Listening to our body when it whispers

Listening to our body when it whispers

Silent whispers from our body come in many forms and may include aches or pains, emotions, gut feelings or just a sense that something is off.

It’s easy to ignore these signs, but by doing so we may be jolted to attention when, at last, our body screams.

Case in point. My Auntie Jean had many signs that something was wrong but waited to act. Thankfully, it did not cost her life. Many others aren’t as fortunate.

Auntie Jean is 85. I always enjoy visiting with her. She has a fun sense of humor, and we actually have a lot in common.

A few months ago she was cleaning the glass on the inside of her front windshield when she felt a sharp pain in her chest. She thought maybe she pulled a muscle and decided to head inside the house to take it easy.

Checking in with ourselves is more important than ever

Checking in with ourselves is more important than ever

I’m not sure anyone could have predicted what the beginning of 2021 would look like, particularly as we ushered out 2020 believing it was one of the most challenging years on record.

And now, as our new year begins, we are seeing an unprecedented surge in COVID deaths, stoking our fears of an elderly loved one contracting the virus. We see that our local hospital’s ICU beds are full and wonder what will happen to us if we become ill.

We see record business closures resulting in the unemployment of friends and family. We see the storming and vandalizing of our Capitol, making us feel unsafe and stirring up emotions of shock and disbelief.

And we’ve missed, for months on end, being able to hold, hug and be with those we love.

If we look back at the past 10 months, it’s no surprise many of us are experiencing chronic stress.

COVID creates tough ethical calls for care

COVID creates tough ethical calls for care

There’s no debating that seniors are most at risk during this pandemic. While COVID-19 deaths have spanned all age groups, the hardest hit has been the 65-and-older population, which accounts for over 80% of the U.S. death toll from the disease.

A friend offered her opinion that this pandemic may just be nature’s way of getting rid of the weak, that seniors had lived a full life and this was their time to go. In other words, she felt that older adults are collateral damage in this global health crisis.

I found this to be shocking. She immediately walked back her words, but it does show that this opinion is out there.

Let’s look at what these older adults may have endured in the course of their lives.

What should we expect from our doctors?

What should we expect from our doctors?

What are our expectations when we visit our doctor? Do expectations differ with age? I pondered this question recently after an unsatisfactory visit to see a medical professional.

Two years ago, I had a problem that landed me in the emergency room. A specialist physician was called in to perform an emergency procedure. I spent five days in the hospital and recovered well, but in the process learned I had a treatable autoimmune disease.

After my hospitalization, I continued to see this physician for outpatient checkups. In the past two years, I have had three office visits and an additional procedure.

As part of my treatment, I was prescribed a daily medication. Recently, as I was trying to order a refill, the physician’s office informed me I would need to make an appointment so the doctor could check me before he renewed my prescription.

Social isolation results in memory loss in later life

Social isolation results in memory loss in later life

Fifty-four years ago, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song “Eleanor Rigby,” signaling us to “look at all the lonely people.”

Studies in the U.K. show that half a million people over the age of 60 spend every day alone.

Today, scientists around the world are worried about the effect of social isolation on older adults, especially in light of the stay-at-home orders enacted due to the increased mortality rate for seniors who contract COVID-19.

Specifically, scientists are looking at reduction in human contact and its association with declines in cognitive function.

Social isolation, which includes

Feeling sad amid COVID crisis

Feeling sad amid COVID crisis

Lately a lot of people have been asking me how I’m doing. They know I work with seniors.

I’ve been answering that question by simply saying we’re very busy. I’d like to elaborate, but the truth is, I’m having a hard time processing all I am feeling.

There are a lot of challenging, and some heartbreaking, situations that have come to us during this pandemic, bringing me great sadness and making me think just how hard life can be.

I took a call from a 90-year-old couple who were asking if we could grocery shop for them. They were terrified of leaving their home for fear of getting sick. They’d been seeing reports on TV of doctors making choices to treat younger, healthier patients over the elderly and allowing the elderly to die. The wife told me they did not want to die that way.

Five steps to kick that out-of-control feeling

Five steps to kick that out-of-control feeling

For most of us, our daily lives have been disrupted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shelter-in-place order.

Work, social and family life has been upended in ways we may never have imagined. Life may feel unsettled as an air of uncertainty hangs over us. It’s natural to feel out of control given the significance of these life changes.

What makes us feel out of control, however, varies by person. For some, the uncertain nature of the stock market may strike the strongest nerve. For others, it might be the threat to the health and well-being of our family. And for others, job loss and the lack of ability to pay for basic living expenses hits the hardest.

Virus presents greatest risk to seniors

Virus presents greatest risk to seniors

One of the first references to “getting old ain’t for sissies” was published in 1968. Fast-forward 52 years and whoever made the statement had no idea how true it would become.

In a world where we’re experiencing exponential growth in the number of people who are over 80, little is being said about the impact viruses and infections have on this aging population.

Right now, the world is abuzz with news about COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, with 75,000 people having contracted the disease and over 2,118 deaths as of the writing of this column.

In China, the overall fatality rate is at about 3%, but what may not be universally reported is that the number rises to almost 15% for adults in their 80s.

Seniors at risk during outages

Seniors at risk during outages

Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed his famous “hierarchy of needs” theory in 1942. At the time, he saw food, water, sleep and shelter as the most basic of all human needs.

I would contend electricity has now become a basic human need.

Without electricity, it would be extremely difficult to lead our daily lives: We wouldn’t have power to light our homes, communicate by telephone, access our computers, get news updates from our TVs, power medical devices, get hot water and refrigerate our foods and medicines. The list goes on.

Since its invention, electricity use has dramatically changed daily life. Like air and water, we now take electricity for granted.

So much so that proposed Public Safety Power Shutoffs feel like a threat to our basic human needs. A PSPS is an operational practice that SCE has used to preemptively shut off power in high-fire-risk areas to reduce fire risk during extreme and potentially dangerous weather conditions.

Listen to this advice about hearing loss

Listen to this advice about hearing loss

On weekends, my husband and I walk our dog, Rolo, together. Rolo is blind and deaf, but is a joyful 10-year-old pup in otherwise good health.

Me, on the other hand, while I am in good health, I’ve been having some trouble hearing.

On our dog walks, we traverse a busy road for a short period of time, walking in single file. When my husband tries to talk to me, even when there is no traffic, I have trouble hearing him. Of course, his back is often toward me, but still, I used to be able to hear him when we walked this way.

I also noticed that when we are doing things around the house and talking to each other but not face-to-face, I have trouble hearing him. I was getting tired of saying “What did you say?” or “Could you repeat that?”

I wouldn’t have even given this a second thought, except at work they used to call me Miracle Ear. I could hear whispers from the next room. I really did have remarkable hearing.

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