Sunday, April 26, 2009

Senior Newsletter: Any Advice?

I have taken on the dauntng task of establishing a residents' newsletter for our community at The Clare. Does anyone have any experience and/or advice on forming a staff, contents, format, computer software to use, etc?

I'd be happy to see samples of successful publications, too. I have some experience in desktop publishng, but is it enough? I want to keep it simple and manageable.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Learning About Elders

I just attended a meeting of my fellow residents to announce staffing changes and other matters at The Clare. The meeting turneed into a complaint session. I kept my mouth shut, but I had plenty of time to assess my fellow elders. Here are a few conclusions:

1. This group is, in general, articulate and well educated, as well a affluent. (I'm probably one of the least affluent residents).

2. Seniors love to talk--loudly. Loud talk is good for those of us, including me, with hearing loss. But many tend to repeat themselves too often.

3. As with people of all ages all over, there are few agreements on anything among this group, despite the age similarities.

4. Moving into this building has marked a major turning point for everyone, and most of us are a bit uneasy about how everything will turn out. Will the assisted living and nursing facilities ever open? If so, and if we need such help, will it be available for everyone (the independent living apartments far outnumber the assisted living units).

5. Everyone feels that communication is lacking here. I feel that it's not been bad, considering the newness of the place.

6. There are too many pessimists here; I prefer to look on the brighter side. Some seem to believe that the emphasis will shift too far toward assisted living and nursing care.

7. Specific complaints: lack of shower grab bars (I have them) and long waits for food at dinner (I seldom eat dinner here). These seem to be valid complaints, but there were few of them. Most of what I heard seemed to be theories that the sky was falling in some way.

8. Dealing with a group of independent old people who are accustomed to the best must be very difficult. Personally, I enjoy living here.

9. I'm trying to establish a residents' newsletter. I think that should be a wonderful way to let people express their opinions. I hope they are willing to put them in writing.

10. My advice is to give the new management a chance.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

When Do the Positive Financial Reports Begin Again?

I made the mistake a day or so ago of opening and reading one of my quarterly mutual fund statements. I had made no additions or withdrawals, but the ending value had decreased by nearly $9,000. How's that for bad news for 2009? This news comes from a respected company I won't name here, and I expect a couple of others from another company.

I'm not much of an investor, and these funds do not contain my entire "fortune." However, it's distressing to wonder if such losses will continue. Should I have bailed out long ago? It seems a bit late to do so now. The fatalist in me believes that I should leave things as they are and hope for eventual recovery. If the stock market recovers while I'm still alive, I'll be able to profit. If not, it will be intereseting to see how low my balance can go.

I always laughed at my mother's conservative financial habits. Her only investments were insured bank CD's and a couple of small, paid up life insurance policies. Still, she managed to live to the age of 95 with a little money left over. Will I be as fortunate?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Breakfast Follies

I've always realized that no stereotypical picture of senior citizens fits all of us, but I'm not sure I was aware of how far out of the main stream I am when it comes to breakfast. Since I moved into The Clare about three months ago, we have had free continental breakfast in the lounge and cooked breakfasts in the adjoining dining room (part of our food allowance). The former offered a sweet roll, orange juice, and coffee, as well as fresh fruit. The latter offered bacon and eggs, ham and eggs, omelets, oatmeal, and other common breakfast goodies, as well as juice, coffee, fruit, and pretty much everything found on the usual breakfast menu.

My favorite has been the "healthy choice breakfast" in the dining room: an egg white omelet with vegetables, orange juice, whole wheat toast, and coffee--no potaatoes. I often took a piece of fruit back to my apartment, too. I've also had bacon and eggs on occasion, as well as oatmeal with raisins. The only problem is that traffic in the dining room early in the morning is nearly non-existent. The lounge was sometimes crowded; it seemed to attract far more residents than the dining room.

Ever experimenting, the Clare staff has changed the breakfast routine. First, the continental breakfast was served buffet-style at the end of the dining room and carried into the lounge. Now the continental breakfast is served in the Bistro, the casual restaurant eight floors down. A few other things are offered (for a price), but the fruit has disappeared--too expensive, they say. How does this affect me? Well, this morning I was the only one in the dining room. It's obvious that the staff is not going to keep hiring a waitress and cooks to serve me and the few others who occasionally come in.

I was surprised by this breakfast pattern. I had thought elders would appreciate the virtues of a more healthy breakfast, but rolls and scones seem to be the preferred foods. Last I knew, eggs, especially egg whites, had improved their reputation and sweets were on the no-no list. I'm still searching for answers.

Is it money? I doubt it; most residents, like me, usually fail to use up their paid food allowances, and there are no refunds. Besides, this is a group of generaly affluent seniors who can afford almost anything they want. Is it a general dislike of breakfast? Is it the bad reputation eggs have had in the past? Some people may have been warned by their doctors to avoid eggs, but I'll bet they were not told to replace them with sweets. How about a good, inexpensive bowl of oatmeal?

Perhaps the breakfast-skipping habits of younger generations have rubbed off on elders. Some residents eat large lunches in the dining room (not very many) and most concentrate on dinners. I, for one, usually skip dinner in favor of something light in my apartment. I've never enjoyed going out for dinner every evening, no matter how gourmet the restaurant. Too much food in the evening interferes with my early to bed, early to rise pattern.

Will I succumb to the continental breakfast craze? Will I start cooking scrambled eggs in my kitchen? Will I go on a crash diet? There's no chance I'll starve. As with most of the growing-pain problems at The Clare, I look at this situation with amusement and curiosity to see how things will eventually work out. I guess my tastes and interests are even more outside the elder norm than I thought they were. And yes, I support the rights of elders and everybody else to eat as they choose. I should be used to being different by now.

Friday, April 03, 2009

My Dental Visit

I've written about my transportation to my dentist's office. Now for a few comments about my experience!

If you've read my first book, you may remember the chapter entitled "My $30,000 Teeth." My teeth are marvels of expensive crowns and restorations. Now they require a lot of upkeep, or so my dentist says. I recently received a card thanking me for five years of business; it was signed by everybody in the office. I must be the star patient (and probably the oldest).

The purpose of this week's visit was merely examination and cleaning. Little did I know that it was more involved than that. Ever careful, my dentist insisted that I take a massive dose of antibiotics because of my knee replacement surgery. It seems that what goes on in one's mouth can affect the rest of the body, so any infection could be disastrous. My gums were in bad shape after less than great dental hygeine while I was in the hospital and nursing home.

Now I have to return in two or three weeks for further antiobiotics and futher care. I have always hated going to the dentist, but now it's becoming a regular activity. More that $300 later, I was dismissed until April 22. Would I have been better off with my "old" teeth? They might have fallen out by now. How much do regular dentures cost?

As I've said before, I'm glad to have an improved smile, but is all this realistic? How many elders can afford such extensive dental services? Can I? Not really. Are big-city dentists just better salesmen? I wonder if all this is necessary.