13 Aug 2015

The vanishing vacation

I used to enjoy vacations. I’ve traveled to many places, including Ireland, Aruba, Hawaii, Mexico, London and India. I enjoyed trying new foods, learning about different cultures, seeing historical sights and meeting new people.

Now, however, most of the vacations my husband and I take are centered on visiting our families back East. “They aren’t going to live forever” and “What could be better than quality time with family?” is our thinking.

Work has been an inhibitor, too. If it isn’t one priority keeping me from taking extra time off, it’s another. In addition, my husband works in finance, and it seems tax season, quarter-end or year-end reporting keeps him tethered to the office.

I know in my gut that time off is medicine. It can help me to destress and reduce anxiety. Time off can help me recharge my battery and come back to work refreshed.


30 Jul 2015

Going mainstream

My 40-something-year-old friend received a call from her husband while she was at work.

“Your yoga pants arrived,” he said, referring to a package that came that day in the mail.

“I didn’t order any yoga pants,” she replied, wondering what it could be.

Arriving home that night she found a 6-by-8-inch box with a side view of an attractive woman in workout gear walking down a city street.

A sticker on the box said “YOGA PANTS APPROVED.”

As she peeled off the sticker, the box pulled apart revealing what was under the yoga pants. The image was of the same woman wearing Depends.

Inside the box were two pairs of Silhouette Active Fit briefs, one black and the other beige. The mailing was a marketing device by Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Depends-brand undergarments.


16 Jul 2015

Traveling with medication

It’s not unheard of for foreigners to be detained overseas for mailing out or bringing in the same medicine they use at home. The ever-increasing number of seniors traveling abroad need to be aware of that possibility and what they can do to prevent it from happening to them.

Witness, for example, a recent news report about an American executive for Toyota who was arrested and detained in Japan for having her father mail her oxycodone pills. The narcotic painkiller is tightly controlled in Japan.

Overseas travel for seniors (age 60 and up) is on the rise, according to the U.S. CommerceDepartment. Between 1993 and 2012 the percentage of retirees traveling abroad rose from 9.7 percent to 13 percent. And, while seniors represent just over 13 percent of the population, they consume 40 percent of the prescription drugs and over 35 percent of all overthe counter drugs, according to the findings of a recent survey.

If you are taking medication and plan to travel overseas, here are some important tips.


2 Jul 2015

What else isn’t she telling me?

Every morning while walking my dog, I call my mother from my cellphone.

We talk about many things, but in particular my mom’s side of the conversation focuses on my sisters and their families and how she and my dad are doing. In our conversation I hear about the outcomes of my parents’ doctor appointments, what they had for dinner the night before and what’s new with my sisters’ children.

But the other day I was thrown for a loop. I called my mother at our usual time. She asked that I call her back as the physical therapist was there with my dad. So I went along walking Rolo, waiting for her call.

11 Jun 2015

A future look at caregiving

A 2009 study concluded that the majority of family caregivers are white, female, employed, average 50 years of age and help in the care of a relative, often their mother.

The support systems for seniors and their family caregivers are built around this pattern.

Since the world is changing at lightning speed, I wonder what caregivers might look like in 2050.

The first step is to take a look at the changes coming to the senior population.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2050 our population will be older and more ethnically and racially diverse. Minorities in the senior population today represent one-third of the population, but


4 Jun 2015

Improving senior nutrition

It’s a well-documented fact that the majority of older adults would prefer to live at home. What you may not know is that nutrition problems are widespread among those who choose to do so.

According to various studies, between 24 and 50 percent of the Medicare population is estimated to be at some level of nutritional risk. Adequate fruit and vegetable intake is a critical part of healthy aging and an important component of treatment for health conditions associated with aging.

According to CMS.gov, 87 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries over the age of 65 have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, all of which can be improved by

21 May 2015

Identity theft hits home

Who would have thought my parents would become the victims of identity theft?

Not long ago, my parents received a letter from the FBI informing them their Medicare Advantage Plan insurance company had been hacked, and names, Social Security numbers and other personal information had been compromised.

I was so skeptical of this letter that I asked Judy Christman Yates, criminologist and coordinator of the Ventura County Financial Abuse Specialist Team, to see if it was authentic.

She said it appeared to be.

According to the letter, while the FBI did not know which members’ information had been affected, they suggested everyone who received the letter perform a credit check.

My parents sailed along for a few months with no issues. Their credit report looked normal.

Then one day last week my mother received a call from Schwab


7 May 2015

Unlocking a new kind of care

A few weeks ago my dad landed in the hospital.

Mom drove him to the emergency room because his blood pressure was fluctuating wildly. To be accurate, this blood pressure condition has been going on for some time now. A year ago it was this same condition that took my father from hospital to rehab to in-home medical care.

All that care, but no cure. My father’s blood pressure fluctuations will not change; they’re a side effect of his worsening Parkinson’s.

This time, after three nights in the hospital, the discharge planner came to talk to my mom and dad. Her “plan” was to place my dad in rehab, so that the medical staff there could monitor his blood pressure.

When we asked how long, she replied, “A week to 10 days.”

My mom, dad, sisters and I wondered what monitoring would do if there was no treatment or cure


16 Apr 2015

Healthcare decisions made easier

Aren’t online customer reviews wonderful?

They are those postings by people who invest time and energy to give their feedback on a recent purchase experience on sites like Yelp, Angie’s List or Amazon. Reading those reviews often helps us decide if the item or service is right for us.

Customer reviews have helped me determine if the hiking poles I planned to buy were light yet sturdy enough for my use and whether the new restaurant in town was worth trying. Online customer reviews can even help us with purchases that are more a matter of personal choice, like vacation destinations, music or books.

Remember the old-school way for gathering information on a potential purchase? We’d talk to friends, read Consumer Reports or ask questions of salespeople. That was it.

Help with making decisions is much more accessible today with customer review systems.


2 Apr 2015

Busy in retirement

I’ve heard it more than once: “I’m retired, but I’m busier now than I ever was.”

Many retirees who think back to their work life will remember early morning meetings, working through lunches, getting home late at night (and working some more), all the while miraculously having enough time to raise kids, do household chores, run errands, feed the dog and keep appointments.

Yes, it was exhausting, but they got it all done, day in and day out, week after week, for years. So why in retirement, with 40 to 50 “free” hours previously taken up by work, is life just as busy?
According to a recent Psychology Today article, “The Need to Be Busy,” humans are the only species to feel the need to be busy.