Let’s make the bed together ©

The title of today’s column is a request my wife made to me a month or so ago that immediately resonated with me as a subject for this column; I told her so at the time and she gave me a quizzical kind of look. So I’ll share what struck a chord with me.

But first, a shout out to the Houston Home Journal and Cordele Dispatch for giving me this platform to share with you these thoughts. If it weren’t for that, my wife’s comment probably would have sailed right over my head. But this column makes me keep my antenna up for the “hidden” blessings of life; and this is one of them!

So please let me unpack my wife’s request a little bit at a time here.

I’ll start with the last work, “TOGETHER”. That means I’m not alone! I get to share life every day with my best friend. Not only that she loves me and the feeling is very mutual, even after 49+ years. With divorce rates being what they are today, that’s no small accomplishment; if fact, it’s one to celebrate which is exactly what I’m doing here!

She said “Let’s MAKE….” which meant that we woke up this morning, we’re healthy enough to be up and about and we’re exercising our free will, even if it is making the bed. As an aside here I’ll share with you that most mornings I’m up first and brewing a fresh pot of coffee which is at the top of my To Do list. And my bride is my first customer, usually before she even gets out of bed. It’s one of her little pleasures and I love to indulge her. Of course I had to wait ’til she finished her coffee before she was ready to make the bed.

Then as we were making the bed together it dawned on me that we SLEPT in it together. We got a wonderful night’s rest in a comfortable bed in a safe place that we call home; what a beautiful word that is: HOME! Neither one of us was alone. I realize that many of the readers of this column are alone having already lost their spouse. I admit have not walked in your shoes, but I would throw out this challenge: when the loneliness hits hard, hearken back to the years you did have together and embrace those cherished memories.

Finally, we got to SLEEP together! Hollywood seems to think that only young people like to sleep together; apparently they don’t have many seniors out there to tell them otherwise or if they do they don’t think they can make a profit showing a couple seniors enjoying the passions of embracing each other. Somebody needs to tell them what they’re missing. Sharing a bed together is not just for the young, is it?!

Well, have I made my point yet? Do you understand why the thought of “Making the bed together” with my wife struck me when she said it? I hope so!

So, guys, if your wife asks you to help her make the bed, don’t look up with a sneer over your newspaper; remember that you got to sleep in it with her last night and start stretching those sheets with her. It might help awaken your imagination to the first time you got to sleep with her. Who knows what might happen tonight?!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Photo credit – homebnc.com

Sticks and stones will break my bones….©

Last week we were on a wonderful family vacation to the beach……four sons, two daughters=in-law , six grandchildren and an extra teenager just for good measure! Hence no column last week.

This morning I’m trying to recover from a week of missed chores on the farm so I went back to look for a timeless column from my archives. Following is a sad one that I’m sad to say happened back in May of 2015 over another family vacation. Take heed:

I believe that some of the most untrue words we all learned as kids are “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”! (Wikipedia says that “names” and “words” are interchangeable in that rhyme; when I press my senior mind back I can’t remember for the life of me which way I learned it). But either way, it’s an absolute falsehood.

The reason I bring it to your attention here is that I watched last week with horror as some senior acquaintances of mine have let their relationship totally unravel over a few poorly chosen words. I never would have believed it if I hadn’t seen and heard it firsthand.

Here’s how it rolled out. One partner of a senior couple sought respite help from the family for a week in order to get away for a brief, but much needed, summer vacation. The proposal was for the healthy, care-giving spouse to bring the other to the family for 10 days. The request was made a several months in advance of the proposed vacation so arrangements could be made….perhaps professional care-giving services such as Visiting Angels®, could be arranged if the family needed extra help in caring for the senior family member (a parent, suffering from dementia).

Somehow this request was totally misinterpreted and a fiery verbal response was delivered in such a way that inflicted damage far beyond what any sticks and stones could ever do. Think about it this way….. we can almost always recover from the wounds and bruises caused by sticks and stones. But the emotional pain and suffering from harsh words poorly chosen often goes with us to our grave. And this emotional damage can, as it has in the case I observed last week, actually result in physical setbacks for fragile seniors.

Life is built on a network of relationships. The most important of these relationships usually involve family, both immediate and extended. Those relationships are cultivated with words and actions. Usually, our actions are preceded by our words. Just a few poorly chosen or harshly spoken words can unravel a lifetime relationship in minutes.

Proverbs 15:1 puts it this way: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger”. And this anger can lead to devastating results…..I watched it happen last week.

The good news is that the opposite is also true as Proverbs 16:24 says: “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” I like the sound of that much better, don’t you?

If a senior tries your patience is this week, especially one with dementia, count to 10, take a deep breath or do whatever else your grandmother taught you to do so you can give an answer that’s ….”sweet to the soul” , and provides “health to the bones”.

Forget the “Words will never hurt me” nursery rhyme nonsense.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..See you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

A Few of My Favorite Things ©

“A Few of My Favorite Things” as in:

…. whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things” from the iconic Julie Anderson song in The Sound of Music. But since my grade school teacher taught us that a “Few” had to be more than two, I have to cheat a bit because I only want to talk about two: a cabin and a book.

First, the cabin. That’s where we were last week and hence no All About Seniors column last week. It’s about a hundred years old and has been in my wife’s family for over 60 years. It’s just a mile, as the crow flies, from where Flight 93 went down on 911 in Pennsylvania coal country.

The cabin is my wife’s favorite place on the face of the earth so I try to take her there a couple times a year even though it’s an 800 mile trek; not exactly a weekend outing! Not that it has wonderful amenities as most people define them. No, exactly the opposite…..the only running water is the stream outside the kitchen window! But she does have a hand pump in the kitchen to pump some of that stream water into the sink. It’s full of wonderful childhood memories, not amenities. But since we’ve been going the last seven years that we’ve owned it, we have built some wonderful adult memories as well; enough said about that!

Second, the book: The Persian Gamble, another geo-political novel from our favorite author, Joel Rosenberg. We read the whole thing together while at the cabin; stayed up past midnight to finish it Saturday even though we had to get up early Sunday to catch a plane home. These are real “Page turners” that are hard to put down , especially as you get toward the ending crescendo.

This is the author’s latest of fourteen fiction novels and six non-fiction books. What makes the books so good is not only the author’s exceptional gift for writing but the breadth of experience he brings to the table and the resources he uses for his research.

Joel’s grandparents barely escaped from Russia by the skin of their teeth. Hs parents settled in NY, He attended Georgetown University, worked in Steve Forbes’ 2000 presidential bid and then Netanyahu’s 2000 Prime Minister bid in Israel. He’s a world traveler and speaker who now lives in Israel. But perhaps the thing that makes his work most unique is that he always incorporates his understanding of biblical eschatology to the political events he’s writing about. The results are so eerily accurate that he’s been summoned to address leaders at the highest levels of our government.

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Well, that’s where we were last week, enjoying “A few of our favorite things”. If you are so fortunate to still have a spouse to share life with, getting away somewhere with a book you can share together more than doubles the pleasure of reading!

But if you want to read The Persian Gable, you should read The Kremlin Connection first. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Who’d a thunk it? ©

Who’d a thunk it? That’s the title of a book I’m toying with writing. the subtitle might be “A contrary plan for retirement happiness”

I’ve been mulling this idea over for a while and wanted to bounce the idea off of you, the faithful readers of this All About Seniors column. So I’m looking for some feedback on this one.

Why would I consider such a project? Well certainly not for money, I’ll assure you of that up front! In fact, I expect it would probably be a money loser. No, it would be another adventure (I’ve never written a book…..yet!) that I think might be fun to pursue and share with others.

The basic idea of the book would be to share our experience of “Becoming farmers” at this stage of our lives: why we did it, what we learned, what not to do, the benefits, pitfalls and how much we’re enjoying it.

The crazy thing is we absolutely did not plan to do this…..it just kind of happened as we tried to seek God and follow His direction. So, why would we move from “Paradise” (Hilton Head Island, a beautiful resort destination) to “The Pitts”, a little farming community in south central Georgia? In fact, that’s exactly the question our cross-the-street neighbors asked us when we first met them seven years ago!

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That’s a great question and there are many angles to the answer:

  • First of all, it’s closer to six of our nine grandchildren so we get to see them far more now that we’re just 50 minutes away instead of five hours. Has that worked out the way we intended? Absolutely….. in fact, better! For most of them, all they’ve ever known of us is that we’re their old grandparents who live on the farm and they love to come visit and stay overnight whenever their parents allow them.

  • Second, we love being a bit more “Self sufficient” (although in truth, none of us is self sufficient at all). But, the idea of having a well, and being able to raise our own meat, eggs, fish and grow our own food is somewhat comforting, even though it is a lot of work. But mostly, a labor of love!

  • I get to walk our dogs around our own lake in the morning instead of on a public beach. Don’t get me wrong, I used to immensely enjoy walking our boxer, Ozzie, on the beach, especially to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic in the mornings. But the security patrolmen knew Ozzie by his first name because he loved to break out of the yard and go dog watching himself on the beach which was a big “No-No”. I don’t know how many times I had to bail him out of puppy prison!

  • Another reason is the economics of it all…..Is it profitable? Not really, until you consider the housing cost, taxes and insurance. Then, it makes a lot of economic sense.

I could go on and on about all the things we like about country living. And I do understand it is not for everyone; in fact, probably not for very many at all, especially seniors at this stage of life. It is definitely a contrary path to retirement happiness…… a path much less traveled!

 

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

PS So how about some feedback. Would you read it if I wrote it? Thanks in advance for responding to william.mercylink@gmail.com.

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Was it daylight savings time? ©

On the eve of the Daylight Savings Time changeover I couldn’t sleep well at all. I kept waking up and looking at the clock; it seemed like the night was lasting forever. This is really unusual for me. Most times I sleep like a baby all night long to the point where my wife accuses me of something or other to which I usually retort “I’ve just got a clear conscience”! Please note that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m not guilty though!

So was it the daylight time changeover that was keeping me awake? No, it had nothing to do with it at all, nor did my conscience. It had to do with sleep apnea. When I woke up at 5 AM my wife woke as well and asked “Why aren’t you wearing your CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask”?

Aha, the light finally went on! That’s why I couldn’t sleep.

So what exactly is sleep apnea? It’s a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.

Several years ago I had no idea that I had this condition except for the fact that my wife told me I would stop breathing while sleeping and wake her up. I finally consulted my doctor who then ordered a formal sleep study to confirm it, which it did. A sleep study consists of going to a sleep study center, often in a local hospital, and being “wired up” so you can be monitored while you sleep.

What are the symptoms? If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems, including:

The thing that really got my attention and finally made me act on my wife’s prodding was the irregular heartbeats which I was experiencing. And when the cardiologist told me that sleep apnea was a primary causal factor, I finally relented and had the study done.

If you’re experiencing chronic fatigue, daytime drowsiness, and/or some of the above symptoms, you may have sleep apnea, especially if you have one or more of these risk factors:

Being male

Being overweight

Being over age 40

Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)

Nasal obstruction, or sinus problems

But don’t get side tracked if you don’t have some of these risk factors. For example, the sleep technician who worked on me told me that her patients include almost as many women as men.

So what is the treatment? To my knowledge there isn’t a cure for sleep apnea but there is an effective treatment using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device when you sleep. This consists of a mask that you wear over your nose during sleep that pressurizes your airway to keep it from collapsing while you sleep.

But does it work? It sure does, not only in my experience but several of my friends with the same condition have had similar good results. If you suffer from fitful sleep, or if your spouse tells you that you do, consult your doctor about it.

It may be sleep apnea, not your conscience!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Photo: our Granddaughter Adele – sleeping like a baby this weekend at “The Farm”

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

President’s Day, A Somber Senior Reflection

True confession: this is an update of a column I wrote in 2011 but the memories and the message are even more relevant today as we celebrate President’s Day, 2019.

I expect most of the people reading this column are seniors like me, and remember with fond recollection our elementary school days when we honored both Lincoln’s birthday on Feb 12th and Washington’s birthday on Feb 22nd. I still remember cutting out silhouettes of both of those great presidents and pasting them with that white paste that smelled so good and got smeared on everything within a few feet, onto colored “construction paper” and bringing them home to mom as my “artwork”.

Like a lot of other fond memories, that all changed in 1971 with the “Uniform Holidays Act” moving the federal holiday to the third Monday in February. Oddly enough, that insured that “President’s Day” could never again fall on Washington’s actual birthday of Feb 22. To me that was sort of a bad omen.

My earliest memories of presidents I actually lived under go back to Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. I remember them talking to us during our booming post war economies on our 10 inch black and white TV alongside Ozzie and Harriet.

Fast forward sixty plus years and I’m afraid those days are long gone because of our looming federal debt and lack of political will, leadership and common sense to have a balanced federal budget. During our lifetimes we have gone from the largest creditor nation to the largest debtor nation because of this irresponsibility. While I was not a fan of Bill Clinton, I certainly respect the fact that during his second term in office the country ran a yearly budget surplus through 2001 and in his final State of the Union address, President Clinton said the United States should continue to balance its books and pay off the debt entirely. (Wikipedia).

The Bible has a lot to say about money, spending and borrowing. If we hadn’t thrown the Bible out of our public schools (I can still hear Miss Smith reading the Psalms to us in kindergarten every mooring) our political leaders might realize that Proverbs 22:7 says “….The borrower is servant to the lender” and because of that unshakable principle, we are now servants to the Chinese. We have borrowed ourselves into their servitude and it’s not a very comfortable feeling, let alone, politically or economically viable.

I am thankful for some of the political leaders we have in Washington and their zeal for correcting the economic course of our ship of state. I wish them well indeed. It is my sincere prayer for our nation on this President’s Day that we will gather our national will, courage and commonsense together to balance our federal budget so our grandkids can cut and paste the silhouette of a great US President who will lead us out of this bondage into financial prosperity once again.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Of Chicks, Kittens and Politicians ©

My wife is never happier than when she’s looking after a wounded animal. As you may be able to imagine there is no shortage of wounded animals here on the farm so she’s right in her element.

The two latest casualties are a Road Island Red chicken, named “Chicklet” and a kitten named “Kubo”.

So here’s the story. A few months ago we were having a terrible time with fox predators killing our free range chickens; we lost 20 or 30 of them before I finally was able to do away with the mangy foxes.

So we bought a dozen Road Island Red chicks to begin replenishing the flock. We kept them longer than usual in the brooder to insure no other predators would get to them before they were able to start laying their beautiful eggs. Well, as fate would have it, one of the chicks must have been weaker than the others and it wound up with a severely broken leg. I rescued it from the brooder and brought it to my wife a couple months ago and ever since I’ve had to share the bath tub with “Chicklet”; I should have known better!

Well, now at least, Chicklet has graduated to her own box in the bathroom fully equipped with her own feeder, water and kitty liter (Yes, it works for chickens too). We’ve both agreed to a major celebration if Chicklet ever lays its first egg.

Now, to the kitten story. A month or so ago, I broke down and decided to buy a new Kubota tractor, with the blessings of my wife and our accountant (How did farmers ever get by without computers and QuickBooks ®) ?

My son, Jess, agreed to drive to Nashville with me to get it and tow it home (Yes, a $6000 price difference made it worth the drive). Sunday afternoon on the way back, I was in touch with my other son, Bill, whose sons, Luke and Josh wanted to see Pop Pop’s new tractor. So we made a pit stop at the Sod Farm off I-75. And bingo, as soon as Luke stepped out of the car, he found an almost new but wounded kitten, later to be named “Kubo” after the new Kubota tractor.

After an appropriate tractor seat tryout by my grandsons, it was time to be on our way to the farm, and of course, son Jess, had to bring Kubo with us; he gets it from his mom.

After two days and $250 at the Vet, we found out what we already knew; Kubo had a broken leg and “Maybe we can fix it for another $1100”.

Instead, we opted to keep Kubo quiet a week or so in a cage so maybe the leg would heal on its own, which it did. Now my wife is dreaming about where she can spend the $1100 she saved! Not really, she’s actually quite thrifty.

So now the challenge is to keep the rambunctious new kitten away from wounded and vulnerable Miss Chicklet. All was well for a couple weeks and then the inevitable happened; Kubo discovered Chicklet. And it happened on my watch after I’d been duly warned to protect Chicklet at all costs.

Can you guess what happened? Kubo also discovered Chicklet’s kitty litter, did his business, and left without so much as ruffling even one of Chicklet’s red feathers!

Now the moral to this story is this: Maybe if we dump a load of kitty litter on Congress we could teach Donkeys and Elephants to do their business together too. But don’t hold your breath, I think chicks and kittens are smarter than politicians!

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Are you curious ? ©

If so, then I have a new TV “Station” for you. It’s called Curiosity Stream.com as in http://www.Curiositystream.com .

One of my sons, who is a real curiosity/self learning buff, discovered it a few weeks ago and subscribed to a free trial to get started (Plans start at $2.99/month or $19.99/year after 7-day free trial). After watching about a dozen episodes with him we’re hooked; guess we’ll have to splurge $20 for a year’s worth.

If you’re as fed up with broadcast TV and its trash content with endless commercials as we are, then Curiosity Stream may be an option for you. Their website bills them as “….The Home of Award-Winning Documentaries” with 2,000+ shows.

They are basically infotainment documentaries that are very easy to watch and hold your attention (we even watched a couple episodes with our eight and four year old granddaughters), and none of us fell asleep!

The site lists the following categories of programs: Science, History, Technology, Nature, Society, Lifestyle, 360 Degrees, Physics, Space, Mind, Biology, Genetics, Medicine, Evolution, Geology and Psychology.

Then, under each of those categories are subtopics like these under Lifestyle: Food, Collecting, Performing Arts, Creativity, Home Projects, Philosophy, Health and Wellness, and Travel.

So, no matter what kind of a curious mood you or your spouse are in, there should be something that catches your interest.

Now I’m not here to endorse all their content; I’m sure I’d take issue with some of it but I am pleased to say that we haven’t been offended yet, even after watching some episodes that dealt with biblical content and archeology. And we most certainly haven’t been offended with any language or crude content…..what a delight that has been! Hat’s off to Sprint ®, the sight’s sponsor. Almost makes me want to trade in my cell phone! And, delightfully, even though Sprint ® is the sponsor, there are no ads; only a banner over the homepage of the site!

While we don’t watch much TV at all, especially since moving to the farm, it is really nice on a cold January night to spread out in front of the TV and relax with something interesting, educational and entertaining all in one package.

The one shortfall so far is they don’t offer any football…..guess I’ll still have to go to my son’s house for the Super bowl!

Are you curious enough to try an alternative to traditional broadcast and cable TV? If so, I’d love to get some feedback from you at the email address below.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have question s or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

Adult Protective Services ©

I don’t want to ruin your New Year but there is something we need to discuss. This is a repeat column from 2016 but unfortunately it bears repeating in these days where senior abuse is as prevalent as it is.

I can never write about this topic without recalling what happened to my own mother right here in middle Georgia several years ago. Two teenage boys came to her door. When she answered, they pushed in the door, ripped the phone lines from the walls, demanded her purse, threw her in the bathtub and stole her car. When mom finally came to her senses she was able to walk next door to Granny Ellis’s house where they called the police. Fortunately, through effective police work, the perpetrators were arrested in just a few weeks, tried, convicted and sent to jail within a few months. We are blessed with a relatively peaceful community here in middle Georgia, but we’re not immune to violence and abuse toward seniors.

Who commits these heinous crimes?

Strangely enough, adult children are some of the most common perpetrators of family violence against seniors, followed by current or previous spouses. Some time ago at Visiting Angels®, we took on a new client who was homeless because her grown son scammed her out of her metro Atlanta home using a refinance tactic and then her daughter left her without transportation when she made off with her mom’s car. Imagine being left destitute like that by your own children! Unfortunately, “relationship crimes” are more common than you would think

The Tip of the Iceberg

All the reports of elder abuse recorded by authorities every year are only the tip of the iceberg; according to data from different states, for every case of elder abuse reported, another 12 or 13 are not. Why? Several reasons, including:

fear of being sent to a nursing home

fear of reprisal

lack of awareness about what help is available and where to go for help

shame of having raised an abusive child

fear of not being believed

nowhere to go

fear of being denied access to grandchildren

fear of being rejected by family

intense family loyalty

What to do if you suspect….

Senior abuse in your circle of friends? First of all, be alert to ANY suspicious activity, behavior, or comments that involve the seniors in your life. Don’t be naïve. Remember, what the Bible says in Jeremiah 17: 9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

States differ on who is required to report suspected elder abuse. According to Adult Protective Services in Georgia, mandated reporters in Georgia include: medical personnel including physicians, interns, residents and others; osteopaths; dentists; psychologists; chiropractors; podiatrists; pharmacists; physical therapists; occupational therapists; licensed professionals and counselors; nursing personnel; social work personnel; day care personnel; coroner; medical examiner; employees of a public or private agency engaged in professional health-related services to elder persons or disabled adults; employees of a financial institution, and law enforcement personnel.

How to report suspected elder abuse? Of course, if it’s an emergency, dial 911. Otherwise, if you suspect something you can report anonymously at http://aging.dhs.georgia.gov/adult-protective-services. I’m sure you won’t remember that website but a little Googling will get you there where you can report online or by phone.

Let’s vow to keep our vulnerable seniors as safe as we can in 2019.

Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!

Bill Milby is a Director of Visiting Angels® of Central Georgia, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at william.mercylink@gmail.com

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