I Have To Ask The Question – Why?

 

You see things; and you say “why?”

But I dream things that never were; and I say “why not?”

– George Bernard Shaw

 

Last week, I was asked to explain what I do. I help create a safe place where older adults can be physically active and socially engaged.

Sure, I raise money, write articles, set up tables, introduce speakers and take out the garbage. But at the core of what I do – and why I wake up each morning – is to positively impact people’s lives.

A few weeks ago, a significant day came and went. No one baked me a (gluten-free) cake, brought me balloons or got me a card. That’s OK. I wasn’t expecting anything.

That same day, someone complimented a member of my team. It wasn’t a generic comment like, “you’re doing good job.” It was specific about why Ami was asked to speak to a group of potential members. That comment meant a lot to Ami, and I discovered – when Ami told me – that I’m a good coach and mentor but I’m not always great at handing out specific praise.

Ami probably wishes she’d never said anything, but I already knew that giving specific praise is something I have to constantly improve upon. Even more shocking – it is the exact same thing I desire. I want it from my family, BASC members, the board and even from my pets – who I know don’t talk.

Ami and I share some similarities. We both want to do a good job. So whether it’s a Bunco event, a newsletter or recruiting volunteers – we always want to do a good job AND we want to know specifically why it was good.

After the wake-up call, I took some time and reflected on exactly why the BA Senior Center board hired me.

I have vision – I see how things could be in the future (I’m not psychic). I know where the Center is today, and, in my mind’s eye, I can see exactly where the Center can be in 2022.

I’m driven by the achievement of goals and objectives. If I have a vision, then strategic planning provides the  structure for an organization to follow to get from where it is to where it will be in the future. I want to lead the BASC board, the members and staff forward to where we usher in an additional building with even more opportunities for older adults. To arrange things in the right way and to maximize the efforts to get there, I have to ask the question. … Why?

Part of implementing a plan is asking questions. I’ve always asked a lot of questions (ask my parents). I love to figure out why things are the way they are. If we feed 48 people lunch and have no more room for additional members to play bingo, why don’t we expand to 80 seats? Why do we go to the store twice a month for bottled water when we could buy more and make one trip? Why buy goods at an office supply store when they are 15% cheaper on Amazon and delivery is free?

However, the problem with asking “why?” is that many people don’t like that question. Much of the time, asking “why” results in change, and many people do not like change – they’ll even go out of their way to avoid it. I happen to love change because I’m flexible (not literally) and can easily adapt to new situations. Face it: We’ll never grow into a second building if we are unwilling to change.

Members who’ve spent time with me over the past year (hours – not minutes) understand my drive and desire. They understand that underneath the humor, sarcasm and purposeful strides, I’m deeply compassionate about others. I care about what the future holds.

After the last Birthday Potluck Luncheon, we received a lot of positive feedback from members – specific, meaningful feedback about programs, activities, speakers and the facilities. It was wonderful to hear and more exciting to see the difference that’s being made in people’s lives.

Earlier, I mentioned that a significant day came and went with no fanfare (or cookies). I’ve been at the helm at BASC for one year now. It is an opportunity that fills me with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment and adds meaning to my life.

So thank you.

Do me a favor and look back at how far we’ve come and then try and see – even try to dream – where we can be in a few years. And if you can’t, then ask me and we can explore the possibilities together.

When Blessed, Share Your Good Fortune

I love to garden. I’m not sure my family even understands the reasons why I spend so much time tending the backyard crops. It’s not (entirely) to get away. But it is some quality “me” time after work and on weekends.

Whether gardening can save you money is often a topic of debate at my house in the spring. This is because my return on investment largely depends on what I grow and, to a lesser extent, the weather and pestilence.

My garden is doing well this year. I planted tomatoes (Cherokee purple, Roma and beefsteak), peppers
(Anaheim, poblano, jalapeno, tabasco, sugar rush peach, habanero and purple, orange, green and chocolate bells) as well as herbs (basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, chives, thyme, dill and oregano).

For some reason, my squash, cucumbers and long beans suffered from a failure to thrive, so I cleared them out to make room for my fall/winter garden.

To date, I know I’ve broken even, with a few months of heavy production remaining. That means my wife is happy about the healthy P & L.

I also garden for my health. A diet rich in vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet can reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and may even protect against certain cancers – that’s what I tell myself as I’m eating cauliflower. Consuming vegetables instead of high-calorie food helps cut total calories, too.

I know that my vegetables are pesticide-free and picked at their peak of freshness. I even make my own compost that goes back into the soil.

I also garden for exercise. Holding the hose is no real effort, but weeding focuses my muscles on stretching, posture, repetitive motion and even resistance principles similar to those in weight training. Gardening doesn’t burn 20,000 calories, but I bet I hit 200 calories an hour.

My favorite reason for gardening is social. I like to share the bounty with friends and neighbors. I’ve helped others design raised beds and address gardening challenges.

On a job interview I once was asked, “If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be and why?” No generic oak, maple or blue spruce for me. I immediately answered, “A fruit tree.” I was asked to clarify my answer to which I replied, “A peach tree.”

Growing up, my parents planted two peach trees in the backyard. Nothing happened the first few years, and, then one spring we had the first hint of peaches. Each year the crop got bigger, then there’d be an off year when insects or disease would hinder fruit production. When we had a big year, I’d pick the peaches and put an equal amount in paper lunch sacks. I’d write the names of each of our neighbors on the sacks and deliver them door-to-door.

We were blessed with more than we needed, so we shared our good fortune with our friends. That lesson has stayed with me for more than 50 years. That lesson is also why I support the Tulsa Area United Way.

Because the TAUW raises funds that go directly to local services, hundreds of thousands of lives are touched, changed and even saved through area contributions. And dollars raised in our community stay in our community to help build a better place for us all to live, work and raise our families.

The Broken Arrow Senior Center is one of 59 partner agencies supported by the Tulsa Area United Way. We receive much-needed yearly funding from TAUW. The United Way also provides information technology in the form of hardware, software, database, website and ongoing support of all these systems. It is impossible to assign a dollar amount to these services.

I know the TAUW saves the BA Senior Center thousands of dollars yearly, making it possible for the Center to be accessible and affordable to seniors in our area. In this respect, the Center and the United Way truly are partners.

Each year we honor that partnership by helping the United Way help us. Rather than just setting out jars to collect your loose change over the next few months, you will hear more about how the United Way impacts not just your life through the Center but how the organization impacts the lives of thousands of Oklahomans.

Being blessed with more than we needed is truly the lesson I learned 50 years ago when passing out those bags of peaches.

If you feel blessed and would like to support the TAUW financially or through volunteering, please stop in the office.

Questions Abound When Considering Medicare Options

One of the benefits of membership at the Broken Arrow Senior Center is access to information. That knowledge comes in many forms – from friends, activity leaders, company representatives, industry experts, medical professionals – and, who knows, maybe even from me every once in a while.

This past month, the topic of Medicare has popped up a lot – at the bank, the pharmacy, a Zumba class and a United Way meeting. Now it might be that I’m just paying better attention, but it could be that the time to make any changes or to opt in is rapidly approaching.

I realize that we are a 55-plus organization and that you become Medicare-eligible at 65. However, the average age of our members is 73, so we’re going to spend a bit of time this month on the topic of Medicare. We know many of you will be considering an array options and changes so you can sign up for the coverage that meets your health care needs as well as your budget. There’s a more in-depth article about Medicare on page 13.

It’s up to you to get ready. It’s up to you to be informed. It’s up to you to be your own advocate. And if you miss the deadline – especially if you are new to being 65 – you may end up paying much higher premiums.

Did I mention that you must do a good deal of homework before you can even determine what option is best for you? To help narrow your scope of priorities, I’ve collected some of the top questions to consider when you are choosing between Medicare and Medicare Advantage or between different Medicare Advantage plans.

Will you be able to use your current doctors? Are they in the plan’s network? What if they’re not in the network? What about specialists? Do you need a referral first? Is your preferred hospital, home health/home help agency, senior and skilled nursing facility in the plan’s network? What if you need care and you’re out of state or out of the country?

What costs should you expect? What about premiums, deductibles, co-pays and your out-of-pocket max? Should you find an option for dental, hearing and vision coverage?

Before you’ve barely started exploring your options, you’re already considering more than a dozen questions. You could spend an entire day just contemplating prescription drug coverage.

What about prescription drug coverage premiums, deductibles and co-payments? How much are brand-name drugs? Generics? Can you use your pharmacy? Can you get your drugs through mail order? Delivery? Compounding? Canada? Can you get 30- or 90-day supplies? What about when you travel?

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. Over the next few months, we are going to provide opportunities for our members to explore these questions. You’ll be able to learn from industry experts and get help finding the right plan that fits your unique needs.

You should never feel alone in this journey. Be on the lookout for more details in the weeks and months to come.

Make Certain Your Shoes Fit Right

Incorrectly fitting footwear is common in older adults and is a risk factor not only for foot problems but also for falls.

When I look at the footwear that many of the BASC members have on, it concerns me – especially when I see shoes that I know were purchased during the first Bush administration. Many older adults do not wear the best footwear, and inappropriate footwear can impair balance and alter gait.

According to one study, muscle weakness, gait deficits and balance deficits accounted for three of the top five risk factors for falling among older adults.

Having run half marathons for years, I’ve always prided myself on having the right footwear. However, as I recently learned, as you age, your feet can continue to evolve and change.

I had the opportunity to have a 3D scan conducted of my feet, and it was eye opening. I discovered that my left foot was a full size larger than the right. One foot had a high arch and instep and the other was as flat as Fred Flinstone’s.

Another blow to my self esteem, my size 11 foot is a 4E width.

WILLLLLMMMAaaaaa!

My doctor even told me to wear shoes when I’m at home. I’m used to kicking off my shoes when I walk

in the house, but studies have made it clear that older adults walking barefoot or only in socks at home have a significantly higher likelihood of falling.

I have the right shoes now, and I know there’s really a lot to learn about your feet.