Editorial: What does it feel like to be in your 80s?
by Izamar Loredo, CCV Intern
While surfing the web looking for interesting blog content for our readers, I cam across a website called Quora, in which people go and ask any question they’d like. For the most part, the answers they receive are well thought out and intelligent. Because I was in the aging forum, this question caught my eye: What does it feel like to be in your 80s?
Being 22 years old, I clicked on it out of curiosity. The first response turned out to be one of the wisest things I have ever read. Whether you are 50 years away from being 80 or 25, I think this man’s response has a lot to teach each and every one of us. I know it’s long, but it’s worth the read.
To me, his still-standing desire to leave a mark in this world because he deserved it, not because he was simply “here” is a wish that I share with him. I feel like this piece shows us that regardless of being 80 or 22, we all still have very the same core beliefs, values, and wishes for our life.
What does it feel like to be in your 80s?
“I am in my 80’s. To be this age is largely luck.”–Stan Hayward, Film writer
To be this age and reasonably healthy with peace of mind is even luckier.
To be this age; be healthy and not lonely makes one feel so lucky that you want to gulp the moments down like a drowining man reaching air.
I have been in five car crashes without being hurt (none were my fault).
During the war as a child I experienced several bombs falling within close range and where people within yards of myself were killed or injured.
Numerous other such incidents sometimes gives one a sense of invunerability, and other times that the next incident won’t be so lucky.
I regret much, but also realise that having regrets meant that I had opportunites to regret. I was lucky to have those opportunities.
There is a desire to leave ones mark; grafitti on the wall of time; an apt engraving on a tombstone or small plaque on a parkbench. The gifts of inheritance that will be gratefully accepted, and carry the essense of ones past.
The slogan ‘I was here’ seems as important as always, but much more in the sense of ‘I hope I deserve it’ rather than ‘And now you know’.
Much thought is sometimes given to organ donations, with an underlying feeling of ‘Please God keep me healthy and I will give my body to science in return’. Though living on as a kidney transplant is more of an altruistic gesture than a religious one.
When friends pass away it is not just their presence that is lost, it is also the memories they have of you. The “Do you remember when…?” conversations that pepper the elderly reminiscenses.
Fear of death is actually rare, and is commonly a joke. On the other hand fear of losing ones memories, faculties, or independence is real.
One puts a great value on having people who we can trust, especially to carry out wishes when we are gone.
Making final decisions can be upsetting, particularly if they relate to young people who seem distant in age and lifestyle yet close in relationship.
One gets comfort from familiarity. The same cup, the same chair, the same view. One can be disturbed by the disruption or criticism of established habits.
Having pets is a comfort, but caring for them can be increasingly difficult when ones joints get stiff, and even bending over is an effort.
It is easy to put off things till ‘tomorrow’ though there is the thought that there may not be a tomorrow.
Oddly enough, the older one gets the more likely it is that one will live longer. If the Devil hasn’t taken you yet he may not be bothering.
There is the constant sorting out of possessions no longer used, and not acceptable even for charity shops. The clothes that once looked smart in ones finger-clicking days now seem to say “How can you do this to me?” as they read your thoughts.
There are the books you intended reading, but now never will. The postcards of forgotten places with ‘Hope you are well’ signed by some long lost friend.
The photos of someone you knew well, but cannot now recall the name. Perhaps the more intimate letters from those you knew when time stood still.
So, what is it like to be in your eighties? It is really not much different from being any age where your concerns are getting through the day.
On the other hand people have more importance than possessions. Comfort more worth than ambition. Trust more value than money. Love more satisfying than immortality.
Perhaps in some ways, one wants to leave the world as one entered it; without fear or pain; without anger or distrust; without possessions or debts; without demands or expectations; in innocence.”
Thanks to Christi Buerger and our friends and official CCV Provider Nurses Unlimited for this blog post to help guide you through the process of hiring in-home respite care.
1. Feel safe and comfortable with who you hire. This will make your respite an easier situation both for care taker and recipient. Be aware that the emotional need the caretaker has is different from what the individual at home has.
2. If hiring a professional agency which specializes in personal care:
• Make sure they are licensed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability, and employees are bonded
• Any agency should be able to quote their rates prior to visiting you in the home
• Ask if the agency has a registration fee or trip fee
• Ask if rates increase on nights or weekends
• Ask how their staff is credentialed, especially the administrator. Then ask what type of background checks are performed (criminal history, drug testing, Nurses Aide registry, if providing transportation, DPS check)
• Ask for recommendations from local healthcare providers or associations.
• Ask for their Emergency Procedure Policy
3. If not hiring a professional, remember:
• Check multiple references
• Ask about experience and/or certifications
• Realize they are not bonded and insured, thus you are exposed to being personally sued. (Homeowners insurance does not cover an in-home care worker being harmed in the home.)
• If you have Long Term Care Insurance, it will only allow a licensed agency.
Area Agency on Aging does have a caregiver respite program that is grant funded (no out of pocket). Call (512) 916-6062 for details. And for further questions, contact Christi Buerger, LBSW at Nurses Unlimited at (512) 380-9339.
Recipe of the Month
Splurge: Spiced Apple Bread
Enjoy this tasty treat from the Southern Food Website:
• 2 2/3 cups flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 2 cups granulated sugar
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 4 cups coarsely chopped apples
• 1 cup raisins
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 2 teaspoons sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and oil. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then stir in chopped apples, raisins, and pecans. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Grease 2 9×5-inch loaf pans and line bottoms with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper. Pour batter into pans, smoothing the top with a spatula or spoon. Bake for 20 minutes at 325°. Pull out rack and sprinkle loaves with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Continue baking for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; turn out onto a rack. Slice and serve or freeze.
Capital City Village Provider Fair Wrap Up
by Tom Knutsen
December 4, 2013
If you missed the Capital City Village Provider Fair two weeks ago, you missed a special opportunity to take advantage of one of our most significant projects – developing a list of reputable service providers often recommended by our members or volunteer members. You could have met with two different law firms specializing in the needs Seniors have in estate planning and protection. Or met with a financial planner. Or met specialists in mental or physical health. Or re-modelers or movers. (You can check out the list of provider attendees here.)
You even could have met a guy who’ll watch your house when you go out of town, making sure all works well in your absence.
In planning the fair, Member and Public Relations Director Ericca Long planned for a wide-ranging group of providers. She got it; lawyers, financial planners, handymen, therapists.
I showed up as volunteer reporter, intent on learning who was there and why or how. If you think about our Village, a good question to ask any member, visitor, or provider, is “How did you learn about us?” I’m always curious about that.
I went to learn, and I found more: relief.
Jon Sullivan, Cen-Tex Senior Massage, LLC patted his massage table as I approached, “Hop up, We’ll see what we can find,” he said. Gently but firmly he moved across my shoulder muscles, quickly finding the walnut embedded in my right trapezius, or shoulder muscle. “Let’s see,” Mr. Sullivan said, and asked me to turn my head different directions, down left, right, etc., as he pressed with power against the shoulder.
After a few moments, “Ah,” I said, “You got it.” The knot released.
Mr. Sullivan, as he pressed on my body, told me he has specialized on massage therapy for seniors for more than twenty years. He told of a patient, late eighties, suffering from dementia, and stooped, whom he treats regularly. He said he works on releasing the fascia, the outer tissue that ties muscles together, because relaxing it improves motion and flexibility. After each session, he said, his patient is a little straighter, a little more coherent for a time.
With muscles, he explained, “Time is the like the pages of a book. With older people, the pages stick together.”
I guess I need to say, “Turn the page” when I start to get out of bed in the morning.
Directly across Yarbrough Library’s meeting room from him, Catherine Hotard, LMSW, had her simple display. A Licensed Master Social Worker, Ms. Hotard offers counseling services, skills she said she honed helping residents of Bastrop two years ago following the devastating fires there. Still in training, she works under the supervision of licensed clinical social worker, Sarah Kyle, PhD. She said she grew up in her grandparents’ home, so, she said, “I have a passion for older people.”
She earned her degrees at The University of Texas at Austin.
Yes, we all need help with body and mind at certain times, but what about our homes? At certain times, we travel, we fail, we need to move around more safely, or we need to move out to a smaller, easier to manage space.
For those of us who want to stay in place, as my mother said, “They’re taking me out of this house feet first,” and they did, we may need assistance. Lanny Kylberg of Kylberg Service Company is a handyman and electrician who can help you keep that old house going. He’s been in business for 35 years in Central Texas.
Jim Parr of Austin Troubleshooter can help with house chores whether you’re home or cruising the Black Sea.
Mr. Parr offers an array of handyman, house-sitting services, as his Web site explains. He has his business advertisement on the side of his truck. When asked how he came to know about Capital City Village, he said, “I was working with Family Eldercare when it was on Hancock, down the street, and someone probably saw the sign on my truck.” Going out of town, he’ll check your house, take care of your plants, and in the case of a serious problem, call a professional to repair it.
Another handyman service provider at Tuesday’s fair was Lanny Kylberg, an electrician who also offers general repairs, carpentry work, and painting. He said he didn’t know how he became a provider, but the CCV office called him. Our Provider Committee records show he’s gotten recommendations from two members. I guess he’s on my list to call when I need help.
What about adjusting your house to accommodate a walker or wheelchair, the need to make a house friendly to a handicapped person?
Ginger and Paul Barnett represented their remodeling business, Ageless Spaces. Ms. Barnett, recommended by Victoria Bovard based on previous experience, had a really effective display of their work on an iPad. She simply tapped her way through a house upgraded for better access, including a shower with no lip and no leaks – just a smooth floor where a person on a walker could scoot in with no curb.
Oh, and Ms. Barnett uses the letters “CAPS” after her name. “CAPS?” you ask. “Certified Aging in Place Specialist,” a designation by the National Association of Home Builders. The NAHB Web site tells us, “The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation program teaches the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging-in-place.”
You can coordinate your re-model with Melinda Gray Interiors. Melinda Gray recently moved to Austin from Seattle, Washington. She learned about CCV when she met Don Cook at the Metropolitan Breakfast Club.
Her work is interior design, and she brought a northwest magazine, Seattle Homes and Lifestyles, featuring a home she had re-designed into a warm, modern, country home.
Get your house fixed up, now all you need is help at home. You can call Right at Home, a private business that will organize vetted helpers you need to stay in your house. Owned by Edwin Young, it was represented by Marc Hernandez. He said his business learned about CCV by referrals. It’s a private-pay operation, not funded by Medicare or Medicaid, but it can help you find bonded in-home assistance for everything from transportation to bathing.
Are you ready to downsize, and shed the carapace of a large house for a smaller space?
Life’s Next Step is the brainchild business of Linda Carter. She said she got the idea for her business while taking care of her mother. She’d helped her mother shed goods and move into smaller quarters, learning along the way how difficult choices can be for the person moving. Ms. Carter said she realized that the easiest way to help in decisions of what to keep and what to give away or sell is to prepare a floor plan of the new dwelling, “So they [the people moving] can make a list of what will fit. It makes it easier for them to make choices.”
She arranges both the moving and the disbursal of “stuff,” so the client does not have to expend energy on logistics.
Last, or should it be first, how about the estate planning that we all face? How safe are our financial assets, who will ensure they are there when we need them, and how can we set up the process for our care when we’re no longer able to make those decisions?
Sara Pantin of Asset Strategies Group described her company’s services for insurance and financial planning. It focuses on seniors’ needs for financial security.
And we had two law firms whose specialties are needs of seniors. Larry Russell of Wilson, Sterling & Russell and Gaye Thompson of Thompson & Tiemann answered questions about serving the elderly and their needs ranging from wills and care planning to probate assistance. They’re both firms with specialties in “elder law,” which is an area that protects estates and prepares the path for care givers to attend to their families’ needs.
What did I come away with? I may have found my own legal help, but I have learned where to find someone to watch the house while I’m away. I may have found a massage therapist for my older body, not someone geared to get me ready for full contact soccer next weekend.
The fair raised my awareness that my wife, Caroline, and I have entered a new season in life, where we have different goals – it’s no longer college and graduate school tuition for our children, but how we can find tools to navigate toward a time of diminished energy and abilities to attend to new needs. Thought provoking.
Six Tips to Begin an Exercise Routine
It is common knowledge that a healthy lifestyle leads to healthy aging, but many seniors do not know how or where to start an exercise routine. These six tips, taken from helpguide.org, should help you get started on that healthy, active lifestyle. Remember that Cafe Dance hosts daily yoga classes for beginners and intermediate enthusiasts for only $5 for CCV members, plus walking groups run by CCV members on a weekly basis, so when you feel ready to start that fitness routine come join us!
1) Get medical clearance. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you have a preexisting condition. Ask if there are any activities you should avoid.
2) Consider health concerns. Keep in mind how your ongoing health problems affect your workouts. For example, diabetics may need to adjust the timing of medication and meal plans when setting an exercise schedule. Above all, if something feels wrong, such as sharp pain or unusual shortness of breath, simply stop. You may need to scale back or try another activity.
3) Start slow. If you haven’t been active in a while, it can be harmful to go “all out.” Instead, build up your exercise program little by little. Try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice a day. Or try just one class each week. Prevent crash-and-burn fatigue by warming up, cooling down, and keeping water handy.
4) Commit to an exercise schedule for at least 3 or 4 weeks so that it becomes habit, and force yourself to stick with it.
5) Stay motivated by focusing on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and energy levels and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve.
6) Recognize problems. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. Stop exercising immediately and call your doctor if you feel dizzy or short of breath, develop chest pain or pressure, break out in a cold sweat, or experience pain. Also stop if a joint is red, swollen, or tender to touch.