I can’t say enough good things about my Apple Watch. Mine has cellular service, so every time I get a phone call, it will be available to answer (or not answer) on my watch, as well as on my iPhone. That means I don’t have to dig into the nether regions of my backpack to find my cellphone, but can answer the call on my watch. I’ve spoken to many people using my watch when I’m walking on the street or am in a store. I always ask if the person at the other end can hear me OK. The answer is typically, “yes.”
The watch also lets me set alarms and timers. That feature has proven to be enormously helpful when I want to remember that I have a Zoom call or want to leave my apartment at a particular time, say, to pick up a grandchild from school or meet someone for dinner. Or simply to time a hard-boiled egg.
Probably the most endearing feature of the watch is its ‘fall detection’ sensor. The watch will pick up some signal when it thinks you’ve taken a bad fall. Then it will ask you if you need assistance. I’ve never had to activate this emergency feature but it’s an incredibly reassuring one.
I know it can summon 911 for me simply by my pushing on a side button. That feature has reassured me on several occasions when I’ve traveled on relatively empty subway cars or at night on uncrowded sidewalks. That’s also extremely reassuring.
I’ve recently started wearing the watch when I go to sleep, when it can give me some idea of how long I slept and in what sleep stages. I’ve been told by a sleep specialist that it’s definitely not as accurate as a full-blown sleep study, where electrodes are attached to various body parts. But remember it’s just a watch and not a spaghetti-like collection of sensors and cables. My general feeling about its nightly summaries is that they’re close enough.
My watch, which is a few years old now, can also monitor my heart rate at any time. I believe newer models can also check your blood pressure and oxygen saturation.
I’m sure there are other comparable products out there that do some of these things but, if you’re a senior citizen, and especially if you live alone, you should definitely look into buying one.
I belong to a not-for-profit women’s organization intended for women over 50 who have retired or are retiring. TTN has chapters in many cities in the country. One of them is in New York City. It’s called the Transition Network (https://ttnwomen.org). One of the programs offered to TTN members is the Caring Collaborative, whose goal is to support the well-being and healthy independence of its members, who are in many neighborhood groups around the city.
My particular neighborhood group, whose members range in age from the 60’s to the 80’s, met monthly in someone’s living room before the pandemic, and then regularly on Zoom during the pandemic. Those Zoom meetings for our 18 members helped enormously to counter the isolation and anxiety we all felt.
With the pandemic seemingly ending, we have begun to meet monthly for lunch at a neighborhood restaurant on the Upper West Side. For the time being, we’re continuing to also meet on our monthly Zoom meetings, that are organized around a topic pertaining to health and well-being. That makes it easier for people to join the meeting who have mobility issues. But the monthly lunches are new and very nice.
I’m a big fan of both TTN and the Caring Collaborative. As we all know, New York City can be teeming with people. But if you live alone, as many members do, you can be lonely, especially if your family lives far away. As we all know, it’s extremely important to have strong social ties as well as a community of friends who can help if medical issues arise (think about the need to have someone pick you up from a colonoscopy).
Thank you TTN and the Caring Collaborative for helping us age gracefully.
Even before everything in this country became so polarized, I think NYC was a place you either loved or hated. That dichotomy is certainly not any better as I write this. Well, let me go on record now that despite all its many shortcomings and flaws, I love NYC. I love it it because of its diversity, its generosity toward strangers, its no-nonsense humor, its rawness and that doesn’t even begin to include its hundreds and hundreds of things to do, see and experience. The museums, the libraries, the theaters, the parks are unparalleled offerings. Many of them are free or you can pay what you want.
Can NYC become a better place to live? Of course. I send Mayor Adams many online messages asking his administration to improve pedestrian safety, the housing situation, homelessness, crime and filthy streets. So far, I’m not sure my complaints have had much of an impact.
But then I read about other places in the country (or sometimes in the world) and I’m reminded how grateful I am to live here.
My spirits have improved immensely since I’ve decided that it’s time for me to resume as much normalcy as possible with my NYC activities. I’ve started to ride the subway again. I’m meeting family and friends indoors in restaurants. That activity, by itself, would have significantly raised my endorphins, since being together with people in person is so much better than seeing them on a Zoom screen. I did previously visit museums and pulled down my mask in uncrowded exhibit spaces. So that, at least, has been an ongoing activity.
The only pre-pandemic activity I still haven’t resumed is going to the theater or to a movie. Seats are close together in many NYC theaters and I’d want to wear a mask. Unfortunately, I get very uncomfortable wearing a mask indoors for more than about 60 minutes. I’m sure I’ll attempt that eventually, but I’m not quite ready to be maskless in theaters just yet.
I really and truly love experiencing New York City again. And, for whatever it’s worth, the subway does look cleaner. Unfortunately, homelessness persists. As does the presence, occasionally, of someone who seems a bit mentally unhinged. The good news is that there does seem to be a heightened police presence. So, at least for now, I feel relatively safe. Fingers crossed, NYC continues to improve and I can completely resume the life I (and maybe many of us) took for granted before March 2020.
I celebrated New Year’s Eve this year in a hospital bed. It wasn’t fun. Three days later I was discharged and was still not feeling particularly good. It’s taken a few weeks now to feel completely normal. The take-away in all this for me is the heightened appreciation I have for feeling better. The sky looks bluer. Birds chirping sounds nicer. A pot of brewing coffee smells divine. Everything is simply so much better and I appreciate it much more than I did before.
I know it won’t likely last and I’ll start to take for granted the very normalcy of everyday life.
For now, though, I’m just so happy living in the moment. Many of us can experience this appreciation without getting sick. I applaud you if you can. I’m hoping I can continue that appreciation without it being tied to an illness and hospitalization.
‘Tis the season for NYC sidewalks to smell like forests.
At least for one month of the year, beginning about a week before Thanksgiving and extending through Christmas, many New York City sidewalks smell really wonderful. That’s because for that month or so, they smell like forests, thanks to the sale of Christmas trees.
You can actually stand next to a sidewalk display of trees, close your eyes, and imagine you’re in some faraway woods. You do need a very active imagination to block out the sound of honking horns, sirens, as well as other pedestrians talking, yelling, cursing or otherwise making noises not typical in the woods.
Despite all that, I inhale deeply, something I’d never think of doing the other 11 months of the year.
For almost 3 years now, I’ve been in the demographic for “high risk” for Covid and now, it appears, for the flu and RSV. I don’t have an underlying condition; I’m just over the age of 65. I know plenty of people in my high-risk age category who have simply chosen to ‘get on with life.’ They don’t want to avoid large public indoor settings and have gone to the theater, the opera and movies. However, in those places, they can continue to wear a mask. Where mask-wearing in an indoor public setting is difficult is, obviously, in restaurants. I’m not sure if anyone has invented the mask that permits the wearer to keep it on and still eat. Even a nasogastric tube requires access through your nose.
It was one thing to be able to meet people for meals outdoors when the weather here in New York City was warm. Today, December 13, 2022, the temperature is averaging the mid-to-high 30’s. The forecast has wind chills getting it down, at times, to the 20’s. Dining outdoors at restaurants, even with well-positioned heat lamps, requires fortitude.
So the existential dilemma is whether to throw caution to the wind and eat indoors. Obviously, that decision comes with hoping for the best.
I’m eating with my family indoors in a restaurant this evening. I’ll keep you posted.
There are days you know are momentous, and today, Election Day 2022, certainly feels like one of them. I’ve been braced for it for some time now. I don’t think it’s been great for my nerves. Some friends offered this advice, namely, if you can’t control something, you shouldn’t be anxious about it. Instead, you should focus on the things you can control.
I’m going to try very hard to do that but, in my head, there’s this tiny voice from my grandchildren asking, “What did you do to make things better, Grammy?” I phone banked. I donated to some candidates. I voted. Could I have done more? Yes. And then there’s the nagging question of why didn’t I. I tell myself that the election outcome will be what it will be. And then my nerves coil up again.
I have 5 grandchildren–ages 9 to 4. I wrote to them many times during the first year or so of the pandemic when everyone was locked down. I’d usually include a stamped, self-addressed envelope so they could send me back a letter or a drawing, if they weren’t writing yet. I’d see them on FaceTime calls and, if their parents let them use their phones, we’d exchange some easy-to-read texts. Subsequently, of course, after we were all vaccinated, we’d get together in person. Even then, though, those visits might be one or two times a month.
Now, it appears, the oldest 4 (ages 6, 7, 9 and 9) have their own iPads. I believe they can all thank the pandemic for these since the iPads were the link to online classes.
Although none of them have their own phones yet (I know both my son and daughter, and their spouses, are looking to postpone that inevitability as long as possible), my grandson is able to send me texts on his iPad. I’ve gotten them every morning now for the past few days. I think he squeezes them in, sometime between 6:30 and 6:45 am, after he wakes up and before he has breakfast. All 3 texts so far have been about the Yankees.
I’ve also received two letters in the past 2 weeks from two of my granddaughters (ages 7 and 9). Both were sent in their own envelopes (not SASE).
All I can say is that it’s pretty wonderful to hear from your grandchildren, when they spontaneously reach out, in whatever way they do.
It appears there are many ways people are navigating the Covid world now. I’m not talking about the under 65 crowd, many of whom appear to be socializing and returning to work, largely unmasked. I’m focused more on the 65-and-older demographic, where I belong. Based on many conversations with friends and family, there is still a decent percentage of us who are fearful enough of long Covid that we’re trying to minimize our Covid risks.
Under the heading of ‘reducing risky behavior’ would be eating outside at restaurants.
In New York City, in which I and this blog are based, there appear to be some interesting ways restaurants have created outdoor eating space. Many have the traditional outdoor cafes, where you sit at tables situated on the restaurant’s adjacent sidewalk in the open air.
A number of others have taken those outdoor cafes and put panels around them. Some of the panels are left open at one or 2 ends. That same configuration of mostly-closed-but-a-few-open-panels has been applied to sheds, usually located in the street adjacent to the restaurant.
And then there are the cafes and sheds that are completely closed with panels to form, in effect, another room of the restaurant. I would argue that the ventilation in those closed spaces could be worse than in the restaurant itself, which might have a central HVAC system to help move around the air (and Covid germ particles). Many of the outdoor restaurant sheds I’ve seen in Manhattan, where I live, have no HVAC. So when you close them all up, your air quality might not be so good.
So, folks, if you’re interested in safely eating outdoors, choose wisely.