Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Babyboomers Not The Silent Generation

Listen to a forty something when he/she forgets a word or a phrase and  jokingly refers to this "missed memory" as a "Senior Moment".

Ever hear a friend/relative refer to themselves as "just like Mom or Dad" or "Grandma/Grandpa" when they make a mistake or have a forgetful moment?

Characterization. As a society, we tend to assign behaviours, attitudes, beliefs and practices to specific groups across the board. 

When we're "at that age", any age, we don't like being "put together" because we believe we're individuals. 

Society describes what's "typical" and often uses polls, questionairres and medical records to provide information for behaviours and conditions. 

Like any other marketing poll, you get out of it what you put into it and often that's inaccurate and insufficient information.

Dr Benjamin Spock (before Star Trek/Mr Spock -- although the two were highly analytical people, one real and the other fictional) started it. 

He was the first medical professional, a pediatrician, to "characterize" children's ages -- including the "Terrible Two's".

Dr Benjamin Spock, however, taught another lesson to mother's that we need to teach to those of us working with and beside the older generation "You know more than you think you do." 

He championed the concept of continual learning, growing and developing as "care giver" for another generation.

It's anticipated and believed the child will "outgrow" certain actions and reactions with some direction or intervention.

Society in general doesn't believe the aging adult is going to "get" better or "outgrow" actions or behaviours.

We believe the worst. We believe they are all moving into that valley, that depth of life where only memory loss and physical loss of capability exist.

Baby Boomers are not Aging As Expected. 

We are not going quietly into the night as many of our predecessors have. 

We do not "accept the inevitable" -- we set a different path as we march to a different drummer.

We were the first generation to form large groups of protestors to bring to light wrongs to work to bring about change. 

We marched, we picketed and our music reflected the conflicts and the challenges of the times.

BABYBOOMERS ARE NOT "The Silent Generation".

We are aging as we choose to age.

We are rejecting stereotypes and beliefs of what we "should act like" and "how we should dress".

We age as we've grown from children through adolescence and into adults -- OUR WAY!

LOOK OUT WORLD.  Senior Moments are here. They're what's changing and creating the world as we want it to be. 

Millennials may be the turning point; 
Babyboomers are the force to be reckoned with.

Fine wines are aged. We value what was challenging to produce, to find and to acquire. Age is like that.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Hereafter: A Talk About AARP & All Ages

Daughter and I have had several discussions about THE HEREAFTER.  

Not THAT "hereafter", the one that comes day by day, sneaks up on you and suddenly plunges you into  the "Big One" -- Advanced Age & It's Challenges.

And, most importantly, what do we do, what do "I" do, will decisions today be valid ten or more years from now?

How do I decide when to say "when" or "enough is enough" if I'm able and how can I give my daughter the confidence and knowledge while keeping with MY desires, my wants and my needs?

Maybe you've been with a friend or relative and heard "the talk". 

The one about "what are we going to do about Mom, Dad, Aunt Mary who never married and has no children .....

There are old wives tales shared about "the elderly" and whispers and sometimes a comment form a son or daughter announcing they HAVE to take care of MOM, DAD, AUNT, UNCLE or OTHER and just don't know what to do, don't know what to say and most of all don't really want... THE JOB OF CAREGIVER.

Life is interrupted when you have your first child. Ask any new parent. It's changed .... forever.

When you care for a loved one who has a critical illness or who has reached an age/stage where more immediate supervision and oversight are needed or even just checking to ensure "certain things" aren't overlooked -- your life changes according to the amount of time and caregiving you have to/need to do.

Doesn't matter how many "children" there are to "care give" and how the tasks are "split up". 

There is almost always some level of resentment, some level of feeling taken advantage of and some level of wishing "it would all be over" sooner rather than later because life doesn't prepare us and we can't anticipate the unexpected. 

It might not be constant, it may not be consistent but adjusting, negotiating with "your" immediate family members while negotiating with your "previous immediate family members" is another "to do" in a life usually filled with kids, school, activities, appointments, work, responsibilities and trying to carve out a little "life" for YOU.

IF ONLY.  If only we shared with one another more directly what care giving is, how and where EXACTLY to look for help and if it were as easy as finding where you take your driver's license exam.

Yes, there are organizations. Been there. Done that. Did that.

Most are directed to specific areas of support, concern or medical afflictions. 

They try to help with pamphlets and books and even with "counseling" but they aren't the ones "in the trenches" and getting all this information at a critical time when decisions and plans need to be made IS NOT THE BEST PLANNING, NOT THE BEST TIMING AND NOT THE BEST LIFE TO LIVE FOR ANYONE.

MAKE TIME.   TAKE TIME.   LEARN AND TEACH your children and others to look for information and plan for aging as much as they're being directed to plan for Retirement with savings and legal directives.

You're never to young to go out on AARP's website.

It has a wealth of information on aging and MORE --

Remember, we all need to be interested in legislation, research and protecting all ages and stages of life!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It's A Dog's Life At Some LTC Facilities

Visited Mom's old facility.  Calendar showed three days of Seated Activities. 

Sit. Stay. Good resident. 

It's a Dog's Life for many.

All the "activities" in the lower level Activity Room are board games and "sit down" games, visiting the resident cat and now the resident rabbit who takes up a major part of the room in a cage.

You can watch the resident dog as he waddles here and there. He's quite old now. Just like many of the others living here.

Great to have animals around but where are the spaces for Adult Movement Activities? 

Oh, that's right. they have the "dining area". 

Just move aside the chairs and tables. 

They can't? Well, someone will .... when they have time ... or when they "think" to "organize" a "class".

Where's the gym? With equipment to use?

There is none.

This is a Long Term Care Facility. By laws in most states it's a "medical facility" and they have "their own" medical staffs and the residents are actually considered "patients" -- although not referred to in that way (by most staff).

Interesting how we believe movement is the key to continued good health and then we "lock up" parts of our society and take away any and all real physical activity believing they will fall, they will have problems they cannot and will not ..... etc.

Where's the library with books and computers?

There is none.
 A few books are displayed in the "living room" used mostly during holidays when families visit.

The only computer is in a room reserved for "staff meetings", "family" conferences and occassionally reserved for a resident's birthday with family/friends. 

The computer is "out of bounds" not to be used or touched except by staff.

Residents are seen as "too old" to use "technological equipment" by themselves.

Question: If a two year old can use a cell phone to play games and explore why can't an eighty two year old do the same?

At Mom's old facility, anything that involves some or more involvement by staff just isn't  "feasible" and either isn't considered or is negatively presented. 

Depending on the medical conditions and judging from the few people who use the "Main Dining Room", it's a handful who can get into the area since all use walkers or wheelchairs.

Once in a while the local "book mobile" comes by. 

In the "fireplace room" just off the reception area where there's a couch, some chairs and where some residents and many "visitors" spend time especially when the weather isn't good for going outside, the low seating couches and chairs requiring assistance by a second person, are seldom used.

There are two bookcases with donated books. A few are Large Print. I've only seen a handful of residents ask about the books. Most probably don't realize they could ask to read them. They look like decoration, not for reading.

NO.  Newspapers. NO.

It's assumed at Long Term Care Facilities that the residents are beyond the ability to move except with a walker and almost all use wheelchairs or Gerry Chairs (where they sit/lay and have little attention).

We have, after all, three levels of "Senior Living" -- Independent, Assisted and Long Term Care in Missouri but only one, Long Term Care qualifies to have Medicaid beds.

Long Term Care is defined in Missouri as needing certain amounts and levels of "personal assistance in daily life" and there are qualifications regarding ability to move independently that can disqualify a person from LTC. 

Upstairs, on the third floor, a TV is turned on. 

Some sit and watch. Others sit and stare. 

Some staff "chose" what's on and sometimes that choice isn't a good one for those with memory loss, sight problems, hearing problems or who may be experiencing mental processing challenges. But for the Staff, it's a great way to have your afternoon soap opera and work while watching.

How much of this has come about because there is little or no stimulation, activity, exercise that really moves the body and the mind?

Do you go to a Gym? Do you workout? Do you walk or swim? 

We're told every day how important walking and movement are and how challenged our bodies are including the internal organs when we sit all day.

So what do we do in Long Term Care?

We treat movement as dangerous. We slow down the body and cause more challenges as we practice lethargy rather than encourage movement. But....that would mean more staff....more expense...and there are no rewards for lifestyle improvement in Long Term Care Facilities from Insurance companies as there is in the "real world".

We take away "hazardous" walkers. Why not invent safer ones?

THERE!  Yes, you Entreprenuers and Small Business people. The market is out there; the need is growing every day. 

Invent. Create &  above all CARE about those who are where YOU will be .. sooner than you think.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Crossing Paths of Widowhood

Last time we were together was at her Retirement Party. Time before that was her husband's funeral; a death totally unexpected and sudden. 

We'd exchanged a few on line messages but it had been two years since we'd actually spent some time together talking

I saw her across the room and thought, "she's changed" ...  and "so have I".

Two widows who'd met serving as Board Members for an organization providing needed services to our growing Seniors population. 

She was appointed, I was elected. 

She represented a major company influential in providing services to the entire community while I was elected to represent primarily Seniors who used specific area Senior Centers funded by the State. 

She's retired; I'm actively working. 

My friend had news. She was moving to Florida. And, the big news, she was getting married again!

We have similar interests but we're also somewhat different.

I've not found a want or a need to consider finding someone to spend the rest of my life with. 

I'm happy for my friend when I hear how her life changed when she lost her husband;

She'd taken her husband's death hard. She went to work, came home, fell in bed to sleep. It was another friend who finally reached through and brought her up and out of her depression.

My trauma of Mom's challenges and everything involved as detailed in this blog with the false accusations of Elder Abuse and the Undue Influence of Julia was my focus; that and financial survival without a job and having gone through almost every asset we had.

A son lived with her, he was in high school. Sons are different from daughters, most of them. Compassion and caregiving along with communication aren't as much a part of their "make up" as daughters. 

I am thankful every day my "end child" was a girl. 

Two sons were great. Companions for one another. Boys seem to "need" that when they're young. Like young creatures everywhere they're more physical, more needing "bouncing off" others.

Not meaning to be "sexist" in my statements, just observation of behavior of the majority within the groups and I know there are variations on the "theme" of sons and daughters.

My friend's son is older, he has a job and he's staying here. Her husband to be also has a son, finishing high school, ready to move out, ready to move on, has a girl friend. 

Geography isn't a friendship breaker the way it could be years ago. 

I recall moving as I grew up and not having the "life long" friends of those I met who'd bonded since "grade school".  

I've been somewhat of a loner although valuing the friendships and relationships established along life's way.

My married life centered around my husband, his family and my family, his work, my work, the businesses we built together and being a multi generational family with my Mom joining us when our first child was two months old, and that included our "entertaining". 

We often move through life changing while staying the same.

My friend is having work done on her home to prepare to sell it and buy a Condo in Florida. She went through a list of positives about moving there and they did sound good, I must admit.

She has someone. I have someone. Hers is building a new family; mine is continuing the multi generational family started decades ago.

Our lives move forward in somewhat different directions but the steps along the way have been challenged with that loss, that deep cutting removal. I understand her choices. She understands mine.

Relatively new friends in the measure of days of life brought together through a common interest and now building on another commonality with our life changes.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Talk: Valuing Aging & The Aged

Aging is mostly hidden from Gen Xers. 

The generation next in line to Care Give for parents and others.

Off on their own, many of them living far away from family and relatives, socializing with "their own kind" they seldom visit or interact with society's "aging population".

A new industry has grown and is booming based on this "abandonment" of a whole segment of our population -- Continuum Care. 

You simply sell your home, move into a "condo" with "all the conveniences" and then advance at an unknown and totally unexpected faster pace into more and more managed care and less and less autonomy and freedom of choice.


Depends on how much we have to "invest" in the cost of living as we grow older.

What costs, you might ask?

Well, what does that contract say you're signing? 

What adjustable rates are there for what services?

Is there a monthly fee? 

As that residency "ages" just as you age, who's responsible for upkeep, maintenance and what kind of control do they have over those costs?

Many now advertise they have "stepped care" meaning you can continue to live with them no matter what your mental or physical care needs may be --- NOT QUITE TRUE.

If you require medical care beyond what the facility has available, cannot provide and you cannot provide at your own expense -- YOU MAY BE ASKED TO MOVE OR BE MOVED.

IMPORTANT:  There are no blanket guarantees. Even with Medicaid, the facility Dr and others can "put together" paperwork that can affect the continuation of someone in a specific facility.

REMEMBER:  One of our most difficult possibilities as we age is OUR MIND and how it determines what we say, how we act, what we do or don't do and what functions vary or fail and at what rate.

All ages need to be more cognizant of reality regarding residences and their actual practices and promises.

Each of these "care giving" centers, no matter how they advertise their services, are HOUSING & PROVIDING SERVICES for human beings who lose a great deal of self determination depending on the practices and legal inclusions in contractual agreements AND SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE OF ALL OF THESE FACTORS ON A YEARLY BASIS.

We brag about how the average life span is lengthening and how we're living "better lives" than our predecessors. 

On a local TV program today, an "info-mercial", a local Financial Planner said the latest figures show the average life span is 86. 

I think that may be a little high but it's still far higher than the age of 65 which was the determining point for Social Security being established as few lived to that point or longer back in the late 1930's.

We have Heart Disease, Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis and that most dreaded of all DEMENTIA .... but ...WE'RE LIVING LONGER!

Who prepares us to "care give" for our aging population?

Who educates us in what it means to grow old?

Who teaches us about aging as a process?

Who gives us the foundation to build relationships and responsibilities with and for those who have come before?

Schools teach us about who "WE" are.

We're taught how to navigate and negotiate through stages of OUR lives basically from the point we enter the educational system until we leave. 

Sometimes we get limited education on working and socializing with others. 

Rarely are we taught the importance of each age group in our society and how important it is to learn about and understand each segment.

We need to teach our children how the world is centered on ALL:  Ages, stages, beliefs, concerns, languages, colors and contrasts.

To educate everyone that aging is normal, to be expected and accepted and to understand what may cause changes along with "aging" -- medical life events like a TIA or stroke, what Dementia really is and how to work with and through the challenges experienced, what accommodations can be made that make life easier and how they can be done and supported by everyone.

It took years for the founder of Paraquad in St Louis to get people's attention to the NEEDS of those with physical limitations and laws passed (like the handicap parking signs so common on parking lots and streets).

We need to grow in tolerance, understanding and recognize it's critical to talk, to plan and to start with our very youngest citizens to educate and develop concern beyond themselves, for others of all ages, stages and abilities -- or lack thereof.

Fear of the unknown starts early. Seeing and not understanding, not asking questions and finding answers causes us to look away, turn away and in the end seal the fate of today's generations and our own.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Taking Away The Keys -- I Dare You!

Daughter and I have some "interesting" talks -- to say the least.

They often arise on the spur of the moment; when least expected and as I've mentioned to her, need a little more "introduction" to the subject rather than what sometimes comes out as a comment or statement "out of the blue".

This was the question/statement the other day: 
"How do I (meaning "she") take the keys away?"

Now, I had just driven her for her carpool and we were sitting waiting for her ride and after a few moments of silence and time passing, this "thought" came out without any warning.

I've always championed my children at all ages asking questions and speaking about almost anything -- of course, they were also taught about "time and place" because others could be offended by some statements or questions.

Hmm.... don't like the sound of that now, what will I think of that when I am in need of "giving up" my precious mobility and freedom to come and go, work and play, here and there with whomever, whenever?

Well, for sure, the communication needs to start now. 
I get that. 

My daughter asked when my Mom stopped driving. 
Much better statement and approach.

I told her, complimenting her choice of words and saying to myself, "She's still a quick learner. Good for her. Now, hold that thought. Retain that phraseology and we're good to move forward into wherever and however life takes our journey together!"

Mom never had sight in one of her eyes except for a little peripheral vision and I don't remember her without glasses. 

She never remembered having sight in that eye. It's possible she did when she was very small and that as has been "conjectured" by some about the area where she lived when she was a child having some water problems in local rivers and streams where kids played that caused eye problems. 

Honestly. I never noticed a challenge. She wasn't a "daily driver" and when we moved to the house we lived in until she passed and where we lived the longest as a multi generational family unit, she sold "her car", the one we moved with us from Illinois to Pennsylvania and to Missouri as my husband's work opportunities moved us.

The location was a little more challenging. An older road at the time, a busier street to turn off of and onto. What age was she at the time? Younger than I am now. Wow! Just realized ....

She wasn't a person who wanted to "go out" with others; I'm sure that was because the majority of her adult life she couldn't have social relationships because we never knew what state my Alcoholic father might be in. Same reason I never really had close friends and we moved as much as we did. 

Mom went almost everywhere with me or with our family. She said when the children were in the car, she felt better sitting with them, spending time with them. I did errands and picked up the children from school without her but she didn't work, she didn't belong to any "clubs" or "organizations" and she chose not to go anywhere even though I constantly tried to get her to "go out".

She went shopping with me for groceries, to the Mall, to school for events and on trips we took as a family to the beach, to the mountains and to the cities to explore, have fun and relax. 

Mom also went places on her own travelling extensively on tours taking her to Europe, Asia and beyond. I think that "freedom to explore" and time with other people was a great benefit through the years. It gave her conversations with family and friends she met with us and lifelong memories until her ability to recall finally was lost to Lewy Body Dementia.

That was our gift to her when she came to live with us -- the use of her Social Security monthly check to travel and for whatever she "wanted" -- and monetary gifts from us so she could travel to some places and in ways her small allotment would not allow. 

We also took her on "family" vacations; two a year; we found great value in family time and getting away from the everyday world of work. We also provided for her needs of daily living until the end.

I know it could be more difficult for me than for my Mom -- not driving.

I don't have the eye problem I've been very active and involved in the community and in business and will be until I have to use Uber or a self drive vehicle! 

As I relay this thought of using Uber and/or a self drive car to my daughter she laughs because....she knows me....she knows that's exactly what I'd do. 

So maybe we won't have that mother/daughter talk and the ceremony of the "keys removal". What a wonderful thought to have, to be "free" to move more easily into the world, to continue connectivity, build relationships, work/volunteer/go!

We gave Mom the world and now the world may just be giving some additional "perks" to Seniors with new ways and new technology.