Showing posts with label Elderly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Elderly. Show all posts

September 18, 2019

Aging Gracefully

So as we age, we've got to cope with a different reality.

Our bodies and minds may start to deteriorate. 

We can't do all the same things we used to do (even as we can maybe do others). 

There can be a deep sense of loss as abilities, things, places, and people that were critical to us for many, many years may no longer be present with us. 

When I used to speak with my aging father about he and my mom getting older, he would joke and say:
Yes, we're getting older--what's the alternative?

Then the other day, I ran into a nurse from the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA). 

We chatted briefly about the good work they do in helping so many elderly and handicapped people.

And then she says to me about how she herself is starting to feel what it's like to get older, and that she often tells her mom that everything hurts to which her mother responds:
You're not supposed to leave this world alive!

Putting these together: 

I suppose we all need to do the best we can to age graciously ourselves as well as help others in the process--because there is no alternative to aging and no one leaves this world alive. ;-)
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October 27, 2017

Longevity...85 Is The New 65

So I was speaking to one of our very nice elderly neighbors.

Last week he lost his dear wife of 60 years!

I had visited him during Shiva (the Jewish period of mourning) to wish him our best and let him know we are there if there is anything he needs. 

He told me how the night before she passed, they had gone out to eat and to the theatre (she loved the theatre)...and everything was fine!

And then the next day, he went to work--he still teaches medicine at the local hospital 2 days a month.

At midday, he called his wife and asked how she was and if she needed anything from the store (to eat etc.)

She told him she was fine and she didn't need anything. 

But by the time he got home just one hour later...she had fallen, hit her head, and died. 

He tried to do CPR by it was no use, she was gone. 

Both he and his wife were 84-years old. 

He mentioned that would tease her that he was 3 months older than her, and so she had to listen to him!

I felt so bad for him...it was obvious how much he loved her and missed her already. 

When he told me how old she was, I tried to say reassuringly:
"That's a good old age...at least she lived a full life!"

But then he answered:
"84--that's nothing! 85 is the new 65!!!"  
And went on to tell me how many of their friends are already in the 90's. 

It's funny how no matter what age you are...there is always a will to live!

He said how she had passed quickly and so maybe he could consider that a blessing. 

And we talked about how it truly is especially when some other people really suffer prolonged periods with terrible debilitating and painful illnesses. 

It was also strange that around the same time, I ran into yet another elderly neighbor, and he had tears in his eyes...and I asked how he is. 

He told me how he just learned 3 weeks ago that his wife has lung cancer. 

Seeing his expression how bad things were, I inquired what stage it was at. 

He said, "stage 3 cancer," and I told him as well how sorry I was for his pain. 

All this made me realize again, how very tenuous life is...and we all hang by a thread that G-d decides at any moment when to shear and when to cut--we need to live every moment to the fullest and as if it's our last. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 13, 2016

We Watch The Years Go By

On a lighter note today, I took this photo of a couple watching their kids playing soccer.

They are sitting in Dick's chairs. 

His (blue) and hers (pink).

Very cute!

The new generation grows up and supplants their elders--who still may feel "young at heart!"

As I get older, it definitely seems like time goes faster (and faster). 

It isn't that some days aren't long, but that overall the less time we have as we get into the latter portions of our life, the quicker it all seems to be passing.

So much so that it all becomes like one big dream (it should never be a nightmare, G-d forbid). 

If only we could rewind and redo the portions of our lives where we made mistakes, hurt others or ourselves, or could have just done better.

I'm not sitting in those chairs yet, but when I do, I hope it is with pleasure of heart, mind, and soul--with G-d's mercy. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 7, 2015

Don't Know When I'll See You Again

So in synagogue today, the Rabbi introduced this very old man to the pulpit to say a few words. 

Apparently, he was one of the founders of the shule. 

This grey headed, stooped man walks slowly forward carrying a small oxygen tank with wires dangling in his jacket and to his nose. 

The man stands on the dais and says:

"I am 91-years old, and the doctor says  I have this, that, and the other thing, and I am terminal. 

It was very hard for me to get here today in my condition, but I wanted to speak with you all. 

I have lived a good life, but not an easy life. 

My life was a rollercoaster--at one time I had six cars and another time just one car, for the most part I had enough money, but never a lot of money. 

Now, I ask myself what is really important. 

When I have shortness of breath then nothing seems so important anymore--and it is the simple things that really count. 

My son called the other day to tell me that he is being given more responsibility at work--not just his teaching responsibilities anymore--and he won't have time to call so often anymore. 

So while I've studied and explored all facets of thinking from Shintoism and Buddhism to communism and socialism, in the end, I realized that I have the Torah and am a just simple Jew from Fez. 

I wanted to be here with you today to ask you all for your forgiveness so that I can go on as I am very sick and am terminal.  

I don't know when I will get to see you all again." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 14, 2013

Radiating Goodness

So I met two amazing people today. 

The first was a lady with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  

She told me her story about how it was her 30-year anniversary this year. And she said she had been diagnosed with MS only one year after her wedding. 

She almost cried when she told me that her husband had stayed with her all these years she was sick. 

First, she had a nurse at home to care for her, and then when the demands were too much, she got into the nursing home and has been there since May, which she said wasn't a long time and that it was good there. 

Talking with her, I was amazed at how good an attitude she had for someone that had suffered so much and for so long. She was also an incredibly nice person and said how lovely some of the other patients looked today and that they should eat something to keep up their strength. This lady was truly inspiring.

The second lady I met was a private nurse for one of the elderly patients in the home. 

She sat at lunch between the old lady she took care of and the other woman with MS. 

Yet even though she was privately paid by the elderly lady, I was amazed that when she wasn't caring for the old lady, she took the time and effort to care for the MS lady, whom she otherwise had nothing to do with. 

In fact, she was alternating in feeding one and then the other. Also, making conversation with everyone else at the table asking how they were, taking pictures with her iPad mini (she found a place that sells them for only $79!) and saying how happy her patient was looking today and making her smile (even though the patient seemed unable to even speak). 

It was truly amazing to see the caretaker generally caring for others, not just for the money or because it was her job, but rather because she could help and really wanted to.

I'll tell you, there are still good people out there--some almost angels. And when you find them, it is a miraculous experience. You can almost see G-d in them. Like the physical world is just an illusion, but these eternal souls are what's real--radiating goodness to every soul they touch. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 17, 2013

Some Game This Is


I remember as a kid, my grandfather lived down the block from us on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. 

He was old and not in the best of health with a heart condition, hearing aids, and more. 

One day, he was coming home from the bank, and he went into the elevator in his building. 

He was followed by a punk, who after the elevator door closed, proceeded to grab my grandfather and choke him until he was unconscious. 

The thug took his wallet and left my grandfather on the floor of the elevator. 

Now, today I saw on the news about the Knockout Attack Game--and some "game" this is.

The attacker runs up behind the person unbeknownst and with full force slams their fist against a person head, knocking them unconscious, and when successful, this is done with one punch! 

In other cases, an entire gang will attack, punching and kicking a victim until they stop moving. 

While I couldn't locate the exact video that happened in a neighborhood in NY to a Jewish woman, this video of an attack on a Muslim girl in London about a year ago, approximates it very closely. 

While some victims of these attacks end up with broken jaws, skulls, shattered teeth, internal injuries, bleeding and more, others are not so lucky and end up dead. 

I never forgot what happened to my grandfather and the cowardly schmuck that attacked this old, helpless man--but at least, he apparently did it for the money. 

In these knockout attacks, when they ask the attackers why they do it, the response is for the fun and laughs. 

What a commentary of our society, when people brutally attack other people--not for money, revenge, self-defense, or principle--but simply to see others needlessly suffer and to take a form of intense joy in it. 

Perhaps, there are certain crimes for which the L-rd above must look down and mete out his own version of justice, in a way that restores order to this world of hope and despair.
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August 14, 2013

Technology Heals

My wife took this photo today at The Drupal for Government Conference at NIH.

The man in the photo was not only participating in the conference, but also taking notes on his Apple Macbook Air. 

It is incredible how technology is helping us do our jobs and be ever more productive.

This is the vision of technology taking us beyond the natural limits we all have and face. 

I remember a few years ago when I was in the hospital for something and feeling bad about myself, and my wife brought me a laptop and said "Write!"--it was liberating and I believe helped me heal and recuperate.

I wonder if hospitals in the future will regularly provide computers and access to patients to not only keep them connected with their loved ones, but also let them have more options for entertainment, creativity, and even productivity, to the extent they can, while getting well.

Kudos to this gentleman--he is truly a role model and inspiration for us all. 

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)
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November 1, 2012

Most Novel Bingo


I fondly remember when I was a kid going occassionally with my mom to the local synagogue to help the elderly with their weekly bingo game. 

It was fun to see the old people getting together, having a good time, and competing for the prize, usually some token tchochkes.

As a little kid, of course, even though I wasn't playing, I usually walked away with a big Hersey's chocolate bar--and that itself was enough to make me want to come back again and again. 

A couple of weeks ago though, I come to find out, there are other exciting versions of the game out there...

The Wall Street Journal (22 October 2012) described quite a novel version of the game called either chicken-poop bingo or cow-chip bingo. 

Not to gross anyone out, it is what is sounds like. 

The winning numbers are drawn not by the turning the game cage and having a ball with the winning numbers on it fall down the chute, but rather by where the chicken or cow does it's business. 

Some have barked about this being cruel to animals to use them in this way or that people manipulate the animals to go on certain squares by planting feed, or that when the dung drops on multiple squares, then the winner is the one with the greatest volume--enjoy measuring that! 

This version of the game wins butt-down for the most novel way to play bingo, but for me, I still would rather accompany my mom to help the old people like I did as a kid and walk away with that great big cholocate bar. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to B.K. Dewey)
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June 29, 2012

Becoming Technological Dinosaurs?

I was most impressed at the graduation of my daughter from Tech Camp today.

She became fairly proficient with Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop, and more, and built her own website with animation--it was really very cool. 

Here is a photo of kids at the computers--they are showing their parents how to tech.

It is truly the young teaching the old--no disrespect intended. 

But the kids are amazing--they are digital natives and are learning things quickly and with ease that prior generations still must struggle with. 

I joked with my friend who is also a CIO of another company--that we are not only "old farts," but tech dinosaurs as well. ;-)

Okay not quite--but what these kids can do is nothing short of amazing, eye-opening, and I think "we ain't seen nothing yet!"


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June 2, 2012

Superabled, Not Disabled


This is a video of South African sprinter and Olympic hopeful, Oscar Pistorius--a double amputee fitted with curved, carbon-fiber prosthetic "Cheetah Blades" that can "challenge the fastest sprinters in the world."

There was a fascinating article about this in the Wall Street Journal today (2-3 June 2012)--on how high-tech implants are being put in people's bodies and brains, changing them from disabled to "superabled."

The article explains how "the goals for many amputees is no longer to reach a 'natural' level of abilities, but to exceed it, using whatever cutting-edge technology is available."

And just like body implants are helping spur superhuman abilities, so too neural implants can stimulate brain activity to focus attention, faster learning, hone skills, and augment performance. 

Last September, Tim Hemmes, paralyzed from a motocycle accident, was able to use a brain implant to move a mechanical arm, just with his thoughts!

"Technology can give us brains and brawn" and those with disabilities and the elderly who have lost mental and physical capacities will be early adopters--"they have a lot to gain and are willing to face the risk inherent in new medical technology."

There are many ethical questions when it comes to human implants--especially when it comes to the possibility of people voluntarily substituting technology for healthy body parts--just to have the Steve Austin-like, Six Million Dollar Man, bionic capabilities. 

Another question is once we start replacing our body parts--our very selves--with technology augmentation, at what point do we stop being us?  

And at what point, do we potentially stop being human and become something else--half human, half machine--or even more machine than human?  

Like the mythical creature, the centaur, which was half man and half horse--it seems like humans have always wondered about what makes them who they are and ultimately what they might become if they try to co-exist or meld with something altogether different.

By combining technology into our humanity, we are becoming something different--maybe a super human, if we use it ethically and for the good. Or perhaps we may become something more malevolent, if we go on to abuse our superabled powers to dominate or otherwise harm those less souped-up than us.  

Only time will tell where technological implantation and human augmentation ultimately takes us--it holds both enormous promise that we need to leverage and frightening risks that must be carefully planned and managed.

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March 23, 2012

Helping The Disabled Get Their Groove Back


I love this evolving technology using bionics to help the paralyzed stand and walk again. 

This technology for exoskeleton suits with motors, sensors, and external power supplies was first developed for the military to run farther, lift more, and so on. 

However, the application has been expanded to those who have had strokes, accidents, or otherwise have lost use of their limbs and movement.

Additionally, there is potential for industrial workers to use these robotic suits to do their work with less effort and more impact by augmenting their movement with hydraulic and battery power. 

What Exso Bionics seems to have really gotten right is that the suit looks almost perfectly sculpted for a human body, appears to go on the person with relative ease, and helps the person move in a balanced and controlled fashion. 

While these suits are still pricey and according to Fast Company (April 2002) cost approximately $130,000, Exso is looking get the rates down to between $50,000 and $75,000 retail. 

Further, the article notes that other companies are building competing devices, such as Argo Medical of Israel that offers the ability to climb stairs and that activates by gesture without a therapist pressing buttons. Similarly Rex of New Zealand offers a device that is controlled by a simple joystick. 

I think the future for these bionic suits for the military and industrial use will be truly transformative in terms of providing superhuman speed, strength, and stamina to advance our capabilities and increase our productivity.

Moreover, the use of these exoskeletons by people who are elderly, frail, or sick is compelling and provides hope for people to live with greater mobility, self-reliance, and human dignity. 

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