Caregiver Blog, News Feeds, Video Feeds, Useful Links

Friday, December 25, 2009

My Video: A Victorian Christmas, Musical Christmas Lights Show, and Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens said about Christmas: "I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."

The theme is a Charles Dickens Victorian Christmas in Florence, Oregon this year, and you see it everywhere. The outer decorations are one thing. But the important part is that many people have opened their hearts to their fellow passengers in life and reached out to others who are going through hard times.

A quiet walk through Old Town Florence on the Siuslaw River yielded this video of an old Victorian with a musical Christmas lights show. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Animal Caregivers - Rescued Animals Return the Favor by Becoming "Animal Super Heroes"

Every day I am grateful for my rescued animals, who have returned the favor with their love and affection. They are "animal caregivers" who have special powers like "Super Heroes." They connect intuitively by using their senses in ways that people cannot.

Pet therapy can be one of the best prescriptions you ever filled.

Rescued animals can provide just the right therapy blend of companionship, affection, comic antics, and playfulness. With their special powers to sense things that humans miss, the animals often really "get it" when no one else does.

Active seniors with rescued pets know the animals are like super heroes, connecting in a psychic way. Whether you have a "Wonder Cat," a "Disney Dog," or another type of "Animal Angel", you know the caring and giving you receive is right on target. It's sincere, it's genuine, there's no hidden agenda.

We know the special senses that animals have make them superior to humans in some ways for sensing and using intuition to relate to us. Animals provide a special therapy in ways that is beyond human ability.

My rescued dogs arrived with their own interesting personal characteristics. The lab mix, panic stricken when alone, chewed $150 worth of library books, and the lining of the car ceiling. The 6 year old skeletal, starved, long haired chihuahua, with her deformed toothpick legs, crouched on the ground unable to take a step.

But we all grew and learned together, and in awhile these rescued new family members responded to care and affection by returning it a millionfold.

Today they both deserve the title "Animal Super Heroes."

Do you have a story about your own "animal super heroes?" If so, please tell us about it in the "Comment" section just below this post. Thanks for visiting, and give your animal caregivers a pat from me!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Active Seniors and Relationships with the Opposite Sex

Retirement and less than perfect health does not mean the wish for companionship from the opposite sex no longer exists. Seniors who have had open heart surgery, who have pacemakers, or who have other health issues sometimes say they feel like they are 35 years old going on 60 or 70.

Divorce or widowhood does not have to mean a life spent without companionship and affection. Chronic health issues do not remove the wish for love and sharing.

My grandfather was once a best man for his long time best friend, who got married again at the age of 80. There was a funny story related to it, as evidently due to lack of a rehearsal he and his friend were standing in the wrong places and at first the minister thought my grandfather was the one getting married. Good thing they discovered the mistake in time! The newly happily married couple went on a honeymoon to Florida and enjoyed years of love and affection.

Getting married can be complicated for seniors because at a later age merging a lifestyle with someone else is difficult when each person has settled into favorite preferences. For harmony they need to be closely matched in terms of daily habits or disagreement will cause tension and conflict.

Often it's less complicated if people simply become close friends, and live in the same town or neighborhood. That way they are close enough to get together with only a short drive, or come to each other's aid if needed. But they are far enough apart to avoid stepping on each other's toes or invading territory.

Having a close friend makes attending social events more fun and people often encourage each other to get out more and be more adventurous. It's fun to have someone with whom to share meals, visit restaurants, or go sightseeing.

Balancing relationships with special personal needs such as finances and health can be a challenge for seniors but that challenge can be met. Reaching the senior years does not mean having to drop out of the social world, or having to spend those years alone.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Active Seniors and Dating - Challenges, Cautions, Opportunities

Active single seniors, anyone over 50, can face the challenge of finding compatible companions. Diversity increases with age, and as we enter our 50's and later years we become more individual, with more unique characteristics. Our tastes and preferences have evolved over a lifetime of experiences. How then, does a single senior who wishes to find a life partner, or a compatible friend, get the word out or meet others?

After I lost my husband I was not in the mood to consider dating, but with the passage of years I did wish to have more company, someone to share activities with, perhaps someone to share caring and committment.

Some years after he passed away I did meet a wonderful gentleman, and we shared several years together, but last Feb. he passed away during heart surgery.

After spending the year processing the grief, once again I wish for some company. Eating all of your meals alone, without conversation, is an experience that encourages one to seek company. We are social beings.

The thought of spending time with a companion, vs.being alone, is again coming to mind.

For those who are active there are many ways to participate in groups and clubs, and to volunteer for good causes. But, even this might not provide a large enough pool of possible partners to find someone who is a good match.

There are online dating services such as but the monthly rate runs about $60. There are also categories under personals on, which is free, but many of the postings are examples of foul language and rude jokes.

At there is a website for single seniors that you might visit.

Another senior dating site is I also came upon Senior Friend Finder on my internet research.

There are many other online services for seniors to meet each other.

Internet communities created with web 2.0 software can offer the chance for online interaction, but meeting people or connecting on facebook or twitter is apt to be just a click on the computer, not a real conversation.

If you have story or suggestion on this topic, please share it by adding your comments below.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Inspiration for Those Who Are Experiencing Dark Times

At you'll find my personal favorite source of inspiration, The Daily Word, from Silent Unity. The excerpt from the December 2009 booklet that is below is an example of the uplifting words that you'll find. For 3 generations our family has read the Daily Word, and it's gotten me through many tough times. You can receive it free each day in your email if you go to their website and sign up.

Today's Daily Word - Friday, December 11, 2009
I trust the light of Spirit to show me the way.
Gazing at the flame of a candle can be a relaxing practice leading into deep meditation and contemplation. The light of the candle reflects the light of Spirit within me and reminds me of the spiritual light that shines within everyone.
I trust the light of Spirit to show me the way whenever life becomes complex or confusing. I become still inside, and when I do, I grow in my awareness of the flame that burns within me as life energy.
The light of Spirit transforms the thoughts I hold in mind, the words I speak and the actions I take. Spirit's light allows me to see the light in others and in myself and respond to life in a whole new way. "

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Video of My Hobby - Spending the Senior Years Observing Wildlife

The video below that I made today of sea lions playing on the beach next to Heceta Head Lighthouse, Florence, Oregon, is an example of how I am spending my senior years. I am using my retirement time to roam the wilderness on the Oregon coast and create videos of wildlife and the stunning Oregon coast. Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Free Books and Reading Online - Activities for Caregivers and Seniors

Thousands of free books are available online with listings by genre, from classics to mysteries. Bookworms can click on the following links to read free books online.

Sunday, December 6, 2009 - For Information on Epilepsy and Other Diseases Please Visit

If you have epilepsy or another disease you can visit the website at to obtain helpful information. Sharon Vegoe, of, writes, "Epilepsy has gone from an obscure mental illness, to a serious illness recognized by state foundations. This remarkable awareness, is because of the great work organizations, such as yourself, has done. We here, at, fully support the cause your organization stands for and we are dedicated to aiding in your mission statement. is a website which features disease and infection preventions/treatments. "

"The Gift of the Magi" , Written Between 1903 and 1910, Christmas Inspiration for Caregivers and Seniors from O. Henry's Famous Christmas Story

"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry is a story familiar to many of us that tells a tale of giving and receiving when economic times are rough. In the present economy this classic story, written between 1903 and 1910, featuring a young couple struggling to get started, seems even more appropriate this year. The love and wisdom in the story is what Christmas is really all about. The glitz of the holiday marketing and frantic spending that we have today makes it more like a materialistic, greed oriented time for stores to boost sales. But, the real meaning of Christmas and of giving is in the thoughtful, caring, self-sacrificing things, as the characters in the story show us.

Here is O. Henry's beautiful short story reprinted in full.

"The Gift of the Magi"

"One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi."

Literature Network » O Henry » The Gift Of The Magi

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Caregivers Christmas Video: Heceta Head Lighthouse Christmas Open House Last Year on a Stormy Night

Heceta Head Lighthouse on the central Oregon Coast was surrounded by stormy clouds and stormy seas last December when the annual Christmas Open House was held. The lighthouse beacon flashed over the wind whipped waves. With the dramatic clouds over the ocean one could imagine being on a ship out in the storm, guided by the beacon to avoid the cliffs and rocks. The lighthouse keepers house was decorated with Christmas lights, as if Santa would suddenly fly through the storm and land on the roof. I made a video of the scenes, and it is below to share with everyone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Seniors Personal Growth - Inspirational Reading - "Stillness Speaks" by Eckhart Tolle

"When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose touch with the world." Eckhart Tolle, "Stillness Speaks."

"The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment," also by Eckhart Tolle, says "We are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are."

In talking about the importance of living in the present moment in order to live fully, Tolle says, " When your attention moves into the Now, there is an alertness. It is as if you were waking up from a dream, the dream of thought, the dream of past and future. Such clarity, such simplicity."

Inspirational reading such as this makes each day a new journey of learning and personal growth. Seeing life from a fresh point of view makes each day new, interesting and rewarding. We find ourselves growing, connecting, filling new roles, finding new interests.

When you feel stuck, or as if life is getting stale or stagnant, it's time to change things around and start rolling in a new direction. Some time spent with inspirational reading can help get the ideas and energy flowing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Vegetarian, Low Calorie Thanksgiving - And Time Spent Reflecting with Gratitude

Thanksgiving dinner. Raw carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and a low salad dressing dip, plus veggie burgers seasoned with barbecue sauce. Sesame sticks for munching. Bottled water flavored with a little juice - orange, mango, pineapple. MMmmm. Not the turkey and dressing you see on most tables, but to me this is very delicious. Plus my weight loss diet won't have a set back.

Special treats for the dogs, so they can celebrate too.

It's Thanksgiving today. Like many seniors, I spend the day at home, alone in regards to people, but in the wonderful, loving company of my pets. Listening to the rain pattering on the trees of the Oregon coast gives the day a pleasant feeling.

The past in a prevous chapter of life, and the current chapter is about living in the now, the present. The death my husband, and later death of a dear gentleman friend, are not felt as sorrows today. The beautiful times with them are remembered with gratitude.

Life's ups and downs, challenges to be overcome or transcended, are part of a journey of learning and a mission.

Looking at the beauty of nature here on the central Oregon coast, I reflect on life. Staying focused on the inspiring beauty of nature is so uplifting. Watching the happy dogs chasing treats and playing brings a smile and I am thankful for these blessings.

The simple things in life, a beautiful scene, a happy pet, bring the most inner joy and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Life of Senior Small Business Owners - Balancing Strategic Planning, Innovation, and Financial Management Between Doctor Visits and Health Issues

From thrift shop owners to RV park manager/owners, seniors who are small business owners balance the challenges of innovation to keep pace with change along with the doctor visits and health issues that come with the senior territory.

Many seniors are still managing successful small businesses. Staying afloat in the present economy means inventing new strategies that are situation specific for the current times. Many seniors enjoy the independence and challenges of owning their small businesses, instead of retiring or working for someone else.

One 93 year old woman I met was still going over to do maintenance tasks at the apartment building she owned and managed for college students' housing. She would arrive to visit with the student renters who might be around, change light bulbs or fix garbage disposals and other things. Students would often come over to her house a mile away to drop off the rent check and stay for visit with her. She was a little like a grandmother to some of them. She finally did have a relative who had power of attorney to share the responsibities, and a caregiver to drive her over and assist. But she continued her activities until she was almost 100, when she passed away. It was a way of life she preferred. A life of watching TV or sitting at home was not for her.

Other seniors start a retirement business at home. One friend of mine offers knitting classes and has a yarn and textile shop attached to the house. Another teaches ceramics and does the same thing. Lots of seniors go into real estate, but at this time of course that's a difficult occupation in this economy. A drive around the area where I live shows many signs in front of homes for country crafts, welding, handyman, gardening, a cabinet maker, beads and jewelry making, antigues, organic vegetables, knitted scarves and caps, and pet sitting.

Other seniors I know are owners and/or managers for rental units, RV parks, vacation rentals, computer resellers/repairs/tutors, thrift shop owners, caregiver agency owners, writers, and artists.

For many seniors the current economy has devastated hopes of earlier retirement. Investments made for retirement are suffering, and the working years are extended.

Seniors who are small business owners may be rethinking their future, and planning to continue the business challenges indefinitely. Between joint replacement surgeries or heart surgeries, they may be dreaming up new business strategies with hopes for success. Some, who like challenges, say this is part of the fun.

To many, being in the business is like a lifestyle choice they prefer over the boredom, stagnation and loneliness that can occur.

The challenges to be met are more difficult than ever in the current economy, but the other options can make it a necessity or preferable to continue in business.

Monday, November 23, 2009

69 Year Old, Over 300 Pounds, Making a New Life: Overcoming Morbid Obesity with a Lapband

A 69 year old friend who weighs over 300 pounds has decided to start a new life by getting lapband surgery for weight loss. Crippled by overweight, his bad back is so painful he barely moves around. He describes living with his overweight as being like carrying a 100 pound of cement. Simple actions like trying to stand up or walk a few steps are so difficult he uses a stool with wheels, a scooter, and a variety of mobility aids.

He's contacted a company that takes care of doing the paperwork and getting the appointment. One night he stayed up until 3 am reading about lapbands on the internet. Sometimes people go home the same day, other times they stay in a hospital overnight. The person uses a liquid diet for awhile, and then a soft diet before making a transition to other foods.

Coverage by insurance such as Medicare is based partly on the Body Mass Index, BMI, and on other chronic conditions such as diabetes. He's done his homework and the consultants have said he is indeed covered by insurance for this.

The lapband can adjusted by using a syringe to increase or decrease amounts of saline that are in the band, loosening or tightening it.

For my friend it is a turning point in life, a decision to meet a challenge and overcome it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Inspiration: The Daily Word - "My life is a blessing of peace and harmony."

Part of the meaning of our lives is to spread inspiration to others. The ripples of peace and harmony spread to others from us. Retirement doesn't mean our work is done. It might be just beginning. A new mission in life awaits during each era.

Today's Daily Word - Sunday, November 22, 2009, from Silent Unity
My life is a blessing of peace and harmony.
I begin this day with harmony in my thoughts and feelings. I am calm in mind and body. Through all of my activities, I stay attuned to my feelings and emotions. The moment I feel anxious or afraid, I consider that God's peace is always here for me. I stop, breathe deeply and claim God's peace as my own. My emotions calm.
As I bring a supportive sense of calm to my interactions with others, I am guided to right thought and actions. I experience peace and harmony in my relationships.
As I bring greater harmony to my world, turbulent relationships are healed and fulfilling new relationships begin. My life is a blessing of peace and harmony. "

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More Mental Fitness Activity for Seniors - Remember the 1969 1st Moonwalk? View the Recent Video "Direct From the Moon" Right Here at This Post

Seniors remember watching the historic 1969 first moonwalk on TV. Update your moon knowledge with this recent video (embedded at the for you to watch here) "Direct from the Moon" from the Expedition Channel on, which provides free educational documentaries. Presenting this video is part of an ongoing effort by the to encourage and provide mentally stimulating activities for seniors.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mental Fitness RX: Turn Off the TV, Try Reading, Keep Learning - My Current Project, "How Rome Fell" by Adrian Goldsworthy

Take a break from television, the "one eyed monster." Try reading.

The book "How Rome Fell" - economic crises, plague, war, religious change (sounds like our world today), cultural details and leaders of the Roman Empire - is mentally stimulating reading.

If your Mental Fitness Prescription is for exercising your mind I suggest reading "How Rome Fell" by Adrian Goldworthy. Get the "little grey cells" moving, and experience some personal growth and education.

I found this book, like the book on Leonardo di Vinci described in previous posts, at the New Nonfiction shelf near the front desk at my local library. The first night I read over 100 pages. What a relief from the relentless boredom of most TV to have something that gets your mind and thoughts really moving.

Details of daily Roman life include information from architecture to hairstyles.

Idiosyncracies, characteristics and personalities of the Roman Emperors made this interesting reading.

The book goes into the world of religious conflicts, especially the Roman persecution of the Christians.

Today, with the United States in it's current crises, reading the "Fall of Rome" is especially interesting. Are there parallels? What similarities and what differences can be seen? To compare and contrast Rome's Fall with the current problems in the U.S. gives each individual something to consider. What can be done?

Adrian Goldsworthy, a preeminent historian of the ancient world, is also the author of Caesar, winner of a New York Times Notable Book award as well as many other distinguished book awards. He is a consultant for the History Channel, National Geographic and the BBC.

So, seniors, let's either turn the TV channel to something educational, or pick up a book like this from your local library. It's time to practice concentration, improve reading and verbal skills, and learn something new about history. Your mental fitness will improve, and you'll enjoy it more than the usual passive television shows that so many of us spend too much time watching.

Take a break from the "one eyed monster," the TV, and pick up a book instead.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leonardo di Vinci - Mental Stimulation for Seniors - Video Series

Leonardo de Vinci and the Renaissance - a subject for seniors to enjoy who are seeking activities for mental stimulation. For those who prefer video material over reading books here is the first part of an 18 part series on Leonardo de Vinci. You can click on the buttons after the video finishes to go to and see the other 17 videos in the series.

Leonardo de Vinci's Renaissance World: An Inspiration for Seniors

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses it's purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind." Leonardo de Vinci.

Inspiration and mental stimulation are challenges for seniors. For those who like to read I recommend the wonderful book "Leonardo's Universe, The Renaissance World of Leonardo de Vinci" copyright 2008, published by the National Geographic Society.

Scientist, engineer, writer, mathematician, artist - Leonardo was a blend of multifaceted characteristics and so is endlessly fascinating to read and study. He was not a one sided, one dimensional, "flat" person, but a "round" person with many sides. Thus the saying that someone is a "Renaissance Person" or one with many talents.

You can start those mental wheels turning with quotes by Leonardo from the book such as "Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason."

For those of us who watch too much televison, which is usually aimed at the lowest common denominator, often at an 8th grade level, returning to the world of books is a way to start exercising the brain again.

Another Leonardo quote: " We may say that the Earth has a vital force of growth, and that its flesh is the soils, it's bones are the successive strata of the rocks which form the mountains; it's cartilage is the prous rock, it's blood the veins of the waters. The lake of blood that lies around the heart is the ocean. It's breathing is the increase and decrease of the blood in the pulses, just as in the Earth it is the ebb and flow of the sea."

This book about the historical era of the Renaissance and the tale of Leonardo's life was sitting in the New Nonfiction section at my local library, and it may be in yours too. I encourage seniors to hang out at the local library, check out the new books, and return to the world of reading, for mental stimulation and personal growth.

This large, coffee table size book has the National Geographic quality and interesting presentation we are used to seeing in the magazine, but with, of course, more detail in the 277 pages.

Suddenly the television and movies do not appear as appealing, and I am returning to the world of books.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Independence vs. Safety for Seniors: A Diabetic Senior with COPD Travels Alone in an RV

Dilemma: A diabetic senior friend of mine is independent, self-reliant, and travels alone in an RV. He faces the dilemma of awakening in the morning with blood sugar too low to function without weakness and confusion. In the late evening he takes his blood sugar. Then he eats something to raise the blood sugar enough so he will wake in the morning without the low blood sugar issue.

This is clearly less than an ideal situation. He also has COPD and uses oxygen at night or when needed. Unable to walk far due to back pain from an injury, he uses a scooter when he needs to go more than 20 feet. Professional drivers move the RV when he wishes to go to a new location, often moving up to 1000 miles away at a time.

Independent, self-reliant, stoic, a positive thinker, and travel oriented have been characteristics of his life. These values give his life meaning. The idea of settling down somewhere fills him with horror. He's led a life of leadership and distinguished service to the country and to those in need.

Everyone who knows him feels anxiety over his continuing lifestyle in view of the health challenges.

We've all known and loved friends or family members with similar situations. Admired by others, these independent stoics soldier on with health challenges that might turn the rest of us into stay-at-home types. Their lifestyle is important for them to have a good quality of life.

We watch, holding our breath, hoping not to get a call someday that there has been a disaster.

Dilemma: It's quality of life vs. safety. If someone could step in and get these people to live a safer life, the problem is life might not be worth living, to them.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Theft, Vandalism and Precautions for Seniors Safety

Theft and vandalism threatened my own safety this week. Vandals came over the private 6 foot tall gates to the backyard and went for the unlocked storage shed. In the hours sometime after midnight I heard noise outside my open window, and my dog barked, but I told myself it was just a raccoon or cat.

But even in our quiet little group of houses in the country I learned I need to be more careful. Nothing was taken, the shed doors were just left wide open, and something caused the thieves to run. They probably left when they saw the house lights come on and shine on the back yard. During the senior years one's personal thermostat may not work as well as it used to, and I frequently get up to raise or lower the heat, turning on the lights at that time.

What safety steps can a senior living alone take? I put "Dog on Duty" signs on the gates and house, added padlocks to the gates and shed, and increased the lights at night. At the front door and back door there are energy efficient 100 watt bulbs on all night. Two more 100 watt bulbs in lights can be turned on that illuminate the entire back yard, about 70 feet deep.

The neighbors have agreed to start a Neighborhood Watch program and we have exchanged phone numbers.

Late at night if I get up to change the thermostat I let the 75 pound lab-mix out into the back yard so he can patrol.

Per suggestions from others I also have pepper spray, a whistle (that neighbors can hear if help is needed), and a marine signal horn (just the sound of that would scare anything or anyone away!).

Readers your suggestions are welcome. To share your ideas just click below where it says "Comment" and add own.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Water Exercise for Seniors Who are "Extra-Size" - New Approaches for Arthritis and Joint Replacements

Did you ever try slow motion jumping jacks, knee bends, or slow jogging in place on your toes in water up to your shoulders? Our local pool has some new approaches to seniors' aquatic exercise and we locals are getting relief from arthritis and losing weight at the same time. There are two swimming pools, with different temperatures. First there is one pool that is 82 degrees, 25 meters long (about 75 feet) and part of the day it's divided into lanes for swimming laps or water walking.

The other pool is 86 degrees, which feels like a nice warm bathwater temperature to me. The "Warm Water Pool" or WWP, is smaller, about 25 feet by 35 feet. Arthritis exercise classes are held there, and the classes are well attended.

There might be about 20 people at a time watching a leader who stands on the concrete outside the pool with a microphone. Stretching, bending, and pushing against the resistance of the water, pressing styrofoam barbells beneath the water, and water walking are some of the exercises.

Some of the seniors and overweight friends whom I've suggested the aquatic exercise to have shyly said they are afraid to appear in a swim suit in public, perhaps afraid that most everyone else will be in the teen years, be a young adult or be slender and fit. But the classes have plenty of "vintage" swimmers in their 60's, 70's, 80's and even 90's and many are sharing the fight against the battle of the bulge. If you're a senior and/or overweight you'll have plenty of company - no need to miss out on swimming because of it.

We're in a new era and no longer do the senior years mean a sedentary life at home. Both pools have hoyer type lifts to assist those who are not ambulatory into the pools. Those who are unable to walk on land often find that with the buoyance of the water they have more mobility. A caregiver or friend can assist.

Many, perhaps even most, of the seniors I've spoken to have had a knee or hip replaced, or say they will need to have this done someday. Many say they are using the water exercise to help the new knee or hip heal. Others say they want to build strength in tendons, ligaments and muscles in preparation for a joint replacement or to help their arthritis.

Aquatherapy gives physical therapy with buoyancy taking the weight and impact off of aging joints and muscles, increases range of motion, burns calories, and builds strength.

One lady who was swimming laps said it was her "aqua-meditation" time, for mental problem solving, contemplation and stress reduction.

After exercising in the water it's also nice to finish with 10 minutes in the dry heat of the sauna room.

When I leave I feel like a new person.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bridging "The Diet Divide" - The Need for "Diet Literacy" - MacDonald Cheeseburgers vs. Subway Veggie Delite Sandwiches?

We hear a lot about the "Digital Divide," the gap between those who are computer literate and those who missed out on computer learning. I made up the term "The Diet Divide" to refer to the divide or gap between seniors who are "diet literate" and health conscious and those who continue to eat a diet that can have fatal consequences.

One group is for those who feel one of life's dearest rewards is eating MacDonald Cheeseburgers, plus other high fat, high carb, or high sugar foods, often in giant servings.

The other is the health conscious group, who is over at Subway eating Veggie Delites and turkey sandwiches.

During the 1970's,1980's and 90's awareness of the health problems caused by diets high in fat, simple carbs, and sugar grew. But old habits from childhood are hard to fight.

Today, almost 2010, many seniors with cardiovascular health problems continue to heap plates high with unhealthy amounts of fats, sugars, starches and simple carbs.

Even recovery from open heart surgery for multiple bypasses is not enough to deter some of those who look forward to a breakfast of eggs with melted cheese, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy. Others feel one of the best rewards of the day is a marbled steak big enough to feed a small family. Habits are hard to break.

Yet there is also a growing group of health conscious eaters who are focusing more on eating vegetables, choosing fresh food instead of processed food, buying bread with whole grain, choosing low sodium diets, and making other healthy choices.

MacDonald Cheeseburgers or low-fat Subway Sandwiches? The choice can make a big difference in health, a sense of well-being, and longevity.

Last winter I lost one of my dearest friends, who had already had one 5 way heart bypass. Even after the first heart bypass this friend continued "eating like a farmhand" despite living a current sedentary lifestyle.

Result: obesity, heart blockages, and the need for a second heart bypass, this time a 3 way. Some of my friend's favorite meals: MacDonald's Big Mac, eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, fat marbled red meat, regular (not lowfat) cottage cheese (in huge quantities). During the second heart bypass operation my friend died.

How can we bridge "The Great Diet Divide" and get everybody on board to eat a healthier diet?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Seniors, Relationships, and Dating

As human beings we are social by nature right through the senior years. The instinctive need for interaction and togetherness, fellowship, and being close to others remains throughout life. The desire for dating, courtship, and relationships can go on though the elder years. With chronic health conditions, or more serious health conditions, and the financial woes of seniors, this can make having relationships complicated but not impossible.

Compatibility and agreement are important for the sake of harmony, especially as seniors need to avoid stress that could impact health issues.

During my time in nursing training we were prepared for working in a skilled nursing facility. Part of the training involved understanding that even in a semi-acute hospital setting, one that included people who had dementia and alzheimers, romances between people may start up and that this is natural as we are social creatures. A hand to hold, someone to hug, someone to talk to and share meals with can make the day for those who are lonely.

We all know people in their 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond who have once again met someone and bonded. Previous divorces, widowhood, declining health, financial issues, and health insurance problems can be part of those years, posing issues that need to be coped with.

But the human characteristic of social behavior is a strong drive and a natural one. Just because the hair has turned grey and the skin has some wrinkles does not mean the human yearning for others to share life's experiences has gone.

I've known many widowed seniors who have found a new life partner, even married again, and who were happier for it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Part 1 Hobbies for Seniors - Make Your Own Easy Movie

Finding a purpose for the day after retiring can mean taking up hobbies. In our high tech world there are easy ways to make your own movie. Get a digital camera, take photos of your favorite places, people, pets, sports, etc. and use the free windows movie maker software to put those photos into a movie. If you have Windows XP or Vista there is a free version of Windows Movie Maker that came with your computer. If you are getting a new computer then download Windows Live which includes yet another free version of movie maker.

You don't need to do something complex or learn the whole software package. Just import the photos, drag them to spots on the storyboard, and click "Publish." Below is a movie made by just doing that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seniors' Trends: From Handcrafts and TV to High Tech Hobbies

Handcrafts like knitting and wood carving are being joined by high tech hobbies such as blogging, digital photography and making movies. Seniors still face a "digital divide" challenge but as middle-agers graduate to the senior years things are changing.

Traditional hobbies include such activities as wood working, making auto and plane models, knitting, sewing, and playing cards. Seniors centers and senior housing are offering high tech activities now such as computer training, computer games, Wii, and website creation.

When health issues limit more physically active hobbies then high tech offers a way to keep learning, exercise the mind, challenge oneself, and pass the time in an interesting manner.

Passive activities such as TV are always popular but don't offer the mental challenge that high tech does.

An acquaintance of mine admits to spending most of the time "watching that one-eyed monster" and is learning how to use the computer now. Boredom can be a strong motivator!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Part 1: Seniors Activities - Groups Make a Difference

Sharing coffee or lunch with a group of seniors while they visit, joke, share news and tell stories makes a difference. The mountains in life look different when you view them from a viewpoint with a group of friends who know what it is like.
The sting of painful memories and current losses becomes easier to bear when diluted by sharing it with the warmth and caring from others.

A knowing glance, an acknowledgement that someone heard what you're going through, a few words that others have been there too - all these can lift you up. Looking down at your troubles from a plateau makes them easier to cope with. If you're at the bottom of a mountain looking up, alone, life's burdens can seem overwhelming.

Seniors' activities that include group interaction and sharing have a way of soothing and strenthening one.

Groups make a difference. The path of life for seniors can be lonely, especially for those who have lost spouses and friends. Emptiness asks to be filled, and even a simple coffee hour with a group can change the day for the better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Part 3 - Favorite Caregiver Recipes - Sandwiches

Avocado slices, crunchy iceberg lettuce, thin tomato slices, and sprouts can be the basis for a change of pace in the sandwich department. Protein foods in the form of cheese, meat, or "meatless burgers" can be added. While the sandwich is still open sprinkle on it some mixed Italian herbs and perhaps some paprika to wake up the flavor.

You can also sprinkle the open sandwich with Mrs. Dash or Spike, both salt-free, to give the flavor some zip.

Use a zero calorie buttery spray on the bread to keep the calories and "bad fats" low. Add mustard or other spreadable flavoring if desired. Low calorie salad dressing can be used.

Many seniors grew up with a diet that focused on starches and carbohydrates, and less attention was paid to vegetables. A sandwich like this has vegetables, whole grain, and protein so there is a lot of nutrition.

The avocado is a "good fat" that has the right fat to help the cardiovascular system. If the bread has flax in it then that also includes the "good fat."

Here on the central Oregon coast we have a chain of stores called "Fred Meyers" that has a fairly large organic foods section, with a wide variety of breads. An example of a really hearty whole grain bread that I really like is Dave's Killer Bread which has a website at" They have a lot more texture than even the regular whole grain breads we are used to, and they are described as "moist and chewey."

Friday, October 9, 2009

Part Two - Favorite Caregiving Recipes - Vegetable-Herb Stew

Fresh mixed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes (or salt-free canned, stewed tomatoes)and other vegetables of your choice can be simmered in an herb broth to make a flavorful stew. Seniors who don't usually like vegetables, and who may have dentures, will find this recipe to have a lot of flavor and be easy to chew and eat.

To add protein to the stew there are a variety of choices: chicken, turkey, black beans, soybeans, or white beans(any type of beans will do).

You can use salt-free vegetable broth or boullion, or add chicken or beef broth if you desire. For a tomato based broth for the stew you can use salt-free tomato paste, canned tomatoes or soup. Your favorite variety of herbs such as thyme, rosemary, sage, dill and so on can be added.

The aroma filling the kitchen and house helps to create a comfy, cozy homey effect too. Some people use a ready made salt-free mixture such as the ones made by Mrs. Dash or Spike.

Using fresh produce makes the stew many times more flavorful. Frozen or canned veggies just don't have the amount of flavor that fresh ones do. Also, if you use canned vegetables they need to be rinsed well to get rid of sodium (salt).

The stew can be stored in plastic freezer containers in personal serving sizes for easy later use.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Part 1 - Favorite Recipes for Caregiving - Mixed Baked Vegetables

For vegetables with lots of flavor fill a covered baking dish with fresh carrots, cauliflower, squash, broccoli, and tomatoes and bake it in the overn at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (more if the carrots are large ones.) Spray it with zero calorie buttery spray, then sprinkle a variety of herbs and spices (no salt) on it to make the flavor have some zip. Sprinkle with Paprika if desired. The medley of flavors from baked tomato to sweet baked carrots keeps it interesting.

The softened vegetables are easy for people who wear dentures to chew and baking the vegetables brings out a lot of flavor.

Use this as a main dish, with a protein dish of meat or meatless protein "on the side." Baked chicken or fish go well with it. For meatless meals there are vegetarian burgers with soy protein that can be baked.

The colorful plate of mixed fresh vegetables looks like an artistic masters still- life painting. Just looking at it and smelling the aroma helps someone with a weak appetite, or who doesn't like vegetables, to get interested in food. Seniors who are dieting will find this to be filling, satisfying, and low calorie. Yum.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting Out of a Rut - Social Groups for Seniors

Smooth the rough edges off the frustrations that accompany the senior years by sharing time with a like minded social group. The mountains often look more like molehills, friendship and fellowship remove isolation, and creative ideas from others can provide inspiration.

Arthritis exercise groups, health oriented support groups, fellowship groups, volunteer groups, and other clubs and classes are there for active or frail seniors.

In the past few days I shared time with an arthritis exercise group in a pool, a fellowship group, and a computer group. The uplift helps me to see my own problems from a different angle. They don't exert as much pressure on me when I share them with a group of friends. The positive energy builds up and the negative energy goes down.

If problems or depression are overwhelming isolated seniors, sharing time with social groups brings mental stimulation, positive feelings, and strength for dealing with adversity.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Arthritis: How to Feel Better - Exercise in the Water

Sore joints and backs are soothed and one's spirits are uplifted after an exercise session in water. For example, my local fitness club has just opened a special warm water pool, heated to close to 90 degrees, with an arthritis exercise class at the pool.

This morning about 20 seniors with bad knees, sore hips, bad backs, and other "aches and pains" did their water walking and water yoga stretches supported by water up to the waist or up to the shoulders. After one full hour of this, followed by a sauna, one feels like a new person both physically and mentally.

If you are usually unable to stand due to pain and do shoulder rolls, waist twists, and standing leg lifts then the water exercise provides the support to make this easier and painless.

Stiff joints move more easily, and general body tension is relaxed. I plan to make it a daily part of my own schedule and recommend it strongly for others. It's a nice way to meet new friends too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Senior Volunteers Make a Difference for Others

Working as a volunteer seniors can make a difference in the lives of others, and make a difference in their own lives too. Being retired doesn't need to mean one is not needed. Life's journey and each individual's mission continue after retirement.

Opportunities for volunteers exist at local Seniors' Centers, Churches, Libraries, Clubs, Food Shares, the Red Cross, and other nonprofits that exist to reach out to others.

All that life experience that's been accumulated can bear fruit as a mission to make a difference in others' lives. It's a win - win situation because volunteering is also a way to feel worthwhile, to have plans and goals, and to meet the nicest people who are also volunteering.

Years ago a friend of mine, named Joy, lived up to her name by spreading love and caring as a volunteer.

Joy, who had been widowed at the age of 27, had lived alone, worked several jobs at once frequently, and gone through many tough personal and financial times. But she continued to be a blessing to others.

When I met her she was already in her 70's. She was still working 2 jobs as a bookkeeper as well as being a volunteer bookkeeper for a nonprofit. Her presence always made me feel uplifted. My own troubles paled in comparison to the ones she had overcome. She told me her secret was volunteering and making a difference for others.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Seniors Avoid Isolation and Depression with Group Activities

Retirement years can become times of depression and isolation unless new activities and personal growth are still a part of life. Health issues, handicaps, and a tight limited budget can make previous interests no longer an option. But life can still be rewarding and interesting. Below is a list of ideas.

* Join a health club. Even if you have health issues such as arthritis or joint replacements, there are exercise options. Aquatherapy, for instance, provides gentle exercise for sore joints. Chair exercise to music in a group is a way to do a variety of arm lifts with or without weights, leg lifts, twists and stretches. Some exercise groups I attend also go out to lunch together afterward so it's part of a social life too.

* Join your local Seniors' Center for affordable group activities, pot-lucks, health screenings, and a variety of benefits.

* Attend a church or spiritual group for fellowship and friends, group activities, and inspiration. Share pot-lucks, study groups, and meet friends to go out to lunch with or share other activities.

* Make use of the local library. Consider joining the local "Friends of the Library" to meet others and discuss books. The bulletin board will have notices of groups and events, and you can browse the magazines or use the library computers. The libraries offer free DVD's, audiobooks, and Cd's that you can check out.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Seniors and Eating Habits

Changing eating habits from the foods of one's youth to the heart healthy foods is a special challenge for seniors. Carbohydrates, starches, sugery desserts, salty recipes, and red meat marbled with fat are some of the foods that many seniors enjoyed when they were younger. In later life, health issues such as heart disease and diabetes make it important to change eating habits to a low carb, low suger, low fat, low salt diet.

It's easy to turn to the comfort foods of younger days but there are other comforts in life that one can turn to instead.

When one has already given up many pleasures of younger years, seniors often feel it's another frustrating blow to give up the foods they like too. They may say "what's left?!" Here are some ideas for rewards to substitute other than food.

Life does still have meaning and pleasures. For instance,, computers provide opportunities for mental challenge, learning, meeting friends online, and sharing emails, photos, and videos. Continuing to learn exercises the brain as well and helps prevent dementia. Games, entertainment, computer armchair-travel, and other activities can help to fill the day.

Socializing with groups is another way to provide healthy activity. Church, health clubs, public pools and spas, volunteer organizations, seniors clubs and special interest clubs help seniors meet needs for social contact and activity.

Changing eating habits is easier when something else is substituted for what is lost. Passing the time or solving a boredom problem by eating is something we've all done, but there are other choices that are more healthy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tips for Handicapped Seniors Traveling in RV's

Handicapped seniors find many creative ways to adapt their RV's for accessiblity and safety. Many "age in place" in their RV's, and use their RV's as a main residence, vs. settling down in a house, condo or apartment.

1. Falls on steps are a major cause of hospitalizations for seniors. RV steps are notoriously shakey or wobbly and often have a shallow place to put the foot. They also lack handrails. Often they are steep as well. First priority: get a sturdy, steady set of steps with handrails, or a set of portable ramps.

An internet search for RV steps, portable steps, or portable ramps will show you many websites where these are available.

2. Adapt your RV for handicap accessiblity as much as possible by having a carpenter build safer steps inside as well. For instance, many people have a fifth wheel trailer with steep steps to the raised section. A recent visit to a friend's RV showed that the steps were 9" tall steps. With an 18" rise to the higher trailer section these steps could be rebuilt with 3 6" tall steps instead of 2 9" tall steps.

3. Remove all throw rugs as these are well known hazards that lead to many falls and hospitalizations for seniors.

4. Be sure floor surfaces are either carpeted or have textured traction to avoid a slip and fall on a wet floor.

5. Having a travel companion is safer than traveling alone as well. Seniors who live alone are at risk since there is no one to get help if someone is too ill or injured to call for help. Reducing social isolation has been shown to reduce the
risk of dementia as well.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Epilepsy in Seniors - Fastest Growing Population Group with Epilepsy

The Epilepsy Foundation discusses seniors' health issues and epilepsy on their website, under "Seniors and Siezures."

The website defines epilepsy as "a functional disorder of the brain, a the electrical system that controls everything we feel and do."

It goes on to explain that these glitches, known as malfunctions, can "temporarily block awareness."

Treatment for seniors often involves daily medication. People do not respond the same way to medications. Missing a daily dose can increase the potential for a siezure.

The site explains that epilepsy affects about 300,000 seniors in the U.S. and that this is the fastest growing population group with epilepsy.

Causes listed on the site of epilepsy in seniors include: after-effects of stroke, tumors, and cardiovascular events.

Treatments for elderly seniors who have epilepsy are complicated by age related issues and medications.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bay Area Seniors Computer Club "BASCC" Offers Online Multimedia Site

The Bay Area Seniors Computer Club "BASCC" has been offering computer training for seniors since the year 2000.

Computer literacy is important for senior citizens from a health standpoint because it provides a way for seniors to search healthcare topics, and enhance their lives in other ways.

Many seniors, having grown up during the "paper generation" era of education, experience the "Digital Divide."

There's a need to bridge the Digital Divide between senior citizens and later generations who use computers at school and at work.

The club offers free computer classesfor seniors, workshops, and helpers who can be contacted over the telephone when needed. "You're never too old to learn" is the club motto.

Now the Bay Area Seniors Computer Club "BASCC" has a social network with multimedia, video and photo sharing, a Forum, and Blogs at Bay Area Seniors Computer Club "BASCC" Multimedia and Tutorials. The club is located on the central Oregon Coast in the Coos Bay, North Bend area. Online visitors are welcome.

Seniors can exercise their minds and enjoy a community online with shared interests. The site uses "Ning" software, a popular application for social network sites.

Tthere are many other benefits for seniors who learn to use computers, such as getting the news online instead in the "paper" format. Surfing the internet for health, education and the news provides mental exercise as well.

Videos and tutorials range from how to use Picasa 3, to Google's Tech Talks at the 2009 Internet Summit. The Museum of Computer History is featured, as well as introductions to the upcoming Windows 7 that will be out in the stores by October 2009. User-generated videos feature such interesting topics as "Anchorage Alaska Float Plane Flight" and "Oregon Coast Scenes. "

The site is like a "mini-internet" and there is a website search box in the upper right. A "web 2.0" type of site, it allows users to upload their own videos and photos, or start their own blogs.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

81 Year Old YouTuber, Over 5,000 5-Star Ratings on Video, Over 2 Million Channel Views

Peter Zimmer, an 81 year old widower, of has had over 2 million visitors to his youtube channel.

He provides a huge variety of helpful information for senior citizens, as well as telling his life story on videos. Featured in many international magazines, such as Time Magazine, he is an incredible example of someone born during the "Paper Generation" who has joined the "Online Generation."

Award Winning Tobey Dichter of Generations Online - Seniors Switching from Paper Generation to Online Generation

For many seniors switching from getting information from "paper media" to getting it online is a challenge, but it can be an important way to enhance the senior years.

Some of the benefits include:

* Obtaining information about health and insurance
* Enjoying history websites, especially about events they remember
* Keeping up with the latest local and world news at a time when "paper newspapers" are declining
* Communicating with others by email
* Mental stimulation to keep the brain healthy

The video below explains that in the past seniors held the keys to passing along history and wisdom. But now that has changed with the online information age. Giving the seniors the "keys" to online information by promoting senior computer literacy is an important goal when seeking to improve quality of life for seniors.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Caregiver Burnout Series: 30 Seconds to Inspire and Uplift

Inspirational music, quotes and sunset photos in a 30 second video I made is this Sunday's uplifting message for burned out caregivers. "The Rainbow Trail" by Edward A. Navajo. Click the "HQ" in the lower right of the video screen, (it only shows up after the video starts) to view it in High Quality. Click the "Full Screen" box shaped icon to the right of "HQ" to use your full computer screen like a TV.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Caregiver Burnout Series: Inspiration to Uplift

I made the video below from photos I took, and it was what I do to relax, recharge my batteries, and give myself an uplift. After caring for someone who passed away, I find it's important to invent my own ways of giving myself a lift. The beauty of nature always takes me away from stress, worries, and feeling down.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bereavement Series : In Loving Memory

Love Is Eternal.

In Loving Memory and Dedicated to William L. Hough, Sr., who loved wildlife and the wilderness.
Thank you Bill for your kindness, generosity, caring, sense of humor, and love of life. You are missed greatly.

Thank you Bill for so many incredible times enjoying nature's beauty and for encouraging me to get started in multimedia on computers. The Beauty of the Oregon Coast Wilderness will always remind me of you. In a way, being with the beauty of nature, the wildlife and wilderness, will always be like being with you.

Life is eternal. Love is eternal. The video below was made with you in my thoughts.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bereavement Series: Learning Something New

Nothing and no one can replace the special uniqueness of the loved one you have lost.

Personal growth, learning something new, doing something you've never done before, is a way to jumpstart life again.

After losing my husband in 1996 to cancer, and now after losing my beloved friend Bill this year to heart surgery, I know I've got to pull myself up and get going. They would each want me to enjoy life, have adventures, and use my abilities to give something beautiful to the world and to others.

I'm learning new computer programs, starting a new video project for the internet, and exploring the wilderness in Oregon. All the time I feel that the spirits of the ones I've lost are gently encouraging me forward and providing inspiration.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Bereavement Series: Opening to New Experiences

The empty places in life that were filled by a dear loved one mean that recreating the same life without that person won't work. Life looks like a piece of swiss cheese full of holes.

Opening to new experiences, a willingness to try things you've never done before, helps bring good things out of the pain of loss.
Thinking of the inter-connectedness of all things, and of joining up again with the community of living things, is part of recovery from bereavement.

Bereavement seems to be a solo journey of a seeker. No one can replace the unique essence of the person who is gone, and what the person meant to you.

I could see I would need to be braver and venture out where I hadn't been before after I lost my husband. Now, after losing a dearly loved companion, Bill, again I can see I need to go out into the unknown.

The old activities without Bill would be just that - without Bill. So it's time to redesign the old lifestyle. Exploring the unknown, and living with some uncertainty, means life will go down a new road.
My mantra could be "stay open to change."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bereavement Series: Pet Therapy for Grief

When words cannot describe grief, the comfort of pets can be a blessing. Pets sense things that people may miss as we've seen on TV shows like Animal Planet. Changes in people's moods and health may be picked up by their pets.

My own rescued dogs are now rescuing me during the time following my beloved friend Bill's death. Teddybear, my lab mix, looks at me and then brings his toy and uses body language to tell me to throw it in the air for him to catch. Heidi, my little 6 lb. "mystery mix" gazes into my eyes, and licks my hands and face, and frisks about clearly asking me to play.

Sometimes animals can reach someone mentally and emotionally when people and words don't seem to work. The pets sense feelings and react with nurturing.

They sense when people are not their usual selves. There are many TV shows with videos of pets rescuing people who are ill or injured.

My own dogs clearly sense that something is different. The fact that their friend Bill has not been around now for awhile has been absorbed mentally somehow and they sense change.

As if we are one family, or one dog or wolf pack, they have been going out of their way to reach out to the member of the pack who is not her usual self.

The companionship of pets provides comfort and an uplift during the loneliness following loss,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bereavement Series: The River of Life Flows On After Loss

There's a saying that life is like floating down a river and you never pass the same riverbanks twice. Sometimes I think there's a branch in the river of life and we part from others as we flow down a different fork.

Now it's been 4 weeks since I last saw, spoke with, and touched my much loved gentleman friend who passed away following heart surgery.
It's hard to believe it's been this long since I last talked to him in person. In my thoughts I still habitually start to anticipate telling him about something but then realize that he's not here.
I know he's left this life to live another one that is beyond my limited human understanding.

Like the river flowing downstream my life has kept moving to a different place, a different life. I like to think of him as flowing down a different river of life somewhere else now.

I know it's impossible to bring him back, much as I wish I could. Returning to the places and activities we shared does not bring him back, although there are many happy memories.

If life is like a river then I can see I'll need to get out my paddle and start steering my kayack or canoe on a new course. Things will be different now, and life needs to be reconfigured with new goals, new approaches.

The future is unknown, but one thing is certain. My loved one would not wish me to mourn forever, but instead to enjoy life. The beauty of nature, the affection of pets, good times with friends, and many other things can bring happiness again.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bereavement Series: The Ministry of Presence Shows You Care

Just your very presence nearby is a way to minister to those who are suffering. It says "I'm here and I care. You're not alone." A hug, squeeze of the hand, and soft eye contact communicates caring and can be soothing.

If you know someone who is bereaved, the Ministry of Presence, just being there, is a way to provide comfort and say "I'm here and I care."

During the end stage of a loved one's life, if you don't know what to do or say, you can keep a vigil by someone's side.

A caring touch, a stroke of the hair, a foot massage or a hand massage can reach through the solitude that can come with illness. It says "You're not alone, I'm here and I care deeply."

Soft eye contact also communicates when words cannot work. Often when someone is in the end stage, visitors unconsciously avoid eye contact, as a way of keeping a distance.

People often simply feel awkward and uncomfortable around someone who is severely ill and who may pass away. They may not realize they are avoiding eye contact, avoiding touch, keeping a distance.

When I was in a nursing program the teachers explained that research showed that people unconsciously avoid that which reminds them of suffering, dying and death. Without realizing it, they make excuses for themselves, avoiding situations that are threatening to them.

They may rationalize and try to justify why they can't be there for someone. But one must not take it as a form of rejection. It is simply because people are uncomfortable around suffering, reminders of death, or dying.

My nursing program teachers explained it is very important to give your eye contact, physical presence, caring touch, and a caring words. One may simply say "I'm here" and give a hand squeeze.

When you are the bereaved person, people may also react with this awkwardness. But words are not needed. Just being there says a lot.

After my husband died in 1996 a friend took me for quiet, scenic drives in the car. Going alone would not have been the same. By providing the Ministry of Presence my friend offered me the soothing comfort of someone who cared. A friend who was being there to listen if a listener was wanted made me feel less isolated by the bereavement.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bereavement Series: Recovery and New Growth

Just as plants send out new shoots and buds, those of us with bereavement will have new growth as we recover. Learning new skills, meeting new people, seeing new places will occur and these do not mean we've left the memory of our loved one behind.

The treasured memories of love and caring, of shared times, are eternal. The metaphor of Winter turning into Spring has been used often but it is true. From the dry twigs of Winter new buds and blossoms will appear again. After grief new life will appear.

Yesterday I noticed small white flowers appearing on a fruit tree my loved one and I planted last Fall. Buds are coming out on some white birches that we planted too. It's mid-March and the grass is coming up green. The feelings of bereavement have gentled to the point I am feeling the beauty of nature as Spring comes.

A few days ago I took a long drive to explore. I went back to my gym to exercise, and visited with acquaintances there. Enough energy was returning that I worked on some new projects on the computer and started up an online class.

New personal growth, new learning and new directions are part of bereavement recovery. The other stages of grief will probably come and go in waves too. But I am starting to invent new paths in life while keeping the memories of someone much loved with me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bereavement Series: Complicated Grieving

Sometimes there is a sense of peace, like viewing the loss from a distant, higher place. Other times an unexpected grief storm seems to hit.

Some of the complications in grieving happened to me when I woke repeatedly after nightmarish dreams, with the circumstances of the death flashing by, feeling as if I were reliving it.

This happened after my husband died from cancer in 1996. It has occured again now (2009), after my gentleman companion of the past 3 years has died following heart surgery.

At 56 years old, with no siblings or children, I am alone. No relatives. It's all up to me to get through this bereavement and I will.

Following my husband's death returning to work immediately was a necessity. I worked long hours frantically, making achievements, winning awards at work. But eventually it all caught up with me and I had to get medical and mental health attention, and find time to attend a Hospice Grief Group.

Poor sleep, nightmares, flashback type memories, fatigue, indigestion, and tension headaches have occurred after both losses. In my Hospice Bereavement Groups I've learned that this is common.

The usual effects of stress can impact the immune system, and it's important following a loss to take extra care of yourself, especially nutrition, rest, and exercise.

Grieving and loss are effected by the total picture of the life of your loved one, and the circumstances of your own life situation. This is why each grief is so unique, so different from others.

The pieces of life, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, have been thrown up into the air, and the old picture of life is gone.

I'm rebuilding a new picture, a new life. Some of the old life remains, but I'll need to get out there and discover some new pieces also to build the new life.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bereavement Series: Grief Stages and Confusion

Elizabeth Kubler Ross never meant for her list of typical stages to be a model of rigid steps. A mixed emotional reaction often is felt. Also, the reactions can start while someone is still alive but ill.

The reactions she listed were as follows.

1. Denial Shock. Example: I can't believe that this is happening.
2. Anger Frustration. Example: Why is this happening? It's unfair! She/he didn't deserve this!
3. Bargaining Making promises to a higher power in exchange for this not to happen.
4. Depression Feeling like you don't care anymore.
5. Acceptance Preparing to go on with life, moving ahead to new interests, accepting what cannot be changed.

Those of us who have lost someone very dear know it's possible to feel shock, anger, pain, bargaining or any combination of the above all at once.

Dr. Roberta Temes had another approach and described these reactions to grief.

1. Numbness - socially withdrawn and functioning mechanically
2. Disorganization - "intensely painful feelings of loss"
3. Reorganization - re-entering a normal social life

It is common for some people to go back and forth between feeling numb and feeling intense pain.

When the numbness is there you might think the grieving is over. But then something can trigger intense pain.

The professionals who study grief agree on the following.
1. There is no completion date for grief.
2. Each grief is situation specific and therefore unique.
3. It's important to let the emotions flow rather than keep them bottled up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bereavement Series: Celebrating Your Loved One's Life

Looking back at your loved one's unique personality, affection, and the good times you shared together is a way of celebrating a life well lived. As humans we all have weaknesses and strengths. Remembering the strengths that made that person so special is a comfort.

After my husband died, and more recently after losing a dear gentleman friend, I thought back and wished we had not disagreed at times, and said things we were sorry for later. If only I could go back and do it over it would be different this time.

But it would be a dull world if everyone agreed all of the time, and of course that would not be realistic. So I decided not to berate myself for things I did or said that I wish I could undo.

I know my loved ones understood deep inside that through it all my love was strong.
I'm thankful for the beautiful times we shared, and it's time to celebrate lives that were well lived.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bereavement Series: What's Next?

In the aftermath of loss one of the questions is "what's next" in life. It's a little like wondering how to find a bridge to cross over this experience and keep going.
I am 56 years old. In 1996 I lost my husband, whom I had known for 25 years, to cancer. Recently I lost my dearly loved gentleman friend, who did not survive heart surgery. We had been together for 3 years, the best years since my husband's death in 1996. Sharing so many of life's moments with a dearly loved one and then losing that special person leaves a huge void.

The love, hugs, affection and emotional sharing is gone. The companionship, conversation, shared goals, special meanings of life are gone. No one can fill that person's place and the future will be different.

A widowed friend of mine said one of her favorite tips was to make something good come out of the loss and pain. A grief counselor once told me that in every tragedy lies a seed of opportunity.

Those who have lost a dearly loved one have empathy and compassion from having walked that road. Giving back to the world, making a difference, volunteering for charities, turns that sense of loss into something meaningful.

Another widow I know, named "Joy" gave me some advice I followed after my husband died. She said, "You never need to be alone. There are so many people in need and so many places where you can volunteer to help others. And you'll meet the nicest people when you are helping others."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bereavement Series: Staying Positive and Normal

I learned an important lesson from the dear one who passed away recently. As health declined and heart surgery became a risky but necessary choice my loved one left me with another piece of his wisdom.

Knowing he might not survive the surgery he decided to stay as positive and normal as possible. During the last week or so instead of psychological suffering he chose to live fully and enjoy each moment. He visited with friends and family, went out with me for drives, talked and joked almost as usual.

We all followed his lead and fell into a pattern that felt somewhat natural despite the circumstances. My last memories of him are of his love and caring, his enjoyment of life and people, and his sense of peace in the midst of what could have been a stormy time of upset.

It has helped me to hold these memories close as a comfort during these days after he is gone.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bereavement Series: Loss is Multifaceted

I recently lost someone very dear to me. The grief is multifaceted. Sharp pains of loss. Relief that my loved one did not suffer a long agonizing illness. Shock that one day I was speaking and touching my loved one and the next I was praying by his body. A sense of disorientation. Did this really happen? It has a dreamlike quality. Spiritual beliefs and philosophies are a source of comfort but of questions too.

It is said that in every tragedy is a seed of opportunity. After a loss one can memorialize the loved one by making the world a better place through compassionate, charitable and humanitarian efforts.

Through our lives the grief and losses change us and change the courses of our lives. Careers, activities and beliefs often change when we lose a close loved one.

Love is eternal. Our love for the one who is gone goes on. Spreading that love meaningfully by making the world a better, more caring place is one of the healing steps we can take during grieving.

Saturday, February 28, 2009