Eularee Smith
Writer & Educator

Favorite Links
Eularee's bookshelf: read

Snow in AugustWatchersRising SunThe Andromeda StrainThe ShiningThe Hunt for Red October

More of Eularee's books »

Book recommendations, book reviews, quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists
Mad Mimi Email Marketing

Fifty Plus Project

I was recently contacted by the Small Business Development Center to work on curriculum development at our local community college. The Plus Project is a grant based program to help re-tool age fifty and over community members for the job market.

Specifically we will be working on the training and education of twenty people over the age of 50. The grant is from AARP and includes a partnership with Enterprise Contact Center and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. With a diverse topic list from Communication Skills to Keyboarding, the project will train 20 students over the course of 8 weeks for a total of 150 hours. This project is funded for a year, allowing for 20 new participants in each of the six 8 week terms. 

This 8 week training provides participants with industry-recognized skills for becoming telephone reservation sales representatives. The skills learned through this training will be transportable to any call center company, as well as hundreds of clerical and customer service related occupations.

Participants will also be provided with textbooks, classroom materials and financial planning coaches. The funding for the PLUS+ Project is through an AARP Foundation grant. Lane Community College, in Eugene, OR is one of 14 recipients of the grant award. The end result for these participants is a guaranteed interview with local employers from Enterprise and Royal Caribbean. A big foot in the door.

This is such a wonderful opportunity for those of us over 50, one of the largest unemployed groups. With the new mandates for community colleges to help in the re-training of displaced workers, this is a good fit for this demographic. 

Check your local community college for similar opportunities. We are a generation of who has always prided itself on being able to think out of the box. More and more I find boomers starting over, new careers, marriages, starting new businesses or creatively jump starting old businesses. Looking ahead to what we can do, rather than living in regret about the loss of a job. 

I look forward to working with this project and I am excited at what it will accomplish. Let me know if you know or find other resources to share with our fellow boomers.


The Colors of Our Lives

I had the pleasure of sharing a meal with three old friends. The word old does not refer to their age, although all of us are sixty plus. The term, in this case, refers to the length of time we have been and remain friends.

I have many acquaintances and colleagues. I enjoy their company and the work that we do. But at the end of the day, we go our separate ways, home to families, pets, husbands, wives, significant others. At the end of the day our interaction is over and the work is for the most part, laid down until the next time we meet.

With these three friends, we meet on occasion and rarely for more than a couple of hours. But what is accomplished in the window of time, encompasses a lifetime. Like quilt pieces, our lives have been stitched together creating a kaleidoscope of tragedies and triumphs. We look to each other for a sense of stability in an ever changing world.

Sure we acknowledge our aging faces, bodies, hair and lack there of, but the laughter that follows is genuine. One of our cohorts is having serious heart problems and suffers from diabetes. He jokes amicably about not liking vegetables and the challenges of being able to eat meat but no potatoes. Another remarks about how soon she could be living on the street or in my back bedroom. And the other talks of striking out yet again in the romance department and being out of work in the coming months.

As I look around the table, I realize when I walked through the door I felt tired, old, looking only for the moment when the long day would end. But as the night wore on I felt energized by the power of grey. The wisdom of ages transcended the work day, the hassles, problems and crisis'. We are, at once, young again or perhaps it is just that feeling of youth that says you are invincible.

I won't deny there was some alcohol involved in the course of merriment. But the smile on my face as we walked out into the rainy night was from the contagion at the table. An infusion as viral as any Youtube video. Old friends, true friends, who know you to your very core and yet remain a constant reminder that life is to be lived, not denied or held back. We ate, drank and were merry. And when we went our separate ways, we were healthier, wealthier and wiser than when we walked through the door. We are permanent members of the mental health club.

Image: Google Images, Van Tiny Koppens (Creative Commons)


Five Steps to Heart Health 

February is Heart Health month according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease is definitely an equal opportunity employer. One in three deaths are from heart disease. The decline in the economy has taken its toll on the well being of America. With obesity and smoking on the rise, AHA finds levels of stress have skyrocketed impacting wellness for both men and women.

Healthy Wealthy and Wise offers a few steps to consider when committing to a life of wellness. Avoiding the doctor is not as simple as eating an apple a day, but being proactive does benefit the bottom line when it comes to health care.

Step One:  Eat Plants and Fish

Plants rich in antioxidants help boost the immune system, the prime super hero in your fight against disease. Tasty meals that include pomegranates, tomatoes, and spinach create simple ways to set your table. By adding fruits and veggies rich in potassium like bananas, oranges and mushrooms you help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, as well as boosting the immune system. An added bonus is how you will feel. Diets rich in potassium fight depression and anxiety while increasing energy levels. And let's not forget building muscle and bone strength helping to prevent bone loss from osteoporosis.

Fish has been highly recognized for the omega 3 fats that help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and reduce blood clotting. Eating fish can also boost your immune system and ease symptoms of arthritis by reducing inflammation throughout the body. The types of fish you eat matters. Salmon delivers the best bang for the buck, but also herring and tuna. Some freshwater trout has higher omega 3 fat as well. Tiliapia and catfish are lower in fats but any fish can be unhealthy in the preparation. Baking and broiling are delicious, easy and the most heart healthy ways to prepare fish.

Step Two: Lower Daily Fat Intake

This is perhaps the hardest in a world of fast food and quick meals. But it can also be the most fun to discover new foods and ways to prepare them. By keeping your trans and saturated fats to no more than 7% of your daily intake, you have gone a long way to keeping your heart healthy and your waist line slim.

Rather than focus on what not to eat, discover what you can eat. Did you know that refrigerated olive oil makes a delicious spread on your toast? Replace red meats on occasion with beans or nuts. Look for recipes that support heart health. But remember not all "low fat" or "reduced fat" meals are healthy. They substitute other unhealthy foods, such as white bread or white rice, which produce higher levels of sugar. So think, read and make healthy choices.

Step Three: Know Your Risk Level

Be proactive. Know your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Know your family history. These are all chapters in your health history. Knowing these numbers will help produce a happy ending.

Step Four: Exercise

This one can be tough. Finding ways to incorporate these into your daily life can often be challenging. The recommended level of exercise is a brisk walk for 30 minutes 5 days a week. But these recommendations are just that - guidelines. Mix it up. Keep it interesting. Take the stairs when you can, park farther away or get a buddy to walk with you after work before going home. One of my many friends without health insurance and too young for Medicare, says his insurance policy is Handball. Make it work for you, rather than making more work for yourself. 


This really does seem like a no brainer, but that being said, it does have overwhelming challenges. I hear so often from friends that quit, the new challenge becomes not gaining weight. Find the best solution for your habit. Take it slow and always keep in the forefront the benefit not only to yourself, but to those around you. Second hand smoke is just as deadly and just as preventable. I stopped smoking when I was twenty five because I wanted to start a family. It was my incentive. Find yours. 

These five steps could be a much longer list. Finding healthy, wealthy and wise ways to be proactive in remaining well and fighting off disease, is the best tool in our aging activist toolbox. If you have recipes, exercise routines or how to quit smoking tips, please leave a comment. Remember there are 77 million Boomers looking for solutions to expensive health care costs and the benefits of healthy living. 

 Image: Google/Moon Stars and Paper (Creative Commons)


Stay Well During Flu Season

The signs are everywhere. In fact, for some workers and businesses, it is the law. What seems like common sense has become a necessary warning for most of us. Wash your hands!

The flu has become public enemy number one. The common cold is just that - common. The flu, on the other hand with no pun intended, comes in designer symptoms and names. The Hong Kong flu, the Swine flu, even birds get into the act with Bird flu and Avian flu. There are types of flu, A, B and C. The influenza A and B types are the most common and have symptoms of fever, aching, coughing and sniffles. 

Older adults and especially those with chronic problems like bronchitis and asthma, are at high risk for complications from the influenza virus. Antibiotics are not effective with viral infections placing adults over the age of 84 at the highest risk level and over age 74 at the next level. 

Taking preventative or wellness care measures, such as the annual flu shot, are effective and can reduce hospitalization by 70% and deaths in older adults by 85%, according to the National Institute on Aging, for adults who stay in their homes. For residents in nursing homes and retirement facilities the flu shot can avoid hospitalization and the complications of pneumonia by 60%. The pneumonia vaccine is also recommended and only needs to be administered once with a possible booster in 5 years for those at higher risk.

Another simple preventative measure is washing the hands. It doesn't hurt nearly as much as the shot and is something we can easily do everyday to keep those nasty germs at bay. I heard a wonderful way to be sure you are washing long enough. It is the friction of the rubbing hands that is the real benefit to killing germs, not the temperature of the water. Washing with soap while singing Happy birthday twice is the recommended length of time for a proper hand wash. 

Keep yourself healthy during the cold and flu season. Preventing illness before it starts, not only keeps you healthy, but those around you. Here are a few instances of when hand washing is important to prevent colds and flu.

Wash your hands after:

• Touching parts of your body that are not clean.

• Using the bathroom.

• Coughing, sneezing, or using a handkerchief or disposable tissue.

Singing Happy Birthday is fun way to remind yourself that every day of health is precious.

Image: Flickr/Arlington County & ustadrumer (Creative Commons), 


The Paper Trail 

How many times do you find yourself reciting your birth date or social security number to identify yourself? With a last name like Smith, I find it to be a common occurrence. But lately it feels like a labyrinth of paper that follows us from cradle to grave and beyond. 

My father in law passed away in 2009. I went through the official hoops of cremation and death certificates. It took months to distribute the death certificates to Social Security, banks, doctors, Dept of Motor Vehicles, insurance companies and literally anyone and everyone who had ever had my father in law’s name on a piece of paper. 

Orville did not believe in life insurance and I began handling the finances when his Alzheimer’s became pronounced. All the paperwork was at my disposal, thanks to the power of attorney we had established years prior. 

Two years since his death a letter arrives in the mail stating that Orville had opened an annuity in 1997. Unbeknownst to anyone, he had set aside $35,000 in an annuity at the onset of his disease. He left no paper trail to follow. And yet we were found. The company stated that an annual random death certificate search discovered that Orville had passed away. They were informing us that this money was left to the beneficiary to be claimed. 

And all I had to do was produce a death certificate. You would think the story ended there. Because it had been more than six months since his death, the county no longer had records available. We had to request them from the state. The trail continued to lead us through a maze of photo identification, signatures of request and pages of signed documentation, in order for us to obtain the “public” record. 

Legally speaking, the death certificate is one of the most important documents today. It is the key that opens and shuts the door on all the pieces of your life. From Social Security to an unexpected windfall, there are countless ways in which the death certificate serves as legal proof of our demise. 

My advice is to purchase more death certificates than you think you will ever need. Store them with your attorney or a location that is safe, secure but accessible (you may want to refer to the posts on normal memory loss). One never knows where the paper trail will lead. It may come to a mailbox near you. 

Local County or State Public Records Dept.
PBS Frontline 
You Can’t Die Until You Do The Paperwork by Marcia Camp

Image: Flickr/mdx (Creative Commons)