Celebrities’ end-of-life issues offer lessons on what to do

Celebrities’ end-of-life issues offer lessons on what to do

There comes an age when you begin to hear with increased frequency of the medical challenges or deaths of celebrities you loved growing up. It’s a harsh reminder of our mortality.

Because the stories of these deaths are so widely disseminated, they can also serve as cautionary tales about later life challenges and planning to ensure your own wishes are followed when you die.

The best example of this is Joan Rivers, who lived into her 80s with vibrancy, zest and attitude. Her death was sudden and unexpected. She died from “therapeutic complications” as a result of surgery.

As a comedian, she made many jokes through the years about her death.

Rivers was very close to her daughter, Melissa, and her grandson, Cooper, and before her death she made sure they knew they would survive her loss and go on to live full lives.

Security is a homeowner’s responsibility

Security is a homeowner’s responsibility

Last week someone published our community’s entrance gate code on social media and in printed signage. Neighbors were in an uproar, and, of course, the code needed to be changed to deter trespassers.

While this was an unfortunate situation that cost our homeowners association money (to send a mailing of the new code to all homeowners and for the gate company to reprogram the code), it brought up a larger conversation about security.

I did some reading on the topic and learned that most secure apartment complexes and communities call their gates “entrance and exit” gates, not security gates.

According to Property Management Professionals, a leader in the association management industry, 

Think about shaving as a shared activity

Think about shaving as a shared activity

Shaving one’s face is a fundamental part of being a man. A generation ago, the act of shaving denoted manhood, pride of appearance, cleanliness, neatness and a person in control and well-groomed.

In the U.S., Canada and Europe, about 85 percent of men shave their beards.

Throughout recent history we have been a society where the appearance of the body is seen to reveal the state of mind of an individual—and men often grew beards when they were in crisis.

Ever hear of the playoff beard? This describes the superstitious practice of male athletes not shaving their beards during playoffs. Introduced in the 1980s by ice hockey players participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s become a practice in many sports leagues and among fans as well.

But what can be more intrinsic to the emotional well-being of a man than to be able to shave if he wants to?

Malnutrition is a health threat that’s rarely diagnosed

Malnutrition is a health threat that’s rarely diagnosed

As if being admitted to the hospital isn’t challenging enough, there’s often an additional underlying and undiagnosed condition occurring in one-third of seniors who are admitted: undernourishment.

Statistically, it is estimated that 1 in 3 adult patients age 60 and older are malnourished.

Why is it then that in a study of 6 million adult hospitalizations, only 5 percent of the patients received a medical diagnosis of malnutrition?

Studies over the past three decades have shown that a patient’s nutritional status appears to be overlooked or not considered a medical priority.

Many seniors struggle after hospital stay

Many seniors struggle after hospital stay

Five years ago, I could not comprehend how my father’s two-day stay in the hospital resulted in a three-week stay in a skilled-nursing facility and a permanent decline in his functional abilities.

My father had Parkinson’s. At the time, he also had a form of low blood pressure that occurs when you stand up from a sitting or a lying-down position. It can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

The condition can even cause you to faint, which was what happened to my father and what precipitated the hospital stay.

My mother called 911 and my father was taken by ambulance to the emergency room and later admitted for observation.

Before his hospitalization my father could walk with a walker, he could assist if someone helped him off the toilet, he could feed himself and he was cognitively fit.

After two days in a hospital bed, 

Meditation by kayak

Meditation by kayak

I’ve recently rediscovered my enthusiasm for kayaking.

In the past, I kayaked on a pond in Cape Cod, on the Charles River in Boston and on Westlake Lake.

Those excursions were journeys of calm exploration.

I’ve also kayaked in the ocean in Santa Barbara and near the Channel Islands.

Those treks, on the other hand, were stress-filled, water-soaked battles with the currents.

If I were seeking a good physical workout, ocean kayaking would be my choice, but what I really enjoy about kayaking is how meditative it can be for me.

After my often inelegant entry into the kayak, as I dip my paddle into the water, I’m immediately filled with a sense of contentment. The act of kayaking is nourishing and healing to my soul.

I am with nature, surrounded by trees, water, birds, clouds, the sun and the sky. I am using my arms to power myself, doing something good with my body. My mind is quiet, and I am present in the moment.

Consider seniors in new construction

Consider seniors in new construction

With an eye toward a potential future project, Many Mansions and the Area Housing Authority of the County of Ventura paid a visit to Senior Concerns to gather suggestions for features seniors would want to see in a new complex of independent senior apartments.

We were delighted to know that a builder had an interest in what seniors would want in a living situation, rather than just constructing the most affordable and routine set of apartments.

Features that came easily to mind include elevators, trash chutes, dishwashers and Wi-Fi.

Universal Design elements such as walk-in showers, raised toilets, and windows and doors that can easily be opened, closed and locked should also be incorporated.

Other ideas on our list:

Apartments that are affordable for most seniors.

A circular pickup and dropoff area with a bench and lighting for those who plan to ride with someone else or use Dial-ARide.

Front doors to the building that open automatically when a person nears the entrance.

Simple outing makes for significant milestone

Simple outing makes for significant milestone

It’s been four months since my father passed. My first visit home since then is for his celebration of life.

There are almost 100 guests coming to an afternoon event in my mother’s backyard garden. My sisters, mother and I have been preparing for months.

It’s a Cape Cod-themed event, complete with mini lobster rolls. My parents spent their honeymoon on the Cape and 20 years of their retired life. It was “their place” that brought them tranquility and joy.

I came back home a few days early to help with preparations. We cleared the patio, washed the pollen from the windows and made sure the landscaping was as perfect as nature would have it.

In the afternoon, we shared with each other what we planned to wear. My mother showed me her new blouse. It was a lovely cornflower blue, perfect with her silver-white hair.

I said an ocean-blue-and-green beach-glass necklace would be the perfect accompaniment and fit with the Cape Cod theme. My mother thought she knew just the place to find one.

Are we facing a loneliness epidemic?

Are we facing a loneliness epidemic?

Joanie and her husband lived a full life, busy careers and wonderful vacation trips after retirement.

Today, Joanie sits silently, alone in front of her television, eating her dinner.

Joanie’s life partner died five years ago at the age of 74, and now that he’s gone, a week can go by without her connecting with a single human being.

Hearing-impaired, she has settled into a life of seclusion.

Joanie possesses the financial net worth to enjoy life, activities, trips, outings and events, but what she lacks is a social network. She is one of millions of seniors suffering from social isolation.

AARP estimates that more than 8 million older adults are affected by this trend.

Socially connected seniors are those who have relationships present in their lives, who have friends or family they can rely on and who are satisfied with those relationships.

New advancements benefit seniors

New advancements benefit seniors

Periodically I come across a new product or service that may be of interest to readers. Here are four to consider:

Latest shingles vaccine. On the nightly news recently I heard about a new, more effective shingles vaccine. I plan to talk to my doctor about it at my physical this month.

Shingrix, approved by the FDA in October 2017, is more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The old vaccine’s success rate was 51 percent.

The CDC recommends that healthy adults ages 50 and older get the Shingrix vaccine. This includes individuals who had the earlier shingles vaccine and those who’ve had a prior case of shingles.

Two doses two to six months apart are required to ensure longterm protection.

The vaccine is available now, but it’s in limited supply.

There are a few contraindications to getting the vaccine, so be sure to talk with your doctor.

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