Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dial-a-Ride Requires Good Communication

Dial-a-Ride is just a phone call and short wait away from safe and reliable transportation service for many seniors who cannot drive. However, using dial-a-ride services depends on good communication by both parties. Seniors who call must be able to hear well and speak clearly. They must be able to remember addresses and names of locations of where they are traveling to and be able to communicate that information when asked. Operators and drivers for the dial-a-ride service must be able to listen patiently and speak clearly to seniors in order to ensure destinations and pick up locations are accurate.

A good senior friend, Marie, never drove anywhere, but depended on Dial-a-Ride for many years to run errands safely. She lived in LA County where public transportation was scarce and less reliable. Once when Marie called to be picked up and Dial-a-Ride recorded an incorrect address, she got mugged while waiting outside of a store. Her purse was snatched and she suffered a broken hip and wrist from hitting pavement when the mugger knocked her down. Had the communication between Marie and the dial-a-ride operator been better, perhaps Marie would not have suffered such a misfortune.

From what I was able to find through a quick search online, Dial-a-ride is available in many cities, counties and states throughout the US including: California (multiple cities), Phoenix, AZ., Illinois (multiple cities), Minnesota (multiple cities), Michigan (multiple cities), Florida (Charlotte County), New York (Tioga County), Fort Collins, CO, Oregon (multiple cities), Richland, WA, and many more.

Each city’s Dial-a-Ride has different restrictions, rules, operating hours and fees to use the service.

In Los Angeles, the ride for seniors and those with disabilities is only $0.75 one-way. Dial-a-Ride service runs 7 days a week. People do not have to pre-qualify or pre-register to use LA Dial-a-Ride services.
LA’s “Public Works provides dial-a-ride (paratransit) services that consist of curb-to-curb, demand response, dialaride services. Most of these are for the elderly and persons with disabilities who reside in unincorporated County areas…In most areas, Public Works provides these services by contracting with adjacent cities to include unincorporated County areas in the city's paratransit service.” (LAcounty.gov, 2009).

Bend, Oregon asks for an application to prove eligibility prior to service, and calling a day ahead to schedule a pick up. Bend’s Dial-a-Ride “provides service to low income seniors not living near a fixed Bend Area Transit (BAT) route” (City of Bend Oregon Website, 2009).

The Wilsonville “Dial-a-Ride is a SMART service providing curb-to-curb transportation for Wilsonville residents who are unable to use the fixed route service. Priority is given to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) eligible customers… Eligibility to qualify for ADA level service must be certified by a medical professional” (RideSmart.com, 2009).

References:
LA County Dial-a-Ride: http://ladpw.org/PDD/Transit/Page_01.cfm

Bend, Oregon Dial-aRide: http://www.ci.bend.or.us/bend_area_transit/dial_a_ride/index.html

Wilsonville, Oregon Dial-a-Ride: http://www.ridesmart.com/Index.aspx?page=23

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Intergenerational Communication

Intergenerational relationships have added great value to my life. I have found each generation to be distinct and special in its own way, while each has its own lessons to teach. Hence, I would like to explore some of the differences I have observed in generational communication styles and the lessons that I have learned from them.

MTV Generation Perspective
My generation is “The MTV Generation” which is typically conceived as a "cusp" generation between Generation X and Generation Y that possess definable traits of both” (Wikipedia, 2009). From an MTV Generation (a.k.a. “Cold Y”) perspective, I find myself and age peers to be highly adaptable to new communication technology. This may stem from what Wikipedia describes as “being the last generation able to compare hardwired and analog technologies to wireless and digital technologies based upon personal experiences” (Wikipedia, 2009). Over the course of a few years we changed our methods of voice contact from dial phones to touch tone phones, from pagers, calling cards and pay phones to analog cell phones, then to digital cell phones. Desktop publishing and computers also evolved rapidly during our formative years. From electric typewriters we moved onto desktop computers that only provided non-online functions. Then we discovered Internet connectivity at local libraries, then dial-up Internet at home, then DSL, cable internet, wireless internet via laptop and now wireless internet anywhere via cell phone. The rapid development of changes in communication forced us to adapt quickly and move with current technology to conveniently stay in touch with friends and family. We learned to adapt in order to maneuver through the multitude of technological advances.

Generation X
While my Generation X friends are merely a few years older, I have found them to be considerably less comfortable with cellular phones, computers and the internet (including email) and they tend to use them less. They rely on the Internet less for communication and instead use it for less important activities like shopping, travel and entertainment. They seem less comfortable with online banking services like bill pay, and many still use paper checks. Most of my Generation X friends also keep a landline phone in addition to their cell phones, contrary to myself and other MTV generation friends that keep only a cellular phone line. Generation X friends have seemed more reluctant to trust online and wireless communications explicitly. While they have been willing to explore new communication technologies, they refuse to give up on the old, traditional and reliable communication methods they grew up with (land lines, handwritten communications, fax machines and snail mail).

Many of my Generation X friends have large numbers of friends, more than I could ever hope to amass in a lifetime. They often make time for frequent personal gatherings and truly value spending face-to-face time with their friends and families. By comparison, my MTV Generation peers and I seem to have less friends, usually with just a handful of very close friends, and we seldom make the time to gather in general, let alone in large groups.

Baby Boomer Generation

My baby boomer friends and family have been some of the best listeners I know. They are less judgmental and have always looked to help me to work through my problems or put things in a different perspective for me. They have offered suggestions and advice but not to the point of diminishing my problems, or making my experiences seem inconsequential. They usually make suggestions that are befitting of my lifestyle, personality and interests. The discussions I’ve had with my baby boomer friends and family have felt both meaningful and significant. We nearly always lose track of time in our lengthy, entertaining and fulfilling conversations.

While my baby boomer friends and family have mostly kept up with current technology (computers and cell phones), they are similar to Generation X in their preference to also maintain old methods of communication with fax lines, land lines and snail mail.

Silent Generation a.k.a. Traditionalists

My friends and family from the “Silent Generation” (a.k.a. "Traditionalists") tend to be more opinionated than my Baby Boomer and Generation X pals. Silent Generation friends and family sometimes seem more self-involved and perhaps a little less interested in listening to others. They tend to love sharing their own stories, which can be extremely interesting, but conversations can border on feeling one-sided at times if they run on for a while.

Silent Generation friends and family sometimes tend to diminish or entirely skip over my concerns or issues, especially when comparing them to their own experiences. When this happens, my discussions with Silent Generation pals have often felt lengthier to me. I have also noticed that Silent Generation friends and family often make suggestions or advise in ways that tend to be more befitting of how they personally would react or handle the situation.

However, at the same time, I’ve noticed that the Silent Generation has been the most devout to their family and friends. They have tended to bend over backwards for relatives and friends, and seem always willing to go the extra mile for them, often willing to drop everything to help someone they care about, even if it puts them at some risk.

For communications technologies, my Silent Generation friends and family have been the most open to learning new technologies. They use cell phones and computers, though they at times need help navigating them. Some have given up landlines, while others have not. Overall, they have been open to assistance, ask questions, and are willing to take classes.

Greatest Generation (a.k.a. G.I. Generation)
My Greatest Generation friends and family have been the most opinionated of all the generations I’ve interacted with. The have been strong willed, with viewpoints that cannot be swayed and are not afraid to say so. They know the value of money and spend it wisely. My Greatest Generation friends and family have been most generous with their time and extremely helpful to younger generations. They seldom ask for help, and are less willing to discuss personal matters which Baby Boomers, Generation X and MTV generation are more open with (i.e. medical conditions, wages, romantic relationships). I have found the Greatest Generation more willing to share advice or personal beliefs than personal information.

Unfortunately, most of my Greatest Generation friends and family are less savvy with current communication technologies. While some have cell phones and computers, few can use them well. Many times I’ve been hung up on while greatest generation family members have tried to maneuver through call waiting. A few I know have only an emergency pay-per-use cell phone (one that is not under contract.) Most of them keep using landlines in addition to cell phones, and rely on paper banking and handwritten communications.

Conclusion
Each generation has handled communication differently. Each generation’s approach is valuable in its own way. My Greatest Generation friends and family have taught me the value of being there for younger generations, for holding true to one’s beliefs and for being cautious with spending money. My Traditionalist friends and family have shown me the value of loyalty to loved ones, being willing to learn new things, and the importance of sharing stories with future generations. My Baby Boomer friends have taught me the importance of listening, of sharing new perspectives and being nonjudgmental. My Generation X friends have shown me the value in maintaining relationships and making time to gather with friends and family.

I am grateful for all of the intergenerational relationships I have had over my lifetime thus far. I shall look forward to maintaining current and building new intergenerational relationships as opportunities arise.

Reference:
List of Generations. (2009). Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generations

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ordinary Events Make Memories Too


I recently found and washed an old black and white comforter my grandmother bought me back when I was in school. Although the black portion of the blanket has now faded to gray from too many washes and it still contains a medium cobalt blue stain from the time I spilled nail polish on the bed, I refuse to get rid of it.

The blanket now represents my memory of an event that will never take place again. My grandmother and I had shopped together to select and purchase the blanket; an outing I no longer even see as a remote possibility. Of all the photos, perfumes and memorable items I’ve collected in efforts to salvage my memories of my grandmother before she is gone, this is the only item I have that represents an activity we shared together.

We seldom value the errands we share with our loved ones. Things as trivial as buying a blanket at the mall or shopping for groceries are no doubt less memorable than a holiday celebration or a family dinner. Yet sometimes such trivialities are all that we have left of our time together. We should cherish any time we share with those special people in our lives, however we spend it – it may be all the time we get.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Transitions: Retirement

Retirement is a difficult transition for seniors to adjust to. It is a stage of life in which most aspects of an individual’s life change. Income, social networks, social status, time management and sense of utility or purpose all change (Donovan, 2008). Thus, the transition into retirement requires personal adjustments on multiple levels.

According to retirement coach, Donovan (2008), the five main benefits one obtains through full time work: the paycheck, time management, sense of utility or purpose, status, socialization, are essential to recreate after retirement. “Part of the planning for a vital retirement involves finding replacements for each of these five benefits” (Donovan, 2008). Also affecting the adjustment into retirement life are “activities with friends and family, feelings about rest and tranquility, and activities that fill up free time” (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 123).

The unique part about retirement as a stage of life is that it lacks the vital elements and expectations that provide fulfillment during the other stages of life. According to Walker (1999):
Youth, adulthood, and old age fit us for the school, the workplace and retirement...But retirement, unlike school and workplace is not a place. It is not an activity like education or work, nor a role defined by the development of skills or exercise of competence, like that of a student or worker. Retirement is defined instead as the cessation of the adult role of worker (p.104).
Retirement is not a destination nor is it an achievement on its own. The cessation of expectations for growing, learning and working into later life can have negative effects on individuals.

As Bartky (1999) explains, “I have seen the effects of professional obsolescence on older men in my profession” (p. 63). When her dissertation adviser retired she says, “he died shortly after” (Bartky, 1999, p. 63).

As seniors transition into retirement, one must consider the “importance of an individual’s social network” (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 117). The people whom the individual feels close to or comfortable around during his working years are the same people he will wish to spend time with during retirement and this can be a problem “for elderly people, whose close social network may no longer be living” (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 118). Equally disrupting to the adjustment to retirement is the loss of one’s social network through a post-retirement move. Seniors often choose move to locations that provide a warmer climate, although “the adjustment to retirement is often made easier by the support of families and friends” (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 123). When one moves to a new community, one loses vital support networks and must build new friendship networks or face isolation (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 123). As individuals lose friends or acquaintances through retirement, relocation, or death, there is a risk of social isolation if the individual does not find new opportunities to meet people.

For couples, the transition into retirement is additionally complicated. Bloir (2007) describes how the adjustment of retired couples takes time. They will first experience a short honeymoon phase with things running smoothly. However, when reality sets in, the excitement will wane and as Bloir (2007) explains it, “many [couples] find they’re not quite as excited about the prospect of being a senior citizen or ‘stuck’ with each other.” Spouses might feel the other is getting in the way. Such issues are compounded when the retirement was not taken voluntarily. However, as couples take on new tasks, hobbies, and interests, Bloir (2007) insists that “communication is essential.” Bloir (2007) suggests that couples remain open and honest in a loving way, about “ideas, opinions, likes, and dislikes” because, “a few minutes of heated discussion is better than weeks of repressed anger and resentment.” Couples can survive the adjustment into retirement with considerate communication and by engaging in both common and separate interests that help generate a new sense of purpose and meaning.

Activities of leisure can open up new possibilities for interpersonal communication among retired seniors, hence assisting the adjustment to retirement life. Nussbaum, et. al. (2000) explores three activities of leisure that can be completely enriching interpersonal experiences: “television, playing poker, and learning about computers” (p. 119). Television provides individuals with current events to discuss. Poker provides a group environment in which the players can have ample opportunity to interact. “The entire context of the poker environment is social” (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 119). Computer courses allow additional opportunities for communication as individuals share information and help one another. Computer courses also give individuals a chance to discuss information with others outside their class. As Nussbaum, et. al. (2000) explains, their familiarity with computers gives them “practical skills and conversational skills…[that] can lead to intergenerational relationships” (p. 119). Plus, the improvement of seniors’ abilities in computer literacy can improve social status, allow seniors to “remain connected with their larger social development and to develop new relationships with those who have similar interests” (Nussbaum, et. al., 2000, p. 120). Thus, through activities that on the surface appear quite casual, seniors can find abundant opportunities to improve communications and find fulfillment during their post-working years.

Bartky, S. L. (1999). Unplanned Obsolescence: Some Reflections on Aging. In M. U. Walker (Ed.), Mother Time. Women, Aging, and Ethics. (pp. 61-74). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Bloir, K. (2007, October 8). "Honey, I'm Home!" - For Good: The Transition to Retirement. Ohio State University. Retrieved July 9, 2009, from http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/5159.html

Donovan, J. H. (2008, October 3). Coaching: Transition into retirement. Keys to success in the next part of your journey. BizTimes.com. Retrieved July 10, 2009 from: http://www.biztimes.com/news/2008/10/3/coaching-transition-into-retirement

Nussbaum, J. F., Pecchioni, L. L., Robinson, J. D., & Thompson T. L.. (2000). Communication and Aging. (2nd ed.). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Walker, M. U. (1999). Getting Out of Line: Alternatives to Life As a Career. In M. U. Walker (Ed.), Mother Time. Women, Aging, and Ethics. (pp. 97-111). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Social Support for Seniors

“No matter what age they are, all human beings strive to be close to other human beings” (B). For seniors, the closeness and communications they share within a social support network results in many benefits. “The literature demonstrates a consistent association between well-being and social networks in old age” (C).

Family communication plays a notable role in the health of seniors. “Intergenerational family relations seem to be of special relevance in their contribution to health and well-being of older family members. Key features of intergenerational relationships include association, help, and support” (C). The helping and caregiving behaviors towards parents by adult children have been shown to be a result of life-span attachment theory according to Cicirelli (B). The increased attachment of adult children to their elderly parents as they age enhances the detection of the parent’s needs for help and “increases the likelihood that help will be given” (B).

Although elderly parents oftentimes receive help by their adult children, help is likely mutual between parent and child. While parents have given “more services and money to their children throughout their life…children give more emotional support, household help, and care during illness” (B). Of the help that elderly parents provide, Nussbaum, (2000) notes that “housekeeping, babysitting, food preparation, and help with finances” are the most common (B). However, this assistance wanes around the time when the parent reaches 75 years in age when the children begin to give more assistance than they receive in return (B).

Perhaps the emotional support, assistance and care during illness, by children of elderly parents, helps explain what the studies have indicated - that childless elderly people are less satisfied with family life (B). “Childless widows had lower overall well-being and were more lonely and dissatisfied with their lives than were widows with grown children” (B). Personally I have noticed that widows who are childless face additional hardships when their independence is affected. When a good elderly friend of mine became ill and could no longer tend to personal errands, the fact that she was childless compounded her troubles by forcing her to pay for things her children might have provided (in home assistance, deliveries of food and or rides to appointments).

Nussbaum (2000) mentions that “one of the most important aspects of the affective nature of the parent-adult child relationship is that closeness in this long-standing relationship provides a sense of continuity as the parent and child manage transitions in their lives” (B). This closeness offers emotional support for both parent and child as “they help each other through” stressful events and other adjustments (B). Widowhood is one life adjustment when widows and widowers have found their families to be most helpful. As women’s friendships are more “companionate, rather than comforting,” “widows find their friends helpful” but “not strong contributors to support systems” (B). Relatives of widows and widowers “give socioemotional assurance, financial aid and provide a source of identity” and more often accept their “frailties and vulnerabilities” (B), further proving that family closeness provides a level of support that is far superior to other relationships in seniors’ lives.

The health of seniors is deeply affected by communicative relationships as they “seem to influence how quickly they get well” once they become ill (B). For seniors without a strong social support system, “the difficult changes that many…face—such as the death of a spouse or medical problems—can lead to depression” (A). Fortunately, findings indicate that 34% of widows and widowers receive help from family or their support network (B). However, for seniors who live alone a strong support network may not be as readily available to them. A 2004 study indicated that, “living alone was…related to decreased levels of both perceived social support and feeling lonely after adjustment for potential confounders” (D). Yeh and Lo (2004) also note that a “lack of social support is common among the elderly community who live alone, which could well be a main reason for this group to feel lonely.” The fact that, “loneliness is linked to physical and mental health problems, [makes] increasing social support and facilitating friendships” vital for seniors (D).

Clearly, the benefits seniors obtain from close relationships with family and friends cannot be diminished. Family communication encourages much needed assistance and support for seniors during difficult times or when faced with health issues. However, prior to age 75 seniors offer a great deal of the assistance to their children. For seniors who live alone they might find it more difficult to build or maintain a strong social support network, which may help to explain why some childless seniors find less satisfaction with life than do seniors with adult children.

References:

(A) Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly - Recognizing the Signs and Getting Help. (2009). HelpGuide.org. Retrieved from: http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_elderly.htm

(B) Nussbaum, J. F., Pecchioni, L. L., Robinson, J. D., Thompson, T. L. (2000) Aging and the Family: Relational Lifestyle Changes. In Communication and Aging (2nd ed.). (pp.177,192-195,232)Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.

(C) Tesch-Romer, C., Motel-Klingebiel A., von Kondratowitz H. J. (2002). Importance of family for quality of life of the elderly in a social and cultural comparison. NCBI PubMed. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12426880

(D) Yeh, Shu-Chuan Jennifer, Lo, Sing Kai. (2004). Social Behavior and Personality. FindArticles.com. Retrieved from: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3852/is_200401/ai_n9404648/
All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Whales of August

Having recently been catching up on the long, historic career of Bette Davis, I was looking forward to watching one of her last films, “The Whales of August.” In the film, Bette Davis and Lillian Gish play elderly sisters. Bette’s character, “Libby” is blind and her sister “Sarah” (Lillian Gish) cares for her and maintains the home they share.

This film shed a very positive light on aging. Seniors were depicted as independent and able to care for themselves. They helped each other instead of relying on younger friends, family or caregivers. I wish I saw more of this in television and advertising. The only other media depiction of seniors I’ve seen that comes close is the “Golden Girls” where the women support each other through life’s events. However, even one of the characters on the Golden Girls, (Sofia), is cared for by a younger, though senior aged, daughter.

“The Whales of August” depicts seniors as active (walking, cleaning, cooking, maintaining health and wellbeing, visiting friends, paining oil paintings and arranging flowers). The characters blend their past, present and futures in healthy ways as they hold onto and honor traditions, but still find enjoyment the present and find future events to look forward to.

What was also notably different in this film was the way the characters embraced aging. Blind Libby asks her sister if her hair was as white as a swan. When her sister says she believes it is, Libby comments that she’d always had beautiful hair. I cannot recall any film or media character embracing age so gracefully. The two sisters in the film also dressed up for company and took great pride in the care of their hair. They did not complain about their age, appearance, or life. While I do not see this as being realistic for many, as many people have real problems to contend with, I do see it as a model for enjoying life.

By not focusing on the negatives (not once does Libby complain she is blind or cannot see what others are discussing - photos, jewelry, flowers, ocean view), there is more time to focus on the positives or approach things a new way. For instance, blind Libby is able to feel the flowers, jewelry, or sunshine, and hear a description of the photographs. She even agrees to the installation of a picture window in their living room, though she won’t be able to see out of it herself. She comments on how nice the day feels by the warmth of the sun coming in through the window. Libby depicts a woman who is perfectly content with these filtered observations, and I imagine the lesson to viewers is to enjoy interacting with others regardless and not feel sorry for oneself.

Anderson, L. (Director), Berry, D. (Writer). (1987). The Whales of August. [DVD]. USA: MGM.


All content © Village Memorial 2009-2010.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

H1N1 Flu & Cold Remedy Spices

Fall is here, and so is the flu season. With H1N1 flu activity increasing all around us, building up the immune system is vital. To protect your health and the health of others you love, be sure to incorporate as many of these bacteria inhibiting spices into your diet as possible.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Crone Energy: A Traveler

I met Mrs. S on a flight to Los Angeles last December. She was heading to visit her son and daughter-in-law for the holidays. As retired widow, Mrs. S spent much of her free time traveling. She’d been to more countries than I can recall, but listed some in Africa, Europe, Asia and South America, just to name a few. Her last trip had been to take her granddaughter on a cruise to the Netherlands. (She made a point to take one of her children or grandchildren on nearly each of the trips she made.) Although, she usually traveled with friends. Their rule was to go to as many countries as possible and whenever someone asked why they'd gone someplace unusual, they replied, “Because we’ve been everywhere else.”

Besides travel, Mrs. S’s calendar was full with activities and personal hobbies:
  • She was in the process of building a large family historical cookbook database.
  • Refusing to watch commercials, she recorded all her favorite television programs on TiVo so she could watch them later and forward through the ads.
  • She was also working on filling up her new Ipod with music – a free gift she got from opening a new account at her bank.
  • She was a speed-reader and could read several books in one sitting.
  • She used a travel points credit card and got many of her flights for free (including the one I met her on.)
  • She loved to cook, but as she lived alone, she made use of the large meals by breaking them into smaller portions and freezing them for later meals.
  • She ran a birthday club in her hometown.
  • On top of all this she made time to meet friends and dine, attend musicals or plays, films and concerts.
Mrs. S was truly an inspiration to me. She was more vital and active than most younger people I know. She maintained close relationships, good health, hobbies, and still found time to travel. She was intellectual, clever and kept up with current technology, including making the most of financial rewards and incentives programs. I can only aspire to be as well rounded as Mrs. S. She is a role model for life in general as well as an inspiration for living when I reach her age. I can only hope that I will find myself as well balanced and vital as her when I am in my 80’s.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Musings on Growing Older


Valerie Harper (2001) opens her book with some American perceptions on aging and women’s beauty. She mentions the invisible “shelf life” on women in the media as “ageism is practiced by the networks” to the point of being unrealistic. “If life imitated television…mom would be thirty, and grandma would be thirty-three” (p. 10-11).

Harper mentions a couple positive ways in which American beauty standards have changed over the last few decades. “Flight attendants now look like America,” Harper says, as they are no longer bound to 1940’s era rules of being “single, female, white, under age twenty-seven, between 105 and 125 pounds, and between 5 feet 2 inches and 5 feet seven inches” (p. 24). Sizes of dresses for women have also lowered. What used to be a size 10 is currently a size 8 or 6.

Harper touches on the extremes women go through to maintain beauty (hot waxing, breast implants, lip plumping), and the ridiculousness of dieting (diet fibs, beating oneself up mentally, and diet fads). She easily sums up the mind of many dieters when she says, “many of us think of food in one of two ways. It’s either legal (a lettuce leaf) or illegal (a brownie)” (p. 84). She makes a personal realization of overeating, “I…came to the understanding that the problems I once had with food were not merely about food Eating was a way of trying to fill up the emptiness, to provide comfort” (p. 88).

Harper moves on to role models for women. She mentions FLASH (“a senior woman’s hockey team in Chicago”), Gloria Steinem’s first marriage at the age of 66, and actress Ruth Gordon’s remarkable attitude on growing older (p. 95). Ruth once told Valerie, “I made a decision…that I could get old, or I could get older. That was my choice. I didn’t have the choice to stay young. I decided to get older instead of getting old. Because old is a destination. Older is a process and a path” (p. 95-96). Harper also quotes actress Sophia Loren, “There is a fountain of youth. It is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age” (p. 155).

Harper also explores the power of positive thinking with her chapter on “humor replacement therapy.” Humor has been shown to reduce stress, raise your pain threshold, and boost your immune system. In one study, people listening to twenty minutes of [comedienne] Lily Tomlin doing her telephone operator routine were much less sensitive to pain than those listening to an academic lecture” (p. 132). She points out some favorite comics she follows online “MinniePauz.com”(p. 139) and leads out of her book with some additional encouragement. “Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t care so much what other people thought of us?” (p.144) “Wouldn’t it be great if looking good wasn’t tied up with looking young?” (p. 144).
-----
Always curious on new attitudes on aging, I was interested in to read actress Valerie Harper’s views as she entered her sixties. This book focuses on the positives of life and aging, of looking at life in a more confident way, and not putting oneself down. It lightheartedly addresses some of the darker or more comical things in our American beauty standards, but without putting people down who engage in such practices. It asks questions without accusing and reminds me a great deal of author/poet Judith Viorst’s poems on aging which approach aging with a touch of humor that is more positive than negative.

Harper, V. (2001). Today I am a Ma’am, And Other Musings on Life, Beauty, and Growing Older. New York: Cliff Street Books.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Wedding in ICU

A couple marries in the ICU room of UCLA medical center, so the bride’s father, recovering from surgery, could be present.

UCLA says this was a first in the medical center’s history. To protect the patient from infection, the wedding participants wore “disposable yellow hospital gowns over their wedding finery and blue protective gloves” (Groves, 2009).

The bride, Janette Villalobos, didn’t want her father to miss her special moment. She said, “I'd be heartbroken if my dad didn't see it" (Groves, 2009).

Ref:
Groves, M. (2009). Hospital Wedding has a Different Ring to it. LA Times. Retrieved from: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/afghanistan/la-me-wedding13-2009sep13,0,2177698.story

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Seniors & Communication - 4 Important Issues

Medical Needs Must Be Communicated
Mr. S., an artist in his 80s, kept communicating to a friend a plaguing pain he was dealing with. Although Mr. S had seen his doctor for other issues he only communicated his current problem to a close friend, never his doctor. Finally, when he became too ill to ignore his problems, he went to ER and it turned out that he had an advanced stage of prostate cancer. Had Mr. S. communicated to his physician earlier of the pain he was experiencing his condition might have been curable.

When seniors do not communicate their issues and concerns to the health professionals treating them, they do not get the proper care they need. This results in less productive office visits, which in turn would likely end up costing them more (financially and health wise) as they might require additional follow up appointments to diagnose problems and if a condition were serious it might not be as treatable upon later diagnosis.


Physical Impairments Preventing Communication = Depression
The National Institute of Mental Health has proved the “relationship between hearing loss and depression” due to the social isolation the impairment causes. Additionally, I would add another couple impairments to this list: walking and writing.

Mrs. R, a good friend and elderly neighbor in her late 70’s, fell on pavement. Her fall resulted in a break of her right wrist and hip. She discontinued writing letters (because of her broken wrist) and shopping, eating out, or getting together with friends (because her walking was impaired by the accident.) It was even a chore for her to walk to answer her telephone. Although her body seemed to have healed several months later, she never returned to writing friends and family from out of state, she seldom answered telephone calls, and she gave up walking to do her own errands (shopping, bank, Laundromat). A once vital and independent person became socially withdrawn and very depressed once she no longer was able to communicate and perform the tasks she once had.

Lack of Communication With Regard to Government Benefits/Programs
It has been proven that “many retirees are not receiving an appropriate level of care or are ending up in nursing homes because they don’t know about services that would have allowed them to remain independent.” On the flip side of this, some seniors might not even be aware of programs or services that can help them afford retirement/assisted living homes, by significantly reducing their financial burden.

Mr. P, a WWII vet who recently moved into a retirement home, found he could benefit from Veteran’s Assistance when he was choosing his retirement home. The small 1-bedroom apartment in the transitional retirement to assisted living facility would have cost he and his wife $4,000 a month. However, because the home communicated the veteran’s discount to him, and provided him the necessary paperwork to fill out, he was able to register for a discount program that cut his monthly rent at the retirement home by 50%. For his $4,000 rental, he pays $2,000. For seniors living on fixed incomes, a financial saving of this proportion is crucial.

Senior Suicides and Mental Health Issues
It was most startling to learn of the number of suicides that take place among the senior population. While their percent of the population is just at 13.7%, they still make up “at least 25-30 percent of all successful suicides.” It is interesting and disturbing, how few senior suicides are brought to the attention of the public. Most news sources focus on suicides up through middle-aged adults. I actually cannot recall having heard of senior suicides before, other than in cases of the terminally ill where the individual chose when to end their life and suffering. This fact is one that should be communicated to society more widely. Without proper knowledge of issues such as senior addictions, senior mental health impairments and senior suicide rates, less attention is being paid to the very individuals who would benefit from the attention most.


All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

APS, Family Rights & Challenges

The recent hospitalization of my grandfather led me to make an emergency trip to San Diego to check on his well-being. When I arrived I found my grandfather unable to walk, eat or swallow. He was somewhat confused, though he did say he had not seen my grandmother for several days. I tried to locate my grandmother, but could not find her. After checking with the charge nurse at her nursing home facility, I was informed that my grandfather’s power of attorney, filed eight years ago, gave him legal rights to authorize a dubious caregiver to remove my grandmother from the retirement facility and relocate her to the caregiver’s home. Apparently despite the recent decline in my grandfather’s physical and mental health, the power of attorney still held legal precedence. My lack of power of attorney or a conservatorship over my grandparents, restricted the police from acting on my request to remove my grandmother from the caregiver’s custody or terminate the caregiver. The police could only perform a “welfare check” and recommend that I contact Adult Protective Services (APS) for further assistance.

Adult Protective Services, in California, is an agency that helps seniors of 65 years and older and dependent or disabled adults between the ages of 18 to 64. On the California Department of Social Services it breaks down the assistance provided by each agency: APS assists when seniors or disabled adults are “unable to meet their own needs, or are victims of abuse, neglect or exploitation”. APS investigates abuse of elders or dependent adults in “private homes and hotels or hospitals and health clinics when the abuser is not a staff member”. The California Department of Aging is responsible for investigating abuse that takes place in nursing homes, board and care homes, residential and long term care facilities. The California Department of Health Services “handles cases of abuse by a member of a hospital or health clinic.” The APS evaluates “abuse cases and arranges for services such as advocacy, counseling, money management, out-of-home placement, or conservatorship” as well as providing information, referrals to other agencies and public education of “Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse Reporting laws.” The services of APS are available to all regardless of income level (CDSS, 2007).

When I called the San Diego County APS on Saturday, I was dismayed to get their answering service, which informed me that their business hours were weekdays only from 8am to 5pm. I did however find a form on their website called “SOC 341,” a “Report of Suspected Dependent Adult/Elder Abuse.” The “SOC 341” form has sections to be filled out for information on the victim, suspected abuser, and reporting party (along with an option to waive confidentiality to specific parties or all). The form asks for incident information and designates two types of abuse categories. The category “Perpetrated by Others” offers a checklist for abuses of assault/battery, constraint or deprivation, sexual assault, chemical restraint, over/under medication, neglect, financial, abandonment, isolation, abduction or other. The category “Self-Neglect” offers a checklist for abuses of physical care, medical care, health and safety hazards, malnutrition/dehydration and other. The next section, “Abuse Resulted in”, has check box options for physical injury, death, mental suffering, minor medical care, hospitalization, care provider required or other. The last five sections ask about the reporter’s observations, targeted accounts, other people believed to have knowledge of abuse, others responsible for victim’s care, and report information.

While I was impressed with the depth of information that the APS form requires, I was displeased with the inability to contact APS on the weekend. The fact that my grandmother was in the custody of an untrustworthy caretaker, who was responsible for the disappearance of my grandfather’s car and miscellaneous valuables from their home including jewelry, antiques and furniture, led me to investigate a conservatorship further. Similar to guardianship of a minor, “a person under conservatorship is…a protected person” (Wikimedia, 2009). “A conservatorship can be set up after a judge decides that a person (called the "conservatee") can't take care of themselves or their finances. Then the judge chooses another person or organization (called the "conservator") to be in charge of the conservatee's care or finances, or both” (California Courts, 2009). My mother, now seeking a conservatorship of my grandparents, has to submit addresses of several relatives for notification. Both my grandfather and grandmother will be interviewed by social workers and my mother’s background will be investigated to consider her for the conservatorship.

At present financial abuse of the elderly is on the rise since the economy has collapsed. As seniors “usually have steady income -- Social Security and sometimes pension checks”, they are targeted in turbulent economic times. Although people generally consider “financial abuse…[as] phony investment schemes or Internet scams…attorneys say just as common are instances of exploitation perpetrated by a loved one or friend”. The most usual suspects of financial abuse are “in this order -- family, caretakers and new best friends”. Protecting seniors proves difficult if they have given authorization to bank accounts or signed over a power of attorney to the abuser. Without a power of attorney or conservatorship held by a trusted family member or friend, seniors continue to remain at risk.

While it is commendable to have an agency devoted specifically to the protection of seniors and disabled adults, APS needs to be available like other emergency services – 24 hours a day. APS should also work to make the public fully aware that without the legal action of a power of attorney or conservatorship, families will not be able to protect their loved ones.


References

Adult Protective services (APS). (2007). California Department of Social Services (CDSS). Retrieved from: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/agedblinddisabled/PG1298.htm

Conservatorship. (2009). Wikimedia Foundation Inc. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservatorship

Duties of a Conservator. (2009). California Courts Self-Help Center. Retrieved from:
http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/seniors/duties.htm

Jun, C. (2009, July 27). Financial abuse of elderly rises as economy sinks. The Detroit News. Retrieved from: http://www.detnews.com/article/20090727/METRO/907270338/1409/METRO

SOC 341. (2006). Report of Suspected Dependent Adult/Elder Abuse. State of California. Health and Human Services Agency. Retrieved from: http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/cdssweb/entres/forms/English/SOC341.pdf

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bad Marketing to Seniors

Walker discusses advertising campaigns that include what he describes as “Hilarious Old People.” He recalls the lovable Clara from the “Where’s the Beef?” commercials, and notes that the amusing elder archetype has been in low demand in recent years. He believes this might be related to the growing number of “mature consumers who happen to have money to spend and don’t think of themselves as (barely) living punch lines” (Walker, 2003).

Walker then focuses in detail on two commercials produced by “Boost Mobile.” Both commercials use minority Americans speaking slang. Both commercials are followed with the condescending tagline: “Designed for young people. But it’s just more fun showing old people.” Walker explains, “These ads are saying: ‘Oh, stop feeling guilty and just admit it: Old people are funny!’"

I was interested in Walker’s piece because as an infrequent watcher of television, I recently witnessed some stereotypical jokes and comments on seniors that took place on an episode of the 1974 series “Rhoda”. On episode 10 of season 1, title character “Rhoda” and her new husband “Joe” are given the gift of a honeymoon cruise. The comedic part is that the cruise also happens to be hosting a senior citizens convention.

Some of the ageist jokes at the expense of seniors included:
• An emcee addressing the cruise crowd as: “Ladies and Geritol – and there’s plenty of it in this room.”
• An onboard doctor who quips that the boat should have a red cross painted on the side of it. (He even takes anyone’s pulse that he finds sleeping, because he never knows.)
• A convention workshop on Polydent.
• A senior lady whose line gets loud audience laughs when she tells 30-something aged “Joe” during a dance: “Let me know if you get tired.”

Sadly, as Walker’s article on seniors in advertising highlights, seniors have not come very far in their depictions on screen. However, Walker is inaccurate in his claim that this is a returning phenomena, which implies that it stopped or slowed. Seniors have continued (if we begin counting forward from this 1974 episode) for over 3 decades to be portrayed as comedic archetypes. Though, I would like to make note of the fact that I clearly recall senior comedic archetypes appearing as far back as in 1950's episodes of "I Love Lucy."

It is difficult to believe this trend of “hilarious old people” continues when one considers how many boomers are set to become seniors over the next couple of decades. Only the companies with the highest integrity, offering consumers the best value for their money, delivering fantastic and engaging storytelling will successfully grab the senior market.

Walker, R. (2003). The Return of Hilarious Old People. Ads That Make Fun of the Elderly. Slate Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.slate.com/id/2083463/

Rafkin, A. (Director), Banta, G. (Writer), Nardo, P. (Writer), Burns, A., (Creator), Brooks, J. L. (Creator). (1974). Rhoda: Season One. [DVD]. USA: Shout Factory.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Library Services for Seniors

The Washington Country Library System in Oregon offers a service called “Homebound: Books-by-Mail Service.” Their website states: “For homebound, elderly and disabled people, a good book can be as important as a good friend.” Through this free program patrons are mailed “large print, standard print, books-on-tape, magazines, cassettes and videos” with a return postage label.

One patron who commented on the service said, “Thank you for the kindness you always showed to my mother... You took the time to listen to her. She looked forward to the books and movies, but more than that she knew she could call you and you would treat her like a person that mattered.” Many other patrons who reviewed this service thanked the library for their kindness, for prompt responses to requests and for the improvement in their quality of life.

The library is listening to senior/disabled patrons, fulfilling their requests and paying attention to their specific needs by offering media in appropriate formats (i.e. large print or audio). This service has opened a door for the homebound elderly and disabled to enjoy reading, hearing or viewing books and media they value.

Reference:
http://www.wccls.org/library_services/homebound/index.html

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Reviews: PERS (Personal Emergency Response System)

A friend recently purchased a medical alert system (or Personal Emergency Response System – PERS) for her grandmother. She made her decision by the monthly cost and equipment fees.

Fate Care reviewed 8 companies (AlarmCare, AlertOne, Life Alert, LifeCall (aka Connect America), LifeLine, LifeLink, LifeStation and MedScope America and chose 3 based on overall costs and service contract lengths. VIEW THE FULL REPORT HERE.

LifeStation offers
• $29.95 Monthly Fee
• NO contract
• NO set up or installation fees
• Large customer base (1,600,000 customers)
• 30-Day Trial

AlertOne offers
• $29.95 Monthly Fee
• NO contract
• NO set up or installation fees
• Free Equipment (present sale offers $80 worth of equipment for free)
• 30-Day Trial

LifeLink offers
• NO monthly service fee
• NO contract
• A one-time set up & equipment charge of $199 (present sale is $199, usually costs $289)

This report was generated on July 20, 2009.
FateCare.com is not affiliated with any of the above companies, nor does it endorse these companies.
Need more information to help make a decision?
VIEW THE FULL REPORT HERE.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Age Limits in Golf

With all of the excitement following Tom Watson’s last chance (at age 59) to win at the British Open (that restricts players age 60+) last weekend, FateCare decided to investigate what sounded like an incredibly ageist agenda.

FateCare looked at three specific questions 1) are age limits in golf common, 2) what are the health benefits to playing golf, and 3) is golf any less beneficial or even dangerous to senior players?

1. Age limits in golf are not common.


• “The British Open is the only major that sets an age limit for its champions” (Ferguson, 2009).
• Augusta National “announced an age limit of 65 this decade” (Ferguson, 2009), but never imposed the limit.
• The Masters lets players decide when to stop. (Ferguson, 2009)
• The PGA Championship claims no limit, but seldom has “champions over 50 compete” (Ferguson, 2009).

2. Golf promotes several health benefits.

• Golf requires cardiovascular exercise that promotes a healthier heart and lower cholesterol (Think-Golf, 2006). If a player walks, instead of using a golf cart, he can end up walking “several miles around the course” which can be up to 3 to 5 miles of walking in an 18-hole game. (GoGolfNW.com, 2009).

• The weight bearing exercises associated with golf, when practiced “two to three times a week can create long, lean muscle mass, which helps support a strong skeleton” (Think-Golf, 2006). The swinging of clubs and putting “help tone muscles in the arms, back and shoulders. It may also improve flexibility and range of motion. Golf also helps to strengthen hand-eye coordination and balance. It can be a great way for older players to remain spry and active in a low-impact way” (GoGolfNW.com, 2009).

• Vitamin D is produced when one spends time out in the sunshine. “Vitamin [D] is essential for strong bones, it regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D also helps regulate the growth of skin cells” (Think-Golf, 2006).

• Golf also allows players to engage in social interaction “spending time with friends and other players and engaging in conversation” (GoGolfNW.com, 2009).

• Golf is also useful in behavioral therapy of Alzheimer's patients. By giving Alzheimer's patients "an activity that once brought about true pleasure...their minds can clear, and memories related to that activity can return" (Futterman, 2009). Activities like golf have proven "helpful in both making people with dementia feel competent and generating periods of lucidity" (Futterman, 2009).

3. Golf is less beneficial to seniors in Vitamin D production and creates risk for injuries if participation is unsafe.

“Studies have shown that as we age, we tend to produce less vitamin D even with adequate sun exposure” (Benefits of Vitamin D, 2009), further supporting the need for supplementation. Vitamin D plays a key role in human longevity “the risk of death from all-cause mortality may increase by 26 percent due to inadequate vitamin D” (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008).

Golf can be of risk to seniors when participation is unsafe.
Although playing golf provides a moderate intensity exercise stimulus for seniors, musculoskeletal injuries can also result from unsafe participation, as can the aggravation of pre-existing musculoskeletal problems. Strategies for targeted management of the senior golfer's typical concerns are summarized into 4 categories consisting of: injury rehabilitation coordinated by therapists, warm up routines; club-fitting/coaching on proper technique, and pre-season conditioning programs. (Cann, et. al., 2005).
Summary

Golf is beneficial and safe for seniors when played according to proper techniques. Of course before beginning with any new physical activity program, one should consult with their physician first.

Reference:
Cann AP, Vandervoort AA and Lindsay DM. (2005). Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Sciences. University of Western Ontario. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16386170

Explore the Health Benefits of Golf. (2009, June 29.) GoGolfNW.com. Retrieved from: http://www.gogolfnw.com/stories/2009/jun/29/explore-health-benefits-golf/

Ferguson, D. (2009, July 20). British Open age limits could bar Tom Watson after 2010. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved from: http://www.freep.com/article/20090720/SPORTS15/90720037/-1/RSS07

Five Health Benefits of Golf. (2006, Nov. 22). Think-golf.info. Retrieved from:
http://www.think-golf.info/archives/87/five-health-benefits-of-golf/

Futterman, M. (2009, Apr. 16). Memories Slip, but Golf Is Forever. Alzheimer's Patients Perk Up On Outings to the Greens. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123914598587898813.html

Healthy Heart Beats. (2008). Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. Colorado State University. Retrieved from: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/healthyheart/0810-12a.html#vitd

The Benefits of Vitamin D. (2009, Apr. 15). Health.learninginfo.org. Retrieved from: http://health.learninginfo.org/benefits_vitamind.htm

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Crone Energy: A Blogger

When I think of a crone energy role model who has benefited from her great communication skills, I could think of none other than the ‘blogging granny,’ as she was nicknamed. María Amelia López Soliño dubbed “the world’s oldest blogger,” was 95 when she began her blog in December of 2006. Her blog, set up as a gift from her grandson, quickly became her treasured hobby as she communicated with readers around the world. From Muxia, Spain, “her blog, at amis95.blogspot.com, became a global hit, notching up more than 1.5 million visits” (Kendall, 2009).

Being able to communicate with the world was a life changing experience for Soliño. She explained, “My grandson gave me a present, this blog when I was 95 years old … and my life changed … now, I can communicate and interact with the world” (Kendall, 2009). She described the Internet as "a whole new universe," comparing blogging to “having a conversation, and those who read what I say become my friends" (Burnett, 2007).

Soliño used her blog to communicate lighthearted “humour, warmth, optimism [and] nostalgia” (Tremlett, 2007), and “touched on many aspects of her long life, from political memories of the Franco era to intimate musings on her increasingly fragile state of health.” (Olive Press, 2009).
Soliño also used her blog to comment on important issues related to aging and seniors’ rights. She joined “Facebook to…set up a group…to defend the rights of the elderly” (News Bizarre, 2009). She also discussed her opposition to retirement and assisted living homes, which she criticized “for drugging their clients so they spend their final days snoozing quietly in front of the television” (Tremlett, 2007). While she said she blamed the children of the elderly for not personally helping their parents, she also blamed the retirement homes themselves for their "do-nothing and wait-to-die" (Tremlett, 2007) culture and the lack of Internet provided to older people (Tremlett, 2007). Soliño said, the "Internet has given me a new lease of life, but I don't see any old people's homes offering their residents Internet" (Tremlett, 2007). Soliño believed and preached that seniors needed to use the Internet saying, "Elderly people like me - and there are a lot of old people who are younger than I am - should all have someone who shows them how to use the Internet…You have to stay informed" (Burnett, 2007).

When Soliño received criticism from the other seniors in Spain who opposed her blog, she did not shy away but wittily addressed it. "To all the little old women in Spain, and those who think that I am not well [in the head] … This old woman is on her own right now, but she is chatting on the internet and having a fantastic time" (Guardian, 2009).

Soliño’s blog gained worldwide respect. Although “much of her traffic comes from Spain and Latin America, … newspaper and television interviews, …[and] YouTube links given on her blog, have spread her name beyond the Spanish-speaking world” (Tremlett, 2007). Posts came in from “fans in Alaska, Australia, China…Nigeria” (Tremlett, 2007), “Chile, Venezuela, Russia, and Japan” (Burnett, 2007). She also received national attention from Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, whom she was eventually granted a meeting with. “A letter from his office is one of many documents that she has posted on the website. ‘May you keep going with this for a long time,’ the prime minister told her” (Tremlett, 2007).

Soliño successfully kept her hobby going by communicating with others in her life. Due to the impairment of her vision by cataracts (News Bizarre, 2009), she would dictate her blogs to her grandson Daniel (Burnett, 2007). “When Daniel is not to hand, other assistants pop up on her blog, be they friends or hotel cleaners in Brazil” (Tremlett, 2007). Soliño did her best to reply to as many people as she could, but noted, “So many people write to me that I can't hope to reply to them all, though I want to" (Tremlett, 2007).

Soliño not only used the Internet to communicate with others, but she also made use of the Internet for her own personal entertainment and information. She liked “to read online newspapers…and stay up-to-date with medical and scientific advances” (Tremlett, 2007). Oftentimes she had her grandson print out pages in larger type for her. “He prints out biographies and news articles from the Web for her to read, as well as responses to her blog…she says she tires quickly of reading text on a computer screen” (Burnett, 2007).

Soliño found fulfillment in her communications over the web, highlighting how beneficial Internet communications could be for seniors. “She wrote frequently of the benefits of the online community she had created” (Kendall, 2009). She blogged once that the Internet “took 10 years off my life...the Internet makes me feel less lonely" (Burnett, 2007). She later wrote, "It took 20 years off my life…my bloggers are the joy of my life" (Associated Press, 2009). In February 2009 she said, "When I'm on the internet, I forget about my illness. The distraction is good for you – being able to communicate with people. It wakes up the brain, and gives you great strength" (Kendall, 2009).

Soliño’s savvy communication skills led to her success as a blogging senior, bringing worldwide attention to seniors’ issues and illustrating the benefits of Internet communications for seniors. Her communications with friends and family also allowed her to function fully as visually impaired blogger. Through blogging, Soliño found solace, friendship and was able to live a fulfilling life. Soliño once said, “I've had 1,570,784 visits from bloggers from 5 continents who have cheered up my old age" (Reuters, 2009). Soliño is true inspiration to all. She illustrates how fulfilling communication is at any age. Soliño also said, “You have to live life…not sit around in an armchair waiting for death" (Guardian, 2007). Soliño did just that until her passing on May 20, 2009.


All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Crone Energy: Mary Higgins Clark

After reading the intriguing memoir “Kitchen Privileges” by Mary Higgins Clark, I was inspired by this prolific writer who overcame the odds and exhaustion of single motherhood (as a widow) and still made time to rise at 5am each morning to work on her writing, before getting her five children off to school, and heading off to her job.

Considering Mrs. Clark’s wide success in spite of her challenges and the fact that since age 63 she has published over 50 books, it seemed appropriate to choose her as a role model of crone energy.

Mrs. Clark's “books are world-wide bestsellers. In the U.S. alone, her books have sold over 80 million copies” (MaryHigginsClark.com, 2009). Although her specialty is suspense novels, she started out with short stories and has written a biographical novel “Mount Vernon Love Story” and co-authored three books with her daughter and fellow writer Carol Higgins Clark.

At age 81, Mrs. Clark has just published another novel in April of this year called “Just Take My Heart”. A dedicated woman with an unmatched determination to write, Mrs. Clark is definitely a role model for any writer.

Reference:
About Mary Higgins Clark. (2009). Retrieved from: ttp://www.maryhigginsclark.com/mary_higgins_clark.php

Photo Reference:
Coggins, M. (2009). MaryHigginsClark.jpg. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MaryHigginsClark.jpg

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Senior Meal Programs & Food Safety Tips

Seniors must be conscious of their budgets as many are on fixed incomes. Seniors must be thoughtful of their nutritional needs and be aware of local community meal programs available to them. Being cautious to prevent consuming unsafe foods can also keep seniors healthy.

Meal Programs
Each local Area Agency on Aging, can provide information about meals (group or home delivered) available to seniors in the area. Three different types of meal programs available are:

1. Congregate Meals (low cost, hot, nutritious meals offered in a group setting)
2. Home-Delivered Meals (for those who are disabled or home-bound ages 60+, prepared meal delivered directly to one’s home)
3. Meals-on-Wheels (church or other local volunteers deliver hot, nutritious meals)

Food Safety
If one has vision impairments, unsafe foods can also be a risk as one may not notice the food is contaminated or moldy. I once had an older relative who was unaware she needed glasses. She had a fridge full of mold and a pantry full of weevils, and was still eating these items.

Some tips to avoid eating food past expiration:
• Write expiration dates on food packages in the fridge with a permanent black marker.
• Clean out the fridge after each shopping trip (get rid of items past expiration.)
• If you cook a large meal and divide it into several meals, write the date cooked on the storage container. Then freeze extra portions within a few days of cooking.

Organic foods are wonderful to buy when one can afford them. They are healthier “some studies suggest that organic produce has more nutrients than its conventional counterparts, probably because the soil is left in better condition after repeated plantings; and healthier because you avoid ingesting any harmful pesticide residues left on conventional produce” (TheDailyGreen.com, 2009).

However, there is a list of safe non-organic foods for the budget conscious senior (as published by TheDailyGreen.com, 2009):
1. Onions
2. Avocados
3. Sweet corn
4. Pineapples
5. Mangoes
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwis
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplants
11. Papayas
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomatoes
15. Sweet Potatoes

Reference:
The Clean 15: Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic. (2009). TheDailyGreen.com. Retrieved from: http://www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/Save-on-Sustainable-Gallery-44032808#ixzz0LfDvct5M

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Arranging Care with Community Calendars


When families and friends share responsibilities for the care of loved ones, coordinating schedules, errands and tasks can become cumbersome. Simply trying to figure out who is taking grandma/mom/dad/uncle to the doctor, to the pharmacy, or shopping, can amount to hours spent of the phone arranging and planning. Lotsa Helping Hands has developed a free website to help alleviate such issues.

Lotsahelpinghands.com allows one to act as a coordinator and build a community of family and friends who may all share access to one calendar. Each member of the calendar can access it privately on his or her own computer. Once logged in, a member can see which appointments and errands are on the calendar, which events another person has already signed up for, and which events are open so he or she may sign up for openings that work within his or her own schedule. The calendar even sends out email reminders so no one forgets their assignment.

Calendar events listed can be as specific as necessary to be certain everyone is clear about what exactly is needed. “For example, the request to receive weekday dinners would specify the desired days and times, dietary restrictions, and delivery instructions. Or if a family requires transportation, they can easily specify pick-up and drop-off times, locations with direct links to Google Maps for directions, and appointment durations” (Lotsahelpinghands.com, 2009).

Private message boards are also open for members to share “photo galleries" and "resource sections for sharing relevant web links and documents” (Lotsahelpinghands.com, 2009).

Reference:
How it works. (2009). Lotsa Helping Hands. Retrieved from: http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/how/

All content © FateCare.com. 2009.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sight & Hearing Loss = Social Isolation

A relative, Mr. P., refuses to buy his wife a hearing aid. He and Mrs. P., never really had what one would describe as a good relationship, and now that Mrs. P., cannot hear much of what he says or what others say when they visit, it appears to suit Mr. P. just fine. Mrs. P., with her hearing loss cannot keep up with the conversation, and frequently falls asleep when at the table where conversation is occurring. Mrs. P. therefore suffers from social isolation due to her hearing loss.

With an elderly property manager, Dale, who suffered hearing loss, I had to adopt a “louder and slower conversational style” (p. 236) to ensure he heard and understood me. If I did not use this style of speaking, he would inevitably ask me what I had said. His hearing loss led to “increased requests for information to be repeated in conversation” (p. 236). Dale’s hearing loss led me to keep in person conversations brief and send him emails if I had a lot to explain or more complicated information. Fortunately, Dale used email.

Some facts about hearing loss associated with aging (Presbycusis):
* Increases after age 45
* Causes difficulty in the ability to discriminate between higher frequency consonants like F, G, S, T and Z (p. 236).
* Elderly may tend to “fill in the gaps” and guess what they have missed in the conversation or resort to “lip reading”
* Can affect one’s speech “as people rely on their ability to hear as feedback for monitoring speech” (p. 238).

Some facts about age related Sight Loss (Presoyopia):
* A thickening of the crystalline lenses of the eye.
* Begins at age 40. (p. 234)
* By age 70, “fewer than 30% of elderly people have 20/20 eyesight” and most do not achieve “normal eyesight even with correction” (p. 234)

Conversational Issue with combined Hearing/Sight loss:
* To “compensate for reduced ability to see or hear” people often end up “standing closer to the information source” (p. 237) thereby infringing on the others personal space. This “can be considered inappropriate, making conversation unpleasant” (p. 238).

A favorite elderly neighbor of mine, Alice, who was in her 80’s when I knew her, experienced both sight and hearing loss. On the back of her front door she had taped a sheet of paper that read: “Don’t Forget - Glasses, Hearing Aid, Dentures, Keys, Purse.” Perhaps this was the key to her success. She never left home without her "essentials" and she was able to live a very active life.

Reference:
Nussbaum, J. F., Pecchioni, L. L., Robinson, J. D., & Thompson T. L.. (2000). Communication and Aging. (2nd ed.). London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Women & Aging in the Media

1. Zimmerman, Ann. “A Grandma or Grandpa by Any Other Name Is Just as Old.” The Wall Street Journal. 23 Jan 2009.

I found this article in the Wall Street Journal back in January. The article was an unforgettable one, which discussed the way some “boomers” are not feeling that the traditional names of “grandma”, “grandpa”, “granny” or “gramps” fit how they see themselves. Some of these individuals are choosing their own names that their grandchildren can call them in which they can continue to feel youthful despite their role as grandparents (a role generally perceived as occurring when older in age). I believe that if it makes new grandparents feel more individual, unique or even younger to have a name that fits their own ideas of self, they should have the right to decide that. No one should be made to feel bad about how they view themselves just to comply with traditional monikers.

2. Keane, Jeff and Bill. “Family Circus.” Cartoon. Houston Chronicle. 17 Apr. 2009.

I liked this comic specifically because I felt it addressed the question of “When is an old woman old?” In this comic, the child sees her mother as being old when one could imagine that the child’s mother sees her own grandmother or mother as being old. Age, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Perception plays a key role in who views a woman as being old. Additionally, this comic reminded me of the cyclical fact of time and age in how there always will be someone older than you are now.

3. Youth Surge by Clinique. “Unless you’re in some hurry to see 40.” Advertisement. 15 April 2009.

This ad was one grabbed my attention mostly because of the turtle. However, I noticed that my reaction to this ad changed as the longer I looked at it.

First, the ad appealed to me with the cuteness of the image. Second, I found the ad a bit disturbing with what being compared with a turtle implied. Third, I became unnerved by the message because it implied that 40 is not an age to one should want to look. Fourth, I made the connection of why a turtle had been used. The turtle, the ad states, is nearly 60 years of age and does not look “a day over 30”. While I was relieved to finally understand why a turtle had been used, I was disappointed with its offensive stance on age. Is 30 old? Is 40 too old? What about the turtle of 60 years in age, is she too old? Or is this turtle just right because no one knows she’s 60 because she only looks 30?

Clinique makes some very strong, yet conflicting statements with this ad that I wasn’t sure were entirely tasteful.

4. "Rita Levi Montalcini, Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Turns 100, Still Works” The Huffington Post. 18 Apr. 2009.

This was an interesting article I found both inspiring and concerning. While I found it inspiring to see an accomplished scientist still working in her field with the confidence and clarity of mind that some others her age or even younger lack, I was not sure I would want to be working that long into my life. However, in the turmoil our economy now stands, I believe we will continue to see more and more people working well past the traditional retirement ages of the past. I can only hope that like Ms. Montalcini, we will have the clarity of mind and vigor to live such long and fulfilling lives.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Aging Myth: Seniors Become Senile

In looking at one of the myths of aging, seniors become senile, this struck a chord with me. I have witnessed the dementia of both my grandmothers and have wondered why they suffered through this, while my grandfathers, grandmother-in-law and other elders I've known have not.

The idea of dementia as inevitable in older adults is clearly inaccurate, though I never really challenged it before even though I had witnessed that senility was not universal nor guaranteed among seniors.

In the case of my one grandmothers, the causes of dementia stated in our reading (depression, over-medication, lack of intellectual/emotional stimulation) were clearly the root of her problems. However, my other grandmother did not experience those causes, and I now wonder if her form of dementia was not altogether something else – perhaps the onset of Alzheimer’s.

While it is inevitable that everyone ages, and looks and physical abilities change throughout the aging process, the one thing that I believe really puts a damper on enjoyment in later life is dementia. One cannot enjoy life if one is not of the mental ability to understand and interact with the world around them.

I believe more media coverage of these key causes of dementia could help the public to understand that this condition is not inevitable. Dementia is not guaranteed nor ensured by age. Additionally, the dietary and activity factors that help prevent or alleviate the decline in mental function would be important for people to be made aware of so they may incorporate them into their lives and the lives of those they love. Perhaps similarly to some of the foods that show heart healthy logos, those foods that help prevent or slow decline in mental function could also label their products.

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unethical Publication Subscription Practices

On my last visit to my grandparent’s house I discovered many duplicate copies of Reader’s Digest. Apparently my grandmother was receiving multiple subscriptions concurrently. As the name and address information on the mailing labels was exactly the same I could not understand why the magazine had not added the additional subscriptions to one subscription, instead of sending several copies each month.

Confusion relating to magazine subscriptions is not hard to understand. I have received multiple requests for renewals with many of the publications I’ve subscribed to even after paying to renew them. However, when magazine subscriptions are foisted upon the elderly who spend much needed fixed income dollars on lengthy subscriptions that outlive them, we must demand accountability of these publishers.

A recent article I read in AARP’s Bulletin called “Outrage: A Runaround for Magazine Refunds” really hit home. Mr. Grantham found upon his father’s death (at age 93) that the poor man had subscribed to TV Guide through 2017 and U.S. News & World Report through 2023. “Grantham’s father would have been 108 years old by then” (Diament, 2009).

Even more disturbing than the fact this elderly man was duped into buying years of subscriptions was the fact that his son, upon his father’s death, was only able to cancel the subscriptions but not able to obtain a refund for the unsent (350 to 400) issues. Apparently the fact that “Grantham’s father purchased them through contracting companies, not directly from the magazines” (Diament, 2009) is the excuse given for the lengthy delay in refund.

The good news was that Mr. Grantham was able to secure an immediate refund from Newsweek magazine. A quick search online turned up other publications that offer refunds for unsent subscriptions: PC Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, American Craft Magazine and others as well as magazine vendor: magazines.com.

Diament, M. (2009). Outrage: A Runaround for Magazine Refunds. AARP Bulletn retrieved from: http://bulletin.aarp.org/yourmoney/scamalert/articles/what_an_outragea_runaround_for_magazine_refunds.html

PC Magazine: https://www.zdmcirc.com/zdmcirc/default.asp?LK=popunder&I=ibmp
Better Homes and Gardens: http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/b/better-homes-gardens/1227/faqs/
American Craft Magazine: https://www.ezsubscription.com/acc/subscribe.asp?key=7809DP
Magazines.com: http://www.magazines.com/help/uninterrupted_subscription_service

All content © Village Memorial. 2009-2010.