Saturday, April 25, 2020

'A Delightful Little Book on Aging" is an Uplifting Book

How do you feel about getting older?  Are you enjoying your golden years, or fighting the idea of aging every step of the way?  Do you see your age as a necessary evil, or an experience to be embraced? To be honest, I did not think a whole lot about how I was aging until I was sent a charming collection of essays by Stephanie Raffelock.  These short essays opened my mind and heart to all the grace, gratitude and joy we can experience in this final stage of our lives.

A New Perspective on Aging

When I get together with friends, we often decry all the inconveniences of getting older ... stiff joints, sore muscles, forgetfulness and fatigue, to name a few. We are also saddened by the losses we have experienced and sometimes feel as though we are being treated dismissively by younger generations. However, after reading this book, I now find myself wondering what it would be like if we focused instead on our wisdom, experience, and the free time we now have to explore new interests and reclaim old ones.  Wouldn't that be a better way to view this period in our lives?

"A Delightful Little Book on Aging" (Ad) gave me a new perspective on the gifts which I have experienced by being older.  It was a joy to read, and with so much that is stressful in our lives right now, this could be the perfect time to read it.

An Uplifting View about Getting Older

Stephanie Raffelock's book is divided into four thought-provoking sections.  They are listed below, along with my thoughts and some of my favorite excerpts from each part of the book.

Grief - "Aging begins in grief.  Loss and letting go become part of the landscape."

In these essays she talks about how we grieve not just when someone dies, but also for the loss of our own youth, the end of friendships, our declining health, and the feeling we are no longer significant.  We can learn to experience our grief, however, and not get stuck in it.

Reclamation - "Life takes things away with one hand and offers something with the other hand.  This is what I call 'reclamation.'  Did you leave a musician, a writer, a wild woman behind? Reclaim that part of yourself now."

As I read this section, I thought about all the retirees I know who are selling their art work, writing books and blogs, starting a 60's band, taking ballroom dancing classes, traveling, and fulfilling their "bucket list."  Instead of seeing this period of our lives as a time of loss, many of my peers are reclaiming their past dreams and seeing them come to fruition.

Vision - "The practice of being so fully in life that you feel joy in the smallest things. The vision of the older years belongs to a wiser, deepened soul, steeped in wonder and delight for life."

Isn't this the way all of us want to approach the final years of our lives, full of joy, gratitude, new friendships, creativity, and love?  Isn't this the legacy we would like to leave for the younger men and women in our lives?  We all need to embrace our vision of the life we want to live, and we want those who come after us to do the same.

Laughter - "There is nothing like recalling the good old days with stories that make us laugh."

My husband and I often cackle with joy at a funny memory of an incident from years ago.  We laugh at the time we misread an invitation and arrived at a friend's home for a party which was still a week in the future; we laugh at silly things our children said or did; we laugh at all the surprising and unexpected things which have happened during our lives.  We also enjoy spending time with old friends for the same reason, to relive our happy memories.  Being able to look at the past with a sense of humor is a true blessing as we grow older.

Why this Book was Written

After writing countless articles on the importance of memoirs and legacy, the author Stephanie Raffelock witnessed a growing concern among women writers as they approached their 60s. One of their main concerns was the fear of confronting the stigmas of aging.

Too often, women have been taught to shy away from aging, and Stephanie aims to change that expectation.  Age is more than just a number.  It's a badge of honor to have lived long enough to know that the life in front of us is far shorter than the life we have already lived.  To that end, these years seem more precious, more miraculous, and certainly more deserving of our very best selves. There has never been a better time to be old than today.  Yet, in a culture that all too quickly embraces botox to make wrinkles disappear, many wrestle with what getting older really means.

Stephanie is a firm believer that we cannot transcend aging with some sort of magical formula, but we can transcend worn-out attitudes that do not lend themselves to making aging a positive experience.  Stephanie strives to bring a new voice to the conversation and encourages people to embrace aging instead of shying away from it.

In "A Delightful Little Book on Aging," her first book with She Writes Press, which was released in the spring of 2020, Stephanie discusses everything from ageism in athletic leisure styling to selectivity in volunteering.  Even as she digs deeper into the topics of grief and the vision about what our later years can look like, Stephanie walks us through ways to reclaim aging with grace, excitement, and a touch of humor.

A Refreshing View of Life After 50

If you want to regain a fresh perspective on your life, you will enjoy reading "A Delightful Little Book on Aging."  (Ad) Throughout the book, I found myself nodding my head, agreeing with the author.  Yes, I would tell myself, I sometimes feel like that, and I love being able to see things in a new light!  Enjoy this new book by Stephanie Raffellock.

More about author Stephanie Raffelock:

She is part of a generation of women who are reinventing their later years and looking for camaraderie and inspiration.  A graduate of Naropa University's program in Writing and Poetics, she has penned articles for numerous publications, including The Aspen Times, Quilter's Magazine,, Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, The Roque Valley Messenger and She is also the host of Coffee Table Wisdom, a podcast that is a revolution in positive aging.  

To learn more about common issues as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, health problems, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading form the blog:

Photo credit:  Photo of book cover taken by author

Saturday, April 18, 2020

In-Home Caregivers and Covid-19: Why Your Caregiver Should Continue to Come

Kelsey Simpson recommends keeping caregivers during Covid-19.

With the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the world, many of the elderly and people with fragile health are concerned about having in-home caregivers.  Should they continue to allow people to come into their home to cook their meals, or assist them with showers, dressing and other personal services?  Without a caregiver, however, will their quality of life suffer?  Because so many people have questions about this topic, I was delighted when Kelsey Simpson with Comfort Keepers offered to write a guest post to help our readers understand why they may be better off keeping their in-home caregivers.  Her guest post is below. 

The Importance of Continuing In-Home Senior Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Kelsey Simpson

The COVID-19 pandemic is a trying and uncertain time for people of all ages all over the world. This global pandemic is forcing people to stay in their homes until further notice, preventing them from seeing friends, family, coworkers, and even doctors and other healthcare providers. Due to this global pandemic, people are sacrificing important appointments, such as seeing their doctor and getting their monthly or yearly checkups. This can put their health in jeopardy. However, the demographic which is in the most jeopardy are the seniors who stop their in-home care service.

Elderly people are at a higher risk of dying if they contract the COVID-19 virus; with that being said, most elderly people are doing all they can to avoid contact with other people who do not live in their household, including senior care workers. Though seniors should take necessary precautions to avoid other humans, they should not avoid seeing their health care providers, including their in-home senior caregivers.

Should I Continue In-Home Care For My Loved One During the COVID-19 Crisis?
The answer is yes. Though seniors should do what they can to avoid contact with all other people, in-home senior care workers are an exception because they are necessary for the seniors' care. In-home senior care is crucial for many aging adults. In fact, so many aging adults depend on it that, if they were to stop using their services, their quality of life and health would likely deteriorate quickly. Below are some of the reasons why seniors should continue their in-home senior care services, despite the global pandemic. 

Family Members Might Not Care For the Elderly in the Same Way

If you are a family member who is in charge of dealing with an aging loved one’s senior care, it is important you understand why you should continue the caregiver service during these difficult times. One of the most important reasons you should continue in-home care is that you may not be able to care for your loved one the same way the care service does. If you are unable to provide the quality care that your loved one needs, his or her quality of life or health could be greatly impacted in a negative way.

If you are the person whose relative is using an in-home care service, it is likely you already recognized in the past that you were unable to care for your aging loved one on your own. Maybe your loved one requires 24/7 special care, or you have a demanding career and a family of your own which you need to care for. Whatever the case may be, seniors rely on an in-home service for a reason, and stopping this care may have a direct impact on their health and well-being. 

Change Could Distress Your Loved One

In addition to not knowing how to care for your loved one, if you drastically change their life, you may distress him or her. It is common for seniors to resist change, or to not understand the reason for the change, especially if they have early stages of dementia. If you pause their in-home senior care service, you run the risk of distressing them by stopping their needed quality care.  You also run the risk of confusing them.

Distressing elderly people can result in mental and physical pain and discomfort. Similarly, if your aging loved one is upset, it may become even more difficult for you to care for them. As a result, the assistance of an in-home senior care service can be essential to their happiness and well-being, as well as your own. 

An In-Home Nurse is a Good Precaution Against Covid-19

In-home nursing care is one of the best ways for seniors to actually prevent contracting the COVID-19 virus. In-home nurses will provide quality care for seniors, which will keep them as healthy as possible during this global pandemic. A well-trained caregiver will take all necessary precautions to keep them healthy, something the elderly may not be able to do on their own. This may include taking steps to boost the patient's immune system, assisting in their cleanliness, and making sure the aging adult is getting the proper rest, which is necessary in order to stay healthy. In-home nurses will also take sanitation and cleanliness very seriously, making sure to keep the health of their patients in mind in everything they do.

In-Home Care That Goes Above and Beyond

In-home senior care is crucial for those who are elderly or frail, no matter what in going on outside the home, including during a global pandemic. Caregivers will do everything they can to keep your elderly loved one safe, healthy and comfortable during these difficult times. 

In order to ensure the health of your loved one, make sure that your caregiver is wearing the proper preventative pieces, such as gloves and a mask. If your caregiver does not have access to these things, as they are becoming quite scarce, do your best to provide him or her with whatever personal protective equipment they need.  It will be worthwhile for both you and your loved one’s safety and peace-of-mind.

About the Author:
Kelsey Simpson enjoys writing about issues which help others. She lives in South Jersey, is the proud companion to two German Shepherds, and spends her free time volunteering in dog shelters.

If you or a caregiver is taking care of a family member who is sick at home with symptoms of Covid-19, or even the regular flu (which is bad enough), you may wonder how to care for them.  A helpful book for family members or caregivers is:  "Pandemic Flu Home Care: A Detailed Guide for Caring for the Ill at Home."

To learn more about common medical problems as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading form the blog:

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Kelsey Simpson

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Staying Home? Keep Busy and Reach Out to Others

You can be alone without feeling lonely.
Beginning in early 2020, large segments of the U.S. population were ordered to shelter at home because of the Covid-19 virus sweeping the world.  By late March, restaurants and bars were closed.  Meetings and religious services were canceled. People were discouraged from having gatherings in their houses. While some people were able to work from home, others lost their jobs and had very little to do each day.

Millions of Americans, as well as those in other countries, have been isolated by themselves at home.  Others have a spouse, or their entire family, staying with them. A few have chosen to quarantine with a close friend or two. Whether they are alone or not, nearly everyone has significantly more free time.  Even those who have a job which allows them to work from home have seen their lives change dramatically, since they are no longer able to go out to dinner, attend a party, or socialize with friends.

A pandemic is not the only reason people may find themselves suddenly stuck at home, with little to do. They may be recuperating from an illness, injury or surgery. They may have become the caregiver for a relative and find they are unable to leave the house very often. They might find themselves in the middle of a blizzard or other natural disaster which makes it difficult to leave home.

When these things happen, and you are no longer able to go out when you want, how can you make the time you are spending at home interesting and meaningful?

Keep Yourself Physically Active

When you cannot go to the gym or attend exercise classes, it is still important for you to stay in good physical condition.  Here are some suggestions:

Take a walk in your neighborhood; if you cannot go outside because of weather or other reasons, walk around your home and climb the stairs, if you have them.  If you need inspiration, a man in Paris ran an entire 26.2 mile marathon on his 23 foot long balcony while under quarantine.  It took him nearly 7 hours of running back and forth.  If you just walk briskly around your home for 30 minutes a day, you will be keeping yourself from becoming too sedentary, and you do not have to run a marathon!

If you are willing to keep a respectful distance of six to ten feet, and perhaps wear a face mask, you may even walk with a friend.  This will allow you to chat in person with someone every day, and reduce your loneliness.  I have done this daily during this pandemic and found it very satisfying.

In addition to walking, add other forms of exercise such as lifting weights (or cans of food), dancing to your favorite music, or following a yoga video. You might also be surprised how much exercise you get when you vacuum the house.  Whatever you do, do not spend your days sitting without making some effort to get up, get exercise, and stretch.

Keep Yourself Mentally Balanced

It can be easy to become edgy or irritable from spending too much time alone.  Here are some suggestions:

Try a meditation tape and practice deep breathing.

Keep a journal. Observe the things happening outside your window ... blooming flowers, nesting birds, neighbors and their dogs.

Even when you are alone, you do not have to be lonely.  Spend time chatting with others on the phone, or do a video chat using WhatsApp or Zoom.   A friend of mine posted on Facebook that she and her husband had their regular monthly "cocktail party" with their friends.  They just did it on Zoom.  Everyone made their own appetizers and poured their own glasses of wine.  Then, they sat in their living rooms with their laptops perched on their coffee tables, and chatted with each other. What fun!  I have also used Zoom to keep up with club meetings, classes and other activities. We have even done a Zoom family reunion with all our children and grandchildren. After a week of staying home, it is great to see the faces of our family and friends and chat with them!

Send emails, text messages, birthday cards, Facebook messages and other little notes to your friends and family. If you have been meaning to send someone a personal letter, this is your opportunity to do it.  Try to lift others up.  They may be feeling afraid and lonely.  A message from you could brighten their day.  I have been sending out "Thinking of You" cards (Ad) to a few friends, especially those who live alone or are a long way from their families.

If you are religious, spend a little time each day in prayer or meditation. It can have a very calming effect.  And, if your place of worship is now offering online services, religious studies or other events, set aside some time to participate from home.

Prayer and meditation can keep you mentally balanced.

Embrace Your Extra Time

Nearly everyone has something they have always wanted to do, but never thought they had the time.  View this forced quiet time at home as a gift.  Now is your chance to explore some of those dreams.  Today, with free videos available on YouTube, and an abundance of informative blogs and websites, you can develop a wealth of new skills.  Below are some ideas:

Learn a new language using Babble or the Duolingo app.

Learn to play an instrument or read music.

Teach yourself to quilt, knit, crochet or sew, watching YouTube videos.

Start writing that blog or novel you always wanted to create.

Join Ancestry. com and trace your family history. You may be surprised by what you discover!

Read the books collecting dust on your shelf, or order some new ones from Amazon or other online book dealers.

Order some interesting puzzles and see how long it takes to finish them. (Ad)

Order paints, a drawing pad or other art supplies and indulge your artistic side. (Ad)

If you have to be home anyway, expand your culinary skills. Make meals you really look forward to eating.  Watch a few cooking shows on TV to get some inspiration.

Have fun with crafts.  The website Domestic Diva Online has a wealth of free craft tutorials using all types of materials.  The site even includes lists of the materials you need for each craft, and where to order them online.

Make a Schedule

With so many activities at your fingertips, you may begin to feel overwhelmed and have trouble making up your mind about what to do.  The way to avoid confusion is to create a flexible schedule.  There is a reason why jobs and school usually operate on a specific schedule.  You will be more relaxed if you set one for yourself.  Include some time to just do "nothing," to watch TV or play a video game.  We all need downtime, even from our chosen projects.  Do not become obsessed with staying busy all the time.  Allow yourself some quiet time to just stare out the window or sit in your backyard in the sun.

Take Care of Yourself

Do not stay up half the night, sleep late, eat junk food, and lounge around in your pajamas.

Get dressed every day.  Make your bed.  Pick up your house.  Maintain your normal beauty routine.  Take a shower, moisturize your skin.  Keep to your normal sleep patterns.  Eat healthy foods at the same times you typically eat.

If you do these things, you will feel much better about yourself and your situation.  

Help Others When You Can

You will find meaning in your time at home if you find ways to help others, when you can.  There are several ways you can do this, even from your house.

If a friend calls and feel lonely or discouraged, let them talk.  Just the action of being a good listener can help more than you realize.

Check on your neighbors.  Call just to chat and ask if they are doing OK.  Knock on a neighbor's door and drop off a treat in a disposable container, keeping a respectful distance.  It will mean a lot to them. If you are placing an order online or going to the store to replenish your supplies, ask if they need anything, too.

If you are able to make face masks, knit scarves, or create other helpful items, share your extras with your neighbors ... keeping an appropriate physical distance from them, of course.

Support a local business by ordering a meal or other items which you can pick up curbside.  Wear a face mask and use hand sanitizer whenever you venture out.

If you are saving money on gas for your car or by not eating out, consider donating a little of your savings to local charities.  Many of them are not receiving their usual donations during these uncertain times.

If you do these things, you will soon find that it is not so bad to let go of the busy life you lived before.  Your life in isolation may be different, but it doesn't have to be bad.  In fact, you may even find it peaceful to slow down for a few months.

To learn more about common medical problems as we age, Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

You are reading form the blog:

Photo credit:

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Join the Peace Corps - You Can Start Late in Life!

Many older American remember the Peace Corp as an activity which may have been popular with some of their friends after they graduated from college in the 1960s and 1970s.  What they may not realize is that people can actually join the Peace Corp at almost any age, including after they retire.  In fact, with a lifetime of experience behind you, you may have more to offer the Peace Corp than you realize.  This month our guest poster is someone who is sharing the experience he and his wife had when they joined the Peace Corp later in life.  Their book was just released and it is well worth reading.

David and Champa Jarmul (pictured above) served in Moldova, a small former Soviet state that is Europe’s poorest nation.  Enjoy reading about their experiences in their guest post, an excerpt from his book, below:

Life in the Peace Corp - The Story of One Couple

by David Jarmul

Hundreds of older Americans volunteer every year to serve overseas with the Peace Corps. David Jarmul and his wife, Champa, were among them.  Recently, the Peace Corps evacuated its volunteers worldwide because of the coronavirus, but expects to restore operations after the pandemic ends.
In a new book, Not Exactly Retired: A Life-Changing Journey on the Road and in the Peace Corps, (Ad) David describes how they traveled across the United States and Nepal and then served as Peace Corps Volunteers in the Republic of Moldova, a small former Soviet state that is the poorest nation in Europe.

In this adapted excerpt from the book. David describes the complicated process of disengaging from their conventional American lives to prepare for their big adventure. He says the transition would end up changing their lives — for the better.

Most of the volunteers in their Peace Corps group were younger than their own two sons.
When I first served as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1977 at the age of twenty-four, I completed the application, packed a suitcase and backpack, ate a farewell dinner with my family, and headed off for Nepal. This time, the process was a lot more complicated.

The application itself was straightforward, but the subsequent clearances took months. Champa and I submitted resumes with details about everywhere we’d ever lived and worked. We provided references. We went to a courthouse to be fingerprinted. Most important, even though we were in good shape for people our age, we spent months working our way through the medical process. We received thorough exams from our physicians and dentist, updated our vaccinations, and filled out more than 40 forms, some of them several pages long. I scanned and uploaded everything to the Peace Corps along with electronic copies of our dental X-rays, eyeglass prescriptions, and the like.

The medical office ended up approving us but restricting where we could serve. Only a few countries matched both our medical and job needs. Several of them were in Eastern Europe, where the Peace Corps had expanded following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. We ended up designating Macedonia and Moldova as our top choices, although we also said we were willing to serve anywhere. When the Peace Corps eventually sent us invitations to serve in Moldova, we said yes, even though we knew almost nothing about the country.

They lived with a Moldovan host family, including their beloved Bunica, or grandmother.
We did so only after speaking with both of our sons and daughters-in-law, making sure we had their support to leave for more than two years. Like many Americans in their thirties, they were all busy with their careers, small children, and other demands. Now their kids would be losing two of their grandparents for an extended period. Our younger son and his family lived near us in Durham, so they would feel the impact the most. No longer would Champa and I be cheering at soccer games, making dinners, or taking care of the boys when they were sick. Nor would we see our older son’s four daughters in Philadelphia.

Once in Moldova, we would talk with all of them online, but we knew that would be a poor substitute for giving them real hugs. Indeed, throughout our service, we kept telling ourselves we were doing something they might appreciate when they got older, but the truth was we missed them and talked about them every day. For both of us, it would be the hardest thing about being away.

Champa and I debated what to do with our home in Durham. We’d paid off our mortgage a year earlier after accelerating our monthly payments for several years. With our two sons gone, the house was now too big for us. I wanted to sell it and be done with it before we left. Champa wanted to keep it to return home to after our service even if we ended up selling it later. That’s what we ended up doing, hoping to earn some rental income and perhaps see the house appreciate in value while we were away.

Neither of us thought much about what turned out to be another benefit of keeping it, which was that we were able to store possessions in a small upstairs room and in the attic instead of having to rent an expensive storage facility. We also stayed in the house, which was temporarily empty until a new tenant moved in, when we came home for a vacation after our first year as volunteers. Best of all, we had a place waiting for us when we completed our service two years later.

Champa turned out to be right (hardly the first time).

During the weeks before our departure, we worked our way through a long “to do” list. I canceled our gym memberships, forwarded our mail, and arranged to shut off our electricity, gas, water, and cable service. I notified our bank and credit card companies about our travel plans and ordered an additional card from a company that offered free foreign ATM withdrawals. I added my sister to our checking account and notarized a form giving her our power of attorney. I reviewed our wills and made electronic copies of recent tax returns, so I would have them with me when I filed future returns from Moldova. I suspended our medical insurance, canceled the EZ-Pass for my car, and ended our subscription to Netflix. I scoured our credit card bills to make sure I wasn’t overlooking any other recurring charges. Since North Carolina was likely to be a battleground state in the 2016 election, we also made sure to order absentee ballots.

We hired a small Durham company to manage our home for two years. With their assistance, we hired painters and a handyman to spruce up the house before the first tenants moved in. Parents of a friend offered to take care of our dog, Bailey, for which we were grateful. We bought Champa her own laptop.

We used a Peace Corps discount to buy suitcases and a solar-powered flashlight. We bought shoes to walk on Moldova’s muddy roads, boots to survive its winters, and a winter coat for me, overlooking that we would first confront a hot Moldovan summer. I bought spare cables for our electronic gear, converter plugs to charge everything from Moldovan outlets, and a Kindle to load with books. Slowly but surely, we worked our way through the “suggested packing list” from the Peace Corps, wondering how we would fit everything into the two 50-pound suitcases and one carry-on bag we were each allowed to bring.

Simultaneously, we downsized and purged 36 years of possessions from our house. We donated most of our furniture to Habitat for Humanity, hundreds of books to the Durham library, and dozens of bags of clothing and household goods to local charities. I visited the local Goodwill donation center so often that I felt like asking for a personal parking space. We sold Champa’s aging Toyota Corolla to a friend and gave my newer Ford Fusion to my son and daughter-in-law, whose car was dying.

On our last night home, Champa and I slept on an inflatable mattress in our empty house, deflating it in the morning and placing it with our coffee cups and two plates in one of the few empty spaces remaining in the storage room. As we locked the door, we knew we were saying farewell to life as we’d known it, perhaps forever.

Book Cover (Ad)

About the author:

"Not Exactly Retired: A Life-Changing Journey on the Road and in the Peace Corps" is available as both a paperback and an e-book through the book website, (Ad) on Amazon, and elsewhere. Author David Jarmul is a writer, blogger and traveler who was previously the head of news and communications at Duke University.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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

You are reading from the blog:

Photo credits:  Photos were provided by David Jarmul and are used with his permission


Photo 1: David and Champa served in Moldova, a small former Soviet state that is Europe’s poorest nation.

Photo 2: Most of the volunteers in their Peace Corps group were younger than their own two sons.

Photo 3: They lived with a Moldovan host family, including their beloved Bunica, or grandmother.

Photo 4: Book cover