Be mindful: Brain injuries can cause change in personality

Be mindful: Brain injuries can cause change in personality

I have a 79-year-old friend who I have lunch with about once a month. We met many years ago by happenstance, as she had a weekly appointment that ended when mine began.

We started to chat in the waiting room and over time became friends.

She is a smart woman who spent many years in corporate America. When she retired, her circle of friends became smaller and dwindled further since she is a caregiver to her husband with a chronic illness.

At our lunches we would chat about the goings on in our lives. During the year we exchange holiday and birthday gifts. In between our visits we talk on the phone.

We always end our conversations with one of us saying “I love you” and the other saying “I love you, too.”

A couple of months ago my friend had a very bad fall that resulted in a brain injury. 

Eating with others can provide an emotional boost

Eating with others can provide an emotional boost

One thing the past few years has taught us is the value of breaking bread with family and friends. Holiday meals, casual barbecues, Sunday suppers and milestone dinner celebrations were sorely missed during the height of the pandemic.

My friend Nancy and I were talking recently about one of her family traditions, and it struck me that she knew the value of gatherings right from the start.

When she first got married, Nancy created a scrapbook of sorts that cataloged special meals at her house. She began with a title for the event, be it a birthday, a themed dinner with friends or a special celebration.

Got a feeling? Trusting your gut can aid in decision-making

Got a feeling? Trusting your gut can aid in decision-making

“Go with your gut” is a piece of advice given to me many years ago, somewhere in the middle of my business career. What my boss was trying to convey to me was to trust or follow my intuition, or instinct, as opposed to only basing my opinion or decision on a thorough analysis of the facts.

The idiom most likely originated from the anxious, or “bad,” feeling you get in your stomach when you know something is wrong.

I can remember thinking through things to make a decision in my 20s and 30s only to find out it was wrong, and instead of thinking with my head I should have gone with my gut. At the time I did not have enough confidence to trust my inner feelings.

Making childhood memories last well into adulthood

Making childhood memories last well into adulthood

This month my 3-year-old grandnephew, Wyatt, took his first airplane ride. What’s more, he was chosen to visit with the pilot and co-pilot, and he even got to sit in the cockpit in the pilot’s seat.

My sister sent my mom and me the pictures of the occasion. In addition to remarking how stinking cute her great-grandson is, my mom wondered if he will remember this experience. She hoped so.

It got me to thinking about my earliest memory, which is of my mom and me on the living room couch. She was hugging me. It was more a memory of the senses.

Clearing the way for reading enjoyment

Clearing the way for reading enjoyment

If your friends are anything like mine, casual conversations these days often turn to a discussion of the amazing television series they’ve been watching on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

I appreciate their enthusiasm and write down their recommendations, fully intending to check them out as soon as I have some free time.

The problem is that my choice when I have free time leans toward reading a good novel versus binging on TV. My enthusiasm for reading became especially fierce during the COVID lockdowns, and it remains a passion today.

That cold might be COVID, so it’s best to play it safe

That cold might be COVID, so it’s best to play it safe

Last week my sister’s father-in-law, who lives on the East Coast, was mowing his lawn. After he finished, he started feeling respiratory discomfort, chalking it up to the grass and weeds he’d stirred up while mowing.

A few days later, his wife experienced a runny nose, cough and muscle aches. Suspicious of her symptoms, she used one of her insurance-provided home COVID tests and tested positive for coronavirus.

Now believing he was responsible for passing it to her, he went over in his mind all of the people and places he’d visited in the days before: the church meeting he attended, his visit to see his granddaughter and great-grandchild, and his evening spent with neighbors.

In all, he estimated he had come in close contact with over 30 people.

He still didn’t take a COVID test, 

The modern world challenges old-school ways

The modern world challenges old-school ways

When it comes to everyday tasks, I’m caught between the modern world and my old-school ways.

The term “old-school” refers to a style, method or device that’s no longer used or done because it has been replaced by something that’s more modern. Think of combing through that huge paper phone book that’s been replaced by a one-second internet search.

I recently saw a Facebook post that asked which old-school items are still in your home. Listed were paper calendars, greeting cards, recipe cards and metal filing drawers, just to name a few.

It gave me pause because I thought to myself, what’s wrong with a paper calendar or filing drawers? Being a couple of organization freaks, my husband and I both have paper wall calendars so we can visualize our day, week or month, and our metal file drawers hold our financial statements, medical reports and receipts.

I can’t image having neither of these items, and I wonder how soon it will be before I can no longer order my At-A-Glance Monthly Planner or find a replacement for my two-drawer file cabinet when I need one.

Community presentations can spark important conversations

Community presentations can spark important conversations

One of my favorite parts of my job is public speaking. I know that stirs up anxiety and fear in some people, but for me it’s invigorating.

Groups are beginning to meet in person again, and I’m enjoying making the rounds to the Senior Summit; Rotary, Kiwanis, Delta Cappa Gamma and Brandeis groups; places of faith; and women’s and men’s clubs.

These groups meet to socially connect, and they often invite speakers to share their knowledge and experience.

As I prepare for a presentation, I enjoy gathering facts, weaving in stories I think might help to make a point and designing a visual presentation to make it all pop. My goal with my audience is to make a connection and encourage them to think and feel.

And the goal for myself is to listen.

As prices rise, concern grows for senior renters

As prices rise, concern grows for senior renters

Marta (not her real name) called Senior Concerns as a last resort.

The mobile home she and her husband had been renting for the past 30 years was being sold. The owner had died, and the owner’s adult children wanted to sell.

The rent the couple had been paying had been below market rate for many years, allowing them to use their only income, Social Security checks, to pay the rent and buy groceries and prescriptions, with almost nothing left over for savings each month.

After receiving notice that the trailer was being sold, Marta tried to find affordable housing. But nothing in their price range existed, and there was a years-long waiting list for subsidized senior housing in any nearby community.

With no children or relatives to lean on, Marta had no choice but to stay put until she could figure out what to do.

Then the eviction notice came. They had 60 days to vacate the property—and nowhere to go.

Nature’s gift can bring serenity if we just take time to look

Nature’s gift can bring serenity if we just take time to look

A few weeks ago, I attended a work conference with my husband. I was the trailing spouse, which meant I could relax and enjoy myself while he attended CPA classes.

A free vacation sounded good to me, especially after these past 24 months.

Yet little did I know just how restorative this trip would be. And I owe it all to the ocean.

The hotel television included a channel where one could just watch the waves come in and out at a nearby rocky beach on the property. After tuning in the evening before, I set out my first morning to find this cove and see if it really was as captivating as it appeared on TV.

The air was chilly. I put on my sweatsuit, laced up my sneakers and pointed myself in the direction of the ocean. It didn’t take me long to find the trail to the cove.

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