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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.



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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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13TH 2018


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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.



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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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 6th 2018


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THESENIORLOG
Thursday, Aug. 30th 2018









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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
www.forbes.com


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.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertlawton/2018/08/26/this-is-how-much-money-you-need-to-retire/#77d1834647cf


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It’s Important to Choose Where Hospice Is Provided
www.jdsupra.com


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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THESENIORLOG
Monday, Aug. 27th 2018








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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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, SEPT. 3 2018


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THESENIORLOG
Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018









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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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NEXT BLOG: MONDAY, AUGUST 27TH 2018


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THESENIORLOG
Monday, Aug. 20th 2018



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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?
 
Unfortunately…

“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...120734.126948.0.129742.6.6.0.0.0.0.120.586.3j3.6.0....0...1.1.64.psy-ab..0.0.0....0.PAQeqrUXnzA
*** 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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, AUGUST 23rd 2018


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THESENIORLOG
THURSDAY, AUG 16TH 2018






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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.”



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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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NEXT BLOG: MONDAY, AUGUST 20TH 2018


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THESENIORLOG
AUGUST 13TH, 018




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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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NEXT BLOG: MONDAY, AUGUST 13TH 2018



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THESENIORLOG
August 9, 2018






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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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THESENIORLOG
MONDAY AUGUST 6 2018



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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.



* * * *

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


source..https://www.alternet.org/here-are-16-dumbest-things-americans-believe-and-right-wing-lies-behind-them


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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?

Here is my “ASSISTED LIVING MISCONCEPTION CHECKLIST”


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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CAN WE GET ANY OLDER?
(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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, JULY 12th 2018


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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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, JULY 5TH 2018


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Thursday, June 29th 2018





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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.

“Mom?”
    “What?”
“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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NEXT BLOG: MONDAY, JULY 2ND 2018


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MONDAY, JUNE 25TH 2018




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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.


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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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Clueless

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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, JUNE 28TH 2018


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THURSDAY JUNE 21ST 2018




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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://mtstandard.com/business/investment/personal-finance/fact-or-fiction-social-security-is-running-out-of-money/article_22334127-80f4-5770-8de2-0be341c991af.html
 ** 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.


 Lifestyle:

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?

Lifestyle:

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…

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P.S.

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/

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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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NEXT BLOG: MONDAY, JUNE 18TH 2018


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MONDAY, JUNE 18TH 2018


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At The A.L.F.:
Living With A Bunch Of Old Folks
(ALL OF THE TIME)

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.




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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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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, JUNE 21ST 2018


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Blog For Thursday June 7th 2018





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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?



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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


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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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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
es-idUSKBN1FD02F

**Source: http://www.survivopedia.com/6-realistic-ways-to-stop-school-shootings/

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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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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.

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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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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.”
Additionally…
“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?”



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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.

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Bullying:
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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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…

 ..(https://homecareassistance.com/wp-content/themes/hca/downloads/Newsletter-1-2.pdf)


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.

QUESTION OF THE DAY:
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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FILL OUT AND PRINT YOUR
OWN LIVING WILL-FREE


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.

“NO, I AM NOT GOING TO KILL MYSELF YOU IDIOT, GET THE F**K OUT OF HERE.”

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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Article reprinted with permission from PRWEB :

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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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According to Millennials and Gen X...

“Baby Boomers have ruined the world.”
…I take exception to that


As far as I’m concerned, they’re all a bunch of whippersnappers. But it appears however, that there is some differentiation:

According to Wikipedia….

“Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the generational demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when this cohort starts or ends; demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years. Millennials are sometimes referred to as "echo boomers" due to a major surge in birth rates in the 1980s and 1990s, and because millennials are often the children of the baby boomers. The 20th-century trend toward smaller families in developed countries continued, however, so the relative impact of the "baby boom echo" was generally less pronounced than the post–World War II baby boom.

Although Millennial characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions, the generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.[1] In most parts of the world, their upbringing was marked by an increase in a liberal approach to politics and economics; the effects of this environment are disputed. The Great Recession has had a major impact on this generation because it has caused historically high levels of unemployment among young people, and has led to speculation about possible long-term economic and social damage to this generation.”


Okay, so now that we know who THEY are, let us find out why they think we (Baby Boomers) ruined the world.

In order to do this, we need to find out exactly who those pishers* have in mind when speaking of Baby Boomers.

Generally, a “Boomer” is anyone born between 1946 and 1964. I will expand that a bit to include anybody who was born at the end of the second world war (1945) to 1968 when the last of the really cool cars rolled off the U.S. assembly lines.

Since I was born at the end of August 1945 (a few days after the A-Bomb was dropped on Japan by President Truman…the best president ever) I consider myself to be a Baby Boomer and therefore fully qualified to elaborate on the subject.

I will begin my rebuttal by saying that I consider Millennials to be a bunch of overprotected, over-technologized, live for the moment whiny creeps whose every waking moment is dedicated to never making eye contact with another human being.

Too harsh you say?

“Look around you”, I say.

All of those people you see on the street, the subway, in restaurants whose faces are basking in the pale glow of a flickering smartphone screen are Millennials.

Go to any park. See those people bike riding and wearing more safety gear than a NASCAR driver….Millennials.

Peruse this year’s catalog from the college you went to. Among the more mundane subjects like history and the humanities, you will find a course dedicated entirely to Beyonce’s “Lemonade” album.
Source: …(https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/lifestyle/7973629/beyonce-college-classes-now-exist).

(At this point I would normally insert the pseudo-expletive “WTF”, but that would be pandering to Millennials).

By being so “connected” they are actually less in touch with the world than ever.

Just take a look at the 10 top Youtube videos of 2017. (Youtube being the prime source of information for Millennials)…


1.Until We Will Become Dust – Oyster Masked | The Mask Singer 2

2.Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You | Kyle Hanagami Choreography

3.Ping Pong Trick Shots 3 | Dude Perfect

4.Darci Lynne: 12-Year-Old Singing Ventriloquist Gets Golden Buzzer – America’s Got Talent 2017 (Actually she’s very good and you should definitely watch this).

5.Ed Sheeran Carpool Karaoke

6.Lady Gaga’s Full Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl LI Halftime Show | NFL

7.“Inauguration Day” — A Bad Lip Reading of Donald Trump’s Inauguration

8.history of the entire world, I guess

9.In a Heartbeat – Animated Short Film

10.Children interrupt BBC News interview – BBC News

Wow! Pretty heavy thought-provoking stuff huh?

Okay, okay. Enough about what’s wrong with THEM. Let’s see why they have a beef with us. I will try to refute each accusation as they occur.

According to an article in rawstory.com …(https://www.rawstory.com/2018/04/baby-boomers-ruined-world-according-millennials-gen-x/), here are some of the things they blame us for.


They blame us for “trickle-down economics” and the aftermath of such policy like graduating into a one of the worst job markets since the Great Depression.
…..If they are talking about Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle-down” policies, they didn’t work. If you had trouble finding a job it’s because you were too busy studying Beyonce in college.


They blame us for “destroying the Earth and the environment.”
…..Wrong again. We all know it’s cow farts that are doing it.

They think we’re “spoiled rotten. We’re self-absorbed. And it seems like we’ll never shut up.” (see - https://www.aarp.org/politics-society/history/info-11-2013/wealthy-educated-spoiled-baby-boomers.html)
….. Oh, yea, you got a problem with that?

While all generations have and will have their faults, it’s important to put failures aside and look at the positive things we Boomers did for America (and the world).

From: mercatornet.com

1. You’re still here, right? Gen X and Gen Y didn’t live through the Cold War with its military strategy of Mutually Assured Destruction, its fallout shelters and a Doomsday Clock set at two minutes to midnight. While Iran may have nuclear weapons, no one (except Israel) is worrying about being bombed back to the Stone Age. Baby boomer statesmen in the US and the USSR found ways to defuse the mad arms race. How about a nice little thank-you?
2. Capital punishment is vanishing. ere executed last year, compared to about 130 in 1945.
3.No more polio. No more smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella or Whooping cough
4.No more beehive hair-dos.
5.The rise of Africa.
6.Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Beegees.
7.Mobile phones.
8.Marriage has turned a corner.
9.Shattering the glass ceiling.
10.Communism is kaput.
11. Living with a disability. Paraplegics and quadriplegics are well cared for, can live relatively normal lives, and can be part of the workforce.
12. The welfare state is on the skids.
13. Voyager 1. Launched in 1977,
14.The internet.
15. Tom Yam Goong. In every city in American, Australia or the UK, you are bound to find Thai restaurants. More than great meals and occasions for appalling puns, these are a sign of an increasingly cosmopolitan and culturally tolerant society. Another Thai-riffic step forward brought to you by Baby Boomers.
16.Locking in civil rights.
17.The democratization of computing.
18.We wear seat belts.
19.No World War III, not even World War II.5.
20.We can work past 60.


There are many more Baby Boomer Pluses to be found.

A complete list may be viewed at…
 (https://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/27_amazing_things_baby_boomers_have_done_for_humanity)


Now may be a good time to take things into perspective. Older generations have always had problems with younger ones.

Take this quote for instance…

"The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior, and dress."

This extract is from a sermon preached in 1274 by a man with the best job description ever. Peter the Hermit.

There are various quotes from Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates among others in regards to proceeding generations.

As for myself. I could denounce my parents and accuse them of everything, but I won’t.

At least there is one thing that I can say in defense of us Baby Boomers. We have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Or, as the great philosopher Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”



*Editor’s note: “Pishers”, is an American-Judeo term for whippersnapper.


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Say What?

Hearing aids may hold potential to cut
 older adults’ hospital or ER visits




It’s well known to my friends, and a bit of a shock to strangers, but I have hearing difficulties.

While the hearing in my right ear is pretty good, I hear practically nothing out of my left ear. Unfortunately, Medicare/Medicaid doesn’t view me as having a 50% hearing loss..
 
A recent visit  and an extensive exam by an Audiologist determined that a hearing aid would indeed enable me to hear almost normally out of my now useless ear.

Such a hearing aid, made exclusively for my condition, would cost about $3000. Something that I cannot afford.

The audiologist (who was familiar with the in’s and out’s of the health care system in regards to hearing aids) said to me that “As long as I have nearly perfect hearing in at least one ear, I am not considered to be officially def and therefor ineligible for any government assistance in obtaining a hearing aid.” I would need to lose most of my hearing in my other ear for that to happen.

Fortunately, my hearing loss is more of an annoyance than a disability.

I can hear mostly all of a conversation, providing the room is not too noisy and the person that I am talking to is sitting on my “good ear side.”

My only real problem is with music. All music I hear is in monaural only. No stereo. It all sounds flat and colorless. It’s a bummer man.

But, as I said, it’s really only an annoyance. But what about folks that really can’t hear?

As of now, Medicare doesn’t care much about helping them either. And that’s unfortunate because, according to a study in JAMA Otolaryngology…

“... they found that older adults who had a hearing aid were less likely to have gone to the hospital or emergency room in the last year. The difference was about two percentage points – not a major difference but large enough to be significant.

In addition, those who had been hospitalized and had a hearing aid had shorter stays than those who didn't have a hearing aid – averaging a half of a day less in the hospital.”

Despite the fact that hearing aids might actually reduce the time spent in hospitals (a huge part of what Medicare pays for) regular Medicare will not pay for any of the cost. And Medicare Advantage might pay for some of the cost leaving the patient with a hefty co-pay.

But all is not lost…

“…a 2017 law instructing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop guidelines that will allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter. The FDA hearing aid website provides current information, but the agency now has less than three years to develop and launch guidelines. No matter what, over-the-counter hearing aids are likely to be best for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.”

Whether or not an OTC hearing aid would help me is questionable, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to go to Best Buy or Sears or Walmart and be able to try out some $300-$500 aids just to see if they would work?

Source: https://www.news-medical.net/news/20180426/Hearing-aids-may-hold-potential-to-cut-older-adultse28099-hospital-or-ER-visits.aspx



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I'm Fine, How are You?

There's nothing the matter with me,

I'm just as healthy as can be,

I have arthritis in both knees,

And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.

My pulse is weak, my blood is thin,

But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

All my teeth have had to come out,

And my diet I hate to think about.

I'm overweight and I can't get thin,

But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

Arch supports I need for my feet.

Or I wouldn't be able to go out in the street.

Sleep is denied me night after night,

But every morning I find I'm all right.

My memory's failing, my head's in a spin.

But I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in.

The moral of this as the tale unfolds,

Is that for you and me, who are growing old.

It is better to say "I'm fine" with a grin,

Than to let people know the shape we are in.

I'm fine, how are you?

                                                     (Author unknown)


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POACHED EGGS

To most of you this picture, showing a couple of less than perfectly formed poached eggs, may not be anything for a chef to be proud of. But for us residents here at the A.L.F., this represents the culmination of over five years of questioning, pleading, whining, and complaining.

For years we have been told that, according to Dept. Of Health regulations, eggs must be cooked to a temperature of at least 160 (F) in order to reduce the possibility of salmonella contamination. This (so we were led to believe) would negate us ever having anything less than over-cooked, rubbery, runny-less, yolk-less sunny-side or poached eggs.

However, today it is my pleasure to announce that runny-yolked eggs have at last come to our breakfast table. And, despite their rather less than aesthetically pleasing appearance, were absolutely superb…………………………ff.


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In Old Age-
The Best Laid Plans
Will Often Go Astray


My usual group of cronies and I were sitting at our regular table here at the ALF waiting for our lunch to arrive and lamenting on the fact that this was not how (and where) we had planned to spend our golden years. And, to a man (actually two men and two women) we agreed that it was some misfortune that brought us to this place.

We also agreed that we most likely could not have foreseen the circumstances that upended our plans for a happy and care-free retirement. Additionally, we agreed that if we had it to do over again, knowing what we know now, we would have done things differently. For instance, I learned that “No matter how much money you have saved for retirement, it’s not enough.” There is always the chance that something will come along to eat away at all of those hard-earned dollars that you set aside for that time when you would no longer be working. I’ll give you an example.

While I had been working (and contributing to the tax base) since I was 18, I really hadn’t done any serious retirement planning other than opening a savings account and buying a couple of CD’s (certificates of deposits, not “The Best of Sinatra” ten-disc box set). I would have bought more and even diversified my portfolio if (A) I knew what a portfolio was, and (B) I had the money to do so.

The problem with living in New York City is living in New York City. It’s expensive. Especially if you are a single person with one income. My income, as decent as it was, never managed to keep up with inflation, rising rent, gasoline, food, clothes etc. It was not until my mid-forties that I realized that, even with social security, I might not be able to continue my (rather modest) lifestyle after I stopped working. And so I began to save in earnest.

I contributed the maximum to my companies 401K.

I put even more into my own mutual fund based IRA.

I lived conservatively.I Drove an 8-year-old car. I Used coupons at the supermarket and cooked most of my own meals.

I even began to return my empty soda bottles for the deposit money.

And, after 20 years, I amassed what I thought was enough money for me to manage an adequate (if not luxurious) retirement.

Yup. I had it all planned out.

At age 65, I would apply for a freeze in my rent under The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE, also known as the NYC Rent Freeze Program) which freezes the rent for head-of-household seniors 62 and older who live in rent-regulated apartments.
.
I would work until I was 67 (the age at which I would be able to maximize my Social Security benefits) at which time I would bid farewell to the daily grind and start living the carefree, stress reduced life of a retired person. Much like those happy smiling people depicted in all of those senior living magazines and by the AARP. At least that’s what I thought. Unfortunately, this mouse’s plans did not work out.

The company that I had worked for for 13 years announced that they were closing their NY office laying off more than 100 employees. I was only 61-years-old. Six years short of my retirement date goal.

I left the job with some severance pay and directions to the unemployment office. I also left behind, not only someplace to go to every day, and my friends, but most importantly my company-subsidized health insurance program. OUCH!

You don’t know how fast savings can dwindle until you have to write checks for $400 a month made out to Blue Cross.

During the next year, I was only able to find one job that would pay me a decent wage.

Sadly, a disagreement over my exact job function ended my employment with that company after only a week.*

No job, no income, unemployment running out, rent going up, health insurance eating me alive.

Eight months later, at age 62, I was forced to apply for Social Security shooting holes in one of my steps for a perfect retirement.

Instead of collecting over $2000 per month had I waited (and worked) until I was 67, I now had to manage on only $1200.
Ouch, number 2.

“Okay Bruce”, I said. “It’s time to tighten my belt even more.”

I got out the calculator and, in a very business-like manner, did a quick asset's vs. liabilities check.
 
 What would I have to do to hang on for at least 3 more years until I could qualify for Medicare and SCRIE.

Well….I could drive less (or not at all). I could stop going to Burger King and McDonald’s. I could pass by the snack food aisle at the supermarket. In fact, I should probably have given up my favorite foods long ago. You know, stuff like Stilton cheese, Pickled herring, pepperoni pizza (those extra toppings cost money), and anything with the name Entenmann’s on it.
Selling my blood and maybe a kidney also crossed my mind.

Yes, I could make ends meet. That is if nothing catastrophic happened.

2009.Something catastrophic happened.

Without going into details (and since most of you know my story) I’ll just say that I spent the next three years in and out of hospitals and nursing homes. And, since my health insurance only covered 60 days of nursing home care and I did not yet qualify for Medicare, many months of that nursing home care was out-of-pocket at a whopping $13,000 per month. Ouch, number 3.

ZAP! Bye bye, happy care-free retirement and hello assisted living where I now reside. And, while I still don’t have any money to speak of. And the room that I sleep in is a bit of a come down from a two bedroom, pre-war, doorman building apartment with a drop living room in one of NY’s best neighborhoods, I can’t really complain.

I have a roof over my head. I eat three squares a day. I have a few very nice people around me and my stress level is somewhere around zero.

But sometimes, late at night as I toss and turn in my single bed with a rubber mattress, I think about all of those happy retirees in those brochures and wonder “How the f**k did they do it?”

 *Editor’s note: I wasn’t fired. We just agreed that I wasn’t “working out.”


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It’s like High School with Wrinkles-

Bullying in Assisted Living


Our usually quiet Friday morning breakfast was broken by a stream of expletives.

“F” bombs could be heard exploding from somewhere near the front of the dining room.

I gave a quick glance in that direction and was surprised to see (and hear) those words emanating, not from some gnarly old septuagenarian male, but rather from a gray-haired little lady deftly maneuvering a walker around a group of staff members who were disparately trying to contain her wrath.

What her problem was or with who it was I did not know. However, incidents such as this are not that uncommon in semi-institutional settings like assisted living facilities. And, while they are generally short-lived and quickly forgotten, some of these incidents can go on for weeks and months. And for no particular reason other than one resident “rubbing” the other the wrong way.

“The idea that bullying would exist among older adults may surprise many, and it often goes undetected or unaddressed in assisted living communities. But an estimated 10 to 20 percent of residents in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and senior centers are mistreated by peers, according to an AARP article quoting an Arizona State University gerontologist.”*

So what’s really going on here? Why is something so sophomoric and immature as bullying extend it’s sweaty palms from the high school corridors to assisted living dining rooms and game areas?

An article for nextavenue.com written by Jess Stonefield puts it this way…

“Reasons for bullying in assisted living facilities vary. Some residents do it to try to regain some semblance of control over their lives or a sense of status they experienced in their early lives. Some try to cope with imminent health decline by ostracizing weaker patients. Others may have become physically or verbally abusive   as a result of dementia or other cognitive changes.”

From a personal point of view, much of the discontentment (which often manifests itself in the form of bullying) comes from the frustration many residents have when confronting a system whose rigidity is something that many of them have never come across in their lives.

Many of the residents here at the ALF had been supervisors, managers and even proprietors in their “civilian” lives and are more used to making their own rules rather than obeying someone else’s. And, when confronted by seemingly over-restrictive guidelines and regulations that do not conform with their usual ways of doing things, outbreaks of anger occur and are usually directed towards someone who appears to be an easy target.

Unfortunately, many facilities do not know how to handle these bullying situations and tend to have little or no compassion for the bully. So. Instead of dealing with the reason for a resident’s outbursts, they lean towards some form of disciplinary action.

This chastisement may be reinforced through forfeiture of some privileges such as being banned from common areas, dining rooms and other activities which just further angers an already agitated person.

As one way to deal with chronic bully’s, the nextavenue.com article suggests this approach…

“Suggest a Support Team: …asking leadership to create a support team of residents with caregiving personalities to provide loving guidance, friendship and advocacy to residents who are “becoming lost.”

While this may be all well and good, perhaps the real solution is to relax some of the more restrictive regulations that make many residents feel as though they are being treated like kids back in high school.



*Source: https://www.nextavenue.org/bullying-assisted-living/?hide_newsletter=true&utm_source=Next+Avenue+Email+Newsletter&utm_campaign=8c2d81e724-04.05.2018_SCAN_Mailing&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_056a405b5a-8c2d81e724-165407981&mc_cid=8c2d81e724&mc_eid=94767a79b9     



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Oh Boy. It’s Nap Time

I have always been a fan of the nap.

To be truthful, I always thought that businesses should include a built-in nap time for all employees.

I mean, after all, we did it in kindergarten didn’t we?

So how come that 15 to 30-minute break never extended into high school and beyond?

Most likely it’s because educators, as well as employers, are not educated in the benefits, and art, of the proper nap.

I started taking naps in earnest only a couple of years ago when I realized that sleeping through the night without having to jump up every few hours to relieve myself was impossible. And, that if I were ever to be able to function with some semblance of normality, I would have to make up for those lost sleep nighttime hours some way. Enter the nap.

Now, every afternoon, soon after lunch, I slip comfortably into my nice motorized recliner, push the “down” button, and slowly begin my trip to Neverland which reaches its apex within five to ten minutes. I awaken a couple of hours later, with just enough time before dinner to read and answer my email, check Facebook and engage in some personal hygiene.

Those two hours napping, while not as good as getting in a solid six or seven hours of real sleep, as recommended, allows me to be lucid for the rest of the evening. And, when you are a man in his seventies, lucidity is what’s it all about.

For those of you who do not need a nap to remain coherent, there are other benefits to napping.

According to blogger Michael Hyatt (https://michaelhyatt.com/why-you-should-take-a-nap-every-day/), there are 5 good reasons for taking naps:


1.A nap restores alertness. 

2.A nap prevents burnout.

3.A nap heightens sensory perception.

4.A nap reduces the risk of heart disease.

5. A nap makes you more productive.

There’s one more benefit that I would like to add to the above list, and that is “A nap affords me the time to be completely alone with myself, something that living in an assisted living facility, is not always easy to obtain.

Read more about napping: …
HTTP://www.bing.com/search?q=Yes+I+take+a+nap+every+afternoon&input=2&nclid=78B5A2A15A9B4360A4D0B800AACDFCCB&FORM=WNSSCX&cc=US&setlang=en-US



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Dieting: A Losing Battle
After 60?


The question is, “Is it better to just accept the fact that you will never be thin and not stress over it, or to fight against fierce odds knowing that most likely you will never win?”

This is a question that I have asked myself many times in my 72 years of trudging through the wonderful world of obesity.

You know “obesity.” don’t you? It’s the word that skinny people (mostly doctors) use to describe fat people.

Fat people, on the other hand, know that they are fat and are not afraid to call it what it is.

There is something else that fat people know. And that is HOW TO DIET.

Talk to any overweight man, women, or child and you will find them all to be diet and nutrician experts.

We (Notice that I have included myself in this category) can recite line for line the intricacies of the “South Beach Diet”, the “Hollywood Diet”, the “Mediterranean Diet”, and the myriad number of other weight reducing schemes that all claim their diet will not drastically change your lifestyle but, in actuality, really does.

After all, what weight-loss plan that does not include pizza, cheeseburgers, pasta, and ice cream as part of the regular regimen will not drastically change MY lifestyle?

This is not to say that I have never had boots on the ground on the battlefield known as dieting.

For 9 months (Do not read anything maternal into that time span), I was a carb-fearing, and fighting, soldier in the Atkins army. A diet upon which, as much as I hate to admit it, I managed to lose 70 lbs. Good, but not good enough. I was still a bit “chunky.”

Even though I was proud of my 70 lb. Weight loss, I would have loved to be able to shed an additional 20 lbs. Unfortunately, I was never able to get past that wall. My body just stopped losing weight. This, of course, depressed the heck out of me and it was not before long that I put back much of those 70 lbs.

Tragically, that’s the lament that I have heard from the corpulent mouths of dieters everywhere.

However, the disappointment does not end there. And it all has to do with a myth.

The myth (or at least something that I believed to be true) was that “OLD PEOPLE HAVE BAD APPETITES.”

To be truthful, It was one of the few things that I was looking forward to as I approached my dotage.

“At last”, I thought. “I would be able to eat anything I wanted without having to worry about overeating.”

I thought that there was some mysterious built-in limiting mechanism that only began to work in one’s later years.

WRONG!

If anything, I’m eating more than ever. And, not only am I eating more, I’m eating more crap than ever too.

I was never much of a junk-food junkie. But now I seem to crave anything that’s bad for me.

Just the mention of pizza (with extra cheese), chili (the hotter the better), Chinese take-out (Orange beef, my favorite) and, recently added, Sloppy Joe’s will make my mouth water like one of Pavlov’s puppies.

Now, to be honest, there are many old folks that do indeed have horrible appetites. A fact that I have personally observed every time I exit the dining room here at the A.L.F.

I have glanced at the plates of many of our very old residents (those in the 80 plus bracket) and noticed that many of them (mainly women) have hardly eaten anything.

“If science could only isolate whatever chemical runs through little old lady’s veins and inject it into those of us whose appetites haven’t waned since they first discovered pizza on the boardwalk in Rockaway Beach NY. Sixty-five years ago, it would be a godsend”, I thought.

But alas, science doesn’t seem to think that the poor eating habits of the world’s population of octogenarians are something to be promulgated and admired.

So alas it appears that my plight, and the plight of millions of senior fatties everywhere, will have to wait a bit longer for the magic bullet that will put an end to our adiposity.

I was ready to throw in the towel in resignation.

But then I found this in an article on the website sixtyandme.com which states the we shouldn’t worry too much about formal diets in order to lose weight.


The article, by Peg Doyle, goes on to say that there are at least 3 reasons why people over 60 should not go on a diet.

Diets Don’t Work
Diets change your eating routine for a set period. Some involve nourishing foods, while others consist of drinks and supplements and fads like eating only grapefruit or oranges for a week.

We Need Healthy Fat
It turns out we need fat in our diets to feel satisfied. Fat is not the problem; it is the type of fat and the volume of fat that matters. Another fad was the Atkins diet, where large amounts of protein and fat were consumed in the absence of much-needed carbohydrates.

There Are Better Ways to Lose Weight
I think most of us accept that we as individuals are the sum of our physical, emotional and spiritual selves and that each aspect affects the others.

I can hear the sound of thousands of chubby little hands applauding.

Look, we all know that excess weight is not good for people at any age and that we should probably put together a plan to keep from piling on the pounds. But sometimes you just have to put aside the insanity part of weight loss and go with what makes you feel good.




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A Visit to the Doctor’s Office had me thinking..

When do you know you're
old enough to die?



I had my trimonthly visit with our in-house doctor the other day which left me with some questions for myself.

First, let me mention that we have a new doctor here at the A.L.F.

Our regular doctor, a man that I had come to trust explicitly with my well being for the last three or four years, is away on leave. So, it was with some apprehension that I sat quietly in the medical suite waiting my turn.

The new doc is a middle-aged Indian gentleman (Not American Indian, but the other kind), who specializes in taking care of old folks like me and my fellow residents.

He shook my hand and asked if I had any particular medical problems or concerns.

I thought for a minute (doing a mental scan of my body like Bone’s, Star Trek Tri-Corder) and decided that I really was feeling okay. Something, which most likely, he did not expect to hear from an overweight 72 year-old-man with no colon.

He briefly thumbed thru my chart, which was left to him by the other doctor, and noticed that my last blood test showed a higher than normal PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) level.

As I have learned over the years, An elevated PSA can mean anything from “Nothing to worry about” to “Don’t make any long-term plans’’ and anything in between.

My next question to him was “How many men my age do not have a higher-than-normal PSA?”

“Not too many”, he answered. “But that doesn’t mean we should not be concerned.”

“Oh, I’m concerned”, I said. “But doing something about it is worse than doing nothing, yes? I mean it would be invasive in any case, wouldn’t it?”

He agreed but he still thought I should see a urologist. However, knowing that a prostate tumor is so very slow growing, and given my age, gave in to my decision of not seeing one at this time.

We ended our session with another handshake and me getting an appointment to have some blood drawn.

Hmm..my former doctor, while noting my higher PSA, did not think it was any big deal and never mentioned a urologist.

I walked back to my room feeling a little worse than before I went into the see the doc.

I had suddenly had, once again, become aware of my own mortality.

The last time the thought of the Grim Reaper coming for a visit crossed my mind I found myself conferring with my local mortuary about funeral prearrangement.

And, while this time my morbid thoughts did not initiate such a drastic response, the thought of how things would end did cross my mind.

Then, as happenstance would have it, I came across this article from theguardian.com…
 
(https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/apr/07/barbara-ehrenreich-natural-causes-book-old-enough-to-die?CMP=share_btn_fb)

The story is about Barbara Ehrenreich (an author, journalist and political activist) who, at 76, was diagnosed with breast cancer. A shocking revelation at any age.

But, unlike what many of her similarly diagnosed friends had done, she decided that she would not get (or go) crazy about it.

As I got further into the article, I realized that Barbara had many of the same thoughts I had as to how many tests, procedures, surgeries, medications and all the side effects that come with them, do I want to endure just to keep myself alive for a few more months or years. Or, in other words, “How old is old enough?”

Now don’t get me wrong. At 72 I’m not ready to pack it in. And, I would do whatever I could to extend my life.

But what if I were 80 or 85, or even 90? Would I be thinking differently about how many more treatments, doctors, poking and prodding I could endure before I said: “enough is enough?”

I like to think I would. And, what’s even more important is, that I would hope my doctors and caregivers would respect my wishes (whatever they would be) and let me decide when things should come to an end.



* * * * *

Why Americans' Life Expectancy
 Is Getting Longer


It’s nice to know that everything is not gloom and doom for us older folks.

According to a recent article at webmd.com,

 (https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20180406/why-americans-life-expectancy-is-getting-longer)

“Americans appear to be aging slower than they used to.”

And it’s not about some dramatic change in our genes.

What it is about is a dramatic change in our lifestyles.

According to the article,
“Older adults had the greatest decreases in biological age, and men had greater declines than women.

These differences were partially explained by changes in smoking, obesity rates, and medication use,”

Really! You mean all of those things they have been telling us to do for years actually makes a difference?

However, not everything about extending our time here on this planet is rosy.

Just because we will be living longer does not necessarily mean we will be feeling any better.

We will still get ill and still need medical care which, in the future, will only become more expensive. This brings us to answering the problem that is in the headlines now, “Who is going to pay for it?”

The idea, of course, is not only to extend our lifespan but to slow down the aging rate as well.

I’m looking forward to both………………………………………………..bwc.


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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.
https://www.facebook.com/WCenterblog/






 --------//--------




Are we adults yet?


Am I an adult?

Most certainly not.

At least not for the last few years because I haven’t been treated like an adult, or given the respect an adult deserves.

The truth be told, I have felt less like an adult since I have been a resident here at the assisted living facility then I have at any time of my life.

But then again, I wonder If I have really ever felt like an adult.

There was a brief time when I turned 18 (the legal drinking and voting age in N.Y. at the time) that I thought I was an adult.

I remember going to a bar in the Yorktown neighborhood in Manhattan and having my first legal beer. The bartender didn’t even card me.

I sort of felt like an adult when I voted in my first election and got my first car later that year.

However, that feeling of being “grown-up” was short lived when I decided to go back to school and pursue a degree so that I could get a real adult job, whatever that was.

Nothing will make one feel less adult than sitting in a classroom and being lectured to by someone who is older than you and who purports to be an expert on whatever he was sent there to teach you.

Hmm, I wonder if he felt like an adult.

I finally did get an adult job. At least the job title sounded adult.

Manager.

But I soon learned that even a manager was inferior to somebody else which negated any actual feeling of being an adult that I still may have retained.

A couple of jobs, and job titles later I was feeling less mature than ever.

It seems that no matter how old I got chronologically, I continued to perceive myself, (and, most likely, so did everyone else) as being “The Kid.”

And then I met the lovely miss “E” and fell in love. “Falling in love was surely an adult thing to do, therefore I must truly be an adult now”, I thought.

My maturity was further affirmed when I married miss “E’’, bought a house, had a mortgage and settled down. Just like my parents did. And they, most certainly, were adults.

A divorce eight years later was enough to seal my status as an adult forever.

I mean, after all, what could be more adult than being a divorcée?

Divorce means lawyers, bank statements, signing this and signing that, settlements and, yes, heartbreak. A very adult emotion indeed.

Finally, “I am an adult”, I proclaimed.

If there was a list of things that made one an adult I would have been able to check off each and every one.

This feeling of being at the top of the food chain lasted for many years.

And, although at times being an adult can get scary, the pro’s outweighed the cons.

The jobs got better.

The money got better.

Even the car got better.

Everything was coming up bright red, mature, and adult roses.

It was great. Until…

Until I got sick. Really sick.

Sick enough to put me in a hospital for months.

And if there is anything that will strip you faster of you being in charge of your life (And therefore, an adult), It’s a hospital.

Dignity, privacy, respect go right out the window when you are a patient in a hospital.

This disregard for ones personal feelings continues if you are unfortunate enough to be a patient in a nursing home or of a physical therapist.

In a nursing home you will be poked, prodded, pushed, stripped, bathed, dressed, undressed (sometimes diapered) and put to bed.

You will be fed mush (in the grand manner of Gerber’s mashed pees) which you will eat with plastic dinnerware on the belief that your mind is too befuddled to use anything that might be considered dangerous.

And, if you do manage to survive the degrading atmosphere of the nursing home and still have some disability that precludes you from living without some help and has to live at an assisted living facility, there will be a whole other number of incidents in which you will be treated like a child.

To further exemplify how assisted living facilities treat you like a child, I have devised a simple test.

I will tell you upfront that the answers to all of the questions is “No.”

1.Would you allow a three-year-old to use a curling iron or hair dryer?
2.Would you allow a three-year-old to operate a steam iron?
3.How about a microwave oven?
4.Or a Mr. Coffee maker?
5.What about having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner?

Of course, you wouldn’t, and neither would I. But what about a person over the age of eighteen?. Or over eighty?

Got you with the over eighty thing, didn’t I?

The answer to that question should be a resounding “Yes.” But in reality it’s still a “no.”

My A.L.F. does not permit residents to have any heat-producing appliances in their rooms.

This includes steam irons, hair dryers, curling irons, Mr. Coffee makers and microwave ovens. Just like a three-year-old.

Believe me. I am the first one to stand firmly against letting any incompetent person (regardless of age) do anything that may endanger themselves or someone else. But I would never judge that competency by using age as the only criteria.

But, unfortunately, that is exactly what is done in most any assisted living facility whose is chartered and licensed by a government agency.

The tendency to categorize and cubbyhole all people of a particular age into one giant, wrinkled, gray lump runs rampant in such institutions. And the ability to “opt out” of all that “special” care is impossible.

I imagine that applying all of the rules to everybody equally makes sense from a management position. Certainly, it makes things easier. But is it fair?

I think not.

What the “one size fits all” style of A.L.F. management really means is that “one size, really doesn’t fit anybody well.”

Just like in the “real world”, old folks come in different sizes and styles and degrees of mental acuity. A fact that unfortunately, assisted living operators (and the regulatory agencies that oversee them) have failed to recognize.

If you want to experience ageism* at its best, spend time in an A.L.F.

But perhaps the most unfortunate thing when it comes to how older people wish to be treated is, that there is very little old folks can do about it.

Life, perception, the media and, in some cases, old people themselves have stacked the deck against this group from having any power.

Our voices go unheeded, only rarely listened to. And, when listened to, given only lip service to our demands.

Old people don’t riot.

We don’t overturn cars.

We don’t smash windows or block traffic.

We don’t do sit-ins outside the A.L.F. managers office.

We are, unfortunately, a complacent lot, unwilling to upset the status quo.

How this laxity regarding the current situation will work for us in the future, only time will tell. But with 10,000 people turning 65 in this country every day, someone will have to step forward.

As Martin Luther King said, “We must stand together as brothers, or go down together as fools.”

* Definition of ageism: prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly


* * * * *





 Financial planner warns:
Americans should have $1.5 MILLION saved for retirement
 because of increasing lifespans,
the uncertainty of Social Security and low interest rates.


Dailymail.com

Having a million dollars come retirement age will no longer cut it, experts warn.

Instead, Americans should have $1.5 million put back to retire comfortably, according to Rebecca Walser, a financial planner and tax lawyer.



Walser told the New York Post: 'It is really bad out there - so bad, in fact, I feel like I am sitting on a mountain and screaming at America to wake up.'

She explained that the decades-long advice to have $1million saved for retirement is no longer valid due to Americans' lifespans increasing, the uncertainty of Social Security and low interest rates on savings. …



====== ====== ======

New Analysis By The Senior Citizens League Shows That
64 Percent of Retirees Affected By Nine Years of Flat Growth In COLA

prweb.com


Extremely low Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLAs) have significantly impacted the retirement income of almost two-thirds of all older Americans, according to a new analysis by The Senior Citizens League. “People who have been receiving Social Security benefits since 2009 — an estimated 64 percent of all beneficiaries — have been hit with the
full brunt of extremely low COLAs over the past nine years,” says The Senior Citizens League’s Social Security policy analyst Mary Johnson. “Nine years is about one – third the length of a typical retirement,” Johnson points out. “Younger retirees since 2009 are also feeling the pain,” she notes.

Since 2009 the COLA was zero in 2010, 2011, and 2016, and only 0.3 percent in 2017. Since 2010, the COLA has averaged just 1.2 percent, compared to the prior decade, 2000 through 2009, when the COLA averaged 4 percent….






====== ====== ======


What To Know Before You Switch Banks
By Judy Colbert
forbes.com



You may want to change banks because you’re moving and yours doesn’t have branches in your new state. Or maybe it makes sense to switch because another bank is offering a reward for opening an account or dangling higher interest rates for savers….


The problem is, once you’ve opened the new account or accounts, you have to transfer information from the old bank to the new one. That’s where things can get rough.

You’ll need your routing and account numbers from the old and the new bank. You’ll need to take good notes for the instructions from both institutions on how to make the switch. And you’ll need an abundance of patience. A sense of humor will help, too. …



====== ====== ======


Taxes are taking a growing percentage of
SS benefits from seniors

By Casey Dowd
foxbusiness.com



Now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is signed into law many Americans will realize some kind of tax cuts.  For seniors, depending on their retirement income, some will receive tax cuts while others will see no change, and some may even be worse off.

“Recently enacted changes in the tax law will increase both the numbers of taxpayers whose Social Security benefits are taxable and the portion of Social Security income that people will pay in taxes,” says The Senior Citizens League’s Social Security and Medicare policy analyst Mary Johnson.

Johnson discussed with Fox Business what the new tax legislation might mean for those nearing or in retirement. …





Tax savings opportunities for senior citizens
By Paul Pahoresky
news-herald.com



Everyone is looking for opportunities to reduce their income tax burden. This becomes especially critical when living on a fixed or limited income such as that of a senior citizen.

There are a number of items built into both the IRS tax code as well as the State of Ohio’s to help reduce the income tax burden for senior citizens. Some of these are little known and sometimes overlooked by those who prepare their own income tax returns.

One of the first benefits is that some or all of your Social Security may not be subject to federal income tax and all of it is exempt from Ohio taxation. Whether or not you need to pay taxes on some of the Social Security benefits depends on your filing status and combined income. …






Are there Tax Deductions
for Senior Living Expenses?

By Alissa Sauer
leisurecare.com


Every year, when tax season rolls around, everyone is looking to maximize their deductions, save money, and either increase their return or reduce their tax payment. Some senior living expenses, including medical expenses and assisted living expenses are tax-deductible – within certain parameters.

It’s important to note that each financial situation is unique and personal and that a tax advisor can help you sort through your own taxes to uncover deductions that may apply to you. Keeping that in mind, here are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to claiming caregiver and assisted living tax deductions. Additionally, these guidelines are for the 2017 tax year and do not account for the tax reform coming in 2018. 
Tax Deductions for Medical Expenses

IRS rules allow citizens to deduct any insurance premiums that have been paid for medical insurance or long-term care insurance that covered or partly-covered qualified long-term care costs. How much long-term care premiums can be claimed is dependent on age. …





====== ====== ======


Quick Tips to Keep More
Money in Your Pocket

nextavenue.org

People save money for retirement most of their adult lives. But with this transition many may struggle to adjust to living on a fixed income while enjoying their new free time. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are five ways to be smart with your money during retirement.




1. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

2. Understand How Insurance Benefits May Help You
 
3. Join AARP

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Technology

5. Go Generic …..




====== ====== ======

High premiums slow long-term care
insurance sales to a trickle

hartfordbusiness.com


When Dr. Milton Wallack and his wife Joan bought long-term care insurance in 1995, they thought it was a smart financial move.

"We knew that you could get wiped out," by nursing home or other long-term care costs, said Milton Wallack, a retired periodontist who was in his 50s when he bought the coverage.



While the price tag on that Travelers policy wasn't cheap when the Branford couple bought it — just shy of $5,000 in annual premiums — their insurance agent told them the price was unlikely to rise in the future.

For years, she was right. But in 2011, when MetLife acquired the policy, the Wallacks say their annual premium jumped 39 percent. Another 20 percent hike came in 2014, and 10 percent more in 2015.   …

Read more >> http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20180312/PRINTEDITION/303079919



* * * *





See more “At The ALF” cartoons in our cartoon gallery
http://wcenterblog.yolasite.com/cartoon-gallery.php


* * * * *






Campus Recruiting Hurts Older Workers,
Suit Against PricewaterhouseCoopers Claims

By Kelsey Gee
wsj.com


Hundreds of large employers travel to college campuses each year to recruit entry-level workers, a tradition two rejected PricewaterhouseCoopers applicants argued this week hurts the chances for men and women over 40 to land those same jobs.

Attorneys for the unsuccessful candidates—men who applied to PwC dozens of times in their late 40s and early 50s—aimed to convince San Francisco District Judge Jon Tigar on Tuesday that 14,000 older workers were similarly disadvantaged by the accounting firm’s system of finding applicants at university career fairs and school-affiliated job websites, over a four-year period.

PwC disproportionately hires younger workers for its tax and assurance business units, steers more seasoned applicants into part-time and seasonal roles, and “fosters an age-conscious workplace in which youth is highly valued,” the litigants alleged. …



====== ====== ======



IBM Pushed Out Older Workers
In Favor of 'Thrifty, Authentic' Millennials

By Sidney Fussell
gizmodo.com



A lengthy investigation by Mother Jones and Pro Publica alleges IBM targeted older employees with layoffs and forced retirement in order to bring in millennial workers. In a series of interviews with dozens of former employees, the report, released Thursday, alleges both a systematic shedding of employees over 40 and a preoccupation with hiring younger workers as the company pivoted towards social media, data analytics, and cloud-based services. In the past five years, Pro Publica estimates IBM has fired, laid off, or rushed retirement for 20,000 US employees over 40, representing almost 60 percent of all workers who’ve lost jobs at the company during that time.

“Age discrimination is an open secret like sexual harassment was until recently,” Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told Pro Publica.

The report alleges that IBM wanted to become a “younger” company by focusing on new technologies and hiring younger staff. In 2014, it emphasized a wholesale shift to “CAMS” technologies—cloud services, big data analytics, mobile, security, and social media. The report includes images from a fascinating slide presentation that presents the “millennial” as a young professional innately invested in the skills well suited for CAMS tech. …

* * * * *



* * * *




Testing a new format

Starting next month (April), I will be shortening the content of this blog. Instead of linking 15 or 16 articles, I will list only 2 or 3. And, along with the articles, I will be asking you to give your opinions on them. Of course, I’ll be throwing my two cents in also. I would really like to get a dialogue going with the hopes of getting you to think about issues important to seniors and their loved ones. In addition, I will be doing this twice a week, most likely every Monday and Thursday.
Essentially, the blog will remain the same, just more compact. ………………………………………….bwc.


ꝊꝊꝊꝊ


NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, APRIL 5th, 2018


COMMENTS
This is our new comments box.
It is designed to make it easier for readers to comment on the articles
and stories presented here.
Although there is no specific space provided, nor is it necessary, feel free to add your email and/or website info in the comments section.







* YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME. USE EASY COMMENTS BOX AT THE END OF THIS BLOG *

Click Here for Latest BREAKING SENIOR NEWS on
Our Facebook Page
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.
https://www.facebook.com/WCenterblog/






 --------//--------




Are we adults yet?


Am I an adult?

Most certainly not.

At least not for the last few years because I haven’t been treated like an adult, or given the respect an adult deserves.

The truth be told, I have felt less like an adult since I have been a resident here at the assisted living facility then I have at any time of my life.

But then again, I wonder If I have really ever felt like an adult.

There was a brief time when I turned 18 (the legal drinking and voting age in N.Y. at the time) that I thought I was an adult.

I remember going to a bar in the Yorktown neighborhood in Manhattan and having my first legal beer. The bartender didn’t even card me.

I sort of felt like an adult when I voted in my first election and got my first car later that year.

However, that feeling of being “grown-up” was short lived when I decided to go back to school and pursue a degree so that I could get a real adult job, whatever that was.

Nothing will make one feel less adult than sitting in a classroom and being lectured to by someone who is older than you and who purports to be an expert on whatever he was sent there to teach you.

Hmm, I wonder if he felt like an adult.

I finally did get an adult job. At least the job title sounded adult.

Manager.

But I soon learned that even a manager was inferior to somebody else which negated any actual feeling of being an adult that I still may have retained.

A couple of jobs, and job titles later I was feeling less mature than ever.

It seems that no matter how old I got chronologically, I continued to perceive myself, (and, most likely, so did everyone else) as being “The Kid.”

And then I met the lovely miss “E” and fell in love. “Falling in love was surely an adult thing to do, therefore I must truly be an adult now”, I thought.

My maturity was further affirmed when I married miss “E’’, bought a house, had a mortgage and settled down. Just like my parents did. And they, most certainly, were adults.

A divorce eight years later was enough to seal my status as an adult forever.

I mean, after all, what could be more adult than being a divorcée?

Divorce means lawyers, bank statements, signing this and signing that, settlements and, yes, heartbreak. A very adult emotion indeed.

Finally, “I am an adult”, I proclaimed.

If there was a list of things that made one an adult I would have been able to check off each and every one.

This feeling of being at the top of the food chain lasted for many years.

And, although at times being an adult can get scary, the pro’s outweighed the cons.

The jobs got better.

The money got better.

Even the car got better.

Everything was coming up bright red, mature, and adult roses.

It was great. Until…

Until I got sick. Really sick.

Sick enough to put me in a hospital for months.

And if there is anything that will strip you faster of you being in charge of your life (And therefore, an adult), It’s a hospital.

Dignity, privacy, respect go right out the window when you are a patient in a hospital.

This disregard for ones personal feelings continues if you are unfortunate enough to be a patient in a nursing home or of a physical therapist.

In a nursing home you will be poked, prodded, pushed, stripped, bathed, dressed, undressed (sometimes diapered) and put to bed.

You will be fed mush (in the grand manner of Gerber’s mashed pees) which you will eat with plastic dinnerware on the belief that your mind is too befuddled to use anything that might be considered dangerous.

And, if you do manage to survive the degrading atmosphere of the nursing home and still have some disability that precludes you from living without some help and has to live at an assisted living facility, there will be a whole other number of incidents in which you will be treated like a child.

To further exemplify how assisted living facilities treat you like a child, I have devised a simple test.

I will tell you upfront that the answers to all of the questions is “No.”

1.Would you allow a three-year-old to use a curling iron or hair dryer?
2.Would you allow a three-year-old to operate a steam iron?
3.How about a microwave oven?
4.Or a Mr. Coffee maker?
5.What about having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner?

Of course, you wouldn’t, and neither would I. But what about a person over the age of eighteen?. Or over eighty?

Got you with the over eighty thing, didn’t I?

The answer to that question should be a resounding “Yes.” But in reality it’s still a “no.”

My A.L.F. does not permit residents to have any heat-producing appliances in their rooms.

This includes steam irons, hair dryers, curling irons, Mr. Coffee makers and microwave ovens. Just like a three-year-old.

Believe me. I am the first one to stand firmly against letting any incompetent person (regardless of age) do anything that may endanger themselves or someone else. But I would never judge that competency by using age as the only criteria.

But, unfortunately, that is exactly what is done in most any assisted living facility whose is chartered and licensed by a government agency.

The tendency to categorize and cubbyhole all people of a particular age into one giant, wrinkled, gray lump runs rampant in such institutions. And the ability to “opt out” of all that “special” care is impossible.

I imagine that applying all of the rules to everybody equally makes sense from a management position. Certainly, it makes things easier. But is it fair?

I think not.

What the “one size fits all” style of A.L.F. management really means is that “one size, really doesn’t fit anybody well.”

Just like in the “real world”, old folks come in different sizes and styles and degrees of mental acuity. A fact that unfortunately, assisted living operators (and the regulatory agencies that oversee them) have failed to recognize.

If you want to experience ageism* at its best, spend time in an A.L.F.

But perhaps the most unfortunate thing when it comes to how older people wish to be treated is, that there is very little old folks can do about it.

Life, perception, the media and, in some cases, old people themselves have stacked the deck against this group from having any power.

Our voices go unheeded, only rarely listened to. And, when listened to, given only lip service to our demands.

Old people don’t riot.

We don’t overturn cars.

We don’t smash windows or block traffic.

We don’t do sit-ins outside the A.L.F. managers office.

We are, unfortunately, a complacent lot, unwilling to upset the status quo.

How this laxity regarding the current situation will work for us in the future, only time will tell. But with 10,000 people turning 65 in this country every day, someone will have to step forward.

As Martin Luther King said, “We must stand together as brothers, or go down together as fools.”

* Definition of ageism: prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly


* * * * *





 Financial planner warns:
Americans should have $1.5 MILLION saved for retirement
 because of increasing lifespans,
the uncertainty of Social Security and low interest rates.


Dailymail.com

Having a million dollars come retirement age will no longer cut it, experts warn.

Instead, Americans should have $1.5 million put back to retire comfortably, according to Rebecca Walser, a financial planner and tax lawyer.



Walser told the New York Post: 'It is really bad out there - so bad, in fact, I feel like I am sitting on a mountain and screaming at America to wake up.'

She explained that the decades-long advice to have $1million saved for retirement is no longer valid due to Americans' lifespans increasing, the uncertainty of Social Security and low interest rates on savings. …



====== ====== ======

New Analysis By The Senior Citizens League Shows That
64 Percent of Retirees Affected By Nine Years of Flat Growth In COLA

prweb.com


Extremely low Social Security cost of living adjustments (COLAs) have significantly impacted the retirement income of almost two-thirds of all older Americans, according to a new analysis by The Senior Citizens League. “People who have been receiving Social Security benefits since 2009 — an estimated 64 percent of all beneficiaries — have been hit with the
full brunt of extremely low COLAs over the past nine years,” says The Senior Citizens League’s Social Security policy analyst Mary Johnson. “Nine years is about one – third the length of a typical retirement,” Johnson points out. “Younger retirees since 2009 are also feeling the pain,” she notes.

Since 2009 the COLA was zero in 2010, 2011, and 2016, and only 0.3 percent in 2017. Since 2010, the COLA has averaged just 1.2 percent, compared to the prior decade, 2000 through 2009, when the COLA averaged 4 percent….






====== ====== ======


What To Know Before You Switch Banks
By Judy Colbert
forbes.com



You may want to change banks because you’re moving and yours doesn’t have branches in your new state. Or maybe it makes sense to switch because another bank is offering a reward for opening an account or dangling higher interest rates for savers….


The problem is, once you’ve opened the new account or accounts, you have to transfer information from the old bank to the new one. That’s where things can get rough.

You’ll need your routing and account numbers from the old and the new bank. You’ll need to take good notes for the instructions from both institutions on how to make the switch. And you’ll need an abundance of patience. A sense of humor will help, too. …



====== ====== ======


Taxes are taking a growing percentage of
SS benefits from seniors

By Casey Dowd
foxbusiness.com



Now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is signed into law many Americans will realize some kind of tax cuts.  For seniors, depending on their retirement income, some will receive tax cuts while others will see no change, and some may even be worse off.

“Recently enacted changes in the tax law will increase both the numbers of taxpayers whose Social Security benefits are taxable and the portion of Social Security income that people will pay in taxes,” says The Senior Citizens League’s Social Security and Medicare policy analyst Mary Johnson.

Johnson discussed with Fox Business what the new tax legislation might mean for those nearing or in retirement. …





Tax savings opportunities for senior citizens
By Paul Pahoresky
news-herald.com



Everyone is looking for opportunities to reduce their income tax burden. This becomes especially critical when living on a fixed or limited income such as that of a senior citizen.

There are a number of items built into both the IRS tax code as well as the State of Ohio’s to help reduce the income tax burden for senior citizens. Some of these are little known and sometimes overlooked by those who prepare their own income tax returns.

One of the first benefits is that some or all of your Social Security may not be subject to federal income tax and all of it is exempt from Ohio taxation. Whether or not you need to pay taxes on some of the Social Security benefits depends on your filing status and combined income. …






Are there Tax Deductions
for Senior Living Expenses?

By Alissa Sauer
leisurecare.com


Every year, when tax season rolls around, everyone is looking to maximize their deductions, save money, and either increase their return or reduce their tax payment. Some senior living expenses, including medical expenses and assisted living expenses are tax-deductible – within certain parameters.

It’s important to note that each financial situation is unique and personal and that a tax advisor can help you sort through your own taxes to uncover deductions that may apply to you. Keeping that in mind, here are some general guidelines to follow when it comes to claiming caregiver and assisted living tax deductions. Additionally, these guidelines are for the 2017 tax year and do not account for the tax reform coming in 2018. 
Tax Deductions for Medical Expenses

IRS rules allow citizens to deduct any insurance premiums that have been paid for medical insurance or long-term care insurance that covered or partly-covered qualified long-term care costs. How much long-term care premiums can be claimed is dependent on age. …





====== ====== ======


Quick Tips to Keep More
Money in Your Pocket

nextavenue.org

People save money for retirement most of their adult lives. But with this transition many may struggle to adjust to living on a fixed income while enjoying their new free time. That doesn’t have to be the case. Here are five ways to be smart with your money during retirement.




1. Take Advantage of Senior Discounts

2. Understand How Insurance Benefits May Help You
 
3. Join AARP

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Technology

5. Go Generic …..




====== ====== ======

High premiums slow long-term care
insurance sales to a trickle

hartfordbusiness.com


When Dr. Milton Wallack and his wife Joan bought long-term care insurance in 1995, they thought it was a smart financial move.

"We knew that you could get wiped out," by nursing home or other long-term care costs, said Milton Wallack, a retired periodontist who was in his 50s when he bought the coverage.



While the price tag on that Travelers policy wasn't cheap when the Branford couple bought it — just shy of $5,000 in annual premiums — their insurance agent told them the price was unlikely to rise in the future.

For years, she was right. But in 2011, when MetLife acquired the policy, the Wallacks say their annual premium jumped 39 percent. Another 20 percent hike came in 2014, and 10 percent more in 2015.   …

Read more >> http://www.hartfordbusiness.com/article/20180312/PRINTEDITION/303079919



* * * *





See more “At The ALF” cartoons in our cartoon gallery
http://wcenterblog.yolasite.com/cartoon-gallery.php


* * * * *






Campus Recruiting Hurts Older Workers,
Suit Against PricewaterhouseCoopers Claims

By Kelsey Gee
wsj.com


Hundreds of large employers travel to college campuses each year to recruit entry-level workers, a tradition two rejected PricewaterhouseCoopers applicants argued this week hurts the chances for men and women over 40 to land those same jobs.

Attorneys for the unsuccessful candidates—men who applied to PwC dozens of times in their late 40s and early 50s—aimed to convince San Francisco District Judge Jon Tigar on Tuesday that 14,000 older workers were similarly disadvantaged by the accounting firm’s system of finding applicants at university career fairs and school-affiliated job websites, over a four-year period.

PwC disproportionately hires younger workers for its tax and assurance business units, steers more seasoned applicants into part-time and seasonal roles, and “fosters an age-conscious workplace in which youth is highly valued,” the litigants alleged. …



====== ====== ======



IBM Pushed Out Older Workers
In Favor of 'Thrifty, Authentic' Millennials

By Sidney Fussell
gizmodo.com



A lengthy investigation by Mother Jones and Pro Publica alleges IBM targeted older employees with layoffs and forced retirement in order to bring in millennial workers. In a series of interviews with dozens of former employees, the report, released Thursday, alleges both a systematic shedding of employees over 40 and a preoccupation with hiring younger workers as the company pivoted towards social media, data analytics, and cloud-based services. In the past five years, Pro Publica estimates IBM has fired, laid off, or rushed retirement for 20,000 US employees over 40, representing almost 60 percent of all workers who’ve lost jobs at the company during that time.

“Age discrimination is an open secret like sexual harassment was until recently,” Victoria Lipnic, the acting chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told Pro Publica.

The report alleges that IBM wanted to become a “younger” company by focusing on new technologies and hiring younger staff. In 2014, it emphasized a wholesale shift to “CAMS” technologies—cloud services, big data analytics, mobile, security, and social media. The report includes images from a fascinating slide presentation that presents the “millennial” as a young professional innately invested in the skills well suited for CAMS tech. …

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Testing a new format

Starting next month (April), I will be shortening the content of this blog. Instead of linking 15 or 16 articles, I will list only 2 or 3. And, along with the articles, I will be asking you to give your opinions on them. Of course, I’ll be throwing my two cents in also. I would really like to get a dialogue going with the hopes of getting you to think about issues important to seniors and their loved ones. In addition, I will be doing this twice a week, most likely every Monday and Thursday.
Essentially, the blog will remain the same, just more compact. ………………………………………….bwc.


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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, APRIL 5th, 2018


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 70 Is the New Nothing


When, in your mind, is one considered to be an “Old Man?”

I guess, for most people, it’s a matter of perception.

If you are 10, an old man is a 25-year-old. 

Teens, if I remember correctly, think anybody older than 35 is ready for the grave.

However, for those of us who think more realistically and from the perspective of an adult, the perception of old age depends on one’s physical, mental, and emotional state more than anything else. But that’s not to say that the NUMBER is not important.

That’s because the NUMBER, or the numerical age, allows us to categorize people. And oh, how we just love to categorize people.

At one time the categorization process was very simple. You were either “Young”, “Middle Age”, or “Old.” Now there are subcategories of the originals.

There are young baby boomers, old baby boomers, millennials, mid-lifers, retirees, pre-war seniors and “young” old people.

Even in my adulthood, I always thought of 50 as being the start of getting old.

Of course, when I actually turned 50, that concept became null and void and I had to revise my idea on who was old by expanding my view to sixty and beyond.

Than, just about the time when I was approaching my 62nd year of life, someone came out with the statement that “Sixty was the new fifty.”

“Hooray!, I was young again”, I thought, and went about my 6th decade thinking that the bloom of youth was still around me.

Even when I was 69, I could still say (and convince myself) that I was only “In my sixties”, which to some meant that I was really in my 50’s. Just a kid really.

But then came 70. And, so far, nobody has said that “70 is the new sixty.” Quite the opposite. Unfortunately, “70” has connotations all of its own.

All of my life my impression of a 70-year-old man was a guy who (1) Lived in Florida. (2) Drove a car three sizes too big for him. (3) Wore his pants somewhere around his nipples, and (4) Eats dinner at 4 PM. Surely something to lament about.

Okay, here I am. A 72 (soon to be 73)-year old who can no longer hide behind what Orwell called “New Speak.” Unlike my 60-year-old friends, 70 is not the new anything. I’m 72, I’m an old man, and that’s that.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. And, I’m also not giving in to the stereotype.

I don’t have a closet full of checkered pants, Izod polo shirts, and white, patent leather belts and shoes.

I don’t drive anymore, but if I did, I could still see over the steering wheel.

I eat dinner at the respectable time of six or six-thirty, and, unlike some of my contemporaries, can still eat anything I like. With my own teeth no less.

I admit that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I walk with a cane and I am deaf in one ear. But that’s due to illness and not to old age. But best of all, my mind is clearer and more focused than it has ever been.

So, am I an old man? Yes, there’s no getting around it. But I refuse to let myself be cubbyholed and categorized as many people, including those who manage senior living facilities would prefer, because treating all old people the same is easier than respecting us as the individuals we are.

Will I feel the same way when I’m 80, 85, or even next year?

You’re damn right I will.





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I Know You Love Me —
Now Let Me Die

nextavenue.org


In the old days, she would be propped up on a comfy pillow, in fresh cleaned sheets under the corner window where she would, in days gone past, watch her children play. Soup would boil on the stove just in case she felt like a sip or two. Perhaps the radio softly played Al Jolson or Glenn Miller, flowers sat on the nightstand, and family quietly came and went.

These were her last days. Spent with familiar sounds, in a familiar room, with familiar smells that gave her a final chance to summon memories that will help carry her away.

She might have offered a hint of a smile or a soft squeeze of the hand but it was all right if she didn’t. She lost her own words to tell us that it’s OK to just let her die, but she trusted us to be her voice and we took that trust to heart.

A day does not go by where my partners don’t look at each other and say, “How do we stop this madness?" …


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Slowing aging? Americans are doing it —
and experiencing better health

By Beth Newcomb
news.usc.edu


Americans may be aging more slowly than they were two decades ago.

U.S. life expectancy has lengthened significantly for the last 60 years. But at least part of the gains in life expectancy may be due to a change in the rate of biological aging, rather than simply keeping very sick people alive for longer, according to a study by USC and Yale University researchers.
Eileen Crimmins studies aging and longevity

“This is the first evidence we have of delayed ‘aging’ among a national sample of Americans,” said senior author Eileen M. Crimmins, University Professor and AARP Professor of Gerontology at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. The study by Crimmins and lead author Morgan E. Levine, assistant professor at the Yale Center for Research on Aging, appeared in the journal Demography on March 6. …



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Common knee surgery
doesn’t help older adults

By Lisa Rapaport
kfgo.com


Many older adults are getting surgery to remove damaged cartilage in the knee even though these operations may not help ease pain or improve mobility in people over 65, a U.S. study suggests.

Researchers focused on a procedure known as arthroscopic partial meniscectomy, which involves shaving or cutting out damaged or torn tissue. Some previous research suggests younger patients with severely damaged cartilage may benefit from this operation, but it may not work any better than physical therapy for most people, especially when they’re over 65, researchers note in JAMA Surgery.

Despite the lack of benefit, more than 12,000 surgeons performed almost 122,000 of these procedures for patients insured by Medicare, the U.S. health program for people 65 and older, in 2015, the current study found. …





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More isn't always better when it comes to
health care,
older Americans say
sciencedaily.com

Doctors and older patients may disagree more often than either of them suspects about whether a particular medical test or medicine is truly necessary, according to findings from a new poll of Americans over age 50.

Improving communication about that mismatch of opinions, the poll sugges
ts, might reduce the use of unneeded scans, screenings, medications and procedures -- and health care costs as well.

Only 14 percent of people over age 50 believe that more is usually better when it comes to health care, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging. …




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New clues on why our sense of direction
tends to fade with age

sciencedaily.com

Researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Disease (DZNE) have found a possible explanation for the difficulty in spatial orientation experienced sometimes by elderly people. In the brains of older adults, they detected an unstable activity in an area that is central for spatial navigation. The results are reported in the journal "Current Biology." In the long term, these findings might open up new ways for detecting Alzheimer's disease.

To guide us through space in a goal directed manner, the human brain has to process a flood of information, ranging from visual stimuli to cues provided by the muscular system and our sense of balance. Thus, spatial orientation and navigation are among the most complex abilities of the human mind. However, these skills often deteriorate as we grow older, which can severely compromise independence and quality of life.

"When you move around an unfamiliar environment, it is perfectly normal to get lost. Yet, this tends to happen more often to older people. …





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Dangerous sedative drug still being
prescribed to seniors despite warnings

By Jhoanna Robinson
naturalnews.com



Benzodiazepine, a kind of psychoactive drug, enables people to sleep or feel calm. However, in senior citizens, the use of benzodiazepine is associated with increased risk of broken hips, car crashes, and falls. This is the reason why they are considered by international guidelines as drugs that a minimal number of older adults over the age of 65 should take.

However, according to a new study that was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a sizable percentage of people under that age group in Australia, Canada, and the United States still have active prescriptions for the medication.

At present, around seven percent of older people in the U.S. have a benzodiazepine prescription, and the numbers are even greater in Australia and Canada. …



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A Quiet Drug Problem Among the Elderly
By Paula Span
nytimes.com


At first, the pills helped her feel so much better.

Jessica Falstein, an artist living in the East Village in Manhattan, learned she had an anxiety disorder in 1992. It led to panic attacks, a racing pulse, sleeplessness. “Whenever there was too much stress, the anxiety would become almost intolerable, like acid in the veins,” she recalled.

When a psychopharmacologist prescribed the drug Klonopin, everything brightened. “It just leveled me out,” Ms. Falstein said. “I had more energy. And it helped me sleep, which I was desperate for.”

After several months, however, the horrible symptoms returned. “My body became accustomed to half a milligram, and the drug stopped working,” she said. “So then I was up to one milligram. And then two.” Her doctor kept increasing the dosage and added Ativan to the mix. ….



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Medicare drug benefit is weakened by
congressional budget deal

foxnews.com


Congress has undermined the Medicare drug benefit that millions of older Americans depend on – one of the few federal health care programs that's working well.


The two-year federal budget deal passed recently shifts more of the program's costs onto drug manufacturers starting in 2020. In the process, the change eliminates one of the key features that has made the program – known as Part D – successful for over a decade.

If the change stays in place, Part D could soon become just another budget-busting entitlement with little hope of long-term sustainability. …



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3 common misconceptions of Medicaid
lakesuccesslaw.com


Medicaid is a vital safety net in the United States. Approximately 74 million Americans receive health benefits through the program. This includes people with disabilities, senior citizens and children.

There is a good probability either you or someone you love relies on Medicaid. Therefore, it helps to separate fact from fiction. It is natural some myths have popped up because it is an extremely difficult field to understand. However, here are

some of the most common misconceptions that persist regarding Medicaid.





Myth #1: Medicaid is the same as Medicare …





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Medicare Doesn’t Equal Dental Care.
That Can Be a Big Problem.

nytimes.com

Many people view Medicare as the gold standard of United States health coverage, and any attempt to cut it incurs the wrath of older Americans, a politically powerful group.

But there are substantial coverage gaps in traditional Medicare. One of them is care for your teeth.

Almost one in five adults of Medicare eligibility age (65 years old and older) have untreated cavities. The same proportion have lost all their teeth. Half of Medicare beneficiaries have some periodontal disease, or infection of structures around teeth, including the gums. …





      

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Seniors Face April 1 Deadline on
Required Minimum Distributions

accountingweb.com

This isn’t a cruel joke being played by IRS on unsuspecting taxpayers: Some senior citizens must take their initial distributions from qualified retirement plans and IRAs by April 1 or suffer severe tax consequences. The IRS just reminded taxpayers about their obligations in a recent press release.

The April 1 deadline applies to “required minimum distributions” (RMDs) from all employer-sponsored retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, profit-sharing plans, 403(b) plans and 457(b) plans. The RMD rules also cover traditional IRAs as well as other IRA-based plans such as SEPs, SARSEPs and SIMPLEs. However, they don’t apply to Roth IRAs.

Essentially, you must begin taking RMDs by April 1st of the year following the year in which you turn 70 1/2 years old. ….



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Can I deduct assisted living costs?
By Karin Price Mueller
nj.com


Q. I read your column that nursing home expenses are tax deductible past the 7.5 percent threshold. What about assisted living expenses that consist of one component for room and board, including some basic care, and a second charge for more intensive care by nurses and other caregivers? Are some of these tax deductible?
-- Planning

A. It depends.

In certain instances, these expenses are allowable as medical expenses, said Matthew DeFelice, a certified financial planner with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

If you or someone who was your spouse or your dependent -- either when the service was provided or when you paid for the services -- is in a nursing home primarily for medical care, then the entire cost including meals and lodging is deductible as a medical expense, DeFelice said. …



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See more “At The ALF” cartoons in our cartoon gallery
http://wcenterblog.yolasite.com/cartoon-gallery.php


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Finger Safety Cutter
By Nimble

Details

This finger safety cutter opens envelopes, clips coupons, and does other jobs scissors typically do—but in an easier and safer way. Pop it on your finger and get to cutting with an embedded ceramic blade. It’s a great tool for folks who struggle with dexterity or anyone who wants a quicker way to make cuts.



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Testing a new format

There are two things that any blogger wants.
One is to get as many hits to their blog as possible and the other (and perhaps more important) have people actually stay and read the blog.
Most bloggers use a statistics app that shows how many hits (that’s how many times somebody accesses your blog), where the hit came from (geographically) and the duration (in minutes and seconds) that people actually stay on your blog. It is that last item which has given me cause for concern as of late and has prompted me to do something about it.
While the number of hits to this blog has remained constant (and has even grown somewhat), the duration time that people stay on this blog has gone down a lot.
The stats show that most visitors stay for under 40 seconds which tells me that the content is not interesting enough for them to stay and read. Something that really disturbs me.
So, here is what I am going to try.

Starting next month (April), I will be shortening the content of this blog. Instead of linking 15 or 16 articles, I will list only 2 or 3. And, along with the articles, I will be asking you to give your opinions on them. Of course, I’ll be throwing my two cents in also. I would really like to get a dialogue going with the hopes of getting you to think about issues important to seniors and their loved ones. In addition, I will be doing this twice a week, most likely every Monday and Thursday.
Essentially, the blog will remain the same, just more compact.
The bottom line is not to get new readers, but to get readers to stay longer. ……………bwc



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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, MARCH 29th, 2018

© Bruce Cooper, 2018
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Previous blogs can be found in the Archives section at the top of this page

Facebook is trying to make it easier to get in touch with people over Messenger, so it's rolling out a number of new ways to start chatting. As with all Facebook accounts, all Messenger accounts will now have dedicated links that people can visit to start a chat — they'll all be located at m.me/[username]. Facebook is also rolling out what it calls Messenger Codes, which are Messenger's equivalent to Snapchat's snapcodes. They look pretty neat: Messenger Codes are just a series of dots and dashes circling around your profile photo. When someone scans one with their camera, it'll presumably add that person as a contact.
read more >> https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/7/11383958/facebook-messenger-codes-announced-900m-mau
By accessing our Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/WCenterblog/ ) 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.




<30>







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Know Before You Go….

Assisted Living: Who’s In Control - Part 1
An insiders continuing look at what really goes on
In an Assisted Living Facility



Although management will never admit it, assisted living facilities are all about control and who has it.

On one side are the residents who think they have the right to control their own lives. While on the other side is the staff and management who believe they have the right to govern almost every aspect of the resident’s lives. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, it is always the management which has the upper hand in the control department. Mainly because they have  the well-meaning, but heavy-handed, anal retentive and just plain scared s**tless state and federal government regulatory agencies like the Department(s) of health as well as some relatives and loved ones to back them up.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I totally understand the need for oversight, especially when it comes to any place that is responsible for the well-being of often frail, grossly handicapped and cognitively impaired people whose ability to care for even the simplest aspects of their lives is impossible.

But the vast majority of A.L.F. residents are neither emotionally, intellectually, or mentally impaired to such a degree that they have to give up control of their lives to the extent that the administrative authorities insist upon.

Let’s have a look at the basics.

From a managerial point of view, it is to their advantage to be able to control as much of your life as they could.

Why? Because as every prison warden, ship captain, and military base commander knows, “Command and Control” not only sets the groundwork for discipline and order but is the basis of efficiency and economy as well. And, as we all know, efficiency and economy mean a better bottom line.

And while we are on the topic of the “Bottom Line”, let’s talk about yours. That’s your money of course.

In the past, we have spoken here about the need to downsize when moving to an assisted living facility. In most cases, you will be living in much smaller quarters than you are used to which means that you will have to leave much of what you have collected over the years behind. But remember, the one thing you are not, and should not, be leaving behind is your money.

You remember money, don’t you?

It’s that stuff you worked and saved all of your life for just so that you will have something to live on when the time came when you could no longer work. The money you most likely had control over all of your adult life. The money you had, to spend as you needed. Yes, that money. You want to have as much control over it as you always had. Right?

And you should.

Unfortunately, there are others who would like to have control over that money too. Not to rob you, or scam you, but to control you.

Believe me when I tell you that if you exhibit even the slightest sign of not being able to control and take care of your own finances, they will find a way of gaining that control from you. And what that means to you is that you will have to ask somebody for YOUR money every time you want to buy something. And that somebody will have the authority to let you have YOUR money or not.

Therefore, I warn you. At the time you enter an assisted living facility you will be asked to sign or put your initials on a lot of documents. Please read each one carefully, especially any of those that pertain to the collection and dissemination of money (either your own savings or that which comes from Social Security, SSI, pensions or any other government assistance). And, if you feel that by signing that document you will be giving all or part of your financial support away, DON’T sign it. Or, if you don’t understand it, have a family member or a lawyer look it over.

And while we are on the subject of signing things. One of the documents you might be asked to sign is an agreement that allows the facility to open any mail that looks like it comes from a government agency. This could be anything from government checks, Social Security documents, voter information, or income tax materials. Once again, it’s a matter of control.

Okay. You have looked over all the documents, you have divested yourself of all the junk you have collected over the years and you have moved into your new digs at the ALF. Congratulations, you are about to enter another phase of your life. A life so different from the one you left you will wonder if you made the right decision.

Fear not. You probably did make the right move. But be prepared for some things you may not like.

We have only presented a brief look at the ways an assisted living facility attempts to manage and regulate your life. There is a lot more which we’ll have a look at that in next week’s blog.




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How Senior Living Communities Offer
 a Sense of Belonging

By Frank Herold
blog.sarasotabayclub.net


As the loved ones in our lives begin to age, it can become more difficult for them to be independent. Many seniors can develop health or memory problems that impede their ability to live independently, or continuing to live in their home has become a burden or physical task beyond their abilities. Whatever their personal situation, senior living communities offer older adults a place they can call home.

Here are just a few of the reasons why living in a senior living community is a good choice for our aging loved ones:
Opportunities for Social Engagement

Depending on the type of assistance that your aging loved one needs, there are different communities to accommodate them. Whether it is an independent living community, an assisted living community, or a Life Plan Community, residents can socialize regularly in organized activities, take classes or just know that there is someone there to spend time with anytime of day. For some seniors who have been living alone in their home as their neighborhood friends have slowly moved away, this is a welcome change to their everyday living. Social engagement helps our loved ones stay healthy, socially, emotionally, and physically. …



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Defining Assisted Living
By Monica E. Oss
openminds.com


The recent GAO report, Medicaid Assisted Living Services: Improved Federal Oversight Of Beneficiary Health & Welfare Is Needed, created some waves in the field. Most of the report, and the subsequent coverage, was focused on the lack of monitoring of critical incidents and consumer safety – States Having Big Problems Tracking Safety Issues At Assisted Living Facilities, GAO Finds and Federal Watchdog Criticizes Gaps In Assisted Living Regulations.

The report is a treasure trove of information about assisted living. I learned some interesting facts: …






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Americans Will Struggle to
Grow Old at Home

By E Tammy Kim
bloomberg.com


Eighty million people in the U.S. will be 65 or older within a few decades, compared with around 50 million today, and, according to surveys conducted by AARP Inc., the desire to grow old at home is almost universal. Most who do so will need help with daily tasks and will exhaust the ability of family and friends to cook and clean, bathe and dress, and run errands. When Americans look for paid help, they’ll find their national infrastructure convoluted and wanting. It’s a problem the world over, but one compounded in the U.S. by the fragility of the welfare state.

A typical home-based care plan of six or eight hours a day is less costly, and more salutary, than a nursing-home stay, but it’s still expensive enough to bankrupt a middle-class American family. Medicare, the public benefit plan for those 65 and older, pays only for strictly medical forms of home care, such as dressing wounds and physical therapy, or for short post-hospital stints in nursing homes. Private long-term care insurance can be prohibitively expensive (annual premiums run into the thousands) and unavailable to those with preexisting conditions. Most seniors who need help with daily tasks first exhaust their savings, then apply for Medicaid, the public health insurance program for the poor.

Medicaid is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, but most rules are set in Washington. Certain services must be provided; states can then decide what else to cover and how much to spend. Nursing-home care is a mandated benefit, but nonmedical home care isn’t. The result is a chaotic national patchwork. A senior in Virginia is entitled to no more than 32 home visits per year; in Utah the cap is 60 hours per month. …



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Older people want better options for housing,
care and work to age in place

By Joanna Connors,
cleveland.com


The costs of continuing care, assisted living and nursing homes, are other big concerns, for both older people and for their children, who are assuming more responsibility for their parents.

"Moving my mom and [disabled older] brother to assisted living was a nightmare," wrote one reader. "The ... facility was negligent in many aspects of my mom's care. She developed C. diff. The facility was not clean, [there was] a large turnover of help and basically inadequate staffing on the night shift."

This reader, whose family lives in Northeast Ohio while she does not, noted that the challenges are even greater for adult children trying to care for their parents from a distance. …


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Assisted Living Seen as Better for Hospice Care
 Than Nursing Homes

BY Tim Regan
seniorhousingnews.com


Hospice care administered in an assisted living community is seen as higher quality than hospice care offered in a nursing home—but not as good as home hospice care, according to a new Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study from the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and the Regenstrief Institute.

The study compared the quality of hospice services provided for patients living at home, in assisted living communities and in nursing homes as perceived by their family members. In writing the study, researchers combed through the results of a federally mandated quality survey for 7,510 hospice patients over the age of 18.

The results showed that 67.8% of respondents reported that the home hospice care provider for their loved ones was “excellent,” beating out hospice care in assisted living communities (64.3%) and nursing homes (55.1%). …





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Complaints About Nursing Home Evictions Rise,
and Regulators Take Note

By Tara Siegel Bernard and Robert Pear
nytimes.com

Six weeks after Deborah Zwaschka-Blansfield had the lower half of her left leg amputated, she received some news from the nursing home where she was recovering: Her insurance would no longer pay, and it was time to move on.

The home wanted to release her to a homeless shelter or pay for a week in a motel.

“That is not safe for me,” said Ms. Zwaschka-Blansfield, 59, who cannot walk and had hoped to stay in the home, north of Sacramento, until she could do more things for herself — like getting up if she fell.

Her experience is becoming increasingly common among the 1.4 million nursing home residents across the country. Discharges and evictions have been the top-ranking category of grievances brought to state long-term care ombudsman programs, the ombudsman agencies say. …




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Senior House Sharing Is on the Rise
By Linda Abbot
seniorplanet.org


Bonnie Moore found herself alone at age 63 after she and her husband split up. They had just finished remodeling their home, and now here she was with a dream house and a mortgage she couldn’t afford.

Then the recession hit. Moore was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place: She couldn’t sell up and downsize, and she couldn’t risk defaulting. Her solution? Home sharing.


So in 2008, Moore founded her first Golden Girl Networks home in her house, where she still lives with several housemates. Realizing that many other single women were in similar circumstances, in 2014 Moore launched her house sharing online database for homeowners and roommates, the Golden Girls Network. Today, it’s one of several online house sharing online services for older people. …



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See more “At The ALF” cartoons in our cartoon gallery
http://wcenterblog.yolasite.com/cartoon-gallery.php

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The taste of food and pleasure from meals
are most important factors for seniors

By Jasmine Petters
dailytelescope.com



In January, Fazer asked the relatives of senior citizens about food-related considerations for elderly people. In developing food services, they found not only on the taste of food, but also a leisurely and relaxed dining atmosphere, traditional home cooking, respectful treatment of the elderly, and ensuring that they eat enough and well to be important factors. One third of respondents felt that they had too little information about how their loved ones eat in elderly care.

According to the study, private catering services are considered to be of better quality than municipal services.

The aim of the study was to gain a better understanding of the views, expectations and wishes of the close relatives of the elderly and the disabled groups about food service in nursing homes, and the catering services delivered to people living at home. The survey was commissioned by Fazer, and 1,000 relatives of seniors responded to it. …



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Hebrew U. researchers show which foods
 prevent, promote dementia

By Judy Siegel-Itzkovich
jpost.com



Foods can determine whether someone will suffer from dementia in later years, according to researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot.

A large-scale international study that included the university recently examined how food affects brain health for people aged 50 and older. The researchers were able to show that diet affects the risk of dementia.

This conclusion, although logical, is not self-evident, said Prof. Aron Troen, an expert in nutritional neuroscience and the prevention of cerebrovascular disease and dementia, and the principal investigator of Hebrew University’s Nutrition and Brain Health Laboratory in Rehovot.



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DASH diet lowers risk for depression
 in older adults

February 26, 2018
healio.com



Older patients who followed the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet, were less likely to develop depression, according to a preliminary study that will be presented at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.

“Nonpharmacologic strategies to reduce depression, such as diet, may be effective, however, few studies have investigated the relation,” Laurel Cherian, MD, assistant professor, department of neurological sciences at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and colleagues wrote in an abstract.

Researchers evaluated the diets and depression assessments of 964 patients (mean age, 81.32 years). Their food intake scores were modeled in tertiles and determined by utilizing a validated food frequency survey for the Western, prudent, Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND), Mediterranean, and DASH diets. Patients with four or more depressive symptoms from the 10-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale were diagnosed with depression. …



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3 ways seniors can fight obesity
By Amy Osmond Cook
ocregister.com



Got fat? You’re not alone. Between 2007 and 2010, more than one-third of elderly individuals were considered obese, with the highest prevalence between the ages of 65 and 74.
Obesity can affect several different body systems and is associated with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Here are three things to know about obesity and how to fight it.
 
Gaining weight is easier for older people
An unfair fact of life is that is it easier to put on extra weight as a person gets older. People lose lean body mass as they age, and lean body mass raises the body’s metabolic rate and ability to burn calories. With less lean body mass, the metabolism is lowered, and a person needs fewer calories and more exercise than before. Just 50 extra calories a day can cause a person to gain weight. …




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Medical Marijuana For Seniors:
How to Get Started

By Madeline St. Amour
westword.com


When over sixty people attended a presentation on weed and pain management at Louisville's Balfour Senior Living late last month, most of them were joking about coming for the free samples as they settled into their seats. The audience, mostly made up of seniors who live at facility or people with elderly relatives looking for information, asked a number of questions covering the basics of using cannabis to treat medical issues, including how to get started.

The answer: not cheaply.


Dr. Joseph Cohen, an obstetrician for 35 years before becoming a cannabis practitioner, explained how cannabis can be used to manage pain and other issues the elderly can experience. According to a 2012 survey by the National Institute of Health, more than 11 percent of American adults have had pain every day for three months, and more than 17 percent had severe pain. …



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Your Legal Rights:
How to report public health care fraud

southernminn.com


In southern Minnesota, a home care company billed for services that were not provided, and provided services without a nurse on staff to supervise patients’ care. The owner was convicted of six felonies and ordered to pay back the money.

While her ex-husband was overseas, a woman forged his signature on timesheets stating that he provided her with home care services. She pled guilty to felony charges and was ordered to pay back almost $45,000 in stolen funds.

A Twin Cities area woman claimed to provide medical interpreter services to patients during times when she was clocked in and working at another job. She was convicted of felony theft….



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 Top Scams of 2018 (So Far)
By Matt Tatham
experian.com


What a year it’s been—just one month into 2018 and there are already 3,151 scams added to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker℠… and counting. That is good news, sort of, because last year at the same time there were already 3,932 scams found.

Many of the same scams are repeated each year, often driven by financial life moments such as taxes, holiday shopping, and utility scams. So far in January, a number of different and new scams have made the news, including:
Secretary of State Scam

This scam starts when you receive an email claiming to be from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who says you’re owed a payment he knows about because of an investigation by the FBI and CIA. …





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Paul Simon Announces His
 Retirement From Touring

nextavenue.org


Once the “only living boy in New York,” Paul Simon recently announced

that he is retiring from touring. Retirement will not bring sounds of silence, however. Like many retirees, Simon hopes to continue using his talents. He said he would consider performing and donating the proceeds to charities.

Among the lessons one could take away from Paul Simon’s career —a particularly salient one — is that not all collaborations are meant to last forever. …



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NEXT BLOG: THURSDAY, MARCH 15th, 2018

© Bruce Cooper, 2018
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Facebook is trying to make it easier to get in touch with people over Messenger, so it's rolling out a number of new ways to start chatting. As with all Facebook accounts, all Messenger accounts will now have dedicated links that people can visit to start a chat — they'll all be located at m.me/[username]. Facebook is also rolling out what it calls Messenger Codes, which are Messenger's equivalent to Snapchat's snapcodes. They look pretty neat: Messenger Codes are just a series of dots and dashes circling around your profile photo. When someone scans one with their camera, it'll presumably add that person as a contact
read more >> https://www.theverge.com/2016/4/7/11383958/facebook-messenger-codes-announced-900m-mau


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