Mid-October, the Perfect Time to Start Your Christmas Shopping

When I was a much younger man, a kid actually, I used to poke fun at my mother for beginning her Christmas plans around this time of year.  She would (and still does) make a list of all the people she planned to purchase or make gifts for and then agonize over what to get them.  She would also plan out her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and develop her guest list for each family gathering.  And there I was, the prince of procrastination, telling her to begin planning for the Fourth of July while she was at it in the most sarcastic voice I could muster.

Well, it turns out she was correct (as EVERY mother is about everything) in her October planning for a late December event.  She was always the “Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today?” type of mom and it’s a shame that if that philosophy came in apple form it fell very far from the tree in my instance.  Anyway, it wasn’t until I was a fully (ahem)mature adult that it dawned on me why mom was fully justified in her autumnal holiday planning and the reasons why she was correct are as follows:

She was the master of the spacing out of holiday spending.  For mom, the worst part of Christmas was when the credit card bills arrived in January.  To avoid that single, massively depressing January credit card bill that took damn near the rest of the year to pay off, she spread those bills out over November and December as well.  Needless to say, mom didn’t need to read last week’s blog about financial planning.  She was, and still is, the princess of pecuniary policies.

When she went shopping (the physical form of shopping which involved a car, walking from store to store in the mall, hauling the presents home, etc.) in October there was always a wide selection of “stuff” to choose from.  No matter who she was buying for, kids, dad, grandkids, co-workers, friends, relatives back in Ireland, she shopped from fully stocked shelves.

She always managed to find great deals prior to December in the form of Colombus Day, Halloween, Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving Day or “just for the hell of it” day sales.  She would scour the newspaper inserts in search of sales and deals that would keep her gift buying budget as low as possible and she was amazingly successful at it.  Now, you can just scour the internet machine looking for great October and November deals.

She would spend a great deal of time planning for Christmas dinner and the earlier she started this process, the smoother it would go on December 25th (unless my drunken uncle caused “issues”).  Of course, today MagicKitchen.com can eliminate a lot of that planning, prep work, and actual cooking by delivering a savory holiday dinner right to your door.  Our prepared foods also make a great gift for not just yourself, but for any busy family or senior during the holiday season.  Why not give someone the gift of time in the form of a pre-cooked Christmas dinner delivered right to their door?

Finally, and most importantly to mom, she always said that the more Christmas chores she could take care of prior to December, the more time she could spend with family and friends once the holidays arrived.  To that end, having all her shopping done prior to the start of December gave her many advantages, but the most significant to her was the time it granted her which she used to spend with the people most important to her, her family.

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October: National Financial Planning Month…Who Knew?

Yes, the designation of October as National Financial Planning Month could be a contrived creation foisted upon us by certified financial planners (to a cynic like myself).  Regardless, it’s still a good time to make or review financial plans for your future.  After all, it was created to, “Promote financial literacy and raise awareness among the general public of the value of financial planning.”  And who among us doesn’t need to improve our “financial literacy” and be made aware of the “value of financial planning?”

As someone quite a bit more intelligent than myself once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  These words to live by apply to many situations, especially to setting financial goals like being secure in your retirement, or purchasing a new home, or saving for your child’s college education.  Sure, they’re noble goals, but how are you going to get there?  That’s where financial planning comes in.  Look, most of us do not plan to travel somewhere we’ve never been before without mapping out the route, whether the old school way, utilizing a paper map, or with a GPS.  We still know how we’re getting to our destination and getting to, or achieving our financial goals is no different.

Full disclosure, I am NOT, in any way, shape, or form, a certified financial planner, but I play one on TV…I jest, of course.  However, I don’t need to be one in order to remind people to get their financial house in order and to plan for their, and their family’s future.  And this doesn’t need to be rocket science.  All we’re talking about here is the “b” word (budget) and using it to plan for your financial future and goals.  It does, however, include more than just placing your extra money under your mattress or in a simple savings account…they’re essentially the same thing since the interest earned in a savings account and under your mattress are just about equal…oh yeah, there is that big shiny vault.

First step towards creating a budget: a list of your assets (car, savings, investments, home equity), and liabilities or debts (mortgage, student loans, car payment, credit card debt).  The difference between the two is your net worth…it can be positive (hooray!) or negative (crap!).

Step two: list of your monthly expenses (utilities, groceries, fuel, insurance) and monthly income, from all sources.  Hopefully, your monthly income exceeds your monthly expenses.  If not, you’ll sink deeper into debt and use more and more of your income to pay off interest rather than your actual loans.  You might also want to track your spending habits for a month or so to see exactly where your money goes, from your smallest impulse purchase (Starbucks) to your largest unplanned indulgence (picking up the bar tab after guys/ladies night out).  Most are quite surprised at the money “wasted” on non-essentials, aka disposable income that’s actually thrown in a disposal.

Once that’s all done, you should now be able to determine how much money you can set aside to reach your financial goals, whatever they may be.  Just remember, it’s never too late or early to start planning for retirement or your kid’s college expenses.  One of the most popular and safest investments to help save for retirement is a Roth IRA (individual retirement account).  A Roth IRA is simply a special retirement account funded with post-tax income and there is no up-front tax deduction for Roth IRA contributions as with a traditional IRA.  Also, access to your contributions, but NOT the earnings from those contributions, are tax and penalty free.  Roth IRA’s make the most sense for those who expect to be in a higher tax bracket during retirement than your current bracket.  This is usually just about everyone, but they make the most sense to young, lower-income workers.

As for college financial planning, most state’s offer what’s known as a 529 plan, so named from section 529 of the IRS code.  They differ from state-to-state, but they essentially allow you to pay all or part of in-state tuition for a public college education well before the potential student enters his/her college years.  In other words, they permit you to pay tuition costs for a specific year, before tuition increases in future years.  For example, you can pay 2017 tuition costs even though your child won’t enter college until 2030.

As previously stated, I am NOT a certified financial planner, so if you’re interested in learning more about listing your assets, liabilities, and monthly expenses or about a Roth IRA or a 529 Plan, please seek the assistance of a reputable certified financial planner…and that ain’t me.

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10 Foods That are High in Iron

Iron is a healthy part of a balanced diet.  Iron helps to move oxygen around the body,  and plays a part in muscle function and building DNA. Of course, for women of a certain age, making sure we get enough iron is important.

Most of us think we get iron from red meat, and that’s true, but it’s not the only source.  Here are some other sources for those of us who aren’t crazy about eating meat.

Keep in mind- plant based iron is harder for the body to absorb. Vitamin C helps that process, so eating a plant high in vitamin C at the same time will aid in absorption.

 

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Avoid it Like the Plague…Fast Food that is

Yeah, I know, we’re all pressed for time in our hectic, supersonic lives.  We’ve got work, hobbies, kids to chauffeur around, Netflix series to watch and two world leaders caught up in a middle school insult fight to monitor.  Who has time to cook?  And look, the place with the giant burger, or golden arches, or cute red-headed girl, or bucket of chicken out front has a drive-thru!  What could be more convenient?

People seem to think that eating fast food is inevitable for the harried and harassed American. There are, in fact, viable, healthy alternatives if you just plan ahead and are willing to spend a few extra minutes in pursuit of fewer calories, less fat and more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Since this post deals with those alternatives, I won’t overwhelm you with caloric fast food horror stories.  If you’re interested in the nutritional info for various fats…oops, I mean fast food chains, they all now provide it online.  Now, on to those fast food alternatives previously mentioned.

  • Fast casual dining at places that offer numerous healthy alternatives such as Panera Bread, Chipotle and Pei Wei Asian Diner. All three offer wholesome, non-GMO ingredients in their salads, soups, and entrees and ordering and receiving your food takes about as long as a backed-up fast food drive thru.  Heck, go nuts and actually sit down with family and friends and enjoy both a healthy meal and healthy conversation.
  • The supermarket prepared foods area/deli. Enter any large grocery store, find their prepared foods area, buffet, deli, smorgasbord, or whatever that particular store calls it and prepare to be amazed at the selection.  Most offer fresh salads, soups, sandwiches, cooked veggies, and grilled meats and fish.  Hell, the one by my house even offers sushi!  You’re sure to find healthy foods that are enjoyed by every/all members of your family.  Just load up the prepared packaging, check out, drive home, serve and enjoy.  Gives new meaning to the notion of fast food.
  • Purchased or home made frozen meals. Yes, of course MagicKitchen.com can help out immensely here.  Have an especially hectic week coming up?  With a little pre-planning you can have a wide selection of nutritious and delicious frozen entrees, sides and desserts chillin’ in your freezer to be used whenever needed.  And as I’m sure you already know, we here at MagicKitchen.com offer dishes that meet just about any nutritional need, from diabetic friendly to gluten free.  Of course, you could prepare, cook and freeze your own dishes, but who has time for that?  I mean, really.
  • Breakfast smoothies. Just ensure that each one has good carbs, lean protein, and healthy fat (of the unsaturated variety).  One of my favorites includes fresh berries, a few leafy greens, almond milk and butter, pea protein, rolled oats and just a smidge of cinnamon and ginger.  Voilá!  Breakfast is served.
  • Pack your own. Get an insulated lunch satchel and a few refreezeable (is that a word?) ice packs and you’re ready to take your healthy foods on the road.  And if you have access to a magical microwave machine, you’ve just expanded your food options exponentially.
  • Local farmer’s markets. Aside from locally grown veggies, many farmer’s markets now include prepared dishes, such as pasta, salads, soups and breads and cheeses.  Check out one near you and see what they have to offer.  You can grab some beets, kale, spaghetti squash and a prepared dinner all at one stop.

So the next time you or someone in your orbit is seduced by the sights and smells of a fast food joint, resist the urge and get yourself to one of the alternatives listed above as fast as humanly possible.  How many times it takes to break the fast food addiction varies by individual, but like any addiction, once it’s defeated you’re a better person for it.  Stay strong!

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The Joys of the Autumnal Season

Before we begin, a bit of disclosure: perhaps my all-time favorite word in the English language is “autumnal.”  Definition: of, characteristic of, or occurring in autumn.  Rather than the vibrant colors, or pumpkins, or cooler temperatures, or football, or comfy sweaters, or Halloween, I enjoy autumn because I get to work “autumnal” into my everyday conversations and writings more often.  I’m weird like that.

However, I realize that other people enjoy fall for the traditional reasons listed above.  Therefore, this post will focus on them, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude me from using my favorite adjective in this post as often as humanly possible.

Look, there’s only one real way to enjoy the joys of autumn and that is to get outside if at all possible.  And with the cool autumnal weather, you won’t have to worry about sweating your ___fill-in-the-blank___ off.  There’s just so many things to do out there this time of year.  So, from Friday, September 22 at 4:02 PM eastern daylight time until December 21, at 11:28 AM, get out there and try a few of the following autumnal activities.

  • After enjoying nature’s colorful canvas of leaves, rake those same autumnal leaves into a ginormous pile and jump into or run through it like you were eight again. Or, better yet, hide in that pile and have a co-conspirator lure a friend by the leaf pile you’re lurking in and then pop out and scare the ___fill-in-the-blank__ out of said friend, who may then become a former friend.  This little trick, rather than treat, works well around Halloween.
  • Perhaps the best way to enjoy the autumnal reds, browns, oranges and yellows once the leaves lose their chlorophyll is to view them from a unique perspective, and two methods to do so are in a hot air balloon and/or from the center of a tree-lined lake. Use that internet machine to see if any fall festivals are offering hot air balloon rides. Or rent or borrow a canoe or kayak and then paddle around that tree-lined lake on a calm, cool, sunny autumn morning when the mist is rolling across the water.
  • Find a picturesque spot that accentuates the autumnal foliage and then take a photograph everyday from the same spot at the same time of day throughout autumn. Then, line up all 91 photos and you’ll be amazed how the colors build gradually, then brighten, fade and eventually disappear as the season progresses.
  • Have your family design and create autumnal scarecrow twins of themselves and then place them in your front yard. Make them the same size and use actual clothes that family members would wear to dress them and perhaps include things that represent hobbies, such as a soccer ball, coffee mug, baseball bat, or cycling helmet.  You could then have a contest by asking autumnal visitors to pick their favorite.  Winner gets all the autumnal food they can eat.
  • Find the largest autumnal corn maze in the area and then have a race with family/friends to see who can complete it first. Just be sure to provide all participants with food, water and a flare gun should they become lost for an extended period of time.
  • Use that internet machine and learn how to build a medieval pumpkin-launching catapult or trebuchet, find a large field, one which you obtained permission to use, then let those pumpkins fly and explode upon impact. Or find an autumnal festival that demonstrates what I just described.  It’s actually quite awesome to see how far a well-built trebuchet can make a 15-pound pumpkin soar.  The resulting orange explosion is quite awesome also.

Yes, you could also go for an autumnal hike through the woods, or attend a bonfire, or pick apples, or bake some autumnal desserts, or tailgate at your local college football game, but why be boring?

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What Are Your Kids in College Eating?

What Are Your Kids in College Eating? Couch pizza, convenience store chili dogs, and every kind of fast food imaginable, such as fried chicken that’s more “fried” than chicken, roast beef sandwiches with enough beef to choke a starving tiger, and 1,000 calorie milk shakes…that’s the most likely answer.

But wait!  There’s more.  A recent survey found the most common dorm foods included: instant Ramen noodles, candy, instant mac & cheese, cereal, chips and microwave popcorn…and that doesn’t even include the beverages consumed like soda, those ubiquitous energy drinks and potent potables (I’m a huge Jeopardy! Fan…I’m geeky that way).

Needless to say, the above paragraph does not convey an image of nutritious eating.  But let’s take a closer look at the nutritional content of some of the above- mentioned items.

Ramen Noodles: Each package of this dried soup stock and noodles contains about, depending upon your delicious flavor selection, 380 calories, 7 grams of fat, 790 milligrams of sodium (or 33% of your recommended daily allowance), 26 grams of carbs and two flavor enhancers known as disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate.  On the bright side it does contain 8% of your rda of iron.

Microwave popcorn: A standard bag of inflatable popcorn…sidebar (I was pre-law in college for a month): remember jiffy pop and watching that silver foil magically expand on your stove top, in the era before microwaves, as the popcorn, well, popped?…and then being heartbroken when you realized it was burned?  Good times.  Anyway, a bag of nukeable popcorn has roughly 465 calories, 26 grams of fat (or 40% of your rda and some bags contain trans fat which is terrible for you), 665 milligrams of sodium (28% of your rda), and 50 grams of carbs.  The positive: 342 milligrams of potassium, 9 grams of fiber (it is corn, alter all) and 10% of your rda for iron.

Arby’s Classic Roast Beef Sandwich: Yeah, this place has the meat alright.  I decided to list the “classic” rather than the ginormous Half Pound Beef and Cheddar or the Mount Italy Sandwich to be kind.  So, this average-sized sandwich has 370 calories, 14 grams of fat (to include 5 grams of saturated fat and .5 gram of trans fat), 50 milligrams of cholesterol, and a whopping 1,150 milligrams of sodium.  And if you’re looking for protein, this is for you as it contains 23 grams.

Three pieces of KFC original recipe chicken: Ok, I’ve got to admit that this one even surprised me and I tend to pride myself about knowing nutritional information.  One breast, thigh, and drumstick combines for 800 calories, 48 grams of fat, a massive 275 grams of cholesterol (92% of your rda), and an even more massive 2,530 milligrams of sodium (or 105% of your rda).

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the items listed above are the nutritional items they lack.  Where are the vitamins and minerals?  Where are the antioxidants?  Where are the things that grow on trees, vines or in the ground?  You know where you can get those things for your nutritionally starved college student?  Yeah, you saw this one coming…MagicKitchen.com of course.  Wouldn’t it be nice if your kids in college ate healthy once a week or so?  Damn straight, it would be nice, for them and you!  And the food is so good, they’d totally forget that it’s good for them as well.  As always, we’ll deliver to just about any address, be it a dorm, apartment, frat, sorority or commune.   After all, a parent’s job never ends, even after they leave the nest.

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Surviving the Back-to-School Madness

(Written by a 51-year old as if he were eleven)

There I was, two weeks ago, wasting the day away playing video games with friends, hanging at the pool, sleeping in and generally not having a care in the world.  Then it happened…school happened, and all heck (or, as dad says, “hell”) broke loose.  My summer, care-free world was suddenly turned upside down.  I was expected to follow a new, bizarre schedule that forced me to get up at 7:15, get myself ready for school (since, as mom says, “I’m now in 6th grade and it’s time I started taking care of myself”), keep track of all my assignments, go to trumpet practice, get ready for baseball practice, take care of our lazy cats, AND still find time to play video games.  I’ll tell ya, it ain’t easy being eleven.

And to make things even tougher, since I’m “growing like a weed,” none of last year’s “school” clothes fit me this year…duh!  So, my parents drug me to the store, on a school night, no less, to shop for clothes which is big time BOOOOORING!!!  What the heck happened to shopping online?  Then, with all of my and my brother’s activities after school…oh yeah, my parents claim to be busy as well, but, come on, dad stays home and plays on the computer all day.  He claims he’s writing, but I mean really, who would read the drivel he writes?  Anyway, we’re all running around like chickens sans (French for “without.”  I just learned that) heads in the evening stuffing food down our faces and trying to find all the things we need for wherever it is we’re going.

Sidebar: you know what would help around dinner time?  Healthy and great-tasting meals delivered to our house that could be kept in the freezer and then re-heated in minutes.  That would be much better than scarfing a burger and fries in the back of the family truckster on the way to some practice or game.  Wait, dad has talked about writing for just such a company…one that creates just such meals and ships them right to your door.  What’s he call it again?  FantasyKitchen.com?…no.  MiracleKitchen.com?…no.  MagicKitchen.com?…That’s it!  Why not use MagicKitchen.com to ease the back-to-school madness?  I’m a frickin’ (dad would use another word) unappreciated genius!

Other things the folks could do to help me out, cuz Lord knows I need it, would be to:

  1. Get all the things I need for the day ready the NIGHT BEFORE. They could get my backpack ready, put my trumpet by the door, lay my clothes out, and have anything else I need for the day ready to go.  Oh, wait, I’m guessing they’ll tell me to have all that stuff ready myself…crap.
  2. Car pool! Instead of taking and picking me up from every practice, lesson and game why not use the neighbors to help out and make, like, a neighborhood uber?
  3. Place all of my upcoming events on a family calendar and force me to look ahead a day so I know what’s coming up. Man, I hate responsibility!
  4. Try to create some semblance (that’s a “dad” word) of a routine so I know when to do homework, when to practice trumpet, and when I can kick serious butt on the x-box. Maybe even create a check list like, mornings: get up, get dressed, make bed (UGH!), feed cats, eat breakfast, play Street Fighter IX (sorry, that’s mine), head out for the bus.
  5. Yeah, I know bag lunches can be healthier than school lunches, but simply buying lunch at school means one less thing my poor, dear old mother has to deal with.
  6. Allow me to start to take responsibility for my own life and don’t freak the F out when I make a mistake, like leaving my trumpet at school when I have lessons later that day. I can’t believe I just wrote that, but at some point, I’ve got to become an autonomous being (another, what I like to call, “dadism”).  Simply set expectations for me and create rewards and consequences for when I succeed and/or fail.  Believe me, I’m going to do plenty of both!

Back to school can be as frustrating for me as it can be for my parents, but helping me transition from my lay-about summer routine to my hectic school routine will make life easier for the whole family, don’t cha think?

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A Message from My Sons Regarding Climate Change

Hello devoted MagicKitchen.com blog readers.  As the title implies, this week’s topic deals with a rather controversial issue for some, climate change, although I don’t fully understand this controversy.  The fact that the Earth’s climate is changing is not disputed except by a small group of flat-Earthers.

What most people, at least in America, argue about is the CAUSE of this climate change and it essentially boils down to the role of humanity in this phenomenon.  Is human activity responsible for climate change or is it just a cyclical occurrence that happens every few thousand years or so?  In seeking how to answer this difficult question, I decided to ask my two sons, one eleven and the other thirteen, what they thought about this whole human-caused climate change controversy and here’s a rough summary of what they had to say.

“Dad, we really don’t care if climate change is caused by people or not.  Pollution, whether it causes climate change or not is never a good thing.  It can make us sick, the air stink and force people to wear surgical masks all the time like they do in China and we don’t want to wear those masks because they look stupid.  It would also be nice to breath…duh! (from the 13-year old).  I don’t think anyone thinks pollution is a good thing and even if it causes a little bit of climate change, shouldn’t we try to stop it?”

“Why do we have to burn so much coal?  Why are all the forests being cut down?  What the heck is palm oil and why do we need it? (after I explained one reason the forests in South Asia are being removed).  Can’t we produce energy with solar and wind power?  I don’t think they make an SPF 5 zillion sun screen, do they?  Why does it rain, like, every day around here?”

“All we know is that we’ve got 80 more years on this planet and it would be nice if the adults don’t destroy it before we get a chance to enjoy it like they did, and yes, Dad, you’re one of those adults.  It’s like the whole world is hooked on burning coal and wood and oil and gas and all that other stuff like it’s some kinda drug.  Well, how about all those countries that signed up for that Paris thing (after I explained the recent Paris Climate Accords that 192 countries signed on to, except, of course, the United States…oh yeah, and Venezuela and Syria) get hooked on some other drugs like wind and solar?”

“Wasn’t it like 120 degrees in Arizona a few months ago?  And doesn’t every year set a record for being the warmest ever?  (actually, 2016, the hottest year on record, was warmer than 2015 which was warmer than 2014 and then the string gets broken by 2010 which holds fourth place).  And aren’t sea levels rising?  And aren’t the coral reefs all dying?  And didn’t we have, like, no snow days last year?  I think the Earth’s broken and needs fixed, but the problem is, either no one knows how to fix it or they don’t want to fix it or they just don’t care.  And it’s us and our friends and our kids that are gonna get screwed and that’s just not fair especially when we didn’t cause this mess.  Why can’t Trump and all the other world leaders fix this before it’s too late?”  That last bit came mostly from my 8th grader who is obviously, and fortunately, learning about all this in school.

There you have it, the musing of a 13 and 11-year old regarding climate change.  I must admit, they asked some questions that were very difficult to answer (try defining “bureaucracy” and “vested interests” to an 11-year old).  Despite their limited base of knowledge, they kept coming back to the fact that they’re afraid that things are only going to get worse for them and their futures after all the people who caused or failed to fix this problem are long gone and I’m afraid my response was not that reassuring to them.

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12 Foods that are High in Potassium

If you’re having leg cramps, people will say, “Eat a banana!”. Why? Bananas are widely thought to have a lot of potassium, and leg cramps can come from a lack of that mineral. Leg cramps can come from a variety of sources, including dehydration, overuse of muscles, magnesium deficiency, abnormal nerve activity, sudden loss of blood to the muscle, or, as with most things, getting older.  (Tendons tend to shorten with age, which can cause nighttime cramping.)

So the wisdom of eating a banana for cramps is suspect. However, potassium is a very important mineral. It regulates heart electrical activity and controls fluid balances in the body. And yes, it regulates muscle electrical activity as well.

Know what foods have the most potassium is also important to those who have diabetes or kidney disease. People with diabetes often have decreased kidney function, and can’t excrete potassium as we normally do. So people with diabetes and/or kidney disease need to eat foods that are NOT high in potassium.

So what 12 foods are highest in that important mineral? Here they are, with mg of potassium per serving.

 

 

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Long-Distance Caregiving Tips

So, your elderly parent(s) lives over three hours from you and you’re more than a bit worried about their well-being.  Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger.  34 million Americans are the primary caregivers for an elderly parent and, of that number, over 5 million live more than an hour away.  Subsequently, an entire industry has become centered around, not just elderly care, but long-distance elderly care due to the fact it presents its own set of challenges for both caregiver and care recipient alike.

The top priority in this special type of long-distance relationship is, of course, ensuring your relative receives the proper care and to do so with the least amount of stress on you and/or your own family.  The vast majority of long-distance caregivers do, in fact, have families and careers of their own that they need to care for simultaneously, and attempting to tend to a career, your own family and an elderly relative can create mountains of stress.  And since we here at MagicKitchem seek to alleviate stress, here are some tips for all you long-distance caregivers out there.

  • Take care of yourself. No, that’s not a typo.  How can you care for elderly parents if you yourself needs care as well?  If you’ve read my previous posts, you know the drill here.  Eat right, try to get some exercise, find your own personal stress relievers, and ensure you visit YOUR doctor on a regular basis.
  • Enlist as much help as humanly and financially possible. If you and/or your elderly relative can afford an in-home care provider or geriatric care manager…get one.  If not, impose upon, beg, guilt-trip or buy off (whatever works best) other family members, friends and/or neighbors to help as much as they are able.  Have them visit, provide home and yard maintenance, get your relative out of the house, and anything else they’re willing to do to assist.
  • Gather all important documents in one place and keep them readily accessible. This includes all financial, medical, insurance and legal documents you believe are important, to include social security numbers, medications required, medical history, powers of attorney, etc.
  • Stay in touch. And there are plenty of ways, with the internet machine, to do so.  Yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks…not that I’m referring to your dear old mother as a dog…it’s just an idiom that means old folks can learn new things…you get the idea, right?  Anyway, both my parents, who are well into their seventies, recently learned how to Facetime and now they won’t leave their grandkids alone.  And if my parents can learn this amazing feat, so can yours.  If they still prefer the old-fashioned land-line phone, then use it, but at least introduce them to Skype, Snapchat, etc.  You never know.
  • Keep a list of trusted contractors if your relative still maintains their own home. Inevitably, your folks are going to need some form of home repairs or upgrades, and having a contractor or handyman you can trust can be invaluable.
  • Look into a meal delivery service, like…wait for it…com! Many elderly folks require a special diet and we provide for just about every need, whether it’s low sodium, fat, and/or carb; diabetic, dialysis, or renal-friendly; or gluten free, we’ve got you (and your elderly relatives) covered.  Remember, you’re trying to provide all the necessary care with minimal stress, and we are the experts at stress relief as it applies to ensuring the people you care for are eating properly.
  • Check out these online services.
  1. Eldercare locator. This site will locate all the elder care service providers near your relatives.  http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx
  2. Area Agency on Aging. Each local Agency on Aging can provide you with a suite of services on things such as caregiver support, information and referral, insurance counseling, nutrition, transportation, and financial advice within a specific area.   https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/longtermcare/find_aging_agencies_adrc_aaa.html
  3. National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. As the name implies, this site can assist you in locating a reputable elder law attorney on a local basis.   https://www.naela.org/
  4. Family Caregiver Alliance. This site is a one-stop shop for those caring for the elderly.  It also offers localized assistance and advice.  https://www.caregiver.org/
  5. National Council on Aging Benefits Checkup. This site can help you determine if your elderly relative is eligible for state and/or federal assistance programs.  https://www.benefitscheckup.org/
  6. National Volunteer Caregiving Network. The NVCN is a network of volunteer caregiving service providers with hundreds of branches throughout the U.S.  http://www.nvcnetwork.org/

Caring for a loved one that lives across the state or country can indeed be a challenge.  Hopefully, this post lessened that challenge just a bit.  Just remember, don’t be afraid to ask others for help and provide care for yourself as well!

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