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Don’t Wait for April To Take Showers

It’s amazing what people on Facebook will find to debate about. And what’s even more amazing is that they will argue the pros and cons of subjects that, in my opinion, should not even be open for debate. I am specifically talking about how often should older people take showers.*

The topic was initiated by a woman commenting on the Facebook page called “Elder Orphans”
(https://www.facebook.com/groups/elderorphans/s) which deals with problems related to older Americans who have few or no relatives to go to for help.

In her comments, she stated that she no longer feels like bathing on a regular basis. Mainly because she finds it painful to have to stand in a shower for any length of time. And that the very process of having to cleanse oneself tires her out. A situation that I am sure that many in her position can associate with, as do I. However, what I did not expect to read were the reply’s to her comments by others who, not only related to her, but thought that any routine that included regular showering was not only not necessary, but bad for you.

Of course, this caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. As a person who has (except for times of illness) taken a shower every morning of his life since he was old enough to bathe by himself, I definitely took exception to such a line of thinking. And, as a result, prompted me to add my two cents to the stream. To my amazement, I found that, instead of the vast majority of people agreeing with me, many more admonished me for being too clean. One geezer even went so far to say that my showering every day was “obsessive.” Naturally, I could not resist in telling him that if he wanted to smell like a goat it was alright as long as he promised not to ride the “E” train on the NYC subway system, the line that I often ride on.

Where the heck were these people brought up? Even animals know that one should bathe every now and again.

Here at the ALF, we have a policy that everybody gets a shower at least once a week.** While I think that an interval of 7 days is way too long, at least it’s better than nothing. However, it amazes me that some residents actually balk when the shower lady comes around. Some people even hide or have to be tracked down by the aide. So, what’s really going on here? Is it just laziness, or actual pain and discomfort that causes old people to want to go without bathing. Or, as I believe, they just no longer give a damn.

Of course, there have been many studies done on this subject…

The fact that many elders don't get around to bathing or changing clothes, common as it is, may not be a health issue. It's certainly a social issue, however, and it's one caregiver's are acutely aware of.

1. Depression can cause people to lose interest in how they look (or smell). If your elders feel isolated or are depressed over life or health issues, they may not care enough to bother with hygiene.

2. As we age, our senses often become less acute. We're aware of hearing loss and changes in eyesight. However, we sometimes forget that the sense of smell, and taste for that matter, may have diminished.

3. Memory can be an issue with hygiene. Days go by and the elder just doesn't think of a shower or bath. He just took a shower, right? Well, maybe so, but that was several days ago.

4. If the elder has dementia, fear may enter the picture. If this is the case, you've got your work cut out for you.

Some of the other factors leading to why some older people have an aversion to bathing has to do with safety (the fear of falling is the most often mentioned), to not like the way the water feels beating down on their (thin) skin. But what about that “Old people’s smell.” Is that a real thing or just our imagination? …

“Anecdotally, the unique scent of the elderly lingers wherever they live and in any confined spaces they have recently occupied, such as taxis and elevators. Many different cultures have recognized the phenomenon—the Japanese even have a word for it, kareishuu—but the biological truth of old person smell remains uncertain. In a new study, blindfolded volunteers reliably recognized the aroma of the elderly by sniffing sweat-soaked armpit pads, although they had a much harder time correctly matching pads to the young and middle-aged, and they were not able to make fine distinctions about age based on scent alone. Contrary to the popular notion that old person smell is disagreeable, volunteers in the new study rated the odors of the elderly as much less unpleasant and intense than those of the middle-aged and young.”

All I can say is that a blind person, entering our lobby, would know that they were in a place where there were many old people. The ambient odor can be best described as a dirty diaper/Old Spice/mothball/ Ben Gay scent with a touch of garlic and ketoacidosis. However, we still have not answered the question of whether or not showering every day is okay.

This from home.bt.com might offer some insight. …

“New research suggests that showering regularly – especially in hot water – might be doing your skin more harm than good.

Dermatologists Dr. Joshua Zeichner and Dr. Ranella Hirsch claim that the notion that we need to shower daily was born more of cultural norms rather than any real health benefits.

“We over-bathe in this country and that’s really important to realize,” Boston-based Dr. Hirsch told Buzzfeed of typical US behavior.

“A lot of the reason we do has to do with societal norms.”

Dr. Zeichner added that what we perceive to be body odor is, in reality, nothing more than a “cultural phenomenon”.

Both doctors said that over-bathing can dry out and irritate skin, washing away the good bacteria and even heightening the risk of infection by causing small cracks in the skin.”

The article also says that one should cleanse their “nether regions” below the waist on a more regular basis lest we want to smell like the Gorilla exhibit at the Bronx Zoo.

So, what have we learned here?

1.If you don’t want to shower every day, okay. But don’t expect to have a lot of friends.
2. I will continue to shower every day because I’m used to doing it and it’s easier than the “spot” cleaning described by so-called experts.

And besides, who will keep my rubber ducky company if I’m not there?………………

*For purposes of this post, we will use the word “shower” to represent all forms of bathing.
** The majority of residents are not actually bathed by an attendant. The aid is there only as a safety measure and usually stands outside of the bathroom. There are special cases that do require hands-on assistance.

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Why you need to have purpose in your daily life
 even when you retire

By Robert Powell

Who says you can't kick off a new venture as a senior? Here's why retirement is a great time to get a business off the ground. The Motley Fool

If you’re like many would-be retirees, you’ll likely “retire from” something – a job or boss you hate – and not “to something.”

That’s a big mistake. If you retire from something and not to something, there’s a good chance you’ll be returning to work. In fact, one in every three retirees returns to work, according to Brad Pistole, president of Trinity Insurance & Financial Services and author of “Safe Money Matters.”

The reasons this happens, says Pistole, include boredom and failure to plan for the income needed in retirement.


Fried potato consumption is associated with
 elevated mortality, but. …

White potatoes have been a staple food in many traditional diets of the Western world (1). In recent years, the overall consumption of potatoes has declined in the United States, but processed potato intake (e.g., French fries and chips) has dramatically increased (2). Potatoes are rich in starch and have a high glycemic index, which has been associated with an increased risk of developing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) (3). However, compared with other common carbohydrate sources, potatoes have a low energy density because of their high water content (4). In addition, potatoes provide other important micronutrients, which are all associated with a decreased risk of morbidity and mortality (5). Therefore, potatoes represent a contradictory food because they contain both macro- and micronutrients with possible beneficial and harmful effects on health.


Breaking the Myths About Grumpy Old Men
By Ronda Kaysen

Reach a certain age, and it’s almost expected that if you’re not, say, the sweet old granny happily baking strudel, you’re more than likely to become the cranky, cane-waving curmudgeon. No wonder the 1993 film Grumpy Old Men is getting retooled for a new generation, this time starring Eddie Murphy.

But the assumption that a grumpier outlook accompanies wrinkles and gray hair is simply wrong. “Older people tend to be happier than the general population,” says Heidi White, M.D., a professor of medicine in the geriatrics division of Duke University School of Medicine. “So why do we have that stereotype? Because we’re an ageist society and we misunderstand older adults.”

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NEXT BLOG:Thursday January 10th 2019

Though not necessary, please feel free to add your email, or website address to your comments.

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The Invisible Senior

I walked past the large window in our lobby the other day and I could swear that I could not see my reflection in the glass. Perhaps it was because of the unusually bright sunlight which shown through it, or the glare from the still-lit Christmas tree but, for a second, I thought I had become invisible. Noticing that I still cast a shadow on the tile floor went a long way in convincing me that I had not, as yet, turned into a vampire.* However, it did start me to thinking about how invisible we seniors have become. Especially this time of year.

Our invisibility is first noted when we no longer receive invitations to Christmas and New Year’s parties. What happened? I was invited last year. Have I suddenly faded into the woodwork? I’m only a year older. Maybe they think that at the ripe old age of 73 I no longer have any need for companionship, not to mention a glass of Champagne or two. Perhaps I did something to offend them. But that’s a personal thing between me and my “friends.” However, what really bothers me is the invisibility we have with regards to strangers.

Hey. I’m the first to admit it. I’m not a great looking guy. On the other hand, I am far from being an ogre. And, in my youth, I have actually been the recipient of more than a casual glance from a comely member of the opposite persuasion. But now, nothing.

I walk down the street, stroll the mall, wander the aisles of the local supermarket and barely get even a fish eye look. It’s like I am not even there. I mean, not a look of revulsion or even a snicker at the old dude wobbling down the lane with a cane. I’m sure that, if it were physically possible, they would walk through me like a scene from “Ghost.”

But again, those people are not really important, and whether I am noticed by a housewife with rollers in her hair, or a group of high school kids matters little to me. It’s the people that should be more aware of us, and aren’t, that I find quite annoying.

I’m talking about people in the service industry.

They’re the folks behind the counter at the department store who leave you to wander the aisles without a “How may I help you.” Or the guy taking up two seats on the bus while you stand there in front of him.

Maybe it’s the server at TGI Friday’s who walks past your table to attend to a young couple who have just sat down.

It’s the man who pushes ahead of you at the supermarket check-out line because you failed to move your cart up to the counter fast enough. “You see the cane hanging on my arm buddy?” Maybe it’s the cane that makes me invisible.

But, once again, those are just minor annoyances. What is really sad is when you are ignored (or taken for granted) by the people who are responsible for your well-being. Like home health aids, nurses, and even doctors.

They may see a body in front of them, but fail to recognize it as an individual human being who has the same fears, concerns, and ability to comprehend as a younger person but are placed into a cubbyhole because of built-in ageism that is rampant in our country today.

This from psycholgytoday.com…

"...as a society we tend to value those of either gender who are youthful. This is most obvious in the beauty and fashion industry, and even more so when entertainment media-gossip about Britney Spears usurps news stories about Meryl Streep. We long to identify with beautiful people so we may imagine the young, attractive individuals we wish we were."

Source >> https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/21st-century-aging/200908/the-invisible-years

And from thehuffingtonpost.com …

"Although we live in a youth-oriented society, there’s a quiet generation of people who are being blatantly shunned and abused. They are the “invisible” generation; the elderly among us who are often regarded as feeble-minded and lacking in the ability to contribute to society in a meaningful way. This ageist attitude has robbed senior citizens of their self-worth, leaving them the victims of prejudice and disrespect. Compassion, courtesy and respect have gone by the wayside."

Source >> https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-kester-doyle-/the-invisible-generation_b_6938344.html

So, is there a way that we can make ourselves less invisible?

Writing in mindbodygreen.com, Margaret Paul, Ph.D. says, If you are doing any or all of the following, you're making yourself invisible to others.

1. Ignoring yourself.

Do you often ignore your feelings? That's not a good idea, because our feelings are a source of inner guidance, letting us know whether we are taking loving care of ourselves or abandoning ourselves.

2. Not advocating for yourself

With my children, I was like a mother lioness, always speaking up for them when I felt they were being treated unjustly by others — including teachers. But I rarely spoke up for myself. I told myself that I could take it and that I didn't want to rock the boat and start a conflict.

3.Accepting one-way relationships

I used to listen to others talk about themselves for hours, hoping they would ask me about myself — which rarely happened. Of course, others loved to be with me because of how well I listened to them, but because I was ignoring myself, they also ignored me.

4. People-pleasing

I was brought up to be a caretaker — to take care of others' feelings while ignoring my own. I tried constantly to please others in the hopes that they would care about me. But, of course, this never happened, because they were treating me the way I was treating myself.

If you sometimes feel invisible to others, I encourage you to learn to love yourself and see what happens with others!

Read more >> https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-15081/4-ways-youre-making-yourself-invisible-to-others.html

All of the above may be well and good, but the only way we are ever going to make ourselves less invisible is to assert ourselves much more than we have. Of course,we run the risk of being looked upon as just another crazy, grumpy old man on the fringes of dementia.

I will tell you one thing though. If you want to go to a place where you are never invisible, walk into a chain drugstore or convenience store carrying a large shopping bag and watch how closely you are observed by the clerks. I was followed around a CVS for 15 minutes until I made a selection and headed for the checkout counter. The next time that happens, I’ll take a hundred dollars worth of merchandise to the checkout, leave it there and walk out. See how fast you will suddenly materialize……………………………………………………

*I would make a very bad vampire. I like garlic and daylight too much

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Adjustments normal for transition to
senior living community

By Rebecca Maitland

There comes a time in so many senior citizens’ lives when they want a maintenance-free lifestyle, as they are simply tired of taking care of the house, the lawn, and all of the repairs and upkeep. It is just time to start a new chapter in one’s life and make a change.

So, they begin looking into the many different senior communities Houston offers and all the activities, outings, restaurants, maid service and the other amenities they provide.

But giving up one’s home after 20, 30 or 40 or more years can be difficult, and there is a transition or an adjustment period, which any move will create.


The Top 10 Items You Have
That Your Kids Don't Want

The following is excerpted from No Thanks Mom: The Top Ten Objects Your Kids Do NOT Want (and what to do with them).

Your house, and what it contains, is a minefield in the eyes of your grown children. They can see from your example that collections of stuff are a curse; such objects are superfluous to a life well lived. They want a clean, clear field in which to live their lives. Your grown children will not agree to be the recipients of your downsizing if it means their upsizing.

In the following list of the Top Ten Objects Your Kids Do Not Want — inspired by conversations (or lack thereof) about my keepsakes with my 30-year-old son, Lock, and his wife, as well as by similar conversations I’ve had with hundreds of boomer clients and their millennial heirs — I will help you find a remedy for dealing with each:


What Are the Best Exercises for Older Adults?

Seniors should focus on exercises that give them the strength to complete everyday tasks.

Study after study has shown that exercise can help improve cardiovascular health, stamina and bone density while reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity. These findings hold especially true for older adults who, by the very nature of aging, are likely to lose muscle mass, strength, bone density, agility, endurance and balance as they age.

It's a fight against gravity and time, but staying fit over the long term is a goal worth pursuing. Older adults who exercise regularly enjoy more independence and health than those who don't. So how can older adults incorporate more activity into their lives and what are the best exercises for them? The key is to find enjoyable activities that you can stick with. These can be anything from walking or water aerobics to yoga, dancing, tai chi or simple stretching.

Continue reading >> https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/2018-12-26/what-are-the-best-exercises-for-older-adults

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NEXT BLOG: Monday January 7th 2019

Though not necessary, please feel free to add your email, or website address to your comments.


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“I resolve…

Oh no, you don’t. I’m not getting caught up in that trap again. I know myself too well. Making any kind of resolution, especially one made because it’s New Year’s, is a waste of time and only compound the sorrows and frustrations we already have. Just because the dates on a calendar change should never be the motivation for anything life-changing. In fact, if you think about it, hasn’t every life-altering decision just happened because it was the right time to happen?

As I look back on my life I can’t remember any important decision that I ever made because I planned it in advance.

When I graduated high school I had no idea what college I wanted to attend.

Practically all of my classmates started looking for and applying to colleges sometime during their junior year. In my junior year, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college. So, instead of running off to yet another school the fall after my graduation, I decided to get a job and put any continuing education on hold.

It was not until a year later when one day, as I was walking past the main entrance to the downtown campus of a local college, did I decide that maybe it would be a good idea to get a degree. So, I just popped into the admissions office, obtained an application, took an entrance exam (passed it) and signed up for the fall semester. I continued to work and went to class at night. And, while it took almost six years to earn that degree, I would not have missed the experience for anything.

Many years went by before I had the opportunity to make my next major spur-of-the-moment accord.

I had been “seeing” this young woman for over three years without a mention of marriage. In fact, although I knew that eventually, the topic would come up, the date and time for such an arrangement was the farthest thing from my mind. However, it was not the farthest thing from HER mind. I found that out one evening as we sat in a booth in a bar across the street from her apartment.

After a few minutes had gone by with her sipping a white Russian and me gulping a beer,  she put down her drink, looked me straight in the eyes and uttered the words I guess I had been expecting for a while.

“Bruce, are you ever going to ask me to marry you?”

Her words cut through the smoke-filled air of the bar like a hot knife to butter. She was true to form. Clear, concise, and to the point. And, by the tone of her voice, somebody who wanted an immediate answer. And, much to my surprise, I answered her just as quickly.

“Okay, let’s get married”, I said.

“When?”, she snapped back as if I had said something I didn’t mean.

“How about April?” I said, returning her snap.

“Okay, April. Does this mean we’re engaged?”

“Uh huh”, was the only thing I could say.

And, although it wasn’t the most romantic proposal ever made, it was another life-altering decision made in less than a minute an with little forethought.

Over the years I have found that over-thinking an issue is counterproductive. And, resolving to do something at sometime in the future is the best way to never getting it done.

I ended a 20-year smoking habit by going “cold turkey” just because I thought it was time to stop. I haven’t had a cigarette in over 35 years. And, I bought my last car in under 15 minutes and got it for the price I wanted.

Chances are that, if you are reading this blog, you have a number of years under your belt with the prospect of living for another 50 or 60 years growing dimmer by the minute. Do you really have the time to make long-range plans?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advising you to make rash decisions, but rather that you don’t mull over everything you do.

Will all of your actions turn out to be the best ones? No. But what in life is certain 100% of the time? ……………

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Crap Cakes

There were so many things wrong with this meal it’s hard to know where to begin. But, since we have to start somewhere I’ll begin by taking part of the blame. And that part is ordering it in the first place.

As always, we have a choice of selecting one of two entrees. The other choice this past Thursday afternoon was a Philly cheese steak sandwich.

In the past, I would have ordered the Philly without hesitation. But as of late they have managed to ruin even that. Therefore, being once fooled I was twice shy so, I opted for the crab cake.

The very shape of the cake should have been warning enough. Instead of the slightly rounded “burger” shape usually associated with seafood “cakes”, this thing looked more like a corn muffin. But, knowing that looks can be deceiving, I ventured forth and commenced to try a slice a bite-sized piece off with a fork.

After numerous tries, I had to abandon the fork and go for a knife which proved to be the proper tool for this particular deconstruction. This, unfortunately, afforded me my first bite.

Now, I have had crab cakes in a couple of Baltimore area restaurants that were terrific in every respect. From the batter to the tender bits of fresh crab delicately seasoned and simply cooked. And, I have had some not-so-good cake that was precooked, frozen, and out-of-the-box. But I have never had anything (meat, fish, or fowl) that had the taste and consistency of this debacle. I ate half of it hoping that somehow my first impression was wrong. It wasn’t.

The awful coleslaw and the room temperature fries rounded off this perfectly atrocious meal. Grudgingly, I give it ♦ out of 5. And that’s only because even cold fries are better than no fries. ………………………………………ff.

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The Invisibility of Being Old,
Disabled Or Both

When you’re an older person who uses a wheelchair or walks with a cane, people treat you differently. Sure, some might be quicker to open doors for you, but most of the behavioral reactions aren’t positive ones. The combination of being old and disabled causes what many refer to as “invisibility.”

Frank Bruni, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, explored this idea in a recent column through the lens of 82-year-old Nancy Root, a woman with post-polio syndrome Bruni met while giving a lecture on a cruise. Root taught Bruni how it felt to be seen as invisible because of her age and perceived ability.

“People looked over her, around her, through her. They withdrew,” Bruni wrote.


Adjustments normal for transition to
senior living community
By Rebecca Maitland

There comes a time in so many senior citizens’ lives when they want a maintenance-free lifestyle, as they are simply tired of taking care of the house, the lawn, and all of the repairs and upkeep. It is just time to start a new chapter in one’s life and make a change.

So, they begin looking into the many different senior communities Houston offers and all the activities, outings, restaurants, maid service and the other amenities they provide.

But giving up one’s home after 20, 30 or 40 or more years can be difficult, and there is a transition or an adjustment period, which any move will create.


3D Printer for Patients in Assisted Living? Yes!

In an attempt to address the economic barrier that arthritis patients often encounter, a team of researchers has looked into the viability of manufacturing adaptive aids (i.e., cane holder aid, sock aid, zipper pull aid, pen holder) aid using low-cost desktop 3-D printers.

The study, “Economic Potential for Distributed Manufacturing of Adaptive Aids for Arthritis Patients in the U.S.,” appears in the December 6, 2018 edition of Geriatrics.

Jennifer Bow, M.D., with the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at Michigan Technological University and co-author on the study, told OTW, “We decided to look at adaptive aids for arthritis since these devices are amenable to 3D printing, generally being small and made of plastic, can benefit from creativity in their engineering, and are most functional when customized to their user. This is an area where engineering concepts can be applied to real life problems, where the designs have the potential to really help people. These types of designs showcase the abilities of 3D printers to customize a design to the end-user.”

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday January 3rd 2019

Though not necessary, please feel free to add your email, or website address to your comments.

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We all know this verse from Ecclesiastes 3:2, …

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build,…",

To that, I would like to add “A time to say thanks”. Thanks, not only to some unseen force that has chosen to let me stay around a bit longer but also to what some of you might think is an unlikely thing to do. And that is to say “Thank you” to The Westchester Center, the place I call home.

As many of you know, over the past five-plus years that I have lived here, I have been critical of many of the rules, regulations, systems, and practices that are systemic with, not only this assisted living facility in particular but all venues of this type.
While most of that criticism focused on the lack of privacy afforded to its residents and the food service, other problems such as poor transportation options, non-existent recreational activities for men and the lack of involvement afforded to residents and their loved ones have been mentioned. However, for as many times that I have judged things bad, I have also mentioned that despite it all, I am very thankful and grateful for what this facility has given me.

First, and foremost, there is a very solid roof over my head. For a person whose greatest fear is homelessness, this is a big deal. And, along with the roof, my living space is warm in the winter and deliciously cool in the summer.

As a person who has lived in an urban setting all of his life, the change to a quiet, suburban lifestyle is a welcome change. Weather permitting, I can sit outside in the sun and soak up some much-needed vitamin D.

Yes, it is true that I now live a more structured life. But with that discipline comes one very important commodity. Less stress. And that is something that only comes from not having to worry about coping with many of the day-to-day problems that one encounters at this time of life.

Things like trying to navigate the waters of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs can cause untold harm to one’s nerves. Fortunately, there are experts here that can help me with that. They even found money that I was entitled to and didn’t know it.

There are other things too.

I had a stuck dresser drawer. No matter how hard I tried, I could not open it.

If I had been living in any other situation, I would have to (with great difficulty) get down on my hands and knees and try to loosen the darn thing with a coat hanger. Fortunately, that was not the case. All I had to do was notify our maintenance department which sent over a guy to fix it. The same is true with replacing light bulbs and fixtures, plumbing issues, pest control, room cleaning and they’ll even set up your cable TV for you.

Another thing I don’t have to stress about is safety and security.

Nobody gets in here without being noticed and checked-in.

The entire facility is fireproof and equipt with sprinklers throughout as well as CCTV monitored 365/24/7.

But the best thing about living here is the fact that I am not alone. And if you don’t think that’s a big deal just think about it for a minute.

I am what’s known as an “Elder Orphan.” That is, I have no close relatives or friends that live nearby who I could count on for help, or even check on my welfare. The very fact that I am surrounded by over 200 staff and residents who are cognizant of my whereabouts all of the time, I find very comforting.*

So, Westchester Center, as we approach the New Year, I want to say “Thanks.” I say it with the hope that we will continue our love/hate relationship in the future. And maybe, just maybe, together we will be able to iron out some of those annoying wrinkles and make this place the best it can be. …………………………………………...

*Yes, I know that it sounds a bit Orwellian, but it’s better than being alone.

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I will apologize in advance if today’s MOTW appears to be a bit schizophrenic. A condition which is brought on, not so much by the meal itself, but rather the inability of this reviewer to separate the two dynamics contained therein. On one side we have the meal service itself.

In an attempt to make up for the fiasco that was our Thanksgiving dinner, the chef and his crew took a page from special dinners past and brought out the linen, the fancy plates, and the sparkling cider, which added a festive touch to a hodge-podge of a meal.

In the belief that serving a heavy meal to a group of people who had just eaten a heavy meal (meatloaf) just a mere 3 hours before was the right thing to do, residents were treated to a choice of either leg of lamb or stuffed loin of pork. The lamb, with its obligatory carb-loaded side dish of a sad rice pilaf, and the pork with some shamefully cooked asparagus stalks.

While I did not have the pork loin, and therefore will not comment on it, I can say that the leg-of-lamb was okay. Not great mind you but, given where we are and who cooked it, not bad and better than I expected. Thus I will give the food portion of this Christmas dinner ♦ ♦ ♦ out of five. Unfortunately, because they insist on serving these “one-seating only” dinners at the outrageous hour of 4:30 PM and then expect this resident to rave about it I must protest by issuing an X X X X the worst rating. ………………………………………………………………ff.

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Think You're Not Getting Old?
You Are If You Do These Things

A funny new study by Future You has found there are specific “tells” you are getting older, like forgetting someone’s name, or groaning when you bend over.

Falling asleep in front of the TV? That’s another one, along with needing an afternoon nap, and choosing comfortable clothes over stylish ones.

Sitting cross-legged? Forget it, it’s impossible for you unless you’re a yogi. Constant complaining, getting a buzz instead of getting drunk, and loving board games are all on the list of this way to elderly land.


Why Senior Housing Needs To Change
To Appeal To Boomers

By Holly Lawrence

Boomers are known for being a generation of influencers, rebels and change leaders. Now, they’re in a position to force a dismantling of the old models of senior housing. And, based on a panel I recently attended at the Washington Innovation in Longevity Summit, senior housing developers had better get to it soon. By 2030, all boomers will be over 65.

“Things are clearly not that good in the market,” said John Yedinak, the panel moderator, who is president and co-founder of Aging Media Network.


Assisted Living for Couples

The important thing is to consider your particular situation carefully and ask a lot of questions as early in the process as possible to get the best solution for you.

In a perfect world, couples in happy, loving relationships would be able to stay together for as long as they wanted – in excellent health and side by side. Sadly, this isn't a perfect world, and people age at different rates; while the number of days you've spent on Earth may match closely with your spouse, your health care needs might vary widely from your partner's. And therein lies a potential difficulty as you continue to age and need different levels of care and assistance later in life.

This reality raises an important question for some older couples: How can we stay together for as long as possible? Here, we'll look at three strategies that can help you keep your lifelong commitment to be with your partner, no matter what specific challenges you may be facing:

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NEXT BLOG: Monday December 31st 2018


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At The ALF:
Who’s The Customer Here Anyway?

It’s difficult having to live with idiots.

No, I’m not referring to my fellow residents (although they can be trying at times). I’m speaking of the staff and management of our little paradise-on-the-hill. And specifically, the people who are left in charge on the weekends.

People who work on the weekends here at the ALF are not (for the most part) the same employees that are here during the week. Essentially, they are fill-in’s or Temps who have chosen to work on weekends for various reasons They are poorly trained and poorly supervised. Because they have no regular daily contact with the residents as does the weekday staff, they neither know us or respect us, and could care less. To be honest, if I were in their position, I might feel and act the same way. Working in a senior care facility is not a very good job.

Perhaps a word about what it means to work in such a place as this.

Unfortunately, jobs at the bottom end of the healthcare business are the worst and are usually filled by people who have little or no experience working with disabled, frail and slightly demented old folks. In many cases, applicants for the job do not even have a high school education. We have one server in our dining room who can neither read nor write. She keeps all of the dinner orders in her head which often results in mistakes. Employment as a housekeeper or server requires very little in the way of anything. And, in return, they receive very little compensation. They are paid slightly more than minimum wage. There are no benefits, and are required to pass a background check.

As per the law in N.Y. State, anybody who applies for employment (for any position) in any hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility must pass a background check. And by “pass” they mean having no felony arrests or convictions. You would not believe how this ruling diminishes the number of available, qualified employees from the workforce.*

All of this means, that on weekends, we get lousy service.

Weekends here at the Asylum are the worst.

Regular housekeeping services such as making the beds, trash removal and towel and linen replacement are delayed or not done at all.

There are little or no activities scheduled like Bingo or arts and crafts.

Maintenance is done on an emergency basis only.

Calls for assistance are often unheeded or slow in coming. It is not unheard of that a resident will have to call 911 for assistance.

But the one area that suffers most from the lack of supervision and trained staff on the weekends has to be the Food Services Dept.

Our food services manager is rarely here on the weekends which means that any supervision is left to subordinates who, really don’t give a damn what comes out of the kitchen or how or when it’s served.

After a particularly festive staff Xmas party the other evening, breakfast the next day was an hour late. And, to add insult to injury, dinner the next evening was combined into one seating (at 4:30). However, the decision to combine the two seating’s was done arbitrarily with little-advanced notice to those of us whose scheduled dinner is at 5:45. This resulted in many diners arriving late and forced to eat in a rush. Much, I might add, to the dismay of our administrator who, like the rest of us, was not informed of (or to give his approval for) the scheduling change. It was a stupid, inconsiderate and disrespectful thing to do.

Unfortunately, if history proves correct, there will be no apology and nobody will admit that they made a mistake. It’s just another example of the lack of basic courtesy shown to our residents. And all of this boils down to one thing.

As a former business owner, salesman and customer service representative, I have had the opportunity to witness what happens when a business fails to identify who their customers are and who they are working for. Forgetting that your customers provide the revenue that enables you to continue to operate your business can be disastrous.

And, as a five-year-plus resident here, I have had noticed the crucial flaw that exists, not only here, but in many assisted living facilities. And that is that MANAGEMENT FORGETS THAT WE (THE RESIDENTS) ARE THE CUSTOMERS. And that our needs must come before those of the staff, the supervisors or the people that own and operate this facility.

I’ll have more to say on this subject in future posts…………………………

*BTW: The facility pays for those background checks which can cost in upwards of $300.

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See more cartoons in our cartoon gallery

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Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day. Unfortunately, here at the ALF we rarely get a breakfast worth talking about. The usual fare consists of dried-out eggs or a barely warm pancake, waffle or French toast. But every once and a while they do something right. Such was the breakfast served to us this past Monday. To my amazement the egg and cheese sandwich was as good as I have ever had. The roll was fresh and soft. The eggs were not too runny or well done. And the cheese was actually melted. In addition, the more than generous serving of bacon was not burned to cinder as usual. For their efforts I am going to give this meal ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ out of 5.

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 Article Raises Concerns Over
 Dementia Care in Assisted Living

Assisted living communities are taking in an increasing number of dementia residents, but memory care services might not always be keeping these older adults safe and secure.

That’s according to a Dec. 13 New York Times article produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News. The article –“Dementia Patients Fuel Assisted Living’s Growth. Safety May Be Lagging” — relied on a Kaiser Health analysis of assisted living inspection records in the three most populous U.S. states: California, Florida and Texas.

Social Security notices showing cost-of-living increases
 available online for retirees

By Janna Herron

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

If you're wondering how much bigger your Social Security paycheck will be next year, you can find out now online.

The Social Security Administration recently released its cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, notices online. Retirees also will receive COLA notices by mail.

Simply log onto your My Social Security account at https://secure.ssa.gov/RIL/SiView.action to find out your new 2019 payment. The COLA notice will be located in the message center.


Will you really need a geriatrician when you’re 65?
By Marlene Cimons

Once, turning 65 typically meant retirement, Medicare and the inevitable onset of physical decline. It also often signaled the need to search for a geriatrician, a doctor who specializes in caring for the complex medical problems of the elderly.

But many of today’s older Americans are healthy, vigorous and mentally sound, with no urgent need to change doctors. They aren’t afflicted with age-related diseases or functional impairments. This raises interesting questions about when — and whether — those 65 and older need to make that switch.

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NEXT BLOG: Monday December 24th 2018

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‘Tis The Season

I’m just going to say it. Merry Christmas.

Yes, I know I could be ostracized for such a blatant display of non-political correctness, but I’ll take my chances. After all, despite the oratory that comes out of Washington these days, we haven’t become a totally totalitarian state, yet.

I don’t know when all of this changed. As a kid, I remember wishing other kids in my class at PS 131 (Christians and non-Christians alike), a Merry Christmas. Just as I wished them Happy Chanukah at the appropriate time of the year. I was never told not to do it by anyone. Certainly not by my parents, and not by my teachers. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way a group of evidently very Grinchy folks, who had nothing better to do, decided that people not of the Christian persuasion would be so offended that the very mention of the “C” word could cause irrevocable harm. Or, that not using the generic “Season’s Greetings” would somehow make me forget that I was Jewish. As if that could ever happen.

As Jews, we have accepted, and adapted, to being a minority in mostly Christian nations. And, being of the merchant class in many of those countries, not to acknowledge that most important of all holidays in Christendom with a simple “Merry Christmas” is just plain bad business as well as ridiculous. Just as ridiculous as believing that uttering those two words would diminish my own spirituality or ethnicity.

Of course, I am aware that there are certain people to whom I would never wish a Merry Christmas. Not so much out of fear of offending them, but rather out of fear that I might become the target of a zealot who is just one armband away from a Jihad or a coreligionist who is a member of a sect that barely recognizes me as a Jew.

The truth be told, I rather enjoy the decorations, the caroling, and the good cheer we are surrounded by this time of year. Not to mention the giving and the getting of gifts.

As a family, we did not celebrate Christmas and therefore we didn’t exchange any gifts. And, except for business gifts which were once a really big deal, I rarely received any Christmas presents or partook in any of the traditions of Christmas.

It was only after I married a Catholic girl that I realized what the holiday was all about.

For years I thought Christmas was all about celebrating the birth of Jesus. However, it was not until I spent my first Christmas with my very Irish Catholic wife did I realized what Christmas was all about.

I was nearly 40-years-old and spending my first Christmas morning sitting around a beautifully decorated tree in my sister-in-law’s living room when I finally understood that Christmas was all about family. We spent a wonderful day eating, drinking, eating some more, laughing, singing and playing with my nephew’s new Atari video game. I even came away with a couple of very nice gifts.* What could be wrong with that?

We spent a number of Christmases like that. We even had a tree of our own which was very traditional and tastefully decorated. I was even given the honor of placing the angel on top.**

 BTW: The facility will have it’s own party and a visit from Santa. Not too shabby for a place owned and operated by orthodox Jews.

I will leave you with this. If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas and it offends you, think of it not as having any religious meaning but instead think about being with your family and loved ones. Just like the first Christmas was over 2000 years ago . And, once again, Merry Christmas. .............................................................................................................

*My wife knowing that, being the clueless Jew that I was, Christmas shopping should best be left to her. Much to the delight of my in-laws.
** I realized later that I was allowed to do this only because my wife had a fear of heights and did not want to stand on a ladder.

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See more cartoons in our cartoon gallery

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A Bad Breakfast

To illustrate the inconsistency’s in the food service here, just as a breakfast last week was cited as the BEST meal of the week, the breakfast served to us this past Friday was one of the worst.
What you see is what we got. Two hard boiled eggs and some “breakfast potatoes.” I ordered an English muffin to go with it.

Now, just to be clear (and fair) there was nothing inedible about this offering. It is its contents that I have a problem with. There is almost a complete lack of protein here as well as any demonstration on any cooking skills whatsoever. The truth be told, a motivated chimpanzee could have cooked this meal……………………………………..ff.

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Seniors banned from saying 'Merry Christmas'

A residence for seniors in Washington state has decided to ban the words “Merry Christmas,” Christmas decorations, Christmas carols that mention Jesus and more – because it claims the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires those actions.

But it doesn’t, say lawyers with the Alliance Defending Freedom who have written to Providence Place in Chehalis, explaining that those expressions popular during the Christmas season are, in fact, perfectly legal.

They explained the issue came up because a building manager “told a Christian resident that the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits residents from saying ‘Merry Christmas,’ singing Christmas carols that reference Christ, or displaying any decorations or cards referencing the Christian religion during the Christmas season.”


Empowerji Launches A Unique Mobile App
To Digitally Empower Senior Citizens

Empowerji is a one-of-a-kind multi-lingual app for senior citizens that will teach them how to use technology. The unique app is designed keeping Seniors in mind and will use the audio-visual medium to simplify the use of mobile apps, sites, and other techs. Videos in the app are currently offered in English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati. The app will be available to iOS and Android users. The app will be Freemium with paid services being launched soon. The App is currently free for all.


Study shows benefits of
 sex for older adults

A new study published in the journal Sexual Medicine indicates that sexual activity is associated with improved wellbeing amongst older adults, measured through higher enjoyment of life scores.

Led by Dr Lee Smith from Anglia Ruskin University and Dr Sarah Jackson from UCL, the study involved analyzing survey data from 6,879 older adults, with an average age of 65, living in England.

It found that older men and women who reported any type of sexual activity in the previous 12 months had a higher life enjoyment score than those who were not sexually active.


The ABCs of CBDs:
Marijuana Products for Your Health

Cannabidiol, or CBD (an oil from cannabis; marijuana is a species of cannabis), is increasingly being marketed to aging Americans as a wonder-drug for everything from cancer care to joint pain, and research shows those marketing campaigns are working.

Older Americans are now the fastest growing population of new cannabis users. But not all CBD products are created equal, and not all will be effective for those seeking therapeutic relief. As the commercial market continues to expand, it’s important  to understand what you’d be getting if you buy a product labeled CBD.


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NEXT BLOG: Thursday December 27th 2018

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Where Did I Come From?
Who Cares?

For a brief few seconds, I had the notion to try one of those “Give us your DNA and we’ll tell you where you came from” sites that seem to have gained popularity as of late. Fortunately, that idea quickly passed in favor of a cup of coffee and a sugary cruller.

Please do not misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t care about who my forbearers may have been and from whence they came, it’s just that I already have a pretty good idea and spending the $60, $70, or $80 to find out seems like a waste of money, not to mention a few inner cheek cells.

I know that my grandparents came from a place they called “The old country.” The old country for us meant an area located somewhere in Tzarist Russia. The other thing we kids were told was that this place was not a good place for Jews.*

We were reviled with stories of Cassocks, pogroms, and hooliganism on the part of “goyim” who, as far as my grandparents were concerned was everybody who was not Jewish. Fortunately, for them, they were able to see the Cyrillic writing on the walls and decided it was time to leave.

As the story goes, they somehow made their way to England and then on to Canada and eventually wound up in upstate New York. After a while, a group of them (my mom’s parents included) thought that the harsh Buffalo winters were too much like home, and decided to head for the warmer climes of the south. South New York that is. Winding up in New York City, specifically, Brooklyn. And that’s about it.

Any real attempt to find out where my ancestors lived before they went to Russia would most likely prove futile. Because, unlike Christians who write everything in bibles and church registers, Jews rarely do any of that. And, since the Russian Government at the time was not that interested in keeping detailed records of Jewish ancestry either, any records that would help to find out anything that happened before the birth of my great grandparents do not exist.

That is not to say that my “people’s” past is a total mystery. And, though I can’t be specific, there is a general idea as to where Eastern European Jews originated.

There is an interesting article in the-scientist.com ( www.the-scientist.com/daily-news/genetic-roots-of-the-ashkenazi-jews-38580 ) that gives a pretty good explanation of it all…

“The Ashkenazi Jews make up the majority of Jews today and most recently have ancestry in central or Eastern Europe. Previous work has demonstrated that just four mitochondrial types, pass down from four mothers, account for 40 percent of the variation in Ashkenazi Jews’ mitochondrial DNA, and some researchers have published evidence of Near Eastern origins for these Ashkenazi mitochondrial types.

The majority of Ashkenazi Jews are descended from prehistoric European women, according to a study published October 8th in Nature Communications. While the Jewish religion began in the Near East, and the Ashkenazi Jews were believed to have origins in the early indigenous tribes of this region, new evidence from mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on exclusively from mother to child, suggests that female ancestors of most modern Ashkenazi Jews converted to Judaism in the north Mediterranean around 2,000 years ago and later in west and central Europe.”

Of course, if we wanted to go back even further we would find out that all of us originated in sub-Saharan Africa, a place with lots of sun and sand which probably resulted in the proclivity for old Jews wanting to move to Florida.

As I understand it, these DNA tests, besides tracing one’s ancestry, can also help you find out if you have any siblings or offspring you may not have known about. For instance, a 50% match in DNA with another person would be a sure sign that the other person was your kid. This, of course, opens up another can of sardines.

However, the one thing I know is that I would be much more surprised to find that I had a kid than they would be. So, unless my ex managed to hide something from me for all these years, I am 100% certain that any assignations I might have had since my divorce did not result in any heirs to the throne.

Do I really want to know if I am the father of some 35-year-old grown-up rug rat? Maybe. You see, I am the last in my branch of the family. As circumstance would have it, both my brother and I are childless. This means that after me, there are no more people that will carry my genes. It’s kind of sad in a way. But such is life.

So, if there are any 35 to 40-year-old men or women out there that think they might be walking around with half of my DNA I will be glad to take one of those tests. But you’re paying……………………………………………….

*As if there was ever a good place for Jews.

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See more cartoons in our cartoon gallery

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Just Awful. Lunch, Saturday Dec. 15th,The “Vegetable” Soup was not edible. Better swill served in Dickensian workhouse.

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Here’s what’s at risk (for seniors) in the
Texas Obamacare ruling

Obamacare has meant lower premiums, deductibles and cost-sharing for the roughly 60 million senior citizens and disabled Americans enrolled in the program.

The health reform law made many changes to Medicare. It slowed the growth of payment rates to hospitals and other providers, reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans and improved benefits for enrollees. The Obama administration estimated that the typical Medicare beneficiary pays about $700 less in premiums and cost sharing thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Under Obamacare, Medicare enrollees also receive free preventative benefits, such as screenings for breast and colorectal cancer, heart disease and diabetes.


6 lessons from a senior living operator’s survey of
 2,000 Americans

Provision Living’s peek into what Americans want from retirement can provide food for thought for other providers, too.

The St. Louis-based assisted living and memory care community operator, which has locations in four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri — recently asked 2,000 people about their dream retirements. Findings suggest areas for further research and potential action.


Inability to Drive, Lack of Transportation Options
 are Major Concerns for Older Adults,
People With Disabilities and Caregivers

A new national poll released today finds that older adults and people with disabilities are facing significant transportation-related challenges once they no longer drive. They feel there is a lack of accessible and reliable transportation alternatives, which prevents them from doing the things they need and want to do and leaves them feeling frustrated, isolated and trapped.

With more than 1 in 5 Americans older than age 65 not driving, demand for transportation is steadily increasing as the boomer population continues to grow. Given that 600,000 people stop driving every year, there is no end to the challenge in sight. To address the growing demand for transportation services and the concern that there are insufficient resources and information available to help, the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center (NADTC) has launched the "Every Ride Counts" campaign, a national effort to increase awareness of local transportation options for older adults and people with disabilities in communities across the United States.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday December 20th 2018

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Divine Intervention:
Maybe It’s Not So Crazy

My belief in God is a relatively recent thing.

I’m Jewish, ethnically but not religiously. In fact, the last religious thing I did was at my Bar Mitzvah. It’s not that I have any problem with religion, it’s just that I don’t believe in all of the religious dogma. The fasting, the dietary restrictions, and the constant praying, for me, have nothing to do with one’s belief in God or whatever deity you follow. I also believe, that if there is a God, He (or She), is a benevolent one and not the wrath-filled, smiting, lightning bolt hurling creature some would have you believe He is. But this belief in a higher power has not always been with me. In fact, it was probably the opposite.

Much to the disdain of my father, who kept Kosher all of his life, mine was a more secular upbringing. I learned the exquisiteness of bacon, ham, shellfish, and cheeseburgers early in life and could not understand why, in this day and age I, as a Jew, was not permitted to eat this marvelous fare. My mother agreed, and so we were a “mixed” household with my dad eating only Kosher foods and me eating everything. This Laissez-faire attitude towards tradition combined with a liberal approach to life caused me to question the very existence of a god. And this skeptical view stayed with me all of my adult life. For better or worse, I was an atheist. So what happened to make me question my questioning?

It began with a sharp pain in the lower-left quadrant of my gut. The pain became cramps which turned into agony and a fast trip to the ER.

Tests, including a thorough inspection of my colon with an instrument which can only be described as medieval, revealed a biblical case of ulcerative colitis. Fortunately, a biopsy of some suspicious pathology proved to be benign. I had, apparently, caught it before it manifested itself as cancer. Was that a case of divine intervention? I was not ready to accept that it was.

I was still not ready to concede to the meddling of a higher power even after I was moved to a better hospital, survived life-threatening surgery, and a long period of convalescence. In fact, it was not until after a few months languishing in a nursing home and watching my life (which I now deemed to be worthless) did I come to the realization that, hey wait, “I AM STILL HERE.” But why?

There was no reason on earth why I should have been spared the sting of death.

After all, I had done nothing spectacular in my 63 years of life. Although I wasn’t a bad guy and tried my best to live up to the standards expected of me as a citizen of a modern world, I knew that my contribution to the betterment of society was less than most.

I wasn’t the volunteering type, nor did I regularly give to charity. Although I would occasionally drop some change into a Salvation Army bucket at Christmas, I balked at giving money to homeless people on the street. All-in-all, my only real beneficence was that I paid my taxes and recycled my plastics.

I spent the next year and a half in that nursing home* trying to figure out for what purpose was I being kept alive. And, not only being kept alive but actually improving health wise. But even as my condition improved, my well-being did not.

Uninsured portions of my medical expenses including a whopping $13,000 per month nursing home bill** put me into financial ruin.

I was forced to give up my apartment and most of my belongings as well as my car. I was, for all practical purposes, homeless. Was this the reason I was saved to live another day? To punish me for not giving or caring about the homeless?
If so, was I to be doomed to suffer these indignities for the rest of my life? To say the least, I was beginning to stress out.

Every day in that nursing home became torture. The desperation, despair, and loneliness was starting to weigh heavily upon my shoulders. So much so that my health was now in danger of going downhill. For the first time in many months, I felt that my demise was at hand. The light at the end of the tunnel was starting to flicker and threatened to extinguish altogether when my doctor recommended a trip to the hospital for some tests. Little did I know that a higher power may have, once again, intervened in my life.

While in the hospital, where I went through a series of tests to determine the viability of my thyroid, I was visited by a doctor. But not just any doctor. This one was a psychiatrist. And, while I usually would have sent her packing (as I had in the past), I decided to let her do her thing. An hour later I was handed a life-changing diagnosis. Depression. Was this the arrow that had pierced my soul. Was this what was causing the melancholia, the sleeplessness, the rapid decline in my health. And how come I just found out about this now?………………………………………………………………………..

*Actually, it was three different homes and two more surgeries.
** I paid this amount for three or four months until I qualified for Medicare.

Read Part 2 on Thursday, December 13th

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See more cartoons in our cartoon gallery

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Here Are Senior Citizens' Biggest Financial Regrets --
Don't Make Them Yours

By Selena Maranjian

If you can avoid ending up with these regrets, it will mean you've set yourself up for a comfortable retirement.

You know you could learn a lot from your grandparents, right? You can learn even more from more grandparents -- from a host of senior citizens, in fact. A recent survey of seniors produced a long list of their financial regrets, a list that offers instructive insights.

Check out the regrets below and see which ones are likely to become your own if you don't change some of your ways now.

Survey says...

The survey in question was commissioned by the folks at LendEDU and conducted by Pollfish in March 2018. A thousand people aged 65 or older were asked a variety of questions, and their answers to the question "What is the biggest financial regret you have from your twenties?" are below:


Cool Technology Trends for Older Adults

Living in the heart of Silicon Valley gives me access to the latest technology, so I’m not easily awed by new products, services, gizmos and apps. But I was curious about the most recent tech conference sponsored by Aging 2.0, an organization that “supports innovators taking on the biggest challenges and opportunities in aging.”

Since 2012, Aging 2.0 has sponsored more than 500 events and most recently paired with Avenidas Generations Lab, an offshoot of a forward-looking senior center that is working to reinvent aging. Fittingly, the conference took place at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

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The following verse was written on the back of the program handed out
At the memorial for our dear friend Barbara Everett this past Saturday.
It’s the final tribute we can give to her. And, although we shall always keep
Her in our thoughts, it’s time to let her go.

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NEXT BLOG: Thursday December 13th 2018

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