When we look around at elders, it’s interesting (and a bit awesome) to observe many engaged and committed people leading rich lives for as long as they live — and often despite fairly daunting physical difficulties. I usually think of my parents who use their energy to help others and solve problems in the world, despite sometimes frustrating aging concerns and occasional physical roadblocks. Participating in these activities energizes them. My mother describes it as, “living the Sermon on the Mount.”
One of my favorite folk song books.
I’ve been thinking about Pete Seeger, the activist folksinger who died at age 94 about a month ago. An amazing and prolific musician — I’ve sung his songs since I was a baby — he taught us a lot about music and singing and, more importantly, how to sing along with others. Seeger also combined his music with a strong social conscience, using the songs to demonstrate the importance of helping others and improving the world, and he did these things it right up to the end of his life.
Pete — just about everyone I talk with thinks of him as Pete, whether they’ve ever met him or not — also demonstrated how well a determined and engaged person can overcome daunting problems and continue to live a successful life right through the late elderhood years.
Over dinner at my parents’ house recently my mother commented that a recurring charge appeared on her Mastercard statement every month for at least a year.
Read this Seattle Times March 2012 article.
“I have no idea what it is,” she said. She had been checking her bills and was unsure about what to do.
I looked at the bill and sure enough, on the second of the month during all of 2013 mother was charged $9.95. When I did a bit more research, I found that the company charging the fee presents as a savings club, offering discount opportunities.
I’ve listed some of them below.
Quarterly grocery rebates
20% savings on grocery gift cards from trusted vendors
Pre-paid debit cards for trade-ins
Discounts on auto maintenance at a variety of car repair franchises
Up to $250 reimbursement on the deductible on your homeowners or renters insurance when an insured loss occurs.
Trouble is, the person who sold my mother this “membership” when she was buying a blouse at a well-known mid-range national department store, did so without telling my mother what she was really purchasing. My mother thought she was getting a $10 discount on the sale and on subsequent purchases at the store. Continue reading →
Just when you think that you have settled the most significant adult child-aging parent issues — when you and your parents have spoken about medical care support, finances, and the range of their end-of-life wishes — along comes another concern to worry about, and it’s one that may be completely out of our control.
We now need to be concerned about the possibility of a parent entering a hospital and assigned to observation status for several days. Observation means that, rather than being officially admitted as a patient, the person is there to be watched, sort of like an out-patient, but not really an out-patient. The problem is, it’s difficult to discover what status a hospital assigns a patient — the two look almost alike with nurses, doctors, hospital rooms, blood pressure checks, etc. Admission and observation do not look that different to the patient and family, and apparently many hospitals are not especially forthcoming with the information.
Why is patient status significant? It’s simple, really. If your parent needs to enter a skilled nursing facility or nursing home after three days of observation status, Medicare will not pay and the family will be required to pay all of the bills, including the hospital costs. For Medicare to pay the bills, a family member must be admitted as a patient for at least three days and not assigned observation status.
Over the past year newspapers and medical or health journals have carried stories about elders and observation, and I share them here so that you can learn as much as you can.
If you are an older adult or an adult child, you probably know at least one millennial family member who was born in 1981 or later. Millennials are digital natives, born into a world that is markedly different from the world in which we all grew up. So when it comes to life, they also have markedly different outlooks and habits.
I just discovered and took a quiz How Millennial Are You? over at the Pew Internet Research Center website. It is interesting and fun, so give it a try!
The questions cover digital-age habits such as reading newspapers, using mobile phones, and watching television, as well as a fair number of life-style issues. It’s interesting to do, and the score places each quiz-taker on a continuum with a range of generations from people in their in their 70s and above (called the silent generation) to boomers and down through other demographic groups to millennials.
Aging parents and elders need to get a flu shot each year, and they also need to receive a pneumonia vaccination. And just about everyone else does, too.
Each fall I ask my parents about their flu shots (You can also read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza FAQ), and each year, by the time I get around to asking, they have already visited their doctor to receive their vaccinations. (Medicare covers an annual flu shot.) Several years ago they each also received the pneumonia vaccine, more formally known as pneumococcal vaccine. I wondered how often a person should receive the inoculation for pneumonia.
Recently as I was reading on another topic for this blog, I discovered — over at the WEB-MD site — that my parents should probably get a second pneumonia vaccine at the five-year mark. I’ve made a note to myself to ask them when we next visit so we can be sure they get the second shot at the appropriate time. Interestingly, while the flu shots are usually administered in the fall, the pneumonia shot can be given at any time of the year.
The other day when I picked up a copy ofFindings, the alumni magazine of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, I discovered that the entire fall 2013 issue focuses on how to age well and improve old age. My husband is a Michigan alumnus, but the magazine is freely available as an easily downloadable and easy-to-read PDF file. The magazine is filled with information about retirement, aging, changes to expect, and ideas to make retirement fulfilling — useful for adult children and their aging parents.
This issue’s theme, A Better Old Age, addresses a range of topics including 15 Ideas for a Better Old Age, an article that examines future changes in the world of aging, and a special Guide to Thriving filled with interesting tips. In another article author Nicholas Delbanco shares thoughts on Lastingness: The Art of Old Age — his 2011 book that examines artists who live long and productive lives into advanced elderhood. And 95-year-old retired but still active Michigan professor Robert Kahn discusses his principles of aging well, taken from his 1998 book Successful Aging. In another feature, To Retire or Not, Michigan School of Public Health professors who have retired share some of their thoughts about their new lives. Continue reading →