As seen in several community papers including the La Jolla Light, Ranch Santa Fe Review, Solana Beach Sun, Carmel Valley News, Rancho Bernardo News, Poway Chieftain.
By Heather Siegel of the Siegel Sidebar
Posted December 13, 2015
This holiday season will mark the 8th year that I gave up driving. Not in golf but on the road. There are only two types of people in the world: those who drive and those who don’t. You always know which camp you are in.
Kids can’t wait to get a driver’s license. Seniors feel assassinated when they have to give up their privilege. Some drivers don’t have whiskers when they start. Most of us would cut our throats before we give it up.
For most of us former drivers, it is a medical condition that has short-circuited our lives. There are many reasons listed on death certificates but I doubt that giving up one’s driver’s license is a legitimate cause. Ours is a slow death that culminates in a loss of self-esteem, lack of mobility, and a sense of daily frustration.
Every time I enter a grocery store to shop, I am asked if I need help out to my car. I am sure the statement is meant well. It is possible to have a license without a car. But when I gave up my car, I gave up my standard of living. You see, I no longer can come and go as I please. That is an activity of daily living that I miss the most.
Perhaps that is why the Home Shopping Network has become so appealing lately. HSN gives me a full presentation in color, directly in my home. I press buttons on my phone to make an order. The landlady calls me when the package comes in. And I can schedule my trip to the Post Office to send back my returns.
I can leave my house, I have learned begrudgingly. It’s just that I am dependent upon someone else to drive my car or to navigate the bus. I am wisely careful about who I ask to have the job of being my tour guide. Sitting in the passenger seat has given me a new perspective on my career choices. Ask anyone who has driven for me. I am a closet driving instructor. Turn on your turn signal. Make only right turns. Don’t run through the yellow light. Keep your eyes on the road.
My drivers complain with a degree of compassion, that driving Miss Daisy is an experience extra. No one gives more directions than I do. Perhaps a film director can be in my league. It’s not that I never got a ticket when I was a driver. It’s that no one driving me around is going to get one while I am in the vehicle.
You are the same person with or without a car, was the first piece of wisdom that my shrink shared with me. You gotta be kidding, was my response. In eight years, my opinion has not changed.
When my dear mother Ruth G. passed, she left me her car which almost four years later is still being maintained and insured. I appreciate the support that my brothers gave me to keep it running. Both the car and I are now Senior Citizens.
Today is Sunday. I could be at Church, Temple or at a Pot Luck. Everyone else is doing something so no one is around to drive me around. I called the bus service today to reserve a seat on the handicapped bus to take me to important meeting in La Jolla tomorrow. I would like to join a health club to participate in water therapy but you see, I don’t have a car so there’s no way to get there.
It’s not that I feel sorry for myself but it is hard to make a big splash without a car. It’s sort of like telling yourself that you are on a diet while eating pizza. As long as the pizza delivery man has a vehicle, though, there is a connection to the outside world. Unless he has a broken windshield, he’ll still be able to deliver.
Written on the 8th day of Chanukah and the 8th anniversary of my Adult Bar Mitzvah as I approach my 8th year of not driving a car. I still see the same shrink.
Background about the author:
Heather Siegel is a current client of Seacrest at Home. Originally from Chicago, now living in San Diego North County Inland, Heather is a Second-Generation Holocaust Survivor. Heather and her mother Ruth G. Siegel, of blessed memory, are members of Temple Adat Shalom in Poway, CA. A graduate of the University of Illinois and San Diego State University, Heather would like to continue her education at Palomar College and participate in the water therapy programs at Tri-City Wellness Center. Heather is the proud mother of a Jane Russell Terrier, Miss Ruby Tuesday. You can reach Heather Siegel at email@example.com.
I was born in the right place. I grew up in a wonderful neighborhood with an abundance of safety and tolerance. My parents were never afraid to hang up our Mezuzah. I was proud and unafraid to tell my classmates that I am Jewish. I had many of my non-Jewish friends attend my Bar Mitzvah. In my adult life, I truly cannot remember a time that I have felt uneasy or a lack of opportunity because I am Jewish. My story is unfortunately not the norm for our Jewish people. In fact, the persecution that my ancestors faced, in late 1800’s during the Russian pogroms, initiated their immigration to America. Their immigration ultimately helped pave the way for me to be born in this “right place.”
These thoughts came about during the moving service we had at Seacrest Village on the Day of Holocaust Remembrance, Yom HaShoah. Warren Odenheimer, the keynote speaker of the service, started his story by telling the audience, “I was born in the wrong place.” Born in Germany shortly before Nazi rule, Warren and his family began to feel significant oppression and anti-Semitism. Fortunately, Warren and his family were able to leave Germany shortly after Kristallnacht. As a young man, Warren and his family were uprooted from their home in Germany. The Odenheimers migrated through Russia and then spent time in the Orient.
With only $8 dollars to their name, the family was granted visas to come to America, where they settled in San Francisco. In 1941, he enlisted in service and is a WWII Veteran. He has spoken to other groups about his story to help us ensure that we will not forget.
A moment at the Seacrest Village Yom HaShoah service, that I hope to never forget, occurred when Rabbi Patti asked all of our Holocaust survivors to stand up and light a candle. The candles symbolize and honor the 6 million Jews that were murdered. I was overwhelmed to see 22 survivors, our residents, proudly light these candles. (We have an additional 5 survivors at Seacrest Village Rancho Bernardo) As time goes on, the ability to see the faces and hear the stories of people who lived through this horrific time in history will become more and more of a rarity. Once these survivors are gone, how will we carry on their memory, legacy and message? How will we ensure that future generations grow up in the “right place” like I did?
We still have an incredible resource of people living and articulating their story and message. It is our responsibility to listen and never forget, so we can pass their teachings down to future generations to ensure that this will never happen again. It is an honor to work with and live amongst a group of people that inspire us to make the world a more tolerant and loving place.
Last Sunday, a woman set an official international record marathon time at the Rock N’ Roll Marathon, right here in San Diego! No, this woman did not win the race. Perhaps though, the record she set was more impressive than the actual winner. Harriet Thompson, a 91 year old, shattered the women’s record for those aged 90 and up by over two hours! Mrs. Thompson finished the race in just over 7 hours. For anyone to finish a grueling 26.2 mile challenge is incredible. However, to be 91 and battling cancer is so just inspiring.
I’m certain Harriet’s record time will be broken in the very near future by some other super senior out in the world. Records are meant to be broken and that is why I love this story. No matter the challenge; physical, emotional or mental, senior’s today are pushing the bar and achieving milestones never thought to be possible years ago. We are in the beginning stages of seeing an entire generation of seniors and even centenarians carrying out their lives as though they were young. Because of this mindset, the contributions our elderly will bring to the world will be invaluable. Harriet’s record time goes well beyond just an impressive race medal. She raised money for cancer and inspired the world that anything is possible, no matter one’s age.
For more on Harriet Thompson’s story, please see the link below.
Successful aging is the new craze. Our society is experiencing a massive influx of seniors. These individuals and our culture want to know how to age well. A critical component of successful aging is the freedom from physical disability. With that being said, earlier this week, the journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), published a report stating that those in their 70’s and 80’s, who dedicate about 20 minutes a day to walking, were less likely to become disabled later on in life compared to a group that focused their attention on successful aging classes.
Unfortunately, many older adults are unable to get their needed daily walk. Some of the barriers preventing older adults to get out and walk might be:
- Preexisting physical injury
- Lack of confidence to walk alone without risk of fall
- Unsafe walking paths within one’s community
- Lack of motivation to exercise
Our goal at Seacrest at Home is to help assist our clients feel comfortable and to age well. Often, our Home Care Associates go on walks with our clients, to promote exercise and provide the security that a companion is there to supervise. More and more research is continually coming out on the importance of walking. Please share and encourage your friends and family to get out and walk. And, if they need a little help or motivation to do so, call Seacrest at Home!
For this week’s blog, I would like to share a quick story. San Diego made national news as multiple wild fires swept across different parts of the County. With the unseasonably warm and windy weather, the fires were able to breed and multiply quickly, making it very challenging for fire fighters to keep the flames at bay. While the situation is starting to improve, these fires impacted thousands of acres; inflicted millions of dollars in damages as well as many homes have been lost. Communities were forced to evacuate their homes as the fires became too close to their neighborhood. Several people were displaced from their normal routines as these fires made life a little more complicated.
One such individual that was recently displaced due to these San Diego fires was one of our clients. Our client was with a, Seacrest at Home Care Associate, for a medical appointment at the time evacuations became mandatory. After the appointment, the Home Care Associate and client tried to drive back to the home. Unfortunately, all roads were blocked off and they got redirected to a nearby evacuation center. Not knowing how long the mandatory evacuation would last, our Home Care Associate contacted the client’s family as well as Seacrest at Home to inform them of the situation. She assured us that she would stay for as long as needed. She was aware all streets were blocked from many directions, making it very difficult for another Home Care Associate to relieve her.
The evacuation was finally lifted after nearly 24 hours. This incredible Home Care Associate stayed with her client, awake, the entire time. I am so amazed at your compassion and dedication for caring in such a selfless way. I could write so many above and beyond stories I hear about our other Home care Associates on a weekly basis, but this week we want to thank you, Faduma, for being such a wonderful addition to Seacrest at Home.
Last month, my mom was rushed to the hospital with a high fever and severe abdominal pain. After many days of being at the hospital and a multitude of tests, doctors confirmed that my mom had a malignant tumor blocking her bile duct. We were told that the tumor would have to be removed though a complex and extensive surgery. Luckily, we were able to find a brilliant surgeon who was able to successfully remove the cancerous mass. However, full recovery from this surgery will take many months.
This scary and terribly difficult experience for my entire family has helped me personally gain even greater perspective on the importance of care giving. While I have worked for many years in the field of providing care for seniors, I myself have never personally been a hands-on caregiver until this recent situation with my mom. Just like how I have leaned on my mom during the years from life’s pains, illness and sadness; I wanted to be there for her so she could lean on me. The transition for me from being “just” her son to now her son and one of her care takers has been an instinctual process. Many of her sentences now start out, “Can you help me with…?” Truly though, I want to help her with anything. She is my mom and it is more of a stress and burden on me when I can’t help her with a need. However, it is impossible for me to be there at all times. During my mom’s hospital stay, she had a team of nurses that were truly incredible. There was one nurse though that gave me a message that I will not forget.
The night this nurse was in, my mom had spiked a high fever and was in a considerable pain from her surgery. She was still in critical care and needed to be rotated often to prevent bed sores. This amazing nurse looked and my dad and I and knew that we both were in terrible need of sleep. She told us to relax, close our eyes, and lay on the cot the hospital had provided us. She comforted me by saying, “I know she is not my mom, but during my shift tonight, I will act as though she is.” I sat down on the cot, watched with one eye open, to see how attentive and gentle she was to my mom throughout the night. My dad and I were finally able to sleep and most importantly, my mom benefited from this nurse’s genuine compassion and touch that night. I am still so amazed at how healing this particular nurse was to our entire family.
No matter our age, it is inevitable that at some point we will need help. While I settle back into work at Seacrest at Home, I believe I am more aware of how special our Home Care Associates truly are. To have the compassion for a family member comes naturally. However, to have the ability to care for an individual as though they are a parent is truly something so special.
In honor of Mother’s day, I wanted thank all of the amazing mom’s out there that have passed down the morals and values of compassion to their child, because this compassion makes the world a better place.
Seacrest at Home has been serving our clients for over a year now. To date, we have logged over 40,000 hours of care as well as over 120 different clients. Clearly, we are pleased with these numbers and see continued growth for the future. As the Community Liaison, I spend a majority of my time marketing and promoting to educate our community on WHAT we do at Seacrest at Home. I go down a checklist of the activities of daily living that our Home Care Associates can assist with. I talk about how our staff goes through an interview, training and screening process unlike any other home care agency out there. I talk about our wonderful affiliation with the Jewish retirement home, Seacrest Village. I brag about our non-profit status and our charitable care capabilities. While all of these messages are important, perhaps the best and most effective way of describing Seacrest at Home can be through the stories, relationships and special moments between Home Care Associate, client or family member. These warm stories and relationships are WHY Seacrest at Home exists. I will place greater emphasis on this point as to communicate our message throughout the community.
In order for us to capture and recognize more of these special moments, we have created a “Kudos” board. This board will recognize individuals that we hear have done something above and beyond. At the end of each month, a special drawing will take place for all those who made it on the “Kudos” board. If you are a client, family member or Home Care Associate, please share we greatly appreciate hearing all about WHY Seacrest at Home exists. Stay tuned for pictures of our decorated “Kudos” board.
Dr. Bruce Chernof, President and CEO of SCAN Foundation, has released 10 helpful tips on aging with dignity and independence. At Seacrest at Home, our primary goal is to assist in providing care and resources to our community. Our aim is to take the 10 tips Dr. Chernof offers and implement them in our Seacrest at Home training. Below is the link of Dr. Chernof’s 10 short videos. If you don’t have time to watch all 10 videos, please refer to my outline.
1. What’s your plan for Aging?
With a plethora of senior care options out on the market, it is critical that people have open conversations with their family and friends about personal preferences.
2. Is your Doctor up to date?
Tracking medications is vital. Keep your doctor up to date with your medications. This will help prevent overdose, unnecessary treatment or a dangerous drug interaction.
3. Make your home comfortable and safe
Take a walk through each room as well as outside your home. Take a list of potential risks, including rugs, stairs and high reaching kitchen appliances. By modifying one’s home to make it more safe and more that individual is increasing their chance of remaining happy and healthy at home.
4. Where do you find help with everyday tasks?
Knowledge is power. This is a vast array of senior care options in San Diego County. Seacrest at Home has their own list of referrals that we have vetted and trust. Also, San Diego County has their own Aging and Independence Services department. Their number is: 800-510-2020.
5. Staying active makes a big difference.
No matter what one’s age is; it is critical to remain physically, socially and emotionally active. Often our Home Care Associates make it possible for one to remain active. Whether it is a ride to visit a friend or providing companionship, Seacrest at Home recognizes the importance of helping those remain active.
6. Who’s on your team?
Doctors, family, friends, caregivers, social workers, neighbors all constitute as a team. It is important to be sure you have their contact information readily available if there is a need.
7. Knowing when to ask for help is key.
It is never easy to ask for help, however people that age well often ask for help with transportation, bathing or meal preparation. This help can allow for seniors to age in place and remain independent for much longer.
8. 70% of people over 65 need an average of three years of long term care.
With the rise in people 65+ expected to increase dramatically over the coming years, we at Seacrest at Home hope to be able to help provide care to individuals that need long or short term care.
9. Find out what resources are available.
Life as we get older often becomes more expensive. The higher level of care that is needed, comes with a higher expense. Many organizations in San Diego County are not for profit and can help with your aging needs. Seacrest at Home, Seacrest Village, ElderHelp and Jewish Family Services of San Diego are just to name a few.
10. What can you do without spending a lot of money?
Spending money is not essential to have a good time. Local senior centers, the JCC and Jewish Family Services often have free events for seniors. There are so many ways to be involved and remain active, without spending a lot of money!