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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My Greatest Accomplishments

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When I made the decision to not only have children but also to raise them myself, I took a lot of criticism from people who had no qualms about letting others raise their own kids. I never voiced my opinion about their decision to work full time and hire strangers to look after their children and I expected at least that much in return.

It’s funny how people view the same situation in such different ways.

Be that as it may, I consider myself lucky to have been able to devote all my attention to my sons and I never regretted that choice.

When I decided to take care of my aging parents I could do no less than that. My parents gave me life just as I gave life to my children. The choice was a no brainier. I am fortunate that, even in their eighties, both my parents are still in my life.

Loving and caring for someone is not a part time job – it’s a lifetime commitment. 

Not that it’s been easy, by any means, but the benefits of this unique living arrangement far outweigh the difficulties we’ve endured. Living with and caring for elderly parents is not a choice to be made lightly. It may not be the right choice for everyone. It takes a lot of hard work and a ton of patience but it can also be one of the most rewarding and selfless things you will ever do!

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!”

Three Magic Words

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Once upon a time… you fell in love, you got married, you had some kids and you lived happily ever after. At least that’s how all the fairytales went. Now, however, families come in all colors and genders; they sometimes have the kids before the marriage; and the story often does not have a happy ending. Oh well – that’s life.

That might sound kind of harsh but it’s realistic. For some. We don’t always get what we want out of life. Sometimes, when we expect to hear those three little words: “I Love You,” they come out sounding more like “fool me once…”

We’ve come to expect a certain amount of sentimentality and even magic in our relationships. We watch too many movies and read too many trendy novels to the point where we actually start believing that they represent reality. The secret to their success, sadly, is that they’re so far from what life is really like that they have become our fantasy escape. We envy what those characters have and they’re not even real. 

I know money can’t buy happiness (although sometimes it may ‘buy love’) but it certainly can give off that illusion!

Maybe Next Year

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They tell us: “never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” Nobody can predict what tomorrow will bring so why procrastinate? I wonder how many people never got a chance to view a sunset or see the leaves change or watch the tide come in?

These aren’t earth-shattering events and most of us probably take them for granted. How many of us, do you suppose, actually stop and look up at a full moon or count the stars up in the sky? We’re always in such a rush. Even the biggest moments of our lives – weddings, births, graduations – they’re usually captured on film, with our eyes behind the lens of a camera instead of on the subject at hand in that crucial moment.

In life, there are rarely second chances. Do overs are something we play at as children. They don’t really exist. As they say: “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Convincing yourself or others that you’ll get around to doing something ‘next year’ is a bet you should not be willing to take. Because you just never know…!

A healthy and happy 2016 to all.

 

At First Glance

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At first glance, you might think this plant is real. Clearly it’s plastic and will, therefore, never die. It doesn’t require watering or any other maintenance. It’s pretty to look at and reasonably inexpensive.

So why buy the real thing?

If you’re a gardener or have plenty of time and money to care for flowers and plants, your first choice would undoubtably be to purchase and/or grow them yourself. This goes for both indoor and outdoor varieties. But, if you’re not in the market for something fragrant and don’t really need the extra work, why bother?

I think there’s a fine line between personal gratification and the simple pleasures in life. Some people need to have a hand in everything. Others are quite content to sit back and enjoy the fruits of others’ labor. I’m a knitter and I prefer, whenever possible, to create or recreate (using someone else’s original idea) my own projects. It’s peaceful, it’s therapeutic and (in some cases) it’s even less expensive. Plus, more often than not – especially if it’s a gift for someone else – it comes from the heart.

And you can’t put a price tag on that.

So, next time you buy something that you did not make yourself, remember that someone else DID make it and maybe you’ll appreciate it even more!

Happy Holidays!

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!