Caregiving In America

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Ever notice that there are more new drugs on the market every day? And just the side effects, alone, can make your pulse quicken. In 2016, we should be curing diseases not still suffering from them. Why is healthy, affordable living so out of our reach?

Watch any black and white film (and even most current ones) and there’s not an actor to be found without his/her lips wrapped around a cigarette. People sometimes have to work at jobs surrounded by carcinogenic substances because that’s all they are qualified to do. We can’t start living in bubbles so what’s a person to do?

It’s true, for the most part, that we are living longer but we’re not fully prepared to care for our loved ones when they reach those new stages of life. Once upon a time, your grandmother might have lived with you and helped raise you while your parents worked. Don’t these same selfless people deserve our love and support? Not everyone can afford to take on that responsibility but… isn’t it worth looking into other options?

It’s not unusual to see multiple videos on social media showing stray animals being rescued and given another chance at life. Shouldn’t we do at least that much for our elders?!

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The Rules Changed

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Sunday morning I decided to take the train into NYC to visit my boys. What a mistake. Not the visit but the method of transportation at that particular day and time. I didn’t realize it was a Yankees-home-game and that suburban families from upstate NY would be making the long journey with me. And I didn’t even bring headphones…

Toddlers cried incessantly and crawled all over the seats until their indulgent parents gave them their very expensive phones to play with… Men, way too old to still be wearing the names of other grown men on their Yankees jerseys and t-shirts, strutted around the aisles ‘replaying’ past Yankees highlights.

Look, I have nothing against America’s favorite pastime. I think it’s an overpriced day out but to each their own (the train ticket price alone was staggering for these families and I can only assume the stadium ticket price was well beyond my monthly car payment). 

But where was the ‘old time’ fun? I remember going to games with my parents and older brother. It didn’t bankrupt us and we needn’t bring our own food from home because it was mostly affordable. And actually keeping score was a skill we perfected after repeated attendance and something that made us feel like a part of the entire ballgame experience.

Somewhere along the lines the rules changed. Prices skyrocketed and manners plummeted. I wouldn’t bring a young child to a game today – they’d hear foul (pun intended) language; reek of warm, spilled beer and be exposed to a world of entitlement, rudeness and bad sportsmanship.

But, hey, how else will they learn how to act on their own school turf?!

Bad Hair Days

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My Dad’s latest obsession… his hair. At 85, he’s still got a full head of hair. The problem is, he spends so much time resting in his ‘comfy lounger’ that his hair is almost always a victim of static electricity. To battle the condition, Dad has taken to wearing a baseball cap. All the time.

He seems to feel like he must wear this hat, all day long (and inside) because you just never know when someone might drop by unexpectedly to visit (that actually NEVER happens). I tried putting a hand towel over the top of the chair but that only resulted in his wearing the towel around the house because it got stuck on the back of his shirt.

Static is static after all…

It’s funny but I never remember him caring about his hair sticking up in all the years I’ve known him – I guess it’s just another age-related obsession when you really have nothing else to think about all day long. Maybe I should get him some Brylcreem – You know, because “a little dab’ll do ya!”

It’s Payback Time

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For all those wasted hours spent with my ear to the phone, here’s a brand new spin on how I think answering the phone should really go:

If you are canceling my upcoming doctor’s appointment and expecting me to reschedule it (because something came up for the doctor) after making me schedule it months in advance, please press 1.

If you are about to tell me that your _________________ repairman will be here between the hours of 8am and 6pm, please press 2 and I will return your call with my hours of availability between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

If you are trying to sell me car insurance or health insurance, refinancing or leasing options, cheaper long distance rates or airline tickets, or wanting my vote in the next election, please remember my number because it’s payback time!*

*~#<%>^€*£+¥ (LOUD BEEP SOUNDED)

Planning A Trip

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What used to be an exciting event – planning a much needed vacation – is now an exercise, for some (particularly the elderly), in overcoming obstacles. There are many unconventional things that must now be considered before embarking on, say, a cruise:

  1. Are there wheelchairs available in the terminals (and onboard the ship itself)?
  2. Will all your meds be able to pass safely through customs?
  3. Do you have a doctor’s note to explain the beeping that will (because of the titanium rods currently holding together your limbs) inevitably occur when you go through the metal detectors?

Mind you, these are only some of the obstacles elders will be facing getting onto the ship in the first place. Once you board:

  1. Are there elevators to take you not only floor to floor but also to your seats in the dining areas and theaters?
  2. Is there a special menu for diabetics?
  3. Are there devices for the hearing impaired in noisy areas where BINGO and other activities take place?

And this doesn’t even cover any additional transportation snafus that might be incurred by using planes, busses, cabs or boat tenders to and from the cruise ship. Sadly, at this point, you will be so exhausted from merely planning (what should have been) this fantastic trip that you’ll most likely… just stay home!

 

State Of Mind

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We spend countless hours on our looks and on our bodies – lotions, spas, gyms, power drinks – so why don’t we spend any time trying to improve our minds? Yes, we play games on our computers and do crossword puzzles and the like. But, since graduating from school (be it HS or college), we haven’t properly exercised our brains.

Try these experiments:

  • Say the alphabet backwards
  • Play the old car-trip game (by yourself) where you think of alphabetized foods you’d like to take on a picnic 
  • Try to remember the names of all of your teachers by grade

How did you do? I was visiting my son some weeks ago and, all of a sudden, I remembered a name we had both drawn blanks on in a recent phone conversation. We laughed. But it just goes to show you… It’s easy to forget but it’s redemptive to remember!

Cheers And Jeers

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Why don’t people smile anymore? Walk down any city street and this is what you’ll see:

  • People arguing on their phones
  • People frowning unhappily
  • People rushing and bumping, unapologetically, into one another 

Why bother spending an hour in the morning, getting ready to go out into the world, only to scowl and rant and rave… who’s going to notice all the time you just spent primping?

Did you ever watch or hear someone yawn and (all of a sudden) you yawn, too? It’s oddly contagious. So why doesn’t one smile beget another? You smile if you hear a baby doing that ‘uncontrollable giggle’ thing or when you see ANY animal video on YouTube. But there don’t seem to be that many moments in our own lives where we just LAUGH.

Next time you have a soda or a milkshake, try blowing bubbles through the straw… We used to love doing that as children. Or spontaneously break into a happy dance for no particular reason. If someone happens to catch you, hopefully they’ll laugh along with you. If not, you just bought yourself a one-way ticket to the funny farm!