How to Prevent Budget Problems

Health Secrets

Do you know what I, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg have in common?

We all live according to a budget.

The difference is that while theirs can buy a yacht, I can’t afford a canoe with mine.

But that’s not the point. The point is, regardless how large or small your bank account is, you still must have a budget. In fact, the smaller your net worth is, the more you need to have a budget.

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How to Prepare Breakfast that is Cheap and Nutritious – Part 1

Do you like to wake up early in the morning with a deep growl from the pit of your stomach?

It does not feel good. In fact, it comes with a dull pain caused by a craving for food.

Strangely, I know a few people who have learned to ignore this hunger sign. Except for a cup of coffee, they take nothing early in the morning. These are those who believe that breakfast can make them gain weight, or, by skipping it, lose some.

Their cause might be admirable, but their approach to a perceived problem is wrong. It’s like going to war half starved.

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How to Develop Healthy Eating Habits in Our Senior Years

Do you eat like this?

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin may have said this in jest, but the message is as true now as it was when he said it. It becomes almost a tenet for some seniors where the effects of unbridled eating and drinking earlier in life are as unmistakable as traffic signs.

To a very large extent, people’s current state of health and well-being are the results of bygone days when they lived by the mantra, “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.”

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Why are DIY Things Beneficial to Elderly People

Health Secrets

I am currently touching up the vinyl tiles in my room. Over the years, some have become detached while others are broken around the edges.

Why I am doing this by myself instead of hiring someone? Two reasons: first, I can’t afford it and, second, I want to do it.

Oh, I am doing it slowly – one or two tiles every other day. There is no rush, and I don’t want to overstress my lower back. You know how it is with seniors.

Which brings me to the subject of this article – DIY (do-it-yourself) things. I thought of giving it some attention because I am a DIY person and want to share my inclination with other seniors to make them realize the beauty of doing some things around the house – easy, simple and cheap things.

It is a good tonic against loneliness and a excellent way to find purpose.

Other than its psychological aspect, DIY things have other benefits like:


1. Save money:
The money I have saved by doing it myself is not going to make me rich, but it can pay more than a week’s groceries.

I am sure I am not the only one keeping a close rein with my expenses. A lot of seniors, I am sure, are more cash-strapped than I am. Doing some DIY can ease the pressure.


2. Earn money:
I know of some who are earning from their hobbies like curtain making, hair dressing, car repairs and many others.

If you are good at some DIY stuff, I am sure there are always people who will pay for your skills. It may not be much, but like I said, it can buy you some needed groceries


3. Keep you busy:
With too much free time at your disposal, what better way to occupy yourself than by doing simple things around the house?

It is very fulfilling to do things you normally would have paid others do for you.


4. Slow down cognitive decline:
Doing DIY things involve a close coordination between eyes, hands, and brain. In short, it is a physical and mental activity that gives your brain that much-needed exercise.

It is also good to maintain hand dexterity and balance.

The sense of accomplishment for having done something feeds your ego and boosts your self-confidence.


5. Get connected with other people:
Offline and online are people who may be doing the same things as you. Consulting with them, exchanging views, sharing experiences, is a good way to establish a network of friends.

Many years ago I was a sales representative of a large petroleum corporation. My territory demanded that I take long drives each day to areas I hardly knew anybody in. I solved that problem by having my tennis gear at the back of my car. The first thing I did was to look for the tennis court at the end of each trip. That made me bond easily with some of the locals.

We are tribal in nature. People of the same tribe gravitate towards each other. Find your tribe and get connected.


6. Learn something new:
Learning something new is fun and fulfilling.

A couple of weeks back, my blog won’t open. I asked for assistance from my administrator who referred me to a tutorial that involved STPs (file transfer program) and html codes – subjects I am ignorant about. I am strictly a user, not a troubleshooter when it comes to the internal working of websites.

I was about to cast a curse on my blog administrator when I remembered a motivational quote I got earlier from the Net.

It says, “When there is an obstacle, don’t go around it. Don’t run from it. Go into it. Work with it. Explore it. Learn how to be with it and deal with it, and you’ll have a skill for life.”

And I did.

After two days of struggle, my blog was up and running. Not only have I learned STP, now I am sure I can handle the problem should it occur again.


7. It is liberating:
I have learned over the years that the best way of being disappointed or frustrated is to rely on others on things you can do yourself.

Doing DIY things frees you from that disappointment and frustration. It frees you from the hassle of doing constant follow-ups, of having to redo crappy jobs or late deliveries.

By doing it yourself, you get what you want, the way you want it and when you want it.

I am not sure when I can finish touching up the tiles in my room. But I am sure it will be done in the near future, and it will definitely look better than it is now.

And that is the beauty of doing DIY things. You can do it at your own pace, in a way you want it. Not to mention that they practically cost nothing but time and a huge amount of patience.



What Concerns Elderly People Most

Health Secrets

Happy days are here – finally!

In 2014 the annual average of retiring Americans was 4 million. For them, it meant the beginning of a new life. After many years of working, the time has finally come to shift from work life to home life.

The day they all have been yearning finally came – no more mad rush to the office each day, no more stress from meeting objectives and deadlines, no more pressure from subordinates and colleagues, no more demanding bosses to deal with.

For them, retirement is the beginning of a perfect life. Or is it?

For many, especially those who did not prepare for retirement, the euphoria is short-lived. Very soon they will be faced with very serious concerns common to a lot of seniors. These are:


1.  Money:
At retirement, you stop earning, yet continue spending. And if you don’t have a large enough retirement savings, investments or pension plans, money issues will stare at you directly in the face.

For example, according to the Employee and Benefits Research Institute and Greenwald and Associates, 28% of Americans say they have less than $1,000.00 in savings and investments for retirement, 1 in 3 Americans say they have no retirement savings and 56% say they have less than $10,000.00 saved for retirement.

For them, money is a very real issue. Some of them will be driven out of their homes into shelters for the homeless, live off meager social security benefits, and line up in soup kitchens in order to survive.


2.  Feeling Useless:
Suddenly left with nothing to do, at retirement a lot of seniors feel lost, useless, adrift and without a purpose.

This is especially true for those whose children have grown up and moved away to start their own lives.

According to psychologists, feeling useless is a mindset probably fed by negative beliefs dating back to one’s childhood.

Younger people can easily snap out of it but not seniors. More often than not, they need some support to make them feel important, needed and useful. They need help so they can find themselves back to the mainstream.


3.  Loneliness:
As we grow old, our social circle shrinks due to medical issues, death or relocation. And away from the regular interaction in the work environment, they suddenly feel alone and isolated.

Loneliness is one of the major issues faced by seniors that cannot be taken lightly as it can lead to various physical and mental issues. It can even lead to early death.

Live alone seniors and those with active social life in their adult years are particularly susceptible. They, too, need help in establishing a social circle they can identify and blend with.

Loneliness and feelings of isolation can be very debilitating.


4.  Neglect and Abuse:
Elderly abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual, exploitation, neglect and abandonment.

Rough estimates show that 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of abuse. Another study shows 1 in 14.

What is sad is that the perpetrators are mostly children, other family members and spouses. Some are perpetrated by nursing home staff, assisted living facilities, and other types of facilities for seniors.


5.  Health:
According to the NCOA (National Council on Aging), approximately 92% of seniors have at least 1 chronic disease, and 77% have at least two.

The most common are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, which account for two-thirds of all deaths among seniors each year.

These diseases also account for roughly 75% of all public expenditures for health care. Ironically, only 1% is spent on improving people’s overall health.

At retirement, most seniors are left to fend off for their health problems, adding more pressure to their money issues.


6.  Moving from one’s home:
Roughly 12.5 million elderly Americans live alone. For them, there is no place like home. And they don’t want to move; they prefer to live the rest of their lives at home.

Unfortunately, circumstances may dictate that they move to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. It a choice usually made by family and which they dislike. For them, it is an end-of-life situation.

It means leaving behind familiar surroundings, places, and people and be with strangers. Some easily adapt to their present reality, but others can’t.

I have long retired from my job and currently living alone in my home with a house helper to attend to my needs.

I am very familiar with most of these concerns, particularly money. So far my children have seen to it that I am well-provided and they haven’t subjected me to abuse or asked me to move to a nursing home.

But when you are old and depending on someone, you could never tell when the rug is pulled off your feet. I am still covered financially until the end of the year. That means I have to find a way of replenishing my fast-dwindling resources. Fortunately, I have the skills and healthy enough to do that.

Some seniors are not as lucky as I am (if you can call it that). They don’t have much room to wiggle out of these concerns. And these are very serious concerns. They can very well transform ones retirement from being idyllic to a living hell.

What about you? What are your concerns? Please join the discussion.



10 Ways to Keep You Busy at Retirement

Health Secrets

Soup kitchen senior volunteers

Do you feel bored and listless in your retirement; purposeless maybe?

Chances are that you have too much idle time in your hands. You are spending the entire day doing nothing significant, fruitful or productive.

Everyday millions of people hit retirement age. And unless they have carefully planned what to do from day one, they will face the same dilemma among retirees who no longer head out of the office each day.

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How It Feels to be a Senior

Health Secrets

Old body, young mind

Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, a Greek mathematician and philosopher in Alexandria, Egypt. She must have been a remarkable woman (who ever said that women’s lib is a 20th century phenomenon?), that she became the head of the Platonist school at Alexandia around 400 AD.

She also said,


“Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.”


It is not known if she was in her 60s when she said this, otherwise she would have realized that no amount of preparation can make you fully comprehend how it feels to be senior.

Only a senior really knows how it feels to be a senior.

You can prepare your retirement nest egg, where to live or die, the things you want to do, or your will. But you could never prepare how it feels when wrinkles start showing on your face and hands, your lower back and knees start hurting, your sugar is sky-high, and your cholesterol level is in the red.

How can you prepare for the day when you start forgetting where your car keys are, or your glasses? Can you prepare for the day when you suddenly have a stabbing pain on the chest, or are left alone at home because your children have moved out and away, your spouse died or separated?

Though I often experience those things at my age, but deep inside I find it hard to accept the mold society has cast us in. Call it self-denial, but the fact is that I still want to experiment, discover, go places and do things I never did before because of more important responsibilities.

Yet, by and large, society, society treats people like us condescendingly. Society thinks we are too old to do this or that, too frail to move around without help, hard of hearing and can be as blind as a bat at noon.

If only they know how disparaging it is to be treated a little less than we really are.


Wrong Perception:

This perception of what a senior is like was handed down from our parents who treated their parents we treated ours, and how our children are treating us now.

It was not a big deal before – it has always been that way anyway – until we are at the receiving end. And it sucks.

Mass media, online and off, is not helping in any way to dispel this erroneous perception of elderly people.

When seniors hit the news it is about abuse, of being online scam victims, of health and care-giving issues, and other things that depict seniors as feeble, helpless, naïve, and a burden.

The blogging world is no different. Most of the blogs I’ve read are about nursing homes, caregivers, end-of-life stuff, and diseases common to seniors – mostly written by authors a few years short of 60 and know nothing how it really feels like to be one.

There are a few exceptions, though. One is Sixty+Me which writes about elderly fashion, make-up, travel, exercise, diet, and just about anything vibrant and lively.
Written by a woman for women, its articles celebrate the joys of being old, alive and healthy – very inspirational and motivating.

Another is Elaine Ambrose who candidly writes about sex and sexuality among middle-aged women, and Louise Hay, who writes excellent articles about life, happiness, relationships and things uplifting to a senior’s often dour life.

These women know how it feels to be a senior and are regularly writing about it.

The rest are ho-hums.


Young Mind, Old Body:

For me, the life of a senior is like a child in an old man’s body.

And we know what children love to do – to have fun, play games, climb trees, crawl under culverts. They experiment, try new thing, taste anything they can lay their hands on. For them, bruises and cuts are nothing as long as they have fun.

So do seniors…in a different way.

“You don’t stop having fund because you get old, you get old because you stop having fun,”tiny buddha.

Seniors don’t climb trees (they simply can’t), or crawl under culverts (ouch!), or eat anything within reach (some do, though). But you can see them having a good laugh at parties, on golf courses, during reunions, in gyms, coffee shops and anywhere else elderly people converge.

The guys I sit with in my regular coffee shop never seem to run out of things to laugh about – even at their own gaffes.

Personally, my life as a senior is fun more than in my younger years. I don’t have bills to worry about, my children have been abducted through marriage and are doing well, and I am technically a bachelor. I can come and go as I please, stay late as much as I can, and spend hours on end in my dating site without the prying eyes of a wife.

Occasionally I get to travel and have as much fun as I can.

Yes, there are medical issues and physical limitations but they are for another day to worry about.


Loneliness Facts You Must Know

Loneliness is infectious.

You’ve been cooped up in your home for a week now and you are beginning to feel like a caged animal.

You are bored, and you are feeling lonely. You desperately need to get out, even just for tonight, to have a change of scenery, to breathe fresh air, to stretch your legs and eat food not out of your ref.

You need to talk to someone. You picked up the phone and dialed Mary. After a few seconds of wait, an answering machine, not Mary, came on line. Then you called Bob. He was home alright, but his asthma is acting up and couldn’t go out. Next is Peter. Sadly, Peter too, couldn’t go out because his arthritis won’t allow him to walk a certain distance.

Dejected, you put the phone back in the cradle and sank deeply unto your sofa and moped.

Have you ever experience situations like this? To have nobody to talk to when you need it the most? I have, in more occasions I can count. It very despairing; it puts a gloom over your entire being, you entertain thoughts of suicide.

Such is what loneliness can do to you. And if you allow it to get hold of your life, it can lead to very serious consequences especially for old people like you and I.


Factors causing Loneliness among Seniors:

Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show that 11 million, or 28% of people aged over 65 and older, live alone. .

While this does not necessarily mean they are all lonely, but it is a predisposing factor.

Another is lack or fewer family members to provide company and care because they are either childless or the children have moved away, divorced, separated or widowed.

The third factor is lack of social engagement or participation in senior activities. Even in Canada where 80% of seniors frequently participate in one or several social activities, there are still a huge number of elderly people who don’t.

This is exacerbated by the fact that when people get old, their social contacts decrease due to medical, relocation/separation, or death reasons.

Regardless of reason, loneliness can wreak tremendous and harmful consequences on its unwilling victims.


Unhealthy consequences of Loneliness:

Loneliness is not just of being alone or isolated from the mainstream. It is something more of a psychological disassociation or detachment from the lively, vibrant and exciting world out there.

You can be in a group and still feel isolated and lonely, or be alone yet happy. It is not a disease, but chronic loneliness can lead to:

1.  Physical health problems:
Seniors without any social interaction don’t have the motivation to go out and engage in physical activity or community involvement. They are often contented living a sedentary lifestyle, i.e., watching too much TV, lying in bed too long, or sit on the porch and rock the world away.

Ultimately this willing embrace of loneliness will result to physical deterioration causing various medical conditions.

2.  Mental health problems:
We are meant to be a social species and when that need is not met our brains react in unhealthy ways.

Dr. John Cacciopo, neurologist and psychologist at the University of Chicago, has proven, through 30 years of study, that loneliness causes rapid decline of cognitive functions.

Prolonged and chronic loneliness increases the risk or depression, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Elderly people having chronic loneliness also tend to become more pessimistic about the future, according to a study done by the NCA (National Council for Aging). They think that their lives are not going to get any better 5 to 10 years down the road.

With a negative mindset, lonely seniors tend to develop unhealthy habits like skipping meals, or eat unhealthy foods, sleep less, smoke, drink alcohol and stay away from physical activity.

And these two always come together – like salt and pepper. Physical health problems invariably affect the mind, and mental health problems affect the body.

Together they may cause the third consequence…

3.  Untimely death:
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences carries a 2012 study showing that social isolation and loneliness lead to a higher risk of mortality among adults 52 yrs old and above.

Apparently lonely seniors have higher cases of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and many other illnesses that could lead to untimely death.

And this is quite perplexing, if not tragic, because loneliness is easy to lick and does not cost anything but a firm resolve to get more connected with the outside world.


Easy ways to keep loneliness away:

Nothing or nobody can make you feel lonely unless you want to. In other words, it is a choice you brought upon yourself, not by any outside factors. To beat it, therefore, means you beat yourself.

Several times after my wife died, I checked into emergency rooms for difficulty-in-breathing problems. To my disbelief, each time, all my vital signs were normal. To avoid further embarrassment, I resolved never to entertain thoughts of loneliness, or any of its relatives like self-pity, regret, feeling sorry for myself, or self doubt.

Now I am still a loner, but seldom lonely. I relish being alone as I can think more. Unwanted company intrudes into my “thinking time.”

But if my act is difficult for you to follow, you can:

1.  Do volunteer work:
Check your church, shelter for the homeless, or any club or organization in your locality that can use an extra pair of hands, or a healthy mind, to help others.

Volunteering is an excellent way of taking your mind off yourself, and it gives you deep feelings of satisfaction.

2.  Enroll into a class:
Check your local college or university for short courses that interest you. It is never too late to learn a new skill set. It might even give you an opportunity to earn additional income.

If you find commuting or driving a problem, then do it online. All the large universities now offer off-campus, or correspondence courses.

3.  Develop and interest:
Take a hobby like carpentry, photography, landscaping, knitting, and so on. The Internet has an endless list of hobbies for seniors.

Or you can get back on a hobby you had in your younger days.

4.  Get physical:
Nothing beats an early morning exercise to set my day.

You need not go to the gym. You can do brisk walking, calisthenics or stretching in your yard, or around your neighborhood. And you don’t need expensive apparel, or signature pair of jogging shoes, either. You can do it in your pajamas and slippers if you want to.

The other day I had a reunion with my some of my co-workers after more than 20 years ago. The first thing my former boss said when he saw me was, “You look good!”

My short reply was, “Of course. I look good because I want to look good.”

But it is not that easy. Nothing comes without a price. You have to give up something to gain something, a tit for tat. It is more difficult when you are old with very few to give, fewer still to receive.

I am a live-alone widower with both my children living their own lives. Loneliness stares at me in the face each day. My day is always a choice between standing up to it, or stand it down and I know the consequences of each. So far I have done well.

You, too, can.

Health Secrets


My Wonderful Encounter with a Charming Kahuna

Kahuna Lobby

Kahuna is a Hawaiian word defined in Pukui & Elbert (1986) as “a priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession.”

More subtly, it is “an important person, the person in charge,” or “a very large wave.”

My Kahuna has, figuratively, something of both, i.e., it is magical, it is among the top of its kind, and its guest-friendliness is as big as a surfer’s wave.

What I am talking about is the Kahuna Beach Resort and Spa, in San Juan, La Union, Philippines.

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I Spent a Remarkable Weekend 1,500 Meters Up

Sagada before Sunrise

Last weekend I was 1,500 meters above sea level, encircled by imposing mountain crests littered with towering age-old pine trees, eerily shrouded with thick fog where the temperature was crispy-cold 17 degrees centigrade.

The picture-perfect scenery made me feel insignificant, yet overjoyed for being a spectator to one of life’s dramas without violence, intrigue, blood and gore, but peace and tranquility of Nature at her cleanest, purest, and simplest best.

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