Friday, December 03, 2010

Hearing a Talk About Lawrence of Arabia

Last night at the Darien Library I got to hear Michael Korda talk about his new book Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Korda started out with a bang with rousing quotes from people who had known T.E. Lawrence. As a fan of David Lean's epic motion picture Lawrence of Arabia, I was transfixed by what Korda had to say. I had not realized how huge a celebrity Lawrence had been in his own time. And while the movie and my parents had told me how influential his actions had been in the middle east post WWI, I got a much better picture of that from Korda's talk. Now, I can't wait to read the book.



Lawrence's actions are still influencing our lives today, as Al Qaeda and the Taliban use the same fighting tactics Lawrence taught the Arabs during the first world war. He led the Arabs to defeat a well equipped army by attacking them with "little cuts", such as blowing up train lines and then disappearing into the desert. (Sound familiar?)

As for the movie (my all time favorite -- and Korda's, too), the author told us in the Q and A session following the talk, it was only a two-year slice of Lawrence's life and could not show his full development or complexity. Korda also said that Lawrence was well regarded by the British military before he was sent out from Cairo.

Aside from hearing this amazing author speak about a great man, I was fascinated to see the age of the audience in the packed auditorium. The average age was probably the late 60s to early 70s. In our Aging In Place in Darien survey, we had learned that this age group really loves our local library and views it as a great resource. Last night proved this true. But also, I wonder how many younger people know about Lawrence or have even seen Lawrence of Arabia.

 I made sure my own children saw this film because I believe it is one of the best films ever made. My son, Bob Lydecker, who is an aspiring film composer, got to see Lawrence on the big screen at a special showing in Santa Moncia, CA. He was so grateful and said it was fantastic to hear the music surrounding him in a big theater. This made me very happy.

I hope you will see the film and read Korda's book.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Elderhouse Helps Seniors in Fairfield County, CT

Last week I visited Elderhouse, an adult daycare center in Norwalk, CT. I was so impressed. Executive Director Denise Cesareo is very warm and enthusiastic. She explained to me that Elderhouse can help older adults remain in their homes by giving them a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment during the day. Normally, most of their clients would be forced to live in an institution because it would be too dangerous for them to remain in their homes. About half of the clients have cognitive impairments, and others have physical disabilities. 


I could really see the difference between life at Elderhouse and a nursing home because I visited my mother-in-law in a nursing home the day after my visit to Elderhouse. Wow. Elderhouse clients were more engaged and really looked far happier. They were singing, playing games, reading and resting. They all looked very well groomed and  well dressed.

Elderhouse, which is one of the oldest adult daycare centers in Connecticut, provides lunch, activities, and even showers and personal care. Denise told me that they also care for the families, staying in touch with them and ensuring that the clients get a program of care and activities tailored uniquely to their needs. Combined with being able to be in their own homes at night -- with a loving spouse, adult child or other care-giver, this makes for a really high quality of life for older adults who can't care for themselves.

Elderhouse’s highly experienced staff offers the following services:
•    Transportation to and from the facility (door-to-door with assistance)
•    Hot, nutritious meal
•    Variety of group activities and celebrations
•    Nursing care with administration of medications by a nurse
•    Daily exercise appropriate for the individuals
•    Personal care including showers and grooming
•    Support and education for families and caregivers

They are open Monday – Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. They are also open until 7 pm on Tuesdays. The daily charge is $82, which includes transportation. Showers are extra - $9.00. This is far cheaper than nursing home care at an average of $350/day in Connecticut.


The population Elderhouse serves is getting older and frailer, posing more challenges. While the clients range from 63 to 100, the average age is now 81, up from 76 a decade ago. The clientele is also being affected by the recession, but Elderhouse provides scholarships, which are funded by donations. Medicaid will pay for the care for those with no funds. Medicare will not.

Elderhouse collaborates with other social service agencies.  The City of Norwalk has no social services department, so agencies like Elderhouse have to work closely with other agencies to try to prevent elderly from fall through the cracks. That said, Elderhouse also serves people from Westport, Darien and Wilton, too.

For more information, contact Denise at 203-847-1998

Location: 7 Lewis Street, Norwalk, CT 06851

website: www.elderhouse.org

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

PALS on WTNH's Connecticut Style - PALS

I know Henry Racki and think his modular practical assisted living structures are fantastic. Here is an interesting video of an interview with Henry on Channel 8 News in Connecticut. You can see what a PALS is like. Henry is a certified aging in place contractor.

Watch & learn about PALS on WTNH's Connecticut Style - PALS

Aging In Place in Darien - Progress Report

Aging In Place in Darien ("AIP") is on a great trajectory. About four years ago, I started writing this blog to chronicle the stages of development of an Aging in Place initiative at the First Congregational Church of Darien. Well, that project joined in with other initiatives in town. The resulting Aging In Place in Darien is now well on its way to becoming a full-fledged independent nonprofit of some form or another. The nominating committee has assembled an awesome board. Truly, I cannot get over the caliber of the people on it -- all amazingly intelligent with many perspectives and representing different agencies, groups that serve seniors, plus several highly active town residents.

In the interest of getting our group into the 21st Century, I'm posting the sorts of information I believe the public needs to be able to access easily online -- all in one place. After all, that is what AIP is all about -- one-stop shopping for links to the services for seniors. The list below is only a drop in the bucket. Hopefully, after a committee study, we'll be able to post photos and more news bursts via a blog, facebook and/or a proprietary website. But until then, I'll just keep putting up some news right here on my own blog.

Aging In Place in Darien's Mission Statement:
Helping Darien seniors live independently, comfortably and with dignity in their own homes as long as possible.


We provide information and links to all the services which help seniors live at home successfully -- transportation, handyman services, senior social and educational events, help with understanding Medicare, and other services. Anyone who is seeking information or help to stay in their homes, can call Alyssa Israel, our coordinator, at 203-202-2912. Her office is at the Darien Senior Activities Center. Her email is aipcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org.

Call or email her and become a member for free! You'll get email alerts about all sorts of events and services for seniors in our area. Alyssa also has a list of vetted service providers -- handymen, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, etc. She checks to make sure they are insured and licensed to do business in Connecticut. We also know wonderful volunteers who can help with small tasks. Please don't hesitate to call.

I've been amazed with how many services there are for seniors.

Here is a brief list of organizations AIP is connected with:

Gallivant -- the town's senior transportation provider -- 203.655.2227.
http://www.darienct.gov/filestorage/104/114/177/GALLIVANT.pdf
Half-price Taxi Vouchers -- available at Town Hall -- 203.656.7328

CT Transit Bus -- 203.202.2912 or Easy Access Minivan -- www.norwalktransit.com - 203.299.5180

Family and Children's Agency private driver -- 203.831.2900

St. Luke's Small Tasks Ministry -- run by Charlie England -
Call Charlie directly at 912-8720 or e-mail charlesengland@sbcglobal.net or call
Alyssa Israel, AIP Coordinator at 202-2912 for an extended list of vetted service providers.

The Darien Library -- www.darienlibrary.org

The Darien Senior Activities Center -- 203.656.7455
http://www.darienct.gov/content/104/114/6428/default.aspx

Darien Town Government: Department of Social Services -- 203 656-7328 phone
http://www.darienct.gov/content/104/114/177/default.aspx
Olive Hauser - Director - ohauser@darienct.gov
Inta Adams -- helping with Medicare --
iadams@darienct.gov
    Senior Men's Association -- http://sma.darien.org/

    The Darien Community Association ("DCA")--
    http://www.dariendca.org/

    The Darien Commission on Aging

    Family Centers/Friendly Connections -http://www.familycenters.org/

    The Community Fund of Darien (our sponsor) -- 
    http://www.communityfunddarien.org/
    http://www.communityfunddarien.org/Aging-In-Place.html

    There is a whole lot more. And when we get our own blog, website and/or facebook pages, we'll list more connections, post more information and photographs from all our activities.

    Monday, November 08, 2010

    Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth It?

    Last week a friend of mine said her long-term care insurance premiums had suddenly gone up by 39%. When she called her insurance company to see if this was a mistake, their answer was "no." It seems that people were beginning to actually make some claims and use the benefits of the insurance. Well, that suddenly hurt profits, so MetLife (the company in question) asked the State of Connecticut if they could raise their rates. The state said "yes." This is happening all over the country.

    Shortly after I had this conversation, I read an article in the New York Times on the sudden increase in long-term care insurance premiums. Obamacare was partly to blame (due to several new regulations buried in the law). But there were other factors, too. It seems baby boomers aren't buying the insurance. In fact, sales are flat to down. Why? Some answers were in the Times article and others in a report by Milliman (an insurance consulting company).

    Most people realize that our government indemnifies most of us from the catastrophic costs of a nursing home, home-health care or assisted living through Medicaid. You don't even have to give up your house, car or personal possession to qualify for Medicaid (in most states). The vast majority of older Americans qualify because they don't have a lot of savings and investments outside their homes. And those that do, have figured out ways to protect their estates.

    In addition, the chances of needing the care are not as great as one would think. For people over 65, there is only a 45% chance that you'll make a claim. Not only that, only 14% of people stay in a nursing home more than three years.

    So, if you can afford to pay $83,500 or more a year on a nursing home for three years, buying the insurance might not make sense. Long-term care insurance can cost $2,500 per year for a 60-year-old. But if rates continue climbing at 40% per year, that could be a lot of money to give up for a 45% chance you'll need it when you're in your 80s. Even if you do, the insurance may not pay all the bills.

    The NY Times article and the study by Milliman give many more facts, opinions and food for thought. They are both worth reading prior to making any decisions about buying long-term care insurance. When looking at long-term care coverage, see how much they will pay out and for how long. Weigh the costs and benefits for yourself. Would your premiums earn you more if invested in stocks or bonds?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/05/business/businessspecial5/05CARE.html

    http://www.centerltc.com/milliman_cltcf.htm

    Thursday, November 04, 2010

    Indoor and Outdoor Falls: Are the Risks the Same?

    Here's a really great article about falls. Did you know that more active, healthy adults fall outside the home, while sicker, less active adults fall inside? Makes sense, doesn't it? Fall prevention courses and articles tend to focus on falls inside the home. Yet, there are plenty of obstacles outdoors. I've had three friends fall outside in the past year -- one broke her arm, one broke her hip, and one hit his head and died within 24 hours.

    So, be aware of your surroundings, no matter where you are. Look ahead. Watch where you are going. Be mindful.

    Indoor and Outdoor Falls: Are the Risks the Same?

    "The Reversal" Is a Great Crime Novel

    I just finished a fantastic crime novel -- "The Reversal" by Michael Connelly. If you enjoy detective fiction or know someone who loves murder stories, get them this book. (Reading and keeping the mind active helps stave off dementia and makes life enjoyable.)

    I am a huge Michael Connelly fan. Whenever I finish one of his books, I look forward to the next one. I used to live in LA and really miss the city. So I particularly love his dark descriptions of Los Angeles and its seamy underworld of sordid crimes, cops and criminal attorneys. I've grown very fond of his characters L.A.P.D. Detective Harry Bosch and defense attorney Mickey Haller, who Connelly developed in separate series of novels over the course of many years.

    In "The Reversal", Connelly brings the two men together to nail a kidnapper and murderer. I'm not going to reveal the plot; it's best to read it for yourself. In most detective novels, the reader has to guess who committed the crime. That is not the point of this book. Rather, it's a story of how two prosecutors and a police detective work to find evidence to nail the bad guy. The unfolding of how Harry and Mickey work and think is really fascinating. Their characters' parallel lives with divorces, daughters and homes with sweeping views of Los Angeles (Mickey's looks West to the ocean. Harry's looks northeast (I think) over the Cahuenga pass and the Hollywood Freeway) pull you into the story and make you care.

    Amazingly, the court room scenes of the murder trial are fast-paced and fascinating. And wondering what the bad guy will do next kept me reading past my normal bedtime.

    Trust me. This is great escapist reading, grounded in a real city with characters you'll believe are real. That's what makes this book great.

    Monday, November 01, 2010

    Death Panels?

    Remember how so many people were afraid of death panels in the Health Care Reform bill? We may have them already.

    I just heard this story.

    My good friend escorted her older neighbor to the hospital because she was having trouble breathing after picking up a cold on the plane back from Europe. In the emergency room, the doctor determined that the older woman had pneumonia and had to be admitted to the hospital.

    My friend was dismayed, shocked and alarmed when a social worker appeared and started to take over. The social worker produced all these forms to fill out, including asking if the sick woman had a living will and if she wanted to be cremated or buried! She was asked all sorts of other difficult near-end-of-life questions. My friend told the social worker to wait until the woman's son arrived -- that these were questions to be discussed with family. My friend's neighbor's first language was Italian and she was very sick, not able to breathe well and was duly scared of all the sudden medical and social worker attention. She really couldn't handle all that was being thrown at her.

    To me this just shows how far we have come into the world of impersonal, uncaring, bureaucratic medicine. There was definitely no bedside manner. It just shows why we all need advocates to help us -- family, friends, neighbors or clergy. Occasionally, we get a family doctor who cares about us (not our money) and can help. But it seems they are few and far between.

    Who is going to stand up for us and help us when we're sick and old? It's not the medical establishment.

    This is a topic we all need to think about and discuss.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Dozens arrested in NYC, LA in Medicare scheme - NYPOST.com

    When I read news like this, it makes me sick. Truly needy Americans who are suffering from illnesses sometimes can't get the coverage they need. Our Medicare system is being overrun by cost increases. Fraud steals from all of us who are paying higher and higher premiums into the system. I can't figure out how bureaucrats stop legitimate folks from getting their care covered, while overseas thieves get away with fraud. I'm glad these people were finally caught.

    Dozens arrested in NYC, LA in Medicare scheme - NYPOST.com

    Wednesday, October 06, 2010

    ITNAmerica Has Given 300,000 Rides to Seniors

    I learned about ITNAmerica two years ago when I heard the founder speak. Started in Portland, Maine, as a small nonprofit, ITNPortland developed a system for giving rides to seniors who cannot drive. The concept was to make people safer, while increasing the freedom seniors have after giving up the keys to the car. They use volunteers and computer software to schedule rides in a highly efficient and effective manner. In fifteen years the model has spread across the country.

    ITNAmerica just announced that its affiliates have given 300,000 rides. The organization claims that "on any given day, 3.6 million seniors do not leave home, in part because they lack safe and reliable transportation." The success isn't cheap. It takes a lot of fund raising to keep it all going.

    To learn more visit their site:
    http://www.itnamerica.org/

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Senior Activities in Darien, CT - Fall 2010

    Aging In Place in Darien is the one place to call for information and referral to senior programs and services!
    Call 203-202-2912

    Fall News:
    Darien Health Department Flu Clinics
    •    Wednesday, September 29th, 9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. at the Darien

    Senior Center
    •    Tuesday, October 5th, 12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. at Darien Town Hall
    •    Tuesday, October 19th, 9:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. at Darien Town Hall
    •    Tuesday, October 26th, 9:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. at the Darien

    Senior Center
    •    Tuesday, November 2nd, 3:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. at Darien Town Hall
    The cost is $30.  Medicare is accepted.  For further information, contact Molly Larson, RN at larson@darienct.gov or call the Darien

    Health Department at 203-656-7394.

    Ask the Doctors
    Tuesday, October 5th, 7:00 p.m. at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road. 

    Doctors4Darien, a team of four esteemed community physicians, will discuss new research findings and information related to our bodies and our health.  From dental care to foot care and everything in between, this is your chance to learn new and better paths to wellbeing.  For more information, call the Darien Library at 203-655-1234 or go to www.darienlibrary.org.

    Medicare 411
    Tuesday, October 12th, 10:30 a.m. at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road.  Learn about the types of Medicare plans that are available, buying and paying for plans, and how the new healthcare reform benefits affect you.  Presented by Christine Crain, Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging and Inta Adams, Assistant Director of Darien Social Services. 

    For more information, call Inta Adams at 203-656-7321 or e-mail
    iadams@darienct.gov.

    AIP Annual Luncheon:  How To Live To Be 100
    Tuesday, October 19th, 12:00 p.m. at the Darien Community Association, 274 Middlesex Road.  The Aging in Place Annual luncheon is free and open to the public.  Dr. Edward Schuster, Medical Director at Stamford
    Hospital Health & Fitness Institute will give a dynamic presentation on “How to Live to Be 100.”  Please call Alyssa Israel, AIP Coordinator, at 203-202-2912 by October 13th to reserve a space.  Also, please visit the Darien Community Association Website for a full list of classes and activities at www.dariendca.org or call 203-655-9050.

    Why and When to Consider Long Term Care Insurance
    Wednesday, October 27th, 5:30 p.m. at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road.  Sponsored by the Connecticut Partnership for Long-Term Care, this forum will help you gain a better understanding of the risks and costs of nursing home and home care; why it’s important to consider these long-term care factors in retirement planning; what you need to know before purchasing long-term care insurance; and how the State’s
    Partnership program can add to your long-range financial security. 
    Space is limited so please call 1-800-547-3443 or 1-860-424-4943 to reserve a seat.

    Mahjong at the Darien Senior Center
    Every Monday and Friday, 9:00 a.m. at the Darien Senior Center, 30 Edgerton Street.  Learn a new and challenging game or refresh your skills.  Mahjong, an ancient game that involves strategy, skill and luck is played with a set of 152 decorative Chinese tiles with a variety of symbols from nature.  Stay until 12:00 p.m. to enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by Master Chef Tom Mirto (only $4.00).  For more information, call the Darien Senior Center at 203-656-7455 or e-mail eparis@darienct.gov.  For a full list of activities at the Darien Senior Center, go to http://www.darienct.gov/content/104/114/6428/default.aspx.

    Need a ride?  Take the Gallivant for a donation of only $5.00.  Call 203-655-2227 to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance.  Or purchase Half-Price Taxi Vouchers from Darien Social Services.  Call 203-656-7328 for more information. 
     
    Please feel free to forward this bulletin to friends and family who might be interested!

    For more information contact: Alyssa Israel, MPH, CHES
    Aging In Place Coordinator
    P.O. Box 926, 701 Post Road
    Darien, CT  06820
    Tel:  203-202-2912  Fax: 203-655-9416
    AIPcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    How to Live to Be 100!

    On Tuesday, October 19th, Come hear Dr. Edward Schuster, Medical Director of Stamford Hospital Health and Fitness Institute, speak on "How to Live to Be 100". Dr. Schuster's talk will be part of the annual Aging In Place in Darien luncheon. This year's lunch will be held at the Darien Community Association, 274 Middlesex Road, Darien, CT.

    Lunch will run from 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. and is free. But you must register before October 13 by calling the Aging In Place coordinator, Alyssa, at 203.202.2912. Or email her at:
    aipcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org
    If you want to get a flavor of Dr. Schuster's tips on How to Live to Be 100, here is a handout from one of his previous talks. Dr. Schuster is a cardiologist. http://smcnc.org/DrSchusterHandout.pdf

    Note: the Out and About fall newsletter had the wrong email address for me. I'm at upstartwyn@gmail.com.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Holding Down Medical & Hospital Costs

    When my mother had a stroke, I was appalled by the bills I got from the hospital and the doctors. Even more, I couldn't believe how much she was responsible for paying, even after Medicare and supplemental insurance had paid their share. Blue Cross denied practically every expense or said they were unreasonable for her area.

    While I was grateful for my mother's care, I still wound up calling the hospital billing office to question the bill, as my mother had suffered severe cognitive impairment from the stroke and could not do anything herself. I was able to reduce the bill. The doctors, however, stood their ground when I contacted them.

    That's why I loved Jane Brody's column in the New York Times Science section on Tuesday, September 14, 2010. It was called "Put Your Hospital Bills Under a Microscope". In the article, Brody talks about scrutinizing her aunt's hospital bill, as I had my mother's. She also gives lots of wise tips about how to hold costs down. She suggests going to the Health Care Blue Book Web site-- http://www.healthcarebluebook.com/
    to look up what various hospitals charge for various procedures.

    Brody also points out that hospitals and doctors charge insured people less than they charge uninsured people. That's because the hospitals negotiate rates with the insurance companies. The same can apply if you go out of your insurance company's network. You'll get socked with a much larger bill when paying nonnegotiated rates.

    The moral of the story is: Do your homework. Read and question all bills. Be your own or your loved one's advocate. 

    Read more at: 
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/health/14brod.html

    Put Your Hospital Bills Under a Microscope
    Published: September 13, 2010
    Medicare does not cover everything. Closely vet hospital costs and if you can, shop around beforehand.

    Thursday, September 09, 2010

    Can B Vitamins Slow Dementia?

    Yesterday, I saw a news item that said B vitamins can help slow the development of dementia. A study in Britain showed that large doses of B vitamins can actually slow down rate at which the brain shrinks in elderly people with memory problems. This may slow the slide into dementia.

    These results were achieved in a two year clinical trial at Oxford University. Now, more clinical trials have to confirm the results. The vitamins B12 and B6 were given in huge quantities -- not over-the-counter doses. Dosages this high make the vitamins more like drugs than mere supplements. It doesn't sound like something you should do at home.

    But B12 and B6 do seem to cut the amount of the amino acid homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine has been linked to the risk of developing Alzheimer's. People taking the high doses of vitamins did better on cognitive tests vs. those taking a placebo. More studies are coming.

    Read more via this link:
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_memory_vitaminb 

    Friday, September 03, 2010

    Senior Who Exercise Can Remain Independent

    It stands to reason that if you exercise, you'll be stronger and healthier. But recent research shows that specific types of exercise are particularly useful to older adults. That's because people lose muscle mass as they age, and lose even more if they're sedentary. When you lose strength, you lose mobility and then independence.

    An article in the New York Times on August 31 says that scientists are now studying why muscles wither, just like bones lose density. The scientists say that losing muscle will be as important a topic as osteoporosis very soon. The term for muscle loss with age is "sarcopenia".

    Most seniors want to maintain their independence. Doing the right exercises everyday is a small price to pay to have mobility and independence. The University of Florida is doing research to help seniors gain strength and balance, both keys to mobility. It's worth reading about via the links below.

    You can read about this in depth at the New York Times:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/health/research/31muscle.html

    Find out more about the research going on at The University of Florida:
    http://news.health.ufl.edu/2002/12828/colleges/college-of-medicine/uf-study-shows-strength-training-improves-aerobic-power-in-seniors/

     

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    Beware Of Life Insurance Companies Cheating You

    The article in Bloomberg Magazine looked like it was about life insurance companies duping the grieving families of fallen soldiers. But upon closer reading, the life insurance companies are also cheating civilian families. It's worth reading the entire article to get all the details. But I want to give you the heads up so you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

    Companies like Prudential Insurance are sending bereaved beneficiaries a checkbook instead of a check for the proceeds of a life insurance policy. The checkbook is for an account that the insurance company makes you think you can draw upon any time you want to buy something. What they don't tell you is that the money is not in a special account at a bank. It is not FDIC insured. And you are not getting the full amount of interest you deserve from leaving the money at the insurance company. In addition, it may be hard to use the checks.

    Rather, the insurance company has kept the funds co-mingled with all of its other investments, earning high rates of return for the company. They pay you only a small portion of that return. In other words, they are making money off the money they should have paid you.

    It's just plain wrong. I commend the Bloomberg story to you.
     
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-28/fallen-soldiers-families-denied-cash-payout-as-life-insurers-boost-profit.html

    Friday, August 27, 2010

    Medication Management

    Aging In Place in Darien hosted a Medication Management session that you can watch on Cablevision on Channel 79.

    Aging In Place – Rx Medications   ( runs  1:25 )               Rerun
    §        Airs  7:30 am, 2:30 pm, 9:16 pm
     Effective of August 27, 2010
    Copies of TV79 coverage are available for $25 per DVD.   E-mail them at channel79@darienct.gov

     

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Aging In Place in Darien

    This week I attended my last Advisory Board meeting for Aging In Place in Darien. That's because the Advisory Board has been disbanded and we will now have a Board of Directors. The new board has a fantastic array of really smart, dedicated people. I'm so excited that I will be working with them to more firmly establish AIP as a nonprofit serving the needs of Darien seniors.

    Aging In Place in Darien has come a long way in a few years -- from just an idea to an organization that connects seniors to the myriad services that exist to help them stay in their homes as they age. In July, we sponsored a meeting of local service providers in Norwalk, Darien and Stamford. There are over 90 such providers! 30 showed up and were thrilled to be networking and discovering how others serve seniors. The biggest problem seems to be lack of awareness. We help correct that.

    "We identify barriers and help break through them," says Olive Hauser, Director of Social Services in Darien. She's right, that's one of the big things AIP does. By working collaboratively, brainstorming, providing information and links, and acting as catalysts, we've helped Gallivant increase its ridership. (Gallivant is Darien's van that takes seniors and disabled to appointments of all kinds). We also helped the town establish half-price taxi vouchers for seniors by tapping a state senior transportation grant. Seniors buy the vouchers at Town Hall, and Eveready Taxi will accept the vouchers as payment for rides. Demand for taxi vouchers keeps climbing. Call Darien Social Services for more information -- 203-656-7328. To ride on Gallivant, call: 203-655-2227.

    But AIP does even more to help you to remain independent. Alyssa Israel, the AIP Coordinator, has a list of vetted service providers, if you need help around the house. She gets about 30 to 50 calls each month, mostly requesting handyman or home maintenance help, followed by transportation requests. Alyssa can be reached at 203-202-2912.

    I'm looking forward to our new board keeping up the momentum and accomplishing even more in the months and years ahead.

    Health Discovery: Coffee, Tea Reduce Heart, Cancer Risk - AARP Bulletin

    It looks like drinking tea is good for your mind and your heart. It looks like moderate amounts of coffee are good for you, too. And tea and coffee consumers have lower risk of some cancers!

    My theory is that if you are drinking tea and coffee, which are relatively unprocessed plant-based products, then you're ingesting less sugar, less high fructose corn syrup, and fewer artificial colors and flavors. That has to be good for you. Plus the natural nutrients in tea and coffee have beneficial effects, too. I'm sure glad I love coffee and tea.

    Health Discovery: Coffee, Tea Reduce Heart, Cancer Risk - AARP Bulletin

    Wednesday, August 18, 2010

    Enjoy Cooking and Eating by Yourself

    I give vegetables from my garden to my older neighbor because she really enjoys preparing fresh, healthful food for herself. But some older adults can feel uninspired to cook a good meal for just one person. It can be hard to come up with interesting ideas. That's why I love "Serves One" by my cousin and food expert Toni Lydecker.

    Ms. Lydecker has created a really wonderful cookbook with a wide array of delicious, easy-to-make recipes. She has a really nice style, and the book has lovely photographs which make the food look really appealing.

    The thing I like best is that most of the dishes are not just yummy, but also practical and healthful. Lydecker has included many vegetable-based recipes, so if you're looking to get more fresh vegetables into your diet, this book will be very useful.

    I will admit that since I know Toni, and have had the great good fortune to dine at her house, I know what a wonderful cook she is. I've given the book to members of my family who live alone and cook for one, and they say it's come in very handy. I cook for two, so I just double the recipes -- my favorite one is for soft polenta. (Although I do make it with variations of my own.)

     The book is definitely worth buying and is available at Amazon. (See link on this page.)

    Tuesday, August 17, 2010

    No Fashions for Old Pros

    I was in Macy's, and I wondered what had happened to my favorite clothing brands. Where were clothes that I could wear -- and look good in? When I was a YUPPIE the fashion world produced all these great clothes that were perfect for me - professional, stylish and reasonable. But now that I'm just an aging professional, I can't find anything to wear. I can look like a frump with boiled wool jackets and pants up around my waist or a middle-aged mom trying to look young with skinny pants with a waistband around my hips.

    Why? Because it's all about the young. You gotta sell to the young who are bursting with a desire to spend fresh money. We mature women don't spend as much, but we still have a demand for clothing. The young are a tough market. They are fickle and feckless, and developing the latest "must-have" item and marketing it is expensive and risky. I think fashion brands like Liz Claiborne are being really short-sighted to switch their focus from boomers to babes. Haven't they heard of the cash cow? A cash cow is a brand that you can milk. It has an established base of consumers who are loyal, and you just rake in the bucks from them.

    I knew that the cash cow concept hadn't even occurred to Liz Claiborne (one of my favorite brands) when I read in the Wall Street Journal on August 16, 2010 (After Targeting Younger Buyers, Liz Claiborne Hits a Snag) that the head of Liz Claiborne had made a deal with JC Penny to license its brand to them as a young, mass-market private label, while blowing off their older base who shops at Macy's. Furthermore, I discovered why a lot of the brands I used to rely on, like Ellen Tracey, were no longer available. The Liz Claiborne CEO William McComb had killed them off to focus on Juicy Couture, Kate Spade and Mexx.

    Interestingly, the change in focus has not been good for Liz Claiborne. The stock has gone from $43 when McComb joined the company in 2006 to $4.82 on August 13, 2010. Meanwhile, I have a more cash in my bank account because I could find fewer appealing clothes to spend it on.

    I wish someone would have the guts and the vision to pick up the old brands like Ellen Tracey and Liz Claiborne and re-establish them in the marketplace. Until they do, I will keep hunting for clothes that fit my needs. I think it's a great opportunity.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748703999304575399552246431616.html

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    Technology Can Let You Age in Place

    Mom or Dad doesn't want to move to assisted living or a nursing home. But you are worried about Mom falling or Dad forgetting to take his medication at the right time. What can you do with parents who want to live out their days at home? Technology to the rescue.

    There are now a wide variety of high-tech gadgets and systems that help seniors remember to take their pills, warn family or emergency services that they have fallen, or even monitor daily habits. These are big advances over the older technologies you've seen advertised on TV. Large corporations, entrepreneurs and universities are busy developing new and better methods to meet the growing demand from older adults and their adult children. Among these are U.C.L.A. Wireless Health Institute and Philips.

    This whole new concept in high tech support is really wonderful, if you can get over the idea that it's a little bit like "Big Brother". Still, according to two articles in the New York Times, seniors can get used to being monitored. And if the adult children frame the requests to use technology properly, they can demonstrate love and care, rather than a need to control.

    Read more about the technology via these links:

    http://www.wirelesshealth.ucla.edu/ 

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/garden/29hometech.html

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/garden/29parents.html

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    What Really Causes Alzheimer's?

    I'm puzzled. Just this spring I read that a researcher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine had discovered that amyloid plaques were probably not the cause of Alzheimer's. Therefore, removing plaques would not help patients. In fact, it might even hurt. Dr. Sam Gandy, who is the lead researcher, says it's floating clumps of protein that are destroying the neural pathways involved with learning and memory. He says science should be working on pursuing this new hypothesis -- the "abeta oligomer hypothesis" -- rather than the "amyloid beta" hypothesis that most drug research is focusing on.

     The articles I read online in AARP magazine and medicinenet.com were very compelling, explaining how Dr. Gandy used mice to make his discovery. The research even indicated that plaques might be the body's mechanism to protect the brain from the damaging floating protein. I thought I'd be reading more about this exciting, hopeful research. But no.

    Instead, I've been reading about huge drug trials from big pharma intent on studying the removal of plaque. The New York Times had a front page article on July 17, 2010, on new ways to test for Alzheimer's, new drug studies and how the FDA is slowing the studies up. The FDA is saying that it's one thing for a medicine to make plaque disappear, but what they want is for the memory of the people taking the drug to improve (or at least not continue to deteriorate). Hooray for the FDA. This makes perfect sense. But why weren't the FDA and Times also talking about Dr. Gandy's research? Why aren't drug companies shifting over to test drugs that fight the abeta oligomer?

    I'm baffled. If anyone out there reads this and can shed light on this, please let me know. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease. My mother had dementia from a stroke. I know first hand how devastating dementia can be.  
    Here are links to the various articles I've cite here:

    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=115821


    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/health/research/17drug.html


    http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-05-2010/alzheimers_disease.html

    Friday, July 09, 2010

    Robert Butler Dies - Coined Term "Ageism"

    The man who coined the term "ageism" died on July 4, 2010, at age 83. His name was Robert Butler, and he was a psychiatrist with a fascinating background and appreciation for the elderly. Dr. Butler believed that there was significant discrimination against older people, which he called ageism. He said it was wrong and that we needed to have greater appreciation for older people, particularly because people are living longer.

    His activism led to an entirely new branch of medicine -- geriatrics. He taught that age does not necessarily lead to senility. He founded the National Institute on Aging in 1975, and in 1982 proposed that Mount Sinai School of Medicine start a department of gerontology. Butler believed in living life well. He respected how the elderly can have amazing strength and endurance and used that knowledge and feeling in his work.

    Read the entire obituary and a conversation with him at the New York Times. 
     
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/health/research/07butler.html

    http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/07/a-last-conversation-with-dr-robert-butler/

    Thursday, July 08, 2010

    We Need More Geriatric Experts

    In case you didn't know it already, the population of the United States is graying. Seventy-five million adults will be over 65 by 2030. Yet, we do not have nearly enough professionals working in the field of geriatrics.  The New York Times recently noted that "of 3.1 million registered nurses nationwide, 11,000 are certified in geriatrics." And relatively small portion of funding from the National Institute of Health is going toward geriatric health research.

    If we're going to have successful caring for our aging population, we'll need more doctors and nurses who know a lot about the older brain and body. Lack of understanding has led to too many patients on Medicare to be readmitted to hospitals within 30 days after discharge. Falling, drug interactions, drug mistakes and other problems all contribute to preventable health care issues for the elderly. But nurses who are trained to follow up with patients can help by calling them.

    Some hospitals have adopted a program called "Niche" (Nurses Improving Care for the Healthsystem Elders) to do just this and more. Read more at: http://www.princetonhcs.org/page5738.aspx

    Universities and hospitals are taking action, but it's slow in coming. Become informed about this important health issue. Take some action. Make a difference. We are all aging...

    Read more:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/29/health/29geri.html

    Tuesday, July 06, 2010

    Joint Replacements - Outcomes Vary

    The New York Times ran an article last week on knee and hip replacement surgery. The main point of the article was how important it is to get it right the first time. Find a surgeon who has lots of experience doing the replacement. Ask about the type of hip or knee you'll be getting. Find out how successful such joints are in the long run. Find out how many patients of a particular surgeon have to get the operation done over again with a new joint. You don't want to have your new joint fail and be forced to have surgery all over again.

    According to the article, you can actually look up online registries that have information about doctors, hospitals and joints. Such registries about the success of certain brands or types of joints have a long track record overseas, so it pays to look internationally. (That's how other countries keep health care costs under control, in my opinion.) 

    The article is loaded with other great advice about preparing for the surgery and recovering after it.  It also provides links to the registries.

    Take a look: 

     http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/03/health/03patient.html

    Friday, July 02, 2010

    The Crazies - Heart-Thumping Thriller

    Here's a break from my blogs for seniors. It's a review of the movie "The Crazies."

    My heart was thumping as I watched the action in The Crazies unfold. Although marketed as a horror movie, Breck Eisner’s remake of the 1973 George Romero film struck me as more of an intelligent thriller with some bloody scenes. What makes this movie particularly good is how it takes the point of view of the protagonists, a local sheriff David Dutton and his doctor wife, played by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell, as they are confronted by more and more of their friends and neighbors strangely changing into vengeful, unstoppable killers. They, along with the deputy and his girlfriend, slowly realize that they seem to be immune to the epidemic which is taking over the good people of Ogden Marsh, Iowa. At the same time, they find they are also cut off from communicating with the world beyond its borders.

    Soon, they’re not just running from the local population, which is becoming steadily more crazy and murderous, but also from government troops who have moved in to quarantine the town and annihilate all the infected residents. It turns out that a military plane crash unleashed a bio weapon into the town’s water supply, and the government has to stop its spread and the knowledge of the catastrophe. The premise of a U.S.-made bio weapon getting loose, its devastating effects on the humans living there and the government’s heavy-handed response all seem plausible, when you think of recent environmental disasters.

    I thought Eisner directed his characters and action well and developed high tension with some really cringe-inducing scenes and surprises. The acting was much better than a typical horror film. I particularly liked
    how the film’s creators interspersed calm, personal sequences, like the sheriff waking up with his wife in their peaceful house, summer breezes blowing the curtains, with sudden scenes of violence. The scenes of
    surprising or unrelenting attacks truly had me gasping and tensing up far more than I do in most movies. I had actually thought this kind of movie making was dead, but I’m glad to see it isn’t.

    I also really liked how the production design (art direction) aided in creating the bucolic feel of the Iowa prairie, in contrast to the bloody mayhem and military response.  And I enjoyed the percussive score written by Mark Isham. Isham created music that sounded at times like the bells of a railroad crossing. I loved that because it evoked the image of fast-moving, unstoppable danger, and you’re stuck at the RR crossing, just watching.  He also wrote lovely melodies for the calmer, more personal parts of the film, again, helping to create more suspense and a sense of dread.

    If you missed The Crazies when it was out in theaters, get the DVD now and treat yourself to a good, scary evening.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Drug Interactions with Food and Medications

    Did you know that the more medicines you take, the greater the chance you'll make a mistake in taking them? Your risk of the medicines interacting with each other increases, too. Drugs can also interact with the food you eat or the beverages you drink. Drugs can interact with chocolate, grapefruit, tea or herbal supplements like St. John's Wort.

    Did you know that 40% of people in the US have prescriptions for four or more medicines? That means those people are all at risk of making a mistake and maybe winding up in the hospital.

    The way we can keep ourselves safe is to become more knowledgeable and to find clever ways to keep track of what we're taking.

    I learned all this last month when I attended a lecture on Medication Management given by Nursing and Home Care, located in Wilton, CT. Elaine Abrams, the nurse who gave the talk also gave us a list of really useful websites where we can learn more about drug interactions, drug safety and general medication management.

    I've found a few sites myself, too. My favorite is one run by the FDA:

    http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm096386.htm

    Here are others:

    www.consumermedsafety.com 

     www.drugs.com

    http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/toc.html

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Senior Transportation Study

    Access to transportation is essential for seniors to age successfully in their homes. Yet, most communities do not have a coordinated means to help seniors find the transportation that is right for them. This is particularly problematic in rural and suburban areas.

    The National Center on Senior Transportation just did a nationwide survey among the Area Agencies on Aging to learn more about needs and how they are being filled. Take a look via this link.
    National Center on Senior Transportation:

    What is your community doing? In Darien, CT, Aging in Place in Darien has a transportation committee which collects the information and helps to identify gaps in transportation and then tries to fill those gaps. Anyone who needs transportation can call the AIP coordinator to get information on rides via half-price taxi vouchers, Gallivant (senior van), Norwalk Transit, Family and Children's Agency, or via volunteers at local houses of worship. Call Alyssa at: 203-202-2912. Or email her at: aipcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org.

    Join the conversation.

    Monday, May 31, 2010

    New Science Sheds Light on the Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, New Direction for Finding Cure - AARP Bulletin

    This news about oligomers, a floating protein in the brain, causing Alzheimer's is incredible. Now, some scientists say it's not the sticky plaque, just the proteins. The plaque actually protects the brain, they think. Amazing! Read more in the AARP Bulletin. Link below.

    New Science Sheds Light on the Cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, New Direction for Finding Cure - AARP Bulletin

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Needed, Now: New Approaches to Financing Old Age - Knowledge@Wharton

    How do you finance old age today? You may have to work into your 70s. That's what experts are now saying. With the decline of corporate pension funds and with people living longer than ever, you may outlive your savings. We certainly can't rely on Medicare and Social Security.

    We all need to become financially more literate -- to understand the power of compounding (if we ever get higher interest rates again), investing for the long-run and the way annuities work.

    Read more in this alarming article from the Wharton School.

    Needed, Now: New Approaches to Financing Old Age - Knowledge@Wharton

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Take Care With Medications

    Last week I attended a talk on Medication Management for seniors. A registered nurse who is with Nursing and Home Care gave the presentation, which was really excellent. What I liked most was how many seniors showed up and how engaged they were in listening. They are confused by those "meds" they're taking are, and came to find out more about how to manage taking them. The woman sitting next to me came with a baggie filled with about 10 different pill bottles.

    That's why it was great that there was a useful freebie being given away at the talk - a seven-day pill organizer. This is a plastic case with seven rows of little square holders for your pills. You organize the pills by day and time, so that you can keep track of what you've taken and not taken.

    I can see how this would be really helpful. Two years ago, I had an infected dog bite, and I had to take two antibiotics on two different schedules. Plus, I could only take them within a certain number of hours before or after taking a multivitamin. The regimen was quite complex.

    My solution was to write out the schedule on one piece of paper that I left on the kitchen table. Then, I had another piece of paper on which I wrote down the date and time that I had taken each pill -- immediately after I had taken it. This way, I didn't have to wonder if I had taken it or at what time I had done so. The system worked very well for me and helped keep me out of the hospital.

    Try it for yourself. I'll be writing more on medication management this week.

    Please send me questions and comments.

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Seniors: How to Avoid Scams

    I just got this notice from the Bedford, NY, Police Department. In the spring bunco artists (i.e., scammers and crooks) prey on seniors. Even though it comes from police in New York, seniors everywhere can benefit by reading this and taking care.

    April 29, 2010 Contact: Det. Sgt. William Hayes PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

    Bedford Police are reminding residents, particularly seniors, to be on the alert for con artists that often ply their trade during the spring months. These individuals engage in activities such as driveway paving or sealing scams, chimney repair or other home improvement offers. Criminals also pose as fake water or utility inspectors who try to talk their way into your home. Residents should be suspicious of anyone who comes to their home uninvited and offers these types of services.

    All contractors must be licensed by the Westchester County Department of Consumer Protection. Their website has some excellent resources regarding assistance to homeowners desiring to hire contractors, as well as information on other types of scams, the website is http://consumer.westchestergov.com/.

    Other types of scams include having a female or child come to your door and ask to use the bathroom or phone. When allowed in, the person claiming to need assistance or nearby accomplices will steal items from the home of the unsuspecting homeowner. Some groups will try to lure a homeowner out of the house by claiming a neighbor is cutting trees or constructing a fence near the property line to get the homeowner out of the house and allow accomplices to enter and steal property.

    Another good resource for information on these and many types of scams is http://www.nabihq.org/. This organization, the National Association of Bunco Investigators (NABI), is a non-profit organization that assists law enforcement in solving confidence scams, commonly known as “bunco” crimes. NABI has assisted the Bedford Police in the past and has directly led to arrests of perpetrators of bunco crimes committed in the Town of Bedford.

    Residents are encouraged to check on their elderly relatives and neighbors frequently and particularly if you see suspicious activity at their homes. If you see something suspicious, call Bedford Police right away, don’t wait!

    IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHNG!

    Sunday, May 16, 2010

    Medication Management for Seniors - May 18 in Darien, CT

    Did you know that one in every three hospitalizations in older adults results from medication mishaps?

    Did you know that one in every four medications prescribed may be unnecessary?

    Aging In Place in Darien and Nursing and Home Care are jointly presenting Medication Management at the Darien Town Hall.

    Elaine Abrams, MPH, RN, and Community Health Coordinator at Nursing & Home Care will talk about drug interactions, how to read drug facts and labels and what to ask your doctor.

    I'm going to attend and will blog about the information I get from the presentation.

    Don't miss this important meeting - Tuesday, May 18th, 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. -- Room 119 at Darien Town Hall. It's free and open to the public.

    To register, call Aging In Place at 203-202-2912.

    Follow me on Twitter: @indieseniors.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Betty White Monologue

    Even if you don't normally watch Saturday Night Live, this opening monologue of Betty White's is worth watching. I love Betty. She is still charming, gracious and very, very funny. I wish more people were like her.

    If you want to talk about aging with grace, Betty is doing it. Except, at 88 1/2 years old, she really doesn't seem that old. Take a look.

    Betty White Monologue

    Wednesday, May 05, 2010

    The Zimmers "My Generation" Released: 28/05/07

    My Generation Video

    A must-see video. I found a link to this video on the USC Davis School of Gerontology Web site.
     
    It is absolutely fabulous.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqfFrCUrEbY

    News from Aging In Place in Darien


    News from Aging In Place in Darien

    The one place to call for information and referral to senior programs and services! Call 203-202-2912

    DCA Plant Sale
    Friday, May 7th, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Darien Community Association (DCA), 274 Middlesex Road.  There will be wonderful plants grown in the DCA's own greenhouse by their greenhouse members, as well as perennials donated from the gardens of garden club members.  Experienced gardeners and designers will be on hand to offer advice and suggestions.  Come early before that perfect plant is gone!  For additional information, call the DCA at 203-655-9050 or go to www.dariendca.org.

    Burlesque: The Way it Was…
    Friday, May 7th, 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Lifetime Learners, Norwalk Community College, Pepsico Theater, 188 Richards Ave.  Former international burlesque queen Bambi Jones traces the history of burlesque and will perform for the audience while educating on the origins of burlesque styles and trends.  Bring your lunch or buy it there.  For more information, call Lifetime Learners at 203-857-3330 or go to www.lifetimelearners.org.

    Darien Library Book Sale
    Saturday, May 8th to Friday, May 12th at noon at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road.  Shoppers will find recent bestsellers, fiction, mystery, cookbooks, travel, biographies, and children’s books.  On Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, books, audio books, CDs, and videos are $1 each or three for $2.  DVDs are $5 each.  Paperback books are $.25 each or five for $1.  On Tuesday and Wednesday, all items will be half price.  Thursday is Dollar-a-Bag Day and on Friday, visitors to the Library may fill a bag for free until 12 noon.  For more information, call the Darien Library at 203-655-1234 or go to www.darienlibrary.org.

    Mother’s Day High Tea and Entertainment with Pianist Marilyn Beede and singer Cookie Martini
    Wednesday, May 12th, 12:30 p.m. at the Darien Senior Center, 30 Edgerton Street.  Come at 12:00 p.m. for a delicious lunch prepared by Master Chef Tom Mirto (only $4.00).  To make a lunch reservation, call the Darien Senior Center at 203-656-7455 or email eparis@darienct.gov           

    Medication Management
    Tuesday, May 18th, 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Darien Town Hall, Room 119.  Learn about drug interactions, how to interpret the drug facts label and what questions to ask your doctor.  Get the facts about generic vs. brand name, buying medications online, travelling with your meds, and preparing for emergencies.  Presented by Elaine Abrams, RN, MPH of Nursing & Home Care.  Refreshments will be served.  To register, call Aging In Place in Darien at 203-202-2912.

    Need a ride?  Take the Gallivant for a donation of only $5.00.  Call 203-655-2227 to make a reservation at least 24 hours in advance.  Or purchase Half-Price Taxi Vouchers from Darien Social Services.  Call 203-656-7328 for more information. 


    Please feel free to forward this bulletin to friends and family who might be interested!


    Alyssa Israel, MPH, CHES
    Aging In Place Coordinator
    P.O. Box 926, 701 Post Road
    Darien, CT  06820
    Tel:  203-202-2912  Fax: 203-655-9416
    AIPcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org

    Tuesday, May 04, 2010

    Practical Assisted Living Structures - PALS

    A couple of years ago I met a man named Henry Racki. Henry is a builder, and he had a vision for families to be able to keep their loved ones at home and out of institutions. It wouldn't matter if the loved ones were old and frail or young and disabled in some way. He developed modular, temporary additions for homes called Practical Assisted Living Structures, or "PALS."

    Henry's company is going strong. They are building the PALS and attaching them to homes. Even cooler, he has built this business during the worst recession our country has had since the Great Depression. He has built this home-building company in the midst of our worst housing slump in ages. That is something to be proud of.

    Another thing we all can be proud of is that Henry is a veteran, and he first thought of PALS to help disabled veterans. In fact, he installed the first unit onto a veteran's home, donating the time and materials. I wrote about this in a previous blog.


    Take a look at the PALS website and watch the video of the PALS being put in place.

    http://www.palsbuilt.com/

    Monday, May 03, 2010

    New Approach - New Title

    If you follow this blog, you should know that I have changed the title to: "Independent Seniors" from "Aging With Grace."  I have registered a new address, too, "www.independentseniors.net". You'll see that www.agingwithgrace.blogspot.com still comes up in the address line. I've left that as it is so as to not confuse search engines. But my heart and mind are in the right place. I've learned from my older friends.

    Too many older adults have told me that "aging in place" or "aging with grace" has the wrong connotation. As one of my older eloquent pals told me:

    "I am definitely aging (88 1/2), but in spite of the fact that I am in
    my home, I do not feel that I am "in place" nor do I feel that I am
    doing whatever I am doing "with grace."  I think I have mentioned to
    you before that the title "Aging in Place" conveys to me the picture
    of an inactive, helpless person who has decided that life is over and
    action of any kind is undesirable.  It sounds like a static condition,
    whereas I feel and believe that the most important thing we can do as
    we age is move--participate, reach out, enjoy.  There are multiple
    ways we can do this, and no doubt your writing will deal with some of
    this, but I feel that the title is not going to get me to read it in
    the first place.

    "The strange thing about age is that there is a part of you that never
    does feel old.  Maybe the bones ache, or the mind refuses to bring up
    a word, but for most of the older people I know the spirit is strong
    and memory holds a basket full of goodies along with a few pickles.
    ...I think the title needs to convey a more upbeat feeling than "Aging in
    Place."  


    So here we are with a new approach. I want to hear from you!. I have another email, too: indiesenior@gmail.com.

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Independent Seniors

    I recently started to search for older seniors 75+ who would like to tell me about how they "age in place." Wow! I got an earful.

    First, they don't like terms like "aging with grace" or "aging in place". These are fiercely independent people. They are determined to stay in their homes as they grow older. They are determined to stay active, despite the aches and pains and other problems. I'm touched and excited by the stories.

    Next week, I'm going to talk to a woman who had a tree crash through her roof. She is not moving out. She is getting the house fixed!

    More to come...

    Monday, April 26, 2010

    Why Is It So Hard to Throw Things Away?

    I've often thought that one reason older people don't want to move is because it would make them have to decide what to move and what to throw away. How can you throw out a lifetime of memories or many of those items you just might need?

    I think about this a lot because I donate my time to Aging In Place in Darien, and because when I was a kid, I used to move about every two years, which necessitated lots of throwing away, selling, giving away and packing up. I've now spent over 20 years in one place, and although wanderlust strikes me often, I also dread the idea of a move.

    Recently, I tried to make myself do "spring cleaning" and discovered that it's good to sort through old papers. You can find things! You can clear the decks. But on the whole, it's just not as satisfying to me as weeding or tilling the soil. Spring to me means it's time to work in the garden. Maybe I just like putting down roots.

    But yesterday, I read a wonderful piece in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about cleaning out the parents' home. The writer, Rick Marin, took a week to do it. The piece is worth reading, mostly because it's just good writing. But it's also worth it to make you think about who should do the throwing out. You? Your adult children? People left behind when you're dead or incapacitated? Not pleasant thoughts, but still, ones worth having. I commend the article to you.
    Objects of Accumulation
    Published: April 19, 2010
    Packing up an entire houseful of stuff and memories.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/25/magazine/25lives-t.html

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Beware of Scammers!

    I just got a good email from Connecticut State Senator Bob Duff. He is warning folks to make sure that the contractors they hire are actually licensed. Many people, especially seniors, are preyed upon by scam artists looking to make a quick buck. By asking to see a contractor's license, they can avoid scams. I'm pasting part of Senator Duff's email below. To check on licenses for your contractor, visit this site for Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection:

    http://www.ct.gov/dcp/site/default.asp
    Friends:

    In light of the recent storms in our area, I thought it would be a good time to remind you to be careful if you are hiring a contractor to do some work on your house.

    Most contractors are hardworking people looking just to make a living through their trade. However, we all know that unscrupulous people will often try to capitalize on the misfortune of others in order to make a buck.

    Though many out-of-state contractors may be looking for work in Connecticut, they must be licensed with the state to legally conduct work here. To protect yourself, your family and your property, you should take the necessary steps to verify that a contractor is licensed and in good standing with the state before choosing to hire them to work on your home.

    Contractors-including carpenters, electricians, plumbers, heating and cooling specialists, stump removers and other trades people-must be registered with the state Department of Consumer Protection to conduct work in the state. Similarly, arborists must be registered with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

    You are also encouraged to ask contractors to show a copy of their Connecticut license or registration cards and insurance certificates and to ask for a list of references.

    If you've experienced property damage or unfinished work at the hands of a registered contractor, you may qualify for restitution through the state's Home Improvement Guaranty Fund. However, this fund is not available to homeowners who hire unregistered contractors.

    For more information about hiring a home improvement contractor and the Home Improvement Guaranty Fund, call toll-free 1-800-842-2649.

    I hope you enjoy the upcoming week.

    Sincerely,
    Bob



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    Thursday, April 15, 2010

    News from Aging In Place in Darien



    From Aging In Place in Darien

    Here is a rundown of news and activities of interest to seniors in Darien and nearby towns.

    National Healthcare Decisions Day:  Do you have an advance directive?
    Friday, April 16th, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Darien Senior Center, 30 Edgerton Street.  Special presentation on advance directives (healthcare power of attorney and living will) by Christine Pfeffer, MS, RN of Mid Fairfield Hospice.  For more information, call the Darien Senior Center at 203-656-7455 or email bparis@darienct.gov           

    “The Awful Truth” (1937) Starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, and Ralph Bellamy
    Wednesday, April 21st, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Darien Library, 1441 Post Road.  A classic sophisticated comedy about a couple who can’t make up their minds about divorce.  For more information, call the Darien Library at 203-655-1234 or go to www.darienlibrary.org.

    DCA Health Fair
    Friday, April 23rd, 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Darien Community Association (DCA), 274 Middlesex Road.  Free testing for cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, pulmonary function, skin analysis, body fat and more!  For additional information, call the DCA at 203-655-9050.

    Looking for home-delivered gourmet meals?  Top Chef Meals offers an impressive variety of flash frozen gourmet meals for only $5.50.  Microwave/oven safe packaging.  Minimum order of $35.00 plus $15.00 shipping to Darien.  For more information, call Top Chef Meals at 914-372-7080 or go to www.topchefmeals.com.

    Are you considering affordable housing?  Because of the limited supply of affordable housing in Fairfield County, it is important to identify and apply to each affordable housing development several years before you need to move there.  But how does one find affordable rental housing?  Connecticut offers an excellent statewide listing service for affordable, accessible and market-rate rental housing.  Go to www.CTHousingSearch.org or call 1-877-428-8844.

    Prevent a fall with a FREE grip rail/grab bar (value $300)!  Stephen C. Gidley, a Darien-based contractor and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, will install one free grip rail/grab bar (18” - 24”) in your shower or bathtub tiled area.  Call 203-655-7018. 

    Need a ride?  Take the Gallivant for a donation of only $5.00 (Tel:  203-655-2227) or use your Half-Price Taxi Vouchers!  Call Darien Social Services at 203-656-7328. 


    Please feel free to forward this bulletin to friends and family who might be interested!

    Want to subscribe or unsubscribe to this bulletin?  Write to AIPcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org.


    Alyssa Israel, MPH, CHES
    Aging In Place Coordinator
    P.O. Box 926, 701 Post Road
    Darien, CT  06820
    Tel:  203-202-2912  Fax: 203-655-9416
    AIPcoordinator@communityfunddarien.org

    KFC - Komen Breast Cancer Promotion Blunder

    A coupon book arrived in the mail yesterday shouting - "Save at KFC - help fight breast cancer".

    Eat fast food and fight breast cancer? My mind was boggled. Pink buckets of friend chicken? Were they color blind or just tone deaf?

    But then I opened the booklet. Staring me in the face: "BREAST DEAL - $2.59."

    I still cannot believe that this promotion is real. How could the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization even begin to think it is doing the right thing with this promotion? How could KFC?

    This has to be the biggest blunder of a promotion I have ever seen. I think the whiz-kids who thought this one up didn't think far or fast enough. Promoting eating breasts to raise money for breast cancer? It is just plain wrong on so many levels.

    Obviously, the people involved with this promotion haven't read the research that fast food is making the nation obese. Obesity promotes cancer. Health and cancer experts tell people to eat less fried food, less processed food, less fast food. Even the Susan G. Komen Foundation itself says that weight gain can contribute to breast cancer:
    http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/OverweightWeightGain.html
    Looking at this promotion to me is like hearing nails on a chalk board.

    http://www.ricancercouncil.org/health/fastfood.php
     http://breastcancer.about.com/od/riskfactorsindetail/a/weight_bc_risk.htm

    KFC Buckets Go Pink To Help Fight Breast Cancer: "PRESS RELEASE: --(BUSINESS WIRE)--KFC: WHAT: Starting today, KFC ..."