Saturday, October 15, 2016

Telomere Length: Biomarker of Health

Photo by NHGRI.
Everyone agrees that good health is vital.

However, not everyone agrees on how to achieve good health.

There are a lot of ideas on how to be healthy and how to postpone the ravages of aging.

Similarly, there are a lot of ideas about what biological factors are correlated with healthy aging.

Since the mid 1970s, scientists have isolated a genetic feature called telomeres and argue that their length is correlated with health and longevity.

I don't believe there is one single genetic factor that humans can manipulate in order to ward off all aspects of aging.  However, telomere length is viewed by many as the chief marker for longevity and health.

I'm looking more closely at telomeres length as just one out of eighteen important biomarkers of health and longevity. But I do concede that it's an important one, in part because it's a genetic. Also, it's one of the newer biomarkers on the list. We still have a lot to learn.

This post is part of a series on biomarkers of health and longevity.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Donating Blood Diminishes Iron Levels

Photo by MattysFlicks.
Donate Blood.

Give the Gift of Life.

In early September of this year, my annual exam declared me anemic.

Blood tests revealed that my hemoglobin was only 11.4 g/dl when 12.1 g/dl to 15.1 g/dl is ideal for women 18 and up.

I was really worried about my low iron levels, because I was eating more protein than I did as a young adult.

Then I found out that blood donors are at higher risk for anemia. And I had donated blood on July 9th.

Here's a related statement from the NIH page "Dietary Supplements Fact Sheet: Iron":

"Frequent blood donors have an increased risk of iron deficiency. In the United States, adults may donate blood as often as every 8 weeks, which can deplete iron stores.  About 25%-35% of regular blood donors develop iron deficiency."

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Connecting in the Land of Dementia: Book Review

Published 13 September 2016.
Living with dementia presents a host of challenges.

While there are a number of tips available for family members, the most transformative tips all come from this common ideal:

Show love and respect for people living with dementia while maintaining a meaningful connection.

Connecting in the Land of Dementiia: Creative Activities to Explore Together offers specific, practical suggestions for making this ideal a reality.

Author Deborah Shouse has an earlier book that shares the journey she and her mother took while finding ways to connect after her mother's diagnosis of dementia.

I've read more than two dozen books about family caregivers, and Shouse's is one of the most positive and hopeful paths through the caregiving partnership.

After reading Living in the Land of Dementia (2013), I was eager to see how she has extended her work in a second book.

[I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.]

In the intervening years, Shouse has met with a variety of people within the United States and beyond, all exploring creative ways to keep people with dementia engaged in meaningful relationships and activities. Her new book makes reference to many practitioners and researchers.

I had the opportunity to meet the author and her partner Ron when they did a performance art activity at a local library in south Central Kansas.  They are intelligent, creative, and caring people. Her book conveys these same virtues.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Song of Lunch: Film Review

TV Movie aired Oct 2010
Based on a narrative poem by Christopher Reid, The Song of Lunch (2010) depicts two people having lunch together.

What makes lunch interesting?

In 50 minutes, we get more than enough material to reflect on how past relationships invite us to scrutinize or present selves.

The two people--played by Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson--are former lovers who haven't seen each other for fifteen years.  She left him for someone else.

What makes their break up painful?

It's hard to know how she feels because the poem--providing the voice over for the action--takes his point of view.  His feelings are complex, but know that his biggest aspirations are to be a famous poet.  He works reviewing manuscripts for a publishing house.

Her husband is a successful novelist.


People in midlife who read and perhaps write poetry will be the ideal audience for this film. Fans of Rickman and Thompson might brave this atypical film genre (the script taken entirely from a poem). The language is quite ornate. The attention to interpersonal and intrapersonal dynamics are laser sharp.