Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Great Gift Idea #2

Do something nice for someone you know who spends all or part of their day caring for someone else. Caregiving can be a rewarding experience but it can also be lonely, frustrating and exhausting as well. Give a caregiver the gift of your time for respite, your shoulder to lean on and your compassion for encouragement. They'll be the most appreciated gifts you give this year I promise. A massage and/or a mani-pedi always works too...

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Great Gift Idea

One of the most thoughtful and generous gifts you can give is the gift of your time to the older adults in your life. 'Tis the Season for gift giving and rather than spending time and money shopping for material things why not make it a priority to have a nice long visit with someone who would appreciate your company far more than anything you could buy for them. If you can't visit in person you might call or write them a heartfelt note letting them know how they have been a blessing in your life. If you don't have an older person in your circle of friends and family to visit locally you can check with the chaplain or social worker in your community's nursing home to find someone who truly needs the gift of your time and attention. You may just find that it's the most meaningful gift you receive this year as well.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not quite a winner just yet

Well, my cornbread casserole turned out well enough but I wasn't happy enough with it to publish a recipe just yet. I'll fiddle with it a bit and get back to you. My temporary full-time job has ended but I may be called back sooner than I thought so we'll see what happens there. In the mean time regular blogging will commence again now that I have a little more time on my hands. 1.5 jobs plus a house full 'o people had me coming, going, and meeting myself again in the middle there for a while. Check back again soon for some blogilicious tidbits about caregiving and low-sodium cooking!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Dillema

Mama and I are invited to have Thanksgiving at my daughter-in-law's parent's house this year. That means I need to just take along a couple of Mama-friendly side dishes and she can have a bite or two of whatever else she likes in addition to her turkey. (I always end up cooking a turkey even if I don't have Thanksgiving at my house. I love, love, love real turkey sandwiches and enjoy getting creative with the leftovers). Anyhow, I bought some fresh cranberries to make cranberry sauce and I want to make a yummy cornbread casserole. My dilemma is that every recipe I find for it calls for Jiffy mix which of course, I can't use due to the high sodium content. So I'll be experimenting with my own "mix" to use in the recipe. I'm pretty sure I can pull it off and I'll bet the folks won't even realize that the salt is missing. When I get it figured out I'll post it for anyone who's interested.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Trouble With Families

Family dynamics are, shall we say, interesting. They seem to become even more interesting when Mom or Dad goes to a nursing home for rehab after a surgery or illness. Everyone wants what is best for Mom or Dad. The trouble starts when the spouse, children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends and so on all feel like they have to be in on the action of every aspect of Mom or Dad's care plan. It usually looks something like this: either the spouse or the child who has most of the caregiving responsibilities (we'll call him Bob) is in contact with the nursing staff, social worker/discharge planner, physical therapist, occupational therapist, physician, etc. Then daughter Polly shows up and has to speak to all the same staff members, getting the same information that Bob got. Later on daughter-in-law Millicent calls so that brother Morris can stay informed and she speaks to all the same staff members, getting the same information that Bob and Polly got. Except that Millicent thinks that Dad needs more or less medication, different therapies and that Mom isn't capable of making good decisions any longer regarding Dad's care. Keep in mind, now that both Mom and Dad are still quite alert and oriented and have the right to make their own decisions be they good or bad.

Anyhow, you get the picture. Most of the folks above are lovely people who mean well and only want the best for their loved one. What they don't realize is that by not agreeing to have one family member act as spokesperson and liason between the staff and the rest of the family they are actually sucking up valuable time that is needed to provide actual care and therapy for not only their loved one but for everyone else in the facility as well. I'm thinking that this ought to be a requirement on admission - choose one person to be the communicator and let the rest of the family argue amongst themselves if they have differences of opinion. Most folks have chosen the person(s) they want to handle their business affairs and make their medical decisions if necessary. I think they ought to add family communicator to the list as well. Then they can tell Bob, Polly, Millicent, Morris and all the rest what's going on with Mom or Dad and the staff can provide the care that will help Mom or Dad get back on their feet. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Matter of Attitude

Yes, it has been a while. Thanks for asking. I've been enjoying my new job, trying to do justice to the part-time one and then there's life. Busy times but I'm grateful to have them. Not sure what's next, the person I'm covering for is due back from her maternity leave on December 7th. I've started looking to see what's out there and hope it's better this time around. I figure there were things to learn and experiences to have and I'm kind of excited to see what God's got planned for me next.

In the meantime I've been observing life in the nursing home/rehab center world. There are stories there, as I'm sure there are in all of them, that could fill volume after volume with stories of love, pain, bravery, fortitude, hilarity, sadness and escapades of d erring do. We lose a lot by letting those stories go untold or forgotten. And there are personalities - oh, are there personalities. I stepped in to one of my resident's rooms yesterday to see how things were going. She is what we like to call "pleasantly confused" and her language is a bit on the salty side but I enjoy talking to her very much. I asked how her day was going and she replied, "Not worth a damn!" with a little laugh. I was not just a little bit annoyed by the young physical therapist who entered after me and proceeded to lecture her on using her "nice words so we don't offend anyone." Jeez Louise. She may be elderly, pleasantly confused, salty-tongued and mischievous but she's still a grown woman who deserves the dignity to be treated as an adult, not a 4 year old. But I digress. The point is that it is the ones who can laugh even when their day isn't going that great, who get up and go to therapy or out in the dining room even when they don't feel like it, who can see the silver lining even in a day filled with dark ugly clouds, they are the ones who are still engaged with life. They generally fare better in their progress but even when they don't they have a positive impact on everyone around them. I have seen even the grumpiest of nurses, aides or other residents thaw out and even chuckle when persistently engaged by a merry soul. And the biggest impact is made by those who have little or no reason to be merry but yet they persist in their cheery ways. I like hanging out with them and I want to be just like them when I grow up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Going back to work at a full time job while keeping the part-time job and other fun and interesting life activities (!) has had me going for the past couple of weeks but I'm beginning to find my sea legs again and get my bearings about me. For the record, I LOVE my new job working with older folks at the nursing home. I'm on one of the rehab units and mostly work with folks who have had surgeries or other hospital stays and need to get some strength and mobility back so they can go home. I see them when they come in, assess their psycho/social needs, work with their families and then arrange for them to have all the goods and services they need in place when they go home. It's fast paced and fraught with all manner of surprises and other variables but I am really beginning to enjoy it now that I'm getting the hang of it just a little bit.

So I told you all of that to tell you this; I grew up in a neighborhood just across the river from a very wealthy and prominent old money neighborhood. I went to school with the kids from that neighborhood and am still good friends with a lot of them today. I have seen lots of the movers and shakers out in the community all of my life and I must admit for a lot of my life I admired them for their successes and their standing in society (I've pretty much grown out of that and am quite content with my life overall these days even though I'm not what you would call successful in a worldly sense). Today, I was walking down a hall and I saw a woman I recognized by face if not by name who had been one of the society ladies I had seen in the paper at balls and fund raisers and in Publix in her tennis skirt chatting with friends in the produce section. But here she was, small and anxious in a reclining rolling chair, unable to communicate and seemingly unable to understand and it hit me like a ton of bricks. All the things we chase after and argue about and hold dear to our hearts all of our lives and for what? In the end what have we got left that we can hold on to? Our status, our accomplishments, our acquisitions.... none of it matters much by that point. And it can all disappear in a heartbeat. All I can do is to pray that she and all the folks I get to interact with are able to become more and more grounded on the spiritual side even as they begin to lose their groundedness on the physical side. And I pray that the transition brings with it peace and joyful expectation. And my prayer for myself is that I will remember getting gobsmacked with that realization and continue to loosen my grip on those things that I'll just be leaving behind anyhow. You can't reach out to take hold of the new stuff if you won't let go of the old.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Glory Hallelujah - a job!

After a long, long, long, extended, very long period of semi-unemployment I am pleased to announce that I have been offered and accepted a position as a discharge planner at a local long term care/rehabilitation facility! Yayyyyy - a job! It is PRN (as needed) but I will be filling in full-time for someone going out on maternity leave for 3 months so at least I know I'll have a real, big-girl paycheck coming in for that long and who knows what will come after that. Good things, I'm sure.

It's also going to be great experience for me and I expect to come across tons of new information and resources to share here for older folks and caregivers who have to make long term care decisions. The Feedin' Mama blog will be more useful than ever as I expand my experience and knowledge base.

And did I mention the big-girl paycheck? Again.... yay! Praise God from Whom ALL blessings flow! And gobs of appreciation to my daughter-in-law Nicole for taking on Mama care during the week so I'll know she's being well looked after. Four generation households are the shizzle. (Martha Stewart translation: a good thing)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Local Girl Makes Good.... Go Grandma Lee!

75-year-old commedienne and Jacksonville resident, Grandma Lee has made it through to the finals on America's Got Talent this year and I just think that's awesome. This little powerhouse has done the impossible, she has all of the judges eating out of her hand, most especially the chronically grumpy Piers Morgan. And it's not just a case of "aw, look how cute she is" - they recoginize that she truly does have the talent going on - writes her own material, has excellent comic timing and you can tell she's just enjoying the heck out of the whole process. She says she was 62 when she decided to give stand-up comedy a try and 13 years later she's a star in the national spotlight. You go girl!

My favorite joke of hers is that when she dies she wants her ashes spread over the local Krispy Kreme so her fat daughters-in-law will visit her at least twice a week. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!! The Seniors.... they do indeed rock!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rich, chocolaty stress relief

I know I've said it before more than once but it's so important for caregivers to remember to take care of themselves and they usually need regular remiders that if they don't stay healthy in body, mind and spirit they're eventually going to need a caregiver themselves. Here's a link that is directed toward caregivers of folks with Alzheimer's but it's chock full of good advice for any and all caregivers. Follow the links for stress relief too, especially this one. They've got good stuff for everybody who has stress to address and that's pretty much all of us, yes? And then of course there's always chocolate...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How the Amish do it

I wrote recently about how we have become a 4-gen household in the Feedin' Mama house. Back in the days before Social Security and IRAs that was the way it was done, elders lived in the homes of their children or other family members. Personally, I feel that we have lost something important as a society once families were relieved of that responsibility. These days, multi-gen households are an anomoly. But I digress... here's a post about how the Amish folk build additions onto their homes for their elders along with links to other construction/arrangement possibilities. We here at FM house don't have the resources for construction projects at present, we've just rearranged and squoze in where we could but I think we all have seen the benefit of extended family living in spite of the few inconveniences so far. I guess my point is that with a little creativity, flexibility and a spirit of cooperation it can be done and I think it's worth it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Respite Rocks!

One of the first things you hear in the pre-flight speil is if you are traveling with a small child or someone who is dependent on you that you need to remember to put the oxygen mask on yourself first if such is required because you can't help anyone else if you've passed out yourself. This is analogy often used when counseling caregivers... take care of yourself because if you get sick or drop dead then you aren't going to be of any use to anyone anymore. Sadly, it's one of the least heeded pieces of advice that they get. Granted, sometimes it's due to a martyr complex that the caregiver has adopted. Very often the caregiver isn't comfortable leaving anyone else to tend to their loved one, especially if they have particular needs that someone else may not be able to meet. But most often, a caregiver doesn't get a break or respite time simply because there isn't anyone available to take over for them or they don't know how to go about finding the help that they need.

I am so very blessed to have family and friends to back me up. I got away this weekend with my all-female work group from church the Tool Time Girls(TM). My sweet sister came over from Trenton, FL where she lives on five acres out in the middle of God knows where. She took over Mama-care duties at the nursing home for me. Our dear friend Steve (the bf of one of the group) offered us his lovely home on a canal in Palm Coast. He came up to Jax and stayed at her house because one rule of TTGs is no boys allowed. We had just the best time eating and sleeping and watching movies and we even got to watch the Jaguars game on a station out of Orlando. We didn't go to the beach because of the weather and the runouts but we did go see the estate of a Russian Princess out on Matanzas Bay. Even though we didn't do anything crazy this year like get tattooed or anything, it was just what we needed, me especially and a fabulous time was had by all. I did get a text Saturday morning from my sister telling me that Mama had gone back into congestive heart failure and had been moved back to the hospital but she wouldn't let me come back, she had it under control. She's such a peach. And Mama is doing much better today, she may be discharged tomorrow and we'll be bringing her home this time. I think she's had about as much rehab at the nursing home as she can tolerate and I felt like they weren't as concerned about the sodium levels in her food as I would have been. See... there's that "nobody can do it as well as I can" complex happening there just a little bit.

For folks who are not as blessed as I am to have such great support there are agencies that provide respite care. I know that the VA was very good about giving Mama respite when Daddy's care became a full-time job for her. Catholic Charities and Urban Jacksonville both have local respite programs as do several nursing homes and home care agencies. Help is out there for you and if you need my help finding it in your community just e-mail me and I'll do what I can to point you in the right direction. But please do remember to take care of YOU. It's important.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bad to the Bone

Now that's just funny. I don't care who you are...
thanks to my friend Sandra for this morning's chuckle!

Florida Biker Bar

Monday, August 17, 2009

Channeling Nancy Regan

Let me begin by saying that I admire and respect Nurses with big, ginormous admiration and respect. And CNAs and Social Workers and all the other folks involved with health care, especially in hospitals. I know it's a difficult job and they are not responsible for staffing levels that stretch them thinner than Mr. Clean's hair follicles. But for the love of all that is holy, why would anyone see the need to inform an elderly patient who is black and blue and traumatized from being stuck repeatedly with all manner of needles for a solid week that she might have to have a blood transfusion and that her current IV needle is too small for the job? Especially in light of the fact that the procedure has not even been ordered?

Poor Mama called last night in quite a state because the night nurse, (not our wonderful, capable super-fantastic day shift diva) had told her just that. Mind you, she had just had her IV replaced earlier that evening and it had been a trying a painful experience. I just wonder at folks who don't seem to think about things before they start yapping, especially to an older person who has been through the wringer and does not need any more stress, especially about things that are only in the faint realm of possibility. It's like those people who just have to spread any bad news they hear because they gain some perverse sense importance from doing so. Grrrr. Anyhoo I confered with one of the sibs and we agreed that there wouldn't be any danger in refusing the procedure until this morning when her regular, fabulous, amazing primary care doctor would return to make the call. And when I called Mama back to talk to her about it that is exactly what she had told the nurse herself. Yay for her! It's often very difficult for her to assert herself but that is exactly what she had done, I was so proud. We are both learning that it is, very often, more than okay to just. say. no.

Now for the best news... she is being discharged to the nursing home next door for a little bit of rehab to regain some strength and should be home very soon. Thanks be to God.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spa Day on 5 West

I came up to Mama's hospital room after church today armed with a plethora of items for a "Spa Day." I had some no-rinse foam to wash her hair left from a previous hospital stay. (You never know what you're going to get in the way of personal care products, now they're using these nifty sponge-like cloths that soap up when you wet them for bathing but I thought the foam would work better for her hair. I must say that St. Vincent's is really good about providing that sort of thing. I had a friend who had surgery in another local hospital [one of the for-profits] and all there was to bathe her with was a bar of hotel soap and a basin. I'm not kidding. I was appalled.)

Anyhoo, she was bathed and in her new robe when I got here so we got her hair washed and I sprayed lavender oil around, put a relaxation CD in the laptop and lit the little battery-operated tealight I had brought from today's church service (it was VBS Sunday and they handed them out with the closing song, "This Little Light of Mine") So we had the spa vibes going and I gave her a hand/arm/foot/leg massage, oiled her cuticles, filed and buffed her nails. By then her hair was dry so I cranked up the curling iron and worked a little hair magic. I remembered to check to be sure the oxygen was off before I used the hair spray because you don't want to take any chances on blowing up the place. She lookes fabulous and feels a whole lot better, it's amazing what a little primping will do for a girl. I took a picture on my cell phone to send to the sibs, I told her to put her hands up to show off her manicure and she crossed them up near her face. I said that made her look like she was dead and we didn't want to scare the sibs and she laughed about that which made for a very nice picture. After a week of scares and traumas, hospital smells and noises and folks poking at her from every angle I think she appreciated a little bit of pampering. She's watching golf on TV and working the Sunday crossword puzzle. If we weren't here it would be just like any other Sunday. Maybe we'll get home and back to normal soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Mama Update

We're happy to report that Mama is doing much better, she's sitting up and taking nourishment. The nurse just went over all her labs with me and they're mostly looking a lot better. We've got a great RN today, she's really on top of things and communicates with us which is wonderful. The ACP who's assisting her today seems stretched pretty thin, though. Guess you can't blame her for being a little bit crabby when everybody wants something and there's only one of her for who knows how many patients. But that's why I'm here, or one reason anyhow, to take up that slack. Dr. G says you really need to stay with your loved ones in the hospital as much as you can these days. So I'm here to fetch and carry and do whatever she wants done. And there's wi fi so yay!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Godspeed Captain Speicher

I was privledged to witness the procession as Captain Michael Scott Speicher's remains traveled from NAS Jacksonville toward the Veteran's Memorial Wall downtown. I took these pictures as they came up over the Ortega River Bridge on US 17. Godspeed Capt. Speicher and may God bless you and your family for the enormous sacrifice you have made for our country. Mama and I will always be grateful.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Adventures in Elder Health Care

Or Mrs. Mama's Wild Hospital Ride

It's been a wild couple of days for Mama, me & the sibs to be sure. They found the source of the bleeding and were able to fix it, thank goodness, but because they had to take her off of the coumadin and all of her heart meds she went into congestive heart failure again. That hasn't happened since we started really watching the sodium in her diet so of course that was not a happy development. They have since gotten her back on those meds except for the coumadin which she will not ever be able to take again. IMHO that's a good thing but it could admittedly be a problem in the future with her various cardiac conditions.

Anyhoo... they should be moving her out of CCU and to a regular room today so that is good news. But they have found an active staff infection so it's gowns and gloves and we can't take anything into her room that we want to bring back out, like say, purses, cell phones, laptops... They finally got wi fi at St. Vincent's and now I won't be able to use it unless I leave Mama and go out in the waiting room. But that won't work either because I can't just leave a laptop lying around our there. Meh. Oh well, we're just mostly glad that Mama's getting better and narrowly escaped bleeding to death, it was way too close for comfort this time. Her 91st birthday is in less than 2 months and we have definite plans to celebrate it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prayers for Mama

Please keep Mama in your prayers. She went to the hospital yesterday with internal bleeding and is now being moved to ICU. Thanks, Betsy

Sunday, August 9, 2009

She never ceases to amaze....

So... what's Mama up to tonight you ask? Well, she's in on her computer using Skype to video chat with my brother in Milwaukee. I know older folks who are 20 years younger than she is who won't even try to learn to use e-mail and here is Mama creating her own facebook accounts and video chatting and what not and she'll be 91 in less than 2 months. I'll let you know when she starts IM-ing her bff....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Everybody Was Cane-Fu Fighting....

...those canes were fast as lightning... (apologies to those who know the song that is now stuck in your head as an evil ear-worm)

I just ran across this article on a new trend in self-defense training for seniors. LOVE it! I'm sure it also helps with balance and flexibility not to mention the tremendous boost in self-confidence.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More Good Eating Fast and Cheap!

So with the employment situation still not, shall we say, optimum I'm watching that food dollar pretty closely these days. But I still have to keep the meals nutritious and the sodium low for Mama's good health. We're both real fond of fish but our favorite orange roughy is generally too pricey so we've grown fond of tilapia. Winn Dixie almost always has frozen tilapia fillets buy one, get one free so I stopped over there and got a couple of packages last week. Having those fillets in the freezer means I can cook up a meal in no time flat too, I cooked some after church today and had dinner on the table in less than 20 minutes. There was a recipe on the back of the package that is similar to one I already use so I adapted what I liked from both and it was a success! Here's the whole meal start to finish:

Soak rice noodles in a dish of hot water. Mix a cup of orange juice, 1-2 tbsp of honey mustard, powdered ginger and black pepper to taste in a microwave-safe baking dish. Add 2 tilapia fillets. Cook your favorite frozen vegetable in the microwave (watch the sodium content, the ones with sauce can be way too high for a low-sodium diet.) Then cook the fish in the oj mixture in the microwave for 4-5 minutes. Drain the noodles and you're ready to eat! I did put about a teaspoon of cornstarch in the oj mixture after removing the cooked fish and brought it to a boil to thicken up the sauce but that's optional. So there you go - a nutritious, low-sodium dinner for 2 on the table in less than 20 minutes for under $5. Awesome!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yummy peachy ginger-y pork loin... with chutney!

So for the one or two of you who are breathlessly waiting to hear how the pork loins turne out.... have you no lives? Seriously, though, they turned out really, really well. My sister & bro-in-law were later getting in on Saturday than we had first thought so we ended up eating grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches (Swiss is low in sodium) and those little porky guys ended up marinating until after church on Sunday. I had made a marinade of ginger ale, peach nectar, balsamic vinegar, dry mustard, dry ginger and pepper. I saved about a cup of that out and cooked it down in a pot with some chopped fresh peaches to make a chutney for the pork. I baked sweet potatoes and cooked some yellow squash and onions too. It was a monochromatic meal but it was extra, extra good and very low in sodium. Mama was pleased and the company enjoyed it too I think.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Bargain Gourmet

It's been a while since I've posted anything about actually feeding Mama so I thought I'd let you in on our dinner plans. I have discovered that you can find some really excellent bargains in the meat department at Super Target. I kind of hate to mention it because I don't really want you to get there first but I am basically good at heart, so sharing that wins out. Anyhoo... I scored some pork loin roasts for unbelieveably cheap this week which is a good thing because Sister Jane and her hubby Don are driving down today from Atlanta for a short visit. So I'm going to marinate those puppies (the pork loins, not real puppies... I'm not Instapundit by any stretch of the imagination!) I'm going to cook up a ginger-peach marinade for them to soak in all day and then cook them on the grill with some fresh peaches if it isn't raining. If it is raining, which looks likely, I'll cook them in the oven and make some peach chutney to put on top. Throw in some baked sweet potatoes and whatever fresh veg looks good when I go to the store and call it dinner! No salt will be added and I'm thinking it should turn out really well. If it does I'll give you the recipe. If it doesn't... well then forget I mentioned it. Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sweet harmony or a recipe for disaster?

Here's an excellent article on seeking mediation when issues arise among siblings when one or more are providing care for their elder parents. When it works it can be great but sometimes even long buried issues or resentments can come back to haunt you. It's good to know that there are folks trained to mediate that sort of thing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Where Angels Fear to Tread

As I previously mentioned, my son and his family will be moving in with Mama and me soon so there's a lot to be done around Casa de Feedin' Mama to make room. Yesterday they came by in the evening and we ventured into the Garage of Shame. It must be cleared out because we need the space for storage and I must confess now before God and everybody that I have a definite tendency toward pack-ratiness... so my garage is, indeed, the Garage of Shame. Inside the house I have Closets of Doom to continue the theme and they will have to be dealt with as well. This is going to be hard but I think cathartic as well for me. I've just accumulated and accumulated over the 10 years since I moved in here with Mama and it's beyond time to sort through, clear out and simplify. Scary stuff but it Must. Be. Done!!!

Anyhoo... we got a huge pile of drek dragged out to the trash pile last night, the trash pickers were busily going through it this morning and the garbage truck guys got the rest so we've gotten off to a good start. I just have to be strong and keep tossing and donating until I have it all down to a manageable level. I've got friends (and you too Janey!) that will push and coax and encourage me and who will help me get the remainder organized so God bless them. Your prayers and good wishes for courage, strength and my sanity will be much appreciated.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

G'night John Boy

Well it looks as though Casa de Feedin' Mama is about to expand into a four-generation household. James the Elder will be moving his family in with Mama and me in the near future... just like the Waltons! (Although Mama has a much better temperament than their Grandma had thank goodness.) I think with the economy the way it is we're going to be seeing more and more intergenerational households forming. Overall, I think it's a good thing for young ones to grow up in extended family situations whether in the same household or not as long as everyone is on pretty much the same page. And I think it can be good for older folks as well, especially if their health is reasonably good. Having little ones around can help keep us all younger.

In our particular situation Mommy Nicole will be able to stay at home with baby Molly and be around to help Mama with her meals and rides and such while James and I concentrate on bringing home the bacon (or low-sodium meat product?). We're hoping it's a good plan for all concerned. The down side being a wish that we had more bedrooms and more than one bathroom. But like Mama said, we'll just make it work. And when baby Molly moves in, maybe Nana can influence her to get back to blogging!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

Wow, this was just out in the river a couple of blocks from here. It went right by us but never came on land, thank God.

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Mama and I hung out in the middle room of the house for a bit but all we got was some rain for my tomatoes and summer squash. On another note, I've been a sick child for a while. Started with an infection and then had a nasty reaction to an antibiotic. Posting here should resume soon as I'm finally starting to feel a whole lot better.

This one is particularly cool but you have to go to the TU site to see it.

Here's another picture taken from our north - we're just inland from that spout at this point

Another shot of the water spout... on Twitpic

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Let Them Eat Pie!

I got this link today courtesy of my friend Joan. It's a thought-provoking article by a woman who finds herself wishing she had been a little less stringent about the things she had cooked for her father in his later years. She makes a good point, for a lot of folks a life of low-fat, sodium-free eating is not a life they enjoy living. For others, it's a good trade-off that they are more than willing to make. I think the trick is to find the reasonable middle ground. On the one hand, you couldn't reasonably serve up Cinnabons and a frappucino to a brittle diabetic just because you wanted them to be happy on their birthday and I wouldn't feed Mama bacon and fritos just because she was bored with her low-sodium diet. You might as well put a gun to their heads. But on the other hand you can often find ways to relax dietary restrictions that won't be lethal when it would make life a little more enjoyable. Like most of life, it's a matter of balance. And choice.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

She's a Precocious One

So Mama joined facebook today all by herself. The first I heard of it was when I got a friend request from her. I suggested some friends for her and sent her a picture to use for her profile but if she joins Mafia Wars she's on her own...

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Civic Duty

I got called to jury duty today. I was there most of the day and ended up being excused after the jury pool I was selected for completed the questions from the judge and attorneys for the prosecution and defense. I was kind of hoping to get picked but they only needed 7 out of the 28 in our group. I thought it would be interesting and that particular case would only take one day but it was not to be. They do ask if you are responsible for the care of a child or adult with disabilities and I could have probably used Mama as an excuse but I'm one of the unusual ones I guess because I do think it is our civic duty to serve when called. I'd hate to be on trial with a jury full of people who were only there because they couldn't come up with a decent reason to be excused. You'd hope most of them at least would be there because they thought it was important. Anyhoo... the latest devotional for caregivers is up here. Please share it with any caregivers you know who might need a lift spiritually speaking.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Encouraging Word

Blogging can be such a lonely business most of the time. Except for the stars and superstars of the blogosphere I would venture that 98% or more blogs go pretty much unread outside of the bloggers sphere of influence. The Interwebs are as vast as our own universe in some ways and it's hard to get heard or noticed. That's why when a humble blogger/website dweller such as myself receives a word of thanks or encouragement it truly is a blessing. I have many friends and family members who keep up with the Feedin' Mama empire and their kind comments are the fuel that keeps me going. I have a few friends I've never met whose encouraging words are like manna in the desert, they sustain me in the bleak moments of uncertainty about where my wanderings are taking me. (I'm talking to you dear Joan) But sometimes I hear from someone who has found something on the blog or the website that has helped them in their journey and that, dear friends, is what the intent was for this whole adventure. That is the good stuff. I received a note of thanks from a caregiver who found the devotional page on the FM website and wanted to tell me how much it helped and who encouraged me to keep it going because it was something she needed. I don't do this for attention, although attention is a welcome benefit. I DO do this to express myself because we all need a place for that to make our lives count for something. But the main reason I am compelled to provide this stop on the back roads of the Information Superhighway is to bring a little comfort to another. To be helpful and useful and bring encouragement and hope to someone who really needs it. THAT is extra good stuff.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again

I took an unplanned hiatus from the blog for the past week. Only one person noticed enough to comment so I suppose it's not a problem of monumental proportions if I step away for a little bit. Things have been interesting to say the least and I have been occupied with many things. My grand daughter Molly was baptized yesterday and as luck would have it, the pastor was away this weekend so I had to preach at both services. Add to that a reunion with my sons' father whom we hadn't seen or heard from in 20 years and inviting about 30 people over for a cookout after church and you may understand why blogging fell off the radar. To make the story even more interesting when I woke up yesterday morning there was a waterfall going on outside at my hot water heater. I had to call a plumber at 7:00 on a Sunday morning when I had to be at church by 8:30 to preach the early service. There was precious little water pressure and I had to shower in the lukewarm drizzle. Oy vey! But thanks be to God, it was just a broken pipe fitting which was easily fixed with $11 worth of parts and $145 for the plumber's labor. It was fixed before I left for church, my sermon was well received at both services, Molly's baptism was a beautiful thing and a good time was had by all at my house afterward.

So, in addition to all of the above, I received an inspiration for the Feedin' Mama website. I have added a page for a daily devotional for caregivers. I have felt for a while that I have something to offer for those who care for their parents or other elders which is how this blog and the website came to be. But there are so many other sites and blogs and so many books have been written about caregiving that I have kept having the feeling that I needed to bring something more to the table and I believe that something is the devotional. I hope to bring a Scripture passage a meditation and a prayer each day that will provide something - comfort, encouragement, strength... to someone who needs it. Please stop by each day if you are so inclined and I hope God brings a blessing for you in it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Train Your Brain!

We had our last meeting of our Senior's group at church this week before our summer break. Our speaker was from Brain Trainers and the topic was Neurobics - exercises you can do to keep your neurons firing and help ward off age-related dementia. We learned that there are different exercises for specific parts of the brain and that just like in physical exercise you need to pay attention to all of the parts to stay as healthy as possible. There are four distinct functions that each have their own activities in a well-functioning brain: logic, creativity, language and perception. Logic exercises include tasks that require separating things into groups or finding contradictions. These include games like Twenty Questions and puzzles like Sudoku. Creativity exercises require a shift in thinking, things that make you reconsider your assumptions. That would be things like riddles, jokes and metaphors. Language exercises require recalling words from clues or communicating in alternative ways. These are the popular crossword puzzles, word searches and such and charades fall into this category. Finally there are perception exercises - things that require seeking or following details. Games that have hidden pictures, illusions and the like fall into this category.

Most folks have their favorite brain activities, usually the ones that we're "wired for" - crossword puzzles, sudoku, word search and the like. I tend to gravitate to word puzzles myself and have never been able to figure out sudoku. Some folks can solve an illusion puzzle in a snap and some can never "see" the hidden pictures. The problem is that when we only do the ones we have an aptitude for we're not really doing our brains as much good as we can. We need to get out of our neural ruts, so to speak to give our brains the workouts that they need to keep us mentally sharp and healthy. Besides games and puzzles there are other activities you can do all day long to train your brain. Most of them involve doing normal things in a different way. Use the opposite hand to brush your teeth, eat, button your shirt. Reverse your usual path at the grocery store or on your daily walk. Learn a new language, consider Braille or sign language in your choices. Sit in a different pew at church. Strengthen those synapses! For more information check out the website.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Swine Flu 0, Geezers 1

I just had to comment on this bit of information because it's just so darned rare that the older folks are at an advantage, especially in health-related matters. The CDC posted an article today about the percentage of elders who are showing up with positive antibodies to the H1N1 Virus, aka Swine Flu. The studies seem to suggest that the 33% of folks over 60 who have the resistant antibodies have been exposed to a closely related virus some time previously either through infection or immunization. Only 7-9% of people younger than 60 show any level of the antibody. Of course this doesn't mean that everyone of any age should let down their guard or relax their hygiene practices, it's always a good idea to be diligent about the things you touch and in keeping your hands washed and away from your face. But it's nice to know that the older folks have the advantage sometimes, isn't it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More on the delights of Vitamin D

I posted earlier this month on the great benefits of Vitamin D and how 25% of older adults are deficient. Here is an article (via Instapundit who wisely prescribes sitting in the sun while enjoying a nice glass of red wine) that bears that out and more. It seems that Vitamin D has a positive effect on cognitive brain activity and helps prevent age-related memory decline. Supplements like this one are very helpful but a little bit of sunlight on your skin a few times a week is good for your mind, body and spirit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Afternoon at the Museum

I went with some of our older folks from church on a great little outing this afternoon at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. They have a wonderful monthly program, Especially for Seniors Talks and Tea. There is a seated gallery talk followed by a lovely afternoon tea. This month's topic was on the new exhibit of Gee's Bend Quilts, a collection from a small African-American community in Alabama with a long tradition of quilting. It's amazing to see these beautiful works of art that came from folks using scraps of material and worn out clothing to provide warmth and comfort for their families. They spoke of using everything available, even picking up rags off the street that they would take home and wash to use in a current or future quilting project, the ultimate in recycling. We all had a wonderful time and were glad that we didn't let the current nasty weather from the Nor'Easter that has parked itself in NE Florida spoil our excursion.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I just discovered a nifty little website called The Caregivers Marketplace. It is a rebate program that pays you cash back on purchases of personal care items that are not covered by insurance. What you do is register on their website and then print out a cash back request form. Then whenever you buy 5 or more of any item or combination of items on their list you send in the form along with your proofs of purchase and they mail you back a check. Sweet! They have a wide variety of eligible products such as Gold Bond Powder, Polident, Depends, Ensure, Nature Made vitamins and supplements, Ecotrin, Aspercreme and a whole lot more. Most of the products will earn you $1 back for each purchase, some are $.75 and some are even $2 per item. When you stop to consider how often you buy any of those products you realize that these savings could really add up to a tidy sum to put back in your pocket. And that is really good news, especially in our present economic situation. Happy saving!

Friday, May 15, 2009

To grill or not to grill...

In case you didn't know... Mrs. Dash's grilling blend works really well on and off the grill. I just used it as a rub for a bottom round roast I'm cooking for supper and it smells divine. Mama just came into the kitchen to find out what was cooking that smells so good. Who needs all that salt, anyhow when there are so many better options available?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dem bones, dem bones...

I have heard for many years that drinking soda leeches calcium from our bones. This article suggests that it's possibly just cola drinks but it's probably a safer bet just to leave them alone. Regular sodas are loaded with sugar and neither they nor diet sodas really contribute anything of value to your diet. I prefer plain old water or unsweet iced tea myself. Mama, however, really and truly hates drinking water, she thinks it tastes like medicine. But she enjoys it much more when we add one of these Twist Tubes and each of them adds nutritional value like antioxidants, joint health or immune system support. They really do help the "medicine" go down.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mama and I wish all of you mothers including those who nurture and "mother" other folks a very happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Journal Watch is reporting that current studies are finding Vitamin D deficiencies in 25% of older adults. It's widely known that insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with osteoporosis, you need it along with magnesium to metabolize calcium which strengthens bones. But you may be surprised to know that vitamin D deficiency also contributes to heart disease, strokes, muscle weakness and even depression among a whole lot other conditions. One of the primary causes for this situation is the extreme paranoia we have developed about sunshine. Fear of skin cancer has folks covering up with hats and clothes and slathering ourselves with SPF-50 sunscreen so we're not getting our D in the most efficient way we were designed to get it. Our bodies are designed to run pretty efficiently but a lot of the time we don't let them work according to the design. So let that sunshine in! Supplements help but 10-15 minutes in the sun early in the morning or late in the afternoon 2-3 times a week is the natural and most efficient way to ensure that your body is getting the amount of Vitamin D you need. Besides, it just feels good.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More Mature Melodic Magic

Here's a great video that's making the rounds. While it's kind of hard to discern many of the physical features of the singers because they're all wrapped up and painted in white it appears as though most of them would qualify for AARP membership. More proof that talent and innovation are not limited to the young. Somebody alert Madison Avenue! They're called the Voca People and they are amazing. Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

They've Still Got It!

I heard about this video on You Tube and wanted to share - it's of an older couple who gave an impromptu and lively performance of a piano duet while visiting the Mayo Clinic. It's lovely to see examples of older folks who continue to use their gifts and talents. I'm sure they brightened the day of everyone there and through the magic of You Tube and the Interwebs they have sure brightened mine. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Now everyone just remain calm...

So one TV station states that there is a "possible" case of the H1N1 flu virus (aka the Swine flu) in nearby Clay County while another declares it "probable." As usually happens I am sure that the kerfuffle over this virus will likely be much worse than the actual effects when all is said and done. But that doesn't mean that one shouldn't take reasonable precautions either, especially folks who are particularly vulnerable like very small children and older adults. Hand washing is always good practice and not just the perfunctory run the fingers under the faucet and give 'em a swipe with the hand towel. I remember learning in epidemiology classes at UNF that the majority of viral and bacterial illnesses we contract could be avoided with routine, effectual hand washing. (You could always tell which students were taking epi - they were the obsessive hand washers who avoided touching the restroom door handles at all costs.) Effectual handwashing means using soap and scrubbing your hands for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself, rinsing and drying well, turning off the faucet with your towel, not your wet hands. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good substitute when you don't have access to soap and running water but you have to use enough of it and again, keep on rubbing until it dries.

Most of the proscribed precautions are just more common sense - cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throw it away), avoid crowded places when possible, don't leave home if you aren't feeling well... nothing you didn't already know, really. If you do develop flu-like symptoms see your doctor, the anti-viral drugs available are supposed to work very well if you get them started soon enough. And don't let the "swine flu willies" paranoia get hold of you; keep up with reputable information sources like the CDC's website and you'll be less likely to get carried away by the media hype.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fall prevention with a little added touch of irony

We had the monthly meeting of our senior's group at church yesterday. The speaker was my long-time friend Pat Colvin from NE Florida AHEC and she gave a very interesting and informative presentation on fall prevention. Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury and death for older adults? But there are lots of ways to avoid and prevent them. You can improve your balance through exercise, especially ones like yoga and t'ai chi. You can utilize a check list to help make sure that your home is as safe and clear of falling hazards as possible. And you can use nifty gadgets to pick things up or to reach things on shelves rather than climbing or stooping to try to get them.

Pat had some stories about times she has fallen and I can relate because anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I am uncoordinated and prone to tripping and falling myself. I have hurt myself falling off of curbs, tripping over uneven sidewalks and sometimes even over my own two feet. If I had thought of it I would have shared my most ironic falling story with them. I was attending a church conference at a very large church in Kansas City. They had a lovely gift shop in their lobby and being one to never miss a shopping opportunity of course I had to go in and look around. I found a lovely purse with a scripture on it - Psalm 46:5 paraphrased God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Very pretty khaki colored purse with peach trim, striped ribbon accent and a lovely bow. Now here comes the irony... I went outside and began looking for the van and the rest of my group and proceeded to trip right over a bump in the sidewalk, falling flat out into the parking lot. Clutching my bag. I still have that purse but I've been afraid to carry it ever since. Maybe I ought to sell it on ebay.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Obligatory Susan Boyle Post

You would have to have been living under a rock recently to not have heard of Susan Boyle, the 47-year-old Scottish spinster whose audition on Britain's Got Talent has been the hottest thing going on You Tube. Although being 47 doesn't quite qualify her for older-adulthood, in the entertainment industry it surely does. I read today that American Idol has an upper-age limit of 28 for auditions. Twenty-eight! Apparently if you're 29 you're just far too decrepit and uncool for Paula, Randy & the Gang to have to listen to regardless of what you sound like. I know that is why Susan Boyle has struck such a nerve with people, it's a great story and it helps restore your faith in humanity when the underdog triumphs, especially in such a monumental way. And in this case we are reminded that age should never be an automatic disqualifier for anything.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Give and Take

I was over at the Florida Christian Center this afternoon, they had asked me to come to their Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon and speak a little bit about volunteering. They invite any resident who has volunteered their time and talent in any way over the previous year to work on their monthly mission project or to make someone's day a little brighter. As they were eating their lunch I looked over the crowd and wondered if it would even be possible to count up all the volunteer hours represented by all of these lovely souls over their lifetimes. I felt as though I were preaching to the choir so to speak but I spoke about all the benefits that come from volunteering. So many recent studies have indicated that there is in fact a strong correlation between volunteering and improved health and longevity. And this is a case where more is indeed better, those who volunteer more are the most likely to benefit from increased health and well being. That, in turn, leads to more volunteering which keeps on bringing the benefits. It's a self-reinforcing cycle. Volunteers also gain a sense of purpose and are more satisfied with life. There's a rhythm of giving and receiving that's just a wonderful result of putting yourself out there to help make this world a better place and there are so many great ways to volunteer your time and talents. There is, literally, something for everyone to do so check with your church, your local school or hospital, nursing home or senior center for the opportunity that is just right for you. The rewards are amazing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Smarter than a 5th grader...

Well, at least Mama is. She had an appointment with the cardiologist yesterday to follow up on her recent EEG (all is pretty darn well with her 90-year-old ticker aside from the leaky mitral valve we already know about). I don't know why it is that a large and very busy cardiology practice has not just old, but old and boring magazines in their waiting rooms but they do. Old. And boring. Anyhoo... because I knew this was the case I took along the Nintendo DS that Sister Mary gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago so we played Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader while we waited. Mama is definitely smarter than a 5th grader. Me, well I'm not so sure. But at least it kept us entertained while we waited. It pays to be prepared. I think I'll buy this one next so I can keep up with Mama.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Is this my new TV?"

I just found this great video online about upgrading analog TV sets to digital. It's funny but it's also very real and not so funny for older folks who can just get overwhelmed with today's technology. At 90, Mama is far more computer literate than most of her peers but she still gets leery and a bit unsure about a lot of techie-type things. I had to help her update Java this week so her Mah Jong game would play correctly. It's hard for younger folks who have had computers and video games all of their lives to be sensitive to the older ones who have seen the space program, VCRs and even televisions introduced to our culture so a little reminder like this one on occasion can be a good thing. Thanks for the link Susan!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cultured and so refined...

One of the neatest things about working with older adults is that they do fun stuff and sometimes you get to do it with them. I was invited by my dear friend Loraine to join a neighboring UM church's outing yesterday to our local Cummer Art Museum & Gardens for their monthly program Especially for Seniors Talks & Tea. They had a great talk about the history of their beautiful gardens and then we enjoyed tea, scones, cookies and fresh fruit (it was yummy) and had time afterward to enjoy the gardens and the museum exhibits. I felt like quite the refined lady as I enjoyed my cup of Earl Grey while strolling those gorgeous gardens with Loraine. Next month they'll be talking about their new exhibit A Survey of Gee's Bend Quilts, part I and I'll be there with a group from my own church. It was an excellent day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Don't come running to me when you're all sick, altered and drugged up!

I was reminded by Jared Porter in the comments of my earlier post that today, April 16th is Advance Directives Awareness Day. He pointed me to an excellent post on how to get those conversations started. If you haven't done yours yet, why not? Seriously folks, get it done! I don't want you calling me up to your hospital room to notarize stuff you've got no business signing because you're too sick, demented or drugged up to be thinking clearly. I'll have to decline and then we'll both be sad. And your kids will have to decide whether or not to pull the plug and we don't want THAT now do we? Do a Living Will, Healthcare Surrogate Designation and a Power of Attorney now, today, while you've got sense enough to document your wishes.

Fun in the Sun

So we loaded up the church bus yesterday and went down to the Baseball Grounds for an afternoon Suns game. Once a year the city provides a free day at the ball park for our older adults and we enjoyed the hospitality immensely. It was a gorgeous day, not a cloud in the sky and about 75 degrees with a nice breeze blowing. A beautiful day, a hot dog and root beer and the Suns beat the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx 3 to 0. The Maxwell House plant was roasting coffee beans and the aroma was delicious. What could be better? Our thanks go out to the City of Jacksonville's Office of Special Events for Seniors for just a perfect day out.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Siblings & Family Caregiving

Sisters talk about caregiving issues in Episode #5. I gave myself extra bonus points for working in the adjective "poopy-headed."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Episode # 4 - Alien Invasion?

Suzanne has some concerns about her Father-in-law in the latest episode of the Feedin' Mama Commercial Series.

Something to talk about...

It can be a very difficult conversation to get started but it's one you just can't afford to ignore. Talking to your elder parents about advance directives is a delicate and sometimes touchy subject. No one wants to be reminded of their mortality or to think about what might happen in the event of a medical emergency and older folks often may feel as though it's just one more part of their lives that they are losing control over. It's hard but with as much compassion and understanding as you can muster up it's something that really should be done sooner rather than later.

When I worked at a local hospital I was often called to go up to a unit to notarize powers of attorney and other documents for people who clearly were in no mental state to be making those decisions. It would break my heart to have to refuse notary services for someone who desperately needed to have them done so that their personal business could be handled while they were incapacitated but there was nothing I could do legally to help them. The time to make those decisions is while you are still in a clear and cognizant mental state, not when it has become an emergency and you are ill and possibly even sedated. Here is an excellent article on advance directives that may be able to help you get that conversation going. It really is something you have to talk about. Today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Episode #3

Reggie finds out where to get Help for his elderly neighbor.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Garden of Eatin'

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was planning on starting a garden this year using raised beds. I've been very fortunate to have had a lot of the materials donated including a very nifty compost barrel and I've got several really nice beds going. One of the best ways to provide Mama with a low-sodium diet is to use lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Our local Farmer's Market is great but they say there's nothing like putting food on the table that you've grown yourself.

My father used to grow some great vegetable gardens out in the back yard but I've never given it a try. Up until now I've stuck to flower beds so I'm trying lots of different vegetables to see what works and what doesn't. We've had some really good rain days here in NE Florida and most of my seedlings I've started seem to be very happy in their beds, taking root and growing tall. It's really kind of exciting and fun. I'll post some pictures as the various plants become recognizable food.

New! And Improved!

Lots of interesting happenings going on in Feedin' Mama-ville. Here is the next FM commercial - that makes 2 - so it's a series!

I've also been invited to join Wellsphere as a health blogger. I'm still figuring out what all that entails but you can click on the badge over there on the sidebar to check it out. Apparently, my blog posts will be automatically uploaded to the Wellsphere-sphere and they're supposed to feature me somewhere at some point. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Expanding my talents for the betterment of society!

I have just added movie making to my ever-expanding list of talents! Thanks to James Lileks for the link to a new site that lets you create your own movies - he makes his using his Twitter comments and they're just a hoot, he calls it "Re-Tweet Theater." I never miss a daily visit to the Bleat and other links on, it is a basic necessity to meet my happiness quotient.

Anyhow, I made a "commercial" for starring myself and my always-supportive friend Candy B. (She's tickled that she has Michelle Obama "guns" and the sleeveless thing going on). Check it out and if you don't mind rating it that would be great. Unless you don't care for it, then nevermind. And if you know (or have a teenager or something who knows) how I can get it up on You Tube please let me know. The uplink on the movie site itself isn't working for me and I can't figure out another way to do it.

And as always, a visit to Feedin' Mama site is always very much appreciated. Things are really starting to get cooking over there and we're excited about that. Your support of Feedin' Mama through your site visits, comments and sharing the site with your friends is what helps get great information and encouragement out there to the folks who need it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is Your Brain on Aerobics

There's so much about aging that just isn't any fun at all. That's why it's even sweeter when you find something that is fun and good for you too. We're hearing more and more how playing games helps to keep minds and bodies in good shape so how great is that? The Wii game system is apparently the hottest thing going in senior centers and assisted living facilities. We had some physical therapists from the West Jacksonville Health & Rehabilitation Center come to our senior meeting at church this month to show us how to use our new Wii and to talk about how they use theirs in their rehabilitation therapy. Ours came with Wii Sports which has bowling, baseball, golf, tennis and boxing. We've also got Wii fit and Mr. Ted even donated a Wii Price is Right game. We're starting a monthly game day beginning tomorrow to help keep our brains active and keep those neurons busy so they don't go on permanent vacations. The first Wednesday of the month is our official game day and if it goes well we may add more days. If you're in the neigborhood stop by Avondale UMC on the first Wednesday from 9 to noon and join us!

I found another place with some great online brain games. The Prevention magazine site has enough fun and interesting games to become yet another time-sucking abyss but at least these games are specially designed to give your neurons a workout so you don't have to feel guilty about getting lost in the fun. I haven't tried them all yet (it's research I tell you!) but The Busy Bistro, Pandera's Botique and The Right Word have all been fun and you can adjust the level of difficulty on all of them so it doesn't get boring.

So go and play and have some fun, it's good for you!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Joy Joy Joy!!!

It's been quite a week in Feedin' Mama-ville. The newest addition to our family arrived at 12:15-ish am on Thursday, March 26th. She weighed 8 lbs, 15.4 oz and is 20 3/4" tall. Molly Eowyn Speed is my third grandchild and Mama's 11th great-grand. She already takes after her Nana and has her own blog. Her mommy and daddy were just awe-inspiring having checked into the hospital Monday afternoon and met every task and challenge with grace and courage. Welcome Molly!! Nana's going to spoil you big time, just ask your cousins!

Pieces of Me

It happens to most everyone, not just to caregivers but anyone who is a caregiver can surely relate. You find yourself dividing yourself up into pieces to try and meet everybody's needs and discover that it's not working the way you expected. The equation isn't adding up. Lots of people are sandwiched in with kids at home they're still trying to raise and parents who are becoming increasingly dependent on them as well. Some are experiencing the joys of grandparenting while tending to the needs of their own parents at the same time. And then there's the pesky task of trying to keep hearth and home together and pleasing one's employer(s) added to the need to carve out even a tiny slice of a social life to keep a tenuous grip on your sanity. It can begin to look like an impossible task, an un-doable situation.

The most important thing to remember if you can't remember anything else when things start to look overwhelming is to slam the door on anything that resembles a guilt trip. Do not get on that train. Nobody can make you and the only person who can put you there is you. If you know in your heart that you have done what you can to meet the needs (read needs, not wants) of all the folks you feel responsible for then give yourself permission to move on to whatever's next and do everything possible to avoid falling into the traps and pitfalls that are lying in wait to swallow you up. Their priorities don't have to become your priorities. Avoid like the plague anything that smells like drama or blame or guilt. Life is short and God put you on this earth to be happy. Happiness does come from loving and caring for others and making other people happy. But it's like they tell you everytime you fly - you HAVE to put that oxygen mask on yourself first because you can't help anybody else if you're dead. There is joy to be found a thousand times a day if you look for it. Don't let anybody or anything block your view or cloud your vision. And they can only do that if you give them permission. Find the joy. And if you're having trouble finding it I highly recommend this book. It was recommended to me by my wonderful therapist and it changed my outlook 180 degrees. Happiness really IS an inside job, you're the only one with the power. Don't let anyone else try to make you think otherwise.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Recipe Bonanza!

I hit the jackpot on low-sodium recipes and tips while wandering around the interwebs this morning. It appears to be an old site that hasn't been updated in a while but that's okay because it's still chock full of some good recipes and ideas for living and eating well without all that salt. I really appreciate the fact that they included the sodium info at the bottom of each recipe. You can check them out here. Or better yet, just click on the "Low Sodium Living" link while you're visiting the Feedin' Mama website each and every day of your life. Several times. Every day. Bless your heart.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Getting better all the time!

At a networking meeting I attended earlier this week I heard a very inspiring word from one of the contestants of the upcoming Ms. Senior Jacksonville pageant. The pageant has four stated purposes:

  • To allow women over the age of 60 to acknowledge their inner beauty and enhance their value in the community and in society
  • To promote community awareness, showmanship and value of our seniors' atributes
  • To educate our community that our seniors are active and vibrant
  • To increase positive attitudes toward our seniors and their well-being
If all of the contestants are as eloquent and vibrant as the one I heard it's sure to be a difficult choice for the judges. I'm just so pleased to see an opportunity for some of the misconceptions and stereotypes about aging to be shattered. Aging is not a disease you know. There used to be a commercial for something that said, "You're not getting older, you're getting better." Truer words were never spoken.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I apologize... in advance.

So I promised some people I would post my semi-no-so-famous St. Patrick's Day joke here today. For those of you who wince and groan and roll your eyes at really bad, really corny jokes please just move along and check back here later for more great eldercaregiving goodness. For the brave and/or demented... here goes:

What's green and sits around the pool on St. Patrick's Day?

Wait for it.....

Here it comes............

Paddy O'Furniture!!!!!!!

So sorry. Truly. But it's only one day out of a whole year...

P.S. Please everybody pray for Miss Molly to get a move on and be born already. Her mama is beyond ready and her daddy and Nana can't wait to hold her.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Day Out and Quilts and Strawberries!

We had a great day out today - it's always good for everyone's mental health to take a day now and then to get out of the house and do something fun. My friend Kathy & I took Mama out to my sister Mary's house waaaaay out in the country in Trenton which is northwest of Gainesville. It was a most gorgeous day and Mama really enjoyed the ride looking at the countryside, especially all the dogwood trees and azalea bushes that were all in full glorious bloom. Kathy, Mary & I drove into town to visit the annual Quilt Fest in Trenton while Mama decided to stay back at Mary's house with Mary's grandson Alex. They watched TV and played on their Nintendo DS's and enjoyed their time together.

Trenton has the best quilt shop I've ever seen, it's in an old brick Coca Cola bottling plant, has a very nice cafe and room after room of beautiful quilts, fabric, pattern books and such. There's a resident macaw and big sunny windows and it's just a wonderful place, even for someone like me who most definitely did NOT get the sewing gene that runs through my family DNA. The sidewalks up and down the street were lined with gorgeous quilts shown by various quilting guilds from all over North & North Central Florida, there was bbq cooking on outdoor grills, an antique car display for the menfolk and the most perfect weather anyone could have asked for. We enjoyed it immensely and then went back to Mary's for lunch and headed back home. Stopped by Norman's produce stand on 301 north of Starke and found the most gorgeous strawberries ever, they smell delicious.

You can see more pictures here. All in all, it was a very good day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can I Get a Discount?

I'm starting a new page on about senior discounts - who has them, what days, how much and how old you have to be to get them. If you know of any please let me know in the comments so I can add them to the list. Thanks in advance for helping!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day

It's almost St. Patrick's Day when we celebrate all things Irish. Of course regular corned beef is off of Mama's menu but I found this recipe over at the Weight Watchers' site and it looks like it will be a worthy substitute. There's lots of other yummy spices involved and even if I leave out the 1/8th tsp of salt the recipe calls for I bet we'll never even miss it. I think we're (I guess that's the "Royal We", Mama doesn't cook any more) going to cook this up on the 17th or thereabouts - baby Molly, grandchild #3 is due right around then so all plans are tentative at this point. Be sure to check back to see how it turned out or better yet, try it yourself and let us know. But check back anyhow because I have my one St. Patrick's Day joke I'll be dragging out for your amusement (SOME people actually look forward to it... people with exceedingly strange senses of humor, but still...).

So here's the recipe:

Corned Beef & Cabbage for Mama

1 pound lean beef round steak
1/8 tsp salt (I'm leaving this out)
1/8 tsp pepper (more or less to taste)

1 tbsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp cloves
2 bay leaves
8 new red potatoes
16 baby carrots (I'm using more than that)
1 head green cabbage coarsely shredded (I'll probably use only 1/2 that)


  • Rub beef with pepper and place in large stockpot (I'll probably do this in the crockpot); pour enough water in to cover beef. Add seasonings and bay leaves; set pot over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 40 minutes.
  • Add potatoes carrots and cabbage and increase heat to medium-high; return to a boil. Partially cover pot and boil until vegetables and beef are fork-tender. Drain broth, reserving 1 cup; discard bay leaves.
  • Thinly slice meat across the grain and serve with vegetables. Pour some reserved broth over each serving. Yields about 3 ounces of meat, 1 1/2 cup of vegetables and 1/4 broth per serving.
Now you know how I am about seeing recipes as "suggestions" so I may make adjustments here or there. I know I will hold the cabbage out until about the last 5 minutes (or 20-30 if I use the crockpot) because it still has to have some crunch to it or I won't eat it. But that's the joy of cooking - you can do what makes you happy most of the time without losing the general idea. Now I just have to find something green to wear...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

See a need...

I met with a lovely young couple this morning who have seen a need in the older adult community and are working to try to fill it. Transportation is one of the biggest issues older adults face and it's a hurdle almost all of them will come up against at some point. We're all for them giving up their driver's licenses when the time comes but there's not a whole lot in place for them to fill that need when it comes, at least that's the case here in NE Florida. There is JTA Connexion, the free transit system provided by the city of Jax but you have to qualify financially and there have been some real issues with their service. On the other end of the spectrum, folks with adequate resources can pay for private car service and then there are folks with great support networks through their churches, families, etc. they can call on when they need a ride. But there is a big group in the middle there who struggle mightily to get where they need to go, especially to doctor's appointments which grow exponentially as we age. I have long seen the need for reliable transportation for these folks but I've never been able to figure out how it would be funded but these folks, Leah and Rick have come up with a plan to get it done. I wish them all the best for a successful venture in filling a real need in the older adult community. Watch for Doctor's Direct Transportation to be a winning venture and a great addition to our community.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rehab & LTC Facilities

I went over to visit a local facility this morning, West Jacksonville Health and Rehabilitation Center. They are coming to speak at our senior's lunch meeting at the church this month and they are going to help me launch an exciting new program for older adults in our church and community. I'll tell you more about that later, it's going to be great! Anyhow, I was just so impressed with them and their facility. I spend a good bit of time in my pastoral care duties visiting folks in hospitals and nursing homes and I'm just amazed a lot of time at how different they can be. Some are good, some not so much and some are just awesome. This one belongs in the awesome category. Not just because it was clean and bright and cheery which it certainly was, but because it shows in the faces and attitudes of the staff and the residents. Every staff person I met was upbeat and cheerful and you can tell that they really do love what they do and that results in happy residents. It breaks my heart to visit some places where it's obvious that many of the residents have just been parked in a hallway or community room and they're not doing anything, no one is interacting with them and they just look so sad and alone.

If you find yourself needing to choose a rehab or long term care facility for yourself or a loved one, please be sure to visit several before you choose if at all possible. Observe the staff and the residents in addition to checking out the physical facilities and trust your instincts about the atmosphere. If it's one of the good ones you'll be able to tell.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Real Food

If you've been here before you know that I do a lot of low-sodium cooking because of my mother's chronic congestive heart failure. It's been an interesting journey learning new ways to cook and also going back to some old ways from back when we didn't have quite so many processed and "convenience" foods. I've enjoyed experimenting with new recipes and re-tooling some of our old favorites and with a few unfortunate exceptions we've enjoyed some good meals.

This year I have decided to give up more in the way of processed food and plan to eat more "real" food during Lent. I've done things in previous years like giving up chocolate or sugar and I have to confess, I usually look for ways to still eat what I want to such as eating white chocolate or still eating desserts but with artificial sweeteners. It's not quite as bad as the church selling indulgences to allow parishioners to eat butter and such during Lent but I know it's just violating the spirit of the whole thing. I'm thinking that in giving up even more in the way of processed food I can keep my focus on just being mindful about generally trying to live a healthier life in body, mind and spirit. To me the idea of fasting isn't about punishment or suffering, it's more about paying attention. We live so much of our lives on auto-pilot that I don't think we even realize how much we're missing because of it. So for the next 40 days excluding Sundays I'm going to stick to eating food that is as close to it's natural state as possible and I hope that by paying attention to that I'll make other choices that are good for my body and my soul as well. I just made some cookies to take on a trip with my bell choir from church this weekend and I forgot just how awesome a home made oatmeal raisin cookie is. I'm also packing fruit and veggies, some cheese and my favorite edamame to help me resist all the goodies that are sure to be in abundance on the bus, in our cabin and in the retreat center dining hall. Wish me luck with that! I'll let you know how it goes.