Eyeglass Rescue Returns Your Lost Glasses

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog.

I came across an old photo of my Mom the other day.

She is standing on the lush lawn in front of my sister’s home, her right arm folded primly across her body.  Hanging from her arm is her trusty handbag. If you have every seen pictures of Queen Elizabeth II of the UK on an outing, you have seen the formal handbag pose.

Mom’s handbag was a treasure trove of necessities for the modern woman — and for my Dad. You see, whenever they went out of errands together, Mom carried the money, bankbooks, receipts, you name it, and Dad’s reading glasses.  He never lost a pair when she was guarding them.

More of this article . . .

New! 3GenFamily.com – Our New Website Is Now Live

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

3GenFamily Blog has moved to a new location on the web.

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

Long Distance Caregiving for a Parent While Raising Teens and Balancing Work and Home

The past 16 months has been an amazing and eventful time for me as a long distance caregiver for my 83 year old father, parent of two teen boys, spouse and juggler of work and home life. When I started this blog, I had no idea I would meet so many dedicated and fascinating people also working to get the best information into the hands of readers like you.

Because there is still a huge need for real answers to many of life’s toughest situations, I am expanding this blog to meet those needs. While I am grateful to WordPress.com for having a perfect place to start a blog, it is time to move to our own website.

I’ll be offering you even more honest content and real life ideas that work for caregivers, parents and anyone struggling to balance the conflicting priorities of work and home life.

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

One housekeeping note: If you signed up to receive this blog via email or RSS from Feedburner, you will need to sign up again at 3GenFamily.com. I am sorry for the inconvenience. There isn’t a way for me to just move your settings over to the new website.

Don’t miss a single post. The latest post discusses 110 Tips for Getting Into the College of Your Choice.

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

Articles on Reducing Conflict with Adult Siblings, Getting Into the College Your Child Dreams About, Surviving Long Distance Caregiving

I will be writing more of the types of article you have come to expect from 3GenFamily Blog. And, there will be new features based on requests and comments I have received from our readers. The topics will still relate to being sandwiched in between two generations — our aging parents who increasingly need our help and our children who are not yet ready to fly into the world.

Somewhere in there, each of us also needs to make a space for ourselves for meaningful work and for celebrating life’s small and large personal successes. Buried between the lines is the emotional turmoil of conflict with our adult siblings and the the lack of understanding of bosses and coworkers who haven’t reached these stages of life.

How do you explain an issue to someone who has no frame of reference?

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

Best Regards,

CK Wilde

© 2008 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission to reproduce this post either whole or in part. Please use the comments to request permission.

Was Your Son Or Daughter Rejected By A Top College?

Related posts: April 20, 2008

New Post: Review of 110 Tips for Getting Into The College of Your Choice

Come visit our new website: www.3GenFamily.com

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog.
April is a gut-wrenching month for any high achieving high school senior applying to colleges.
After pouring heart, soul and thesaurus into college essay after college essay, the student waits anxiously for the results.

Big 9 x 12 envelope with acceptance letter and paperwork or flat #10 envelope with a rejection letter?

These days, notice is more likely to come by email or on your password protected section of the college’s website. Your student logs in and cheers exultantly . . . or groans in pain.

Watching From the Sidelines

Parenting your teen through this process is like watching him or her nervously step up to bat in a softball game for the first time. Is it a home run, or a single or an out? Receiving the acceptance letter feels like a home run to win the State Championship .

But, oh, the rejection letter (strike out in the bottom of the 9th inning) hurts deeply inside no matter how gently it is worded. It feels so final.

Making matters worse is the fact that 4,158,000 babies were born in 1990 (US Census Data). This is the largest number of children born since 1960. More students are applying to college; and more of those are applying to top colleges. Harvard received over 27,000 applications for Fall 2008!

So, how does a parent help a daughter or son through this?

Telling your student not to feel rejected will probably fall flat, especially if your teen has begun to visualize himself there. What do you do?

Try Diverting Attention Instead

Help your teenager focus on the good news. Spend time looking at the packages from colleges that accepted your student. Stress what a tremendous effort your son or daughter made to get these results.

Banish all blame from the conversation. If you hear your high schooler mutter, “If only I . . .” stop them from saying anything more. No amount of anguished blame will change the results. It may be trite saying, but it is true nonetheless — “when one door closes, another one opens.”

Help your student look for the door that’s opening. Talk about the positive features of the colleges that accepted your student. What is unique? Which has the most classes and activities that fit your teen’s goals and interests?

Creative Admissions

Some colleges have gotten creative and are offer acceptances for the Spring in addition to the Fall semester. University of California at Berkeley offered that to a friend of ours last year. It is a creative alternative that turned out great for our friend. He got into one of his top choice schools, just not in the Fall. Berkeley also had a special program for Spring admits in the Fall semester so that our friend could work on required courses. It worked out just right.

Then, there are waiting lists.

More students will be offered waiting list status this year than before. Usually college admissions directors can predict how many students will enroll in a given year. But, 2008-2009 is rather unusual so the waiting lists will be larger than before.

The decision to stay on the waiting list is more difficult. It depends on the other acceptances and financial offers your son or daughter has received. Just how interested is your child in that college that put him/her on the wait list?

If the answer is VERY interested, the student should immediately let the school know by returning the postcard or completing the electronic form. It is a good idea to follow this up with a letter to the Director of Admissions. The letter should should be as specific as possible with reasons why the student is still very interested in that particular school. For example, explain which particular courses or programs the student is interested in at the waiting list college.

Your high school guidance counselor can help here, too, by forwarding the latest set of grades to demonstrate the effort the student is making in school and sending additional glowing recommendations from a particular teacher. Your guidance counselor is also a resource for evaluating the the offers from the colleges which accepted your teen.

Deadline May 1

It is critical that your teen reserve a place at one of these acceptance schools by or before May 1. On the plus side, this assures that your son or daughter is going to college in the Fall. The downside is, If your teen then gets admitted from a waiting list, he/she may have to forfeit an entrance deposit (sent to the acceptance school) to go to their top choice school. The entrance fees are sizable at some colleges, but modest or non-existent at others. It is important to pay attention to them.

If, after all of these efforts, your student doesn’t get into a top choice school, there is the possibility to transfer to another school after Freshman or Sophomore year. Transferring is almost as much work as applying as a Freshman.

One of the best discussions I have seen about transferring colleges is at About.com.

There are good reasons to transfer and bad ones. You, as the parent, can help your son or daughter look at the current college experience for the signs that transferring is the right thing to do. But, it is important to distinguish between adjustment to a new environment and issues that really do need changing.

The first year of college is a major leap for your teen into a new and unfamiliar environment. Adapting to that environment is stressful, there is no question about it. Re-creating those cozy friendships and daily routines left behind in high school takes time. Until they happen, even the most mature student can feel awkward and out of place. Don’t be surprised if once those are established, your student realizes that he/she is in the right place after all.

Congratulations! You are the parent of a college student now.

© 2008 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission to reproduce this post either whole or in part. Please use the comments to request permission.

3 Reasons Why You Must Keep Your Own Health and Medical Records

3GenFamily Blog has moved to a new location on the web.

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

Over the past 19 years since my first son was born, we have had a number of doctors care for us. Dr. G, our first pediatrician, was reassuring and supportive even when I was 2 hours late for the first baby check up.

When Dr. G accepted a partnership opportunity 80 miles away, we moved to Dr. H who gave my children friendly, practical care until it was our turn to move away.

Dr. H gave us a referral to Dr. B, a distinguished, elderly man trained in Europe. I really appreciated Dr. B’s concern and care when it came to treating my son’s asthma.

Unfortunately, our insurance carrier changed and I was forced to find a different doctor who was accepted by the plan. That’s how Dr. F entered our lives.

Every time we made a change, I dutifully requested that my sons’ medical records be sent to the new doctor. Dr. F inherited two files that were over 2 inches thick. The last time I saw a complete file was during an office visit for my youngest son two years ago.

(Here’s the Health Record organizer I recommend.)

Reason Number 1 – Medical Records Get Lost or Destroyed

Recently, it was time to changed doctors again. I requested copies from Dr. F’s staff and paid $50 for them photocopy the entire files.

What I got was only 10 pages for each son!

The doctors’ staff insists that I got everything they had.

So, what happened to all of those old records?

I can only suppose that someone was cleaning up the doctors files and moved ours to some unlabeled box in a storage facility. Or, perhaps they shredded them (California has enormous penalties for failing to destroy medical records properly).

HIPPA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, requires information it defines as “protected health information” to be maintained by the physician for at least 6 years from the date of its creation or the date it was last in effect. The earliest date in the records I received was 1997. So Dr. F’s staff had actually kept records going back more than 10 years.

Isn’t that good enough?

Not always.

Reason Number 2 – Memory Fails & Doctors’ Notes are Impossible to Read

My oldest son recently came down with a sinus infection at college. He needed to tell Health Services if he had any reactions to medication. I recalled he had some issue with one antibiotic a long time ago. But which one was it?

I couldn’t remember the name so I searched the records I received. Dr. F’s scribbles were impossible to read. How I wish I had kept a set of records myself. The benefit claim forms that the insurance company sends don’t have any of these kinds of details.

So my son had to take the medication he was prescribed and hope for the best.

We lucked out. Number one son is recuperating nicely. But, there could have been a problem. All I had to do was make a legible note in a binder and put it in a safe place. But I didn’t because I thought I would remember.

My father tried to capture his key medical issues on pieces of note paper. I found a few of these notes in his tax paperwork for 2005. But, Dad didn’t have these papers with him the times he was hospitalized in the past two years.

My father wasn’t always able to tell the hospital doctors his medical history. It is clear from the records I have that they were in the dark about it. He ended up having multiple tests and x-rays over and over again because of it.

Reason Number 3 – Doctors Don’t Always Communicate With Each Other

In my post, Google Doesn’t Belong in the Health Records Business, I mentioned that my Dad’s family doctor did not always get records after my Dad’s hospitalizations because she was not affiliated with that hospital.

The hospital would assign a doctor to my father. Dad would protest that he had a doctor. They would explain that she couldn’t attend him that their hospital. My father would be angry and frustrated. The hospital staff would just call him difficult.

Eventually, I convinced my father to switch doctors so that he would have a family practitioner close to where he lived. With the help of the nurse at the retirement community, I arranged for my father to consult with two of the doctors who made visits to the community. He wasn’t sure which doctor he wanted as his primary care physician so we arranged for him to meet both doctors and then decide.

I requested my father’s medical records from his original doctor but her staff did not want to release them. The office manager said she would only release his medical records to another doctor. (Note: Each individual has a right to his/her own medical records.) They said they were afraid he would lose them and it would be too much work to copy them again.

Frustrated but unable to do much by long distance, I suggested to my father than I would give his old doctor one of the names of the new doctors, have the file sent, and then he could choose from the two new doctors. The nurse at the retirement community promised to get the file to the right doctor when it arrived.

Dad had a “meet and greet” with one of the doctors. Still no medical record for the new doctor to review. The other doctor had an emergency that day and canceled office visits.

Meanwhile, I continued to badger the office manager to release my father’s records.

Dad’s records eventually arrived, but not before he was hospitalized again. More tests, more x-rays.

You Need to Protect Yourself and Your Family

My family has had its share of doctors’ visits since the time my children were born. Most of those have been routine checkups. Never in all that time has any medical professional ever suggested I keep a binder to keep track of things.

My latest experiences tell me that I really need to get a binder together for my family. After doing some research, I settled on Jakoter Health Organizers.

Jakoter Health Organizer

The Jakoter Health Organizer includes a sturdy binder, 75 separate pages to record important information, pocket pages to hold instructions, notes and charts, even business card holder pages to keep all of your doctors’ business cards handy.

Click this link to see more information about the Jakoter Health Organizer.

Are you carrying around stacks of doctors’ business cards in your purse just in case you will need them? I was. The business card pages in this kit are a way to lighten your load and still be prepared.

This organizer was created by an enterprising mom, Laura Heuer, who needed a way to deal with the overload of details about her son who had severe reactions to antibiotics given for a strep throat. Her son eventually got better. Out of her struggle to stay organized and on top of issues, the Jakoter Health Organizer was born.

Please check it out. Having organized health records will make it easier to communicate with your doctors, prevent unnecessary procedures and help your doctor make better diagnoses.

Today is a great day to get started.

© 2008 CK Wilde. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to link to this post but you must have prior written permission to reproduce this post either whole or in part. Please use the comments to request permission.

Google Doesn’t Belong In The Health Records Business – Here’s A Better Idea

3GenFamily Blog has moved to a new location on the web.

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

Sorry, Eric (Schmidt, CEO of Google).
Google doesn’t belong in the health records business.

For those of you who don’t follow Google’s business on a daily basis, here is a brief rundown of what has happened.

Last year, Microsoft announced a new service called Health Vault to help individuals manage health records online. This is not a revolutionary idea. There are already several smaller companies on the Internet offering individuals the convenience of storing health records online so that they are more available when they are needed. Several of the large players in the business of providing technology to doctors offices and medical clinics also have digital records initiatives.

But, no one company has been able to gain serious momentum in digital health records. It is a gargantuan task to coordinate doctors, labs, hospitals, pharmacies, insurance companies and individuals AND meet all of the requirements of HIPAA for privacy. Microsoft has already collected an impressive number of partners to work with Health Vault.

Google Announcement Starts Tsunami

In Orlando, Florida last week, Google announced Google Health, a platform for individuals to manage medical records such as medical test results and prescriptions. The announcement set off a wave of protests from consumer privacy advocates. Eric Schmidt is trying to soothe the uproar by saying that Google won’t sell ads on Google Health.

Oh really?
Here’s how one analyst sees the situation:

“Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, firmly believes ads will happen. ‘Advertisers would pay absurd amounts of money to be seen when someone wants to, say, refill a subscription online,’ he says.’ This is more lucrative than commerce-related search.” For the complete story, click here to see Jefferson Graham’s article in USA Today.

Digital Records Could Save Lives

I’m not a Luddite. I work for a company that develops mobile technology.

And, I have had to fight ferociously with doctor’s office administrators to obtain my Dad’s medical records as well as my own and my children’s records. In one case, I had to pay $100 for a file of poor photocopies that I could barely read. Forget about scanning to digitize them.

My father was caught in the bind between doctor and hospital. His regular family doctor had all of his records but she wasn’t admitted to practice at the hospital closest to my father’s home. The hospital would “assign” him a doctor while he was there. But the records never made it back to the family doctor.

The cardiologist at the hospital might not have put my father on Plavix if the doctor knew my father had a history of gastrointestinal bleeding. At one point, the docs who did not talk to each other had my father on DOUBLE doses of 4 different medications. It only got corrected because he could feel that the medications were not working right. He went to the family doctor who reduced all the doses and got rid of the duplicate medications.

That was a close call! And, it is a safe bet that this happens to thousands of Americans everyday.

If you have experienced anything like this, you may think I am crazy to oppose help from the two tech companies that have the best chance of making digital records happen. Pam Dixon, executive director of the non-profit World Privacy Forum, said it best,”A publicly traded company is supposed to have shareholders (my emphasis) in mind first.” (As quoted in an Associated Press article by Travis Reed.)

The Push for Quarterly Profits

Wall Street, institutional and individual shareholders are illogically relentless in their push for quarterly profits from publicly traded companies. Every employee knows what ROSHE (Return on Shareholder Equity) its company is trying to achieve. The focus may be making customers happy so they buy more product or service but the goal is always ROSHE.

The bulk of Google’s revenue comes from selling ads. Microsoft sells software and services. These companies are locked in a battle to gain your attention for its products and partners’ products. Each is working to dominate the marketplace.

So, it is easy to envision a scenario in which our personal privacy gets compromised.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Microsoft has the platforms to connect little devices like a glucose monitor to your home computer but its web sites infrastructure is not as strong as Google’s. (Full disclosure– my company is a Microsoft Partner. I have many good things to say about Microsoft but not when it comes to its web sites.)

Google has the digital infrastructure to power web-based communications around our planet. If you use Google to search the Internet, you are tapping into an amazing, gigantic, distributed network that gives you search results after it has filtered out over 3 million malicious or problematic web sites in a small fraction of a second. But, even Google admits that its first version of a G-Phone is buggy beyond belief.

I admire both companies for what they have achieved and the vision they espouse. But both companies have the compelling need to make ROSHE. Right now Google has advertisers that are willing to pay $25, $50 or more when a person visits the advertiser’s web site. The possibilities for enormous revenue for delivering pharmaceutical ads, for example, to consumers are easy to imagine. Google has all of the technology from Double Click to track every purchase you make. It’s only a short step to your entire medical file.

Microsoft has slightly different, yet just has huge revenue possibilities. It’s making the Wall Street analysts giddy with thoughts of double digit quarterly profits.

The Third Alternative — A Consortium

It’s hard to get things done by committee. Compromises can result in gazelles that look more like camels. But sometimes a non-profit organization or a governmental entity is the only way to protect citizens from the fallout of the giant corporate gladiators.

From my vantage point, the only way to assure that digital health care information does not become another series of battles like Blu-Ray versus HD-DVD (or Betamax vs. VHS for those who have long memories) is to have a non-profit consortium responsible to citizens to safeguard privacy and set standards for interoperability.

Think of the headaches if you want to change doctors but the new doctor doesn’t use the same medical records system. If you choose to go with the new doctor, you have to figure out a way to get all of the pertinent data into the new system. That’s more time out of your week, more money out of your pocket, and another point where your information could be corrupted or misused.

Now is the time for Microsoft and Google to call a truce and become part of a non-profit consortium for health care records. It won’t be perfect, but when consumers trust that their information is safe, they will sign up to buy in droves. And that would make Wall Street happy, too.

Five Easy Steps to Shrink Your Risk of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

3GenFamily Blog has moved to a new location on the web.

Please come visit us at 3GenFamily.com

By CK Wilde for 3GenFamily Blog

A Good Friend Remembered

A good friend of ours died the third week of December. We just received a note from his daughter responding to our holiday card. Unfortunately, it never reached him.

We sent cards every year even though we were never quite sure our friend could read the card. AG, now in his 60’s, had worked with my husband some years ago. Macular degeneration wiped out his sight, and his ability to make a living as a computer programmer.

His vision problems were already underway when he attended our wedding 20 years ago. He soldiered on, working from home and adapting his life to his condition.

When his vision decreased to the point that he could not drive, he rode his bicycle for shopping and errands. AG amazed me with insistence on doing things for himself. He was determined to maintain his independence. Eventually, even bicycle riding became impossible.

Women Are More At Risk

While it’s true that women are more at risk of developing macular degeneration than men, AG had two other high risk factors working against him: smoking and high blood pressure. And, based on what we know about his cooking and eating habits, nutritional deficiency was a distinct possibility.

You are also more likely to develop AMD if you are over 60, have a family member who has it, are seriously overweight, have other cardiovasular problems, have light eyes and spend a lot of time in bright sunlight. Whew! We fit in several of those categories. That’s scary.

Five Easy Steps to Healthy Eyes

Fortunately, there are some very easy things you can do right now, no matter what your age is, to prevent Age Related Macular Degeneration from happening to you.

  1. Stop smoking. Not only will you reduce your risk of AMD, you will reduce your risk for a long, long list of health issues. If you still smoke, you know what I am talking about. My annual bout of bronchitis mysteriously disappeared after I quit smoking.
  2. Eat a colorful, balanced diet. Leafy greens, bright colored fruits and vegetables, eggs, lamb, poultry, fish, nuts and seeds and whole grains contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that nourish our eyes. The key nutrients are Vitamins A, C, E, Zinc, Selenium, Lycopene, Beta-Carotene, Lutein and its cousin, Zeaxanthin. A recent study found that one egg a day substantially increased the amount of lutein in the bloodstream of post menopausal women in the study with only a very modest increase in cholesterol. Can’t eat that much? Supplements can help, too. Here is a link to the Mayo Clinic’s complete list of supplements for the eyes.
  3. Stop eating processed baked goods. Put down that danish and slowly back away from the table! Ditto for cookies, cakes, crackers and chips. There is evidence that hydrogenated fats double your risk of progressing to advanced stages of AMD. And they are terrible for your cardiovascular system. As an added bonus, you may find that you have an easier time with your weight and more stable blood sugar. My sugar highs and lows are gone. (Yes, I do miss a gooey cinnamon bun every now and then.)
  4. Wear sunglasses that block UVA, UVB and blue light. Do you remember the “BluBlocker” sunglasses ads on TV a few years back? I thought it was just slick marketing. It turns out that yellow or amber tinted glasses block blue light and really do reduce glare so that you see more clearly. Blue light is believed to react with the pigments in the retina to produce free radicals causing waste products to build up in the retina if not cleared out by antioxidants. The studies are mixed on whether blue light causes macular degeneration. It may be that people with light eyes have less protection because there is less pigment in their eyes to block those wavelengths. It makes sense to me to wear UV/Blue blocking sunglasses while out in bright sunlight since UV has been associated with the development of cataracts. Not long ago I bought a pair of sunglasses that were gray instead of amber. I really notice the increased glare compared to my old pair of amber sunglasses. I’m switching back to amber.
  5. Get regular eye exams. If you are over the age of 40, seeing your eye doctor every two to four years is recommended. Over 60 years old, the recommendation for eye doctor visits is every one or two years. (More if you have problems.) There are several tests that the doctor can use to check the health of your retina and the macula (the small part of the retina responsible for clear vision.) If your doctor offers Optomap, make sure to get it. The Optomap is a computerized camera that takes a wide angle picture of the retina. It allows your doctor to get a really good view. It doesn’t require dilating your eyes with drops so that you have trouble seeing for several hours. Because the digital image of your retina is stored in the eye doctor’s computer, he can compare older images with the newest ones to look for changes – much better than working from notes in your chart. With early detection, you can take steps to stop the progression of AMD . . . and keep your sight.