Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Films Now & Then

Movie Still from It's a Wonderful Life by S_Herman.
My kids' definition of "Classic Christmas Movie" and mine differ quite a bit.

If you want an exhaustive list with a very loose definition of "Christmas," go here

My favorites are the made-for-television, stop-animation movies done by Rankin-Bass in the 1960s & 70s as well as black & white films released in theaters in the 1940s.

My kids convinced me to add a few of there favorites from more recent years, and I do like Love Actually (2003), A Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) and A Christmas Story (1983) Otherwise, I'm holding the line.

So let's take a trip down memory lane and look at a list of Christmas movies. These are the ones our family enjoys the most--listed from most recent to most classic.

Monday, December 22, 2014

2014 Top Ten Posts

Photo by Caroline.
As the year draws to a close, I'm taking the time to review the Top 10 posts for 2014.

I've done this for previous years, as well:

2013 Top Ten Posts

I wrote over 100 posts in 2014.  I've listed the top 10 most viewed posts written this calendar year in descending order, with the most popular post at the top.


1. Aging Films to Watch Next


2. Films about Aging, Part II, M-Z

3. Books about Dementia

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Death In Slow Motion: Book Review

Published February 3, 2004
Eleanor Cooney admired her mother Mary Durant for being cool, stylish, intelligent and sophisticated.  Her mother's core personality traits were dismantled once Alzheimer's Disease started to take its toll.

In her memoir Death in Slow Motion  (2004), Cooney relays an enormous amount of detail regarding her mother's illness and its affect on Eleanor.  Despite Eleanor's best efforts, her mother was lonely, grieving, agitated, clingy, weepy, and complaining.

Interspersed between accounts of Mary's hardships are details about her interesting and sophisticated life during the decades prior.

Mary worked as a writer, editor and for a time a model. She lived in New York City for a time before residing for decades in Washington, Connecticut.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Live On. Give On.

Click on the image to meet the 10 award winners.
This post is sponsored by Medtronic.

What do many people do when they receive the gift of prolonged life?

They use that extra time to help others.

Service is at the heart of the Bakken Invitation--hosted by Medtronic.

Recently, I had the opportunity to read about the 10 Honorees for 2014. They are recipients of medical technologies. And they are using their extended life to help others.

To read about all 10 Honorees who demonstrate the concept of  "Live On. Give On," see THIS PAGE.

I am inspired by all of the recipients, but I would like to highlight the work of the most senior recipient for 2014.

 At 77, Mumbai, India resident Rajnikant Reshamwala enjoys improved vitality since receiving two stents as a treatment for his coronary artery disease in January of 2013.

A life-long volunteer, Rajnikant used his $20,000 prize money to support Sleeping Children Around the World.

This charity provides mattresses, pillows and sheets for children so that they can have the physical, emotional and intellectual benefits of a deep, restful sleep.

Rajnikant makes this observation:

"Helping others will satisfy your own soul, too."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sleep-inducing Foods

Photo by nonelvis.
Just as some foods and drinks can cause insomnia, others can help induce sleep.  My own experience tells me that oatmeal over warm milk and topped with walnuts and a banana makes me sleepy. But after doing some reading, I have greater insight into why these foods make me sleepy.

This post is part of a series on insomnia.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Scar Tissue: Book Review

Published January 1, 1993
In 1993 Canadian author and politician Michael Ignatieff published a novel about a family's response to early onset dementia.  Scar Tissue was short listed for the Booker prize the following year.

Armed with this information, I decided to track down a copy of the book.  The narrator is one of two siblings adjusting to their mother's increased confusion.  The family also includes their father, a soil scientist and an immigrant from Russia. The mother is a painter.

The two brothers take different approaches to their mother's illness as influenced by their vocations.

The narrator is a philosopher. He saturates himself in images, emotions and theories. He mulls over the way dementia alters a sense of self, relationships and the ability to cast one's own life into a narrative.  He's on a never-ending quest for meaning.

His brother takes a more pragmatic approach by trying to identify the disease as it alters the material landscape of the brain.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wrinkles: Film Review

Released 2012
Wrinkles (2012) is an 89 minute animated film that focuses on the friendship between Emilio and Miguel, roommates residing in the same multi-level care center.

Emilio is a family man and a retired banker--cautious and methodical.  Miguel is a free spirit, always looking out for number one.

Although a Spanish film originally, there is an English-language version.  Emilio is voiced by Martin Sheen, Miguel by George Coe.

The film also introduces a handful of supporting cast members, mainly those living and working in the same facility.

Yes, this is an animated film, but it shouldn't be mistaken for a children's story. It takes a fairly realistic approach to depicting the challenges some people face in late life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tales of a Geriatrician: Book Review

1st Edition Published 30 November 2012.
2nd Edition Published 12 September 2014.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Now that I have the advantage of several decades of experience myself as a person in midlife, I find myself very interested in learning from people who have an expertise that differs from mine.

For this reason, I was eager to read David Bernstein's book, based on decades of practice as a geriatrician in Clearwater, Florida.

The long title of his book provides a great overview:

I've Got Some Good News and Some Bad News: You're Old.  Tales of a Geriatrician. What to Expect in Your 60s, 70s, 80s and Beyond. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Since Otar Left: Film Review

Released 17 September 2003
Jim, a filmmaker acquaintance of mine, recently recommended Since Otar Left (2003) to me, so I moved it to the top of my viewing list.  The fact that it won the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes the year it was released certainly didn't dissuade me from viewing it.

Let me start with the end: I bawled for a good twenty minutes when the movie concluded.  It gave me a greater appreciation for the strengths that older adults often possess -- but that others often fail to acknowledge.

I don't want to spoil the movie.  Just rent it. I will tell you that it's an art house film.  The pacing is slow, and the significant details are more subtle.   It contains an essence of realism, in my opinion, mimicking the way most of us experience life in small details that become significant through reflection.

In an effort to retain the film's power, my review has to be a bit vague.  Let me just draw your attention to a few aspects of the film.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Levy's Research on Positive Stereotypes

Photo by Marg.
"To keep the heart  unwrinkled, to be hopeful, kindly, cheerful, reverent--that is to triumph over old age." ~ Thomas Baily Aldrich
I confess to reversing my usual process for writing a post. This time, I first found the wonderful photograph above, and then I went looking for a matching idea. The photograph conveys the power of a positive attitude, so I started looking for research correlating positive thinking with longevity.