Bionic Seniors? Why Not?

An arm in the immediate future?

An wearble in the immediate future?

Back in mid-1970s there was a very popular TV series titled, The Six Million Dollar Man (the bionic man), a Lee Majors starrer.

It was about a fictitious U.S. astronaut who survived a terrible crash that badly mutilated his entire body. Miraculously, he survived by skin of his teeth.

Applying futuristic technology, scientists and doctors put him back together, piece by piece, using artificial arms, legs and eyes. Then he was implanted with a nuclear power source.

When the massive patch up job was done, he had eyes sharper than an eagle’s, the strength of 100 African elephants, and can outrun a cheetah on hot pursuit of an elusive prey.

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When Everything is Falling Apart, Do This

When things are falling apart - go online.

When things are falling apart – go online.

Have you ever had a day when things just didn’t’ fit, nothing went right, and everything seemed to be falling apart?

For example, you wake up late in the morning and famished. In your rush to make breakfast, you stubbed your toe on the bedroom door. Yelling with pain, you limped to the kitchen to fix something to eat.

Then you opened the ref and groaned with dismay – more bad news. You have run out of eggs, your loaf of bread is moldy, and your milk has turned into cheese.

Days like this can make you seethe with anger; makes you want to bash your head against the wall, but won’t, because your toe is still hurting. In desperation you roar with all your might, and with fists flailing heaven-ward, you cuss your Maker for giving you such a bad early morning.

I recently had a day like that.

The circumstances are different, but as a writer, it was nothing short of a disaster. For a blogger like me, it’s worse than having nothing in the ref.

It sent me into a depressive mood which must be stopped on time before I go into a tail spin I cannot get out from.

So I did something and saved my evening – I surfed. Well, not totally surf. It was more of chatting with my online lady friends…

The day was going well and promising. I had my to-do list that needs acting upon. Things got ominous when I got home from tennis to find out that we had a power shortage.

One entire morning gone.

To make up for time lost, I went to my favorite coffee shop earlier than usual, only to get another beating – the wife was too slow it took me almost two hours to get connected. Then came the clincher – my blog won’t open because of some glitch.

An entire afternoon gone.

My earlier setbacks made my dinner taste stale. I was frustrated and morose for not being able to work on my blog and not being able to watch the Eight Episode of NCIS – my favorite early evening TV series.

I wanted to take a drive, to have a breath of rejuvenating air, to talk to someone – anyone. It was a time when anywhere was better than home.


Seniors often fight loneliness and depression alone. And we have to win to survive. There is no other option.


The urge to drive away to never-never land was tugging at my shorts like a child wanting to have a walk. But I can’t think of any place to go. My thought processes went on shutdown, like my blog.

I texted my son on the chance that I can drop in on him and his wife for a short chat. He texted back that he just came home from work and was tired. Instead he suggested that I go to a favorite watering hole 20mins drive away.

It doesn’t take much to throw off kilter the life of live alone seniors. Though we want our lives simple and predictable a lot of things can happen in any given day to turn things upside down, stress us out and drive us into a depressive mood.

An unanswered call, a rough word, forgetting our birthday, or missing visiting days is enough to create a mental tantrum.

The bad part is that, most often we have no one to help us when we need help the most. We cannot easily have someone to comfort us, to sooth our nerves, to assure us that these are all temporary and shall soon pass.

Seniors often fight loneliness and depression alone. And we have to win to survive. There is no other option.

More than a decade ago, the odds of winning were very slim. Now with the Internet, the odds have greatly improved.

A few nights ago, it helped me when things seemed to be falling apart.


Going online is therapeutic for Seniors:

I saved the night, and my sanity, by going online a few evenings ago, Except for a sore butt from all that sitting, I went to bed with a smile of satisfaction on my face.

It can help you, too.

Recent studies have shown that going online is therapeutic for seniors.

For example, getting connected to the outside world has helped seniors battling with isolation; seniors who spend some time online experience elevated moods, and fewer instances of negative emotions. By joining social media sites, seniors with depression find internal healing.

Other than improving mental health, the Internet also makes it possible for the elderly to get in touch with family, friends, and former associates; allows them to learn something new each and share this knowledge with their network of friends.

It makes meeting new people and socializing with them easier; get updated in the latest in entertainment and world events, take advantage of special offers and bargains, and to increase awareness of the world around them.

Getting online has an equalizing effect for people who are limited in their movements and world views because of old age.

It has increased their horizon, removed barriers, and gives them a very wide array of choices and latitude to wiggle their lives in.

It worked for me. It should work for you.

Do you agree or disagree? Please let me know of your thoughts.

Health Secrets


How Tom Gives Comfort and Ease to Old Vets

Tom and one his "patients."

Tom and one his “patients.”

The Salem VA Medical Center in Salem, Virginia provides rehabilitation, hospice/palliative care and long-term skilled nursing to a community of elderly veterans.

They are frail, sick, alone, and badly in need of love and affection, which the hospital staff can hardly provide.

Thanks to Tom, the old veterans of the hospital are provided a low-stress, homelike environment.

Tom is a cat with a very special gift – empathy. According to hospital staff, Tom often has more empathy than the people around him.

He makes the sometimes-grim environment a little happier and homier with his purrs. He even comforts the staff who have to deal with death.

For example, after pronouncing a veteran dead, Tom stood by the hospital’s feet, Dr. Blake Lipscomb, and meowed knowingly – having spent time with the patient and his family before he passed.

And when someone he has been with for a long time die, Tom will seclude himself for a while to mourn. The hospital staff finds his “alone” moments tough because everyone would look for him.

“You can’t beat a good, purring, loving kitty cat,” says Army veteran James Gearhart, of Bassett, Virginia, in an interview with TODAY. “Tom knows when someone is having a hard time. He laid on my bed a lot and I rubbed and scratched him the way cats like,” he added.

Of course there are people who just don’t love cats, while some are allergic to cat hair. So the hospital staff provided a “No Cat Zone,” for non-cat lovers, where even Tom is not allowed entry.

Strangely, even rabid anti-cats are won over by Tom.

There are families who profess to be allergic to cat hair but are soon bringing a treat for Tom. And some the hospital’s staff of more than a thousand brings Tom some food and to pet him.

One time Tom gave the “cold shoulder” to an overnight supervisor who forgot to bring him some treats.

Tom’s contribution to the goals of the hospital is invaluable.

For example, a patient terminally ill with Parkinson’s disease was having speech difficulties. Tom sat on his lap and he started rubbing the cat. This relaxed his vocal chords allowing him to talk again.

In another situation, a veteran’s daughter did not like cats and shut Tom off from his room. One day, she went out for some errands, leaving the door open. Tom went in.

A few minutes later, Tom came out looking for the daughter meowing along the way. When he found her, he kept meowing in front of her until she went back to her Dad’s room. Minutes later her father died.

The daughter was convinced Tom wanted her to be with her father when he passed away.


Tom thinks he is Human:

When the staff holds a meeting shuts the conference room door, Tom would sit outside and meow until he is let in.

He even likes to ride the service vehicle when making its rounds.

He is very zealous with his turf, too. One day a large mastiff came into the hospital as part of its pet therapy program. Immediately Tom jumped into the canine’s back. After that the dog refused to go inside the hospital unless Tom is secured in his room.


Tom is no Accident to Salem VA Medical Center:

Tom is not one of those stray cats who accidentally found refuge in the hospital.

In 2012, Dottie Rizzo, chief nurse of the hospital’s extended care service, together with assistant physician, Laura Hart, read a book titled, Making Rounds with Oscar, by Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician. The book is about Oscar, a cat who comforts dementia patients and appear to anticipate when they are about to die.

“We knew we needed a cat just like that,” Rizzo told TODAY. “We enlisted the assistance of a local veterinarian’s office manager who went to a shelter and visited with the cats for a long time before deciding on Tom.”

Apparently they were right.

When Sharon Herndon’s father died at the center, Tom filled a special place in her family’s heart. The experience, motivated the Roanoke, Virginia woman to write, in 2014, a book titled, Tom the Angel Cat. In a footnote, she wrote, “Tom is the final salute to a job well done.”

In the twilight of their lives the elderly veterans of the Medical Center are given comfort and ease through Tom’s silent but lovable ways.

“One day I gave him some of my Ensure vanilla drink and he drank every bit of it. Then he rubbed on me and licked by hands.” These may be simple gestures of gratitude, but for Gearhart who is in the rehabilitation unit for lung cancer treatment, that is a lot.

Tom is a lot of things to the elderly patients of the hospital, but for the staff, he is the appointed counselor and caretaker of the Medical Center.


Why Pets are Important for Seniors:

Several studies have shown the importance of pets to elderly people, especially live alone seniors.

Pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction, provides physical activity and help them learn.

I have no quarrel with that. I am not a cat lover, but as a live alone senior I don’t think I can do without my two aging Labradors.

They provide me comfort when I feel tired and lonely. They see me off when I leave home every afternoon, and meet me with their wagging tails of joy when I get back.

They never complain, never hold a grudge and are always there to fondle, tickle, and play with to break the loneliness and boredom of an old craggy guy’s life.

Please join the discussion by adding your valuable inputs to this article. Thank you.

Health Secrets

~ oOo~

An Evening of Great Music and Good Company

An night of music and passion with the multi-awarded Philippine MeisterSingers

A night of music and passion with the multi-awarded Philippine MeisterSingers

They say big surprises come in small packages.

I got a big one last Friday when my daughter asked me if I was interested to go with them to a choral concert, Saturday evening. To make sure I got it right she emphasized, “Choral, not a pop concert.”

In a sense it was amusing my daughter still thinks that, at my age, I would go for pop, not a choral group.

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