Tag Archives: Ginnie

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.

My Keurig adventure …

My granddaughter Amelia once again decided to “spoil grandma” and she presented me with this mini-Keurig coffee maker. She also gave me two boxes of K-cup coffees from Starbucks, one regular and one decaf and a third box of Kazo green tea.

I found it fun and convenient to brew up a cup and I probably drank more in that first week than I usually do just because it was so easy. Of course the time came when I ran out of those cute little cups and I decided to stock up when I next went food shopping…maybe get 3 or 4 boxes so I wouldn’t run out.

Wow…speak about sticker shock. My “stock up” plan was put on the back burner when I saw the prices. Even the store brands were costly. “Oh, well”, I thought, “I’ll just buy one box and cut back to a cup a day”.

It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered that another box had come with my gift. I had completely forgotten it and I found, to my delight, that it was a reusable filter.

I still had some regular coffee on hand so I tried it out right away and it worked beautifully. You first pop out the brewing cup holder on the machine. Then put the K-cup reusable filter into the grey plastic holder, fill with coffee and screw on the top. This gives you an air-tight seal and you proceed to brew just as you would be a K-cup.

There’s no mess and it’s very easy to clean. I’ve done some experimenting since then and it works just as well with loose tea. As you can see it takes a little longer but not by much and the cost per cup is much less expensive than those costly boxes of K-cups …and that’s a big plus for this thrifty old Lady!

Another little gem …

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.

This is a pocket magnifier that I’ve come to rely on more and more. I can’t tell you how many times it’s come to my aid. Even though I have reading glasses there are still many times when that is not enough. Prime examples are reading all the fine print on medicine bottles or trying to find a small town on a large map? Those are just two of the frustrating things that crop up and I alleviate them easily with my pocket magnifier.

This little gem is just an inch wide and 6 inches long and fits easily into my pocketbook. I never know when I will need it so I keep it there all the time. I’ve found it’s really handy when I’m in a low lighted restaurant. Now I don’t have to ask my companions to explain what’s on those (often) hard to read menus …especially the price tag!

Perhaps the place that I value it most, however, is when I go to the theater. Even before the lights go down most theaters are dim and I always had trouble reading those interesting profiles about the performers. I would bring the playbill home, of course, but it wasn’t the same as knowing the facts while they were on stage. Because the magnifier is illuminated I find I can easily read the playbills now and I love that.

 

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.

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.

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:

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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.

 

Brrrrrrrrr…cold weather is coming !

In 1978 I moved to North Carolina from New York State. It took about two years before I became accustomed to the heat here but I was happy to find that the winters were quite temperate. As I look back on that I find that the weather had remained pretty much the same but my tolerance of it has changed drastically.

Even though we hardly ever get the bone-chilling cold weather that so many of you do, I still dread winter time. The arthritis in my hands, which I hardly feel in summer, acts up with a vengeance the colder it gets. My feet never seem to be warm enough, despite doubling up on socks, and my nose is red and cold to the touch…i.e., I’m miserable!

Luckily I have a blogger friend who had the same complaints but she did something about it and she shared it with me. The miracle cure that she uses is called “Hot Hands

If you are a hunter or an avid outdoors person you probably know all about them but I did not. These little gems are very inexpensive and can be used in many ways.

The hand warmers are just what it says …heat for warming your hands and all you do is shake the packet and insert it in your gloves or pocket. The heat is air activated and will warm you for up to 10 hours. Then you simply dispose of it as you would any garbage, the ingredients will not harm the environment according to the manufacturer.

They recommend that the larger body warmers and foot warmers not be applied directly against your skin but that was no problem for me. I actually used a body warmer as a sort of experiment recently and it worked wonders. I have just gone through a horrendous bout with Shingles and, although it is getting better, I still have one spot on my back that is painful. I had a Lidocaine patch on it but it didn’t seem to be doing much so I stuck one of the body warmers to my blouse exactly where it would cover the patch. The heat felt wonderful and I think it activated the Lidocaine because the pain seemed to dissipate within an hour.

Comfort is my number one goal this winter and since I’m stocking up on “Hot Hands” warmers for every part of my body I’m sure I’ll reach it..

Let there be light …

The first time I realized that my Mother was having trouble with her eye sight was when she visited us in New York City in 1962. We wanted to treat her to dinner out and her one request was that we not go to “one of those dark, fancy places with candles on the tables”. She went on to explain that she had trouble reading the menus and it also made her nervous maneuvering between tables in a dark restaurant.

She was 70 at that time and I remember thinking it was an impossibly old age. Now I am 10 years OLDER than that and I assure myself daily that it’s “not so old”!

But, back to Mother’s visit. We took her to the famous Brass Rail Restaurant. It offered good home-style food, great desserts and an open and well-lit dining room. She was very pleased and went on to explain to us that good lighting had become a necessity for her.

I thought back to that time recently and realized that the same thing has happened to me. I love reading in bed but I found myself constantly moving the small bedside lamp closer in order to see the pages. I finally decided to do something about it and I purchased my goose-neck floor lamp, one of the best buys of my life.

The chrome finish of the lamp is unobtrusive and, although I have nothing else in my house that matches the style, it fits right in. I can maneuver the flexible Gooseneck to adjust the light where I need it most or I can fold it down when I want to subdue the light.

Inadequate lighting can be the cause of many accidents for seniors. That seems like a no-brainer but I was so used to my surroundings that I didn’t realize that most of my rooms were lacking in good light until I compared them with the bright light of the gooseneck floor lamp. Happily I’ve updated all my light sources now and hope you have done the same.

Too proud to ask for help??

You may remember the blog entry that I posted in May about my friend Jan and her Stand-uppity-garden. Age and a debilitating accident have made it almost impossible for her to do the requisite bending and kneeling that is needed if you are an avid gardener, as she is, but it has not stopped her from producing a showcase of splendor in her yard. Her table-top garden is just one example of how she’s faced her challenges.

She is not above asking for help either and it really got me to thinking recently as I read these words that she wrote: “Ashley helped me bring in the crotons yesterday. I almost envied her ability to get down and wipe the dirt off the big old pots as I held the 8 foot plant diagonally while she cleaned it. I thought to myself, I used to be able to do this all by myself and then get back up and keep going… and now… well… I guess this is what happens when those numbers keep changing.”

It made me think of my own situation and of all the things that I’ve missed because I couldn’t ask for the help that would make it possible. Blame it on my New England upbringing, or just on the fact that I’ve always been independent and “can’t” has rarely been part of my vocabulary. Now that I’ve reached the grand old age of 80 I find that there are actually a number of things that I can’t do … such as driving at night because the oncoming lights blind me. I wonder how many nighttime festivities I‘ve missed. But it’s still very difficult for me to ask for help and I’ll bet there are many of you out there just like me?

I also pondered over the fact that Jan was turning her disability into a selfless and win-win situation. Ashley is a college student who Jan has hired to assist in her outdoor work. With her help Jan is able to get her yard back to the amazing showcase that it has been for years and Ashley gets extra money for school.

Hmmmm… It reminds me of that young student who lives down the street. He’s working his way through college and I’ll bet he’s not afraid to drive at night ! Now, where do I have his number …

A useful pair …

This twosome may not look like much but they’ve been a God-send for me. I hate to give in to the fact that age has sapped away a lot of my energy but it’s a fact that I live with and I compensate for it daily.

Do you remember the electric grass trimmers with the long, l-o-o-o-o-ng cords? They were not only bulky and awkward but they weighed a ton. My daughter and her husband saw me grappling with mine one day and decided to do something about it. The next thing I knew they presented me with the wonderful pair that you see here. It’s a lightweight leaf blower and a trimmer and edger that are powered by a 20-volt lithium battery and are sold as a combo-kit.

I love the fact that each tool weighs barely 5 pounds and is so easy to use. I can adjust the trimmer to my height and it easily converts to an edger if I want. I do have a man who cuts my grass but sitting and mowing is about all he can handle …so I do the finishing jobs, trimming and blowing the leaves.

(As an aside I have to tell you that my grass cutter, James, is a very sweet man who is almost as old as I am. He has been cutting my grass for at least 10 years. He does the same for the church across the street from my house and that is how I originally met him. When he’s through mowing the grass for them he rides across the street and does the same for me …then it’s back across the street and onto his truck. He’s not much of a talker but I can always rely on him.)

And lastly, I love the fact that these tools are run by a lithium battery. 2 of them and a charger came in the kit and it means that you can keep going if one runs out of power. You just put it in the charger and use the spare. As you can tell I can’t say enough about this Black & Decker twosome and highly recommend them if lightweight is a necessity for you as it is for me.

(NOTE: I had already written this entry when I saw that my blogger mate Peggy featured the very same leaf blower on her blog last week. I almost decided to scrap mine but then I realized that having two endorsements for the same product was, actually, a very good thing. I’m sure that Black & Decker would agree !)

Soothing the Soul …

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I have been fortunate enough to visit the magical city of Florence, Italy, three times. I have many fond memories of those visits but the thing I cherish most is that feeling of joy that I experienced every time I heard the resonant ringing of the church bells…and that was often.

Imagine my surprise when I heard a sound eerily similar to that at my daughter and son-in-laws home in upstate New York. For a split second I actually thought I was back in Florence but it turned out to be the lovely bell that was “Brian’s inspiration” … a very large one that he designed from a discarded oxygen tank. He cut off the bottom and inserted a clapper that produces a deep and reverberating dong when activated by the wind.

Now that I have entered my 80th year I seem to be more aware of the little things that give me pleasure, like the ringing of bells, and I’ll bet it’s the same for a lot of you seniors. It has been scientifically proven that we are more content when we have something that we look forward to every day, no matter how small. It doesn’t have to be bells, of course, but it’s important to find something that soothes your soul and to hang on to it.

I wish I had Brian’s bell in my back yard but, in lieu of that I have a bronze wind chime that reacts to every whisper of wind, creating delightful and soothing music. It actually hangs right outside my kitchen door but it was hard to get a good photo there so here it is against an inside wall.

And last, but not least, I have my sister Peg’s Christmas bells. It was her gift to me 10 years ago. I hung it on my back door then and it’s been there ever since, regardless of the season. Peg passed away last December so it means even more to me now.

I can only speak for myself but I know that the older I get the more precious are these small things that comfort me. I wonder what the small things are that soothe your soul and hope you will share them with us.

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