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Posts Tagged ‘Gery L. Deer’

Fitting in at Hamvention.

In Education, Local News, Opinion, sociology, Technology, Uncategorized on May 24, 2016 at 8:30 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOWe all have it; that one single thing about ourselves that makes us either feel different or seem weird to other people. Different and weird are relative terms, of course, depending on the perception of those around us.

For example, someone walking around a cattle ranch in Birkenstocks and shorts might seem incredibly out of place. Is it weird to be wearing this kind of apparel or just so because of the location? It really depends on the observer.

Case in point. This past weekend I attended my very first “Hamvention;” the massive amateur radio convention held in Dayton, Ohio each spring. Hamvention, which is a registered trademark by the way, has for many years been the world’s largest amateur radio event dating back to 1952.

It’s organized and sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Association (DARA) and draws thousands each year to attend workshops, learn about new technologies and shop the hundreds of vendors selling everything from antennas to software. I was raised around the CB radio, but never really exposed to the culture surrounding “ham” users. Incidentally, the term “ham” is a derivative of the colloquial name for an amateur radio operator.

Unlike citizen band (CB) radio, amateur radio requires an FCC license and operates on a different set of frequencies and power guidelines. Each operator is assigned an alphanumeric call sign that become a kind of personal nickname in the ham circle.

13244704_10153908418374342_9000172653944694244_nI admit some trepidation about attending, even though the adventure was my idea. My hesitation was mostly due to the shadowy reputation ham operators have for being made up mostly of the off-your-rocker survivalist, who walks around with a bag full of canned beans, a shotgun, and a ham radio and 15 foot antenna sticking out of his backpack. With no first-hand experience, it all seemed a bit bizarre.

Now, before I go much further, I need to point out here that I am no stranger to the bizarre. I’ve spent a good portion of my free time at science fiction conventions. You know, full on “Star Trek” events complete with green people and otherwise normal folks walking around speaking Klingon to each other.

Instead of me thinking the convention goers were odd, I’m the one who actually felt weird and strangely out of place. What I experienced, standing there amidst thousands of people from very different walks of life, was a fascinating collection of people, all of whom had one thing in common – their interest in amateur radio.

13263851_10153908418309342_1241895779973128889_n

Geiger counters and radiation detection of all kinds … at Hamvention 2016 – Photo GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.

Yes there were some, what I would normally describe as, oddballs, as well as stereotypical survivalist types. In fact, one vendor sold nothing but Geiger counters. I couldn’t have imagined where a table full of Geiger counters would look at home, carefully packed together like someone had spray painted yellow all the pieces of a life-sized Tetris game.

Still, I’m the one who didn’t look like he belonged there. But it was fascinating how people were sharing their knowledge and experiencing the trade and technology of ham radio as if it was a big group of friends who’d never met and only got together on this one occasion.

People tend to congregate with those of common interest. Conventions like this are representative of virtually all aspect of our sociological makeup as human beings. From churchgoers and athletes to writers and amateur radio enthusiasts, an interest or devotion to a culture or activity brings people together in a consistently predictable way that nothing else can.

We should all have that one thing that makes us feel odd or weird, so long as we remember we’re not alone. When we come together with others of similar interests, great things can happen. We learn, grow, and build friendships that might otherwise never have come about.

In the end, I was indoctrinated into this eclectic family. On his birthday, Jim bought himself a couple of hand-held radios but got one for me as well. I guess it’s time for me to go take the test and get my license. I’m just relieved you’re no longer required to learn Morse code. Oh, Happy Birthday, Jim and thanks.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headline is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

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Detach and de-stress from politics

In Health, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology on May 17, 2016 at 7:57 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA July 2014 article in The Washington Post included a headline that read, “Politicians are the No. 1 cause of stress in our lives.” The article focused on a stress survey in which, “Americans cited, ‘Hearing about what the government or politicians are doing,’ as the most frequent daily stressor on their lives, and at a substantially higher rate than the usual annoyances like commuting, chores and general schedule-juggling.”

That was nearly two years ago and reactions to day-to-day politics were driving the survey. At that time the dizzying level of ridiculousness surrounding the 2016 presidential bid had yet to shift into high gear. Now, with just a few weeks until the first convention, the stakes have never been higher, and neither has our collective blood pressure.

In the time between now and the conventions, it’s unlikely anything of consequence will occur. There will be blustering and feather ruffling from candidates, but, in the end, the convention is the next decisive event. It’s time to back away for a while.

If the presidential race has driven a wedge between you and those close to you, it may be time let it go. It’s not important. The truth is, very little that takes place on the presidential campaign level will affect those of us down here in the real world.

And it certainly is not worth the loss of close friendships. So how do you disconnect? Well, here are a few short tips.

First, step away from social media – immediately! As if the cable news blather wasn’t enough, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest of social media is inundated with opinion, and certainly not necessarily what you would call, “informed” opinion.

maxresdefaultMost people, for whatever reason, have a difficult time recognizing fact from rhetoric. How many times have you been taken in on Facebook or Twitter by some fake news story? Generally those kinds of things are harmless. But when conflict and gossip are presented as factually based information, things get murky and you have to know the difference.

Along with the computer, switch off the TV as well. Face it you’re never going to get an “objective” view of any candidate, party or issue from corporate news agencies. Every organization introduces the spin they want you to hear. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and all the rest, have their own political agendas and when they want you to think, they’ll tell you how.

Consider also, how you feel when you encounter political news. Take close note of your emotions when you’re reading, watching or listening to political material. Does your heart rate jump? Do you feel angry or enraged? Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what they want; “they” being the media manipulators.

But, you don’t have to fall for it. You can choose what information to which you are exposed and how it affects you. If you just let them get to you, that’s your own fault.

Probably the best way to keep from being overwhelmed by the election hype is to be informed. Do your own research on the candidates and issues and get the information as first-hand as possible. The more facts you know, the less likely you are to get sucked into the garbage.

Politics can sometimes be a fun diversion, though for whom I haven’t a clue. But when things are as charged up as they are this time around, most of what results is stress, angry feelings and regretful behavior.

Remember that politicians at that level – including Hillary, Bernie, and Donald – have no stake in your life. They could care less about anything save their own quest for power, ego and personal benefit. And they’ll say anything to get the votes they want. Anyone who sincerely believes otherwise is a bit naive.

So as the election creeps up on us, be prepared to go vote your conscience when the time comes. Until then, shut it all down, tune it all out, and relax!

For further study and resource …

6 Ways To Cope With Political Stress by Dr. David Lowenstein

http://drlowenstein.com/2016/03/10/6-ways-to-cope-with-political-stress/

5 Ways To Avoid Stress and Stay Healthy In Political Campaigns by PoliticalCampaigningTips.com

http://www.politicalcampaigningtips.com/5-ways-to-avoid-stress-stay-healthy-in-political-campaigns/

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

 

 

Living in the family museum

In Health, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on February 7, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAlthough there is a lot of talk about millennials returning home to live with parents, the majority of Americans still move away from their family home. As a teenager, most people long for independence to explore different worlds, expand careers and so on while at the same time freeing themselves from the obligations and responsibility associated with living close to parents and immediate family.

But that wasn’t me. Yes, I had the same desire to see and experience the world, but I seemed to need a grounding to make it work properly for me. I did move away from my hometown for brief periods during college, a few years for work and the like. But for the majority of my life, I’ve remained within just a few miles of my family farm, where my father still lives.

12674271_10153643748619342_101686889_nFor the last two decades, my family music group has called our family farm “home” and that’s where we practice and produce our shows. But it wasn’t until I began helping to care for my mother in 2009 that I ended up having to spend far more time in the home where I grew up than one might think is usual – or psychologically healthy.

My mother passed in 2011 but, a few years later, I had to repeat that effort as my dad’s health made it necessary for us to assist him as well. Fortunately, not to the degree Mom needed help, but once again the situation required me to be at his house several days each week.

My family home is pretty much as it always was with minor changes here and there. But to me it seems simultaneously totally familiar and completely foreign. My job makes it easy for me to work remotely, but there’s a constantly present, underlying distraction.

I’m not entirely sure it’s psychologically healthy to be in this situation sometimes. I’m surrounded by the past every day, as if my dad’s home is a museum with dusty, disorganized exhibits displayed out of context and unvisited.

Growing up, our family home was always a bit of a sanctuary for me, a place the difficulties of the world didn’t penetrate. Today, it can sometimes seem more like a workplace. There’s something disquieting occasionally about walking the halls in what used to be a nurturing home but that now serves another purpose.

Of my siblings and me I am the only one to have grown up in the house. Still, it can still feel very strange to be there now. Today, Dad occupies only certain rooms, but once upon a time the whole house rang with laughter and music, as the smell of homemade food wafted throughout. Now I walk through the dark, silence wondering where the years went.

Maybe it’s having come so close to losing my brother to a serious illness last summer that has triggered some of these deeply buried thoughts. But, whatever the reason, they’ve come blasting to the surface like a volcanic eruption.

Mostly I’m troubled by the fact that my father is so very alone in the world now, having outlived everyone close to him save his children. Within just a few years of each other he lost the aunt who raised him, his brother-in-law who was like a little brother to him, and, most tragically, my mother.

There’s no one left of his generation except a sister, who lives a few hours away, a half-brother whom he doesn’t know very well, and a couple of school friends he speaks to on the phone. These are problems he has that I can’t fix.

Someday, because of my birth position in the family, I’ll likely be the only one left of my mother, father and siblings. I can’t replace what Dad’s lost, so I spend my time with him trying to give him a good quality of life in the present. But there are days when we both sit melancholy and remember the past in the quiet emptiness and solitude of our family home.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

Combating fear and terrorism at the holidays

In Crime, history, Local News, Media, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, psychology, sociology, Technology, Travel, Uncategorized, World News on November 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs the holiday season begins, bad guys around the world are watching and willing to do anything to disrupt safety and security. In the shadow of the Paris attacks in which 129 people died and more than 350 injured, it’s hard not to worry that another strike is just around the corner.

The level of anger and hatred leveled at peace-loving people is almost incomprehensible. But what can we do, as individual Americans, to remain safe and keep the terrorists from spreading fear?

For the most part, remaining diligent about safety should be a common sense concept. But, surprisingly, many Americans are complacent about their place on the global stage. But it’s only a matter of time before ISIS and similar groups manage to hit an American target on a massive scale, just as al Qaeda did in 2001. In other words, we’ve been lucky.

As the White House plans for the reception of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing terrorism themselves, many conservatives are debating the idea that the inrush of refugees may include planted ISIS terrorists. Although this is certainly a legitimate concern, my guess is, however, they already have people on the ground here in the States, recruiting American young people on our own soil.

It can still happen here ... again.

It can still happen here … again.

Young, mush-brained Americans are being recruited into these terrorist cells in staggering numbers. One report by CNN.com states, “ISIS takes a somewhat secular approach, portraying how much better life purportedly is in the caliphate as compared to the corrupt West.”

The article also offers a reminder that it’s not just American youth who are attracted to the ISIS recruitment process. It also appeals to a wide demographic of people from all ages and socioeconomic ranges.

Additionally, gun control in the U.S. may help reduce domestic terror violence, but taking guns from the hands of law-abiding citizens might actually make ISIS’ job easier by making them bolder. My guess is that one of the few things keeping the bad guys at bay is a “Texas” mentality – the belief that we’re all gun-crazy and packing heats everywhere we go.

While that wouldn’t scare the leaders or group on the whole, those individuals they recruit to actually act would think twice if there was a possibility of not completing their “holy” mission – the deaths of hundreds of free Americans. If the assailant were to be gunned down by a regular citizen before he can detonate his bomb or unload his weapon on innocents, he’d be a failure and dishonor himself.

Americans can’t afford to depend entirely on the federal government to protect them from these threats and should remember the advice of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). On the official DHS website, the agency states, “Citizens should report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement authorities.”

DHS officials urge citizens to be “vigilant for indicators of potential terrorist activity” and watch the National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Alerts for information about specific threats. While being vigilant, however, it’s important to be clear on who exactly constitutes “the enemy.”

Clearly, Americans are behind our French allies, in solidarity against a common enemy with no borders, no face, no diplomatic recognition, no motive (except murder) – the enemy could be anyone. But we must keep in mind that “alert” doesn’t mean “paranoid.”

The words “Islam” and “Muslim” are being thrown around in the reports about the most recent terror attacks. We must remember that Muslims are not the enemy – ISIS is the threat. Muslims, like most Christians, are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who are deeply harmed by what these radicals are doing.

History is full of religious extremism, from virtually every major sect on the planet. We’ll never be completely rid of it, but we can do our best to keep it from damaging our society and protect citizens of the free world as effectively as possible.

As a people and a country, America survived 9/11 and we’ll survive whatever ISIS throws at us. But anything we can do to prevent this most recent threat from any level of success is worth the effort and diligence.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

 

 

 

Respite is theme of National Family Caregivers Month

In Entertainment, Health, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, sociology, Uncategorized on November 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAccording to the latest numbers, around 83-percent of long-term care in the U.S. is provided by unpaid family members. Although it might not affect you directly at this point, odds are someone you know is caring for an elderly or disabled family member.

Family caregivers are saving the government and insurance companies billions of dollars every year and go largely unnoticed. Caregivers play many roles for their charges, from accountant to housekeeper and personal assistant to nurse. It’s a nonstop challenge with daily changes so there is no “normal,” particularly when caring for someone with an advancing deteriorative disease.

Lois Deer (right), mother of the author, passed away in 2011 after two years of full-time care by her family.

Lois Deer (right), mother of the author, passed away in 2011 after two years of full-time care by her family.

The term, “caregiver” usually conjures up thoughts of an adult child looking after an elderly parent, but that’s certainly not the only situation. Parents of disabled children, grandparents, or even siblings caring for a disabled or elderly brother or sister, are all dealing with a similar situation – too much to handle and not enough help.

Caregivers often suffer from enduring fatigue, emotional stress and broad-reaching financial hardship. Over time, trying to cope with all of this can catch up with a person, causing chronic health problems. The organizers behind the website Caregiveraction.org have declared November as National Family Caregivers Month with the 2015 theme of “Respite: Care for the Caregiver.”

The organization notes that most caregivers feel that respite is a luxury and many even view it as selfish. But trying to find a way to decompress on a regular basis should be made a priority.

Juggling one home, a job and a personal life can be tough enough, but when you’re doing it for two households it can break even the most resilient of people in a hurry. The majority of caregivers pull double duty in order to handle their own homes and families while seeing to the doctor visits, medicine regimens, physical therapy, and other demands of their caregiving charge.

That constant state of stress can often lead to long-term health issues. It’s important that caregivers care for themselves also, set aside time to rest, eat right, and seek support if no other family is available to help out.

Some Caregiver Facts …
 Largest source of long-term care
 Most (66%) are female
 More than half are age 18-49
 Most caring for elderly parents
 Many suffer loss of wages and benefits

There are a number of organizations with resources available to help with respite care. Be aware, however, that generally there is no insurance or Medicare / Medicaid coverage for these services and the costs must be absorbed by the patient or caregiver.

Financial stress is one of the most prominent problems for family caregivers. Many either lose their jobs due to regular absences or have to quit in order to provide full time care. And, when the patient has limited income or other resources, the caregiver picks up the fiscal slack, spending whatever they have to ensure bills are paid.

If you know someone who has recently become a family caregiver, please keep in mind that they may have a different set of priorities than before. Depending on the situation, it is likely their life revolves now around the person for whom they provide care. They may not be able to drop everything and go shopping or out to dinner at a moment’s notice. Be patient and supportive.

Of course there are those who gives the family caregiver a bad name. Anyone who does this out of some kind of need for financial compensation or constant personal praise won’t be seen as anything but self-aggrandizing and reprehensible.

There is no glory or martyrdom in caregiving. It’s emotionally draining and physically exhausting, especially if your family member is terminally ill. The pain of watching someone wither away is like nothing imaginable without first-hand experience.

If you’re taking care of a family member, remember to take care of yourself too. You can’t do anyone else any good if you’re suffering as well. Caregiving is hard work, on any level, and it should be viewed objectively.

You wouldn’t work nonstop on a job would you? Do whatever you need to do to take a little time for yourself every day. Remember you’re doing the best you can and accept help when it’s offered.

Helpful Resources …

Centers for Disease Control : http://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/facts.htm

The Caregiver Space . Org : http://thecaregiverspace.org/

Greene County Council on Aging : http://www.gccoa.org

 

Community colleges are vital to economy

In Business, Economy, Education, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on October 26, 2015 at 9:42 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOAs college tuition continues to climb, more students are going into debt from loans or even dropping out because of the expense and the cycle is getting worse, not better. According to a 2013 estimate by Forbes magazine, students in the U.S. owed a whopping $1.2 trillion in tuition loans and that number is climbing.

Upon graduation, the average student will need to work enough to live while trying to pay off nearly $25,000 in loan debt. This is one reason community colleges are gaining ground as the first, best option for people who want a solid education that leads to gainful employment – and for less money.

Not too long ago the Obama administration announced the importance of community college and an effort to make them tuition-free for low-income families. While there is merit to the sentiment, the idea that an Ivy Leaguer, like the president, speaks as if he just discovered the value of these institutions always comes across as elitist and insulting.

When highbrow critics slam community college curriculum as easier, less valuable, or someplace only the low-performers go, it only serves to make those ivory-towered onlookers appear less intelligent. For some people, the community college serves to fill in educational gaps left by their high school experience.

College_graduate_students (1)The department of education reports that 40-percent of students who set out to earn a four-year degree still have not completed it by year six. Even so, many guidance counselors don’t suggest community college to lower-income or poorly performing students out of a sense of political correctness.

If the counselor sincerely suggests to a low-income individual, particularly a minority, that community college might be their best option, he or she could very well appear racist or the like. As a result, many students head for universities who may either not be ready for it academically or who simply cannot afford it.

Of course, not all community colleges are created equal. There are certainly those institutions that need curriculum improvement, which is why these schools must make every effort to attract talented faculty.

The Dayton, Ohio area has about a half-dozen, highly rated community colleges including Edison Community College, ITT Technical Institute, and, the fastest growing and largest, Sinclair Community College. Established in the basement of the Dayton YMCA in 1887, Sinclair is the oldest and often rated as most popular in the region and a leader in healthcare and high tech education.

Sinclair established university parallel programs more than 25 years ago, providing students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in engineering and other programs that transfer directly into four-year schools like University of Dayton and Ohio University, Athens. Many community colleges today offer this type of continuing program to allow students to build momentum in their college careers and nail down the academic path that most suits their goals.

Community college is an amazing opportunity for many students, allowing for more hands-on training that is generally possible at the university level and from people who have worked in the field. Most community college instructors and professors have spent years in real-life work situations, not just in academia and theory.

As it has been since their inception, community colleges also tailor programs for adult and continuing education students. From evening courses to satellite classes, adult students can earn their associate’s degree or work toward a certificate required to advance in their current job. Some larger employers even collaborate with the colleges to offer the course work on site.

Whatever the reason, lower tuition, work advancement or kick starting a longer academic career, community colleges offer a great many options for students and are not merely the “last resort.” Education and knowledge are what grow an economy, not political rhetoric and empty promises.

The university experience is simply not for everyone, regardless of academic prowess and financial means. Americans must relieve the stigma associated with community college programs and present instead a unified front for educational options in the 21st Century. Everyone benefits from education, workers, employers, the community and the country.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines syndicated by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Is America ready for a Muslim president?

In Business, Opinion, Politics, Religion on October 12, 2015 at 9:50 am

 Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOPresidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson, recently stated that he believes a Muslim should not be president of the United States. No sooner had he finished the sentence than the Internet exploded with sharply negative responses.

It’s hard to say exactly what Carson meant by this comment, which was most likely intended to endear him further to his conservative base. But, although it may not be politically correct to say so, there is a logical and practical concept behind the idea.

Professionally speaking, there is no reason a Muslim couldn’t or shouldn’t be president, anymore than there is for a Catholic. Perhaps a more correct statement might be that America, over all, may simply not be ready for a Muslim in the White House.

That said, a recent Gallup poll reports that six out of ten Americans questioned would say “yes” to a Muslim presidential candidate, that’s about 60-percent. That’s a higher number than one might expect but keep in mind poll numbers reflect only the demographic being surveyed. And, some might respond more positively so as not to appear bigoted, even if they don’t totally approve.

Can a Muslim achieve the presidency? Conservatives continue to debate the religious leanings of President Obama.

Can a Muslim achieve the presidency? Conservatives continue to debate the religious leanings of President Obama.

Christianity and Islam are the two largest religious groups in the world, at 33-percent and 21-percent of the population, respectively. So it’s only logical to assume there would be a greater number of each who are already serving in public office and aspire to something higher.

One major concern against the idea of a Muslim president seems to be that his faith would somehow force him to undermine or find himself in conflict with certain anti-terror policies. However, it’s vital to remember that it wasn’t “Islam” that attacked the U.S. on September 11th, but extremist terrorists – something with which Christianity should be all too familiar.

It only takes an eyes wide open look over the shoulder of Christianity to see that, historically, its followers have been responsible for more and bloodier deaths than any other single religious sect on earth. It may not be a popular truth but it is, in the end, the truth. As with most emotionally driven ideals, people have selective memory when it comes to Christianity, ignoring the bad and highlighting the positive.

During the Crusades, horrible wars were fought between European Christians and Muslims, so the arguments between the two groups are certainly nothing new. Over the millennia, Christians have fought in support of some pretty awful ideals including slavery and anti-Semitism. Even the spiritual beliefs of the Native American nations are all but extinct because of Christian influence and forced conversion.

In addition, given the sheer power and reach of the Catholic Church, it would seem far more dangerous an influence on U.S. policy than any Muslim could achieve. The resources and impact of the Vatican are as great as any first world country.

On the flip side, why would anyone in the Democratic Party vote for a Muslim? The liberal base is made up of civil rights heavies and women’s issue activists. If push came to shove, wouldn’t they steer clear of endorsing or giving any kind of authority or power to an individual whose beliefs include the subjugation of women and other groups?

Should a Muslim be president? Why not? But, is America prepared for it yet, probably not, despite what Gallup says. For the most part it’s not because of bigotry or racism, at least not intentionally. It’s just that people are often very frightened of change.

Still, as the election draws nearer over the next year, remember that the best reason to vote for someone is not because of gender, religion, or the color of his or her skin. Choose because of sound qualifications and agreement with the platform.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Struggling to care for seniors at home

In Children and Family, Health, National News, Opinion, Senior Lifestyle, Uncategorized on September 14, 2015 at 9:33 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOA recent article in The Atlantic discussed the question of the difficulty of finding adequate care for America’s senior citizens as more of them are choosing to remain in their own homes as they age. In the article, published April 27, 2015 by Alana Samuels, the author relates the story of her grandmother’s plight to find adequate, affordable home care near the college town of Amherst, Massachusetts.

A shortage of qualified Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) coupled with outrageous hourly fees made the task of caring for her Parkinson’s ridden spouse that much more difficult. The author’s grandmother eventually gave up on agencies and a friend helped out until her husband’s death a couple of years later. It’s a story becoming all too common today.

By the year 2030, more than one quarter of all Americans will be over the age of 65. More than ever, those people are choosing to remain in their homes as long as possible, relying on home health care and the assistance of family for everything from grocery shopping to bathing.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.31.25 AMOver the last few years, a host of “non-medical” in-home care agencies have sprung up all around the country, spread by franchise. Most offer no skilled health care services and little more than baby-sitting. They can help with things like shopping, cleaning and some companionship for homebound seniors.

But, these home care workers are not permitted to help in medical matters, not even to distribute medications, as would a CNA or other state-registered, skilled health care worker. One published estimate by Genworth puts the cost of non-medical home at a range of $10 to $36 per hour. The extreme discrepancy is attributed to variations in region and the type of care required.

One question families should be asking is exactly what could an unskilled worker possibly do that’s worth $36 per hour? Still, most have few options available; it’s either a nursing facility or home care.

Plus, the home itself can be more hazardous than the disabilities suffered by the senior. It may be necessary to modify the home to accommodate “aging in place,” with zero-clearance shower stalls, raised toilets, grab bars, and much more. This also carries added expense and attention to which families might be unaware.

The fact is that it’s much better, psychologically, and far cheaper for seniors to remain in their own home. But most people caring for an elderly family member cannot be with them all hours – people have to work and care for their own homes and families – and still need outside support.

The first place to start is with the local agencies on aging. Most counties or regions have a non-profit organization such as this to help put families and seniors in touch with needed services such as meals on wheels, in-home healthcare, and more.

Be aware, however, that most services referred by these agencies are self-pay and are not covered by Medicare or insurance. The advantage, however, is that they can generally offer a discounted rate on certain services based on the income of the senior. Contact the local agency for details.

For support on in-home modifications, consult the local builders association for referrals to certified aging in place specialists. Most can provide design and construction information for everything from a simple grab bar installation to more complex additions such as elevators.

Additionally, financial and insurance companies out there might be missing the boat on a potentially golden profit center – “in-home care insurance.” Separate from long-term care or other types of health insurance, this could be a specific product that addresses the far less-expensive options of keeping a senior at home rather than in a skilled care facility. Give it a slightly lower premium and the ability to purchase later in life, and it would likely be less difficult to sell.

Before hiring anyone, caregivers should do their homework. Get at least three references from previous clients and do a thorough Google search on the agency you choose.

Whatever the overall solutions to the home health care problem, it’s clear something has to be done in a hurry. With incidents of elder abuse on the rise in nursing facilities, it’s imperative that families have alternate care options.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com.

Can there be gratitude without God?

In Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on September 7, 2015 at 11:59 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOFor those who live without a God to thank, some kinds of gratitude might seem an awkward concept. So, whom do atheists thank for the world around them? Where is gratitude concentrated when benevolent events occur from what non-believers would accredit to random chance? Well, here are two ways people without a god express their thanks.

First, intransitive gratitude, as it’s become known, is a broad, indirect, sense of thankfulness. The beneficiary is thankful in general for life, health, flowers, bugs, whatever, but the gratitude is directed toward nothing specific.

From a practical standpoint, the concept of intransitive gratitude falls apart upon deeper analysis because it leaves people to a perception that random chance has some kind of purpose behind it, which might as well be called “supernatural” in nature. Suddenly, it becomes something akin to religion.

Perhaps then, a more tangible and less unbalanced concept of gratitude is preferable for those who would rather have it more focused. Most “non believers” direct their gratitude at those individuals they consider responsible for the positive events.

Say, for example, atheist Bob has a great meal at a friend’s house one evening. Obviously, he wouldn’t pray over it, but instead thanks his friend who worked for the money that paid for the food that she then cooked. From Bob’s point of view, there was no deity or other supernatural involvement.

yarpBob could trace that gratitude all the way back to the friend’s parents, who decided to have a child, and on and on. It’s more of a cause and effect concept but with some level of human direction.

For someone like Bob, directing the gratitude at some invisible, supernatural force seems illogical and improper. Instead, he prefers to honor the people directly responsible for the events or their subsequent results. It might not be accurate, however, to call this type of gratitude a “belief” because it has tangible beneficiaries – Bob’s friend, her employer, her parents, and so on.

The devout likely see this practice as sacrilegious, to say the least. For them the only “one” responsible for all the good in the world is the god they worship. He or She or It is responsible for everything, and nothing is random.

But is someone like Bob wrong or is his gratitude misplaced? Is he evil? Is he a heathen? Therein hangs the question, and one that can only be answered by the individual affected. Any prejudice or personal judgment, however, should be left out of the equation.

Indeed, it would be hard to argue against the idea, in the case of Bob’s meal, that the people who grow, package, ship, prepare and serve food, share a fair portion of the responsibility in his enjoyment of it, godly intervention not withstanding. So being grateful to those people would be highly appropriate.

On the other hand, to the logical eye, and without context, someone clench-eyed, bowing over the dinner plate with clasped hands and appearing to be talking to his or herself would seem quite silly. As with so many concepts, it’s all a matter of personal perception.

Gratitude must be measured and delivered by the grateful in his or her own way. If someone is religious, they’ll likely pray in thanks. For the less rigidly devout, it may be something more informal. Atheists or agnostics may thank the people directly, as Bob did in the example.

Religious or not, it’s important to keep in mind that nothing happens without some human intervention, somewhere down the line, even if not readily apparent. Every decision made by each person has some kind of an effect on the lives of countless others. So directly thanking people for their participation in some good fortune is always a kindness.

Regardless of where gratitude is directed – God, the grocer, a famer, an employer – being generally appreciative of the goodness in life will never be misplaced, even if it’s just within one’s own thoughts.

Remember that good things happen, not to those who wait, but who act. Recognizing good fortune and taking action is just as important as thanks given to those believed responsible.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications. More at gerydeer.com

5 Pieces of advice for my younger self

In Health, history, Opinion, psychology, Senior Lifestyle, sociology on August 27, 2015 at 11:54 am

Deer In Headlines

By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOImagine if you could go back 10, 20, 30 years and talk to your younger self, what would you say? What advice would you have knowing what you know now? Well, believe it or not, you might find out some of that advice is just as relevant as it would have been back then. So if I could have a conversation with my younger self, I have five things I’d tell me, him, you know what I mean.

My number one piece of advice would be, and I know it sounds cliché, not to sweat the small stuff. Every day our life path carries us down one road or another, each with its own set of obstacles, successes, failures, and milestones. The important thing to know is how to recognize which is which and remain calm and in control, regardless of what is thrown your way.

There’s no way to really offer much more to anyone else on that subject though because everyone’s definition of “small” is going to be somewhat different. For example, to me small stuff is a flat tire on the car or having to retype a report I’ve worked on for days. As devastating as some events can seem at the time, when weighed against the larger mass of things, most fit the “small stuff” category although we’re often too consumed with the situation for a clear view.

The second thing I’d say to the “younger me” is to ignore people who say you are destined to … whatever. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make. That is, your story isn’t written yet. Every choice you make is like shaking the Etch-a-Sketch, the picture is redrawn at every turn. So, if you want something, go after it and don’t let anyone get in your way.

Number three is borrowed from some philosophical and religious concepts, which tell us that you are the only one who can cause yourself injury. I don’t mean injured in the physical sense, like being whopped over the head by a crowbar, I mean the kind of damage that’s done to the one swinging it. We only hurt ourselves when we cause pain and injury to others.

old youngThe fourth piece of advice is never to take yourself, or life, too seriously. Despite what you might think, you are so not “all that,” and you need to have some humility if you want to get along in the world. But it can’t be artificial because that’ll come back and bite you in the … well, you know. Be good to people because you want to and because it’s just the right thing to do. Sometimes it’s hard to accept, but the needs of others will often have to come way before yours.

My fifth and final piece of advice for my former self would be to relax a bit more, while you have the time. Life gets harder as days go on, not easier, regardless of what you might see in the media. Take whatever time you can when you have it, but never at the expense of others.

So, for now, that’s all I would say to me 30 years ago. No, actually, there is one other thing. I’d tell me to give my Mom a hug every chance I got and spend as much time with her as possible. Her absence has left an indescribable open wound that will never heal.

Oddly, the funniest thing about all of this is that, as a younger person, it’s highly unlikely any of us would have listened because we knew everything already, right?

The truth is people were giving you advice like this all the time but it just flew in one ear and out the other. After all, what did old people know? You had the world on the end of your line and you were reeling her in.

Now that I understand some of this, I know that some of the best people I know are on a constant journey of self improvement. Remember, it’s never too late for a little sage advice. Take care out there.

 

Watch the television version of this piece from WDTN-TV2’s LIVING DAYTON program …

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Gery L. Deer is an independent journalist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, More at gerydeer.com.