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Decorating- Simplified!

In our family, October marks the beginning of the outdoor decorating season. I have to admit that I have a weakness for those wind-blown inflatable sculptures that reside on the top shelves of all the home improvement and warehouse stores this time of year. From pumpkins and ghosts for Halloween through the white rabbit holding a basket of eggs for Easter, something is always inflated in my yard during the cold months.

I justify my affinity for the blow-up figures through my son. He thoroughly enjoys watching them blow up each morning, and smiles when we spot them from our road. Although he is easy to blame, the truth is I had a size-able collection of the yard decorations before he was born. What can I say, they make me happy!

Not only do I smile when I see the large and jovial decorations, but they are surprisingly easy to set up. Compared to his peers, my husband has it easy when it comes to decorating for the holidays.  We have perfecting staking and placing the inflatables, finishing the task in record time.  Because our yard I strewn with a seemingly endless rotation of festive figures, we don’t bother hanging outdoor lights or other, more traditional, decorations.

Our only complaint with the inflatable decorations involved the cumbersome power requirements.  For some reason, the original builders of our house failed to install any external power outlets. (Obviously a woman was not consulted before this decision was made!) Because of this flaw, all of our outdoor decorations must be plugged into an outlet inside our garage.

Needless to say, walking downstairs, running across the driveway (in the cold night air) to turn off the decorations each night became a huge inconvenience. Timers were cumbersome, difficult to program and (for whatever reason) often blew the circuit. After a few years of performing the midnight dash to turn off the decorations, we discovered a perfect solution.

We now plug the extension cord into a remote controlled power switch. From the comfort of our home, I can turn the decorations both on and off with the click of a simple button on the wireless remote.  We have been using the remote controlled power switch for several years and it has yet to trip our fuse box. To be honest, the only issue we have ever encountered has been our son “misplacing” the remote.

I find it fascinating how a small thing, such as the ability to control lights with a remote control, can have such a profound impact. Because we no longer have to run in the cold, dark night to turn them off, we are both more apt to embrace holiday decorating. I love that we have found a simple solution to an issue which had become a source of frustration. It may sound odd, but the remote controlled power switch has helped our entire family become UNlimiters!

My Friend Sandy Swears By This …

I’ve asked my senior friends to let me know if they can recommend any items that make life easier for us as we grow older. Recently I received a letter from one of them who wrote: “There is one item that I just love. It’s my sticky back roll of industrial strength VELCRO tape.”

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She goes on to say that even though it’s a small item it’s a “must have” for her because she comes up with new uses for it all the time. Here, in her words, are her four favorites:

* You’ve seen the lovely scatter rug that I brought back from my trip to Arizona. It would break my heart to get rid of it although my daughter wanted me to do just that. She was worried about slippage on the wood floor until I put Velcro on the back of the rug in all four corners and on the floor and then showed her how firmly it adhered. (It was actually my very first use of the tape.)

* I was always looking for the TV remote so I attached a small piece of tape to the back of it and another piece to the side of the TV. I hang the remote there when it’s not in use. It’s unobtrusive and I always know where it is.

* Remember when you almost landed on the floor when the cushion on my kitchen chair slid out from under you? It won‘t happen now, I promise. I’ve placed strips of Velcro on the chairs and on the cushions and now they’re secure. I’ve done the same to the chairs on my deck.

* I had saved a set of 4 pint size glass jars (originally filled with fancy jams & jellies). They have screw tops and were the perfect size for this fun project. I adhered a 12” strip of Velcro under a shelf in my pantry. Then I applied Velcro to the top of the jars. I then labeled the jars and filled them with herbs that I‘d dried myself. I love opening the pantry door to show them off. They look lovely and keep the herbs fresh.

So there you have her 4 favorite uses of the Velcro tape. Thanks, Sandy.  Her choice for these was the Industrial Strength sticky back tape but Velcro comes in many shapes and strengths. Any hardware store is sure to have a Velcro display where you can choose the one that is most suitable for your task.

Any ideas using Velcro? I’d love to hear about them.

Knee Cart

Somewhere deep in the dark abyss also known as my basement I have a collection of medical equipment piled in the corner. From bandages to crutches, wheelchairs to portable grab bars, I have certainly acquired a lot of assistive devices over the years. Although I haven’t had to use much of the equipment for years, I hesitate to part with anything. I know all too well that my mobility needs can change quickly. When and if that happens, it is comforting to know that all we have to do is move the boxes out of the way and dust it off.

I have saved one special item from the basement, opting instead to keep it in a location which is easier to reach should the need arise. My knee cart (commonly referred to as a knee scooter) has come to my rescue more times than I care to acknowledge. During times when I cannot wear my prosthesis because of injury, or even when I am simply too lazy to don it (like in the middle of the night) I can hop on my cart and get around safely and efficiently.

I suppose I could use crutches, but I am not nearly as swift. Besides, my son’s army men and Legos have become a minefield of plastic obstacles on my floor. Ever crutch step on a Lego in the middle of the night? Trust me, it isn’t pleasant!

Although it can look intimidating, the cart is brilliant in its simplicity. I simply place my knee (on my amputated side) on the padded cushion and push with my sound side foot. It is as simple to maneuver as a child’s scooter. As a matter of fact, my little boy often tools around the house on it for fun.

I highly recommend the cart to all below knee amputees, or individuals who have a foot and/or ankle problem. My mother-in-law had bunion surgery last year. She is a slight woman (probably weighs 100 pounds if she is carrying a basket of wet towels) and did not have the strength to utilize crutches. Upon my recommendation she rented a cart from her local medical supply company for two weeks.

Despite compromised strength, she was able to maneuver around her home and her community on the cart. She wasn’t limited by her inability to walk because she was able to push herself around. Maintaining her independence during her recovery helped not only physically but also psychologically. The cart helped her so much that she ended up extending the rental for 2 months. By the time she paid the fees she could have purchased it and saved money.

From below-knee amputees to the elderly recovering from foot surgery, the knee cart has proven an invaluable tool in our family. While I hate being without my prosthesis, I know that I’ll be able to get around without compromising my safety or health. With the help of my knee cart, I continue to be an UNlimiter, even when I can’t utilize my prosthesis.

SURVIVING “SURVIVAL GUILT”

“Survival Guilt” affects all ages. It is the type of remorse felt by people who manage to survive while their friends or loved ones do not. The events that take their lives do not have to be traumatic. They can be the result of a long illness or even old age. The common denominator, however, is that the survivor feels a tremendous guilt at being able to get on with his or her life.

We seniors are especially prone to experiencing survival guilt. So many of our friends and family members have passed away and we are often the only one left. Many of us have spent years tending to a loved one and the relief that we feel when they finally die is overshadowed by guilt.

With the help of a dear friend (who luckily for me happened to be a grief counselor) I was able to face the loss when my husband died and to experience all the emotions but not have them overwhelm me. After a few months she convinced me that it was crucial to get “out of myself” and, literally, get out of my house. I decided to look for volunteer work where I could make a difference.

Now I put in two days a week at our Free Care Clinic and I’ve found work that I enjoy and a whole new set of friends. One of the nurses and I found out that we had very similar political views and a fondness for the same type of books. We have become fast friends and she even sent me a “Mother’s Day” card with a note that said she thinks of me as the mother that she never had.

So, if you are experiencing survival guilt be kind to yourself. Chances are that is what your loved one would want for you. Get up and get moving and just remember that the longest journey starts with the first step.

Cold Hand Relief

I have been an amputee for 10 years. Living without a limb, even when a prosthesis is utilized, changes the natural stresses that occur within the body. The fact that I was on crutches for the five years preceding my amputation have only compounded those issues. 

I am happily married, but I am not wearing my wedding bands.  Although this may seem strange to some, my husband has never questioned me. My placing the cherished rings into my jewelry box was a decision made out of necessity, not choice. Relying upon crutches for five years has wreaked havoc on my hands.
During the Spring and Summer months I can proudly don my rings. As soon as the weather begins to chill, my fingers begin to swell. The nagging arthritis sets in, and I have to remove the jewelry because it becomes too painful to wear. 
My fingers become so cold that I am often relegated to wearing gloves inside the house. I have become skilled at chopping, dicing and cooking while wearing gloves! Even when covered with polar fleece, my hands remain uncomfortably chilly.
Thankfully I have discovered a stopgap treatment for my cold hands. Dipping them into my paraffin wax spa, I immediately feel the tingling relief that comes from them warming up. If I could bottle this sensation I would surely be a millionaire!
The wax warms up my hands and provides relief that often lasts for up to 90 minutes. Thankfully the wax is reusable, and “over dipping” is not a worry. When my hands become cold again, I often return to the paraffin spa. During extremely cold spells, I dip up to 6 times a day. (I have to admit that these treatments leave me with the softest hands on the block!)
I wish I had a more permanent solution to treat my cold hands, but the paraffin spa works wonders for me. I appreciate that I don’t have to ingest anything in order to feel relief. I realize that the effects are only temporary, but finding short term relief has been a godsend.  
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Staying Safely Independent …

I can only speak for myself but I’ll bet there are many of you out there that agree with me when I say that I want to remain in my home for as long as I am physically able to do so. I also realize that things do change as I age so I’m trying to be sensible about this also. I want my children to see that, despite my wish to remain independent, I can be sensible too!

Here are a few of the changes that I’ve made to simplify my life and to make my home a safer place…

Big Button telephone

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This type of phone may be passé for the younger set who rely almost solely on cell phones but I love it. I don’t need to put on my glasses in order to dial and, since I often misplace my glasses, that’s a big plus.

Moving my bedroom: I find that having my basic living quarters all on the first floor is so convenient. I don’t have to climb the stairs with my arms loaded with clothes to be stored in the closet or bed linens to be changed. An added advantage is that by moving my bedroom down it means that my guests will be provided with a more private area on the 2nd floor.

Good lighting: I talked about this in a recent entry but I want to also stress here the importance of being very careful where the cords are placed. I had a dear friend who broke a hip just by catching her foot in a cord that had been carelessly extended between her chair and the wall.

Getting rid of all scatter rugs ! I’ve had my share of falls due to these, both by slipping on a slick floor or stumbling over them. I also had fun about 3 years ago and painted a kitchen “rug”. It’s kept up very well and I never have to worry about slippage here:

7da8a-rug

Solar lights on my deck my son-in-law provided these and they are a God-send. The solar panels gather and store sunlight and then light up the stairs at night. The light lasts at least 8 hours and is an inexpensive, but effective, way to ensure that I will have a safe way to climb the stairs at night.

These are just a few of the ways that I’ve made my home a safer place. I’d love to have you share your ways with us.

 

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The car has just been at

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Make catnip cat toys

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Independent research analyst John Tumazos said

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