Archive for June, 2011

Helpful Gadgets for the Elderly

The elderly need a lot of help around the house, but it is not often that each and every member of the family will be around to help. A typical household will not have a hired nurse, and so it becomes the duty of the homeowner to assist their aged parents or grandparents. Assistance may range from simple walking, to getting a hard to reach item. The wisdom comes in the form of self-assistance; that is, in the ability for the elderly to help themselves. This can easily be made possible with proper planning and slight adjustment to your daily routine.

Eliminate obstacles around the house. What may seem like a trifle to an agile twenty-year-old may be a gauntlet for a seventy-year-old. These daily obstacles pose threats ranging from mild to critical. For example, glassware and tile pose a very serious threat, while polycarbonate and carpet virtually eliminates any concern. Problems like that can be remedied by practical thinking: eliminate the obstacle, not the object. Outfitting the house to meet the needs of the elderly, while at the same time preserving the homeowner’s comfort of living, can be a much simpler task than perceived.

Solutions can be entirely within the realm of practicality, while others involve expenses. The most obvious and time-honored solution is to leave all of their personal affects downstairs, assuming they live inside a house with more than a single story. Doing so will sidestep the most frightening scenario: falling down the stairs. If at all possible, ensure that plenty of necessities remain accessible on the first level, especially a bathroom. As a tip, lay out a non-slip surface inside the tub and showers, as well as bath mats on the outside. Inexpensive and easy to install, they deter the most hazardous of daily household injuries.

By way of expenses, outfit the television with a wireless headset. This way, the volume can be turned up to suit their needs without disrupting the rest of the household. Another measure would be to enable subtitles and captions for movies and television. Other gadgets to consider are audio reminders, which will remind a person of certain tasks via pre-recorded messages. In short, gadgets of all kinds can aid in everyday life just as well as practical decisions. In times of boredom, say, handheld portable gaming systems integrate very well into the lives of the elderly. For example, crossword puzzles and other games that aid in critical thinking and coordination are easily accessible on Nintendo’s own DS Lite.

With these tips in mind, use your home to their advantage, all without necessitating too much change. Too often can discomfort and accidents happen at the smallest detail. Sometimes the elderly may be at home for hours at a time, alone. The best option would be to organize a lifestyle alongside your aged parents or grandparents, a lifestyle that suits them. This makes it easier for everyone involved, as self-assistance is the most ideal way to retain their freedom and their dignity.


Hearing Impaired? Hearing Aids? Advice for “Deafies” and those who put up with us

I have always had a hearing impairment. I was born with a 70% hearing loss in both ears. While I had a mother who was sensitive to my disability, I never believed there was anything wrong wth me. As a child, I refused to wear hearing aids.

When, at 19 years-of-age, I bought one hearing aid, it was as if someone turned the sound up. I felt even more invincible. By the time I was 30, I knew I needed aids in both ears. It was not for 25 more years that I would learn that hearing aids alone were not enough.

Granted, most persons who don’t hear very well do need hearing aids. If they think they will look stupid wearing aids, these people have no idea how stupid they appear to others without them. When one gives crazy answers to sane questions ~ and misunderstands what others say ~ they don’t appear to be very bright. Amplification normally helps a great deal, even if perfect hearing is not attainable for many of us.

Consider this: Use of hearing aids might prevent you from being diagnosed as senile when you get older or loose the understanding companion who has always made allowances for you.

Yet, even with good hearing aids, I have only now come come to understand that it is my responsibility to not do those things which irritate normal hearing people ~ when I can control those very things.

If I am in another room, I have no business asking questions ~ or initiating conversations ~ which I will likely not hear right. To do so can only cause a person with normal hearing to take on unearned aggravation.

If I wish to engage in a conversation, I should make certain that the other person is close enough for me to have the best chance of hearing. And when others speak to me, ask that they do so in a hearing environment where I will understand ~ “Because I don’t want to ask you repeat yourself.” I expect the same courtesy of others that they should reasonably expect of me.

When I enter a room and see some people cocking their heads, looking at the ceiling confused, I should be sensitive enough to realize that my hearing aids are probably on too loud without someone asking, “What’s that noise?” Yes, often in an effort to hear better, I have cranked my hearing aids up to a point of “Feedback” which ~ although I can not hear it ~ many people do. Frustrated, associates have screamed, “You’re beeping!” Perhaps, my right to hear should be restricted to the point where other people’s sanity endures?

I have great difficulty communicating on the telephone. It was not uncommon for me to already be on the phone and to request assistance of the closest person to me to be my ears ~ for just a moment. I expected that person to drop everything and help me. How unfair? I have sense learned to say, “In a few minutes, I need to make a call. When you are free, would you mind being my ears if I need some?” I no longer expect everyone to allow me to interrupt them just because ~ through my lack of planning ~ I need help “Now!”

While I am on the subject, we who require special effort on other’s part to engage in conversation with us, need to learn not to begin talking to them if they are engaged in an activity which will necessitate their relocation to accommodate us, allow us to see their lips, etc.

Hopefully, I’ve learned I don’t have to talk all of the time. All of my life, I had attempted to masquerade as a normal person. The fact is, if you can’t hear ~ you are not normal! While really not wanting my captive audience to talk ~ because I knew that I would not be able to hear what they said ~ it was much easier to talk than to listen.

Now, I tell the truth. “I can’t hear what you are saying. It is not your fault, but my poor hearing. Please speak more loudly to me. And if I give you an inappropriate response, I will not be offended if you tell me that you don’t think that I understood what you said. In fact, I’d really appreciate it.”

My best advice to persons who can’t hear: Don’t try to “Fake it.” Maybe, you will get away with making like you understand the conversations? Yet, more than likely ~ and more often than you will ever know ~ others will think that you really didn’t care what they had to say.

Being hearing impaired is hard ~ not just on we “Deafies” ~ but those who put up with us too.

Fraud Prevention Tips For The Elderly

Older people may be victims of frauds like con games and insurance, home repair, telephone, or internet scams. Even “trusted” friends or family members have been known to steal an older person’s money or property. The following tips may help:

Don’t be afraid to hang up on telephone salespeople. You aren’t being impolite. You are taking care of yourself! Remember, you can say no to any offer.

Don’t give any personal information, including your credit card number or bank account, over the phone unless you were the one who made the call.

Don’t take money from your bank account if a stranger tells you to. In one common swindle, a thief pretends to be a bank employee and asks you to take out money to “test” a bank teller. Banks do not check their employees this way.

Don’t be fooled by deals that seem too good to be true. They are often rip-offs. Beware of deals that ask for a lot of money up front and promise you more money later. Check with your local Better Business Bureau to get more information about the record of any company before doing business with them.

Do be on guard about hiring people who come door-to-door looking for home repair work. They may not be trained to do the work, and they may overcharge you. You should try to check their references. Always spell out the details of the work you want done in writing. Never pay for the whole job in advance.

Avoid Identity Theft

How can someone steal your identity? Using your name, Social Security number, or credit card without your okay is called identity theft and it’s a serious crime. Be sure to protect yourself:

Do keep information about your checking account private. Put all new and cancelled checks in a safe place, report any stolen checks right away, and carefully look at your monthly bank account statement.

Do shred everything that has personal information about you written on it.

Do be very careful when buying things online. Websites without security may not protect your credit card or bank account information. Look for information saying that a website has a secure server before buying anything online.

Do check with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to find out how to protect yourself from common online scams that can trick you into revealing your personal or financial information.

Finding Nonmedical Home Care

There are a number of ways to get nonmedical supportive services inside a home. But regardless of what level of service you are looking for, odds are you will find yourself facing one choice: Should you find and hire an independent contractor or someone who works for an agency? Here’s a closer look at both options.

Nonagency Service

Nonagency workers, or independent contractors, are hired by either a family member or the person needing help. While this may appear less expensive, it could involve some hidden costs and risks:

• Whoever hires an independent contractor must pay all appropriate payroll taxes because, technically, that person is the employer.

• If the independent contractor is injured on the job, the person who hires the individual is responsible for medical bills and any other expenses.

• If the independent contractor is sick or goes on vacation, he or she is not obligated to find a replacement.

• Because people often hire an independent contractor without first conducting the proper background checks, they may be leaving themselves or their loved ones open to theft, fraud and-in rare cases-even abuse.

Agency Service

Companies such as Interim HealthCare employ individuals to provide specific services that help with activities of daily living such as preparing meals, light housework, bathing and companionship. The agency can alleviate consumers of many of the problems they may face if they hire an independent contractor because it is responsible for taxes, insurance, bonding and workers’ compensation. Also, if an employee is sick or goes on vacation, the agency provides another employee to perform the needed services.

The home care agency provides training for its employees and ongoing supervision as well. This helps the agency monitor and respond to the changing needs of clients, ensuring that the appropriate level/skill of caregiver is assigned. The agency also conducts background checks according to state law.

In addition, the agency is often licensed to provide a higher level of home care (skilled nursing, for example) for individuals. That means that as a person’s needs change, he does not need to work with more than one company. Working with one company can make it easier to access formal payer sources such as Medicare.

Entertaining The Elderly On Grandparents Day

Not all elderly people have family to celebrate Grandparents Day with them.  In fact, many of our most celebrated older citizens live lonely lives in retirement or nursing homes.  While we are always concerned with our own family members, the first Sunday after Labor Day that is designated as Grandparents Day is about more than celebrating our own relatives.  It was set forth to honor all the elderly who have done so much to shape our universe.

For this reason, one way to spend the holiday, especially if your own grandparents are no longer around, is to visit a nursing home and provide some companionship and entertainment for other elderly members of our society.  And in case you are putting off this visit because you aren’t sure what to do, here are a few tips for entertaining the elderly.

While recognizing that it is a holiday and wishing the residents a happy Grandparents Day, the important thing is to treat them as the respected citizens they are and provide some form of entertainment that they typically would not get.  Many older people enjoy playing cards or board games, such as checkers, chess, or bridge.  Also, watching a fun family movie with them is a way to spend a quiet, relaxed afternoon.

If they are up to it, simply going for a walk can bring their mood up.  Perhaps spending time looking through their family photo albums with them can be exciting, as they get to share special memories that bring back happiness.

One thing that always cheers the elderly is a visit with animals.  Many older people adore dogs, and playing with puppies often literally rids these respected people of depression.  If possible, take a puppy with you to play with the residents of the nursing home, and, if pets are not allowed, consider rescuing one or two of these live-ins and taking them somewhere that they can play with these cuddly animals.

With so many options, it’s not hard to entertain the elderly for a single special day every year.  More than anything, most of these lonely people are grateful for the company, and if they aren’t really in condition for any kind of physical activity, at least you can listen to them and let them share their life experiences.

Celebrities and their Sunglasses

Every celebrity out there knows the real value of a pair of designer sunglasses.  Whether it’s to hide the effects of a late night out on the town or an effort to blend in on the street, a pair of quality sunglasses is absolutely indispensable.  We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go, but a great pair of sunglasses will always transcend the passing fads of the day.

With the summer just around the corner, we have begun our fashion trend spotting efforts for 2006.  Like years passed, celebrities are on the forefront of eyewear fashion.  One of my favorite pastimes is to monitor the fashion trends of my favorite celebrities.  As with last season, big sunglasses are all the rage for the ladies.  God bless you, Jackie O!

Carmen Electra is one of my favorite celebrities, and one of the most stylish women in entertainment.  While I could do without another season of her dreadful “reality” television show, I am dying to get my hands on a pair of the Missoni shades she was recently spotted in.  They are oversized and oh-so-glamorous!

Catherine Zeta-Jones may have a thing for old, outdated actors but her fashion sense is as fresh as a spring breeze.  I recently saw her sporting a pair of Dolce & Gabbana glasses that were out of this world!  I suspect they were the utterly amazing “4005” model.  They were black, with the D&G logo designed into the arms of the glasses.  The shades are big, bold, and beautiful!

Heidi Klum, our favorite supermodel and partygirl, has incredible fashion sense.  I saw a picture of her earlier this week wearing a classic pair of Aviator shades.  While a number of people in the fashion industry have been lamenting the prevalence of Aviator shades, I couldn’t imagine a world without them.  Heidi was wearing a pair made by Ray Ban, and they were absolutely fabulous!

Speaking of partygirls, how could I go on without mentioning Paris Hilton?  I adore Paris.  She may not be taken seriously as an actress or singer, but she reigns supreme over the fashion world.  She was recently spotted wearing a pair of the new Oakley glasses for women.  That’s right, kids.  Oakley just launched a new line of shades exclusively for women, and they are the must-have item for this fashion year.  Believe the Hype!

Cashing the Czech

Whether Robert Maxwell committed suicide or was murdered may never be known to the public …

Suffice it to say the disgraced publishing magnate cheated so many people and financial institutions to such an extent that there wouldn’t be a paucity of suspects if it was the latter. Born in Slatinske Dòly to poor parents as Jan Ludvick Hoch and Anglicizing his name when he migrated to Great Britain during World War II, Maxwell used the fog of combat to his advantage, picking off a scientific journal distributorship at a bargain rate. He soon parlayed that into more literary acquisitions and doing so with such aplomb, he even gained election to Parliament.

However, a trail of deceit began soon thereafter, which led to a High Court censorship, then to possible war crime allegations and, ultimately, to an amazing web of falsified balance sheets and deceptive bank loan collateral which masked Maxwell’s mass looting of his own publishing empire’s coffers. When all was about to come crashing down upon him, Maxwell was reported to have fallen overboard while yachting along the Canary Islands. His extensive double-dealing earned him the posthumous title of The Bouncing Czech.

Maxwell’s bombastic ego, though, was authentic. He ached to be larger than life and to outdo any perceived rival, such as Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch, whose own publishing empire spans the globe. Ironically, Maxwell tried to seize any opportunity to portray Murdoch as a low-life, casting himself as a higher-minded alternative to the conscientious consumer. Thus, to counter Murdoch’s titillation-themed, Tory-leaning tabloid, the Sun, Maxwell ran his Daily Mirror as a seemingly kinder, gentler, Labour-oriented purveyor of similar stories.

Maxwell always ran a distant second in the United Kingdom’s tabloid wars, so he was constantly looking for an edge with which to tweak Murdoch’s operations and further convey the image — however cynical — of his holding the higher social and ethical ground. I can attest that, at least once, a blend of this obsession and his blowhard personality got the better of him.

It was a summer day in the mid-80s, and the prospects of secondary smoke being a health issue in the workplace were beginning to be accepted as fact. It was surely noble for Cap’n Bob — as Maxwell was derisively known — to be among the first to attempt an office-wide smoking ban. The Mirror’s headquarters was no doubt better served, but it was clear his motives were for self-promotion rather than a genuine concern for his employees’ welfare.

The first clue that this was the case was the boisterous manner by which Maxwell arbitrarily enforced the policy. Specifically, he loved to make a scene if it showed him in an authoritarian and positive light. Thus, when Cap’n Bob proclaimed a ban, he did it for maximum effect. In this instance, he decreed that anyone caught smoking in his building would be fired on the spot.

On this day, Maxwell was holding court for visitors of some dignified nature. He was guiding them through the Mirror facilities when a man hunched over a nearby photocopy machine caught his attention. The man had a cigarette dangling from his lips.

Cap’n Bob summoned his guests to follow him over there. Puffing his chest as he approached the man puffing away, Maxwell began his diatribe within steps of his quarry and gained decibels with each successive step.

“Sir!” he exclaimed, “How much do you make a month?”

The target of his wrath was caught off-guard. It took him a moment to confirm that Maxwell was speaking to him; actually, ‘at him’ would be more accurate.

“I asked you a question,” Maxwell pressed, making sure that his guests totally understood who was in charge of the moment, “And I expect a prompt answer. How much do you make a month!”

“2000 quid,” was the nervous response. “Why do you ask?”

“You’re smoking!” was the roared retort. Cap’n Bob then reached into his pocket in preparation for the coup de grace. He pulled out a wad of bills, quickly sifted through £2000 and jammed it into the surprised man’s shirt pocket.

“There’s a month’s wage! You’re fired! Now, get out!”

Maxwell then stormed away, his cotillion of impressed guests following dutifully behind. A strong boss had surely made a firm point.

Left in the wake, the stunned man retrieved the stash of cash from his pocket, looked at it and then shook his head in amazement.

“I was just called here to repair the copier,” he shrugged. He put the money in his pants pocket, flicked a few ashes to the ground, headed toward the front door and proceeded to his van. Perhaps he had more calls to make that day, but he probably opted to cancel them and make his way to a pub, instead.

The incident capsulized Cap’n Bob’s act in a nutshell. He was all show, with little attention to detail. It was a harbinger that whenever someone paid close heed to his affairs, he’d be sunk.

I just didn’t think it would happen so literally.