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The term “old-school” refers to a style, method or device that’s no longer used or done because it has been replaced by something that’s more modern. Think of combing through that huge paper phone book that’s been replaced by a one-second internet search.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

Communication helps ensure end-of-life wishes are followed

Communication helps ensure end-of-life wishes are followed

If we lived and died in a perfect world, all our end-of-life wishes would be followed.

If we wanted extraordinary measures, where our doctors do everything possible to prevent our death, that would be done. If we wanted to simply remain as comfortable as possible until the end comes, that would be done.

But we are not in a perfect world, and too many people are taking their last breath without their wishes being followed.

For many of us, when we are creating a will or a trust, our attorney may ask us to do some advance care planning, like completing an advance directive and selecting a healthcare proxy.

Or we may have entered a hospital or a skilled nursing facility and are asked to complete these documents.

Chances are 

Support for family caregivers is on the way

Support for family caregivers is on the way

Today I can count more than 20 friends or relatives who are acting as family caregivers for their loved ones. It’s probably the highest number I can remember in my adulthood.

My cousin’s wife is caring for her husband, who has oral cancer and is undergoing chemo and radiation. My girlfriend is caring for her husband with vascular dementia, and the husband of my niece, who has long COVID, is caring for my niece and their 3-year-old.

Not withstanding the marriage vows to love and care “in sickness and in health,” each caregiver never expected they would be tending an ill or disabled loved one.

In situations like these, the focus is on the person being cared for. And of course it should be. Who could not feel for a man not able to speak or swallow as his children, 6 and 8, look on?

Or my friend’s husband who has had three strokes and is in tremendous fear of the next one? Or my niece experiencing vertigo, mind fog and migraines that leave her

Aging systems require doing your homework

Aging systems require doing your homework

Maybe it’s my aging home, my aging car or my aging office building, but as the days go by, it seems every repair or improvement that is quoted to me is really expensive.

It doesn’t matter if it is for electrical work, a piece of kitchen equipment or car repair—the quotes are significant, and the devil, as they say, is in the details.

Take my recent car service appointment. I love my car. It has upward of 108,000 miles on it and has served me well.

When I need to buy a new car, I almost certainly will buy the same make and model.

I have been faithful with my scheduled maintenance appointments, using the dealership for the work. It works for me because I have one record of all the work done and I get a free loaner to use.

On a recent scheduled maintenance appointment, 

Watch expiration dates during COVID

Watch expiration dates during COVID

A few months back a friend told me she was not feeling well and was trying to find an at-home rapid COVID test. She needed the test because in a few days it would be her turn to care for her mother, who has mild cognitive impairment.

I offered to go find her a test and drop it off at her home, and after checking a dozen pharmacies, I finally found one.

My local pharmacy told me they had over 1,000 units come in the day before and they were gone within hours. The clerk said she wished the store’s policy would put limits on the number of tests people could buy, as some people were buying dozens. This, of course, made it difficult for me to find one for my friend.

Besides causing lack of availability, stockpiling tests is not recommended because most tests right now have a fairly short expiration date.

Shared meal provides much-needed social nourishment

Shared meal provides much-needed social nourishment

Over the last few weeks, my husband and I ventured out to see some friends we had not seen in a long time. It reminded me of one of the things I missed most during the pandemic—sharing a homemade meal with good friends.

I forgot how nourishing it can be for both the tummy and the soul when everyone brings a dish to a host’s house.

At one recent get-together, our dear Indian friends brought shami kabob, an appetizer that I have so missed these past 20 months. Our friend Cathy makes the most incredible selection of Christmas cookies, a tradition she shared with her mother that she continues to this day.

Our other friends brought a salad with fresh pears from their second home in Washington state.

What made this meal special 

Trip to the ER brings fresh insights

Trip to the ER brings fresh insights

A few weeks ago, I had a two-day stay in the hospital. I’m OK, but my eyes were opened by the changes I saw since my last visit to the emergency room three years ago.

I want to share what I experienced on the chance that it might be helpful to others.

First, I was shocked by the sheer number of people who came to the ER for care. Maybe I had been there on a slow day in the past? The people I happened to see were at the hospital for treatment for something other than COVID. And still, this was a very large number.

I arrived at the ER before 9 a.m. At the time, I was one of four people waiting to be seen. As the day wore on, the waiting room became full and there was a line of folks just to enter the building.