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Why The Midterm Election

Was Like Kissing Your Sister

I have to come clean. I stayed up most of the night and waited until the last minute to write this post, so please forgive me if it is a bit incoherent or if I don’t get to the point as quickly as I would like.

First, let me say that I shamefully find myself agreeing with the president when he boasts that this was a victory for the Republicans. (Actually, he said it was a great victory, but I refuse to go that far). Conversely, it is also a great disappointment for me. I thought and was hoping for, a bigger victory for the Democrats in the House, and at least a tie in the Senate. Instead, it as a wishy-washy win for Democratic representation in the House and an actual loss in the Senate. And, while I’m glad that once again the system of checks and balances has been somewhat restored, the win was tainted by the mediocre number or Democratic wins. I firmly believed that the early voters and the large turnout at the poles would mean a once-and-for-all affirmation that we have had enough of the guy in the White House and that we made a big mistake by electing him. But this was not to be. What we got was not a great big tongue wiggling French kiss, but a peck on the cheek and a weak slap on the back for a job sort or well done. If the ‘kissing your sister’ reference doesn’t do it for you, remember when you got a C+ in Social Studies but were hoping for at least a B.

So what does this diluted ‘upset’ tell me about America in 2018? With the risk of sounding like a political analyst, I’ll give you what I can only say is My Opinion.

The 26 seat gain in the House of Representatives by Democrats coupled with the four or so gain by Republicans in the Senate, tells me that…

(A). Americans (At least on a national level) are still a lot more bigoted, homophobic, white nationalistic, anti senior and less empathetic than we thought.
(B). Don’t give a damn (or just can’t understand) that we are ruining our environment by relaxing clean air standards.
(C). Honestly believe that Social Security is a hand-out and a windfall for Older Americans.
(D). Think it’s okay that many working poor are living in their cars.
(E). Believe that getting rid of “Obamacare” without a viable alternative is just dandy.
(F). I could go on and on.

Fortunately, there are still a few more of US, than THEM, which means that, at least for now, our Social Security remains intact, and Medicare cuts are off the table.

On a local level, In my home state (NY), the Democrats have taken back the state senate which means that a better-than-average Medicaid system will only get better and that some major infrastructure and mass transportation projects will go forward.

Unfortunately, we will still have to put up with another 2 years of mostly nothing important getting done. And, don’t forget, that there may be one or two more Supreme Court Justice positions for the president to nominate.

As a Democrat, I feel somewhat invigorated even if the ‘victory’ was not the mandate we needed. As an American, the guy in the White House and his followers still scare the heck out of me.

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Medicaid Wins Big On Election Day

Voters in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah on Tuesday defied their GOP state leaders and approved ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid, which would provide access to health coverage for about 300,000 working adults.

In Idaho, 62 percent of voters backed the Medicaid expansion, and 53 percent of Nebraska voters backed their initiative, according to The Associated Press. In Utah, the election hadn’t officially been called early Wednesday morning, but with 75 percent of precincts reporting, 54 percent of voters chose to expand Medicaid, and the Salt Lake Tribune called the race for the initiative’s supporters. The results of a Montana initiative also weren’t yet available early Wednesday morning, but with 70 percent of precincts reporting, the measure appeared to have failed on a 55 percent to 45 percent vote.



If autism is hereditary, then where are all the retirement
 homes full of autistic people?

By S.D. Wells

Nursing homes and retirement “villages” in America are chock full of elderly folks who are victims of brittle bones, dementia, strokes, heart attacks, osteoporosis, and severe arthritis. Yet, something is missing, and it’s more obvious than a trumpeting elephant in a small room full of people. Where are all the autistic senior citizens? Does the government ship them all off to some special island where it’s kept hush-hush and they receive all the special treatment they need? (Of course not…)

Today’s medical “establishment” claims that most cases of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are genetic, meaning inherited, but that would also mean that this generation’s grandparents and great-grandparents suffer from the same genetic disorders and dysfunctions as so many children do today. In fact, about one in every 50 children suffers from autism now. The hereditary autism theory just doesn’t add up. This requires careful consideration and analysis.


The Science of the Sniff:
Why Dogs Are Great Disease Detectors

By Megan Molteni

Meet Freya, a Springer Spaniel, who has been trained to sniff out the scent of malaria. Freya's highly sensitive nose could help provide the first non-invasive test for malaria. Sniffer dogs could potentially be deployed at ports of entry to identify passengers carrying malaria to prevent the spread of the disease across borders and to ensure people receive timely antimalarial treatment.

In November 2016, a team of scientists from the Medical Research Council in Gambia visited primary schools armed with hundreds of beige-colored nylon socks. Handing them out to children there aged five to 14, the researchers instructed them to wear the socks overnight, only taking them off if they were washing their feet for prayer. The next day they returned to collect the dirty laundry, sort it, and put it in the mail to a British charity that would spend the next four months using the material to train dogs to recognize an odor imperceptible to the human nose: the molecular signature of malaria.


Senior Citizens Are Replacing Teenagers
 as Fast-Food Workers

By Leslie Patton

The sullen teenager grinding through a restaurant shift after school was once a pop culture cliche—as American as curly fries.

Nowadays, Brad Hamilton, the teen played by Judge Reinhold in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” would probably be too young to work at the fictional Captain Hook Fish and Chips. That’s because senior citizens are taking his place—donning polyester, flipping patties and taking orders. They’re showing up at casual dining chains such as Bob Evans and fast-food operators like McDonald’s Corp., which says it plans to make senior citizens one hiring focus in the coming year.

Restaurants are recruiting in senior centers and churches. They’re placing want ads on the website of AARP, an advocacy group for Americans over 50. Recruiters say older workers have soft skills—a friendly demeanor, punctuality—that their younger cohorts sometimes lack.

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NEXT BLOG: Monday, November 12th 2018

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Being Old Sucks

It’s Monday, and the insult of having to rearrange our lives because we are forced to set our clocks back an hour has probably not as yet taken effect. As if our days, and time on this planet, was not short enough the shroud of darkness will now descend on us even earlier. But the phenomenon that is known as “Compression of time” is just one of the many little reasons why being old sucks. And I’m not talking about the usual s__t that comes with advancing years.

We all know about the wrinkles, the sagging, and liver-spotted skin. We are familiar with the folds of flab that all the exercise in the world won’t get rid of and which makes us completely abhorrent to members of the opposite sex. The lack of sex with the opposite sex. The new twinge of pain in your knee upon awakening from a restless night, most of which was spent walking to and from the bathroom. And there is so much more. But for me, the sucky part of being old is not being able to do the things I was able to do when I was younger.

I always thought I would be able to look out for myself, forever. It didn’t take long after my 62nd birthday to realize that wasn’t true. Just get one little life-threatening illness and all of that independence goes right out the window. Spend two months, on your back, in a hospital and see how fast you transition from an active mature man prepared to face early retirement with grace and dignity, to a helpless, crippled old codger who can’t even go to the bathroom by himself. Yeah, that’s fun.

Every fear you had about growing old and old people came true all at once.

The helplessness. The pull-ups. The wheelchair, the walker, the restricted diet and, the pills. The incessant pills prescribed for you by a doctor whose specialty is a disease you never knew existed, and yet, you have it.

All of a sudden I have blood pressure problems. I’m wearing eyeglasses with lenses as thick as milk bottle glass. I am deaf in one ear and a fungus has appeared on my foot for which I am given a foul-smelling salve by my Podiatrist. Did I mention that I now see a Podiatrist every six weeks to have my toenails clipped? Some fungus, huh kids?

Because I no longer drive (having taken myself off the road), I do practically all of my shopping online. The truth be told, this is the one good thing about not driving. I haven’t been to a Walmart’s, Target or Kohl’s for nearly 10 years so I don’t have to stand in line behind all of the other old people who still pay cash for everything and, to a man, can never find their wallets when it comes time to pay.

While I have come to grips with most of what befalls a person of age, there is one thing that I really miss.

I live in a suburb of what invariably is the greatest city to walk around in in the world, New York City. And I haven’t been able to get there for the last ten years. And, even if I could, I wouldn’t be able to walk more than a few blocks anyway. And that’s what sucks about being old.


A Few Words About The Mid-Term Elections

Tomorrow. Tuesday November 6th, is election day here in the U.S. I sincerely hope that you are still involved enough to realize how important this election is, especially for seniors. Without electioneering, I will just say that the money which you have the right to in your golden years is being threatened by a congress who would like to try and fix an insane federal deficit by cutting your benefits.

If you are a registered voter please make your way to your nearest polling place. Car services such as Uber and Lyft are offering free rides to and from the poles so there’s no excuse. If you are too jaded and still believe that your vote doesn’t count, I’m sorry for you. In government, you get what you vote (or didn’t) vote for………………………………bwc.

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Google gives us this explanation as to why leaves change color in the Fall

“Chlorophyll Breaks Down. But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green color disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.”
So, perhaps someone could tell me why two exact trees (planted next to each other and at the same time), decide to change color at different times.

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Is The Assisted-Living Community Ready
For Solo Agers And Baby Boomers?

By Sara Zeff Geber

Will the Baby Boomer generation have different requirements when they start to need aid and assistance? On the one hand, no. They will have the same needs for help with the basic activities of daily living, and what they can’t get at home or in the care of family, they will need to find elsewhere. Yes, Baby Boomers are living longer and healthier, but they will eventually encounter many of the same challenges previous generations have experienced: cancer, heart problems, falls, complications of diabetes, organ failure, etc.

However, with the Baby Boomers, family members will be in shorter supply. As the Wall Street Journal reported in its July 20th article, “America is Running Out of Family Caregivers, Just When We Need Them Most,” the ratio of caregivers to care recipients has been falling recently and is projected to continue to slide for the next forty years.

Continue reading>> https://www.forbes.com/sites/sarazeffgeber/2018/07/25/is-the-assisted-living-community-ready-for-solo-baby-boomers/?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=#b1caf3d3ab61


How to get spam calls to stop
By Sid Kirchheimer

Unwanted phone calls and text messages continue to surge, no matter what efforts lawmakers and regulators take to curb them. In the first four months of this year, call-blocking service YouMail reports, more than 12 billion robocalls were made to American homes. That’s about 4 million every hour, and a steady increase from last year. Live calls from telemarketers have also continued to increase.

Why? Sadly, the answer is that they work. It costs scammers and spammers only a few dollars per day to simultaneously blast tens of millions of calls with autodialers. Senders — many of them con artists — spend about $438 million per year on robocalls. Those calls generate more than 20 times that amount in income, almost $10 billion a year.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday, November 8th 2018

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It’s Time to “Fall Back”, and Why Seniors Hate It.

Yes, it’s that time of year again when Americans will be duped into believing that they are actually gaining an extra hour of sleep. This, of course, is a fallacy. Believe me, nobody is sleeping an extra hour just because the clock says it’s an hour later (or is it earlier) than it really is. This is especially true for seniors whose schedule is dictated by so much more than the hands on any clock.

Older Americans are governed by SST, Senior Standard Time. This is based, not on the position of the sun in the sky or the season of the years but by (A), the size of our prostates. (B) The time between when we have to take our next round of pills, or (C), What time is our next doctors' appointment. But, just because daylight savings time had little or no relevance for seniors does not mean that we still don’t have to comply with it.

Each year, DST, whose roots are buried in myth and folklore* forces perfectly content people to scurry about the house looking for clocks and watches to re-set the time, which, in the old days was not that big of a deal. You simply had to pull out the stem (if it was a watch) or physically move the hands, if it was a clock, to the desired time. Unfortunately, with the advent of digital technology, changing the time has become tantamount to decommissioning a nuclear submarine. This is due to the fact that all new stuff has been invented by twelve-year-old’s who could care less about what old people want or need.

I have a 10-year-old Sony clock radio which sits on my night table. It is my primary timepiece because it is the first thing I see when I awake, which is frequently. If the time is not correctly set on this clock, my entire day could be a disaster. Unfortunately, it is the most ornery piece of equipment I have in my room.

In the real world, all digital clocks would be simply marked with simple instructions. In the real world there would be one button to push for “ON”, and another for “OFF.” However, Sony in its infinite wisdom decided that it takes at least two buttons, a switch and a lever to perform that simple function. This is true for changing the time.

They could have made it easier (meaning, senior-friendly) by simply adding a button or switch that says “TURN CLOCK BACK/TURN CLOCK AHEAD, but no. It takes at least four functions to accomplish that simple function. And, you know what? It still doesn’t work. It appears that there is no way to set the time back. Therefore I have to set the time ahead, not 11 hours, but 23 hours to compensate for the AM/PM thing. And then, I have to make sure the day/date is correct so as not to screw up the alarm function, which I never use.

In actuality, seniors don’t go by DST. We have our own SST (Senior Savings Time). This system is based, not where the hands of the clock may be or what season of the year it is. Our system has an entirely different set of rules. We are governed, not by what it says on some mechanical device but rather by an internal clock that directs our day.

Senior time is dictated by one, or all, of these three major components.

(A). The size of our prostates or the competence of our bladders.
(B). The interval between the time we take the blue pills and the time we take the pink ones.
(C). The time of our next doctor appointment.
(D). Whenever Bingo gets started.

Every few years somebody gets the notion that we should do away with DST. Apparently, it takes an act of Congress to do this. Unfortunately, considering the current state of affairs in and out of Capitol Hill, the likelihood of this happening in our lifetime is nil.

Therefore, until such a time that America comes to its senses and actually does away with this twice-yearly insult to our intelligence, you will find me, at 2 AM Sunday, cursing at my Sony clock radio and wondering if it is all worth it.

*It either has something to do with kids not having to go to school in the dark, or it is a scheme dreamed up by the railroads to make it look that the trains are on time.

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Retirement communities try to address bullying
Rude comments in the hall. Shunning in the cafeteria.

By Luke Ranker

This isn’t middle school. It’s retirement.

As we age, we think less about bullying and cliques, but they’re as common in the communal setting of a retirement home just as they were in school.

About one in five seniors experience bullying in a retirement community, studies suggest.

Robin Bonifas, a social work professor at Arizona State University and author of the book “Bullying Among Older Adults: How to Recognize and Address an Unseen Epidemic,” told the Associated Press in May that anxiety about communal living and the stress of growing older leads some to turn to bullying to regain control.


Talking to the elderly shouldn't include baby talk —
it's not only condescending, it can cause cognitive harm

By Cindy Dampier

A lot of people are aging in America these days. This year, U.S. Census Bureau data showed that within the next two decades adults over age 65 will outnumber children. Which means we all better learn how to talk to our elders.

For years, scientists who study the way we age in Western societies have noticed the proliferation of “elderspeak,” a widespread tendency to talk to the elderly in a way that mimics the sugary tones some people use on small children or pets. “It sounds like baby talk, like simplified speech,” says Anna I. Corwin, an anthropologist and professor at St. Mary’s College of California whose work has focused on the study of aging in Catholic nuns.


We're not prepared for the coming dementia crisis
By Ann Norwich

Many of us played the lottery this week in hopes becoming an instant billionaire. The chance of winning was less than 1 in 300 million, yet we all believed we could be "the one." We like to believe that good things will come our way and tend to ignore real threats to our health as we age, even though the chances they will happen are high.

Retired Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor recently disclosed that she has now been diagnosed with probable Alzheimer's disease. At 65, she had a 1 in 10 chance of developing dementia. At 85, her odds increased to 1 in 3. Now we acknowledge with great sadness that the 88-year-old's keen mind will fade away and that she, too, will succumb to the disease, just as her husband did.

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NEXT BLOG: Monday, November 5th 2018

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My mind, which is usually filled with things to say, has evidently decided to take this weekend off. And why not. After all, it’s been sitting up there on top of my head for the last 73 years absorbing, contemplating, mulling over, and generally processing the myriad variety of information and sensory stimuli in its own inimitable way. Ordinarily, I would be able to sort through this bounty of unrelated material without any problem. Usually, the real important (or should I say, relevant) stuff just pops up in front of me like a deer caught in the headlights. But today, for some unknown reason nothing in particular has made such an impression on me as to want to dedicate six or seven hundred words to it.

However, this is not to say that I thought of nothing at all to write about.

On the upcoming elections:

With the mid-term election a little more than a week away, I was reminded of what a journalist* said the other day. And I paraphrase… “When voting, you have to decide whether you want a kinder, more compassionate and caring America, or do you want us to continue on the path we are currently on?” I know it sounds simplistic and a bit Pollyanna-ish, but when you come right down to it, it’s what it’s all about.

On “ageism” and stereotypes:

I haven’t watched the “Today” show on a regular basis for many years now. The show has gone downhill since the last time Dave Garroway and J. Fred Muggs hosted the program. Therefore, I don’t know much about Meagan Kelly or what she stands for other than she apparently made some remark about how it’s okay to dress in “blackface” for Halloween. I don’t believe that people who make such remarks are generally racist. What they really are is ignorant of the fact that people are more than just their stereotypes. This goes true for blacks, Jews, the Irish, Italians, and Polish people. (However, it is not true for Asians who, as we all know, are all violin virtuosi at birth). But perhaps the biggest perpetrator of the stereotypical old person is old people themselves. Just spend an hour visiting an assisted living facility and you will think you are in the waiting room at the Central Casting office on “We’re looking for a bunch of old people” day. They are all here.

There’s the “Sleeping old man with mouth open.” There’s the “Bent-over old woman with cane and chin hair.” The “Loudmouthed malcontent who yells at everybody”, and the “Grumpy Old Man”, who hates everything. Scattered among those are the perpetual Bingo players, the knitters, the gossipers, and the yentas.

In addition, one will notice the mainstay of the perceived old people wardrobe, the peaked cap, patent leather belt and shoes, and the ever-popular team logo T-shirt, usually from some obscure team like the Carolina Panthers.

About going to the doctor:

I went for my thrice-yearly doctor visit the other day. Fortunately, I don’t have to travel anywhere to see him as he comes to us every week.** Most residents see him more frequently, usually on a monthly or bi-monthly schedule. This is done for a couple of reasons.

First, there are many residents here that have chronic and serious health issues ranging from diabetes, high blood pressure, seizures, and breathing difficulties, so regular visits are important. The other reason for such regularity and frequency has to do with the doctor being able to charge Medicare for each visit. I have no problem with this because there are not too many physicians that are willing to work for such low pay, plus they have to pay the facility to use the medical suite.

So, there I am, sitting on a chair while the doc looks up my records on the computer. He notices that most of my “numbers” look good, but that my PSA is a bit high. He also notices that I am taking medication for a high level of calcium condition I’ve had for a few years.

After taking my blood pressure (120 over 80) and listening to my chest, he recommends that I visit an endocrinologist and a urologist. I say okay to the endocrinologist and “absolutely not” to the urologist. He asks “Why not.”

I tell him that most likely any cure for an enlarged prostate will involve some drastically invasive procedure and surgery. This is something that I am not willing to go through.

I leave him with the following words. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

*Sorry, I can’t remember the journalists name or where I hear it.
** A Physicians Assistant is there the other four days.

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Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Sign Up for Medicare Part B

George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero of Manhattan missed the deadline to sign up for Medicare Part B. He calls the effort to rectify the situation “my nightmare.”CreditCreditNicole Craine for The New York Times

Twenty years ago, George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero left his job as a hospital administrator in New York to open a one-person health care consulting firm.

Since he was losing his employee medical coverage, he shopped around and bought a private health insurance plan throu


How the 2019 Social Security Increase Will Cost Some Retirees Money
By Karla Bowsher

Social Security recipients will enjoy a 2.8 percent increase in their benefits — the largest in seven years — in 2019. But for some recipients, this latest annual increase could end up costing them benefits.

Retirees who do not currently pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits may owe taxes due to the increase, which is technically known as a cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA. Retirees who already pay taxes on their benefits may owe more taxes due to the COLA.


These 100-Year-Old Retirees Are Running, Teaching Yoga, and Living Their Best Lives.
Here Are Their Secrets to Happiness

By Elizabeth O'Brien

Orville Rogers is 100 years old and routinely breaks records at track meets around the country. Sure, the World War II veteran doesn’t have much competition in his age bracket, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that Rogers is in his fourth decade of retirement and still running in all the ways you want to be when you hit triple digits: a model of physical, emotional, and financial health. Rogers trained pilots in World War II, then went on to a successful career as a commercial pilot. His experience can help train us all for the future. Today’s retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, and Rogers is crushing it.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday, November 1st 2018

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What Do Seniors Really Want?

What do Older Americans really want? I suppose it depends on who you ask.

Certain Conservative Republicans would probably answer “A handout” or ‘free ride’ until they die.” Others might say “every entitlement” they can get their hands on.

Even some less conservative people might answer in the negative.

“Those old people, all they want to do is play Bingo all day and get their senior discounts at the movies.”

But, while many seniors take advantage of any and all “bonuses” available, that’s not the first thing that enters their minds when they awake every morning.

No, what most seniors want is peace.

I’m not talking about world peace (although that would be nice) no, I’m talking of the inner peace that comes from arising each morning and not having to face pain, loneliness, humiliation or personal safety issues.

Allow me to be more specific.

Except for a small segment of our older population who appear to have been blessed by a genetic propensity for good health and fitness, most of us endure some kind of pain or discomfort every day.

Sometimes it’s chronic pain from arthritis, sciatica, or sore muscles. Or more clinical problems like C.O.P.D., Asthma, or angina.

One of the rituals that I find myself performing after “coming-to” from a restless night’s sleep, is sitting at the edge of my bed and taking stock of what bothers me today.

I run down a mental checklist of possible aches, malady's, and disorders. Starting at the top of the body and proceeding downward.

 - Sinuses…clogged…check.
 - Eyes…unable to focus…check
 - Ears, nose, throat…working…check
 - Arms…pain in elbow…check
 - Hands…knuckle on little finger right-hand protruding…check.
 - Hips…achy…check
 - Knees…twinge in the left one…check
 - Feet and toes… numb…check

Any day that I wake up with three or fewer infirmities, is considered a good day.

After my morning shower, and if I haven’t managed to injure myself, I venture out into the wonderful world of old people here at the facility.

Now, if having to face a battery of people in various stages of decline is not something that you would consider a positive thing, then let me assure you it is far better than the alternatives of boredom and loneliness. Although I’m sure that many seniors consider privacy and seclusion to be a godsend, the majority of seniors prefer to have people around them, even if it's only for safety sake.

Living alone is dangerous. Even with all of the electronic senior aides available, the idea of laying on the floor for hours before help arrives can be daunting.

And while we are on the subject of medically related episodes, there is something else that would make seniors very happy. And that has to do with a lack of understanding by many so-called health professionals and caregivers who would rather tell us what to do than listen to us to find out what we really need.

There is something else that many seniors want, and that’s a kind word and a little understanding every now and again.

I can’t tell you how many times I have witnessed people my age being laughed at behind their back or have had rude comments made to and about them. Sometimes they are shouted at for no other reason other than they were not fast enough at the checkout line or had trouble using the ATM.

So, what do seniors really want, besides a little more time? Pretty much what everybody wants except in smaller doses and a quieter voice.

Oh, and a chocolate ice cream cone with sprinkles on top wouldn’t hurt either.

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Failing health top reason for
move to assisted living: survey

Failing health by far would be the top motivator for a move to assisted living, according to participants in a recent survey by RetirementLiving.com.

The consumer website surveyed 2,352 people aged 50 to more than 81 years. Seventy-five percent of them identified failing health as the leading factor that would cause them to move to an assisted living community. The finding was unchanged from 10 years ago, when failing health also was identified as the top impetus, although the new survey saw a 10% increase in respondents selecting that option, according to the website.

Overall, RetirementLiving said, the data reveal that the factors that lead to older adults losing independence in some way are the the ones that have the most “push.”


Opinion | Stop Treating 70- and 90-Year-Olds the Same

Every summer around this time, pediatricians’ offices are flooded with children getting the vaccines they need to start another year of school.

Doctors base their advice on which shots patients should get when on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine recommendations. The guidelines are presented in two schedules, one for children, the other for adults, both divided into subgroups based on developmental biology and social behaviors common at different ages. Unfortunately, there’s a major problem with the guidelines. And it’s representative of a larger failing in our health care system.


Many primary care doctors are still prescribing
 sedative drugs for older adults

Reviewed by James Ives

Despite years of warnings that older adults shouldn't take sedative drugs that put them at risk of injury and death, a new study reveals how many primary care doctors are still prescribing them, how often, and exactly where.

Mapped out county by county, the study shows wide variation in prescriptions of the drugs, called benzodiazepines. Some counties, especially in the Deep South and rural western states, had three times the level of sedative prescribing as others.

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NEXT BLOG: Monday, October 29th 2018

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Dispelling the myths about
people with disabilities.

Lots of things change when you get old. Where you live, your finances, your physical appearance and your relationship with others are all part of that great experience we call “aging.” And, while in your mind you may think you are still 17, your old, worn-out body will tell you otherwise.

There’s a good chance that something new in the way of pain, stiffness, or lack of energy will have befallen you overnight.

Fortunately, for most people, a little stretching, bending, and some Tylenol and coffee alleviates these symptoms in a few minutes. But unfortunately, for many more of us, one problem of old age stays with us all day every day.

A few days ago, I posted a blog about walking a mile in my shoes. I’d like to amend that title for this post and call it “roll a mile in my wheelchair, or Rollator or walker before you feel what I’m feeling or attempt to know what it’s like to have your mobility strictly curtailed.

There are many misconceptions on the part of “fully mobile” people when they see those of us who use some kind of mobility aid.

Among those are…

1.“Poor thing, he must be in pain.”
2.“He must have a miserable life.”
3.“Because he’s using a wheelchair (or Rollator, or walker or cane) he must also be deaf. I’ll just shout at him.”
4.“ And, not only is he deaf, but he must also be dim-witted, so I’ll talk a little slower.”

There are other mistaken beliefs about people who have trouble getting around such as that we are all poor, or lazy, or on welfare. Of course, none of this is necessarily true. Permit me to dispel some of those myths.

The great majority of people who need assistance walking are not in pain. The grimace you see on our faces as we ply our way through crowds, up hills or over broken sidewalks comes from the restriction that whatever particular device we are using places on us and ability to navigate as quickly and as smoothly as we would like.

For the most part, people with mobility issues do not have a miserable life, or should I say they don’t have any more or less of a miserable life than anybody else. Most people have learned to adapt to whatever situations in which they might find themselves.

Money has no effect on one’s mobility, other than you might be able to afford a fancier wheelchair or a nicer cane. And if you think that paying for more physical therapy is going to have you springing up and out of that chair, forget about it. There comes a point where all the PT in the world will not help. And, it has nothing to do with being lazy or giving up.
There is an old saying that you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Well, you cannot make an athletes body out of one that has gone through the physical trauma that most folks with mobility problems have gone through.

Those stories you see of young people coming back from horrendous injuries by working very hard don’t hold true for older people whose bodies can’t regain what they had when they were young. It’s just not going to happen no matter how hard they try.

And, by the way, all people who use a mobility device are not on the public dole. Yes, some might be on disability insurance because they cannot work and others may have received their wheelchair or walker from Medicaid, but nobody is handing out welfare money to them just because they have trouble walking.

And finally, I’ve saved this for last because it is something that I personally experienced during the time that I was in a wheelchair.

Spending nearly a year and a half in a wheelchair while receiving physical therapy gave me a whole new perspective on life and a new understanding of what people who are disabled have to put up with daily. But far beyond the physical challenges, there are the indignities as well.

One of the problems of being in a wheelchair, besides the obvious, is that you are always in a seated position. This lowered viewpoint immediately puts that individual in a subservient situation. Standing people perceive you as a child or someone of lesser status. I was made to feel this way time after time by well-meaning people.

Just get an elevator and see how many people rush to push the floor button for you even though you are perfectly capable of pushing it yourself. Now that, in itself, would not be so bad if it weren’t for these people to shout at you and speak and speak more slowly.

“WHAT….FLOOR….ARE….YOU….GOING….TO”, they would yell as if your wheelchair was an impediment to your mind as well as your mobility. The same is true for those older folks who use a walker or a cane but to a lesser degree.

Look, I’m not blaming you entirely for your ignorance. It’s just that most people are not used to being around disabled people very much so they don’t know how to act. But as the population ages, it is more likely that there will be more people using a mobility aid than ever before. And a little knowledge of what it really feels like couldn’t hurt.

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Never mind the Social Security increase,
seniors are in trouble, here's why

By Paul Brandus

You might have heard that Social Security checks are going up 2.8% next year, the biggest rise in seven years. That translates into an average benefit of $1,461 a month, up $39.

While welcome, it’s necessary to remember that the increase is tied to inflation. Higher payouts will simply enable retirees to keep up with the rising cost of living. It doesn’t mean that anyone’s standard of living will go up—as if an extra $1.28 a day will do much in the first place. Think of a treadmill: You’re not going anywhere.


Most older adults would willingly take fewer medicines
By Lisa Rapaport

Most elderly patients taking multiple prescription medications would be willing to reduce their daily pill regimen to minimize their risk of side effects like falls or dangerous drug interactions, a U.S. study suggests.

Nine out of ten people 65 and older are willing to stop taking one or more medications if their doctor recommends this, the study found. And two-thirds of older adults would like to cut back on the total number of medicines they take.


Seniors Prefer Assisted Living To Moving In With Family
By Chuck Sudo

Whether they don’t want to be burdens to their children or are placing faith in future innovation, older adults view assisted living as a better option than moving in with family members. Going to a nursing home, meanwhile, is about as popular as a root canal.

That is one of the takeaways from a recent survey conducted by Retirement Living Information Center. The online retirement resource website surveyed over 2,300 seniors, ranging in age from 50 to 81+, and the results showed today’s seniors are willing to age in place as long as possible, by any means at their disposal.

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NEXT BLOG:  Thursday, October 25th 2018

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Whitefish, Carp, and Yellow Pike
(Forgive The Nostalgia)

In an effort to spruce up the place and to add a little color and drama to an erstwhile rather drab decor here at the ALF, the management has decided to have a fish tank installed somewhere in the facility.

Of course, the way that my mind works, when I think of fish I don’t think of those colorful little tropical fish that appear to swim around aimlessly in some underwater paradise until that day when they are found floating belly-up at the top of the tank. No, I think of fish that one eats like flounder, halibut and tuna. You know, real fish. And actually, when I think of fish swimming in a tank, my mind immediately goes back to a time when my mother and I would search the metropolitan area for a place that sold fresh fish. And by fresh I mean fish that are still swimming around minutes before they meet their demise.

At one time every neighborhood had its fishmonger, usually more than one. These vendors were as important to the life of a community as was the butcher, the baker, and the shoemaker. The fish, though always fresh, was not necessarily sold right from the tank. Usually, It was only at holiday times (Jewish holiday’s, that is) that the large stainless steel tanks came out and were stocked with the three fish needed to make that magic, and often misunderstood, ethnic favorite, gefilte fish.

The fish (Whitefish, Pike, and Carp*), we presumed, came from the cold, clear, clean waters of some pristine northern lake.

When the family moved from Brooklyn, where there were as many fish markets, to Queens we found that places that sold live fish were non-existent. And so, it was back to Brooklyn, to the worst neighborhood in Brooklyn no less, where one of the few remaining live fish markets was still open. And, like bears to a beehive, the place was packed with old Jewish women and, surprisingly enough, old Chinese ladies. Evidently, the only two ethnic groups that insisted on, and knew what to do with, live, fresh fish.

I can only imagine what the Chinese ladies did with their fish, but I knew very well what my mother and the other “mamaleh’s” did with theirs. They were there to continue a tradition which has sustained our people for thousands of years. The cooking of what “goyim”** would call fish balls or “gefiltered fish”, or just “filtered” fish defines Jewish cuisine perhaps more than any other food. And, while the basic recipe for the making of this dish is simple, these recipes vary from country to country, village to village and even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I cannot give you my mother’s recipe (actually more like a formula) for her gefilte fish. Regrettably, I never watched her that closely. The only thing that I can say is that if you have ever eaten gefilte fish from a jar, you haven’t really eaten gefilte fish. The difference between the two is like that of a seven-course homemade Thanksgiving meal and a Swanson turkey TV dinner.

The sad thing about all of this is that the people who know how to cook this food are disappearing or have already disappeared. And, disappearing with them are the traditions that they have maintained over the years.

So, the next time you have a chance to taste gefilte fish, matzoh ball soup, flanken, brisket, or chicken soup made by an old Jewish lady, jump at it. You will not taste that again in your lifetime. …………………………………bc.

* Don’t let anyone tell you different. You must combine an equal amount of these three fish in order to make traditional, authentic gefilte fish.
** Goyim, = non Jew.


RIP Fran, and thanks

As a rule, I don’t do obituaries on this blog. Death is inevitable, often unexpected, and never appreciated and those that experience it are rarely worth mentioning. But the passing of one of our original and longtime residents here at the ALF should not be without noting. Not for what she accomplished in life but for something she did that affected me.

Fran was one of the main reasons I chose this facility over the others that I investigated, and she never knew it.

Readers of this blog know that one of the things that I tell all prospective residents of assisted living facilities to do is to observe the people (residents) walking around the common areas of the facility. See how they are dressed, groomed and how animated they are. Avoid places where the residents appear unkempt, hair uncombed and wearing PJ’s, robes, or loungewear in the middle of the day. Those are usually signs that the facility is neglecting its residents. Such were some of the things that I observed as I visited facility after facility looking for a place to live after a long stay in various nursing homes.

I must have toured 5 or 6 places where It was obvious that, as far as grooming and personal hygiene were concerned, the staff looked the other way. This was not the kind of place at which I wanted to spend the rest of my days. That was until I came here.

While the physical differences (room size, dining room, lobby etc.) were similar to many of the other places that I visited, the distinction between the way the residents looked was like night and day. But It was the first person I saw as I walked through the front door that made up my mind that this place was different from the rest. And that person was Fran.

Unlike most of the residents of the places I visited, Fran was dressed to the nines. Her hair was perfectly coiffed. Her makeup was carefully applied and her dress was stylish, clean and properly fitted. She was sitting on one of the cushioned lobby chairs talking with another, and equally well-groomed lady who was in a wheelchair. A quick look around the lobby and I could see that, although most of were not up to the level of Fran, they most certainly cared about the way they looked. I was sold. I could live here.

Over the years, Fran’s enthusiasm and dedication to her appearance rarely varied. Always present were the stylish clothes, the, makeup and her signature large, floppy hats. And, it was not until the last couple of months on this planet that she slackened off somewhat on the hair and makeup. But, throughout the remainder of her illness, she endeavored to maintain a certain level of civility and style. And It’s for that Fran, that I will miss you the most. 

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Your Guide to Senior Living Options

In this day and age, senior citizens are quite fortunate to have a plethora of senior living options available to them. Thanks to Senior Guidance, all senior living options can now be accessed in one place. Let’s look at what options U.S. aging adults have and how they can access them:


For assisted living communities, change is coming,
 but there still is time to adapt

The halcyon days of assisted living communities resembling comfy hotels and providing little more than social and residential programs for well-off residents is fading fast. Operators that hope to compete for customers down the road need to change their business models and, in particular, ramp up offerings for more healthcare services.


Hang On! 6 Things People Later Regret Decluttering From Their Homes
By Margaret Heidenry

We normally don't rue chucking unused kitchen gadgets or an old pair of shoes. But in the big push to do some high-impact decluttering, many people get rid of things they later wish they'd kept. For instance, I got rid of my grandparent's Pendleton blanket (a nice memory from childhood sleepovers) when I moved across the country; I'd give most anything to have it back now. And a friend misses old letters from high school that went into the trash; but really, how much space do a few pieces of paper really take up?

So before you purge past the point of good reason, lean on some 20/20 hindsight and peruse this list of things that other people regret decluttering out of their homes. Who knows? Later on, you might wish you had hung onto them for dear life.

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NEXT BLOG:  MONDAY, October 22nd 2018

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What The World
Needs Now
Is A Little Empathy

Like most people, I would go about my daily business completely absorbed within myself not thinking too much about the folks around me. After all, I had enough problems of my own without having to worry about everybody else.

This is not to say that I was insensitive to others feelings or that I did not have sympathy for someone who was having a crappy day or a crappier life. It’s just that “those were not my problems, thank God.”

I would see people with infirmities and disabilities on the street and barely gave them second notice, That is, unless, for some reason, they interfered with me doing my thing.

I mean how many of us have not waited at a crosswalk while an old man with a walker tediously makes his way across the intersection? Or how annoyed we became at the old lady, with a pair of eyeglasses whose lenses are as thick as milk bottle glass, struggles to find her change purse at the supermarket checkout line?

And, do we even look at (let alone give money to) the homeless guy whose apartment appears to be an appliance box placed over a steamy subway grate?

It’s not that you are a bad person. It’s just that most humans become desensitized to the plight of others.

We see so much suffering every day that to constantly be bothered by it would probably drive us insane and so we have built this barrier between us and them. But what happens when there is a crack in that barrier? A hole in the wall where our emotions mix with the misfortune of others. This is what happened to me a few years ago, and it took me totally by surprise.

Weeks in a hospital bed recovering from surgery caused my muscles to atrophy to a point where I could no longer walk or stand by myself and needed a wheelchair to get around. That time in the hospital had transformed me from one of us to one of them. I soon found myself in a nursing home/physical therapy facility learning to walk again.

There is nothing quick when it comes to physical therapy.

The faster it takes to lose your ability to walk, the longer it takes you to gain it back. And, the more painful too. No matter how much you would like to rush things along, your body tells you otherwise in no uncertain terms.

Therapy usually begins with weights strapped around your ankles. You remain seated while you lift each leg ten times, repeating for about 10 minutes. Eventually, you build up enough strength to try and stand erect. And, although you need help to do so, and you can only stand for a minute, the feeling of being able to get up and out of that g-d damn wheelchair makes it bearable. Unfortunately, the pain never lets you forget that your body sustained some trauma.

There is, however, one redeeming feature of physical therapy. You find out a lot of things about your body.

Besides learning that a muscle unused is a muscle that refuses to cooperate, I learned that my back was as important in helping me stand as were my legs. And that it was susceptible to as much atrophy (and pain) as your legs. In fact, I was in so much pain that only a hefty dose of Percocet would alleviate it enough to permit me to go on. But perhaps the single most important thing I learned was that nobody can appreciate what people with disabilities have to endure every day until they have experienced it for themselves. And, that “appreciation” goes far beyond the physical obstacles. There is an emotional handicap as well.

I have always managed to keep my feelings to myself. Partly because that’s just the way I am, and partly because that’s what men have been trained to do from boyhood. Any display of emotion is a sign of weakness and weakness is the first step on the way to loss of control. Emotional men will never be an Alpha male. And so we put up that facade to shield us from those things that would cause us to be sensitive to or, heavens forbid, empathy with another human whose physical or mental faculties may be lacking. However, every once and a while, that barrier breaks down and we find ourselves with an affinity with those less fortunate. For me, that crack in the veneer came quite unexpectedly.

Very early on in my course of PT which I hoped would eventually lead to me give up my wheelchair and return to some state of normalcy, I was wheeled down to a large room located in the basement of the nursing home I was in.

The room was filled with all of the usual exercise and rehabilitation equipment one would expect in such a place. Among them was a set of parallel bars. And on those bars was a man (slightly older than myself) who had just begun that phase of his therapy.

As I sat there, still in my wheelchair waiting for the therapist to strap some weights on my ankles, I watched as the man using those bars began to move ever so slowly down the length of those bars. A grimace of pain appeared on the man’s face with every step. He wanted to stop, but his therapist coaxed him on.

“Just a few more steps”, the therapist urged.

The old man could do no more than hold on to one of the bars with both hands.

His therapist, seeing his pain, moved a chair under him permitting him to plop down, exhausted.

The therapist was not the only one to notice the man’s pain and suffering. I was there too. And, not only did I observe the old man’s anguish, I felt it as well.

Call it empathy, or sensitivity, or consciousness, but I felt every painful step he took.

I felt his exhaustion and his relief when he finally got a chance to sit down.

And then, something happened to me that had never happened before. I began to cry.

I don’t know whether the tears were for him or for me, but they were there, and they were real. From that time to the present, I cannot look at a disabled person without feeling at one with them.

And, while I no longer cry, I can feel myself welling up to a point where I have to take a deep breath, stop, and think about all that I have lost, and give thanks for all that I have.

This is why, my friends, when I see and hear people judging others, complaining about some particular trait or perceived shortcomings of another human being, I become angry and even a bit offended.

After all, how can anybody who has not experienced what others have to feel qualified to tell others what to do or how to act?

Perhaps, that is why the idiom “Walk a mile in my shoes” which means that you should try to understand someone before criticizing them, is more important today than ever before.

People are not poor because they want to be poor, or homeless because they want to be.

Nobody wants to have to use a walker or a wheelchair because it’s a nifty way to get around and people don’t want to accept charity because it’s easier than getting a job.

Finally, we need more empathy and less greed in this country because there but for the grace of God go I.

Oh, by the way. There are only 22 days until the November 6th election.

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4 Expenses That'll Obliterate Your Finances in Retirement
By Maurie Backman

Many workers look forward to retirement and the chance to make the most of their newfound free time. But the ability to enjoy that period of life tends to hinge on one major factor: money. And if you don't take steps to prepare for or eliminate certain expenses ahead of time, you're apt to have less of it during your golden years. Here are four expenses in particular that tend to really hurt retirees -- and what you can do about them.


Steps to Move Into Assisted Living

It can be daunting to convince a resistant parent that their needs are such that they now need to move to Assisted Living. In a previous post, I wrote about general considerations when visiting Assisted Living options. Here I’ll provide the steps, once you’ve selected a place that meets your family member’s physical, financial, geographic, social and emotional needs. It’s not a simple matter of filling out an application. In a crisis (for example, your family member is being discharged from a hospital or rehab within days), it is possible to place someone in as short as three days, but you must have all hands on deck and cross your fingers that each of these steps goes smoothly:


20 Crucial Pieces Of Life Advice, As Told By People Over 60.
Number 11 Is Essential.
By Bobby Popovic

Recently, a question was posed to those over the age of 60. The question was this: What advice would you give to those who are half your age? While the question seems simple, the answers may surprise you.


Failing health top reason for move to assisted living

Failing health by far would be the top motivator for a move to assisted living, according to participants in a recent survey by RetirementLiving.com.

The consumer website surveyed 2,352 people aged 50 to more than 81 years. Seventy-five percent of them identified failing health as the leading factor that would cause them to move to an assisted living community. The finding was unchanged from 10 years ago, when failing health also was identified as the top impetus, although the new survey saw a 10% increase in respondents selecting that option, according to the website.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday, October 18th 2018

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In Retirement It’s Important To Find Your Passion

For many of us, retirement can be a scary thing. There are so many things about your life that will change. One of those changes are complaints from retiree’s that they have nothing to do.

“Wait just a darn minute”, I say to them. “Isn’t this what you worked your whole life for? That time when you no longer have to get up every day and trudge to work so that you can earn enough money to maybe take a lousy two-week vacation every summer?

“Yes, but I had no idea that it would be this boring”, they say.

“But there must be something that you wanted to do once you retired like play golf or travel?”, I retorted.

“There was a lot of stuff I had planned, but I ain’t got no money to do it”, they complain.

Or, “my arthritis is so bad I can’t even tie my shoelaces let alone play golf or get on a bus.”

Of course, I know exactly what they are talking about. Their lament echo’s mine to a tee.

While I always knew that I would not have the means to live a life of luxury when I finally retired, I did not expect to be in the financial and physical dilemma that I found myself in a few years ago when I was literally cast into the mean rough waters of a post-earning life.

As a single divorced man, I was used to living a rather simple, but satisfying, existence.

My needs were simple and my wants were few.

I didn’t need fancy clothes or a fancy car.

I had no dreams of living the life a care-free bachelor or world traveler who knew the maitre d’s of the best restaurants on a first name basis.

All I really wanted was to be able to pursue my hobby of photography and do a little local travel with an occasional side trip to visit far-away friends and relatives. At least that was my plan. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Woody Allen “If you want to make God laugh, make plans.” As far as I’m concerned, god still laughing.

And so I find myself here, in what some think of as heaven’s waiting room, anticipating the inevitable. But, unlike many of my contemporaries who have decided to just give up, I have decided not to wallow in the mire of apathy, lethargy, and tedium. I will make my voice heard. I will make a difference.

As a young person, I was never the outspoken type. Schools actually discouraged taking the initiative or questioning authority. In fact, one of the few times I actually did have the audacity to question a teachers knowledge of a particular subject, I was reprimanded and had to serve detention. Way to encourage independent thought, right?

After that, I found solace in the fact that I could disappear into the background where nobody would bother me. This chameleon-like ability served me well for many years until I became deathly ill.

It was during that time that I found out that keeping quiet or keeping my opinion to myself could cost me my life. After months, lingering in a hospital bed, in pain and seeing no end in sight except death, I decided to take charge of my own care plan. I let my doctors (and nurses) know in no uncertain terms what I needed to be done. And, amazingly, they agreed. I know that if I had not expressed my concerns in no uncertain terms and with a certain amount of authority and sincerity I would not be here today. From then on, I no longer stayed in the shadows. I’m now that “in your face” person who asks the questions and demands an answer.

And, while that outspokenness* still gets me in trouble from time to time, I am also listened to and my opinions are respected.

This is why I encourage all seniors (or anybody at any age) who says they have nothing to do, to look beyond what you have been doing all of your life. Now is the time for your voice and your opinions to be heard.

Find a cause, whether it be local or national, or just in the place where you live.

Organize others to act, and be sure to lead by example.

Arm yourself with the facts and be sincere about what you have to say.

Take other peoples values and customs into consideration before you go shooting your mouth off.

And be passionate about what you are doing. It will go a long way in filling that void you created for yourself.

* There is a thin line separating outspokenness and obnoxiousness. It will do one well to learn the difference.

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Researchers discover how to slow aging
By Maria Cohut

As people age, they accumulate damaged cells. When the cells get to a certain level of damage they go through an aging process of their own, called cellular senescence. The cells also release inflammatory factors that tell the immune system to clear those damaged cells. A younger person's immune system is healthy and is able to clear the damaged cells. But as people age, they aren't cleared as effectively. Thus they begin to accumulate, cause low level inflammation and release enzymes that can degrade the tissue.


Low-salt diets may cause serious problems for seniors

Loss of balance, along with dehydration, attention deficits and loss of cognition are symptoms of a condition known as hyponatremia, characterized by low salt levels in the blood. The symptoms can occur even with just slight hyponatremia and can have particularly harmful effects for the elderly as the condition is difficult to diagnose. A study presented at an American Society of Nephrology meeting suggests that low-salt diets may be a contributing factor.

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NEXT BLOG: MONDAY, October, 15th 2018

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At the a.l.f.: it’s all about letting go

You did it. You have decided to move to an assisted living facility, and it wasn’t an easy decision.

You may have gone online and read all the why’s and wherefores associated with such a life-changing measure. You might have discussed your move with your family and friends. And, you have even gone as far as visiting and taken tours of a number of facilities which appealed to you. And, hopefully, you have heeded my suggestion and have spoken with current residents of the facility.

You have been told of what you can expect as far as your care options are concerned as well as how much independence you will be able to have. And you have discussed the costs associated with living in a place where the more you spend, the more you get. But, there is still one thing that, you most likely will not be prepared for. And that is how much baggage you will have to leave behind.

“Baggage” can refer to actual baggage in the form of clothes, furniture, electronics, and tchotchkes.* Most likely you have come to realize and have accepted the fact that, because of the limited amount of space found in most A.L.F. rooms or apartments, many of your personal items will have to be left behind, sold or given away. And, while this will be hard for you to accept at first, eventually you will find that not having to deal with all of those dust-collectors and space-hoggers is a godsend.

However, the “baggage” that we are concerned about here is the other kind, as it has come to be used in today’s vernacular, meaning “Things that encumber one's freedom, progress, development, or adaptability; impediments: intellectual baggage that keeps one from thinking clearly; neurotic conflicts that arise from struggling with too much emotional baggage.”

So, exactly what form does that excess baggage take that may cause you to have problems with your new environment?

1. You are “set in your ways.”

If you are an old codger like me, you are used to having and doing things your own way.

For the 60, 70, or 80 plus years you have been alive, you most likely have awoken at the same time, showered and shaved at the same time, and had breakfast at the same time every day. You might even have eaten the same thing for breakfast every day.

You liked your food cooked a certain way, your coffee made a certain way and even served out of your favorite cup.

Away from the dining room, there was that favorite chair with the cushion that fit your ass perfectly. And the TV was in just the right position so you could lie back in bed and not have to crane your neck to view your favorite show.

Or maybe you just like to hang out in your underwear (or less) and just let go.

If you are one of THOSE people, you are in for a surprise. Because there is very little that will ever be done “your own way” ever again.

While you may be afforded a certain amount of independence, your individuality has gone out the window.

Because you are now one of perhaps 200 other residents, a certain amount of regimentation and standardization must be in place in order to do the most for everybody.

Therefore, be prepared to have breakfast earlier or later than you like, have to eat foods you don’t usually eat and served the way you don’t like. Some people are so distraught by these changes that they don’t eat anything which sets off a string of red lights and a whole new set of rules made just for you. And, you won’t like them.

Meanwhile, back at your room, your habits are further under assault. And, if you have a roommate, lots of unpleasant  situations can escalate very quickly. This brings us to the next piece of baggage you brought with you.

2. Living with another human being.

If you have been used to living alone for a long time (or forever) you are going to be in for a surprise. “Hooray, you have a roommate.”

Chances are that for many reasons (most having to do with cramming as many beds into a small a space as possible) the facility at which you are a resident has put you into a room with another person.

The majority of rooms in assisted living facilities are jointly occupied. This means that you will be sharing the room with another person (of the same gender). And, while you will have your own bed, closet, desk, and chair, you will be sharing a bathroom as well as most everything else.

And by “everything else”, I mean the air (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) as well as lights and sound.

Like to sleep with a light on at night? Forget about that.
Like to watch TV all night with the volume turned up? That’s out. He’s a light sleeper and even the sound of your breathing drives him nuts.

Sleep with the windows open? LOL. The guy is cold all of the time.

It’s kind of like being married without the benefit of, well, you know.

3. Living with people with disabilities.

You most likely have come to the facility with some kind of disability.

Often it is something that makes doing some of life’s simple chores difficult. Like cooking, cleaning, doing laundry etc.

Maybe you use a walker or a cane to get around.

If so, you are used to all of the problems associated with having to depend on an appliance to get around and are not bothered by those who have similar mobility or occupational problems. But, perhaps what you are not prepared for are those residents who, not only have the usual difficulties associated with getting older but have psychological, cognitive and emotional problems as well. It is here that most interpersonal difficulties arise.

Living outside, in the real world, most folk’s contact with people who have those kinds of problems is limited.

Most likely, you would not have any reason to associate with people like that and would turn the other way if you saw someone in that position come towards you.

Welcome to the A.L.F. where chances are there will be a number of residents who are, well, not playing with a full deck.

Sorry to put it so crassly, but it’s the truth.

While there are assisted living facilities where people with advanced cases of dementia or severe cognitive decline live separately from the general population, many facilities accept residents who walk that thin line between confusion and lucidity. You will have to learn to live with it.

4.Culture Clash.

I saved this topic for last because, in many ways, it may be the most important as well as the most delicate.

While things such as race relations have changed much in America, for many older folks whose contact with people of different cultures, religions and backgrounds may have been limited, co-existence with such people, brought upon by the proximity to one another with which A.L.F. residents must live, may be difficult for some people to accept.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you view the subject) this is one topic that cannot be discussed. As far as the admissions process is concerned you will not, and cannot, be told who your roommate will be, or if there are people of a certain ethnicity who will be living with you.

If the baggage you come with contains the burden of fear of others whose upbringing and customs vary from yours then you will have to leave that behind along with that closet full of shoes you no longer wear.

The best way to adjust to your new situation is to look upon it as the beginning of the rest of your life.

View each new adventure as a learning experience and each new contact as a way to improve your understanding of the world and its inhabitants. Finding new things and new people will help you expand that all-too-narrow mind you may have been burdened with all these years.

Or you could do as many people here do, hide in a corner somewhere and be the miserable old crone you always were.

* Definition Tchotchke's:… Yiddish for knick-knacks

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Adults need a regular bedtime, too
By Carolyn Crist

Adults who have a regular bedtime are likely to weigh less than those who don’t, to have lower blood sugar and to face a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, according to a U.S. study.

Although scientists have talked about the importance of getting enough sleep and getting quality sleep, it matters how regular your sleep schedule is as well, the researchers write in Scientific Reports.


The case for paying every American a dividend on the nation’s wealth
By Jonathan Burton

Early in 2019, 100 randomly selected lower-income residents of Stockton, Calif., will start to receive $500 a month. In exchange, they’ll need to do, well, absolutely nothing, and can spend the money on absolutely anything.

This is free money, in every sense — and quite possibly a model for a not-so-distant-future U.S. economy, where a big share of Americans are retired and robots handle more jobs. In this America, men, women and children receive a government-guaranteed regular payment — a universal basic income — regardless of age or how much money they make, simply because they are Americans.


How Cultural Engagement Affects Brain Health

Is going to a museum, theater performance, or cinema good for our brains? A recent study aimed to answer this question.

Previous research has suggested that activities we do in our free time, such as reading, gardening, or playing an instrument, can help to slow cognitive decline. The focus of this study, however, was on the impact of receptive cultural engagement, such as going to a museum, theater, or cinema.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday, October, 11th 2018

Though not required, feel free to add your email, and website to your comments

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I Pee, Therefore I Am
(Not Content With Incontinence?)

Editor’s note: If posts about natural bodily functions (or supernatural bodily functions for that matter) offend you, you might want to switch to this blog >> https://www.petsworld.in/blog/cute-pictures-of-puppies-and-kittens-together.html for the next few minutes.

Urinary incontinence is a problem for many (okay, all) older men and women. In fact, if you are still peeing the same way that you did when you were in high school you have an extraordinary urinary tract system and should be dissected immediately to determine what the heck is going on in there. For the rest of us human beings, when it comes to peeing, there are more pressing problems.

According to statistics, “One in five adults over 40 are affected by OAB (Over Active Bladder) or recurring symptoms of urgency and frequency.

"OAB and UI occur about twice as frequently in women as in men and become more prevalent with age.
An estimated 17 million adults in the United States have daily UI and a further 33 million suffer from the overlapping condition, OAB.”

Or, if you prefer to put things in a more utilitarian perspective,

“According to recent data from market research company Euromonitor International, adult incontinence is the fastest growing category in retail tissue and hygiene globally, with $7.2 billion in sales in 2015. Statistics show that 12.8 billion units of adult incontinence products were sold globally in 2010, which grew to 18.5 billion units sold in 2015. Retail volume for these products is expected to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 7% through 2020, with the number of units sold projected to hit 25.8 billion in 2020.” *

What all this means is that there is a whole lot of unintentional peeing going on out there, with no end in sight.
This has prompted me to ask the question “What is wrong with the basic design of the human body that our plumbing seems to fall apart with such frequency and ferocity as we age?” To answer this, a little research was necessary.

Now I, being of the male persuasion, feel that I do not have the expertise (not to mention the equipment) to fully understand or appreciate what women have to go through as far as what’s going on down there. Therefore, I will confine my remarks to only what I know about. However, I did come across this information which might be of interest for the ladies…

“The definition of urinary incontinence in women is the unintentional loss of urine. ... Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause may contribute to urinary incontinence in women. Weak bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, and nerve damage may also cause urinary incontinence in women.”

For more definitive information you can go to>> https://www.medicinenet.com/urinary_incontinence_in_women/article.htm

Okay men, here we go.

While I am not sure about what tickles a lady’s fancy, I can say without hesitation, that one of the great pleasures for a man is the ability to take a long, forceful, bladder emptying whizz. Believe me when I say that it is as good and satisfying as any sports victory, job promotion, or sexual conquest. It’s as stress relieving as a single malt liquor or a message given by a pair of 75lb Asian girls walking on your back. Yes, that good. But unfortunately, for most guys, the ability to perform such a function lasts for only a few brief years. In fact, I can’t really remember when the last time I was able to relieve myself in such a manner. My guess would be at least 20 years ago. And it’s all because of one piece of the human male anatomy that we don’t think about until it starts to give us problems. And by then, it’s usually too late (not that too much can be done to forestall what will eventually occur). Of course, I am speaking of that most troublesome of organs, the Prostate gland.
While a woman’s incontinence is usually caused by a weakening or over-activity of the bladder muscles, a man's problems are usually the result of that darn prostate actually enlarging and getting tougher. Go figure.

“BPH: The prostate gland commonly becomes enlarged as a man ages. This condition is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or benign prostatic hypertrophy. As the prostate enlarges, it may squeeze the urethra and affect the flow of the urinary stream. The lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) associated with the development of BPH rarely occur before age 40, but more than half of men in their sixties and up to 90 percent in their seventies and eighties have some LUTS. The symptoms vary, but the most common ones involve changes or problems with urination, such as a hesitant, interrupted, weak stream; urgency and leaking or dribbling; more frequent urination, especially at night; and urge incontinence. Problems with urination do not necessarily signal blockage caused by an enlarged prostate. Women don't usually have urinary hesitancy and a weak stream or dribbling.” **

The highlighted section in the above paragraph describes me to the “T”. Hardly an hour goes by that something isn’t happening below. And, quite frankly, It’s driving me nuts. And, not only is it an inconvenience, it has become a definite factor in why I can’t enjoy one of my favorite activities, sleep.

As if having to run to the John every ten minutes during the day isn’t bad enough, being awakened at all hours of the night is positively inhumane. I haven’t had an evening of uninterrupted sleep for as long as I can remember. I can honestly say that I have become a creature of the night. Fortunately, my bathroom is only 12 steps (yes I counted) from the foot of my bed which has prevented me from having any embarrassing incidents, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until the wee-wee pads come out. That is unless there is a way of shrinking that malevolent organ without having to cut away most of my man parts. Again, I refer to Google…

“There are several treatment options for an enlarged prostate. You can take alpha-blockers such as terazosin (Hytrin) or tamsulosin (Flomax) to help relax the prostate and bladder muscles. You can also take dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), a different kind of medication for reducing BPH symptoms.” ***

Okay, here’s where I have a problem. All of those medications require me to actually visit a doctor. And not just any doctor. There are actually physicians who specialize in pee problems. They are called Urologists. And nothing that they will be doing in their offices, in regards to helping you with your problem, is fun. Most of the time the examination will involve the laying on of hands, or should I say fingers? Usually, one finger inserted in a place where no finger should go. All of which is done to confirm something you already know. YOUR PROSTATE IS THE SIZE OF A BASKETBALL. But, take heart men. There are some home remedies you can try to reduce the size of your (hopefully) benign prostate.****

Please note: None of these remedies have been 100% proven to have any effect on an enlarged prostate. However, there is some evidence in favor of their effectiveness. As always, consult your healthcare professional before taking any medication or supplement.

Natural remedies for an enlarged prostate
Read More Here:>>  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321231.php

1. Pygeum (African plum extract)
Pygeum has also been shown to contain a wide range of fatty acids, alcohols, and sterols such as beta-sitosterol that have an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on the urogenital tract.

2.Saw palmetto
Saw palmetto is one the most studied and popular herbal supplements used to treat BPH.
Several studies have linked saw palmetto to reduced BPH symptoms. This is most likely because it inhibits the production of testosterone and reduces the size of the inner lining of the prostate.

3. Zi-Shen Pill (ZSP)
The Zi-Shen Pill (ZSP) contains a mixture of three plants, including Chinese cinnamon.

4. Cernilton
Some people use herbal supplements made from rye-grass pollen to treat BPH symptoms. These troublesome symptoms may include being unable to empty the bladder fully and the need to urination frequently at nighttime.

5. Orbignya speciosa (babassu)
Babassu or Orbignya speciosa is a species of palm tree native to Brazil. Several indigenous Brazilian tribes and communities use the dried or ground kernels from the tree to treat urogenital symptoms and conditions.

6. Stinging nettle
Stinging nettle contains similar antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds as pygeum and saw palmetto.

7. Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin seed)
Pumpkin seeds contain beta-sitosterol, a compound similar to cholesterol and found in some plants. Preliminary studies have shown that beta-sitosterol may improve urine flow and reduce the amount of urine left in the bladder after urination.

8. Lycopene
Lycopene is a naturally occurring pigment found in many fruits and vegetables. One study found that it may help slow the progression of BPH.

Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene available to most people. But a few other fruits and vegetables contain lower levels of this antioxidant.

9. Zinc
Zinc tablets on a table that may be a natural remedy for enlarged prostate
Zinc supplements may help to reduce urinary symptoms that are linked to an enlarged prostate.
Chronic zinc deficiencies have been shown to potentially increase the likelihood of developing BPH. Taking zinc supplements, or increasing dietary intake of zinc may help reduce urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.

10. Green tea
Green tea has a lot of antioxidants called catechins that have been shown to enhance the immune system and potentially slow the progression of prostate cancer.

Personally, I have tried Zinc, Saw Palmetto, and Lycopene. All with little or no relief. So what’s the bottom line here?

As much as I hate to admit it, if things get to a point where your frequency is ruining your life or causing anything more than just being bothersome, see your doctor.

But what is most disturbing to me is that this affliction is targeted directly at old men. And, for no other reason than that, we are old. Why, at an age when we should be allowed to be without pain or discomfort are we given this little “gift?” I mean, what does nature (or god, or whatever supreme being or cosmic entity you believe in) want to punish us? And with such an underhanded method as to cause us humiliation and embarrassment as well.

However, if you don’t believe in divine punishment, there is an actual scientific reason why you have already gone to the bathroom 6 times today.


         Most tissues in the body shrink as we age. Why does the prostate expand as men grow old?


“The size of any organ will be dependent on the equilibrium between cell division and cell death. It turns out that androgens not only are required for normal prostatic cell proliferation but also actively inhibit cell death. Thus the normal male aging process induces a block in the progression of normal prostatic cells to terminally differentiated cells and thereby reduces the overall rate of cell death. This leads to increasing gland size. It is interesting to note that patients who are castrated before puberty or who have a genetic disorder that impairs androgen action or synthesis do not develop benign prostatic hyperplasia (Walsh PC, Retik AB, Vaughan ED, et al, eds. Campbell's Urology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: WB Saunders; 2002:1297-1303).”

See what I mean. It’s a joke.

I have decided that I will just have to live with it. And if necessary I’ll seek medical attention.

Now excuse me, I have to go pee.

BTW, does Depends come with pockets?

* source >> https://www.nonwovens-industry.com/issues/2016-03-01/view_features/the-future-if-adult-incontinence
** There are causes of male incontinence other than prostate problems which we will not discuss here.
"The definition of urinary incontinence in men is the unintentional loss of urine. Weak or damaged bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, certain prostate conditions, and nerve damage are just some of the possible underlying causes of urinary incontinence in men.
There are different types of urinary incontinence in men, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. Some men may have one, two, or all three types of incontinence."
*** source >> https://www.google.com/search?q=best+methods+to+reduce+an+enlarged+prostate&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1
**** source >> https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321231.php


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Casting long shadows on a late September day,
a resident catches some rays on our sun-splashed patio

Think Medicare is unaffected by the Senate health-care bill? Think again

You probably know that, this year, individual filers with up to $85,000 ($170,000 for married and filing jointly) in modified adjusted gross income in 2016 can expect to pay $134 per month for Medicare Part B.

Those with higher incomes will pay more.


The case for paying every American a dividend on the nation’s wealth
By Jonathan Burton

Early in 2019, 100 randomly selected lower-income residents of Stockton, Calif., will start to receive $500 a month. In exchange, they’ll need to do, well, absolutely nothing, and can spend the money on absolutely anything.

This is free money, in every sense — and quite possibly a model for a not-so-distant-future U.S. economy, where a big share of Americans are retired and robots handle more jobs. In this America, men, women and children receive a government-guaranteed regular payment — a universal basic income — regardless of age or how much money they make, simply because they are Americans.

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NEXT BLOG: Monday, October 8th 2018

Though not required, feel free to add your email, and website to your comments

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Kavanaugh: A Justice of travesty

Editors Note: Readers of this blog know that I try to stay away from politics and all things political, and I can assure you that I will continue to do so. However, the events of this past week warrants a detour from the norm.

What we witnessed in that Senate hearing room never should have happened. And it would most likely not have happened if Donald Trump was not the President of the United States. Please, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying this facetiously. The only reason that judge Kavanaugh was put into a position of having to defend himself against a 35-year-old charge is that he allowed himself to be aligned with a man whose reputation in regards to women is upsetting at best. And it doesn’t stop there. The man who nominated judge Kavanaugh appears to have, as his primary agenda, to overturn everything the former administration put into practice for no other reason but spite. And making decisions spitefully is not one of the “qualities” we need in a Supreme Court Justice.

To be fair, we really don’t know what Mr. Kavanaugh’s decision-making process is or will be. His answers to some of the questions put forth to him were evasive or unclear. This leaves us with the only sure thing we can say about him, Trump likes him. And, given Trump’s track record of surrounding himself with people he “likes” has not been good. To date, approximately 37 Trump appointees have either resigned or been fired since he took office, indicating that his loyalty only extends as far as the first hint of anything that would make the president look bad. How long will it take for Donald to disassociate himself from Kavanaugh if the FBI report shows that the allegations against him are true?

Guilty of the accusations or not, I feel sorry for Kavanaugh’s family and what his ambition has put them through. He should have known better. He should have been able to better read the mood of the country and its feelings towards the current president. Perhaps viewing all of those staged pro-Trump Let’s Make America Great Again rally’s with all of those red-hatted yahoos cheering behind him gave Mr. Kavanaugh a false sense of security insofar as believing that nothing anybody could do or say would have any effect on his nomination. I guess he figured he would be a shoe-in. After all, doesn’t the current president have a wonderful brain respected by Chinese and North Korean Communist leaders everywhere?

I often wonder what would make a person want to put himself through the scrutiny needed to be appointed a Supreme Court Justice anyway. Is it for respect? (He supposedly already had that). Perhaps it’s a belief that he could be the prime defender of a political agenda who’s philosophy is mired in another century. Or, maybe it’s for the money.

“If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh — who is a judge on the appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit — will be getting a decent pay bump.

He’s currently earning about $220,600 a year. But according to the U.S. Courts website, associate justices each get an annual salary of $255,300. The chief justice, currently John Roberts, earns a bit more, bringing in an annual salary of $267,000.”

Well, I suppose a raise of more than $35,000 could buy a lot of dark suits and white shirts, but I’m sure the money has nothing to do with why anybody would want the job.

As of this writing, we don’t know what the outcome of all of this will be. Much of it will depend on what the FBI investigation comes up with. If the information skews negatively for Kavanaugh it will be interesting to see who among the Republican leaders will still support his nomination knowing that an election is just weeks away.

Consequently, if the FBI finds that no wrongdoing was committed by a teen-age Kavanaugh, it will be interesting to see what effect such findings will have on the Me-Too movement in general and Dr. Ford in particular. Either way, the whole business stinks. This is why I don’t do politics on this blog. I can’t afford the deodorant.

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Editor’s note: While the information presented below is valid it must be noted that it is written by a representative of a particular assisted living facility or group of assisted living facilities and must be viewed from that perspective. As a resident of and as blogger writing about assisted living for the last 5 years I have two things that I would like to add to this list.
Before you sign anything make sure that anything you have agreed upon is put in the agreement.

 How to Choose an Assisted Living Facility

Cost is often first on the list of factors when people are looking at assisted living facilities. A clear understanding of the costs is beneficial, but it's not necessarily the most important consideration.

While one facility may be all-inclusive, another may not. Facilities also may charge separate fees for special services.

A top consideration should also be the quality of care and record of satisfaction from current and former residents and their family members.

While making a short list of facilities to visit, be sure to do an online check of the assisted living homes in your area. Many sites will have reviews from family members and residents.

Personally visit any facilities you are considering. Pay close attention to the condition of the buildings, look at the calendar of events and ask about any activities available for residents.

Try to visit when you are most likely to meet residents and their family members. Early evening and weekend days are best. Talk to some of these people and get honest opinions regarding staff, amenities and accommodations.

In the first stages of your planning, you may find that your facility needs to meet only minimal requirements. You or your loved one may need a secure environment or someone on hand in case of a fall or illness. But as time goes on, these needs may change.

Be sure the facility you are considering can change with your needs. If mobility issues become a concern, the size and layout of the center may become important. Eventually, you may find you need someone to give medication, manage appointments, provide transportation and provide more personal levels of care.

Some assisted living facilities provide increasing levels of care as requirements of their residents change. Others meet only a specified level of care and will require that you leave the facility should your needs increase.

Whether it is you or a family member that will become part of the assisted living community, your experience should be pleasant. The move will be less stressful for all involved if the facility most closely resembles the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.

Make a list of the things in your life that are important to you. Whether it’s gardening or crafting or some other hobby. Look for a facility that will let you continue on with these hobbies once you’ve moved in.

If you enjoy exercise and are physically able to do so, look for a center that has a gym, exercise room or secure place to walk. If you are a social butterfly, look for a facility that allows plenty of opportunity for socializing.

Moving into an assisted living facility doesn’t have to be stressful or unpleasant. With the proper research, you can ensure that you or your loved one will be well cared for while still being able to enjoy life.

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How to live to 100: From eating pigs' feet to 30 cigarettes a day or whiskey in the morning –
tips from the world's oldest people for surviving a century

A website trawled through interviews with 100 people over 100 for the tips
But there is no agreement and many people flouted conventional health advice
Smoking, drinking and eating junk food have all been credited for long lives

By Sam Blanchard

Imagine being born in a time before electric lights, television, phones and cars were normal and living through two world wars – and still being alive in 2018.

Richard Overton, a 112-year-old from Texas, has done just this and, staggeringly, he credits his survival to up to 12 cigars and four glasses of whiskey every day.

Living to be older than 100 is rare but becoming more common – the UN expects there to be 3.2 million centenarians worldwide by 2050, up from 316,600 in 2012.

And, according to a website that trawled through interviews with 100 people who reached the landmark birthday, the secret to surviving may not just be a healthy diet.


One in Three Older Americans Is Lonely, AARP Survey Says
Jamie Ducharme

Loneliness is on the rise in the U.S., and no one is immune. Research published earlier this year found that people 18 to 22 years old were more likely than any other U.S. population to be lonely. But new data suggests that older adults are also lonely in high numbers.

More than a third of adults over 45 are lonely, according to a new report from the AARP Foundation. While that percentage (35%) remains unchanged from a 2010 version of the survey, the over-45 population has increased substantially during those eight years — meaning about 5 million more adults, almost 48 million in total, can now be considered lonely.


Is Your Online Date Deadly? Look For These Red Flags
By Heidi Redlitz

Did you know that. . .

  • 10% of sex offenders use online dating sites
  • 3% of online daters are psychopaths
  • 51% of online daters are already in a relationship
  • 10% of members on free dating websites are scammers
  • Since 1995, 400 people have been murdered by someone they met online

Considering these stats, the grim reality is that if you date online, you’re likely to run into a few freaky fish before you find a good catch.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday, October 4th 2018

Though not required, feel free to add your email, and website to your comments

▼  ▼  ▼

Okay, breakfast’s over, now what?


A friend of mine here at the Asylum (we’ll call him Ned) was looking a little down the other day. Actually, he looks a “little down” every day, but this day even more so. Noticing a marked change in his demeanor, I asked him what was wrong.

“I’m sooo bored”, he replied. “There’s nothing to do.”

“What you need is a hobby”, l lectured. “There must be something you like, or liked, to do in your spare time.”

“I never had any spare time. I worked almost every day, all day”, he said.

“We have a Recreation Department here”, I said. “There must be something that would interest you.”

We went down the list of activities.

“Drawing or painting class?”
“I guess knitting and crocheting wouldn’t interest you?”
“How about cooking?”
“Cards, pool, Rummikub?”
“No, no, and no.”

We explored some other options like photography, model making and even whittling, none of which had any effect on his ennui.

“I like movies, but only old ones like from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s”, he chimed in.

“What about reading Ned? I know you used to read a lot.”

“Yes, but I no longer have the patience for it.”

I left our conversation at that, coming to no conclusions or help for my friend. However, what I did come away with was that there are probably dozens of residents (mostly male) that are just plain bored stiff.

While younger men have a broader interest base (sometimes delving into what we would consider being traditional female-oriented activities), older guys, like Ned and myself, were embroiled in the classic roles of “Men did manly things and worked all day until he dropped.” And now, that we have finally reached that point in our lives when we are afforded all the time we need to do everything, we are at a loss to do anything.

Having the feeling that this phenomenon is more common than we think, I did a little research.

This from theglobeandmail.com…

"Experts say men are more susceptible to depression in retirement, in part because their identity is more closely tied to their careers compared to women.

For a lot of men it really is a loss of a sense of identity – something that we get from work," said clinical psychologist Marnin Heisel, director of research and associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont. He and his colleagues are doing research on men struggling in their transition to retirement, and are developing a program to reduce the risk for the onset of depression, hopelessness, and suicide.

While employed, men develop a strong routine and many of their friendships come from work, says Dr. Heisel."

source >> https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/retirement/retire-health/men-vulnerable-to-boredom-depression-in-retirement/article27490557/

In doing this research I came across a number of articles on what is known as the “Retirement Syndrome”. This is something that is used to describe the difficulties faced by individuals in positions of authority, specifically Chief Executive Officer's (CEO's) as they attempt to "let go" at the end of a full career. But this doesn’t really get to the heart of the matter. What is there to do?

Unfortunately, my research did not yield any real answers. However, in an article on the website sixtyandme.com entitled “4 Things You Can Do to Overcome Boredom in Retirement” by Diane Dahli, I found some interesting generalizations. Among them was this…

Find Your Sense of Purpose

"Nothing will alleviate your boredom more quickly or effectively than discovering a sense of purpose. Your sixties are a time of life when you may not have career plans. This offers a perfect opportunity to explore the interests and passions you may have had in the past, but didn’t act on.

Begin by asking yourself what you love. You can start taking steps to find something that inspires you. It may take some time, but try to find an activity that enthralls you. When you can spend hours doing something for hours without lifting your head, you will have entered a state of flow. There is no room for boredom when you are fully engaged in such a way.

Boredom is dangerous. The destructive behaviors you might indulge in while bored can affect your health or shorten your life. A bigger danger is that it blocks your passage to a sense of fulfillment in later life."

Of course, this does not help my friend Ned who’s “sense of purpose” is wrapped up in reciting lines from old movies and relating his time spent in the Navy. We’ll consider him a “work in progress.”

As for myself, I have this blog of course. And, when all else is said and done, there’s nothing like a good nap to fill the bill.

Ah! Retirement.

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A revolution leads to better food

It has been a while that I have been able to post photos of the food served here at the ALF that I can honestly say tasted like real food. And by real food I mean food that is at least as good as that served in any roadside diner. A feat, that heretofore, has alluded many of the food service managers and cooks we have had here.

The food, and food service, has always been a bone of contention with the residents. And with good reason.

Many of the people who were supposed to be professional chefs and managers have failed to grasp the concept of what people (and seniors in particular) want and like to eat.

Up until now most of the meals that have been set before up has been mediocre at best and, at times, downright inedible.  And it was not as if the administration of this facility was not aware of it. The very fact that we have had 6 food service managers in the last 5 years says something about the desire to provide a quality dining experience. And now, it appears, they may have finally done just that.

With the hiring of a new food service manager along with a complete re-vamping of how food is cooked, presented and served, we have seen the light of a new dawn. And, while everything is not perfect, it is quite evident that we are moving in the right direction.

The two meals in the photograph above (scrambled eggs, ham and rye toast breakfast, and a meatloaf and mashed potato dinner) may not seem like anything spectacular but they represent a standard of quality we have not seen here in the past. Quite simply, they taste like something you might make at home.

We compliment management for having the desire to make things right, and we applaud the residents of this facility who came to the meetings and expressed their displeasure with our former chef/manager. And they did so in a cohesive, forthright and constructive manner. Something that is not seen too often among a group of diverse, older individuals. …ff.

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Kicked out of assisted living: What you can do
By Judith Graham

    Assisted living facilities may simply say "we can't take care of you any longer"

    Evictions top the list of grievances about assisted living received by long-term care                 ombudsmen

    Elder law attorneys and ombudsmen recommend several strategies

The phone call came as a shock. Your aunt can't transfer into memory care; we have to discharge her from this facility, a nurse told Jeff Regan. You have 30 days to move her out.
The next day, a legal notice was delivered. Marilou Jones, 94, who has dementia, was being evicted from Atria at Foster Square, an assisted living facility in Foster City, Calif. The reason: "You are non-weight bearing and require the assistance of two staff members for all transfers," the notice said.


Reverse mortgages have some pros and some cons for seniors
By Miron Lulic

Reverse mortgages are a unique type of loan. Unique is a word that is thrown around a great deal, particularly when describing financial products. But it's accurate when describing Home Equity Conversion Mortgages — another term for reverse mortgages.

Here are three reasons: You don't have to make payments on these loans until you die or move, they are restricted to homeowners who are 62 or older, and reverse mortgages use two interest rates for every transaction: one to calculate your mortgage rate, and another to calculate your expected rate, which determines how much money you can borrow.


Your Social Security check could be bigger next year
By Lorie Konish

Good news for those who are collecting Social Security: Your monthly checks likely will be bigger next year.

The Social Security Administration generally announces its cost-of-living adjustment in October.

The Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan organization, keeps an ongoing estimate of what that increase could be. The latest estimate — excluding September — pegs that increase at 2.8 percent. For those collecting the average Social Security benefit of about $1,400, that would mean an extra $39 a month.

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Why I No Longer Drive
(And why maybe you shouldn’t either)

Remember back when you were a teenager. If you were like me, all you could think about was getting your drivers license and all the freedom that would bring.

Your first car was probably the family sedan or some very plain, very sturdy used car. But you didn’t care, because now you didn’t have to depend on anybody to drive you to all of those important teenage functions like hanging at the mall, the beach, the parking lot of the local White Castle or just cruisin’ down the main drag, radio blasting one of the top 40 tunes to which you knew all the words. Ah, those were the days. And, for many people, those days continue to this day in one form or another.

But sadly, for me and many of us, driving has become but a faded memory of a time when my world was completely different. A little background info will help you better understand the situation.

I began my time behind the wheel when I was 16-years-old and drove a car almost every day from then on until May 19th of 2009 when things changed so quickly that my mind still has difficulty comprehending it all.

Basically, I became so ill so fast that every normal activity had to be put on hold while I concentrated on living. And then, when I was finally “out-of-the-woods” as far as my health was concerned, the realization of what I had lost during those long months of recuperation and rehabilitation finally sunk in.

Besides my ability to walk, I lost my apartment, many of my personal belongings, a chunk of money, and my car. And, while I was able to re-coop some of those lost items, my car was gone forever,

On the day I was taken to the hospital my car was parked on the street near my home. Unfortunately, as in most neighborhoods in New York City, there is in effect something that is called “Alternate Side of The Street Parking’ when, twice a week, the street sweeper comes down the street and attempts to sweep up all of the detritus that has collected at the curb.

For those unfortunates who either forget or just don’t care to move their cars, a ticket is neatly tucked under the wiper blade. An additional ticket is placed on your car every day that you don’t move your car. Eventually, the sanitation department gets the idea that you will not be moving that car and they tow it away. The car winds up in an impound yard where it stays until all efforts to contact the owner have been exhausted. That would be the category to which I found myself. In fact, to this day I have no idea what actually happened to my car. I’m guessing that it was put up for auction and sold. However, a few years ago I checked with the New York State Comptrollers office’s unclaimed funds site and found that someone owed me over $4000 which I am guessing was what was left over from the sale of my car and after all of the fines were paid. So much for the car part of the story. The other reasons that I no longer drive are of my own doing. Simply put, I don’t belong behind the wheel of a car.

The decision to give up driving was not made lightly. The truth be told, I actually regret it. But, in my heart, I know that it was the right thing to do. Despite what the DMV says, I don’t feel safe behind the wheel.

My eyesight is not what it used to be. I can’t see at distant objects (like exit signs and 18 wheel tractor-trailers) too well anymore. And, while I could pass the DMV eye exam, I would feel uncomfortable driving with less than decent vision. The same is true for my hearing.

I am almost completely deaf in one ear. A condition that is acceptable by the NYS DMV. But it is not acceptable by my standards. If I can’t hear traffic approaching on my right it’s the same as if I had no side view mirror. And so, I voluntarily took myself off the road by allowing my driver's license to expire. That was back in 2011 while I was still in a nursing home, not knowing what was to become of me, as I watched my former life fade away. But things are different now.

While I still have some disabilities, I’m in a better place both physically and mentally and the desire to get back behind the wheel has cropped up in my mind more than once. Much like a person who goes “cold turkey” when giving up smoking, the urge to drive after on has been doing it for such a long time never really goes away. And, while I know that I will never drive again, now, with fall knocking at the door that desire is growing stronger and stronger.

My last car had a retractable sunroof which allowed all of that nice, clean, fresh fall air waft around you as you drove. And, there were so many places around here where one could go to enjoy this best of all seasons. All within an hour’s drive from New York City. But, of course, driving for seniors means much more than just a casual sojourn into the
woods. For many of us, the car is a necessity. If you live in a suburban area, transportation options are limited which makes even doing the most basic of trips (supermarket, movies, restaurants, and doctors) extremely difficult. This is why many seniors are reluctant to give up the keys. Fortunately, most don’t have to.

Statistically, seniors are among the safest drivers around.

“Seniors are safe drivers compared to other age groups since they often reduce the risk of injury by wearing safety belts, observing speed limits, and not drinking and driving. However, they are more likely to be injured or killed in traffic crashes due to age-related vulnerabilities, such as more fragile bones. Medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses also make it more difficult for older drivers to recover from any injuries. With the exception of teen drivers, seniors have the highest crash death rate per mile driven, even though they drive fewer miles than younger people.”

Unfortunately, all is not rosy on the senior driving front. . .

           Here are some more facts about senior drivers from SeniorDriving.AAA.Com.

Fifty percent of the middle-aged population and 80 percent of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, crippling inflammation of the joints, which makes turning, flexing and twisting painful.

Weaker muscles, reduced flexibility and limited range of motion restrict senior drivers’ ability to grip and turn the steering wheel, press the accelerator or brake, or reach to open doors and windows.

More than 75 percent of drivers age 65 or older report using one or more medications, but less than one-third acknowledged awareness of the potential impact of the medications on driving performance.

Per mile traveled, fatal crash rates increase beginning at age 75 and rise sharply after age 80. This is mainly due to increased risk of injury and medical complications, rather than an increased tendency to get into crashes.

Since older drivers are more fragile, their fatality rates are 17 times higher than those of 25- to 64-year-olds.

In 2009, 33 million licensed drivers were over age 65 – a 20 percent increase from 1999. And by the year 2030, 70 million Americans in the U.S. will be over age 65 – and 85 to 90 percent of them will be licensed to drive.

In 2014, nearly 5,709 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic crashes.

In 2009, more than 58 percent of deaths in crashes involving drivers over age 65 were older drivers themselves and 12 percent were their passengers. Twenty-eight percent of these deaths were occupants of other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.3 By comparison, in the same year, 40 percent of deaths in crashes involving at least one driver younger than age 21 were attributed to the younger drivers themselves and 23 percent were their passengers. Thirty-six percent were occupants of other vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians.3

The decision to stop driving is both personal and public. I remember what my driving instructor told me before I started my first lesson. “Never forget that you are driving what is essentially a weapon. It’s as much of a weapon as a cannon or a guided missile. Every time you get behind the wheel you have the chance of killing yourself or worse, killing someone else.” Needless to say, he made his point.

While nobody is telling you to give up your car they are telling you that you have to realize that nothing lasts forever. And that there will be a time when you must face reality and hand over the keys.

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Anti-Trump movement can’t take seniors’ vote for granted
By Eric A. Gordon

CARSON, Calif.—Seniors vote. Seniors, vote! This is more than a lesson about punctuation. It’s about the future of our country. As State Senator Steven Bradford recently told a Carson gathering of almost 100 members of the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), “You guys are the high propensity voters.”


Social Security’s COLA increase
probably won’t help retirees much
By Alessandra Malito

Social Security’s closely watched cost-of-living adjustment may try to align with inflation, but it’s out of step with what retirees are spending.

The official adjustment, known as COLA, will be announced next month, but the Senior Citizens League, a nonpartisan advocacy group for retirees, said it expects a 2.8% increase for 2019. The organization analyzed the consumer-price index, the government’s measurement for inflation and the basis for COLA. The estimate is a decrease since its June analysis, when it expected COLA to be 3%.

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There is a scene from the 1955 movie “Marty” where Marty (Ernest Borgnine) is talking to his friend. It’s Saturday night and they are discussing what they are going to do for the evening. Marty says “What do you want to do?” and his friend answers back “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” And for the next few minutes, they pretty much ask themselves that  same question over and over. Of course, they wind up doing nothing. That’s the way I feel sometimes when I’m asked “What have you been doing?’’, or “What do you have planned?’’ because I have no good answer.

Actually, I shouldn’t say that I have no answer. I do, but it’s not something I’m proud of saying. Because, much like Marty, my answer is “Nothing.” The truth be told, the one thing that really sucks when one retires is that one has the tendency to settle into a routine. Not so much because I want to, but more because it’s just easier not to have to think too much about a lot of stuff. Too much thinking just adds needless information to an already over-crowded brain.

I have a theory that the brain can only hold a finite amount of information, much like a computer hard drive.* If that is true, it means that at a certain point in one’s life, we will have reached the brain’s capacity causing one’s cognitive abilities to slow down. Accordingly, the only way to combat this is to occasionally delete* some of the older, unused stuff. I am currently working on clearing out most of what I have learned before 1965. Those first 20 years weren’t that much fun anyway. Remember high school (shudder). Unfortunately, the only people that have been able to do this successfully are the Cold War era Chinese who perfected the art of brainwashing during the Korean war.** And they’re not too forthcoming with that information. Right now I’m compensating by forgetting things I did one or two hours ago. Now, what was I talking about? Oh, right, answering people when they ask “What’s doing?”

Because my life has all of the excitement and luster of an egg salad sandwich, I have come up with a partial list of things to say when asked questions pertaining to your current status. Feel free to use any of these.

Question. “What’s new"
   Answers. . .

  1. “After the cops left, things quieted down quite a bit.”
  2. “You know, blood stains are harder to clean than you think.”
  3. “Do you know a good lawyer?’’
  4. “I’m feeling much better now that the swelling went down.”
  5. “How long do condoms last anyway?”
  6. “Do you think we’re the same blood type?”

You can use more than one of these at a time, but try to keep them down to two or three. And, always follow your answer with, “So how’s by you?”

At the most, they’ll think you are leading a much more interesting life than theirs.

There is another way to go with this.

When asked “How are you feeling?”, begin to list (by date if possible) every ache and pain you have, what the doctor said, and a detailed account of any medical procedure you may have had. At the least, they’ll never ask “What’s new” again.

*Editor’s note: Contrary to popular belief we do not use only 10% of our brain. According to Scientific American, we use all of it.
*Please do not attempt on your own. Improper use may result in you losing a part of your mind that you might really need later.
** See movie “The Manchurian Candidate

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On Health…

Risks From Daily Low-Dose Aspirin Outweigh Benefits For Healthy Seniors

By Rob Stein

Daily low-dose aspirin can be of help to older people with an elevated risk for a heart attack. But for healthy older people, the risk outweighs the benefit. Bruno Ehrs/Getty Images hide caption

Many healthy Americans take a baby aspirin every day to reduce their risk of having a heart attack, getting cancer and even possibly dementia. But is it really a good idea?

Results released Sunday from a major study of low-dose aspirin contain a disappointing answer for older, otherwise healthy people.

"We found there was no discernible benefit of aspirin on prolonging independent, healthy life for the elderly," says Anne Murray, a geriatrician and epidemiologist at Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, who helped lead the study.


On Health…

The Importance of Looking Out for Your Kidneys

Once we're firmly in adulthood (30 to 35), our kidneys start to lose a bit of their function at a rate of about .5 percent a year. This makes them more susceptible to diseases and illnesses they may have otherwise fought off, and in seniors, it's particularly important to take care of kidneys. Even though we've got two, it doesn't mean they can be ignored or tended to half as much as other organs.

Function of Kidneys

Kidneys have five main functions, and can be sorted according by either balancing or filtering.

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Not Crazy (Mostly)

After All These Years

Every now and again I like to take stock of, what I like to call, my blessings. Those things I have to be thankful for. First and foremost among them is that, for some reason, I am still alive. And, though I don’t genuflect or shout huzzah’s to the almighty, I’m mighty glad to be here. Or anywhere for that matter.

I’m also grateful to have a roof over my head. For a while, exactly where I would be living was in doubt. And, as I have said before, homelessness is one of my greatest fears.

Grateful too am I for having a support group which includes not only a trained staff of professionals but a group of wonderful friends here at the assisted living facility I now call home.

And, I’m also glad that (through the wonders of modern communications and social media like Facebook) I am able to stay in touch with dear friends and relatives.

But above all, I am thankful for something that most young folks don’t care about and many older people don’t want to think about. And that is that I still have all of my faculties. Or, most of them, I think.

The word “faculties” is an all-encompassing term for what we now like to call “dementia”, loss of cognitive ability or, more specifically, Alzheimer's disease. Some still refer to the lack of mental acuity as “senility.” 

You may have noticed that I left out forgetfulness in that group of definitions. And, no, it’s not because I forgot. It’s just that who among us (young or old) has not had a loss of memory now and then?* The truth be told, I have had a specific memory problem for many years. I can’t remember people’s names. And it’s not just people I don’t see every day. There are residents who have been here as long as I have, and who I see and even talk to on a regular basis whose names I do not remember despite them having told me dozens of times. Of course, this can get embarrassing, and a little macabre. Take an incident that happened a couple of weeks ago.

I mentioned to one of my table mates that I hadn’t seen Edna (not her actual name) around for a while. My friend looked at me with a sad expression and told me that Edna had passed away. I expressed my concern and sorrow and, because death is something we live with here at the ALF every month, I didn’t give Edna’s demise any further thought. That is, until a few days later when who should I see sitting in the lounge, having a cup of coffee, but a very much alive Edna. To say I was stunned would be, to put it mildly.

Of course, as it turned out, the person whose name I thought was Edna was not Edna at all. In fact, her name did not even come close to sounding like Edna. I was thinking of somebody else to whom I randomly assigned the name, Edna. To this day I don’t know who the real late lamented Edna was. Fortunately, so far, the only one who I have embarrassed because of this thing is me. But is this just a foreshadow of what is to come? Don’t think that I, and many of my fellow residents, don’t worry about just that thing.

“About 15 million Americans will have either Alzheimer's dementia or mild cognitive impairment by 2060, up from approximately 6.08 million this year, according to a new study by researchers at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

The findings highlight the need to develop measures that could slow the progression of the disease in people who have indications of neuropathological changes that could eventually lead to Alzheimer's dementia, said Ron Brookmeyer, professor of biostatistics at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the study's lead author. The country's population is aging and with it comes a growing number of people with Alzheimer's disease.”

Source: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20171208/Study-estimates-number-of-Americans-with-preclinical-Alzheimers-or-mild-cognitive-impairment.aspx

6.8 million! That’s about the same as the population of Missouri or Tennessee. And it’s increasing steadily each year. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2060, there will be in upwards of 15 million people with some cognitive disorder. However, if you are a resident of an assisted living facility, you might think that that number is already here.

While I don’t want to say that there are some people living here who are not playing with a full deck, I’ll be kind and chalk their odd behavior off to old age. However, there are some whose short-term memories are definitely in question. And, unfortunately, our facility is not always able to cope with them, mainly because the condition manifests itself in very specific ways. Much of it has to do with food.

Not a meal goes by that a resident hasn’t wandered into the dining room for a meal forgetting that they just ate that meal 20 minutes before. It’s embarrassing for the resident as well as acting as a constant reminder that we are all but a dead brain cell or two away from doing just the same thing.

The loss of cognitive ability is something I think about all of the time. I know that my odds of it never happening to me are slim. However, if genes have anything to do with it, I am safe, at least for a while. Both my parents lived well into their 80’s and never really exhibited any signs of memory loss or dysfunction. However, whether or not that is a good thing I don’t know. There is a lot to be said for losing one’s mind. This includes not having to worry (or care) about little things like paying your bills, doing the laundry, or taking a bath. Truly disengaged people can blissfully go through life unencumbered by the everyday hurdles most of us must face. Of course, what really bothers me is how will I know if I have lost my mind. For this, I have left specific instructions with my friends.

I have given them the authority to shoot me dead if I ever exhibit any of the following.

1. Repeat the same bad jokes (or forgetting the punchlines to them) within a two day period.
2. Wear any clothes that “clash” such as a striped shirt with polka dot pants.
3. Wear anything that advertises a local bar, auto repair shop or a 1971 tour by The Grateful Dead.
4. Wear anything made of patent leather, a cap (other than a baseball cap) or my pants above or below my waist.
5. Use a pair of Depends as a Port-A-Potty.
6. Suddenly decide that I would look good in a toupee (and buy one).

Finally, let me say that if you or a loved one is experiencing signs of cerebral incontinence, there is help available. New medications are being developed and medical professionals are starting to understand the problems associated with decreasing mental ability. However, the most important thing is that you listen to people around you who can see changes in your personality, even before you do. And, don’t be embarrassed to do something about it.

*Radio personality Don Imus blamed what he called his “vodka brain cells” taking over.

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Editor’s note: Remember when you decided that it was time to buy that newfangled gadget everybody was talking about. They called it a PC and it had something called windows (whatever that was) and, although you had no idea why you needed one, you somehow felt that you had to have one. So you went down to Circuit City where they were running a sale on a Compaq desktop PC, with a printer, monitor, keyboard and a mouse (?) for the low low price of only $1500.

Remember to, when you brought it home and unwrapped it and noticed that the cable needed to hook up the printer was not included so you had to drive back to the store to buy one. And then, when you unfolded the directions you realized that you may be way over your head but you tried hooking the darn thing up anyway. And, after an hour, when you finally figured out where everything plugged in it was time to turn it on. And, much to your amazement, the screen lit up and told you to insert disc one of the two shiny cd’s. So you opened the cd drawer and carefully placed a disc in the tray and you watched as magical things started to happen. Suddenly toasters with wings appeared on the screen and welcomed you to Windows 95. The latest (and some say, greatest) of all operating systems. And how you spent the next three days exploring all of its nuances and stark gray interface with its no-nonsense commands and admonishments when you did something wrong. And who among us has not experienced the fear when the dreaded blue screen popped up?

Well, now, if you have been longing to get back to the days or yore and are totally fed with today’s user-friendly operating systems, here is your chance to return to those days.

Windows 95 is now an app

You can now download and install Windows 95 as an app on Windows, Linux, and macOS

It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about the glorious concept that was the Windows 95 phone. The beautifully retro mobile operating system, which was rocking MS Paint and even Clippy, made a lot more sense than the actual Windows phones that Microsoft served up. Unfortunately, however, it was only an idea. But today we get one step closer to that beautiful reality. Today, you can download Windows 95 as an electron app for Windows, macOS, and Linux. …..

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Fast-food industry, customers will benefit from seniors

Who said that we senior citizens can’t find a job?

The actual result for job hunting is suddenly showing that the fast-food industry wants and needs educated, well-dressed, well-mannered employees.

They no longer need to pay $15 an hour to a dropout who can’t make change, who can’t get to work on time, who’s not depending on a parent for transportation to work.

That means there is going to be work for hundreds of thousands of seniors who want to work. They won’t be looking to join a union, they won’t have the need for full-time work, and they all desire to do an honest day’s work for the job.


15 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency .

What does vitamin D deficiency look like? In its most extreme form, prolonged and severe vitamin D deficiency during childhood, known as rickets, can delay growth and lead to visible skeletal deformities.

Today, rickets is relatively rare, but that doesn’t mean that vitamin D deficiency is—more than 40 percent of Americans are deficient. The potential health consequences of this epidemic are serious, as vitamin D deficiency is linked to osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, and poor pregnancy outcomes.

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Why I Hate Fall

Fall, that time of the year when I begin to get bummed-out. There are a lot of things that contribute to this general feeling of melancholia, the weather being the primary factor. It’s not so much the actual September and October weather that depresses me. In fact, I rather enjoy the crisp, clear Fall days. What I really hate is the portent of what’s to come. And that, of course, is Winter.

The truth be told, I never liked the Winter. And it has nothing to do with the cold. It’s all about the clothes. You have to wear just too much of them in Winter. All of this vitriol began when I was a kid.

Back in those days, there was no such thing as “lightweight.” Everything was heavy.

Furniture was heavy. Cars were heavy, the toys were heavy, and the clothes were heavy. And, not only were the clothes heavy, they were piled on you, layer upon layer upon layer until any movement, and most circulation was rendered impossible.

It made no difference what the actual temperature was. It was Winter and my mom made sure that I wore everything I owned. Unfortunately, most of it didn’t fit. And for that, I blame my brother.

There is a lot to be said for being an only child. Primary in that, is not having to wear hand-me-downs. Because, as we all know, the person from whom the clothes came was always bigger than you.

And so, there I was, walking (barely) to school (a distance of a whole two blocks) clothed in a sweater that might have been my father’s (or maybe my mother’s), a flannel shirt, a coat two sizes too big from my brother, and a scarf so large that it wrapped around my neck six or seven times.

The mittens I think, were mine. Evidently, the only part of my body that hadn’t grown larger over the Summer was my hands. Also mine was my hat. My brother, being much older than I, would not have been caught dead in the hat they made me wear. Maybe you remember those hats. They were made of leather (or simulated leather) that was faux-fur lined and yes, they had ear flaps.

Combine all that with a pair of corduroy pants, a Hopalong Cassidy lunch box, and a book bag and you had a kid deserving of a good beating by the local bully. The only thing missing was a name tag that said “Putz.”

Unlike today, a kid’s life was on the street.

We didn’t have our noses buried in I-pads and smartphones or video games. We didn’t text our friends when we wanted to discuss important kid business with them. Our games and our conversations were done in person, on the street. So, when Winter arrived, with its cold, rain, and snow, we knew that those activities would be greatly curtailed. Oh, one other thing.

Did I mention that I grew up in Brooklyn? This is important. Because if you were a kid living in Brooklyn in the 1950’s, you lived for only one thing. The Brooklyn Dodgers. Of course, the Winter meant that you would have to wait almost 7 months before you could root for “Them Bums” again.

As the years went by my disdain for Winter did not abate one bit. Even though the clothes got lighter (and not second hand) and I no longer played in the street, a whole new set of Winter related woes cropped up. Adult crap like digging my Toyota out of a snowdrift the height of Mt. Fuji.

Or, when driving was impossible, standing on a crowded Long Island Railroad platform because the subway was on strike on the coldest day of the year. And then, having to walk from 34th street to West 10th street slipping and sliding on the glazed sidewalks of old New York.

Now that I am a resident of an assisted living facility Winter should not concern me as much.

There's nothing to shovel. No car to start or drive. Everything I need is indoors so I don't have to worry about heavy winter clothes. It's kind of like living in Florida without the palm trees and the early bird specials. So why do I still hate Winter?

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It’s the Food Man. It’s Always The Food

I have written much here about the food served to us at the ALF. In fact, I have written so much about it that some of you might think that I am obsessed with it. Well, I’m not going to argue with you, I am. But where does this obsession come from? For the answer, we’ll have to travel back in time (once again) to a small apartment in Flatbush Brooklyn and to a particular room in that apartment, the Kitchen.

It doesn’t matter where you grew up or what kind of place you lived in. Whether it was an inner-city flat, a farmhouse in rural America, or a sprawling suburban split-level, the main room of that home was always the kitchen.

The kitchen was the place where the family congregated. It was the place where I learned to read, read my first book, built my model ships and planes, did my homework, was disciplined by my father, ate three meals a day, watch my mother cook, as well as the place where I cooked my first meal. To say that I have an affinity for the kitchen and all that it represents would be putting it mildly.

Although my mom was a first generation American, she was still part of the old world. The world in which the father went to work, the kids went to school and the mother stayed at home cooking and cleaning. Did I mention, cooking? My mom, as I remember, did a lot of cooking. And, she was very good at it.

I know all of you think that your mothers were great cooks. Maybe you’re right, or maybe, you just don’t know what really good food tastes like. I, however, can say unequivocally that my mom WAS a great cook. She had a natural ability to know how to take raw ingredients, season them perfectly, cook them at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time and come up with the perfect meal. She also had the skill to adapt a recipe and make it her own, the true measure of a good cook. And, I am glad to say, that some of that skill was not lost on me.

While I can’t say that I had the aptitude to ever accomplish what she could do in the kitchen, all of those years of eating her food, plus having the opportunity to eat at some marvelous restaurants in my life, is why I cringe at some of the stuff that passes for food here. But what I find most distasteful (pun intended), is that, at least up until now, they just don’t care. They make what they want, and call it anything they want even though it has no relation to anything that a normal person would consider a properly executed meal.

You may have noticed that I said: “Up until now.” There’s a good reason for saying that.

This past Tuesday we held our monthly Resident’s Food Committee meeting. And at that meeting, was our new Supervisor of Food Services (the 6th in five years) making his debut. And, for the first time, there appears to be a new attitude and understanding of what the real problems concerning our dining experience are. While we have heard various promises before (with little or no actual changes made) a new element has been added. And it comes in the form of a sort of “Capo di Tutti Capo” of Food Service Supervisors. Employed by the corporation that owns our facility, this person’s job is to “straighten out” the problems that have plagued, not only our kitchen but all of the kitchen’s of all the facilities in our system. Hopefully, the “straightening-out” does not mean skimping or cutting corners. What we don’t need here is another bean-counter.

So, with a new sheriff in town, and a promise to clean things up, we now face an unknown gastronomic future. All I can say is that anything has to be better than what we have had before. Bon appétit.

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Smoking May Increase Dementia Risks

Quitting smoking, or smoking less, might be helpful in reducing the risk.

By Nicholas Bakalar
NY Times

Yet another reason to stop smoking: It may reduce your risk for dementia.

Korean researchers studied 46,140 men, 60 and older, following them for an average of eight years with periodic health examinations. Over the course of the study, 1,644 people were given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.


Stop Blaming Boomers for Social Security's Mess,
and Blame These 6 Things Instead

By Sean Williams

Social Security may have paid benefits to retired workers for more than 78 years, but there's little denying that the nation's most important social program is in trouble.

Each year, the Social Security Board of Trustees releases an annual report that examines the short-term (10-year) and long-term (75-year) outlook for the program. In the latest edition from early June, the Trustees projected that, for the first time since 1982, expenditures would exceed collected revenue. Although we're only talking about a net cash outflow of $1.7 billion, which is hardly noticeable next to $2.89 trillion in asset reserves, it's the sheer significance of this event that's concerning.

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9/11, You Had To Be There

It’s not often one can say that they were an eyewitness to history let alone the most significant event (so far) of the 21st century. Unfortunately, I can. Of course, I was not alone on that brilliant sunlit September day some 17 years ago. Ten’s of thousands of my friends and neighbors were there too, and like most of them, I wished I hadn’t seen what I saw.

My day began early, as it had for the eight years I worked for Corporate Express (an office supply company) at 303 West 10th Street in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan.

It was 6:30 am as I began my forty minute drive to work. My route took me over the Wiliamsburgh Bridge, through the streets of the Lower East Side and on to narrower streets of the West Village. And, as was the case every morning that I drove in, the lights of the twin towers of the World Trade Center greeted me and the thousands of commuters that would follow. How lucky was I (I thought) to be able to see that great structure backlit by the late rising September sun. I arrived at my office a little after 7 am and prepared to start, what I imagined would be, just another routine day at work.

I turned on the computer that sat on my cubicle desk, waited for it to boot up, and began my morning routine by reading my emails, entering some after hour orders and checking to see if the rush orders I placed the day before had been shipped. All was well. My workmates began to drift in and take their places in their cubicles which were located on the third floor of a large, open-floor plan former warehouse. The only windows were on the north side of the building. By design, our cubicles faced south, I imagine because they didn’t want us staring out of those windows which overlooked the Hudson River and upper Manhattan. If we were able to look out of those windows on that crystal clear morning, we would have seen American Airlines flight 11 (a Boeing 767 from Boston) fly very low and very fast on its way to its destiny a minute later. But just because we could not see that jet does not mean we could not hear it (even through the thick, soundproof glass) as it flew the last two miles it would ever fly.

It was 8:45, and all of us in the customer service department were already busy on the phones.

I had just concluded a call from one of my regular customers when I heard the loud roar of what could only have been a jet airplane. And a big one at that. I quickly turned to look out of the window just a couple of feet behind me, but whatever had made that sound was long gone. What I did see were a group of workers standing on the unfinished floors of an apartment building under construction across the street. They were hanging on to the bare beams and looking south in the same direction that the jet had been heading. If I could have seen what they saw just a few seconds later I probably would never have gone back to the phones. Of course, what they saw and what millions would see for the next days, weeks, and months to come, was flight 11 slamming into the north tower of the World Trade Center and the billowing smoke and flame that followed.

It was not until about 15 minutes later (9 am) that we became aware of what had happened. Someone had just come in from the outside and made the announcement that a plane had crashed into one of the towers and that the building was on fire. Some people had portable radios in their desks and immediately set them to one of the news stations. Then, from somewhere, someone rolled in a large TV and turned it on. All work stopped to watch a scene unfolding just a couple of miles away. We sat and watched in stunned silence at what was unfolding before us. And as we watched, the sound of dozens of emergency vehicles, sirens blaring, racing down the West Side Highway outside of our building filled the air. We still were not sure of what was really happening until the unthinkable occurred. A second jet crashed into the south tower. We were under attack.

The rest of that day, even now, is difficult to explain.

We stayed at our desks, eyes glued to the TV. Some people left their work areas and went outside to get a first-hand view of what was going on two miles away. I was not one of them. Something that I am grateful for to this day. Because those that did venture out witnessed a tragedy beyond what the human mind can comprehend. The south tower collapsing before their eyes. 

As reports about the Pentagon and Pennsylvania began to filter in, I thought about the people in that building that had lost their lives. Numbers began to race through my head. How many people were in that building at 10 am. A thousand? Two thousand? The enormity of the event was almost too hard to comprehend. It was not until the collapse of the second tower did the personal aspect kick in.

Jack Andreacchio worked for Fuji Bank on the 80th floor of two World Trade Center. Barbara Etzhold was a receptionist for Fred Alger Management on the 93rd floor of One World Trade Center. What these two people had in common (other than working at the WTC) was that (1), they both came to their jobs early every day, and (2) they both were people I talked to two or three times a week. I knew immediately, because of where their offices were located and that they would have been at their desks at that hour, that they were gone. Two people who, just because they were dedicated to their jobs, had their lives ended in a flash.

Jack lived in Brooklyn. He was 52. Barbara was 43, a resident of Staten Island. Barbara’s remains have never been identified.

Shortly after the second tower fell, management made the decision to close our office and send everybody home. We were still not sure whether or not there would be another attack. All we knew was that we didn’t want to be anywhere in Manhattan that day.

I left the building at about 11 am, not knowing exactly how I would make it back to my apartment in Queens.

The subways were not running. Non-emergency vehicles were not permitted to go downtown. Knowing that the bridges and tunnels were also restricted, I felt that driving might not be a good idea. I had only one option. Walk.

I began my trek south (see map) hoping to follow the same route that I would have driven had I not left my car in the garage.

The scene was, to say the least, surreal.

As I walked south, hundreds of people, many covered in a ghost-like dust, headed in the opposite direction. Was I doing the right thing?

I walked through the streets of Greenwich Village, past NYU whose students were lined up at the public phone booths frantically calling home to assure their loved ones that they were okay.

Making my way down Broadway and then east to the lower east side, glancing periodically at the rising cloud of dust that was once two 100 story plus towers, it was clear that hundreds of other people had the same idea. Get out of the city.

I reached Delancy Street in what seemed like record time. The Wiliamsburgh Bridge loomed in the smoky haze ahead.

The same bridge roadway that I had driven over almost every day, now had become a pedestrian walkway and a path to safety.

Had it not been for the events of that morning, a walk over the bridge on that bright, mild late summer day would have been a pleasurableexperience. But now, with the sound of ambulances, fire trucks, and police cars on the roadway next to me, and the screaming of F-16 Air Force fighter jets above, the situation was anything but enjoyable.

In contrast to the noise made by emergency vehicles, jets, and helicopters, there was almost no noise made by the thousands of people who walked in front, behind, and beside me on that bridge that morning. I fact, most stared straight ahead in utter silence.

Perhaps it was the enormity and scale of the events of that day, or maybe it was the pall of smoke and dust that could now be observed drifting from the emptiness of what later would be known as ground zero, over the east river and on to southern Brooklyn that caused the silence. Or, perhaps it was just a collective numbness that we all felt and the realization that nothing would ever be the same that compelled the silence.

We made our way to the Brooklyn side of the Bridge where, much to our delight and surprise, we were greeted by a group of white-shirted Hasidim (observant Jews) who were handing out icy bottles of spring water to anyone in need. I gratefully took one and continued my walk through Brooklyn and eventually Queens where I was able to hop on a bus that would take me to a still-operating subway and eventually to a stop near my home. It was now 3 pm. 

There is one thing that many people have forgotten about that day. It was primary day here in New York City. A fact that I hadn’t failed to remember. But, as I walked past my usual polling place (the basement of the apartment house across the street from mine) I noticed that it was closed. They had postponed the election. Bad news I thought.

I returned to my apartment and called my brother in Florida who was happy to hear that I was okay. I briefly went over the events of the day. Afterward, I watched TV and learned more of what I had witnessed first hand just a few hours before.

I fell asleep on the couch exhausted from the long walk and thankful that I came through that day unscathed. At least physically.

Returning to work a few days later, we all had our stories to tell.

Someone had decided to try to drive back to Brooklyn. Her route took her to the Bronx. She finally arrived home eight hours later.

Another young lady said that she was “evacuated” by a tugboat which took her to a pier in New Jersey. We all had a laugh when she told us that she was “hosed down” by firemen who were afraid that she was contaminated by whatever was in that white cloud of dust, some of which had drifted north to where our office was.

Those were the events of 9/11 as I remember them. It began as an ordinary day and ended with the death of 3000 people.

Seventeen years have passed and, as with every New Yorker who was there that day, that day will never be forgotten. The story continues to this day.

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Managing multiple health conditions

In the United States, four out of five older adults have multiple chronic health conditions. Many of these people rely on the active support of a family caregiver to help manage their conditions.

Studies of older adults with dementia and their caregivers have shown that very often, the older adult's desire to be self-sufficient often clashes with the caregiver's concerns about the individual's safety. However, researchers have also identified areas of friction among older adults who do not have dementia and their caregivers.


Is there such a thing as normal aging?

The physiological changes that occur with aging are not abrupt, said Gill.

The changes happen across a continuum as the reserve capacity in almost every organ system declines, he said. “Think of it, crudely, as a fuel tank in a car,” said Gill. “As you age, that reserve of fuel is diminished.”

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September’s Song

September has never been my favorite month. Mainly because lots of nasty things happened to me in September.

The first, while not a bad thing in itself, should not have happened when it did. It should have happened the previous June. But for me, and a handful of other students at Jamaica High School that year, graduation did not happen when it should have. I happened in September.

1963, my senior year in high school was stressful enough, but to go through it under a cloud was almost more than I could bear.

While my classmates were getting ready for graduation (yearbooks and yearbook photos, caps and gowns, class rings, proms etc.) I was not. Why? Because of a “clerical” error which left me 1 credit short, I would not be graduating in June with my friends. I would, after making up that 1 credit in summer school, receive my diploma on the first day of school come September.

This meant no yearbook photo, no cap, no gown and no prom. It also meant no graduation ceremony.

And so, come the first day of school in September I was unceremoniously handed my diploma by a clerk in the office with nothing more than a “good luck” as a recognition of my accomplishment. I am traumatized by that event to this day.

Another event, one much more traumatizing than a high school graduation, occurred in Sept. of 1984 right about the same time that the Jewish high holy days happened.

I had been trying to reach my wife all day. I left message after message on our answering machine at home. I even called her job to see if she might have been called in on an emergency. Nothing. To say the least, I was concerned.

I arrived home later in the day and found a note on the bed. The note said that she needed a few days alone to think.

Two days later she came back home to tell me what she had been thinking about.

“I want a divorce,” she said. “I don’t want to be married anymore.”
Whether she just didn’t want to be married to me anymore or married in general I don’t know. Either way, eight years of married life had come to an end. One more reason why I get depressed every September.

Both of those incidents, while personally distressful, cannot compare to the one September event that forever changed, not only me or America, but the world forever.

September 2001. The worst September ever, and I was there. Or at least as close as anybody would have wanted to be.

My office was about 1 mile directly north of the World Trade Center. The twin towers of which had loomed over most of lower Manhattan since the 1970’s. They appeared to be as enduring a fixture as the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rushmore, or the pyramids. Then, shortly after 9 am on that bright, sunny Tuesday morning, the world would know that nothing was permanent, or safe.*

3000 people died that September day.

F**king September.

*Editor’s note: I’ll relive some more of that day in my next blog Monday, September 10th.

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And Now, Stepping Up To The Plates…

We have gone through more chefs or, as they prefer to be called, “Food Service Directors” here at the ALF than most NFL teams have changed head coaches.

This past week we were informed that, once again, they had hired a new person to fill the very tiny and narrow (minded) shoes left by our former disaster of a chef.

If memory serves me, this is chef number 6 (or maybe 7) in the last 5 years. Not a good job if security is what you are looking for. In fact, I don’t envy anybody who has decided that they want to be a chef in an assisted living facility. It’s probably like no other food service job in the world. There are just too many obstacles to overcome.

Besides an almost spartan budget of about $5 to $6 per day per resident, the FSD has to deal with an underpaid, overworked, and unskilled staff of cooks and servers.

In addition, he has to cook and prepare dishes that conform to the strict set of rules and regulations dictated by the state Department of Health.

And finally, he has to satisfy nearly 200 individuals whose dietary tastes run the gamut from “I only eat brown rice and steamed vegetables” to “ The chili needs more hot sauce.” It has to be a nightmare.

The “new” guy has only been here a week so I won’t make any remarks or judgments because he is still working under the yoke of a preset menu devised by his predecessor who was as clueless as a tourist ordering a milkshake at an NY kosher deli.

A residents monthly food committee meeting scheduled for next Tuesday. It should be a lively event. ………………................................................................................................bwc.

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Unraveling the Knot of Senior Living:
8 Options to Explore

There are many decisions to make during a senior care search. With so many options available it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. With the right information and resources, you’ll be better prepared to make informed and confident choices for you or your family member. Options for senior care are as varied as individuals and their needs, leading to many questions about what living arrangements would best suit us as we age.


John McCain and What You Should Know
About Brain Cancer

(Editor’s note: Sen. John McCain  died of brain cancer on Saturday at age 81. Below is a previously-published Next Avenue article about McCain and brain cancer.)

McCain had a highly malignant form of brain cancer, which is associated with the blood clot that doctors removed. Here’s a brief explanation of brain cancer and how new treatments are improving the prognosis for patients; this story is an updated version of the 2015 Next Avenue article published after President Jimmy Carter was diagnosed with brain cancer due to melanoma.

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At The A.L.F.: Apprehension, Pitfalls, and Pleasantries  
(Part Three, The Good Stuff)

The first two parts of this series on the good, the bad, and the ugly of assisted living dealt mostly with the negative aspects of living in an environment that may be totally foreign to what most folks are used to.

Whether you come to an A.L.F. from a nursing home, with its often depressing and overly attentive atmosphere, or from a private house or apartment setting where you had all the independence you could handle, the change will be immediately noticed.

The lobbies of most assisted living venues look more like that of a hotel than a care facility. Tasteful furniture and decorations replace the often institutional look of a hospital or nursing home. Also missing is the ever-present scent of disinfectant that usually prevails in these places. Even the flooring is different. The usual hard tile floors are replaced by the warmer feel of carpeting.

The residential parts of the building again remind one of a hotel (or at the very least, a motel). This look of hostelry has its purpose. Residents are meant to feel more like “guests” than patients. Even the rooms have a more hotel-like look and feel.* And, though they may be smaller than what one would be used to in a private home or apartment, the downsizing may actually be a blessing. The freedom that one feels by not having to deal with the burden of all that dust collecting junk cannot be denied. But the consolidation of one's belongings is only the beginning of the good things that assisted living has to offer.

As a young man, who lived his whole life in New York City, I never felt vulnerable. And, though I was not a big, strong tough looking guy, I never felt that I could not take care of myself had it been necessary. However, now I know that is no longer the case. I am now, the perfect victim.

I walk with a cane, and very slowly at that. I couldn’t run if my life depended on it and I certainly would not be able to fight back against a would-be attacker. And, in this time when the mugging of senior citizens is considered almost a sport by some of the individual cretins that roam the streets, I am a target.

Conversely, I have no such feeling of uncertainty about my safety now. I knew from the minute I arrived here that safety was of the utmost importance.

I saw it in the security cameras that cover almost every inch of the building. I saw it in the sprinkler system and smoke detectors in all the rooms as well as the automatic fireproof doors in the corridors. And, if needed, there is comfort found even in the emergency call bell located, not only in the bedroom but in the bathroom as well. But security is just a small part of the good things about assisted living. And much of has to do with things that we used to take for granted.

Unfortunately, as we age, it’s the little things that become the most difficult to do.

Although I was never a big fan of doing the laundry, as a young man, I had no problem doing it. The weekly chore of dragging a cart full of my soiled garments down to my building’s laundry room, loading and unloading the washer and then into the dryer took up a good chunk of my precious weekend time off. Now, as an ALF resident, not only is my laundry done for me, but it’s done twice a week.

And, while we are on the subject of domestic chores, I no longer have to make my bed, clean my bathroom, vacuum my carpet, fix a faucet (or anything) or deal with the phone, electric, or cable companies. In fact, there is very little we have to deal with outside of the walls of this place. Even having to navigate the often rough waters of the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid agencies is softened with the help of an in-house staff of social workers who know how to work the system.

There is one other thing that many people do not realize as being important. Especially, us men. And that is going to the doctor.

While women (young and old) have no problem with seeing a doctor on a regular basis, there seems to be a genetic opposition to all members of the healthcare profession if you are a man. Maybe it’s because we don’t have the time or, maybe it’s because we are all just a big bunch of wussies. Who knows.

But it’s different here at the ALF where appointments are made with the facilities in-house physicians. Now, I go to my GP at least 3 times a year and see specialists as needed. Something that I would probably never do if I were living on my own.

All of this “help” boils down to one thing. The reduction of stress.

Stress, especially among older Americans, is not only unhealthy but can be deadly as well. And “stressing” over the little things can be the most damaging to one’s health of all.

There is one more aspect of life here at the ALF that we need to acknowledge. Something that may be the most important of all. And that is that you will never be alone.

Now, I’m not just talking about friends and acquaintances you make along the way. I’m speaking of not having to deal with what is perhaps least discussed when it comes to the lives of older people. I’m speaking of loneliness and isolation.

The saddest thing I can think of is having to be an old man, sitting alone in an apartment somewhere. His friends are all gone, or live out of town and have their own lives. Most of his relatives have passed away, or never visit, And the kids, well, there just aren’t any. The problems of daily life that he was once able to deal with have now become a burden too heavy to carry alone. Thankfully, living in an assisted living facility guarantees one thing. You will never be alone.

Finally, let me say this about assisted living.

Is it the most ideal situation that one could find themselves in? The answer is NO.

Was this the type of retirement I had planned for myself? Again, NO.

Am I satisfied with where I am? YES!

And, while assisted living may not be for everyone, It is certainly something not to be dismissed I all depend on how you wish to deal with the reality of your particular situation.

* The type, size, and luxuriousness of the room you are assigned to depends on the level of care you need as well as the monthly room and board expense. Essentially, you get what you pay for.

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Earwax poses unrecognized risk in long-term care
ABC News

Of all the indignities that come with aging, excessive earwax may be the most insidious.

Don’t laugh.

That greasy, often gross, buildup occurs more often in older ears than those of the young, experts say. And when it goes unrecognized, it can pose serious problems, especially for the 2.2 million people who live in U.S. nursing homes and assisted living centers.

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Signposts of Normal Aging

Is there such a thing as normal aging?

The physiological changes that occur with aging are not abrupt, said Gill. The changes happen across a continuum as the reserve capacity in almost every organ system declines, he said. “Think of it, crudely, as a fuel tank in a car,” said Gill. “As you age, that reserve of fuel is diminished.”

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Thursday, Aug. 30th 2018


At The A.L.F.:  Apprehension, Pitfalls, and Pleasantries 
(Part Two, life Goes ON)

In part one of this post, which you can read by scrolling down past the comments box, we talked about how the definition of assisted living may differ from your perception of what an A.L.F. really is.

In addition, I mentioned that it is vitally important for you (as a perspective A.L.F. resident) to realize what will be expected of you once you move in. Many people are in for a bit of a shock (both mentally and physically) as soon as their very first night in their new environment. I know I was.

As I mentioned in part one, after being a patient in nursing homes for nearly two years, I was “healthy” enough to be moved to an assisted living facility. To say the least, I was apprehensive about the move, not only by the prospect of having to leave the security and care level of the nursing home but by my cluelessness of what an A.L.F. really was and what I would find there. The only thing I was told about it was that I would need to “get myself in shape” in order to be accepted as a resident. And that “getting in shape” meant that I would have to get around without my wheelchair. However, not being able to use a wheelchair was only the beginning of things that I would have to get used to, and without. And, it is those things (or lack of them) that may determine whether or not you will be a good candidate for assisted living. My first night in my new “home” caused me to doubt whether or not I was such a candidate.

Though I hate to compartmentalize or categorize people into groups, for this discussion I find it necessary to do so.

Basically, the backgrounds of people who are in need of assisted living fall into one of two groups.

There are those who are presently living at home and have found that it is becoming too difficult to continue to do so.

These folks, in general, will have a more difficult time adjusting to their new situation. They will be coming here from a place where there was no supervision or rules to one where it’s all about the rules. Many new residents actually rebel against this lack of control until either, they eventually will conform or find other accommodations. I have personally witnessed people leave after only a week and one man who left after just one day.

The other group (and the one in which I found myself a member of) are those people who come directly from nursing homes or rehab facilities, both of which have a very strict regimen and a higher level of care. In fact, they are so restrictive that many feel as though they were prisoners or an inmate in some mental hospital. For this group, the transition takes on a whole new dynamic. Sometimes, not for the better.

While I was excited by the prospect of (after nearly 4 years in and out of hospitals and nursing homes) to finally get out on my own and back on the road to some normalcy, my first night in my new surroundings left me with some misgivings about my decision to live here. But before I get into the negatives, let’s talk about the positives.

Suddenly, for the first time in 4 years, I had my own bathroom with a shower. In many nursing homes, not only will you share a toilet with your roommate(s), but with the room next door as well. And, as for showering, this is usually done in a separate shower room that you are wheeled to once a week and washed by a nurse while other staff and patients come in and out.* Having this new level of privacy seemed like paradise to me. The other plus was the silence.

Nursing homes (like hospitals) are notoriously noisy, and even more so at night. The combination of moaning, shouting, and screaming plus the noise of staff reacting to ever-present emergencies subjects one to a din that is hard to get used to. Add that to the fact that doors in nursing homes are always left open, and you have an atmosphere that is not conducive to healing or rehabilitation. But despite the newfound privacy, quiet and freedom, all was not well. And it had to do with, of all things, the bed.

The one, and maybe the only good thing, about hospitals and nursing homes, is the bed.

Say what you want about hospital beds, you have to admit that they are comfortable. You can adjust the height as well as the sleep position. You can raise and lower your head and your legs too. And some even have massage features available. They’re great. Not so beds in assisted living facilities. My first night (or should I say morning) was an absolute nightmare.

After all those years of sleeping in just the right position, I now was confronted by the simplicity of a normal bed.

Normal beds are flat. Which means that I had to lay flat, on my back, in the same position all night. And, by the time daylight crept into my room I was in such pain that it was impossible for me to get out of bed. I rang the assistance bell for help. An aid showed up a few minutes later.

After explaining to her that I could not move, let alone get out of bed, she determined that a call to the EMT’s was necessary. It appears that health aids are not permitted to lift anybody who is in pain.

An ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later and two burly EMT’s helped me to an upright position. Still, in pain, a trip to the hospital came next.

At the ER, I was given an Rx for Percoset and sent home. It would take a couple of weeks and a couple of dozen Percosets before I was able to get out of bed without pain. Yes, things were going to be a lot different than I was used to. And, most likely they will be different for you (as a prospective resident) too. All I can say to that is, learn to adapt.

There is a reason why you are here at the facility. And, whether you are in your 50’s, 60’s, 70 ’s, or older, it’s time to grow up.

Before I end, I need to qualify one thing. If you are a caregiver of, or a loved one of a person who has been diagnosed with having Alzheimer's, dementia, memory or cognitive issues, then most of what I have told you does not apply. This does not mean that an assisted living facility is out of the question. Many, but not most, A.L.F.’s have Memory Care Units. These units are separate and distinct from the general population of the facility. They have their own rules and set of standards and care. Make sure that the facility you are interested in has such a unit available if this is what the resident requires.

Part three, “Hey this ain’t bad”
Online Monday, Sept. 3

* I am sure that there is not a nurse, LPN or nurses aid in all of Queens and most of Manhattan that has not seen me naked.


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This Is How Much Money You Need To Retire
By Robert C. Lawton

How much are you targeting to save for your retirement? There is no lack of suggested targets, as shown below. But what is the right amount for you to save, taking into account your unique circumstances?

Start by finding your target from the recommendations below and then make any necessary adjustments based upon the suggestions that follow. Check out the Guidance section towards the end to make sure you are on track.



It’s Important to Choose Where Hospice Is Provided

It is understandable but unfortunate that family members frequently hesitate to broach the subject of end of life care. Instead of avoiding the subject, have a sensitive and frank discussion of hospice as a vehicle for comfort care, pain relief, and counseling for the patient and the family members.  A growing body of literature indicates that the setting for hospice services may be impactful.

Read more>> https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/it-s-important-to-choose-where-hospice-44025/

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Monday, Aug. 27th 2018


At The A.L.F.:  Apprehension, Pitfalls, and Pleasantries 
(Part One, Beginnings)

Though we often go astray, the primary reason for this blog has, and will always be, to acquaint present and prospective residents with the pros and cons as well as the pleasantries and pitfalls of life at an assisted living facility. Part of this includes focusing on the kind of person who will fare better in this semi-institutional setting. In order to do this, it’s important that we are on the same page as far as what I consider to be a real assisted living facility.

Perhaps a good place to start is Webster's definition of an A.L.F. ….

  Definition of assisted living:

“: a system of housing and limited care that is designed for senior citizens who need some assistance with day-to-day activities but are not sufficiently incapacitated to require care in a nursing home and that usually includes private quarters, meals, personal assistance, housekeeping aid, monitoring of medications, and nurses' visits.”

As I said, it’s a start. And, while the definition is mostly correct, it could use some refinement because the type and kinds of facilities vary, not only from state to state but also venue to venue. And, as with anything else, the amount and the way you will pay for your stay at one of these places usually determines, if not the quality of care you will receive, then certainly the amenities and services available.

While it is difficult (if not downright impossible) to get a price quote online or on the phone, articles and stories about assisted living will typically site an estimate of $4500 to $6000 per month with some asking far beyond that. So, why the disparity? To explain this, we need to go back to that Webster’s definition.

Take this part for instance…

“…that usually includes private quarters, meals, personal assistance,…”

Many prospective residents, upon touring facilities for the first time, are surprised to find that most of the accommodations do not include private quarters. In fact (and this pertains to most of the lower cost venues) the truly private quarters are either not available, available at extra cost, or that there is a waiting list for the few private rooms available. Additionally, even if you are lucky enough to get a private room, they may not be what you had expected.

Private rooms in most lower-end facilities consist of a 12 x 20 room, a bed, a desk, small closet, dresser, night table and a small lavatory with shower. Think Motel 6.

If you thought that all A.L.F. quarters were equipped with sitting areas and a full kitchen sorry, you have been led astray. Or, you were actually confusing an assisted living facility with a senior living community. This is why a more realistic definition of what and A.L.F. actually is, is necessary.

In 2012, I was a novice when it came to places that seniors went to live when they could no longer live at home.

I had been a patient in a nursing home for nearly two years before the words “assisted living” were even mentioned to me. And, like many of you, I had some serious questions about what exactly I would be getting myself in to.

As a nursing home patient, I was used to a certain level of care and assistance which included help with dressing, bathing and getting in and out of bed or a wheelchair. Any medical or nursing care was provided in-room, if necessary, while I lay in a hospital-like bed. If I was unable to get myself into the dining room, I could receive my meals in my room and, I could even get help with feeding if I needed it. To be frank, if it were not for the depressing, morbid, maniacally dreary, and disinfectant atmosphere of the place, it would almost be paradise.

So, my first question when presented with the prospect of having to leave the nursing home was,”will I be able to function in a place where I would be expected to do more for, and by, myself than I had in the last two years?”

To be truthful, I was a mess.

Three years in and out of hospitals and three nursing homes left me weak, unable to walk, and in pain. Not to mention mentally and emotionally drained.

A year-and-a-half of physical therapy and I was finally able to get out of a wheelchair and on to a walker.* Having this new mobility now meant that I could (at least on paper) qualify** for residency in an assisted living facility.

Soon, I was ready to make the move to a place that would be my home for the foreseeable future. To say that I was apprehensive would belie my true feelings which were those of sadness, worry and absolute terror, which was reinforced by what occurred after my first night in my new home.

Part two of this post continues on Thursday, August 30th

*Editor’s note: Although gratifying not to have to push yourself around in a wheelchair all day, pushing a walker or Rollator is no bargain either. They are cumbersome and intrusive and causes one to feel older than they are.
** At this point it is necessary to site this about wheelchairs and assisted living facilities. And, while this particular case refers to the laws of New York State, it would be well worth your while to find out what is legal in your location.
“ A lawsuit in New York state highlights an issue with some assisted living facilities: No wheelchairs allowed. The lawsuit claims that state regulations and facility policies discriminate against residents and potential residents who use wheelchairs.
Filed on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center and an anonymous assisted living resident, the lawsuit alleges that four assisted living facilities in New York refused to admit applicants who were in a wheelchair and threatened to evict or actually evicted residents who started using wheelchairs. According to the lawsuit, state regulations are to blame. The regulations prohibit assisted living facilities from admitting residents who are "unable to transfer" or "chronically chairfast." The lawsuit argues that these regulations, which predate federal anti-discrimination laws, are outdated and violate current federal disability discrimination law.
Assisted living facilities, unlike nursing homes, are not governed by federal law and regulations. State law dictates the rules for these facilities, and each state has different laws. Some states require assisted living residents to be able to transfer themselves or transfer with minimal help. Other states, like New York, allow facilities to prohibit wheelchairs altogether. Individuals in wheelchairs are often told they need to go to a nursing home, which is more expensive than an assisted living facility.”
Source>> https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/lawsuit-alleges-assisted-living-56458/


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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018


If Mondays Are Numbdays Are
Tuesdays Bluesdays?

I usually begin to write Thursday’s blog on Tuesday. I do this for a couple of reasons.

First, I need Monday off. Even though I no longer have an actual job to go to, after all of those years of working I have evidently been conditioned to despise Mondays.

Secondly, I find that my mind tends to go blank (or powers down or something) on Monday. Not only can’t I think of anything to write about, I don’t think of much of anything at all. I (as the kids say) have “vegged” out.

But Tuesday is different. Tuesdays have always been the day when the real work-week starts. It’s the day when things “just had to be done” or the world would come to an end.

I worked in the office supply business as a customer service/sales representative. And, for some reason, every one of the customers I spoke to on Monday “absolutely, positively, must have my order on Tuesday” or, I suppose, the world would actually come to an end. These orders are usually placed by people who should have called in the order on Friday for delivery Monday, but began thinking about the weekend on Thursday and just forgot. Therefore, it now becomes my problem which then becomes the problem of the delivery department, upon whose back I will be on all day until it’s confirmed that the order was delivered. You see how f***ked-up Mondays are?

Of course in actuality, now that I am retired, Monday (like all the other days) has no special place at all.

In reality, living in the world of the nonworking is tantamount to living an almost zombie-like existence where one day melts into another and a weekend is just another two days of the same old leg dragging, and brain-eating continuation of the day before. And living in an assisted living facility promotes that reality. To be truthful, the only way many of our residents know when the weekend has arrived is when the kids and grandkids show up to take them out for an “airing.” As a matter of fact, if I didn’t impose upon myself a twice-weekly deadline for this blog, I probably wouldn’t know (or care) what day it was either.

But I do care, and writing this blog is a way of keeping my circadian rhythm* (if not my mind) in line.

Not much goes on here at the ALF that I enjoy.

I’m not an arts & crafts type of guy. I don’t play bingo, cards, or Rummykube.

I used to enjoy reading, but some recent vision problems make it difficult for me to read for more than a few minutes at a time.

My only real hobby is photography, which I try to indulge in when I can.

Other than that, there’s only this blog, and the research, planning, graphic design and word processing skills associated with it, that keeps me from going totally bonkers. It also keeps me on as close to a regular schedule as possible.

I know that every Monday I need to get up a little earlier than usual so that I can go online, log in to my web host’s site and prepare to publish this blog which I try to do before 6 am. The same goes for Thursday mornings. The rest of the week is spent on putting the blog’s essentials together.

On Tuesday, I begin to read page after page of news feeds, Facebook posts, and other websites and blogs pertaining to subjects that I deal with in the blog. And, in the course of doing this, I keep up with the latest news and information that effects, not only seniors but the rest of the world as well.

I work all morning from after breakfast until lunchtime which ends at about 1 pm. The rest of the day I have to myself.

After dinner I’ll spend about an hour online reading and answer emails, or performing computer maintenance.**

TV and bedtime follow until it begins all over again the next day.

I suppose, to some, this may seem boring as all get out. But, for me, it’s more like a daily transfusion of new brain cells waiting to take the place of all those tired, worn out ones that I know are still in there collecting dust. And a dusty brain is not something I want at this time in my life.

But life, for me, is not all work, work, work. I do concede to being an old retired dude and actually do partake in old dude stuff like napping and sitting in the sun. As of yet, I have not entertained sitting on a park bench feeding the birds, but I’m sure that won’t be far in coming. However, until that day, I’ll be at the laptop cranking out whatever I crank out here and hope that I can keep the cobwebs out of my brain.

*Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as your sleep/wake cycle.
For most adults, the biggest dip in energy happens in the middle of the night (somewhere between 2:00am and 4:00am, when they're usually fast asleep) and just after lunchtime (around 1:00pm to 3:00pm, when they tend to crave a post-lunch nap). Those times can be different if you’re naturally a night owl or a morning person. You also won’t feel the dips and rises of your circadian rhythm as strongly if you’re all caught up on sleep. It’s when you’re sleep-deprived that you’ll notice bigger swings of sleepiness and alertness. 
Source>> https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/what-circadian-rhythm
** I try to make sure my virus protection is up to date as well as any updates to the operating system. I try to defrag my hard drive at least once a month as well as making sure any drivers are up to date. 

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Monday, Aug. 20th 2018


Was America Ever Great?
(It Depends On Who You Ask)

I must admit, even I was surprised at this remark from the governor of my state…

 “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”

Cuomo's’ counter-argument on President Donald Trump’s slogan at a New York City bill-signing event. The governor’s comments were made in the context about the unfairness of persistent gender discrimination that women face.”

While I had an inkling of what he meant by that remark, I can only put what he said in the context of my own experiences and recollections of what MY America was like many years ago. And, as an old codger who will soon be 73- (gulp) years-old, I feel perfectly qualified to express my “expert” opinion of the matter.

So, was America ever great? Yes, for me.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am probably the quintessential post-war American.

World War 2 ended on August 15th, 1945 with the surrender of the Japanese after “Give them Hell Harry” dropped the big one on one of their favorite cities.

My mom dropped a bomb of her own (me) about a week later. Little did she know that the America in which her son would grow up would be like no America had ever been.

When the man who currently inhabits the White House speaks of “Making America great again”, I can only believe that he is speaking of that period just after the second world war when our country literally owned the world. At least militarily.

At the beginning of the war, we had about 177,000 military personnel scattered around the country and overseas.

By the time the war ended in 1945, the military had expanded to over 2.1 million. Even now in “peacetime”, we have over 1.7 million men and women in uniform. So, does “Making America great again” mean increasing our military to post WW 2 levels? No, that can’t be it.

Oh, wait. It must be education that he wants to make great again.

I began my academic life in Mrs. Browns’ kindergarten class at PS 92 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

That would have been around 1951-52. Once again, when America was great.

At that time the U.S. spent 2.5 billion (adjusted to today’s dollar value) on education. So, if our current president really wanted to get back to the “Good Old Days”, he would have to actually increase spending on education. Right?

“President Donald Trump is seeking a roughly 5 percent cut to the U.S. Department of Education's budget for fiscal 2019 in a proposal that also mirrors his spending plan from last year by seeking to eliminate a major teacher-focused grant and to expand school choice.”*

Okay, so education does not fit into Trumps’ vision of a once great America. Hey, it’s only kids, and kids don’t vote.

Okay, let’s see what else was great about America back in the 50’s.

In 1954, I was unemployed. Of course, I was only 11. My father, however, was a gainfully employed American and not among the 5% of white Americans who were unemployed. He was also not among any of the 9.9% of black Americans who didn’t have a job.

Fortunately, things today are a bit better.

The figures for the year 2017 (when Obama was president) shows that the unemployment rate for blacks has dropped to 6.8% and 3% for whites.**
Therefore, if the Donald wants to take us back to the good old days, let’s get busy on increasing the number of people out of work.

Ooo, I know what he means by a Great America. It’s equality for all Americans, right?

It’s 1954. I’m now nine-years-old and living in the most middle class of middle-class neighborhoods in New York, Flatbush, Brooklyn.

We have an apartment in a clean, all Caucasian, well-kept building. All of my friends, also all Caucasian, live in similar buildings in the area.

I go to school in a relatively new building just two blocks from home. The school, because it’s in an all-white neighborhood, has students who (you guessed it) are all white. In fact, I didn’t come across a black kid in my school until I reached the fourth grade. There was no such thing as “bussing” in order to achieve racial equality in schools. Actually, back in Trumps “Great America”, equality was a myth promulgated by those who would rather retain the status quo than admit that there was something seriously wrong with America. It’s better to be complacent than compliant.***

To me, Black folks lived in a different world. A world that I was not given access to. I might even go so far as saying that it was a world that I was “protected” from.

Black families were not portrayed on TV. And the only black people we saw in films either played maids, chauffeurs, or danced with Shirley Temple.

We (white people) knew that there wasn’t equality, and some of us might have actually felt bad about it. But that was their business. It was their fight to win, not mine. After all, my life was great. And most likely, it was pretty good for little Donny T. too.

Mr. Trump’s Neighborhood

This is a topic about which, I have some first-hand knowledge.

You see, little Donny Trump and I were brought up in the same part of Queens, NY. And, while I didn’t live on the same street as he, or even near, we were both in the same school district and, if Donald’s parents hadn’t decided to isolate him from what I’m sure they thought of as riff-raft, we most likely would have attended the same public schools.

Mr. Trump is a year younger than me, so we would not have been in the same grade. But, had he been allowed, he would have most likely attended PS 131, Robert A. Van Wyck J.H.S., and Jamaica High School. Schools that drew from all over the borough and would have had an eclectic mix of kids. Instead, he was sent to a private school where, if the kids were not certainly all white, were certainly all rich.

While I don’t know whether or not Mrs. Trump ever sent little Donny to the Bohacks’ for milk, or if he hung out at Rogers candy store or ever went to the Utopia theater next door, but I have a feeling he didn’t. Otherwise, he would know more about what Middle-class America was all about. He would have realized that, although the American dream was there for the taking (which, in my mind is what’s great about America), the opportunity was not there for everybody.

So now, we have a president whose background is one of privilege. His was an upbringing surrounded by people of wealth and power. His is the world of business where subterfuge is a way of life and a little bullying is, well, just business. This is the background from which he views the world and the so-called “Great America.”

Finally, no blog that is supposed to be skewed in favor of older Americans can end a post without commenting on what all of this “Make America Great Again” rhetoric has on them.

The one thing that I am sure about is that Mr. Trump knows little or nothing about the struggle many older Americans had back then just to eek out a meager existence.

Back in 1966 (part of the Great Again era)…

“...28.5% of Americans ages 65 and over were poor; by 2012 just 9.1% were. There was 1.2 million fewer elderly poor in 2012 than in 1966, despite the doubling of the total elderly population. Researchers generally credit this steep drop to Social Security, particularly the expansion and inflation-indexing of benefits during the 1970s.’’ *****

That’s right Mr. Trump, for seniors, Great America wasn’t so great. But that’s okay, let’s bring those old great days back. It’s easy.

Just cut back on Social Security. Reduce funding for Medicare and cut back on support of Medicaid. And stop immigration (legal or otherwise) so that we will have even less working people paying into the system.

Yes, I suppose that some Americans who lived and were raised in the “Great” age, would like to see those times return.

Unfortunately, they haven’t really thought about what those days were like for so many of us. Especially the old, the poor and the disenfranchised.

Just ask any black person who sat in a hot, stifling bus terminal in Midland Texas in 1960 and had to look across the dusty waiting room at a sign over a water fountain that said “Whites Only.” Then talk to me about just what part of America would you like to make great again.

*Source: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2018/02/trump_education_budget_2019_5_percent_cut_school_choice_push.html
** Source: https://www.google.com/search?newwindow=1&client=firefox-b-1&ei=WfB2W8P6MOuH_Qad9Zi4Bg&q=unemployment+rate+among+white+americans+in+2017&oq=unemployment+rate+among+white+americans+in+2017&gs_l=psy-ab.12...120734.126948.0.129742.
*** The “Civil Rights Act” was not approved until 1964, nearly 15 years after the start of the civil rights movement in the U.S.
****Mr. Trump is a year younger than me, so we would not have been in the same grade. But, had he been allowed, he would have most likely attended PS 131, Robert A. Van Wyck JHS, and Jamaica High School.
***** Source: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/13/whos-poor-in-america-50-years-into-the-war-on-poverty-a-data-portrait/

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Food Service vs Residents
Round 2

If I have learned anything about old folks in the 5 years that I have been a resident here at the ALF, it’s that nothing inspires more comments, evokes more emotion, and has the ability to bring people together more than the subject of food.

You may remember that we had the best turn-out for any resident meeting ever at our last monthly resident’s food committee. And, not only was there a large crowd, but they were quite outspoken as well. Well, I’m here to tell you that this month’s meeting was no different.

Over 60 residents packed the auditorium to express their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs as our food service manager looked on. And this meeting had the same passion as the previous one, but with a new resolve. One which I found quite refreshing and mature.

After all of our residents had their say, and after all promises and statements were offered by both sides and after the food manager had left the meeting, our food committee president offered this thought.

Right before he adjourned the meeting he said (and I paraphrase), “We’ve had meetings and petitions and we have made suggestions and demands. And that whatever happens will happen. We have done all that we can do.”

Food, as with any aspect of the assisted living experience is, and always will be, governed by the dictates of the owners of the facility whose main concern is the bottom line. And I say this without any prejudice.

As a former business owner, I know all of the pitfalls of trying to keep a business afloat, not only for oneself, but for all of the people that depend on the existence of the enterprise for their livelihood and, in the case of an ALF, for the very lives of the people who call the place home. It’s a daunting task.

While I don’t want our residents to stop questioning, protesting and criticizing and wanting what’s best for them, I also want them to realize that often they have gone as far as they can go as a group, and for them to remember…

“Sometimes the best thing about beating one’s head against a wall is that it feels so good when you stop.”


Not Quite Contrite ?

I received the comment (see insert) in regards to last week’s post in which I described the circumstances that led to me being a resident here at the assisted living facility. Included in that post I intimated that the better portion of the cost of my room and board was subsidized by Medicaid and other programs. Which is true. Unfortunately, the reader who identified himself as “Taxpayer” took exception to what I had to tell.

He evidently thought that I was complaining about my downsized lifestyle or the fact that I now had to live in far less “luxurious” Accommodations from that of what I had been accustomed to.

Well, just to set the record straight, I thank my lucky stars every day that I was able to find this place, and that in no way am I complaining. As to the other part of “Taxpayers” comments where he implies that I am some unemployed welfare cheat who enjoys living on the dole, or that I never paid tens of thousands of good old US money in taxes over my lifetime, all I can say is that I am sorry that you have lost your compassion for a fellow U.S. taxpayer who believed that his government would be there to help ease some of the burdens of life once he grew old like 10 million baby boomers a month currently do and will be doing. ………………………………bwc.

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AUGUST 13TH, 018


Living Without Money…
You can do it at the A.L.F.

I have no money and, amazingly, it doesn’t bother me that much.

Now, some of you may be surprised at my rather Lassie-fair attitude towards solvency, and with good reason.

Let’s face it. Money runs the world and to be without it can put one in dire straights. But really. What do we need money for?

My basic fear (and it has been ever since I became an adult and on my own) is not having a roof over my head. In other words, being homeless. And it was not too long ago when that fear might actually have come to fruition.

While I figured that I could always find food somewhere (think, Dumpster diving), finding a safe, warm/dry, affordable place to lay my head would pose a bigger problem.

With rent being what it is all over, I knew that it would be impossible to find a place to live when one depends on Social Security or a minimum wage job as an only source of income.

This was the situation I faced as my nearly two-year stay in a nursing home was coming to an end.

I had already lost my apartment* months before because I could not afford to pay the rent and pay for the nursing home too.

This was the closest that I ever came to actually not having a place in which to live.

Fortunately, a well-informed, and very helpful social worker at the nursing home found, for me, near ideal accommodations.

And, though not luxurious or even convenient, it does provide me with my basic needs, and then some.

So, what is the difference between living in a semi-communal residence like an ALF and having one’s own apartment or house?

First, it’s all the money you will save by consolidating all of your needs into one package.

Living in an assisted living facility is very much like staying at a cheap motel, on the American plan, where cable and meals are included in one low, low price.***

And like any budget accommodation, there will be things you like about the place, and things you won’t.

One of the things I like about living here is the sense of security I feel. This goes for both actual security, in the form of almost total CCTV coverage, alarmed doors, fully sprinklered and fire-proof doors, to the security of knowing that there is someone to call if you are sick or injured or otherwise incapacitated.

The other benefit of assisted living and perhaps the most important is knowing that you have a clean, quiet, warm/cool place to go at the end of the day. And that, once you close the door to your room, you are assured a certain amount of privacy****. In addition, all of my utilities including Wifi are included in my rent. My little room also has a flat-screen TV, a small refrigerator, recliner and a desk. And, I am provided with free laundry and linen as well as housekeeping and maintenance services.

For me, what I have just described is the good part about living here. And mostly, that’s all you will really need. Providing, you don’t mind living like a monk. But let us not forget the ever-present money factor,  which hangs over me like a sack of bricks.

Don’t misunderstand, I am not destitute. I actually have some discretionary income in the amount of about $200, due to some SSI (Supplementary Security Income) and a state stipend of $20 per month. This money allows me to buy clothes, toiletries, and an occasional take-out meal from the local pizzeria or Chinese restaurant. But, unfortunately, very little else.

My entertainment consists mostly of TV and whatever programs our recreation director has come up with. And, of course, my computer and this blog, without which I would have gone crazy years ago.

So, how does one qualify for all of this money-saving goodness? It’s easy.

Give up almost everything you have earned or saved. In other words, go broke. And by going broke, I mean reducing your net income to the point that you qualify for Medicaid and other social services.

And then, after you have secured your residency at an ALF, you will have to further reduce your “wealth” down to about $2000 in order to take advantage of SSI or other welfare programs.

Sorry, middle-class citizens. As far as cheap long-term living venues are concerned, you’re screwed. You're just too rich.

Do I like being poor? No, of course not. I’m not used to it.

I don’t like having to watch every penny I spend.

I liked being able to go into a store or online, and buy just about anything that I wanted.

I liked going to nice restaurants and eating good food without looking at the prices.

But, I have learned to adjust and adapt to my new lifestyle. And somehow, I have managed to make it work for me.

Oh, there is one other thing.

I may not have much money, or a closet full of fancy clothes and jewelry or a car for that matter. But what I do have is something a lot more important.

There is an old saying,”When you have your health, you have it all.” Well, it’s true.

Look, I’m old and I know it. Not everything works the way it used to. But I wake up every day virtually pain-free and with my mind intact.

I am able to keep in touch with friends and relatives I love (and hopefully, love me), and I find something new to do every day.

Do I have any money? No.

Am I poor? Maybe. But I still have my dignity and my integrity and, to me, that’s all the wealth I need.

* I had a very understanding landlord who graciously let me out of a two-year lease which, they could have held me accountable for.
** Hotels that still offer an “American Plan”, that includes meals, are very rare now-a-days.
*** There are,of course, many up-scale ALF’s which are more like resort hotels and spa’s. These are for those people fortunate enough to have money. Lots of it.
****Privacy will never be 100% in most ALFs. You will not be able to lock yourself in your room, or prevent the staff from making spot checks at any hour of the day.

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August 9, 2018


Dark Days.
Part 2
The Darkness Ends

In our previous blog (which you can view by scrolling down past the comments box) I told you how, after two years in various nursing homes, a cloak of sadness had wrapped around me like a shroud. And, as a result, both my health and general outlook on life were suffering. For me, the light at the end of the tunnel had grown dim, if not gone out completely.

Concerned about by rapid and steady weight loss, the Geriatrician at the nursing home suggested I take a blood test (CDC). After reviewing the results of that test it was discovered that my blood calcium level was “off the charts.” So much so that I needed to be hospitalized, not only to discover the cause of that anomaly but to find a cure as well.

A couple of days later I became a patient at New York Hospital, Queens where I was attended to by an Endocrinologist who again, ran a series of tests.

While I was waiting for the results of those tests, which included more blood work, a CAT scan, X-Ray, and ultrasound, I was visited by a woman who identified herself as a Psychiatrist.

“Hello, I’m Dr. ____”, she said.

Now, usually at that point I would have asked her to leave predicting that her first question to me would be “Do you ever have thoughts of suicide?” , as so many so-called mental health people had asked before. But she surprised me.

Because, instead of asking the question about suicide which was so obviously a way of covering their asses in case I did something rash, she asked a question that no one had ever asked me in my nearly three years of institutionalization. “Why are you here?”

And, with that simple question, I began a course of therapy that, not only changed my life but probably saved it as well.

“Why are you here?” Four words that took a while to answer.

I told her about my illness, my surgeries, my lengthy hospitalizations, the failure of physical therapy to get me out of my wheelchair, and finally, my weight loss.*

She listened attentively, making notes as she listened.

Finally, after about half an hour, she put her pen down, looked at me and said “You’re depressed. I would be too if I had gone through what you have.”

“Depression”, was something I had not figured on.

I must have had a quizzical look on my face because she followed her diagnosis with what I really wanted to hear.

“It’s not serious, and we can treat it.” She added.

She went on to say that she had looked at my chart and that I most likely would be hospitalized for a few more days while they worked on my calcium problem. This meant that she could prescribe a mild anti-depression medication and adjust the dosage as necessary.

“Anti-depression meds?” Scenes from “One flew over the Cuckoos nest” flashed through my mind.

She, again, sensed my concern.

“The pills will not make you drowsy, sleepy, nervous, or dopey. They shouldn’t affect you in any way other than to “take the edge off.”

And so, the next day began my course of “Lexapro”, 10mg.

At the same time, my Endocrinologist had discovered the cause of my spike in calcium. It appears that my thyroid had gone wacko and for some reason was not allowing me to metabolize calcium. This eventually could have spelled dire consequences on my heart and other organs. I would have to stay in the hospital until they could find the proper medication for my problem.

I had been on the Lexapro for about four days before I was visited by the shrink.

“How are you feeling? Do you feel that the meds are working?’’ She asked.

I could not honestly give her an answer. I certainly did not feel any “happier” or any worse, for that matter.

“I’m going to up your dosage to 20mg. You should also know that it can take up to a week or more for you to feel any change.”

Four days later I was sent back to the nursing home with a cure for my thyroid and an RX for some Lexapro.

Amazingly, after only three days on the thyroid medication, my appetite began to improve. The food began to taste better. I was actually eating normally again. But the cloud of impending doom still hung over me.

Because my private medical insurance would not pay for out-patient visits, I was not able to be seen by the Psychiatrist again. Instead, my anti-depression meds. were handled by my regular in-house doctor. He said he was familiar with the medication and would monitor me closely.

The funny thing about antidepressants that act on the serotonin in the brain is that they work very slowly and undramatically. That is, you do not wake up one morning and yell “I’m feeling great.” and start doing summer-salts. It’s much more subtle than that. However, just because the medication works so subtly, does not mean that the effects are not noticeable.

After about ten days into my treatment, I began to notice that I was not feeling a tired as I had been. Not only had my appetite returned but my interest in TV, some of the activities and, more important, my physical therapy had improved. I felt as if I was actually working towards a goal and that I could achieve that goal. The meds had “kicked-in.”

A few more months went by. I was now 65-years-old. Medicare was now paying for my stay, which meant that I had a limited time to get healthy enough to leave the nursing home, which had always been my goal.

I had progressed from a wheelchair to a walker and finally, to a Rollator. This allowed me much more freedom. I could dress and get in and out of bed by myself. I was much stronger and much much more clear-headed. For the first time in three years, I felt like myself.

The rest of the story you know. I live a normal, if not a luxurious, life here in the assisted living facility. My mobility is hampered only by a balance problem and I am forced to use a cane. But it’s a far cry from that nursing home where only gloom and darkness prevailed. My mind is clearer than it has ever been. I live an all but stress-free existence. And I owe part of that to the one physician who listened to me, saw the problem, and fixed it.

And now, my dear friends, I’ll leave you with this. If there is something bothering you. If you find that things that gave you gratification no longer gives you joy. If you are sleeping too much, eating too much (or not enough) or if you are experiencing any change in your mood or behavior, don’t let it go unchecked. And remember this.

A diagnosis of depression does not mean you are crazy or disturbed. It’s only crazy if you don’t get help.

*I might have mentioned my brother’s passing, my financial condition and my divorce as well.

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The Adventure Continues

This week marks my fifth anniversary as a resident here at the Westchester Center.

A sign over the main entrance reads “Welcome Home”, and for many reasons, that’s exactly what I have found here.

For most people, the thought of spending one’s golden years in an assisted living facility might be akin to doing a stretch in a minimum security prison. But for others (me included), residency here has been a godsend.

Arriving here from the nightmare of being a patient in a nursing home was like a breath of fresh air and also, a bit frightening. I would now have to be responsible for much of my own care.

And it all began the very next morning when, for the first time in over three years, I had a shower in my own bathroom, alone. And, if that doesn’t sound like a big deal try living in a situation where you are given a shower once a week by an attendant while sitting in a plastic chair with a commode-like seat. Or having an LPN give you a sponge bath because you are too weak even to hold a towel.

Everything here was perfect for me.

The facility is located in a country-like setting with grass and trees and sitting areas. There is light, and air, and sun, and shade. And best of all, there are people here who do not have one foot in the grave and the other one slipping. And, they will even leave me alone to pursue whatever I want. I am limited only by my ability to travel.

While I don’t have much money, as most of my Social Security goes to pay for my room and board, I don’t really feel poor. I have never really wanted or needed much, just the basics. And that’s exactly what I have.

I lead a simple life, uncluttered and uncomplicated. And very, very stress-free ..............bwc

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Dark Days.
Sadness Vs. Depression
Part One

We have all had them. Periods in our lives that leave us in very dark places.

These intervals can last from only a few hours, or days, to months, and even years. Often, they can be brought about by grief over the loss of a loved one, financial problems, divorce, health issues, or just about anything.

And, of course, what may seem like nothing to you, will be all-encompassing gloom and despair for another.

The common observer will often give these bouts of despair the name “depression.” And, while some of the signs may be that of actual clinical depression, they might also be just an encounter with sadness. Knowing the difference between the two is critical in determining a course of treatment for the sufferer.

Sadness vs. Depression…

Sadness is a human emotion that all people feel at certain times during their lives. Feeling sad is a natural reaction to situations that cause emotional upset or pain. There are varying degrees of sadness. But like other emotions, sadness is temporary and fades with time. In this way, sadness differs from depression.

Depression is a longer-term mental illness. It impairs social, occupational, and other important areas of functioning. Left untreated, symptoms of depression may last for a long time.

When you’re sad, it may feel all-encompassing at times. But you should also have moments when you are able to laugh or be comforted. Depression differs from sadness. The feelings you have will affect all aspects of your life. It may be hard or even impossible to find enjoyment in anything, including the activities and people you used to enjoy. Depression is a mental illness, not an emotion.

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • constant feelings of sadness
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • difficulty concentrating
  • loss of interest and enthusiasm for things which used to provide pleasure
  • feelings of deep, unwarranted guilt
  • physical symptoms, such as headaches or body aches that do not have a specific cause
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • constant thoughts about death
  • suicidal thoughts or actions

You may have some of these symptoms if you are sad, but they shouldn’t last more than two weeks. Suicidal thoughts are a sign of depression, not sadness.

source >> https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/depression-vs-sadness#symptoms

While I would never describe myself as being a happy, jovial or care-free individual, I was very adept at managing most of the day-to-day problems that we all face at one time or another. I was even able to cope with some not-so-usual events like divorce, bankruptcy, and the loss of my brother. Nor, did they have any lasting effect on me or my ability to carry on my daily activities. However, in 2011 I believe I came as close to the point of losing this ability to grapple with adversity as I ever want to come.

As many of you know, I was a patient in a nursing home and confined to a wheelchair following some complications due to a prolonged hospital stay. Not only was I unable to walk, but I had lost most of my ability to do much of anything else.

Dressing, personal hygiene, and even interaction with other people were becoming more and more difficult. And, although I did not realize it at the time, this lack of my ability to perform even the most simple functions also had a profound effect on my ability to make any progress with my physical therapy, which only added to the dark cloud which had descended upon me.

At times, things got so bad that all I wanted to do was sleep and not much more, including eating.

I picked at my food, leaving most of it on my plate. This led to a drastic weight loss* which had my doctor worried.

It may, at this point, be worthwhile to tell you something about nursing homes. They are not nice places. At least the more traditional ones.

They exist solely for the purpose of doing for you, what you cannot do for yourself. And, unless these places have a physical therapy component attached to them, there is little incentive for them to see that you get well. In fact, your average nursing home patient is far beyond the ability to ever improve. For most, this is the last stop. And, unfortunately, most of the more cognitive patients know this, which only adds to the general depressive nature of the facility.

On the days when I was able to get out of bed and make my way to the dining room, I would find myself surrounded by people who were in worse condition than I was.

There were people in recliner-type chairs being hand fed a disgusting pureed meal. Some were attached to feeding tubes which, in turn, was hooked up to a bag containing some brown liquid which flowed directly into their stomachs. Other patients just sat and stared out the window, a blank expression on their faces. That was during the day. The nights were something else.

Most nursing homes have very few private rooms which mean that you will most likely have a roommate who, may or may not be worse off than you. In my nearly two year stay in three different nursing homes, I had had them all.

The best roomies are those who are in a coma or for some other reason, don’t speak or make noise. This is rare. Mostly they are the opposite. And they manage to do their best “work” at night. And, even if they are not your immediate roommate, you can still hear them.

Because doors on patient’s room have to remain open all the time, you can be assured that you will be “treated” to a nightly symphony of screams, moans, yelling, coughing, and wretching. And it goes on all night, without end.

This was the condition in which I found myself during 2010, 2011, and part of 2012. Endless days of me being lifted out of bed and plopped into a wheelchair where I remained until it was time to tuck me in for the night.

The only break came when I went for my thrice-weekly PT sessions where I was “worked on” by well-meaning therapists who tried their best to get me up and standing, with little luck. A large part of successful PT depends on the patient’s incentive to progress. I lacked that. I foresaw for myself a future of living my life seated in that f**ing wheelchair in some institution. Life was quickly becoming a long tunnel with no light at the end. Was I depressed? Not officially.

Besides the slew of regular doctors (Geriatricians, Opticians, Podiatrists etc.) that roam the halls of most nursing homes looking to get in on some of that nice Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance money, there are the so-called professional mental health practitioners. These are usually not Psychiatrists but Psychologists whose only interest in you seems to be whether or not you have suicidal tendencies or otherwise wish to bring harm to yourself or someone else. Their list of questions read like a checklist of symptoms. Since none of them appeared to want to talk about why I was feeling so poorly, I usually dismissed them after the first two or three questions. And so, I remained, not only un-diagnosed but more importantly untreated as well.

It was not until some disturbing blood test results when the wheels of an actual cure were put in motion.

More on how one simple question by a caring doctor changed my life in part 2 next Thursday.

* At my lowest, I was down to about 163 lbs., the least I had ever weighed as an adult. And, while for me this would have been a good thing if I were otherwise healthy, this weight loss was a signal that something else was wrong.

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Sunday Evening 7pm
Although the promo for this week's blog said that there would be yet another Faceless Foodie picto-rant depicting yet another bad breakfast, but at the last minute I decided against posting it.
I did this because I found it not only repetitive, but boring. And, if it's boring to me, it must be even more boring to you. So, instead, we have a lovely photo of our main driveway as the evening shadows fall. Much better than lousy food , huh? ............................................bwc.

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Retirement: The Best Laid Plans…

This is a question for all of you retired people. Are you living the dream? Is this what you had planned for when that time came when you would no longer have to work? I’m guessing that you are not. If not, what happened?

Of course, I probably would not be thinking this way if my dreams of retirement had gone the way I planned.

This current bout of melancholia all came about as I was looking at my craggy face in the bathroom mirror which hangs on the wall of my 12x20 foot assisted living facility cell and thinking, “This is not what I had planned at all.” WTF happened?   For the answer, I’ll have to go back a few years.

I have always considered myself to be an average guy. Politically liberal, fiscally conservative with average intelligence and just a dash of street smarts.

I have never taken part in any criminal activities, used drugs or knowingly caused harm to my fellow man.

I like dogs, most cats and kids and, I’ve even been married.*

I had a decent job, health insurance, paid my bills and lived modestly.

I even managed to plan for my retirement using all of the options available to me.

There was the fully funded 401k from my employer, not to mention my own IRA, CD’s, and savings accounts. I figured that I was all set. And by “all set”, I mean that I was fully aware that I would never have the dream retirement that many retirees have. But that was okay. I was content with that.

Cruises, endless fun on some palm festooned island while surrounded by stunning, hefty-bosomed blonds sipping Mai-tai’s on the fan deck of my yacht were not in the cards. Nor, did I really want that.

Mostly, what I had in mind for my retirement was to live the life that I had always led. Only minus the having to show up for work every day part. Essentially, I wanted every day to be a weekend day..

This meant that I would be free to do whatever made me happy at the moment.

If I awoke one morning and felt like going to a museum, no problem.

The same went for a day at the beach, a drive upstate, or pursuing my hobby as a photographer. I also knew that, living in the most exciting city in the world, I would never be bored.

Not a bad plan, huh?

Yea, that’s what I thought too. But, as Robert Burns once said: “The best-laid plans o' mice an' men often go astray.” And “Astray” they did. Very “Astray.” And it happened because of a couple of things I did not (and could not) have planned for.

The first, and the least of my two unplanned nightmares, came about when I was forced to retire much sooner than I had planned.

When the company that I had worked for and had my 401k with as well as my health insurance closed our NYC office, I found myself without a job at age 60. But I was still not in bad shape.

Unemployment insurance and a modest severance package sustained me while I hunted for work. Unfortunately, that work never came. And so, after a year of watching my money slowly drain away, I decided to end the bleeding by applying for early Social Security benefits at the ripe old age of only 62. I knew full well that I would be receiving a lot less money had I worked to age 66 (my full-benefit retirement age). But there was nothing I could do about it. At 62, they weren’t exactly throwing jobs your way.

My health insurance was costing me a fortune** (remember that I was not yet eligible for Medicare and too solvent for Medicaid). Add to that my rent, car insurance, utilities (without cable) and just day-to-day expenses I found that my retirement fund was being stretched to the max. But that was not the worst part.

Unplanned expense number two. The “sickening.”

If there can ever be a bright side to becoming ill, it will come in the form of being financially able to afford it. And, for the most part, I was.

Because of a fairly decent hospitalization plan I was able to have access to some of the best physicians and hospitals specializing in my particular affliction. However, although I was “cured” of my illness, nearly two months in various hospitals took its toll on my body. I went directly from my hospital bed to a bed in a nursing home. And that’s when everything unraveled.

In case you did not know, the average monthly stay in a nursing home in these United States comes to about $13,000.

No, I did not add an extra “0” by mistake. Thirteen thousand dollars is correct. So who pays for that? ME, that’s who. I was still too young and too “rich” for any government help. And so, until I reached the age of 65 (a good 6 months away) I made out checks for $13,000 every month. That, in a nutshell, put an end to any and all retirement plans I ever had.

No beaches, no trips to the museum, no drives in the country. My biggest concern (other than my health) was “Where would I live, and how would I survive when I actually did get out of here?”

The answer, fortunately, came in the form of government subsidized assisted living. A godsend for me and the thousands of other individuals who, by no fault of their own, found that they had slipped through the proverbial crack and found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

So, is there something to be learned by all this? I hope so because I would hate to think that all my personal anguish had gone for naught. And, while I can’t give you any advice on how to get it, I can only tell you that “no matter how much money you think you have put away for retirement, it will not be enough.”

While we are fortunate to live in this great country of ours, we also live in a very expensive and at times a very heartless one as well.

No one should have to dig into their hard-earned retirement funds to pay a $13,000 a month nursing home bill.

No one should have to foot the burden of paying an outrageous health insurance premium just because the company they worked for for 13 years decides that your services are no longer needed.

For me, personally, I am doing okay. My health is not bad. I have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I have some very nice friends and manage to keep busy. What I don’t have is that nice retirement I had planned for myself. And that hurts, a lot.

* For an explanation of how that worked out, you’ll have to ask my ex. (Name and address on request).
** The cheapest private insurance I could find at the time was a $350 a month policy from Blue Cross which only covered hospitalization. That meant that any preventive medical procedures and doctor’s visits were out.

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Sliding Backwards

Following a tumultuous meeting with our food service manager
about a month ago, at which almost a hundred very fed-up
residents expressed their “opinions” on everything from menu
selections, food preparation, seasonings, and portion sizes to
attitudes of the serving staff, we thought we had made great
progress. We believed that we were on our way towards a
better dining experience. But, alas. After a good start, whereby
we actually observed a definite turn-around, it appears that the message
we sent still has not made the impression we had hoped for. As an example,
we offer the above photo as evidence.
Breakfast, last Tuesday, consisted of little more than what you see.
There was no protein sides served or offered. The only thing we had
to supplement the meager portion of omelet was toast or cereal.
There is another meeting scheduled for August 14th. We will be there.

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    As a blogger, many of us employ a statistics service or counter which lets us know, not only how many hits a particular post gets, but also where those hits come from. While it is not uncommon to get hits from far off places, it always comes as a surprise when I get a hit from a very far-off and very strange sounding place.



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Assisted Living: A Life Sentence Or a New Beginning?
Part 2: The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life

We have spoken recently about some of the reasons why and how people find themselves as residents of an assisted living facility.
In part one of this post, which you can read by scrolling to last Thursday’s blog, I told you of my reasons for leaving a relatively independent and well-off lifestyle for one of limited privacy, independence, and space. Simply put, I ran out of money as well as some of my mobility. This, combined with some other adversities, made it impossible for me to return to an apartment that I had occupied for nearly 15 years. Fortunately, with some help from a team of social workers, I was able to find my current living arrangement in which I have been a resident for nearly 5 years. And, while nobody dragged me in here kicking and screaming, to say that the transition was easy would be a lie. However (and this is the reason for this post), it was not the horror show or nightmare some people make it out to be.

Depending on one’s current living situation, the move to a place filled with strange people, uninformed “caretakers”, seemingly “silly” rules and regulations, a structured daily calendar, and limited dining options can be a lot to overcome.

Those folks that arrived here from a relatively spacious private home or apartment will immediately notice the lack of space, while people who have either lived in a small apartment or had their own room at the kid's house, will find the new digs less intimidating.

Consequently, city dwellers who are used to living or working closely together with people of various backgrounds and ethnicity’s may actually find comfort in the diversity. But the major advantage that any person can have as a new resident of an assisted living facility is their ability to adapt and embrace their new situation as, not an end to something, but as a new beginning. The first day of the rest of your life.*

For me personally, considering what I had gone through for nearly three years**, my new “home” really did mean a new start, on a number of levels.

Primarily, and for me, the most immediately recognizable change, is the lessening (if not the complete removal) of stress.

After all those years of worrying about my health, my disabilities, my job, my legal as well as my financial problems, I had reached my stress limit. And, although I did not know it, I had sunk to a level whereby that stress had thrown me into a state of depression. But after just a couple of weeks living in a less pressure-filled environment, I felt the stress leave my body.

Yes, I had lost a lot (actually almost everything). But, along with that loss, I have found a certain peace. A peace, stemming from the fact that I have nothing left to worry about.

I used to live in a very expensive New York City apartment. Existing on a fixed income and with the rent increasing every two years, coupled with the ability to pay that rent was becoming a real problem. Now, because this facility accepts my Social Security as full payment for room and board, that part of the stress equation has been removed.

Also removed are many of my health responsibilities.

I receive my medication accurately and on time. I don’t even have to worry about re-ordering or paying for it
I see in-house doctors on a regular basis (something that I most likely would never do on my own).
I can get expert assistance when dealing with Social Security, Medicare and other state and federal agencies.
I am surrounded by people who know where I am at all times. While this may seem a little anal-retentive and intrusive to many people, as an older person with no friends or relatives living nearby, this is a godsend.
And, as an additional inducement, just the actuality of having less “stuff” (clutter, if you will) will lessen your anxiety level by leaps and bounds.

How many times have you looked around your living space at all the stuff you have collected over the years and asked yourself  “What the heck is all this crap for anyway?’’***
· Don’t you think it’s time to give away your high school cheerleader’s outfit?
· How much do you really love your collection of beer cans from around the world?
· Do you really want all those Hummel figurines that aunt Martha gives you every Christmas because she thinks you actually like them?
· What statement are you making by displaying every “Hardy Boys” book you read as a kid?
· And what do all those keys you have in that Mason jar fit anyway?
Well, now is your chance to uncomplicate your life. Get rid of it all. I did. And now, I am surrounded by only the stuff I really need. Stuff I use every day. And, for the first time in my life, I can actually find things.

I understand that many of you are so set in your ways that even the slightest change to your lifestyle causes you to go nuts. But think about it. Chances are that your inability to adapt to new situations is what landed you in this predicament to begin with. Or, maybe, you really did try your best to readjust to your changing situation but it just didn’t work out. In either case, this is your chance to start anew. And at our age, the opportunity to begin life over should not be taken lightly.

This is your opportunity be whatever or whomever you always wanted to be. After all, nobody in the A.L.F. knows who you are or were.

Go ahead. Tell people that you were Hedy Lamarr’s secret lover. Nobody’s going to check.

Or, impress people by showing them the mole on the bottom of your foot and telling them that it’s a CIA ID mark.

Stun your fellow residents with harrowing tales of your life as a mafia soldier. (Be sure to use words like “stunad”, “gavone”, or “made-man” in your conversation).

Yes, life in the A.L.F. will be different, and in many cases challenging. But remember, you are entering a facility that is geared to make your life easier. Take advantage of that, and you’ll do just fine.

*Editor’s note: The term “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is credited to Charles Dederich (1914-1997)
 founder of Synanon, the 1960s drug rehabilitation organization that morphed into a cult. Most sources credit Charles Dederich with coining this well-known self-help mantra in the 1960s, around the time he founded Synanon. Clearly, it’s use by Dederich and Synanon as a slogan for recovering drug addicts helped popularize the saying. However, Dederich may or may not have created it. It’s one of those sayings that just seem to have been floating around in the 1960s.
** Not to dwell on my problems, but previously to settling down here, I spent over three years shuttling between three different nursing homes and four different hospitals where I underwent numerous treatments, procedures, and therapy.
*** The Japanese have a way of dealing with clutter. They say you should throw out anything that doesn’t make you happy. (This would explain the growing divorce rate in Japan).

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After a couple of weeks of not seeing our resident turkey around the
place, I went on a safari of sorts and found him in our back yard. As
you can see, he is in fine fettle. Rather a handsome devil, don’t you think?

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From Apathy to A Victory For All

The day we changed from
a loosely knit group of disinterested individuals
to a society of empowered seniors.

Part 1

While society tends to think of all older Americans as being the same, those of us who are actually old know differently. However, even I had to learn that, like everyone else, seniors are as diverse as any other demographic group. It all began when I came to this facility some five years ago.

The place was newly opened and, like any new venture, there were a lot of bugs that needed to be ironed out.

The system for ordering and distributing daily medications was a horror show.

There were few recreational programs available, and many residents were unhappy with their rooms and roommates. In addition, the food service and preparation was sub-par.

As with any new experience that I have entered in to, such as a new job, or new school, I like to observe and listen and make mental notes and reserve my remarks for later. However, while the choice for me to remain silent was my own and was based on my short tenure as a resident, I was dismayed at the attitude taken by other residents who had been here for a few months.

What I observed, and heard, as I walked around the lobby in those first few days was the constant drone of grumbling and dissent from the residents. Further observation revealed that, while disappointment was rampant, no one even came close to making their objections known to the administrators of the facility. It became abundantly clear that lethargy, apathy, and complacency was thriving among the approximately 85 residents.*.

Why they weren’t willing to stand up and say something about the conditions was a mystery to me. After all, this was their home and they were paying good money to live there.** What I found out later was that my ignorance regarding the collective minds of older people was immense. Nevertheless, it did not take me long to figure out why there was a reluctance to complain. Simply put, they were scared s***less. I found out later that many of them actually believed that they would be evicted if they were thought of as being “troublemakers” if they vocalized their disagreements. Why they thought that, remains a mystery to me to this day. However, there is one thing that I do understand. While all old folks are unique, as a group they can be separated into two different categories. The pre-war seniors and the post-war seniors (AKA, Baby Boomers). And, they are as different as a high school freshman is to a high school senior.

The major distinction, of course, is that there is an actual chronological age difference. In 2012, when I first moved in here, most of the residents were older than my 68 years. Many were in their 80’s and a few in their 90’s. Some had even fought in WW2. They remembered the depression, rationing, cars with crank starters, no TV, and certainly no computers.

Many of them grew up in the first half of the 20th century which was not much different from the last half of the 19th century. Their values and traditions were of another era, one of which was having respect for people in authority like teachers, principals, doctors, cops, and administrators. The very thought of ruffling the feathers of anybody in charge was unfathomable. And even now, when they should be the ones that are respected, they still see themselves as being subservient to anybody who might have dominance over them. Conversely, those of us born after the end of WW2, have an entirely different take on who has the power and who doesn’t.

That was the situation which I found myself in as I attempted to transition from my former status as an independent retired person, who was used to living under his own rules and on his own terms, to a person dependent (or at least partially dependent) on others for his food, shelter, and security. But, unlike my fellow (and much older) residents, I was not willing to give up my right to speak out whenever and wherever I felt an injustice was occurring, much to the dismay of many others here.

I was looked upon as a brash newcomer/troublemaker who would only bring the wrath of the people-in-charge down upon us all.

I was admonished by people at my own dining room table when I protested the shoddy way we were served our meals, even though they agreed that what was happening was not right.

They regarded me as some crazy person when I took a stance against the way medication was distributed at the med-room.***

Fortunately, as time wore on and the facility began to fill with a more diverse complement of people I no longer found myself in the minority.

And this brings us to what happened last Tuesday. The day we changed from a loosely knit group of disinterested individuals to a society of empowered seniors.

Part 2

On the second Tuesday of every month, we hold a meeting with the Resident’s Food Committee. This meeting is open to all and is a chance for us to express our opinions and give our suggestions on how the dining experience in our little community can be improved. Usually, these meetings are poorly attended****, again, due to the apathy of a number of our residents.

In addition to the food committee and some residents, the meeting is attended by our Director of Food Services (the head chef).

While the attendees to these meetings are very outspoken (even brash at times), they represent only a handful of the residents. Many of whom believe (with good reason) that nothing we could do or say would ever change anything.

And so it went. Month after month of us asking for some improvement in the way the food we received was served and prepared.

And, month after month, our pleas went unheard and ignored. If anything the service got worse and the menu became a joke. Food continued to be served burnt, overcooked, under-cooked, or just plain bad.

Menus became dull and repetitive in complete disregard to anything that was discussed at the meetings. We were being, in a word, ignored. And what was worse was that nobody in charge would do anything about it. That is, until this month when the pot began to boil over (pun intended).

After the mediocre (food wise) month of June, we were looking forward to our annual Fourth of July barbecue.

In past years this had always been a festive event with a variety of decently prepared typical American barbecue food like burgers, franks, chicken, and sausages all served outdoors on our patio. In addition, it is one of the few activities where we are allowed to invite our friends and family. It’s supposed to be and usually was a fun afternoon. That is, until this year.

To describe this year’s barbecue as a fiasco would be like giving all other fiasco’s a thumbs-up.

Because of the recent heat wave, the activity was moved indoors. This would have been okay if the food had still been cooked outdoors as was done in the past when bad weather was forecast. But no, the chef in all her wisdom, decided to do a non-barbecued barbecue by cooking all of the food in the oven in our kitchen assuring that what we would be eating would be no better than the slop we always got, except that now, our friends and relatives would have the “pleasure” of sampling this for themselves.

The burgers were overcooked and tasteless. The hot dogs were thin overcooked tubes of ubiquitous meat. And there was no chicken or sausages on the menu. It was embarrassing, to say the least. For most of us, it was the last straw. And I, as a member of our Resident’s Council, knew that we needed to get together with the food committee to make sure that the next food meeting, just 6 days away, was well attended. It was time to rally the troops. And rally the troops we did.

For days prior to the meeting, we verbally urged all residents to attend. We told them that, even if they did not want to say anything, that just their presence in the auditorium would show that we meant business.

The day of the meeting (which was to be held at 3:15 that afternoon) was upon us. But even as early as breakfast, I could tell that there was an electric atmosphere in the air. People came over to me asking questions about the meeting and telling me that they would be there. It was encouraging to be sure.

Lunch was even more interesting, not only because the meal was of the usual ho-hum quality, but also because many of the residents decided not to go back to their rooms after lunch but rather stay in the lobby until the meeting started.

The regular Tuesday afternoon Bingo game let out at 3 pm with most of the players remaining in their seats. As 3:15 approached, those residents that had been waiting in the lobby began to ascend on the auditorium. And ascend they did, in droves. By 3:20, the small venue was packed with people. By the time the last person entered, it was standing room only. It was an amazing sight to see.

The chairperson of our food committee made her opening remarks and handed me a copy of a petition, that was to be sent around for the residents to sign, to read aloud. And then, the meeting began. Not with a whimper, but with a bang.

As soon as it was announced that all those wishing to speak raise their hands and wait to be acknowledged, a forest of wrinkled arms flew up. We were on our way. And for the next 45 minutes, the assemblage of close to 100 people launched a tirade of venomous complaints, accusations, objections, and grievances all directed at the food service director who stood quietly in the corner. And, although she tried to conceal it, one could see that she was stunned by, not only the turnout but by the comments as well.

We ended the speak-out phase when it appeared that everyone who wanted to say something had their chance. By the time the meeting came to a close, over 80 people had signed the petition with more waiting for their chance. As usual, our food service manager made notes and left without comment. And, as we filed out of the auditorium, we still were not sure if we had made any headway. However, what we were sure of was that we were now an entirely different group of people than when we started the meeting. Not only was the session cathartic, but more importantly, we left feeling empowered.

So, had we actually accomplished anything? Had all of our complaints hit their target? Yes, and I’ll tell you how in the next blog.

* Our facility now has almost a 100% occupancy of representing 185 residents.
** The monthly rent at our facility runs about $4500. Practically all of our Social Security goes to pay that rent while the balance is paid for by Medicare and Medicaid.
*** I’ll get to the actual reason for my outrage at another time. But I will say that it had to do with some much needed pain medication that was being withheld from me because of a technical problem.
**** Only about 30 of the nearly 185 show up.

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The Bible remains a 'powerful,
transformative tool' in American culture

Overall, six in 10 U.S. adults (58 percent) believe that the message of the Bible has “transformed their life,” with majorities of Bible users saying their time with the holy texts increases their sense of connection with God and their curiosity about God.

City dwellers (53 percent) and small town or rural (49 percent) residents report higher use of the Bible than suburbanites. In the South, 55 percent report regular use; the numbers are 42 percent in the Northeast and 44 percent in the West.

Baby Boomers (51 percent) are most likely to consult the Bible, followed by senior citizens (48 percent) and Millennials (47 percent).

The traditional printed word of the Bible remains the favorite, the survey found.

Technology is a factor, however.

“More than half of users now search for Bible content on the internet (57 percent) or a smartphone , and another 42 percent use a Bible app on their phones. More than one-third listen via podcast or audio version of the Bible,” the survey said.

Source: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/14/the-bible-remains-a-powerful-transformative-tool-i/

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Assisted Living: A Life Sentence Or a New Beginning?
Looking Back at Five Years.

Part 1

Attitudes and misconceptions about assisted living still abound even now, after nearly 40 years in existence.

“Before the 1970’s there weren’t many options for aging seniors. You could have someone come to your home to provide in-home care or go to a nursing home, which at that time we’re not very pleasant places to be. During this period, nursing homes were institutions where lower-income seniors were sent to… die out of sight. These facilities were cold and sterile, and the entire institution was known for neglecting and abusing elders.”*

Readers of this blog have heard me say that, although ALF’s are far from being a nursing home, they can differ considerably in the amount and levels of care they offer to their residents**

While some venues are spa-like with all the amenities of a resort including almost total independent living, gourmet meals in a country-club setting, others offer only the most basic of accommodations and limited recreational options.

The one that will best suit you depends on the degree of care you need and, your ability to meet the financial requirements of the individual facility.

With room and board ranging from $3000 to $8000 per month, you definitely get what you pay for. However, no matter what assisted living options you choose, and no matter how fancy the place may be, the one thing that they all have in common is that they will be very different from the life you have led before the need for an ALF arose. In order to understand what you will be getting yourself in for, it’s important for you to realize that an assisted living facility is NOT a senior living community like many of those 55 plus condos set behind closed gates. So what is it?

Well, as described to me nearly 5 years ago by a social worker in a nursing home where I was a patient, an assisted living facility is a “bridge” for those people who no longer need the care afforded by a full-time nursing home and those who’s physical (and/or cognitive) abilities preclude them from living alone, at home. Which, for all practical purposes, is the explanation for why I am here.

For reasons too numerous to delve into now, I spent nearly two years in a real nursing home. At that time I was confined to a wheelchair unable to walk or stand on my own. I needed to be helped with bathing, dressing, and administering my medication. This, as well as being in a general state of poor health, made my stay in a nursing home necessary. Fortunately, after some very intense physical therapy and decent medical care (including that of a psychiatrist), I was able to regain much of my mobility as well as my health. And so, it was decided that I no longer needed to be in a nursing home. Both because I no longer required that intense amount of care, and because lengthy stays in a nursing home surrounded by very, very sick people are the most psychologically mind-numbing and depressing environment one can be in.

In addition, there was one more reason that I could no longer stay in the “home”. My (private) insurance and later Medicare, would no longer pay the $13,000 per month bill. In other words, I was being evicted. Fortunately, the social workers at the nursing home (for whom I am eternally indebted to) were not going to throw me out on the street. They immediately went to work trying to find a suitable place for me to live.

By now you may be asking why didn’t I just go back to my apartment, the place I had lived in for over 10 years? The answer is twofold.

One, my apartment was not physically appropriate for a semi-invalid to live in.

And two, I was broke.

Thousands of dollars of uninsured hospital and nursing home expenses forced me to give up my apartment. I simply could no longer afford to live there on a fixed income.

And so, began my Odyssey of trying to find a place that would put a roof over my head, some food in my stomach, and provide a minimum amount of personal assistance.

Having no money, (except for Social Security), and dependent on Medicare, and Medicaid, my options were limited. Fortunately, with the help of the social workers at the nursing home, I was advised of the opportunity of moving to an assisted living facility, an option that I knew little about. What I did know is that I had no choice.

After visiting two or three facilities in my native Queens NY, I landed here in the beautiful (and comparatively peaceful) hills of Yonkers. And so, along with a suitcase, a couple of corrugated boxes filled with all my belongings, and a great deal of trepidation I moved into what I reluctantly would call home.

End.Part 1
Next Monday: The First Day Of The Rest Of My Life

*Source: https://www.stellarliving.com/resources/assisted-living/history-assisted-living-united-states/
** People who live in assisted living facilities are referred to as “residents”, not patients.


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I’m Just A Kid… In Dog Years.

I have found a way to start life all over again, and you don’t have to be young to do it. In fact, if you are over 65, you’re just the perfect age. All you have to do, when asked “How old are you”, is to give your answer in dog years. This is not as absurd as it sounds.

The average lifespan of a dog is 10-15 years, depending on breed and other factors.

The average lifespan of an American human is a little longer than 78 years, depending on whether you are a male or female and your propensity to eat cheeseburgers.

Now, anybody who has ever owned a dog, or observed a dog, knows that they manage to pack an entire life into those few short years. It’s almost as if they know that time is short, so why not live it to its fullest.

To the casual observer, sleep appears to be a big part of a dog's life.

According to Sleep.org*…

“The average dog sleeps for about 12 to 14 hours per 24-hour cycle. That’s just the beginning, though. Puppies, who expend a lot of energy exploring and learning may need as much as 18 to 20 hours. Older dogs also tend to need more rest, as do certain breeds. Technically, both small and large breeds can be long sleepers, but it tends to be the big guys, like Newfoundlands, Mastiffs, St. Bernards, and great Pyrenees that earn the nickname “mat dogs” for seemingly endless naps.”

As an “older dog” I can relate to all that sleep. Unfortunately, as a human being who has a life beyond that of eating and licking my crotch, 12 to 14 hours of sleep is impossible. I’m probably good for 6 hours if you count naps. But let’s get back to my original thought.

All of us have heard that 1 dog year equals 7 years for us humans. Again, we need some qualification on that figure.

As per Webmd.com...

“(It) turns out, the math isn't that simple. Dogs mature more quickly than we do early on. So the first year of your fuzzy friend's life is equal to about 15 human yearsSmaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, but they may mature more quickly in the first few years of life. A huge pup might age more slowly at first, but be nearing middle age at 5.”

…All of which is much too complicated for my theory, therefore, we’ll just go with the tried and true standard of 1 human years equals 7 dog years or vice-versa.

Okay, so here’s how my theory works. I’ll use myself as an example.

I may be 73 in human years, but in dog years, I’m only ten years and 4 months (73 divided 7 equals 10.4) Not a bad place to start life all over again.

Ten years old would mean that I most likely would be starting the 5th grade in the fall, a grade in which kids start to get into the hard stuff. And, for most of us, having a fifth-grade education is all we really will ever need to get through our daily lives anyway. So why waste time going to high school or college for that matter. Because let’s face it, a 10-year-old already has better computer skills than most adults will ever have. And, as long as you know how to use Google (again, a skill most 5th graders have mastered) what more is there to know how to do? Okay, drive a car. But hey, I’m only 10. I can do that in 6 years when I’m 16…or 42…or 79. See how this is all working out. No? Okay, how about this?

If I live another 15 years (to age 88) and considering my age now in dog years is only about 13, that means that I now have another 75 years before I shuffle off to wherever one shuffles off to these days. BTW, if my math seems a little askew, don’t worry about it. After all remember, I only have a 5th-grade education. But don’t worry about that. In fact, since you are now a kid again (or a dog) there is no reason to worry about anything. Also, as a kid (or a dog) you can get away with anything.

  • You can go for days without bathing.
  • Tell lies with abandon.
  • Wear outrageous clothing.
  • Live very well off of Cheetos and Gummy Bears.
  • Ride a bike, fall off, and not have to go to the Hospital for Special Surgery.
  • Have no visible means of support, yet never seem to be without.
  • Fart, and make believe the dog did it. (This is one of the few downsides of being a dog. You get blamed for everything).

Of course, as an older person, you are already accustomed to doing many of those things anyway (except for the falling off a bike thing. If you do you are likely to snap like a twig).

Many of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Yes, it seems like fun but, as a kid, I’ll lose any respect I have built up over the years because kids (and dogs and Rodney Dangerfield) don’t get no respect.” But if you think about it, as an old person, you’re not getting any respect anyway. Really. When’s the last time anybody listened to you lately?

Unfortunately, just because you say you are young will not actually extend your life one iota. Most likely you will assume room temperature like the rest of us when your number is up. However, by living your life as if the next 15, 20, 30 or more years is all the lifespan you have been allotted on this planet, time (or the lack of it) won’t matter one bit.

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Here Are 16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe  

  • Nearly one-fifth of Americans think Obama is a Muslim.
  • 25 percent of Americans don’t believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution while less than 40 percent do.
  • Earlier this year, nearly 40 percent of Americans still believed the Sarah Palin-supported lie about "death panels" being included in health care reform.
  • As of just a few years ago, about half of Americans still suspected a connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11.
  • A majority of “young Americans” cannot identify Iraq or Afghanistan on a map.
  • Two out of five Americans, despite the whole separation of church and state being a foundation of our democracy thing, think teachers should be able to lead prayer in classrooms.
  • Many Americans still believe in witchcraft, ESP and other supernatural phenomena.
  • Only about half of Americans realize that Judaism is the oldest of the three monotheistic religions.
  • In 2006 more Americans were able to name two of the “seven dwarves” than two of the Supreme Court justices
  • More Americans can identify the Three Stooges than the three branches of government




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From Apathy to A Victory For All

The day we changed from
a loosely knit group of disinterested old people
to a society of empowered seniors.

Part 3 - Getting Results

For those of you who missed parts one and two of this post, they can be viewed by scrolling down past this blog and past the comments to Monday’s blog. Or, if you are like me and just hate reading yesterday’s news, I’ll give you a brief synopsis of what occurred during our recent food committee meeting. It was a meeting like no other we’ve had here.

An overflow crowd packed into our auditorium last Tuesday afternoon to, not only vent their frustrations but, to actually complain about the really poor service, quality, and preparation of our three daily meals here at the A.L.F.

While there have always been problems with how our meals were made, never have those meals been quite as upsetting to as many people as they have been in the last few months. And, quite frankly, our residents were sick and tired of it.

Therefore, with that in mind, we began our meeting by making a brief statement regarding a petition* which would be circulated during the session and then, opened the meeting by allowing anybody to speak out about their food service concerns. And speak out they did.

With the director (Head Chef) of our Food Services Department looking and listening on, one by one our residents spewed forth their grievances in a no-holds-barred tirade of distress, exasperation, and indignation.

For a solid hour, interrupted only by jeers, shouts, and applause, we covered everything from surly servers to burnt food to ill-conceived menus and atrocious side-dishes. The event was tantamount to a 1960’s anti-war rally. So, what was our Food Service Director’s reaction to all of that?

In her defense, she actually tried to respond to some of the outrages, but her efforts were quickly shouted down by a number of residents who weren’t having any of it. She left, visibly shaken.

Was anything actually accomplished? In a word, absolutely. And, it happened quickly. And it happened because our administrator could no longer ignore what was said at that meeting as had been in previous, less cohesive and less vociferous meetings.

The large turnout of, not only the usual resident's but by residents who had never ever been to a meeting let alone voice their opinions, proved to our admin that there must be some truth to, what previously were only grumblings of a group of chronic malcontents.

Though it has only been a week since the meeting, a number of improvements have already taken place.

Except for a few exceptions, no burned, overcooked, or cold food has left the kitchen.

Side dishes have been selected to better represent the main dishes they accompany.

There has been a noticeable reversal of the attitudes of the serving staff.

Portion sizes have improved as well as the ratio of carbs-to-protein.**

In addition, and much to the surprise of the diners, our administrator has been visiting the dining room during meals. He has also initiated a survey of diners who were asked their opinions of whether or not they have observed any improvement since the meeting.

Of course, it has only been a week and the measure of any real changes is how they are sustained over the coming weeks and months. Only time will tell.

However, even if very little in the way of adjustments and modifications happens, the residents, through their coming together as one united unit, have proved that they can and will be taken seriously in all future undertakings.

On a personal note, for the first time in my stay here at the A.L.F., I felt proud to be a resident and I felt even prouder that my fellow residents were able to realize their full potential as viable human beings.

* A total of well over 100 signatures were collected over the next two days. A record for any such activity.
** As an example, previously a meal of what was supposed to be Shepherds Pie, was approximately
    80% mashed potatoes and 10% meat. Yesterday, that ratio was reversed.

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Why Do A.L.F.’s Have a Bad Rep?

H E A D L I N E….

Okay, that reaction by a prospective assisted living facility resident may be a bit extreme. But it does point out that there are those seniors who have a misconceived notion as to what exactly is going to happen to them once the decision has been made that they can no longer live in their own homes. So, where exactly, does that misunderstanding come from?


1. An assisted living facility is not a nursing home.

For anyone who has ever visited or been a patient in a nursing home, I offer my condolences.

Nursing homes, by their nature, are depressing places.

They are usually filled with the sick, very sick, and those “on their way out.”

They look (and smell) institutional.

Patients in most nursing homes are there because they are incapable of taking any care of themselves usually because they are emotionally or physically disabled. They need almost constant vigilance and many never leave their beds. For some, a nursing home is just one step away from a hospice where people spend their last days.

As a rule, nursing home patients don’t go on trips, have limited recreation, and are fed restricted diets.*

2. An assisted living facility is not “The Poor House.”

Believe it or not, there are those folks that think that assisted living facilities are nothing more than 19th-century poor houses where penniless old people are sent to live out their days in squalor. Of course, nothing could be further than the truth.

In fact, most assisted living facilities are upscale places with amenities that would put the best resorts to shame. Believe me, there are no poor people living there. And, while the trend in assisted living is to build more of those types of places, there are many fine venues available for those with limited means.

3.“I’ll have to give up my independence and all of my money.”

Let’s talk about the money first.

Nobody wants to take your assets, including money, from you. In fact, if you are able to afford one of the better facilities, you will need all the money you can get your hands on. But, this is not to say that scams are perpetrated on old people every day. Never sign anything unless you completely understand what you are signing.

However, those facilities that accept Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as a way to pay your room and board, may require you to “reduce” your assets to a level where you qualify to receive those benefits. How you decide where to spend that money is up to you But be advised, only some expenditures are accepted as legitimate ways to reduce your net worth.**

Now, to the question of “independence.”

As a rule, you will be able to keep the same level of independence you had when you were living at home. If you have a car and can drive, by all means, continue to do so.

In those facilities that allow you to cook in your room, no one will stop you.***

You can keep your own linens, towels, and blankets and, you can even do your own laundry.

4.“I will have to leave all of my personal belongings behind.”

I won’t kid you. You will have to leave many of the items that you have collected over the years behind. But look at it this way. Now is the chance to simplify your life. You will have the opportunity to retain all the things that make you happy while discarding all those items that have become dust collectors over the years. “Downsizing” one’s life, not only reduces stress but will make your life less complicated.

5.“I will never have any privacy.”

Again, I won’t sugar coat this. Unfortunately, due to the nature of living in a communal or semi-communal setting, a guarantee of absolute privacy cannot be made. Somebody will be watching you when you are in the public areas of the facility. But not in your room. There are no CCTV or listening devises in any assisted living room or apartment that I know of.

This does not discount the fact that, in most cases, any supervisor or aide may have 365/24/7 access to your quarters. You will not be able to restrict access by locking the door from the inside. And, if for some reason you choose or are given a roommate to live with well, you figure it out.

6.“I have heard horror stories about residents being abused and even beaten.”

In the 5 years that I have been living here at the A.L.F., I have never seen or heard of any cases where a resident was physically attacked, abused or mistreated by a staff member. But, that is not to say that it does not happen.

Unfortunately, there are instances where poorly trained aids have exerted an unnecessary force on a resident. But these cases are few. And, most of them occur (and are restricted to) facilities that have memory care units that house people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other emotional and cognitive disabilities. Sad, but true.****

In addition, because of the close contact residents have with one another, it is not uncommon for residents to fight among themselves which may result in the use of physical violence.

I will repeat an old phrase. When it comes to assisted living (or anything else in life), you get what you pay for.

There are facilities that offer the lap of luxury with resort type living and gourmet dining while other places offer only basic amenities. All, however, are decent places to live where you can feel safe and cared for.

Will it be like home?

Of course not. Have you ever been on vacation on some tropical isle sipping rum punch all day, and after two weeks you can’t wait to go home? Think of your new living situation like that and you’ll have a better understanding of what assisted living is all about.

And, as always, if you have a specific question or concern regarding assisted living please feel free to contact me a thebeecee@hotmail.com. Your confidentiality is assured.

*In their defense, there are many fine nursing facilities in this country, and anyone in need of such a place should not hesitate to consider one. I say this from personal experience having been a resident of 3 of them.
** Funeral pre-arrangenment is one of those accepted means.
*** Rules on whether or not residents can make their own meals differ from place to place according to state and/or insurance regulations. If this is important to you, make sure you know the rules before you sign.
**** This is why you should always check with what ever state body or regulatory agency has governance over those facilities to see if there are any complaints against that facility.

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Medical Marijuana a Hit With Seniors

Seniors are giving rave reviews for medical marijuana.

In a new survey, those who turned to it for treating chronic pain reported it reduced pain and decreased the need for opioid painkillers.

Nine out of 10 liked it so much they said they'd recommend medical pot to others.

"I was on Percocet and replaced it with medical marijuana. Thank you, thank you, thank you," said one senior.

Another patient put it this way: "It [medical marijuana] is extremely effective and has allowed me to function in my work and life again. It has not completely taken away the pain, but allows me to manage it."

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(Thoughts on Life Extension and Longevity)

“In 1825 the British mathematician and actuary Benjamin Gompertz published the first models of human mortality and asked when, and whether, we must die.”

The answer to part of that question is relatively simple although it seems like it should apply only to other people and skip you altogether.

That, of course, is “Why must we die?”

Not to be accused of stating the obvious I will quote what Dahl Winters, an R&D scientist, and problem solver, said in Quora digest a while back… “If nobody died for the next 1000 years, and assuming the birthrate would continue to be the same, the Earth would be overrun by humans occupying 100% of the land area 5 stories deep, being supported by food produced across 100% of the ocean area using 100% of the incoming solar radiation of the Sun.  No other complex life would be able to exist either on land or in the oceans, just us.” 

Hmm, that’s a pleasant thought. So, as far as everybody living forever goes, It’s not a good thing.*

But what if we could double or triple the lifespan of humans when living to 150 or 250 would be commonplace?

Some scientists think that we have a very good possibility of accomplishing just that.

Theoretically, say scientists, “the maximum possible human lifespan—essentially, the species' design limit—has not yet been reached. It may even be extended by means as yet undiscovered.”

The University of California, Berkeley demographer Kenneth Wachter says, "This data suggest our genetic heritage is permissive. Our bodies are not put together so that at some point, everything goes wrong.”

I know many octogenarians that would disagree with you, Ken.

Indeed there's reason to believe that some humans could beat the current longevity record of 122, which was set in 1997 by Jeanne Louise Calment of France. And, if you think that people who believe that we can extend the human lifespan area all a bunch of crackpots, take a look at this list of well-heeled companies and individuals who are willing to shell out big bucks to explore that goal.

Big spenders such as Google (Owners of Calico labs) as well as Oracle’s Larry Ellison, who gave away $335 million to scientists studying aging are among those who are betting on a way to fix the problem of aging. In addition, Peter Thiel has also donated to the anti-aging cause, and there’s even a $500,000 Palo Alto Longevity Prize to anyone who can radically extend the life of a mammal.** Since I consider myself to be a mammal, this appears to be very good news.

Unfortunately, there’s a big problem with fixing aging? Scientists don’t know enough about why animals age.

“A hundred and seventy-five years ago most people died from infections, not from old age. Thanks to vaccines, better nutrition, and all-around improvements in public health and medicine, life expectancy at birth in wealthy nations have doubled from 40 to around 80 years, an average gain of 2.5 years per decade. But now that we live longer, we have traded up to a new set of killers that are harder to beat: cancer, heart disease, stroke, and dementia.”

So, because we are living longer, we are making more reasons for us to die. It’s almost as if someone is trying to tell us something.***

I mean, maybe there’s a greater reason why we are programmed to live for a certain number of years, and then, that’s that. Off to the next realm. My theory is that we need “turnover” in order to progress as a species.

If the same people lived forever (or even if they just lived for a very, very long time) they would take with them the same old thoughts, prejudices, policies and ways of doing things they have been doing for hundreds of years. And some of those ideas etc, may not be a great thing for the planet. But without the predictable and constant turnover and mixing of genes of people of different backgrounds and experiences, we would never have any new thought. Take music for example.

The period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig van Beethoven (roughly 1750 to1820) is considered to be the “golden age” of classical music.

What if no musicians from that era never died and no new musicians were ever born. There would be a good possibility that we would never have the pleasure of ever hearing anything (as good as it is) but classical music. No jazz, no blues, no rock and roll and no hip-hop.

We would be stuck (with a few exceptions) in the 19th Century.****

But living longer just for the sake of it may not be the REAL reason why all of those rich folks are willing to spend all of that money and time on something that, theoretically, may not really be good for mankind?

My belief is that It’s all about the toys.

The first thing you have to remember is that people who have money also have stuff money can buy. And, they like all of that stuff.

They like the houses, the cars, the fancy clothes, the great restaurants at which to eat and all of the other things wealth can get you. The toys.

And, they would like to be able to play with those toys for as long as they can. Much longer than the 75 or 80 years that the rest of humanity gets to play with their toys (as meager as they may be).

However they, like the rest of us, have learned that no matter how much money you have, the chances of you dying are about the same as the poor schnook on the other side of the tracks. And that just won’t do.

After all, they worked hard to get all that stuff and they’ll be damned if a little thing like the possibility of illness or death is going to keep them from enjoying that stuff for as long as they can.

I addition, many of those people got rich because they thought “out of the box’’, believing that no problem is too big to solve and death is just another of those problems that can be solved if we stopped thinking about it the way we always have. That is, as an unsolvable problem.

The average age of an employee at Google, Apple, and Amazon is about 31 years.

These are men and women in their prime. Not only are they making money, they are spending it and, they like spending it and want to be able to spend it for the next 200 years.

Unfortunately, while 31 is not old, it may not be too old for them to see their efforts come to fruition.

Scientists say that they don’t expect any significant announcements concerning advances in life extension for at least 10 years. Which means that there won’t be any real advances for another 50, 60, or 70 years. And, even if something comes along before that, how long do you think it will take for that formula, treatment, or procedure to trickle-down to the rest of us?

Look, I want to live as long as I can, hopefully in a condition where I will know what’s going on around me. As a Baby Boomer who has seen mostly all of the inventions we thought were only science fiction actually materialize as everyday objects, I know that nothing is impossible. And I would sure like to be around for the next 100 years if only to see what’s next.

*Mr. Dahl also goes on to say that we would have to be stacked 5 stories high across the face of the earth just to accommodate the space we would all take up. Did somebody say “Rent Control?” 
** Source>> https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603087/googles-long-strange-life-span-trip/
*** The phrase “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” comes to mind here.
**** We could debate the merits of this, but that’s for a different forum at a different time.

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Here's where you can retire nicely on just $30,000 a year
-More and more retirees are considering moving abroad.
-Here are five places where the cost of living is low, really low.

1. Mafra, Portugal
A couple can live comfortably in this city, around 20 miles north of Lisbon, for just $2,034 a month, according to International Living.

2. Cuenca, Ecuador
In Ecuador's third-largest city, couples can live nicely on $1,680 a month,

3. Central Valley, Costa Rica
Couples can retire here for between $2,000 and $2,500 a month.

4. Pedasi, Panama
A few hours away from Panama City, Pedasi will cost couples around $2,000 a month to live.

5. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A single retiree can get by on just $1,150 a month.

Read more >> https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/05/international-places-where-you-can-retire-for-just-30000-a-year.html

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God, Eternity, and the Meaning of Life.
(And some other really deep stuff)

(8-9 minutes)

I awoke this morning feeling the way I usually do. Dizzy, nauseous, and confused, and wondering why the universe has allowed me one more day on this planet.

The truth be told, in the last few years, I have been thinking about, and assessing my very existence more and more.

I suppose it has to do with the fact that I am now working on the back nine with the clubhouse in clear view.

Ever since I managed to survive a serious illness which, consequentially caused a complete re-organization of my way of life, I have pondered the reason for my very existence.

I don’t mean to make this sound like some existential discussion on the meaning of life or the existence of God. But who of us has not asked themselves “Why am I still here?” There has to be a reason why I, an old man with not that much to show for his life, have been allowed to live while the lives of those with so much more potential get snuffed out in a second.

I am not a religious person and have always had a problem with anything that calls itself a supreme being. Perhaps my puny mind cannot wrap itself around the existence of something so all-powerful that is responsible for everything and everybody.

The Greeks and Romans may have had the same problem. They, too, could not comprehend why any entity would take it upon Itself to do everything and not delegate authority among many vice-gods and goddesses. Personally, it would make me feel a lot better knowing that there was a “department” that specialized in a specific life function.

For example. Say I was having problems with a used boat I may have recently purchased.

Not being a very good “emptor” (as the Romans would say), the boat I bought sprung a leak while I was out on the Great South Bay fishing for flounder. The water is rapidly rising in the boat, taking with it my fishing gear, my fish and the ham and Swiss sandwich I packed for lunch. So who do I go to for help?

A more traditional “believer” would get down on his hands and probably very wet knees and pray to the one and only single being he has been taught would take care of all of his problems. And, as the boat continues to sink, he prays even harder. Until, finally, as the boat’s bow becomes fully submerged, the fisherman realizes that his prayers were not answered and he has lost everything. In addition, not only has he lost the boat and all of its belongings, his faith in the One God has been tarnished. Perhaps forever. But what about the person who believes in many gods?

They could have prayed to the boss god (Zeus, if they were Greek) and maybe he would get to your case in a year or two, or, you could have gone directly to the proper agency (In this case Poseidon, god of the sea*) where your case would get looked at immediately. Much like the DMV. “Earthquakes, sinking boats, no fish? “Window number 3 please.”

Compartmentalization. That’s the key to, not only life on earth but for the hereafter as well. Think about the whole afterlife thing and how really inefficient the entry system is.

You die. Your soul goes to this place, a holding area if you will. You wait there for a millennium or two before they decide where you should go to spend eternity. (I could throw in another DMV reference here, but that would be tacky).

A better solution would be to “pre-register.”

Just as you are about to check out, an angel (or whatever) hands you a “boarding pass” with your final destination in bold, 72 point type imprinted on it. You get to the pearly gates, you hand the guy in the white robe your boarding pass and he directs you to either the UP or DOWN escalator.

The up escalator assures one an eternity where you will be awarded whatever your heart desires. Whether it’s a fleet of Italian sports cars or 72 virgins**, It’s yours.

On the other hand, the down escalator (Which is actually not so much an escalator as it is a chute) takes you to a place where you will have to pay for all the bad things you did when you were alive.

Tradition tells us that this is a very hot place where a bunch of red-skinned half-naked dudes poke you with pitchforks. You know, like Miami.

There’s a more contemporary view of hell in which you actually get the fleet of Italian sports cars, but they make you pay for the gas. Premium no less.

Of course, not all religions believe in a heaven or hell.

The Jews, for instance, take a more democratic view of what happens to us after we die:

The Bible’s Sheol: An Underground Abyss

“The subject of death is treated inconsistently in the Bible, though most often it suggests that physical death is the end of life. This is the case with such central figures as Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.
There are, however, several biblical references to a place called Sheol (cf. Numbers 30, 33). It is described as a region “dark and deep,” “the Pit,” and “the Land of Forgetfulness,” where human beings descend after death. The suggestion is that in the netherworld of Sheol, the deceased, although cut off from God and humankind, live on in some shadowy state of existence.
While this vision of Sheol is rather bleak (setting precedents for later Jewish and Christian ideas of an underground hell) there is generally no concept of judgment or reward and punishment attached to it. In fact, the more pessimistic books of the Bible, such as Ecclesiastes and Job, insist that all of the dead go down to Sheol, whether good or evil, rich or poor, slave or free man (Job 3:11-19).”

Hmm. I don’t know if I’m going to like that much at all. I mean the idea that after I die I’m going to “Live on in some shadowy state of existence.” I think I’m doing that now.

All of this uncertainty regarding the afterlife can only mean one thing. It means that the universe is telling us to make the best of what we have here on earth because the chances of it getting better after you die are slim to none. The reward (or punishment) my friends exist, not in some made-up paradise or fiery pit, but in what we do here and now.

“What does all of this have to do with assisted living”, you ask. “After all, isn’t the purpose of this blog supposed to be about senior living, retirement, health issues and all that?”

Well, yes. But part of living in an A.L.F. is that you have to learn to adjust to your new situation.

If you look at it as just some place to live while you are waiting to die (and hopefully a better “life”), you are not going to be happy there.

However, once you realize that, while life may have dealt you a bad hand, you haven’t lost the game. There’s still a lot of cards left. Play them wisely.

*Poseidon was also the god of earthquakes and horses. Go figga.
** I’d go for the sports cars. Finding 72 virgins may take longer than eternity.

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Fewer Americans are spending their final days in the
 hospital and more are dying at home

The American way of dying seems to have become less frantic, desperate and expensive.

That’s the upshot of a new study that finds that seniors insured by Medicare who died in 2015 were less likely to do so in a hospital and more likely to pass away in a home or other community setting than those who died in 2000.

The new research also showed that the proportion of American seniors who were admitted to the intensive care unit during their final month of life has stabilized after rising between 2000 and 2009. By 2015, 29% of dying patients insured by Medicare spent part of their final month of life in the ICU.

The study also chronicled a slight decline in the proportion of Medicare patients who spent time on a ventilator during their final days and whose last three days of life were affected by a transfer from one institution to another — say, from a nursing home to the hospital.

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Thursday, June 29th 2018


Remembering A Summer Past
(Part 2 of a 2 part series)
The Summer of ‘54

Brooklyn in the 1950’s was crawling with us “BIT’s”, (Boomers In Training). Of course, back then we had no idea that we would grow up to be part of the most powerful, intellectual, imaginative, aggressive and earth-changing demographic group in human history. I suppose if we actually did know this, we would have, not only demanded a lot more, but paid more attention to that goofy-looking nerd who sat next to us in homeroom. You know. The kid with the pocket protector, six ballpoint pens, and whose glasses were held together with white adhesive tape. Yes, that one. The one that grew up to be Bill Gates. We didn’t because we were too busy being kids.

One might think that a kid’s summer in as urban a setting as Brooklyn New York would be a bummer. You would think that concrete, traffic, crowded streets in a sweltering city would be no match for a kid who lived on Long Island at the beach, or upstate in some leafy Adirondack glade. But you would be wrong because we, in fact, had it all.

The beach? No problem. We had our choice of Coney Island, the Rockaway’s, or my favorite, Jacob Riis State Park with its pristine sand and gently breaking waves.

If the beach was not your thing there was always Prospect Park.

“The park”, as we called it, as in “heymomi’mgointothepark”, was… “585 Acres of Scenic Beauty with Running. 7 playgrounds. Birdwatching. Skating. Bicycling. Fishing. Athletics. Tennis. Outdoor concerts. Nature programs.
Woods and Lake.”*

The park in summer was our campgrounds, animal safari, cool mountain forest**, shimmering lake and hiking trail all in one place. And, best of all, living in Flatbush, it was only 5 blocks away.

And, when your “Park Safari” was over, you only had to find your way over to Flatbush Avenue and back to “civilization” where one could enjoy an ice cream cone from the Good Humor man, or a chocolate egg cream from the candy store.

Even with all that at my fingertips, the yearning for an adventure pulled strongly on my 10-year-old heart.

Adventure, for me, meant travel. Not to some far-off country or city, or even another state.

For me, travel meant visiting another neighborhood.

Flatbush was in the middle of all sorts of strange and exotic places such as Bensonhurst, Bushwick, Crown Heights, and Midwood.

They were the strange neighborhoods that had streets with numbers or letters instead of names.

Neighborhoods where apartment buildings gave way to lawns, and semi-attached houses. And, even neighborhoods where one could see boats and fish and fishermen. It was to that neighborhood that I took my first solo adventure as a kid.

Sheepshead Bay. A very non-urban name for a place nestled between the two very urban areas of Coney Island and the Rockaways. A trip to Sheepshead Bay was like a trip to Gloucester, Mass., or Santa Barbara. A perfect destination.

I had been to Sheepshead Bay many times before, but always with the family.

Me, my mom, and my dad would pile into my brother’s 1951 Chevy and head south to the Bay where we would walk along Emmons Avenue and watch as the fishing boats made their way into the harbor to unload the day’s catch.

Then, it was over to Lundy’s restaurant for a fresh fish dinner, or over to McGinnis’ for a hot dog.

The smell of the salty air, the sound of the gulls as they hovered over the boat’s transom, waiting for a discarded scrap to come their way, was calling to me. That’s what I wanted to experience, on my own.

Planning that five-mile journey from my ancestral home in Flatbush to the wilds of Sheepshead Bay was tantamount to Lowell Thomas planning a trip to Tibet.

Remember that I am only 10-years-old and had never been on a public conveyance on my own. Convincing my mother that it was time to let me try my wings was not going to be easy, or so I thought.

“I want to go on a bus by myself.”
    “Where do want to go?”
“Um…maybe Sheepshead Bay.”
    Okay, when are you going?’’

I couldn’t believe it. No argument. No “You will be killed instantly”, or “Don’t come running to me if you get run over.”

My ten-year-old brain could not comprehend what was going on here. Had I heard her correctly? Would she actually let me go on a bus by myself? I was totally not prepared to answer her. I mean, it was only a thought. Even I had not fully committed myself to the actuality of it possibly coming true.

“Huh? Um…maybe next week?, (I still could not believe she was not going to say no).”
   “How are you going to get there?’’
“On the bus.”
   “What bus?”
“The one on Rodger’s Avenue. It goes directly there.”

I had actually done some planning in my head. I had thoroughly researched the route. It would involve only a one block walk to Rodger’s, and a no-transfer ride on the bus to the last stop. It was a no-brainer.

“You know how to get back home?’’ , she quizzed.

I knew it. A trick question. Sure, it was easy getting there. Sheepshead Bay was the last stop on the line. But getting back was a different story. Truthfully, I hadn’t planned that far ahead. I had to think fast or I would blow the whole deal.

“I take the same number bus going the other way and get off at Clarkson Avenue?”

She smiled approvingly. My fate was sealed. I was actually going to go.

For no particular reason, I had decided that the following Tuesday would be a good day to travel.

I awoke, had my breakfast (Most likely consisting of Rice Crispies and maybe some toast).

I decided that the appropriate wardrobe would be one that I felt most comfortable in. Thus it was a newly washed and ironed*** pair of Wrangler dungarees, a blue polo shirt, Ked’s sneakers, and the all-important Blue and white Brooklyn Dodger’s baseball cap.

I presented my self in front of my mother like a Navy Seal ready for inspection. She gave me a quick once-over.

“Okay, you ready?’’

I nodded in the affirmative.

“Here’s some money.”

MONEY!. I hadn’t even thought about money. Somehow I had forgotten that I might actually need some money.

“I’m giving you a whole dollar”, she declared as she took a wrinkled bill from her change purse.

“Now, the bus is 15 cents each way so that’s 30 cents for carfare.”

“Uh huh” I stammered. This was already getting complicated.

“The rest is for lunch, just remember to keep 15 cents for the bus home, okay?’’

A quick calculation would mean that I would have 70 cents to spend on my adventure. Surely, Columbus got more, not to mention Vasco da Gama.

“A hot dog is 25 cents and a Coke is another 10 cents, so you should have enough. If you get lost just find a cop. Have fun.”

It was evident that my mom had planned this better than I.

I am not going to go over the details of that trip only to say that it went off without a hitch. And besides, it’s not the destination but rather the journey that’s important.

I arrived home chronologically still a ten-year-old, but, on that day in the summer of 1954, I had become…a man. More importantly, a man that could use the bus. (Freedom comes in many forms).

Many public transit adventures took place after that. And with each one, I came closer to the independence that city kids need to learn early in life.

I would spend only a couple of more summers in Brooklyn. In 1957 the family moved to Queens and, for me, a whole new set of adventures. However, even to this day when my dreams take me to places where I would rather be, I think of my summers in Brooklyn and how I wouldn’t have given them up for all the trees in the forest or all the grains of sand on the beach.

* Source: www. Prospectpark.org
** An actual Revolutionary War battle was fought (in part) in what is now Prospect park. And, as late as the 1950’s, it was still possible to find artifacts from that battle in the park such as musket balls, buttons and belt buckles.
***Nothing, not even casual attire like jeans, left my house un-ironed.

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Ten Myths About Immigration

Editor’s note: While originally published in 2011, this story was updated in 2017 to reflect current statistics, policies and conditions in the United States.
Myths about immigration and immigrants are common. Here are a few of the most frequently heard misconceptions.

1. Most immigrants are here illegally.

2. It's easy to enter the country legally. My ancestors did; why can’t immigrants today?
3. Today's immigrants don't want to learn English.
4. Immigrants take good jobs from U.S. citizens.
5. “The worst” people from other countries are coming to the United States and bringing crime and violence.
6. Undocumented immigrants don’t pay taxes and burden the national economy.

7. The United States is being overrun by immigrants like never before.
8. We can stop undocumented immigrants coming to the United States by building a wall along the border with Mexico.
9. Banning immigrants and refugees from majority-Muslim countries will protect the United States from terrorists.
10. Refugees are not screened before entering the United States.

For an explanation of why these myths are untrue, go to>> https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/spring-2011/ten-myths-about-immigration

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A Kid Grows in Brooklyn
Remembering A Summer Past
(Part 1 of a 2 part series)

Summertime is for kids.

Now that I am an old coot, I have come to realize how wasted summer is on adults. I mean, what does an adult have to look forward to anyway.

For most us summer meant two weeks off from whatever work we did. And, while that was not a bad thing, you usually wound up working harder than you did at your job.

There were the “projects” around the house. Or the dreaded road trip with the kids. Or that judgemental look from the spouse when you actually took a few minutes off to relax on the couch. And not to mention all that work that has piled up on your desk back at the office while you were gone.

Summertime means overheated cars, Friday evening traffic jams, a “through-the-roof” electric bill, bee stings and poison ivy.

But summertime is entirely different for a kid. At least it was for me and my friends back in Flatbush Brooklyn in 1954.

I was 9 going on 10, and it was the last day of school at P.S. 92.

Miss Newman’s third-grade class had come and now, was almost over. Fourth grade (the grade when the real work began back then) was a long, long two months away. For now, it was only a matter of time when the minute hand on the clock on the wall of my sweltering classroom* would strike 3 pm and the doors would open and a couple of hundred kids would pour out onto Parkside Avenue and freedom. Two months to a kid seems like an eternity. An “eternity” that I was prepared to thoroughly enjoy.

I remember how I wished my 9-year-old legs would move faster as I ran the short distance home where I could kick off my squeaky Buster Brown’s and pull on my well-worn pair of high-top Keds sneakers.

Home, a two bedroom apartment on the 4th floor of a 4 story walk-up that I shared with my father, mother, and older brother, was just a block away. Mom never worried about me walking home from school by myself and rarely met me when school let out. It was a lot different in that part of Brooklyn back then.

I must have run up those four flights at a speed approaching Mach 1 eager to get a jump on summer vacation.

I either rang the doorbell or banged on the door (I did not have a key to the apartment) loud enough so that no matter where my mom was in that four-room apartment, she would be sure to hear me.

“Last day of school, huh?” She exclaimed with the same enthusiasm that Robespierre must have had on his way to the Guillotine. The start of my vacation meant the end to hers for two months.

Along with the Buster Brown’s off came the gaberdine pants and collared white shirt (the uniform of the day for boys in elementary school), and on with the dungarees** and a striped polo shirt. Classic kid’s wear.

“I’mgonnagoovertomarvinsandplaysomecatchseeyoulater”, I breathlessly stated as I made a mad dash for the door.

“You want some U-Bet and milk?”, mom asked knowing that the very mention of that magic concoction could stop any kid in his tracks. To a kid, U-Bet chocolate syrup liberally stirred into a glass of cold milk was tantamount to asking a construction worker if he would like an ice cold Bud after eight hours of spot welding.

“Nopegottago”, I answered, and ran out the door and down those four flights of stairs.

Brooklyn, at least my Brooklyn, was a paradise for kids. It had to be. There were so many of us.

Although we didn’t know it back then, our crowd (Later to be known as Baby Boomers) would become the most influential, dynamic, inventive, and yes, destructive force in American history. And it was on these city streets that many of us learned our craft.

We learned teamwork as well as the “Thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” on the side streets of Flatbush.

Games like stickball and punchball (both of which are variations of Brooklyn’s number one sport, Baseball) were the games we played.

All you needed was a mop handle, some chalk, and a pink “Spaldeen”*** rubber ball. You could play with as little as 3 or 4 kids on a team. And, if you didn’t have enough kids you would designate one kid as the “official pitcher” who pitched for both sides. See what I mean about being dynamic and inventive.

The ball, chalk and other kid “essentials” were purchased at the local “Candy Store.”
The candy store, or luncheonette as it was officially called, was like a McDonald’s, Starbucks, Toys-R-Us, Dick’s sporting goods and Union News stand all rolled into one usually very narrow space. And, for some reason, they were always situated on the corner.

Every neighborhood and sub-neighborhood had its luncheonette. Sometimes two or three.

The Candy store was to a kid like the supply dump was to the U.S. Army. Anything an urban kid could want or need was available there.

That’s where you got your chalk, Spaldeen, Breyer’s Dixie cup ice cream, salty pretzels, cherry Coke’s, a grilled cheese sandwich or burger, a chocolate malted, and of course the beverage that surges through the veins of every kid growing up in New York City, the “Chocolate egg cream.”****

The candy store also was the place where the primary source of reading material was distributed. I’m talking about the comic book.

The comic books were always located in the front of the store along with the Daily News, Popular Mechanics and other periodicals. That’s so the proprietor could keep an eye out for comic-lifters (kids who would actually attempt to steal a Superman or Archie comic), and also for “browsers” who read half the comic before he would hear “Hey kid, this ain’t the public liberry. You gonna buy dat?” We usually did.

But the candy store, the streets, and the kids were just a very small part of an urban kids summer. Fortunately, us Brooklynites were privy to a whole lot more.

NEXT THURSDAY: Part 2. Adventure on the Rodger’s Avenue bus and other stuff.

*Editor’s note: Even today, most NYC schools are not air conditioned.
** I’m not sure when we changed from dungarees to jeans or why. It just sort of happened.
*** The actual name imprinted on the ball was “Spalding”, but like everything else we made it our own by changing the name.
**** If you don’t know what a chocolate egg cream is, you must be from another planet, or Ohio.


Millennials* most likely to stiff
 restaurant servers

*Millennial Age: Anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial

From a story by Kate Gibson at CBSNEWS.Com

“When it comes to tipping, millennials are the worst. That's the conclusion of a survey released Monday, which found young adults to be far less generous than older generations when it comes to rewarding their servers at restaurants.

Ten percent of Americans aged 18 to 37 said they routinely leave no gratuity for restaurant servers, while almost 1 in 3 said they typically leave less than 15 percent, according to the CreditCard.com findings.

Americans 65 and old are better bets for those who rely on tips to earn a living, with almost 55 percent of senior citizens saying they tip 20 percent or more at restaurants. Just 35 percent of folks under 30 said they were equally generous.”

I’ve always believed in tipping. And as a New Yorker, I usually tip about 20%. I tip that amount for two reasons.

First, 20% is a reasonable amount to tip for a meal in a New York restaurant. There is a level of service that is both expected and (usually) delivered.

The second reason why 20% is a good number is because it is easy to calculate. Anyone can figure out what 10% of something is, and all you have to do is double that figure. At one time the standard tip was 15% which actually was also easy to calculate. The sales tax in NYC was approximately 8%. Doubling that gave you 16% which you could adjust accordingly.

However, it appears that no matter how easy it is to figure out a tip, this new group of young whippersnappers seems to have an aversion to it.

Now, one might say that they tip so poorly because “The poor dears don’t have the money we did when we were their age.”
But according to the article,lower wages may not be the primary reason why this group doesn’t tip.

“Younger Americans are more likely to be supportive of getting rid of the practice of tipping altogether, an approach that is being tried at some restaurants, but is by no means a major trend. 
Tipping, a practice treated as standard in the U.S. but not so much in other countries, is increasingly being questioned, given research that shows a server's age and appearance has much to do with how much one earns in tips.”

I am reminded of a survey that was undertaken at the Cornell U. School of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

The school owns and runs a restaurant that employs students as servers. It was discovered that female servers who gently touched the shoulders of male guests were treated to higher tips than those who didn’t. Sex rears its horny head even at the diner.

The trend today leans towards what has been practiced in Europe for many years where the gratuity is automatically added to the bill.

While I guess that it works for those who have no clue what and when to tip, it’s not so good for us old-timers who believe in heeding the definition of the word “T-I-P”.

While the origin of what we call a “tip” is a little murky, it is generally understood to mean “To Insure Prompt (or Proper) service. Something that always figures in to what this Older American gives as a tip……………………….....................................................................bwc.

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There are many examples of how clueless the Trump administration is. They range from the rejection of scientific fact when it comes to climate change to not signing the G7 agreement and imposing tariffs on foreign goods (which will only end up hurting Americans), to their ridiculous belief that all people seeking to enter this country are criminals and just want to take jobs from Americans. But perhaps there has been no better example than the one displayed by the first lady this past week.
Of course, I’m talking about THAT jacket. You know the one she wore on her way to visit kids kept in detention in Texas. The jacket that has the words “I Really Don’t Care. Do U” festooned on the back. That jacket (and phrase) that everyone could plainly see as she boarded the plane.

Yes, we know that the spin on this from various White House sources has been that “it doesn’t have any specific thing to do with anything”, and that “It’s just a jacket”, to The POTUS quip that it refers to “fake news”, the president’s favorite catchphrase.

And, while we may never know the actual reason why the First Lady decided to wear that particular jacket on her way to try and show that her husband’s policies towards immigrants are humane. One would think that somebody, somewhere in that building would have maybe said to Mrs. Trump “ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO WEAR THAT JACKET TO THIS EVENT?”

Evidently not. Why? Because like everyone else in that ship of fools on Pennsylvania Ave., they are clueless.

How come everybody else immediately realized that wearing a coat with a statement like that was bound to cause, at the least, some negative comments and at worst, downright outrage.

Right now, if I were (shudder) a member of Trump’s staff, I would make sure that FLOTUS never left the White House without her wardrobe be scrutinized from top to bottom. ....bwc.

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What’s The Story…
Is Social Security Really
Running Out of Money?

Nothing is more a source of consternation and worry (except maybe if the Bingo machine is out of commission again) than the present state and future of social security.

I can say, with almost 100% certainty, that practically every resident here at the assisted living facility in which I reside is totally dependent on their Social Security benefits as their sole source of income.

They use this money to pay for their room and board here as well as extras like personal items, cable TV, and occasional snacks etc.

In fact, the facility itself depends on this money in order to keep operating.

Any change in Social Security has a direct influence on what services will be provided to the residents.

For instance. The last Cost of living raise given to recipients last year was 2%. By law, our facility is permitted to raise a resident’s rent by 9% of the 2%. Since the average Social Security payment is about $1300, and a two percent increase is about $26, then the facility gets about $2.30 extra from each resident. This translates to thousands of more dollars every year. Money which goes directly to keeping the doors open here for 200 people who have nowhere else to go.

That, in a nutshell, is how important Social Security is to tens of thousands of Americans who live in both federally subsidized housing and independently in homes they have inhabited for many years.

Unfortunately, many in our government are rather flippant about the future of this vital program and don’t really consider the continued funding of, not only Social Security but Medicare too, as being important. Probably because our Brave New Congress and their leaders believe that people who take their Social Security benefits are no better than malingering welfare recipients who, use their checks to buy booze.

For years we have been hearing that the Social Security system is rapidly running out of money and will go broke by 2034 or sooner and that we could see less and less of a cost of living increase in the future (something that affects present-day recipients). It’s as if the powers that be (in this case the Social Security Board of Trustees) are preparing us for a doomsday that they almost wish would happen. The truth be told, the government hates having to actually pay out all that nice money they “stole” from us during our working years.

 But why is all of this coming to a head now? Because, up until this year, the amount of money taken in through payroll taxes was enough to break even. But there is something you may not know about where Social Security gets its “OTHER” income from.

“You see, Social Security currently generates income three different ways: a 12.4% payroll tax on wage income (up to $128,400 in 2018), the taxation of benefits, and interest income earned on the program's asset reserves. Assuming Social Security's asset reserves are depleted, this interest income component could disappear forever. But it ensures that Social Security generates income from its other two funding sources.” *

That’s right, just like you have that nice little savings account that you have had at your bank ever since you were in elementary school, the Social Security Administration has been socking away all the surplus cash they take in. That, plus the tax they collect from some people all go to make up the “reserves.” And just how much is in that asset reserve account. ONLY 2.9 TRILLION DOLLARS, that all.

In fact…

“Social Security has enough money to keep paying beneficiaries for generations to come
Make no mistake about it, the exhaustion of Social Security's asset reserves is no laughing matter. Not having this financial foundation to fall back on could create the need for lawmakers to reduce Social Security benefits for current and future retirees by up to 21%. All of those seniors who lean so heavily on Social Security are bound to feel a 21% reduction in their benefits.”**

So, what happens to Social Security now that it's beginning to burn through its $2.9 trillion in asset reserves?

“For the next 16 years, not much. The program will continue to burn through its asset reserves, and by 2034, it will have completely depleted its excess cash. The payout schedule for beneficiaries would likely remain unchanged during this period.”**

Unfortunately, as far as our government’s thinking goes, the only way to save Social Security is by cutting benefits, now and in the future. One figure that has been bandied about is a whopping 21% benefit cut to beneficiaries.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. According to Motley Fool (www.fool.com).

“Another blunt truth about Social Security is that there are plenty of options that would fix, or significantly improve, the financial health of the program, but which have been unable to get sufficient support. This is because Democrats and Republicans each believe they have the best solution for Social Security and, as a result, neither has been willing to back down and compromise with the opposing party. Whether it's raising additional revenue by lifting or eliminating the maximum payroll earnings cap, as Democrats would prefer, increasing the full retirement age, as Republicans have proposed, or implementing some combination of these two solutions, Social Security can be completely fixed for current and future generations of retirees. Yet, without cooperation, there's simply not enough votes to pass any legislation on Capitol Hill.”**

The last major overhaul of Social Security was back in 1983, and even that was only because the programs assets were nearly gone. And, if history actually does repeat itself, the same thing will happen again. And what frightens me, even more, is the compassionless attitude which has permeated all facets of our society lately. We have a government that doesn’t care about health care, locked up children, politically oppressed people, mass murders of school kids, the poor, the disadvantaged and, of course, old people. So much for the Electoral College.

 ** https://www.fool.com/retirement/2018/06/18/whos-ready-for-a-21-cut-to-their-social-security-b.aspx

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When it Comes to Retirement,
You’ve Got To Love The Russkies

When I first read only the headline on the website “eurasiafuture.com” that proclaimed “Russia's Proposed Retirement Age Increase is Dead Wrong” I thought that I would be reading that the former “Workers Paradise” was going to raise the age at which Ivan would be allowed to retire was going up to some astronomical number like 75 or 80. I was all set to condemn Russia for it’s harshness at making some poor old comrade have to work until he dropped in order to collect a measly pension. However, after reading the article, I could not have been more wrong. In fact, the age at which Russians can currently collect benefits is much lower than OURS.

The current retirement age for a Male Russian citizen is 60 years old. Unlike the 62 offered to Americans. And for women it’s even better. Svetlana or Natasha can leave the workforce as early as 55. (The proposed raise would bring their system more closely aligned with ours with a raise from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women).

After doing a little research, I found that the average monthly benefit for a Russian retiree is about 13,655 Rubles a month or about $215 U.S.

In any event, according to the author of the article, the proposed increase is “…insulting and de-humanising to a population that has for centuries suffered at the hands of foreign war, but it demonstrates that there is a profound lack of imagination in the heart of Russian government when it comes to solving the key economic problems of the day.”

If they consider 65 years old to be “Insulting and de-huminizing, what must be their opinion of our current 67 years of age in order for U.S. citizens to be before we can collect our full retirement benefits.

All this makes me think that Vlad the Putin is taking a page from his good buddy Rastrumpkin, whose compassion for old people lies somewhere between Hitler’s love of Jews and a rabbi’s love of a good roast pork dinner……………..bwc.

Source: https://www.eurasiafuture.com/2018/06/17/russias-proposed-retirement-age-increase-is-dead-wrong-what-russia-needs-is-a-new-industrial-economic-model/

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NYC Gets Bad Rap As
The Worst City For Retirees

While I’m sure that the majority of people who read this blog are retired or have already decided where they would like to retire, and the information contained in a recent study by a website called “Magnify Money” (An financial comparison website) will harbor little or no interest for them, I feel, both as a native New Yorker and a retired person, that the bad rap as given by this publication whereby they ranked New York City last (50 out or 50) in a list of the best and worst places to retire, just made my blood boil.

Now, before I continue, as a native New Yorker I must be honest and say that I am not defending the place of my birth, my ancestral homeland because I want more people to retire here. On the contrary. I, like all New Yorker’s, just wish you would all just stay where you are. We are at capacity and don’t need you clogging up our restaurants, crowding on to our subways and walking around in shorts, leather shoes, and knee-high white socks. What I do want to point out here is why I think NYC’s ranking is so unfair and just plain wrong.

Before we get into why NYC was ranked that far down on the list, let us take a look at the criteria this website (https://www.magnifymoney.com/blog/news/study-best-places-for-your-golden-years/) used to arrive at their findings.


Volunteer rates for those ages 55 and older to get a sense of where senior citizens had the opportunities to be most engaged with the community-at-large
Rate of physical activity in each metro to get a sense of which communities offer the most opportunities for activity
Percentage of residents ages 65 and over who moved into the metro that year so we could see how desirable seniors find these metros

Medical quality and cost:

The percentage of hospital discharges of Medicare enrollees that were for conditions considered preventable with adequate primary care
The average cost that Medicare pays per enrollee in a given metro
The percentage of people aged 65 or older who are up-to-date on their core preventive services, such as flu shots and cancer screenings

The availability and quality of different kinds of assisted care:

We looked at the number of home nursing service providers registered with Medicare per 100,000 residents because the availability of home nursing may be essential to those who age in place
The average Medicare rating of registered home nursing service providers
The number of nursing home beds registered with Medicare per 100,000 residents because sometimes people do require temporary or permanent intensive residential care and sometimes on very short notice
The number of continuing care retirement communities registered with Medicare per 100,000 residents because these communities (a subset of nursing homes) offer a bridge between independent living in private apartments (with some community and medical amenities such as dining rooms, group activities, physical therapy) and more intensive nursing care in the same facility
The average Medicare rating of registered nursing homes

Cost of living:

Median monthly housing costs because whether renting or owning, retirees are on fixed incomes and the ability to afford housing is crucial to aging in place
Regional prices for goods and services because the salary bumps of living in more expensive places no longer apply to those who are no longer working

Quite a broad list I must say. But so so wrong. Shall I pick-a-way?


First of all, including 55-year-olds in this survey skews the data in the wrong direction. People who are 55 are not old people (Despite what the AARP thinks). And, not only are they not old people, chances are if they are able to retire at 55, they are not your average person. Most of us stiffs (who can’t wait to retire and really need to retire) can’t afford the lifestyle that healthy 55-year-olds consider as ideal.

And then there are the other lifestyle pluses that ONLY New York City has.

Believe it or not, retired people actually do like to go to shows, museums, festivals, great restaurants, parks, concerts, and even the beach. And what better place in this nation is there that offers all of that, and more?

Medical Care:

Quite frankly, I don’t know what the heck they are talking about here. Medical care as far as seniors of Medicare is concerned, should not be about costs. Who cares what Medicare pays out for treatment if the places where one can get urgent quality medical care is not available.

New York City abounds with the best and largest hospitals in the world as well as a great response time by NYFD EMT ambulances. Not to mention the number of specialty facilities like The Hospital for Special Surgery and Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute. Plus, there are doctors and dentists on every street.

Nursing Homes and assisted care:

While I did not have the time to fully research this topic, I can (from personal experience) that there is an abundance of top-flight nursing homes in NYC. I know, I’ve been in three of them (and that was only in Queens). And, as far as assisted living is concerned, I was given quite an extensive list of facilities around the area that would meet my needs. All at different price ranges and amenities. And, because New York’s nursing homes and assisted living facilities are overseen by the NYS Department of Health (One of the most uptight, anal retentive regulatory bodies in the country) the quality of care remains high.

Cost of Living:

I have purposely left these criteria for last because this is the one category where NYC actually does fall short. But not as short so as to make it impossible.

Yes, rent is high. So, if you were thinking of moving here from someplace where you had no problem paying the rent, you will be in for a shock. But even Portland Ore. (The number one place on the list) reports higher than average rents.

However, if you already live here, the chances are that you live in a rent controlled or rent stabilized apartment and are paying far less than market value anyway. And, if you are over 62, New York’s SCRIE* program, freezes your rent forever.

In addition, If you are a native you already know where the bargains are and how to get them. In fact, the cost of food and clothes in NYC is about the same (if not less) as it is in the rest of the country.

And, don’t forget. Because NYC is made up of distinct, self-contained neighborhoods, you don’t have to travel far to get to a store. That, and the extensive availability of public transportation means that you don’t need a car.

As I said, NYC may not be the best place to move TO when you retire, but it is not, by far, the worst place to retire in.

Home has always been where the heart is. And there is no greater love affair than that of a native New Yorker has with this city.

And just in case you are not fully convinced, check out this latest news:

NYC commits $500M in plan to build thousands of affordable apartments for seniors on unused land

*SCRIE:The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE, also known as the NYC Rent Freeze Program) freezes the rent for head-of-household seniors 62 and older who live in rent-regulated apartments. In order to satisfy the income eligibility requirement, the senior's household income must be $50,000 or less.
A complete list of the best and worst places to retire is available here…


For an alternate list of the best cities to retire to, one where affordability is foremost, I suggest you read...https://lifepolicyshopper.com/fixed-income-heres-best-places-make-dollar-stretch/


5 Reasons Retirees Should Love Florida
and 1 Reason They Won't

If you look at the list of the 50 worst metropolitan areas to retire in you will notice that Miami Fl. (No,48) fares only two places higher than New York City (No.5o). And, like NYC, I have reservations as to why Miami did so poorly.

While I have lived in New York, I have only spent tourist time in Florida. However, my brother retired there and I have nver heard him say anything bad about the place. And, considering the number of people who do move to the Sunshine State every year, they must have something going for them.

What makes Florida so special for retirees? Let's have a look.

1. No state income tax

 Florida is one of seven states (along with Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Texas) that has no state income tax.

2. Retirement income is exempt (including Social Security)

 Any money you receive from Individual Retirement Accounts, private and public pensions, 401(k)s, and Social Security, is completely free of in-state taxation.

3. Cost-of-living right around the national average

Florida had a regional price parity index of 99.5. With 100 being the mark of parity, this suggests that Florida residents are paying an average of 0.5% less than the national average for goods and services.

4.The homestead exemption

Florida residents with household income not exceeding $28,841 (as of 2017), and who've maintained permanent residence at an in-state location for at least 25 years, may qualify for an extra homestead exemption of up to $50,000

5. The weather (duh!)

 With very mild winters and generally warm summers, Florida presents with a climate that most senior citizens can appreciate.

The one reason retirees won't like Florida

Of course, there are no perfect states to retire in, even if no income tax, no tax on retirement benefits, an average cost-of-living, a homestead exemption, and ample sunshine sound great. The biggest issue retirees could run into in Florida, assuming they purchase property, is homeowner insurance costs.

Read More>>

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At The A.L.F.:
Living With A Bunch Of Old Folks

This is another in my very loosely put together and not in any order series on what it’s really like to live in an assisted living facility 24/7/365.

Today I would like to explore what it’s like to live in a place where you are completely surrounded by old people. Not for a few hours or for a day but (shudder) months and even years.

Let us go back a few years to when you were a kid. Chances are (except for your grandparents) you probably didn’t like old people very much.

You most likely found old people to be cranky, impatient, crabby, out of touch, intolerant, manipulative, and quite frankly, a little smelly. Well, guess what. THEY STILL ARE. And, just because you are now their age does not mean that you will be able to tolerate them any better than when you were young.

The truth is, many old people actually do live up to the stereotype. And nowhere else can one observe these peculiarities than in an assisted living facility.

For those of you who may not be totally familiar with, or have only heard rumors about them, let me explain what an A.L.F. really is.

First of all, an A.L.F. is not a nursing home. There are no residents here that are confined to a bed all day with tubes protruding from every orifice waiting to breathe their last. It is not even a place where residents are bathed or fed by an attendant. And, unless the venue is designated as an “enhanced” facility, there will not be any advanced Alzheimer’s patients there. Although there are people with various stages of cognitive disorder enhancing the stereotype.

What you will find is a group of racially, intellectually, sexually, geographically, and cognitively mixed people who, either by choice, necessity, or under duress have been thrown together into one heaving lump of wrinkled liver-spotted flesh for the sole purpose of (what appears to be) annoying one another.

These are the same people that (when you were a kid) chased you from their lawns, threatened to call the police just because your hair was teased or you wore knee-hi socks (or the insignia of the “wrong’ baseball team).

They are the same old people who were in front of you at the checkout line in the supermarket and paid for their purchases in small change and lint.

They are the same old people who would leave a half-sucked TUMS on the coffee table.

They are the same people who never drove faster than 40 mph on the interstate and left their right turn signal on for 50 miles. The only difference now being they do it, not behind the wheel of a car, but holding on to the rails of their walkers.

They are the same cranky people who always managed to have a scowl on their faces and looked at you as though you were something they stepped into.

And, they are the same folks (Your grandma included) that had that scent associated with the elderly. You know, it’s that “mothballbengaycheapperfumepoopy” smell that hit you every time you walked into their house.

And now, you get to “enjoy” all that all of the time.*

Fortunately, there is a defense to that constant bombardment of gurgles, grunts, groans, and farts. Unfortunately, some new arrivals learn this “trick” too late and become embroiled in all of the ugliness.

The trick, while simple in its explanation may prove difficult in its execution.

Simply put it’s all a matter of being able to keep a balance between siding with one group or another (thereby causing friction between one or more groups) and knowing when to just walk away from anything controversial. You have to find a way to appear interested in a person’s problem while, at the same time, never letting them know that you don’t really give a hoot.

You have to be complimentary without seeming condescending.

Additionally, you have to get used to not being liked by everybody. Even if you were voted Miss Congeniality at your high school prom. Some people will find something to dislike about you.

And lastly, never forget how YOU appear to others. What you find annoying about other old people most likely will apply to you in one form or another.

For instance. Lining up (or if you prefer “queuing up ”) for meals, activities, and medications is tantamount to a contact sport at many assisted living facilities.

Jostling for position while waiting for the auditorium to open for Bingo, or pushing slower walkers out of the way when entering the dining room or jumping to the head of the med room line, are a daily occurrence here. Sometimes the conflicts become so violent that people have actually been knocked down by residents whose impatience with their fellow residents becomes a matter of renown. This is when YOU have to be mindful of how you handle yourself during these incidents. You have to evaluate and rate yourself as to how fast you get around and adjust your approach to those situations accordingly. Nothing frustrates an old person more than having to shuffle behind a person whose maximum speed is minus 2 mph. The gnashing of dentures can be heard a block away.

I am writing this, not as a deterrent to those contemplating moving to an A.L.F. but rather as a caution for those who are used to living amongst a mixed group of everyday citizenry. For some, the culture shock may be too much.

* About the only respite you will get from them is when they are sleeping which, fortunately begins around 6pm and continues to about 7 the next morning.

Follow Up

...On information in last Thursday’s blog post (Why does NYC get a bad rap as the worst place to retire in America?) that ranks cities on a number of factors, The following link has a alternative list based more on the real world…

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Blog For Thursday June 7th 2018


Winning, and Losing,
The Retirement Game

Actually, I began my non-career as a SOWM (Single Old White Male) well before my 65th birthday. In fact, I had not even reached my 62nd year when I discovered that my worth as a contributing member of the human race was declining.

Nothing brings down your score on the Relevancy Scale as does being over 50 and out of work. And nothing tests your mettle more than sending out your résumé and receiving few or no responses. And, even when you do get called in for an interview, the look on the HR persons face when “THE OLD DUDE” walks in says it all.

If the person interviewing you is a nice guy (or gal), they’ll be courteous and listen politely to your qualifications while at the same time trying to figure out how to get rid of you without having an age discrimination lawsuit on their hands.

Others let their contempt for you show almost immediately when they have that look on their face as if you were a pile of dog crap they just stepped in and are trying to scrape off their shoes.

Such was the position I found myself in when my job moved to another city and I found my unemployment insurance rapidly running out along with my savings and, my self-esteem.

Months went by without as much as a nibble and, as I approached my 62nd birthday, I knew I had to make THE decision.
That being, whether I should continue what appeared to be a fruitless search for meaningful employment, or accept some low wage grunt work at a fast food joint, or apply for Social Security and officially join the ranks of, what I considered to be, the losers of the retirement game.

Most people don’t even know that they are playing, or have even signed up to be a contestant in the GAME. But rest assured, you have been a player ever since the first FICA was taken out of your paycheck. While the goal of the game is simple, the rules may be less so.

So-called “winners” of the retirement game are those that have managed to amass a small fortune as they approach the date that they have set to retire. In other words, they are and have been, in complete control of their post-work plans.

Somehow, these people have managed to, not only find the right job (or jobs) that have paid them well but those that have afforded them so much security that they been able to set their own date at which they will leave those jobs.

These folks retire rich. So rich that their Social Security benefits don’t even figure into the monthly budget.

That’s what it’s like to be a big winner in the GAME. But, there are other winners as well. Let’s call them “runners-up.”

Those folks retired after working the number of years required to receive their maximum benefits. For many Baby Boomers, that age is 67. These retirees did everything right.

They put a little away each month in their IRA’s, 401k’s, mutual funds, CD’s and savings accounts to have a small nest egg. That, together with a decent size Social Security check, is enough to keep them, if not in the lap of luxury, at least in the lap of comfortably.

And then there are those of us who had planned to at least get into the finals but received a career-ending injury on the way to the game and had to retire earlier than planned. Amazingly, we are not alone…*

“According to LIMRA, the Life Insurance and Market Research Association, 69% of Americans are out of the full-time workforce by age 66. And roughly 51% hang up their boots between the ages of 61 and 65.”

Even more amazing, many of those early retirees have a pitiful amount of money saved up…

Again, according to LIMRA…

“The median holding (Of those retiring at age 61-65) is just $17,500.”

Those of us in that category are the true losers of the Retirement Game. In fact, the term “Retirement” as most Americans think of it, may not even be relevant.

Although not the actual definition of “retirement”, most people look upon our post-labor years as a time to do things that we always wanted to do. Not necessarily to just sit around and do nothing, but to get involved in something that makes us happy. And, unless sitting around doing nothing IS your retirement goal, you will need money to be able to live the life you had in mind. And, chances are, the $1300 or so that you’ll be receiving each month will not get you much more luxury than an occasional pizza (no toppings).

And forget about picking up and moving to one of those high-end senior retirement villages. You know the ones. Their ads always show happy, well-groomed (and coiffed**) older people playing golf or tennis or driving to the mall in a convertible. The monthly charges are more than you ever made in your working life.

Life for the losers in the Retirement Game can often be precarious. Every day is a Wallendaesque struggle to survive. Life becomes a balancing act of whether to pay the rent or buy food or medicine. And, until you reach 65 in another two or three years when Medicare (and some other benefits) kicks in, that $1300 is all you have to live on because that $17,000 you saved up will be depleted in a few months of having to pay out-of-pocket for your health insurance (Remember: You lost that when you lost your job). The only thing left now is to paint a big red “L” on your forehead so everybody will know how much of a loser you are.

And then there are guys like me who played the game fairly well but was blindsided by a 300 lb. Linebacker who knocked you out of the game just as you had the goal post in view. That “Linebackers” name was Catastrophic Illness which, for me, put an end to any easy retirement plans.

Despite having health insurance, months of hospitalization and a subsequent two-year stint in various nursing homes sucked me dry. My only hope was to divest myself of all but a couple of thousand dollars and all of my possessions and enter the world of the indigent. But more about that in another post.

Before I end today’s blog, I would like to know how you (if you are retired or plan to retire soon) have positioned yourself so that you will be a winner in the game? Or, have you not given the matter much thought?

*Source: https://www.financialsamurai.com/age-people-retire-america/
** Did you notice that their are never any bald old people in those ads?


It’s Scary Out There…
 Simple Things That Become
More Dangerous Over the Age of 65
Parts 8, 9 and 10

Growing old is the worst. More and more, seniors are opting to live alone rather than live with their family or at a nursing home. Because of that, seniors citizens are faced with the fact that normal things aren’t so easy anymore. These simple things that were once normal become more dangerous over the age of 65.

8. Making sure your medications are taken properly
Medications have helped increase the longevity of humans, but at the same time, they have put them at risk. The average elderly person is taking five medications per day and as much as seven per day in nursing homes. This increases the risk of getting medications mixed up, adverse drug-drug interactions, and overdoses.

9. Getting the attention you deserve
Senior neglect is a serious problem. Around half a million seniors experience some form of neglect every year.  Most often it is a person that is related to the person that neglects them. Someone like a spouse or child. Caretakers are risky as well because their job can sometimes be very stressful due to the lack of resources.

10. Managing your money
Managing your investments is very hard. It gets even harder to manage your expenses when those investments start to dry up. Now that humans are living longer, the risk of becoming financially unstable in your senior years is increasing.

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Why Do I Fall Asleep
In The Middle Of The Day?

I know that this has been happening for some time now, but I didn’t realize how “intensely” I was doing it until the other morning.

My usual morning routine, after awakening and showering and dressing, consists of having breakfast, returning back to my room, checking my email, Facebook, and instant messaging. I then settle in on working on this blog which includes reading articles, doing some research and writing stories until lunchtime. All of those activities require a moderate amount of concentration and attention and are usually not boring. But despite all of that focusing and absorption, I have found myself dozing off right in the middle of what I am doing.

While “dozing” can be attributed to anyone of any age, falling asleep (or passing out) in the middle of performing a task usually applies only to those of us with a few miles on the odometer. In other words, falling asleep at the drop of a hat happens mostly to old people. And, the other day, I was no exception.

One of the pluses of Assisted Living is having somebody come into your room to make the bed, take out the trash and supply you with towels etc., every day.

The housekeeping staff knows to knock loudly before entering a resident’s quarters. If they don’t get a reply, they figure no one is there and they enter the room. I am always awake during this process which takes about 10 minutes. And no matter how quiet they try to be, there is inherently a certain amount of noise associated when straitening one’s room.

However, despite beds being moved, toilets flushing, and waste bins clanking, I managed to fall asleep so soundly that all that commotion failed to wake me.

I woke up (or should I say “came to”) still sitting in front of my laptop, my fingers gently resting on the keyboard amazed to find that my bed was made and my trash removed, all while I was fast asleep, completely oblivious to the whole process.

Those of you who have never experienced this sudden trip into narco-land will say “Oh, he must have been on some sleep medication”, or “All he needs is a strong cup of coffee.”

(A), I won’t take any sleeping pills, and (B), Coffee has no effect on me.

So, what the heck is going on here? Why, just because we have reached a certain age, do we have a tendency to fall completely asleep for no apparent reason? A little research was needed.

Unfortunately, most of the studies on this topic all center on the same thing.

Sleep patterns, especially pertaining to the amount of sleep one gets a night, change as one gets older.

Here’s what sleepeducation.org has to say on the subject…*

“Sleep needs change over a person's lifetime. Children and adolescents need more sleep than adults. Interestingly, older adults need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults -- seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Unfortunately, many older adults often get less sleep than they need. One reason is that they often have more trouble falling asleep. A study of adults over 65 found that 13 percent of men and 36 percent of women take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Also, older people often sleep less deeply and wake up more often throughout the night, which may be why they may nap more often during the daytime. Nighttime sleep schedules may change with age too. Many older adults tend to get sleepier earlier in the evening and awaken earlier in the morning.”

Well, you certainly don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. But why, if I (your quintessential old man) needs as much sleep as a young adult, how come I ain’t getting it?

I would have settled for this simple chemical reason why sleep eludes many of us…

“Older adults may produce and secrete less melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.”

Okay, just get me some of that good old melatonin and I’ll sleep like a baby, right? Wrong!

 Again, according to the sleepdoctor.org…

“Melatonin is a hormone. It is not an herb, a vitamin, or a mineral. Hormones are naturally produced by your body as you need them.  Which means it is very unlikely that someone has a melatonin deficiency. While melatonin could be considered natural, in most cases it doesn’t come from the earth. There are exceptions of foods that contain melatonin in them, but this is a different type of melatonin than what is produced in your brain.
Your melatonin levels can be tested with a blood test, urine test or saliva test. If you are concerned that you may actually be melatonin deficient, ask your doctor about testing. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and sends a signal to regulate the sleep-wake cycle in the sleep center of the brain. Interestingly, melatonin is also produced in the retina, the skin, and the GI tract, but this is not the melatonin what affects your biological sleep clock.
This is the really important thing you should understand about melatonin:  melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator NOT a sleep initiator.  Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep. Melatonin does not increase your sleep drive or need for sleep.”**

It appears there are other reasons why sleep eludes older people…

“Older adults may also have other medical and psychiatric problems that can affect their nighttime sleep. Researchers have noted that people without major medical or psychiatric illnesses report better sleep.”

I am a big fan of psychiatrists. They have helped me in the past. But I know that if I went to a shrink they most likely would prescribe some form of sleeping meds, something that I dread more than lack of sleep itself. And besides, I have no problem falling asleep. I just have a problem staying asleep for more than an hour or two at a time.

There has to be another reason for my lack of sleep.

Oh, here’s one…

“Many older people also have habits that make it more difficult to get a good night's sleep. They may…not exercise as much. Spending less time outdoors can reduce their exposure to sunlight and upset their sleep cycle.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. My exercise consists mostly of putting my shoes on. And, as far as exposure to sunlight is concerned, well, I live in N.Y. Enough said?

While I have experienced all of those deterrents to sleep only one really makes any sense.

It’s plain old insomnia.

Insomnia is defined as…

“Taking a long time -- more than 30 to 45 minutes -- to fall asleep
    Waking up many times each night
    Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep
    Waking up feeling tired”

“Short-term insomnia, lasting less than one month, may result from a medical or psychiatric condition. Or it may occur after a change in personal circumstances like losing a loved one, relocating, or being hospitalized. If insomnia lasts longer than a month, it is considered chronic, even if the original cause has been resolved.”

But, here’s the factor that pertains particularly to me and millions of older men and women everywhere…

“(Though) many factors can cause insomnia… the most common reason older adults wake up at night is to go to the bathroom. Prostate enlargement in men and continence problems in women are often the cause. Unfortunately, waking up to go to the bathroom at night also places older adults at greater risk for falling.”

Ah! Nature’s little joke. Just when we (older folks) need our sleep the most, we are “treated” to bladder problems just to remind us that THAT part of the body should no longer be used for the primary purpose for which it was intended.***

Fortunately, since that one occasion, I have not fallen asleep while in the middle of doing something else. Therefore, I’ll just cross that incident off as a fluke. But, having just learned about sleep and older people, I have a feeling that I may be facing more and more of those flukes in the future.

Anybody got any NoDoz?

*** That's right. I'm talking about S-E-X


It’s Scary Out There…
 Simple Things That Become
More Dangerous Over the Age of 65
Parts 5, 6, &7

Growing old is the worst. More and more, seniors are opting to live alone rather than live with their family or at a nursing home. Because of that, seniors citizens are faced with the fact that normal things aren’t so easy anymore. These simple things that were once normal become more dangerous over the age of 65. No. 12 is almost unconscionable, but it happens to senior citizens way too often.

5.Taking a shower
The shower is one of the oldest cliches of danger for senior citizens, but the danger is very real. According to the Home Safety Council, nearly 6,000 lives each year are claimed from falls. Installing grab bars or rails in the bathtub and showers greatly reduces the risk.

6. Keeping in touch with people
Loneliness is one of the greatest risks to senior citizens. That’s mainly because it can actually cause or contribute to worsening health issues. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, thrives on people’s loneliness because social activity can actually help keep it at bay.

7. Staying on top of everyday illnesses
From the common cold to the flu, these regular seasonal ailments become life-threatening once we get over the age of 65. That is because these common bugs can cause so many other dangerous complications like pneumonia, dehydration, or organ failure. Tens of thousands of people can die each year because of the common flu and seniors at a great risk than others.

Source: https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/simple-things-that-become-more-dangerous-over-the-age-of-65.html/?a=viewall

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Thursday, May 31st 2018


By opening our Facebook page you can access the latest news specifically related to Older Americans. These will usually be stories that broke too late to be included in our regular weekly blog. Additionally, the Facebook page will be a way for you to comment on those stories, start your own thread or comment on anything you have read here on this blog.


The Most Misunderstood Group in America…
…and it’s all our fault

BENTON, Kentucky, Jan. 23, 2018 - A 15-year-old boy kills two fellow students, both also 15, at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky with a pistol and wounds 13 others. Authorities give no motive for the attack.

CHARDON, Ohio, Feb. 27, 2012 - Seventeen-year-old student at Chardon High School kills three students and wounds three in school cafeteria.

RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION, Minnesota, March 21, 2005 - A 16-year-old high school student kills seven people and wounds several others in a shooting rampage after killing two people off campus. He then kills himself.

COLD SPRING, Minnesota, Sept. 24, 2003 - Fifteen-year-old student fatally shoots a freshman and a senior at Rocori High School.

SANTEE, California, March 5, 2001 - A student at Santana High School kills two students, wounds 13.

LITTLETON, Colorado, April 20, 1999 - Two teenagers rampage through Columbine High School, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves.

JONESBORO, Arkansas, March 24, 1998 - Two boys, ages 11 and 13, fire on their middle school from woods, killing four girls and a teacher and wounding 11 others.

And the list goes on.*

I’m writing today, not about gun control or school safety or even about selling guns to kids. We’ll let the politicians and gun “nuts” fight over that. What I am interested in is not so much how to keep guns out of our kid’s hands, but what we are doing to our young men (and so far it’s only boys) that makes them want to pick up a weapon and kill another person knowing that, most likely, he will be killed himself.

All of us were, at one time, teenagers. And, whether we lived in a big city or in a rural community the pressure put on us at such a tender and crucial time in our lives was tremendous. Think about it.

At the same time that their skin is breaking out, their peers are pressuring them to do stuff that makes them uncomfortable. Advertising is telling them to wear these sneakers, or drink that soda, or drive this car or (heavens forbid) they won’t fit in. Our parents want them to get a job, clean their rooms, do the chores and excel in school. They want them to do all this and put up with raging hormones as well. That’s a pretty heavy load for anybody to bear, let alone a kid.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not using all of that as an excuse for anybody wanting to go on a rampage (after all, we had many of the same pressures when we were in high school and we didn’t go on a shooting spree). I’m just saying that a climate has been created for our kids that put them in a position where bad behavior is accepted as a means to an end.

And, it may be all our fault.

After all, aren’t these our grandkids?

Are we (Baby Boomers) not the parents of the parents of these kids?

I’m afraid the answer is YES.

But before we start flailing ourselves and crying mia culpa, mia culpa, let us not forget that we too are the products of a group of pretty insane people. Our Parents.

You remember your parents.

They were the ones who were products of the depression.

They were the ones who came back from fighting the most deadly war in history with the attitude that they didn’t have to “take no crap from anybody.”

They were the ones who vowed that their kids would have a better life than they did and that the only way to do that was to make sure that you went to college so you didn’t have to work in a garage or be a plumber, or a carpenter. Not for you. You will be a professional, a boss, whether you were up for it or not. And you know what…we did.

And then, in this crazy world that insists that the next generation has more than the previous one, we put ourselves in debt.

We took out mortgages at insane high interest rates.

We collected credit cards like baseball cards, maxing out one while charging on another.

“Buy now, pay whenever you can” became the mantra of our generation.

And who was there to observe all of this unabashed hedonism. That’s right. Our kids.

We taught our kids how to want money, make money, and spend money. Preferably, other people’s money.

We taught them that it’s okay to want to buy something “New and Improved” even though the old one is working okay.

And, perhaps worst of all, we taught them that they should be thinking of themselves first and foremost and that displaying empathy for those less fortunate was a sign of weakness.

In an article on survivopedia.com entitled “6-realistic-ways-to-stop-school-shootings”,** writer Carmela Tyrell has this suggestion…

Teach and Maintain Respect for Life and Respect of Self

“For those of us born to older generations, we are not inclined to be confused by which bathroom to use, or gender identity.  Today’s youth are being told that respect for life suggests going against heterosexual instincts and associated social values so that those who have less represented instincts don’t feel discriminated against.

If that isn’t confusing to a heterosexual teen with surging hormones, I don’t know what is.

While respect for life must always include compassion and equality, these things must come from within and from a place of confidence in one’s own gender orientation (which in our species is a fundamental element of adulthood); whatever that may be.

Children and teens that have respect for life can and should be able to interact in a positive way with anyone regardless of gender orientation.  At the same time, they should not have to give up their own personal freedom and social need.  If your child or teen is not comfortable with going to a bathroom or locker room with someone of the opposite anatomical gender in the room, do not hesitate to homeschool.”

By now you are probably saying to yourself “What a pollyannish simpleton this guy is to think that we can end school shootings (and bad behavior in general) by just feeling sorry for others who are less fortunate than us.” And perhaps you correct, but you can’t stand there and tell me that in today’s pervasive society that is rife with ill-feelings and disregard for the least of our citizens, that this does not have something to do with the lack of a respect for life that certainly is at the heart of anyone who picks up an AR-15 and sprays a schoolroom full of kids.

Okay, maybe all of us Boomers are not to blame for the actions of a few teenage degenerates. But none of you can say that we couldn’t have done more to instill a little more compassion in OUR kids who became the parents of THOSE kids.

*SOURCE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kentucky-shooting-masskillings-factbo/factbox-major-school-shootings-in-the-united-stat

**Source: http://www.survivopedia.com/6-realistic-ways-to-stop-school-shootings/


It’s Scary Out There…
 Simple Things That Become
More Dangerous Over the Age of 65
Parts 4 to 6

I know, that for many of us, in our heads we are still 17-years-old. And that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, this bag of skin and bones and other icky stuff doesn’t often agree with us. Therefore, while we believe we can do stuff we used to do without thinking, we can’t. And, in many cases, we shouldn’t.

The folks at www.cheatsheet.com, have compiled a list that we seniors should be wary of.
Source: https://www.cheatsheet.com/health-fitness/simple-things-that-become-more-dangerous-over-the-age-of-65.html/?a=viewall

4. Dealing with family membersAccording to AARP, “nearly 10 million adults age 65 and older receive care at home or in residential care settings other than nursing homes.” Unfortunately, the industry is incredibly under-regulated. Estimates suggest that only one in 14 domestic elder abuse incidents are reported to the authorities.
Ruthann Jacox, a Tucson, Arizona resident was horribly abused by her in-home caregiver. The person rationed her food and water so that she wouldn’t have to take her to the bathroom as often. Luckily, that person was sentenced to two years in prison, but it doesn’t always end like that.

5.Taking a shower
The shower is one of the oldest cliches of danger for senior citizens, but the danger is very real. According to the Home Safety Council, nearly 6,000 lives each year are claimed from falls. Installing grab bars or rails in the bathtub and showers greatly reduces the risk.

6. Keeping in touch with peopleLoneliness is one of the greatest risks to senior citizens. That’s mainly because it can actually cause or contribute to worsening health issues. Alzheimer’s disease, for example, thrives on people’s loneliness because social activity can actually help keep it at bay.

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May 28th 2018 Blog


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Memorial Day:
Thinking of The Vets and My Friends

I always feel a little less of myself this time of year. Not for something I did, but rather for something I didn’t do.

Now. It’s not that I didn’t come close, or that I was afraid to participate. But for me, and thousands of young men like me, the thought of being involved in something so absurd, distasteful, and unnecessary at a tender age of 18 no less, seemed pointless. I’m talking about the war in Vietnam, of course, and our involvement in it.

Like all young men, shortly after my 18th birthday in 1963, I dutifully made my way to the Selective Service office in Queens NY where I signed my name to some forms and was told that I would receive my draft card in a few weeks. 

Having recently graduated high school, and not having the walls of academia to protect me, I was soon called down to the Armed Forces Induction Center on Stone Street in Manhattan for a pre-induction physical where me and a hundred other geeks stripped down to our underwear and was poked and prodded for the next 3 or 4 hours. To me, for all practical purposes, I felt like I was already in the army.
Shortly after that experience, I decided that the only way to delay my actual induction was to become a full-time college student.

The next few years became a cat and mouse game between me and the draft.
The rules were simple. I had to be a full-time student and maintain a passing grade, and they would leave me alone.

That was okay until the war started to heat up and my academic deferment was in jeopardy of expiring. 

Fortunately, as 1969 approached, the Selective Service System inaugurated a Draft Lottery with which I received a high enough number to keep me out until the war came to an end.

Essentially, I lucked out.

Would have I gone if called up?

Of course, I would. Hiding, or leaving the country did not appeal to me. But, I didn’t have to. And this is what’s been gnawing at me for many years.

Why was I so lucky when thousands (50,000 plus to be exact) of my contemporaries were not?
I have been told that I should not feel guilty about not serving. After all, I obeyed all the laws and legally took advantage of all the deferments available to me at the time. I didn’t fake an illness, or try to bribe somebody, or hide behind the all-to-often-used conscientious objector status. But yet, any time we celebrate a day of remembrance like Memorial Day, I feel guilty and a bit envious for not having had to share that time with my “brothers.”

Among my close circle of friends, I was fortunate to have known three men who did serve and came home. I also have friends that, like me, who never served one day in the armed forces.

Unfortunately, all three of those men (all a little younger than me) have passed away while the rest of us went on to lead lives filled with children and grand children.

I’m an old codger now and I don’t have a chance to get out there and attend the Memorial Day parades and the bar-b-ques as much as I used to. But believe me, my thoughts are with my friends who are still with us and I give a heartfelt thanks to those who are not. You deserved better guys, much better.


It’s Scary Out There…
 Simple Things That Become
More Dangerous Over the Age of 65
Parts 1 to 3

I know, that for many of us, in our heads we are still 17-years-old. And that’s a good thing. Unfortunately, this bag of skin and bones and other icky stuff doesn’t often agree with us. Therefore, while we believe we can do stuff we used to do without thinking, we can’t. And, in many cases, we shouldn’t.

The folks at www.cheatsheet.com, have compiled a list that we seniors should be wary of.

1. Driving your car and getting around

It is likely that you have been driving a car or providing your own modes of transportation since you were a teen. But as we get older, our abilities to operate various modes of transportation begin to decline with our physical and mental health.
Even public transportation can be difficult as we get older. The systems that are set up in some cities can be really confusing. Seniors getting lost on public transportation is more common than you would think.
2. Tripping over things

We bet that you would never have to think twice about whether or not your carpet could harm you, but it can. Seniors can sometimes trip over a loose fold in an area rug or a loose spot in the carpeting. Falls for senior citizens are incredibly dangerous and are often a primary source of injury.

3. Being able to deal with the summer heat

Your entire life you are groomed to look forward to the summer. Summertime has always been the time to take a vacation or relax by a pool. Unfortunately, as we age, heat becomes a big enemy.

Senior citizens are at the highest risk of suffering from heat stroke and dehydration. This stems from the fact that they may be on certain medications or have certain illnesses. There is also the fact that they can’t stand the heat like they used too.

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May 24th 2018 Blog


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Old Folks in The Slammer

As I have mentioned before on this blog my worst fear is being homeless. For some reason having a secure, safe place to sleep every night is very important to me. When I travel, the first things I book and confirm are my hotel/motel accommodations. However, there is one other thing that has (for some inexplicable reason) bothered me for years, and that is my fear of being incarcerated. And the funny thing is, I have no reason to ever think that such a thing would happen. (This probably explains why I never even considered cheating on my taxes, driving drunk or misrepresented myself in any way). And yet, that fear that I could be thrown into the hoosegow has always hung over me.

Now, one would think that just because I’m an older American, my chances of becoming a guest of the state is slim. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

According to writer Reuven Blau of the NY Daily News…
“The number of senior citizens behind bars is exploding, costing New York State taxpayers up to $240,000 a year for prisoners with serious medical needs,
The "national crisis of graying prisons" is due to lengthy sentences, harsh parole requirements, and "society's approach and response to violence," said the report by the Osborne Association, a criminal justice reform organization.”
“It costs twice as much (2X$69,355) to incarcerate people over 50 and in some cases up to five times as much due to medical costs.

To his credit, Gov. Cuomo proposed changing the parole system to let older prisoners apply for parole if they have served half of their sentences and have ailments. Convicted killers or people serving life without parole would not be eligible.

But that proposal was opposed by the GOP-controlled state Senate and was not included in the final budget.

One of the problems cited as a reason why releasing prisoners based on their age is not viable is because of the difficulties many older prisoners have in adjusting to society. As one former prisoner put it, “What do you tell people when they ask where you have been for the last 29 years?”


What Causes “Old Person Smell”?

This is a question that I thought I knew the answer to.

As a resident of a facility where I am surrounded by old people 24 hours a day, I have smelled it all.

These odors are not uncommon in any place where older folks congregate.
They range from the overuse of perfumes or colognes or after-shave lotions to mothballs, Ben-Gay, urine, and poop.

Naturally, I believed that the majority of these scents could be gotten rid of by exercising a bit of caution combined with increasing the number of showers being taken and a few words of “encouragement” by some of their peers.

However, as it turns out, “accidents” and “additives” are not the only cause of that “Old people’s smell.”

According to an article on the website mentalfloss.com…

         Source: http://mentalfloss.com/article/51596/what-causes-old-person-smell

“...this “old person smell” is produced when chemicals from the skin glands get broken down into small odorous molecules that waft away into the air. The specific chemical that gives old folks their unique odor, scientists suspect, is a compound called 2-nonrenal. Created by the oxidative breakdown of other chemicals over time, it produces what’s described as an “unpleasant greasy and grassy odor” in people and is also responsible for some of the “cardboard” flavor of the stale beer.”

Who knew?

There are a number of questions to which scientists have no conclusive answer. Primarily, while all people produce these “2-nonrenal” odors, why does it increase in seniors and, for what purpose if any, an age-related change in smell serves.

But there is a major contender in why the old person odor exists…

“One possible explanation for this is that older individuals may have some genetic advantage that allowed them to survive longer and makes them more attractive mates, and that distinct age-related odor is an advertisement for their genetic quality.”

If this turns out to be true, I can picture a new cottage industry for seniors breaking out throughout the nation where old folks line up to sell their scent to those poor, unfortunate youngsters who have a wimpy, genetically inferior odor.


It’s Not Just For High School Kids

Hey, remember high school with its football team, cheerleaders, proms, annual school play, gym, lunch, and recess?

Great times, right? At least that’s the way most kids remember those days. But for others, those three or four years were utter hell. For those kids bullying (another name for being picked on, targeted for abuse or being left out of school activities) was a daily occurrence. Thank heavens those days are over…or are they?

An article in pennlive.com by AP National Writer Matt Sedensky brings light to the fact that bullying doesn’t stop at the high school door. In fact, as any resident of an assisted living facility or member of a local senior citizen center would tell you, bullying is alive and well. And, just like their 18-year-old counterparts, octogenarians really know how to dish it out.

While “cliques”, defined as “a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them”, are prevalent throughout society. You can find “cliquers” at work, the gym, book clubs and, although they wouldn’t call them cliques, in prison too.

As a resident of an assisted living facility I have first-hand knowledge of, what I like to call, the “Matronly Mafia.” 

You can spot them out right away.

They huddle together in the common areas like little prairie dogs, occasionally looking around in case an outside “dog” should try to invade their space.

Even I must admit to being a part of, if not a clique, a group of people who hang out together. And, although we don’t mean to exclude anybody who would like to join in, we do find ourselves unavoidably giving short shrift to those whose ideas don’t conform to the rest of the group.

So, what’s going on here?

“Robin Bonifas, a social work professor at Arizona State University and author of the book "Bullying Among Older Adults: How to Recognize and Address an Unseen Epidemic," said existing studies suggest about 1 in 5 seniors encounter bullying
She sees it as an outgrowth of frustrations characteristic in communal settings, as well a reflection of issues unique to getting older. Many elderly see their independence and sense of control disappear and, for some, becoming a bully can feel like regaining some of that lost power….and the way they sort of get on top of things and make their name in this new world is intimidating, picking on people, gossiping."

The “loss of control” is a very real and very freighting part of the aging experience. I felt it the minute I stepped into this facility. I knew that much of my life, my privacy, and my sanity would be taken away. Fortunately, I don’t lash out at my fellow residents. My frustrations are directed directly to the staff and management, whose rules and regulations I have fought for nearly 5 years. But, that’s a story for another time.

To its credit, our facility (as have many such venues around the country) has addressed the situation in meetings and seminars. Unfortunately, because we are a fairly transient facility, some of the newer residents persist in negatively asserting themselves to the dismay of some of our long-term citizens.

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Blog for May 21st 2018


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To Drive Or
Not to Drive

(When is it time to give up the keys)

I earned the privilege to operate an automobile in 1961 at the ripe age of 16. It was only learners permit, but I knew it was the beginning of life of freedom and adventure. Little did I know that 49 years later (in 2009) I would park my car for the last time, never to drive it, or anything else ever again. It was a day that I suppose I always knew would happen, just not so soon.

Three days after parking that car, (May 19th to be exact) I found myself in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital for a life-changing experience that would not only take away most of what I had amassed over the years, but the one thing that I thought they would have had to pry out of my cold dead hand before I would give it up. The steering wheel of my Honda Civic.

The reasons for me no longer able to drive a car are many.

The primary one is that I no longer have a car to drive.

Because I had parked my car on a public street (one with alternate side of the street regulations) it was quickly towed away by police a few days into my hospitalization.

Having no one to bail it out of impound and the fines and storage fees piling up, the car was eventually put up for auction by the city.* But the lack of a car was not the only reason why I was no longer able to drive. Due to a couple of medical reasons, I no longer feel safe behind the wheel.

While in the hospital I developed an infection on the retina in my left eye. Fortunately, it was caught in time and treated but the infection left a scar on that retina leaving me with a slight distortion and some lack of peripheral vision (an important thing to have when driving).

In addition, I lost hearing in one ear (presumably due to a conflict of medications). And, if you think that hearing isn’t important when driving, think again when you can’t tell from which direction the fire truck is coming.

So, with all that, and the fact that my reflexes are no longer what they once were, I decided to self-impose a moratorium on my driving, permanently ending my primary means of transportation and, freedom. Unfortunately, that does not mean that I don’t miss driving. The truth be told, I find myself missing it more and more as of late. And never so much as when the temperature is warm and the sun is shining. And, to make things worse, now when I have the time to do some traveling, I won’t be able to. But, I suppose, I have nobody to blame but myself. After all, I’m the one who realized that my driving abilities were seriously impaired and “took away the keys.” But what about all those old codgers and codgerettes out there who won’t voluntarily give up what they consider to be their God-given right?

Perhaps this sobering statistic would be a good place to start the “Conversation.”

“People over 60 years old accounted for 14 percent of all automobile crashes last year – while young adults between 21 and 30 years old made up 24 percent of them. However, seniors 65 and older have the highest crashes per mile traveled, she said.
Even though they have fewer accidents, they are far more likely to die in those accidents: 29 percent of traffic fatalities are of people aged 60 and older,…”

Still not convinced. Try this…

“By the age of 60 to 64, people become more fragile, she said. There is a decline in speed and accuracy, decreased muscle mass, sensory impairments, bone loss and reduction of central and peripheral nerve fibers.

Also, being on medicines also reduces abilities to drive well –especially if a person is on more than one drug. “Combinations can cause drowsiness, lethargy, and dizziness,” she said.
Older people need more time to react to driving situations than younger people, she said. It takes longer to get and process information and plan and execute responses.”

Knowing what it was like for me to give up the keys, I can only imagine the difficulties a loved one must have when trying to get their not-so-with-it older driver to relinquish theirs. But think of it this way. It’s better having you take away the keys than having the DMV or a judge do it for you.

According to an article in homecareassistance.com…


It’s best to “ease” into the subject by building a case by…

- Keeping a record of traffic tickets, fender-benders or other incidents that worry you. Be specific.
- Calculate the monetary savings that will benefit the senior by giving up driving, such as costs of insurance, gasoline, maintenance, repairs and registration fees.
- Get others to back the decision such as a physician, pastor or another authority.

Actually, for a die-hard driver like me, those excuses for separating myself from my car keys seem a bit wimpy.
For some of us, more drastic measures might have to be taken….

1. Anonymously report them to the DMV
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows people to report unsafe drivers, often anonymously. You don’t have to be a doctor, anyone can file a report.

2. Use Alzheimer’s or dementia forgetfulness to your advantage
Alzheimer’s or dementia can cause seniors to become irrational and stubborn about driving.

3. Have a relative or close friend “borrow” the car
If your older adult’s car isn’t in the garage, they won’t be able to drive it. To keep them from getting suspicious, you could arrange for a relative or close friend to borrow the car.

4. Hide or “lose” the car keys
Another way to keep your older adult from driving is to hide the car keys or pretend they’re lost. It’s best to do this while they’re asleep so they won’t suspect that you’ve taken them.

5. Take the car for repairs
Pretending that the car is having a problem is another effective method. Tell your older adult that the car is at the auto shop for repairs. This gets the car away from the house – similar to having a relative borrow it.

6. Disable the car
A good way to prevent someone from driving is to disable their car. Do something simple like unplugging the battery or locking the steering wheel with a “Club.”

7. Sell the car
Selling their car is another way of making sure your older adult can no longer drive. Make up a story for why this is necessary. For example, you might say that a close relative needs money and this is the only way to help.

8. Hide your own car and car keys
If your car is still available, your older adult might try to take your keys and drive your car. If that’s happening, make sure to hide your own keys and park your car out of their sight.

Source: http://dailycaring.com/8-ways-to-stop-an-elderly-person-from-driving-when-all-else-fails/

Or, you could do as I did (although not willingly) and illegally park the car and let the city take care of the problem.

The bottom line here is that you are possibly saving the life of, not only the senior driver but other innocent parties as well. 

But what about me. How do I feel about not driving anymore?

To tell you the truth, it hurts. It hurts a lot. Especially now when the weather is getting better and the urge to explore is grabbing me by the stones.

But until that time when teleportation (or at the very least, driver-less cars) become a reality, I’ll be wishing that I could get behind the wheel of my Honda just one more time.

At what point will you give up the car keys for ever?

*Editor’s note: I was eventually compensated by the city with the proceeds from that auction minus the fines and fees.

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Taking Stock Of Your Life:
Balancing the “Books”

I spent the last couple of days trying to come up with something to complain about because finding something to criticize or disagree with makes for better blog reading.

Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, I found that nothing pissed me off enough to make it worth writing about.

To be honest, everything’s been going along fairly well recently.

Now, I’m not saying that my life has suddenly become a bed of roses or that I am not plagued by the usual annoyances that are a part of growing old. I’m just saying that at least for the immediate future (and at my age that could be the next ten minutes) life ain’t so bad.

As a former student of accounting, one of the first things you learn is that “The Books Must Balance.” That is your liabilities should be equal to or canceled out by your assets.

For example, You owe the bank 10 million dollars on a loan your company took out to buy a new warehouse. That’s a liability. However, you now have a warehouse worth at least 10 million dollars. That’s an asset. It balanced out.

In many ways, life is like that. And it wouldn’t hurt for us to take stock and do a little personal bookkeeping on our lives, just to keep things in perspective. So, while in the shower the other day (where all great thought is born and incubated) I decided to take a quick look at my assets and liabilities over the past few years. I used a period of ten years just to keep things simple. And, what I found was a little shocking. In fact, if I were a store, I should have hung out the Out Of Business sign a long time ago.

In fact, in 2009, I did go out of business so to speak. I lost my job. A big liability to say the least.

All of a sudden that nice “asset” I received every week in the form of a paycheck, that pile of bucks that made a lot of the bad stuff go away, had, itself, gone away. Never to be seen again.

Soon, most of the other assets I had accumulated over the years (the IRA’s, the 401k’s, the CD’s and the Mutual funds) were the only things keeping me afloat.

What once I considered good stuff had suddenly become liabilities.

The rent, the utilities, my food, my car, and most important, my health insurance were draining me dry.

My only income was a measly benefit check from Social Security. Hardly worth calling an asset.

A year or so later, not only did my personal wealth disappear, but my number 1 asset as well, my health, began to go south.

There is nothing like months in a hospital followed by a couple of years in a nursing home to eat away at anything of value you might have had.

Practically penniless, I stood at the entrance to the assisted living facility I now reside in.

Thinking that I had reached rock bottom, my future looked more gruesome than at any other point in my life.

Little did I know that, walking through those doors, may have been the best thing that I have ever done. Let me elaborate.

The first thing that an old person has to do when taking stock of their lives from an assets vs. Liabilities standpoint is to stop thinking of all that stuff you have accumulated over the years (and that includes money in all its forms) as an asset.

Those things are only worthwhile if you are fortunate enough to be filthy rich and whose lack of an actual paycheck has no effect on your lifestyle.

Unfortunately, in this country, being old and having a little money is worse than having no money at all. This is because if you are living just above the poverty level (which is about $15, 000 for an individual and about $20,000 for a couple) you will have no access to any of the extra benefits available to really poor folks, like me.

Check this out:

My (New) Assets-

 I don’t pay a cent for health insurance. Even my medications are free. I don’t even pay a co-pay.

 Free transportation is provided should I need to see a doctor outside of the facility.

 I have my own air-conditioned “apartment” in a fairly modern, secure facility on a 14-acre hilltop property. Utilities included.

 I get daily maid service including laundry, towels, and linens.

 I get three meals a day including outdoor barbecue’s.

 I have access to recreational activities.

 Inexpensive cable TV and unlimited phone service if I want it.

 Because I qualify for Medicaid, I am entitled to free (yes free) cell phone service with 500 minutes a month.

 ...and, since my Social Security benefits now more than cover my rent here, the balance goes into my personal account to spend as I please.*

My Liabilities-

 Practically all of my Social Security benefits go directly to the facility leaving me with very little discretionary income.

 I had to give up my car.**

Now, to some, this convoluted balance sheet may seem like not much to show for a life of toil. And, if you consider wealth as a payoff for all of that time you spent accumulating it, then I suppose you would feel as though you’ve been cheated or, at the very least, like a loser. And, to be honest, so did I. That is until I realized something very important. The one thing that I could never really attain while living in the real world was A STRESS-FREE EXISTENCE.

For the first time in my adult life, I literally have nothing to worry about.

For the first time in many years, I can devote all of my time to ME.

And, if this sounds a bit selfish, so what. I earned it.

Don’t let all that stuff you’ve accumulated all these years define you.

You are more than the clothes in your closet, the car in your garage or the size of your bank account.

True freedom comes when you have relieved yourself from stress and apprehension.

“When you find yourself stressed, ask yourself one question: Will this matter in 5 years from now? If yes, then do something about the situation. If no, then let it go.”     ......….Catherine Pulsifer

*Editor’s notes: This “extra cash” is not considered income and does not add to my personal assets therefore avoiding any chance of me going over the poverty level.
** For someone who has had his own car since he was 17 years old, this might have been the one thing I really, really miss.

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Planning end-of-life care is a complex matter. Although it is hard to talk about the final phase of life, it can be a great gift to our family and loved ones to prepare them in advance for the sometimes difficult and distressing decisions that must be made.

For those who wish to plan in advance, this may help. Ultimately, your decision to accept or reject medical treatment really depends upon your personal wishes, values, and beliefs. This guide explains your right to choose medical treatments and
describes the steps you can take under state law to help ensure that your personal health care decisions are known and honored if you are unable to speak for yourself.

Preparing a few simple legal forms known as advance directives can help ensure that your wishes are respected and that your health care decisions stay in the hands of people you trust.

BTW: There are a number of sites that offer a “Free” living will online. However, they require you open an account before you can printout the form. The above URL is really free to fill out and print and they are customized for every state.



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Some things Never Change:

Are You Still Eating The Same Foods,
Wearing the Same Clothes,
Driving the Same Cars, and
Chasing the Same Women you
Did as a Kid?

…and what does all that have to do with being the bravest man ever to live?

It’s well known that as we age our tastes in a whole bunch of things change. At least I know that mine has.

I remember how, as a teenager, my favorite car was a Corvette (most likely nurtured by watching episode after episode of Route 66). I pictured myself pulling into the high school parking lot in my shiny red “’Vette” Convertible to the squeals of the girls and the nodding approval of the guys.

However, as I grew into manhood, and realized that (A) an old man driving a Corvette convertible (probably wearing one of those “old man driving hats”), looks ridiculous, and (B) I couldn’t afford one even if I wanted it, made me look differently at some of the more practical models like a nice Buick something or other.

In addition to my more conservative taste in cars, my taste in what I wore also matured as I reached my adulthood.

Out went the jeans and T-shirts, in came the Dockers and button-down sportswear.* Hush Puppies replaced sneakers, and Gold Toe’s supplanted crew socks.

Not coincidentally, along with the change in my apparel, my taste in women also matured.

In order to describe my taste in girls when I was a teen (and even on into young adulthood) would sound to some as though I was sexualizing women to the extent that sex was all, I thought about. Well, you would be correct in that thinking. At times my over-fascination with ladies bodies often made even me feel uncomfortable.

Fortunately, as my over-active hormones subsided, I began to appreciate women in a whole new light. I no longer looked at them as a means to an end (i.e. sex), but rather as someone who would make a great life-long companion.

Asa Sherrill, (user experience manager) writing in Quora Digest has the best explanation as to why our preferences change as we grow older....

“As highly social animals, a great deal of our daily decision making has to do with the social influences of others, and our own desire to perceive and project ourselves in a certain way.

Current theories of Social Psychology suggest that Value and Preference (I.e. "Motivation") are aspects of self-image. … To (the) question, what changes is your image of yourself - to a factor of the accumulation of your personal experiences, small and large, social or internal. If we observe the effect of those experiences over long expanses of time, then the changes will seem dramatic, but you can be sure that they are an accumulation of smaller experiences along the way.”

The social element is a very strong one. It's important to understand just how potent social influence is on our emotions. Others around us can influence our value perceptions and preferences in a very subconscious way, and purely through the words they say or how they act; so the people you choose to be around have a massive impact on how your values and preferences change over time.”

Now, while I can’t argue with anything Asa says, there appears to be one segment of the “our tastes change as we get older”  area that science has no explanation for. It is neither influenced by age, social norms, environment or nutritional needs. It’s the one food item that many of us cannot be without. In fact, for some, if they eat nothing else all day, or if they just want something “lite” for dinner, they will turn to this item for immediate satisfaction. And that one item is…BREAKFAST CEREAL.

A quick survey of my peers here at the Asylum rendered these results.
Eight out of every ten residents (all over the age of 65) are eating the same breakfast cereal (cold or hot) as they did when they were a teenager. And some have been eating the same brand since before they were of school age. (literally all of their lives).

High on the list are the “stars” of the breakfast cereal world, and the ones that are also most eaten here at the Center are:

Rice Crispies, Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, and Cheerios. In addition, while not served here, residents have been known to bring their own cold cereals such as Cocoa Puffs, Cap’n Crunch and Sugar Pops.

In addition to the kiddy cereal addicts, are some of us kids who actually liked a hot cereal for breakfast. So, as I did when I was a high school kid and for most of my adult life, I have eaten a bowl of oatmeal almost every day.

For me, it’s not only a nutritious and delicious way to start the day but also a comforting reminder of better days past.

Food has always been a connection to our heritage, our ethnicity and our passed loved ones as no other single thing can.

I remember my “off to school” breakfast which my mom would have ready for me.

Orange Juice (originally, freshly squeezed and later from frozen concentrate), a bowl of Quaker oatmeal (sometimes Rice Krispies or raisin bran), and scrambled eggs and Wonder Bread toast. This is essentially the same breakfast I eat here every day (with the addition of coffee of course).

And then there’s the thing about people’s unwillingness to eat anything new regardless of its popularity. We’ll leave that discussion for another day.

As for me, I’m pretty much willing to eat anything that is generally eaten by humans no matter how exotic. In fact, the only thing I draw the line on is bugs. Dead or
alive, raw or cooked or no matter how much of a “nut-like” flavor they have, the very idea of allowing those little bug legs, heads, or thoraxes to enter my body would take more courage than I am willing to give, And this is from a guy who has no trouble eating sushi, anchovies, liverwurst and raw clams.

And, while I’m generally not impressed by people who have no problem eating exotic food, I must give credit to those pioneers who were willing to try those foods in the first place.

It is my contention that the bravest man ever to live was the first guy to have opened an oyster, looked at it, smelled it, and decided to put it in his mouth and eat it. Now that, my friend, is courage. 

 Today's question: How has your tastes change (if at all) over the years?

*Editor’s note: Amazingly, I have come full circle. While I still wear the occasional button-down shirt and chino’s, I have reverted back to a wardrobe consisting almost entirely of Levi’s, polo shirts and sweat socks and sneakers. Go figga’

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Few of us are eager to be senior citizens, but we'll likely attain that status anyway. There's a major upside to aging in America, though -- senior discounts. Gobs of companies offer special deals just for those of a certain age -- and the age varies, too, by the way. With some companies, you'll only need to be 50 (or older), while others start offering their discounts at age 55, 60, or 65.

Here are just a few of the discounts available…

1. Amtrak -- 10% off for those 65 and older

2. Wendy's -- 10% off or a free drink for those 55 and up

3. Roto-Rooter -- discount varies by location

4. National Parks -- discounted passes for those 62 and up

5. Best Western -- 10% (or more) off for those 55 and up

6. Kohl's -- 15% off for those 60 and up on Wednesdays

7. Pep Boys -- 10% off for those 55 and up

8. IHOP -- a "55+" menu and maybe 10% off, too

9. Walgreens -- 10% to 20% off for those 50 or 55 or older

10. United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Air Lines -- lower fares for seniors

11. Supercuts -- 10% off at some locations for those 60 and up

12. UPS Store -- 5% to 15% off for those with AARP memberships

13. Goodwill -- 10% off once a week for those 55 and older

14. Taco Bell -- discounted meals and/or a free drink

15. Southwest Airlines -- special senior fares for flyers 65 and older

16. JOANN -- 20% off on Senior Discount Days

17. Medjet Assist -- discounted travel protection

18. Jiffy Lube -- discounts vary by location

19. Marriott -- 15% off for those 62 and older

20. KFC -- a free small drink

21. Dunkin Donuts -- free donuts with a coffee for those 55 and up

22. Wyndham hotels -- discounted rates for those 60 and older

23. Avis -- 30% off for AARP members

24. Burger King -- 10% off for those 60 and up

25. Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises -- discounts for those 55 and older

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Making Ends Meet:
With Dwindling Help From The Government
It's Often a Difficult Task for Seniors

We have all seen those adds on TV or in the newspapers touting retirement villages or cruises that show a group of fit, happy, well dressed (and apparently well-heeled) seniors* playing golf, lounging on some tropical beach, sipping Piña coladas and generally enjoying the idyllic retirement we all aspired to. But, while there actually is a segment of our senior population who are experiencing that seemingly carefree existence (god bless them), millions of older Americans aren’t doing so well.

Today’s post is not going to be a tutorial on how to make money before retirement (or after for that matter). For most of us, that ship has sailed without us.

Additionally, we are not going to admonish you for not saving more during your “productive” years. We know that if you could have you would have, but most likely your money was earmarked for other things like food, insurance, and RENT!

In fact, this post is really not directed to anybody who is living on the edge and from SS check to SS check. You already know what it’s like to have to choose between buying food and paying the rent. Or how you supplement your larder by getting most of your condiments (and probably your dinnerware too) from a fast food joint. And let us not forget all that nice toilet paper you can accumulate by visiting five or ten public restrooms a week. No, this post is directed at our legislators and public officials who, either have turned a blind eye to the plight of many seniors in this country or are just plain ignorant of the facts.

In that event, let us look at some stats…

According to the U.S. Census Bureau:

“More than 7 million people ages 65 and older had incomes below poverty in 2016, based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure, 2.6 million more than under the official poverty measure.”

What makes this so out of wack, and possibly why our government doesn’t give much credence to the number of really poor people in this country is because the Census Bureau figures poverty on two different levels:

“The. U.S. Census Bureau currently reports two different measures of poverty: the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). Unlike the official poverty measure, the SPM reflects available financial resources and liabilities, including taxes, the value of in-kind benefits (e.g., food stamps), and out-of-pocket medical spending (generally higher among older adults), and geographic variations in housing costs. This analysis presents national and state estimates of poverty under both measures for adults ages 65 and older. Current estimates of poverty based on the SPM indicate that the share (and number) of older adults who are struggling financially is larger than is conveyed by the official poverty measure.”

The highest percentage (over 15%) of people who lived below the poverty level were in these 10 states (CA, FL, GA, HI, IN, LA, NJ, NM, TX, and VA). Amazingly, one of the places where the lowest percentage of people 65 or older who DID NOT live below the poverty level was…Washington, DC. Hmm.

Source: https://www.kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/how-many-seniors-are-living-in-poverty-national-and-state-estimates-under-the-official-and-supplemental-poverty-measures-in-2016/

At this point, you may be asking yourself “WTF happened that allowed us to get into this position?” As it turns out, much of it does not have to do with the amount of money we earned (or saved) during our lifetime. There are other, more mind-numbing, events that factor into the equation…

According to justiceinaging.org:

1. Every day 10,000 people in America turn 65.

2. By 2030 there will be 72 million seniors in America.

3. Pensions are rare in today’s economy and the average worker doesn’t have enough opportunity to save for retirement

4. Nearly 1 in 5 seniors approaching retirement have no retirement savings at all.

5. 54% of working-age households were unprepared for retirement in 2010 compared to 31% in 1983

“Combine an aging population with levels of income inequality not seen since the 1920s and you have an epidemic of suffering. Housing costs are rising, and skyrocketing health care costs devour more of the monthly budget than ever before.”

Damn us. We have the nerve to live longer than we were supposed to.

Damn us for expecting to actually get back all of that money that was taken out of our salaries.

Damn us for investing in our employers 401k plans thinking that those investments would grow as the economy grew.

And damn us for not being able to do anything about greedy landlords (and the legislators who gave them the power) who indiscriminately raise our rents to the point where close to 40% of our incomes goes to housing.

According to the justiceinaging.com article, the solution is a statement of the obvious…

“…preserve and expand social safety net programs like SSI and Medicaid to meet the growing needs of growing numbers of low-income seniors.”
Source: http://www.justiceinaging.org/take-action/senior-poverty/

Unfortunately, there is an unwillingness by state and federal governments to do this, and it may all have to do with what some Americans consider to be our “heritage.”

According to an article in theatlantic.com…

“...numerous states mulling attaching work, volunteering, and job-training requirements to safety-net programs.”
“The point is to separate out the “deserving” from the “undeserving” poor, a concept that has its roots in Tudor England when local parishes were instructed to punish and even execute the idle.”
source : https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/05/the-people-who-are-left-behind-when-only-the-deserving-poor-get-help/528018/

Yes, the Anglo/American work ethic rears its head, but for all the wrong reasons.

And, while individual states are leading the way in these so-called reforms, the federal government is casting a watchful eye on them ready to jump in with sweeping reforms (I.e. cuts) of its own.

“For its part, the Trump administration, in its new budget proposal, suggests deep cuts to programs that help a range of vulnerable groups, including seniors, low-income children, single parents, the rural poor, and the disabled. It also has repeatedly emphasized the need to save taxpayer money and discourage what it thinks of as welfare dependency—including by extending work requirements to housing programs and increasing them for food stamps, among other initiatives.”

I may be wrong, but didn’t we have some kind of an agreement with our government regarding social security deductions whereby we would allow part of our hard-earned paycheck to be taken by the government and in turn, we would have that money returned (unconditionally) to us when we reached retirement age? It appears that somebody doesn’t want to keep their part of the bargain.

Look, folks, we are only 6 months away from the first Tuesday in November. And, while most likely we will not be able to get rid of the guy who presently infests the White House, we can make him and his henchmen impotent by electing politicos who believe that seniors and poor people are not the enemy of the people and are as important as a new missile, a new Air Force One or a round of golf in Florida.

*Editor’s note: In addition to being fit. healthy and rich, they are always pictured with a partner of the opposite sex. Evidently, in addition to being well off, rich old people are never alone or single.

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May is Mental Health Month

A Light at the Bottom of
A pill Bottle.

It is important that you know that I am currently using medication after being diagnosed with mild depression about 7 years ago.

Like many people who are currently being treated for depression, I had no idea that I had it.

That’s not to say that I did not know that something was bothering me, but I could not put my finger on it.

After all, I was not living in the most pleasant of places.

At that time, I was a patient in a nursing home/rehab center trying to get back some semblance of my former life after a couple of years of battling with the aftermath of an illness.

While I knew that my body was not in the best of shape (hence the rehab part of my nursing home stay) I was not as aware that my mental health had suffered as much of a trauma (if not more) as my gut had. And, to make things even worse my un-diagnosed emotional problems were actually inhibiting my physical rehabilitation. Fortunately, while in the hospital being treated for a calcium imbalance, I met the one person that turned my life around.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Levine” (not her real name), said the middle-aged women standing at the foot of my hospital bed. “May I talk with you?”

“Sure, why not, every other friggin’ doctor in this place has been here why not you”, I retorted sarcastically. “So, what kind of doctor are you?”

“I’m a psychiatrist, can I talk to you for a minute?”, she asked.

“Oh boy”, I thought to myself. “She’s just here to find out if I need to be put in a straight jacket so the hospital will be off the hook if I decide to off myself.”

You see, this was not the first time that an attempt was made by a member of the mental health profession to interview me. In fact, as a matter of course, I was visited (in the nursing home) every two or three months by a psychologist whose first words to me were always “Do you ever have thoughts of suicide or doing harm to yourself?”

Not “How are you?”, or “How do you feel?’, but “are you going to try to kill yourself while your here.”

Three times they visited me and three times I threw them out.


Therefore you can imagine my reluctance to talk to yet another toady shrink.

But this time it was different. This time an interest in my possible demise was not her primary reason for visiting me.

This time the first words out of her mouth were “Why are you here?” An auspicious start to say the least.

For some reason I found myself pouring my heart out to this women like I had never done to any doctor before.

Thirty or forty minutes and a box of tissues later, she put her pen and pad down, looked up at me and said, No wonder you’re in a nursing home and not feeling well, with a story like that I would be depressed too.

“Depressed?” That was the first time any professional had ever used that term in regards to the way I was feeling.

It took a minute or two to come to grips with that statement.

“Depressed?’’ That was some sort of mental illness, wasn’t it?

The doctor, after assuring me that I would not need electro-shock therapy or a prefrontal lobotomy, went on to say that she thought that some mild anti-depressant would do me a world of good. And, since I was going to be in the hospital for at least a week, she would be able to monitor and adjust the medication as needed.

Thus began my now seven-year-long journey with Lexapro, one of the most widely used and effective medications in the treatment of depression. And all I can say is “Thank you, Dr. Levine.”

Anti-depressants are unique in the world of medications in that their effects may not be immediately felt.

In the case of Lexapro, any results may not be noticed for weeks and, even then, any change most likely will be subtle.

In my case, it was not until I was out of the hospital and back in the nursing home for a week that I felt that something had changed. The fog (for lack of a better word) had lifted. I was more focused. Which was demonstrated by how my physical therapy was progressing. Essentially, it was an attitude adjustment.

Where before I had been languishing in self-pity and worrying about the future, now I could actually see a day that I would be out of that wheelchair, and out of that nursing home. I could actually see the light at the end of the tunnel.

However, medication while it works in my case, may not be right for every sufferer of depression.

“Johann Hari, in his recent book, Lost Connections, concludes that belongingness, feeling valued, experiencing purpose and meaning and having a sense of a reasonably secure future — in the grand scheme of things — are more powerful factors than drugs.

According to Dr. John Franklin, MD, MSc, MA professor of Psychiatry, Transplant Surgery and Medical Humanities and Bioethics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University…

“The cure for depression will never be solely found in a physician’s prescription pad. It is up to society and culture to foster the sense of belongingness, value, meaning, and security we all crave as humans.”

Whichever direction you wish to take, whether it be through medication or self-awareness, it is important to remember that there is no shame in being diagnosed with depression. The shame only occurs when you don’t do something about it.

SOURCE: https://www.nextavenue.org/helps-depression-medications-dont/extavenue.org

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  No Respect... 

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329,000 Seniors Petition Congress:
 Repay the Social Security Trust Fund

The Seniors Center's Trust Fund Emergency Petition to Congress

    Our members are fighting mad. They've made it clear that they expect action from Congress and the President to save Social Security.

329,000 senior citizens have signed petitions demanding an immediate end to the practice of borrowing surplus Social Security funds for general spending--and calling on Congress to replace $2.7 trillion in Trust Fund IOUs with real cash assets.

The national petition drive, sponsored by The Seniors Center, is the core of a movement by senior citizens to preserve and protect the Social Security Trust Fund.

The Seniors Center President Dan Perrin has joined Social Security Trustees to call for Congressional intervention. “As Social Security approaches financial armageddon, the leaders of both parties are failing us. They’ve done nothing but point fingers."

“The Social Security Trust Fund is empty. Congress has drained every last dime. And that is just the beginning. Looming demographic issues will cause an even bigger crisis in the next 15 years. It’s time to worry about the future of not just today’s retirees but tomorrow’s as well,” Perrin said.

“Our members are fighting mad,” Perrin said. “They’ve made it clear that they expect action from Congress and the President to save Social Security.” Perrin explained that the campaign is being waged through online advertisements, direct mail, and personal contact.

“Our online community is amazing. Right from their homes, senior citizens are taking control of their futures. Emailing their friends… calling their Congressmen… and writing letters to the editor. One Facebook post alone was shared almost 68,000 times.”

The Seniors Center’s Petition to Congress calls for legislation that the group says will be the first step to protecting the future of Social Security:

    Permanently end the use of surplus FICA income for any purpose other than paying out Social Security benefits;
    Legally require the United States Treasury begin repaying all money borrowed from Social Security, retaining surplus funds solely for the payment of benefits.

To date, 329,710 seniors have added their names and support to the Trust Fund Emergency Petition to Congress.

The Seniors Center will continue to collect signatures via their electronic petition at The Seniors Center website and through traditional mail. Once received, each signature is being sent directly to Capitol Hill to demand Congress take these important first steps to creating a solvent and long-lasting Social Security Trust Fund.

Perrin and The Seniors Center call on all Americans--both current beneficiaries and those paying towards their Social Security benefits--to join their nationwide effort to protect Social Security and restore Social Security funds to their original purpose: paying the Social Security benefits of American retirees and beneficiaries.

Those interested in signing the Trust Fund Emergency Petition to Congress may find the petition at The Seniors Center website.

The Seniors Center is a program of Our Generation, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.

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The Shower:
A Time for Creativity…
…and Revenge

I don’t know why, but I find I do my best thinking in the shower.

Maybe it’s the hot water or just the sound of running water that sets my creative juices flowing..

Or, maybe it’s the feeling I feel when I draw the shower curtain and realize that I’m in my own little think tank, alone, independent and separated from a world where privacy is at a premium.

So, what do I actually think about while I’m lathering up and scrubbing my bits?

Usually, and invariably, the lyrics to some long lost and rarely sung song flash through my mind.

Getting these lyrics correct (or as close to correct as possible barring the daily loss of a couple of thousand brain cells) is very important because the song that I have selected in the shower becomes the tune that will be in my head all day (sometimes all week).

Many times I will only be able to remember just a few words from the original melody and therefore, I have to make up new lyrics to fit a particular occasion. Like just before breakfast the other day…

(Sung to the tune of “I’m in the mood for love’’)

I’m in the mood for eggs

I hope the yolks are runny

I like mine up and sunny

I’m in the mood for eggs

Scrambled, or poached, or fried

Anyway they make them

With some rye toast, I’ll take them

I’m in the mood for eggs

For those times when song lyrics are not a priority, my thoughts usually turn to what topic or topics I’m going to write about for this blog.

Unfortunately, by the time I finish washing, shaving (Yes, I shave in the shower. With an electric razor no less), and drying off, I have forgotten what I was thinking about and wind up writing about a completely different topic (Hence the one which you are reading right now).

Note to self: Buy waterproof notepads and pens.

Sadly, I have to admit that not all of my aquatic insights are those of goodness and mirth. On the contrary.

Often dark thoughts interfere with the creative process.

These dispirited thoughts usually manifest themselves in the form of revenge. Actually, not so much revenge but more like retribution.

Revenge is such a nasty word and rarely works out for either party.

I prefer a scenario when I am proven right and all others are shown to be the sniveling dolts they are.

I’ll always remember what Ivana Trump said about getting one’s due…

“Gorgeous hair is the best revenge”

Gotta love Ivana.

But seriously, any situation that allows me to smugly walk away victorious is a good one.

BTW, narratives, where a senior citizen gets the upper hand, are rare.

Have you noticed that the older we get, the less we get our way? Become a resident of an assisted living facility and you will know what I mean. Almost nothing you will do is right.

Thoughts of when you want to wake-up, to dining times, to where you want to sit will be thoroughly scrutinized and summarily rejected.

Okay, by now you are probably snickering and asking yourself “Where is this guy getting this from? Are people really more creative in the shower?”

Hey, if you don’t believe me, maybe this will convince you. There is some actual science behind my rantings.

According to an article in lifehacker.com…

...our brains give us our best ideas when:

A lot of dopamine is released in our brains. Triggers like exercising, listening to music, and, yes, taking a warm shower, contribute to increased dopamine flow.

We're relaxed. When we have a relaxed state of mind, we're more likely to turn attention inwards, able to make insightful connections. We've seen before how being drunk and sleepy are great for creativity.

We're distracted. Distraction gives our brains a break so our subconscious can work on a problem more creatively.

Source: https://lifehacker.com/5987858/the-science-behind-creative-ideas

Still not convinced? Here’s a quote from a real science guy…

Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive scientist and co-author of "Wired to Create" — described a study he did showing that 72% of people get creative ideas in the shower:
"The relaxing, solitary, and non-judgmental shower environment may afford creative thinking by allowing the mind to wander freely, and causing people to be more open to their inner stream of consciousness and daydreams,"

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/why-people-get-their-best-ideas-in-the-shower-2016-1

This, of course, just confirms my theory that people who don’t bathe on a regular (every day) basis are most likely the notorious dullards we see around us all of the time.

Therefore, the next time you take a shower and feel a tingling in your head it may not always be the Head and Shoulders shampoo. You might just be feeling all that dopamine flowing freely through your brain.

Keep washing, my friends. Keep washing.

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Most Common Fears
When Considering Assisted Living

According to United Methodist Communities:

“Assisted living can conjure up some of our most deep-seated fears, and yet most people aren’t familiar with the reality of this service! Just bringing the subject up can provoke a knee-jerk reaction or even start a family argument…”

As an actual resident of an assisted living facility, I’ll attempt to give to you more realistic answers to these three areas of concern.

Fear Number One: I’ll lose my independence. Independence is a vital part of living life to the fullest and understandably, seniors don’t want to lose that… assisted living communities know how important this is and have evolved to do everything they can to keep seniors living on their own terms as much as possible.

The Reality: Whether or not assisted living communities are aware of how important independence is may or may not be true. In any event, for many residents with more severe disabilities, independence is restricted. While this is done (as it should be) to insure the safety of the resident, many times people were able to complete simple tasks while in their own homes will be prevented from doing so in their new environment. An example of this would be not allowing residents to have or use appliances like microwave ovens, hair dryers, or steam irons in their rooms.*

Fear Number Two: I can’t afford it. Senior care services cost money — there’s no getting away from that. But the truth is that home assistance and caregiving may become necessary for all of us as we become more frail. By spending some time doing research and visiting assisted living communities, you’ll be able to find one that fits your budget.

The Reality: If you are thinking that all assisted living facilities offer gourmet meals, swimming pools, free proprietary transportation and spacious, private rooms, THINK AGAIN.

It’s not that amenities like that are not available, it’s just that most likely you can’t afford them. Unless you have the means to shell out five to six thousand dollars (or more if you need extra “assistance”) all you are most likely to get are basic, bland and unimaginative meals, small private rooms (no kitchens, little closet space) or a double room and a room mate. Additionally, very few places have their own vans or buses ready to take residents wherever they want to go.

Fear Number Three: I’ll be lonely. Loneliness, isolation and depression are real concerns in the senior care community, but assisted living communities are actually one of the best prevention methods.

The Reality: The author actually speaks the truth here. In fact, if privacy and living in solitary is what you are seeking chances are you will not find it living in an A.L.F. You are always surrounded by people. In the dining room (they won’t serve you meals in your room), in the lobby (a prime gathering spot) or in most any public areas of the facility. And if you are a person who doesn’t make friends easily, you will be worse off than if you were living in a cave.

The bottom line: Remember, assisted living can be a godsend for those that are no longer able to manage the tasks of daily living on their own. Just be aware of what you are getting yourself into. Ask questions about what your room will look like and who your room mate might be. Have a meal at the facility (preferably in the dining room at mealtimes). And speak frankly about how you feel when it comes to how they respect your privacy. Try to get everything in writing if you can.

Also,once you have moved in, give yourself some time to adjust to your new surroundings (a month should do it) before you decide that assisted living (or that particular facility) is not for you………………………………………………..bwc.

*Editor’s Note: I’m not saying that the use of these items shouldn’t be restricted. I’m only pointing out that many prospective residents are aware of these restrictions or how much of an impact this will have on their lives.

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