Category Archives: Ginnie

Hanging on…

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I have a good friend who seems to have the best of all worlds.  She is living independently in an adorable cottage that is on her son’s property.  Although she is an octogenarian she still drives and does not rely on others to shop for her or to take her to appointments.

However she did have one concern.  She was still spry but found that her balance was not as good as it had been and that could become a big problem when it came to her staircase.  She worried that she might fall but there was no way that she could switch to ground floor living as so many of us do as we age.

Her home, although delightful, is very small …consisting of a combination living/dining room, tiny kitchen and half bath on the main floor and two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs.   If she were to stay where she was she needed to make an adjustment and her son had an easy answer.

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He purchased an inexpensive banister, painted it with a heavy duty gloss paint that repels hand prints and adhered it to the wall.  She loves it and now, instead of gingerly maneuvering the stairs twice a day as she had been doing, she actually includes it in her daily exercise regimen !

WHITE VINEGAR …the indispensable product!

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I challenged a group of my friends recently. I asked them to write down the kitchen products that they felt they could never live without. Hands down the winner was WHITE VINEGAR with BAKING SODA coming in as a close second.

Most of them also included the ways that they used these products and I’ve listed my favorites here:

WHITE VINEGAR: (besides the one that everyone knows, using it as an excellent glass cleaner…)

* Cover rusted tools with white vinegar and soak for 24 hours. The next day scrape clean with brillo. (I tried this and it is amazingly effective.)

* Use ½ teaspoon of white vinegar in place of 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in savory recipes.

* Degrease oily hair.  Shampoo hair as usual, rinse, then pour ¼ cup over it and rinse again.

* Clean a coffeemaker by filling the reservoir with a mixture of white vinegar and water and run it through a brewing cycle. Follow with several cycles of water to rinse thoroughly.

* To kill weeds between cracks in paving stones and sidewalks…fill a spray bottle with straight vinegar and spray multiple times on them.

* Deodorize your refrigerator. Use equal parts white vinegar and water and, after taking everything out of the fridge, wash down the interior.

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BAKING SODA :

* Erase crayon, pencil, and ink from painted surfaces by sprinkling baking soda on a damp sponge, rub clean and rinse.

* Unclog a drain. Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar after it. Let sit for five minutes (covered, if possible). Follow with a gallon of boiling water.

* Settle a stomach during occasional indigestion. Stir 1/2 teaspoon baking soda into 1/2 cup of water and drink for a safe and effective antacid.

* Brush teeth using a paste of baking soda and water.

These are just a few ways to use WHITE VINEGAR and BAKING SODA. Do you know of any others? Please share them with us.

ONCE AGAIN …

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…a senior friend came through for me. She knows that I am always looking for products or ideas that will ease the aging process so she sent me this recommendation. It’s the Omron HEM-712C blood pressure monitor.

She writes that her doctor has been after her for a long time to keep track of her blood pressures at home. She’s always pooh-poohed the idea until this past month at her half-yearly checkup. Her blood pressure was well above the acceptable figure and when she tried to laugh it off by telling her doctor that “I always get nervous in front of a handsome man” he told her, in a very stern manner, that this was nothing to laugh about.

She said it embarrassed her but it also made her stop and listen as he explained that she has Hypertension (High Blood Pressure.) He told her that it’s dangerous because it makes the heart work harder to pump blood and it contributes to hardening of the arteries, development of heart failure and is closely linked to some forms of dementia in the elderly.

Poor diet, obesity and just plain aging are factors that contribute to high blood pressure and since she has all three of these (as do many seniors) she is triply anxious to get hers under control. She did a bit of research and felt that the Omron HEM-712C would be her best choice. She is definitely happy with it and surprised that it was so affordable and easy to use.

Her unit sits right on the kitchen table which is perfect for her since she can rest her arm while taking her pressure. She says that the instructions are very easy to follow and the writing on the read-out panel is BIG… a nice feature if you have some visual limitations. It can be plugged in or run on batteries too, which means she can use it while traveling.

All in all my friend is thrilled with her new-found medical expertise and wishes that she’d started it years ago.  Now her biggest regret was making a fool of herself in front of her doctor!!

Seniors blogging …

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Back in 2006 my interest was piqued when I read an article in the AARP magazine stating that few seniors took advantage of blogging as a line of communication. I had heard the word, BLOG, of course but I figured it was just another part of the vast internet world that would forever elude me. How wrong I was!

I was 73 when I launched my blog.  I named it Goldendaze-ginnie and my initial idea was to write about the parts of my long life that I thought would be of interest to my children.  I posted a blog entry almost daily from July to December and then I printed it in book form and presented it to my three children as a Christmas gift.

I thought that it would end there but blogging had opened up a new world to me and there was no way that I wanted to let that go.  It’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I found that as a senior I had a world of experience to share and that there was a huge global community that wanted to share it with me.

Withdrawing from the world is something that often comes with retirement but becoming a part of the blogosphere saves you from that.  I love the fact that I have blogger friends from Australia, India, Canada, Sri Lanka, England and beyond.  It’s exhilarating to see how we can close age and ethnicity gaps with the written word.

Now I post a new blog entry every 5th day.  I think of them as little vignettes and try to share memories or everyday items that capture my attention.  This time schedule is a commitment that keeps me on my toes.  I need that because when I last looked at my stats I found that I’ve accumulated 83,990 page views in 8 years.  This is extremely humbling to me and I strive to keep each entry as authentic and informative as possible.

So to all you seniors out there looking for an interesting hobby I say “START A BLOG”.  It’s FREE,  it’s  EASY and it will enrich your life.

STOP THE NOISE…I need my sleep!!!

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I know some people who can sleep through any sort of noise.  I am not one of them.  I have tinnitus which is generally called  “ringing in the ears” but the sound that I hear is much more like a steady high pitched buzz that never lets up and it’s extremely annoying.

To add to this I have a neighbor who puts her dog out every night around 9.

She doesn’t walk the dog.  She just lets the animal out to do it’s business and roam a bit.  The problem is that the dog wants to go back in and it will bark constantly for the next hour until that happens. (I’ve often wondered if the owner has a favorite hour long TV program at that time and she just ignores his barking !)

And, to top it all, I live on a main thoroughfare that never lacks for traffic. This includes 18 wheelers, motorcycles, hopped up cars and just about anything else on wheels.   Even though my bedroom is at the back of the house and away from the street it is still near impossible to block out the noise.

So, guess what I’ve done?  I’ve added more noise to my bedroom !   That may sound counter intuitive but it comes in the form of a wonderful little machine called the Marpac Dohm-DS.

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The whirring sound that is generated by the internal fan actually masks the sounds that are bothering me. The Marpac Dohm-DS is a variant of a design that has been around for over 50 years. There are no fancy electronics, the noise is generated by a fan and you can change the tone by adjusting the air vents on the side.

So now when I go to bed I simply turn on my Dohm-DS and the soothing sound of rushing air blocks out those annoying other sounds. I sleep deeply and wake up relaxed and ready to face the day.  I highly recommend it.

A “Puzzling” Dilemma …

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I was the youngest of 5 girls and, in 1942, when I was 9 we moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts. Our house was very large and, although it was far from elegant, it was a fun and comfortable place and I remember that we always had at least two jigsaw puzzles in progress.

In those days the fully interlocking puzzles were new and fairly expensive so it would be birthdays or Christmas when we got new ones. We would stock up and then trade with our friends and if that wasn’t available we’d just repeat a favorite one of our own.

Over the years my interest in jigsaw puzzles has never abated but recently an odd and discomforting thing happened. I was given the lovely 1,000 piece puzzle of Monet’s Garden at Giverny that you see in the picture.

Assembling the four edges was fairly easy but the monochromatic coloration and the small puzzle pieces made it near impossible for me. When my daughter and her husband came by they didn’t seem to have the same limitations and I had to finally admit to myself that old age was taking a toll on my eyes, not to mention my concentration and patience!

It wasn’t long after that that they presented me with the puzzle that is pictured here and I think I made some sort of derogatory remark such as “I’m not in kindergarten, you know” … only to find out that a good friend of theirs, a 90 year old retired judge, had given it to them to pass on to me.

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I was embarrassed because I know the judge to be a brilliant man who had led a distinguished career and I figured if he enjoys the large piece puzzles who am I to turn up my nose at them.

I swallowed my pride and gave them a meek “thank you” … and, guess what?  I found out that the puzzle was fun to assemble, the picture was lovely and I didn‘t have a headache when it was all put together!

Thanks, Matt …

About 6 years ago North Carolina, where I live, was going through some rough weather. We hit a period where our electricity seemed to be off more than it was on.  I had a good stack of candles that I kept on hand so I wasn’t too worried. However, when my son Matt came by and saw that I had 3 or 4 candles lit on the kitchen table he was less than happy. “You’re just asking for trouble”, he said.

It was just a few days later that he came by and presented me with a Coleman battery run table lamp.

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I loved it and couldn’t wait for the electricity to be off so I could try it out. I wasn’t disappointed.

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That was years ago and it’s still the first thing I reach for when the need arises. It’s a safe way to “turn on the light” and, although it’s not bright enough to read by it is still very comforting.

When I decided to write about this for UNlimiters I did a little research and realized that Coleman no longer makes this lamp that I own. However, they have a CPX™ 6 Rugged XL LED Lantern that is much brighter than mine and runs on four D cell batteries.

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Although I love the shape of my older lantern I have to admit that being able to read by this lantern is a huge plus and I think I’ll purchase one as a backup!

Teachable at any age …

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Getting out of your “safety zone” can be difficult at any age but it’s particularly hard for seniors.  So many of us are locked into the same old way of thinking that has sustained us for years.  “It’s worked for me this long, why change now?” is our mantra.  We find it comforting and we resist anything that rocks our security boat.  We tend to stick to people our own age and who think like we do.  Even those of us who join clubs or are church goers tend to only go to those that agree with our (usually pretty rigid) ideas.

All fine and good but have you ever considered the alternative?  What if we took a risk and ventured where we’d never gone before?  What would we gain and would it be worth the trouble? I can only answer with a resounding “YES !”

My own journey started when my loving family saw that I was getting in trouble with alcohol and they sent me to Rehab.  That was 25 years ago and at the age of 56 I found myself attending AA meetings.  It was eye-opening to say the least ! I had always thought of myself as liberal thinking and non judgmental but I quickly came to see that I had been living in a vacuum …and a boring one at that. I became teachable and the more I listened and opened my heart the more I learned.

My friends today are a conglomeration of different colors, races, and ethnicities. They range in age from 17 to 87 and not a day passes that I don’t learn something new from them.   Working with others puts my own concerns into perspective.  My life today is full of ideas and opportunities that I didn’t even know existed when I was entombed within my self-made walls.

Of course I realize that AA is not the answer for everyone; but, there are so many other ways that we seniors can get a new lease on life.  I have a friend who is in her 70’s and home-bound.  She was slowly sinking into depression until she decided to take a risk.  She volunteered to teach illiterates to read and now has 3 who come to her house weekly.  Not only are they learning to read but they are becoming like family to her.  Food, photos and love have replaced depression and she wishes she’d done it sooner.

There are hundreds of ways that we seniors can make a difference with Volunteering and often it’s the riskier ones that reap the most benefits.  As Will Rogers put it, “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes, because that’s where the fruit is.”

Keyboard

It sure helped Peg …

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My sister, Peg and her husband lived in Gainesville, Florida and, since I am in North Carolina, we found that emailing was a wonderful way for us to keep in touch. We shared so many memories and I loved Peggy’s quirky sense of humor. It became part of our weekly routine and when it suddenly stopped I knew something was terribly wrong.

I spoke with my brother-in-law and he told me that Peg was in the hospital undergoing a battery of tests. To make a long story short it was the beginning of the decline for Peg and she passed away in December 2012. However, there was a long period when she was well enough to stay at home but her dexterity and eyesight were not what they had been and our emailing days seemed to be over.

So I was thrilled when, all of a sudden, Peg started emailing me again and it wasn’t until I went to visit that I found out why. Her husband had presented her with one of the large print keyboards with high contrast letters and symbols that were much larger than the standard ones.

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It literally gave her back one of the joys that she thought she had lost forever.

I know that the keyboards  come in yellow with black letters and in black with white letters but hers was like the standard one that I picture. I can’t remember what brand it was but I’m sure that Unlimiters will showcase the one that they prefer. Maybe you, or someone you know, will benefit from one of these keyboards. I hope so.

My Holiday Helper…

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I thought it would be fun to write about the one thing that helped me most during this Holiday
season. As you know, if you’ve read any of my previous entries, I am an octogenarian… just turned that way this year and I still can’t get used to it…both the word and all it entails.

However, it‘s true and I find that I can’t do all those things that were easy just a few years back! I no longer dare to jump up on kitchen chairs to retrieve the box of Christmas ornaments stored on the top shelf. I remember a few years back when I nearly took a nasty fall as the chair slipped one way and I went the other… luckily my hands weren’t full and I was able to grab the counter and ease my way down. My dexterity and balance are not like they were and I’m sure that would be an impossibility for me now.

So I guess it will come as no surprise that my trusty Duro-Med Foot Stool won hands down when it came to the one item that helped me the most during the Holiday season.

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I honestly don’t know what I would have done without it. It is very light weight chrome-plated steel and very easy to handle. I have a small room off the kitchen that houses my washer and dryer and other essentials and the step stool resides there too. I use it so often though that it’s rarely there.

The feet are non-skid which is critical and it also has foam encircling the chrome bar that acts as a handle… great for keeping my balance. Even the platform is rubberized giving me even more stability. I can now utilize all my cupboards, even those that were unreachable from the floor alone.

So, with the aid of my stool I was able to get down all my holiday items without having to ask my neighbors or family to help. I can’t remember what I paid for the stool but it worth its weight in gold as far as I’m concerned for all the independence that it has given to me.

Homebound … By Choice!

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My friend May is 78 and has been living alone since her husband passed away a year ago. She’s in pretty good shape and wants to remain in the house that’s been a home to her for almost 40 years. She told me that she was worried her children would want to put her in a retirement home so she decided to be pro-active. She wanted to ease their minds so she made a list of problems that could face her as she aged and how she would handle them.  The following is her list:

Home maintenance: keep a list of phone numbers for laundry, shopping, gardening, housekeeping and handyman services if and when they are needed.

Transportation: There is a taxi service in our town that is not too costly and, since I don’t drive at night anymore, I can call them for that. If I decide at some point that I no longer feel confident to drive at all I will call them or friends when needed

Home modifications: I’ve already turned the den into my bedroom and I live on the first floor. I‘ve had the tub taken out of the bathroom and installed a shower with grab bars. I have few steps outside but will have a ramp put in if I need one.

Personal needs: If I ever need care in dressing, bathing or meal preparations I have the phone # of an agency that handles all these issues and comes highly recommended by a good friend.

Medical: Keep a list of the meds I take and when I take them.  Keep a yearly calendar and put down Dr. appt’s, etc. Contact my insurance and see what coverage is available for at-home health care services.

Social needs: We have a Senior Citizens Center that provides social gatherings and projects. In addition we have a bus service for seniors that comes right by my house and they take us to the Center as well as to the movie theater and shopping center. I stay in touch with a large group of friends so I don’t fear being isolated.

This was the list that May gave to her children and it was very effective. It helped them realize that she is serious about staying in her home. Since I want to do the same thing it meant a lot to me and I have a feeling there are many of you out there that feel the same way. Do you have any additional items to add to her list? I’d love to hear about them.

Getting in the Holiday Mood

Hi there. What could be better than one Santa? A bunch of them of course and this is the second year that I’ve been assembling them for a “bring a dish” Christmas party and they are always a big hit. Someone brought them to me and now I am passing them along to you,

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Assembling them is very easy. All it takes are ripe strawberries (which we are lucky to have year round in the super markets) and Cool Whip. We wash the berries first and then select the ones that are fairly the same size and the most colorful red.

With a sharp knife we pare off a slight portion on the bottom of the strawberry so it stands straight up. Then we cut off about 1/3rd of the berry to make his hat.  I find that it is easier to cut all the berries at one time and then assemble them. It’s less messy that way.

Now take about ½ a teaspoon of the Cool Whip and dump it on top of the bottom part of a strawberry. Then, very carefully, place the “hat” on the Santa and gently press down so that the two pieces stick together. Then take a toothpick and pick up a dollop of the Cool Whip and carefully place it on the tip of the strawberry to resemble a pom pom.

Voila ! It couldn’t be easier and a plate of these sweet little guys is sure to be a hit.   It always brings smiles and the red and white brings a festive touch to any table. I’m sure you have a favorite Holiday dish too and hope you will share it with us.

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