Thursday, May 29, 2008

Ha ha ha ha ha....

My dear sister Mary finally solved the mystery of why ads for breastfeeding kept coming up on this site. What in the world, we wondered, did breastfeeding have to do with aging parents? It was a puzzlement. Then she figured it out.... feeding mama... the ads are targeted toward the name of the blog rather than the content. Oh well. That makes sense now.

Workin' for a Living

Just as working parents face a continuous juggling act trying to maintain a family while working full time jobs, working adult children who provide care for their aging parents must work at keeping it all in balance. Or trying to at any rate. Here is a site that will help those folks with suggestions and referrals to help them keep it all together. Bravo to the creators of a very much needed place for them to find what they need.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Is this bad or is this good?

While shopping for groceries this week I discovered that Lays has a new line of chips advertised as Pinch of Salt, A Low Sodium Choice. I bought the Frito's and one serving (about 34 chips) has 160 calories and only 75 mg sodium. Now I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand it's wonderful that food manufacturers are finally getting on board with the whole sodium level thing, I mean my goodness, the sodium content in processed food is insanely high. I'm glad they recognize the need to do something about it. But. On the other hand, once you've gotten processed food out of your diet, is it a good idea to add it back in just because there's less salt? Yes, they have zero trans fats and truly low sodium. But they're still Frito's. It's a quandry.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Information Motherlode

I found out about this site that is absolutely chock full o' great information for older adults and those who care for them. The downside is that it's specifically targeted for Florida residents but there's still a lot of mighty good information for seniors in general. Check it out, you may find just what you're looking for.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Comfort food

One of my favorite things is a good old-fashioned tuna fish sandwich but it has to have celery, onions and dill pickles chopped up in it or it's just not right in my opinion. My mom likes it that way too but there is way too much sodium for her in pickles, especially those of the dill variety. Unless I want to make two different versions we get no pickles in our tuna fish. But McCormick spices has a blend called "It's a dilly" made with dill weed, dill seed, onion, garlic, lemon peel and jalapeƱo peppers. It works great in tuna salad, giving it a good dill flavor and you still get the crunch from the celery and onion. Add some chopped egg and mayo and there's some good tuna salad. It's very good on sauteed fish too.

Now you may like something completely different in your tuna salad but the point is that you don't always have to give up everything you like when you have dietary issues. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity and taking the time to read labels in the grocery store.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Drug Run Frustration

So... Mom has a chest cold. When she started coughing up phlegm in various hues of doom she calls Dr. G. her awesome internist who calls in some antibiotics. Seems like a reasonable response. A little while later I hit the drive-thru at the drugstore of the national chain variety to pick up the drugs. Mom is on auto-pay at this store so it should be a quick and painless exchange. But no. The clerk goes to fetch the prescription and comes back with the news that the pharmacist wants to know if Mom is taking her Warfarin. Well, yes she is and I tell her that the doctor wants her to take the antibiotic anyhow. Clerk goes back to the pharmacist and returns saying the pharmacist is asking if the doc knows she is on Warfarin? Well, again, yes. He knows. Just give me the prescription for the love of Pete. And reluctantly they did finally send it out after a few more rounds of intermediated conversation.

The reason I found all this so frustrating is because we have been here before. Just a few months ago we were in the same situation. Mom has chest congestion, coughing up the telltale colors of phlegm that are a sign of infection. Just like this time, the doctor is called and the prescription is called in. When I get there, the pharmacy refuses to give it to me. Apparently her blood thinning medication is contra-indicated with the antibiotic. So I ask the pharmacist what our other options are and he suggested an over the counter decongestant. Long story short, that made her worse and she ended up in the ER with CHF and pneumonia. I discussed the issue I had had with the pharmacy with her doctor who told me there are NO antibiotics that aren't contra-indicated with blood thinners. Gah.

At least this time I knew enough to stand my ground with the pharmacy, got the antibiotics and my mom is on the mend. Like they say on those public-service ads on TV, the more you know...

Friday, May 16, 2008


No, I didn't just make up a new word. Visitability, or visit-ability is a concept that promotes access to the elderly and disabled in residential housing. They make the excellent point that new construction should bear in mind how a person with limited mobility might find it difficult or even impossible to enter a home. They stress accessible design not only for the homeowner in their present state of physical health but also for visitors who have mobility issues as well as looking to the future for the homeowner. Just because a person is fine now doesn't mean they always will be and forward-thinking home design may just be the thing that allows a person to age in place and avoid having to leave a home they love due to mobility issues. It's a lot easier to design a home to be accessible from the start than to have to try to retro-fit it as that becomes necessary.

Visitability is more than simply installing a few grab bars and no-skid flooring. Can a friend's wheelchair fit through the front door much less the bathroom door? Could your mother-in-law take a bath or shower while she visits? These are the types of issues you will find on this website. Very interesting stuff.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Be prepared!

June is not far away. I can always tell because hurricane season starts in June and our local weather folk start talking about what they expect this season to be like and about being prepared. The Red Cross is the go-to agency for information on disaster preparedness. You should also contact your city for the location of senior-friendly shelters in case you ever have to evacuate. Your city may also have a service you can register for to provide you with evacuation assistance in the event of a disaster.

For the Red Cross chapter closest to you or someone you care about, visit

For the Red Cross preparedness information, visit

Here, you will find links to the following topics:

Food and Water in an Emergency
Shelter-in-Place in an Emergency
Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes
Family Disaster Planning
Preparing for Disaster
Preparing for Disaster for People with Disabilities and Other
Special Needs
Animal Safety
Emergency Preparedness Kit

So, like the boy scouts always say, be prepared! It's better to have the information already in hand than to try to scramble to find it in the midst of an emergency.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Barley Salad Redux

I made this salad the other day after I posted the link to it and it was surprisingly delicious. Seriously, I almost lived on it for a couple of days that's how much I liked it. Barley and vegetables and rice wine vinegar - chock full 'o fiber, very low in calories and sodium and my mom liked it a lot as well. I'll probably make some more tomorrow.

Anyhoo... for those of you who need more details in a recipe than you got from the previous link I'll tell you how I made mine. But the beauty of this recipe is that you can use whatever you want in the way of veggies and have it as a vegetarian meal or a side dish, or add some form of protein to make a complete meal.

Betsy's version:

Cook 1 cup of barley according to package directions (one cup dry makes over 3 cups cooked). Let it cool while you chop the veggies. I used carrots, cucumber, summer squash, tomatoes and edamame. Mix the vegetables with the cooled barley. Add 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 2 packets of Splenda, black pepper, basil and tarragon. Mix well and chill. Enjoy!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Keepin the Faith

I belong to a small local clergy group made up of folks who minister to older adults and we had an event yesterday on Spirituality and Aging with a wonderful priest friend of mine as the speaker. There are opportunities galore for older folks for health screening and information opportunities, seems like everybody and his brother has a health fair at some point. Likewise for recreation opportunities - churches have senior group meetings, go on trips and such and our city has a huge senior program with centers in most communities that are open all day five days a week for classes, games and things. Our community college and our state university have programs for continuing education for senior adults. But there are very few opportunities for spiritual growth specifically for older adults despite the fact that for many, it becomes the most important aspect of their lives. As our physical capacities wane with the passage of time our spiritual lives can stretch and grow, increasing in significance and helping us make sense of our lives. We come to realize the truth that our spiritual lives are, in fact, the most important aspect of our lives and pursuits that enhance and promote our personal spiritual selves are most helpful.

Having said all that, it was a great morning. Father T. was entertaining, inspiring and brought a powerful message about finding purpose and encouragement through our faith practices. I hope we provided something special and spiritually nourishing for the folks who came.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Recipe to try

I found this recipe for Twistie's Barley Salad of Mystery over at the Manolo blogs. It's just my kind of recipe - the free for all, add what you like, leave out what you don't kind. I've never had barley in anything other than beef barley soup but I'm going to give this one a try, leaving out the salt of course.

We get by with a little help

I just ran across a site that could really come in handy for a lot of folks called
It's not fancy but it has product information on hundreds of items designed to help folks who have trouble with some of the activities of daily living. There are links for everything from carrying bags to wheelchair ramps to devices that help fasten buttons. Often times the only thing keeping someone from living at home is an inability to do some things unassisted that could be corrected with the appropriate device(s). If someone you love has difficulty with tasks they used to be able to do, check out this site and you may find just what they need to help them retain some independence.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday dinner winner

I'm really happy to find that more and more products in the grocery store are available with really reduced sodium. For example, Mrs. Dash now makes four or five really tasty marinades. I marinated some shrimp kebobs in the garlic and lime flavor today and they turned out great. I also used a new frozen product, can't remember which brand but one like Bird's Eye. It had white rice with lots of peas, corn and carrots in a microwave steamable bag all with virtually no sodium. I made a sauce with fresh pineapple chunks and brown sugar and a little bit of lower-sodium teriaki sauce to go over the rice & veggies and served it with the shrimp. It was mighty tasty and there were no leftovers! Well, there was a little of the tossed salad left but all the rest got eaten up by Mother, my elder son and daughter-in-law and myself. It was quick and easy for after church and we all enjoyed a nice meal together. Good food, good company and good conversation, things that make life pleasant.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A little self-promotion

Caregivers have to do all they can to take good care of themselves. You can't let your reserves get depleted. In fact, most everyone should consider making some positive choices in regard to things like diet, nutrition and exercise. Our fast-paced lifestyles very often can keep us from eating well and can benefit from adding a good supplement to their diet. Here's a site that has not only quality vitamins, minerals and other supplements but also protein bars and drinks, meal replacements and other great stuff to make it easier to get all the fuel your body needs to work at optimum capacity.

In the interest of full disclosure, this is a personal website of mine and I do benefit from a portion of its sales. If I didn't believe in the quality and value of these products I would not associate my name or this blog to them. I use these products myself every day. And a girl has got to do what she can to pay the bills and keep the home fires burning so I truly appreciate the support.