Monday, October 4, 2021

Pandemic Work Habits: From Lock Down to Overload

 

"Brain activity" by Cristóbal Cobo Romaní 
is licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

Since the start of August, I have been experiencing anxiety and memory problems. I have considered a number of causes (and consulted some licensed medical professionals).  I will into detail, but the graph above is the most elegant explanation. 

The low part at the left (understimulated) represents the first half of 2021. The low part at the right (overstimulation) represents the second half of 2021. 

A Quick Look at 2020, the Year Living on Cortisol and Adrenalin  

From February 2020 to December 2020, I was very busy preparing for life changes that I saw based on news I was reading out of China, California, New York, and Italy.  Then starting the second week of March 2020, both universities where I taught moved to online only. Thankfully, I had been using Blackboard, an electronic teaching tool, for years. It's a great way to supplement face-to-face instruction. 

But then in Fall of 2020, I learned how to use Zoom. Not only did I teach two classes, I also initiated ways to connect with a variety of people. I filed grades the second week of December then spent time with family who were able to gather together again thanks to testing and physical distancing. 

January to July: Pandemic Fatigue, Winter Blahs, and Hermit Habits

In the Winter of 2021, I only taught one class: Death, Dying and Bereavement with additional material related to deaths caused by COVID-19. That's when I hit a low. I had been in lockdown at home since March of 2020. I was only teaching one class, and it was emotionally demanding because of the topic and because my students were experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression, which made it difficult for them to do the assigned work. I stayed in my pajamas and watched a lot of British Detective shows and, thanks in a large part to the film Dig (2020), I also watched several documentaries about the history of England. 

The spring did bring an uptick in my energy and cognition. I taught a very demanding class online: teaching first-year college writing to 109 engineering students in China. I also was vaccinated (Pfizer, two inoculations).  However it took me two months of hang wringing before I returned to the gym and to church. 

Summer of 2021: Delta Came to SW Indiana

Saturday, July 31, 2021

2021 Mid-American Institute on Aging & Wellness: A Preview

 

The University of Southern Indiana in partnership with the local Area on Aging (SWIRCA) has organized their 14th Conference on Aging and Wellness.  

AFTER-THE-FACT UPDATE: I enjoyed this conference as a Zoom host, presenter, and audience member.  SAVE THE DATES for 11 & 12 of August 2022.  

In June of 2022, you will find the 2022 brochure and registration materials by visiting the link to MAIA (Mid-America Institute on Aging and Wellness).

MAIA's virtual format in 2020 and 2021 meant that you do not have to be from easy driving distance to attend.  USI and SWIRCA are located in Evansville, Indian, which is part of the Tri-State Region (Southern Illinois, Northwestern Kentucky). There first 12 years were in person with many participants hailing from the tristate or cities within an easy driving distance: St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville. 

The conference program has a variety of topics that include (but are not limited to) the following: diet, exercise, finances, dementia care, mental health care, combating ageism, addressing Parkinson's disease, diabetes care, and MORE! 

Who typically attends? 

  • People 50+
  • Health Care Students and Allied Health Faculty
  • Social Workers
  • Care Partners (aka caregivers): formal and informal
  • Nurses (not just RNs)
  • Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs)
  • Other employees working in health care (PTs, OTs, SLPs, etc.)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Supernova: Film Review

 

US release 29 January 2021.

Director Harry McQueen offers Supernova (2020), a quiet film with a heavy topic: how couples respond to a diagnosis of early onset dementia. 

Colin Firth plays Sam opposite Stanley Tucci playing Tusker. The latter is the one with early onset dementia, but clearly such a diagnosis affects Sam as well. 

These two have been a couple for two decades, and now they are taking a road trip through the Lake District of England in a camper van. They are en route to a piano concert featuring Sam. Tusker writes novels, and he has brought some notebooks with him so that he can make progress on his last novel before his memory corrupts any further. 

The film has three sections: establishing their dynamic, conversations with members of Sam's family, and more intense conversations between Sam and Tusker. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

HDL or "Good" Cholesterol: A Biomarker of Health

 

Image by Wonderland via Creative Commons

Not all cholesterol are created equal. Some types are harmful, and some types are beneficial. Here is a simplified explanation of the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol: 

Low-density lipoproteins deposit fat into the blood. High-density lipoproteins carry fat out of the blood.

This post is part of a series on biomarkers of health and longevity. 

Note: I am not a medical professional. This post does not offer medical advice; it's only intended to raise awareness. Please see a licensed medical professional if you have any concerns about your diet or health. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Father: Film Review


Released 27 Jan 2020. 

Director Florian Zeller delivers up an atypical perspective in The Father (2020) for a film that depicts dementia.

By doing so, he actually presents a perspective more typical than other films about memory challenges. 

The Father is one of about thirty "dementia films" that I've viewed in the last decade.  


I find Anthony Hopkins' portrayal (of a character also named Anthony) to be one of the most realistic. 

The majority of the film shows Anthony in conversation with a handful of care partners: family members--such as his daughter Anne played by Olivia Coleman--or those hired to care for him.  

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Nomadland: Review with a View on Poverty

 

Released 19 February 2021

Having been a fan of Frances McDormand for two decades, I was eager to see her performance as Fern in Nomadland (2020).  She did not disappoint. However, I did not walk away feeling blissful or triumphant. Instead, I was unsettled. 

The film is a blend between fact and fiction. The director, Chloe' Zhao, had a lot of people depict themselves in the film, people who are seasonal workers living in in all manner of vehicles--from campers to converted vans. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Ten Books: An Essential Library on Aging


Over the past decade, I have read over 150 books about aging. The topics have ranged from physical to metaphysical with just about everything in between. 

For my full list of books read, see this page. 

I realize that scrolling through this list is a bit like drinking from a fire hydrant. Consequently, I decided to compile a list of the books that I judge as essential reading for anyone who is aging or anyone supporting another person who is aging. 

Monday, March 29, 2021

2020 Report on Older Americans

 

In 2020, the Federal Interagency Forum on Age-Related Statistics published an updated report about 40 key indicators of Well-Being. 

These 40 key indicators are organized into the following categories: 

Population

Economics

Health Status

Health Risks and Behaviors

Health Care

Environment

Of course, this report published data about older adults before the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, some of the information has probably changed dramatically. 

Nevertheless, some of the information is still salient. 

You can read the full report here, which is more than 180 pages long. However, it includes three pages of highlights spanning pages xvi - xviii. 

After reading through the highlights, here are a few points that I found interesting. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Vaccinated on the Anniversary of the Pandemic

 

Photo by JernejFurman
via Creative Commons

On Thursday, 11 March 2021 I received my first vaccine to protect me from acquiring the disease COVID-19 in the event that I aim infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

Because I received the Pfizer vaccine, I will receive the second vaccine in three weeks. 

Two weeks after that (around Tax Day), I will achieve the maximum immunity provided by that vaccine. My husband is on a schedule for his vaccine just three days behind me.  

I will always be able to remember the date of my first vaccination because it was the one-year anniversary for when the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 had reached pandemic levels. 

The media has published a variety of retrospectives, so I will refrain from making observations about society at large. I can report on my own situation with some authority. 

Briefly stated, I have moved from vigilance to mania to information overload to worry to depression and now I feel an ember of hope. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Sunday Afternoons with Shirley Temple

 

Image by Keith Roper via Creative Commons

Earlier this week, I saw that "animal crackers in my soup" was a trending topic on Twitter. Sure enough, this referenced a lyric from a song that Shirley Temple sung in the film Curly Top (1935). People were recalling a late-night commercial for a DVD set of her films.  (See IMDB for a list of her films.) This started me on a trip down memory lane. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Prepare for the Next Emergency Today

 

Photo by Niq Scott via Creative Commons

With much of the United States experiencing very dangerous winter weather, many people are taking an inventory of their ability to meet basic needs during loss of power or water. I just got off the phone with my octogenarian father who has lost power and water in his home outside of Houston. They could have been better prepared. 

Much of what I have learned about preparedness has come from nearly six decades of direct experience and observation. For example, some friends of mine had no water for a week because of flooding in central Pennsylvania. The husband had to stand in line every day to get drinking water from the city for his family of six. 

After hearing about their situation, I began storing water in used laundry jugs. I do not even rinse the jugs because the water I store in used laundry jugs is for flushing toilets not drinking. We have other water stored for drinking. 

Having water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and flushing toilets is just one of many areas of emergency preparedness. 

I want to write a comprehensive post about emergency preparedness, but the topic is too broad, and the stakes are too high. Each household should study, prepare, and review their own emergency preparedness. 

Sunday, January 31, 2021

My Love Don't Cross That River: Film Review


Released
27 November 2014
Director and cinematographer Jin Mo-young spent 15 months filming a couple from South Korea who had been married for 76 years. Jo Byeong-man is 98 years old, and his wife,  Kang Kye-yeol, is 89 years old.  

The resulting documentary--My Love, Don't Cross That River--depicts this couple engaging in daily activities such as shopping, cooking, eating, doing laundry, doing light yard work and in other ways still meeting their needs. 

The first half of the film depicts their playful interaction with each other, their love for their dogs, and their ability to manage fairly well in their late life. 

By the midpoint, the documentary starts introducing a number of challenges that the couple face. 

It's clear that Jo Byeong-man's cough is an indication of growing health challenges. Kang Kye-yeol also talks about the loss of half of their twelve children when she purchases clothing for them to have in the afterlife. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy 9th Blogoversary

Image by Jenny C.
via Creative Commons

Today marks the 9th Blogoversary for The Generation Above Me (TGAM). I started this blog when I was a graduate student, earning a master's in Gerontology aka Aging Studies.  

I wanted a place to save links to more authoritative sources than the papers I was writing for my seminar classes. I also wanted to save reviews for books and films about aging for my own reference.  

Over time, family, friends, and associates would ask me questions about their parents' aging process and their own. The blog became a place for me to write up what I learned for others faced with the same set of age-correlated challenges or opportunities. 

For the first six years, my blogoversary post included a list of the overall top views for TGAM. However, I have found that with 436 posts published over nine years, the Top 20 views have not changed substantially.  

Most of the Top 20 All-Time Views for this blog are part of these series of posts--or they are in the spirit of these posts: 

Films about Aging The links for Films about Alzheimer's Disease (and other dementias), Films Set in Nursing Homes, and Films about the Dying Process are the three most popular posts in this series. I enjoy watching films about aging because reading academic studies can leave me cold. Aging is an holistic activity that includes emotions and relationships.  Films do a good job depicting complexities and nuance. I highly suggest the documentaries since many feature films can gloss over some of the more pragmatic concerns. 

Books about Aging  Books about Dementia receives the most views, but I am partial to books about Spirituality and Aging. I spent forty years studying and teaching college English courses. And it is my nature to read a great deal when faced with new challenges and opportunities. I hope that my efforts hear can serve others. And writing reviews helps me to recall more details from books read years prior. 

Image by bairo via Creative Commons.