Aging in the Land of Nod
A Normal Annoyance of Old Age

This Week in Elder News: 7 June 2008

In this regular weekend feature you will find links to news items from the preceding week related to elders and aging, along with whatever else catches my fancy that I think you might like to know. Suggestions are welcome with, however, no promises of publication.

Giggle of the Week (Via Gordon.Coale):

I heard that if you locked William Shakespeare in a room with a typewriter for long enough, he'd eventually write all the songs by the Monkees.

New York State’s Attorney General is suing an insurance agent who sold elders duplicate home health services policies costing them thousands of dollars while he collected hundreds of thousands in commissions.

In a separate move, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun a campaign to alert elders and people of all ages to the nuances used by scammers in telemarketing fraud. One thing everyone should do is sign up with the Do Not Call Registry.

My personal tactic for anyone, including charities and political campaigns, who asks for money by phone is to tell them I accept solicitations only through snailmail which usually gets rid of them. Here is the FTC’s new video on phone fraud and you can find out more here.

Certainly some of the 30-year gain in longevity made during the 20th century and better health in old age are due to modern drugs. But they can be dangerous, particularly in combination and when too many are prescribed at once. This story contains some good links to information about drug interactions worth keeping in your permanent bookmarks.

Until someone explains to me how we will feed and house all the people who would live to be 150 or 200, I’m skeptical of longevity research and drugs; I think the money could be better spent on finding cures for cancer and other diseases. Still, you might find this story about red wine and longevity of interest.

The number of stories about water shortages throughout the world are growing and last week, Governor Schwarznegger declared an official drought in California - which this photo aptly demonstrates. (Photo: David McNew/Getty Images)


Two boomer women from Minnesota have created a website to help you design your own, personalized funeral and leave instructions for your loved ones including music, photographs, writings and practical information that will be needed upon your demise. It’s amusing that they seem to believe no one’s done this before; I haven’t been to a funeral in decades that could be called traditional. But the site is filled with a lot useful reminders.

Except perhaps for the built-in camera, most surveys find that elders are not much interested in cell phone services beyond actual voice calls. But there are some free services worth knowing about: 800.GOOG.411, 800.FREE411 and 800.2CHACHA.

Here’s a little Facebook vignette. I can’t figure out if it’s ageist or funny.

Quote of the week:

“If you aspire to the highest place, it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third, place.”
- Marcus Tullius Cicero


The video is disgusting......and really sad. Has the world gone mad thinking about S-E-X! What a commentary on our times! Dee


You omitted one of the services mentioned in that article - and it's my favorite one! It's the service called Jott. You DO have to sign up online for that one first (so they know your email address!), but it's free. I use it all the time. It is easier than a text message and, on my plan, I have plenty of minutes but text messages cost ten cents (and are of limited length). Jott does the job for me - I call them, I spout whatever idea it is, and later I get an email. The included link to the voice replay is handy if it makes mistakes in the transcription, but while no voice-to-text service I've seen is perfect, Jott does amazingly well. I LOVE this service. Yes, I could dig out paper and write a note; the problem with that is that I then sometimes forget that I was supposed to check the notebook when I got home. I routinely check email morning and evening, so Jott's emailed reminders always show up. I love them.

Interestingly, what I don't love are phone trees modeled off voice recognition. "Tell me what you want: payments and billing, blah blah...." And no numbers given so I can't push numbers. Some people have accents that are harder for these things and there is no accomodation. Some people may not be able to speak clearly. I just get embarrassed, sometimes, sitting somewhere others can see/here me, talking to my phone not as if to a person but muttering "payments/billing, yes, yes, no...." And when they want my social security or my home phone number I would REALLY like to use the key pad and not say it aloud!

I'm not sure what is being made fun of whether it is Facebook and other social networks or the elderly. Still I found it amusing.

Dee no actual sex was involved as the references were all to the way people interact on Facebook.
However thinking about sex has been normal human behavior for eons. I object to the violence portrayed rather than the innuendo re sexual activity.

Didn't find the video funny, rather kind of tedious. And I see the sexism more clearly than the ageism - which is probably also there. Its the same old scenario of women fighting over men and losing their friendships over men. Most often, in my experience, women support one another in their loving and sexual relationships, or are candid in pointing out relationships that are unhealthy or abusive.

The most alarming item I found on your interesting list of tidbits was in the article about overmedicated elders. While out of town, the daughter (Ms. Phillips) received numerous phone messages in which her mother was clearly disoriented and in trouble. Here was the family's response:

"Phillips immediately called her brother, Brad Burns, who went the next morning to check on their mother. He found Nancy Burns stumbling around her home, confused and slurring her words. Phillips and Burns took their 66-year-old mother to the emergency room when Phillips returned from Kansas City."

Now, I don't know what their family situation was, but to leave their mother until the following morning before anyone went to check on her and, after finding her confused and slurring her words, to wait until the daughter returned from an out-of-town trip is, to me, completely mystifying.

If she'd had a stroke, immediate medical attention could have been life-saving. And how did she function during those hours or days that she was left in that dangerous condition?

Here's important info from the MedLinePlus website:

"A stroke is a medical emergency. Physicians have begun to call it a 'brain attack' to stress that getting treatment immediately can save lives and reduce disability. . . The goal is to get the person to the emergency room immediately, determine if he or she is having a bleeding stroke or a stroke from a blood clot, and start therapy -- all within 3 hours of when the stroke began."

Of course, the fact that their mother was misdiagnosed when they did finally get her to a hospital is not heartening. But if she'd had a stroke, the delay could have been fatal or totally debilitating.

I thought the video was humorous and sad at the same time. The internet is kind of an odd place where what isn't real seems real and can ruin what is real. All of what they were saying was about fantasy shortcuts which could be good for elders who can't really get out and do those things, but in this case the women took it too seriously and ruined their friendships (in the skit) and that's too bad because it does happen. It's not just elders caught up in that imaginary world with real people

Vignette: Funny like a well told ethnic joke - technically "funny" but awful that it's told. The skit just appalled me.

I don't know about you, but I prefer talking to people when I need to get information. I use 800-411-SAVE (or one of the other free directory assistance services that use real people) because I find a live operator always works better than talking to a machine - however polite the machine pretends to be.

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