Thursday, December 24, 2015

Family History Spotlight

Family history is in the spotlight this season. Learning about your family's health history may help you have a longer and healthier future together.

Because only a third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family's health history, the Surgeon general created a web-based program that creates a 'family tree' that you can download and print to share with your family members or doctor. The information is not kep on the website; it is private.

Family Health History. Use the Links in the panel on the left to get to the following:

Family History and Create Family Health Portrait

[Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services]

Friday, December 11, 2015

Find Out if Your Hospital or Health Care Organization is Accredited

I hope you'll forgive my lack of posts ~ like many of my peers I've been frequently "socializing" with doctors in hopes of feeling better... which fortunately is helping.

First on my list of information to share with you is what I learned about were to find out whether your hospital or other health care organization is accredited. Go to The Joint Commission.  

The statement at "About Us" says"An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission accredits and certifies nearly 21,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards."

Explore the wealth of links on The Joint Commission website to learn what you want to know.

Comments you leave on 21st Century Old Folks Home are always welcome.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Don’t Ignore These Stroke Warning Signs ~ Act Promptly!

A major "perk" of living in an assisted living community ~ which as you know, I refer to as A UNIVERSITY FOR 2ND CHILDHOOD ~ is that most of the residents have experiences from which you can learn.

Take for instance what I learned from a recent first-hand experience at Broadway Court Estates, an apartment complex where everyone quickly becomes "extended family".

The lesson: Knowing stoke symptoms ~ and taking immediate action ~ may minimize your chances of suffering a life-changing disability!

One evening, Sue *[fictitious name] suddenly felt so tired at dinner in her Assisted Living Community dining room that she excused herself and went to her third floor apartment. Later, she said her legs hurt, which was unusual for her. But mostly she felt weak and feared she couldn't make it to her apartment. However, when she got there, she didn’t seek help, but went to bed and promptly fell asleep.

Sue was actually suffering a stroke! However, since she wasn’t aware of that unusually painful legs was a stroke symptom, and since she had no tingling, vision impairment or confusion, she didn’t think of stroke. 

In the morning, she called her daughter who came and convinced Sue that her continuing symptoms should be checked by a medic. They went to the nearest hospital emergency room (ER).

After ER medics assessed her, they sent her home saying nothing was wrong.
Four days later, when her daughter took Sue to her regular doctor, he ordered an MRI and discovered Sue had suffered a stroke.
The doctor also said,
"Unusually painful legs is a stoke symptom too often missed by medics."
Fortunately, Sue’s stroke was mild, and her rehabilitation and recovery are going well.
Print, memorize, and post the following STROKE WARNING SIGNS (Guidelines from American Heart Association and American Stroke Association):
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially one one side of the body 
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding 
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes 
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination with no known cause 
Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical services (EMS) so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can be sent for you.
Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptom appeared. It is very important to take immediate action! If given within 3 hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) may reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Costly Facts About Medicare Observation and Outpatient Hospital Admittance

I've always been skeptical of email fowards. You know the ones, FWD: followed by some subject that holds little or no interest. However, the title on this one, Hospital Stay - Important please read, indicated a topic that interests me. So I read it.

Having recently been admitted, for medical observation, in a couple of hospitals with Medicare covering all of the hospital and doctor charges except pharmacy, I didn’t believe what the writer described.

However, after doing intensive research, I found the circumstances that made his saga ring true.

Following instructions at bottom of page 40 in the 2016 Medicare & You publication, I studied the important, lengthy explanation. Are You a Hospital Inpatient or Outpatient?

Observation in an intensive care unit, ICU, is not covered by Medicare. Scroll down to see how it applies to this man’s experience!

My advice? Study your 2016 Medicare & You book, because it spells out the circumstances under the various categories on admittance, including "observation", are not covered.

Read also, "Your Medicare coverage choices".

Although doctors would like to admit patients for treatment rather than for observation, today's Medicare rules that govern admittance prevent them from doing what they believe would be in the beset interests of their patients.

The following is the original FWD: Hospital Stay - Important please read. SENIORS BETTER READ THIS!!! from a senior gentleman in Mesa , Arizona:
"Family, Friends, Neighbors, and former Classmates, I just found myself in the middle of a medical situation that made it very clear that "the Affordable Care Act" is neither affordable, nor do they care. 
"I'll go back about seven years ago to a fairly radical prostate surgery that I underwent. The Urologist who performed the surgery was very concerned that it was cancer, though I wasn't told this until the lab report revealed it was benign.

"Since that procedure, I have experienced numerous urinary tract infections, UTI's. Since I had never had a "UTI" prior to the prostate surgery, I assumed that it is one of the side effects from surgery, an assumption since confirmed by my Family Doctor.

"The weekend of March 8-9, I was experiencing all the symptoms of another UTI. By Monday afternoon the infection had hit with full force.  Knowing that all I needed was an antibiotic, I went to an Urgent Care Center in Mesa, AZ, to provide a specimen a requirement for getting the prescription. After waiting 45 minutes to see the Doctor, I started getting very nauseous and light-headed.

"I went to the Receptionist to ask where the  bathroom was, as I felt that I was going to throw up. I was told that I would have to wait for the Doctor because I would have to leave a specimen, and they didn't want me in the bathroom without first seeing him.

"That was when the lights went out. My next awareness was that of finding myself on the floor (in the waiting room) having violent dry heaves, and very confused.  At this point, I tried to stand up but couldn't make it, and they made it very clear they weren't going to let me get up until the ambulance got there.

"By the way, when you're waiting to see the Doctor and you pass out, you get very prompt attention.

"Now, "the rest of the story", and the reason for sending this to so many of you. I was taken to the nearest hospital, to emergency. Once there, I was transported to an emergency Examination room.

"Once I had removed my clothes and donned one of those lovely hospital gowns, I finally got to see a Doctor.  I asked "what is going on?  I'm just having a UTI. Just get me the proper medication and let me go home."

"He told me that my symptoms presented the possibility of sepsis, a potentially deadly migration of toxins, and that they needed to run several tests to determine how far the infection had migrated. For the next 3 hours, I was subjected to several tests, blood draws, EKG's, and demands for specimens.

"At about 7:30 [p.m.], the nurse came back to my room to inform me that one of the tests takes 1- 2 days to complete. I asked if they [the results] could be emailed, at which point she informed me that I wouldn't need them emailed because I wasn't going anywhere. I did tell her I wanted to see the doctor because I had no intention of staying overnight.

"Now, this is what I want each of you to understand. Please read these next sentences carefully.

"The doctor finally came in to inform me that he was going to admit me.  I said, "Are you admitting me for treatment or for observation?"

"He told me that I would be admitted for observation.

"I said, "Doctor, correct me if I'm wrong, but if you admit me for observation, my Medicare will not pay anything. This due to the Affordable Care Act."

"He said, "That's right, it won't."

"I grabbed my bag of clothing and said, "Then I'm going home."

"He said you're really too sick to be going home, but I understand your position. This health program is going to hit seniors especially hard.

"The doctor then left the room and I started getting dressed.  I was just getting ready to put my shoes on when another doctor [the closer] came into the room. He saw me dressed and said, "Where do you think you are going?"

"I simply said "I'm going home."

"To which he replied, quite vociferously, "No you aren't."

"I said, "Doc, you and I both know that under the "Affordable Care Act" anyone on  Medicare who is admitted to a hospital for observation will be responsible for the bill. Medicare won't pay a cent." At which point he nodded in affirmation.

"I said, "You will either admit me for a specific treatment or you won't admit me."

"Realizing he wasn't going to win this one, he said he would prepare my release papers. A few minutes later, the discharge nurse came to my room to have me sign the necessary papers, relieving them from any responsibility.  I told her I wasn't trying to be obstinate, but I wasn't going to be burdened with the full [financial]responsibility for my hospital stay.

"After making sure the door was closed, she said, "I don't blame you at all, I would do the same thing."  She went on to say, "You wouldn't believe the people who elect to leave for the same reasons, people who are deathly sick, people who have to be wheeled out on a gurney."

"She further said, "The 'Affordable Care Act' is going to be a disaster for seniors. Yet, if you are in this country illegally, and have no coverage, you will be covered in full."

"This is not Internet hype folks, this is real. I just experienced it personally. Moving right along, this gets worse. Today I went to a [required] follow-up appointment with my Arizona Family Practitioner.  Since my white count was pretty high, the follow-up was important.

"During the visit, I shared the experience at emergency, and that I had refused to be admitted. His response was "I don't blame you at all, I would have done the same thing." He went on to say that the colonoscopy and other procedures are probably going to be dropped from coverage for those over 70."

"I told him that I had heard that the "Affordable Care Act" would no longer pay for cancer treatment for those 76 and older, is that true? His understanding is that it is true. The more I  hear, and experience the Affordable Care Act, the more I'm beginning to see that we seniors are nothing more than an inconvenience, and the sooner they can get rid of us, the better off they'll be.

"We can have an impact on this debacle by letting everyone in Congress know that their responsibility is to their constituents, not the president and not the lobbyists. We need to let them ALL know that they are in office to serve and to look after the BEST INTERESTS of "we the people," their employers, and not to become self-serving bureaucrats who serve only out of greed. And if they don't seem to understand this simple  logic, we'll fire them.

"REMEMBER: Demand [that]your hospital admission is for TREATMENT and NOT for OBSERVATION! Don't believe this? Ask your doctor.


"Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”

My advice? Study these: 
Are You a Hospital Inpatient or Outpatient? and ,"Your Medicare coverage choices".
When you need help, these agencies have typically provided information about their state's SHIP programs. First, Locate your local Area Agency on Aging by visiting Elder Care Locator. Once on the site, enter your zip code or city/state, and your local agency should populate.

Also, towards the bottom of the search results, the contact information of the SHIP programs in that territory or state are typically displayed.

Another resource where you do not need to register or enroll to locate SHIP information for your locality is,

Good luck!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Now, more than ever, you need to have your life decisions in place. Below is a proactive guide to what you need.

Let's talk first about who you are, your medical conditions, and how you want to be treated by first responders and physicians.

Every senior citizen should have a wearable ID for their own safety -- a dog-tag, a wrist bracelet. If you have a serious medical condition you should wear a medical identification tag, engraved with instructions that are important to your medical care. Tags come in various sizes, shapes, and are available at drugstores, by mail, or at online sources. Most jewelry stores will order one and engrave it to your specifications. (Medic, Medic Alert Foundation, and American Medical ID.

A Vial-of-Life document is a concise record of your medical
information to be used in an emergency. The information assists medics in providing essential proper care.

Create a basic "Vial of Life" from an empty prescription bottle. On a slip of paper list:

1.     Your name, birthdate.
2.     Primary care doctor and contact information.
3.     Current prescriptions, vitamins and supplements you take.
4.     Immunizations and blood type
5.     Who to contact in an emergency.
Roll the list. Insert into the bottle.Tape the bottle under the right-hand corner of the top shelf in your refrigerator. Put a Vial of Life sticker near your door and on the outside of your refrigerator. (Vial of Life for printable free online forms.)

Advanced care directives are legal documents. If you haven't made yours, ask your lawyer or physician's office for the form and ask them to help you complete that vital legal document. Make certain your wishes are stated clearly. Many state laws kick in when you become incapacitated, and you may not agree with all of them. Without your completed document, conflicts may arise and put you in a difficult situation.

A Living Will allows you to specify your directives for medical care when you become unable to communicate them. For instance, you might state that no extraordinary measures, ie., tube feedings, respirator, be used in the case of a catastrophic injury, terminal illness or dementia  ~ whether it be Alzheimer's, Multi-infart, or other type ~ the patient can live from a few weeks or months to many years.
The Durable Power of Attorney for Health (DPAH) is another important legal document you should complete. Your DPAH states the person authorized to make your medical care decisions when, for whatever reason, you are unable to make them.
Because all states do not have reciprocal laws, consider completing a DPAH for each state you routinely visit Advanced Directives by state.

Many hospitals have Living Will and  DPAH forms available. The hospital's Notary Public Officer can notarize them, generally free of charge. Stationary stores and many bookstores also carry them. You can also have your advanced directives stored online, retrievable by doctors and hospitals. 

Living Wills and Advance Directives, while initially appearing complicated, are designed to simplify concerns. They can complicate matters when validation or specific criteria must be evaluated, but without them, end-of-life concerns can mushroom and become overwhelming.

It's far worse to become critically ill or to die without proper documents on file. Protect yourself.

Complete each of these Medical-legal documents and put them where they'll be easily available.

·       Place a card inside your wallet stating where to find your directives.
·       Carry a set of copies in sturdy clear plastic sleeves with you when you leave home
·       Be sure your doctor has a copy of each document.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

Always Ask Before Being Admitted to a Hospital ~ Am I An Outpatient? Or Am I An Inpatient?

When being admitted to hospital, no matter the reason, you will be confronted with a bewildering array of paperwork. You may be unaware that 'admitted' includes two categories -- 'inpatient' and 'outpatient.' If you have Medicare Part A, Part B and Part D insurance policies YOU SHOULD ASK - "Am I an inpatient or outpatient?"

You do not have a choice, because Medicare sets the criteria. However, you should know because being an outpatient could be costly to you. Medicare rules define medications for which you have a prescription from your doctor as "Prescriptions (Self-Administered Drugs)." As an outpatient you are responsible for payment when a "self-administered" drug is given to you from the hospital pharmacy.
"Their cost can be extremely prohibitive, and in many cases Medicare members discover an outpatient is responsible for the hospital fees for those prescription drugs too late," Rod Haynes, Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services (CMS)/ Consortium for Medicare Health Plans Operations (CMHPO) Region 10, said.
This government publication explains how it works. 

You need to be very clear about which prescription drugs your Medicare-D insurer covers, and the conditions under which they pay, or in some instances, DO NOT PAY. This is vital knowledge before allowing the hospital to remove any self-administered drugs you've brought with you. Medicare rules stipulate,
"If you bring your prescription(s) from home, we [the hospital] are required to obtain approval from your physician prior to use. In addition, a hospital pharmacist must verify and certify the medication before it can be used in the hospital. There is a small fee for the medication verification."

There is no standing Medicare rule mandating that hospitals must allow patients to bring in their prescriptions when receiving care. Individual hospitals may or may not choose to permit this practice.
Why will prescription drugs you've brought (whether you're a patient in the ER or in a hospital bed) be sent home, leaving you to take medications from the hospital pharmacy instead? In most hospitals today there is no procedure whereby you can be charged a small fee and allowed to save substantial sums; the difference between what you will be charged for the hospital pharmacy's medications and your brought-from-home prescriptions. Even though they are identical.

Sean E. Dobbin, PharmD, Director of Pharmacy, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children's Hospital, explained that hospitals use digital-coding systems, much like the bar codes on items sold in stores. Hospital digital-codes coordinate your every medical procedure, including the medications you're given.

When a nurse scans the band attached to your wrist, it must match the digital-code on the medication being given. Although hospital administrators are concerned about the resulting high cost to patients, hospitals have not yet designed an efficient method to enter prescription drugs brought to the hospital by patients into their digital-coding system.
Complexities preventing this include: How can a hospital pharmacist ascertain the patient brought prescriptions that,
  • Have been stored properly?
  • Aren't from an expired batch?
  • Are the strength the doctor prescribed?
  • Or that dosage changes haven't been made since the prescription was written?
Hospital pharmacy fees for one dose can equal or exceed the price of a thirty-day supply of the identical medication sold at your pharmacy -- a substantial difference for which your Medicare-D insurer may not reimburse you.

Many diseases require medications that are catastrophically costly, yet vital to the patient. To miss even one dose may be highly risky or even deadly, but it's up to each hospital whether or not to accept the risk/liability of a patient bringing their prescriptions from home. Before relinquishing your medications, insist on meeting with the hospital pharmacist prior to taking any medication. This way, rules can be agreed on in advance regarding your self-administered drugs, or any drugs you know your Medicare-D has restrictions for.
The Medicare Rules also stipulate, "As a courtesy, we will bill your supplemental insurance on an "assignment" basis. This means we will ask the insurance company to pay us directly. Any amount not covered by your insurance will be your responsibility."
This does not apply to medications in the self-administered category. According to a finanial counselor at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children's Hospital, Spokane, WA, it means the hospital may bill for covered medications under Medicare Part A Supplement Plan. Hospitals do not bill insurance companies for self-administered prescription drugs received from the hospital pharmacy that are covered by Medicare-D insurance. The patient is billed and bears the responsibility to file a claim for reimbursement from their insurer.
Haynes said Part D is a separate matter entirely. "While hospital pharmacies are technically permitted to contract with Part D plan, it is very rare for them to do so because of financial constraints. If a hospital is willing to submit a patient's Outpatient drug claims to his or her Part D plan for reimbursement prior to billing the patient directly, such an arrangement would be entirely up to the hospital pharmacy. There is no Medicare rule mandating that the hospital do this," he said. The patient is left to suffer the consequences – or seek relief.

If for any reason you haven't reached an agreement with the hospital pharmacy beforehand, as soon as you receive their bill for the self-administered drugs you were given as an Outpatient, promptly talk to the hospital's Financial Counselor and to the Director of Pharmacy. Explain circumstances you feel should be considered, and request an adjustment. There are 'conditions' the hospital can apply to mitigate the charges.

If you need to file a claim for reimbursement from your Medicare D insurer, obtained the Prescription Drug Claim Form from the hospital's Outpatient Pharmacy Billing Department. The hospital pharmacist needs to fill out a form for each self-administered drug the hospital has billed for. Send your claim for reimbursement from your Medicare-D insurer before that insurer's deadline; keep copies.

If your claim is denied, attach copies from  your original claim and file an appeal. If a medication is not covered under your Medicare-D policy present the facts to the hospital's Director of Pharmacy and requested a review by that department. The charges may be mitigated and dismissed because of 'conditions' that meet certain criteria at that hospital.

If your insurance doesn't cover the costs, and you fail to get remediation from the hospital pharmacy, meet with the hospital's Financial Counselor. You may qualify for financial assistance, or at least be able to arrange an acceptable payment plan.

Sources:, the Official U.S. Government site for Medicare.
Search self administered drugs to get a the (pdf) Publication, "Self Administered Drugs" It explains how Medicare covers self-administered drugs given in hospital outpatient settings.
Here you can find 118 Publications that answer Medicare questions.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Give Yourself The Best Chance to Survive a Heart Attack or Stroke

Know how to give yourself the best chance to survive a heart attack or stroke. Learn to recognize symptoms, and take fast action!!

When the heart goes out of rhythm enough to cause a heart attack (your pulse feels irregular, too fast, too slow, or pounding) then it MUST be brought back into rhythm. You also need oxygen because your heart isn't pumping well enough to meet your body's need for blood-carrying-oxygen, especially to your brain. A doctor may prescribe medication, or you may need defibrillation.

You may not think clearly.

A quick assessment for stroke:
S -- Smile. If lopsided, call 9-1-1.
T -- Talk. Any difficulty with speech, call 9-1-1.
R -- Raise arms -- if unevenly raised,  9-1-1.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you suspect a heart attack or stroke. It's better to be embarrassed than dead, or risk having your lifestyle diminished because you delayed.

If you are driving a car, the best thing to do is stop at the very first place where a phone can be found -- a house, a store, some motorist with a cell phone, wherever -- and call 9-1-1.

If you're 5 miles or LESS from the nearest hospital stopping by the roadside and flagging someone to drive you there could be a better option, because of the time it takes for an ambulance to reach you.

However, ambulances and fire department Quick Response units carry oxygen, which vastly improves your chances. So if you know an ambulance or fire station is close, that's your best choice.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Don't Risk Premature Hospital Discharge: Appeal

You've been in the hospital for three midnights, or more, as an Inpatient not an Outpatient, but you don't agree when your doctor says you're ready for discharge. It just doesn't 'feel right.' You're afraid. You don't want to land back in the hospital for the same ailment. You'd like a second opinion.
What can you do other than stay ~ and pay?
If you're an original Medicare beneficiary, appeal your discharge. Details and instructions are on the Important Message from Medicare (IM), given to you by the hospital when you arrived. You signed it, along with a batch of other admittance documents.
Lost the IM? Ask for a copy.*
If you suspect premature discharge, as soon as you learn of your impending discharge act quickly.
Protect yourself from a potential premature discharge by calling the Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) number on the IM.*
Called 'fast' or 'expedited' appeal, your phone call will start the process of a review made by a QIO. An 'expedited' appeal gets you a second opinion and buys time, without cost to you.
A QIO is under contract with the government: your medical records are examined by a physician, independent of the hospital, to review the medical necessity, appropriateness, and the quality of hospital treatment. The appeal is completed quickly and renders a final decision. The appeal also lets you stay in the hospital until noon (at least) of the day following your discharge date, and Medicare benefits apply during the time of the appeal process.***
You start the process by phoning QIO, and it should be completed in no longer than seventy-two hours, but you must call QIO before midnight on your discharge orders date.
  • Upon receiving an appeal request from the beneficiary, the QIO must notify the hospital immediately of the review request.
  • The hospital must provide patient records to the QIO by noon on the day after the QIO initially alerts the hospital to the expedited review request.
Note - there are reasons QIO may not alert the hospital for a considerable length of time, and also reasons why the hospital transmittal of records may not be complete for a considerable length of time - as long as seventy-two hour delays are possible.
Once the QIO notifies the hospital, the hospital is required to give a Detailed Notice of Discharge to the beneficiary (you) and to the QIO by noon the day after it is first notified of the appeal.
The Detailed Notice states the hospitals detailed rationale for the discharge. The QIO must receive a copy of the Detailed Notice in order to make a determination. The Detailed Notice also includes hospital contact information for the beneficiary.****
If you do not receive the Detailed Notice by noon the day after you contact the QIO with an appeal request, act quickly. Report this to the QIO so that the QIO can take action to facilitate delivery of the notice to you. You'll know your appeal is going as scheduled when you receive it.
The QIO must make its determination and notify the beneficiary, hospital, and physician within one calendar day of receipt of all pertinent information (delays can occur until records are complete.)
The hospital is prohibited from discharging you during your appeal, however if you leave the hospital before the review is complete, you abort your appeal.
If the QIO agrees that discharge is appropriate, you can agree to the discharge or you can file a reconsideration request for an independent review entity to review the case. If you stay in the hospital following receipt of a QIO decision that the doctor’s discharge orders are appropriate, you should receive a HINN12 from the hospital, because unlike the initial expedited review, there are no financial protections during the reconsideration process.
  • *Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid each provide a hospital discharge appeals process.
  • ** If the beneficiary wishes to appoint a representative to file an appeal on his/her behalf, a valid Form 1696 or a conforming written instrument must be signed by both the beneficiary and the prospective representative and filed with the appeal request. In such cases the hospital has very specific obligations regarding notifications to the representative.)
  • ***Medicare does not cover inpatient hospital services that are not medically necessary or could be safely furnished in another setting. (Refer to 42 Code of Federal Regulations, 411.15 (g) and (k)). Options also remain to appeal an adverse decision.
  • ****Detailed Notice, Form CMS-10066,

Monday, May 25, 2015

Does your family know their ancestors? Perhaps it's time you shared with them what you know. And while you're at it, don't neglect finding ancestors and kinfolk on your family tree. None of us are getting younger, you know. ;0))

But how do I go about locating ancestors? you wonder.

Until Karen Drain read a newspaper account about her Honberger ancestors in Behind These Mountains , she said,
“I knew only that they were present for part of Heron’s history, for good or for bad! I found your books through genealogy research. My ancestor is listed in a newspaper clipping you included in a book.
When I found the listed page, I thought that the books would provide great reading material for my [91-year-old] Great Uncle Jack, who is helping me build the family tree. [And] my thoughts of buying your books in hardcopy were my only hope of sharing them with him."
She’d read the 1919 Sanders County Independent Ledger account of a “saloon keeper” whose business had been robbed. She contacted me. I connected her with people still living in the Heron area who might be helpful. Through them, she touched bases with others who also added to her knowledge about her family connection to former Heronites.
Karen said,
“Heidi [Dettwiler], Phoebe Harker, Linda Rocheleau, Fredi Pargeter, and Helen Meadows have all reached out to me and I am so humbled by everyone’s generosity in assisting me in my family search. You all are so wonderful!”
However, the Behind These Mountains trilogy she wanted to purchase has become rare out-of-print collectible books. Like most regional history books, they were limited editions; 1,000 volume 1 copies and only 500 copies of volumes 2 and 3.
Until I told her about requesting books through Inter-library loan, Karen wasn’t aware of that library service.  A librarian searches for them and when located, requests a copy that library clients can check out to read.
In 2009, Kindle editions of Behind These Mountains, Volumes I, II & III became available. Since there are about 1,000 vintage photographs from homesteader’s private albums in them I also offer .pdf formatted editions of the trilogy on a DVD for $50. The .pdf editions are a popular choice for those wanting print books because I include permission for a buyer to print [or have printed] a personal copy of each approximately 1200 page book. Karen elected to buy the DVD.
“I received my DVD today,” she wrote, “and I cannot wait to begin reading [on her computer’s large screen]! My hope is to print out a chapter at a time and send it to my great Uncle Jack. .. My thought is that he will have something to look forward to every week as I send him one or two chapters at a time.

I believe I mentioned that Jack is 91 and he doesn’t even have a working television, let alone a computer. His phone is not a fancy one either so hardcopy is the only way for him to read your book. I want to [print and] send a few chapters at a time so he has something to look forward to and he will check his mail more often than he does! Thank you so much for sharing all of your research!”
Her uncle plans to save the printed chapters and someday return them to Karen.
As she began reading the .pdf copies on her computer, Karen discovered Heron was beset in 1909 by smallpox brought in by a child who had returned from visiting relatives back east. Coincidentally, her relative, Flora Emma Honberger Dingley, died in Heron in January 1909. Now she wonders if smallpox caused Mrs. Dingley’s demise.
In a post on my Bygone Montanans blogspot, which is designed to help people with their genealogy research, I shared family information and photos of the Honberger and Dingley ancestors in Heron, that Karen had sent.
She responded, 
“Thank you for sharing my family history in your blog. Perhaps another family member will read it and add to the information. We are shaking the bushes, so to speak… We are very thankful to find you and your work.”
Laura Becquart, David Miller, Cindy Raynor, Tracey Lewis and Teresa Morkert are also among those who found the regional Montana history online.
When he got in touch, David said, 
Laura also emailed, 
“My name is Laura Becquart and I am interested in purchasing the pdf printable version of Behind These Mountains. I already have the book for volume 1 [original out-of-print edition], and it contains quite a few pictures. Do you know if the pdf version will contain pictures as well? Also, is the $50 for all three volumes?"
When I replied, she responded,
“Oh, this is too cool - I think I'm actually talking to Mona herself! You even signed my original edition of volume 1. My great uncle Lank (Loren Jameson) was able to get a signed copy for both my Mom and I. My Mom is Lucille Jenkins, the grand-daughter of Lucy Jenkins from Noxon.
My brother was trying to find volume 2 and 3 for my Mom for Mother's Day. I told him I would look around on the Internet and see if I could find anything for him. Of course, there wasn't anything out there, but I did stumble upon your Behind These Mountains website. 
Would it be acceptable for me to mail you a check? I'm fine waiting for you to cash the check before you would mail me the pdf file.”
We emailed back and forth as I related personal memories of times my husband and I enjoyed with her ancestors during the 60-years we lived near Noxon. Her check arrived and the DVD went in the mail the next day.

Tracey Lewis found ancestors in my books, connected with living kinfolk she learned about using Internet reseach, and traveled hundreds of miles to meet some of them in person. As the families connected, they used emails, phone calls and letters, to discover other members of the family tree, and organized a grand family reunion for fhose they found.

We learned much about our Gremaux family ancestors from a little-known out-of-print book in a library in Indiana. More information about that branch, and also the Vanek branch of our family tree, is located in a library in Lewistown, Montana. Many northwestern Montana settlers relocated to the lower Clark Fork River valley from the Plentywood area in Montana. The library there hosts detailed accounts of their lives.
How can you find your ancestors?
  • Locate a library or museum in a town where an ancestor lived. Ask if any regional history books have been published. Request any that you find through Inter-library-loan. 
  • Ask if there is a talking book or digital version. Many old books have been republished in a digital book, or online.
  • Type family names into several online search engines. Each may return different results.
  • Utilize You won’t need to subscribe to if your local library has access that you can use free.
  • Research ancestors through The Church of Latter Day Saints’ genealogy resources. is an excellent resource for locating books, periodicals and authors. The website has a powerful search engine, and is intended to provide convenient access to a large quantity of high-quality content material, mostly published over the last 150 years in America and England. It accesses over one million readable items, and titles of another million items not readable due to copyright.

You, too, might find and learn more about your ancestors in a little known regional history book. In doing so, you'll also make a author as happy as I am ~ knowing my work connects families.You may also have a grand reunion, like Tracey Lewis and her kinfolk, of family tree members you have yet to meet.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Facts About Cruise Ship Retirement

You've probably heard or read that spending your retirement years roaming the seas on cruise ships is the way to go and that it beats assisted living retirement communities in every way.

To learn the real facts, read "Is a Cruise Ship Retirement Cheaper than Assisted Living?" by Sarah J. Stevenson A Place For Mom.

Before you leave the website, follow the links to other important information. I highly recommend subscribing to the A Place For Mom blog.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

How to Avoid Costly Mistakes

I'd like to direct you to A Place For Mom which has an excellent article today, How to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Your Search for Senior Living.

In the panel on the left here you'll find links the A Place For Mom home page and to other good resources to visit frequently.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

When Wanting to Die ~ Burdens Shared Are Burdens Lightened

A few days after Christmas, we heard from a cousin that our 97-year-old uncle was critically ill and in a hospital. She said that after he was discharged he would likely need to be moved from Mariposa Gardens ALC into extended care. We took her assessment seriously. Less than six months earlier, uncle and aunty had moved into the ALC. This would present an even more difficult change for them.

My cousin added,
"Aunty is sweetly confused but is aware enough to realize life is taking a drastic change, and she is finding it difficult."
We'd emailed Christmas greetings to these Canadian relatives early in December, but hadn't worried when we didn't receive the annual holiday letter my uncle always wrote. Here, in Washington State, when Art and I moved into an assisted living community, I was beset with doubts and fears, especially during the first month. Long-standing rituals, like sending seasons greetings, diminished drastically.
A surprise email from my uncle arrived a few days after his niece's email. Although we still didn't know his current condition, we guessed his congestive heart failure had worsened.
We believed his every word when he wrote,
"My health took a downward turn, was in hospital 2 weeks and just home for a short duration. So thanks for all the visits and love, but this is likely the last you will hear from me. Uncle."
We emailed their only daughter to comfort her, and were pleasantly surprised when her reply said uncle was home with his wife at their apartment in the ALC and doing well.

Her email said both of her parents had their medications dished out by the facility, "instead of hit and miss as they may have been taking them. Dad wants to die. He doesn't want to live like this, but he's doing better than he thinks, and has a new walker to get to meals. Both are doing well for now, considering. However, Mom is starting to realize she may be alone soon. Despite her failing memory, she's struggling with that realization. We're thankful to the Lord for each day."

Uncle and aunty's reactions to their situation are somewhat like my own since Art and I moved to this ALC, and like that of other people I've known. Although my health has improved dramatically, on days when I feel ill and don't know the cause, I, too, wish to just die.

Despite the many wonderful aspects of being among our contemporaries the past four months, I understand that when an elderly ALC resident is hospitalized due to illness it's normal for them to become depressed and think the worst ~ that they may be dying soon.

And like Aunty, even though Art's health has stabilized these past months, I suffer panic attacks when I think beyond the now.

Here are four things that have helped me:
  • I visit friends I've made, and we talk about our concerns, whether they are alone or have spouses or families who live nearby.
  • I've formed bonds with several who have no family nearby to rely on for help and comfort in time of need. Sharing makes us each other's support system.
  • We started a phone-calling tree ~ where each person calls the next on the list daily, rotating the list frequently. There is always someone at hand to share our cares.
  • Talking to staff members also helps. Good ALCs have staff that truly have our wellbeing and happiness uppermost in mind and will guide us to someone we can rely on.
We take part in social activities, and encourage each other to attend. Support and encouragement also result from participating in exercises classes, religious services, and going on outings provided by the ALC.
Burdens shared are lightened in the caring.