Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Walking Rate Correlated to Life Expectancy

Photo by will wilson
Doctors measure vital signs of body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate as  quick-yet-valid indicators of general health.  Other common measures include oxygen saturation, pupil state, glucose levels, pain level, and emotional state.

Physical therapists and other medical experts are proposing walking speed as another significant vital sign.

In 2009, Stacy Fritz & Michelle Lusardi published a white paper in the Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, arguing that doctors should start regularly assessing rate of walking in their patients. Research they cite shows that gait speed correlates closely with life expectancy.  The authors explain that a person's walking speed requires that a number of mental and physical systems operate adequately:

"These include, but are not limited to, an individual's health status, motor control, muscle performance and musculoskeletal condition, sensory and perceptual function, endurance and habitual activity level, cognitive status, motivation and mental health, as well as the characteristics of the environment in which one walks."

In the brief video below, JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) provides an overview of a study published in 2011 that compiled data for walking speed and longevity for nearly 35,000 older adults.

For a summary (written for a lay audience) of the 2011 JAMA study see this article in Scientific American. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Movies about Mature Men Preserving Power

Photo by dlholt. 
Do you think action heroes can only be played by movie stars in their 20s or 30s?  

Think again. I'm seeing several films that show feats of strength by men in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond.

Films featuring seasoned heroes can serve to inspire mature movie goers to achieve at work, at home, in civic organizations or on running trails.

[Last Updated October 1, 2015 to add Dying of the Light (2014). 

Organized in reverse chronology, with most recent films first.

Mr. Holmes (2015).  Sherlock Holmes (played by Ian McKellen) is in his 90s.  Father Time may have him on the ropes, but Holmes still has formidable abilities. More importantly Holmes still has the opportunity for growth and development as he reviews his last case and in so doing reviews his strengths and weaknesses and asserts meaning and purpose for his life.   Trailer

Chef (2014).  Jon Favreau plays a chef at midlife fed up with cooking for someone else, so he quits and starts his own business.  He tests out new equipment, new recipes, a new staff and explores former relationships while driving his food truck across several states.  Yes, male midlife takes a road trip.  Trailer

Dying of the Light (2014).  CIA agent Evan Lake (played by Nicolas Cage) might have Frontotemporal Dementia, but he's not going to let his supervisors tell him what he can or cannot do despite his increasing problems controlling his aggression and accessing his memory.  

Begin Again (2013).  While the film might focus just a tiny bit more on Kiera Knightly's character, it does depict in great detail Mark Ruffalo's character in a midlife reconsideration of career and relationships.  A young songwriter serves as this broken down record director's muse while still very much directing her own life course. 

Skyfall (2012).  James Bond chases bad guys, beds exotic women and comes out alive after several unbelievable fight scenes and numerous breathtaking chase scenes.  Not only does Bond have to fight a super bad guy, he has to fight injuries to his body. In addition, as long-term employees with a lot of seniority, he and M. have to fight ageism at the office.  That's a battle on three fronts, four if you count self-doubt. Trailer

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Overcoming Communication Disorders

Photo by Karen D. Austin.
Children are little scientists.  They play a number of games centered on manipulating various aspects of communication.  Children explore the boundaries of language by using tin cans as an atypical medium, speaking in made-up code as a secretive symbol system, and playing telephone as a way to test consistency of content. While playing these games, they make small changes that affect the way they encode and decode information. 

These playful changes strain their friends' cognition, hearing, and speech to the point that the message is distorted. Communication then fails in entertaining ways. But when people have real problems communicating, the fun and games are over. 

For 50 years, Annie Glenn--childhood playmate and wife of astronaut and Senator John Glenn--struggled to communicate because of a serious stuttering problem.  She had difficulty talking on the phone, asking store clerks for help, giving directions to taxi drivers, greeting people at socials, and speaking in front of groups. Even reading aloud to her children was too difficult.  Her speech impairment was seriously affecting her day-to-day activities. 

In 1973, she participated in an intense three week program to help her better control her stuttering.  After receiving the help of qualified professionals, Annie can now manage her stuttering. She can talk on the phone, ask store clerks for help, speak publicly, greet people spontaneously  and read books to her grandchildren.  In addition to improvements in the quality of life with her husband, children, grandchildren and friends, Annie is now very active in a variety of organizations as a teacher, adviser, advocate, and public speaker.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Raven Lunatic: My Worst Fashion Mistake

Image by chaoticartworks
Once or twice a month, I hop over to the local thrift store and pick through the offerings.  I scavenge for eye-catching items: name brands, quality fabrics,  colors that suit my skin, unique items.

While I examine each piece of clothing, I imagine the previous owners as women who have acquired a new attitude, gained weight, or thrown a "flat dry" item in the dryer by mistake.  Her tragedy is my treasure.

Going to the mall seems too easy, like shooting fish in a barrel. I like the challenge of sorting through racks and racks of undesirable clothing until I find a hidden gem.

I tell myself that my fashion sense evokes the artsy-intellectual archetype. However, sometimes another person will post a picture of me on a social media site, startling me into the realization that my risk-taking shopping method has led me to commit a fashion faux pas.

Exhibit A:  I attended a walk-a-thon fundraiser during the Summer of 2012 and wore cotton pants that I bought at a thrift store, believing that I would look youthful, fun, energetic and creative.
Exhibit A: Fashion Disaster

Um. No.

Instead, I look frumpy and underdressed. I appear to be wearing my pajamas. Since I bought them at a thrift shop, they could very well be pajama pants or scrubs.  My willing them to be lightweight summer capris will not actually change their nature.

I have misunderstood the real nature of an item of clothing before.

 A few years ago, I found a pair of grey leggings at a thrift store. I wore them for three winters, paired with over sized sweaters until I visited family who live out of state. My sister Julie asked me, "Why are you wearing thermal underwear without pants over them?"  Oops.  I suppose the tag indicating Eddie Bauer Ebtek might have tipped me off.  Well, they were very warm.

Lesson learned? When striving for the bohemian look, I walk a fine line between that and circus clown. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 1st Blogoversary to TGAM

Photo by Tom Haymes
Today I'm playing Barry Manilow's "Looks Like We Made It" as I note my first blogoversary.   As many have observed, most blogs have a very short life span. Caslon Analytics quotes numerous reports, each emphasizing how most blogs disappear well before hitting the first year mark. The stats I most often bump into cite the average lifespan of a blog being somewhere between 90 days to 120 days. And that average excludes half the blogs that are created since they never get past the first post.

I'm cautiously optimistic at making it a full year. 

I have written over 60 posts, earning a modest-yet-respectable 18,000 hits.  I attended my first blogging summit as sponsored by Get Old.  At my year mark, my all-time-high posts are as follows: