Watch expiration dates during COVID

Watch expiration dates during COVID

A few months back a friend told me she was not feeling well and was trying to find an at-home rapid COVID test. She needed the test because in a few days it would be her turn to care for her mother, who has mild cognitive impairment.

I offered to go find her a test and drop it off at her home, and after checking a dozen pharmacies, I finally found one.

My local pharmacy told me they had over 1,000 units come in the day before and they were gone within hours. The clerk said she wished the store’s policy would put limits on the number of tests people could buy, as some people were buying dozens. This, of course, made it difficult for me to find one for my friend.

Besides causing lack of availability, stockpiling tests is not recommended because most tests right now have a fairly short expiration date.

Assessments offer clarity in uncertain times

Assessments offer clarity in uncertain times

Barbara’s parents, like many seniors in their 80s, are trying to keep from contracting COVID-19 by isolating at home.

To keep fed, they signed up for the governor’s Great Plates program, which delivers two restaurant-quality meals per day; other groceries are ordered online by their daughter.

In normal times, Barbara, who lives two hours away, would visit weekly. Now she uses the phone to connect.

Over the past several months, she has become increasingly worried about her mother’s health and well-being. On a recent phone call, her mother related a story about her arthritis flaring up.

“I just don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said again and again. Barbara must have heard that phrase over 20 times in the span of a few minutes.

Giving a coffee maker a dual purpose

Giving a coffee maker a dual purpose

My friend, let’s call him Alfred, who is in his 70s, has been trying to devise a system to alert his close contacts if something were to happen to him while he’s at home.

He’s sensitive to the topic because his former girlfriend died in her home and it took over 48 hours for her body to be found. It pains Alfred to think of her having died and not being discovered for such a long time. She had a dog, and the poor animal was without food, water or his master for two days.

Alfred has a beloved canine companion, too, that he wants to be sure is fed and cared for if he becomes incapacitated and cannot call for help. He has an Apple Watch, which has a built-in electrical heart sensor, as well as fall detection and an emergency SOS—one piece of technology to help him in case he falls or his heart begins to fail.

Long-distance caregivers have a role to play

Long-distance caregivers have a role to play

If you live an hour or more away from a loved one who needs your care, you’re a long-distance caregiver.

Based upon the needs of the care receiver, as well as the skills, abilities and limitations of the caregiver, every long-distance caregiving experience is different.

I’ve been a long-distance caregiver on two occasions, each with its own set of responsibilities.

In the first instance, my mother and sister were the hands-on caregivers for my father, and since I was 3,000 miles away, I took on the role of long-distance caregiver.

Honoring our caregivers can take many forms

Honoring our caregivers can take many forms

Recently my mother returned home to New Hampshire after two wonderful weeks visiting me and my husband here in California. I had lots of goals for the visit, and we accomplished many of them.

Two remarkable things happened that I did not plan for.

Because we finally had some quality time together, my mother opened up about some of the high and low points on her journey caregiving for my father. When times were physically and emotionally the hardest for her, she told me, she would will herself to get through just one more day, especially in the last few years of my father’s life.

Parkinson’s disease was a battle they both were fighting.

She recounted the last time she and my father made the trip from New Hampshire to Myrtle Beach, S.C., for two months over the winter. They took a commuter plane back home, and on this particular day, my father’s “freezing” from Parkinson’s was so bad, he could not get himself out of the seat when the plane landed.



Think about shaving as a shared activity

Think about shaving as a shared activity

Shaving one’s face is a fundamental part of being a man. A generation ago, the act of shaving denoted manhood, pride of appearance, cleanliness, neatness and a person in control and well-groomed.

In the U.S., Canada and Europe, about 85 percent of men shave their beards.

Throughout recent history we have been a society where the appearance of the body is seen to reveal the state of mind of an individual—and men often grew beards when they were in crisis.

Ever hear of the playoff beard? This describes the superstitious practice of male athletes not shaving their beards during playoffs. Introduced in the 1980s by ice hockey players participating in the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s become a practice in many sports leagues and among fans as well.

But what can be more intrinsic to the emotional well-being of a man than to be able to shave if he wants to?

Influx of seniors challenge emergency room system

Influx of seniors challenge emergency room system

The number of older people in emergency rooms is expected to increase significantly over the next 30 years, doubling in the case of those older than 65 and potentially tripling among those over 85.

Our healthcare system is in critically short supply of primary care physicians and geriatric specialists to treat seniors. As a result, many seniors end up in emergency rooms rather than being treated in the community.

The emergency room can be an overwhelming place for seniors, as they must enter an unfamiliar environment, field rapid-fire questions, then experience fear and anxiety about the diagnosis that awaits.

Are our emergency rooms prepared for this significant growth in senior patients? The answer might be no, unless we heed a call to arms in the following critical areas.

Supporting a grieving parent

Supporting a grieving parent

Last week I asked my mother if there was something she thought I should write about in my column. Quick to reply, she said, “How does one cope when their spouse is dying?”

“What do you mean by cope?” I asked.

“Are there things I should do? Are there ways to prepare for what is to come?” she replied.

Our family has spent 20 years thinking about my father’s final days, ever since his Parkinson’s diagnosis. In the last few years, we have prepared practically, legally and financially for the end of his life.

The one scenario we’ve not tackled: How should we be feeling as my father’s death draws near?

Mandated reporters have an important role to play

Mandated reporters have an important role to play

Not long ago I received a call from some friends who were concerned about their elderly neighbor. The neighbor (I will call him Bob) was discovered by a friend. Bob had fallen in his home and was unable to get up.

Paramedics were called to take Bob to the hospital.

As the paramedics arrived at his home, some of the neighbors rushed over. They could not help but notice the interior of his house was full of boxes, papers and garbage piled up to the ceiling. There was a small path for Bob to move around the house, but the condition of the home was both dangerous and unsanitary.

Bob never returned home from his hospital stay and the neighbors grew concerned. They noticed someone coming in and out of Bob’s house and inquired about their neighbor. The person they spoke to was evasive and refused to tell them of Bob’s condition or whereabouts.

Bob had lived in their neighborhood for more than 30 years. His wife had passed away over 10 years ago. Given the condition of the home and the fact that they could not get any information about their neighbor, they called me, expressing their fears.

When you suspect a friend’s parent needs help

When you suspect a friend’s parent needs help

A few weeks ago my husband and I were invited to a small dinner party. My friend wanted us to visit with his 90-year-old father, who was in town for a brief stay.

It had been a long time since I’d seen his father, maybe 20 years. Since then, his wife had passed away and he was living alone in the Midwest. He’d recently traveled to the West Coast for an extended stay in the desert and now was in our area for a visit with his son before heading home.

My friend’s father (I will call him Bill) looked great: trim and well-dressed. We chatted into the evening, catching each other up on our lives and activities.

It was during this exchange that it first happened.

Bill asked my husband what he did for a living, and my husband explained he worked for a corporation in the tax department.

At a lull in the conversation, Bill said to my husband, “So, Dennis, this must be a busy time of year for you with tax season and all.”

My husband’s name is Peter.