Make an effort to give local this season

 

As the holidays roll around, many of us look toward giving to those less fortunate.

According to a recent study, over 30 percent of all charitable giving last year occurred in December, which is why our mailboxes have been filled recently with requests for donations.

There’s the practical aspect as to why most giving occurs this month: People are in a giving frame of mind and want to make sure their donation occurs before a new calendar year. It’s also why charities are dependent upon a good holiday season for a large portion of their annual fundraising.

The Giving USA Foundation publishes national estimates on giving by individuals, foundations, bequests and corporations. You may be surprised to learn that 75 percent of all giving is by 

How to be a ‘good kid’ for the holidays

Since I was old enough to have a piggy bank, each holiday season I’d ask my mother and father what they wanted for Christmas.

Their answer: “All we want are good kids.”

Of course my childhood refrain was, “You always say that, but what else do you want that I can buy for you?”

I knew gift giving would be much easier if I could purchase a drugstore perfume for my mom and a necktie for my dad and have it over with. But no, that was not good enough for my parents. Their expectation of being a good kid was code for living by the values they tried to instill in us.

Fast-forward 50-plus years and it’s clear to me that their request, while a tall order, was really the gift they most wanted, even though being a good kid became a moving target as the years went by.

Financial help on the way for low-income seniors

There are new resources available in our community for adults age 55 and older who are struggling financially.

Surprisingly, the current federal poverty guideline (an individual making $29,425 or less or a couple earning less than $39,825) does not reflect healthcare costs. If it did, the older adult poverty rate would be considerably higher. Increased medical costs for older adults greatly reduce the income available to meet food and housing needs.

Special challenges exist for low-income adults in different age groups. The 55-to-64 age group faces one set of hurdles, while those 65 and older face another set.

Those 55 to 64 need to work but often face longer periods of joblessness and have less of a chance of finding a job than their higher-income peers. Their limited budgets are stretched even further by expenditures on healthcare,

Join the conversation on LGBT and aging

In many communities, LGBT ( lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) older adults are a forgotten population.

Before the 1970s, little was known about this part of the population except that they were viewed by some as deviant or immoral. As a result, they concealed their sexual orientation, fearing physical and emotional abuse; rejection from family, friends and religious communities; and job loss.

Fast-forward 40 years and, while there is a greater understanding, LGBT elders still face challenges their heterosexual counterparts do not.

A majority of them live alone, relying on other older gay adults for support and caregiving.

Screening for memory loss

Last month my husband left $100 worth of frozen dog food in his trunk over the weekend. I went to feed the dog on Monday morning and the freezer was bare.

“Hon, did you pick up the dog food on Saturday?” I asked.

“Oh no!” my husband replied.

One memory mishap is not a reason for worry, but when do memory problems become a cause for concern?

Most of us have walked into a room only to forget what we’re there for or have difficulty remembering the name of the person we’re talking to at the grocery store. But what do you do when those instances become more frequent, when your spouse points out you’ve told the same story three times or when you never do remember the name of the person you were talking to?

Spa day

Here’s a snippet from a recent phone conversation I had with my mother, who speaks with a thick New England accent.

Mom: “Yesterday I took Daddy for his checkup with the doctor. The doctor asked Daddy how he was doing. Daddy pointed his finger at me and said, ‘I think she’s had it with me.’”

Me: “Why would Daddy say that?”

Mom: “I told the doctor I was very tired and maybe not as patient as I should be. I said I just needed a good night’s rest and I would be fine. Dr. Nguyen told me I needed to go to a bar (pronounced baah).”

Me: “What?? He told you to go to a bar? Man, I like this doctor.”

Mom: "No, no, not a baah—a spa!"

Waiting for a call back

Bless the Silent Generation. They’re some of the kindest, most patient people. But how is that patience faring in today’s complex healthcare environment?

My father, you may remember, is wheelchair-bound with Parkinson’s. He also has sleep apnea, which can cause interrupted breathing and lack of oxygen. He uses a CPAP machine to increase air pressure so that his airway doesn’t collapse when he sleeps at night.

For someone like my father, a CPAP machine can be the difference between a sound night’s sleep and constantly interrupted sleep resulting in extreme fatigue and mental confusion the next day. It’s a blessing, but not without the occasional hiccup.

The sharing economy for seniors

When attending out-of-town conferences, my friend Sara saves big money by staying in a room at another person’s house through Airbnb. She swears by the lower cost compared to a traditional hotel room and the positive experience of getting to know her hosts.

Airbnb connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay.

The site utilizes a secure payment system and offers a platform for both the guest and host to review each other so that others can benefit from their experience, similar to the way we securely buy items and rate them on Amazon. Airbnb is an example of the rise of the sharing economy, in which people rent beds, car rides or equipment directly from others via the Internet.

The great benefit of this type of economy is that owners make money from underused assets and

Seniors thrive in adult day programs

Years ago, after my grandmother died, my cousin came to live with my grandfather.

While Grandpa’s daughter shopped for him and did his laundry, his grandson Butchy lived with him and was in charge of keeping Grandpa “safe.” Grandpa had dementia, and his behaviors included fleeing the house in the middle of the night to the cemetery next door and leaving the gas stove on.

Butchy was in the house to keep an eye on him, but most of Grandpa’s day was spent sitting in front of the television with little stimulation.

Butchy prepared meals, but given his limited culinary skills, TV dinners and canned soup were often on the menu.

However, even with his limitations,

The vanishing vacation

I used to enjoy vacations. I’ve traveled to many places, including Ireland, Aruba, Hawaii, Mexico, London and India. I enjoyed trying new foods, learning about different cultures, seeing historical sights and meeting new people.

Now, however, most of the vacations my husband and I take are centered on visiting our families back East. “They aren’t going to live forever” and “What could be better than quality time with family?” is our thinking.

Work has been an inhibitor, too. If it isn’t one priority keeping me from taking extra time off, it’s another. In addition, my husband works in finance, and it seems tax season, quarter-end or year-end reporting keeps him tethered to the office.

I know in my gut that time off is medicine. It can help me to destress and reduce anxiety. Time off can help me recharge my battery and come back to work refreshed.

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