Thursday, November 29, 2012

Avoid Grapefruit When Taking Medications

Grapefruit, grapefruit juice and some other citrus fruits do not mix well with more than eighty-five oral medications.  In fact, the consequences of combining either fresh grapefruits or grapefruit juice with a medication can be so serious that it is probably wise to avoid consuming anything containing grapefruit and certain other foods if you take any medication, whether that medication is on the list or not.

This may seem like a drastic measure.  However, researchers are finding more and more dangerous drug and food interactions every day.

Common Drug Interactions with Grapefruit

Among the drugs which are known to have dangerous interactions with grapefruit are many that are taken daily by Baby Boomers, including statins for lowering cholesterol, certain heart drugs, cancer medications, anti-depressants, antibiotics and pain medications.

Why Grapefruit is Dangerous

Researchers at Western University have discovered that the result of combining many drugs with grapefruit can be "extraordinarily serious."   In fact, David Bailey, the head researcher for the group that completed the study, reported that the interactions can result in kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, respiratory failure and sudden death.

The reason grapefruit is so dangerous is because it interferes with enzymes in your body that break down drugs.  This causes the drugs to remain in your body and build up until they become toxic.  According to an ABC news report on the topic, you should not take one of the listed drugs within 24 hours of consuming grapefruit in any form.  For people on a number of daily medications, this means they should never eat grapefruit or drink its juice.

Drugs that Interact with Grapefruit

According to a report on Yahoo, the specific drugs that should not be taken after consuming grapefruit are: statins like Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor, calcium channel blockers like Procardia, Nimotop and Sular, depression drugs like Zoloft, anxiety drugs like BuSpar, the painkiller oxycodone, seizure medications such as Tegretol and Carbatro, heart arrhythmia drugs like Cordarone and Mujltaq (dronedarone), insomnia drugs such as Halcion and the malaria drug, quinine.

If you are taking one of these medications, you may want to check with your doctor or pharmacist in order to better understand the potential consequences of combining grapefruit with the specific drug you are taking.

Since I take simvastatin, I was alarmed to discover that combining it with grapefruit could lead to kidney damage or kidney failure.  Although I do not eat grapefruit often, I do enjoy other risky citrus fruit, including limes and Seville oranges in marmalade.  Like many other Baby Boomers, I will need to be more careful about thoroughly reading the packaging material that comes with my medications.

Other Foods That Interact with Medication

While we are discussing grapefruit, this is a good opportunity to mention other foods that could react with your medications.  In addition, don't forget to carefully read the insert that comes with any medication you take to see if there are other drug or food interactions that are not listed below.  New problems are discovered frequently.

Below are common foods to avoid eating while taking certain medications:

Black licorice (ACE inhibitors, diuretics, insulin, corticosteroids, Lanoxin, and birth control pills.)

Large quantities of leafy green vegetables  (Coumadin - get specific information from your doctor.)

Milk or Calcium supplements (antibiotics including Cipro, Levaquin and Avelox; my Synthroid package insert also mentions not consuming calcium within four hours of taking that medication.)

Alcohol (painkillers, OTC cold, cough and allergy medications, statins, Isodil, anxiety meds, epilepsy medications, arthritis medications like Celebrex and Voltren, depression drugs like Celexa, Effexor and Lexapro, and diabetes medications.  In fact, be careful about combining alcohol with almost any other medication.)

Pickles, Aged or Cured Foods such as lunch meats (avoid consuming while using MAO inhibitors for depression and antibiotics like Xyvox and isoniazid.)

Chocolate (MAO inhibitors for depression, Vicodin, Percoseet, asthma medications, Ritalin and some antibiotics)

The dangers of combining chocolate and Ritalin concern me because I know many Baby Boomers have grandkids on ADHD medications like Ritalin, and these kids often love to eat chocolate.  Apparently, the caffeine in chocolate (and other caffeine containing foods and beverages) are dangerous when consumed in excess with the stimulants in ADHD medications.

If you are concerned about drug interactions with foods as well as other drugs, do your reseach by reading the insert that comes with your medications and using the online interaction checker at:

Learn more at:

For more helpful information on common health issues, where to retire, financial planning or changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of this page.  They provide links to hundreds of additional articles that could interest you.

Baby Boomers may also be interested in reading:

Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Aging and Tips to Prevent Hip Injuries

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of grapefruit courtesy of

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sun City Texas is a Premier Retirement Destination

When I sold real estate in Dallas, Texas in the 1990's, the other Realtors and I were delighted when Del Webb made the decision to build one of their fabulous Sun City retirement communities in Texas. Nothing like that existed in Texas at that time.

The developers made a presentation to the real estate community and told us that, although they had been aggressively promoting their Arizona Sun City to Texans for a number of years, they had found that the majority of Texans who visited Arizona were reluctant to leave Texas.  If they couldn't get Texans to move to an out-of-state Sun City, they realized they would have to build one in Texas.  Since then, of course, Del Webb has built up their Sun City franchise in a number of other states, including California.

Sun City Texas

The Sun City concept has turned out well for Del Webb.  It has also been a popular retirement choice for the people who moved to Sun City Georgetown (since renamed Sun City Texas) and has helped the economy of the charming town of Georgetown, located about 26 miles north of Austin's central business district in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. 

Sun City Texas is primarily made up of single family residences as well as a few duplexes.  You can legally drive golf carts in the streets, and there are special community parking spaces for golf carts.  The community has tennis courts, three golf courses, a large central activity center as well as satellite community centers, hobby facilities, several swimming pools, a fishing lake, dances, yoga classes and many other clubs and activities.  Southwestern University in Georgtown and the nearby city of Austin both provide the opportunity to attend many cultural and sporting events.

Georgetown, Texas

Georgetown gives you the advantage of living in a small community with a population of about 30,000 people, while being only a short drive away from the state capital of Austin, Texas.  There are many colleges and universities in the area, including the University of Texas in Austin and Southwestern University in Georgetown, a small liberal arts college which one of my daughters attended.

Georgetown, like most of Texas, has long, hot summers and cool, mild winters.  High temperatures in the summer range from about 90 to 100 degrees, and highs in the winter are typically in the 50's and 60's.  Occasionally, temperatures will drop near freezing.

Many people consider Georgetown to be one of the top places to retire in the United States because of its warm climate, close proximity to excellent medical care in Austin, and the approximately 11,500 retirees living in the master planned community of Sun City Texas.  In addition to Sun City, retirees may also want to consider living in one of the other over-55 communities that have been built in the area, including Wesleyan at Estrella, Heritage Oaks and the Oaks at Wildwood.  There are also different levels of assisted living in the area.

The charming community of Georgetown is another reason why Sun City Georgetown has become a popular retirement community.  The shops shown here are typical of the shops you will find facing the historic town square.  The town has made a genuine effort to reface their downtown buildings to enhance their Texas-Victorian architectural heritage.

In addition, several of the town's historic neighborhoods have also undergone redevelopment with the restoration of some of the older homes.  In fact, Georgetown has been called one of the best places to buy a historic home.

Whether you are a native Texan, or someone who wants to relocate to Texas because of its warm climate and low cost of living (including no state income tax), you may want to put Sun City Texas and the other Georgetown retirement communities near the top of your list.

If you are looking for more places to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire in the United States or abroad, common medical issues, financial planning and changing family relationships.

You may also be interested in reading:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
Cheap Places to Retire
Finding Niche Retirement Communities

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of Sun City Texas entry courtesy of

Photo of downtown Georgetown, Texas courtesy of and should be attributed to Austex.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving is said to be one of the favorite holidays for most Americans because it is simply a time we spend with our families.  There are no presents to purchase, no greeting cards to send, and most people look forward to the meal.  Thanksgiving also does not come with a lot of expectations regarding how you should spend the day.  Some people watch football on TV.  Others go to a movie.  This year there will even be a large number of consumers who will head to their favorite store to begin their Christmas shopping.

However, despite the generally laid back attitude about Thanksgiving, it will be still be a stressful time for many Baby Boomers.  Some of them will be torn between which child they will see this year.  Others will be depressed because they are far away from their children and grandchildren and will not get to see them at all.  Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters during the past year has caused many Americans to unexpectedly be living in hotel rooms or other cramped quarters.  With the difficult times many Baby Boomers and their family members experienced during the past few years, a number of people will be depressed by their financial situtation, which may make it difficult for them to cook a large meal or enjoy the holiday.   Others may be saddened by the recent loss of a dear relative or friend.

For those of us who will be sitting down to a bountiful table covered with food and surrounded by family and friends, let us be grateful for what we have and remember those who are not so fortunate.  Let's enjoy our time together and not allow this special day to be spoiled by petty squabbles with relatives, or stress over creating the perfect meal.

If you are able to reach out to someone and lend a helping hand, please do so.  Invite that lonely friend.  Donate a turkey or canned goods to your local food bank.  Help serve a meal at a soup kitchen.  Even making a phone call to a relative who is unable to share the day with you will be greatly appreciated.

Are you estranged from one of your adult children or grandchildren?  You may find it helpful to read my blog post, "Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children."  In fact, even if you currently get along with your children, you may still find it helpful to read this short article so that you can minimize any stresses that do exist in your relationship and avoid future conflict with them.

I want to thank each of my readers for their continued support during 2012, and wish you all a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

You are reading from the blog:

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Help For Caregivers - Reduce Caregiver Stress

If you are a Baby Boomer who is caring for elderly relatives in your home there are times, especially during the winter holidays, that may be especially stressful. 

In addition to being a caregiver for a senior citizen in your family, you may still have children living in your home.  If you do, they may expect holiday decorations, gifts and special meals that you feel they expect you to prepare.  If your children are adults, they may still assume you will put on the traditional holiday events they loved as children. 

In other cases, adult children may want you to come visit them and spend time with your grandchildren or other family members. 

All of these conflicting demands on your time can make your role as caregiver for an elderly parent or relative seem like a particularly heavy burden during the holidays.

While you may not be able to eliminate all of the stress that you are feeling as a caregiver, there are steps you can take to minimize your stress so you can actually enjoy your holidays and the time you spend with the rest of your family.

How to Reduce Caregiver Stress

Below are a few actions you should take, if possible, to relieve the stress you are experiencing.

Talk to your other family members and ask them to help you out.  If they want your home to be decorated, ask them to do it, especially if you still have teenagers or young adults living at home.  Heap praise on them, even if their efforts do not quite measure up to what you have done in the past.

Do not be a martyr, if you can avoid it.  For example, if there is a special event you want to attend, such as a child's school performance or dinner at a relative's home, do not feel that you will never be able to go.  Whenever possible, make the necessary arrangements.  Here are some ways you can manage that:

   * Ask friends or other family members if they can sit with your elderly relative for a few hours. 
   * Call an agency and see if you can temporarily hire a paid caregiver. 
   * Contact local nursing homes and see if they have a respite program where you can leave your family member for a few days and give yourself a break.  These respite programs are especially helpful when you want to take a trip to visit other family members.

See what services are available in your community to help you.  If you are feeling overwhelmed at of the year, call your local senior center and ask if they have an adult day care program.  Many communities offer these services for a very low fee.  Often elderly adults who suffer from dementia, depression, and other mental and physical problems really enjoy these adult daycare programs because of the opportunity it gives them to meet other senior citizens, while working on arts and crafts with their new friends.  In fact, these programs have been shown to significantly lift the spirits of many seniors.  Just as important, they give caregivers the time they need to take care of themselves.

Do not feel as though you need to use any free time you carve out to care for everyone else in your family.  Instead, when you get help, spend at least part of the time taking care of yourself.   Get your nails or hair done.  Sign up for a yoga or exercise class.  Socialize with friends.  Take a nap.  Read a novel.  Caregivers need to take time to energize themselves.  If they don't, they will eventually discover that they are too overwhelmed to care for anyone else.  Put yourself first every chance you get.

Take advantage of all the local services you can.  For example, if you are hosting a holiday dinner in your home, feel free to order a precooked meal.  Other services you should check out are grocery delivery, dry cleaning pick up, online banking, mail order prescriptions, etc.  Set up your life so that you need to do as few mundane errands as possible.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep.  Do not get up before dawn or stay up after everyone else has gone to bed in order to clean your house, wrap Christmas presents, prepare meals or do anything else.  Your sleep is more important than these chores.

If you want to be able to care for anyone else, you need to care for yourself.  Otherwise, you may end up sick and in need of a caregiver, too.  This is definitely a risk we take when we spend too much time putting others ahead of ourselves all the time.  You are important, too!

You may also be interested in reading:

Planning for Long Term Medical Care
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Aging and Tips to Prevent Hip Injuries
Living with your Kids

You are reading from the blog:

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Be Careful at Black Friday Sales

With Black Friday Sales coming up soon, as well as other big sales planned by major retailers, many of us will be spending more time than normal at our local malls.  So will the thieves. 

While shopping for my husband in a Macy's two Christmas's ago, two teenage boys were also casually shopping in the men's department.  I thought nothing about it until they ran to the door, their arms full of clothing, jumped into a waiting car, and sped off.  They could just as easily have grabbed my purse or that of one of the other nearby customers. In fact, as we get older we are even more likely to be thought of as easy marks and victimized by criminals who are looking for the opportunity to snatch purses, shopping bags or anything else of value that they see.  None of us can be too safe.  Therefore, it is worth repeating a few safety rules we need to remember before we head to the malls:

Holiday Shopping Safety Rules

Avoid shopping alone, if you can.  Go with friends or family members.

Wear comfortable shoes and leave your expensive jewelry and purses at home.

Do not hang your purse on the back of your chair in a restaurant.

Do not flash a lot of cash.

If you use a debit card, conceal your PIN number when you enter it.

Stay Safe in Parking Lots

Park as close to the stores as possible, in a well-lit area, or try to shop in daylight.

Do not leave packages visible inside your car.

If you put items in the trunk of your car and plan to do more shopping, you may consider moving your car to the other side of the mall parking lot, to avoid having someone watch you fill your trunk and then re-enter the mall.

If you are uncomfortable, ask mall security to walk you to your car.

Keep Your Gifts Secure at Home

Once you get your gifts home, do not display them under a tree in the front window of your home where others can easily see all the packages.  It is far too tempting for theives.

During the holidays take special care to make sure your home is locked up when you leave, and use your alarm system if you have one.

Do not open your door to unknown solicitors.  They may be planning to rob you.

While all of us hate to be so cautious and suspicious during the holidays, this is one time when it truly is better to be safe than sorry!

You may also want to read some of these articles from my Lies-and-Liars blog:

Phony iPad Hoax
Security Breaches Endanger Your Personal Information
How to Avoid ATM Theft, Scams and Skimmers
Credit Fraud and Identity Theft During your Vacation

You are reading from the blog:

Photo courtesy of

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Live in an RV after Retirement

In the early 1970's, my husband and I spent six months traveling through nearly every state in Mexico, as well as across the Southern United States, in a VW Westfalia Camper similar to the one shown here.  We were young, spontaneous and not very worried about needing a lot of luxuries.  Things have changed since that time.  Today, I would need something much larger and more comfortable if I were going to spend months, or years, living in an RV.

During our trip, we met many retirees who had made an RV their permanent residence.  Some of them maintained small apartments in the United States where they could live when they returned home.  Others, like us, had put their belongings into storage during their travels.  I'm sure there were at least a few people who had sold everything and were carrying what they had left in their RV.  As a result of meeting these fellow travelers on the road, as well as our own experiences, we learned a lot about the advantages and disadvantages of life in an RV.

Are You Ready to Leave Your Friends and Family Behind?

Today it is much easier to communicate with your loved ones while you travel.  Most modern day vagabonds have laptop computers and cell phones, both unheard of when we were traveling in the 1970's.  However, even with though it is easier to stay in touch, it is not the same as being able to have coffee with your neighbor or lunch with your grandkids.

If you aren't absolutely sure you want to live in a motor home for a long period of time, you may choose to rent an RV for a few months and try out the lifestyle for a while before you sell your home, buy an RV and go on the road.

Can You Afford the Cost of Living in an RV?

Many people assume that living in a motor home is cheaper than living in a traditional home.  However, this is not always true.  First of all, a basic RV starts at about $20,000 and prices go up from there.  In order to avoid overpaying for your motor home, you can check out the value of used RV's through Kelly Blue Book and other online pricing guides, just as you would when purchasing a car.

In addition to paying for your vehicle, you will also need to pay a daily fee to stay in a a campground or RV park.  According to the website,, the daily fee at an RV park ranges from about $15 to $50 a day, with the majority charging about $30 to $40 a day.  If you do a lot of driving, your fuel costs can be astronomical.  From time to time you will also have repair and maintenance costs.  At $30 a day, you will pay a minimum $900 a month to park, plus the cost of fuel when you travel between locations.

In addition, you may be paying for an apartment back home, or a couple of hundred dollars a month to store your belongings.  Don't forget the normal expenses you will have, no matter where you live.  These include items such as health insurance, medical costs, motor vehicle insurance, groceries, life insurance, and any other debts and bills you have to pay.

Depending on your other expenses, the size of your RV payments, and the amount of driving you do, it is feasible that a couple could live and travel in an RV if they have an income of $3000 to $4000 a month.  This is well within the reach of many people on Social Security.  You will need to carefully consider your own budget to see if your income will cover the RV lifestyle you have in mind.

Can You and Your Spouse Get Along in a Small Space?

After my husband and I traveled in our Westfalia Camper for six months, we frequently said we knew that our marriage would last.  If we could get along as well as we did in such a small space, we were convinced that we could live anywhere.  After 43 years of marriage, that seems to have been true.

However, people need to be willing to adjust to the loss of space.  You will not have a garage, large walk-in closets, an attic or a basement.  There is very little room to store things that you do not absolutely have to have.  You also will not have a lot of privacy.

How is Your Health?

This is a serious question to consider before you move into an RV.  Remember that you will not have a regular physician.  There may be times while you are on the road that you could be a long way from emergency medical facilities.  If you have serious medical problems, you should discuss them with your current doctor before deciding if traveling around the US is a wise decision.

The Advantages of Living in an RV

Hopefully, I have not discouraged you from giving this lifestyle a chance.  My own parents lived in a fifth-wheeler for three years after my father retired.  While they now live in a retirement community in Florida, they look back fondly on their days of traveling around the country.

The older couples we met when we were traveling in Mexico in the 1970's all seemed to enjoy their lifestyle, too.  Living in an RV is relaxing. There is no yardwork to do, and the motor homes are small enough that very little housekeeping is necessary.  Many of the RV parks have a wide variety of amenities, including swimming pools, lakes, game rooms, and club houses.  Some of them are located on beaches or in fascinating state and national parks.

Living in an RV gives you the opportunity to travel around and see distant friends and relatives.  You can also go to out-of-the-way attractions and feel that you have plenty of time to take tours and really enjoy each place you stay.

Finally, I have never met someone who regretted the experience. Although I am sure that there must be some people who have taken off in an RV and hated it, all the RVers I have known have been excited to tell everyone they meet about all the wonderful experiences they had on the road.  Of course, most people also have at least one disaster story to tell, too, such as the time they got a flat tire in an inconvenient location, or had a complete breakdown on the way to visit a family member.  However, they usually are laughing about the experience once they have put it behind him.  In general, people on the road do not have the stress of time constraints, and they are able to change their plans easily, when they have to.

Of course, living in an RV is just one of the choices open to people after retirement.  If you are looking for more retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this article to find links to hundreds of additional articles on where to retire, common medical issues, changing family relationships, financial planning and more.

While you are trying to decide what you want to do, you may also enjoy reading these blog posts:

The Best Sunny Places to Retire
Best Places to Retire Outside the US
Do You Need a Million Dollars to Retire?
Cheap Places to Retire
Finding Niche Retirement Communities
Retiring Former Hippies Spark a New Generation Gap

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of VW Westfalia Camper courtesy of 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Plan for Long Term Medical Care

As we Baby Boomers begin to age, sooner or later two out of three of us are likely to need Long Term Medical Care.  Approximately one of five will need that care for more than five years!  If you are married, the odds are extremely high that either you or your spouse will need assisted living or a nursing home in the coming years.

Long Term Care is Expensive

Unfortunately, the cost of these services is quite high.  For example, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal dated October 27, 2012 and entitled "The Cost of Living Longer," the average basic cost for assisted living in the United States ranges from $2751 to $4807 a month, depending on the number of services needed. In addition to the basic cost, however, patients should plan on paying about $347 for medication management, $236 for dressing assistance, $181 for bathing assistance and $504 for other personal care each month. That means the total cost of total care is approximately $4000 to $6000 a month. The cost of this has gone up about 2 to 4 percent every year since 2012.

It is easy to see that the cost of these services will quickly sky-rocket out of reach for most families.  Fortunately, there are steps we can all take now to make sure our future care is more affordable and less stressful for our other family members.

Buy Long Term Care Insurance

While you are still in your 50's or early 60's, look into the cost of purchasing Long Term Care Insurance from a reputable company like Genworth, one of the country's largest providers of this insurance coverage.  My husband and I purchased this insurance about five years ago, and we are glad we did.  The younger you are when you purchase Long Term Care Insurance, the less you will have to pay in premiums.

However, although this insurance will bring you peace of mind, it only helps if you are able to qualify for it and afford it.  If you wait until you have a serious medical problem you will not be approved or the premiums may be too high.  In those cases, you should look at the other money saving options that may be available to you, and let your family members know your preferences.  Here are some possibilities.

Long Term Benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs

A war veteran or their spouse may each receive as much as $2020 a month in benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs to help pay for the cost of assisted living or nursing home care.  When combined with your other retirement benefits, this may be enough to cover the cost of your long-term care. The veteran only needs to have served in the military for at least one day during a war ... including the wars in Vietnam, Korea, etc.  They do not need to have served in a war zone while the war was going on.

If you think you may qualify, you can get more information and help with your application by going to  Then click on "Locations" - "State Veterans Affairs Offices" - "Veterans Service Organizations" or "Regional Benefits Offices."  Unfortunately, I have been told that at many as 60 percent of claims are denied the first time you apply.  If you are denied, you may want to get help with the application from a service organization such as Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Do NOT give up.  You are entitled to these benefits.

Medicaid Long Term Care for Low and Moderate Income Individuals

Many people confuse Medicaid and Medicare.  However, they are different government programs.

Medicare will only pay for the first 100 days of nursing home care.  After that, you are on your own if you have assets and a moderate to high income.

However, Medicaid will pay for most long-term care for low-income and many moderate income people, especially those with very few assets.  In the case of a couple, the spouse who does not need care is allowed to keep some assets, a home and, possibly, a business ... although they may be expected to contribute to the care of the spouse who is in the assisted living facility.

If you believe that you may qualify for Medicaid, you or your family members should apply as soon as you go into a nursing facility for care that is being covered by Medicare.  The people in the facility can help you with your application.  There are also private companies, such as Nursing Home Solutions and A Place for Mom, which can help you with the application and find an assisted living situation, if you qualify. In California, Medicaid is called MediCal.

Independent Living Apartments instead of Assisted Living

Assisted Living can be very expensive and many people do not need that level of care.  As an alternative, some people are moving into independent living apartments that provide local transportation, meals, exercise classes and other services.  Then the family can hire a caregiver who only comes in a couple of times a week or a few hours a day to provide other essential services, such as help with medication, bathing, getting dressed, etc.

To help you compare the cost of home healthcare in your community, use Medicare's Home Healthcare tool at

This choice is very common, for example, in the senior community where I live, Laguna Woods Village. In fact, it is common in most independent living retirement villages. In our community, many seniors stay in a typical condo or move to a high rise within the community known as Rossmoor Towers.  For about $2300 to $2800 a month, an individual or couple in the Towers has a private apartment with a full dinner provided every evening, and weekly housekeeping.  Each condo has a kitchen where the residents or their caregivers can prepare their own breakfast and lunch.  Many of the residents of the Towers share caregivers with their neighbors.  The caregivers arrive in the morning and help different residents with their meals, medications, bathing, dressing, etc.  Even with the additional cost of the caregiver, this arrangement makes it possible for a couple to stay together in their own private residence, even if one of them needs assistance with daily living.  The Towers are also far less expensive than the surrounding skilled nursing facilities.

Home Health Care - Age in Place

Similar to moving to the Towers, some people simply choose to remain in their own home and hire a caregiver to come to their home each day and provide the necessary assistance.  Whether or not this saves money depends on the cost of living in the current residence.  This may not be feasible for someone who lives in an expensive home with a large mortgage or for someone who will need a lot of personal assistance plus the cost of a housekeeper, landscape workers, etc.  However, it has become a popular and affordable option for many people.

Adult Day Services and Respite Care for Those Getting Care at Home

Another alternative is for the person who needs assistance to live with an adult child or other family member.  This can be stressful for the family members who are placed in the role of caretaker.  Consequently, being able to take an elderly person with dementia or other medical problems to adult day care makes it possible for the full time caregiver to work, run errands or just have a break each day.

Whether you use adult day care services or not, you may also occasionally need respite care. It is available in many areas.  Respite care is provided by many assisted living facilities to enable relatives to leave an older adult in their facility for a few days so that their family members can leave town or deal with a family emergency without worry.

Inform Your Adult Children or Other Relatives of Your Preferences

Once you decide on the type of care that you would like to receive when you are older, it is important that you inform your spouse, adult children or other relatives of your desires.  If you have purchased Long Term Care Insurance, give a copy of your policy to your nearest relative in case you are incapacitated.  If you know of independent living apartments that appeal to you or where you already have friends, inform your relatives of your selection.  If you would like to continue to live in your home as long as possible, others will need to know this, as well.  Finally, if you hope to live with your adult children or other relatives, you should discuss this possibility with them long before you become disabled.

If you would like additional information about where to retire, common medical issues as we age, changing family relationships or financial planning, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

You may also be interested in reading:

Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children
Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You
Laguna Woods Village Active Adult Community
Garden Spot Village Community for Seniors in PA

You are reading from the blog:

Photo of private room in medical facility courtesy of

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Patient Safety in the Hospital Near You

Patient safety in the hospital has become an important issue.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 180,000 patients die every year from hospital mistakes, accidents and infections.  An additional 1.4 million people are seriously harmed during their hospital stay.  Although we will never be able to completely eliminate hospital errors, there are steps that can be taken to minimize them.

How to Find the Safest Hospital in Your Community

Your first step will be to locate the safest hospital in your area, and then select physicians who are affiliated with that hospital.  There are several websites that rank hospital safety:

When I entered the local hospitals in my area into, I discovered that the ones where I am most likely to be taken were all given a rating of "A."  That was a relief, because there were a number of hospitals in my county that had a rating of "C" and "B."  One even had a score of "F."  Hospital Safety Score rates a number of items including the hospital's computerized prescriber order entry system, hand hygiene, care of ventilated patients, correct antibiotic use, frequency of incidents in which a foreign object was left in a surgical patient and accidental cuts or tears from medical treatment. 

When I searched the database for local hospitals on, I was able to compare my local hospitals and look for differences in issues such as readmission  or death rates for heart attack and pneumonia patients, number of heart attack patients given aspirin or fibrinolytic medication upon arrival, and the results of patient surveys.

Armed with this information, I felt much more confident in the hospitals I may need to use in the future.

How to Prevent Infections and Mistakes During Your Hospital Stay

No matter how your local hospital rates, you and your loved ones can also do a few things to improve patient outcomes.  If you are the patient or the close relative of a patient, you need to do everything you can to reduce the risk of mistakes and injuries during a hospital stay.  Even though you are dependent on the medical staff for major activities, such as treatment during surgery, you can still remain proactive and take some responsibility for the quality of your care.  Here are some steps you can take:

You may be in pain, but try to be pleasant.  You are more likely to receive better care and quicker attention if you and your relatives obey hospital rules and treat all staff members like they are friends, not enemies.

Politely ask everyone to wash their hands ... your visitors as well as the hospital staff, including doctors, nurses and aides.

Be observant of your bandages.  Make sure they cover any wounds or incisions and that the bandages are kept clean and changed regularly.

Follow pre-op and post-op instructions carefully.  Take antibiotics as directed and take the full amount of the prescribed medicine.  Ask a family member to be with you when you are given the instructions so that someone else, who has not been on anesthesia, knows exactly what you should and should not do.

Pay attention if you will be using a catheter or other medical device. Be certain that you and a family member both know how to use it correctly.

Wash your own hands before you touch a wound, bandage, catheter or other device.  Your immune system will be weakened after surgery or a major health event.  Don't challenge it even more.

If you follow all these steps in choosing a high quality hospital and taking personal responsibility for your care, your patient safety in the hospital should not be a major problem.

What to do If You Think Something is Wrong After a Hospital Stay

Pay attention to how you are feeling during the next two weeks after surgery or a hospital stay. If you begin to feel worse, develop a fever, start vomiting or experience other unexpected symptoms, call your doctor immediately.

If you had surgery and the area around your incision begins to look worse, becomes swollen or hot to the touch, has an unexpected discharge, or red streaks begin to extend out from it, you should also call your physician.  It may have become infected.

If you are interested in learning more about common medical issues as we age, changing family relationships, where to retire or financial planning, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

How to Start Over after a Disaster - When You Have Lost Everything

I remember hearing a few years ago that one of the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy were the barrier islands off the coast of New Jersey.  Many of the homes on these islands were completely wiped out. At the time, CBS reported that the situation was especially difficult for these residents because a substantial number of them were retirees in their 60's, 70's and 80's.  Starting over is going to take a long time, and many of these people are understandably overwhelmed by all that they have lost.

Every year, thousands of other people lose their homes and property to fires, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters.

While there is no easy way to come to grips with this kind of devastation, especially when it happens to us, there are steps that people can take to help them through these difficult times.

How to Deal with Starting Over

Here are some actions that people can take to get through these trying times:

1.  Get help.  Many of us have grown accustomed to handling everything ourselves.  We are reluctant to accept help, even when it is available.  This is one of those times when we need to accept help.  Be grateful for any assistance that is offered to you, whether it is a place to stay, replacement clothing, or a friend who helps you try to salvage whatever you can from the ruins of your home.  The American Red Cross has a long history of providing assistance to people who need short-term emergency assistance.

2.  Deal with the business of starting over.  Talk to your insurance agent and FEMA representatives as soon as possible.  Gather all the information you can, and make the necessary decisions once you understand your options. Sometimes we simply want to freeze in place.  However, it is better for us emotionally as well as financially if we take action as soon as we are physically and mentally capable of making reasonable decisions.

3.  Seek out counseling.  If you have been through a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, you may be experiencing shock or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and not realize it.  Whether you seek counseling from your church, a private therapist or decide to join a group therapy program, you will find it helpful to talk about what you have been through.  Share your circumstances with others, and let them share theirs with you.  You will both find that you feel better afterwards.

4.  If your sadness does overwhelm you and you feel crushed and hopeless, see your physician. He may be able to prescribe something that will help you regain your equilibrium so that you are able to move forward.

Minimizing Your Losses

If you are in a situation in which you are being asked to evacuate, you can minimize your feelings of loss and confusion afterwards if you have taken along the right documents and belonging when you evacuate.  In addition to changes of clothing and enough supplies to last a few days, you should also take your valuables and important documents whenever you evacuate.  For a complete list of what you will need, read:

Personal and Financial Protection When Evacuating

Another issue you may face after a disaster is the need to replace your automobile.  Unfortunately, many of the cars that are in floods each year will not be junked; instead, they will be sold to unsuspecting consumers.  Be sure you research the background on any used car you purchase.  Have it inspected.  If you are thinking of purchasing a car that is advertised online, you may also want to read:

You Can Avoid Online Used Car Scams

Finally, when you begin to rebuild your home, you do not want to be victimized again by dishonest people who pretend to be helpful contractors.  In your hurry to get your home rebuilt, criminals known as "storm-chasers" may offer to help you.  All too often this has devastating results.  Before you hire a contractor, read:

Post-Disaster Contractor Fraud

The three articles mentioned above will help you get through this difficult time.  If you have been the victim of a disaster, please feel free to leave comments and let our readers know if you have other suggestions that will make things easier for disaster victims.

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