Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Taking Keys From Parents - When is the Right Time?

Monday and Tuesday of this week, popular local columnist John Schneider of the Lansing State Journal (MI), took on the tender subject of when to take the car keys away from parents. He describes the recent accident that landed his mother in the hospital, and the family's decision to not return her car keys to her. The decision was based on the fact that the car was totalled, but also they decided not to replace the car.

Yesterday several readers responded, one with a very similar story to what happened with my mother. In the readers case, the doctor told her mother not to drive, her children disagreed, and the doctor ordered a driving test. The woman passed the written, but failed the driving test.

In my mother's situation, we all knew she shouldn't be driving, but none of us wanted to be the "bad guy" and tell her no. Also, as my father couldn't drive due to his eyes, if Mom lost her license, the rest of use would have to step up to the plate. It sounds selfish, but we were all working and most of us lived out of town.

One family member worked at a hospital and the hospital carried forms people could fill out to request a driving test, but the family member, emotionally, couldn't fill it out. Another family member talked to Mom's doctor and his office sent a letter to the State of Michigan. The State sent a formal letter to Mom letting her know that due to her age, she needed to take a drivers test. That kept the family out of the "bad guy" column.

Well, Mom, Dad and Sister went to the license bureau, Mom took the test and did fine - until they got back to the parking lot. As she was attempting to park, she hit a car and flunked the test.

I remember she was extremely angry at the person who administered the driving test. It helped the family immensely that she was able to place blame on a nameless, faceless person rather than have someone in the family receive her ire. We all appreciated the efforts of the doctors office and the State in helping us with the transition.

If your family is in the same type of situation, check with your local Secretary of State's office, doctor's office, or hospital to see if they have a similar system.

Taking a parents car keys away is a very emotionally trying situation. Thankfully, we had an alternate solution presented to us that helped ease the transition.

Have you had a similar experience? How did you or your family handle it?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blogging from iGoogle

Woohoo! Nifty new tool from Blogger to make our lives easier. We seniors need all the help we can get.

It's payday, we are going to lunch because Dad got a free meal at Old Country Buffet, then grocery shopping. How can life get any better than that?

Well, actually it could. It is a cold rainy day in Michigan, so yes, it could be better. How much better, the Michigan State Spartans could win today. That would make it better.

Will it? I'll let you know tomorrow.

Signing off from iGoogle.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Diabetics - Rate Your Plate

During Dad's 6-month follow-up diabetes class, MJ discussed the "rate your plate" concept. She drew a nifty picture of a plate divided in half, then one of the halves was divided in half again creating a round plate with three sections.

The largest section was for veggies, the second for meat and proteins, and the third for 2 carb choices + one.

Here is further information from the American Diabetes Association website regarding the rate your plate concept:

A quick way to make sure you are eating a variety of healthful foods at each meal is to "Rate Your Plate." Rate Your Plate is a great way to practice portion control if you are trying to lose weight.

When you sit down for a meal, draw an imaginary line through the center of your plate. Draw a line to divide one section into two.

About one-fourth of your plate should be filled with grains or starchy foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, or peas.

Another fourth should be protein — foods like meat, fish, poultry, or tofu.

For the last half of your plate, you can fill it with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, salad, tomatoes, and cauliflower.

Then, add a glass of non-fat milk and a small roll or piece of fruit and you are ready to eat.

When filling your plate, keep the food about the depth of your hand. If you pile it too high, you definitely won't be practicing portion control.

You still need to think about the types of foods you eat, but Rating Your Plate can get you started with portion control. Find out more about healthful food choices.

Click on the title of this post for an interesting interactive rate your plate from the ADA learning center.

Two more notes from the class:

* Eat protein for breakfast.

* If you cut calories, you must start exercising within 3 weeks for you will not lose weight.

So, that is it for the class notes. A lot of information in a short amount of time.

So, what do you think of the Rate Your Plate concept? Do you think it will help you lose weight?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

7 Dietary Tips From Diabetes Class

Here are a few dietary notes I jotted down at last weeks diabetes class Dad and I attended.

1. Cooking oils to use: Olive, Canola, Peanut.

2. Calories per day vary for men and women. Men should stay between 1600 - 2200, and women should stay between 1200 - 1800. Lucky men!

3. Reduce sodium to reduce risk of heart failure. Take the salt shaker off the table and watch sodium content in foods. Click here to read further info and guidelines from the ADA.

4. Okay - remember these are just my notes. Regarding fat content, the best to worst beef to eat is:

Tenderloin is the best.
Lean beef is okay.
Chuck is the worst.

Meat should be approximately 4 oz per meal.

5. When people write down what they eat and how much, they automatically decrease calories. Interesting!

6. Someone asked about peanut butter as a protein, and MJ said peanut butter is a fat (mono). Having peanut butter for a meal should not count as a protein.

7. Breakfast protein suggestions for those tired of eggs and meat: string cheese, cottage cheese, dry curd cheese.

There you go for now. There was one more dietary topic that I want to do a little more research about, and then I will share. It was a fairly new concept for me although I had seen it in regards to other kinds of diets.

How is that for a mystery?

What dietary guidelines have you learned? You are welcome to share your info in the comments.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Notes From Diabetes Class - Know Your ABC's

During the diabetic follow-up class Dad and I attended last week, I took a few notes and thought I would share some of the information in this post.

Only 7% of all U.S. diabetics know their ABC's and have them in order. Here is what you should know to get your ABC's in order.

A = keep the A1C test at or below 7%. There is a test called the A1C, which is short for hemoglobin A-1-C. It is a fasting blood test that measures your average glucose level over the prior three months and is often used to determine whether someone is a diabetic or prediabetic. Dad has this test every three months, prior to his routine visit with his primary physician.

The 7% or below indicates the goal that most diabetics should strive to maintain. As for Dad, MJ told him to not go much lower than the 6.9 that he is presently at due to his age and because he has been a diabetic for twenty-five years. Going much lower would compromise his health. Remember, every individual is different. Work with your primary care physician or diabetic nurse educator for your particular numbers.

B = Blood Pressure. For most diabetics, their systolic blood pressure should be no higher than 130 and their diastolic, no lower than 80, i.e. their perfect blood pressure reading would show 130/80. Obviously, you need to contact your physician for your optimum blood pressure. Every individual is different and these numbers are only guidelines.

C = Cholesterol. Here are the ideal ranges to aim for:

Cholesterol = 200 or below
HDL = 100 for men, 70 for women
LDL = 40 for men, 50 for women
Triglycerides = 150

According to the American Diabetes Association, "Over time, high blood glucose levels can damage vital organs such as your kidneys and your eyes. High blood pressure is a serious disease that makes your heart work too hard. And bad cholesterol, or LDL, builds up and clogs your heart arteries. Managing all three means a longer and healthier life."

Click on the title of this post for an informative two page pdf giving further information about the ABC's.

Wow! That was just the start of the notes I kept in a small memo pad. I will share more in a later post.

The thing is - we can live much healthier lives than we do when we have the proper information. We hear about living a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes it takes numbers to truly wake us up to the fact that we need to make changes in our health regimen.

How about you - are you living a healthy lifestyle? Are there changes you should make? Does having the numbers in front of you help motivate you to make changes?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to Dad and Aunt Vi

Today is Dad's 86th birthday and Aunt Vi's 91st. Congratulations to both for this awesome milestone. You can view their pictures in the post below.

Dad has already received quite a number of birthday cards. They are lined up on the dining room table, and if past history repeats itself, he will look at them often.

We are going to Old Country Buffet in Okemos, MI where we went last year on their actual birthday. Aunt Vi had an early birthday party last year and was especially happy as she enjoyed the visits of out-of-state family members.

Do you have any special senior birthdays coming up? What are your plans?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Six-Month Diabetic Follow-up Class

Yesterday Dad and I attended a one-hour class as a six-month followup led by the diabetic nurse educator that has assisted Dad since his diabetic coma in March 2007. MJ has helped tremendously in keeping Dad's blood sugar as stable as possible by following his numbers and adjusting dosage as necessary.

Soon after our initial visit with MJ last year, I created a log on Excel. Dad keeps the log sheets in a spiral notebook on the kitchen table, along with his syringe and monitor kit, because he tests four times a day. He is now on two kinds of insulin, one he takes prior to each meal and the other two hours after his last meal.

After the meeting MJ sat with us and reviewed Dad's needs. He ended up with a new monitor and easier way to obtain blood for his tests.

Along the way, I learned some interesting information about following a diabetic diet that I will share in the next post. We were also given a monthly schedule of one hour meetings we can attend if we want to, to receive further information and encouragement. The monthly sessions are heavy on question and answers.

The Diabetic Center at the hospital where MJ works is actively involved in teaching diabetics how to manage their disease. MJ has called us numerous times to track Dad's numbers, including evenings and weekends. At times she has needed to call several times a week for a while, then was able to back off to once a month or every couple of months. She has always been friendly and caring, even taking time to chat with Dad about his life.

People like MJ are a God-send to those who have to live with diabetes. My kudos to MJ and others on staff for their willingness to go beyond the call to help Dad and others like him.

It takes "a village" when it comes to senior care. Be sure to give a special thank you to those who are helping you and your loved one in their latter years.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Troubadour by George Strait

I realize Elder Care Cafe is a strange place to read a blog about George Strait and his latest song/video offering, but there is something about this song that is sticking in my mind; the tune and the words.

I have heard the songs of George Strait over the years, although I wasn't really what I would call a fan. But this particular song speaks to me, and I'm sure others who are feeling time slipping away can also relate.

Here is the chorus of Troubadour:

Sometimes I feel like Jesse James
Still trying to make a name
Knowing nothing's gonna change what I am
I was a young troubadour, when I rode in on a song
I'll be an old troubadour, when I'm gone.

Lyrics provided by Gracenote on CMT website.

You can see the video at this link and hear George's wonderful voice. Be careful, you may become addicted!

Are you a country music fan? Who is your favorite?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day - October 15th

Today, October 15th, is Blog Action Day - the day thousands of bloggers across the world raise their voices as they bring forth the issue of poverty. Many times, people don't want to discuss the hard issues of life. It's easier to walk away from unpleasantness and turn our backs on the very subjects that need our attention the most.

On this day, take a look around you and see what you can do to eradicate poverty in your area.

Concerning this blog, look at the senor citizens around you; those who are living on fixed incomes, living in poverty, often unable to pay medical expenses, health care costs, prescriptions, or even for decent housing. Especially during this time of financial crisis, prescription drug costs are skyrocketing.

Seniors are eating dog food to stay alive; living in homes with no heat or running water because utilities have been cut off.

Senior citizens in dire need of assistance are all around you. Do what you can to help someone rise above the heinous lifestyle poverty brings.

What can you do today? What have you done to help someone in dire need of assistance? Let this be the day that you bring awareness to someones life and get them the help they need. Thank you!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Senior Birthday Plans

Dad and Aunt Vi have set their birthday plans. Aunt Vi turns 91 on October 18th, the same day Dad turns 86. This photo is from Aunt Vi's 90th birthday party last year.

Aunt Vi's two daughters are coming over from Flint to pick Dad and I up to go to lunch. Last year Dad and I went over there and had a wonderful luncheon with Aunt Vi and her son-in-law. This year it is the womens turn and we will probably go to Lansing.

This is quite a milestone for the two of them. Who would have ever figured they would live this long? Their father died at the age of 86 from cancer, and Dad told me two years ago that he wanted to live until he was 86.

Well, I hope he lasts longer than that, because while I have lived here the last two years, the guy has grown on me. We didn't have the best of relationships over the years, but being his caregiver and seeing his health struggles has certainly changed my view and given me a new understanding of how strong is his will to live.

Every year we think this is the last time we will get together on the 18th, and every year they surprise us. Hopefully, we will have the same pleasant surprise next year.

Do you have a senior in your family who has defied the odds? How do you feel about that?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall, Food, and Football

Yesterday my aunt and uncle picked Dad up and they went to the Swiss Steak Dinner at an old country church a few miles from where I was raised. Dad brought home a huge takeout for me, bless his heart.

With fall arriving in Michigan, so do the numerous Swiss Steak, spaghetti, fish, and chicken dinners, and the pancake breakfasts we all love. We go to as many as we can, not only for the food, but to see friends and relatives. We have quite a social circuit going with either breakfast or dinner almost every weekend through the fall and winter.

Also during fall and into the winter are the football games! The Michigan State Spartans won yesterday - YEAH! And the Michigan Wolverines lost. I would yeah again, but I really was hoping Michigan would beat Illinois. We watched the second half and it was a little more exciting the fourth quarter, but still quite a big loss.

I support Michigan when they are not playing the Spartans, and would like to see Rich Rodriguez do well in his first year as the Wolverine coach.

With first year coach Rodriguez at Michigan and second year coach Mark Dantonio at Michigan State, both teams are going through a rebuilding process. It should be an interesting match up on October 25th when these two great rivals meet.

Go Green!!!!

So, it is fall in Michigan. That means there is plenty of food and football to enjoy.

Who is your favorite team? If you partake in social fundraising dinners/breakfasts, what are your favorites?