Have Meds Ready to Go for Disaster Evacuations

Most of us have given thought to what we should do to prepare for emergency evacuations. But I don’t know anyone who considered the points in the following report from The American Heart Assn. News blog.

It offers several suggestions on what to take along for cardiac, and other health issues.

And I suggest including a “med pack” for your pets too.

Read on:

What Katrina can teach us about disrupted cardiac care after Hurricane Harvey


When patients with cardiac health issues face evacuation due to flooding, fire or other natural disasters, a spike in stress and anxiety levels may be only the beginning. For sudden, jarring, life-changing events—like that of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana this past week—can markedly disrupt months or years of steady treatment and control of heart disease and other conditions.

At last count, FEMA officials estimated 30,000 people will have evacuated their homes for shelters due to Harvey.

And just like that, what yesterday were quite manageable illnesses and conditions like high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and diabetes can become life-threatening in an extended emergency. When people are forced to flee their homes without time to gather medicines, records, prescription refills and glucose monitors—plus essentials like batteries for medical devices and mobile phones—anxiety and complications can surge.

In times like these, patients and caregivers, in addition to first responders, can learn from doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians who have been through similar trauma before.

“With [Hurricane] Katrina, the biggest issues were not the event itself, but trying to provide the [sustained] medical follow-up” said Paul Pepe, M.D., professor of emergency medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, who served at the command center for Katrina in Baton Rouge and in on-scene reconnaissance of medical needs.

When citizens with existing medical conditions arrive in a distant city or makeshift shelter, even when they have not been able to pack a proper “go” kit, they can bolster their health status almost immediately by simply bringing existing medications in air-tight, waterproof plastic bags or containers.

Many electronic medication records maintained by national pharmacies can offer assistance in reconstructing key patient records, diagnoses and dosages from afar, said Pepe, who is also City of Dallas director of medical emergency services for public safety, public health and homeland security.

“The interruption of care needs to be handled as best as possible,” offered Keith Ferdinand, M.D., of the Tulane University Heart and Vascular Institute in New Orleans and immediate-past chair of the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.

“The stress and anxiety related to a natural disaster can be overwhelming to patients—not only those immediately impacted by flooding, but to those who have seen their family and friends affected,” said Ferdinand. “This is especially felt by elderly patients moving, maybe for the first time in years, which can also lead to disorientation.”

Ferdinand knows firsthand. During Hurricane Katrina’s landing in 2005, he treated patients in Atlanta who were evacuated from New Orleans, nearly 500 miles away. “It was a loosely organized evacuation,” he recalled. But it was effective.

Emergency medicine doctors advise evacuees with existing conditions to:

–take an ample supply of medications while transferring

–have phone number of doctors, health insurance companies and a pharmacy available, separate from that saved on a cellphone contact list

–write on paper all diagnoses and recent treatments recalled, as well as histories of blood pressure or blood glucose levels that can be recalled, and enclose those papers in plastic to take with you

“When they get to the evacuation centers, the most important [readings] are blood pressure and glucose,” said Ferdinand, “because these can fluctuate greatly in a short time.” He adds that most pharmacies have interstate delivery systems that can operate efficiently across borders in emergencies.

Endocrinologist Tina Thethi, M.D., a colleague of Ferdinand’s at Tulane, points out that when diabetes patients arrive at a shelter or evacuation site after a hurricane, they are apt to be in “survival mode,” and greatly stressed. They may not have the option to be selective about what they eat, or to keep their routine, Thethi said. This then affects blood sugar maintenance and wound or infection healing.

In a 2010 study led by Thethi that appeared in Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, she and her colleagues found that measures of blood pressure and lipids showed varied rates of recovery post-Katrina “to predisaster levels.”

Anand Irimpen, M.D., chief of cardiology at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans, advises heart failure patients to be as diligent as possible in keeping prescription schedules during a flood or emergency.

Irimpen noted that “being separated from one’s medications can be catastrophic for diabetic and cardiac patients both short- and long-term.” In fact, a 2016 study in Circulation found an average three-fold increase in heart attack admissions at Tulane Medical Center in each of the 10 years after Katrina, compared with the two years before Katrina.

“We realized patients with heart attacks post-Katrina had higher incidence of hypercholesterolemia, medication noncompliance, smoking, substance abuse and psychiatric disturbances,” said Irimpen, who was the study’s senior author.

“Most patients [temporarily] neglected their health and tried to rebuild their homes and get their lives in order. Health was generally low in priority,” he said.

Super Crazy from Krazy Glue

Had a pipe leak in the bathroom cabinet, that loosened the wood strip on the bottom, so I decided e to get some Krazy Glue, drop in on the strip and hold it there 30 seconds.

My husband did it all the time., At least that’s how he told me about it later.

So I went to Home Depot, bought the Krazy Glue, opened it as the package directed. Did every single thing it said, and guess what? The wood strip stuck! Good as new!

But all ten fingertips also were caked with Krazy Glue that hardened in 30 seconds too.

Searching the Internet for removal directions I found several, but took the quickest route: nail polish remover.

Soaked them a few minutes, then rubbed with doused cotton balls as I do to remove nail polish and most of it did come off. An emory board pretty much cleared off the rest, and I can  once again tell where my fingers end when I tap the table.,

I confess I never actually WATCHED my husband do that repair and now I’m sure he wore work gloves. Otherwise I’d have heard about that too.

So why in the world doesn’t the Krazy Glue package carry one more line in its directions:



Widowslist rates AMC Theatres: ‘Best’

If you like to go to the movies (and show me a widow who doesn’t) , you’ll appreciate AMC theatres that offer regular treats for all of us,

Currently, my local AMC theatre in Northbrook Court, in Northbrook  ,Il, offers $5 tickets to everyone all day Tuesdays. This will go on through October for plain folks, but if you invest in an Insider membership for $16, you are eligible for that bargain all year.

Your local AMC theatre may not offer this particular “come on” , but all have special promotions throughout the year for special groups, such as seniors, etc.

One other treat is the seats that you choose when you buy your ticket either on line or in person, because, those leather-like seats are the most comfortable we’ve found anywhere. They slide back with the touch of a button, sending your headrest down and your footrest up . Then you pull over the side tray to hold purse or popcorn.

This theatre group is certainly trying hard–and as far as I’m concerned–it’s succeeding.


Fill Emptiness-Join Senior Center, Library

Regardless of how busy we try to stay, going to movies, reading books, keeping dates with friends and family–there always are moments when you feel lonely.

I often tell people, ” I’m not alone—I”M here.” But sometimes even that isn’t enough and you crave more stimulation for your brain, which usually can only come from being with others.

In such a mood, I recently decided to throw ice cubes on my brain and began with a trip to my library. Picking up a copy of the month’s calendar, I circled a current events meeting, and a Classic Films showing of “On the Waterfront, ” and oh, how wonderful that was! I also plan to drop in to hear a Sunday afternoon concert .

Next I drove to the North Shore Senior Center in Northfield, IL, founded by market research legend A.C. Nielsen, and I joined for $70.That allowed me discount admission to all activities, particularly its LifeLong Learning Programs. These are top notch lectures on art, science current events, and also films and dramatic programs.

Best of all, it offers day trips, including one to Chicago’s loop by bus with the group to see Hamilton, something I’ve been planning to do since reading Hamilton, the book, and listening to the CD Hamilton over and over while studying the lyrics.

I had to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get in line for that ticket but am glad I did.

With “ice cubes on my brain” again, I’m back among the living.

I learned we can’t waste a moment of the precious days left to us.


“Elder Orphan?” Who? Me?

I  tuned in to National Public Radio while driving to the supermarket yesterday and heard Carol Marak, spokesperson and advocate for Aging, Alone, discussing “Elder Orphans.”

“What’s that?” I thought. Having been orphaned myself at an early age, I paid attention.

But this wasn’t about growing up without parents. Marak, who is single with no children, was explaining she had taken care of her parents through their old age and illness until death. Then she realized that when it’s her turn to go through that, there won’t be any one to give her that loving care.

She emphasized that she, and many people she interviewed, did not regret being childless, but did have the same qualms. So she decided to find a solution.

Her answer was to create an online community for adults aging alone–that anyone can join by Googling: Elder Orphans Facebook Group.

There are fascinating, active chat lines, with problems and answers such as the following dialog:

Comment: “Just recently, I moved from suburbia into a highly urban area, where there is a metro, you know, transportation, buses, public transit. I’m also very healthy fortunately, but I do walk. I run my errands via foot, so I kind of kill two birds with one stone there, stay fit and run errands. And I live in a high-rise, because I want to surround myself with other people. I don’t want to live in a home, isolated. So, we have to think about those things, how we plan for aging alone.”

A.” I would suggest, first off, just reaching out to the local area agencies on aging. Then, I would also reach out to senior centers. Just go where seniors hang out.”

When asked how to stay in the family home after every else is gone, and it feels lonely as wells being difficult financially, Marak pointed out some solutions, such as renting a room to another Elder Orphan, or possibly turning it into a “group home.”

Marak also put forth the unique concept of adopting a family.

She noted, “Well, I mean, think about it. How many families are maybe without an older individual, or maybe they’ve lost their parents or they’ve lost their grandmother? Of course, it requires a lot of forethought, and even some help with legal matters, but I think it’s an option.”

In return for becoming part of a family, she added, the Elder Orphan can consider legally naming the family members heirs to whatever estate he or she leaves.

Other issues considered on the site include ways to stay fit and eat healthy foods, things too many people living alone stop doing. Discussions also include ways to reach out to the community by giving volunteer help to others.

On that Facebook Group page, people mostly share what they are feeling each day.

“We discuss transportation options, emotional things that might be affecting us, how are we feeling about not having children — although most of us are grateful to not have children, because we have members who have been really estranged from their families, which is hard,” Marak added.

“So, it’s just a great place to come and feel accepted, and find friendship and connection. What’s so wonderful is that when you start a discussion, you’re always going to have someone participate. And you can also pull it offline if you wish, and private message someone, and then take it from there. Many of us are breaking off and starting our own face-to-face groups, which is really, I think, the next step for all of us.”

And that’s when I arrived at the market, and went in to buy a small quart of milk instead of the less expensive half gallon I can’t finish–because I live alone!

Whaaaat? Whoooooo?

You know you’re getting old when you pick up a  copy of People magazine and see that David Cassidy is fighting dementia—-and you don’t even recognize  anyone else.

Signing Out with Style

We all spend a lot of time contemplating, then planning for, our departure. It goes with the territory, especially after you’ve done that for your mate.

We try and put our paperwork in order, check our wills, and do our best to let our kids know how we would like them to distribute our treasures “when I’m through with them.”

But one of my Chicago-area friends began what I hope will become a new trend.

When Marilyn Drucker’s husband Leonard died, she drew on her famous wit as well as her love, and had his headstone in Sholom Cemetery in Arlington Heights IL,  read: “Leonard Drucker, Family Man, Gone Golfing.”

And when Marilyn died one year ago today, July 19, 2016 ,and her family was faced with the same headstone question, they followed her lead.

“My mom had a sense of humor for my dad, so we thought we should have a sense of humor for her,” recalls her daughter Denise Drucker Blinick,

As a result, Marilyn’s headstone reads, “Gone Shopping.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if all our kids remembered us with a sense of humor?


86–And: Still Writing Steamy Sex Novels

Curious researchers are beginning to affirm that some seniors still enjoy sex.

And those who work among seniors in assisted living residences report that the few men there (who usually have their choice of many widows) will often develop a romantic alliance, gallantly escort  her away from the bingo table, and lead her to his apartment for an evening of pleasure.

No one asks what goes on behind those closed doors, nor should they.

But my dear lifetime friend, Charmaine Gordon, now 86, can tell you all about it–and she does in the 25 romantic novels she’s been writing since she was 78.

Charmaine developed her own reader  niche: senior widows like herself who are still attractive and active, and find new romance when and where they never expected to. And lo and behold, either from experience or imagination, Charmaine treats those loyal readers to very steamy sex scenes in every book.

In fact, she just completed her 25th, “Beware the Blue Eyed Thunderbolt,” about a gorgeous, recently widowed business woman in her 60s, who meets an unbelievably handsome doctor ten years younger in the veterinarian’s office, and mad, passionate love ensues. Our heroine can’t resist our hero’s gorgeous manliness –and he can’t resist her unbelievable beauty, long golden curls and phenomenal body. Of course they both have blue eyes, ergo the title.

But hey, this isn’t Charmaine’s first rodeo, as Dr. Phil might say. Some of her other titles in this same new “senior steamy romance lit” genre include: “When Doubles Become Singles”, “Charlie’s Family Secret,” “She Didn’t Say No”….and many more.

Check them out at Amazon.com, and buy one. We guarantee a fun read.



Airport Electric Cart Gets You There in Time

Wheelchairs aren’t the only help offered to travelers in the airports.

I was rushing across two huge terminals lugging a heavy carry -on bag and a purse, and feared I’d never make my next flight in time.

Flight #1 had been late, leaving me 10 minutes instead of an hour to make this impossible transfer. Huffing, puffing, and in panic, Iran on.

Suddenly I heard a beep and turned to see an airport electric cart pulling up beside me. “Hop in” the driver said, and as he checked my gate number on his computer, he assured me we’d not only arrive on time, but I could  even use the ladies room before boarding.

I asked what that cost and he assured me the carts  are a free airport service, but  gratuities are accepted–which I gladly gave him.

Some airports don’t provide the carts yet, but you should always ask any airport employee if they do, and if so, ask them to call one for you. It’s also wise to ask you flight attendant to call one to meet  you at the gate if you have to change planes.

The downside of the carts is some go too fast and have been known to hit pedestrians, but airports are working on that.

Although I had plenty of time to change planes on my return trip, I called for a cart when I got off Plane #1 anyway, and I was able to enjoy a restful lunch before reboarding.



What’s Proper Wedding $$$ Gift?

It’s been ten years since I was part of a couple, one that lasted a happy 55 years.

But after my my husband died, I learned to “go it alone” to social and family events. It may have been easier for me because, as a journalist, I had gone alone to cover events in all kinds of places. So I have never, and still don’t feel self conscious when I appear without an escort anywhere.

(As I often say, “I’m not lonely. I”M there.”)

And since I was employed and independent most of my adult life, my survival in widowhood may have been easier than some others’.

But there always are questions to consider and answer. Take a distant relative’s recent wedding:

  1. Do I stay overnight with the group in a downtown hotel because I live in a suburb?

2. How much should a widow give as a gift when she attends alone?

Fortunately, if one can afford it, both are easily answered spot.

It was far less expensive to hire a  driver to take me home after the event than it would have been to say overnight downtown. Also, I had the advantage of being in my own bed, not having to bring a bag with night clothes, etc. to the party.

I checked the Internet to answer the money question and, since I had already sent a shower gift, the suggested amount for a person attending alone these days seems to be $75-$100 if he or she can afford that. ($150 will do if you bring a guest.)

That’s certainly changed since my wedding when we were thrilled to receive a silver-plated butter dish, hoping we would someday  be able to buy butter instead of oleo to put in it.