Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Geoffrey Owens and the Plight of Older Workers

Ageism is a bitch!

Just ask Geoffrey Owens, me, or any of the thousands of older adults who have been relegated to lower paying jobs in the latter stages of life because someone doesn't see the value of our employment stock.

For those of you who don't know the story----Geoffrey Owens was spotted working at Trader Joe's by a customer who used to watch him play the character "Elvin" on the Cosby Show.  The customer, who posted a picture of Owens on his social media page, said he was surprised to see someone he had been accustomed to seeing on TV now working at a grocery store.  What happened to this baby boomer actor at his Trader Joe's job is a shame but the former Cosby Show cast member was able to speak out about his plight before a nationally televised audience.  However, the majority of the rest of us are forced to remain silent because we are your "everyday people" who've worked hard all of our lives and just want to continue to be productive and well-paid before retirement.  As a result of being on shows like Good Morning America, The View and CNN with Don Lemon, Owens has been able to put himself back in the spotlight with some new job opportunities.  Kudos for him but, let me repeat, he was given a platform because of his "celebrity status." And then, on top of that, he had the nerve to say ALL jobs were basically the same.  Was he just acting for the cameras or did he really see his job at Trader Joe's as equal to that of a Communications Specialist for a Fortune 500 Company?  Perhaps he meant "worth ethic" so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

The truth of the matter is many of us are being shoved aside for younger, but not necessarily brighter, employees.  Corporate America must take some of the responsibility for pitting the young against the old. Many companies don't want to pay for experience. They would rather hire someone with the ability to do the job for less money than pay top dollar to a more experienced older employee. Some businesses aren't as interested in quality as they are in the bottom line: PROFIT.

And then you have companies like Amazon who prey on those of us who are eager to work to make ends meet by offering $11/hr positions to work in one of their warehouses (NC).  The opportunities for the higher paying jobs don't come through the regular channels---and if they do, they are looking for someone younger to fill them.

Young people, eager to get a foot in the door, often times will accept less money and learn just enough to move on. There are others who don't even make it through the training period and then there are those who don't show up for work at all (known as "ghosting.")  What some businesses fail to realize is knowledge and years of experience go a long way in keeping them from making the same mistakes over and over again.

According to a researcher from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, potential employers are more likely to discriminate against older workers. Johanna Lahey sent out 4,000 resumes, of people between the ages of 35 and 62, to firms in Boston, MA and St. Petersburg, FL. Her findings indicated younger workers were 40 percent more likely to be called back for an interview than an older worker, defined as 50 years and older. Furthermore, she cited the top ten reasons why employers said OTHER employers might be reluctant to hire older workers:

1) Shorter career potential
2) Lack of energy
3) Cost of health and life insurance and pensions
4) Less flexible/adaptable
5) Higher salary expectations
6) Health risks/absences
7) Knowledge and skills obsolescence
8) Block career path of younger workers
9) Suspicion about competence
10) Fear of discrimination lawsuit

The bottom line is older adults are living longer, healthier lives, have updated our technology skill sets in order to be competitive in today's job market. PLUS, we have the clear advantage when it comes to something called "soft skills."

Corporate America must be willing to recognize the pool of talented applicants no matter how old they are and the general public and (FOX News)  needs to stop the job shaming!

Friday, August 03, 2018

Baby Boomers Wanted for Marijuana Survey

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), marijuana use among baby boomers between the ages of 55-64 has jumped a whopping 455 percent!  Thankfully, I am NOT in that statistic but it shows that smoking pot isn't necessarily "a thing of the past" when it comes to the baby boomer generation. We were known for becoming the first generation to become openly infatuated with, and addicted to, illegal drugs.

And get this:  Marijuana use among people 65 years old and older is up by more than 300 percent!

Certainly, the fact that marijuana is legal for recreational use in 9 states and legal for medical purposes in 30 states contributes to this dramatic increase.

With this in mind, award-winning senior living designer, Lisa Cini, has created a survey to determine if and how today's baby boomers and seniors are using marijuana.  She says the information she gathers anonymously will help her and her team understand if and how marijuana use among the baby boomer generation should be accounted for in the living environments they create for us. 

I've already taken the survey so even if you aren't currently a "weed head" you can still help her out with your responses.  Here is the link:

Oh, and in case you didn't are the 9 states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use:  Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island and Washington, DC.

These are the states where marijuana use is NOT legal for any purpose:  North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana, Kansas, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Millennials are Going to the Dogs

We've all heard the saying, "A dog is man's best friend." Most, if not all, baby boomer dog owners will tell you their beloved animal is a part of their family.  Their pets are so loved that upwards of $60 billion was spent on them in 2016, according to American Pet Products Association.

It's easy to associate baby boomers with dogs for a number of reasons:  

  • They believe pets are a good source of affection
  • Interacting with a pet can help them relax
  • Owning a pet can be beneficial to their own health
  • They help ease the pain of divorce or the loss of a loved one
  • There is a feeling of unconditional love from their pet
  • They don't come across as disrespectful or unappreciative like their Millennial children might be
But according to a new survey, it appears Millennials are going to the dogs even more so than baby boomers. According to statistics released by Just Right by Purina, 56 percent of those surveyed say they have purchased birthday cakes for their dogs, and 77 percent said they feed their dogs before they feed themselves. The survey also found dogs have helped 15 percent of Millennial men gain the attention of the opposite sex, while half of all women surveyed said they preferred time with their dog over time with their partner and/or other family members.

And on a side note here, there also appears to be some differences between the way baby boomers and millennials treat their dogs.  One glaring difference, according to the blog:  "Millennials are all about safety (combined with style) for their pups.  It's rare to see a millennial dog lover whose back seat isn't equipped with a fancy dog booster seat and safety restraints.  (Meanwhile) baby boomers are completely unphased going for a ride with their pup free to roam the front seat and able to stick his neck out the window for a good breeze."

I've seen that.  Have you?  Or perhaps you are in the guilty party?

Another one is how Millennials will create Instagram accounts for their adorable doggies, while baby boomer dog owners are still trying to figure out how Instagram works.

Not only is there a changing of the guard in the workplace with Millennials, but they also appear to be changing the rules of pet ownership. 

About the Survey
Research Now SSI conducted an online survey on behalf of Just Right by Purina among adults ages 18+ who are dog owners and have some responsibility over the well-being of their pet. A total of 1,010 responses were collected between March 26 and March 29, 2018. The online surveys are not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What's Your Death Wish

Death, as we all know, is inevitable and the older we get the closer it comes.  The question is:  How prepared are you when you've taken your last breath?

As I pointed out in a previous blog post, the majority of us will die without a Will in place.  According to Gallup News, "Americans' likelihood of having a will depends largely on their age and socioeconomic status. Sixty-eight percent of those aged 65 and older have a will, compared with just 14% of those younger than age 30. Of Americans whose annual household income is $75,000 or greater, 55% have a will, compared with 31% of those with incomes of less than $30,000. And nonwhite adults (28%) are about half as likely as white adults (51%) to have a will."

Yes, death is an uncomfortable subject but if you want to make sure your affairs are taken care of properly, it is a conversation you must have with family and/or friends (if you have no living relatives or any you want involved in handling your estate).

Here are some suggestions to consider:

Designate someone to be in charge of handling your insurance policies, annuities, bank accounts, etc.  It could be a lawyer or loved one.  Make sure all of your account information can be accessed and you have designated beneficiaries.  If you've been contemplating making changes to your beneficiaries, make sure you do so while you still have the capacity to do so.

If you become critically (or terminally) ill and can no longer take care of yourself, do you want to remain in your home with the help of a caregiver or do you want to be moved to Hospice or a nursing home?

Do you want to be cremated or buried?  That's important to know because there is a major expense difference between the two.  Do you already have a plot picked out or is there a family plot or will one have to be purchased?

If you choose burial, be clear on the cemetery of choice.  Maybe you want to go back to your hometown.  If you opt for cremation, what do you want done with your ashes?    

When my daughter's father passed away last year, she was his only living relative other than his brother (who couldn't be located for several days).  He left no Will so, since she was responsible for the expenses with the funeral home, she chose cremation because it was cheaper.

Do you want a church service with a public viewing of your remains or do you want a private memorial for just family and close friends. Do you want your funeral to have a theme?  Perhaps, you'd like everyone to come dressed in 1970's attire.  (If you're cremated you can have a memorial at any time of the year).  Perhaps you don't want anything at all.  If that's the case, make it known so you can spare your family from conflict---because believe me, there will be conflict when an older loved one dies, especially if there's money and other valuables involved.

If there's someone else not mentioned here that you'd like to share as a suggestion for your death wish, please feel free to do so,

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Looking at Mom in a Different Way This Mother's Day

A year ago on Mother's Day I wrote a blog post titled Some Mother-Daughter Relationships are Complicated  In it, I talked about the challenges I faced with my mother throughout her life.  I wrote about her negative behavior, which I thought was some type of mental illness and our fractured relationship, which has been that way as long as I can remember.   

But today when I went to church and listened to the Pastor's message, I began to see my mother in a different light.  I think I gave her too much credit for knowing exactly what motherhood meant. That would have to be difficult if you had no one to nurture you, especially since my aunt (who was five years older than my mother) always took credit for raising her since their mother was dead and as the Pastor pointed out, we all know there is no training manual on How to be a Mother.  It is on-the-job-training so if you aren't trained properly, then you will go through a baptism by fire and hope you come out unscathed. Personally, I don't think my mother ever came out of the fire but I do believe she gave what she could with what she had mentally.

As I reflect back on my life, there are things I clearly remember about my mother going to bat for me as a child. When I was in elementary school, they used to do something called "tracking."  That's where you separate kids by their academic abilities.  When it was time for second grade, I noticed that all of the kids I thought were smart (and white) were all in Miss Malone's class.  I, on the other hand, was put in Miss Glendenning's class with the average kids (most of whom were black).  I went home crying because I wanted to be in Miss Malone's class and felt I deserved to be there.  My mother took me to school the next day, met with the Principal and the next thing I knew I was transferred into Miss Malone's class.  That was MY mama's doing I'm sure.

Another incident occurred when I thought I should be in the 2nd grade Bluebirds reading group (for the BEST readers) but I was in the Redbirds (a step below).  I complained to my mother.  She made another trip to the school and I was moved up.  That was my mama's doing AGAIN.  And I'm proud to say, she didn't live to regret her decision to fight for me.

Since I went to a neighborhood school within walking distance, many times she and other parents would rotate and open up their kitchens as the cafeteria and become the "lunch mom" for us.  She treated my friends as well as if they were her own---and yes, they got yelled at and spanked too!

She was active in the PTA and never missed any school events or performances I was involved in.  She made sure I did my homework before I could go outside or turn on the TV.

Before every High School Speech tournament, I would practice my Original Oratory in front of my mom.  She didn't offer much feedback but she did listen.

When I went away to college, she would call me every year on my birthday at 3:11 p.m. to remind me that's the time I was born. She did that for many, many years and then all of a sudden just stopped one year shortly after my dad passed away in 1983.  She also came to my Homecoming Weekend to support me in my quest to become the Homecoming Queen (I was 1st runner up).  And what I remember from that was, she rolled her eyes at the person who won.  But that's who she was.

She and my dad made me go to church every Sunday and I always remember her telling me to "look up and know where your help comes from."

My mother was bold and brash.  She didn't take anybody's mess and once you got on her bad side, you stayed there forever.  She wasn't the most forgiving person and she didn't bite her tongue about anything.

So instead of using this Mother's Day to reflect on my mother's negative qualities, I choose to remember the good things she did.  This is a part of my healing---letting go of the anger and bitterness I've felt and choosing, instead, to reflect on her redeeming qualities.  Just as the Pastor said, "moms give what they can in the best way they know how."  And why should I blame her if she just didn't know how to give it the way I felt I should receive it?

I may not have gotten the Mom I wanted but I have to believe God gave me the one I needed.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

There are Good People in Trump's Version of America

I wanted to share something that happened to me recently because it restored my faith in the decency of human beings---despite the fact that we are living in a nightmare called Trumpism.

During lunchtime on Friday I sat in the food court debating what I wanted to eat.  I never made a decision so my lunch period came and left without me eating.  An hour or so later, I was looking through my purse and realized I didn't have my wallet.  I assumed I left it at home.  I didn't dare want to think or believe that someone at work stole it.  Besides, most of the people I work with are retirees and white and they probably have more money than I do.  Our job is probably "spending money" for many of them.

By the time I got home I was exhausted and ready to wind down so the lost wallet never entered my mind for the duration of the evening.  But on Saturday morning, I woke up with the wallet on my mind.  I immediately went downstairs to see if I could find it.  It wasn't around.  Then I went out to my husband's truck, which I've been driving to work , to see if it had fallen on the floor or something.  It wasn't there.

So then I thought about the last place I remembered having my wallet and it was on Thursday at Kroger.  I called their customer service and,sure enough,  the wallet was there.  Someone had turned it in.  So after working out at the gym, I swung by the grocery store and picked it up.  And guess what?  NOTHING HAD BEEN TAKEN.  I had about $47, all of my credit cards, my social security card and some other momentos and it was all there.  At that point I couldn't hold back the tears because I was just thinking about the honesty and kindness of a perfect stranger.  Even if they had taken the money and left everything else, I would not have been upset.  Money can be replaced.  Credit cards and social security cards can too although that can be somewhat of a hassle.  I asked the customer service person if they had gotten the name of the person who turned it in but they did not.

What I experienced today is the best of my community.  People looking out  for one another whether they actually know each other or not.  What I experienced reminds me of  something I say all the time:  "We are blessed to be a blessing."  Someone blessed me today because of what's in their heart.  .

Despite the negativity and hatred that Donald Trump and his so-called base want to spread, I know there is still decency among us.  The good thing is we can choose to surround ourselves with positivity or be sucked in by the naysayers.

"Every time you do a good deed you shine your light a little futher in the dark."

By the way, April 15 is Good Deeds Day

Monday, March 12, 2018

The White Male Struggle with Black Authority

First of all let me clarify something, I am NOT a psychologist who has done any type of research on this subject.  I can only speak from experience, which I'm almost sad to say.

Until recently I never considered, to any real degree,the dynamics of white men working under the leadership of blacks.  Yes, President Barack Obama had a large staff of folks who were predominately white but I saw them as people who were just happy to be working for the President and had his genuine interests at heart.  I, on the other hand, have always worked for white males during my long career in radio and television news.  It's a given that your news manager will more than likely be a white male.

Last week I was promoted to a project leader position within the company I am currently at.  I was given a team, which includes one white male.  Once he realized he was on my team and not the team of my white male counterpart, our relationship became adversarial.  From day one, he made it clear through his mannerisms and arrogance that he didn't respect me.  When my white male counterpart passed out reading materials for the project, he made it a point to say "thank you" loudly enough for the entire room to hear him.  When I passed them out, his silence was deafening.  On another occasion, he asked ME to step out of the room so HE could have a conversation---a conversation he could've easily dealt with at my desk.  Then to add insult to injury, he sent me a note using incorrect grammar (slang), which I saw as INTENTIONAL and totally unnecessary.  I kindly told him, with a big beautiful smile on my face, that I had a journalism degree and he could feel free to use some of those $10 words he had stored in his vocabulary bank.  My guess is he doesn't have any but that's beside the point.

THE POINT IS:  Because white men come from a place of privilege, some of them have a tough time respecting the leadership roles of blacks in the workplace.  They are used to running the show or working for someone who looks and acts like them.  They don't see us as their equals so having to take orders from us is beneath them.  Some think the only reason we're in the positions we're in is because of affirmative action.  What some whites fail to realize is their skin color has provided them with significant benefits.  They don't understand or could care less about the fact that we have work twice as hard and go above and beyond to prove our qualifications while their "good ol' boy network" works well for them.  They don't have to worry that their credibility as a leader could be tarnished in any way by the implicit racial bias that people have.  They can also rest assured that any conflict they might have with a Supervisor of a different race won't impact them as much as it will on their leader.

To be perfectly honest, his behavior does bother me because he seems to feel emboldened by this new political era ushered in by Donald Trump.  But in the end I will have the final say when I do his evaluation and recommend if he should be considered for new projects.  He still has time to turn it around and I will definitely give him that opportunity.

But there is a saying about know, right!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Don't Be Afraid to Challenge Your Doctor

The Center for Disease Control hasn't released statistics on the effectiveness of this season's flu vaccine, but it acknowledges that getting it is no guarantee you'll avoid getting sick.  As a matter of fact, last season's vaccine effectiveness was 39 percent.  (Source:  Allure)   That's probably why I've never been a fan of the flu shot and the last time I had one was more than 30 years ago.

For nearly a month I have been battling some flu like symptoms.  Because I don't appear to be getting better with my own homemade recipes of tea with lemon and honey, plenty of fluids, and Robitussin, I decided it was time to see my doctor.  Unfortunately my Primary Care Physician was unable to see me because he was booked solid, so I had to see a Nurse Practitioner.  I had never seen her before so I was reluctant but I figured she was better than going to the Urgent Care (next door) which was overflowing with sick folks.

I'm not exactly sure how much of my medical history this NP read before she saw me but she immediately apologized for being more than an hour late in seeing me for my scheduled 9:20 am appointment.  She indicated she was seeing patients back-to-back and two people had to be taken from the clinic to the ER. 

Right at the beginning I wanted her to understand my concern because of my congestive heart failure diagnosis more than 10 years ago.  I'm already dealing with an enlarged heart so additional fluids around that area can have a negative impact on my overall health.  As result, she ordered a bunch of tests. Moments ago, I received the results, which could've been in a foreign language because I didn't understand what they were for and the necessity.  Furthermore, there was nothing in the results that indicated what was wrong although the flu was definitely ruled OUT.  But here's the kicker:  She prescribed some medication for a "possibility" of what I might have.  Who takes medication without knowing why?  I certainly don't!

Why am I sharing this?  Because there are people just like me all over the country who see doctors and don't get definitive results or they're misdiagnosed. This is especially true in the black community, where the quality of healthcare often depends on your skin color. (Source:  HuffPost)

Once I read the results in my email, I immediately sent a note to the NP.  I also sent a :cc to my PCP.   

Ms. NP,

I have looked at the test results from my office visit today.  Since the results are unclear to me, can you tell me what the medication is actually for?  I don't see anything in my test results to indicate what my diagnosis is.  All I know is I continue to feel bad with a tightness in my chest and coughing and congestion.

I will not take the medication until I am clear on the reason why.  The reason for this is several years ago I was given antibiotics for what a doctor thought was pneumonia.  It turned out to be cardiomyopathy.  Terrible misdiagnosis!

Thank you

Don't be afraid to challenge your medical provider.  While you're in the office, take the time to ask questions:

1)  What is the test four?

2)  When will I get the results?

3)  Why do I need this treatment/medication?

4)  Will this medicine interact with medicines I'm already taking?

5)  Are there any alternatives

I'll be sure to follow up to this blog post with the response I receive. 

Monday, January 08, 2018

Oprah for President Says the Media

First of all, let me say, the media ought to be ashamed of itself!  Every news program I turned to this morning was talking about the possibility of Oprah running for President in 2020.  This came as the result of her powerful and I do mean POWERFUL acceptance speech upon receiving the Cecil B. DeMille award at the Golden Globes awards show Sunday night.

Personally, I have never seen Oprah give a speech when she wasn't powerful and inspiring with something extremely relevant and thought-provoking to say.  She's a journalist by profession so she knows how to use words and use them effectively.  That's what we do.  The major difference between Oprah and the rest of us is she went on to create a media dynasty that opened doors for many in the process.  Folks like Tyler Perry, Ava Duvernay, her gal-pal, Gayle King, former President Barack Obama and a host of  authors, along with one of my hometown friends Delores Pressley, all owe some debt of gratitude to the former Queen of the Daytime Talk Shows .

But here we are now, thanks to the media, thinking about the possibility of Oprah becoming the next President of the United States.  Sources close to Oprah allegedly told a CNN correspondent that she was "actively thinking" about it.  We all actively think about a lot of things so what does that actually mean?  Every morning when I get out of bed I "actively" think about going to the gym. I don't always "actively" get there though.  Every day I "actively" think about what I might make for dinner and most times end up changing my mind to something else or not to make anything at all. I also "actively" think about my next vacation to St. Lucia but my bank account says otherwise.

Here's my point:  Most of the news programs have become nothing more than sensationalized entertainment shows designed to boost their ratings.  We all know how well they did with making Donald Trump our latest President.  They went out of their way to give him more air time and credibility than he ever deserved and now spend their days and nights pulling their hair out over how he could've possibly won.  These days every story they run is to tear down the same man down they spent a whole campaign building up, all for the sake of some "good soundbites."  Now they've got their sights on Oprah Winfrey.

One thing we all know about Oprah is she is very media savvy so she knows what she'll be up against during a knock down drag-out campaign.  But we also know the media too.  We know you can be their darling one minute and they'll be out to destroy you in the next.  As a matter of fact, right after her rousing speech at the Golden Globes, some old, cozy photos of her and alleged sexual assault perp Harvey Weinstein showed up on social media. 

Should Oprah run for President?  I personally don't think so because she can continue doing good work from the current position she's in as a media mogul.  Unlike Donald Trump, Oprah doesn't have to run to make better deals with the rest of the world---which I personally believe is what Trump is doing.  Sadly, he has thrown the American people under the bus while doing so.

Here's another perspective on Oprah for President by the LA Times:  OPRAH