Make a Phone Call, Make a Difference

How often do you call your aging parents?

(Pause for uncomfortable silence…)

I completely understand. I have been there myself. Now, In this digital age especially, it can feel as though your days are not your own: work seems to demand more from us all than it ever has; friends, colleagues and acquaintances are able to reach out to us 24 hours a day on multiple social media platforms; plus, as a member of the sandwich generation, you have your own growing family to care for. With the day-to-day errands and chores needed to keep dinners rolling out nightly and children (not to mention yourself and your spouse) dressed in clean clothing, it’s no wonder that days, even weeks, may go by in between check-ins with Mom and Dad.

This past week, an article about the development of a robot companion for the elderly caught my eye. Intrigued, I began to read it in greater detail, initially thinking that a blog post about geriatric technology could soon be in order. Instead, the real detail which stuck with me was nothing new, and that is this: Our elderly are dangerously lonely.

Here’s an example from the article: “According to Age UK, nearly half of all people aged 75 and over live alone and more than 1 million say they always or often feel lonely. Thirty-six percent speak to fewer than one person per day and 11 percent say they spent five days or more a month without seeing anyone.”

Additionally, since science and medicine are helping to extend people’s lives, our aging population is living longer–and mostly “confounded by” the very technology needed to stay interactive and engaged with the rest of the population.

And so … a team in Israel is working on creating a robot, one which is programmed to know the aging person’s likes and dislikes (among other things) as reported in part by family members, in order to provide missing companionship as well as guidance for technological needs.

I’m sure that this is a good thing (yes?), and yet for some reason it causes me just a twinge of pain.

Can’t we also all resolve to make a few more phone calls, specifically to those we know who are old and lonely?

If you have a loved one who is elderly and alone, or if you know of such a person in your neighborhood, I’d like to ask you to please schedule five minutes into your day today to phone that person.

Making a difference in someone’s life doesn’t necessarily take a team of engineers. Sometimes all it takes is just one small action.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.


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Virtual Chatting with Your Aging Parents: How Skype and FaceTime Could Benefit Your Entire Family


It’s something you probably do regularly in your business or personal life (either with colleagues, friends, or both), and yet you’ve likely never even considered making it a part of your ongoing routine with your aging parents. The “it” I’m referring to here is virtual communication, such as FaceTime, Skype, Google +, and various social media apps (though you may need to ask your teenage children for help with those).

Just as speaking “face to face” through the magic of today’s technology helps to make business and personal conversations clearer and interactions more meaningful, why not bring these same feelings to your conversations with your mom and dad? Most of our parents own tablets and/or Smartphones, and even if not, they are certainly computer-literate enough to download software to a computer and plug in an earpiece/mic. (If not, you can talk them through the process.)

Here are some benefits I see to conversing with your folks via virtual chat:

  1. If you have kids of your own, you are opening up a world as vast as their imaginations can take them in terms of all new ways to engage with their grandparents. Now your aging parents will be able to read bedtime stories, play games, help with homework, or simply be available to to talk at the press of a widget. Whether you live across the country or across town from your folks, you are allowing your kids and your parents to forge an entirely new bond for themselves.
  2. See above, but think of yourself, and even your spouse. While you may be too old for bedtime stories, perhaps closing out an evening or two weekly with a (virtual) face-to-face goodnight or recap of your day will bring a renewed closeness with Mom or Dad. Nobody enjoys hearing from you as much as your parents do. They want to hear from your spouse or partner, too.
  3. If your parents have trouble with their mobility, or if you are separated by miles, imagine being able to spend a few moments of your holidays together, virtually: opening birthday or Christmas gifts and getting to enjoy real-time reactions, lighting Hanukkah candles, and more. I know of a family who FaceTimed their elderly parents into their Passover Seder last year. It was a resounding success for all involved and brought the family members on both ends much joy.
  4. You and I know that these software applications are fairly user-friendly, and yet people of our parents’ generation may not have had reason to have engaged in the use of many online tools for communication, other than email. This boost of knowledge (and confidence) is valuable to the elderly in so many ways.
  5. With a renewed ability to reach out and engage with family members, your parents will likely feel how loved and needed they are. Depression is such a problem for the elderly population. Simply having a need to shower and dress daily improves anyone’s mood.

So get in touch with Mom or Dad today and figure out which software download will work for your family. You may be in for a few minutes of frustration while you get both sides set up, but I assure you, the end results are well worth any potential (and very minimal) aggravation.

As always, I am here to help you and your family navigate the waters of communication during the challenging time of parental aging.

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2017.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.

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Are You a Caretaker? Make Your Life Seem Calmer in Less Than 30 Minutes a Day

By now we all understand why the term “sandwich generation” was coined. It’s an apt description of living life as the main caregiver for two generations, one above and one below. This person is sandwiched in-between his or her two lives, caring for aging parents while still struggling with the more traditional and already challenging routines associated with being a parent, a worker, a spouse, partner, friend, etc.

Sometimes I like to articulate the role in a slightly different manner, to aid in expressing just how pressure-filled being a caretaker in the sandwich-generation truly is: I think of this person as the bread of the sandwich — the very stabilizer of the entire family.

Today I’d like to discuss adding yet one more responsibility to the caregiver’s routine: care of self. It is the No. 1 ingredient for long-term energy and success, and without prioritizing yourself, if only for a few moments each day, you will surely attain burnout in no time — and that’s bad for everyone involved.

So consider yourself as important to your weekly calendar, to-do list or daily activities as the other family members who fill these spaces, and save a few for slots for yourself. You will be amazed by how spending a serene few moments alone, focused on your own well-being, can lift your spirits and rejuvenate your energy, and better get you through the stresses of your days.

Here are five calming ideas to get you started:

  1. Grab a drink. No, not that kind. I am talking about a frothy and ridiculously-priced coffee or tea from a place such as Starbucks. There is something about treating ourselves well that is rejuvenating. With specialty coffee houses located seemingly on every corner, most with drive-throughs, this is a simple stop to brighten any day. (They also have cold, bottled drinks and snacks if coffee and tea aren’t your thing.)
  2. Go to the library. When was the last time you spent an hour reading the latest issue of your favorite magazine — in peace and quiet? Oh, and it’s a completely free outing. County libraries typically stock the latest issues of all kinds of major periodicals. While they are available for check-out to library cardholders, anyone is welcome to come in and peruse the shelves and sit and read amidst the quietness. Bring your book, if you prefer. Just try it.
  3. Take a walk around the block. I learned this tip from a writer friend of mine, who swears by it as her singular remedy for head-clearing, creativity awakening and energy cleansing.
  4. Meditate for 10 minutes. I like the downloadable app called Headspace, which talks you right through 10 minutes of daily meditation. It may be used on any digital device. Or, check your preferred app store for a similar program.
  5. Soak in a hot bath or shower. It just feels good, and that’s what we’re aiming for here — simple ways to regroup in just a few moments’ time. Just as your children have scheduled bath times, perhaps you may look forward to your own 30 minutes of escape each evening

Here’s an extra tip, and it’s a vital one to accomplish most of the other five, as well as any of your own: Learn to accept help, then go out and find some, if need be. We all need to be able to phone a neighbor or a friend, or even a reliable sitter, who can come be with the kids or the parents when we need a 15-minute break. “I have got to get out of here to clear my head. I’ll bring you a Starbucks if I can drop off the kids with you for 30 minutes?” Who would say no to that.  Tell your spouse or partner how helpful it would be to you if you could get even 20 minutes of silence each night, then go read in the tub, uninterrupted. Our friends and loved ones don’t know how to help us if we don’t speak up and ask first.

I hope that adding these small snippets of time for yourself into your days can be of overall value to you. Please try it for a month and see. I would love to hear your results.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.




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Surprise! Paying an Unannounced Visit to Your Aging Parent and Caregiver

Have you ever dropped in unannounced, just to check on your aging parent and his or her caregiver?

If not, you should.

There is so much more to true daily caregiving beyond just feeding, dressing and medicating a patient. Environment is everything. Does the caregiver speak compassionately to Mom throughout the day? (Does she speak to Mom at all?) Is there light music playing in the background to elevate the mood at home or in Mom’s room in the facility, or is the caregiver glued to her cellphone and texting while blasting endless angry hours of daytime television at your dad to keep him “occupied?” How often are the sheets changed? How often does your parent get outside for some sunshine and fresh air? Where did they go on their last outing? How do they pass the time?

Don’t feel bad if you don’t know the answers to these questions, but do make it a point to try to find out more about the daily atmosphere in which your parent is living. If distance or other physical obstacles prohibit you from dropping by, enlist the aid of a friend or relative, or even a clergyperson who lives in the area.

If the thought of showing up unannounced on anyone’s doorstep , even at the home of your own parents, makes you break out in hives, then phone ahead without much notice— perhaps just prior to hopping in the car and heading over.  The whole point is to see what the atmosphere is like on any given day and at any given hour. Feel free to bring Mom’s favorite snack or beverage, a plant or flowers to brighten the home, a box of tea, etc., as an ice-breaker. “May I pick anything up for you and Mom while I’m still out?” is a friendly and non-threatening conversation starter.

What to look for when dropping in unannounced on your aging parent and caregiver:

  1. Glance around the main living area to see whether it’s clean and tidy, or whether yesterday’s lunch dishes are still stacked in the sink (or worse, haven’t even made it to the sink). Dad’s bathroom should be wiped up for his safety and sanitation, his sheets should be clean and fresh—certainly not soiled. Above all, your parent should appear to be groomed and wearing clean clothes. Other signs of trouble: Extreme body odor, greasy, unkempt hair, overgrown fingernails, raw, angry skin in need of care, bad breath.
  2. On a similar note, is your parent dressed, or is Mom hanging out in her bathrobe and nightie at 3:00 p.m.? Daily routine is important to us all, and simply being allowed the dignity of ritual washing and grooming, along with fresh clothing, can make for a happier day and a greater feeling of productivity in any human being.
  3. As you sit and make conversation with your parent, take a look at his or her view of the world. Can Dad reach his books and his iPad from his chair? What surrounds him to help him stay occupied? Can he look out the window, or at photos of family members? Can he reach the telephone if he wants to make a call or to answer one made to him? Make any necessary adjustments while you’re there—a pillow, a handmade blanket from the guestroom, a photo album brought to your parent to peruse … these can all improve anyone’s mood by surrounding them with love.
  4. Chat with your parent.  While still keeping the visit upbeat, ask Mom directly how she feels about the quality of the care she’s receiving. While it’s true that you may have to take some of what she says with a grain of salt thanks to the effects of aging, if there are any complaints, you should hear them out and see if they ring true to you.
  5. Don’t forget to engage in conversation with the caregiver herself. Is she friendly? Does she seem put out by your visit? A true professional would welcome the added brightness this visit brings to her patient’s otherwise ordinary day. It is okay to ask about excursions and doctor’s visits. In fact, you have every reason to do so. Use this as a springboard to better ongoing communication between the two of you. If the caregiver pushes back, she may not be easy to get along with, and that could mean that your parent also has trouble getting his or her own needs met by this person. This is also a great opportunity to see how the caregiver presents herself outwardly in other ways. Is she dressed in clean, professional clothing? Does she reek of cigarette smoke? Perhaps your dad has had to give up smoking. Can you trust this match? We all have good and bad days, so just take this visit as what it is—a welfare check on your aging parent.  Of course, should you see anything truly alarming, deal with it immediately. Don’t forget, always listen to your gut …

If you need any help sorting through these or other issues you encounter while navigating the difficult waters of eldercare, please reach out to me.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.





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Your Aging Parents and Medications: Putting Systems in Place Makes Everyone’s Day go Better

If you are an adult caregiver for your aging parent(s) and you have your own family, job and chores that you need to work around, then you are well aware of the stresses of being a member of today’s sandwich generation. One of the first hurdles you will face is worrying about Mom and Dad’s medications. Are they being refilled and picked up on time? Is Dad taking his high blood pressure medication? Does Mom remember to take her thyroid pill one hour prior to breakfast? You likely find yourself worrying about this very thing during meetings at work or while tending to your children’s care. Getting your parents’ medications properly organized can help alleviate a great deal of this stress. Below, are some ideas:

  1. Put together a list of each parent’s current medications, including the name, whether it’s generic or brand, dose, time(s) of day it’s taken, and any special instructions. Type each list up using an easily-accessible document editor such as Word or Excel, and then store them in more than one cloud space. That way, you cannot only access the lists at a moment’s notice, but you can share them with any health professional who may need it. If one doesn’t have a Dropbox account, perhaps he or she uses OneNote or Box? Additionally, favorite these lists under your own main cloud source, allowing them to be viewable without an Internet connection. You never know …
  2. Print the list and tape to the front of a kitchen cabinet at your parents’ home (or have someone who lives close by to them do so for you). Keep a copy of both lists in your vehicle and your folks’ vehicles as well (if they are still driving).
  3. Talk to someone at the pharmacy where your parents fill their medications and arrange to have all of Mom and Dad’s prescriptions put on automatic refill. Additionally, ask to have your phone number, along with your parents’ number(s), added to the pharmacy’s notification service. You will be notified not only whenever a prescription is ready for pickup, but also when there is an issue with a refill, such as a denial from the insurance provide, or the need to phone a doctor to authorize a new refill. (Note: This is a good time to transfer all prescriptions to the same pharmacy so that the pharmacist can be on the lookout for any previously overlooked dangerous drug interactions.)
  4. If you’re going to help oversee Mom and Dad’s safety by putting together their weekly meds, you may as well put together a month’s worth of daily pill bundles for each parent. Buy a distinctively-colored specialty pill box for each parent (easily found online through a key word search or at a local apothecary, near your town’s hospitals), then label “Mom” and “Dad” on the respective receptacles. Fill accordingly.
  5. If your parent or parents do not have 24-hour caretakers, how can you be certain that Mom and Dad are taking their medications? First off, you are all now set up for a greater likelihood of success. You know that the medications are being refilled, have been collected, and you know that these prescriptions have been carefully doled out as per their written instructions. During the first weeks of your new system, come check on the pill packs yourself (if that is possible), or have a trusted neighbor or friend of your folks come do it for you and report back. You can also help Mom and Dad set up recurring timers on their Smartphones or tablets, or you could purchase specialty timers, even vibrating alert watches, developed for just this use.


Still, there is absolutely nothing to replace watchfulness on a caretaker’s part, as medication hoarding and stashing—either to take all at once later or to throw away without taking at all—is an all-too-real problem for many families of the elderly.

I hope that this list provides you with a little bit of guidance and comfort moving forward in caring for your own aging parents. I’d love to hear if you put any of these ideas into action in your own family, or whether you have other helpful suggestions.

If I may be of assistance to you, please reach out to me here on my “contact me” page at any time.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.



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Having “The Talk” With Your Aging Parents: Pick up the phone and do it today


Last week I checked in with a friend from whom I’d heard neither hide nor hair in months.  “I was worried,” I told him. My friend went on to explain to me that he and his wife were feeling incredibly overwhelmed and had not had time to connect socially, as their days and nights suddenly revolved around the care of his ailing parents and their ongoing affairs. As if that weren’t enough, this friend and his wife are parents to their own three children, who range in age from first grade through high school, and both parties work full time.  “We’ve been feeling very ‘sandwiched,’” he said (though I’m still not sure whether or not that was a joke).

“What about siblings? What financial arrangements did your parents have laid out for this time in their lives?” I asked

“None, it turns out. We’re all just figuring it out as we go along …” was the pained answer my friend offered. His only other sibling lives across the country with her own family. Their parents, who are in their 70s, had never planned for the inevitable day in which they would require some assistance. There were no financial arrangements in place, no living will for either parent, no retirement savings, no nothing. My friend was trying to stay afloat amidst his simmering anger and shock, having basically doubled his family in size as well as in responsibilities, practically overnight.

“I mean, everyone gets old, right? Can you believe this?” he wanted to know.

I sure can.

Seems that for whatever reason—in my opinion a mix of both pride and fear—many of us in the baby boomer generation have aging parents who will either never make plans regarding their own twilight years, or if they do, will fail to discuss them with their adult children, who therefore will be working blind when that day comes. No one likes to think about death or the terrible possibility of a prolonged hospital stay and/or illness, and so perhaps it seems easier to put those thoughts away until tomorrow (and then the tomorrow after that …). And for those folks who never managed to save enough money for those later years? Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. While it is painful to have to ask one’s child to help out, it is a great deal kinder to warn those adult children of what is ahead for them, so that they can get a plan in place. Your children love you and will forgive your fallacies. We are all imperfect beings.

There is never a guarantee that tomorrow is coming for anyone. So, adult children with aging parents, if you have yet to hear about such end-of-life planning from your own parents, you need to make a phone call.

This evening after you’ve put your own kids to bed, please call your parent(s) and have The Talk. Here are a few key topics you should discuss:

  • Do your parents have an updated will? Tell Mom and Dad that you don’t care to know what’s in it, nor who gets what. You’re only concerned about where you can find it. If the answer is no, there is no will, then find a reputable attorney who specializes in estate planning and bring your parents to this person.
  • Do your parents have a power of attorney for their health care? In other words, can someone other than your mother legally make decisions for Dad in the event that he’s incapacitated? This is so important as both parents age. While you’re on the topic, ask your parents how they feel about end-of-life issues, as painful as this may be. (Would Mom like to be kept on a ventilator past a certain number of days, etc.)
  • What are your parents’ long-term wishes on moving from their current home? Where would each parent live in the event of losing the other?
  • Finally, and this one is perhaps the toughest for most families, ask your parents about their finances. How is their debt load? Is their home paid off? Where do they keep their important paperwork? Do they have a banker or financial representative with whom you can connect when the time comes? This is not about judgement but about planning—ideally taking stress off of everyone by getting ahead of a crisis.

If you get a reaction along the lines of, “Can we talk about this tomorrow?” along with a “promise,” go ahead and schedule a time for the discussion and then follow through with the conversation.  It’s on you at this point to get the information your entire family depends upon.

I realize that this topic, as are so many of our more important familial conversations, is rife with feelings. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time, via my “Contact me” page.

Wishing you all the best,


Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.




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Show Mom and Dad How Much You Care … With a Package!

There’s nothing quite as thrilling as receiving a package in the mail. Even if you already know what’s inside, there’s still that sense of exhilaration as you race to cut open the packaging and get inside the wrapping as quickly as possible.

Last week a friend of mine was telling me about all the packages she’d received for her recent birthday, from friends all around the country. Each gift was a surprise, and each brought her immense joy. She was stunned that people took the time out of their lives to remember her in this most thoughtful manner. This friend described to me the thrill she’d felt from the moment of finding each package at her doorstep through tearing into the package at hand.

All of this got me to thinking: What a simple tool we have within reach to bring happiness to someone we love. Why not start with our parents? For those adult children who even still may not have the easiest time communicating in words with their aging parents, a “caring package” can do the talking.

I realize that the thought of gift-giving seizes many of us with fear; but this is not so much a box of gifts as it is an unexpected package, full of thoughtfulness. Think about your mom or your dad … the best times you’ve shared together and the stories they’ve told. Think about their favorite places, trips, foods, memories … Think about your own family, the hobbies your kids enjoy, and the trips you’ve taken together. These are all clues from which you can gather. The treasures you put together for your parent can be as inexpensive as hand-drawn pictures from your children to their grandmother, or can cost as much as you’d like to spend—a plane ticket, perhaps. The point is to the ignite joy in your parents, a joy they can revisit each time they look at any of the mementos reminding them of the love and care that went into creating their packages.

Here are just a few ideas to spark your own creativity:

  • Ask your child(ren) to draw a picture of themselves, your family, the family pet, etc.
  • Take a quick family photo with your Smartphone, then print it yourself, or have it printed at your local copy store. You can even upload a batch of photos to an online photo store and have an entire photo album printed, so that Mom and Dad can keep abreast of the latest goings on at your house
  • Does Dad have a dog? Enclose a few homemade dog biscuits, or a hand-painted “man’s best friend” picture frame
  • Show Mom you remember the little things by including her favorite candies (only if she is not on a special diet, please)
  • Enclose a pre-paid card for the local movie theater, so that you can treat the folks to a movie, “on you”
  • Order and include a postcard from a place you all visited as a family when you were young
  • Create a coupon book for Mom, with coupons for a girls’ day out, mani-pedi, or just a visit twice a month
  • Write a hand-written thank you note for all your parent(s) have done for you

What if your mom or dad happen to live in the same town as you, or, heaven forbid, what if your parent is not always as lucid as he or she once was? In my opinion, parents who live close by still deserve (and love!) surprises, and as for the second scenario, this is all the more reason to send a caring basket, box or even a bushel . I’m pretty sure that the acts involved will be a helpful exercise for you, the adult child, and you never know what spark may be lit within the heart of your parent upon receipt of this wonderful gift.

I’m always here to bounce around ideas for better ways of navigating the treacherous waters of life within the sandwich generation.

All the best,


Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.

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A Lovely Match: Senior Pets and Senior Citizens

Want to know a major health risk for the elderly?


Loneliness leads to health problems that manifest in every physical way, not to mention the fact that feelings of aloneness can, over time, take away anyone’s desire to stay well.

Even your aging parent is at risk. Those of us who are currently among the sandwich generation do our best to see to our folks’ needs, but we have our own lives—jobs, children, partners/spouses, households to run—and to think that we be everything to everyone is unfair to all of us.

But this is not news.

What your parent needs is a constant companion … someone who makes the days seem sunnier, the air cleaner, the lure of a walk around the block more appealing.

You guessed it. I’m talking about a four-legged companion. Spring is the perfect time to help your mom or dad find just the right pet to love.

Scott, are you out of your MIND?” you might be thinking right about now, followed by some thoughts along these lines: “Think of the upkeep! The expense! Mom is going to want to take the cat to the vet every time it sneezes!”

How about we think of the bright side instead, and of these proven facts: pets make for good medicine. In the case of dogs, they get their owners out of the house, into the fresh air, every single day. I’ve have more than one client tell me that were it not for the comfort their “best pal” provides, they might not even have the drive to get out of bed and face the day, much less with a smile. (It’s hard to be in a bad mood when a dog is wagging its tale and acting its ever-goofy self.) Plus, it’s nice to feel needed, which for many aging people is the greatest medicine in the world.

Pets show love and adoration to their owners. They love us whether we are young, old or frail. For folks whose own health precludes their getting out and walking even a tiny dog, their loving tone and soothing hand is more than enough comfort for an indoor, adult cat.

Your parents could very well still make wonderful pet parents for the right pet, most notably for a pet in need of a foster home due to its own tragic family circumstances—perhaps the loss of its own human caregiver.

Senior animals can be the perfect match for senior citizens. There are human volunteers who devote their time to placing animals with decent caregivers. This is where you, the adult child, can put your Google-sleuthing skills into play. Check Facebook and the usual online search engines for pet fostering or pet adoption opportunities for senior citizens in your parents’ state. If you don’t find a direct match, send out queries to those you do find who happen to be in nearby states, as often, there are “angels” who are willing to drive a pet several hours to its new home. If your mom or dad has a penchant for a particular breed, join the Facebook group for said animal type. There may also be a local meetup group (found at nearby, dedicated to in-person playdates for group members—really, for the pets, none of whom drive. Think of it all as “pet networking,” realizing that someone within these volunteer networks will become aware of new situations as they arise and perhaps be able to connect you with the right channels.

No, pet care is not cheap, but here again, a little research can go a long way. One example is this organization, Pets for the Elderly, which will pay the cost of adoption through its nationally-affiliated shelters. The program, which began in 1992, has since placed more than 57,000 dogs and cats within the elderly population since that time. PAWS’ Seniors for Seniors is dedicated to bringing senior citizens together with senior dogs and cats (over age seven), at a very low cost. The Humane Society’s national homepage is but one organization that lists ongoing low-cost options for pet care by state.

These are the leads I came up with after spending just a few minutes on my own computer, seeking out keywords such as “seniors,” “animals,” “low-cost,” “fostering,” and “adoption.” Try it this weekend and see how happy it makes your own mom and dad.

If I can be of value to you and your own family, please be in touch.

Warmest regards,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.







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Look Before You Click


February 28, 2016

For as many times as I’ve discussed malware and phishing scams here on this blog, even I almost fell for one of these computer-hacking scams just the other day.

There I was, hurriedly working through my emails, when I saw an alert from PayPal letting me know that my account was in danger of being placed on a credit hold status, potentially affecting my ability to both make purchases and accept payments for invoices sent to others.

Well, I had just made a purchase using my PayPal account; that much was true. But doesn’t PayPal deduct my payments directly from my bank account, as per the settings within my account? And I know full well that there is a perfectly good credit card connected to my account as backup payment method so this did not compute for me. As far as I knew, my recent transaction had been paid for and was soon to be on its way to me.

The email read, “Contact us by March 5, 2016 at (link to email) or (link to phone), in order to avoid interruption in your PayPal service.” I took a deep breath and felt certain of the one thing not to do: I knew not to press either link. No way, no how. If this was malware, and I suspected it was, there would be no coming back from clicking through either link. That is how a virus is delivered to my hard drive.

A little more deep breathing … then I told myself that I could handle this. First, I logged into my Dropbox safely, via an open browser tab on my computer and not through any links in that email. Looking around, I saw no alerts. More important, I saw that the funds from my most recent transaction, my first overseas transaction for whatever that’s worth, had indeed been withdrawn from my bank account.

Next, I logged into my bank account. No alerts there either.

Feeling more certain that this was a scam artist at work, I looked carefully at the questionable email. What is it I always tell readers is the telltale dead giveaway of an email scammer?

Typos. Ridiculous typos and/or horrific grammatical and/or punctuation offenses.

This email only contained only one, but it was a biggie: the return email address was: Everything else in that letter was perfect, right down to the PayPal logo.


Looking back, I feel a bit ridiculous that I ever considered the possibility of this being a factual customer service request. As I have been sure to remind everyone as often as possible, large companies, particularly financial institutions, do not send emails; they send snail mail. However, we are all prone to momentary panic when it comes to our credit and our finances, and that’s how dishonest people have come to make a living off of our hard drives and our contact lists.

Sometimes, everyone needs a little talking down from that mountain. We all go there, no matter how centered, how grounded we may be 99 percent of the time. Stress wreaks havoc on our emotions and our thought processes, and there is little more stressful than running a household, parenting, and looking out for your parent’s (or parents’) well-being concurrently. If I may be of help to you or someone you know in structuring a healthy family discourse, please reach out to me.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.





























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How to Help Keep your Aging Parent(s) Nourished


Nourishment. It’s something most of us take for granted, in terms of our ability to get to a grocery store or farmer’s market at leisure, as well as our ability to pay for the food that keeps our bodies fueled. Besides, with our busy lives, it’s unlikely that we’d forget to feed ourselves or our children, spouses or significant others, right? Mealtimes are worked into a part of our daily routine.

The same cannot always be said for the elderly, unfortunately. For whatever reason, be it an inability to easily shop or drive, physical difficulties that make cooking a challenge, forgetfulness, depression, loss of income, decreased hunger due to medication, illness, etc., I think we all recognize that mealtime just isn’t the same when we’re talking about cooking for a party of one. It can be downright lonely, and so mealtime often goes by the wayside. Nonetheless, food is fuel. Here are some ideas to help keep your aging mother or father fed, fueled, and hopefully in fighting form:

  1. Grocery delivery

Don’t even ask first. That way there will be no arguing nor any embarrassment. If you don’t live in the same city as your loved one, call a delivery service and have essentials delivered regularly. Stumped? Put in a call to the manager of the grocery store nearest your mom or dad and ask which delivery service is currently available in the area.

  1. Keep it easy

Remember that people who live by themselves, especially those who are slowing down, do not generally enjoy the cleanup or the trouble involved with the cooking process. Send easy-to-prepare, nutrient-dense foods in order to make sure they’ll be eaten. (Of course, adhere to any dietary restrictions.) It’s okay to send some pre-packaged foods by manufacturers you trust, in addition to an array of packaged protein drinks. However, this nifty microwave steamer makes tasty and healthy meals in just three minutes out of your favorite fresh protein and a side of vegetables, and at this price, it’s certainly worth sending one to your own parent for a test-run.

  1. Consider hiring a personal chef

This website could be a good place to find answers to related questions and/or begin your search. (For example, this is where I learned that a private chef usually lives in with one family and serves that family’s needs in entirety, down to grocery shopping. A personal chef works for several families or clients at once, serving different and specific needs.

  1. Invite Mom or Dad along for dinner, wherever that may be

Who doesn’t enjoy getting out for a good meal? Sure, it may be out of the way, but next time you and your significant other or the family are having a meal out, don’t forget to include the person who probably gets out the least these days, your parent. Better yet, schedule a standing lunch or dinner date for yourself and your Mom or Dad. If you don’t live in the same city, utilize technology and dine together from the comfort of both of your kitchen tables while breaking bread together virtually. Sure, this may take a little bit of planning and some patience on your part initially, but soon enough your aging parent will likely be looking forward to meals once again. (I’m betting you will, too.)

Do you have any other sticky situations within your sandwich generation family that I can help you with? Please contact me so I may be of assistance.

All the best,

Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.


Posted in Aging, health and wellness, nutrition and diet, The Middle Ages | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on How to Help Keep your Aging Parent(s) Nourished