Loneliness: A Big Issue for Seniors

Many seniors and older adults feel disconnected from society and lose relationships as they get older. There are several of reasons for isolation in the lives of seniors. For example, retired individuals and couples can choose to move into a senior-only community, but their new home is little ways from their children and friends, thus getting less visitors throughout the years.

According to an article by AARP, a study by the University of California, San Francisco, found that about 43% of adults older than 65 felt lonely. The article quotes other studies that prove that feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to serious health issues, and even increase the risk of mortality. For example, there are instances where after one of the elderly couple passes away, the other one “follows” and passes too.

The article also quotes the director of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive & Social Neurosciences, who stated that loneliness is not a permanent feeling, and should be treated like physical pain or hunger. By viewing loneliness as a temporary state of mind, seniors can “treat themselves” by being proactive in their daily lives to maintain old relationships and establish new ones.

If you are a senior and are looking for ways to reconnect with society, consider the following ideas: visit or volunteer at your local community centers (senior center, animal shelter, youth center, public library, etc.), reconnect with your old friends or coworkers, or reach out to your neighbors and (extended) family. Interacting with others will give you a sense of presence in your community, and can lead to the establishment of meaningful relationships. Don’t hesitate to call your local office on aging to get more ideas on community activities and events.

If you know any seniors, whether they are your family, friends or neighbors, it helps to pay them a visit every now and then. Invite them over for tea or dinner, ask them to tell you their life stories, go on light walks, or even run errands together. Chances are, you will gain new knowledge and perspectives by spending time with seniors. Keep in mind that even small interactions or gestures can go a long way.

Reference: http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2017/isolation-loneliness-impacts-seniors-fd.html

Phone Calls: Do you know who’s really calling?

If you pick up your phone from an unknown number often, chances are, you have been contacted by some type of scam or sales call. It’s easy to hang up when it’s a pre-recorded message, but what do you do when the person on the other line is claiming to be calling from the IRS, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, or Medicare? What if they are calling from a well-known charity, such as Make-a-Wish? Your first instinct won’t be to hang up right away, so you might stay on the line to hear what they have to say. It may be harmless to do so, but what do you do when they say that you have a payment due, or asks for your Social Security number? You might feel pressured to give out your information, but always remember that scammers try to get your money in the quickest way possible. No one from the government, a charity organization, or even a tech support company should be calling you first and asking for your payment or any other personal information. In addition, if a caller says that he or she is simply calling to confirm your name and address – hang up immediately. These types of calls can come from a live phone operator or a recorded message to confirm your personal information.

Make sure to visit The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information blog page to read about the recent scam alerts. The following are a few tips from the FTC blog to keep in mind when you receive unknown phone calls.

  • The federal government would contact you by US Mail, not by phone or email first.
  • Federal agencies would not ask or demand your personal information over the phone.
  • Scammers may threaten you to give up a payment information to pressure you.
  • Do not trust a caller who asks for your bank account information or asks to wire money over the phone.
  • Free prize or winner? It’s a scam.
  • Hang up immediately if someone is calling to “just to confirm” personal information. Just because they recite your name and address, doesn’t mean that they are trustworthy.

Reference: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

What’s in Your Wallet?

If you have a Medicare card in your wallet, you should think about making a copy of it and carrying that instead. Your Medicare account number is your Social Security number, so you are at risk of identity theft if it is found or taken by someone malicious. But of course, you need to carry your Medicare card because the ID serves as the proof of insurance. In order to protect your identity, you must make a photocopy of your Medicare card and black out or cut out the last four digits of the ID numbers. This way, if you need to use your Medicare card, you can give them the photo copy and provide them with the last four digits verbally (if able). According to AARP, the one or two additional letters or numbers after your SSN/ID is used to identify the type of beneficiary you are. But they have stated that it does not matter if you leave in or decide to remove those ending letters and numbers on your photocopy of the card.

If you have any credit cards, debit cards, licenses, etc., you should also think about making photocopies of them, and keeping those copies at home. It helps to write down the phone numbers you need to call in case you misplace the cards or if they are stolen. In addition, you should go through your wallet and see what you are carrying around every day. Chances are, you don’t need to be carrying all the cards in your wallet. It helps to have an organized wallet and an organized record of your photocopies, so that you know what to do if you misplace them or if they are stolen.

Resources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-leave-home-without-this-card/2016/01/14/cd01e808-b576-11e5-a842-0feb51d1d124_story.html?utm_term=.b03f139c3e41

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/hints-from-heloise-copy-this-to-cut-down-theft/2016/02/12/a659a534-cb7d-11e5-88ff-e2d1b4289c2f_story.html?utm_term=.5b61b937a7f0

http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/info-07-2012/medicare-card-identity-theft.html

Sleep – It’s a Valuable Skill!

Whether you are working or retired, everyone needs sleep. Your mind and body need to rest and recuperate from the day before so that you can function well the next day. But chances are, you have experienced sleepless nights in your life from many different reasons and factors. If you have trouble sleeping, you could be changing a few things in your daily habits so that you can get better sleep. According to W. Chris Winter, M.D., sleeping is a skill that can be improved if you are not satisfied with the quality of your sleep. Here are the most common aspects of your life that could be affecting your sleep every night, according to an article written by Paula Spencer Scott:

  1. Too Much Stress — You could be causing unnecessary stress and anxiety to yourself by thinking too much about things that happened that day or anticipating what will happen the next day. Try to accept the fact that instead of worrying, you can try to get a good night’s sleep and deal with your problems the next day.
  2. Being Random — Your body will have a hard time keeping up if you don’t have a normal sleeping schedule. Instead of sleeping and waking up at different times every day, try to stick with a sleeping schedule that you’re comfortable with. The article states that adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and you probably already know if your body prefers more or less hours in that range. The key is to be consistent.
  3. Not Comfortable Enough — How many years have you had your mattress or pillows? How about your sheets and blankets? What are you wearing to sleep? Maybe it’s time to explore how comfortable you are with your arrangements.
  4. Pet Disturbance — Sometimes our beloved animal companions can be a little too disturbing at night. The author of the article reminds us that dogs have different sleeping cycles than humans, so they are likely to move around while you’re sleeping.
  5. Too Much Light — You probably already turn off your lights when you go to sleep, but do you turn off all your technology? There could be light coming from the television, computer, phone, printer, etc., which can ultimately bother your sleep. In addition, close your blinds or curtains if you have strong moonlight coming through your window.
  6. Overthinking — I’m sure we have all done this: thinking about not getting enough sleep. The article states that this is a problem that builds upon itself. Thinking too much about whether you will fall asleep or get enough hours adds to your stress and anxiety. Do yourself a favor and think pleasant thoughts, and remind yourself that simply resting in bed is beneficial to your body.

There are more pointers and suggestions that Paula Spencer Scott notes on her article. Make sure to visit the link below to read her full article on sleeping.

Resources: https://parade.com/555676/paulaspencer/sleep-youre-doing-it-wrong/

Total Eclipse in 2017!

The first total solar eclipse in the 21st century to pass over the United States is going to occur this year! It isn’t too late to plan a getaway trip so you can experience this marvelous event. The total eclipse will happen on Monday, August 21, where several states will experience darkness for a few minutes. The path of totality will begin in Oregon and move its way down diagonally through the United States, through parts of South Carolina.

People on Earth have witnessed eclipses for centuries, but they were not always enjoyed and appreciated. Many ancient civilizations believed that a solar eclipse was a sign that something terrible might happen. There were civilizations that firmly believed that the sun was being attacked or threatened, so they performed special rituals until they saw the sun was “restored.”

It wasn’t until around 500 B.C. when scientists were able to predict the solar eclipses. And scientists today are able to predict not just which cities will see the total eclipse, but at what time and the exact duration of the total eclipse.

Make sure to visit the 2017 Eclipse website linked below to see which cities in the United States will be in the path of totality.

http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/path_through_the_US.htm

http://www.windows2universe.org/sun/atmosphere/eclipse_history.html

Did You Know…

…That local hospitals provide free educational programs? The topics covered in these programs include maternity, parenthood, cancer support, personal wellness and health, and many more. Most of these classes require registration beforehand by phone or via their website, and they also offer classes that are more than informational, thus require you to pay a fee upon registering. And depending on the hospital, there are even programs that are offered in Spanish.

If you are interested in attending a free program, make sure to call your local hospital or visit their website to see what type of classes are offered. Below are links to a few hospitals in the MHET area.

Orange County:

http://www.mission4health.com/Patients-Visitors/For-Patients/Classes-Events.aspx

Riverside County:

https://riversidecommunityhospital.secure.ehc.com/calendar/index.dot

San Bernardino County:

http://www.dignityhealth.org/san-bernardino/classes-and-events

FAST FOOD Could Equal BIG EXPENSE

Better Ways to Spend Your Lunch and Dinner Money

Do you know how much money you spend on eating out every year? Let’s say that you eat out twice a week for lunch, and each meal is about $10. You would be spending about $1,000 a year on buying lunch. What if you also ate out for dinner twice a week, and each meal was about $15? You would be spending about $1,500 a year for buying dinner, and would be spending a total of $2,500 on eating out annually. And, those $3 cups of coffee each day?! Let’s say just three times a week, which adds another $468 a year for a total of $2,968! And the numbers would definitely be a lot higher if you are paying for your significant other or your family members or if you choose more expensive restaurants every once in a while.

There are many benefits of making lunch and dinner yourself, and one of the most obvious reasons is that you would be saving a lot of money in the long-run. If you are able to cut back on eating out, there are a few different ways you can spend that money so that it benefits you.

  • Start an emergency fund — Having an emergency fund can help you in many situations. You can use it when you or your loved ones have health problems, when there is a natural disaster, or when you are faced with car repairs, as a few examples. Having an emergency fund can put your mind at ease when you face unexpected situations.
  • Pay your bills — Millions of Americans have outstanding bills or debt to pay. Think about your loans, credit card bills, mortgage, hospital bills, or utility bills. Although the money you save from eating in may not be enough to pay off all your bills and debt, it does help to pay a little bit more every month.
  • Put it in your retirement fund — If you have not retired yet, you should be contributing some money in your retirement fund. You can put a few dollars more into your account each month and watch it grow.
  • Invest it – There are many ways to invest your money. A child’s education is one alternative investment. Perhaps the money you save from eating out can go towards paying for your child or your grandchild’s education, such as tutoring or summer school.
  • Save for a Special Vacation — Perhaps you are doing well on having funds or paying bills. Another option is to save for an extra special vacation.
  • Save for Next Holiday Gift Giving – Make next holiday a little easier on the budget by saving now.

Reference: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5185-the-cost-of-lunch-adding-up-for-most-employees.html

Welcome in a Healthy 2017!

What could be a worse way to start the New Year than to be sick? Flu viruses seem to make their way into millions of people starting as early as October, and they can ruin our most precious holiday seasons. Regardless of your immunity, there are 4 simple steps to follow to stay flu-free during the start of the new year.

  1. Get the flu shot. Flu vaccines are a sure way to protect you from catching the seasonal virus. What’s convenient about getting flu shots is that you don’t have to have health insurance or visit your physician’s office to get one. You can stop by at your local pharmacy, or you can even get one for free! There are a lot of cities that provide free flu shot events, and even college campuses provide them for their students. Make sure you do some research to see where you can get a flu shot for free!
  1. Dry your hands. We all know that it is crucial to wash your hands, especially after touching millions of germs outside. But what you may not know yet is that it is equally important to dry your hands after washing them. Even though you wash your hands thoroughly with soap, damp hands can easily spread germs to and from the surfaces you touch.
  1. Don’t touch your face. When you touch a surface that many other people touch, such as shopping carts, doorknobs and ATMs, then touch your eyes, nose and mouth, you are creating an easy route for the virus and germs to enter into your body. And, take advantage of stores that provide disinfectant towels to wipe down shopping carts.
  1. Stay away from sick people. Those who are infected by the flu virus are contagious for up to one week. If you are unfortunately sick this New Year, take a sick day from work! The last thing you want to do is be the spreader of virus. If someone at work or school is suffering from flu-like symptoms, keep your distance and be sure to have bottles of hand sanitizers around!  It would not hurt to drop subtle (or not so subtle!) hints to let them know that they’re infected because the rest of the office doesn’t want to get sick, too!  And if you’re meeting any sick family members, kindly give them an air-hug and blow them a kiss. Avoid touching someone who is sick.

There are many other things that you can do to avoid getting sick — and you should do them. Because why would you risk getting sick for the start of the New Year?

Reference: Boost Your Flu IQ: Need-to-Know Info That Will Keep You Protected This Season by Catherine Winters

http://parade.com/508234/catherinewinters/boost-your-flu-iq-need-to-know-info-that-will-keep-you-protected-this-season/

Thinking About Making A New Year’s Resolution?

A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or kindness. The self-improvement resolutions – like losing weight, drinking fewer glasses of wine, or exercising more seem to be the easiest to break and are quickly forgotten. Perhaps making a resolution to keep your resolutions like this poem suggests.

New Year’s Resolution
Resolve to renew all your old resolves,
And add a few that are new.
Resolve to keep them as long as you can,
What more can a poor man do.

A bit more ambitious is the following Resolution for Every Morning of the New
Year that appeared on a calendar by Bishop John H. Vincent in the early 20th century. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone made and kept this resolution!?

“I will this day try to live a simple, sincere, and
serene life – repelling promptly every thought of
discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity and
self-seeking – cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity,
charity, and the habit of holy silence – exercising
economy in expenditure, carefulness in conversation,
diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust
and a child-like trust in God.”

Perhaps a resolution even easier to keep is a simple, “I resolve to treat others the way I would like them to treat me.” Sometimes that is all that one needs to be remembered in the daily challenges of getting along with your neighbors and others.

The History of Thanksgiving

thanksgiving_the-first-thanksgiving_cph-3g04961-eIn 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. But, it wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers.  After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore.  The local Indians taught the Pilgrims, weakened by malnutrition and illness, how to cultivate corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in the rivers and avoid poisonous plants.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days.  Historians have suggested that many of the dishes were likely prepared using traditional Native American spices and cooking methods. Because the Pilgrims had no oven and the Mayflower’s sugar supply had dwindled by the fall of 1621, the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts, which have become a hallmark of contemporary celebrations.
Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast. Days of fasting and thanksgiving on an annual or occasional basis became common practice in other New England settlements as well. During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress designated one or more days of thanksgiving a year, and in 1789 George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation by the national government of the United States; in it, he called upon Americans to express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence and the successful ratification of the U.S. Constitution. His successors John Adams and James Madison also designated days of thanks during their presidencies.

Abraham Lincoln in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.” He scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November, and it was celebrated on that day every year until 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. Roosevelt’s plan, known derisively as Franksgiving, was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 the president reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

Although the American concept of Thanksgiving developed in the colonies of New England, its roots can be traced back to the other side of the Atlantic. Both the Separatists who came over on the Mayflower and the Puritans who arrived soon after brought with them a tradition of providential holidays—days of fasting during difficult or pivotal moments and days of feasting and celebration to thank God in times of plenty.

As an annual celebration of the harvest and its bounty, moreover, Thanksgiving falls under a category of festivals that spans cultures, continents and millennia. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans feasted and paid tribute to their gods after the fall harvest. Thanksgiving also bears a resemblance to the ancient Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot. Finally, historians have noted that Native Americans had a rich tradition of commemorating the fall harvest with feasting and merrymaking long before Europeans set foot on their shores.

Source: History of Thanksgiving   http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/history-of-thanksgiving