Aging Humor: You’re Not A Kid Anymore When…

April 1st, 2009

You’re Not A Kid Anymore When…

You’re asleep, but others worry that you’re dead.
Your back goes out more than you do.
You quit trying to hold your stomach in, no matter who walks into the room.
You buy a compass for the dash of your car.
You are proud of your lawn mower.
Your best friend is dating someone half their age…and isn’t breaking any laws.
You sing along with the elevator music.
You would rather go to work than stay home sick.
You constantly talk about the price of gasoline.
You enjoy hearing about other people’s operations.
You consider coffee one of the most important things in life.
You make an appointment to see the dentist.
You no longer think of speed limits as a challenge.
Neighbors borrow your tools.
People call at 9 pm and ask, “did i wake you?”
You have dreams about prunes.
You send money to PBS.
You take a metal detector to the beach.
You wear black socks with sandals.
You know what the word “equity” means.
You can’t remember the last time you laid on the floor to watch TV.
Your ears are hairier than your head.
You talk about “good grass” and you’re refering to someone’s lawn.
You get into a heated argument about pension plans.
You got cable just to watch the weather channel.
You go bowling without drinking.
You have a party and the neighbors don’t even realize it.

Taking Care of the Caregiver 3-29-09

March 29th, 2009

The concept of taking care of yourself first so you can help take care of others continues to intrigue me.  I used to think most people naturally took care of themselves first, and I was “the only one” who needed practice with this.  I have always been good at taking care of others.  It came naturally.  I am continually amazed to find that not taking care of oneself first seems to be a human condition – most of us do it.  It is easier to give advice to others to take care themselves, and sincerely want them to do it, and even see the value in them doing it.  If I take care of myself first, sometimes I feel guilty or selfish.

I’m going to take care of myself now, and go to bed early.

The sliver of moon is beautiful tonight.

Take care!

Resources to Help with Medicare, Nursing Home and Hospital care

March 10th, 2009

– “Ask Medicare” offers information about Medicare, www.medicare.gov/caregivers

– “Nursing Home Compare” is an online way to get insight into every nursing home certified by Medicare and Medicaid. You can compare facilities by a five star “quality of care” rating system. Go to www.medicare.gov/NHCompare

– “Hospital Compare”
sheds light on quality of care at hospitals nationwide, including a mortality measure for pneumonia and patient satisfaction information.  www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov

–  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has issued easy to follow guides on other health related topics, including “Planning for Your Discharge” (a checklist for patients and caregivers preparing to leave a hospital) and “Getting Medical Care and Prescription Drugs in a Disaster or Emergency Area.” Details at 800-633-4227 or www.cms.hhs.gov.

Aging Humor: Life is a Journey to Enjoy

March 6th, 2009

‘Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways – Danish in one hand – chocolate in the other – body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming ‘WOO HOO, What a Ride’
———————
While working for an organization that delivers lunches to elderly shut-ins, I used to take my four-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs.
One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, “The tooth fairy will never believe this!”

Caregiver Resources

March 6th, 2009

Leeza’s Place, for Caregivers

Developed in response to the challenges Leeza Gibbons and her family encountered while seeking specific and needed support, Leeza’s Place is a potent source of information, strength and purpose. Chances are there’s a Leeza’s Place nestled within your own community. Leeza’s Place provides a multifaceted reprieve, for both caregivers and the recently diagnosed, that integrates educational programs, connective social activities, emotional support, and intergenerational programs designed to help you navigate through your community’s continuum of care. Leeza’s Place was designed to ensure that others experiencing what the Gibbons family encountered would have access to new, supportive settings created for the purpose of educating, empowering and energizing.  Find the Leeza’s Place nearest you:  http://www.leezasplace.org

Aging Humor: Perks of Being Older

March 6th, 2009

Perks of Being Older

1)  There is little left to learn the hard way
2)  Things you buy now won’t wear out
3)  You can quit trying to suck in your stomach, no matter who walks in the room
4)  You can eat dinner at 4PM and get the early bird special
5)  You are no longer viewed as a hypochondriac
6)  Your joints are more accurate meteorologists than the weather person on TV

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

March 4th, 2009

10 Tips to Successful Caregiving

1)  Learn About the Resources Available to You. Consult books, websites, workshops and eldercare professionals. (Hint: You can find leads to many of these, including the latest caregiving information, at our website, www.agingpro.com.)
2)  Educate Yourself About Any Disease Involved. Education can relax your fears and give you clarity and strength.
3)  Take Care of Yourself First. Maintain your own physical and emotional health.  Avoid caregiver burnout – your family needs the caregivers to be healthy!
4) Learn Caregiving Techniques. Learn about topics such as: communication and organizational skills, managing the physical needs of your loved one, safety and emergency preparedness.
5)  Exercise Your Sense of Humor. Smile. You can go through difficult situations laughing or crying. If it’s going to be funny later, it can be funny now.
6)  Communicate with Doctors. Get to know your loved one’s physicians.  Ask questions, express concerns and discuss treatment options.
7)  Keep a Positive Focus. We can’t think positive all the time, but holding a positive focus about the strengths of your loved one and the blessings in the situation will help your attitude and emotions to stay “up.”
8)  Discuss the Situation With your Loved Ones.  Support and honesty are essential in navigating long term care.
9)  Look for the Blessings.  You might be surprised at the hidden gifts that caregiving brings – keep your eyes open. You find what you focus upon.
10) Ask for Help. You don’t have to be alone. www.AgingPro.com offers many free resources for caregiver support nationwide, to assist you.

Money-Saving Tips for Family Caregivers

February 23rd, 2009

Money-Saving Tips for Family Caregivers

Given the current economic times, all of us are rethinking the way we spend money. Sometimes finding additional ways to cut back on spending is difficult. Here are some simple money saving ideas that anyone can use to save money each and every day.

Save on Food Bills

* Clip coupons. Some grocery stores even offer double or triple off on coupons.

* Buy generic. Store brands often cost much less than brand names, and often, the products are almost identical.

* Apply for and use a store’s free savings card, sometimes called “club cards”. Stores offer many items on sale if you use your card.

* Check out what’s on sale. Additionally, some stores mark down items if they are approaching their “use by” date.

* Make a list of items on sale and plan your shopping before going to the store.

* Don’t shop for groceries when you’re hungry. Your empty stomach won’t care how much something costs, it wants to eat now!

* Eat fewer meals out. When you do go out, take advantage of early-bird specials or split a meal with someone you love. Pack a lunch for work.

*  Pay attention at the register. Sometimes items will ring up at the wrong price. If you notice a price difference, bring it to the cashier’s attention.

*  Stick to a budget. Instead of spending whatever you want, try to set a monthly limit on food expenditures. Keep receipts and tally them up during the month. You might be surprised how quickly small things add up.

Save on Electricity Bills

* Check to make sure your house is properly insulated.

* Make sure you heating and cooling systems are working properly, and change or clean the air filters monthly.

* Use energy efficient light bulbs

* Turn off all electronics when they aren’t in use, including computers, televisions, monitors, cell phone chargers, and extra refrigerators.

* Turn the lights off in rooms you aren’t in.

*  If you use some type of life-saving device that runs on electricity, (such as an oxygen machine) contact your utility company for a special reduction in your bill.

*  If you qualify as a low income household, check with your utility company for programs that can assist you.

Save on Household Expenses

* Are there any services you pay for that you don’t really use or need such as: premium television services, newspapers or magazines, lawn services, Internet, or phone?

* Use public resources for entertainment, such as the library. Libraries have movie and television show collections, in addition to wonderful books that you can borrow.  Remember to return the items on time!

* Do an Internet search for “free things to do in (your city).”  You might be surprised at how much fun you can have for free!

* Use cash. People tend to spend less when they use cash instead of a credit card.

* Buy in bulk, if it will save you money and if you have room to store the items.

Save on Medication Costs

*  Research medication assistance programs to see if you qualify for reduced cost or free medications. Try websites such as Partnership for Prescription Assistance at www.pparx.org.

*  Ask the doctor for prescription samples, especially on new drugs.

*  Research the best prices. Some mail order or online pharmacies offer better prices than local chain stores. Sometimes buying a 90-day supply costs less than a 30-day supply.

*  Ask your pharmacist if there are lower-cost alternatives, or more cost effective doses for the medications you take. Check with your doctor about any changes.

Save on Medical Costs

*  Prevention will save you money in the long run. Maintain your health by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and getting all age-appropriate annual exams.

*  Negotiate. If you don’t have insurance, often doctors or hospitals will offer you a “cash” price.

* Check your medical bills carefully. Bring all discrepancies to the billing party right away.

Save on Automobile Expenses

*  You or your insurance agent can review your insurance policy to look for possible savings. Sometimes it makes sense to raise a deductible, sign up for the safe driver program or get multiple car discounts.

* Maintain your car. Get oil changes every 5,000 miles and check air pressure in your tires. Watch for coupons for oil changes or other services.

* Keep your eyes open for the best gas prices in town. Beware of hidden charges, such as paying extra to use a debit card.

* If you don’t use a vehicle, you can save on registration if you file a “non-use” form with the DMV.

If you have other money saving tips, please let us know so we can share them with others!

Government Tools to Help Navigate Medicare, Medicaid, Nursing Homes and Hospitals

February 18th, 2009

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, has several online resources aimed at helping consumers navigate Medicare, hospitals and nursing homes. The resources are listed below.

*  “Ask Medicare” offers information about Medicare, www.medicare.gov/caregivers

*  “Nursing Home Compare” is an online way to get insight into every nursing home certified by Medicare and Medicaid. You can compare facilities by a five star “quality of care” rating system. Go to www.medicare.gov/NHCompare

*  “Hospital Compare” sheds light on quality of care at hospitals nationwide, including mortality measure for pneumonia and patient satisfaction information.  www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov

*  CMS has issued easy to follow guides on other health related topics, including “Planning for Your Discharge” (a checklist for patients and caregivers preparing to leave a hospital) and “Getting Medical Care and Prescription Drugs in a Disaster or Emergency Area.” Details at 800-633-4227 or www.cms.hhs.gov

Aging means changing

February 11th, 2009

I’ve been contemplating why it is that most people loathe the idea of growing older. If you ask someone’s age, many people hesitate to answer, as if not admitting it will slow the aging process.  Is it all about the potential loss – loss of independence, loss of mental, physical or sensory abilities?

While working with my 20-month old daughter in her bottle drinking habits, I realized – humans don’t easily embrace change at any age. My daughter likes bottles in the morning, nap time and before bed. Who wouldn’t! She wants things to stay the same. She is not liking the change. It is not easy to change as we age, at any age.

Can I look at aging as changing – instead of something to dread, fear, fight or ignore? Can I embrace the change, even celebrate?  I am going to age whether I like it or not.

Again, I am reminded that this is an attitude. The good news about that is that my attitude is something I have control over.

More musings…

What can you do for your country, and yourself?

January 26th, 2009

We had an historic inauguration of our 44th president last week. He asked for each of us to look at where we might be able to change in order to help our country. Caregivers are serving already, making a significant difference to our country by keeping the long term care costs lower.

As caregivers, here are some questions to reflect upon if you are called to…

1.  How can I take even better loving care of myself?
2.  How can I serve my community or my family?
3.  What can I give back?
4.  Are there ways that I can take better care of the environment?
5.  Are there ways I can better live within my financial means?
6.  Is there an area in my life where I might better choose peace?

Family Caregivers are Answering Obama’s Call to Service

January 22nd, 2009

Are you making you making your community or world a better place by being of service? President Obama has made national service an important cause – and wants to make it possible for all Americans to serve their country.

34 million family caregivers have already been answering Obama’s call to service. A study by AARP (“Valuing the Invaluable”) shows that family caregiving the U.S. reached $375 billion in 2007.  That exceeds the $311 spent by Medicaid last year!

Family caregivers also give an average of $5,531 of their own money to care for their parents. They tend to struggle with physical and financial issues of their own, and be more stressed.

Many times, family caregivers could use to be of greater service to themselves, while taking care of others.  Access to needed resources, self-care and health promotion and having a support system to talk to about the challenges of caregiving is critical.  www.AgingPro.com offers the national resources, education and community to help caregivers reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Family caregivers – thank you for your service!

Create Your Living Will so Your Long Term Care Wishes are Honored!

January 14th, 2009

Here’s my pitch for everyone to have their own power of attorney for health care and living will. If and when something happens and you’re not able to verbalize what treatment you want, it is important to have this document!  It’s the only way to assure you will get just what you want. Do it today!

Here is one resource:

The Five Wishes document helps you express how you want to be treated if you are seriously ill and unable to speak for yourself.  It is unique among all other living will and health agent forms because it looks to all of a person’s needs: medical, personal, emotional and spiritual. Five Wishes also encourages discussing your wishes with your family and physician. Get yours at www.agingwithdignity.org. Order for $5 each.

Vitamin B3 a memory enhancer?

January 11th, 2009

Vit B 3 or Niacin has been know as a cognitive enhancer for a long time.  It also has a profound effect on cardiovascular problems, in particular high cholesterol.  It is not recommended for people who have high blood pressure, a frequent problem in the older population.  To find Niacin in an amount that would be sufficient you could try the Niacitol from Pure Encapsulation.  It comes in 1500 mg which is very close to the amount they suggested in the British study. 

Information from Bertrand Babinet PhD., LAc.

Obama asks for a National Day of Service January 19, 2009

January 7th, 2009

Being of service always makes me feel better!  Getting out of my own “stuff” and giving of my overflow relieves tension and brings joy.  I’ve heard “service is its own reward” and that has been my experience.  So, here’s an opportunity!

President-elect Obama has called for January 19, 2009, the day before the inauguration, to be a National Day of Service.  Get involved with helping your community by finding a service project near you – go to this website and enter your zip code.   http://www.usaservice.org/content/home/

Benjamin Button strikes a chord

January 5th, 2009

Over the holidays I chose not only to relax, but went to see “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a movie recently released depicting a man aging in reverse.

I work with older people everyday, as a geriatric care manager. I also have a 19 month old daughter. I often come home after visiting clients, struck by the similarities between the human experiences of those in old age and infancy.  Diapers, soft foods, a limited vocabulary, dependency on another, and the need for patience, compassion and a sense of humor from those who are caring for them.

This topic of aging is rich with material! The movie moved me to think about friends, human kindness, love and loss.  I was awash with memories and reminded of how important it is to cherish each moment (this too shall pass) and to follow my heart, no matter what. I was moved by the women caregivers in this movie who had such compassion.  They demonstrated the capacity to love what others might consider unlovable.

I was also reminded that we are all ordinary in older age in that no matter what kind of material success we have created or not created in our lives, our physical bodies all go through a similar process in our passing from this world.

I’d be curious to know what the movie struck in you! Let me hear from you.

Gratitude is the attitude!

December 11th, 2008

What a difference an attitude makes!

I’ve been aware of feeling kind of “funky” over the last couple days, but didn’t know exactly why. It hit me tonight that I’ve been focusing on all the “bad” news in the media – the economy, the war, the bailouts, the political corruption and more. I’ve been allowing it to affect me and bring me down.

What I know is that in the past, when I have focused on what I am grateful for, what I appreciate and what is good, I feel much better! A simple thing like an attitude of gratitude can be so powerful.

So, I tried a little on tonight.  I began celebrating the things I was calling negative or irritating. I took a different perspective and embraced (loved) what I resisted. I loved that my daughter was up way past her bedtime. I loved that I’ve gained a couple pounds lately. I loved the pain in my neck. I loved that this economic condition is giving me a chance to relook at my priorities – to fine tune my effectiveness and focus. I am grateful for what I have (and am willing to let go of the expectations about what I think I should have).

Just saying those things makes me feel lighter and less “down.” My attitude is the one thing I have control over – all the time. I am choosing to feel hopeful and optimistic and grateful.  There is so much to be thankful for. There is beauty all around me, and I can make the choice to look.

P.S. It’s almost a full moon tonight. Have you looked up lately?  Enjoy!

6 Questions Caregivers Can Ask Themselves to Make This a Truly Happy Holiday Season

December 5th, 2008

Have you recently found yourself thinking about the upcoming holidays with a sense of dread? Perhaps you see yourself sitting at the table surrounded by your family, the smells of turkey and pumpkin pie wafting in from the kitchen, but you are overcome with a sense of sadness or disappointment. Now that things may be different with your parents, it’s a good time to ask yourself, what do I really want my holidays to look and feel like? Traditions are funny things. They can be comforting and depressing all at the same time. But you have the power to create the experience you truly want.

You might ask yourself these questions about what you really want this holiday season:

1. Do I like my family traditions just as they are, or am I participating to make someone else happy or comfortable?

2. Where do I want to be?

3. Who do I want to be with?

4. What experience am I looking for?

5. Is there a new tradition I want to start this year?

6. How can I get the experience I most desire?

Once you are clear about your ideal vision for your holidays, find a way to communicate that to the people closest to you. Families do not always embrace change right away, so be prepared for some resistance. If you are patient and allow your family to process the idea of making changes in a gradual way, you may be surprised by how many will eventually welcome the new traditions and thank you for leading the way to happier holidays for everyone!

Cailfornia Women’s Conference showcases caregiving

November 9th, 2008

The California Women’s Conference in Long Beach was another amazing success this year.  If you haven’t been, it is worth your time. When this year’s tickets went on sale, they sold out (14,000 tickets) in 3 hours, so you have to be watching when tickets go on sale. Speakers ranged from Condoleezza Rice to Bono, Billie Jean King to Warren Buffet.

AgingPro.com’s booth was packed with people interested in learning more about the national online resource. So many told stories of past or present caregiving adventures.

One of the breakout sessions covered the topic of Caregiving, and Leeza Gibbons (Leeza’s Place) was one of the speakers. I was impressed with her positive perspective on aging and caregiving and her authenticity – seeing the challenges as blessings and how caregivers can take care of themselves.

Videos of the conference are available at the conferenece website  http://www.californiawomen.org/assets/conferenceday/livevideo.html

AgingPro.com in Oprah magazine!

October 13th, 2008

Gayle and Dr. Cheryl in New York for Oprah magazine/White House Project Leadership Training

AgingPro.com wins Oprah magazine / The White House Project Women Rule! Leadership Training Program!

In April of this year, Oprah magazine advertised a contest – If you have a vision/ project to change the world, tell us what that would be, and we’ll help you take it to the next level.  I entered my idea for www.AgingPro.com, and out of 3,200 entries, I was one of 1 of 80 winners chosen to attend the Leadership Training in New York in June.

The article about this contest and Training is in the November issue of O magazine, hitting newsstands now!

AgingPro – The Complete Eldercare Resource

Welcome Oprah (O) Magazine Readers!
For a limited time, we are pleased to give you our e-workbook, “The Caregiver’s Partner” at no cost (retail value $12)  This 12 page journal is an interactive tool designed to support you in making your journey as a caregiver as easy as possible.  It is loaded with essential information, AgingPro tips for success, insider knowledge from those who have been down the caregiver path before, inspiration and practical tools for supporting your experience and optimizing your learning and growth as a result.  It provides an opportunity for you to look inwardly and to express all of the thoughts and feelings that are likely to arise in your role as caregiver.  Go to www.AgingPro.com now to sign up for your free gift!