r/Seniors - Meet An “Amazing” Whose Comedic Gifts Are A Gift To Us All

Lily Tomlin, at 80, is enjoying a career that actors in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s–supposedly in their prime–would no doubt envy. She’s a lead in Netflix’s “Grace and Frankie” and has reprised her role as Professor Frizzle in “The Magic School Bus Rides Again,” having voiced the original Mrs. Frizzle in “The Magic School Bus” over 20 years ago. Lily started her career as a stand-up comedian off-Broadway. What set her apart from many other budding comedians was her ability to create unique, memorable, positively hilarious characters. From “Ernestine” the telephone operator, to 5½ year old “Edith Ann,” Lily’s characters are spell-binding. Lily’s talent had been rewarded not only with a flourishing career, but with many honors, including her 2017 Screen Actors Lifetime Achievement Award.

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30 years ago, on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by the United States Congress. It was a groundbreaking move that secured the rights of all Americans living with disabilities, adults who are part of IOA’s core audience that we serve every day. But did you know that the city of San Francisco was key to making the ADA happen? 

Back in 1977, disability rights activists took over and occupied of the San Francisco Federal Building – a move that by directly led to enactment of the ground-breaking Section 504 regulations, considered the first civil rights law protecting people with disabilities and on which the ADA is based. The 1977 event was the longest non-violent occupation of a federal building in U.S. history. There is an award-winning documentary, The Power of 504, that details what happened.

To commemorate this historical moment, San Francisco Mayor London Breed designated July as Disability Pride Month, with a proclamation that states in part: Disability Pride enables people with disabilities to redefine their identity with self-worth, serves as a tool to tackle ableism, bias, and discrimination, and reshapes false negative perceptions of individuals with disabilities as people with value, talents, and significance. On July 26, San Francisco City Hall was lit up in blue to mark and celebrate this important event. You can see a full list of events celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act here.

Institute on Aging is proud that San Francisco was a key part of the history of the Disability Rights Movement and we join all San Franciscans in celebrating this monumental anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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In case you haven’t heard, the City of San Francisco has opened the doors for seniors and adults living with disabilities to pick up groceries, visit the doctor and take care of other essential errands via subsidized taxi rides during the pandemic.

SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority) is now providing an Essential Trip Card (ETC) to anyone over age 65 and adults with at least one disability living in San Francisco. The card offers a substantial discount on taxi rides, with eligible participants only paying 20% of the cost of regular cab fare, and will cover between two and three trips per month within the city limits for essential trips such as to the pharmacy or to a grocery store.

Those over 65 years of age and persons living with disabilities may apply for the ETC program by calling 311 between 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m. on weekdays and mentioning the program. Qualifying customers may also enroll in person at the SF Paratransit Broker’s Office (68 12th Street) if needed. Once the ETC is activated, participants will need to add funds to a card in order to receive the trip discount. For every $6 loaded, participants receive a $30 value, or $12 for a $60 value (up to $60 value per month is allowed). More on the program, included frequently asked questions, can be found here.

Currently, MUNI service is largely restricted due to safety reasons associated with COVID-19, which has made it much harder on seniors in terms of getting around.

All riders are asked by SFMTA to wear a face covering, as required by the State of California, and San Francisco’s Public Health Emergency Order. It is also recommended that the rider take hand sanitizer along during their ride and touch as few surfaces as possible.  

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Enlarged Prostate But Low on Toilet Paper

Due to the global pandemic, there was a time where people were panic buying, and one of the items that was largely purchased was toilet paper. For people who may need to stay at home for long periods of time, a large supply of toilet paper was deemed to be a necessity. For those who have found themselves scarce on toilet paper or who found difficulty buying toilet paper during the panic buying period, we got to thinking.

For older men who have frequent bathroom trips, how has the scarcity of toilet paper affected them? Particularly, the men who have been diagnosed with prostate enlargement (BPH). When the prostate enlarges, symptoms such as frequent urination, urges, struggle to stop and start urinary flow, poor urinary flow, and even sexual dysfunction.

Although not all men wipe with toilet paper after urination, it is worth noting that more bathroom trips potentially increase the need for toilet paper. This pandemic may have underscored the need for men with BPH to reduce their bathroom trips. Reasons to reduce bathroom trips include:

  1. reducing stress and worrying about where the closest bathroom is, so that men can have a better quality of life

  2. getting more sleep at night, so that men don’t have to get up and lose sleep over bathroom trips

  3. a sense of control over a man’s life, not feeling bound to the bathroom or ashamed of being unable to manage their BPH.

and 4) save the toilet paper supply for the home due to the pandemic induced scarcity!

Fortunately, some places are offering priority purchases for seniors. Because most BPH cases are of senior men, they may be able to get dibs on toilet paper before the panic buyers take hold. Also, some places are limiting the purchase amounts so that customers don’t walk away with 20 packs of toilet paper. For men with BPH, the good news is that there are ways to manage and cope with symptoms. These include lifestyle modifications, voiding techniques, pelvic floor exercises, timing fluid intake, a healthy diet, and for men who are open to the idea, taking safe, clinically proven therapies as alternative or complementary medicine.

BPH management varies per individual so discussions with the doctor, family and support network can help men become more informed and make decisions to be proactive about their enlarged prostate.

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Breaking the Stereotypes of Men With Enlarged Prostates (BPH)

When it comes to men and their enlarged prostates (BPH), these are the stereotypes they face:

Men don’t care about their health.

Men don’t like going to the doctor.

Men ignore their health issues and keep mum about it. 

Men would do anything to avoid a digital rectal exam. 

Men don’t talk about their prostates.

Only men’s wives care enough to buy their husband a prostate supplement. 

Men care more about their cars than their own health.

Although some of these may in fact be true for some individual men, we can’t lose hope that there are men out there who do care about their health and want to improve their BPH condition. Maybe that’s why you’re reading BPH blogs and joining men’s communities to discuss common issues. Although we do need men to do their part and care for their health, men’s health is a community effort, too. If those who live and interact with men don’t know about men’s health problems, it could be difficult to sympathize or offer support.

Enlarged prostate (BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia) is a health condition that occurs with age and the natural growth of the prostate. As it gets bigger it can make the urethra (tube leading urine out of the body) narrow so it makes urination more difficult. It could also push against the bladder, creating urinary urges at the same time.

What men need to know is that they’re not alone in what they’re feeling. It is highly likely all generations of men have felt and will feel the effects of prostate growth at one point in their lives. As more research goes into the prostate, we may find ways to make the prostate exam less uncomfortable. We may be able to provide more support for men’s mental health and distress during the frustrations of BPH. We may raise awareness so that men can start to prepare earlier in their life to support their prostates. We may create an environment to talk about the prostate in a less stigmatized environment. Many conversations online about the prostate involve adult jokes that may make men shy away from the topic. However, it is important to make the context of health heard and normalized.

If you have seen your doctor and been diagnosed with BPH in the mild stages, you may be able to reduce the negative impact of BPH with healthy nutrition, more physical activity, voiding techniques, water intake during the day, warm baths, and community support from family, friends, and fellow BPH patients. Despite the pandemic, the online community is still offering support for men around the world.

Are you guilty of these stereotypes? Perhaps it’s time to reconsider some of these habits so you can better manage your BPH and live a better quality of life! 

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Natural Plants (Like Pot) and Prostate Enlargement

April 20th is a day celebrated by the marijuana community. Whether you’re a big proponent of it or not, this plant has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes around the world. Like marijuana, many other herbs have also been used for medicinal purposes to support immunity, headaches, and other ailments and disease states in the time of our human ancestors and before the dawn of medicine and scientific research.

If you’re a man with prostate enlargement (medically known as BPH), an herbal approach to treating mild symptoms could be a step in improving your quality of life. Herbs may be used in their plant state or as extracts in supplements and nutraceuticals to consume them for the purposes of complementary medicine, holistic medicine, alternative medicine and plant based therapy.

It is important to speak with a doctor about your BPH because every man’s stage of BPH is different and the way it affect each man (frequent urination, struggle to start and stop urination, residual urine after voiding, poor urinary flow, sexual dysfunction, etc.). If you are considering a plant based approach, it is also important to know which ingredients are safe for you (in terms of allergies, use alongside other medications you are currently taking, pre-existing conditions, etc.). This can be discussed with a doctor and naturopathic physician.

The responsible search and sharing of information is also important. Finding clinical studies and ensuring the safety and efficacy of products is important to establishing trust, especially in the field of dietary supplements where there may be stigma due to skepticism behind ingredient purity, manufacturing and business practices, and baseless claims.

Men who are desperate to restore their life to a better sense of normalcy may be willing to try almost anything to treat their BPH, so we must support men to make sure they make a reasonable choice that is safe and low in risk. Herbs, if researched and offered properly, could be a solution to consider in alleviating symptoms, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, and promoting better urinary flow for men with BPH.

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Households headed by Americans 75 and older have the highest median net worth, and households headed by Americans 80 and older have twice as much net worth as those headed by Americans 50 and older.  Plain and simple, older Americans’ wealth is the primary reason they are targeted by scammers.

While scams have been around for centuries, the coronavirus pandemic has opened the door for a whole host of new and creatively sinister fraud-based activities that threaten the financial well-being of unsuspecting older adults.

“Take the deep uncertainty created by this pandemic, add the social isolation brought on by the shelter-in-place, then mix in the fact that many older adults must now rely on others to have their most basic needs met — like having groceries and medications — and you have the perfect storm for scams,” said Shawna Reeves, Institute on Aging’s Director of Elder Abuse Prevention. 

Current scams targeting seniors revolve around federal stimulus checks, fake vaccines and tests for COVID-19, charity donations, health care worker impersonators demanding money for taking care of sick relatives, and phishing scams to gain personal information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) publishes a Scam Alert that details a number of these scams as they surface and evolve.

Why are older adults such targets for scams? In addition to the reasons stated above, older adults are more likely to own a home, have good credit, and be home during much of the day, which means they have more time to answer potentially fraudulent phone calls. Additionally, they are likely experiencing an overlay of fear related to the pandemic.  Fear can be our worst enemy when attempting to make sound financial decisions.

The first step in avoiding being the victim of a scam is to be aware of certain warning signs and red flags, such as:

  • Beware of anyone calling telling you a family member is in trouble and urgently needs money for bail or hospital bills. Get a call back number from the caller and use that to verify the authenticity of the call. Or ask them to use a family password.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone to someone who initiates a call with you. Only engage with companies with which you have an existing relationship and with whom you contacted first. 
  • Do not engage with vendors and businesses unless you have verified their authenticity.
  • If someone offers to sell you a vaccine or other treatment for coronavirus, it’s a scam. No vaccine or treatment for coronavirus currently exists. 
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it is. If you are being pressured or told that you must “act now,” stop communicating with that person or business. If you are being instructed to make a payment via money wire or gift cards, it is a scam.  Whenever you are about to send money or sign a contract, consult with a trusted friend or family member before doing so.  The more impartial eyes on a transaction, the better.

If you, a friend or a loved one has become a victim of a scam, there are resources to turn to. No one should ever feel ashamed about becoming a scam victim; the focus should be on getting the right kind of help. Here are a few resources to either report fraudulent activity or stay connected as a preventative measure: 

SF Adult Protective Services: (415) 355-6700 

San Francisco Office of the District Attorney Victim Services Division: (415) 553-9044

San Francisco Office of Financial Empowerment—Consumer Fraud: (415) 551-9595

Little Brothers — Friends of the Elderly: (415) 771-7957 

Institute on Aging Friendship Line: (800) 971-0016

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This month, Institute on Aging wants to recognize some of the glorious ways in which Bay Area locals are taking care of older neighbors, family members and friends, as well as the ways that older adults enrich the rest of us — not only during shelter-in-place, but all year long.

I’ve been volunteering for 10 years at the Friendship Line and I love it. After having a career as a geriatric social worker for 25 years, I thought I wanted to work with children in my retirement days, but quickly realized I missed working with the elderly. My cousin told me about the Friendship Line and I immediately signed up. I am 83 myself, and not shy about sharing my age with callers since I think it makes me more relatable. Quite often I get calls from people I’ve previously spoken with, and we pick up our conversation right where we left off. So many are isolated seniors, and the Friendship Line is really important to them as they don’t have anyone else to relate to in person.

–Linda Lyons, Friendship Line Volunteer

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Slippery Fish Preschool (my youngest son goes there), and IOA’s Activities Director, Steve Jacob, of the support services team at Martin Luther Tower (affordable senior housing) are all working together to assemble and deliver care packages to the 120 older residents sheltering-in-place at Martin Luther Tower. Each will receive a goody bag left on their door that includes letters and artwork from the preschool children.

–Rowena Fontanos, San Francisco Resident

On my block in San Francisco, we maintain an occasional online-community forum. Many of our members are aging residents or have older loved ones, so I recently reminded everyone about our Friendship Line and its magnificent ability to alleviate isolation and loneliness—an important superpower during this time of lessening live interactions. Not only did I receive gratitude notes via email, but a neighbor, whom I’d never met, showed up at my front door to thank me in person (keeping social distance, of course)! Her enthusiastic gift of gratitude really belongs to Friendship Line and the amazing staff who practice compassionate listening and support of those who need it most.

— Caitlin Morgan, Education Manager, Institute on Aging

We will never forget Father Dennis, one of the sweetest men that many of us had ever met. Formerly, he was a priest who spent most of his time in the Tenderloin helping those who needed it most. He knew the neighborhood was dangerous, but that’s why he had to be of service there. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he became depressed and almost non-verbal after leaving his position at the church, but once he started coming to our social day program five days a week, he awoke again! His caregiver noted that after his first week with us, as he was driving him home, Father said, “Oh, look!  It’s that funny mustard colored house we saw yesterday” with the old, familiar delight in his voice that had been absent for so long. After that, Father started wearing his “funny t-shirts” to the center. Think Garfield saying “Ugh, Mondays” or “My friends went to Puerto Rico and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” grandpa humor type of shirts.

Father was thriving and his joy radiated to everyone with whom he came in contact. One day, I was walking with Father and he started to cry. When I inquired as to what was bothering him, he said he was overwhelmed because in his previous life, his purpose was to serve and take care of others. Now his purpose was to receive that same care. He told me that’s how he felt connected to God. I, of course, had tears of gratitude streaming down my face. He had articulated so simply one of our most human conditions: the power of care.

–Alison Moritz, Program Director of the Enrichment Center at the Presidio

Please consider making a contribution to our Care for Caregivers fund today. Because with your help, our collective care can go farther. Donate now!

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Samaritan is focused on one goal – ensuring the comfort of our clients. We strive to keep individuals healthy and independent. We thoroughly assess your needs and select the appropriate caregiver to ensure compatibility.

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