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Sunday Election Issues - 28 September 2008

This Week in Elder News: 27 September 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.

In addition today, at the bottom of the links list, Crabby Old Lady responds to readers’ answers to her neighbor nightmare posted last Thursday.

There is a terrific new blog called Advanced Style, created by three young people, Brianna, Ari and Erika. Brianna tells me the goal is to capture "awesome styles of New York's older men and women from the sophisticated and well-dressed to the accidentally stylish and colorful folks on the town." Here's a recent example.


The blog makes me smile and reminds me of one of the reasons I will always miss living in New York City - everyone seems to have a style that is all his or her own.

A more intimate kind of elder fashion was on display in Tokyo last Thursday: adult diapers in a range of types for people who are bedridden to those who are much more active.

"The fashion show itself was half camp, half instruction. Speakers blared oldie hits such as Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood as models jaunted on the stage with diapers pulled on over black tights."

Photos and more information can be found here.

According to one expert, “seniors are the only group in America that has been increasing its rate of voter turnout, especially in the 75-and-older range.” Elders of all ages vote at a rate 60 percent higher than young people. Find out more about how our age group is expected to influence the November election.

Although elders are among the hardest hit by the financial meltdown, there has been hardly any media attention. To their credit, a couple of reporters at The New York Times do recognize the problem. The conclusion of one of their experts?

“For older people, there is no upside to the distress. ‘They’ve got to adjust their expectations of retirement,’ said Martin Baily, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. ‘The market will recover, but you won’t.’”

There will be a lot more about this at Time Goes By in the near future.

Elders in New York City and around the country are taking college classes by telephone in a program called DOROT University Without Walls. There are 250 courses ranging from feng shui to poetry to philosophy and more.

"It gets me out emotionally. It releases me from the four walls around me," said Leeds, who has participated in the program for 12 years. Her fall selections include a course on the life and work of author Doris Lessing and a class on recording personal histories.”

Read more about it here.

The University of Reading in England finds in a study that simply increasing the size of link buttons in computer programs, browsers, websites, etc. greatly increases elder’s ability to use computers. In fact, younger people benefit too: “…expanding targets produced the same improvements in error rates and target selection times as for older people.” (Hat tip to Suzz of Suzzwords)

Any Social Security beneficiary knows that the annual increase in the Medicare Part B premium often comes pretty close to wiping out the Social Security cost-of-living increase. Good news this year: the premium will remain the same for 2009: $96.40 for 95 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.

Crabby Old Lady’s Neighbor Nightmare Update
One of the many benefits of the overwhelming response to Crabby’s Thursday request for help in dealing with her nightmare neighbor is emotional exhaustion. Yes, you read that correctly: a benefit.

While reading the numerous expressions of sympathy, outrage and suggestions in comments and many private emails, it was as though a hundred-pound burden had been lifted from Crabby's back. Tears flowed down her cheeks, probably in relief that so many understand how awful this has been for Crabby. It felt like two years of knotted muscles in her upper back finally untangled themselves.

As Crabby noted in the comments Thursday, selling her home is not feasible. The few sales of comparable properties these days are going for 12-15 percent below what Crabby paid for her condo. And now, having lost 30 percent of her retirement funds in the market meltdown, she cannot afford to take the real estate loss too, not the costs of a move itself. But there is another, equally important, reason: Crabby’s contrariness will not allow her give in to these cretins until she can move on her terms.

A huge difficulty in small condominiums (which Crabby experienced in her four-owner condo in New York City to a far lesser degree) is that the owners ARE the board. There is not the pressure of numbers in dealing with problem owners as there is in large condominium and co-op projects. And when one of the three owners, as in her current condo, is the constant transgressor and the second is disinclined to any kind of confrontation, nothing changes.

Before posting her rant last week, Crabby had stopped at the nearby fire station to ask about her options in any future burning in the cellar. The fireman said that as long as nothing is then in flames and there is no smoke, it is a police matter. Crabby should call them to investigate and follow through.

As soon as Crabby has a moment, she will, at the suggestion of some readers, stop by the police station to inquire about making nuisance and other reports. This is a small town and, as someone said, they will remember Crabby in the future.

One reader took the time to consult an attorney for Crabby who advised finding legal counsel. Paying by the hundreds of dollars an hour is not in Crabby's budget, but another reader with the same thought emailed suggestions for free or inexpensive legal services for elders and Crabby has found two in her area.

Many people mentioned the importance of documentation. Crabby hadn’t done that except for the emails she sent to the condominium owners requesting/demanding action on the incidents. Unfortunately, she lost all previous emails in a computer crash several months ago, so there is no written record of older incidents. But she will now carefully document occurrences in a separate file and photograph each one. And, having now collected the telephone numbers of the appropriate authorities – health, animal, non-emergency police, etc. – she will report each incident as it happens.

To give you an idea of the passive/aggressive nature of her neighbors, a few days ago in response to Crabby’s complaint about having her car blocked in the driveway (again), Dick had the balls to send around an email with this photograph showing marks on his door from Crabby banging on it with her key. Crabby had resorted to using her key after 15 minutes of knocking had bruised her knuckles which had started to bleed:


(The door is white, not gray) Dick “suggested” in the email that Crabby should use her knuckles or her foot instead. Crabby has not and will not respond to such unmitigated effrontery.

Crabby laughed through her tears reading the “get even” advice from some readers and she wishes it were in her nature. Mostly, she just wants this all to go away. Even if she would rather be in New York City or Portland, Oregon, a move is not affordable for the time being and she does love her apartment - her built-in library, her deck garden, having a guest room for the first time in her life and, don’t laugh, even having her own washer and dryer after four decades of hauling her laundry down the block and paying to have it done, is a weekly pleasure even if she does hate folding.

Crabby Old Lady, who sometimes through this ordeal thought she is the one who is nuts, wishes to thank all of you from the bottom of her heart for your support. What a great place the blogosphere can be.


The style blog is really great. I love it when I see an elder dressed beautifully. I did craft fairs for years with my jewelry and older craftspeople often had a great arty style. I always remember one silver haired woman who had a lovely collection of flowing robes and dresses in shades of blue and purple.
And as for the neighbor problem, it is good that you have taken the first steps to getting help. Who knows, maybe by reaching out to the blogosphere you will find a home in NYC or Portland west. You can never tell what will happen if you ask.

Now this is an idea whose time has come. I wish you could have some elder fashion advertisers on here from whom we could order some clothing styles.

Earlier found your "Good Neighbor" post from Thurs., I think, and finally managed to post a comment after my internet connectivity problem messed me up a couple of times. Now, I find your post here, and am glad to read it sounds like you're moving ahead in a sane and sensible manner. Maybe word-of-mouth in the community will embarrass the family, if not him, and they'll force him to move out of there. Do take care of yourself as people can be unpredictable sometimes when things escalate.

Print out everything, and back it up onto an external hard drive, or some such device. That will protect your documentation against future computer glitches.

We all know that "glitch happens."

Nice to know you are not alone, but wow, the response...How about printing out all of them and passing them around just like he did with the picture. Perhaps when he/parents see how much support you have they will 'stand back'.

Ronni: you have simply made my day by adding the Advanced Style link. Just what I needed to get me out of the doldrums. I can't thank you enough.....it's a new lease on an aging life & I intend to join the crowd. (Now I know why my son loves NYC so much....saying he will never leave!)

So glad you feel better after unloading about your neighbors. The experience of making online friends never ceases to amaze me....it's a grand thing. Dee

I am so glad that you are taking steps to report the cretin who is making your life miserable. Just doing something takes away the feeling of being a victim and I hope with all my heart that you win. No one should get away with the harassment he is dumping on you.

My daughter is involved in a bitter divorce. Since her husband lost his job before the court date she is in limbo. During this time she is hunting for a job and paying all costs for her daughters upbringing. He is acting like your neighbor. He dumped five bags of smelly garbage and an old king size mattress next to her driveway. Calling her lawyer is no longer an option as one telephone call to him resulted in a charge of $1,200. Therefore, Ronni, I advise you to avoid the legal battle unless the on line lawyers are helpful. It can be very costly.

Thank you x's 3 for alerting me to Advanced Style! So wonderful. NYC rocks! And Mimi Weddell is the best.
As for your egocentric slob of a neighbor... remember... what goes around comes around. In some way, he'll get his (if he isn't already).

You are welcome!

I started a website about fashion for older women in August. I had planned to include a blog of photos of attractively dressed older women in my neck of the woods. I'm a bit disappointed I'm not first, but perhaps there is room for two.

Re: adult diapers --- why do we have to call these garments by that demeaning and infantilizing name? A friend of mine who is dealing with a parent's post-operative issues refers to them as "disposable underwear", which I think is both accurate and far less demeaning to the wearer. Adults who need these items shouldn't be shamed for it!

Thank you for the Advanced Style link. I just love it and it's going to very near the top of my blog bookmarks.
Love it!

Just got back from a road trip, Ronni....find out if you can have his car towed. Yes, a visit to your local cop shop my simplify your life. Don't bang on his door; he might sue. Tell him you will repaint his door, that will make him wonder what you are up to.

Yes, print out everything and back it all up on a disc or hard drive then let it all go. Hugs from here.

Hi Ronni,

I read all about your horrible dilemma with your neighbor on your earlier post. And although I didn't leave a comment, I agreed with much of what was written in your comments about documenting things and talking to authorities about the situation. I'm glad you're taking some steps toward doing so sweetie.

Having on-going problems with neighbors can really wear you down in more ways than one. I really hope somehow things are resolved for you Ronni...for your health and your sanity. You have a lot of people rooting for you to prevail.

Maine has laws about condominiums. See, for example, http://www.mainecondo.com/laws1.html
The directors (including your "I don't want to be involved" upstairs neighbor) can't just slough off their responsibilities. Find a lawyer and talk to him/her, for a limited period of time & for a limited agreed-upon-in-advance amount of money, about what your remedies are for what appears to be your fellow directors' violations of their obligations.

Ronni, I read the original post about your neighbor; think I was late to class and Hubby made me leave before I could put a comment so I'm adding it now. Hope you don't mind.

I had a bad neighbor in Ohio. Countless people moved in and no one was sure how many, but there was someone constantly coming and going. What's the problem? Well, the dog they kept in the yard would run up and down the fence between our houses and bark. This dog was never given any attention by anybody and I often wondered if it was even being fed. Long story short, Hubby wouldn't talk to the "man" of the house because I suspect he was a bit like your upstairs neighbor, or "mind over matter" and as long as I don't mind it don't matter. Meanwhile it was hard for me or my daughters to get much sleep as this went on day and night.

So I didn't know what to do. I wanted to get even. So I wrote a short story for my creative writing class at the U--heavily fictionalized--in which the woman (which would have been me but wasn't me because it was fiction) go next door to settle the problem herself. She winds up having a tryst with the man who turns out to be quite a stud. I never imagined when I started writing that this was the way the story would turn out but that's the mystery of the muse. The story got rave reviews in class, earned an A+ grade to boot. I felt a little less helpless and gradually felt better. Everytime I looked at the neighbor's house I remembered how they provided my inspiration. Meantime, Hubby wasn't quite sure if it was fully fictional, as I assured him it was. It was so funny! So I got back (sort of) at both the neighbor and Hubby for not being more confrontational and being the "man o' the house" as we were raised to believe men should be. Soon enough we moved and that's the end of the story. But I can tell you it nearly drove me crazy.

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