Health scare takes emotional toll

Health scare takes emotional toll

Most of my medical challenges occurred when I was young. Years later, I can’t really remember my feelings after those experiences.

But as I contemplate my recent health scare—a piece of steak lodged in my throat, resulting in a tear in my esophagus—I know that it’s definitely taken an emotional toll on me.

My friends say that I don’t sound like myself now. I’m normally an upbeat, energetic, gregarious person.

Today, I would describe myself as anxious, subdued and fatigued. While I know intellectually that one’s time does not go on forever, now I really feel mortal.

I had been chalking my feelings up to a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder from eight hours of not being able to swallow and ultimately undergoing emergency surgery.

Don’t ignore symptoms of acid reflux

Don’t ignore symptoms of acid reflux

Every once in a while, the person upstairs gives you a wake-up call. Mine came a few weeks ago.

Looking back, all the signs were there.

I’d been keeping a supply of Tums in my purse for after meals. I could feel a sensation of acid backing up in my throat when I bent down. Burping became a “thing” for me. And sometimes I had trouble swallowing.

My father had acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), so it wasn’t too farfetched to think that I had it too, but I never put two and two together and took action.

That’s where the person upstairs comes in.

We had just completed our annual Ultimate Dining Experience for Senior Concerns. Attempting to delight 420 people with food, drinks and an entertaining program brings stress as well as rewards.

I was just beginning to relax later that week when friends invited my husband and me out for dinner. Before their invitation,

I’d planned to make filet mignon that night as a treat, so we decided to share a filet at the restaurant.

My first bite, which was no bigger than the size of the nail on my pinky finger, got stuck going down, so I drank some water. Bad idea. The water came up as I rushed to the ladies’ room, but the steak remained stuck.

Timeless fitness for brain, body

Timeless fitness for brain, body

It seemed too good to be true.

A set of exercises that, if practiced just 10 minutes a day, could make a positive difference in the quality of our body and brain. Activities that can be done by almost anyone, just sitting in a chair. And once learned, they are easy enough to do on our own.

Ageless Grace is a fitness and wellness program consisting of “21 simple tools for lifelong comfort and ease,” designed for all ages and all abilities. The program is based on the science of neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to build new synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience.

It’s also based on ensuring that all the vital parts of our body, those that help us to function efficiently in our daily activities, are exercised.

Lastly, and especially for seniors, the program is intended to help participants develop the agility and cognitive function needed to react, respond and recover from situations they didn’t anticipate.

Recently I participated in a certification course for Ageless Grace.

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.

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