Category Archives: Health Seniors

Only Child – my health continues to eat my life

Saturdays are supposed to be days to relax – well maybe catch up on some errands and/or housework. But not for dealing with health issues. That is how I seem to spend most of my Saturdays and I end up cancelling right and left what I plan to do – including social comittments. At least my friend and I had decided (at the last minute) to go to Canada Blooms the other week on a Sunday.

Saturdays I drag myself around the house, trying to get some chores done, but lying down part of the time. If the weather is bad, I wouldn’t be doing errands anyway. But if I am to relax, to read, I want to feel good when I do. Not have aches and pains, etc. I do not want to be like my late mother in this way – constantly having lots of health problems and going to multiple doctors’ appointments simultaneously. At least my weight is now back up to normal – it went down on my abbreviated liquid and semi-liquid diets for a few days or so after both dental surgeries.

Except for the daily eyedrop dose for my glaucoma, and constantly dealing with IBS symptoms, I try to focus on one health issue at a time. This week it is my eyes – two appointments, the regular annual eye examination, one and half months late thanks to the dental issues. And the quarterly appointment with the eye specialist on Thursday.

I’m hoping both give me good reports, new glasses not needed this year (I can’t afford new ones anyway  – I’m still paying off dental bills and there are things that have to be repaired and replaced in and around the house this spring, which are not optional. Then there are the dreaded income taxes. Even living below or around the poverty level the government stills comes at you to pay taxes.) And also hoping the double-prescription eyedrops the specialist prescribed from a year ago, are still doing the job. That is one thing I make sure I do daily – squirt the eyedrops in my left eye.

But experience has taught me the hard way to not expect the best. When I do; when I take it for granted that things will be okay; when I go merrily along as if they will – SNAP – I GET A RUDE AWAKENING. Better to follow the Brownie motto – be prepared.

And shake my fist up at the sky.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Balance, finances, God, Health, Health Seniors, Income Taxes, Life demands, Mother

Only Child on getting enough sleep

Time to sleep

When I was a child I slept like a child. When I am a senior – like now – I sleep like a senior. Most of the time that is not nearly enough. Most of the time I don’t sleep right through the night. And with an overflowing plate of “to do” things, I need to make some changes.

So, the other night I decided I would try getting up half an hour earlier to get all the morning ritual stuff out of the way earlier and get in front of my computer by 9 a.m.

That worked but I found I had way too many business emails I had to reply to. I didn’t have time for one thing on my to do list but did get to the big item and get it done. But by evening I was dragging myself and by bedtime I was sleepwalking.

Today I’m back to getting up at my normal time and struggling to get down to work at the computer at my usual time. Tonight I have to start working from the getting to bed earlier end. Not easy.

So, I decided to see if my friend Mr. Google could help me. Here are a few things I found.

The first one  was How to make yourself start to go to bed early (for real this time)

A lot of its suggestions I already do – such as darken the room, don’t eat close to going to bed, shower first, use moisture on your skin. And a few suggestions didn’t resonate with me – such as get new sheets, set up a pre-bed tea-time (doesn’t that one violate the do not eat part and do I really want to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom?). Spraying the room with lavender because it calms you I can try. The story also mentions setting an alarm clock – not for when I want to wake up as I do but to let you know it is bedtime.

I don’t need that. I have my “alarm” – the 11 p.m. News and a brief Weather Network report. The plan is the news until 11.20 p.m. when the network switches to sports which I’m not interested in and then switch channels to 10 minutes of The Weather Network and then TV off and get ready for bed.

It’s not that simple. If it were I would be in bed no later than midnight with 20 minutes to spare to read until I wind down and I would still get 7 to 7 1/2 hours of sleep – which is apparently sufficient according to some medical advice.

But I have two issues. I get tired and fall asleep during the news or even at the start of the weather. As a former journalist and a weather junkie I am not bored just tired.

The other issue is all the housework shit I still have to do. Just when I think I’m done, more daily housework that should have been done earlier (When do I have time?) pop into my mind and off I go to do do them.

So I will be trying a few other things to get these housework chores done earlier. If I get enough sleep at night I just might not be dragging myself around in the evening and falling asleep in front of the TV.

Oh yeah, I’m back to setting the timer for business emails. When it rings I just finish the email I’m replying to. The rest can just wait.

What do you do to get enough sleep?

What do you consider enough sleep?

Here are a few more sleep articles to read:

Aging and Sleep from the National Sleep Foundation

Do People Need Less Sleep as They Age?

And this one which makes the most sense to me:

How to Sleep Well as You Age

Cheers and lots of ZZZ each night.

Sharon

Only child Writes

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Filed under Health Seniors, Life Balance, Life demands, Only child, Seniors, Sleep and Health, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation

Only Child debunks attitude factor with seniors’ stress

Sitting in my garden relaxes me

Sitting in my garden relaxes me

It’s ALL in your attitude, we seniors are told about how we handle the stress in our lives. My emphasis on the word “ALL”. Attitude may have something to do with it, but not “all.” And some of the research on attitude and seniors’ stress is somewhat questionable.

Take the study from North Carolina State University, for example. Sure the research shows that seniors who have a positive attitude about aging can handle stress better. Read this article about the study

One big factor from this study stands out. THE NUMBER OF SENIORS INVOLVED IN THIS STUDY.  Are you ready for this? Forty-three. That’s 43. That sure covers a lot of seniors and wide spread over demographics. Come on researchers, get real. Even professional pollsters use over 1000, if not close to 2000 people. While not near perfect in numbers it is much higher than the paltry 43.

I question the widespread validity of a study that uses only 43 people.

There are certainly many other factors in seniors’ lives besides their attitudes towards aging. Here are a few factors, given at random:

  1. The health of the senior – not just cancer, heart disease or diabetes, and loss of or diminished sight, hearing and/or mobility, Health includes mental health. If you don’t consider depression and/or high anxiety (with our without intolerance to uncertainly – disclaimer here – I have this  – see this previous blog post), it doesn’t paint a realistic picture. Also, often physical illnesses can cause depression and anxiety.
  2. What is happening in a senior’s life?
  3. What has happened previously over many years in the senior’s life?
  4. Is the senior financially secure (as much as anyone can be these days) or living near or below the poverty line?
  5. Does the senior live alone?
  6. Where does the senior live – in their home (house, condo, apartment) or in a long-term care facility?
  7. Does the senior have supportive family and/or friends?
  8. Does the senior have some passion/some interest in life – something that gets them going every day?
  9. The senior’s innate personality – i.e., some people are hard-wired to be positive and some the opposite.
  10.  We must not forget the Pollyanna effect. You know, the “everything is great and wonderful in life” and ignoring the bad that does happen (and I know “bad” can be subjective). Remember the 1960 Disney movie “Pollyanna” starring Hayley Mills? She played Pollyanna and gave a good take on it. However, in the movie Pollyanna, a 12-year-old-child, fell from a tree when sneaking out at night. From that she became crippled.

Maybe the best way to get through the senior years is to be realistic. If something upsets you, acknowledge this and maybe you need to do something about it. I find that helps me. What I am still learning is to pick my battles. You can’t fight everything.

And have some passion/some interest (or two or three or more – mine are writing, helping other writers, acting in comedy skits, gardening, reading, TV, cooking and walking, socializing with close family and friends, and apparently the weather). Try to find a balance between being alone and socializing. Lighten up a bit sometimes. For example, so far in one month I’ve had to have two molars (different locations) extracted. For my first “meal” with my son who was at the first  dental appointment and drove me home, I heated up solid food for him and said, “We can eat as soon as I heat up my gruel (chicken broth).” Confide your problems to someone you are close to, but not someone who is judgemental or orders you around. And if necessary, see a therapist, even if only for a short time to get over the hurdle. Eat healthy, get some exercise, get enough sleep and try not to do too much.

I’m still working on the latter two.

My $5.00 worth anyway.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Anxiety, Family and Friends, Health Seniors, Only child, Seniors

Only Child and Senior Loneliness

Only Child's Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

Only Child’s Mom and Dad a few years after they were married

When my father died from brain cancer at 66, life turned all downhill for my mother. She had lost her husband of many years and had to go it alone. This was the mid-1960s so changes for women were just getting started. And although my mother had me, I was a teenager and really not much help for mom’s loneliness and her health, which after Dad’s death went from good to worse than bad.

First, it was her arthritis in her hands and feet, which landed her in the hospital for tests, disfigured her hands (rheumatoid arthritis) and damaged her feet to the point of what resembled wounds. I remember coming home from business school and finding her sitting in the living-room, one foot bandaged and propped up on a footstool. Her two visitors were not friends, but the managers at the insurance company where she had started to work when Dad died. They were not there to offer her support, but to try and convince her to quit her job which she was having difficulty doing. She had gone from typist to proof reader because of her fingers.

Fortunately I was able to get a job as a secretary later that year and help Mom with expenses, including doing the actual grocery shopping. But Mom’s health continued to deteriorate. She also had scleroderma, which gave her puffy cheeks and changed her voice to almost a squeak. She died at age 63. Official cause was a brain aneurysm but really the arthritis killed her. Because of the arthritis she fell off her vanity bench which gave her a never-ending headache. She figured she needed her eyes tested and had booked an appointment for an eye test but never made it as she went into a coma and died in hospital.

I have passed both my parents’ ages of death and have mixed feelings about it.  Although I may have escaped some of the medical conditions of my parents (although I do have arthritis – in my neck and bunions and the like on my feet), I still feel very wary going through the rest of my life. Yes, I have had my own medical issues to deal with, but I’m learning that there are two factors that make life very hard to deal with for a senior – living alone and being poor.

I have covered the being poor before, but living alone to my mind, is not the best scenario for a senior and happiness. Apparently, some studies are showing otherwise. See Loneliness among the elderly  where  surprisingly the majority of lonely seniors are married or living with a partner.  But my many years living alone have proven otherwise. Living alone means not having someone there to help you, to support you, provide companionship, and help you deal with all the crap life shoves at you. I realize that not all duos are good – some are abusive; some provide no support.

However, when I observe my friends who have partners of some sort, I see a plus. Sure, they have problems, health, maybe financial, etc. But they seem more positive, have that support (and some even say that) and are happier – the latter just radiates from them. My take here is if you have a good partner, you can deal with life better.

Partners can mean many things from the traditional marriage, to living common-law, to not living together all the time (i.e., maintaining separate homes for whatever reason – often financial – pension laws you know).

One friend who used to live in my neighbourhood had a long-term relationship with a fellow. Their relationship and its setup worked worked very well for them. Both lived in separate houses – in fact he lived just outside Toronto. But they spent weekends together at her place and travelled together. Sure they argued and had differences of opinions – most couples do. But they were supportive of each other, not only with health issues but house issues. And boy, my friend had a doozie when her mean next door neighbour shovelled snow from his driveway onto her gas meter and the entrance for the gas into her house – the latter was blocked and she got gas fumes in her house. She phoned both her partner and me. Both came over here. He got on the phone to the gas company and organized everything there. I insisted she stay overnight with me, but in the meantime she went back home (outside) to supervise the gas company arriving. Her partner and I had another thing to do for her – get some important legal papers off to Fed Ex before they closed to meet a deadline for her.

True, yours truly had some part in this. But consider the scenario without her partner. And remember I don’t drive.

My friend’s situation does not have a happy ending. Her partner was diagnosed with brain cancer and died shortly afterwards. Yes, she was there with him, but has been alone since then.

I have to deal with the crap in my life alone. My son does help where he can but he has his own life. I also have no brothers or sisters.

So, some statistics be damned, I still say a senior living alone is not the happiest and healthiest. Read 10 Dangers of Seniors Living Alone. And I have only covered the tip of that iceberg.

What do you think? I’d like to hear from seniors living alone and seniors with partners. I won’t bite, whatever you say.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her parents in another time and world

Only Child and her parents in another time and world

 

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Filed under Aloneness, Happiness, Health Seniors, Life demands, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Mother dying, Older Women living alone and health, Only child, Seniors and Happiness

Only Child’s health is eating her life -literally

Only child contemplates new health issue

Only child contemplates new health issue

Again with apologizes to Elizabeth Verwey (whose book is titled “My Business Ate My Life”) for my title above. Elizabeth’s book deals with workaholic entrepreneurs. My title refers to my health or lack of good health.

I now have another big health problem, although if all goes well when it is supposed to (hah! hah!) it is temporary. This one is dental, starting with pain and pressure in a lower molar on Sunday. This is the molar the dentist just filled in with a new big filling in February of this year to replace the one he did in 1999 that was falling out.

Definitely not right or fair but not much seems to be right or fair in my life this year. I saw my dentist yesterday afternoon and yes he said I have two options, root canal or have the tooth extracted. The conversation right after went something like this.

Me: :”I would rather kill myself than have a root canal.”

Dentist:”I guess you’ve made your choice.”

Me: “Any possibility of more fillings?”

Dentist: “No because the cavity has gotten into the nerves in the root so fillings wouldn’t work.”

And in case the above conversation makes my dentist come across as mean, he is definitely not. He is very understanding and he said the above kindly and quietly. We discussed the problem further. The upshot is that they don’t do root canals or surgery and I would have to see a specialist – which I should have known as I had to see a specialist in the early 1980s to remove an abscessed wisdom tooth. This one isn’t abscessed yet and I’m pouring on Oil of Cloves as necessary.

So, I have to see a specialist – an oral surgeon. One of the ones they reference is only one short bus ride from me and my dentist says the doctor is sympathetic to those using social services. I reminded him that I am not on social services, just have limited income. He said this dentist would still be sympathetic to my situation. We agreed early January for the surgery (pending getting an appointment for it. What do you want to bet that won’t be possible?). He gave me the specialist’s business info sheet and said I was to call him to book an appointment and then he would send them the x-ray he had just taken of the offending and offensive tooth. I thought the first part odd – don’t dentists do the calling to specialists and the booking? That is what happened in the 1980s. He also waived charging me for the x-ray and for my visit yesterday. “We were just chatting.” I could have afforded the low rate he was charging me for the x-ray but was still in shock about the necessary surgery.

Anyway I said I’d call the specialist’s office this week, thanked him and wished him a merry xmas.

So, supposing I get to this specialist in early January and the surgery goes well (big assumption and big presumption), there is still the problem of travel. Getting there by bus should be okay, but these specialists (as my dentist told me and as I remember from the 1980s) want you to have someone to drive you home afterwards because it is surgery and you do get drugged and get the freezing.

That might be a problem. Back in the 1980s, a first cousin once removed took me there and back (several trips because of the abscess) and I believe she even stayed over at my place in Aurora for a day or so afterwards. This cousin, whom I loved and was close to, died 12 years ago.

I am a senior on my own and while I do have friends, most of them don’t drive. Hey, it’s Toronto and we have public transit, such as it is (and don’t get me on that for this post). Two of my friends in Toronto, both near me geographically, do drive. Both have their own lives. One looks after a grandson once a week plus does other things on other days. The other one has her own health issues – knee problems requiring physical therapy twice a week. The third friend with a car lived next door – Tanya, the friend who died from cancer in February. I still miss her and not because she used to drive me occasionally to get heavy stuff – like garden soil).

So my choice of days to make an appointment is limited. I’m presuming because this oral surgeon is a specialist, there won’t be much choice and as there are others in the practice, he may not even work every day, although I thought I heard my dentist mention that they have Saturday hours. Good luck getting an appointment for then.

My son drives but has no car – he leases occasionally. I will see if he would be available. UPDATE. MY SON JUST EMAILED ME BACK AND HE WILL GET A CAR AND PICK ME UP AFTER MY DENTAL APPOINTMENT. FAMILY IS BEST.

Otherwise, I will take public transit home, no matter what state I’m in. Cabs are out of the question – not just for costs, but I will not be in any condition to call a cab afterwards and pre- booking won’t work as there is no guarantee about how long the surgery would take. I know this from personal experience – mine and others.

I may just have to lie and say a friend will come to pick me up and then afterwards “Oops, guess she couldn’t make it.” What are they going to do about it after the fact? Drive me home?

Even though I dread it and wish it wasn’t necessary, I will get the surgery done and in early January if I have any say in the matter. But as most things in life (mine, anyway), seeing is believing. That’s something I have learned from very hard experience.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

 

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Filed under Dental Surgery, Family and Friends, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Uncategorized

Only Child on seniors health and poverty living

Mulling over health care costs and seniors

Mulling over health care costs and seniors

It doesn’t matter where you live – if you are a senior living in poverty, you can bet your health will suffer and can be worse than if you have money. I’m not saying that being wealthy prevents cancer or heart disease. There are certainly many other factors weighing in here.  But I am saying that if you live below the poverty level, there are many age-related medical conditions that could be stopped or at least improved if you could just afford to pay for them.

So much for universal health care. That is a myth, even in Canada and Great Britain which are supposed to have health care coverage. I live in Ontario, Canada, and over the last few years, what is covered by our provincial health care plan (OHIP) has shrunk. Here is a summarized list of what is NOT covered by OHIP from the official site.

Services NOT Covered by OHIP

  • Ambulance transportation services if not deemed medically necessary (maximum cost of $240).
  • Routine eye examinations for people between the ages of 19 and 65.
  • Glasses and contact lenses.
  • Some physiotherapy may be partially covered or not at all.
  • Routine dental services such as examinations, fillings, cleanings and non-surgical extractions.
  • Podiatrists are only partially covered by OHIP.
  • Paramedicals such as chiropractors, massage therapists, naturopaths, podiatrists, acupuncturists and osteopaths.
  • Necessary emergency medical treatment obtained outside of Canada (e.g. while traveling) is only covered on a very limited basis; it is highly recommended to have travel insurance protection if traveling outside of Canada. Out of province ambulance costs are not covered.
  • Prescription drugs, although assistance MAY be available (see below).
  • Any cosmetic surgery.
  • Semi-private and private rooms in a hospital.

– See more at: https://www.healthquotes.ca/OHIP-Ontario.aspx#sthash.pbM8hhZK.dpuf

But not included in this generalized list are some blood tests, such as tests for Vitamin D deficiency and Candida (the latter was covered until the early 2000s). Vitamin D deficiency can be a problem, especially in winter, when there is less sun to be exposed to, something I found out the hard way nearly five years ago. And no, I didn’t go to a doctor’s about it or I would have been hit with the cost of a blood test. I did my research online and figured the extreme pain in my leg bones wasn’t arthritis (pain wasn’t in the joints but in the calf bones) was Vitamin D deficiency. So after a few weeks of massive daily doses of Vitamin D, the pain went away. Now, starting in November and until at least the end of April, I take very large doses of Vitamin D, daily.

Which brings me to something else not covered by healthcare – Vitamins, Minerals and other supplements that not only aid in your health, but in some cases get rid of the health problem. Most months what I spend on food is in a “race” with health supplements for highest amount spent.

And yes, there are private drug plans, but if you live below or near the poverty level, you just can’t afford them. Who says Canada doesn’t have a two-tier health plan? It is just not the usual definition of a two-tier health plan.

However, those of us who live below the poverty level in Ontario, have some government help with the Ontario Drug Plan for Seniors – you get all prescriptions free and waive any druggist fee. The down side is you have to re-apply each year based on your Net Income as filed and assessed by Canada Revenue, If you are living a bit above the poverty in Ontario, you  might get partial help, i.e. pay the first $100 for prescriptions, then after that pay a nominal druggist fee for filling the prescription. Again, it is set-up as an annual thing based on your income. So living in poverty (for the next year) guarantees me no prescription costs for my eye drops – absolutely necessary or my left eye will go blind.

And being over 65, I now don’t pay for any visits to my ophthalmologist and optometrist. But I do pay for glasses. Which is why I kicked up a big fuss when I had to have replacement sunglasses because the original ones had a broken connection to the glasses, just over a year old. Not only was this particular glasses style no longer made, the one-year warranty was up. So full price here. No wonder I complained to the store (Hudson’s Bay Optical) manager and he credited me with half the cost.

No wonder I have very bad feet problems. No wonder I am cranky a lot.

Speaking of poverty levels. There is a big gap in what is considered the poverty level for singles living alone in Ontario, Canada and the United States.

In the United States:

“Over 25 million Americans aged 60+ are economically insecure—living at or below 250% of the federal poverty level (FPL) ($29,425 per year for a single person).” See Economic Security for Seniors Facts.

Compare that with Ontario’s $19,330

These are both annual incomes.

I’ll be covering more on Seniors and poverty in future posts.

Comments, please. I would also like to hear from those living outside Canada and outside the United States.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Health, Health Seniors, Healthcare coverage, Only child, Poverty, Seniors, Vitamin D Deficiency

Only Child on dreading the day

Dreading the day or night? That can be a sign of having an anxiety disorder. High anxiety has followed me through most of my life from the early teens. It is my black dog and no matter what I do or don’t do, it hovers and often strikes. The difference may be just that some of the anxieties have changed since I turned senior.Sharon CLB mid 1990s

Well, it turns out that up to 15% and counting of seniors suffer from anxiety. Medical experts, research and the like didn’t cotton on to that for some time and instead focused more on seniors’ physical ailments, dementia and depression. See information from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Now they are taking note.

That 15% figure comes from the NCBI  PubMed. And they are saying that a lot of us seniors with anxiety disorders got them first earlier in life (with some exceptions such as acrophobia). Research is also finding that the anxiety is chronic. They got that one right. I have a few other ideas of my own here. For example, today many seniors, especially women, live alone, so don’t have someone to support them emotionally. Not that all duos are supportive, but often you get some opposites in there, someone who will listen and offer some suggestions, hopefully in a non-judgemental, friendly way.

And I can hear the “pie in the sky” and “when cows come home on roller skates” skeptics reverberating in the background. I know that the above supportive scenario is the ideal situation rather than the norm. And I don’t know what the solution or solutions are to decrease this menace. Certainly less big problems popping up so often in people’s lives would help. And I’m not going to even go into how confusing, complicated and over-busy our world is today. Just think too much technology, to many things to -do and of course dealing with our weather around the world. Enough said about that here.

I will be looking into some more information on anxiety in older adults with some ideas on possible help (I don’t say solutions; the only solution may be to get the hell out of Dodge, but we will all be doing that at sometime. High anxiety can  make that happen sooner as it can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cognitive disorders. It’s that last one that bothers me.)

For now I would like your comments on anxiety – and it doesn’t matter if you are a senior or not. Anxiety really doesn’t belong to any age.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Health, Health Seniors, Help and Support, Life demands, Living alone, Only child, Seniors, Stress, Worrying