Seniors

 

Living in a retirement demographic area, I often hear others lamenting they are losing their memories, or their keys, have problems remembering people's names, etc.  Dementia is jokingly mentioned, but many seniors do worry it can happen.   Our family doctor says  if you put the milk in the cupboard by mistake and then retrieve it - you're OK; but if you think it's OK to be in there, you may want to see your doctor.   He also states that we all have a 50-50 chance of experiencing dementia unrelated to family history or even if you have one parent who had dementia.

Recently I attended two meetings on dementia that were fact-filled.  Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of conditions that affect one's cognitive abilities in ways that affect daily life.  The three subtypes of Dementia are mainly:   1. Alzheimer’s Disease ( Plaques and tangles form inside the brain causing chemical deficiencies).  It is believed that this can start to have an effect on the memory center   2. Vascular Dementia (decreased blood flow the brain and different from Alzheimer’s in that it is caused by damaged blood vessels in the brain, commonly caused by strokes).   Approximately 20% of all dementia cases are vascular, making it the second most common type. Risk factors include a history of heart attacks, strokes – especially multiple strokes, diabetes, or high blood pressure.   3. Dementia with Lewy Bodies - This is the third most common form of dementia and is caused by build-ups of a certain type of protein in the brain. These deposits are called Lewy bodies and they effect a person’s perception, behavior, and thinking. Lewy bodies are often found in Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s patients, making this form of dementia harder to diagnose.

The National Institute for Aging estimates about 7 percent of people over 65 will have some form of dementia.   What can one do, if anything, to protect oneself from risk factors?  You can affect your risk by how social you are, your exercise habits and your heart and diabetes management.

Although 'seniors' store vast information over the years, they sometimes need extra time to remember where they stored that info in their brain.   Like an over-programmed-filled computer that 'searches' for info and takes extra time to find it, so do our brains.  What a relief to remember albeit slower!

Some suggestions on how to reduce your risk factor:

  • Spend at least one day a week with younger people, especially grandkids,  even if it is on Skype video or the telephone.  Stay social with friends and family.
  • Walk, hike or swim (150 minutes of moderate exercise - weekly).
  • Treat depression; talk to your doctor; depression is linked to higher dementia risk.  And sometimes depression can appear to be dementia.
  • Cook and eat heart healthy.  Strive for a diet low in saturated fat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over your medications with you to see if any are at a risk for contributing to dementia or lacking in some vitamins.
  • Take some courses or classes.   It can stimulate your brain and/or socially meet new people.
  • Volunteer your time to a cause or interest you support.

Staying connected to friends and family is key and one of the most important ways to avoid dementia.  The risk of dementia is higher if one is lonely or isolated.  Millions of people 50 and older (about 1 in 5) live alone and are at risk of isolation.  The fastest growing type of household is individuals living alone.  And many of those over 50, have no one to talk to about important matters.

Try to stay socially active; If you are homebound and/or can't get around easily, learn to text on a cell phone or video chat or even social media chat, ie, Facebook. Twitter.   In a busy world, a hello by text, especially to the teens & young adults in our lives, wlll ensure a faster return quicker than a return phone call.   If you are not up-to-date in technology in computers or cell phones, there are FREE courses to learn about them.   And a good brain exercise.

Being socially active, getting regular exercise (physically and mentally) and managing chronic conditions (diabetes, heart disease) are all plusses to reduce your chances of dementia.

 

 

 

 

 

grandparents2

I Will

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend... I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn't need, but looks so avante garde on my patio. I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.
I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love... I will.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 & 70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love... I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set.

They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore...I've even earned the right to be wrong.
So, to answer your question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).

Anonymous  - from an email

 

Marie Coppola     April 2015

 

Picture?   What picture?  If you are referring to photographs, I wonder if you've received any pictures of babies, nieces, nephews or grandkids lately.  Or did you get an email with attachments that you leave on your computer or cell phone?   When you have a lunch date or attend a party, do people show you pictures in their wallets or flash their cell phone to slide over the pictures?  Or do you hear things like this - especially from the grandparents who may not be resident 'digital natives' from the Z Generation?

  • This is my grandsom when he was 10 - his parents haven't sent any recent photos.
  • Her wedding album was online - no, we didn't get any photos.  And I was in the wedding.
  • There's lots of pictures of the kids on Facebook.   But we don't do Facebook.
  • We bought a bunch of photo albums on sale but we don't have any pictures.
  • No, I didn't see her cell phone pictures - we don't have that feature on our cell phone.
  • I never learned how to download or open pictures or send them on the cell phone.
  • Once I learn how to do it, it will become obsolete and will have to learn all over again.

In 2012, USA Today sponsored an online contest for readers to choose the name of the next generation after the Millenniums and it was suggested that some might call them Generation Z" rather "off-putting" and a name that is "still in-the-running.   Some alternate names were proposed including: iGeneration, Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, Gen Next, Post Gen, and Plurals. 

Wikipedia also offers:  "Most of the traits that will define this generation have yet to emerge. However, many are highly connected, having had lifelong use of communication and media technology like the World Wide Web, instant messaging, text messaging MP3 players, mobile phones and tablets,  earned them the nickname "digital native.".    Pew Research tells us the percentage of cell phone owners who use their devices to access the Internet has more than doubled since 2009, and '82% of  cell phone users take pictures with their cell phones over cameras'.  (And that was 7 years ago)!   Since then, we now have Instagram and Cloud Storage.

Our family has many photos from the early 1900s through the late 1900s.  They are wonderful memories and eventually passed down to the kids.  Some of them are on our walls and mantels, giving us ever-changing look-a-likes of the people or scenes within them.   Sometimes they look like different family members over time, they remind us of the time and place they were taken.   Sometimes we notice things we missed the first time we saw them.

Image result for 1950s photograph

Photographs are priceless.   Some people put them in safes or vaults for protection against fires - that's how much they are valued.  Sadly, they are decreasing quickly.  How do we protect photographs on CDs or DVDs which eventually may become obsolete like much technology ends up or access them from a broken computer or disabled cell phone?

Today's digital natives are into selfies and photobombing.     Not my photo album kind of memories.

Image result for selfies

Image result for photobombing

Marie Coppola Revised October 2016

 

 

 

It's a fact - the older you get, the wiser you are.   Now that’s a comforting thought. According to the daily news media, research supported by the Russell Sage (no pun intended) Foundation, the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation Grant, indicates that socially, older folks, more than younger or middle-aged ones, are more apt to recognize and accept different values, acknowledge and accept uncertainties and changes in one’s life and to acknowledge others’ point of views.

So, mind and hire your elders! It’s not as important in life to know how the SEO works or how to program the DVR or how to text someone as it is to handle ‘social wisdom’ – how to get along with people and handle disagreements.

Researchers found that age affects wisdom at every social class, level of education and IQ. Even though older people don’t have the technological wisdom that younger ages have in computers and everyday technology, they do have the advantage of analyzing and solving social problems.

Demographic splits of groups numbering almost 300 — ages 25 to 40, 41 to 59 and 60 plus were given hypothetical situations regarding finance, economic growth, customs, and world problems. The researchers analyzed the results, not knowing which individual or group age the responses came from. Ratings were based on social interchanges such as compromise, flexibility, seeing the other viewpoint and mediating conflict resolution.

Then over 200 of the same groups participated in a second hypothetical area and yet a third comprising scholars, psychotherapists, clergy and counseling professionals.

The results of these tests concluded that economic status, education and IQ were related to having increased wisdom, but academics were no wiser than nonacademics with similar education levels. Researchers were surprised at how much wisdom the groups showed in disputing societal problems. Richard Nisbitt, one of the researchers said, “There is a very large advantage for older people over younger people for those (issues)”. Another researcher, Lynn Hasher remarked that “the study is the single best demonstration of long-held view that wisdom increases with age.”

She continues, “What I think is most important…is that it shows a major benefit that accrues with aging…rather than the mostly loss-based findings reported in psychology. As such it provides a richer base of understanding of aging processes.” She also cited the critical importance of workplaces providing the opportunity for older employees to continue to contribute.

Many work places do the opposite and retire aging employees and replace them with younger employees at a lower salary, compromising the experience and life situations these employees can contribute to the work force by their ongoing and diverse experiences.

© Marie Coppola  Revised January 2015

Ref: Associated Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that's a comforting thought. According to the daily news today, research supported by the Russell Sage (no pun intended) Foundation, the National Institute on Aging and the National Science Foundation Grant, indicates that socially, older folks, more than younger or middle-aged ones, are more apt to recognize and accept different values, acknowledge and accept uncertainties and changes in one's life and to acknowledge others' point of views.

Mind your elders! It's not as important in life to know how the SEO works or how to program the DVR or how to text someone as it is to handle 'social wisdom' - how to get along with people and handle disagreements.

Researchers found that age affects wisdom at every social class, level of education and IQ. Even though older people don't have the technological wisdom that younger ages have in computers and everyday technology, they do have the advantage of analyzing and solving social problems.

Demographic splits of groups numbering almost 300 -- ages 25 to 40, 41 to 59 and 60 plus were given hypothetical situations regarding finance, economic growth, customs, and world problems. The researchers analyzed the results, not knowing which individual or group age the responses came from. Ratings were based on social interchanges such as compromise, flexibility, seeing the other viewpoint and mediating conflict resolution.

Then over 200 of the same groups participated in a second hypothetical area and yet a third comprising scholars, psychotherapists, clergy and counseling professionals.

The results of these tests concluded that economic status, education and IQ were related to having increased wisdom, but academics were no wiser than nonacademics with similar education levels. Researchers were surprised at how much wisdom the groups showed in disputing societal problems. Richard Nisbitt, one of the researchers said, "There is a very large advantage for older people over younger people for those (issues)". Another researcher, Lynn Hasher remarked that "the study is the single best demonstration of long-held view that wisdom increases with age."

She continues, "What I think is most important...is that it shows a major benefit that accrues with aging...rather than the mostly loss-based findings reported in psychology. As such it provides a richer base of understanding of aging processes." She also cited the critical importance of workplaces providing the opportunity for older employees to continue to contribute.

Many work places do the opposite and retire aging employees and replace them with younger employees at a lower salary, compromising the experience and life situations these employees can contribute to the work force by their ongoing and diverse experiences.

Marie Coppola  June 2013

Ref: Associated Press


 

Seniors love social gatherings – it gives them a chance to talk about their grandkids’ latest superior achievements or their latest ailment or ‘procedure’. The hardest part is what to wear to parties and weddings. And yes, even funerals. They, too, have a social aspect. But you still have to have something presentable to wear.

It dawns on women somewhere in their 5th or 6th or 7th decade that they truly have no clue what other people have worn to prior ‘dress-up’ occasions; they have enough trouble remembering what THEY wore. Why get all worked up on what they will wear? So here is what I do.

I always look first in the closet and there’s that great little black dress that somehow has grown to a size 12 ~ it used to be a size 8. ~ I love stretchy fabrics. This little dress is appropriate for all occasions from funerals to weddings. Maybe....perhaps...a trip to the store will spiff up it’s appearance if I find some new accessories, and maybe, just maybe, even come across a brand new dressy, more youthful outfit. We have a family wedding next weekend.

Shopping for a spiffy new dress can be tedious and stressful. Most cocktail dresses are of the cling-y, nylon-y stretch-y material that suck up to your body, cling and bind, and show off all your curves, bulges and second stomachs. Even cellulite wants to be seen.

Is that my belly button indention? Oh, that’s not attractive. Why is it shorter in the front than in the back? Oh, yes, my two stomachs. But, you say, it looks smashing. Thank you, saleslady, but maybe a nice two-piece outfit would look better. Oh, they’re over there? Do they have elastic waistbands?

Uh, Oh. Don’t they make two-piece outfits where the top part covers your torso? Is there something wrong with all these mirrors? Are those my boobs plunging out of the top? Miss, do you have any outfits that go up to the neck? No, not in this department? Try Super Misses X sizes? OK. Where is it? Upstairs? Behind the elevator and next to the tent department? I’ll find it.

You can tell the Misses X department by the wide arrangement of wide clothes. But, she lied. They all have plunging necklines (what is this obsession to hang out your boobs?) and the clothes still cling to your body but more so in folds — who needs more folds? Miss, are you sure this isn’t the maternity department? No, of course I’m not pregnant. But thanks for the compliment; it implies I am young enough to get pregnant.   No, I’m not interested in the maternity department. No, thank you,  No, I don’t care where it is.

Maybe Lane Bryant has something – well – more mature and in style.

Hi, yes, I’m looking for a dressy cocktail dress that is not plunging, not clinging, below my knee-caps, and not made in Thailand, China or Malaysia. I’d like it to flatter my two stomachs and my behind and hide my imperfections and cellulite and have a built-in tummy reducer and bra reducer. Also, the top has to be smaller than the bottom and above my nipple line. Oh, and I prefer an elastic waist.

You have nothing like that? Well, thank you, anyway.

We had a great time at the wedding. My 10-year old little black dress that has somehow expanded to fit my body through all these years looked great. Everyone commented on my “new” dress, but I think they really meant my old body that somehow could adapt to an ‘old dress’ to make it look presentable. I love this dress – so much so that I think I will wear it to the funeral on Wednesday.

They don’t make dresses like this anymore. When it falls apart, I guess my social life will, too.

© Marie Coppola Revised October 4, 2015

 

Sandwiched between Mother's Day and Father's Day are Grandparents.  What would we do without grandparents?

I remember a story about a young man who was very close to his grandmother.

On her deathbed, when he went in to say his goodbyes, his grandmother took his hand and told him, "I believe in you. You will be very successful one day". This young man always remembered her prediction and went on to become successful in work, family and life. He believed what she told him and it became self-fulfilling.

Plagiarizing Jesus' Beatitudes on the Sermon on the Mount, I offer and dedicate Beatitudes for Grandparents, celebrating grandparents and why we are so thankful to have them:

1) Blessed are the grandparents, who lovingly and joyfully come to the aid of their children and grandchildren in times of joy and in times of needs. Especially blessed are those senior parents who live some distance away, and bond with their little ones by phone, letters, e-mails, tapes and videos. The warmth from these communications lessens the distance between them.

2) Blessed are the grandparents who comfort their grandchildren in times of trouble, sorrow, disappointment, and maybe just for not making the football team or cheerleader squad. Grandparents’ comfort in caring for them gives them extra assurances of love. A kind and understanding word goes a long way, and is most special from a grandparent.

3) Blessed are the grandparents who instill confidence and self esteem to their grandchildren by appreciating and acknowledging their achievements - educationally, athletically or spiritually. Extra blessings for those grandparents who live nearby and attend school functions, class trips or school plays. Their presence lights up their grandkids’ activities. Attend a school lunch or a midget football game and watch how happy kids are that their grandparents are there!

4) Blessed are the grandparents who mentor their grandchildren with ethical issues, honesty in all things and offer themselves as examples of what kind of adults they should aspire to be. A grandparent’s fine example is better than reading a book about it. Kids emulate their parents and their grandparents.

5. Blessed are the grandparents who are patient with their grandchildren, especially if there are issues of fighting, misbehaving or argumentative displays between siblings. Especially blessed are those grandparents, who use tactics of understanding, forgiveness, and persuasion to bring calm waters to a stormy situation. Sometimes, a grandparent’s input is listened to more than a parent. A grandparent can be a great equalizer.

6. Blessed are the grandparents who act as peacemakers, not only with their own children and their family, but between grandchildren, too. It is a blessing when there is no finger pointing or taking sides or adding fuel to a fiery situation during family arguments. Grandchildren recognize grandparents ‘having some clout over their own parents’ actions; and that ‘clout’ is directed towards unity and not divided-ness.

7. Blessed are the grandparents who can overlook the young grandchild’s honest remarks about them; ie, you are old; you look fat, you look skinny, you aren’t as good on the computer as my mommy ; you walk funny; why is your hair gray? – and are serene enough to remember they are children and do not mean disrespect. Blessed are the grandparents who can make a joke or gloss over ‘truthful remarks’. Parents especially are thankful for this.

8. Blessed are the grandparents who are young in spirit and ‘play’ with their grandchildren. Kids LOVE to play and grandparents who usually have more time than their own parents to play board games, watch them on PlayStation [very boring, but kids love for Gramps or Nana to watch them] or even games you played when young. Kids love bingo, scrabble, monopoly, checkers, etc. or you can teach them card games or chess. Playing and having fun makes a strong bond between generations. Both enjoy these activities. Kids are very competitive and extra-blessings to grandparents who allow them to win sometimes.

9. Blessed are the grandparents who attend church functions with the family. Even if visiting on a trip and Nonna lives far away, going to church with the grandkids brings an extra bond in relationships. Kids listen to Grandma’s input on spiritual matters as well as others, and they will ask her questions they won’t ask other adults. She listens to them and answers them as best she can. A spiritual bond is a lasting bond.

10. Most blessed are the grandparents who show affection and love to these small people - and most find it very easy to do. The grandkids know how important Mimi and Pop-Pop are to the family unit, and how their unconditional love is the only one they will know besides their parents’. They know it and bask in it. Maybe it can be that one day these children may live with their grandparents or they with the kids or grandkids, and the love element will allow that to happen with more ease and naturalness.

There are countless ways that we are blessed with these ’surrogate parents’. Some are latch-key caretakers; some take the grandkids on vacations with them, or take them shopping which turn into memorable jaunts, or to the movies the grandparent really has no interest in going to, or simply reading and learning together. Grandparents are there for school vacations or extended visits. Grammy makes the best cookies and lets the grandkids help. Grandpa puts the miniature trains together and teaches anyone who wants to learn how to fish.

The best gift that grandparents give is the gift of themselves; they make some of our best adult memories. If we are fortunate to still have them, we are ever so thankful.

Copyright © Marie Coppola Revised November 2012

 

Just when you think you know everything about health happenings, something else 'floats' by. What you need to know about floaters in your eyes may save your eyesight.....

What are floaters? Floaters are tiny clumps of gel or cells inside the vitreous which is a clear gel-like fluid on the inside of your eye. They are more noticeable in a bright light or sunlight and look like little dots darting about when you roll your eyes around.

Although they appear to be in front of you, they are actually shadows from inside your eye recast from the retina. They appear as small dots, circles, lines or even cloudy cobwebs. Sometimes you get a perception that a bug or a movement is in front of you, when actually, it is a floater.

Who gets floaters? Many floaters are harmless and you can get use to them over time. They require no treatment or surgery. If you have floaters, and suddenly get new ones, you need to have an eye examination.

Do floaters ever cause problems? Yes, they can. In middle age, the vitreous gel starts to thicken and shrink. As the vitreous pulls away from the back wall of the eye, it causes what is called 'a posterior vitreous detachment. In doing so, it cases floaters to appear in your eyes.

This vitreous detachment is common in persons who:

are nearsighted;

have undergone cataract operations;

have had YAG laser eye surgery;

have had eye inflammation.

When are floaters a serious indication of possible eye problems?

When the vitreous detaches, it may cause floaters or flashes that may be symptoms of a tear in your retina. If it is not treated as soon as possible, the retina may detach from the back of your eye. The only treatment for a detached retina is surgery (laser).

Flashes that look like flashing lights or lightning streaks (stars) can be experienced as we grown older. If they suddenly appear, contact your ophthalmologist immediately to make sure your retina has not been torn.

Always contact your ophthalmologist as soon as possible to be checked if: one new floater suddenly appears; you see sudden flashes of light; you notice loss of side vision.

If a torn retina goes unchecked or untreated, it could result in a loss of vision.

This article is informational only, and not intended for self-diagnosis in lieu of medical advice and treatment. If you are having symptoms that are urgent in nature, please call 911 or your local medical emergency line. If you have symptoms that are not urgent but are of concern, please seek qualified medical advice.

© Marie Coppola, 2012; some rights reserved.