If You’ve Reached this Far, Celebrate. Here’s Why

Health Secrets

celebrate life

Celebrating life at 86

Do you know why you have to celebrate if you’ve reached this far? Because it takes a lot of hard work and a huge dose of luck to make it. In fact, many did not make it.

The current average lifespan, both make and female, is 69 years. But how many of your boyhood friends, cousins, neighbors, work associates are still today? The fact that you are, isn’t it worth celebrating?

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Elderly Poverty: Shocking but True and What You can Do About It

Health Secrets

Elderly poverty

Elderly poverty – shocking but true!

Elderly poverty is true and shocking but you hardly notice it, or ignore it. You’re so busy with your own life to give it any attention.

But it is all around you. You see it each time you take a walk or go to your neighborhood convenience store. They are those dirty and bedraggled senior citizens sleeping on street corners, alleys and even subways.

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How to Treat a Gay in the Family

Health Secrets

I am surrounded by gays, but this one tops them all…

“Uncle, I want you to meet my husband, David.”

Immediately, my jaws dropped and I was transfixed not knowing whether to jump with joy or drop dead with embarrassment. I was totally taken off guard that I froze – unable to give the couple a hug or a congratulatory handshake.

Why? You see, husband David, apparently married my nephew, not niece.

Same-sex marriage is not only taboo in my country’s strictly religious culture, it is also not allowed by law (they married in Australia). To have a close relative, a nephew, marrying another man is nothing short of a near-death experience; my ancestors must have turned in their graves.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against gays. In fact, I am surrounded by them. There is a gay in every generation of both sides of my family, i.e., a brother, an uncle, close and distant relatives, not to mention close friends. Even I was effeminate as a child my Mom wanted me to become a priest, and had I more than one son, the other would probably be gay, too.

I am ambivalent towards them. I know that their sexual orientation is not their fault. In fact, I sympathize with them for having to face the stigma of being gay everyday of their lives.

If you have a gay in the family, as I do, treat him with respect and understanding – especially when they are old and grey. Their sexual orientation is a work of Nature which they couldn’t do anything about as you can’t do anything about yours.

Don’t be swayed by ill-informed statements like that of Ben Carson’s that being a gay is a choice. Nobody would choose to live a life of constant harassment, ridicule, abuse, or be ostracized by the mainstream.

Would you?

I once had a lively chat with two gays in a coffee shop. I wanted to pick their brains on how it is to be gay. Well, both are earning a living and, at the same time, supported by closet lovers.

Even as a child, they knew that they were “different,” and had to fight a long battle of attrition against family members who couldn’t accept them as they are. They won, ultimately.

That’s how it is with gays. Before making a public “debut,” they have to face the same gauntlet of disapproving family members. For them, that is the toughest hurdle. Once they gain acceptance at home, let the general public be damned.

Younger gays are a raucous bunch, even vulgar. There is nothing sacred for them and are always ready to take a swipe at anybody or anything that frowns on their sexual orientation. And they are fearless fighters for their rights. Never lock horns with a gay. You will surely lose.

Age mellows them somehow, and elderly gays are more subdued, introspective, genteel, and act accordingly. But that doesn’t improve their lot in the eyes of society in general.

They still are subjected to unfounded restrictions you and I are spared from. For example, gays are…

 

1.  Childless and alone in their old age:
Studies show that gays are four times less likely to have kids compared to non-gays of the same age group.

This leaves them with without any help when they need it most.

Relying on government programs is not encouraging either. Medicare  doesn’t cover everything for a long-tern nursing home care and, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research, only 3% of  senior gays are covered with a private long-term insurance.

Elderly seniors’ old age future is anything but rosy.

 

2.  Poorer than non-gays:
Gays, even today, suffer from employment discrimination. This leaves them with hardly any savings when they reach retirement age.

A study done by the University of California, LA, shows that 4.9% of elderly gays (collectively called LGBT) are poorer compared to non-gays. Overall, 42% of elderly gays suffer from financial difficulties at retirement.

 

3.  Still discriminated upon:
Despite gaining much acceptance, gays still feel biases against them.

For example, gays are often not welcomed in some senior centers where they could socialize with other seniors and to fill out important paperwork dealing with government assistance programs for seniors.

Even the professional staff at these centers is, in most cases, not trained to handle the peculiar needs of gays.

 

4.  Having peculiar health problems:
Many gays suffer from mental issues that affect their lives like loneliness, depression, isolation and thoughts of suicide, according to SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts).

This because a lot of them dd not seek treatment early on for fear of being considered mental cases. Now it is considered to be due to a genetic framework that didn’t perfectly fit – not a mental illness.

Another health issue is HIV. In 2011, more than a quarter of the 1.2 million with HIV in the U.S. were gays, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

There are currently more than 39 million people in the U.S, aged 65 years and older, who identify themselves as gays (LGBTs, for lesbians, gays, bi-sexual, transgender). That’s a lot to reckon with; a lot of votes no politicians can ignore.

You can mock them, ostracize them, call them names or label them but that can’t change what they are. They cannot do anything about their sexual orientation as much as you cannot do anything about yours.

At the end of the day, you are left with no choice but accept them as they are. Besides, other than their sexual orientation, they also need the same things you and I need; the same hopes and aspirations. They also expect the treatment from society you expect.

And they are a gregarious lot to be with.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.

Image: http://www.advocate.com/marriage-equality/2016/1/25/watch-sweethearts-candy-celebrates-same-sex-marriage

~oOo~

Travel: A Remarkable Body/Mind Therapy for Seniors

Health Secrets

I hope the flight is on time

Do you sometimes feel like living in a cage? Not the sturdy, steel-bar kind but just as confining. It is your self-limiting thoughts that lock you in a lonely, uneventful and often miserable existence.

Your thoughts detain you in your comfort zone; fearful of the uncertainties that may come should you dare venture out. Thus you grudgingly accept your lack of purpose, of staring at the same old, scruffy walls of your home, eat microwavable meals, watch old and boring sitcoms, and talk to people as old as you and as locked in their own cages.

You find life to be such a drag.

Being a live-alone widower, I sometimes feel the same way – like a hamster going round and round its wheel. It is maddening. So each time I like a hamster, I get up, get out and just go before I implode.

You should do the same –when you feel the walls closing in on you, just go, anywhere, and loosen yourself up a bit.

A walk around the neighborhood is often good enough. If you want to explore, have an adventure, go for a long drive, or take a train or a plane trip to a far, far away place. Believe me, it is remarkably therapeutic to both body and mind.

 

How is travel good for the body?

It is a good exercise, especially for seniors, i.e., dragging your heavy baggage around, running after a taxi, or lining up in front of a check-in counter.

Exploring the streets of unfamiliar cities, or walking around museums, sightseeing or leafing through bookstores is exercise you couldn’t at home.

US News reported that a typical travel can make you walk up to 10 miles a day.

 

Why is it good for the mind?

Traveling exercise the mind as well.

Navigating new cities, exploring museums, chatting with new people, practicing new languages, and seeing new sights are all stimulating to the brain; they flex your mental muscles and keep your brain active.

Dr. Margaret J. King, director of the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis says, “With a short list of activities each day, freed up from the complexities of ongoing projects and relationships, the mind can reset, as does the body, with stress relief the main outcome.”

Learning new things is good for the mind, so is giving it a rest.

Other benefits you get from traveling are:

 

1.  A change in scenery:
Travelling allows you to see new and different scenes.

You can walk through the clouds in mountain tops, or feel salty spree on your face while sitting on a quiet and lovely beach somewhere.

Though less frequent, but a scene in scenery is just as necessary for your body and mind as changing your linens, your underwear, or clothes.

 

2.  It is liberating:
Travel makes you forget, even for a while, your daily concerns and opens up a world of endless possibilities. It allows you to do whatever you want to do, and go wherever you want to go. That is freedom..

You can try out new things, explore places, or live outside of the norms you live by back home.

It can make you forget of your age and be as gleeful as a child again.

 

3.  Connecting with others:
Traveling gives you an excellent opportunity to connect with other people, i.e., the guy beside you in a bus, train, or plane, for example.

They are not just people who happen to be near you, but valuable sources of information, and possibly becoming good friends.

They can give you invaluable safety tips, interesting points to see, places to avoid, nearest police station or hospital.

If done amiably, a few minutes of friendly conversation can allow you to see them as they are, like how they live where they work, their marital status, or number of children, if they have any, etc.

While waiting for my daughter and her hubby who were window-shopping, I talked with the mall’s security guard. From him I learned so much about the city, which I could never have through walking around the shopping center.

 

4.  Allows you to find yourself:
In the course of a day, you are so engrossed with money, relationship, and health issues to know that there is so much in life other than fighting bushfires.

To see the horizon, you need to view it from a distance.

Traveling gives you that distance; it is seeing things from outside your cage. It allows you to see yourself from another perspective, i.e., your life’s purpose, your values, your needs, what makes you happy or sad, what interests you most in life, and your goals and ambitions..

Away from the maddening crowd, travel allows you to find yourself.

This year I have logged a lot of travel mileage. Most of them were with my daughter and her hubby who kindly took me along. The rest were solos.

Regardless of the mode, I always come home refreshed, rejuvenated and with lots of memories of the trip and a ton of pictures for posterity.

I plan to make three solos before the year is over and next year, when I turn 70, I plan to take a very long motorcycle ride.

That is how addicting travel is. Once it gets into your system, and make you want to do it as long as you can.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.

~oOo~

Simple Tips to Avoid Money Problems

Health Secrets

Got money problems?

Money problems can happen to anyone, regardless of age, sex or financial situation.

While younger people may be able to squeeze out of it with ease, the elderly often get mired in all the problems that come with lack of money.

Elderly people no longer have the agility, stamina, and resourcefulness of their younger counterparts. Being retired and living off a pension that hardly makes both ends meet, they are forced to skimp on things that could have made their retirement fun and enjoyable.

Because of this, elderly people are the poorest demographic in many countries including the U.S. A lot of American senior citizens are hobbled with money problems due to decreasing assets, high loan interest payments, and day-to-day budgeting problems.

According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, 44.4 percent of households led by people 65 and above are deep in debt due to a home mortgage, co-authored student loans, credit card and insurance payments, loan refinancing or default payments.

Are you one of them? Do you sometimes feel like a circus juggler trying your best not to let a ball slip through your fingers for fear of embarrassing consequences if one does?

If you are not, don’t be smug about it. Any of the unforeseen vagaries in life can send you from your high perch directly to a shelter for the homeless, or line up in soup kitchens. It has happened to a lot of people before, it can happen to you.

Before it does (knock on wood), try these…

Simple tips to avoid money problems:

I am living off a very small social security pension which is just enough to pay the bills. A little help from my children and the proceeds of my late wife’s real properties which we sold off allowed me to survive this far.

I know how it is to face money problems each day. It has also made me devise ways to cope with it.

Here’s how…

1.  A good attitude about money:
Money is a tool to sustain life, not life itself.

So use it wisely and prudently. Just because you have an ax doesn’t mean you have to hack at everything that comes your way.

Once it is gone, it is gone for good. And if you are a retiree with no means or replenishing it, you will soon be deep in money problems.

Howard Schultz said: “…I have never defined myself by my net worth. I always try to define myself by my values.”

 

2.  Live humbly:
Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

Nothing is lonelier than a man ridiculed and vilified after spending his fortune on his friends.

I learned this lesson from my father. When he was on top of his world, our neighbors drooled around his feet. When his fortunes reversed, he was smirked at as he passed by.

You will never be remembered for the expensive things you had, but by how you touched other people’s lives.

 

3.  Go for what is comfortable, not expensive:
This is my mantra since the beginning and taught this value to my children.

If it is good enough for the price you are willing to pay for, why buy something that will just put pressure on your budget?

Sadly, keeping up with the Joneses is one of the unwholesome values of man. That’s why there are more poor than rich.

Don’t be one of them.

 

4.  Learn from your mistakes:
Barely three months after retirement, I lost a third of my retirement package through an investment fraud. That experience still sends shivers of anger down my spine – not against the fraudster but for being so stupid.

Bill Gates said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s important to heed the lesson of failure.”

Remember you are beyond your prime when bouncing back from costly money mistakes is practically impossible.

 

5.  Save:
This is a no-brainer, yet so many people go into retirement with not enough savings, or none at all. In fact, according to time.com 28% of people aged 55 years and above have no retirement savings.

The reasons are fairly common, i.e., credit card payments, child’s college education, small salary, mortgage payments, etc. While they may be valid, they don’t necessarily make it impossible to save.

If you spend first, then save the rest, you can never save. It is only by saving a little first then spending the rest.

You may have to for substitutes or buy what you need, not what you want. No matter how small, over the course of a year, a penny saved every day will be substantial tomorrow.

 

6.  Stick to your budget:
Thomas Boone Pickens, chairman of the BP Capital Management, makes a list before going to the grocery and buys only what is on his list. He carries no more money than he needs. According to him, “You couldn’t spend money you don’t have.”

Yet he has money, lots of it. He is worth at least $1 billion.

Next to saving, budgeting is one thing people don’t want to do, or won’t do. They say the money they have is not worth budgeting.

Wrong. The less you have, the more you need to make a budget and stick to it.

 

7.  Learn some DIY stuff:
David Cheriton cuts his own hair to save on barbers.

For a guy who is worth $1.7 billion, this might be carrying things a bit far. But it does make a lot of sense not to pay for things you can do yourself.

Each time I mow my lawn, my neighbors would tell me to hire someone to do it. I can, but I don’t want to. Not only do I save a few bucks, I also get to exercise.

There are so many things around the house you can do yourself rather than hire someone to do it for you.

Money problems among the elderly cannot be taken lightly. It can affect your physical and mental health, put a strain on your relationship, and may cause family breakups.

It can make your retirement life a living hell.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.

Image: http://time.com/money/4258451/retirement-savings-survey/

How to Deal with Adult Children Problems

Health Secrets

 

Are you having problems with your adult children?

Elizabeth Vagnoni has, which led to her estrangement from her two adult sons.

She still loves and misses them so much and wants to tell them so – every day. But the deep silence between her and adult children get in the way.

What makes her so sad is that she deemed the problems they had were so small to have caused their estrangement, and her torment.

Elizabeth is not suffering alone. Problems with adult children have become so common it has become a “silent epidemic,” says Joshua Coleman, co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families.

It is “silent” because elderly parents are hesitant to openly talk about them In fact, there is no data showing its magnitude. But some do share their sad stories online. For example this Dear Annie letter which was featured in the Psychology Today…

 

…My husband and I have three adult children who were the delight of our lives. We had a typical loving family, with vacations, birthday parties and special celebrations that included friends and extended family. We had anxious times during illnesses, surgeries, and accidents, but we made it through. All three of our children have grown to be successful, well-liked respected adults. Sadly, over the past 22 years, they have all chosen to shut us out of their lives. We’ve had minor disagreements at times but never any major battles that might justify their choices. None of them will tell us why they are angry….I know you’re probably thinking “there must be something.” If so, we don’t know what it is…We have forgiven our children…We will always thank Go for choosing us to be their parents.

 

While it is normal for families to have occasional disagreements, but most these problems are forgotten and forgiven after a short ceasefire, or a good sleep. A few linger on ultimately creating a chasm that divides elderly parents and adult children. If not properly dealt with, it can result to estrangement.

Parents are often clueless of the cause or causes of these problems. This is because, according to Elizabeth, of the conflict of expectations between the old and the new – the generation gap thing.

Elderly parents find it difficult to accept the current realities, while their adult children thrive on it. Elderly parents still want to hold sway over the lives of their adult children, while the children want to be rid of it.

For example, older generation value hard work, education, character and integrity as pre-requisites for success. On the other hand the FB generation, or whatever label they want to be identified with, eschew those values and will readily cite a string of examples to support their case.

 

I and my children:

My problems with my two adult children are quite different from that of Elizabeth’s. But it could end the same way if not dealt with effectively.

My children are not talking to each other and I am caught in between. Here is how it happened.

My first is a girl, and the second, a boy. Though only one year and nine months separated their birthdates they are like two peas from two pods.

Even at a tender age, the girt fought back if irked. On the other, the boy just cried and cried and cried.

In their formative years they lived harmoniously together like any other sister and brother. My daughter looked after her brother, and my son looking up to his sister.

Their divergent personalities started manifesting after college.

Right after getting her license as a doctor, my daughter immediately set up a clinic and obtained admission privileges from local hospitals.

My son, on the other hand, could hardly pass a job interview. And he resigned from one of his earlier jobs to join a band because, according to him, he wanted to be “famous.”

Then both got married. My daughter married a surgeon, while my son, a lady lawyer who is earning more than him.

If this has affected him psychologically, he has done a wonderful job hiding it.

My daughter measures her success by the growth of her bank account, while my son from the number of likes he gets from his FB posts.

My daughter nags him for lack of initiative and maturity. Defensively, he shoots back by calling his sister arrogant and insensitive.

These differences simmered for a long time, with me not minding it so much, until about a month ago for the silliest of reasons.

I have tried several ways to bring them back together; to make them talk to each other again. So far I have been unsuccessful. Each is as hard-headed as the other.

I love them both and I could never allow them to drift away from each other forever. I couldn’t live through the trauma and suffering of seeing them like strangers to one another.

My children are the only treasures I have since my wife died more than eight years ago, and it would be a disaster to lose them right before my eyes.

Right now I am giving my children some space, a slack – just like a fisherman wanting to land a price catch would, to avoid breaking his line..

I have also done a few DIY things to keep the storm turning into a tempest. These are:

 

Keep my cool:
Times have changed. There was a time when raising my voice would be enough to make them toe the line, keep them in step.

It would not work these days even if I roar and growl until I get hoarse. They have become their own persons, having their own set of values and beliefs which cannot change even if I use a megaphone

I can only steer them to a more appropriate and collaborative direction.

 

Think squarely and fairly:
I have always noticed their personality differences early on but assumed they will outgrow them.

I was wrong.

Now I have to accept my own shortcomings and their individual differences to be able to make do with what I have.

More often than not, life only gives us bits and pieces of a whole. It is up to us to put them together.

No matter how different their personalities may be, they are my children and it is up to me to put my family back to one beautiful piece.

To do that, I must exercise and use everything I’ve learned through the years.

 

Avoid the blame game:
Individually, I have good relationship with both. Getting them together is impossible for now.

This individual connectivity, if I may call it, is an opportunity to heal our differences, mend our shortcoming provided I won’t play one against the other.

We all failed each other and blaming any one for the problems we are in is counterproductive.

If there is one to blame, it is I for not doing something sooner.

 

Exercise humility:
It is a difficult pill to swallow for most, but sometime in any parent/child relationship, its formality must evolve into the informality of a friendship. That is the only way to achieve a more cordial, honest, respectful, and loving communication.

This, however, requires humility.

Times have changed so much. Technology has tainted our core values, our beliefs long demolished by changing paradigms. Clinging on those values and beliefs we inherited from our parents is not going to resonate well with our children.

And we must be humble enough to acknowledge all these in order to move forward.

 

Persevere:
Patience and perseverance are not among my core values. But concerning my children, I will walk the extra mile, carry an extra load, and sweat a little more.

I will do anything to heal the rift between my adult children – even if I have to persevere like I have never done before.

What would you have done if you were in my shoes?

I have always been a take-charge guy. In he workplace my mantra was “if you are not with me, get out of the way.”

Dealing with children, especially your own adult children, is not that easy and simple. It requires the deft and adroitness of a diplomat. We just couldn’t get rid of them. They are your flesh and blood, they carry your genes and you are partly to blame however they turn out later in life.

For them to drift away from your life, or being shut-off from theirs is a conviction of your having failed yourself and your children.

Please help other seniors by sharing this. Better still, subscribe to my newsletter to get a weekly update of the exciting and bittersweet life of a senior.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2926046/The-one-million-elderly-people-days-without-seeing-talking-phone.html

~oOo~

Is Moving to a Retirement Home Good?

To move or not to move.

Do you know what earth balling a tree is?

Earth balling a tree is the digging it out from the earth, in a circular shape, leaving most of its root system undisturbed and intact, and moving it to a predetermined place.

In more ways than one, earth balling a tree is very similar to moving to a retirement home.

First: It is done with good intentions;
Second: It requires uprooting an entire root system;
Third: Both are done after very careful consideration, evaluation and consultation to make sure the activity satisfies all the parties involved.

Moving to a retirement home requires no less amount of careful consideration, consultation, and evaluation because it can have very grave and irreversible repercussions.

According to the AARP, 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes. Of these, about 5% are thinking of moving to a retirement home (U.S. Bureau of Census), while another 5%, into nursing homes.

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How to Protect Yourself from Elderly Abuse

Health Secrets
Do you want to be treated this way?

Of course, not! It will sadden you; it will ruin your self-respect. You will feel insulted, angry and, maybe, want to strike back at your tormentor if only you aren’t so weak and helpless.

Note: Video is a social experiment to raise people’s awareness to the growing menace of elderly abuse and to see how the public reacts to it.

I know how it feels because sometimes I get the receiving end of a-day-gone-bad from my children.

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