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BOOK REVIEWS

Alone and Invisible No More

by Allan S. Teel, MD
New book review by N.R. Mallery Feb. 5, 2012

As we ‘baby boomers’ now face inevitable realities of aging with our parents in their 80’s & 90’s, as well as our own advances in this direction, questions and options perplex most of us. What is the right thing to do for our parents, who are not as capable of taking care of their own needs? Whether it is failing eyesight that makes driving unsafe or their ability to even read a book or a recipe or directions, let alone if the knob on the cook stove is on or off… it is apparent that some decisions need to be made.

The timeliness of Dr. Allan S. Teel’s new book, “Alone and Invisible No More” is impeccable. Teal offers real life solutions about “How Grassroots Community Action and 21st Century Technologies CAN Empower Elders to Stay in Their Homes and Lead Healthier, Happier Lives”. He presents his solutions from his own personal experience with own 90 yr. old mother – in Maine!

Rural Living is once again a challenge, but small towns also offer the community spirit that can help to create healthier situations for our parents and even ourselves. After all, we have made so many advances in the medical world to extend our lives! Is the solution to send our parents to despair in ‘Homes’, where we get ‘off the hook’ and not have to change our own busy lives to accommodate them in their time of need, or would it be what most of them prefer – to stay in their own homes?

“Homes for the aged began in the early 20th century, as part of the social activism of newly formed women’s groups”, Teel points out, “and were a reaction to the ‘poor farms and almshouses that many communities had established in the late 1800’s. They functioned as human warehouses, or a sort of rudimentary welfare system for everyone that did not fit in: the insane, the poor, the homeless, the derelicts, older orphans, elders without families…”

Staying in their own homes or at least in their own places, affords our aging parents a ‘reason to get up in the morning and carry on their lives as normally as possible. It may be to take care of a pet that keeps them alert and responsible – a ‘reason’… to get up in the morning. Or it may be some simple alertness that keeps their minds alive and again, responsible, in part, to their own safety, cleanliness or to just have their own ‘stuff’, that has memories… and give them hope.

Teel brings awareness of what he terms “the Maine Approach” that is the “cornerstone of utilizing web-based technology tools alongside volunteer and paid staff – from the elder cohort itself, as well as the rest of the community – to help the vast majority of elders who so desire to remain at home and more connected to family, friends, personal interests, and community”.

“The Maine Approach has shown us that it is possible to reconnect elders with their communities, families and caregivers and help them live independently.” This is accomplished by “offering robust social networking, life management tools, and video-monitoring technology, along with check-ins and a broad suite of services delivered by staff and volunteers. It taps a huge hidden resource of capable elders to address the tasks that need doing to keep elders in their own homes – from telephone calls to hosting other elders to providing rides to delivering meals to home visits. It reconfigures existing community assets like schools, churches, and existing community businesses to support this elder network. It promotes a much more individualized approach than is possible in institutional residential care. It values independence and interdependence, while giving each elder lasting purpose and meaning in his or her life.

And the cost? About 10% of what we are paying now for a failing and unsustainable system.” The rest of the book goes into detail about just how to quickly adopt this approach in every neighborhood.

As you can see – this is a book that comes with a huge recommendation from the publisher of Green Energy Times, who is dealing, at present, with her own aging 85 year old father, who wants to stay in his own home.

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When Disaster Strikes – A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival

By Matthew Stein

A timely release, Oct., 2011, Chelsea Green continues to bring just what we need! With Climate Change Upon us way sooner than scientists anticipated and proof from ‘Irene’, and currently still experiencing a ‘new norm’ for winter’s here in the northeast and most of the rest of the planet may be – this is a book that I will keep on hand and highly recommend for everyone to do the same*!

It is absolutely not just a ‘survival’ or ‘first-aide guide’! What really hit home was to look at the background and personal experiences from the author, himself.

As the foreword by James Wesley, Rawles* states: “Any number of events can disrupt the fragile web that holds modern society together. These include earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, naturally occurring plagues, cyber attacks, terrorist nuclear, biological, or chemical attacks, economic spasms, and solar flares. These each have unique characteristics, and highlight specific vulnerabilities in a society where hardly anything gets accomplished without Internet access.”

“Further exacerbating our predicament” Wesley and Rawles point out that “In the early 20th C., fully 30% of American families were employed at full-time farming, ranching, or fishing. But in the early 21st C., just 2% of the population feeds the other 98%.” He warns, “Think about the implications of that.”

Living with the uncertainty in front of us, having some ‘insurance’ – just in case, is what this book offers, to give us some piece of mind that could, as the author puts it, “make the difference between life and death, or extreme discomfort should the day ever come when you find yourself in the middle of a true disaster.”

Some of the ideas that most of us would never consider include preparedness to take care of one of our most basic needs, clean drinking water. A simple $60 water filter or a $14 Polar Pure water purification kit – on hand – could make the choice of having to drink muddy water from a ditch, or filtered water, a much better option, obviously. There is even a solar disinfection (SODIS) option that Stein teaches about in the book. Or how about when those lights are out for an extended period of time? Right now Solar PV are so affordable, for the same cost of your electric bill or less, and can actually get rid of your electric bill. Making this important choice will assure that you not only have your own electricity but may be able to help others by sending your excess back into the grid (… if it is not down! You can include some in-home storage with a simple battery bank that will take over, should that reality happen.)

Matthew Stein’s excellent advice from his real-life knowledge and personal experiences, is what make this guide such an important tool for us all as we face the results of what the ‘Industrial Age’ has left us with. With this book in hand, you’ll able to respond swiftly and confidently when the next disaster strikes.

*About the Author. An engineer, author, and building contractor, Matthew Stein has built hurricane-resistant, energy-efficient, and environmentally friendly homes and designed consumer water-filtration devices, commercial water-filtration systems, and automated assembly machinery among other things. He currently resides with his wife, Josie, in the High Sierra Mountains near Lake Tahoe, California. His web sites are at:  www.stein-design.com  and  www.whentechfails.com

**Jim Rawles is the editor of:  www.SurvivalBolg.com

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