All posts by Ginnie Dean

Born 1933 in Plainfield, New Jersey. Grew up in Wellesley Hills, Mass. BS degree in Journalism, Boston University 1954. I enjoyed an exciting 4 years in Radio and TV …first at KEY-TV in Santa Barbara, Ca., then at WABC Radio in New York City. Met and married my husband there. He had just left LIFE magazine and was starting his career as a free lance photographer. Poor health put an end to that and we moved to upstate NY in 1962 with our three children. Moved to North Carolina in 1978 and worked for 32 years in a very busy ER of our local hospital. My husband died (59 yrs. young) in 1990 and I’ve led a life of independence since then. In 2006 I started a blog, which tells my life story in short vignettes. My profile there states: “I have a spiritual life based on over 23 years of sobriety thanks to the 12 steps of AA. and have friends of all ages, gender and color.” That pretty much sums it up.

A friendly squeeze …

Squeeze balls

This little guy is about 4 inches tall and he’s made of rubber. He sat on my husbands desk for years and I remember how Dick would squeeze the dickens out of him to exercise his hands.  When Dick passed away in 1990 I put the little guy on my desk and he’s remained there ever since. I’ve loved having him near me because he’s a sweet reminder of many happy times but I’ve rarely put him to use as Dick did.

Well, times have changed.  Not only have I developed painful arthritis in both hands but I find that I have nowhere near the strength that I used to have.  I decided to try the squeezing exercises and I’m happy to say that it  really seems to ease the pain although my little pal does not seem overjoyed to be, once again, the recipient of all that squeezing !

Squeeze balls2

Here‘s what I do 3 times a day. I squeeze him as hard as I can for at least 5 seconds. Then I relax for a second or two. I repeat this process nine more times. I then switch to my other hand and do the same 10 repetitions there.

I can’t say that it helps the looks of my arthritic hands but it does help to keep the pain at bay and for that I am grateful.

I seem to remember that my little guy was a giveaway from a medical firm back in the ‘80s so it would be hard to replicate him but just click here: exercise squeeze balls, and you’ll be on your way to easing that pesky arthritic pain.

My old arthritic hands …

my hands

At age 81 my old hands are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aches and pains.  However I feature them here to make a point.

Over the past few years I’ve lost most of the strength in my hands and it was  getting harder and harder for me to open jars. I had resorted to some of the old standbys … turning the jars upside down, tapping all edges on a hard surface and twisting as hard as I could … adding a rubber band to the cap, hoping it would provide needed traction … running the jar under hot water, etc., etc.; but, all these practices rarely did the job and it was extremely frustrating.

However, all was not lost, I found a simple but very effective opener that works perfectly for me.


It’s the Maddagrip Opener and I am amazed that this simple device has given me such relief. I can easily open anything from small vials to large jars and my arthritic hands seem almost like a thing of the past as I grip with this device.

Now I can forget about the weakness in my hands and rely on my new “toy”. It sure beats waiting for a strong man to come by and open those pesky jars … I could starve by then!

His visit to the museum …

This is another product that I don’t have personally but that comes highly recommended by Fred, the husband of a dear friend.  It is his Travelon Walking Seat & Cane.

Travelon Walking Seat and cane

Over the years Fred and his wife have traveled extensively and they always looked forward to visiting the famous museums in cities where they stayed. In the past few years however it seemed like their museum days were over since the arthritis in Fred’s feet and knees really limited his ability to walk very far and he didn’t relish being pushed in a wheelchair.

No wonder he was excited to tell me about his new “toy”.  He and Janet, his wife, live about 60 miles outside of New York City and they had just enjoyed a weekend in that great city.  The highlight of their visit was a trip to the Museum of Modern Art which would have been an impossibility for him without his walking seat and cane.

As many of you know MOMA is one of the largest museums in the world and it entails a lot of walking.  Fred was thrilled to find that he didn’t need to check his cane when he entered and it enabled him to walk as well as to sit and rest whenever needed.  Travelon Walking Seat and cane sitting

The Travelon Walking Seat & Cane is just like the name implies. It is a very sturdy cane when needed but is made of lightweight aluminum so that Fred can actually hook it over his shoulder when he needs neither a cane or a seat and it will support up to 250 lbs. so this is a perfect fit for him.


So, for any of you who are limited in your ability to walk I hope this will give you a new lease on life.  It’s certainly working for Fred !



I can’t believe I missed this !

My intent on writing these weekly blog entries is to highlight the many products or ideas that make life easier for seniors like me.  With that in mind I’ve written to many of my elderly friends and have asked them for their suggestions.   Recently I received an email from Dottie in Florida and was surprised when she gave me a gentle reprimand.

She wrote “I can’t believe that you’ve written so many entries and still haven’t mentioned a well stocked First Aid Kit. That was the first thing that came to mind when I got your letter.”

Dottie is right.  I’ll bet I have many of the items that would be in a kit in my bathroom closet but I would be hard pressed to find the right thing in an emergency.  So, not owning one I went on line to research and this is the one I chose:

First Aid Kit

It is the Complete First Aid Kit by Phoenix-Lazerus, Inc.   There were many reasons why I chose it, but, first and foremost, was the fact that it is made and manufactured in the United States of America.  I really like that.

And just look at the list of contents:

(1) Poly White Box
(1) Save-A-Tooth Preserving System
(75) Assorted Certi-Mix Adhesive Bandages
(4) Certi-Gauze Pads
(10) Antiseptic BZK Towlettes
(10) Certi-Sporyn Antibiotic Cream
(6) Alcohol Gel
(1) Triangular Bandage
(1) Absorbent Compress
(1) Cold Pack Certi-Cool
(1) Rescue Blanket
(1) Certi-Tape
(1) Plastic Forceps
(1 pair) Nitrile Gloves
(2 packages) Ibuprofen 200mg (2 tablets per package)
(1 package) Acetaminophen 500mg (2 tablets per package)
(1) Glow Stick with Lanyard
(1) First Aid Facts Guide

Need I say more?

Thrifty Seniors and Creative Ideas …

Like many of you I have always been thrifty.  Some of that comes from necessity but a lot of it has to do with growing up in the Depression years.  It was then that I first felt the joy of creating something without spending a lot of money.   I have done that all my life and here is my most recent  example…Chair


I was given 6 of these sweet kitchen chairs. They were firm and comfortable  but had been painted an ugly green.  I gave them 2 coats of this soft caramel color and then embellished them with a design that I liked. They were almost ready to use but I needed to add cushions for comfort.

I went on line and found some very nice ones.  However, when I totaled up what it would cost for 6 of them my old New England thriftiness kicked in and I decided I really didn’t want to spend that amount of money for something that I could do myself. I found an inexpensive piece of material on sale at our local fabric shop and that was all I needed to buy since I already had plenty of filling on hand.

After I finished the cushions I realized that they looked good but were very slippery. I had visions of my elderly friends coming

for lunch and ending up on the floor so I went in search of some chair grippers.   Once again my thrifty side took over when I saw a 4×6 RUG GRIPPER  and realized that I could cut that into 6 2×2 squares. I just needed to cut off the corners and they would fit the round cushions…


…and it worked perfectly.   I  sewed them to the back of the cushions and they really do the job.  There’s no slippage now and, best of  all, with everything included it cost me less than $3 per cushion !!!

I’m sure that you have wonderful creative and thrifty projects too and I hope you will share them with us.

Yes, she CAN !!

This recommendation comes from my New England friend Cathy.  She is only in her mid 60’s but suffers terribly with hand deformity due to a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis.  This makes it difficult to handle many tasks and among the worst of these was opening cans.  She could manage it but it was a tedious procedure and quite painful.  She was thrilled to tell me about the surprise gift that her nephew gave her last week.

It’s a Hamilton Beach Smooth Touch electric Can Opener.

Hamilton Beach Electric Can Opener


Cathy writes that it is as attractive as it is practical and she couldn’t be happier.  She’s tried all can sizes and it works perfectly every time. You just put the can under the holding bar, press the lever and your can is opened. There are no sharp edges because it cuts the can from the side and not from the top and will also cut the lids that have pull ring tabs. This is a big plus for Cathy because those were so hard on her fingers.

And here’s an additional plus that my New England friend likes.  The top of the can you just opened lifts right off  but it also gives you a lid to put back on the can if you have remaining contents that you want to save and refrigerate…or if you want to use the can with a top for storing small items.

So, all in all, I’d say this is a winner and thank you, Cathy, for providing me with the “product of the week”.

I’m trying …

100…or as a friend of mine at work used to say when I told him I was trying … “yes, you are very trying !”

But, all jokes aside, I am trying hard to accept these senior years gracefully but, at the age of 81, I’m finding this is not an easy task.  Luckily I do not suffer from depression but I do get discouraged.  I also get mad at myself when I think of what so many other people, much younger than I am (such as my fellow blog-mates), have to contend with … and they do it with such courage and dignity.

I felt like I was being caught in that “woe is me” trap so today I decided to do something about it.  I went back and revisited an article that I read in  2009 about a study on aging.  It was conducted by two doctors who had made a five year study of 40 seniors who had arrived at the age of 100. These people were active, mentally alert, living on their own and able to care for themselves. They all came from the United States but were from widely varied economic backgrounds.

The doctors made an extensive documentation of : daily habits, lifestyles, ethnicity, weight, eating preferences, race and genetic backgrounds, as well as spiritual and religious leanings and, at the end of the five years, these two doctors did a comparative study of their findings and came up with some fascinating conclusions. They found that it mattered little what the people ate or if they were prone to exercise…although they did point out that all their participants were moderate in these areas.

The exciting thing about their study is that ALL of the 40 people had four things in common …

1. A sense of humor.
2. A positive outlook on life.
3. The ability to bear loss.
4. A total dedication to something outside of their daily life.

Isn’t that amazing?   I can honestly say that I have all of those four attributes…but they do me no good if I don’t use them. This was a good reminder and I vow to get back to practicing them …starting today !

How about you?  Do you have any secret ingredients to staying young?

A little gift … gives BIG relief !


Doesn’t it make you feel good when one of your children does something incredibly thoughtful?  It happened to me this past week and I want to share it with you.

I have had scoliosis all my life and, although I’ve learned to live with it,  this past year the pain from it has increased a lot.  I am not sure if it has anything to do with having had shingles a year ago or just due to the normal degenerative aging process.  No matter what the cause is I find that so many of my daily chores are getting harder & harder for me to perform.

My eagle-eyed son picked up on this recently when he walked me to my car.  He heard me cursing the darn car manufacturers for placing the belt holder so far out of my reach and watched as I grimaced with pain when I tried to reach back to grab the seat belt.

To my surprise, without saying a word to me, he bought and installed a little device called a Seatbelt Grabber Handle in my car.  It’s something that I would never have thought to buy for myself and I can‘t believe how well it works.

seat belt grabber handle

I just grab the handle and pull the belt across and into place … no  contortions involved !  My son told me it just snaps into place and can easily be removed if I don’t like it but that’s not going to happen !

I am still amazed that something this insignificant can make such a difference.  It makes me wonder what else I’ve been missing !

Boredom … the deadly foe.


Many years ago, while in my teens, I complained to my mother that I was totally bored.  I will never forget her answer and how it has affected me for the rest of my life.  She said, “did you ever stop to think that bored people are very boring?”   I didn’t like that answer.  Not only did it make a lot of sense … it made ME the boring one !

My mother suggested that I visit our elderly neighbor Mrs. Whitely and, although I couldn’t imagine how that would help, I decided it would be better than sitting there feeling sorry for myself.  I made up a little plate of homemade cookies and, reluctantly, made my way across the lawn.

Mrs. Whitely was surprised to see me but seemed very pleased too.  She ushered me into her living room and insisted that we have a “tea party” to go along with the cookies.  She told me to make myself at  home while she steeped the tea so I spent the time wandering around the room trying to make sense of everything.   I felt like I was in a museum and, in actuality, I was.

To make a long story short that was the beginning of an amazing friendship. Mrs. Whitely was in her 80’s and, although she had been widowed for many years she recalled how she and her husband had traveled the world for his business. Everything in that room was in remembrance of those years and she was thrilled to share it with me.

When I told her how “totally bored” I had been before coming to see her she (gently) scolded me, saying:  “Boredom is a luxury that millions of people in the world do not have.  They spend every hour just trying to survive.  You must never squander that luxury.”

Now I am the one in my 80’s and I reminisce about those magical days spent with Mrs. Whitely.  She was a very wise woman, as was my Mother.  They taught me that boredom is a trap and the best way to avoid it is to get out of ones self … like visiting a neighbor perhaps ?

Enveloped in a “Cocoon” …

Cocoon Sunglasses



Look carefully and you can see the prescription eyeglasses behind these

very smart looking sunglasses made by Cocoon. When I saw this picture I decided to give them a try and to say that it was a wise decision is an understatement!

I have bifocals and need them in order to read long distance road signs. However, the sunglasses that I was using were the clip-on type. They were OK and would cut out the glare from the sun. but I was still getting a lot of light coming in at the sides and it was very distracting, Now when I drive into a sunrise or a late afternoon sun I am not blinded. The lenses and the side panels are polarized so there is no glare and I can now put all my focus on the road.

Another thing that I love about my new Cocoon sunglasses is that when I put them on I feel like my eyes are completely protected from outside elements. This helps to relax my eyes and the strain and fatigue of squinting caused by sun glare is a thing of the past. It is very comforting and long road trips seem so much easier now.

I have the Cocoons Fitsover Slim Line Polarized Sunglasses (Burgundy Frame/Gray Lens) but you can choose from many styles and a large range of colors so I’m sure there is one that will suit you to a “T” and they all “feature adjustable Flex2Fit® temples that enable each wearer to custom contour the temple shape for an exact fit.”

I really can’t say enough about my new sunglasses. They are so light weight and comfortable that I hardly know I have them on. The fact that they look really good is like icing on the cake !

Getting pampered …

ez shampooI’m so thankful for all my friends who supply me with suggestions for my UNlimiters blog entries.  This one comes from my friend Mae.  She is only in her 60’s but is debilitated with Parkinson’s disease and can no longer do some of the things that we often take for granted … such as being able to wash our hair.

Mae writes:  “I get pampered twice a week by a dear friend who washes, dries and combs my hair for me.  She uses the  EZ-SHAMPOO® hair washing tray and that makes it easy for both of us. She actually gave me the tray as a birthday gift and it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received… truly the gift that goes on giving.”

Wow, that’s a pretty nice friend.  I researched the  EZ-SHAMPOO®  company after I read her letter and the picture I’ve posted is the one they use in their ads.  You can see how the tray fits comfortably on the neck and the tray itself tilts back so the person getting the shampoo can sit naturally.  This must be a big plus for Mae since it’s hard for her to change positions and I would imagine it would be very difficult to have to arch her neck back.

I noticed that the  EZ-SHAMPOO® hair washing tray does not come with a spray hose and I questioned Mae about this.   She said that the first few times they used the tray her friend just scooped water with a cup and that worked fine but it is definitely easier with a hose.  They figured it wasn’t included because there are so many different sized faucets that a one-size-fits-all hose wouldn’t be practical and it was very inexpensive to buy one.

When I wrote to thank Mae for her suggestion she answered like this:  “Glad to do it.  We ladies need to stick together and keeping well groomed is a must for us.  You never know when Mr. Wonderful will walk through the door!”


Happy Feet



No, this is not a review of the animated film by that name, featuring this sweet little penguin. I’m talking about a gift that I received last week from a dear friend. I guess she decided that I needed some pampering because she took me out to lunch and surprised me with a gift certificate for a PEDICURE ! In all my 81 years it is something that I have never had and it was a lovely experience.

After the pedicure I called my friend to thank her and told her about the blog entry that I wrote a few weeks back about the man who swears by his daily Conair footbath. She said that her husband (who is in his 70’s) had considered that but preferred to have a professional pedicure every 4 weeks.

This got me to thinking because I realized that there are many seniors (like me) who can’t afford that but still need to have good foot therapy.

One thing that came up very frequently when I questioned my other senior friends concerning foot health is that many of them start with a visit to their podiatrist. The doctor has special equipment that aids in cutting thick and discolored nails and can also help them with high quality shoes and inserts. Then, once the podiatrist gives the go-ahead they can start a weekly regimen.

One of my most enthusiastic replies came from a 91 year old lady who lives with her daughter. She said that after each bath she gives her a good foot massage with EARTH THERAPEUTICS TEA TREE OIL foot repair balm. Her daughter has been doing this for over a year and now she swears that her feet look like they belong to a woman in her twenties. Her old yellow and thick nails are a thing of the past ! Isn’t that great? I’m going to give it a try so I can keep my feet happy too …Happy Feet2

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