Aging Gracefully

So as we age, we’ve got to cope with a different reality.


Our bodies and minds may start to deteriorate. 


We can’t do all the same things we used to do (even as we can maybe do others). 


There can be a deep sense of loss as abilities, things, places, and people that were critical to us for many, many years may no longer be present with us. 


When I used to speak with my aging father about he and my mom getting older, he would joke and say:

Yes, we’re getting older–what’s the alternative?


Then the other day, I ran into a nurse from the Jewish Social Services Agency (JSSA). 


We chatted briefly about the good work they do in helping so many elderly and handicapped people.


And then she says to me about how she herself is starting to feel what it’s like to get older, and that she often tells her mom that everything hurts to which her mother responds:

You’re not supposed to leave this world alive!


Putting these together: 


I suppose we all need to do the best we can to age graciously ourselves as well as help others in the process–because there is no alternative to aging and no one leaves this world alive. 😉

Moses’ Handicap

Please see new my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Moses’s Handicap.”

In truth, we are all handicapped in one way or another. One person comes from a meager financial background, another has no education, and yet another has any of a host of physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Essentially, we all have something that rightfully can hold us back. But still G-d chooses us to do His bidding. Whether it’s leading the Jews out of Egypt or standing up and doing what’s right in situations that we are confronted with every day, we are asked to go beyond our handicap.


We can’t let our handicaps prevent us from fulfilling our purpose in life–we need to meet the challenges head on with G-d’s help.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Evil Cannot Be In Charge

Skeleton Street Art

So I am having to reconcile some interesting things in my mind. 


Hating and liking. 


For example Iran, led by dictators and extremists, is perhaps the epitome of the “Axis of Evil” and the arch enemy of America and Israel


Iran suppresses the freedom and human rights of its people, is the leading sponsor of world terrorism, denies the Holocaust, and threatens brutal attacks on America and to annihilate Israel. 


Yet, on a personal level I have had the opportunity to meet a number of Iranians that I really like and respect.


These include amazing colleagues at work, and wonderful members of my synagogue as well as neighbors. 


One Iranian family I met just this morning was simply amazing.


The father had a horrible stroke earlier in the year. 


Today, I saw the father wheeled to the swimming pool by his son. 


The son took his father lovingly into the water and worked with him therapeutically to help him on regaining as much mobility as possible. 


I stopped to speak with them, and the man’s wife told me that the son, who was a PhD in mechanical engineering from Texas came every week to Washington, D.C. to work with his stricken father. 


The son told me that although he was not a therapist worked hard with his father on physical and occupational therapy, and I even saw his father laugh a little with his son in the water. 


The son held the father by a safety belt and his father put his hand on his son’s shoulder as they walked forward and backwards in the water, and even did a little swim while his son held the belt tight. 


I was really impressed by this family and especially the love, caring, and devotion the son showed his father. 


Despite their troubles, the wife asked me how I was recuperating and smiled when I told her I was doing better. 


It’s amazing to me how hate truly is blind. 


On one hand, what Iran stands for today led by extremists who seek religious domination, suppression and destruction of others, and a return of the Caliphate is a danger to its people and the world.


On the other hand, many of the people from the streets of Iran are surely some very good people.


We need to see the bad apples and separate them from the good ones. 


As a country, we need to support the freedom of the Iranian people and help those that believe in peace and fellowship. 


When evil is in a leadership position, then good does not follow, but rather is smothered until it is set free. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Mindful Treatment Of The Disabled

Brain

What great brain at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) came up with the idea to curb access to prosthetics for the disabled?

What is supposedly driving CMS?

It’s a half-wit effort to put a dent in fraud for lower-limb prosthetics –estimated at just $43 million relative to CMS’s annual budget of close to $1 trillion!

Uh, doesn’t CMS have anything better to do then pick on disabled people missing one or more legs?

The profound dumbness of the proposed CMS new rules would limit amputees from possible reimbursement for artificial limbs for example, “if they use assistive devices such as canes or crutches.”

But isn’t that precisely what someone who can’t walk and is missing a limb would use???

Here’s the next doozy…CMS would limit advanced prosthetics “if the device doesn’t enable them to walk with the appearance of a natural gait.”

OMG, this is too much!

People with disabilities who require help need it precisely because they are not “natural” in their mobility functions–that is what we are seeking to help them with. 

You’re going to penalize someone from getting artificial limbs because they still can’t walk completely normal with fake limbs like with real ones?

Moreover, if the Veteran’s Administration adopts these rules, this will also affect our wounded warfighters. 

G-d (and the Secretary of HHS) needs to put some sense back in the minds of the people who, in this case, instead of helping the disabled are misguidedly working against them. 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Driving Identity Theft

Driving Identity Theft

It’s been only about 4 months since my mom passed, and now my dad becomes very sick from chemotherapy and ends up in the hospital for a week.

His red and white blood count were extremely low, but thank G-d, the doctors were able to save him.

However, he is in a drastically weakened state and now looks like he will need regular assisted living just to get by every day.

This has been horrible to see someone who has always been so strong, smart, and there selflessly for all of us, to be in this condition.

We found a nice place for him, but even the nicest place isn’t his place and doesn’t allow the independence he (and we all) always cherish.

On top of it, I get a letter in the mail with more than half a dozen tickets on his car.

It’s impossible, because he hasn’t been driving due to his illness.

We run down to check his car, and sure enough someone stole his plates (and replaced them with another set).

They did this to his car that has handicapped tags.

In the meantime, they are driving around through tolls and doing G-d knows what.

The police were helpful–they came as soon as they could–took a report, the plates that were switched onto his car, and dusted for fingerprints.

I will never forget standing there just after my joint surgery–when not three hours before, I thought to myself, maybe things are finally calming down.

Hopefully, the police will catch whoever did this.

In the meantime, I take comfort knowing that G-d is the ultimate police force. 😉

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Let The Handicapped In

Disability_symbols

We can build “the bomb” and sequence human DNA, but we still are challenged in caring for and accommodating the handicapped.

Some of the major legislative protections to the disabled are afforded under:
–  The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federal programs, and
–  The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, which covers things like employment, public programs (state and local) and transportation, public accommodations (housing) and commercial facilities, and telecommunications.

Despite these protections, our world still remains a harsh place for many disabled people–and we see it with older facilities that have not been retrofitted, broken elevators in the Metro, managers being obstinate to providing reasonable accommodations, and people not getting up from seats designated or not, for the disabled.

In yet more extreme cases, some people can show their worst and be just plain cruel toward the disabled:

On the Metro recently, there was a near fight between two young male passengers squeezing onto the train; when one tried walking away, deeper into the belly of the car, the other guy pursues him, and literally jumped over a guy in a wheelchair–hitting him with his shoe in the back of his head.

On yet another occasion, also on the Metro, there was a wheelchair with it’s back to the train doors (I think he couldn’t turn around because of the crowding). A couple gets on the train, apparently coming from the airport, and puts their luggage behind the wheelchair.  At the next station or so, when the wheelchair tries to back out to get off the train, the couple refuses to move their luggage out of the way. The guy in wheelchair really had guts and pushed his chair over and past the luggage, so he could get off.

To me these stories demonstrate just an inkling of not only the harsh reality that handicapped face out there, but also the shameful way people still act to them.

Today, the Wall Street Journal (17 August 2012) had an editorial by Mr. Fay Vincent, a former CEO for Columbia Pictures and commissioner of Major League Baseball, and he wrote an impassioned piece about how difficult it has been for him to get around in a wheelchair in everywhere from bathrooms at prominent men’s clubs, through narrow front office doors at a medical facility for x-rays, and even having to navigate “tight 90-degree turns” at an orthopedic hospital!

Vincent writes: “Even well-intentioned legislation cannot specify what is needed to accomodate those of us who are made to feel subhuman by unintentionalfailures to provide suitable facilities.”

Mr. Vincent seems almost too kind and understanding here as he goes on to describe a hotel shower/bath that was too difficult for him to “climb into or out” and when he asked the CEO of a major hotel chain why there wasn’t better accommodation for the disabled, the reply was “there are not many people like you visiting the top-level hotels, so it does not make business sense to cater to the handicapped.”

Wow–read that last piece again about not making business sense catering to the handicapped–is this really only about dollar and cents or can decency and compassion play any role here?

Yes, as Mr. Vincent points out, “modern medicine is keeping us all older for longer,” and many more people will require these basic and humane accommodations for getting around, bathing, going to the toilet, and more.  Let’s make this a national, no a global priority–every one deserves these basic dignities.

I am not clear on the loopholes, exemptions, deficiencies in guidelines, or insufficiencies of enforcement that are enabling people to still be so callous, cruel, and just plain stupid, but it time to change not only what’s written on paper, but to change people’s hearts too.

(Source Photo: here)

Leading the Blind

Blind

Waiting for the train this morning–on the platform, there is a blind woman.

The train pulls up, and I help the blind lady to the train door, saying “it’s just to the right.”

The blind lady gets on and staggers herself over to where the seats usually are right next to the door, but on this model of the train, it is just an empty space.

She goes across the aisle to the other side to try and sit down, and reaches out with her arm, but ends up touching this other lady’s head.

But the other lady is quite comfortable in her seat and doesn’t flinch or budge.

The funny (read sad) thing about this is that there an empty seat on the inside right next to her–but she doesn’t move over, nor does she direct the blind lady to the empty seat next to her or anyplace else either.

Actually, the lady sitting all comfy–doesn’t say a word–to the contrary, she nudges the blind lady away from her seat.

The blind lady is left standing there–groping for somewhere to go.

As the train lurches forward–beginning to moving out of the station–the blind lady make a shuffled dash heading for the other side of the train to try to feel for another seat–and she begins to stumble.

I jump up from the other side and having no time, awkwardly just grab for her hand, so she does not fall.

The lady is startled and pulls back, and I explain that I am just trying to help her get safely to a seat.

I end up giving her my seat–it was just easier than trying to guide her to another vacant one, and she sits down.

I was glad that I was able to do something to assist–it was a nice way to start out the week–even if only in a small way.

But honestly, I also felt upset at the other lady, who so blatantly just disregarded the needs of the handicapped.

I do not understand the callousness–doesn’t she realize that a person with a disability or handicap could be any one of us–even her.

My mind starting racing about what I had heard from the pulpit about sins of omission and commission, and I know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t help sort of staring at the lady who was all smug–wondering again and again about who she was, what was she thinking (or not), and basically is that what most people would do.

I watch other people help each other every day, and I’ve got to believe inside that most people are better than that.

(Source Photo: adapted from herewith attribution to Neils Photography)