Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Home: A Novel

Published Sept. 2, 2008.
Marilynne Robinson has written very few novels, only three. However, they are all prize winners. Her second novel Gilead won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005.  This novel focuses on Rev. John Ames and his efforts to leave a legacy for his very young son from a second marriage.

After reading Gilead, I learned that she wrote a sequel, or really a parallel novel, Home.  This novel describes the life of another family in Gilead, Iowa: Rev. Robert Boughton and his adult children Glory and Jack.

Like Gilead, this novel is quiet and understated.  The main action takes place when Jack returns home after a twenty year absence. Once he arrives, his father and sister start to review events from decades past.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

In Between: Assisted Living

Photo by Esthr.
It's moving day for many older adults. But where are they going when they have a little trouble living independently?

Until the 1980s, housing for older adults in the United States included two extreme options: they could continue to live in their own homes, or they could move to a skilled nursing facility.

This often left people with a mismatch between needs and services.

They might stay too long in their own homes and manage poorly. Or they might move too soon into a care facility and loose too much independence.

Luckily, there are more housing options today.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Inside the Dementia Epidemic: Book Review

Published 21 September 2012.
Mother-daughter relationships are already complex.

Add to the mix, the mother's history of alcoholism and mental illness as well as her emerging dementia, and the relationship threatens to complicate beyond the bureaucratic nightmares of a Kafka novel.

But not so for Martha Stettinius and her mother Judy.  In the pages of her memoir, Stettinius describes a tender relationship with a focus on the seven years spent caregiving since her mother's minor car accident in 2005 until just months before Judy's death in December of 2012.

That minor slip into a ditch signaled significant changes to Judy's cognition, leading to a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.

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

And in order to establish context, Stettinius reaches back to describe her childhood memories of her mother--some happy, some decidedly not. The author also spends time extolling her mother's strengths as a school teacher, as a member of a recovery group, and as a nature enthusiast who lived for decades alone in an idyllic lake house.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Health Benefits of Sardines

Photo by kelpenhagen.
Because I am concerned about my bone health, I've recently added sardines to my diet.

Calcium. Canned sardines contain a lot of calcium and phosphates, which help strengthen bones.  But since I started eating sardines, I learned that they have other health benefits as well.

Omega 3. They contain significant amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, which can protect against heart disease and stroke. Omega 3 fatty acids also might help with arthritis.

While there is no strong evidence that high levels of omega 3 can prevent dementia, those with low levels of omega 3 do demonstrate memory problems.

Protein.  They are a good source of protein as well.  One serving contains 21.5 grams of protein.  A person weighing 150 pounds should eat about 68 grams of protein per day.

Many older adults fail to get enough protein in their daily diet. Sardines are reasonably priced and can be purchased in cans, which can be stored for several weeks if not months (check the expiration dates carefully).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ping Pong: 2012 Documentary

Photo by OliBac.
I love mature athletes.  They motivate me in a number of ways.

After observing their accomplishments, I not only rev up my workout routine, I work harder to achieve in other realms of my life as well.

I was fortunate enough to stumble across a 2012 documentary Ping Pong.  The film introduces us to 8 mature table tennis players as they prepare to compete in China at an international tournament.

I was particularly delighted with the background stories of these players:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Shifting from Doing to Being

Photo by ElDave.
Because I am a young Boomer, I have long been focused on the life stage of people 10 to 15 years older than I.

Watching people who are ahead of me on life's path has helped me anticipate many new life events and many new psychological spaces.

Currently, I am interested in learning how people make the transition from being to doing. There isn't a specific chronological age for this shift. Depending on the person's physical health, it could happen at 60, 70, 80, 90--or beyond.

I have long focused on achievement and external validation. I'm an oldest child, a Type A personality, and an extrovert.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Remembering the Beatles

Photo by Carlos Jaimes.
As a younger Boomer, I have always been a little bit late to the party.  I was only two years old when the Beatles made their first trip to the US on February 7, 1964--fifty years ago this week.

So it was about a dozen years after their British invasion that I started buying their albums and spending hours learning the lyrics to all of their songs.

This post is part of a Midlife Boulevard blog hop, kicked off with a lyrics quiz by Roz aka @WriterRozWarren.  

Since the thumbnails below will disappear, here are a couple posts I'm saving along with Roz's. Check out @over50feeling40 aka Pam's post on being a screamer. And read what @Claudoo aka Claudia shares about the Ed Sullivan show and about John's death. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Last Vegas: Celebrating Immaturity?

I'm very interested in how Hollywood represents older adults.  Consequently, I've watched well over 100 films featuring people from late midlife on.

I ask myself while viewing these films, "How do these films hold up ideals for the viewing public? What roles do older adults play in our society?  What struggles do they have? What strengths do they have to offer in solving their own  problems and helping others to solve theirs?"

When I learned that Last Vegas (2013) was released on DVD, I rented it, eager to see how Douglas, De Niro, Freeman and Kline portray childhood friends reuniting for a bachelor party.

Giving the setting and the occasion, I should have expected this glorification of pleasure. But I was still disappointed.  It looked like a frat boy outing.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Fight, Resign or Embrace

Photo by pedtrosimoes7.
I'm waging a war on aging. From the minute my alarm goes off at 4:50 am, I am embattled.

Part of my drive comes from the fact that my husband is years younger than I and my children are young enough to be my grand kids. I was a late-launching adult who postponed her adolescence well into my 30s.

Fighting the Good Fight

I'm eating kale, sardines and low-fat dairy.  I'm walking an hour in the morning and then going to the gym in the evening and cycling through the routine du jour: cardio, stretching or strength training.

I switched careers so that I could make healthy aging my vocation.  I spend 4 to 6 hours every day teaching classes in aging studies or writing blog posts about aging.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Best of Boomer Blogs, Aging on the Brain

Photo by Thorbard.
What topics are taking up residence in your brain as a midlife / late life adult?  Keep your brain healthy and fit with a steady diet of good information from this week's Best of the Boomer Blogs: 

kevin dooley
On The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, Rita R. Robison, consumer journalist, writes about the record number of federal baby boomer workers who are eligible for retirement by 2016. Government-wide, about 30 percent of federal employees will be eligible to retire by 2016. But at some agencies, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Small Business Administration, at least 40 percent will become eligible. The General Accounting Office calls this a high-risk issue because more work is needed to address skills gaps.


Does the fact that every time you look in the mirror causes you to think you look older than yesterday bother you? Martin Rice at Fifty2Ninety noticed that and even took a lot of pictures of his newest wrinkles. He decided he just didn't give a hoot. 

L. Christante

On Modern Senior, Amy continues her look at how nutrition and exercise affect brain health.  The good news is that her article may have you reaching for the butter more often.  Learn the Top Ways to Boost Brain Health and prevent dementia and other degenerative brain diseases.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Novels about Older Men Facing Death

Photo by Macomb Paynes.
Because I spent decades as an English teacher before becoming a gerontologist, I am interested in reading novels about older adults.

Novels featuring people in late adulthood address a number of themes: exploring mature love, renegotiating relationships with adult children, adjusting to age-related health challenges, role loss upon retirement, finally chasing a long-suppressed dream, reframing one's past, transmitting a legacy to the rising generation and more.

The characters in these novels have the advantage of decades of experience.  I view them as experienced mountain climbers, taking in the view of the valley below.

From their vantage point of late life, they have insights about their own life to mull over. And they have greater perspective about the circle of life to share with others.  If others will listen.

I am happy to recommend the following novels for people seeking to better empathize with mature men and to more readily accept the wisdom they have to offer. Sometimes it's easier to listen to the advice of a stranger than to one's own grandfather or father.