Author Archives: Sandra Pesmen

Time for that “Talk” with Your Family

Home Instead, a national company providing senior care, has a new program called The 40/70 Rule: Having that “Talk” with Your Children.

It refers to sitting down with the kids (and perhaps a financial adviser) when you are about 70 and they are around 40 and helping them face that uncomfortable end of life issue.

I know, the kids get hysterical when you even suggest you may die someday—though you’re falling apart right before their very eyes. Despite obvious fading of your hearing, sight, digestive system, hair, beautiful skin and everything else, most children try to deny they will someday lose their parents.

Well, it’s time to make them face that fact anyway. If you haven’t done so before, start the project by talking with an attorney, accountant, financial adviser or all three, and make sure YOU understand what and where your assets are, how much they are worth and what you want to do with them.

Then, working with those professionals, prepare a will and any other documents they suggest.

Maynard Grossman, executive director of Shalom Memorial Park suggests you also may want to consider your final arrangements for a memorial service, burial or cremation. Talk with a funeral director and possibly pre-pay that plan, so your children won’t have to do it when they are grieving over your departure.

Now you’re ready to call a family meeting. (Sunday brunch with a tray from your local deli helps.)

I’ve done this. Actually, I’ve done it several times. I can’t seem to shut up about my final exit because I want my family to think of it as my last hurrah, a farewell with love and gifts for them.

Also, I believe the more we talk about difficult subjects the more comfortable we become with them. As a wise rabbi told us, “We all go on living in spirit as long as those who love us keep remembering and talking about us.”

So plan that meeting with the kids now, so they’ll remember and keep talking about your wisdom in doing so long after you’re gone.

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Never Lonely if You Have a Book

Since my mother and her sister both were librarians, I grew up hearing, “If you have a book, you’ll always have a friend.”

So on long summer days, when we finished running across the garden sprinkler and it was too hot to jump rope or ride bikes–and we whined, “I have nothing to do,” the response always was, “Go read a book.”

Reading is a habit that’s a blessing when it becomes an addiction. And many of us who are afflicted always kept a book in the car, in the living room and next to our beds, so we could always steal a few minutes to read. We also lugged a bunch of paperbacks in our luggage when we took a trip.

THEN CAME THE ELECTRONIC READERS!!!!!How blessed I felt when my local library joined the free Media Mall and Cloud services that provide free electronic books as well as paperbacks and hard covers.

I went to a library meeting offering information about how to use the malls and ereaders, and now enjoy taking my reader everywhere inside my purse.

But now there’s another new, wonderful addition to this treasure trove of books.

WWW.bookbub.com  is a site that sends email lists of new and old electronic books as bargains  you may order free, or for $1.99 or $2.99, from Amazon on the day you receive an email from it.  It’s much like Groupon.

If you stop in and sign up for the emails, I, and the dearly departed librarians in my family, promise you will always have a friend.

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Doesn’t Matter What You Call It

There’s a fool in the White House running around shouting “Merry Christmas” like he invented the greeting–or better yet,  saved it from total disappearance.

But the truth is that people who love Christmas have been saying it without a blip for years, as have many more who love the people who love Christmas and want them to enjoy it.

Ditto for “Happy Hanukkah!” Those who celebrate that holiday always say the greeting to each other, and enjoy hearing it from others who don’t participate in it, but are extending good wishes to them during that holiday season.

So what’s the big fuss about? Simply put, “Merry Christmas” has become one more mean tool used by this administration to set Americans against one another.

So shout “Merry Xmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” “Happy Kwanza” and any other greeting  you may want to apply to the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with “Happy Holidays” either and you still have time for “Happy New Year.”

Then Washington will stop this nonsense and start working  on the real problems facing our divided nation and its beleaguered constitution.

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Get that Doggie in the Window

If you’ve been a dog-lover over the years, and now your last sweet animal has gone, you may be thinking, as I often do, that it would be lovely to have a furry pal to guard your feet in bed again, or wait patiently at the door for  your return, so he/she can do the famous welcome dance and lick your face.

But, again like me, you may think you’re too old to buy or rescue a dog because you’re afraid it will outlive you–and what will happen then?

My friend threw those worries to the wind, drove to his local Humane Society section in PetSmart and fell in love with a silly little Tibetan Terrier named Jax that had been turned in because the former owner claimed he bared his teeth and growled at her nephew.

After wondering what that nephew did to the pup, my friend took the little fellow home and the two have had a mutual, devoted love affair ever since. (Granted, Jax may bare his teeth and growl at anyone who tries to harm his new master. Otherwise, not at all)

To solve the problem of what will happen if my friend, now 87, should die before Jax, 4, this new owner arranged to have The Humane Society included in his will, with a stipulation and donation to guarantee Jax will be taken care of in a foster home until his next forever home is found.

It would be so sad, and so unnecessary, if other dear companions like Jax weren’t adopted because potential owners have unfounded fears about the future.

If you want a pet, get one.   You can always make provisions for its future too.

Meanwhile, there will be all that love comin’ atcha!

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To Give or Not to Give–and How Much?

A group of us were coming home from a party last weekend when one member of our widows’ group opined that the holidays were taking a woeful toll on her budget.

“My husband and I got into the habit of writing a check for one set amount to each member of our family for every birthdays and for Christmas,” she said. ” But now that he’s gone and I live on a careful budget, the holidays have become too expensive for me. But how do I stop something we’ve done for many years?”

You tell the family members your situation and explain you are making changes and tell them what  you’ve decided to do instead. I’m sure none of them want you to make daily sacrifices in order to hand out gifts you no longer can afford.

One other in our group said she had faced the same situation and told her grown children she was no longer giving money to them on special occasions so she can afford to continue doing so to all the new, younger members of the family.

Another said she had spoken up too, and now gives half as much to everyone as she had doled out previously.

It’s that simple.

True love between parents and children shouldn’t depend upon payment.

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Dinner Instead?

How many movies can a widow see?

That’s what I asked myself when my regular theater gang called to set up our usual Saturday night movie and  supper date.

Then I suggested that we skip the movie one week and instead hang out at my place with a nice bottle of wine.

It’s not that my house is such a big deal. But the idea of doing something different for a change was really appealing.

I added a roll of goat cheese topped with jam and parked next to fancy crackers, added little humas with chips and we were off to a grand start. Then I tossed a fancy frozen pizza I picked up at the market the day before and baked while we snacked. One of the guests brought a salad, another bought dessert.

The latter was a nice addition, though I baked raisin/carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting of all sizes and shapes the day before.

It was a delightful evening–one we’ll repeat in each other’s houses often.

And we can always catch that movie another time.

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Hear Better–and Live Better

I went to a monthly meeting of the Chicago North Shore chapter of the National Hearing Association today and learned helpful tips on preparing for and buying hearing aids–something I’ve been dealing with for several months.

Two years ago I became aware I wasn’t hearing as well as before and went to a medical doctor specializing in haring loss and his audiologist ( a person who must earn a doctorate in audiology) gave me my first test. She said my loss was mild to moderate and didn’t require aids, but they might add to my quality of life. The physician she worked with told me to check again two years.

Since I wasn’t convinced I should spend between $6,000 to $8,000 out of pocket for aids then, I bought a sound amplifier from Amazon on sale for $24 (from $125.) It worked fine where I needed it in theaters, at lectures, and anywhere else microphone were involved.

But I took the doctor’s advice and went back recently for another test .

My hearing was still mild to moderate and aids still weren’t imperative but I thought they might be considered to improve my life quality.

Again I heard the words “mild to moderate” with the same suggestions as I went to outside dealers for more research. Then someone mentioned Costco, which everyone in the industry knows sells hearing aids for less than half what others charge,  and I went there too.

Today the Hearing Association explained that Costco aids should be fine for anyone with mild to moderate loss, like me, as are those bought mail order from Amazon, Google, or other internetamplifiers, but should be checked by an audiologist to make sure they cause no harm.

Anyone with a more serious loss should see an audiologist for testing and suggestions for aids.

But some other important news came from Guest
Speaker Guest Speaker, U.S.Rep. from IL  9th District Jan Schakowsky, who noted the FDA is now testing hearing aid products that may be available over the counter in about three years.

She added that she is introducing a new bill to make hearing loss care and appliances part of medicare. Though we currently can deduct out of pocket hearing, dental,and  eye expenses she fears this congress is  working to elimate those deductions.

They don’t care about the cost,  because hearing loss, which afflicts about 85% of people over  80, is often caused by aging–which is a disease they seem to think they’ll never catch.

Rep. Schakowky also pointed out  everyone in Congress receives the same free or very inexpensive health care the as the military, and that includes free hearing aids,

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Quit Comparing Self to Others!

 

Attending a meeting of old friends, I was struck by the fact that most of them spent the afternoon bragging about and comparing their lives.

 

One talked about her new car, almost everyone had stories about children and grandchildren complete with photos, others bragged about recent trips or cruises,(again with phone pix) and still others talked about “things” like jewelry and clothes—then stood to model them.

 

The comments were made with an attitude of “Aren’t you jealous of me?” and “Look what I have that you don’t.”

 

I thought we had grown out of constantly comparing our lives to others’, but I was wrong.

 

Many of us never do grow out of it, and that’s not healthy, according to Aaron Hill, Greg Miller and Jack Skeen, who together wrote “The Circle Blueprint: Decoding the Conscious and Unconscious Factors that Determine Your Success.”

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Research from the 1950s shows that people have a natural drive to make “upward” or “downward” comparisons between themselves and others, report the authors. And due to social media, we can now look at posts from friends and acquaintances and assess how we “measure up” on a daily (or even hourly) basis.

Hill adds that spending too much time or energy studying the proverbial “Joneses” or ranking others is harmful to all involved.

“Comparing establishes your own worth by whether or not you feel better or worse than others,” says Hill. It’s an unhealthy waste of time that undermines your ability to reach your full potential. And it’s a widespread problem. But most people who engage in comparing themselves to others don’t realize how damaging it really can be.”

The authors explain that comparing yourself with others is detrimental to your happiness and success. Here are a few of the problems that come along with constant comparison:

Comparisons are rarely accurate. “When you compare yourself to others, you are often inaccurate in your conclusions,” says Hill. “Upon seeing a shabbily dressed person, you may make judgments about their job, ability, intelligence, or motivation. But you don’t have all the information. A brilliant day trader who works alone may choose to work in old sweatpants, for example, and has left the office for a quick walk to clear his head. The point is, you don’t know the whole story, so your comparison is ultimately wrong. Then you allow those comparisons to detrimentally affect your performance and your life suffers…all based on false facts.”

Comparing upward makes you unhappy and erodes your confidence. There will always be someone who has more or has accomplished more than you. But when you spend most of your time fretting over others’ supposed superiority, you’re wasting valuable time and energy that you could be using to enhance your life. And before you assume someone else has it so much better than you, remind yourself again that you get to see only a slice of their life. On social media, for example, people post only what they want you to see. From glamorous selfies to gorgeous vacation photos, their online personas are an inaccurate portrayal of their real lives. Make sure you’re not giving them more credit than they deserve.

Comparing downward creates feelings of superiority that don’t serve you well in various ways. It might make you feel smarter, more successful, or just “better” than other people, but downward comparisons cause you to overlook others’ gifts. At work, you may not give those you’ve judged as “less than” enough credit for their knowledge and may not seek their advice even though they have plenty to offer. Or, you may give yourself too much credit and slack off because you think you’re more capable.

The good news is, there are easy steps you can take to quit comparing yourself to others and become more autonomous, and, thus, more independent:

  1. Make a point to notice how often you make comparisons. If you want, take a notepad and make tally marks every time you catch yourself making a comparison. The number may astonish you, and that is okay; everyone makes comparisons. You have to start somewhere, and simply taking note is a start toward reducing your comparisons.
  2. Now, take note of how such comparisons affect your thoughts and actions. Are you holding something back because you think you are too good or not good enough? Do you act differently toward those who are “upward” or “downward” of you?
  3. Practice reducing such comparisons. When you catch yourself comparing, try to stop. Remind yourself that comparisons are not healthy for you.
  4. Practice treating all people you come in contact with at the same levels of courtesy and respect. Sure, it is unlikely you’ll meet a stranger with the same greeting as a good friend—it might be strange to all involved if you hugged a complete stranger as you would someone you know and love—but your greeting can be similarly pleasant and respectful.
  5. Become aware of how free you feel. When you stop comparing, or even reducing your comparisons drastically, you’ll feel a new level of autonomy and independence.

“It’s time to stop worrying about who has more Facebook friends, who’s got the bigger paycheck, or who has the greatest house,” concludes Hill. “In the end, knowing who has more or less than we do accomplishes nothing. Instead, we should all focus our attention on becoming better versions of ourselves—because that’s the true measure of success.” ##

Join Uber’s Go Go Grandparents

I don’t know why I came so late to the Uber party.

For a long time I watched my kids and grandkids whip our their smartphones and quickly order transportation, and I was amazed at how efficient and inexpensive it was.

But I stuck with traditional rides because I didn’t use them often, and it seemed a bit overwhelming to work through the website and registration to set myself up as an Uber rider.

But then I had to travel from the suburbs to Chicago’s loop Monday. That usually involves an hour and a half drive through traffic, and very expensive parking. (Last time I paid $47 for three hours in a public lot.)

Instead I decided to ride the Metra Train, a 30- minute trip that costs about $2 one way for seniors. But how was I going to get home after an afternoon meeting and dinner? I didn’t want to go down into the dark, train station alone late at night.

I have paid $80 plus tip for a limo ride home, and one taxi driver I know charges $70 plus tip. I was leaning toward the latter Sunday evening, when I decided to at least try and check out then sign up with Uber. It was not that daunting.

In fact, it was rather simple and I was pleasantly surprised to find there’s even a special “Go Go Grandparents Club” that lets you do it all by phone and skip the internet altogether.

Here’s the Go Go Grandparents’ phone number you can use to speak directly to a live person and make arrangements or reservations: 855-464-6872.

Monday night after dinner, I took out my phone, pressed the app and typed in my name, location, and request. I was asked to put in my credit card information. Once accepted, I was told the driver’s name, his car’s description and its  license number, then directed to meet him outside the door in five minutes.

He was there on time, he drove me home and the bill was $30!!!!!!  No tip was required, but I was allowed to add one to the bill and survey that arrived in an email later.

In all, it was a very satisfying experience and one I’ll be repeating often.  Try it, you’ll like it.

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Nostalgia: A Willingness to Embrace Past Pain

I often lunch with an old high school friend, and  recently, we decided to try and round up others who belonged to our long-ago high school club, The Rhos.

A few “round robin ” calls brought about 10 positive  responses. The upshot is we’re planning  a “Sunday Brunch Reunion” at a nearby  diner later this month.

Why does the idea of one more “Rhos meeting” bring so much joy to all of us?

I found part of the answer in author Sara Donit’s “The Guineveres”.  Its a tale of four girls named Guinevere who are given to nuns to rear in a convent until age 18 because they have no real homes or families. Ah, what a sad but bewitching story.

At the end, when the girls reconnect as women, they ponder the question of why it’s necessary to look back on their history, the good and the bad.

“Maybe that’s just what nostalgia is: a willingness to embrace the pain of the past,” says the narrator.  Although the women don’t speak often, she adds that  “frequency doesn’t determine the depth of friendship… and no one can ever know you like those with whom you’ve shared the pangs of your youth.”

With that in mind, we “club sisters” are really looking forward to seeing each other.

Now, if I can just find that club photo and my little gold Rhos pin!

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