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*** January 2011 E-zine ***

This Month's Highlights:
· Seniors Can Be Anorexic
· Be Alert for Scams
· Your Credit Report

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CONTENTS

A1. SENIORS CAN BE ANOREXIC
A2. IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE…BE ALERT
B. DID YOU KNOW...?
C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH
D. SPECIAL SURFING SITE
E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE

 

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A1. SENIORS CAN BE ANOREXIC

When I visited my 94-year-old mother, whom I hadn't seen since September, and who lives 500 miles away, I was shocked to see how much weight she'd lost in just those few months. And when I looked in the refrigerator I was taken aback by how little food there was, and of what there was, how small a portion of it was food my mother really liked.

We discussed it, and Mother told me that she did none of the shopping now--either her younger sister or my brother or her care giver went to the store for her -and she had little input into the kinds of food that was bought, or the frequency of its purchase. "I don't like it, so I won't eat it," she said. "And I'm not hungry anymore." So while my family thought they were doing well at filling the refrigerator, they were actually adding to her weight loss.

I did a lot of grocery shopping while I was there, and though I filled the refrigerator with food she used to enjoy--cottage cheese, olives, marmalade, fresh orange juice, lettuce, hearty soups and meat loaves--she ate little. "I've lost my taste for food," she sighed. And to add to the problem, she suffers from mild dementia, and often cannot remember if she's eaten on a given day.

So now we had several reasons Mom was losing weight:
- She didn't "like" the food others bought for her without consulting her;
- She wasn't hungry;
- She'd lost her taste for food;
- She couldn't remember if she'd eaten.

Mother, in her prime, had been a magnificent woman==almost six feet tall, voluptuous, with blue-black hair, and skin she'd tan to an almost mahogany shade at the beach each summer. Now she'd lost almost a foot in height, weighed 85 pounds, and was malnourished, often feeling weak and unable to move comfortably around the house, therefore increasing her loss of muscle mass.

Poor nutritional status and malnutrition are common problems among persons of advancing age. Many have financial problems that prevent them from purchasing nutritious food (or they may not be physically able to get to where the food is). Often they are missing teeth needed for chewing or have poorly fitting dentures; or they may have digestive issues that make them feel full or ill after eating just a small amount. Taste buds decline in number through the years, so food "just doesn't taste right." Some drugs a senior might be taking interfere with digestion, or with absorption of nutrients from foods. The death of a spouse, loss of independence, and depression all contribute to and compound the situation.

Anorexia in the aging is different from that of younger people (these are the two groups in which it prominently occurs). According to the Carilion Clinic Center for Healthy Aging's Geriatric Assessment Clinic, in Roanoke, VA, the health problems that affect seniors can include protein-energy malnutrition, functional and cognitive decline, and acute illness. Resulting muscle weakness may contribute to debilitating falls and some debilitating illnesses, physical and mental.

Elder under-nutrition is caused in part by changes in the brain that hinder older adults’ ability to perceive hunger and adequately regulate food intake. Deterioration of the hypothalamus and other regions of the brain prevent hormones and neurotransmitters associated with hunger to transfer these feelings, so seniors may not eat as often, or as much, as they need to in order to avoid weight loss.

Nicki Rosen, a social worker, has written an interesting book addressing these problems of under-nutrition, called Anorexia Nervosa in the Elderly, (2010, Gurze Books). In it, she details other reasons seniors may reject food. Seniors may "act out" a loss of independence, isolation, undiagnosed depression, or stress related to retirement, such as having to adjust to a lower income level. (Please note that I am not trying to present an exhaustive list of causes here, but trying to give readers some ideas of what to look out for.)

According to Rosen, living environments don't seem to make much difference in people's nutrition. The same problems occur in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities as in the home. For instance, laxative overuse may be a problem for some people who live in supported communities as they might be "at home."

There are interventions that may bring about solutions to this very big problem. Psychological counseling may be more effective than dealing with the food choices seniors make, or with the weight loss itself. Medical professionals might consider reviewing prescriptions; prescribing medicines that increase appetite; addressing depression; and providing help with shopping and cooking. Further, especially for elders who are living in a communal situation, solutions may include

- Eating healthy meals that someone else prepares;
- Dining with others for socialization and to ensure that those with poor memories are actually eating adequately; and
- Participating in a physical rehabilitation program to increase endurance, mobility, and balance, which will provide an overall sense of well being, as well as increasing independence and appetite and food intake.

In my mother's case, it was taken out of my hands: A few weeks after I returned to my home, on Thanksgiving Day my mother fell and broke her hip--for the third time. She's currently in the hospital, waiting for a bed to open up in a rehab facility. The excellent staff knows that she needs to be cajoled into eating, and they make sure there’s an appetizing goody on each tray; they also bring her meals to the solarium sometimes, so that she can sit in the sun while she eats.

She's going to recover from this episode; her will is strong if her body isn't. She'll come home again, and we'll make a concerted effort to keep her on a good nutritional path.

For more information on anorexia in seniors, go to
http://www.agingincanada.ca/anorexia.htm
http://www.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,3605,502901,00.html
http://www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/media/releases/1996/mr-96-85.html
http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/0115/p196.html
http://xnet.kp.org/permanentejournal/sum05/elderly.html

 

For more information on Understanding Aging, see http://www.seniorresource.com/ageproc.htm


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A2. IT COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE…BE ALERT By Barbara Krueger

The phone rang, of course, at dinnertime. When I picked it up, the slightly hoarse, male voice said "Hi Grandma." Was this my nephew Chuck? Couldn't be my only grandson since he is a mere three months' old. As a joker Chuck could call me "Grandma," since I have a new grandson. "Hi, who is this?"
"Who do you think this is?"
"Are you Eric (my other nephew) or Chuck?"
"Which one do you think I am?"
"I think you're Chuck." It did sound like him with a cold to account for the bit of hoarseness.
"That's right, I’m Chuck."
"So Chuck, what prompted this call?" Last time I spoke with Chuck it was about shoulder replacement. I'm facing needing to have my right shoulder replaced, and Chuck had undergone replacement of both of his shoulders, the need for which was caused by too much heavy weight-lifting. My deterioration could be chalked up to old age and too much housework. Last time we talked we decided to blame all this eroded cartilage and bone on genes. We must have both gotten it from my mom (his true grandma) or my dad (his grandpa). All this went through my mind in the course of this short conversation. Perhaps Chuck wanted to know when I was going to have the surgery.

But all those thoughts stopped abruptly with the caller's next line.
"I'm in Spain."

What was Chuck doing in Spain? He'd lost his business, couldn't make his alimony payments and, unless my sister had failed to tell me, he hadn't won the lottery.

An "Aha moment" occurred. My goodness, I read about these scams! Someone calls pretending to be a loved one and asks you to save them from being stranded in some country you may never have visited, by wiring them rescue money.

Never being one for tact and patience with unsolicited, fund-raising calls, I immediately said into the phone, "This is a scam!" And put the phone down.

"Darn," I thought after I told my husband about the call. I should have stayed on the phone and gotten the address where they wanted me to wire the money. Then I would have called the District Attorney's (DA's) office and reported the information.

Although the call may have come from Georgia, or Alaska, the fact that I was contacted in MY CITY, made it a crime that could be prosecuted by my state's DA. The DA's office could have arranged to intercept the transfer in Spain (or wherever) and arrested the scammers.

The "do-gooder" streak in me is just waiting for another scammer to call our house. This time I'll play along in the hopes of saving someone less aware of the scam from being bilked out of thousands of dollars.

Until that next call comes, the best thing I could do is reach as many people as possible with my story to let them know it can happen to anyone. Remember, and be alert.

Now, to lighten your mood, visit http://www.seniorresource.com/jokes.htm


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B. DID YOU KNOW...?

1. What Goes Into Your Credit Report?
Your credit history is an ongoing record of information detailing which credit cards or loans you have opened and/or closed over time, whether or not you have been late with any payments, and more. All of this information is available in a document called a credit report. What exactly goes into your credit report?

Personal Information
First, your personal information--including your name, Social Security Number (SSN), birth date and current and past addresses--is listed. Current and former places of employment are sometimes included, along with any important "alerts" including whether or not you have been the victim of identity theft or if you are currently serving on active duty in the military.

Credit History
Your report also includes a comprehensive listing of all trade lines--loans, credit cards, mortgages and other outstanding debt currently open in your name. Any credit cards or loans you have closed or already paid off (called inactive accounts) will remain on your credit report for seven to ten years. Your bank account information (savings and checking account balances, for instance) is not included; however, if you have overdrawn your bank account it can be noted in your credit report.

Each open loan or credit card is listed, along with the amount of money you owe on each. Other information, including outstanding balances, monthly payment amounts, and credit limits are also included, along with the name of each lender and the account number for each loan.

Late payments are recorded in your report in the past-due column, along with what is called your account status--i.e., whether your account is in good standing or has been reported to a collection agency for late or non-payment.

Inquiries
You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report annually, and can access your report anytime thereafter for a small fee. These are called "administrative inquiries" and do not affect your credit report or overall credit score. However, any time a lender or other entity "pulls," or requests a copy of, your credit report, it is noted and recorded in your report for one year. Too many inquiries over a 12-month period can negatively impact your report, possibly indicating to other potential lenders that you may be applying for too many credit cards or loans and could become financially overextended.

Matters of Public Record
Official information regarding any liens currently open against you (for late or non-payment on your taxes), bankruptcies you may have declared in the past 10 years, lawsuits or legal judgments filed against you, or any child support requirements, are also included in your credit report. This information can stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

What is Not in Your Report?
Your credit report includes lots of information on your accounts, loans, etc., but it does not include what is sometimes referred to as your credit score. Your credit score is calculated based on the information included in your credit report but it is not a part of the actual report itself.

Your credit report also does not include information on your race, gender, ethnicity, religion, marital status, medical or criminal history, or political affiliation.

 

2. Walking Aids Diabetes Control
Research shows that starting a walking program can help people with type-2 diabetes achieve tighter glucose control. A study by Italian researchers found that sedentary diabetes participants who began walking about 30 minutes a day lowered their hemoglobin A1c levels by 0.4% after two years. The walkers also experienced marked improvements in cholesterol, triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood), protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and blood pressure. Most people with diabetes can follow the American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine recommendation to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week. "Moderate" activity is defined as equivalent to walking at a pace of 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Learn more at John Hopkins Health Alerts or here http://www.seniorresource.com/health.htm#walk


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C. THOUGHTS FOR THE MONTH

We present here some words from those with a birthday this month.

Walter Mondale - "We don't go it alone. We go with everybody."

Katie Couric - "You can't please everyone, and you can't make everyone like you."

Elvis Presley - "Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't goin' away."

Shirley Bassey - "You don't get older, you get better."

David Bowie - "You can neither win nor lose if you don't run the race."

More "Thoughts" at: http://www.seniorresource.com/thought.htm get some books at
http://www.seniorresource.com/SRBaz.htm


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D. SPECIAL SURFING SITES

1. Vet Centers at Your Service
Vet Centers provide readjustment counseling and outreach services to all veterans who served in any combat zone. Services are also available for their family members for military related issues. Veterans have earned these benefits through their service and all are provided at no cost to the veteran or family. The 232 community-based Vet Centers are located in all fifty states, District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Find your Vet Center here. http://www2.va.gov/directory/guide/vetcenter_flsh.asp

2. Flu Season is Peaking
“Flu, shorthand for "influenza," refers to illnesses caused by a number of different influenza viruses. Flu can cause a range of symptoms and effects, from mild to lethal. Most healthy people recover from the flu without problems, but certain people are at high risk for serious complications. Flu symptoms may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.

In the United States, the flu season runs usually from fall through early spring. The peak of flu season has occurred anywhere from late November through March. The overall health impact (e.g., infections, hospitalizations, and deaths) of a flu season varies from year to year. On average, each year in the United States: 5 to 20 percent of the population get the flu Learn more about flu here. http://www.flu.gov/


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E. OH MY AGING FUNNY BONE

1. Actual Call Center Conversations!

Caller (enquiring about legal requirements while traveling in Europe): "If I register my car in France, and then take it to England, do I have to change the steering wheel to the other side of the car?"

Caller: "I'd like the number of the Argo Fish Bar, please."
Operator: "I'm sorry, there's no listing. Are you sure that the spelling is correct?"
Caller: "Well, it used to be called the Bargo Fish Bar, but the 'B' fell off."

Then there was the caller who asked for a knitwear company in Woven, Scotland.
Operator: "Woven? Are you sure?"
Caller: "Yes. That's what it says on the label –‘Woven in Scotland.'"

2. For Those Who Love the Philosophy of Ambiguity...

- One nice thing about egotists: They don't talk about other people.
- Does The Little Mermaid wear an algebra?
- Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?
- How is it possible to have a civil war?
- If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do the rest drown, too?

"Oh My Aging Funny Bone" is at: http://www.seniorresource.com/jokes.htm


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This issue has been edited by Betsy Day (Betsyjday@aol.com).

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