Tag Archives: Senior Citizens

Sometimes, I should just namaste home……

I know we are all trying to get a bit of Zen in our lives, and I’m all for it. I just recently returned to the practice of yoga. About four years ago my neck decided it didn’t want to turn left or right. I don’t know why but I had to stop yoga. My therapist thinks I’ve been holding onto a lot of bad karma, and she’s my physical therapist. I’m not saying another therapist couldn’t help, but the return to yoga certainly has. Perhaps because I take classes where all the teachers are over 80 years old.

Yesterday, I went to class, really yearning for some ‘centering.’  I had a conference call in the afternoon and some intense conversations ahead of me, so I thought a nice gentle yoga class would put my mind and body in the right place.

When I entered the soft-lit, quiet studio, the teacher was talking to another student about her upcoming family vacation at a sizable house she rented in the Poconos.

“I just don’t know how I’m going to handle it,” whined the yoga teacher, “I mean they are coming from Oregon and from Sweden and I have to do everything.”

“Well,” her friend replied, trying to console her, “you could just ask them to help.”

“I can’t do that. They’re coming from so far. So I’ve bought all the groceries and our car is full to the brim. My husband is asking how two 80-year-olds are going to get all this stuff into the house! And I’m telling him we can’t say, “Hi, Welcome to Pennsylvania and go get your own food out of the car!”

I’m thinking during this interchange, well this isn’t very namaste, now is it? This yoga teacher needs some yoga.

So she gathers her wits about her and we begin class, about 15 minutes in she instructs us to do the butterfly pose. She then relates this comforting tale.  “You know there’s a beautiful abundance of butterflies this year!” she exclaims. “My cat just loves them! But then she eats them, so I tell her no, no,  that’s not good.”

Now, I’m wishing I went to kickboxing.

She decides to water a plant half-way through the class. “All the rest of these plants are plastic, but this one is real and no one waters it!” I think I heard the plant crying, “Just let me die already.”

What I really look like doing yoga.

 

We ultimately get to ‘final relaxation.’ This is a critical part of every yoga class. Truthfully, every person who takes yoga, only comes for final relaxation. It’s like your glass of wine after going to the dentist. What? That’s not a thing? I’m pretty sure it is a thing.

We are authentically relaxing for three or four minutes. I’m feeling very serene, centered, able to take on my day when HER PHONE RINGS. Yep. The yoga teacher didn’t turn her phone off.

Okay, I thought, as I squeezed my eyelids trying to maintain tanquility, she’ll just turn it right off.

Nope. She picks up the phone and says, “Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? Can you hear me now? You have to call this number.” And she proceeds to give the person a phone number.

WELL, NOW I’M NOT RELAXED.

She returns to the class with, “I’m soooooo sorry but my husband’s car broke down.”

And then she says, and I’m not kidding, “Some days, you just have to laugh……”

©2017 Cathy Sikorski

Where’s the fire?

Two weeks ago, I wrote a tale about my mother-in-law needing to move to assisted living because the fire department had been called one too many times when she left things on the stove.

I thought that was the end of my fireman stories. Until yesterday.

I went to visit my friend, Lisa, at her brand new Senior Living apartment. As hip young seniors we keep trying to turn this experience into a fun-loving event, rather than a crystal ball into our future as we look down the hallway at the walkers and scooters sitting outside apartment doors.

Every time I go there, Lisa has a new story that most assuredly will provide material for our sitcom about TBIs (Traumatic Brain Injuries) combined with Senior Housing. It’ll be a  hoot, based on our initial research!

She’s been in this newly built apartment building for about a month, as has everyone, so the glitches are still being worked out. The biggest challenge is cooking, not because these people don’t know how to cook, but as I suspect based on my mother-in-law’s experience, because the designers of senior housing were forewarned that seniors leave things on the stove.

In response to that, the smoke alarms have been set to super-very-sensitive. So that if your tea kettle steam starts to sing, off goes the smoke alarm for the entire building. If you’ve burnt your toast, because you LIKE burnt toast (yes, there are some of us out there), the smoke alarm goes off. If you have a few items on the top of the stove that are boiling, the smoke alarm will likely accompany your potatoes, carrots and green beans.

This alarm is not just in your apartment. The entire building goes off with blinking lights and shrill clanging that does not stop until the fire department arrives and shuts it off.

And remember, this is senior housing. These aren’t sprinters who live here. They have to find their keys, get their coats and purses. Don’t even think of telling them to go outside without their purse. Sometimes they are napping and are jolted out of their beds. This has danger, broken hips and fear-of-cooking written all over it.

Lisa told me this has happened at least a half a dozen times in just the first month. I, of course, think she is prone to exaggeration.

Until we come home from our shopping trip, and everyone is out in the parking lot, lights are blaring, we can hear the fire engine several blocks away, the clanging alarm is assaulting our conversation, and I notice that there are half-naked people standing in the parking lot.

aka "Silver Lining"
aka “Silver Lining”

No, they are not Seniors. Sorry, but nobody wants to see that. They are lifeguards from the YMCA, which is attached to the senior housing building. So every time the alarm goes off, they have to clear the YMCA, which includes the pool, in November, when it’s 40 degrees outside and raining. And yes, there is always a silver lining.

Lisa’s 85-year-old neighbor approaches us with:

“Why don’t they just take out all the stoves in our apartments?”

To which another replies:

“I made chili yesterday and didn’t move from the stove until it was completely done. I was afraid to even go to the bathroom, in case it set off the fire alarm. And it wasn’t even five-alarm chili.”

Yep, this sitcom is gonna’ be a hoot!

“You Just have to Laugh……”

©2016 Cathy Sikorski

Prequel, Shmequel…just stick to the publication date……..

Sometimes I think we forget how the generation above us made a sensible life for themselves.  We fail to give our moms and dads credit for having figured out how to well…figure it out. Life has always been complicated, the addition of technology as not only a tool, but our new best friend is  making it worse. And yes, this flummoxes people like my 88-year-old Mom. But let’s not pretend it doesn’t do the same to us too.

I was trying to explain the concept of a pre-quel to my mom the other day.  My mom and sister and I have become rabid fans of the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child. There are like 20 of them and I’m happy to read them in whatever order the books come into my life. Some I get from the library, some I get from my friends, and I read whichever ones I haven’t read yet. And then I pass them on to my mom and my sister.

The one thing that was bugging all of us is that all of a sudden (Spoiler Alert, but probably not really if you’re a fan) is that everyone was talking to Jack about how sorry they were because his brother died. What? When did that happen? He was just alive two books ago. And how did he die? Nobody (at least not the characters) is talking.

So my mom and sister decided  to put an end to this. They are both Virgos. They cannot abide this frivolous lack of organization. My sister finally put her foot down.  We are going to look in the newest book we have, get a list of all the titles and start from the beginning.

Okay, fine.

Turns out not one of us ever read the very first book by Lee Child with Jack Reacher as his main character, the Killing Floor.  That’s where his brother, Joe Reacher dies.

Now my mom is confused, outraged and refuses to accept this.

“I ‘ve read dozens of these books, so far,” she said, “and the brother is alive in some of them. This doesn’t make any sense.”

“Well,” I told her, “perhaps the author wanted to go back in time with Jack’s life and talk about  where he came from, his mom and his brother and their life together. So he had to create a pre-quel.”

That seemed to be the end of the conversation, until a few days later when we were going shopping.

“I need you to give that book, “The Killing Floor” back to me, ” she said.

“Okay, but I’m reading it. Can it wait?”

“Well, okay, but I wrote down the publication date as 1997, and I just want to see if that’s right because I’ve gone through all the Jack Reacher books I have at home and none of them are before 1997. I just don’t understand it. I must’ve written it down incorrectly.”

“What are you talking about, Mom?”

“It just can’t be right that that book was written in 1997 because his mother and brother are dead and they are alive in other books.”

Now, here’s the thing. Do not try and use Star Wars as an example of a pre-quel to your 88-year-old mother. I tried. She’s never seen any Star-Wars-anything.  Princess Leia sounds naughty, Yoda sounds like exercise and Obewon Kenobe sounds like sushi, all of which she detests.

Since pre-quels didn’t seem to exist before  Star Wars, well, you’re just going to have to figure it out.

I’m not finished The Killing Floor yet, but I’m thinking about ripping out the copyright page and dummying up one that says 2016. For my mom, for my sanity, for senior citizens book clubs everywhere, and for all readers born before 1983.

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©Cathy Sikorski 2016

Don’t Worry…..We Will Take Care of You……

Last Friday my Mom called me, practically in tears.

“Roberta was so mean to me,” she said.

I’m thinking, “who the hell is Roberta?”.

“She’s from my medical insurance carrier. I called to ask her why a bill wasn’t paid and she said I should never have been given this insurance and I’m going to have to pay back every penny from the last 15 years.”

“And,” she went on with a worried tone, “you told me to NEVER pay a medical bill. So I don’t know what to do.”

“Calm down, Mom. We will get this worked out. It will be okay.”

My first reaction was this:

I did tell my Mom never t pay a medical bill because her insurance covers everything.

My mom has Tricare For Life Medical Insurance. This insurance is for Veterans and their families, spouses, widows, children. My Dad died in a helicopter crash as an Army pilot on October 10, 1961. My mother had five children all under the age of 10 and was pregnant with her sixth child. So I kind of think my Mom is entitled to this insurance.

The thing is, Mom never claimed this insurance until my step-father passed away in 1998. She didn’t even ask for it. She already had Medicare and AARP. But when she applied for her widows benefits after my step-father passed away, the Veteran’s Administration made her jump through all kinds of hoops with documentation and then gave her this insurance.

My mom is a Virgo.

Why does that matter? She has kept every single piece of paper that has ever come into her life. So she has every piece of documentation that transpired fifteen years ago with the Veteran’s Administration. She sent them her marriage certificate to my step-father and his death certificate.

Then, they put her on the wrong insurance.

And now they are threatening an 87 year-old widow, who raised her family of six children without a father, who never even made it to 30 years old.

After talking to seven different people at seven different government administrative places which most people never even heard of, we refiled all the documentation from 15 years ago.

Now we wait.

I know from the last 25 years of caregiving and jumping through administrative hoops that this story will not have an easy ending. There’s going to be reams of paperwork. There will likely be boatloads of nastiness. There may be a lawsuit. But in my best, Scarlett O’Hara voice: “As God is my witness….my mother will never pay one dime to fix this problem.”

It helps that I’m a lawyer.

I know you don’t think there could possibly be a laugh in here in any way. But as I was looking at some of the documents from her insurance company, I saw this:

Fun things to do while fighting with Insurance
Fun things to do while fighting with Insurance

Really?

Hmmmm…..

“You Just have to Laugh…..”

©2016 Cathy Sikorski