COVID unpredictability lingers

COVID unpredictability lingers

Before COVID-19, many of us over the age of 60 never regarded ourselves as “older adults” or as someone with an underlying medical condition. However, it didn’t take long for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and county public health officers to place new classifications on us once the novel coronavirus arrived in the United States.

I have many friends over the age of 60 who would consider themselves vital, with jobs or volunteer duties, large networks and busy lives.

Their age was never a primary identifier for them, and their medical situation was something they controlled while still managing their robust lives.

Recent events highlight limits of age-restricted sites

Recent events highlight limits of age-restricted sites

Earlier this month 300 residents of a Newbury Park 55-plus mobile home park were left without running water for nearly a week. The stoppage, caused by a main break within the community’s private water system, didn’t get fixed until city and county officials intervened.

The ordeal got me thinking about the pros and cons of such living arrangements.

Age-restricted mobile home parks offer seniors an affordable alternative to single-family homes without the crowded living of an apartment complex. Most tenants pay rent on their space and own their mobile home. That means they pay a lower monthly rent and can live in a larger home.

Another benefit is that the parks’ amenities are designed around the needs of seniors and offer opportunities to socialize with people in the same age range.

State Master Plan on Aging deserves review

State Master Plan on Aging deserves review

Recognizing that California’s over-65 population is projected to grow to 8.6 million by 2030, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order recently calling for a Master Plan for Aging to be developed by Oct. 1, 2020.

The master plan will serve as a blueprint for state government, local communities, private organizations and philanthropists to build environments that promote an age-friendly California.

Our local Area Agency on Aging and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin have been hosting informational sessions about the needs of older adults in our communities.

In reviewing the myriad of topics to focus on, here are my top areas for consideration:

How safe is that safe deposit box

How safe is that safe deposit box

My neighbor John has been collecting gold coins for the past 20 years. Upon buying a coin, he would place it in the safe deposit box he and his wife, Caitlin, rented at their bank.

John put the gold there for an obvious reason: security.

A thick steel door safeguards hundreds of stacked metal boxes. The boxes are protected by a two-key system.

The bank gives you one key to use in combination with a “guard key” held by a bank employee. In addition, you must provide personal identification and sign the register every time you visit the bank to access your box.

If your bank uses a keyless system, you will instead be asked to scan your finger or hand.

A few weeks ago, Caitlin decided to go to the box, count the large stack of coins and calculate their value (roughly estimated at $100,000). She and John are retired now and thinking about tapping into their nest egg.

Wise friends can be of great value in our elder years

Wise friends can be of great value in our elder years

I’ve trained my mom to be a case manager for seniors. Well, not really, but linking our daily conversations along with her 85 years of life experience, my mom can give some pretty good advice when asked.

Mom has known her close friend Bernadette since high school. They both married their hometown sweethearts, and the two couples moved and bought houses less than a block from one another.

They raised their children together, and when the kids began school, my mother and Bernadette found jobs at the same school district. They worked there for many years until their retirement.

The similarities did not stop there. Bernadette’s husband received a Parkinson’s diagnosis in his early 70s. My dad was diagnosed just a few years later. It was a blow to all of us that two men who became such close friends would be diagnosed with the same serious disease within such a short time span.

Preparing for the ultimate loss: What to do when a loved one dies

Preparing for the ultimate loss: What to do when a loved one dies

I have a dear friend, Nancy, whose husband died unexpectedly several years ago. She was recounting the situation to me and how another friend of hers, a physician, wanted to give her some medication to calm her during the experience.

Nancy’s response: “I have too much to do. I can’t be out of it.”

We laughed about her get-it done nature. Still, whether it’s a sudden loss or the result of a long illness, the death of a spouse can be emotionally devastating but at the same time there’s a lot to do.

I often think the “business of death” is society’s way of keeping our mind busy during those early crushing days of loss.

Here are the time-sensitive things to consider upon a loved one’s death:

Post-holiday loneliness takes a toll on seniors

Post-holiday loneliness takes a toll on seniors

The 55-plus community my mother lives in has a weekly get-together at its clubhouse. Everyone who chooses to come brings a food item to share; visiting with one another includes the goings-on in their lives: who welcomed grandchildren, who’s expecting visitors and talk of current events.

Showing up at last week’s gathering were only nine people, when most of the time 20 to 30 attend. My mother said it was the lowest turnout ever.

We were both coming up with reasons for the poor showing.

Maybe people were with their families for an extended holiday. Maybe the very cold weather and high winds that day (she lives in New Hampshire) weren’t conducive to going out. Maybe some folks were sick with a cold or the flu.

And, just maybe, the days leading up to the holidays and those soon after remind some seniors of the losses they’ve experienced, and those memories make them melancholy and not eager to spend time with others. According to AARP, more than one in three elderly Americans describe themselves as lonely, and the holidays can be especially isolating for them.

Local seniors left scarred by wildfires

Local seniors left scarred by wildfires

On the heels of the Borderline shooting, Allison, a Senior Concerns case manager, was knocking on doors of the occupants of the senior low-income housing complex where she works.

She was concerned the residents were isolated in their apartments watching the 24/7 coverage of the massacre, feeling shocked and frightened.

Allison encouraged them to come out of their apartments and share their feelings and concerns with her and with each another. It was one small step in promoting community among the seniors she provides counsel, guidance and resources to on a weekly basis.

But just like that, Allison was gone. She had to rush home because her house was in danger.

As more seniors age alone, more planning is required

As more seniors age alone, more planning is required

My friend Dr. Sara Zeff Geber coined the term “solo agers” after realizing so many of her childfree friends were caring for their aging parents.

The question loomed large: Who was going to care for them when they got older?

Geber’s term has expanded to include older adults who are geographically distant from their children or who choose not to rely on them for help as they age.

My husband and I know all too well the challenges of aging alone, as we had “adopted” our elderly neighbors in their last five years of life. With no children or nearby relatives, our neighbors had no one to lean on as their health worsened and activities of daily living became impossible.

Website collects senior resources into one easy-to-access place

Website collects senior resources into one easy-to-access place

I’ve recently discovered some programs that can help solve many of the challenges facing seniors.

There are so many sources of help available today that it’s nearly impossible to have a handle on all of them at one time. Having a robust list by topic is very helpful.

As with any rapidly growing market, there’s continuous innovation, making it even more difficult to keep up. Having one site with the latest innovations would be really valuable.

And with so many resources, it’s often difficult to sort out what is reputable and what is not. So I was pleasantly surprised when I happened upon the website www.programsforelderly.com.

It’s not a nonprofit endeavor, so you will see ads, but the content is so rich that it’s worth the distractions.

 

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