Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good Bye 2015 . . . and Good Riddens

I have never been a big fan of celebrating new years.  I've always looked at it as a "couples" thing.  If you weren't part of a couple, it was just another lonely night.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have actually done anything for new year's eve or stayed up past midnight and they were a new year's eve party with my late husband's family back in 1969 and spending time at a resort in the Poconos back in the mid-80s.

This year, however, I am celebrating the end of 2015 because it was the worst year for my family that I know of.  We had the second of the worst winters in the past two years; I slipped on ice and lost two tendons in my left shoulder; I was let go from my job yet again; the third time in approximately 10 years and I had the most difficult choice of placing my mother in a nursing home.  It has also seen my sister's husband diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Yes, 2015 was truly the pits.

Hello 2016.  All I can say is that after 2015, the only way my family can go is up from there, so here's to you and yours . . . wishing all of you the very, very best for 2016.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Six Months Into My Forced Retirement

I have to admit that just like everyone else, I had never expected that my life would turn out the way it did, especially as it relates to what my retirement was going to be like. I never thought that I would lose my job and  I never expected that during the first couple of months that I would have to place my mother in a nursing home and visit her on a daily basis to help her get through the day.

Family circumstances led to my having to work until at least 66, my full retirement age, but then the prospect of a higher monthly check and looking after my mother, my plan was to continue working full time until age 70 and then ease my way into retirement by working part-time at half my salary for two additional years. I had also learned this year that I was entitled to my husband's Survivor Benefits and despite the fact that I had lost about 2-1/2 years in benefits, I was still entitled to another year and a half and that was going to be "gravy" on top of my salary or so I thought. But life had other plans in store for me

On that fateful day in March, my boss called me into the conference room and told me that he had to let me go because my position was being eliminated.  I can't say that I was happy about it, but being 68 I wasn't in the same financial position when I lost my job two times previously. I also didn't know that the months following my being let go that I would have my mother in the hospital three times and then placed in a nursing home as well as experience a financial loss approximating $80,000.

I decided that I needed a change today so I will soon be making a lunch for my mother and then heading out to Walmart for a distraction.

What I still need to do is put together some kind of plan to better utilize my time. Yes, I do have to work on decluttering my home and I have 3 e-books in various stages of progress.  I also have my websites to work on and my digital graphics and painting in addition to TV, movies, and puzzles. I will attempt to start re-planning my life both financially and time-wise in the next several weeks and hopefully by Jan 1, I will find more solitude to being where I am at this point in time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Apartment is Looking Like I Belong on "Hoarders"

This year, not only did I lose my job, but I found myself having to pull back into my apartment all the things I had previously stored in an outside storage company as they were putting in an elevator in the building right where they had the lockers.  I also found myself having to take in half of the stuff from my mom's apartment in the last two weeks after placing her in a nursing home.

I have to admit that I've never been noted for my clutter-free home, but the above objects have made it almost impossible to live in and feel good about myself.

FreeCycle hasn't been much help.  I tried to give most of it a new home, but those who responded were just out and out fussy so I had to pay to have it hauled away, including a 32" RCA traditional tube tv that was in excellent working condition.  Shame on you people.  If I had needed it myself I would have kept it as I never buy something new to replace something that is still working.

Anyway, I came across this article on Houzz and thought it might help some of you who are in a similar position as myself.  I've already started cleaning my place out but thought this might provide a little bit more of an initiative or motivation to keep going.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

2015 One of My Worst Year's Ever

2015 will go down in my history as one of my worst years ever.  We experienced the winter from "hell", I slipped on ice and lost two tendons in my left shoulder, lost my job in April and ended up placing my Mom in a nursing home, something I will never be able to get rid of the guilt ever, despite the fact that there were stronger pros than cons for the decision (and it wasn't entirely my decision). I ended up putting her back in when she started to go into periods of pure hatred for me. I ended up giving up her apartment not knowing at the time that the rages were able to be controlled so I am feeling guilty that I placed her sooner than she needed to be.

I've given her the choice of my trying to find another apartment, another aide (oh yes, I would have to replace her aide as the woman who was looking after her took on another job) or have her move in with me which would have been a hardship for her because the only time she'd be able to get out is when she went to the doctor as it would cost me $300 to get her up and down the stairs to my apartment.

I did not know exactly how much I loved her until I moved her up near me; yet I never expected that "her" place would end up becoming a cage for me.  For the last 2 years I was paying approximately $12000 a year to keep up my co-op apartment expenses and only able to spend between 5 to 15 hours a week there since my mom could no longer live on her own and I had to be with her because she could experience syncope and could pass out at any time from standing or over-exertion.

To help alleviate some of the feeling of guilt, I spend a lot of time with her; between 4 to 6 hours a day. Winter will be more difficult as I won't be able to get there when the weather is bad as I do not drive in snow and ice . . . but we will get through it.

The thing now is that she (1) now has immediate medical attention, no longer having to call 911 and wait; (2) she is eating what she should have been eating and not the junk she chose to eat all the time, (3) she no longer sleeps the entire day - she is awake and participating in some of the activities as well as talking with other people, (4) we're no longer paying double/triple rent and utilities and (5) I can live in my own place again. We are spending more quality time together, we can go outside when the weather is nice and I can still take her places, probably easier because we have a special para-transit pass. Yes, there are advantages and I will have to keep reminding myself of them.

In the meantime, I've had to look for a job because that was the only way I could stay on unemployment, but that will be coming to an end in about 3 weeks.  I will continue to look occasionally but I won't have to worry about not finding any job worth applying to or not find something because they require a Bachelor's degree, they are too far away or are full-time only.

Only 2 more months to go 2015 and hopefully I will have gotten through the worst of it and will be back starting my climb up the hill.

Monday, August 17, 2015

$15/Hr Wage for Fast Food Workers

If you've been paying any attention at all to the news in the past year, you undoubtedly have heard about the fight fast food workers are putting up for a $15 an hour minimum wage.

While I truly understand how difficult it is to live on the current minimum wage, especially in major cities, raising the minimum wage even over a period of 3 to 5 years for only 1 specific job classification will do far more harm than good; especially to those individuals who have spent tens of thousands of dollars in college tuition only to be offered positions at $12 or $13 an hour.  How fair is it to these people?

Somewhere one has to understand that we all can't be "Chiefs", there must also be "Indians" and not every job created was meant to be a "career".  One's first job typically isn't as Vice President of a major corporation.

My first job was a clerk in a small printing office.  My starting wage was $1.125/hr.  My education consisted of graduating from high school with a secretarial background.  I didn't walk a picket line.  I didn't cry foul.  I didn't think I should make more money than the office manager for basic typing skills. It took me almost 25 years to work my way up to $15/hr.

I worked in the printing industry for a number of years, moved to an engineering field office for a number of years after losing my husband to a heart attack; went to school at night and graduated community college with an Applied Science degree in Marketing. From there I worked my way up to an Executive Administrative Assistant III at $60K a year.

I did so because I knew that a clerk position was a starting job and not a career position. 

You'll say but yes, bread and milk as only .17 and .20 at the time and a gallon of gas .37; but everything was relative, especially when you're earning only $45 a week.

For those who feel that flipping burgers at McDonald's should be a lifetime career, they lack the motivation to want to do better so why should they be rewarded with an hourly salary that exceeds that of someone who has taken the time to go to school and has a huge college debt to pay off.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Where to Start

I decided to try to put on a calendar activities that I want to accomplish. I remembered that Google had a calendar so I pulled it up this morning and proceeded to put entries into each of the daily slots.

When finished I opened it up and realized that despite the full days I discovered there were things I still needed to include such as tv programs I enjoyed watching and reading and puzzles. I also have to fit in time for caring for my mother . . . oh well, the best made plans of mice and men.

I suppose what I need to do is take the list of everything I enjoy and plan out 1 week at a time . . . that is probably a more realistic way to do it. So a little bit later today, I will start planning out my first week.

In the meantime, I have Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel on as they are running a marathon series of Signed, Sealed and Delivered, a program I became interested in from Day 1. There is also another program on tonight on the other Hallmark Channel "When Calls the Heart".

Well until tonight, I shall temporarily turn off my computer and enjoy the rest of today.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Where Do I Go From Here?

Prior to my "forced retirement" I had taken time to prepare lists of things I could do to earn money in retirement as well as things I enjoyed doing.  While these lists were put together prior to my having to spend 90% of my "free time" looking after my mother, I can't go gun-ho forward with all my plans.

In thinking about it, I haven't really been utilizing the time I spend with my mother efficiently. Hey, it's only been a month and a half . . . some things do take a little time to get used to.

Here are a few of the things I have rethought in the process.

First, as I mentioned in a previous post, I am looking for another job, more a formality to collect unemployment benefits so that is taking up at least 3 of my precious 20 hours of time I have to myself when I am able to go to "my home".  Between my laptop and my mother's computer there are 2 at her apartment on which I could spend the time required for the job hunt, hence freeing up the 3 hours when I'm at home.

Second, after having it hit me that some of my savings could quite possibly go to a nursing facility down the road, I have finally flip-flopped for the last time deciding that I'm definitely going to do some apartment renovation. True I spend a very limited time there at the moment, but that won't be forever.

After talking to a new neighbor I decided that I need some electrical work done in my apartment in year 3 or 4 of my retirement, such as having all or some of the outlets grounded, need a bathroom outlet "re-wired" as it appears dead, replace a ceiling light/fan and upgrade the fuse box to a circuit breaker.  However, my co-op sent around a notice indicating that if you have a fuse box it must be converted to circuit breakers prior to March 2016. So I am now in the process of obtaining quotes from a few electricians for the work.

I am also planning on re-doing my bathroom . . . it is currently retro 1960.

Third, for the last 2 years I've only been able to spend an average of about 1/2 hour a day at my place, hence it looks more like a cyclone-hit storage unit.  I need to take time getting rid of some stuff and reorganizing what I have. I'd like to eventually be able to get rid of the storage unit I pay an additional $23 a month for.

Fourth, I need to re-do my lists and then create a schedule to incorporate the things I need to do with the things I want to do in order to use my time effectively and productively.

Strange, the realizations we can come to when we think about it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One Month Later

Well, it's now a month since I was let go from my job as Administrator 3 for a major engineering firm.

I had expected to miss not going to work, but I suspect that the fact that I've been so busy between running my mother to her doctors and me to my P/T sessions that I didn't miss it at all. I'm sure that I will soon as my physical therapy sessions are now complete.

We've also had pretty nice weather that I've been able to enjoy so work?  What is that?

I am looking for another job at present but because of my age doubt seriously that anyone will hire a 68 year old especially for a top level position. They know that at this age, that I won't want to work much longer so they don't want to put time and money into me only to lose me in a year or less.

I will continue to try to find something, but only time will tell what will happen.  In the meantime, I'm still waiting for my unemployment to kick in.  I expect that I haven't yet received anything as I received 3 weeks severance and 3 days of vacation pay. I hope it begins soon as I don't like not having the income not coming in.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Well, this year has already turned into a "humdinger" what with one of the most brutal winters in a long time, my falling and injuring my left rotator cuff almost requiring surgery, my mom having balance and blood pressure issues and with my getting notice that my company is eliminating my position in two weeks.

I was already planning to retire towards the end of this year middle of next . . . oh well; the best laid plans of mice and men.

I guess it goes to show you that no matter how well you're liked where you work, when they want to cut back or use the money elsewhere there is no loyalty.

The truth is that they're letting me go isn't really a bad thing considering all the other things going on in my life right now. True, it's a bit earlier than I expected and I have to juggle some balls to stay afloat, but that's not too hard and I've already taken care of most of it.

The only problem now is that since I was given notice, I don't want to BE at work any more.  Sigh!  9-1/4 days and counting.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where in the world is Spring?

It's been a long, cold and snowy winter for about 2/3rds of the country this year and many of us are disgusted and depressed.

I hate winter, always have and the last two winters here in the Northeast/Middle Atlantic have been bears.

I've always been afraid of driving in snow and for the last 50 years have struggled to find ways of getting back and forth to work when Mother Nature was behaving at her worst. I'm tired now and have to admit to myself that not only do I not want to do this any more but that I can't do this any more.

I was doing OK this year until a few weeks ago when I slipped on the ice while cleaning off my car and injured an already bad arm. It's been difficult trying to get to work and care for my 94-year old mother with basically one arm, also not 100%. I now have a medical issue to deal with and I'm not happy about it.

But what a surprise it was to go to the Weather Channel website and see that starting on Saturday we can look forward to 8 days of sunny weather in the mid-40's. I can only hope that the storm we're having today (March 5th) is the absolute LAST of this long miserable season.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dealing with a Parent With Dementia

If someone had told me what my life was going to be like 10 years ago, I never would have believed them. You see, my mother is 94 with several health issues, one of which is that she suffers from dementia.

The easy part, but one that is actually quite aggravating, is continually having to answer the same question 5 or 10 times in a matter of minutes without losing one's patience. The hard part, however, is that when a lapse or a trigger has the parent convinced for the moment that you stole their money which happened to me just this morning, well then that can turn into a living hell.

It was fortunate that the woman who looks after my mother while I'm at work was able to settle the issue with the bank and called me and that I was able (for the moment) to remind my mother that she had 2 accounts (a checking and a savings account) and that what she was looking at was just the statement for the checking account. Once she realized she had blamed me for doing something I didn't do, then she became embarrassed and as equally as upset as she had when she thought I did her wrong.

I could NEVER steal from my mother, or anyone for that matter. In fact, for the last 2 years, I've been paying 2/3rds of the cost for the aide as well as an additional $1800 to replace her bottom denture which she wasn't going to replace when she accidently lost her top plate. All in all, I've spent about $10,000 of my own money thus far caring for her these past few years, trying to keep her out of a nursing home so that if there is anything left over, I can give it to my sister who has struggled financially all her life. And this year, with the added care she needs, I'll be spending $7300 of my own money. All money that is supposed to have been for my own years of retirement and future medical care.

One of my mother's obsessions is that she thinks she has to "hide" her wallet, etc. and every time I have to write a check or get grocery money, it takes an hour or more of searching for her to remember where she put it. In fact, one time she had put her wallet in a garbage pail that was filled with plastic bags that she uses. I told her that if something had happened to her I would never have looked through it, I would have just pitched it in the dumpster. And the funny part is that she's basically housebound so there isn't any reason for her to have to hide it. As such, I now keep her checkbook and savings account book (she lost her original one about 2 years ago) with me. And I've been dealing with the bills as they come in and don't make a big deal of it any more.

I don't know if any of you have ever read any posts when it comes to food stamps or people on Medicaid going to nursing homes etc., but many times there are "younger" posters who come out and write some pretty nasty things. First of all what they don't know is that assisted living and nursing home care IS expensive. Second, it's usually those with money who know and do protect the money/house so that there parent's bill is paid by Medicaid. Third, not everyone wants the taxpayer to foot the bill for such care, but that money does run out eventually. In my mother's case, in the area where I live and cost of care here, her money would run out in about 16 months. After that, then Medicaid would have to foot the bill. And fourth, there are those of us who have family members who could use the financial help and like me are doing whatever they can to keep the parent out of such facilities for as long as they can hoping that there may be something left over when the parent is gone to give the needy sibling.

Whatever one wants to believe, you will never truly understand what it's like dealing with a situation like this until you're actually in it or close to someone who is going through it. I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year Everyone

Well, here we are, the first day of a new year, 2015.

The passing of a year is bittersweet; we're glad that the experiences that caused us problems and stress are over and we're happy that we have the chance to start off with a clean slate and an optimistic, can-do attitude.

I've not made any resolutions this year, not because I don't meet them which is true, but my focus this year is to try to work on the patience I no longer have so that I can deal with my elderly mother who has dementia. And for those of you who have experienced caring for a person with dementia, you know it is not an easy task and that it only gets worse.

I'm also at that point in my life where I am starting to plan my retirement. I have decided due to the longevity in my family not to start collecting SS until I turn 70 which is 2 years from now. I still work full time and plan to work the additional 2 years, but this may not be possible due to changes currently underway by my employer. It is likely that no move will take place this year so I think, I will have at least 1 full year of working guaranteed; the second year uncertain. A move in the beginning of 2016 rather than at the end would cause me to have to dip into my 401K/IRA a year sooner and take in significant payouts the first year, but one has to do what they need to do.

I also have to concentrate on my health issues. While health is between good and fair, I have been diagnosed as being diabetic so knowing the effect being diabetic has on dementia, I must lose the weight I need to lose. Having dealt with both parents and dementia, there is no way I want to find myself in a similar state.

So, raise your glasses of fresh, clean water . . . Happy New Year everyone!!!!!!!