This post started with an email. Janet Campbell at elderspark.com sent me some great links to help seniors. She also asked if she could write a piece for their families who live far away. I said ABSOLUTELY! I saved Janet’s links for a later post. Here’s the piece Janet asked to write, the piece she wanted me to share.
In the past, someone who wanted to act as a caregiver for a senior relative would have to live close by. For seniors with serious medical conditions who require daily in-home care, that is still the case. But what about seniors with limited mobility who may need frequent doctor’s appointments, yet still manage to cook, clean, socialize, and take medications with little assistance?
If this describes one of your parents or another relative, you may be able to handle basic caregiving duties even if you no longer live in the same area. This guide from teacher, speaker, and author Rinda Beach discusses the devices and technological support systems that will keep you updated on your loved one’s health and well-being no matter how far away you live.
1. Choose the Right Cell Phone Plan
When it comes to phone plans, many carriers provide plans that cover unlimited text, talk, and data. When you’re responsible for checking in on your loved one on a regular basis, you want to know that you can stay connected without racking up any overage charges.
Some seniors are very tech-savvy, but others may need assistance to choose the right cell phone and plan. You may want to spend an afternoon with your loved one and go shopping together to help them make an informed decision.
2. Alert Systems
When it comes to location and medical alert systems for seniors, you have several options. Your loved one may feel safest with a wearable device that sends out an alert in the event of a medical emergency, like falling. You should ensure that any wearable device you purchase has GPS - if your loved one gets lost, this function is invaluable.
Installing remote monitoring sensors in your loved one’s home can help you keep track of their daily routines and habits. According to Seniors Matter, these sensors should be placed in strategic locations around the house - for example, placing one on the refrigerator door can let you know if your loved one is eating at normal times. No matter which monitoring system you choose, you can rest assured that you will be notified if your loved one needs your help.
3. Install Security Cameras
If you would feel more comfortable seeing your loved one during the day, placing a few security cameras in different locations around the house could be an option. You will have the ability to live stream the video footage on your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
While many seniors and their caregivers find that having security cameras around the house allows for peace of mind, your loved one may not be open to the idea of being recorded. Make sure to have an honest conversation with them about the pros and cons, and do not install any cameras without their permission.
4. Financial Monitoring
Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted by online scammers who are hoping to make a quick buck. Kiplinger suggests helping your loved one protect their savings from scams and personally checking their accounts for any suspicious activity with a financial monitoring system.
These services will generally charge a monthly fee to scan an individual’s accounts and credit reports and catch any charges that seem abnormal compared to their usual spending habits. If you are alerted about any strange purchases, and it turns out that your loved one was not responsible for the charges, you can contact the bank and credit card companies immediately to remedy the situation.
Taking on the role of caregiver can present all kinds of challenges. But modern technology is making it easier for people to ensure the safety and security of their parents and relatives as they enter their golden years, even with hundreds or even thousands of miles between them.
What is it?
If you’re mindful, what does that mean? You’re present, not just in the room. You know what’s going on around you, inside you. No multitasking allowed!
Being mindful means listening to what your head and your body say. You’re aware of your surroundings, the world around you. The most important part is recognizing your feelings. Don’t judge them. Just let them be.
Source: Mindfulness: How It Helps Your Health (webmd.com)
I found five exercises that will help you find your way to mindfulness. Here are my sources:
1. 25 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Children and Teens (+Tips!) (positivepsychology.com) I selected four, and they all sited Karen Young. These activities take longer, but can be modified to fit your classroom practice.
2. Karen Young. (2017). Mindfulness for children: Fun, effective ways to strengthen mind, body, spirit. Retrieved from www.heysigmund.com
3. 5 Minute Classroom Mindfulness Activities for Kids (teachstarter.com) These are shortened versions of the selected activities.
Five Mindful Excercises
1. Mindful Posing – Try striking a pose. This one might help your kids feel strong, brave, or happy. Test drive a few rounds of these. I bet your class will love them. If they do, I bet they can come up with a few new ideas for poses of their own! Source #1,2
- This illustration looks like a Superman pose, but it’s actually Wonder Woman. Stand tall, feet apart, with your hands or fists on your hips.
- To make the real Superman, stand tall. Have your arms reach for the sky, like you’re ready to take flight.
2. Spidey Senses – Kids will need their inner Spiderman for this one. They’ll need their senses to tell them about the world around them. Have them pause and focus on what their senses tell them. What can they smell, see, hear, taste, or touch? Source #1,2,3
This is a great way to encourage observation, curiosity, and living in the present!
3. Mindful Jar – Another name is Glitter Bottle. The first thing to do is to make one. Here’s how . . .
Fill a clear jar or bottle with water. Add glitter glue (glue & dry glitter). Put on the lid. Source #1,2,3
Part 1 – Shake up the glitter. Which emotions swirl like it? (example – anger) Connect those emotions to how they affect thoughts and decisions.
Part 2 – Now watch the glitter settle. Which emotions feel like this (calming)? Connect these emotions to how they affect thoughts and decisions. Discuss how you can calm your mind (example – take deep breaths).
4. Mindful Walk or Safari – Take a walk, inside or out. Long or short. Keep your mind on the present. Use your five senses to find living/nonliving things in the environment. Source #1,2,3
5. Gratitude – Give students time to think of things they’re grateful for. You can share them out loud. Write them down on paper. You can keep them in a journal or on a bulletin board. If you need suggestions, click on the link for Source: 3
Life changed back in March of 2020. Businesses and schools closed down. I thought things would return to normal by Easter, but Thanksgiving has come and gone. Life isn’t the same. Covid has taken some things away, but, if you look hard enough, there are some silver linings, and that’s what I’m holding onto.
1. Seeing My Mother – This isn’t my mother, but it could be. My mom’s in a nursing home, and I’m like so many people – I see her through a closed window.
We can’t hear each other so we use white boards. It’s a little more work, but, it helps us communicate.
We’ve been doing this since March. I miss going inside her house, sitting down, and chatting.
Now she’s at The Gardens, an assisted living home. There’s always plexiglass, glass, or six feet between us. I’m thankful for the white board.
I wish we could go back, but I know my mother is in a better place. She used to live alone, and I worried about her. Now she has people around 24/7 to help her.
2. Finding a Market for My Lake Book – Lake Fun debuted on May 9th, and I was hoping to have it for Memorial Weekend. That didn’t happen! Thanks to Covid everything took longer, from printing to shipping.
I finally got my order on June 5th, completely missing Memorial Day sales. When I arrived with my books, the marinas were like everyone else, just trying to survive.
I didn’t find a market for Lake Fun at the marinas, but, thanks to a God wink moment, I hope I found a better one with the rental market. I won’t know until March 2021. Fingers crossed!
3. Visiting the Lake – I have been to our lake house exactly four times since March. It usually is closer to nine.
I used to visit at least once a month for my critique group. But when Covid hit, we started meeting on zoom. It seemed safer for me to stay put in Wapak, so I did.
My first trip back didn’t come till June. That was to support my lake book. Then in July I made it down to see my sister. Her family needed a lake vacation as much as I did.
In September I drove down to help my husband get the boat out of the water. Now I’m here for Thanksgiving, and it’s my longest stay. I’ve missed it!
Covid took away my lake days, but not my love for it. There’s no place like the lake. The silver lining – being able to help my mother. Her health issues have been growing for several years. Covid pushed her into making a hard decision. Being home in Wapak meant I could give her more help with that decision, and its ramifications.
4. Seeing my Grandchild – The last time I got to see and hold my grandgirl was at her christening. That was in March, and she was 3 months old. (This isn't her, or me either.)
In June we were back in Texas to help my daughter and her husband move. I was hoping to see my GG, but my son said no. He was being cautious. It’s his job to take care of his family.
We didn’t go. How could we? What if we’d brought the Covid virus to them? How could we ever forgive ourselves?
We lost that time because of Covid, but we were lucky. My daughter-in-law sent lots of pictures and videos. It wasn’t the same, but it filled that hole. I’m hoping we get to see them at Christmas. What a gift that would be! My fingers are crossed!
5. No Subbing for Me – I haven’t subbed since last March. I was glad to take a break. It felt safer, and I thought schools would open before summer. They didn’t. The longer I’m out, the more I miss schools, teachers, and kids. There is so much life, so much energy. There’s no place like it!
One silver lining – writing time! There’s never enough. I have 4 manuscripts to get agent-ready by February. I write better stories, but there are no guarantees.
But the BIG silver lining – SLEEP! I’ve been fighting this since last October. I just discovered why. I stop breathing 10 times an hour. That’s every 6 minutes. No wonder I need 10 hours of sleep. It takes that long to make up for what I lose. If I don’t sub, I don’t get up early, and I can get in those 10 hours. It’s lovely, maybe even life-saving.
6. Cancelling Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving still came on the 26th, the 4th Thursday in November, but it was like no other. For 61 years I’ve always had my family around. I thought I would this year, but Covid cancelled it.
My son-in-law came into contact with Covid on the 20th. He went into self-quarantine for 14 days. He had a Covid test that came back negative, but that doesn’t mean you’re safe. He won’t be for sure, my daughter either, until December 4th. That’s still 4 days away.
My husband and I are both in our early 60’s. We did the safe thing, the prudent thing. We canceled Thanksgiving. It’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever done, but there’s always a silver lining.
My husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving together at the lake. Our first with just the two of us, in 35 years. The bright side – almost 2 weeks of peace, quiet, and a great view. I focused on sleep and writing. We talked to our kids, but the best part so far, no one has Covid. Maybe we’ll do a family Christmas, but only time will tell.
PS – If you’re wondering why I never show pictures of my family, it’s to preserve their privacy. I chose to write and publish blogs and books. They didn’t, so I respect their wishes.
Covid and My Risk.
This is 2020. A hundred years from now, it wil still be known for Covid 19. For all the things that we can’t do, like go out to eat, or see our seniors. It will also be known for the things we have to do like wear masks or stay socially distant.
I’m considered at risk. I’m 61, and a diabetic. I knew when Covid came out that I had to follow the rules. . I stayed home, went out only for groceries, and wore my mask.
Summer came, and my husband and I helped my daughter move. It felt so good to be away from home. To wear my mask less. I even ate at a restaurant, outside. It was lovely!
Then Covid spiked and my kids talked to both of us, about following rules and staying safe. It’s funny to have your children give you advice. I loved them for doing it, but I didn’t want to be a baby, or a wimp. I promised them I would take it seriously, and I did . . . I talked to my doctor about my plans.
And the Doctor Said
I wanted to sub this fall. I thought I’d be fine, but I promised my kids, my husband too. I asked the doctor, and the doctor said . . .
No subbing for me, unless I’d be willing to be double masked all day. She wanted me to wear an N95 mask, with a face shield.
I’ve been wearing an N95 since March, but I’m only out for groceries or quick errands. An hour, tops. I’m always glad to take off the mask and breathe again. For me, it’s just not worth it to take the risk, and, wear a double mask all day.
I thought I’d be subbing in my hometown by now. I thought the spread would slow, and I’d be safe to go out. But, I’ll listen to my doctor and wait – till she says it’s safe. When you can’t do something, you really want to do it.
What I Miss about Subbing –
This is one of the elementaries I subbed in last year. I hope I’ll be back before this year ends. From the outside, it feels cold and empty, but inside it’s full of life.
The second picture could have come from inside, but it didn’t. One of the best things about an elementary is walking the halls and admiring the projects. You can learn a lot about kids by examining them, AND, it’s so much fun! Kids think differently from adults, and they say what they think. I love it! Usually, LOL!
These photos came from two different classrooms. I love to look around when I sub. What’s on the wall tells you a lot about what they teach, and how they teach it. I’ve used them in lessons – that’s why they’re there.
The other photo is from a smartboard/SmartScreen. Every single room I sub in uses them. They’re so much easier to use than when I was teaching 6 years ago. Why? The teachers put the links on their computer screens and in their plans. Once or twice a teacher has had a student who was my tech support. They loved it! Me too!
In Wapak the teachers also have a para-educator who’s in and out all day. They can find the link for me. Sometimes they even teach the lesson, especially in math. It has key vocabulary words that classroom teachers use. I don’t want to use the wrong ones and throw the kids off. Paras are WONDERFUL! For teachers, substitutes, and especially – KIDS!
But – what I miss the most – are the kids. Without them school is dead, like over summer vacation. BTW – I wrote a manuscript about that. It’s still in my computer, waiting for me to get the words, just right. I will!
There is so much life in a school. Sometimes too much! It literally bubbles out the door and bounces around the playground. I love talking to kids about content, in any subject. I love opening their minds to something new. I love chatting with them at recess. I guess I just love kids!
I miss them. The only good thing about being locked down – is that I have more time to write stories for them.
Me – at a few of My Favorite Places –
Can you guess where I’m at? If you answered school, you’re right! The first photograph was taken last year at one of my favorite elementaries. I won 4 books within a month, so I did a post about them. I had my picture taken with each one. I miss reading books to kids. At home I read in my head. It’s faster, but not as much fun!
The second photo was taken 5 years ago. I was visiting the school where I used to teach. It was lovely visiting and seeing my ‘old’ colleagues. There’s no place like school! My favorite part of that picture is the kids’ faces. Look at them, lifted up, looking at me, like I had something fascinating to say. I hope I did!
At home, no one looks at me like that. At school they do, whether I’m doing an author visit or a regular day of subbing. I love hanging out with kids!
This is me at 3 different book events from 2019. The first is from my local library. I was on the schedule, which was a thrill! Having MY book at MY local library, it was a bucket list moment!
The other two are from two local stores who sell my book. Being there is like visiting a friend’s house. It’s lovely. In spite of Covid, I’ve done two book events at both stores since March. I wear my mask and visit with people. It’s lovely to get out of the house and talk books! And, I always shop – I love to treasure hunt!
The Back Story – On September 1st, I wrote a post about how to pick the perfect dog. A pug would be my best match, if I could only have a dog. Here’s that post:
That post all started with Jess Miller from Jen Reviews. She liked a post I did about Riley, the therapy dog. It’s funny how one idea can lead to another. Here’s that link:
Jess asked if I would share her article on Riley’s post. It’s about how to use puppy personality tests to find the perfect pet. I looked at it, and tests fascinate me. I love the information you can discover, and I wanted to write more. Here’s Jess’ link:
I looked through the tests, trying to find my way in, but the words wouldn’t come. I went round and round – I even thought about switching topics.
Then I realized what was missing, the kind of dog. I needed to pick that first, then the puppy. When our family found Leia, we found our breed first, a border terrier. Then we looked for puppies.
I googled, found 4 tests, and my words.
And the test said . . . a pug. Now I can pick a puppy, or pretend to. I’m not allowed to have a real dog, but it’s fun to pretend, to imagine what if? It’s like window shopping . . . the possibilities are endless. And free!
How to Pick a Pup – Lauren Montgomery wrote the article for Your Dog Advisor.com. She started with the Volhard Aptitude Tests. There are ten, one for each puppy trait, but I thought I’d start with her 3 simple tests. Sometimes you need an easy button when you’re doing something important like finding your perfect pup.
Test #1 – Friendliness – Everyone wants a friendly dog! This one’s pretty simple. Take your puppy into a room where they won’t get into too much trouble. Leave for a moment, and have someone new come in.
A friendly puppy will run right over, lick them, or let them scratch their ears. If your puppy pulls away, hides, or whimpers, then you’ll need to look for ways to help your dog become more friendly. No matter the results, all puppies need to learn how to become part of their new families.
Test #2 – Independence – Some people like a clingy dog. I don’t, but I didn’t realize that clingy dogs might have separation anxiety. Here are a couple tests to check where your dog is on the independence scale.
The first is to hold your puppy under the front legs like this. Their hind legs will dangle free. If your puppy tries to escape, they’re probably pretty independent. This pup looks like my dog when my kids picked her up and held her. She was calm, but she didn’t look happy.
Another way to test for independence is to ease your puppy onto its back, then cradle it. This shot looks a lot like that, but I think it’s probably a belly rub. If your dog fights to break free or won’t look at you, it’s probably pretty independent.
My dad wanted me to do this test for a different reason, to check for dominance. He wanted to make sure we had a dog who would submit, who would obey us.
Test #3 – Fear – Nobody wants a scaredy-cat for a dog, but knowing its fear factors will help you find your puppy. Drop something like a spoon, or anything that will make a loud noise.
All puppies will have some kind of reaction, but cowering, crying, running, and hiding are big signals for fear and sensitivity. If you have a sensitive pup, the cure is a little extra TLC. You can also do a little training to help them become part of your family.
The Volhard Aptitude Traits and Tests – There are 10 tests and 10 traits. They include: social attraction, following, restraint, social dominance, elevation, retrieving, touch, sound, sight sensitivity, and stability. They’re done by a professional tester. Never, ever by the puppy’s owner or breeder. When the tester finishes, you’ll get a score on each trait.
I’ve never heard of these tests, but my dog was pure pet. I imagine people in the dog business use them to find and train the dogs you see in shows or agility competitions. They may even help breeders find the right dogs to produce your perfect puppy.
Trait #1 – Social Attraction – This fancy word sounds like good old friendliness. Does your puppy love to meet people or spend time alone? You can teach them social skills.
This test is a lot like the one for friendliness. The biggest difference is the owner brings in the puppy, stays till it’s comfortable, and then leaves. The tester claps, whistles, or calls him. A social puppy pays attention and doesn’t notice their friend leave.
Trait #2 – Following – Like follow-the-leader! Does your puppy follow you around, or does it stray away? Can you guess who’s easier to train? The follower, of course!
The tester tries to get the puppy to follow him around by using sounds or commands. If you have a busy family, you want a puppy-follower.
Trait #3 – Restraint – Will your puppy submit and follow directions? Let you hold them with their feet dangling midair? Guess who’s easier to train? The one with restraint!
This time the tester puts the puppy on its back to see if it can relax. Restraint isn’t a problem with a Chihuahua, but it could be with a Great Dane. That’s why my dad wanted me to try it on Leia. Thanks, dad!
Trait #4 – Social Dominance – I was right! It sounds a lot like restraint, and it will predict how well a puppy follows commands, but the test looks a lot like Social Attraction.
This picture is close to the real one. The puppy and examiner sit at eye level. In a real test you’d kneel, then lean over to pet its back. If the puppy licks you or shows affection – SUCCESS!
Trait #5 – Elevation – This is the puppy’s ability to obey when they’re stressed out. There’s no escape, like a trip to the vet or the groomer. You want a puppy like this, who’s cool, calm, and collected even when suspended from midair.
This is the test, the same one used for independence. The examiner holds the dog for 30 seconds, less if the pup is calm like this one. If your dog needs monthly grooming, give them an elevation or independence test. You’ll be glad you did!
Trait #6 – Retrieving – That’s what dogs do when they play fetch! They bring something back. If a dog’s good at retrieving, they’re probably very trainable. If you have a hunting, service, or working dog, find one with a great retrieval score.
The tester starts with something small. He wiggles it till he has the puppy’s attention. Then he gives it a toss. The puppy’s job – to bring the object back and get a score.
Trait #7 – Stability tests the puppy’s response to something new. This one looks like he can’t get out of that basket soon enough! If you’re in the military, or you move a lot, you want a puppy who has a high stability score.
The examiner will pull out something new, like an open umbrella, something the puppy has never seen before. His score will show how scared or interested he was in the object.
Trait #8 – Touch sensitivity – This trait tests how your puppy handles something touching/pressing on the pads of their feet. I didn’t know that puppies with low touch sensitivity will eventually have foot problems and they’ll stay away from fields and meadows. If you want a canine running partner, have your puppy take this test.
The tester will push on the puppy’s paw until it wiggles free or shows discomfort. That stops the test, and determines the score.
Trait #9 – Sound sensitivity – This is a puppy’s reaction to loud sounds like fireworks or thunder. Our Leia was OK with thunder, but not fireworks. She’d pace and shake until they stopped. Police and military dogs would need the right score on this test.
The tester would start by doing something loud, like dropping a book, or banging pans together. The score’s determined by the puppy’s immediate reaction to the noise.
Trait #9 – S ight Sensitivity – It’s all about how the puppy responds to movement. This one’s interested in the balloon, but will it pounce if the balloon moves? This test will clue you in if your puppy will chase cars, or cats. If you’re a hunter, you want a dog who can hold still.
The tester will jerk something across the room and watch to see how the puppy reacts. Will the pup sit and watch, or give chase?
If you’re interested in learning more about these tests, google Volhard Aptitude. You’ll find videos that can help you design your own quiz. You should also be able to find a Volhard site near you.
Part 1 – What is sleep apnea? I have it, and that means I stop breathing at night, a lot, enough that back when I was teaching I was always tired. I didn’t want to wake up in the morning, and the car put me to sleep, even when I was driving. Sometimes if you have sleep apnea, you snore. I do – LOUD! I knew there was something wrong so I finally went in in 2014 and did a sleep study.
The results put me in a c-pap machine. A year later I went in with my results. My machine records things like how much sleep I get or how many times I wake up in an hour. My doctor didn’t like my data so he had me do another study. It put me on a bi-pap machine.
The 2 machines look exactly alike, so what’s the difference? They both have pressurized air going in my nose, but c-pap is a continuous stream that never changes pressure, ever.
A bi-pap has two streams of air. When I breathe in, the air is set to a high pressure. When I breathe out, the air is set to a lower pressure. My bi-pap machine controls both levels.
Look at the mask to the left. It’s the one I use with my machine. The biggest difference – my mask doesn’t cover my mouth, but I don’t breathe in and out with it. If I open my mouth with either machine, the air going in feels funny, in a yucky way. When I have on my mask, I don’t mouth-breathe. My machine keeps me on the staight and nasal.
Photo source sleep machine:
By PruebasBMA - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
C-pap & Bi-pap Source:
Part 2 – Test #1 - I checked in with my doctor. Most of the summer I couldn’t seem to get enough sleep, 9 hours wasn’t enough. I needed 10 or 11. If I didn’t get it, I felt tired, and I found myself taking naps.
The doctor looked at my SD card to get my sleep numbers. She decided it was time for another study. They started me back with the basic beginning one.
I had a sleep-over August 11th at Lima Memorial’s Sleep Center. With covid they checked my temperature and asked those key questions before they admitted me. They showed me to my bedroom, and this was the equipment waiting for me – a lot of wires! I went in at 8, and it took almost an hour to connect them all.
The wires had to be loose/long enough that I wouldn’t kick them off in my sleep. If that happened, my buddies would have come in and fixed them. Thank goodness, nothing came loose.
FYI – that paste is petroleum-based. Shampoo won’t wash it away. Dawn dish soap will, just like it does for birds caught in oil slicks.
It looks like there are 5 more coming off the front of my face. If you’ve been keeping track – 4 from the legs, 10 from my back, and 5 from the front, that’s 19 wires. I think there are still enough holes!
This is what I looked like from the front. There may be another wire or two, but I don’t see it. I also had a gizmo attached to my left hand, middle finger. It wasn’t to take temperatures, but I’m not sure what it tracked.
Do you see the two black belts on the bed? I didn’t get them for judo. I wore one under my arms, and another at my waist. Sorry, I didn’t ask why.
Do you see the blue box under my left arm in that first picture? That’s the bread box again. When the technician held it out, I was wearing so many wires it looked like the strings on a harp.
Here’s a close-up of my face. I’ve never looked lovelier! Ha! Do you see the tube under my nose? It took the place of my mask. I had one tube in each nostril. They used it to keep track of when I took a breath, and when I didn’t.
I slept with my wires and the machine. I was allowed to keep the TV on. I laid down at 10 PM, and my technician woke me up at 6 AM. My sleep buddies tracked me for 8 hours’ worth of data. They said they’d gotten the information they needed.
After I woke up, my sleep technician came in, pulled off the wires, and sent me home. It took 2 weeks to get the results. I hoped they would change the settings on my bi-pap machine, and I’d be back to sleeping 9 hours again. No such luck!
Instead I waited a week for my next sleep-over, then another 2 weeks for the results.
Part 3 – Test # 2 – Here’s what I found waiting for my second sleepover on September 2nd, but in a different room. It’s pretty much the same supplies. The tray is new, but the things on it aren’t.
Here’s me again, in all my glory. I’m all wired up, taped up, and plugged in, ready to go. With this setup I could move around the room before bedtime, 10 PM once again.
No TV this time. They needed to be able to hear clearly for this study. No extra noise allowed.
When I got into bed, my sleep technician took off the wrap, below the bread board. It sat on the nightstand, just like last time, with the wires connecting me to the machines and the people monitoring me. I could only get up if I called my technician.
I had a horrible time going to sleep with no TV. I must have rolled back and forth at least a dozen times, but nothing came loose. Thank goodness! But if it had, my buddy would have wired me back up again.
She woke me up at 6 AM, unplugged everything, and sent me home to wash with Dawn one more time. It’s perfect on that paste.
I waited 2 weeks to get my call on September 17th. No more studies! YAY!
My doctor looked at the results and decided to take me back to another c-pap machine. Now I’m waiting for my order to come in, hopefully the week of September 28th.
In November I’ll go back to see my doctor. She’ll look at my SD card to see how my new machine’s working. Don’t worry! I’ll update you then.
Have you ever gone through a time of despair? You feel like you’ll never be happy again. I haven’t had many, but they feel like the opposite of inspiration – desperation. You remember them clearly – they’re a scar you’ll never forget.
This post is about my 3 most desperate times, and how I coped. I hope they help you,. I’ve dealt with colds and the flu, but never with sickness and death. They found me 9 years ago.
The first story is about my dad. He was a teacher, a principal, and a man of words. I’m a daddy’s girl, and I lost him to Alzheimer's in February of 2011. He went looking for a boat in the middle of winter. He came home that night for the last time. He moved into a nursing home by Valentines Day.
With Alzheimer's the neurons in your brain slowly gum up until they won’t connect anymore. At the beginning you lose a thought, can’t find the word you need. Later you forget where you’re at, where you’re going, like my dad did.
In February the dad I’d always known was gone. He lost touch with the real world and found himself living in a fantasy. He showed me his classroom. It was really his bathroom. Another night I found him ready to pilot a plane. He’d never flown one before.
My dad was gone, locked in his own brain, so where’s my silver lining? I found it by meeting him where he was. I was dad’s Peter Pan. If he wanted me to see his classroom, I looked inside and talked school.
When dad said he was flying, I said don’t crash. Ahlzheimer’s was never his fault. He believed what he said. I didn’t fight for the truth. I wanted both of us to enjoy the time we had left.
The last time he said Rinda, he asked about my funeral. I didn’t cry. I looked for the silver lining, my dad still remembered me. I said she had a great funeral. Story telling has its benefits!
The ultimate silver lining for me – a story. I wrote about our golf course adventures. It was the last place I found my dad, the one I remember. He used to hunt golf balls in the creek, and he tried to drag me in after them. Alzheimer’s took away so much, but I’m grateful for our last memories.
That story is still in my computer. I hope I can find a way to edit it for kids. They’re natural Peter Pans, if you show them a few rules about Alzheimer’s.
The second story is about our family dog. This is Leia Millenia Beach (we were a Star Wars family). She came to us as a pup in August 1999. Her kids were in 5th, 3rd, and K. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend for them.
Leia loved to walk and would go crazy if we said walk, w-a-l-k, or the w word. She was that smart! Her favorite kind was to pull her kids down the street, panting and choking the whole way, but with the biggest doggy smile ever. Life couldn’t get any better.
She loved to pull me down the street, in shoes. That little 10 pound dog had to lead! I’ve never had a better friend. Loyal, true, and always happy to see me.
In 2013 she was a senior dog. This was her favorite spot because she could keep track of her people.
Age had taken its toll. I didn’t notice until November when we did a photo shoot. (Leia has her own story.) I took her to the town next door and realized she had doggy dementia.
She’d walk a few steps and rest. No more pulling me down the street. At the photo shop, she paced. She used to sniff her way around the room. Not any more. She paced like my dad, and I realized I was losing her too.
I cried all the way home, only 10 minutes, thank goodness. I felt like I was losing my dad again, plus my dog. I’m so glad we did those pictures. I still have them, ready to publish when her story is told.
She’d look at me like this, like she could see down to the bottom of my soul, and she loved me anyway.
By March my cleaning lady called and said I think it’s time. I called our vet, left a message, and of course my 2nd graders came in the door when she called back. One of them asked about Leia. He said it happened to his dog too. We agreed that someday I should write this part of Leia’s story, saying goodbye.
I took her to the vet the next day. She gave Leia the shot, and as she passed I told story after story, about how much we loved her.
When I returned to school my kids asked. Word spread. My sister teacher in 3rd grade found out on bus duty. My kids passed the word to her and to my old 3rd and 4th graders. We were family.
My Texas son, daughter-in-law, and their 2 dogs sent me flowers. Here’s part of my Facebook thank you to the dogs: Your flowers made me cry, but they also made me think of the stories Leia would tell you like how to squirt between 2 children so they don't catch you, or how to find M&M's and drag them to your crate.
This post is about silver linings, and that’s what I found. I asked my school nurse how to get through the grief. I’d never gone through it before. She said put a rubber band on your wrist. When you feel tears, snap it!
I found something better, memories. When tears came, and they did for a week or two, I would close my eyes and remember Leia pulling my kids down the street. It made me smile again, and I hugged it to my heart.
My other silver lining is having her story in my computer, waiting for the right time to become a book. Our picture will be on the author page together, the one from our photo shoot.
The third and final story is about my dad and his last summer. It was the end of May 2015, my last week as a teacher. That’s when we got the call that dad needed hospice care. I knew that meant he was dying.
Hospice doesn’t help you live. You only qualify if you have a terminal disease. There is no hope. Nothing left to try. Hospice helps a patient face death, as comfortably as possible.
Sometimes you only have a few days. Sometimes a week. In May we didn’t know how much time was left. It turned out to be 4 more months.
From 2011 on, Dad lived in a nursing home. Hospice worked with his nurses to minimize his pain, to help him end life as comfortably as possible.
Hospice also helped my family to understand what was happening. When changes in medications needed to be made, dad’s hospice team would call and guide us through them.
The saddest thing about 2015 and watching dad go downhill was that he would never hear my stories. A friend said tape them. I did, and Dad could hear my voice anytime his nurses pushed play.
After school let out, once a week I went in to read with dad. I started with my stories first – 2 bat stories, golfing with dad, the ants, Leia’s story, all of them. Then I turned to my kindle.
I started with MARLEY AND ME and Nora Ephron’s I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK. Both stories are about aging and death. They gave me a chance to talk about the important things – dogs and kids, aging and death. I’m grateful for that time with my dad, to read, to talk to him about the things that mattered. I left nothing unsaid.
The last time I saw my dad was the week before my son’s wedding. I told him I had to leave, when I’d be back, and that it would be OK for him to go. My son’s wedding was Saturday, September 19. Dad died Tuesday the 22nd. I didn’t make it home, but I was at peace. I had said everything I needed to say. I’m glad for my summer of silver linings.
The Inspiration for this post came from STRANDS OF MY WINDING CLOTH (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles, Book 4) by Gemma Lawrence. I read the passage below and knew I wanted to share it in a post. It’s how I feel about life, death, and how to live on.
I messaged Gemma for permission to quote this passage – Elizabeth had just asked Kat Ashley how to fight death, and this is how she answered . . .
“Live, Elizabeth. That is all that can be done against Death. Live each day and know the beauty of life. Laugh with friends, and know that even when Death separates us, we are never lost to one another. Love those who deserve your love, and be grateful to be loved in return.”
Kat wrapped her arms tight about me. “Speak the names of those who have died, so that they are not lost from memory. Step out into the sunshine and the rain with equal joy, and cherish the feel of the wind upon your skin.
Know that to live is a gift, and even when it is taken from us, understand we have been fortunate to possess such grace.”
She pulled me closer. “That is all that can be done, Elizabeth, to thwart Death. None of us can escape Him for all time, nor should we mourn such a fact.
When He is done with His work, He takes us to join those we have loved and lost in Heaven. But enjoy life for as long as it is yours. In that way do we defy Death. In that way do we learn to live without fear of Him.”
That’s what I’ve tried to do since Alzheimer’s took my dad. Since old age took my dog. I live, and I look for silver linings. For hidden, unexpected joy, and I always find it.
In 2020 I still use silver linings to handle things like Covid. To help my mother with her steady decline. Mom has always been the Ever-Ready Bunny. She never, ever, stopped moving.
After dad died, she slowed down, sits down, and even naps. She never did that before, ever. I know our time is finite, not forever, so I look for those silver linings – like finding letters from my grandfather that Mom forgot she had, or discovering my prom picture from 1977. Yikes! That was 43 years ago if I got the math right!
Here’s the link for G. Lawrence’s book (That’s her writing name!):
It depends – but the right dog fits your family, and your family fits the dog too. When my kids were little, we took an online test. The first time nothing fit, so we tried again.
Test #1 If you want an easy test, try this link from The American Kennel Club. https://www.akc.org/dog-breed-selector/
Scroll down and start the quiz. Five answers and you’ll find your match. Mine – a Boston Terrier.
Don’t stop! The AKC suggested four more dogs, and they compared all five based on – Personality, AKC Popularity, Group, Size, Life Expectancy, Characteristics, Trainability, Coat Length, Grooming, Shedding, Activity level, and Barking.
Shedding is key. If I could have a dog, I’d learn more about the Boston Terrier and the Lagotto Romagnolo.
A huge consideration – how much does that doggy cost? I’ve never heard of a Lagotto. My guess is that it’s expensive, and hard to find. Boston Terriers are more common so they’re cheaper, and easier to find.
Didn’t find your dog yet? Me neither, but my husband is not a dog-lover like me. If I can’t have one, it’s fun to look.
Here’s another quiz. It has a few more questions, 18, but they’re about things like why you want a dog, how much time you can give to doggy devotion, and temperament, yours and the dog’s!
Here’s the link: https://www.selectadogbreed.com/
Here are my results, by percentage!
1. Boston Terrier 86% 2. Shitzu Maltese 86% *
3. Brussels Griffon 83% 4. Japanese Spitz 83%
5. Shih Tzu 81% 6. Cairn Terrier 79%
That Boston Terrier again! No other dog reappeared. This quiz gives out percentages. I didn’t get a single A, but the Boston Terrier and I are a solid B, and the Cairn Terrier is a C+. Every other dog is in between.
This site also sent me an email with 4 more suggestions, all in the C range–
1. Shih-Poo 78% * 2. Lhasa Apso 75%
3. Moodle 74% * 4. Yorkie-Poo 74% *
I added five asterisks. They’re all ‘hybrid’ dogs. It’s easy to tell what a Shitzu Maltese, but a Shih-Poo? It’s half Shih Tzu and Poodle. A Moodle – Maltese and Poodle, and a Yorkie-Poo – Yorkshire Terrier and Poodle.
They also gave me a Results Analysis:
1. We understand that the reason you want a dog is for companionship at home.
2. You prefer your dog's size to be small and prefer a dog that doesn't shed much.
3. Your property is a freestanding house with a garden. (I have a small yard.)
4. With regards to children you answered that you sometimes have young kids visiting but you aren't planning on having your own (I have one grandchild now.)
5. The main carer for the dog will be an adult between 60 and 80 years old who is physically fit and healthy.
6. You will be able to exercise your dog 20 minutes a day.
I looked more at the Brussels Griffon and Cairn Terrier. If I had to pick, the Cairn is in the lead, but I’ll keep looking, just for fun. I wonder if any of these dogs will reappear tomorrow's quiz.
Here’s my favorite from yesterday, the Cairn Terrier. He reminds me of Toto from the Wizard of Oz, but, can he stand up to twelve questions from Purina? Here’s the link:
OH, MY GOODNESS! The Cairn Terrier wasn’t even on the list! Two new dogs are listed as Almost Excellent Matches, but they never came up before. I wanted to find out why so I clicked on the green arrow after Almost Excellent. It gave me a list of traits for each dog I clicked on. Now I can compare to see which dog fits me best.
The Pug and French Bulldog fit my life, but they don’t call my heart. For now, I’ll still keep them on my list.
The next set of dogs, starting with the Affenpinscher, are pretty good matches for me. I like its looks, but it barks and likes active walks. Maybe I could find the sleepy head in the litter.
None of these dogs made me click that arrow. I’m not a fan of Chihuahuas. Papillons look like they need too much brushing, and a Pointer is too big. They’re hunting dogs, and this grandma doesn’t hunt, except at the mall.
Well, the Lowchen looks like major brushing. I’m not into hunting with a big old Deerhound, and I’m still not loving that Boston Terrier, not when a Pug is cuter and fits me better!
The last two pretty good matches are the Greyhound and Whippet. They were actually in the mix back when we looked for our family dog. One of my kids wanted the Whippet because of the old Devo song – Whip it Good, but no one else did. The Boston Terrier came closer, but it was never a contest. We all loved our Border Terrier.
We found our breed, Border Terrier, on a Purina test 20 years ago. I couldn’t believe they hadn’t come up so I looked for them. We were a mismatch! I looked at those red x’s, and then I remembered my family.
Back then I had kids in K, 3rd, and 5th grade. Leia didn’t take to them right away, but she did within a week. They kept her busy, especially during the puppy years. Leia was a barker, but we managed.
The biggest problem was grooming. It just didn’t get done. She did some shedding, but not tons. Thank goodness for our cleaning lady who kept the hair under control.
Yesterday the Cairn Terrier was my top dog so I looked them up on Purina. There aren’t as many red x’s as my Border Terrier, but the barking and long walks worry me. My three kids are adults, but maybe, I could find a sleepy one, or an older dog that doesn’t bark a lot.
This was yesterday’s top dog, and it’s a good fit. A Pug doesn’t bark much. It doesn’t need long walks, but can it survive one last quiz with only ten questions? Here’s the link:
Animal Planet picked the Australian Terrier. It has never been top dog before so I checked Purina. We’re not an ideal match, as I suspected.
Animal Planet picked six Terriers and a Schnauzer. I love all those faces, but terriers are yappy active dogs. I double-checked on Purina, and none of them were ideal. I had a feeling.
1. Purina had the most accurate testing. If you’re looking for a purebred dog, it’s the place to go. If you want to find puppies, use the AKC link.
2. If you want to look at hybrid dogs like Doodles, go to the Selectadogbreed.com.
3. When I started this post, I expected to match up to a terrier, a schnauzer, or a doodle. I never thought my match would be a pug, but if my husband said yes to a dog, I’d look at one. I think we move through life at the same speed.
Part 1 - Trivia Question
Which famous star received a Salk polio vaccine shot before he appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show”?
Johnny Cash Ricky Nelson Mickey Mantle Elvis Presley
And the answer is . . .
Here’s the story about Elvis and the polio vaccine . . .
Elvis was scheduled to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. He was a new star back then. His most famous song – Heartbreak Hotel.
Elvis was given a challenge – to take the polio vaccine in front of the press before his appearance. He did!
The photos appeared in newspapers across the country. It was a stunt to promote the struggling polio vaccination campaign. Stephen Mawdsley reported that teens were at risk for polio, and they were refusing to get the shot.
Public health officials talked to the teen heart throb, and he agreed to get the shot, plus the photo. It was about that time that US businesses realized that teens were both consumers and influencers.
Those teens were the ‘baby boomers,’ and they were coming of age. Boomers were born between the end of World War II and the 1960’s. I’m a boomer. I was born in 1959, near the end, and I’d never heard this story till I started writing this post. Click the link below to learn more.
More Info: www.theguardian.com
My Source: Quizclub.com – Sorry I don’t have the link for the question and answer.
I wasn’t born when Elvis sang Heartbreak Hotel in 1956, but if you’d like to hear it, click on the next link. The image is of Elvis performing Jail House Rock from 1957. I found a link for it too.
Part 2 – A Table and a Few Photos
The first black peak came in 1916. There were 27,000 cases of polio. A red peak at the bottom shows 6,000 deaths.
In 1949 it spiked again, with 28,000 cases and almost 2,000 deaths. The final high point was 1952, with over 36,000 cases and 2,000 deaths.
Why the steep decline? Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine in the early 1950’s. By February 1954 school kids across the US started getting the shot.
In 1959 there was a tiny spike with 4,000 cases. Deaths were near 0. By 1964 polio disappeared in the US thanks to vaccinations.
My Source: https://www.aier.org/article/no-lockdowns-the-terrifying-polio-pandemic-of-1949-52/
Click the link to see the exact numbers for each year.
The chart doesn’t show the worst part of Polio – it attacked children. It left some in wheelchairs, others with crutches and leg braces, and some with deformed legs. I couldn’t share that picture.
Polio struck one of our presidents – FDR – Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He got polio when he was 39, but he didn’t let the disease stop him. To learn more about FDR, click on this link: https://www.fdrlibrary.org/polio
In the 1930’s researchers invented the Iron Lung. It kept you alive and breathing if polio weakened the muscles that helped you breathe. The only place you’ll see one now is in a museum.
Photo 1 - By Hewa - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17839345
Photo 2 - By Photo Credit:Content Providers(s): CDC - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #2624.Note: Not all PHIL images are public domain; be sure to check copyright status and credit authors and content providers.Deutsch | English | македонски | slovenščina | +/−, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21147
Click the link below to stay current with CDC guidelines for children and adults. CDC stands for the Center for Disease Control.
June felt like summer, but it actually starts today, Saturday, June 20th. Let’s have some fun, but what’s the risk? High, Medium, or Low? Here are 14 summer activities. Test yourself, and risk a guess.
1. A backyard gathering with another family – What’s the risk?
It ranges from low to medium, but how can you keep it as low as possible?
- Give yourself lots of room outside with a small group.
- Pick friends who’ve been social distancing.
- Don’t share food, drinks, or utensils.
- Keep the party outside.
- No alcohol for adults. It makes them forget to social distance.
- Play lawn games like croquet or cornhole.
2. Eating inside at a restaurant – What’s your risk?
It ranges from medium to high. Eating in is one of the riskier things to do, but you can still lower your risk.
- Look for tables that are spaced out, servers who wear masks, and for hand-washing stations.
- Use condiments in packages, like ketchup. Don’t use bottles.
- Don’t use self-serve areas soda fountains or buffet tables.
- Leave when you finish eating. Don’t linger.
- Best tip of all – eat outside whenever possible.
3. Attending an indoor church service – Can you risk it?
It’s high risk because lots of families are gathering together for an extended period of time. But you can lower the risk.
- Look to see if your church is doing services for 25 people or less.
- Sit at least 6 feet apart from another family so you have social distance. Wear your masks.
- Skip singing and sharing hymnals. It keeps germs from spreading.
How about spending the day at the beach or the pool? Is it worth the risk?
Yes! The risk is actually low. Water will dilute any virus, but keep an eye on these risk factors.
- Stay 6 feet away from other families on land and in the water.
- Maintain that distance in busy places like the entrance or in bathrooms.
- Keep an eye on the kids. Try to keep them with friends whose families observed social distancing.
- Go early in the morning or late afternoon when it’s less crowded. Whenever/where ever you go, don’t forget to use social distancing. BTW – it’s easier at the beach!
5. What about attending a wedding, outside, with more than 10 guests?
Events like weddings and graduation parties are medium to high risk.
6. What’s your risk for using a public restroom?
It’s actually low to medium. Modern bathrooms are designed to prevent diseases with hard surfaces that are easy to clean.
- The biggest risk is determined by how clean the bathroom is. You’re at low risk if the restroom’s clean and well stocked with paper towels, soap, and toilet paper.
- Avoid bathrooms that are small, busy, and poorly ventilated like the ones that sit beside gas stations.
- You can keep the risk low by washing your hands. If you touch other surfaces on the way out, use hand sanitizer. I keep a bottle in my purse for times like this. When in doubt, wash or use your sanitizer!
7. Do you put your family at risk by letting a friend inside to use your bathoom?
No, it’s a very small risk. This came up in March, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t let them in. Now I would.
- Anything airborn will be sucked out by the ventilation. So, turn on your fan!
- Hard surfaces are easy to clean. If you don’t have time to clean before you use your bathroom, don’t worry. Just wash your hands.
8. What’s my risk if I share a vacation house with another family?
Ready, set, go! It’s actually low! Here’s how to keep it down.
- If both families have been social distancing, you’re in good shape.
- If anyone works in a high covid exposure job, like doctors or nurses, your vacation will automatically become more dangerous.
- Pick a vacation house away from crowds. Ask about the rental company’s cleaning policies. They may be taking covid precautions already. Clean surfaces they missed when you arrive.
- Talk to your co-vacationers about social distancing 2 weeks before vacation, and what you’ll do about it once you’re there. If anyone is sick, they have to stay home.
9. What about a hotel? Will my risk be higher?
A little bit – hotels are low to medium on the risk scale.
- It’s pretty low, especially once you’re in your room. Plus you can wash your hands or use sanitizer as soon as you shut the door.
- Limit time in common areas like the lobby, gym, restaurant, and elevator. More people means more risk, but hand sanitizer will help you lower it.
- Avoid the gym and elevator, if possible.
- Ask about hotel cleaning routines. Many have new covid policies. You may want to remove the bedcover if they’re not cleaned after each guest leaves.
- Bring disinfecting wipes to use on the remote control and other surfaces you’re worried about.
- If you have to use the elevator, use your ring finger to press the buttons, or use your wipes to press the buttons.
- If you’re worried about going out to a restaurant, do room service or take-out.
10. How about getting a haircut? Is it safe?
Your risk is higher . . . it runs from medium to high.
- This is one of the riskiest things on the list because you can’t stay 6 feet away from someone cutting your hair.
- You can lower your risk if you’re both wearing masks. It’s also safer if the covid rate is low in your area.
- Cloth masks don’t work as well in places this close.
- Check to see if your shop has employees wearing protective gear and washing their hands. If they’re protected, so are you.
- Silence is golden. Chatting can put both of you at risk. Getting done as soon as possible is safer.
11. I love to shop. Can I go back to the mall?
The risk varies. It depends on your mall.
- Outdoor malls are better than indoor ones.
- Crowds make a mall riskier. Think about going during off hours, like early morning.
- Less time is better. Plan what to buy so you can get in and out. Even better – shop online, then pick it up at the store.
- Don’t forget to wear your mask, and try to stay six feet away from people outside your family.
- Bring your hand sanitizer along so you’re ready when you touch hand rails and doorknobs.
- If you have a shopping cart, put a disinfecting wipe on the handle. Your hands will stay clean while you shop. Then throw it away when you’re done.
12. Should you go to a concert or dance club?
This is another one of the riskiest activities, but why?
- Most concerts are already cancelled this summer.
- Think crowds like this. Then picture people singing along. That’s dangerous in church, and it’s dangerous here.
- People are also celebrating. It was dangerous at weddings, and it’s dangerous here. People forget about social distancing, especially if they’ve been drinking.
- With dancing, people breathe harder than usual. That means when you exhale, you might shed the virus, and no one wants to share that!
- If you want to dance, invite over a few friends who’ve been socially distancing. You’re safer having fun in your own backyard.
13. How about camping? Is it a good idea?
Go for it! Camping is pretty low risk if you’re outside with your family.
- Remember public restrooms? Use the same precautions in shared bathrooms.
- Clean your picnic table before you eat and after you’re done. Or, keep it simple with a plastic tablecloth.
- Put space between you and the camper next-door. A crowded campground is not a good thing this summer.
- Sleep in family groups. Mixing up families can spread the coronavirus.
14. Can I exercise outside? Are there any no-no’s?
It’s mostly low risk, but some sports are better than others. Think social distancing!
- Cycling, golf, and tennis are great. A few people are playing, and they’re spread apart.
- Running is great if you can keep your distance from everyone else.
- Basketball, football, and soccer are contact sports, and that brings in risk. All that breathing so close together – yikes!
- If you feel too close to others, wear a mask. Be careful with cloth ones – they can’t keep out all those viruses.
My Conclusions from Summer Fun: I think controlling corona risk boils down to:
- Stay away from crowds, whether you’re inside or out.
- Outside is better than inside.
- Wear a mask if it’s too crowded.
- Keep your hands clean.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!