Wise friends can be of great value in our elder years

Wise friends can be of great value in our elder years

I’ve trained my mom to be a case manager for seniors. Well, not really, but linking our daily conversations along with her 85 years of life experience, my mom can give some pretty good advice when asked.

Mom has known her close friend Bernadette since high school. They both married their hometown sweethearts, and the two couples moved and bought houses less than a block from one another.

They raised their children together, and when the kids began school, my mother and Bernadette found jobs at the same school district. They worked there for many years until their retirement.

The similarities did not stop there. Bernadette’s husband received a Parkinson’s diagnosis in his early 70s. My dad was diagnosed just a few years later. It was a blow to all of us that two men who became such close friends would be diagnosed with the same serious disease within such a short time span.

Preparing for the ultimate loss: What to do when a loved one dies

Preparing for the ultimate loss: What to do when a loved one dies

I have a dear friend, Nancy, whose husband died unexpectedly several years ago. She was recounting the situation to me and how another friend of hers, a physician, wanted to give her some medication to calm her during the experience.

Nancy’s response: “I have too much to do. I can’t be out of it.”

We laughed about her get-it done nature. Still, whether it’s a sudden loss or the result of a long illness, the death of a spouse can be emotionally devastating but at the same time there’s a lot to do.

I often think the “business of death” is society’s way of keeping our mind busy during those early crushing days of loss.

Here are the time-sensitive things to consider upon a loved one’s death:

Post-holiday loneliness takes a toll on seniors

Post-holiday loneliness takes a toll on seniors

The 55-plus community my mother lives in has a weekly get-together at its clubhouse. Everyone who chooses to come brings a food item to share; visiting with one another includes the goings-on in their lives: who welcomed grandchildren, who’s expecting visitors and talk of current events.

Showing up at last week’s gathering were only nine people, when most of the time 20 to 30 attend. My mother said it was the lowest turnout ever.

We were both coming up with reasons for the poor showing.

Maybe people were with their families for an extended holiday. Maybe the very cold weather and high winds that day (she lives in New Hampshire) weren’t conducive to going out. Maybe some folks were sick with a cold or the flu.

And, just maybe, the days leading up to the holidays and those soon after remind some seniors of the losses they’ve experienced, and those memories make them melancholy and not eager to spend time with others. According to AARP, more than one in three elderly Americans describe themselves as lonely, and the holidays can be especially isolating for them.

Local seniors left scarred by wildfires

Local seniors left scarred by wildfires

On the heels of the Borderline shooting, Allison, a Senior Concerns case manager, was knocking on doors of the occupants of the senior low-income housing complex where she works.

She was concerned the residents were isolated in their apartments watching the 24/7 coverage of the massacre, feeling shocked and frightened.

Allison encouraged them to come out of their apartments and share their feelings and concerns with her and with each another. It was one small step in promoting community among the seniors she provides counsel, guidance and resources to on a weekly basis.

But just like that, Allison was gone. She had to rush home because her house was in danger.

As more seniors age alone, more planning is required

As more seniors age alone, more planning is required

My friend Dr. Sara Zeff Geber coined the term “solo agers” after realizing so many of her childfree friends were caring for their aging parents.

The question loomed large: Who was going to care for them when they got older?

Geber’s term has expanded to include older adults who are geographically distant from their children or who choose not to rely on them for help as they age.

My husband and I know all too well the challenges of aging alone, as we had “adopted” our elderly neighbors in their last five years of life. With no children or nearby relatives, our neighbors had no one to lean on as their health worsened and activities of daily living became impossible.

Website collects senior resources into one easy-to-access place

Website collects senior resources into one easy-to-access place

I’ve recently discovered some programs that can help solve many of the challenges facing seniors.

There are so many sources of help available today that it’s nearly impossible to have a handle on all of them at one time. Having a robust list by topic is very helpful.

As with any rapidly growing market, there’s continuous innovation, making it even more difficult to keep up. Having one site with the latest innovations would be really valuable.

And with so many resources, it’s often difficult to sort out what is reputable and what is not. So I was pleasantly surprised when I happened upon the website www.programsforelderly.com.

It’s not a nonprofit endeavor, so you will see ads, but the content is so rich that it’s worth the distractions.

 

Think before setting a password

Think before setting a password

If you are internet savvy, you are mindful that you should not click on an email link from an unknown source. You are wary of online ads for items that are too good to be true, like that miracle anti-aging cure or the financial investment that will earn you millions overnight. You ignore email requests to enter your full Social Security number on an online site.

And you know that it is probably unlikely you won the Zimbabwe lottery (since you never entered in the first place), so you won’t be paying them the small fee to collect your winnings.

But new online security threats abound, especially when it comes to email addresses and passwords.

Recently I was one of millions of people who received an email from LinkedIn informing us of a security breach and

It’s never too late to express condolences to the grieving

Whether through our own reminiscences or those of others, keeping alive the memory of a loved one who dies brings a sense of comfort.

In a recent column I wrote about learning about the death of a dear high school friend a month after she passed away. I felt sad because I wasn’t there to share in her family’s grief and I couldn’t, at the time of her death, acknowledge to them the big place my friend held in my heart.

A number of readers wrote to remind me that grief knows no timetable and that my condolences and memories would still be welcome, maybe even more so now.

I know this from experience.  At age 19,

Make life easier for mom, dad

For seniors trying to make their savings stretch, spending on home repairs or new appliances can cause a lot of anxiety. Many are concerned, sometimes rightfully, about whether they will outlive their money.

But I’ve discovered other aging retirees—even those with an ample nest egg—who are simply too conservative when it comes to their finances, and as a result they do not make relatively small improvements or purchases that could have a tremendous impact on their quality of life. In these cases, just because “it ain’t completely broke” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix it.

Take, for example, my parents and the case of the temperamental oven and the troublesome toilet.

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.
 
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