunately, the diagnosis arrived at just the right time.

I had been languishing in a nursing home for nearly a year and a half when they sent me to a local hospital to have some tests done for a thyroid problem I may have had. An ambulance transported me there because, despite physical therapy, I still no longer had the use of my legs. They had atrophied to a point where I needed a wheelchair to get around. I knew I was a mess physically. However, it was not until my second day in the hospital, that I realized the non-physical aspects of why I could no longer walk or even stand up.
Like many of us, I had an aversion with speaking to psychologists or, even worse, psychiatrists.
As a patient in a nursing home, they require a psychologist visit me twice a year. I hated it. Not so much because I thought psychologists had no merit, but because of the questions they asked. After the first minute, I knew they were not interested in improving my state of mind, but to cover their (and the nursing home’s) butt in case I offed myself. The first question every one of them asked was “Have you ever had thoughts of ending your own life?”

Not “How are you” or “Do you have any problems you would like to discuss?” All they were interested in was whether I might kill myself on their watch. I usually just threw them out of my room.

Consequently, when a woman came into my hospital room the next day and announced that she was a Psychiatrist, I naturally wanted to throw her out as well. It’s a good thing I didn’t.

First, she asked if it was okay for her to speak with me. I grudgingly said yes.

Quite expecting the usual inquiry as to whether I wanted to kill myself, I was surprised when she asked, “What are you doing here?” Nobody had ever asked that question of me before, let alone cared.

I explained that I was there to have some tests on my thyroid. She said she was actually more interested in why I was in a nursing home.

I asked her how much time she had.

“All the time you need”, she said. I proceeded to go over the previous ten years of my life, after which she said the most profound words I had ever heard. “You’re depressed, and from what you have told me, you have every right to be.”

That was the first time they ever mentioned the “D” word regarding my physical condition. I won’t say it did not take me by surprise. We we went on talking for another twenty minutes going over specifics and how just recognizing that the condition existed was the first step in treating it. Until that moment I had not spoken with anybody about how I was handling everything that had happened. I felt a great weight lifted from my shoulders.
She told me she would prescribe an anti-depressive. A pill, she said, that would help me cope with my present condition and, even possibly, aid in my rehab and eventual recovery. It thrilled me and caused me some concern.
Would this medicine make me loopy, or dopey, or light-headed? She assured me it would not.
“They designed the medicine to take the edge off of difficult situations so you will continue with your daily activities unencumbered by thoughts of gloom and doom”, she added.
Finally, I’ll be able to see the light at the end of what, until now, had been a very dark tunnel.
They discharged me from the hospital a week later with a diagnosis and cure for my thyroid problem and with a new outlook on life. I could face the depressing atmosphere prevalent in all nursing homes and rehab facilities with new hope. Eventually, I got out of that wheelchair and back to some form of normalcy. I also found that my mind was clearer than it had been for a long time. This enabled me to make wiser choices as to my future care and life after the nursing home. I am still taking this medication under the direction of my present doctor who concurred with the psychiatrist’s course of treatment.

Not only do I have a better outlook on life, but I have a whole new understanding and appreciation for mental health professionals and how failure to recognize and treat conditions of the mind can lead to years of needless pain and stress.

I urge all of you to consider your mental and your physical condition when speaking with your doctor. The following article best explains the signs and symptoms of depression and related conditions.........
“Depression and Older Adults

Depression is more than just feeling sad or blue. It is a common but serious mood disorder that needs treatment. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, and working.

Older woman with depression looking out a window when you have depression, you have trouble with daily life for weeks at a time. Doctors call this condition “depressive disorder” or “clinical depression.”

Depression is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t “snap out of” clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.
Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Aging

Depression is a common problem among older adults, but it is NOT a normal part of aging…”

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Be wary of dynamic pricing practices in some
Assisted Living and Memory Care

A big part of what my job has evolved into is not only finding the right place for a clients seeking Assisted or Memory Care, but providing a written report detailing, among other things, an apples-to-apples comparison of costs over time.

What’s the big deal?

If you don’t pay attention, it can cost you plenty. Thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars over time.

Unfortunately, it's not simple. There are a lot of things you need to pay attention to.

First, please understand that very few Assisted Living and Memory Care communities offer a fixed, all-inclusive price, meaning that after your loved one has had an assessment by a nurse, you are given a set monthly fee, regardless of whether their care level or number of medications increases. That set monthly fee remains stable for one year from move-in, with typically a 3-5% cost-of-living increase once a year (unless there is a drastic change in care needs, for example, after a stroke, needing much more medical oversight and care, as well as a two-person assist).

Continue reading >> https://www.wral.com/what-is-that-price-again-be-wary-of-dynamic-pricing-practices-in-some-assisted-living-and-memory-care/18313524/

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Ageism: A ‘Prevalent and Insidious’ Health Threat

It happened about a year ago. I stepped off the subway and spotted an ad on the station wall for a food delivery service. It read: “When you want a whole cake to yourself because you’re turning 30, which is basically 50, which is basically dead.”

After a bunch of us squawked about the ad on social media, the company apologized for what it called attempted humor and what I’d call ageism.

Maybe you recall another media campaign last fall intended to encourage young people’s participation in the midterm elections. In pursuit of this laudable goal, marketers invoked every negative stereotype of old people — selfish, addled, unconcerned about the future — to scare their juniors into voting.


Can you retire on a cruise ship?
By Laura Hill

When it comes to retirement options, the idea of living out your golden years on a cruise ship could sound too good to be true. You may have seen stories about how retiring at sea could be practical and affordable. Sounds idyllic, right?

There you’d be, floating around the tropics, Antarctica or Europe, peering out at glaciers, palm-lined beaches or the Hong Kong skyline from your private stateroom. Daily maid service. Gourmet dining. Nightly entertainment. Your own concierge. And all for about what it costs to live on land, whether it’s in your own home or a senior living community.

But if this all sounds too good to be true, it may be. There are a verifiable few who have pulled up onshore stakes and settled permanently or semi-permanently on a cruise ship, and more who spend part of their time ensconced in shipboard digs, but they are few and far between, probably for good reason.

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We got it

If you have suspected that you (as an Older American) have steadily been losing respect, you are not wrong. While Americans never venerated its old people, we were at least shown a modicum of respect. Now, not only are we not given respect, even our dignity is at risk. We consider senior citizens today social pariah out to strip younger Americans of their heritage, their fortune and the air they breathe.
They blame us for everything from ruining the Social Security system, depleting Medicare, and poisoning the air and water. All because we had the audacity to live longer than they expected us to.
They signed the Social Security Act into law by in 1935. . .
“If we look at life expectancy statistics from the 1930s we might come to the conclusion that the Social Security program was designed in such a way that people would work for many years paying in taxes, but would not live long enough to collect benefits. Life expectancy at birth in 1930 was indeed only 58 for men and 62 for women, and the retirement age was 65. But life expectancy at birth in the early decades of the 20th century was low due mainly to high infant mortality, and someone who died as a child would never have worked and paid into Social Security. A more appropriate measure is probably life expectancy after attainment of adulthood.”*
It looks like a little miscalculation by President Roosevelt and his economists back then put us in this hole. But, who could have foreseen the technological advances in medicine that would postpone the sting of death.

The future of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the environment and all the other ills that plague us are all very heady and heavy topics and any attempt to understand them, let alone try to solve them, would be futile. Therefore, we have to narrow the scope a little and try to deal with the lack of respect on a more personal level.
Residents of assisted living facilities are perfect examples of how veneration of old people has declined.
The problem stems from an inability to correctly define the status it assigns A.L.F. residents. What are we exactly?
Are we guests like in a hotel? If so, they treat us as no hotel guest has ever been. At least not in any hotel still in business.
Are we patients like in a hospital or nursing home? Although we are “assisted” with daily life chores and they dispense medicine like in a hospital, we are not patients.
Are we wards of the state? Maybe. Room and board, for many of us, is subsidized by Medicare and Medicaid. Hence the institutional-like treatment and attitude taken by many of the staff.

Maybe we are chattel or a commodity like sheep whose only worth lies in our ability to increase the occupancy rate of the facility to qualify for additional government aid.  I can only say, “We don’t get no respect.”

Perhaps a personal encounter will better illustrate what I mean. As usual, it occurred at in the dining room.
Last Wednesday’s breakfast menu advertised poached eggs as the main course. Unfortunately, the cooks here do not understand how to make a poached egg. What we get is a hard-boiled egg without the shell. An example of egg-injustice not lost on many of the diners here at the A.L.F. Frequently, we have mentioned this atrocity to the chef who has promised to correct this abomination. He has not kept his promise.
I took this as, not only a breach of an implied contract, but as a personal affront to both me and my fellow residents. To put another way, DISRESPECT! I sent the over-cooked eggs back with the server and asked for real poached eggs. And, if there was a problem with me getting them to please have the food service manager come out to see me.
Naturally, I did not get my eggs. But I got a visit from the manager prompting a tirade of verbal fisticuffs which ended with the manager telling me, “IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, DON’T EAT IT.”
Luckily for him and my fellow diners, those words stopped me in my track. Never have they spoken like that in all the five years I have been here. And, while I could have hurled a crap-load of vindictive language at him, I thought better of the idea and held back., I am a gentleman after all.
I pondered going to the administrator and reporting the incident, but I’ll let it go, this time.
I could site other incidents of lack of respect towards our residents by staff, but this one was personal. I will not let it happen again. Sadly, it will continue here and anywhere seniors are in the presence of those who take us for granted. Which, is mostly everybody.

Is there a solution?
Not if we do not assert ourselves. As Teddy Roosevelt said, “As free born and free-bred Americans, where no man is superior or inferior.” Or, maybe we could give some people a good beat-down. Either will do………………….

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Dementia Prevalence And
Care In Assisted Living

By David Reed

Assisted living residences are state-regulated residential long-term care settings. They are also referred to as residential care, basic care facilities, enriched housing programs, personal care homes, and shared housing establishments. 1 These residences are highly diverse, but they all serve older adults and provide supportive care, typically including at least two meals a day and twenty-four-hour supervision.

The number of assisted living residences has increased in part because of concerns related to the care provided in nursing homes and better overall health of people who require supportive, but not nursing, care. 2 As of 2010 there were 31,100 assisted living residences across the United States that provided care to 733,000 residents. 3

The regulatory oversight of assisted living residences remains in flux: In 2012 alone, eighteen states made regulatory changes. Those changes affected the criteria for residents’ admission and retention, medication management, and staffing levels, as well as other issues.

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Making smarter decisions about
where to recover after hospitalization

Every year, nearly 2 million people on Medicare — most of them older adults — go to a skilled nursing facility to recover after a hospitalization. But choosing the facility can be daunting, according to an emerging body of research.

Typically, a nurse or a social worker hands out a list of facilities a day or two — sometimes hours — before a patient is due to leave. The list generally lacks such essential information as the services offered or how the facilities perform on various measures of care quality.

Families scramble to make calls and, if they can find the time, visit a few places. Usually they're not sure what the plan of care is (what will recovery entail? how long will that take?) or what to expect (will nurses and doctors be readily available? how much therapy will there be?).


Most U.S. Middle-Class Seniors Will Lack Funds
for Assisted Living by 2029

By Dennis Thompson

A decade from now, more than half of middle-class seniors in the United States will be unable to afford needed housing and personal assistance, a new study contends.

The number of middle-income people over 75 will nearly double to 14 million by 2029, up from about 8 million today, projections show.

About 54% of these seniors won't have enough money to afford an assisted living facility or the kind of personal care that would keep them in their own homes, the researchers reported.


Why You Need a Great Credit
Score in Retirement Too
By Rita Williams

Think only young people need to establish great credit scores? That's understandable. Credit cards are marketed to college students looking to work toward financial adulthood. The thinking is that folks in their early 20s can prove their ability to handle credit responsibly, and sail on from there.

But retired people also need to make sure their credit scores are rock solid, and to try improving them if not. Banks, credit unions, and other lenders base the interest rates they offer, as well as fees, on an applicant's credit score. It's not just interest rates, either -- getting any credit may be hard if your score is lackluster.

What's a good score? Lenders usually use a score from a company called Fair Isaac (FICO), though there are many sources. FICO looks at your credit history, crunches the data, and assigns you a credit score of between 300 and 850. A score of 800 or above means your credit is excellent. A score from 740 to 799 is very good. A score between 670 and 739 is good. A score between 580 and 669 is fair. A score of less than 580 is poor.

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