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Category Archives: Senior Care

A Tribute to Grampa Rasmussen, Determination, and Survival

DELIKATESSE FOR LUTEFISKELSKERELutefisk History:

Lutefisk (pronounced LEWD-uh-fisk) is dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution for several days to rehydrate it. It is rinsed with cold water to remove the lye, then boiled or baked, and then served with butter, salt, and pepper.

The finished lutefisk usually is the consistency of Jello. It is also called lyefish, and in the United States, Norwegian-Americans traditionally serve it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. In many Norwegian homes, lutefisk takes the place of the Christmas turkey. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, you can find lutefisk in local food stores and even at some restaurants. It is a food that you either love or hate, and, as some people say, “Once a year is probably enough!”

During the fall in Wisconsin, people watch their local newspapers for announcements of lutefisk suppers, which are usually held in Norwegian churches. Usually every Norwegian church will host at least one lutefisk supper between October and the end of the year. The dinners have become so popular that lovers of this special cod dish drive great distances, and these are not just people of Scandinavian descent.

The history of lutefisk dates back to the Vikings. On one occasion, according to one legend, plundering Vikings burned down a fishing village, including the wooden racks with drying cod. the returning villagers poured water on the racks to put out the fire. Ashes covered the dried fish, and then it rained. the fish buried in the ashes in the ashes thus became soaked in a lye slush. Later the villagers were surprised to see that the dried fish had changed to what looked like fresh fish. They rinsed the fish in water to remove the lye and make it edible, and then boiled it. The story is that one particularly brave villager tasted the fish and declared it “not bad.”

Norwegian-Americans believe that lutefisk was brought by their ancestors on the ships when they came to America, and that it was all they had to eat. Today the fish is celebrated in ethnic and religious celebrations and is linked with hardship and courage.

 

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‘Gravity’ and the Long-Term Care Crisis


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By: Chris Orestis

I recently went to see the movieGravity” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.  It is a fast-paced, exciting thrill-ride from start to finish. After we left the movie, and I replayed the life-threatening events for the actors that unfolded on the screen, I could not help but begin drawing comparisons to the long-term care funding crisis currently unfolding in America today.

Start with the stars of the movie: Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are both baby boomers and they find themselves unprepared to deal with a sudden crisis that puts them in immediate jeopardy. Most seniors and baby boomers are also unprepared for what is too often a sudden health crisis through which they must safely navigate. In space, an unexpected collision with a satellite or other object is disastrous. For a family, an unexpected fall or rapid decline in health can also be disastrous. The astronauts in “Gravity” had to contend with limited oxygen and how they could conserve this precious resource long enough to find sanctuary. For families confronting the costs of long term care, money is like oxygen. It is a precious resource in limited supply that must be conserved. The biggest fear of the young is not living long enough, and the biggest fear of people in long-term care is living too long and outliving their “oxygen” supply.

Once disaster strikes in the movie, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are literally tethered together and entirely dependent on each other for survival. Spouses and their family also experience a similar “tethering” effect where they become very reliant on one another to make it through a long-term care crisis. The feeling of being overwhelmed can be helped by sharing the burden, and focusing on the ultimate goal of making sure a loved one will be able to receive the best possible care.

In the movie, the astronauts are prepared for every contingency and have dedicated support systems in place to get them through each phase of their mission. Nonetheless, when disaster strikes things quickly spin out of control. In life, too few people have made plans for how to handle long-term care. A future long-term care patient may have close loved ones, but those family and friends may not be able to drop everything in devotion to a patient’s care. Families should put in time now to discuss the wishes of loved ones when it comes to long-term care, and understand the financial situation and available resources.  Are there savings and investments that can be accessed; is there a long-term care and/or life-insurance policy in place that can be converted to pay for care– and where is it; is there a final will or living will, and should a power-of-attorney document be in place?

In the movies, our heroes often work their way through challenges with a combination of luck and skill (and, of course, some movie magic) to find their way to a happy ending.

For families confronting the hard decisions and costs surrounding long-term care, however, they will not be able to count on a hero swinging in at the last minute to rescue them. But, a happy ending is possible for families that take the time now to prepare, seek out information and know how to work together to make sure their loved one will be able to achieve a safe landing.

About Chris Orestis: Chris Orestis, nationally known senior health-care advocate and expert is CEO of Life Care Funding (www.lifecarefunding.com), which created the model for converting life insurance policies into protected Long-Term Care Benefit funds. His company has been providing care benefits to policy holders since 2007. A former life insurance industry lobbyist with a background in long-term care issues, he created the model to provide an option for middle-class people who are not wealthy enough to pay for long-term care, and not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.

 

 

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Would Your Holidays be Different If You Knew You Had a Terminal Illness?


Woman Living with Incurable Cancer Offers 3 Ways to Get
the Most Out of Every Day

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Jane Schwartzberg cringes when she hears someone say that a terrible accident or frightening medical diagnosis made them realize what’s important in life.

“In some ways, I do wish everyone could experience a taste of terminal, if that’s what it takes to make them appreciate the intangible gifts we receive not just during the holidays, but all year,” says Schwartzberg, co-author with Marcy Tolkoff Levy of “Naked Jane Bares All,” www.nakedjanebaresall.com, a new book that shares Jane’s story with candor and humor.

“But I wish they’d known all along, and I hate the thought of goodness coming at the expense of so much suffering.”

Schwartzberg says she was clear about what’s most important before she was diagnosed with stage four incurable breast cancer. As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, she knew that all that really matters is how much love we give and receive.
The holidays are a wonderful opportunity for people to remember that and to focus on who they love. But, too often, they become a source of anxiety, stress, and tension. Financial concerns, having too much to do, and missing loved ones were among the top causes of holiday stress, according to a recent Mental Health America survey.

“Although I won’t attribute any revelations about what’s most important in life to my illness, I can say that there are a few things that I am trying to do better since getting sick,” Schwartzberg says.

“The holidays are a great time to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and to re-focus on the things that are most meaningful.”

For Schwartzberg, those include:

• Showing up. If you’re worried about yesterday or always planning for tomorrow, you’re missing the present moment and any wonderful experiences it may hold.

“Although my clock ticks louder than others, I know we are all here for a short time,” Schwartzberg says. “I am determined to find joy in every single day. It may come from the simplest of things: a view from my window, a great conversation or a hot cup of coffee. But I know I need to be always present and available, with an open mind and open heart, to experience any of it.”

• Riding her love train. We all have people in our lives who care about us, and it’s important to let them know how much we appreciate them. Schwartzberg’s “love train” is a metaphor for all of the people she chooses to share her life with.  “They are rooting me on and giving my family and me love and support,” she says. “I try to be as meticulous and thoughtful as I possibly can be with those on board, and that means making sure they know how much I love and value them.”

• Knowing my place in the world. There is a Jewish teaching that says everyone should carry with them two pieces of paper, each in a separate pocket. One paper should say, “I am but dust and ashes.”  The other, “The world was created for me.”

“I constantly remind myself that both statements are true,” Schwartzberg says. “I am capable of incredible things to improve the world, and I am just a tiny speck in the universe. Powerfulness and humility can, and do, exist for me side by side.”

As the holidays approach, keep in mind that the best gift you can give – or receive – is love.

“It’s not a table full of food or gadgets you can’t afford,” she says. “Approach this holiday season as if it could be your last, and you’ll probably find much more to revel in than to stress about.”

About Jane Schwartzberg

Jane Schwartzberg, 45, is the co-author of the newly released book, “Naked Jane Bares All,” the many-layered story – told with humor and candor — of how she learned to embrace life when she was down for the count. Jane is a financial services executive and founder and former CEO of a start-up technology company.

 

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Growing old gracefully and western civilization, or, do you have parents?

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Both my parents were dead by the time I was 29 years old.  My father had Alzheimer’s, and by the time I graduated from college to come out and help my mother take care of him, it was essentially to put him in a rest home.  He died there one week later.
My mother, due to the stress of taking care of him, contracted lymphoma and died four years later.  Her sister was in a rest home with MS, and we had been visiting her there for years.  With my parents gone it was left up to me.  She had a daughter who lived back east, but she had stopped visiting 5 years earlier.  It was just too painful.  I must admit that the visits came to be less and less frequent.  She was in a new full blown rest home, and she was actually one of the lucky ones.  The place reeked of urine and feces, people were literally moaning and screaming and wandering the halls, mostly in their wheelchairs.  It was a difficult place to visit, and I used to have a few pops before I went up every time.  I think when she passed it had been nine months since I had seen her the last time.
This is how we take care of our old and disabled.
My grandfather was in the VA, and when grandma was alive we visited him almost every afternoon.  We did see hundreds of people in the halls, but most never had any visitors.  We use to walk around award from bed to bed and make sure everybody in there had a little bit of attention and some human contact.  I think I was six years old then, and I still remember how bad it was.
This was all over 30 years ago.  I can’t imagine what it is going to be like when we baby boomers all start dropping like flies.  The lucky ones of us will just die, the unlucky ones will have to live through it.
We go our entire lives assuming that we deserved Health Care, and then somehow it will be provided for us.  Regardless of Obama Care and all of the best intentions, without a major revolution there simply is not going to be any way to pay for our Health Care.
It will literally take a village.  Without it we will be lucky to be given enough morphine to ease the pain as we are left in a corner in her wheelchair to quietly wait for death.
Aside from local governments, I have only encountered one group that is trying to do something about it:  The National Compassion Holiday Petition group http://nationalcompassionholiday.com/ led by Michael  Villalpando is that group.
If you have parents, know of anyone disabled, or plan to ever come incapacitated yourself, you might want to pay it forward and at least sign this guy’s petition. It’s free,  unless you feel called to contribute, and only takes a second.  Your old age Karma might just depend on it.
 

 

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Don’t Forget Older Friends and Family

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Mother’s Day has just passed, Father’s Day is coming up soon, and the same words are heard around the country…it is nice to have a special day for honoring our parents, but where are you the rest of the year?

San Mateo resident Michael Villalpando is acutely aware of the lack of human contact for so many older mothers and fathers. As the founder of the C.H.I foundation –Communities Health and Wellness Involvement— and a Tai Chi instructor at dozens of assisted living facilities, nursing homes and retirement communities all over California, he sees seniors and disabled adults who have basically been forgotten by friends and family. And he wants to do something about it.

Villalpando’s goal is to establish an awareness of the elderly, ill, and disabled people and encourage young and old alike to visit and spend time with those who live isolated lives in institutions and assisted living communities. He wants to establish a National CompassionHoliday on every March 15…a legal holiday where people will volunteer services at senior centers and care facilities, promote respect and awareness of these citizens and unite all in a spirit of compassion and public service. He is circulating a petition and says when he gets enough signatures, he will submit the petitions to Congress for establishing a day for those in need of compassion.

Interested readers can access petitions at www.nationalcompassionholiday.com. There is no charge and names will not be used for any other purpose. You can contact Michael with questions or support there as well.

As Villalpando says: “I see these people every day and know how just one person smiling at them or taking a few minutes to talk and value them as a person can make a difference.” He believes future generations will thank you for your support and reminds us, “this is not just about ‘them,’ it is about us. We will all be there some day.”

 

 

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