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The Stars Among Us

The elderly. Baby boomers. Record number of seniors coming of age. Who is going to take care of them? Do you want to? Many will say no and rely on caregivers whether they are family members or professionals from agencies. And, of course, nobody wants to pay them. Or the very minimal at best. A wage they can’t even live on. Do you realize what they do is so important in so many ways? It’s not just the daily living skills, bathing assistance, and household help they provide. It’s that daily smile, laughs, conversation, companionship, caring or recreational activity. The stuff that feeds one’s soul. Makes them feel alive. Gives them something to look forward to. A reason to live. A reason to smile. Your senior’s well-being depends on them! And how much is that worth???

David the maintenance man: doesn’t just fix stuff. Always with a smile, he engages them in fun, lively,  conversation. He takes care of every single need in their mind. Things we consider unimportant details are like an IRS audit to seniors. Stressful until it’s taken care. David makes a special trip back to bring two batteries for remote light switches. Stress relief. Whether it’s getting their garbage to the curb for pickup, bringing back the picture on the tv, changing a lightbulb, getting the garage door to obey commands, instructions on the tv remote (or adaptations, like tape over some buttons, to meet their cognitive skill level), ensuring that emergency pull cords in the bathrooms will work if they should fall and so on. Nothing left undone. Even if it means several visits a day.

Annie the pet caregiver: doesn’t just complete her tasks and leave. She checks on the seniors to make sure they are safe and their surroundings are safe. Annie takes the time to engage that senior, making them feel special, loved, important, and worthwhile. She doesn’t have to but she does. Even if it puts her way behind schedule. That particular senior is most important at that time. She showers their pets with love, attention, and concern for their health and well-being too. She will haul them off to the vet if necessary. It’s not just the degree in zoology or her past experience working at a zoo that makes her professional. It’s her attitude, conduct and caring.

Angelik the caregiver: always a big smile with a big hug. She is there to meet their needs of the day. Whether it be a bath, grocery shopping, errands, getting that isolated senior out of the house for a meal or entertainment or maybe just listening. Which is just as important. Many seniors are depressed and lonely. Their health and mobility, and that of many friends are compromised. They see dear friends suffer. Or lose their mind. Or die. Caregivers soften those blows. Make life more manageable. Often, they are the only way for your senior to stay in their own comfortable, familiar home. Priceless.

And what about the family caregiver? It’s always just one child that steps up to the plate to take on this responsibility. The others sorta dance around it and have such great excuses for not being more involved. To you, I say: at least give your sibling regular respites of varying lengths. That’s the least you can do. Unless you have actually been there as a caregiver, you have no idea how exhausting, stressful and frustrating it can be. 24/7 worry is part of it. It chases you in your dreams.

David, Annie, and Angelik are only a few examples of the rays of sunshine that lucky seniors receive. They are stars in the sky. Breaths of fresh air. Highpoints of the day. They empower the seniors (ever so important since they have lost so much control over their own lives not to mention the uncertainty of their future).

Their job is not easy. It requires a lot of skill and knowledge to understand seniors, to have the required patience, to recognize their individual cognitive skill levels to meet their needs accordingly. And to tolerate the abuse that inherently comes with the decline in mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning. To remain calm when they want to scream. They care for people and then find a way to care a little more.

Your seniors need these people. And so do you. More than you realize. Treat them accordingly. Value them. Honor them. Reward them. Respect them. Help them. They are to be cherished.

 

Look Your Age But Don’t Act It


Short-hair grey cat isolated on white background

Who Let The Skunk Out?

“What has she done with her hair?”, the neighbor snickered to her early morning walking buddy. I heard it over the sound of my weed wacker in the front yard.

gray hair 3I would have told them, but I don’t like them. They snicker more than the candy bar. About everybody and everything.

But I will tell you. Yes, I look like a freak right now with this pasty, matt, light dirty yellow hair with some red/orange streaks attacking it from all sides. The color was formerly known as mahogany red.

To get rid of it, I thought an ever-increasing but never-ending skunk line while growing it out was the only way. “Oh, my leetie darling…eet eez love at first sight eez eet not?” Don’t you just love Pepe Le Pew? But the times they are a-changing.

This current mess, although preferable, is part of a 3-part process to return my hair to its natural color: gray. Two more treatments two weeks apart will do it. I will be au naturel. And proud of it.

Ask me my age but not my weight. Is this throwing in the towel (I’m too beat up to continue? The fight is over.)? Or I’m just tired of scheduling my life around my roots showing. Is it contentment earned with the years? Or I just don’t care anymore. Maybe it’s just laziness. Kind of, sort of, maybe.

Paralysis Analysis

 woman getting dermall fillers injection

Woman getting dermal fillers injection

Botox. Forget it. There’s something wrong with injecting botulinum toxin into your forehead. That’s right; toxin. Produced by bacteria in badly made sausages during the 18th century. And yet, young women are flocking to the docs to pay huge amounts of money to paralyze their face so that they look better decades later.

Or maybe they are having other “injectable” treatments, like derma filler, over their lunch hour. Later, at the happy hour bar, they talk openly about these procedures. With strangers around. Like talking about the weather that day. Quite shocking!

Freak Face

Facelift? Fugetaboutit.

I’ll just use flesh-colored duck tape when I need to look good. I live in the land of pamper palaces and plastic surgery seeing the results of the latter every single day.  Too many of them are “freak faces”:

  • bigstock--124448078a permanent grimace that goes too far from one ear to the other
  • stretched out eyes so tight, they must be open 24/7 if they don’t pop out
  • cheek implants that look like something is living in them
  • puffy fish lips that are going to blow up any minute
  • a smile that can’t reach its potential

Many of these people have become caricatures of themselves. Or The Joker in Batman.

Change your personality, not your face. Do an about-face.

“Am I done yet?” you might ask. No. Who said I was a nice person?

The Finishing Touch

In ritzy south Florida 15 years ago, I used to see these cosmetically altered women of age but the hands were a dead giveaway to what their actual age might be. Because of this, many wore gloves.

Well, guess what folks, today there is a remedy. Hand rejuvenation surgery. They pump synthetic fillers into those life-revealing hands and then run a laser over them to remove those huge liver spots. It’s called the finishing touch. Ta da!

So now that you look 20 years younger, can you act younger? And get away with it?

Grace

What happened to growing old gracefully with wrinkles, jowls and the ears and nose that never quit growing? I call that the Dumbo the Elephant look.

So what if you look tired or even angry. Maybe you are.

And you can act any age you want to. Tell me I’m childish. I will say thank you. Wrinkles and all.

A Virgin Goes To The Medical Marketplace

Shopping People

At age 63, I”m going shopping for the first time.

For a sinus cat scan. To find out just how much snot is in my head. Or how blocked those sinuses are. Being sick and tired of feeling like dog doody made me do it. And to find out just what is giving me severe allergies.

Say Cheese

So here I am at a diagnostic imaging clinic. Photographs for radiologists. Say cheese. They will scan any itty, bitty part of your body. Wonder if they offer personalized picture frames for their works of art. Maybe there’s a gift shop.

Set Of Vector Medical Icons In Flat Style With Long ShadowsBut of course, the first step is to prove to them that you won’t be pulling the skedaddle on them. Your insurance card, please. And then it’s on to the phone book size paperwork. It takes less to sign your life away. This world is all new to me. I’m dumbfounded!

Not So Candid Camera

Sitting in the hallway in the flimsy in the front, open to the breeze in the back frock (why don’t they offer different styles for us shoppers?), I hear scary noises coming out of one of the many showrooms. A low-pitched whirling sound with a voice from outer space giving directions to the customer. Maybe it’s a sales pitch.

And then it was my turn. The assistant retailer technician was taken aback when I asked if photos were allowed. It was a donut-shaped vertical halo with a tongue sticking out of it. And while you are laying on this device, you can’t move at all. But the tongue does. It takes you in and out twice and then you’re done. Easy breezy.

The Shopping Mall

Finding your way back to the dressing room is another story. Where’s the store clerk when I need her? This maze is disorienting. And not just to me. Other shoppers were astray on the path. It was like being one of B.F. Skinner’s rats. If we found our way out, we might get a treat. Or at least an exit. It reminded me of my one and only shopping experience at the stadium size Ikea store. It took me three days to find the exit. And there was a dead body under a couch. Just kidding.

What A Prick!

They prick your arm all over to see what you react to allergy test is the next adventure. It’s something that I eat, breathe or touch. I think it’s my three cats. Scurf (also known as dander) and cat hair dust bunnies inhabit the house more than I do. And I always feel better after a few hours away from them. But, maybe it’s mold. Yuck! That’s worse. Cats are purry and furry. Mold is sticky and icky.

Things are not sitting so well in my brain. Haven’t I spent enough today? What should I do? Check my credit balance? Run? Cancel all appointments? Buck up? I’m a ten on the Richter earthquake/chicken magnitude scale. Aftershocks concern me. Or a tsunami of endless medical tests. And expenses.

DoctorI didn’t run. I did the prick test. It’s also called a scratch test checking reactions to 40 different substances at once. The cost for test alone: $660.00. Results: negative. There goes my theory on the cats, much to my relief. And mold. Can’t blame it on pollen, dust mites, milk, wheat, soy, peanuts, gluten and who knows what the heck else. They didn’t tell me. I had to get in their face to find out more.  Like asking for a refund on a product from the sales clerk who sold it to me, remembered me but wouldn’t do it without a receipt. No transparency in the medical world. Even the bills are mysterious. You have to know the secret code to decipher them.

What Should I Buy?

Sooooooo. Non-allergic rhino sinusitis. That’s the diagnosis. The exact cause is unknown even to the secret code gatekeepers. Should I pursue this on my own? Collect spores, molds and fungus like Spengler did on Ghostbusters? And do the skin scratches myself? A DIY project. YouTube probably has a tutorial on how to do this. Craig’s List might have a used tester.

Dust and smog can be triggers. Oh boy! Here I am in the dust bowl of the southwest with air that is pea green all too often with warnings to people like me not to go outside. We have dust storms called haboobs! That should tell you something.

The overpaid retailer (doctor) offered nasal steroids that are good for 3-4 months, prescription antihistamines or nasal cromolyn solution. And allergy blood tests that test for the same allergens as the scratch test did. I already bought that style. It’s not like having to have that cute little sundress in every available color. And on top of that, it is possible to have a normal (negative) allergy blood test result and still have an allergy. Whoa! That’s not getting my money’s worth.

My Closet Is Full

They must have an employee incentive program to sell more, when in this particular store, it should be less. They encourage you to shop like a bull: charge everything. If it was on sale, I might consider it. But nooooooo, there is never a mark down here. Not in this marketplace!

I’m done shopping. I will just live with what I have. Less is better.

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