Saturday, November 29, 2008

Longevity and Life Expectancy Statistics

Today we learned that Edna Parker, who at the age of 115 was the oldest living person on earth, passed away Wednesday. The next person in line is Maria de Jesus of Portugal, who was born Sept. 10, 1893, and is now the world's oldest person according to the Gerontology Research Group.

Readers know I love interesting websites. Here is a link to Longevity. Two interesting articles currently highlighted include how higher gas prices saves lives, and as we have grown to expect life expectancy to increase, there are some counties in the United States where life expectancy decreases. Check out these articles and more by clicking on the term "Longevity" highlighted above.

Who is the oldest person you know? Are they a relative of yours?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday and Past Shopping Memories

Shopping has never been of particular interest to me. When I was growing up, about once every month or so we would travel to downtown Lansing, and once in a while to Hudson's in Detroit.

Mom saved stamps, we dutifully filled the books, and off we would go to Arbaughs in Lansing to redeem the books for household items. My grandmother usually tagged along and we loved to stop by Woolworth's for a banana split or hot fudge Sunday.

In later years, I sometimes enjoyed shopping for specific items such as lamps for a new home, or my twice a year clothes shopping spree, but other than that, I continued to stay away from family shopping trips.

One day, I allowed my mother to talk me into going to the Lansing Mall during December for their family gift buying day. The group included my mother and father, my sister, my two daughters and myself.

Never have I seen a family as divided as we were that day, and it has become one of my favorite shopping stories of all time. What happened is this:

We all went our separate ways with shopping lists either in mind or written down. After a very short time of shopping, my father, younger daughter and I ended up sitting on a bench in the middle of the mall discussing where we would like to go for lunch.

Every once in a while, Mom, Sis and older daughter would come out of one store, wave as they passed, and enter the next store. A couple of times they even dropped off their packages for us to protect, while leaving their hands and arms free to assault the next shop.

I have blanked out (such a blessing) how long we sat there waiting for them, but I know it was a long time. Finally, either shopped-out or feeling sorry for us (probably the former), they took pity on us and we went to a nearby favorite cafeteria-style restaurant for a delicious and well deserved lunch.

Every year at this time I remember that infamous shopping trip. Evenly divided by personality, three shoppers and three nons, we managed to accumulate all we needed for a very merry family Christmas.

Do you have a favorite shopping story? Are you a shopper or a bench warmer?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

This post is coming to you from iGoogle this very chilly Thursday morning. It is currently 26 deg F, as I can feel through the breeze coming in the window beside my computer.

We are having ham and yams, toss salad, and pumpkin pie today. The turkey will have to wait until Christmas.

The Lions are playing, Dad and I will watch, and we hope that they can finally enter the winning side of the win-loss column. At 0-11, that will be quite a challenge.

Dad asked if I was going shopping tomorrow and I said, "No way, never do, never will." Not a great fan of shopping in the first place, the last place you will find me tomorrow or even this weekend, is anywhere near a store. For those who love to shop, I hope you find everything you are seeking.

Now that many stores have brought back the layaway system, many more people will feel good about shopping. I'm glad they are reviving the honored tradition of layaways. It greatly aids those who do not want to put anymore charges on their credit card and helps the merchants at the same time. I love win-win situations, don't you?

Take care and have a great day. And save some stuffing for me. Okay?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rally Around Your Loved One in Their Time of Need

Today I received a newsletter from the Michigan Family Caregivers through their Yahoo Group, MIFamilyCaregivers. The title of the article was Aging Gracefully.

In the newsletter they remind us that November is National Alzheimer's Awareness Month, National Family Caregivers Month, and National Hospice Month. Although each is an important topic, the three have a strong connection.

What I want to focus on in this entry is a comment made in the newsletter about family members and the final days of a persons life. After discussing Alzheimer's, the author continued by saying:

"As scary as that sounds to caregivers who are now facing early or middle stages (of Alzheimer's), gaining knowledge and preparing to address these challenges is critical. Never is it so important for the family to rally around the person and advocate for the best possible care for the final days and years of the persons life."

Because the person may no longer be able to communicate their basic needs and feelings, it is important that caregivers and family members recognize and understand what they need as best they are able. Watch for non-verbal clues that will help find ways to meet the person's needs.

I believe, in our family, we are blessed that as many have rallied around as they have over the years of Mom's dementia, and now Dad's final years. Most of us lived in the same state when Mom was at her worst, and those in the area were able to take turns visiting her at home and after she was in the nursing home.

With Dad, most everyone has scattered to various cities and states, but they try to visit when possible. What he really enjoys the most are photos that people send, telephone calls, and sharing personal interests such as football games or family history.

Whether family members live close by or far away, everyone in our family has done what they are able to rally around Dad in his later years. I hope no one ever thinks they did not do enough, because they are doing the best they can from where they are at.

When I am on the caregiver forums, I read horror stories of family in-fighting, lack of compassion, caregivers handling everything alone, and abusive situations.

Thankfully, our family has none of that, nor do I expect we ever will. That is not how we were raised, nor is it how we conduct ourselves as a family. No, we don't always agree, and that's okay. We work things out.

I feel very blessed for the family we have, the cooperation and support we receive, and I know Dad feels the same.

I just want to take this opportunity to thank my family for their support, even when they don't feel they are doing enough. We, as a family, have rallied around Dad in his time of need. For this, I am proud of my family.

How about you? Has your family rallied? If so, have you told them how grateful you are? How about telling them today!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

National Suspenders Day November 20th

This morning I told Dad he should wear his best suspenders Thursday in honor of National Suspenders Day. He replied that he always does.

He has a number of different colors and patterns, including red, black, and gray. He has worn suspenders for many years. Now we find there is a special day to celebrate this mostly-male occasion.

Although I used this picture in mid-October for Dad and Aunt Vi's birthday, this is the best shot I could find of Dad and his suspenders.

Will you celebrate this auspicious occasion? Will you wear suspenders this Thursday?

It is Snowing in Michigan

Snow has fallen most of the morning. In fact, the snowplow just drove down our street. Although I love the changing seasons, winter is my least favorite. All the more so since I lived in Tucson for a while.

The plus side of snow is the beautiful landscape it provides. My parents and my daughters used to cross-country ski, and I used to ride snowmobiles and go ice skating, but I never really got into winter sports.

By the looks of the sky, we are in for a serious snowfall. Knowing someday I will join family members in the coastal bend of Texas, I better enjoy the view while I have the chance.

The photo above was taken January 2008 by my son-in-law, Lloyd Rodriguez. The view is from our side yard, looking toward a building on the other side of the dirt road and railroad to the south of us. Typical winter weather in Michigan.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

When Parents Are Stronger Than We Expect

Little Lloyd - Dad as a child

My brother and I had an interesting conversation about Dad yesterday. He and I were discussing Dad's health and he asked me how much longer I thought Dad would last. A very astute question considering Dad is 86-years-old.

I said, "Well, I'm not sure he is going to last through this winter."

Bro laughed and said, "You said that last winter."

"I believe I also said that the winter before," I replied.

Dad is like the energizer bunny that just keeps going even when the batteries are getting weaker. Dad told me two years ago he wanted to live to be 86. At the time I realized that was how old his father was when he died.

I'm all for longevity, and as Dad's caregiver, I am here for the duration no matter how long that may be. His sister just turned 91, so longevity is in the family line. Unfortunately, Dad has more health-related issues than she does, but he also has a strong will to live.

In my unprofessional opinion, having a strong will to live plays a part in longevity. Over the last few years since Mom died (2004), Dad has often said he wants to join her. But there is a possibility that his inner will or strength may override his emotions.

One of the things I do as his caregiver is keep him "thinking forward" to upcoming events. Almost daily I remind him of something coming up that week or month, or I suggest things that we can do that he might enjoy. Since I began making a concerted effort to employ that care giving trick-of-the-trade, I have noticed he is less depressed and tends not to mention joining Mom as much as he did in the past.

What do you think? What is your experience with an elderly parent, and what part did their will play in their life?