Christmas is over, but the holiday still hasn’t ended.  There are more parties and family gatherings ahead in the next few days.  Not to mention the stress of traveling back and forth to visit relatives in other cities.  By the time Christmas is over, you may be drained and exhausted from all the ways you deviated from your normal routines and eating patterns. Here are 10 ways to take a time out  tomorrow or the next day.

1. Sleep late.

2.  Don’t plan to shop. Eat a healthy breakfast of fruit and whole grain cereal.  Then go back to bed or find a comfortable chair, and simply relax with a cup of coffee or tea.

3. Hide the sweet  treats. All the candy, cookies, and desserts can give you a “sugar high.” But when it starts to wear off, you feel jittery and nervous, and maybe depressed. Too much sugar is bad for you.

4. Ditch the salty snacks, ham, & sausage.  When you take in more sodium than you need, your body starts to retain fluid.  This excess make you feel bloated and sluggish. A fresh fruit smoothie  for lunch will provide potassium to flush the salt from your system.

5. Eliminate alcohol.   While you wouldn’t ordinarily drink in the afternoon, it’s likely that you’ll be offered wine, beer, or another alcoholic beverage at holiday gatherings.   It makes the day more relaxing and festive. But it can also lead to lethargy the next day.  Instead of alcoholic drinks today, have a glass of ice water,  orange juice or a cup of hot tea.

A breath of fresh air will be invigorating
If you’re feeling sluggish, take a walk outside and fill your lungs with oxygen.

6. Go outside for a short walk, and fill your lungs with fresh air. Come back in and take a nap,  If you can’t sleep during the day, try meditation and deep breathing exercises.

7. Settle down with a magazine like the Smithsonian, or read Tolstoy.

8. Don’t fix a big evening meal. Skip the evening cocktail.  Make a bowl of fresh potato soup, minus the salt shaker.

9. Forget the evening news. Don’t leave the house to go anywhere.  Relax with a Hallmark movie on TV.

10.  Take a warm bath. Go to bed early.

Wake up the next day renewed and refreshed, ready for that big New Year’s Eve party.



Cell Phone Sales Reps Target Seniors

If you’re over 80 and walk into a cell phone service provider, you’re probably going to be seen as an easy mark. Like, what does this old lady know about technology, anyway? The sales rep will rattle off some hi tech gobbledygook when you ask for help. And then they will suggest an expensive solution. Let’s face it, phone company reps target seniors.

Replacing a cell phone battery is cheaper than buying a new phone
If your iphone battery is low, it’s cheaper to have it replaced than buying a new phone.

If you read my post , Recovering from Friday 13, you will see where my iphone 6  battery was low, and I couldn’t get it to recharge. The guy who waited on me seemed somewhat disdainful. He never really looked me in the eye. But I was happy when he initially diagnosed my problem as a defective charging cord.

As I waited for my phone to recharge, he looked out the window and said, “you know, your battery is shot. You’ll be lucky if this charge holds for an hour.”

“So,” I responded, “can you just sell me a new battery?.”

He looked at the floor. “We don’t sell Apple batteries here.”

“Well, where could I get one?”

“You can buy them at an Apple store,” he muttered, “but it would be a waste of time and money. ”

“So what are you saying?”

“You need a new phone.” He went on to explain that as an existing customer, I could upgrade to a newer iphone for a mere $500 if I would sign a 30 month contract, and make monthly payments of $17 a month, simply added to my current bill.

I thought for a few minutes. I didn’t mind the $500 so much as the 30 month commitment. Dare I say that at my age, it’s risky buying green bananas? I asked him why it would be a waste to simply replace the battery. He stared at the desk. “ Because It would cost you nearly as much to buy a new battery and have it replaced as a new phone would cost. And once you take a cell phone apart it’s never the same. It’s damaged.”

Okay, he had me convinced. I asked him to look up my account and arrange for a new phone and new contract. But when he tried to process my credit card, it wouldn’t work. Why? Because the existing contract is in my husband’s name. And my last name is hyphenated, a combination of my old and newer last name. The sales rep was disappointed, but I assured him I would be back with my husband ASAP..

That was on a late Friday afternoon. That night, my husband agreed we should get the new phone on Sat. But wait. That gave me a chance to check on the net.  . The website said I should replace the battery. Nothing to suggest I should buy a new phone. After that, I found an authorized Apple repair shop.  Better yet, it’s open on Sunday morning.

We stopped there on the way to brunch, The technician was pleasant, and actually looked at me. When I told him how the phone company rep had warned me against replacing the battery, he laughed and said, “that’s how they sell new phones.”

After a delicious Eggs Benedict brunch we picked up the phone which now had a new battery. The total bill for parts and labor : $60. If it hadn’t been for that glitch about a hyphenated last name, we would now be $440 poorer, and locked into another 30 month contract.  Saved by a hyphen!

Seniors, beware of phone company reps who want to sell you a new phone you don’t need.


Everyone looks forward to the holiday season.  But when it’s over we may feel a post season slump.  Things didn’t go as well as expected, and it’s partly our own fault.  Here’s how to avoid holiday regrets:

Do you control your appetite or does it control you?  The holidays start on Thanksgiving and don’t end until Jan 2.  Now is the time for some preventive maintenance.  Start downsizing your body before the holidays even begin. This gives you some leeway if you eat too much pecan pie and stuffing.

One way to control your weight is to ignore those first signs of hunger. Don’t head for the frig as soon as you feel your stomach gnawing or growling.  Drink a glass of water.   Do some exercises–anything to get your mind on something else. And on the big day, try to avoid second servings.

Here are five ways to avoid holiday regrets.

Alcohol and  relatives don’t  always mix.  Not everyone likes their in laws.  If you’re a never Trumper, someone in the family probably likes him.  Family gatherings are fertile grounds for disagreements over just about anything. The choice of restaurant, a loan that wasn’t paid back, grandpa’s will.  The list goes on and on.  You try to bite your tongue most of the time, but an extra glass of wine or a double scotch is apt to loosen it. .  And before you know it, you’ve said something nasty  and you can’t take it back. Know your limits.  Don’t let too much alcohol ruin family harmony and leave you feeling ashamed of yourself.

It’s fine to give expensive presents if you can afford them.  But don’t overspend. Who wants to be paying off Christmas bills at Easter time?

Don’t feel you must go home for Christmas. Ice and snow usually create hazardous conditions at least once during the season.  No family wants to get a call that their loved ones have been in an accident. You can always celebrate a few days later when the roads have cleared.

Stay home if you’re sick.  Don’ t push yourself  to attend social gatherings or go to work.  If you feel  you’re coming down with something, you’re probably contagious.  A bad virus infection can turn into pneumonia if you don’t stay in bed until you’re well.    For your own sake, and the wellness of others,  take care of yourself until you’re feeling healthy again.

Here’s hoping your holidays are full of happy memories, and no regrets!


“Side effects are rare, and are mild if they occur.”  That’s what the printout they hand you after a flu shot says.  This gives you a guilt trip if you admit that the shots usually make you kinda sick.  Before retirement, my husband and I used to scoff at people who complained about bad reactions to the flu vaccine.  But something happens to your immune system after 80.  And yes, the flu shots do have side effects now. Still , you must have them, so here’s how to plan your flu shot.


First, we always wait until November 1st.   Pharmacies and grocery stores  start advertising free flu shots  in September.  But since the shots are  only effective for three months, that would leave you vulnerable once again around the holidays.  Bummer! Can you get a second flu shot?  No way.  It’s not recommended and your insurance won’t pay for it.   The shots don’t reach peak effectiveness until two weeks after you get them, so timing is everything. If you aren’t doing anything much over the holidays, you might even wait until December, so that you have full protection in the coldest winter months.

Now comes the important part of your flu shot plan.  Before you get the shot, choose a week where you have few scheduled  club meetings, bridge games or social events.  No doctor’s appointments or  places where you need to be.  If you don’t get sick, you can go on as usual.  But this way, you won’t have to miss out on an activity  just because you are having some side effects.

Finally, if you do feel “off,” take it easy.  You may feel extra tired.  Or have sore muscles.  Maybe you’ll  have an upset stomach or diarrhea.  Sometimes, you can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, you just know you aren’t feeling too well.  Don’t run five miles or swim laps in a cool swimming pool. Settle down with a good book. You will probably feel better in a few days, but it may  take about a week before you’re back to your old self again.

If all goes well, a little discomfort will pay off.  You won’t get the flu this winter.  And if you do, it won’t be your fault for not getting a flu shot.


Help! Have you ever gotten lost on an elevator? My husband and I traveled a lot after retirement.  We’ve stayed in many hotels here in the  USA, and all over the world.  But last night, in a downtown Indianapolis hotel, we found ourselves riding up and down from floor to floor, constantly bypassing the floor we wanted.

Navigating a big city hotel elevator can be challenging for the elderly


Our room was on the 12th floor, so we pushed that button upon entering the elevator. .  Nothing happened.  The door opened again, , someone stepped inside, and the elevator  moved. .  Great, we were on way, stopping first on the 6th floor..  We waited patiently as it continued it’s journey, stopping at ll.  A woman got on, pushed a button, but after that, we felt ourselves going down until we were back to the lobby.  Several people got on, and we pushed 12 again.  The car went up and down, stopping  several times, but never on our floor.   We started to panic, because we were in a hurry to meet someone for dinner.

Finally, we were back in the lobby for the fourth time.  Just as I was preparing to get off and complain at the front desk, a fellow passenger patiently explained what was happening.  “Don’t you know,’ he said.  “You have to use your room key?”  Befuddled, we looked for a slot somewhere.  ‘No, no,” he laughed, “Just swipe your key on this little circle, before you punch in your floor.  Here, let me show you.”  He swiped his card, punched 12, the button lit up and we were on our way, at last.

I guess we looked like a couple of ignorant old fuddy duddies.  But to me, it was another example of ageism in our modern world.  Why weren’t we told about the  system when we checked in?  When the clerk handed us our room card/ key, why didn’t he mention that we should use it on the elevator?  An  instruction sheet wouldn’t have been a bad idea.  But lets face it, old folks  are an anomaly at big city hotels swarming with young chicks in miniskirts and no one over 40 in sight.

We met several young people for dinner, and asked them if this was the new norm.  Some—those who don’t travel much—said they’d never heard of  having to use your room key on an elevator.  But those who travel often for business were surprised we hadn’t known how to navigate in a hotel.  ” Of course,” they said, shaking their heads.  Didn’t  we see it as a security measure?  Well, yes we did.  The why of it was understandable.  It was just the how part that had left us adrift.

So, this is my tip for any octogenarian who hasn’t stayed in a hotel for awhile.  When you enter an elevator, look for a place to swipe your  room card before you punch in your floor.  Otherwise, you could end up lost on an elevator.


Most of us feel excited when we plan for a trip.  We’re escaping the boredom of our daily routine.  We will see new places, taste new food, and perhaps visit with relatives.  We refuse to believe anything could go wrong.  And yet,  it frequently does.  Optimism is a desirable trait, but  pessimism prepares us for travel setbacks. 

Let’s say you are flying to your destination.  Who would spend days on the road  when an airplane gets you there in hours?  Nine times out of ten, that works.  But sometimes it doesn’t.  Your flight gets delayed, and you’re stuck in an airport with a bunch of crying babies, and irate  passengers. Your  frustration with this scenario is inversely proportional to the amount of optimism with which you began the trip.   This wasn’t what you expected!   You while away the time reading old e mails and Facebook posts , and buying stale, $10 sandwiches if you’re hungry. .  But look, there a lady calmly reading a paperback book.  She reaches in her purse for a package of mixed nuts,  and nibbles away while sipping a bottle of water.   She knew this might happen, and she’s prepared for it.  Not angry, not bored, just making the best of a bad situation.

Pessism prepares us for traffic jams and other travel perils
Optimism is a good trait, but pessimism prepares us for travel setbacks

Suppose you decide to drive, and  have a very long trip ahead .  The triptik  tells you it will take 10 hours to reach your destination.  You’re counting on that, and the fact that there are fast food restaurants all along the interstate.  Suddenly, you’re in a traffic stall.  There’s been an accident , and no one can say when the road will be clear. It could be hours.  Now, you realize you have to pee.  This happened to us once when on a 1500 mile trip.  I finally found a paper cup to relieve myself.  Why hadn’t we ordered one of those portable unisex travel urinals?  You can get them online for under $10.  

Braver, and more adventurous folks  will hop on a motorcycle to reach their destination.  There’s nothing like being on the open road and enjoying nature while driving.  But the fact is, driving a motorcycle is dangerous.   Many cyclists refuse to wear helmets.  Their optimism  doesn’t always pay off.. Motorcycle accidents accounted for 14% of all traffic death s in 2011.  Any motorcyclist with a dependent family should have a life insurance policy, but many don’t.  A reasonable dose of pessimism might save a bereaved family from financial hardship.

Autumn is a popular travel season.  Enjoy your trip , but be prepared for a few setbacks.


The “twilight years”, when people grow old, is supposed to be a time of peace.  Our worries are over, kids grown, and we can relax, enjoy life.  Why, then, do most elderly people have trouble falling to sleep? We’re told to go out in the sunlight and get more exercise.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol, and take magnesium.  But what if these things don’t work?  Warning: one thing may ruin your sleep.

Even after retirement, I didn’t have problems falling to sleep.    But that  changed when we stopped going South last winter.  We looked for something to get us though the long winter nights.  Our grown children had been talking about Netflix for years, so we decided to bite the bullet and  embrace technology.  We, too, could binge on  House of Cards and Ranch on those long, cold evenings.  Instead of  yearning for spring, we would liven up the season with some great television shows.  And that’s when I began to lie awake long after I’d gone to bed.  

At first, I resigned myself to my fate.    The experts said it was normal. The elderly have trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep, and that’s the way it was going to be. The sleeplessness  continued even when spring arrived. and during the long hot summer,.

And then, last week, I stumbled across a story about “blue light,’ and what it does to our sleep patterns. According the the National Academy of Sciences, “the use of a light emitting electronic devise…before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep…suppresses melatonin*, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning.”

For the first 30 years of my life , children went to bed after dark, while  grownups listened to the radio, watched black and white TV and read books. No one had ever heard of blue light..  Then along came television and e mail and i phones.

TV emits blue light, blocks the prodution of melatonin, and may keep you awake
Watching television two hours before bedtime could keep you from falling asleep promptly

And now, our new habit of watching Netflix before going to bed was exposing me to hours of blue light , and keeping me awake.   Computers also emit blue light, so I would have had the same problem if I’d been online for the same amount of time.

Last week,   I found glasses on the internet that block UV light,  and promptly ordered some.   Since they hadn’t arrived, , I put on a pair of sunglasses while watching television.  Within an hour, I  felt groggy and struggled to stay awake.  By the time our programs were over, I stumbled into bed, and fell asleep within minutes.

I’m hoping my new UV blocking glasses will have the same effect as the sunglasses.  There is plenty of evidence that blue light affects when our bodies create melatonin.  So,  if you watch television a couple of hours before bedtime, these glasses might help stop you from staying up later than you want.

There are many factors that affect the quality of your sleep, but blue light may be one of them.

*Melatonin is a hormone that plays a role in sleep. The production and release of melatonin in the brain increases when it’s dark, and decreases when it’s light.