Each year, by presidential proclamation, November is recognized as National Family Caregivers Month. The theme for November 2015: Respite: Care for Caregivers.

Pre-dawn after a brilliant moonlit night, my autumn thinking adjusts to leaving for work under a canopy of stars without yet a trace of coming dawn. The clearness of night and brightness of stars was impossible not to notice.

A few years ago my husband and I chatted on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan when a Monarch butterfly fluttered past. We thought, how nice. A few moments later, another went by. We slowly became aware. Every few minutes another would come into view, usually either alone or with one or two others nearby. In the course of twenty minutes or so several dozen had passed; all making their way south along the shore. Migration! How could I never have noticed what now seemed so obvious?

Medicare turns fifty this year. Prior to 1965 only about half of older adults had health insurance; and then it only covered about a quarter of hospital expenses. Many could not afford the premiums or were denied due to age or pre-existing conditions.

Being a mid-boomer, I find folk rock music of the seventies a great stress reducer. Travelling I-94 last week to catch a plane in Kalamazoo however, my mood shifted from jiving to sober to tearful in rapid succession.

Happy summer – the solstice is here! Summer solstice occurs when the tilt of a planet's semi-axis, in either the northern or the southern hemisphere, is most inclined toward the star (sun) that it orbits. So – today, presumably at 4:38 this afternoon, we in the northern hemisphere are tilted as close to the sun as we’re going to be this year.  Our longest day….

Southwest Michigan is on the move! Literally. In response to rather startling statistics regarding higher than average obesity levels in the area, there are multiple initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles both in terms of the food we eat and the activity level we maintain.

“Disrupting aging” is a rallying call for the new CEO of AARP. Taking office last September, Jo Ann Jenkins wants to use her time in office to change the conversation about what it means to grow older. She points out, “I’m a more purposeful person because of my age.”

Question: I’m going to be visiting a friend in the Detroit area in the next couple weeks. She’s in her mid-eighties and is doing well, but house chores are starting to become a concern and she doesn’t have family in the area. Is there anyone over there that she can talk to about local options to help plan for the future?

My grandmother was born in 1891 and passed in 1983 at age 92. My mother commented how fortunate she was to have had her so long. I know how she felt. While my 94 year old mother has sadly lost her memories, she still knows me and still teaches graciousness with her welcoming ways. I know from friends who no longer have their mothers how lucky I am - this weekend I can still spend time with her.

Letters are flooding out! Since the beginning of February the State of Michigan has sent over 20,000 letters per month in southwest Michigan. Why? There’s a new insurance option available for select individuals.

Amid laughter during a recent dinner out with my uncle, a vivacious 88 year old widower, he leaned over and commented that he was trying to decide whether to stay in his home or move to a senior community that had big apartments and other options should his needs change. There is of course no right answer to this question. Still driving and able to afford services in his home if needed, I offered that he might want to think about how he wants to stay connected with people in the future.

Last Monday I had the pleasure once again of attending the annual community celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King at Lake Michigan College. This year’s theme, “The Urgency of Now” rang true for me on a number of fronts.

It's 2015 – wow the years fly by! Being a new sixty-something myself I find Social Security coming up regularly in discussions among family and friends. I’ve long been a believer in the inherent strength of this social insurance system.

The Care Management Program purchases in-home services on a pre-set, per-unit basis according to an individual’s care plan and a “DSP” Bid Agreement. 

Providers bill monthly to be reimbursed for services provided.  Services provided include Community Living Supports (In-Home and Residential), Personal Care, Homemaker, In-home Respite, Out-of Home Respite, Chore, Home Delivered Meals, Personal Emergency Response Systems, Counseling, Financial Management, Nursing Services, Private Duty Nursing, and Medication Management.

There’s a joke among my friends and family that as we get older we seem to need a lot more “maintenance and tuning” to keep body and soul chugging along. Don’t we all know it!

Groundhog Day has come and gone. It snowed pretty well on Saturday, February 2nd. Supposedly this means our rodent friend didn’t see his shadow and spring is on its way. Particularly if we get the necessary snow and ice to keep our lakes and crops in sync with mother nature, spring will be more than welcome.

“Go placidly amid the noise & haste & remember what peace there may be in silence.” “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater & lesser persons than yourself.” “Be yourself.” “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.” “Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.” DESIDERATA (excerpts only)

In 1900 the lifespan in the U.S. was 47 years. Today it’s approaching 80, albeit with significant disparities across class and race. That’s an increase over a 100-year span that approximates all the gains since the beginning of time. The 20th century advances in lifespan, as well as early industrialization, brought us a new concept: retirement.  We talked about the “golden years” and made retirement a positive, sought after goal.

Teenagers regale each other with memories about what happened last night, last weekend, maybe last summer. Young adults reminiscence back a few years to high school, college or early adventures. Then we’re older and our musings cross decades; we find ourselves chatting about thirty, forty, or fifty years ago. It’s real but kind of surreal at the same time.
Soon to ring in 2013, can the early ‘90s really be over twenty years ago?

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