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.