: Caretakers

Keeping track of your bank accounts

Hello everyone:

This week I was preparing to balance my checking account when I noticed a very large charge against the account, one from a place I had never heard of. I immediately went to my bank (I had laryngitis so talking on the phone was not an option) to find out what had happened.

The bank informed me that the money was given to an apartment complex that is about 30 minutes from my house. A phone call to that complex confirmed that a man and woman had rented an apartment and offered my bank account number as the source of the money to pay the rent.  More news: a second payment had gone through and my account was now out by almost $3,000.00. Additional news: the withdrawal was set up to happen every month from there on out.

The gal had walked into the manager’s office, said that she was me, and told the lady that she wanted to pay her friend’s rent.  I do not know if she was required to show any identification, but, when I asked the rental agent for my money back, she commented, “File a police report.”

They apparently plan on letting the man continue to live there, though the rental agent said, “well, we won’t accept anything except cash or a cashier’s check from him in the future.”  They would not be taking any action against him, though she was going to call him right then.

Long story short, I filed a police report but do not know if they will ever serve time for their crime.  My bank is investigating the situation and I might get my money back….in a couple of weeks.

Here’s the bottom line: stay on top of things with your bank account. Question anything you find unusual….and jump right on any discrepancies. Three thousand dollars is a lot of money, but it would have been worse, if I hadn’t caught them.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Recalcitrant water closets or getting your toilet to stop running

Hello everyone:

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you flush the toilet and the toilet just keeps running and running and running? It’s not supposed to do that.

If you do what I usually do, you juggle the handle to get it to stop. This is a temporary fix. You need a long-term solution or the water will keep running with future flushes.

What should you do? The first thing to do is to take the lid of the water closet off (this is your water tank). There is a chain on the contraption in the tank. Is it slack? If so, you need to unhook the chain and then re-hook it so that the chain is not pulled so tightly. If the toilet still continues to run, that is not the problem.

You should then look at the round piece of rubber that covers the drain in the bottom of the tank. Push on it a few times, to see if it is sealing well. It may be shot and may need to be replaced.

You will probably want to empty out the tank before you remove the round rubber cover, so turn off the water next to your wall and flush the toilet. This will make the toilet empty and it won’t be able to re-fill itself.

The rubber piece comes off pretty easily, so take it off and then take it to the hardware store to get a replacement. Bringing the piece with you will ensure that you get a new one that will fit your toilet. When you get back home, replace the rubber piece by reattaching it to the toilet. Turn the water back on at the wall and the toilet will refill. Flush it again, to make sure that it will stop.

If neither of these issues is the problem, you may need to replace the entire flushing mechanism; you can either pay a plumber about $100 minimum to make a house call or you can take a picture of your toilet, bring it to the hardware store to get a new mechanism, and then (following the directions on the package) replace the mechanism yourself. This will take a couple of hours and will require a wrench, a screwdriver, and a bucket.

I hope that this helps solve your running toilet problem!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Sometimes the world gets smaller before it can become bigger

Hello everyone:

There is a group of people for whom I have great respect: caregivers. These dear folks sacrifice their own lives to give to others. May God richly bless them!

I know a gal who loves to go out to eat with her girlfriends, but she realized lately that going to one of their favorite restaurants made her late getting home to take over the reigns of her elderly mother’s care (she has a three-day-a-week few-hours-at-a-time break but the paid caregiver has limited hours). So we probably won’t get to go back there again …for the foreseeable future, if you get my drift.

She loved raising chickens but she understood that it was getting harder and harder for her elderly mother to go to their farm area first thing in the morning, so my friend gave her beloved chickens away. She enjoyed going out to eat twice a day when friends and family came in from out of town, but acknowledged that it was too hard on her mother, so now she is limited to once a day during the visits, or less.

When you care for someone who is elderly, as their world gets constricted, so does yours. For a person to willingly accept those limitations, while still perfectly able-bodied herself, it’s incredible. You know that your world will not get bigger until the day comes that the family member is no longer in need of that care.

I have to believe that there is a special place in heaven for such special, caring people. Here’s to you, my friend, and to everyone in the same situation!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Watching a parent’s decline

Hello everyone:

One of the hardest things on earth is watching a parent decline in health and/or mental capacity.

You know how it is: little things, such as going to the grocery or serving oneself at a family buffet become impossible. There isn’t enough strength for the former or enough agility for the latter.

A once-buff person becomes pathetically thin and bony. An active mind becomes clouded with fears and an inability to communicate. Hearing loss is common, as is the inability to form sentences.

Life can become centered around the need to use the bathroom. The shower can become a marathon-level challenge for someone who does not see the need to use soap or shampoo.

It can become necessary to supervise the individual constantly, telling and re-telling the same information to the elderly person. The ability to remember information quickly becomes a thing of the past. A once-mentally agile person becomes someone in need of constant reassurance.

It is quite sad. What can you do? Love the person, both as he or she is and as he or she was. Remember the happy times, and trust that you will make it through this day, this hour, this minute. Try to arrange for play dates for YOURSELF! You need a break and need to not feel guilty about it.

This is a part of the cycle of life.  How do you cope with this?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Maintaining your fitness so you can control your life

Hello everyone:

I was talking to someone recently who was telling me about his elderly father.  He was sharing the importance of keeping physically and mentally sharp so that a nursing home would not be necessary quite so soon.

He had some good points. If you don’t use your brain, you’ll lose it, as the old saying goes. How do you keep sharp?

My great aunt kept physically strong by walking everywhere. It is important to note that she lived in middle Tennessee, which is known for being full of hills. She walked everywhere except to the grocery. As a ninety-year-old, she finally started taking a taxi rather than trying to make it home with her groceries in hand. That was a concession not willingly granted, but the practicalities (and her physical strength) made it necessary.

My great aunt kept mentally strong by continuing to work a full time job at the age of 93. Not everyone can or will want to do this, but if this is not your idea of a nice way to spend your 90s, how about working crossword puzzles,  reading books, and doing jigsaw puzzles? These are all ways to use it, not lose it.

What ideas do you have for keeping physically and mentally “with it?”

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Why Suddenly Single was written

Hello everyone:

Having gone through the loss of my mother three years ago, I realized that my father did not know how to do the basic tasks needed to maintain his household. For the past 66.5 years, my mother had done all of the housework. It was his task to maintain the outside of the house when they had a single family house, while she focused on the daily running of the home.

This was pretty typical of women of her generation; even if women worked outside the home, they still saw the home as their responsibility. When Mom died, Dad was left without the knowledge and experience he needed to keep their condo looking good. As the daughter of the family, it quickly became my job to keep his home in Florida clean while also maintaining my own house in Maryland.

My dad is not the only man in this situation. The wife of my Sunday school teacher  fell ill unexpectedly and became unable to take care of her husband and son in the way they were used to. He had never cooked a meal or run the washing machine in the forty-seven years they had been married.

He is a highly intelligent, well-educated man, yet neither he nor their grown son knew how to prepare a simple meal or what they should do to clean the house. Another woman I know has a retired husband and two grown sons who have never made their own beds.  They have no clue about changing sheets; indeed, they once told me that they did not realize that you ever had to wash them!

I was at a wedding reception a few years ago and watched (in horror, I must admit) as a woman was served her meal; she cut everything up on the plate and then traded plates with her husband. Apparently at their house, she was responsible for making it so that her husband never had to pick up his own knife!

This example, true though it is, is a prime example of why my book needed to be written. What would you do as a husband if something happened to your wife and you suddenly had to keep the house clean and tidy?

At the same time, women need to know some basics around the house, as well. Wives, would you know how to handle the various tasks your husband has always completed?

Would you know what had to be done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis?  That is why I am here. Men, my book gives you guidance on how to keep the spider webs at bay, the kitchen mostly sticky-free, and the bathrooms reasonably tidy. For the ladies, I  discuss how to pick up the slack left by the absence of your husband.

I hope that you will take some time to follow me, so that you can learn some of the ways to maintain your home yourself. Feel free to ask questions as we make this journey together.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Superwoman or nuts: Is she crazy or just well-organized?

Hello everyone:

We all know someone who seems to accomplish a whole lot in her 24 hours. Maybe she is your college professor who teaches 6 different classes at three different colleges, all of which have different starting dates. Perhaps she also writes two blogs twice a week while writing a novel and making presentations on the topic of her dissertation. Perchance she is also keeping her family fed, clothed, and the house clean while also running 8 miles a day, biking 3 miles a day, and walking 4 miles a day.

What in the world? Is this woman nuts? Does she ever sleep? Is she Superwoman? Nope. None of the above (I hope). She is simply organized.

So how is this done while not losing one’s sanity? For starters, she keeps a “to-do” list and crosses things off as they are accomplished. She makes a daily list of what must be done and also has a list on the same page of what it would be nice to do that day. If something is vitally important, it needs to be done FIRST so that the rest of the day will not be spent fretting about having not gotten it completed.

Let’s follow her through a typical day. She keeps her exercise clothes in the bathroom and puts them on before she is totally awake. By the time the fog clears, she is already dressed to exercise, so she might as well do it. Three miles on the bike, eight miles on the treadmill and that is done. BTW, if she was taking a class right then, she would have a study guide for one of her classes blown up into 16 point font and displayed on her bulletin board in front of the treadmill so she could study while running. If she was not taking a class, she would pray for her students and the folks on her church prayer list (again, posted on her bulletin board, filling otherwise non-productive time).  Ninety minutes later, she is done and it is only 7 am.

Next, she gets ready for her day, studying while blow drying her hair or reading a current magazine in the 7 minutes it takes to get her hair dry. That way, she is keeping up with the world in general while using otherwise non-productive time. She does her makeup without distraction because telemarketers haven’t figured out that she is up and at ’em by 7 am. She dresses in an outfit suitable for the entire day (when possible) so that she only has to dress once.

Breakfast means Bible study time and/or catch up with the family.  She is out the door by 8:30, to walk 4 miles, grocery shop, or run errands. Home by lunchtime means no fast food (that adds pounds very quickly) and on to her online classes.

She can check in on 6 classes within a couple of hours, if there are not many assignments due. She grades on a daily basis, so that there are very few marathon grading sessions and so that her students can get immediate feedback on every assignment. They appreciate knowing how to improve their grades for the next assignment by following her in-depth feedback on this one.  She keeps a month-at-a-glance calendar next to her computer so that she can track which week each of the three colleges is in, which students will have assignments due that week, and when her discussion boards open to students.

During the online class time, she makes a point of getting up and moving every 45 minutes by setting an oven timer. She also has a Varidesk, which allows her to fluff her pillow as need be. Classes are usually completely done by 2:30 or 3, so she can take a few minutes to fold the two loads of laundry she did while teaching (the 45 minutes between breaks is enough time to transfer washing into the dryer and then take it out when it is dry).

She can spend the rest of the time until dinner preparation time to blog or write her novel.  To remain faithful to writing, she sets her oven timer for 45 minute increments. After visiting with the family during dinner, she can spend more time writing until Jeopardy is on. Following the game show, there is time to watch a little bit of Doc Martin before an early bedtime.

Do you think she is nuts or just well-organized? I hope you think the later, instead of the former!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

P.S. Welcome to my life!

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Little things can make a big difference

Hello everyone:

I got a church newsletter from my great aunt’s church of many years and I was struck by how a few people can make a huge difference in the lives of others.

The last time I visited her church, the normal attendance on a Sunday morning was 271 people over two services. Not a huge group, but faithful folks who regularly met together.

These folks have a ministry to their community all year round but they go out of their way to minister to others at Christmastime. They take homemade cookies to people who have to work on Christmas day, such as firemen and women, hospital workers, and police.

Their newsletter that arrived at my home  today has numerous thank you notes from folks who they have helped in the last month: for some, the church paid their gas or electric bill; to others,  food was brought in during a time of someone’s difficulty; for those unable to get out and about,  small Christmas trees (apparently full-decorated) were given to cheer the stay-at-home invalids.

What a wonderful way to go out of their way to help those unable to help themselves! What experiences have you had with being blessed by the actions of a few?

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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Peace in the midst of the storm

Hello everyone:

The holidays can be very difficult as we navigate seldom-seen relatives amidst a flurry of activity. We can find tempers frayed as we become sleep-deprived as a result of increasing responsibilities. Too much to do in too little time can add to our holiday stress, and a limited income in addition to holiday bills can add to those challenges.

Put in a liberal dose of illness or infirmity, too much togetherness in too tight a space, and you have a disaster waiting to happen.

So what can we do? Ask for help. Don’t take all of the jobs on yourself. Pray. Take time to read your Bible. Try to stay on as normal a schedule as possible. Respect others’ need for privacy and ask that they acknowledge your need. Reach out the to person who seems determined to give you the hardest time, if you can. Take a walk when things seem overwhelming.

Depend on God to help you make it through. And, yes, it can be helpful to have a personal countdown of how many days you have left in this season. Give yourself something to look forward to, such as lunch out with a friend, and do not let anyone talk you out of this personal time that you need.

I pray that you will make it through successfully, and that you will have a blessed holiday!

Best,

Dr. Sheri

P.S. Now excuse me while I go make the family dinner, set up for it, and do the laundry while everyone else is at the beach. Oh, well….. I love my family and this is the way that I serve God.

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Unlocking locked doors or getting your child out of the bathroom

Hello everyone:

A friend of mine had a small child who locked herself in the bathroom when we had gone over to another friend’s house for craft time. We did not realize the child was missing until we took a break for snacks.

The recently-potty trained child had tried to take care of business herself but the house and its locks were old and the little girl did not know how to get out of the bathroom once she was inside. We knew nothing about tools and had to call 911 to extricate the child from her dilemma.

If you would like to avoid having fire trucks show up at your place, I will guide you through the tools you need to have on hand and will end with how to remove a locked door.

You need to have the following items in your tool box: two screwdrivers (Phillips head and flat head), pliers, wire cutters, picture hangers, wrenches, a hammer, and duct tape.

My sister-in-law also finds that a retraceable exacto-type knife comes in handy because when the blade gets dull, you can break it off and a new one appears.

Here’s the thing about tools: you get what you pay for. If you buy cheap tools, they will not last and you will end up frustrated when they cannot do what you need them to do. If you buy Sears Craftsman tools, they come with a lifetime warranty and Sears will replace them if they break.

Your toddler or grandchild has just locked him or herself in your bathroom. Short of calling 911, how do you get the child out? It depends on the type of doorknob that you have (and how old it is). If it is a relatively new doorknob, you should have a small hole in the center of the handle. These locks usually came with a key-type piece of metal. It is recommended that you keep this metal key on top of your door frame, in case of emergency. Rub your hand over the top of the door, to see if your key is there. If it is, poke the piece of metal into the door knob until you hear a “click.” The door should now be unlocked. If you have a flat-sided key, then you may have to poke it into the handle and turn the key in order to get the door to unlock.

With some older doors, there is no hole to poke into the handle. Grab a Phillips head screwdriver (the one that looks like a starburst on the tip) and head towards the door. Remove the screws on the side of the handle that are visible from your side of the door. [Note: Keep the screws local- you will need them after you get the child out of the room.] Reach into the lock mechanism and unlock the door. Plan on putting the handle back on the door after the child is freed. You will do this by putting the screws you took out a few minutes ago, putting them back on the handle area, and screwing them back into place.

Best,

Dr. Sheri

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