By Darlene A. Dougherty, MS, RD
Q: My husband and I have busy schedules, and we frequently eat out. How can I make sure we’re making healthy choices and not taking in too many calories?
A: Dining out is a common and often necessary experience in today’s world. However, it can be hard to know what choices to make while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Even the most conscious eaters can fall into traps when eating out, like skipping meals during the day or eating large portions to get their money’s worth. However, there are ways to enjoy the convenience without overeating.
First, plan ahead. Knowing what restaurant you’re going to allows you to research the menu in advance. Making decisions beforehand will help you resist ordering fatty appetizers, beverages and desserts that can spike your caloric intake. If nutritional information is available, choose meals with less than 700 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 600 milligrams of sodium.
Also, finding out how foods are prepared can help you avoid hidden calories and fat. For example, a lot of restaurants use butter, salt and oils to prepare foods. Ask to skip them or request salt-free herbs instead. Grilled and baked meats are always a better alternative to fried or “crispy” options. You can hold the cheese and get dressings and sauces on the side to save calories, sodium and fat.
Finally, slow down and enjoy your food. Leaving some food on your plate or asking for a to-go box when you’re full is perfectly acceptable. Remember, when dining out, you’re paying for convenience more than anything.
* Darlene Dougherty, RD, is a Registered Dietitian who provides the medical nutrition therapy for patients at Banner Lassen Medical Center in Susanville, Calif.
Christmas is coming and for all you online shoppers: Please enter the shopping mall Onecause.com and register Lassen Senior Services as your charity of choice. Shop where you want in familiar stores…they will donate a percentage to the charity of your choice. Help stop senior hunger insecurity! Pass it on…Lassen Senior Services serves 100-120 home bound seniors daily. Often they live in very sad circumstances and our drivers are the only people they see. This is a passive way for Lassen Senior Services to raise money and it is tax deductible for you!
Redding, CA - Golden Umbrella is looking for individuals who are interested in joining the agency’s Senior Advocate Volunteer Program. Advocates assist seniors and disabled adults to maintain their dignity and independence.
Advocates serve as the primary link on behalf of a senior or disabled adult to services in Shasta County. They are trained to assess client needs, assist with paperwork and make appropriate referrals as needed.
Additionally, advocates may be asked to greet visitors and perform routine receptionist duties.
Potential volunteers should call Golden Umbrella and speak with Mary Kirby at 226-3033 or Senior Corps Programs 226-3098.
Mercy Medical Center
2175 Rosaline Avenue
Redding, CA 96001
These days its hard to eat healthy on the run but Lupines at 301 Crescent St. in Greenville Ca has you covered. This beautifully organized health food store has a huge selection of products including fresh produce, dairy, deli, frozen, local beef and honey and bulk foods. The in house cafe is perfect for a quick and healthy meal offering a homemade soup of the day, sandwiches, and even special orders. Bike, hike or jog to Lupines to refuel your active body. Live natural, eat natural.
Dr. Marlene Birkholtz, Banner Health
Preparing for surgery can be a daunting task: You have to arrange for time off work, make sure someone is going to walk the dog, and pick up your mail. But don’t forget to tend to the biggest part of all: the mental and emotional stress of anticipated pain and disability.
Researchers increasingly link mental, emotional and spiritual health to that of the physical body. So when a major physical event like surgery is on the table-no pun intended-the other human elements need caring for too.
Educating yourself before the procedure is key. The more informed patients are about what’s going to happen to them, the better they can be to cooperate with post-operative instructions including rest, nutrition and exercise, and the sooner they can return to normal activities. Patients should openly discuss their pain level with their nurse when they are hospitalized so it can be managed effectively. And, upon discharge, patients should closely follow their physician’s discharge orders. Many people try to return to normal activities too soon after surgery, resulting in pain and slowing the healing process.
How to Stave Off Surgery Stress
1. Get as much information as possible. Speak with all the doctors involved in the procedure, including the anesthesiologist, surgeon and your primary care physician. Seek out reliable information from the Internet or meet with people who have undergone the procedure in the past.
2. Choose a surgeon you trust. Ask family, friends and your family physician for a referral. Meeting with the surgeon before the procedure helps build a relationship.
3. Stick to a healthy lifestyle before surgery. Stop smoking and consult your doctor about the foods, vitamins and exercise that aid in a speedy recovery.
4. Take an active role in your healthcare. Express your concerns, worries or discomfort with the surgery process and make sure you get everything answered.
5. Enlist support. Research has found that a social and emotional network is essential to relieving stress and aiding in recovery.
6. Keep a notebook. Document the names and titles of all the medical staff involved and details of all tests and medications.
7. Seek professional advice. In extreme cases of stress, sessions with a therapist or someone who can instruct you on stress-management techniques can be very helpful.
Aging in Place
by Nancy Lund
“ I joke that at the age of 94 I have embarked on a new career.” Nancy Lund
Did you always wish you could play the piano? What about ceramics or writing? Are there things you want to do but think you are now too old to try?
When you give yourself permission to look foolish you have taken the first step in starting something new. Because many of us are own strongest critics we inhibit ourselves from even beginning. So we need to be told you can’t fail where there is nobody to judge you!
These words of wisdom come from my own recent experience. I joke that at the age of 94 I have embarked on a new career. Seriously, what I have done is enroll in a watercolor painting class. And I am enjoying it hugely! Certainly the results are not worth framing but they are mine. I can hardly wait for next week’s lesson ! I don’t know if Grandma Moses always wanted to be a painter but she decided at some point that she would do it. I have always been fascinated by the seeming freedom of watercolors and now I’m learning its secrets.
We seniors have the time now to do some of the things that work or family kept us from doing before. Maybe you took piano lessons as a child but didn’t stick with it. Why not take it up again? Admire the needlework that your neighbor is doing? There are quilting groups in each of our communities. Always wanted to write? Do it!
I am confident that you can find the teacher or the class to learn (or improve) your skills right here in Plumas County. The Feather River College is a good place to start. (toll free:1-800-442-9789 or 283-0282) If there is nothing currently scheduled, they might offer it if enough people are interested in the subject. Ask the people at the Senior Nutrition Site or at your church if they would join a class if it were offered. The Plumas Arts Center ( 283-3402) will have a list of classes and teachers.
Let 2012 be the year you do one of the things you always wanted to do!
By Lorraine Shoemaker
On a recent trip to Reno with my sister, Melissa, we had the pleasure of staying the night at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino. Along with the first rate room on the 21st floor of the Concierge Tower, we had access to the opulent Spa Atlantis- which has so many treatments available that it’s nearly impossible to chose just one. Fortunately we didn’t have to! With the purchase of one treatment each we were treated to an entire day of luxurious pampering.
Melissa chose the Signature Physiodermi Facial as her treatment and her Facial Technician, Charlene lead her to a candlelit room with calming music. Melissa was in a semi reclining position on an elegantly draped massage table . Charlene first placed a warm towel on Melissa’s’ face to open the pores and relax the facial muscles. Next, a gentle cleansing and exfoliation using botanical extracts-most noticeably papaya enzyme- the aroma was heavenly! A very gentle extraction of impurities was followed by another warm towel. Rich moisturizer was applied and a final spritzing. Charlene also shaped Melissa’s’ eyebrows and waxed her upper lip as well as massaging her shoulders, neck and hands.
My treatment was The Hot Rock Massage. The intimate candlelit room with soothing music and delicate aroma made me feel relaxed and I wasn’t even on the massage table yet! I started by laying facedown on the soft, warm table and felt my shoulders ease. It was so serene. My Massage Therapist, Nickie, eased quietly into the room and began preparing to do magic. Using wondrously warm cream and a gentle touch, Nickie massaged my neck, shoulders, back, arms, legs, feet and hands. About the time I was dozing, Nickie began using the hot rocks up and down my back. What a luxury. The rocks used are river rocks, specially selected for several qualities: size for different parts of the body, color for heat retention (black absorbs more heat -white less) and shape and smoothness.
At the end of my massage I melted into the table for a few minutes before getting up. As I stood up my legs were so rubbery I felt intoxicated. I, sadly, bide farewell to Nickie-an excellent Massage Therapist. Next time you’re in Reno, give yourself an indulgent treat- visit Spa Atlantis and experience the magic. For a full menu of amenities contact Atlantiscasino.com
CLICK LOGO TO VISIT OUR WEBSITE
Pinnacle Wellness and Healing Spa in Reno has recently moved to 18180 Wedge Parkway (Raley’s Shopping Center) in South Reno. This beautiful, state-of-the-art facility offers services in the areas of wellness, healing, enhancement and detoxification. Nutrition is key and Pinnacle offers Nutraceuticals instead of Pharmaceuticals. Members enjoy and oxygen bar, vitamin D Therapy, Far Infrared Therapy and many more treatments. Specializing in wellness, healing, enhancements and detoxification this state of the art facility has something for everyone. Come experience the tranquility of Pinnacle Wellness Healing Spa.
Located off of Mt. Rose
Highway in the Raleys
Shopping Center next
to the Goodwill Bookstore.
Walk-ins are welcome
Hours of Operation:
Mon – Sat
10am – 8pm
Every family has its own traditional way of celebrating holidays. And nearly always it involves a special holiday meal, a chance for everyone to gather around one table. For our family it used to be “going to Grandma’s” but now it’s at my daughter’s home. Besides the planning and shopping that goes into this feast, she will be up by 5:00 in the morning preparing her share of the dinner “from scratch. ” But that’s the way she wants it! There will be twenty five of us, family and friends. Those who live close by will bring their special dishes, but there are others who must travel to be here on that day.
Regardless of the weather, we will take a break before cutting into the pies. We’ll help the little ones into sweaters and coats and take a brisk walk. Then back into the warm house for coffee and dessert! The holiday programs on TV are not high on our family’s agenda; we are too busy catching up with each other’s lives.
I count myself among the very lucky seniors who have a close family –close emotionally as well as physically. Sadly, it is not true for many of us, so what are the alternatives? I know what I would do if I could no longer travel. I would have a “non-traditional holiday” meal at my house. I’d invite a lonely friend, perhaps a newly widowed acquaintance, or that young couple and their kids who recently moved nearby, for a non-traditional Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter meal. Non-traditional because instead of my doing all the cooking I’d let the market do most of the work. I might not cook and stuff a turkey and all the fixing if it was Thanksgiving, or a standing rib roast at Christmas, or a traditional Easter ham. I know I would be exhausted if I tried to do what my daughter does — and then the day wouldn’t be much fun for me or my guests.
But my dinner would be traditional with a pretty tablecloth and a fruit bowl or floral arrangement appropriate for the season. We’d have plenty to eat, of course, but the main thing would be getting together, enjoying the talk, the warmth, the ease of friendship.
And maybe that would start a tradition of its own!
By Nancy Lund
We all say it –Next time, I’ll do it differently. “ Next time I won’t cook dinner for people who don’t come on time, I’ll suggest we meet at a restaurant” and “Next time I’ll ask what I should bring, or what to wear instead of…”
These are trivial occasions that don’t really matter. But I’m thinking of reasons why we shouldn’t put off to ‘next time’ things that do matter, things that can have lasting effects for ourselves or our families.
Taking care of our health is the first thing that comes to mind. Don’t wait until the next time when you have a headache that won’t go away, or when your loved one has chest pains that might only be indigestion, but might not. Make that appointment with the doctor for yourself or your spouse. The next time might be too late.
And what about the insurance policy that keeps going up? Should we wait until the next time to see if we can get another one at a better rate? Or wait till we get another notice that our auto insurance has lapsed? That accident might not wait until the next time!
And when it comes to relationships, should we wait until the next time to go visit that friend who is in the hospital? Or to pick up the groceries for our house-bound neighbor? How awful we will feel when we hear that the friend has died or that our neighbor hasn’t had a square meal in days.
I learned a great lesson from my mother. In her late eighties she suffered from arthritis and major problems with her feet, but when invited to go out for dinner or a movie she would always say “Of course, I’ll be delighted to go.” Nothing about her aches and pains.
My dear mother-in-law, and a number of years younger, was just the opposite. Her answer would always be “I don’t feel up to it, but invite me next time.” And the next time was no better!
So, at the risk of sounding like Dear Abby or that old-fashioned motto on the wall, my advice is: “Don’t wait until the next time. Do it today! There are few second chances –so leap on the opportunity today. Take care of yourself now! Be that good neighbor today! Don’t wait to enjoy life tomorrow –live now!.”
Nancy Lund and her husband retired from the hustle and bustle, the smog and the traffic of Los Angeles in 1975 and found exactly the community they sought in Greenville, Ca. Nancy, now 93 years old and a widow, opened her own home design business and was still drawing plans until last year. She is currently writing her memoir– the ups and downs, the changes she has seen in a long life. As Chair of the Plumas County Commission on Aging, she continues to be active in senior affairs and in the League of Women Voters. She may be reached at 284-7206 or at nedlund5@frontiernet,net
Getting there is what it’s all about! How we get there is the question. Whenever I am in the Bay area, I am always eager to visit a concert, a play or a museum. I had read about two new exhibits at the de Young museum. One was of the artifacts of the Olmecs, people of central Mexico, whose civilization pre-dates the Incas and Aztecs by many centuries. There was also the exhibit of the famous fashions by Balenciaga, the Spanish designer.
“Are you up to all the walking that’s involved?” my family asked. “And there’s no telling how close we can park.” “Oh, I need to walk”. And I did. (I am still relatively robust at the age of 93, but do walk with a cane, when I think of it.) We walked through the parking garage and up a ramp and then stood in line to get tickets. The Olmec exhibit was marvelous and I was so happy that I got to see it. But I was more than ready to sit down as we left that part of the museum. But there was so much more to see and my daughter particularly wanted to see the Balenciagas.
“Do you think there is a way to get a wheelchair?” I asked, much to my family’s surprise. “You know, I hesitated to suggest it” said my son. “Sit right there while we get one and I’ll be more than happy to push you as long as you like.” So I got to see the Balenciagas and then the Impressionists and other galleries. It was a real highlight of my trip to the Bay Area. Once the wheelchair was returned,I had no trouble walking out of the museum and into the parking garage, and I was able to enjoy going out for dinner afterwards.
To my surprise, I found being in a wheelchair liberating! I was able to give my full attention to the exhibits; didn’t hold up the others with my slowness, nor having to look for a place to sit. What is more, my family didn’t have to worry that I might fall in the jostling crowd. Why do so so many of my fellow elders think that their life will be over if they are no longer able to walk? Is needing a walker tantamount to giving up? Of course, there are plusses and minuses of being confined to a wheelchair (which I was not). Obviously, not everyone has a son who is able to push them around and the alternative, motorized wheel chair, is not within everyone’s budget.
However, the lesson I learned was that there are compromises that can be made. We may not be able to do all the things that we did thirty years ago,or even a year ago. But, being able to see the plusses and not dwelling on the minuses, is the secret. One that I wanted to share with you.
Susanville Ranch Park Trails
by Debbie Jones,
Northeastern Rural Health Clinics
Medical providers at Northeastern Rural Health Clinics in Susanville are paying close attention to recent research studies indicating that many people may be deficient in Vitamin D. Vitamin D has come into the spotlight recently due to research showing that we may not be getting enough. According to researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, the evidence is overwhelming that Vitamin D affects not only bone health but may be associated with diabetes, infection, insulin resistance and various cancers. Further study is warranted to determine the exact connection between low Vitamin D levels and these conditions. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium so it’s no surprise that giving people Vitamin D improves bone mass and strength, reduces bone fractures and improves balance and muscle performance. But that may not be all it does.
Your skin makes Vitamin D when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays (unless you’re wearing sunscreen). However, those living in northern California may not get enough UV light to make Vitamin D from late fall to early spring. People who spend most of the day indoors during the summer may not be getting enough UV rays either. You can get some Vitamin D from food sources, but probably not enough.
It has been over 10 years since the Institute of Medicine issued the latest recommendations of 200 to 600 International Units (IU) per day depending on your age. Those levels were based on how much it would take to prevent rickets, the disease characterized by bowed or deformed bones, not necessarily the amount needed to promote optimal health. Current research indicates that higher doses are necessary to reach the optimal levels.
Northeastern Rural Health Clinics’ Medical Director, Naomi Rea FNP recommends having a Vitamin D level test added to your standard lab values at your next physical. She says “You may need to take more Vitamin D than what you are currently getting in your current vitamin regimen.” Be sure to ask your medical provider how much is right for you based on your lab results.
Diabetes: Early Detection Reduces Complications
26 million people in the United States have diabetes. Another 67 million Americans are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a condition which may not have any obvious symptoms. Many people in our community are suffering the effects of high blood sugar and do not know it. Symptoms usually come on gradually so they are not immediately noticed. Early diagnosis is important. With lower blood sugar achieved early on, less damage occurs throughout the course of diabetes.
Elevated blood sugar increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. It damages nerves in hands and feet causing loss of feeling which can lead to infection and poor healing, leading to amputations. High blood sugar also causes damage to kidneys, digestive system and eyes. It increases the risk of sexual dysfunction in men and women. It also increases the risk of depression, yeast infection and causes very dry skin. Contact your doctor immediately if you notice any combination of these common symptoms of high blood sugar; lack of energy and feeling extremely tired especially after meals, falling asleep after eating, vision blurriness that comes and goes, extreme thirst, waking often at night to urinate, craving sweets and starchy foods or having repeated yeast infections. Having an immediate family member with diabetes increases your risk. If you are experiencing these symptoms see your doctor immediately. Be sure to have your annual check-up with lab work. This may be the only way to detect a problem when it first starts. Pre-diabetes detected early enough can be reversed or at the very least, complications can be avoided with good blood sugar management.
For more information contact Health Educator, Debbie Jones at Northeastern Health Center at 1850 Spring Ridge Dr. in Susanville. Appointments available by calling 251-5000 Ext. 223. Free monthly diabetes classes are held the 3rd Tuesday 2:00-4:00pm. Everyone is welcome.
by Nancy Lund
When people ask me how do I stay so young I tell them “I don’t stay young – I stay active. You can’t fool the calendar; my birthdays come around like everyone else’s.”
Do I have a secret? I think it is that I have stayed actively involved — with my community, with people of all ages, and for the causes that are dear to my heart.
Leisure World, and its type of retirement living, may be ideal for some, but not for me and my husband. To us it seemed an artificial life. I don’t want to disparage golf but aside from its health benefits and a better tan, what do you have at the end of many years spent on the links? We wanted to live in a real community, where there is a mix of people with different backgrounds and different interests; a place where kids are born and grow up. And we found it in the beautiful mountain valleys of Plumas County.
My story is a familiar one to many retirees. For much of our married life my husband’s job and mine took us into different fields. He worked a swing shift, I had a day job. I would have weekends off while he often had to work. So when we retired we had the happy experience of doing things together. We shared the household chores so we could be out and about – doing what mattered.
And what mattered? We discovered that the Greenville AARP was not only busy with the Senior Nutrition program but was a prime supporter of the local hospital and the schools. The AARP also played a big part in re-opening the Taylorsville Pool, since re-named the Indian Valley Pool. Now, every summer the pool is host to aerobics for seniors and a place where kids can splash and play, but more importantly are taught to swim! And we were active in the successful campaign to secure safe water for the people of Greenville. The community now owns and operates the water system.
My husband and I had always been active in civic affairs; now as retirees we saw the need to be informed about Social Security and In-Home Supportive Services. Some good things and some bad things were being enacted in Congress and in our own state capital, and there were letters to write and petitions to be circulated. Interestingly enough all these activities put to use some of the skills we had used in our work-a-day life and led us to learn new ones!
And of course there is family! We were not as fortunate as some of you to have children and grandchildren living in the area but we took every opportunity we had to be with them , traveling as far away as Saudi Arabia to welcome a new granddaughter! And we took advantage of Plumas County’s many camp sites when different members of the family were able to come here!
Sadly, since my husband’s death four years ago, I no longer have the partner with whom I shared this active retirement, but the ties I made in the community have sustained me. I know too many men and women who are unprepared for widowhood, who now find it difficult to get out of the house. How much better it is to get involved with people now, in the church and in the community around you.
No, we can’t stay young, nor fool the calendar — but we can make our present life preparation for the years ahead.
Author of Aging in Place
by Jan Cox
At 92 years of age, Nancy Lund amazes many for her longevity, her quick brain and her lifetime drive to stand up for personal rights of women, the poor, the aging, and for the right to be herself.
Currently, Nancy is the Chair of Plumas County Commission on Aging. The 20 member commission keeps up on current legislation and acts as a watchdog for people’s rights.
Lund was an elected Senior Senator from 1984-92, representing five northern California counties in the Senior Legislature. This group is a mirror image of the regular legislature, acting as their eyes and ears concerning senior issues. She especially enjoyed the annual four-day sessions in Sacramento, where proposals were made, hopefully to be picked up by one of the legislators and enacted into law. Some of the Senior proposals were passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by the governor-including two authored by Lund.
With her usual sense of humor, she told a story about walking the halls of the capital with her husband who was impressed that everyone knew her name. Pointing down to her chest she said, ” Sure they do, I have on a name tag.”
Nancy Lund grew up in El Paso, and attended two years of college in Texas before the family moved to Los Angeles. She had one semester at UCLA, always meaning to return, but never did. Nancy became a draftsperson before women were accepted in the trade. She received her training during World War II and was able to use that in several capacities before and after coming to Plumas County.
Nancy and her husband, Dick, discovered this area while camping and decided to retire here, doing so in 1975. Since moving to Greenville, Nancy has designed many homes for both locals and newcomers. She was aged 90 when she completed her last home and continues to enjoy taking visitors to see some of the homes she has designed.
Nancy and Dick raised 3 children, one of whom she now lives with in Greenville after her husband’s death. She remains close to her 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Today, aside from her interest in local issues, she is active in the Plumas County League of Women Voters and belongs to a local book club and writer’s group who are encouraging her to complete her memoir. She also writes the “Aging in Place” column for this magazine.
When asked how she has stayed so lively right into her 90′s, Nancy replied that she hates fried foods, eats lots of fruit and vegetables, has always been a walker and keeps her brain strong through reading well written fiction and non-fiction. She also comes from a family with great longevity! Be sure and watch for her articles in Aging in Place in future issues of this magazine.
Nancy Lund at home in Greenville
You Don’t Have To Face It Alone
If you are facing breast or any other type of cancer, you don’t have to face it alone. A new peer-led support group is meeting in Portola, three Saturdays a month. There is no cost or obligation. The only thing asked of you will be to respect the confidentiality of the group. Men and women are welcome.
by Nancy Lund
To drive or not to drive—that is the question. When to give up the keys? How to find other means of getting where we want to go? These are among the hardest decisions we have to make –for ourselves as well as for a loved one.
Let us be clear, we are not talking about aging per se, but about disabilities that may strike us at any age but are often encountered in our later years. As we all know, driving a car involves not only our personal safety but that of others. It is a serious matter and worthy of careful consideration.
Giving up driving is usually a gradual process. Many of us find that driving at night is difficult. The lights in back of us, as well as those facing us, are distracting. So night driving is often the first thing we decide to forgo. Many of us are comfortable driving about our own town – to the market, to church, to a friend’s home. But we do not feel confident driving out of town, so we surrender that task to others. How to tell when it is time for us to give up driving altogether? Or that the time has come to take the keys from our loved one?
The fender-benders and parking mishaps are clues that all is not well. Of course, we can make excuses but something basic is happening and we ignore these incidents at our peril.
Before the accident happens a good place to start is with your long-time physician He (or she) can be dispassionate about the situation, knowing the factors that contribute to accidents. Do we suffer from diminished mobility, poor eyesight and/or hearing? Can we react to dangers in sufficient time? Hopefully he will not be moved by our excuses and alibis but will recommend the appropriate solution: that we stop driving.
Does the physician know what alternatives for transportation exist? Unlikely. He may have heard of “Dial-a-Ride” but we do not have that program in Plumas County. There are limited rides with the Senior Transportation ( Phone 283-3546 in Plumas County, 257-2113 in Lassen). Besides the trips to and from the nutrition sites, there are some shopping stops. Out-of-town doctors’ appointments can sometimes be arranged. But let us look elsewhere.
If your spouse or elderly parents are the ones who must give up driving, you will want to assure them that you will be available to drive them; and if you, personally, can’t, that you will make arrangements for a responsible driver on a regular basis. I emphasize responsible and regular basis because otherwise your loved ones will be bereft –a big part of their lives cut off.
From my own experience, I can tell you it is not an easy decision. My husband had an enviable record of safe driving but there came a day when he made numerous errors in judgment. It was obvious to me that he should no longer be driving. So my son and I made ourselves available to do the driving. It was often a bother and he was not happy with the arrangement but –imagining all the wrecks that were avoided- I have no regrets.
One more personal note: I passed the driver’s written test on my 90th birthday (in record time with only one error!) I was given a 5 year renewal–much to my surprise. Two and a half years later I am not driving and although I find it annoying and inconvenient I can live with it.
I am fortunate to live with my son who has agreed to take me wherever I need to go. But I know that such arrangements are not always the case.
So I advise you to have a plan if and when the time comes for you to give up the keys to your car. Is there a friend, relative, or neighbor who will be willing to take you where and when you need a ride? I believe a business arrangement is preferable. Their time and their gas are worth paying for. And you need not feel that you are taking advantage of anyone or become terribly indebted to them. Giving up driving may seem like the end of the world, but believe me, you will survive and be the healthier for it!
Advice For Senior Citizens from the National Council on Aging
The decision to choose a reverse mortgage is a big one and one that should come with careful consideration. The National Council on Aging (NCOA) offers help for older adults who wish to examine their home equity options in an effort to stay at home.
A reverse mortgage allows homeowners aged 62+ to convert a portion of their home equity into cash while they continue to live at home for as long as they want and are able. In order to apply for a reverse mortgage, applicants must first get counseling from a government-approved agency. The National Council on Aging’s Reverse Mortgage Counseling Services Network is one of four national counseling organizations approved by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.
Their counselors are exam-qualified aging services professionals who can help individuals:
* Evaluate the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage for your situation.
* Apply for public and private benefits that can help you pay for needs like home energy, meals, and medications.
* Find services in your community that can help you stay independent longer.
To schedule a counseling session, call NCOA toll-free (800) 510-0301. There is no fee unless you choose to apply for a reverse mortgage. The NCOA also waives the $125 counseling fee for older adults who:
* Are facing financial challenges such as foreclosure.
* Have modest incomes — under $20,000 for single homeowners and under $30,000 for couples.
The NCOA also offers a free booklet you can download outlining the pros and cons of reverse mortgages on their website at www.ncoa.org where a wealth of information for senior citizens on a variety of subjects can be found.
by Nancy Lund
Ever had the impulse to say “What a great idea! Glad somebody thought of that!” Well, that was exactly what I said when I learned about HICAP. The initials describe what it does – Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program.
MediCare, MediCal, Medicaid, Medi-gap, Medicare supplement , Medicare Advantage–these are not words we learned in school. And that is where HICAP comes in. Its sole purpose is to help seniors cope with the complicated and confusing world of health care insurance. HICAP has no axe to grind, it is non-partisan and non-political. And best of all – it is free! In Plumas County the toll free number is 1-800-434-0828. In Lassen County call 530-223-0999. In Sierra County call 1-800-434-0222.
HICAP holds regular informational meetings but you do not have to wait for one. If you have a question call the toll free number. When you call HICAP you will be referred to someone who can answer your question –or, if you like, will set up an appointment with a HICAP volunteer who will sit down with you and explore your various options.
HICAP volunteers not only know the basics, they are always up to date on any changes which have been made. These men and women are adept at searching the internet, They can compare insurance policies — what they will cover and what they won’t cover, as well as their premiums. They can show you which drug companies operate in our area and which pharmaceuticals they cover. HICAP can help you determine if your income qualifies you for help toward your Part B deductible (2009 legislation added $562.5 million to the program.)
Are you one of those seniors who have health care coverage through retirement? In most cases this is better than purchasing a plan as an individual. But you still may have questions which HICAP will be happy to answer.
When it comes to drug plans you are entering an area that is extremely complicated. Not only are there different companies but each company may offer an array of different plans, a different list of which prescription drugs it covers, with varying prices and varying co-pays. HICAP has helped many seniors get the drugs their doctor thinks best for them, when earlier denied.
Perhaps you are one of the healthy seniors who has no need for a drug plan at this time. But there is a penalty for those who do not opt for a drug plan when they are eligible to do so –HICAP can point out your options.
HICAP is especially valuable for those seniors who are thinking about assisted living facilities or long-term care. HICAP not only has a list of facilities in our area, the volunteer can show you their costs, their state rating, what complaints, if any, have been made against them .
HICAP is dedicated to fighting fraud and abuse and has won court cases where seniors have been over-charged or charged for services they did not receive. But we as consumers have responsibility, too. We need to be alert in protecting ourselves. Keeping a record of all our medical appointments makes it easy to check all bills as to the dates and procedures listed. Hopefully, we have asked all providers for their fees ahead of time, so we will not be surprised when we get the bills!
HICAP offers the following advise: Don’t give out personal information to marketing representatives. Don’t give out your Social Security/ Medicare Number over the phone. Insurance agents are prohibited from calling before 8: 00 A.M. or after 9:00 P.M. If you get repeated unsolicited calls from an agent you can tell him that he will be reported for using improper methods. Do not pay an agent to find the wheelchair, bath chair or commode you or your loved one may need. Such items are handled by certified suppliers of durable medical equipment and may be reached directly.
There’s more to HICAP than I can cover in this space so I urge you to keep those numbers handy and call them when you have a question.
Nancy Lund is the Chair of the Plumas County Commission on Aging.
She represented this area in the California Senior Legislature from 1984 to 92 and served on the California State Legislative Committee of the AARP.
Volunteer Musicians Give the Gift of Music
Music has been shown to enhance the healing process and create a pleasing, relaxing, and stress-reducing environment for patients, their families, visitors and staff according to a recent release from Enloe Medical Center in Chico. That’s why volunteer musicians perform at Enloe. “Enloe’s program addresses a diverse population of patients, families and staff”, said Roseanna Galindo-Kuhn, Director of Volunteer Services. “Music from various cultures, as well as classical, mellow jazz, easy listening, folk and world music are appropriate in a hospital setting.” Detailed information about music that promotes a sense of well-being – as well as music that does not work in a healing environment – is provided in the guidelines available to musicians before they audition to volunteer their time.
The mission of the Enloe Volunteer Musician Program is to serve Enloe Medical Center through the service of trained volunteer musicians who provide live music at the hospital. Training includes the general volunteer orientation as well as training specific to this very special placement. The program is part of Enloe’s Planetree approach to offering patient-centered care in a healing environment. Planetree is an internationally recognized not-for-profit organization that connects hospitals with tools and ideas for demystifying and personalizing the health care experience for patients.
The Volunteer Musician Program is one of several ways that Enloe has enhanced the hospital experience with music. Others include partnerships with Chico Performances and the Chico State Music Department as well as a new music system that pipes in relaxing, recorded music through areas of the medical center.
For more information, visit http://www.enloe.org.
More than 100,000 people are currently awaiting an organ transplant in the United States. There are not nearly enough donations to match the need.
Here are some facts about organ, tissue, and eye donation:
• Each organ donor may save up to 8 lives, and each tissue donor can enhance the quality
of life for up to 50 people.
• The gift of life is ageless — anyone can sign up to be an organ donor, at any age.
• Most people are eligible to sign up on the donor registry — the medical criteria at the time
of donation will determine eligibility.
• Cornea transplants have been successful for more than 100 years.
• Organ transplants have been successful for more than 50 years.
Sources: USDA Department of Health and Human Services, Oregon Donor Awareness www.organdonorawareness.org
Publish printable donor card if recommended. CALL FIRST FOR OK!!!
888-275-4772 EASTERN TIME
Assessing Your Weight
If you’ve been thinking about your current weight, it may be because you’ve noticed a change in how your clothes fit. Or maybe you’ve been told by a health care professional that you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and that excessive weight could be a contributing factor. The first step is to assess whether or not your current weight is healthy.
One way to begin to determine whether your weight is a healthy one is to calculate your “body mass index” (BMI). For most people, BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness. It is calculated based on your height and weight.
To calculate your BMI, see the BMI Calculator. Or determine your BMI by finding your height and weight in this BMI Index Chart or visit their website for an online calculator.
* If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the “underweight” range.
* If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the “normal” or Healthy Weight range.
* If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the “overweight” range.
* If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the “obese” range.
“Underweight”, “normal”, “overweight”, and “obese” are all labels for ranges of weight. Obese and overweight describe ranges of weight that are greater than what is considered healthy for a given height, while underweight describes a weight that is lower than what is considered healthy. If your BMI falls outside of the “normal” or Healthy Weight range, you may want to talk to your doctor or health care provider about how you might achieve a healthier body weight. Obesity and overweight have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.
At an individual level, BMI can be used as a screening tool but is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual. A trained healthcare provider should perform appropriate health assessments in order to evaluate an individual’s health status and risks.
Courtesy USDA Center for Disease Control. For more information visit their website: /www.cdc.gov/healthyweight
Now there is no excuse. As of January 9, 2010 you can schedule that mammogram at Eastern Plumas Health Care (EPHC) for a Saturday. They will accept appointments for their regular weekday hours and now also for the second Saturday of each month from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
While a physician order is required for screening mammograms, it is not necessary for your doctor to be an EPHC provider. Their full service imaging department will send the results to your doctor. Appointments can be made by calling (530) 832-6516.
What happens to our dream of aging in place when our health begins to fail? What if one of a couple has a debilitating illness? Are there alternatives to nursing home care here in our beautiful remote mountain valleys?
Naturally, if you have long-term-care insurance, this is the time to access it. These policies vary greatly in their usefulness and application. If you encounter problems, call the California Insurance Dept. (1-800-927-4357), or consult an elder-care lawyer.
Meanwhile, here are some immediate suggestions: contact the Senior Lunch and Transportation programs in your area. (283-3546 in Plumas County, 257-6670 in Lassen County) The lunch program is a real life-saver for many frail elders. No shopping, cooking or washing up! Plus, a well-balanced meal in the company of your peers can make a difference for both the caregiver and the ailing spouse. No longer driving? Transportation to the lunch program is available. Home-delivered meals are the ticket for both spouses when one is house-bound. Persons aged 60 and over are eligible for meals and transportation. There are suggested donations for these services: $2.50 for lunch, $1.50 for round-trip to the Nutrition Site.
Plumas, Lassen and Modoc counties are currently investigating means of providing transportation for medical appointments. At this time, there is very limited transportation to medical appointments (Call 283-3546 in Plumas County, 257-2113 in Lassen County).
The Veteran’s Offices offer some transportation for medical appointments (283-6275 in Plumas county, 251-8912 in Lassen county). While in touch with the VA, you may look into another program they administer—“Aid and Attendance.” This is a program to provide war-time veterans and surviving spouses with help toward expenses.
Next, I want to emphasize how important it is to work with your physician to access services that exist but that he or she may not suggest. For instance, you may ask if physical therapy (invaluable in restoring and/or maintaining mobility) is appropriate. Ask also about “Home Care,” a Medicare covered service which can only be accessed on order by your physician. Under Home Care, a specialist will come to the home and evaluate what is needed. Do you need a walker and a chair for the bath/shower? Will a commode that sits over the toilet provide you with the hand-holds you need? Does the bed need to be raised so it is easier to get in and out? Some of this is paid for by Medicare and some is not.
Under home care, there are a limited number of visits by a nurse to monitor your “vitals”, take blood for lab testing, and help with bathing. This can be essential while you explore other resources.
Respite care can make the difference between being overwhelmed with stress and fatigue or your ability to function! Respite care is designed to give the care-giving spouse a regular break so he/she can take a nap, go shopping, or go for a walk. (In Plumas County call 898-6637, in Lassen call 229-0878)
Plumas Rural Services (283-3611) has two programs which can be helpful: Respite Care and Community Connections. The respite program has a list of providers and operates on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. Community Connections is a network of volunteers who do a variety of household tasks in exchange for “credit” later, when they may need it
IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) is a federal, state program that provides non-medical services (house-keeping) for low-income seniors. (283-6350 in Plumas County, 251-8128 in Lassen County). Unfortunately, because of California’s budget woes, eligibility for IHSS is projected to be severely cut this year.
Finding reliable housekeeping workers is not easy, but they are out there. Run an ad in the local paper and don’t overlook the possibility that your neighbors, your church or people in your social club may know of someone who is looking for work and whom they can recommend.
Most of us are proud of our independence and are reluctant to ask for help. We may even feel that in some way we are at fault—that we should be able to cope. Let me assure you; you are not alone. The first step is to ask! There are many caring people around; people who — like you — want to stay in this beautiful, peaceful area. Just ask! You will be surprised!
Nancy Lund is the Chair of the Plumas County Commission on Aging. She is a former California State Senior Senator and served on the AARP State Legislative Committee. email@example.com
• Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. You will help prevent others from catching your illness.
• Avoid close contact.
If you must go out avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
• Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
• Clean your hands.
Wash your hands often. This will help protect you from germs.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Source: USDA Center for Disease Control.