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.

Another reminder not to ignore symptoms of heart attack

Another reminder not to ignore symptoms of heart attack

A few weeks ago, as he was walking his dog around his neighborhood, my friend Jerry experienced pain and pressure in his chest. He’d forgotten his cellphone, so he continued up the hill to his house, stopping four times to catch his breath before arriving home.

Once he was inside the pain subsided, and he went about his daily business.

Later that week Jerry and his wife went to their gym for a yoga class. His wife commented that he was sweating profusely throughout the class, which was unusual for him.

The chest pain came and went over the course of a few more days. Then, as Jerry described it, his “teeth began to hurt”; it was likely more accurate that he was experiencing jaw pain.

The next day his wife was working from home, and Jerry’s discomfort was acute enough that he suggested maybe they ought to go to urgent care.

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.

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.

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