Friday, October 30, 2015

Death Comes to All: An Elder Tale

Image by Arallyn.
Halloween is almost upon us, so I'm choosing to tell an eerie elder tale.

This post is part of a series on elder tales.  The main character in an elder tale is an older adult who is the hero or focus of the story. Often the conflict is resolved because of their hard-won wisdom instead of some magical intervention--even if that wisdom is symbolized by a fantastical event or object. 

Death Comes to All 

Once upon a time, there was an older woman who lived far north among people who hunted in order to survive the long winters.

For decades, she helped her family and her tribe survive. However, she lived so many winters that she could do very little but eat small portions, observe others, and sleep on her pallet in the corner of the family lodge.

As the village moved deeper through a long, cold winter, she noticed that she was receiving fewer and fewer visitors as well as less and less food. She grew thinner and weaker. She observed that fewer fish were found in the freezing rivers, fewer caribou were found in the snowy woods, and fewer seals were found near the shores of the sea.

Friday, October 23, 2015

How We Age: Book Review

Published 1 February 2011.
I very much enjoyed reading How We Age: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Growing Old. (2011).

Dr. Marc E. Agronin graduated from Harvard and then Yale Medical school before becoming a psychiatrist at the Miami Jewish Health Systems.

Agronin possess a great blend of intellect, spirit and emotion as he moves from describing very specific incidents with patients to describing very general observations about the process of aging.

He combines viewpoints from the sciences, social sciences and the humanities while working with people in their 70s, 80s, 90s and 100s.

Agronin does focus a great deal on what he labels "The Four Horsemen of Old Age": depression, dementia, delirium, and destitution.

But his book is not all gloom and doom. He also describes older adults experiencing laughter, healing, restoration, intimacy, legacy, and insight in their final chapter of life.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Flu + You - October 2015

Learn more at
The National Council on Aging and Sanofi Pasteur have teamed up to create the Flu + You campaign.

The purpose is to educate older adults and their caregivers about the following:

- The seriousness of influenza

- The importance of prevention

- The available vaccine options

Is influenza really a problem?


[Note: This post does not offer medical advice. Its purpose is to raise awareness.  Consult a licensed medical professional to learn more about safeguarding your health against flu.]

Last year (the 2014-2015 flu season) recorded the highest hospitalization rates among people 65 + in recent history. (Flu + You Fact Sheet)

Award-winning actress Judith Light (b. 1949) briefly explains some of the key points:

Flu + You has collected a number of facts to help illustrate the importance of influenza vaccination.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

World Thrombosis Day - October 2015

Search or Use #ThinkVTE on Social Media.
Because of my interest in healthy aging, I have seen a proliferation of campaigns that raise awareness.
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Cancer, particularly breast and prostate forms
As I move into the second half of my life, I am working to control risk factors.

I'm also learning about symptoms so that I can seek medical attention at the sign of any of the above diseases. 

[Note: Please see a licensed medical professional if you have any concerns about your health. This post does not give medical advice; its aim is to raise awareness only.]

However, I just recently learned about a lesser-known, yet prevalent health problem: 

VTE is a condition where clots form in the vein, usually in the leg (DVT) and increase the possibility of traveling to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), which can be fatal. 

In preparation for participating in World Thrombosis Day 2015 as an influencer, I received training from Dr. Gary Raskob, a world expert on the topic, included this statement in his presentation materials:
"Worldwide, 1 in 4 people die from causes related to thrombosis; it is a common underlying cause of the world's three leading cardiovascular killers:
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke (ischemic kind not hemorrhagic kind)
  • Venous thromboembolism"
In the following 6 minute video, Dr. Raskob delivers a brief-yet-comprehensive portrait of VTE, created for last year's inaugural World Thrombosis Day, which was October 13, 2014. 

Watching this may help save a life.

To watch more videos on the topic, see 2015's WTD set of videos

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Caring for a Husband with Dementia: Book Review

Published 17 March 2015.
Every disease makes life more difficult. However, dementia presents a number of challenges that alter health, identity and relationships.

Angela G. Gentile, MSW, RSW, brings over 25 years experience to the pages of her new book, Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide (2015).

(I have received a free copy of her book in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

Not only does she loan her professional experience, she includes knowledge gleaned from working closely with eight women whose husbands received a diagnosis of dementia (Alzheimer's Disease and vascular dementia being the most prevalent forms).

The result is a guide book that has very practical helps while also conveying a tone of compassion.

It's evident that she is strongly visualizing the reader as she writes. For example, most chapters contain space for exploring feelings, conceptualizing the journey and making goals for how to best respond.

Gentile's book is organized into the following sections and chapters:

Friday, October 2, 2015

VO2 Max: Biomarker of Health

Photo by Charlyn Wee.
As a Baby Boomer, I have heard chatter about the value of cardiovascular fitness since Jane Fonda first marketed her aerobics videos.

However, I just investigated the assessment tools for VO2 and VO2 Max in my efforts to better understand biomarkers of health and longevity.

This post is part of a series on Biomarkers for Health

By looking at the tools used by researchers to measure fitness and pace of aging, I'm trying to better understand lab results that doctors might order for me or for my Greatest Generation parents.

I am also trying to use midlife as a time to prepare for higher quality of life during my 70s, 80s and beyond.  

For this reason, I decided to read a bit about various VO2 tests and VO2 Max tests as measures of cardiorespiratory fitness.

Note: This post is to raise awareness only. It does not offer medical advice. If you have concerns about your cardiovascular system, please see a licensed medical professional.