Friday, December 27, 2013

Exercise to Increase Bone Density

Photo by smcgee.
In September of this year, I found out that my bones are below the ideal limits for density.  I don't have osteoporosis--yet.  The range I'm in is a newly defined zone called osteopenia.  All is not lost. I still have a lot of control over my bone density. I can improve my diet with calcium-rich foods, and I can do bone-strengthening exercises.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Give Holiday Cheer

The holidays can be a joyous time of gathering with friends and family. However, some older adults struggle with loneliness and depression at this time of year.  

People of any age who have limited income, limited mobility or the loss of a loved one  can struggle to maintain the traditions of the season.  

These limits and losses are often more prevalent for older adults, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, regret or depression unless addressed.  

Also some diseases, some medications can push people further into depression.  And excessive alcohol consumption compounds the problem.  

If you see signs of depression in a loved one at any time of the year, encourage him or her to seek the help of a physician, psychologist or psychiatrist.  These signs might include the following:

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mismatched Gifts

Photo by reikhavoc.
When it's close to Christmas, people will ask me, "What do you want?"  I have a hard time answering.

After the holidays, people will ask, "What did you get?" and "What was your favorite gift?"

I'm always hard-pressed to answer these questions as well. Why? I'm not really a "thing" person.  I enjoy more just spending time with friends and family and talking.

The greatest gift I ever received was an email listing 51 positive affirmations about me.

This post is part of a Blog Hop hosted by Midlife Boulevard,
a network of midlife women bloggers.
Because the links below will expire soon, here are a few post on the same topic:

"Self-Reflection, A Gift That Continues to Give" by Beth Havey @BoomerHighway 

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Top Ten Posts

Photo by LEOL30.
As 2013 comes to a close, I'm looking over the statistics to see which posts written this year got the most views.

As with 2012, posts about films dominate the list.

However, a new genre of posts make an even stronger showing: blog hop posts.

I joined some network groups in 2013 that gave me the opportunity to connect with other midlife blogging women.  I enjoyed reading their posts, so I am sharing my findings.

Just click through to the posts marked "blog hop" to find links to my peers' posts.

So without further ado, here are the standout posts published in 2013--in descending order of popularity:

Monday, December 9, 2013

Benediction: Book Review

Published Feb 2013 by Knopf.
Kent Haruf presents a novel spoken sotto voce and focused on the last days of a 77-year-old hardware store owner, Dad Lewis and his family living in east of Denver in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.

Lewis learns in the opening chapter that he has cancer that will claim him in a matter of weeks.  During this time, Lewis reviews his life--his business relationships, his parenting choices, and his marriage.

While the title implies a sustained focus on achieving closure for a dying man, other characters from the same small town of Haruf's storyworld are taking stock of their lives as well.

The preacher and his family, newly arrived from Denver, must ask themselves if their lives have meaning, and if they should make a change. A mature woman long widowed and her never-married daughter make decisions on what "love your neighbor" really means One considers the meaning of romantic love in relationships now lost. An 8-year-old girl seeks to claim a sense of family in the wake of her mother's death from breast cancer.

Most of the novel brings the reader's attention to the dulled beauty and muffled joy of every day activities. This isn't a fast-paced novel filled with back-to-back conflicts. It's a Sunday drive through the countryside of people's ordinary lives.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Widowed Support Groups

Photo by megaroo.
The loss of a spouse is one of the most devastating events of a person's life. In fact, the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists "death of spouse" as the most stress-inducing life event.

While scholars attempt to study grief objectively, the reality is that each loss of a spouse is unique to the individual.

Even though I like to draw on evidenced-based research when confronted with conflict, I recognize that the bereaved don't need scholarly journals as much as they need a compassionate friend or comforting community.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Ultimate Performance Art: Love

Central Recover Press 2013.
I've noticed that there are a lot of books about caregiving. I've had the opportunity to read several.  Surprisingly, I haven't reached the point of saturation.

Why am I still engaged?

While earning my master's in gerontology, I read many interesting statistics and many solid evidenced-based scholarly articles on family caregivers in general and caring for people with dementia specifically.

However, the work of scientists and social scientists cannot fully capture the caregiving experience.

(A review copy was provided by the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.) 

The relationship between caregiver and the person with a chronic or a terminal disease is more complex than any scholar can communicate.  

I strongly believe that artists are better equipped to represent the caregiving experience.  

I invite you to read Deborah Shouse's book Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver's Journey.  (See my review on Goodreads.) Shouse brings her skill as an accomplished writer to the task.  But more than that, Shouse brings her character: she's attentive, kind, perceptive and wise.

Friday, November 22, 2013

My JFK Memory

Detail of photo taken by Seansie
at the
National Portrait Gallery
Even though I am a Boomer, I can't answer to the question, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" because I was only 22 months old that day.

I can, however, report that JFK's image was prevalent throughout my childhood.

While growing up in the 1960s, I was immersed with images of this young president with boyish good looks.

He and Jackie somehow managed to reflect the ideal while also being relatable. Photos of the President and the First Lady with their young children revealed the softer side of America's first power couple.

But it wasn't photos of Jack's dimples or Jackie's wardrobe that resonated with me during my youth. It was a statement about Kennedy's political failures that stuck with me the most.

I remember one of my grade school teachers giving us a worksheet about JFK.  I learned that JFK had made a number of failed runs for office over his political career.

I was stunned to read this.  And as I moved from a child to a teen to a young adult, this memory helped me to persevere past failures and into success.
This post is part of a Midlife Boulevard Blog Hop! 

The two dozen links below will dissipate in a week or two, so I'm preserving a few that captured my attention this time. 

Lori at Lavender Lulz describes Jackie's immediate response.
Renee at The Practical Shaman describes her confusion at age 6.
Cathy at An Empowered Spirit remembers her six-year-old brother's screaming when Ruby shot Oswald.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Calcium and Bone Health

Photo detail by faria!.
I recently received a DXA scan and  found out that I have osteopenia, a level of bone density that is lower than "good" but higher than osteoporosis. For this reason, I've been reading more about bone health and talking to experts and lay people alike about the issue.

Very casually, many health care professionals and individuals state, "take a daily calcium supplement." However, I wanted to look into the issue of supplements before taking a daily pill.

If you want to read a very good source on the topic, see this page on Calcium Supplements as prepared by the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes for Health. It's detailed and comprehensive. After reading this page, I understand the value of learning more about supplements before taking them.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Professional Personal Historians

Photo courtesy of Jill Staggs, pictured.
Some of my most treasured possessions are personal histories about my own ancestors.

Creating and reading personal histories offer many benefits.  For example, these narratives help me understand my place in a larger context of extended family. And they make historical events such as the Civil War and the Great Depression more meaningful.

Some of these family histories on my bookshelf were penned by my relatives. However, others were produced with some help with a professional personal historians.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jill Staggs from Personal Legacy Memoirs about why people might choose to work with a personal historian.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Special Exits: Book Review

Published September 2010
by Fantagraphic Books.
After seeing Special Exits on several lists for outstanding graphic novels, I decided to see how the author / illustrator Joyce Farmer tackled the subject of the growing frailty of her father and step-mother.

Farmer's graphic novel is semi-biographical, detailing the day-to-day challenges that a mature couple--Lars and Rachel--face as they experience greater and greater health challenges while living in their South Los Angeles home.  

Part of the novel's historical context includes Lars and Rachel having to manage during the 1992 Rodney King riots that took place in their neighborhood and surrounding area. 

Rachel's health declines first. She has trouble with her vision, her memory, and her mobility. She ends up living on the couch in the living room. Lars does his best to care for her, but he starts to wear down emotionally and physically. And Lars has some serious health problems himself that he masks for the majority of the novel.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Personal History Basics

Photo by andwhatsnext.
Every person has a story to tell.  Stories help us to preserve culture on the grand scale. What was life like during the Depression and the Dust Bowl?

Stories also help explain individual identity on a smaller scale. How does someone's own father describe his work as communications officer during the Korean War?

We are the stories that we tell ourselves.

Every experience, every memory serves as support for the major themes that emerge from our lives.  Through internal dialogue and conversation, we create and reinforce these stories.

But not everyone manages to document their personal history.  Do you have a written account of your great grandparents' lives? Or a scrapbook that has strong written explanations? Or a video of them telling their most significant stories?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Best of Boomer Blogs, Dreams

Photo of a Dream Catcher by Ayelvee. 
This week, Boomer bloggers write about dreams or nightmares in one form or another.  See what they have to say about chasing away boogeyman so that you can fulfill your dreams for improved health & fitness and establish your dream vocation & financial state.

Hey Mr Glen

John Agno at SoBabyBoomer tells us that exercise stimulates body tone, sending minerals to your muscles, skin, organs, blood vessels and other body parts.

Seymore Sinn
After six years of blogging, Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen happened onto one of her original posts from 2007.  It reminded her why she started blogging in the first place: Telling the Truth about Midlife. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Technology and Quality of Life

Verizon Products on Parade. 
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. 

I believe that I can be productive and happy as a minimalist. However, I have to accept the fact that it's easier for me to meet many of my goals with the help of technology.  I choose to believe that I'm not dependent on gizmos. But they are so convenient.

Guests received swag bags
A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to host a Verizon house party with app guru and fellow ambassador Cheryl Therrien (The Grandmother Diaries).  This event gave us the opportunity to give a dozen friends from Wichita an introduction to several Verizon products and services.

These products generated the most questions from the guests:

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Night Guest: Book Review

Published Oct. 1, 2013.
Beyond the glowing fires of home and hearth are a number of horrors we prefer not to examine too closely. However, the Halloween season turns my attention towards things that we usually try to shove into closets, stuff under beds, and lock into attics.

By purposefully attending to our fears during Halloween, do we hope to overcome them? How can we fight the elements that inhabit our worst nightmares?

In an effort to better guard myself against the scarier aspects of aging, I picked up a copy of The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane.  Her novel asks, Can an older adult manage her own life? Or is she too frail, vulnerable, and weak? And scarier still this question:  Is an older adult even incapable of perceiving her own situation accurately?

In this 241 page novel,  we meet Ruth, a 75-year-old widow living with her cats in a beach house on an isolated stretch of the Australian coastline. Ruth has two sons, but they live abroad: one in New Zealand, the other in Hong Kong.

For a few years following her husband's death, Ruth has created a comfortable routine in her cozy, little beach cottage.  But then one night, she senses the presence of a tiger in her home.  Is something really moving around in the darkness of her home? Is it just one of her cats? Is she merely dreaming? Or is she losing her mind?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Plotkin Describes Life Stages

Photo by AdamSelwood
As I move through the lifespan, I can more clearly see the various roles people play.

Stage theory in psychology provides a number of ways for describing these roles.

Theorists such as Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson and Carl Jung have already described how people move through these stages as they age.

But developmental psychologists today are dedicated to finding even more ways to describe and interpret age-based social roles. 

I find Bill Plotkin's work in this area quite fascinating.

He has a strong foundation in Carl Jung's archetype theory. However, Plotkin also draws inspiration from nature, from non-industrialized peoples, from personal narrative, and from interviewing people across the life span.

He also looks at growth of the individual alone as well as the individual embedded in a social context.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Recipe Legacy: Cranberry Salsa

When I walk into my kitchen, I am never alone.  It's not just my children and my husband who inhabit that space with me. I feel the ghost-like presence of dozens of other people who have influenced my cooking.

This post is part of a #midlifeblvd blog hop.
The thumbnail links at the bottom of this post will disappear after a week, so I am saving a few of them for future reference. 

Sweet Pumpkin with Spicy Ragout by Renee Baribeau at The Practical Shaman 
My Sweet Ghostly Connection by Connie McCloud at My Creative Journey
Yeasty Cloverleaf Rolls by Helene Cohen Bludman at Books Is Wonderful

My first influence was my mother. She was raised by a father who tended to a herd of beef cattle and by a mother who kept a large kitchen garden.

Photo by Patrick Q.
Then my mother earned a degree in home economics and worked for a time as a home economics teacher. I watched her make bread, can fruit, and prepare a number of delicious salads and desserts.  And she taught bought me the Better Homes & Garden Junior Cookbook when I was a tween.

After I left home, my cooking was influenced by roommates, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, and friends from church and from book club.  I have now lived in 8 different states and lived abroad in Jerusalem for a time. I have sampled a variety of foods because of my travels and my gregarious nature.

When I step into the kitchen to cook, the food reminds me of someone I know or someplace I have visited. Cooking connects me to others and transports me to places beyond my own home. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Is Osteopenia?

Karen's Whole Body DXA Bone Scan 9/28/13
I recently participated in a research study where I received 5 different images of my fat, muscles and/or bones via a DXA scan.

As a participant, I signed forms that emphasized that this scan was for research purposes and not for diagnostic purposes. The print out of my scans also notes: "Image not for diagnostic use."

Nevertheless, I decided to take my DXA results as an opportunity to learn more about bone health.

If you are concerned about bone health, please consult with a board-certified medical expert.

The DXA operator was a Ph.D. in exercise physiology who has done research on bone and muscle loss. Dr. Young also reviewed my results. I had lower-than-average results for percent of body fat. That's good news.  However, I also had lower-than-average results for muscle mass and bone mass. That's not good news.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Non-Medical Home Care

Photo by flossyflotsam.
When choosing to be a gerontologist, I imagined helping the Baby Boomers with their own aging process.

Boomers (born between 1964 and 1946) do not perceive themselves as older adults.

Because of the increases in life expectancy in developed countries, Boomers still know a lot of people who are decades older than they are.

Consequently, most Boomers--even the trailblazers who are now 67--see themselves as inhabiting the life stage of "extended midlife."

Many from the Boomer generation aren't ready to claim being older adults because they are still offering support for their own parents.

In 2010, MetLife reports that nearly 10 million people 50 plus care for an aging parent. Furthermore, their study states:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Logging More Sleep

Photo by BSmith4815.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product. 

As a midlife woman, I've got a long list of responsibilities, and even though I'm tempted to skip sleep in order to get more done, I am wise enough to know that the fall out is never worth pulling an all-nighter.

Been there, done that, got the sleep-deprived t-shirt.

Photo by JenavieveMarie
I think the last time I skipped sleeping by design was in the late 1980s as a graduate student. Now I try diligently to get adequate sleep.

Shifting hormones, however, sometimes rob me of a full night's sleep.

Morpheus, you elusive god of sleep!

I'm trying a number of things to safeguard my sleeping habits:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Adding Care to Senior Housing

Photo by Kotomi_.
In decades prior, older adults often lacked options for aging with support. Many either stayed too long in their own homes without adequate services, or they moved too soon  into a skilled nursing facility.

Older adults today have more options for where and how they age:

Types of Housing
  • Long-established Home (with or without modifications for aging in place)
  • Relative's Home
  • Active Adult Community
  • Senior Apartments (some are government subsidized)
  • Independent Living Communities
  • Assisted Living Communities
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (2 or more levels of care under one roof)
Or they might be in a temporary situation after an acute illness:
  • Subacute "Step-down" Facility 
  • Long-term Acute Care Hospital
Some of these choices might be unavailable or difficult to acquire due to constraints on finances, family availability, geographic location, health, or limited supply / vacancies.

Services Added to One of the Above Settings

Monday, September 23, 2013

The More Things Change. . .

Photo by Mr. Tea. 
After five decades, I've gone through several transformations.  I was shy as child. Now I am a chatterbox. I shunned athletics for years. Now I'm a gym rat.  I often argue that I have changed in deep and meaningful ways. Nevertheless, the words of French critic Jean-Baptiste Alphonese Karr echo in my mind: "The more things change, the more the stay the same." 

Despite changing jobs again and again within fields and between fields, I've always played the role of peer tutor. 

See the thumbnails below more posts by midlife women
on the topic of "Transformations." 

The links below will evaporate soon, so here are links to a few posts from this set
in case you visit after the blog hop expires.

Flourishing Post-divorce: Sharon "Reinvention for Real People" at Empty House Full Mind
Midlife Makeover: Pam "Transformation Stories: Here's Mine" at Over50Feeling40.
Battle of the Bulge: Joy Weese Moll "Reinvention" at Joy's Book Blog
Triumph over Brain Injury: Ruth "Reinvention by Chance" at Cranium Crunches 

Photo by MaineDOE
Karr is right. From about age 10 to age 48, I worked as a peer tutor in way form or another.

When I was 10 and 11, I volunteered to work without pay as a classroom helper during those summers.  I was a TA in high school. From 18 to 34, I tutored in various university writing centers to the point that calling me a peer was stretching the concept.

My fellow students and I not only explored how to best improve our academic performance, we also talked more generally about how to prepare and achieve as young adults. 

In my 30s and 40s, I spent a lot of time as an adjunct and then a clinical faculty member / administrator training and mentoring other educators.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Artificial Hopelessness of Amour

Photo by Franz Johann Morgenbesser.
I enjoy independent films for their departure from the Hollywood stereotype. Slow-paced films give opportunity for reflection. Dialogue-driven films provide food for thought.

I prefer realistic depictions of people closer to my age.  Life involves so much more than sexy young adults chasing after criminals, robots, aliens, or each other.  I'd rather see an art house film starring mature actors in their midlife or late life.

Consequently, I was eager to watch Amour (2012) directed by Michael Haneke (pictured on the left), knowing that it was a film about a mature couple dealing with the wife's declining health.  Haneke most likely drew on personal experience of his beloved aunt's failing health to make the film.

I have watched many films about the harsh realities of aging, so I didn't flinch when placing this film in my Netflix queue, even after reading some reviews that spoiled the ending.

However, I will not be recommending this film as a study in how to manage the challenges of late life.  After I watched it, I had insomnia for the remainder of the night. And then I chewed on the film for another week. Now I'm writing this in an effort to achieve some peace of mind.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Transcending Age

Image by new 1Illuminati
"Gerotranscendence" refers to a theory of aging that is loosely related to Eastern mysticism and New Age philosophy.

Gerotranscendence views the proper task of late life as this:

finding life satisfaction in realms beyond material experience.

As with other transcendental aka spiritual theories, a gerotranscendent state does not reside in physical attractiveness, strength, fame, material possessions or political power. Happiness is grounded in accepting the self, others, and the world at large in a way that transcends mortal limitations.

Swedish sociologist Lars Tornstam developed this theory in a series of scholarly papers published throughout the 1980s and 1990s and culminating in his book, Gerotranscendence: A Development Theory of Positive Aging. (2005)

Building on the work of Carl Jung and Erik Erikson, Tornstam interviewed older adults themselves, looking for an emerging theory of aging from their perspective.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Cognitive Changes: The Usual Suspects

Photo by Mark B. Schlemmer. 

While teaching college English for 30 years, I thought I knew a great deal about the human mind. After all, I was teaching critical thinking.  Entering the field of gerontology at midlife has brought me to a greater awareness of how the brain works.   As people experience changes based on trauma, disease or even just the passing of time, we can see how the brain functions.  The contrast helps us see the efficiency of the brain that we usually take for granted.

Now that I am a gerontologist, I frequently have friends and acquaintances ask me if a parent’s changing cognition is a sign of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease.  I am not a neurologist, so I am not qualified to assess. I ask them to schedule an appointment with their parent’s general practitioner.  Nevertheless, here is an overview of some of the many reasons why an aging parent might demonstrate a change in cognition. 

This list is no way exhaustive, but it contains the "usual suspects" when cognitive changes appear.  If you or someone you love shows cognitive changes, please consult with a licensed medical professional. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

An App that Supports Memory

Photo taken with my Droid Razr Maxx HD
Every once and a while, I have a little trouble with my memory.

I might lose my keys, forget an appointment or struggle to recall the name of someone I've recently met.

When I was younger, I attributed memory problems to being overcommited, tired, or stressed out.

I have even more demands competing for my attention now. 

To better manage all my responsibilities as a midlife woman, I'm learning about age-related changes to cognition.

Note that mature people have many strengths and other advantages when managing their cognition:
* greater stockpiles of information
* greater understanding of how to respond effectively based on context
* greater self-awareness of cognitive abilities
* greater awareness of means for compensating.
My maturity helps me manage challenges to my memory.  I have customized compensating strategies to my own needs.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Part D Open Enrollment

Photo by
Fall is just around the corner. That means that it's almost time for the annual open enrollment period for Medicare Part D, Prescription Plans.  Between October 15th and December 7th of each year, Medicare beneficiaries can compare plans. As a result, they can switch or continue with their current plan.

For more information on Open Enrollment dates and other the important events between September and January regarding Part D, see this brochure created by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services).

Are you asking, "What is Plan D?" Here is a brief explanation. 

The above video defining Part D was produced by a private insurance company, United Healthcare. By linking to their video, I am not endorsing this insurance company or any other insurance company.  I just like their short, clear introduction to Part D. See a SHIP counselor  for free, unbiased Medicare counseling.  

From year to year, the insurance companies that administer Medicare Part D plans can change prices and policies. For example:

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Weird Things on My Skin

Photo by Tamboko the Jaguar
It happened. I broke a promise to myself.

When I was in my twenties, I vowed that to accept the forthcoming changes to my skin as little badges of honor, symbolizing all the wisdom accrued over time.

I planned to embrace multiplying wrinkles, sagging skin, and multiplying spots of all shapes and sizes as markers of my improving moral character.

Friday, August 16, 2013

What Theory Do You Use to Describe Aging?

Photo by Martin LaBar.
The photo above shows a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Behind them is a second photo of them on their wedding day--decades prior.

I look at them and wonder, "How are they adapting to the aging process?" They have a lot of choices in how they behave, think and feel about aging.  And we have a lot of choices in how we perceive them.  Also, their unique life experiences might make some theories fit better than others.

Gerontologists in particular have a lot of theories for explaining the aging process.  Some of these theories are quite complex and/or are supported with data that only other experts can understand. Nevertheless, don't let the word "theory" send you running for the hills.

The average person employs a theory (a set of assumptions and concepts) for explaining aging--even if he or she isn't aware of it. Unless people make an effort to examine the complexities of aging and the diverse ways in which people age, it's easy to use stereotypes.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Music Triggers Memories

Photo by twm1340. 
We're approaching the end of summer.  My kids just registered for school, and we purchased school supplies. The first day of school is less than a week away.

In this liminal space, summer shimmers like a mirage, moving between being an experience and a memory.

As Labor Day nears, I wonder which fragments of this summer will I shore up?

Will I remember --

* Walking along a bridge spanning a rain-swollen river with cousins visiting from North Carolina?

* Making prize-winning pavlova with my daughter?

* Laughing and crying while watching Silver Linings Playbook with my son? OR

* Singing songs from Spam-a-lot with my husband and our kids at home after they returned from seeing that musical?

I will probably best remember the singing since I recognize how music connects with memories I hold from my own youth.

This post is part of a Blog Hop with the dynamic midlife women bloggers.
The thumbnails below will evaporate in a few weeks, so I'm saving a few links for future reference:


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Variety Is the Spice of Fitness

Photo by EarthOwned.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

I get bored easily, so I task switch a lot. Maybe too much at times. I do this in several areas of my life ranging from house cleaning to researching to cooking.

I'm not a personal trainer, but WebMD and others focused on healthy living suggest changing your workout. Doing so challenges the body and the mind.

Doing the same workout all of the time can result in the body adapting too much, so the muscles, the mind and the heart are not getting such a vigorous work out.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Centenarians on the Rise in the US

Birthday party at the Kansas Masonic Home for Gladys Bever. 

Today I had the good fortune of attending a birthday party for Gladys Bever. At 103 years old, she remains fairly active.  She only just recently started using a walker. She's still very sharp. Her memory rivals that of people decades younger than she.
Gladys Bever, 103. 

Gladys enjoys reading books, primarily devotional literature.  She's one for whom the phrase "all that clean living" really applies while some other centenarians can hold onto some unhealthy habits. She focuses on the positive and shuns things that are contentious or frivolous.

I enjoy visiting with her each week. She tells me about many of her life adventures. We loan each other books.

She was born Gladys Oakley at home on July 30, 1910 in Yuba County near Marysville, California.  Gladys married H. Cecil Bever, who worked for decades as a preacher.

Gladys has performed hundreds of hours of church service in various states in the US and went on some service trips abroad, too. She has been an attentive mother for decades as well.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gender Differences in Midlife / Late Life Spirituality

Photo by Su-chan
Are women more naturally spiritual than men? Are older people more spiritual than younger people?  And as a result, are mature women the most spiritual of all?

As a child, I remember seeing the Norman Rockwell picture "Sunday Morning," which depicts a mother marching out the door with three children. They are all dressed in their Sunday best.

In the foreground is the father, slinking into his chair and hiding behind the newspaper. He's in his pajamas, robe and slippers. The lone boy casts an envious glance at his father.

Rockwell is playing off the stereotype that men are more resistant about formal church worship than women. But is there empirical evidence of this?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Perimenopause: What's Going On?

Image by Coffeelatte.
I have long known that night sweats,  mood swings and crying jags were signs of menopause. I also knew that 51 was the average age that women experience menopause.

But I still was blindsided at age 49.5 when the first dramatic symptoms showed up.

It was the fall of 2011.  I was 49 years old, closing in on 50. I had experienced some subtle changes to my cycle for years prior, so I was already describing myself as perimenopausal.

Then the subtlety ended.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Travel Made Me Feel My Youth

Citadel of Acre
When I was in college, I was eager to learn as much about the world as possible, so I majored in English. This allowed me to read broadly.

But I didn't want to limit myself to the travel habits of Emily Dickinson, who insists, "There is no frigate like a book." I wanted to get out of the United States and experience other landscapes, other cultures.

I chose to spend part of my sophomore year studying in Jerusalem due to its significance to three of the major world religions.  Also, I was awed by how it had a much older history than London or Vienna.

So in January of 1982, I embarked on a six month travel study in Jerusalem with a group of nearly 100 other BYU students.

We lived primarily at Ramat Rachel--located at the most southern extreme of Jerusalem. But we traveled throughout the region.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Visiting the Bathroom Is Risky Business

Photo by J. Star.
People of all ages risk falling in the bathroom.  It's an oft-used room, filled with hard surfaces from floor to tub to toilet to sink.  Then add water to the mix! And soap. Also loose rugs, flimsy towel racks and sliding shower doors decrease stability.

Injuries range from abrasions to lacerations to concussions to fractures.

According to a summary of a CDC report on non-fatal bathroom injuries for persons 15 and older,

"Almost one-third (30 percent) of adults 65 and above who were injured in bathrooms were diagnosed with fractures. Among adults aged 85 and older, 38 percent were hospitalized as a result of their injuries."

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Midsummer Midlife Midwest Dream

Midwest Boomer Bloggers with our hosts.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

The "L" and buses
311 S. Wacker
I just returned from several days of travel, which included time spent in Chicago near the summer solstice--or "midsummer" as Shakespeare calls it.

I was in the heart of downtown Chicago, aka the "Loop," which includes many shops, restaurants, buildings and artwork.

My trip included two nights in the beautiful Allerton Hotel and two days in the John Hancock Center.

Like Shakespeare's characters, I had a rollicking good time near the longest day of the year.  During my stay in Chicago, I got to meet 15 other midlife bloggers from the Midwest.  It was a dream come true.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Positive Aging Day 2013

Photo by WSU Aging Studies
Earlier this week, I had the chance to attend Positive Aging Day here in Wichita, KS. This event is supported by a number of organizations, including the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging.

In addition to 20 sessions in concurrent sessions, we enjoyed a keynote speaker (Rip Gooch, member of the Black Aviation Hall of Fame) during lunch.  Find a detailed program here.

I attended the following sessions:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Movies Set in Nursing Homes

Photo by North Dakota National Guard. 
Most movies focus on the characters. Sometimes, however, the setting exerts considerable influence.

The setting looms large for many movies filmed in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or even active living retirement communities.

Often the conflict for movies with such settings stems from an environment populated primarily with people in late adulthood.

Below find a sampling of such movies, which mainly feature films but two documentaries as well.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Lifestyle Choices Help Us to Get Old

Yoga instructor Tao Porchon-Lynch b. 1918. Photo by Born in the South

"Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it,
you've got to start young." Theodore Roosevelt

How we age depends a great deal on lifestyle choices.   Yes, family history and environment play some role. However, we can improve the quality of our life as we age (and we are all aging) by making healthy choices every day.

The Get Old program, run by Pfizer and their partners, supports healthy aging by providing information on how to make better lifestyle choices.  In a statement released today, Pfizer shares this eye-opening fact:

"Chronic diseases are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and many could be prevented or delayed through simple lifestyle changes. According to the World Health Organization, eliminating three risk factors – poor diet, inactivity and smoking – would prevent 80% of heart disease and stroke, 80% of type 2 diabetes, and 40% of cancers."

Monday, June 3, 2013

Best of Boomer Blogs #311

Photo by Domen Jakus
I am pleased to announce that I am hosting my first blog carnival. This refers to a digest of sorts. Every eight weeks, I take a turn hosting links and overviews to seven other blogs, authored by other Boomers. This gives you a chance to see what some of my peers are discussing.

On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about new, voluntary labeling for alcohol, which took the Treasury Department 10 years to adopt. It’s unfortunate that the labeling isn’t mandatory because consumers need to know how many calories are in the alcohol they’re drinking and, in addition, what the alcohol content is. 

Sean McGrath
SoBabyBoomer remembers that half a century ago, the birth-control pill offered women the ability to switch off ovulation, to separate sex from reproduction. It played a part, as the ‘60s got under way, in propelling a host of profound changes, cultural as well as reproductiveThis post also discusses new research on "female Viagra" drugs and the more psychological nature of female desire.