Monday, March 30, 2009

Elderly Safer With Tech Gadgets

I'm still part of the old school who wonders whether this techy stuff is really good for civilization. There can be no doubt, however, that at least some peace of mind for long-distance caregivers can be delivered if these devices are used to keep an eye on mom and dad.   

Kim Komando, a journalist in our local paper, reviewed some of the latest safety gadgets to preserve and protect your parents independence.

Take web cams, for instance.  Buy matching models with panning and tilting features and hook up to Skype for inexpensive monitoring.  

You may want to opt for a security camera which provides viewing and/or email and text alerts.
Or a two-way intercom may fit your bill.  Consider senior-friendly cell phones, panic buttons or personal emergency response systems.  

Microsoft's HealthVault or Honey HomMed's Sentry Telehealth Monitor downloads vital health  statistics where they can be scrutinized before health related issues escalate. 

Ms Komando further suggests complete systems such as eNeighbor, QuietCare and SimplyHome (all with monthly fees and usually supervised by professionals) for additional instruments  to ensure the well-being of your loved ones and peace of mind for you.  

Finally, check health insurance policies to determine if any of these expenses can be covered.  

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Floor Plans For Your New Home: Making It Barrier-Free

Many people who really know me say I have my share of quirks.  One of my more harmless ones is that I love to read floor plans.  I'd buy books of well,...just floor plans and read them in my favorite reading room (I'll leave that to your imagination).

Big is over-rated I've now decided.  Who wants to be responsible for cleaning extra rooms?  Not me.

Just provide me with functional rooms that should last me throughout the rest of my life.

So when I was teased by AARP featuring New Millennial Homes' Freedom (universally- designed) model, I quickly put mouse to pad and scurried over to the site.  Here I found an affordable barrier-free home, reminiscent of California Craftsmen, that incorporated concealed ramps,  a no-step shower, pull-out drawers, even a turn-around area in a hallway.  The walls have already been prepped for handrails should you ever need them.  Take the virtual tour and see how well the architects divided the space.

If you have any mobility challenges (or think you might grow into one), consider the Freedom or a similar home.   

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gift Cards: Buying, Selling and Trading

The good news is:  Those gift cards gathering dust on your counter or in your drawers can be sold or traded for ones that better suit you and your lifestyle. Gift card buying, selling (get cash from an auction) or swapping can work out grandly for both parties interested in everything from home improvement to food and entertainment to books to pet supplies to sporting goods to electronics to travel and more.  

The bad news is:  Thieves have figured out a way to whisk them away from and sell stolen cards to the unwary.  

Don't get stuck with a pinched card.  Work only with reputable companies. 

With 5 hours left, I may come close to purchasing a $103.90 Lowe's gift card for $85.25.   Or I might be able to save $12. on a Marshall's card or $20. on a Sears card.  

"Buy Now" can also be an option.  I could pay $400. now for a Talbot's card valued at $627.10 or $71.85 for a J. Crew card valued at $84.53. 

Check out safe exchange sites like Card Avenue and Plastic Jungle.  The small fee involved is well worth your peace of mind.    

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shop and Save: Coupon Codes Save You More

Do you ever wonder where to find those discount codes that save you extra dollars when you're purchasing an item?

Thanks to my dear (and observant) friend, Lynne, the mystery is solved.

CurrentCodes has a full-time staff which only searches for new coupons and discount codes to further reduce the cost of your product.  

Don't go to Barnes & Noble, Staples, or a couple thousand other merchants without checking CurrentCodes first.  

Browse by store or category and save, save, save.  

For other consumer saving tips, check out my website.  If you're a discount junkie like I am, you'll rapidly fill your money jar with all your savings.  

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Personal Growth and Self Discovery Is Only a Seminar Away

No, I didn't fall off the face of the earth.  

I've been glowing in the aftermath of finishing my first Insight Seminar. According to the overview, it "provides participants with practical tools" to live "more authentic, successful and abundant lives."

I attended not only because I wanted to learn how to create more intimate and satisfying relationships but also because, frankly, I was curious.  

Monique, an acquaintance at my gym, raved about the program and hugged me when I signed up.  She told me little about the personalized one-to-one exercises or the group and individual sharings.  But it was apparent that she was taking stock of her own life and making positive changes.   The stress I was used to seeing on her face was being transformed into a kind of serenity and determination to choose a more meaningful, passionate and happier life.

Give a gift to yourself like I did:  Try Insight.  Learn to open your heart.  See why people from all over the world attend.  You'll thank me (and my dear friend Monique) for it.   

Friday, March 13, 2009

Facebook For Old Fogies

Is Facebook the exclusive domain for under-50 year olds?   I don't think so.

Lev Grossman has his own take of Facebook and why old fogies are taking part.  

Mr. Grossman's first reason, "Finding people you've lost track of" was obvious to me within the last week when a sister of an old friend looked me up.  We were able to catch up on 40 years.

I agree with reason #2, "No longer bitter about high school." Current alliances with the untouchables (the "popular group" or the dorks) is a common occurrence.  

Reason # 3 had to do with what younger people are doing that gets them into long-term regret. Thankfully, we grew up before Facebook even became a phenomenon so our worst indiscretions weren't recorded.  

Grossman says that boomers and seniors have jobs and don't need to network. On the contrary, older people are returning to the workplace in droves and need to network with family, friends, acquaintances, former co-workers and bosses to find job opportunities.  

"We're old enough that pictures from grade school or summer camp look nothing like us." We're coming to terms with the fact that person who looks back at us in the mirror looks more like our parent than the kid we still think we are. 

Reason #7, "We have children" has been replaced with "You have no choice but to ooh and ahh about my grandchildren."

"We're too old to remember email addresses."  So true.  As Dad used to say, "Don't try to remember anything you can write down."

Now I take issue with "We don't understand Twitter."  We do and are having fun with this brief connection to everyone in our address books.

The final reason, "We're not cool, and we don't care."  Grossman says that it's cooler not to be on Facebook.  How wrong you are!  Sometimes this is the only connection we have with some people (even our children or grandchildren!).  Sad but true.

Facebook is here to stay, Grossman.  Deal with it.

Oh yeah, check me out on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Toastmasters: Facing Your Fears and Doing It Anyway

Today in Toastmasters each member presented a toast to our club's 80 years (the 2nd oldest club in the world!).  I recalled a famous author and spokesperson who delivered her messages using some of the most exquisite words strung together that I've ever heard outside of the classic writers.  She spoke about the third chapter of our lives from 50 - 75 years as an opportunity, a time to remember and a time to make an imprint on our world.

The problem:  She read her entire speech, a beautiful discourse that could have had even more impact had she summoned the courage to speak from memory and from the heart.

After the early morning club meeting, I attended a play where my granddaughter participated as one of the crowd.  No particular attention was drawn to her and she liked it that way.  She preferred to be out of the spotlight (a contrast to her feisty, animated demeanor she displays at home). But let me tell you, I recognize how much courage it took just for her to get on the stage.  Because I used to look in the mirror and see the same fear.

Thanks, Toastmasters, for your instruction and encouragement.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Around the House Magic Potions

Grandmas often know what to do for cuts and scrapes and other life inconveniences.  Here are a few of her magic potions which hopefully you'll find effective:

1. Try soaking unsightly toenail fungus in Listerine mouthwash.  

2. Listerine may also be used to disinfect a broken blister.  

3. Are the screws in your eyeglasses always coming lose?  Apply a small drop of Maybelline Crystal Clear nail polish to the threads before screwing them.  

4. Use Coke to eliminate rust stains by saturating an abrasive sponge.

5. 2 cups of Quaker Oats and 1 cup of water warmed in the microwave for 1 minute and cooled slightly makes what?  Try carefully applying this breakfast concoction to your arthritic hands for relief.  

For more information about traditional healers, check out

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Easy Remedies For Common Aches and Pains

Combat medicine cabinet overload by trying some of "Grandma's famous cures."  Then let me know if you could vouch for their restorative powers.

1. Try 2 glasses of Gatorade for headache pain.

2. Colgate toothpaste may soothe burns.

3. Massage 1 tablespoon of horseradish with 1 cup of olive oil (let it sit for 30 minutes) and apply the solution to aching muscles.

4. Take 1 tablespoon six times a day from a mixture of equal amounts of honey and vinegar for a sore throat.

5. Apply a cotton ball soaked in Heinz white vinegar to bruises for 1 hour to reduce blueness and speed the healing process.  

If you have any other cure-alls, would you share them?

For more information regarding traditional healers, check out

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

End of Life Decision Making

Lynn Hudson's mother didn't want to go to a hospice.  Nor did her family want her to remain in her own home.  The best option, they agreed, was that Yiayia at 98 years of age and succumbing to cancer would live her final days with one of her daughters, son-in-law and her triplet teen grandchildren.  

This is what Lynn graciously shared with me about overseeing her mother's end of life care:

1. Be clear about your parent's death wishes.

2. Provided they have the mental capacity to do so, the patient/parent should have enough information so that he/she can decide how they want to proceed (for instance, ice chips can prolong life.  Moistening lips can keep the patient comfortable).  

3. Get all affairs including finances in order.

4. Discuss any unfinished business and unresolved feelings.

5. Make them comfortable (take advantage of various comfort aids).

6. Provide privacy (in crowded quarters, curtains can be hung).

7. Call in the clergy for final rituals and check out books on spirituality at the end of life.

8. Understand that the senses such as hearing may become more pronounced near death.

9. Grant loved ones private time with the patient.

Read what therapists Rosemary Lichtman and Phyllis Goldberg have to say.

Also, has an enormous amount of information about death and dying.  Check it out.  

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tips For Caregivers Who Need Love Too

Care giving is physically and emotionally exhausting.  Lynn Hudson, my hairstylist, oversaw the last months of her mother's life.  This is what she shared with me about end of life care: 

1. Be conscious of burnout:  Enlist the help of family members and hired help.

2. Take advantage of all the aids to make the patient more comfortable.

3. Keep visitors on the premises for no longer than 10 minutes (it's easier on both the caregiver and the patient)

4. Know what to expect ahead of time.

5. Be aware that rituals may feel calming.  

Should you want to know more about this stage, consider asking therapists Rosemary Lichtman and Phyllis Goldberg.   

Or if you want to know everything you need to know about caregiving, visit