thanks for the memory

9 Jun

My grandma moved in with my family over a year ago.  At the time that she moved in, I was living at home. We would watch old movies together for hours, and I found the time I spent with her to be a sort of refuge from the daily stresses of life.

She knew me back then.

My Grandma, along with 1 in 6 women in America, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

5.3 million people in the United States have dementia, and  there are 10.9 million unpaid caregivers for people afflicted with this disease. Another surprising fact – it is the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S., and that number is on the rise, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

It is so strange to go home for a visit, and know that when I go into her room and hug my grandma, I have to explain who I am first. She goes along with it, and appears excited to see me. But I know, all too soon those days will be gone as well, and when I go in to see her, there will be no recollection at all. I cherish those days we spent together over a year ago, and I learned a strong lesson about valuing the time you have with someone. Someday the one you love may be gone.

how old do you think i am???

9 Jun

So, this is a picture of me and my mom, it was taken just a few months ago. She came from California to visit because my oldest sister just had her first baby. We all absolutely adore my little nephew, and my mom is a natural at being “grandma”. She will be turning 55 later this year.

I was thinking recently how funny it is that, in some restaurants she will qualify for the senior discount! I don’t know about you, but I think my mom looks far from being a “senior citizen”. However, she could go into a number of nationwide food chains, including Taco Bell, Fuddrucker’s, IHOP, Wendy’s, or Chili’s and qualify for the senior discount.

I think it is so interesting what we consider “old age”. Many women well into their 60’s and 70’s are as active and spry as women half their age. I know a woman in my home town who has to be at least 80, but she is the happiest person! She goes out walking every day, she remembers everyone she meets, and can call them by name even after only one introduction. You can just see the sparkle of life in her eyes.

So, you may qualify for the senior discount, but just consider that a perk for all your hard earned wisdom over the years.

Here’s a few tips I found for staying young as the years go by.

  1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them — that is why you pay them.
  2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
  3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.
  4. Enjoy the simple things.
  5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
  6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
  7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
  8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
  9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county. Travel to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.
  10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity

and in the words of frank sinatra…

love your heart ♥

9 Jun

Confession – I am a diet coke drinker. Well, at least I was, until I attempted to give up drinking soda about a year ago. I indulge myself every once in awhile when that silver can just gets the best of me. But probably like many of you, I always noticed that little red dress symbol on the can. I didn’t really know what it was, so a few months ago I looked into it.

Turns out it’s a campaign from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute called The Heart Truth. “Heart Disease Doesn’t Care What You Wear—It’s the #1 Killer of Women.” So the red dress is the national symbol for heart disease awareness in women.The campaign is especially directed toward women between the ages of 40 and 60, when the risk of heart disease really increases. Women are encouraged to talk to their doctors, find out their own personal risk, and take action to decrease it by making healthy lifestyle choices.

The majority of heart attacks in women occur 10 years after menopause, according to the American Heart Association. They have an awesome feature on their website where you can actually do an online checkup to evaluate your heart health as it is today (apparently I have low risk). If you take it, be prepared to know your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and triglycerides. It will tell you your BMI, which is kinda fun.

Staying active is one of the major preventative measures you can take to prevent heart disease, along with good nutrition. Physical activity can be a little tricky in your later years, but it’s important. You might not feel up to a marathon, but try taking brisk walks, go bowling, work in the yard, do water aerobics, or anything that you enjoy that gets you active. It will be well worth it!

Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in America. Don’t let it take your life, get out and move!

the change

8 Jun

We all know what comes to mind when we think of menopause… hot flashes, insomnia, irritability, mood swings, and I could go on. The average age for women to experience menopause is 51, but these symptoms can appear long before menopause actually hits. Well, a news article I was reading was talking about how for many women, naturally occurring menopause greatly increases a woman’s risk of heart disease. Not what you think of as your typical symptom, right?

Apparently, in younger women estrogen serves as a protection to the heart, but with the onset of menopause, as estrogen levels drop, so does that protection, contributing to higher rates of heart disease.

Weight gain during menopause is also cause for concern. Lower estrogen levels make it difficult for a woman to maintain a healthy weight, which can lead to other problems like physical inactivity, diabetes, or high blood pressure.

The best advice for women who are dealing with “the change” is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The Mayo Clinic suggest eating well, staying active, seeking treatment if symptoms are severe, trying yoga, not smoking, and getting regular check ups to ease the transition into menopause.

mmm, mmm, good…

7 Jun

Aging brings about many changes that impact the eating habits of  seniors. The gastrointestinal tract changes, your mouth changes, there are problems chewing and digesting, there is loss of tastebuds, also dentures may create complications. These factors along with the large role that loneliness plays can create a loss of desire to prepare and eat nutritious meals. After all, meals are all about food, friends, and fun, right? But I guess when you’re sitting at your kitchen table by yourself with that plate of lasagna in front of you, and you can’t smell it, and it tastes bland when you take your first bite, suddenly eating would lose its appeal.

Malnutrition is usually more of a problem for older women. Often, they are caregivers, always helping and taking care of others, and not spending the time to really take care of themselves. They often will just grab whatever is convenient, and neglect eating a healthy, balanced diet. Widows are especially at risk, one study found.  Dr. Rosenblaum, a nutrition specialist at Georgia State University conducted a study on attitudes toward eating between married and widowed seniors. 98 % of married couples felt that meals were enjoyable, while only 26 % of those widowed  had similar feelings. 50 % of the widowed participants said they ate only out of habit, or to keep from starving, and there was no enjoyment.

Here’s a few tips about healthy eating habits for women over 50.

You should strive to eat more:

· Green vegetables like spinach, kale, collard greens, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, squash and beans 

· Fresh fruits like apples, oranges, watermelon, grapes, peaches and pears or cherries

· Whole grains, nuts and unprocessed cereals like wheat, brown rice and oats

· Eggs, cheeses and yogurts

· Fresh fish

· Lean meats like turkey and chicken, among others

· Heart-friendly natural oils like olive oil

Also, be sure to drink plenty of water daily to help keep your body hydrated!

sex after sixty

7 Jun

So lots of people believe that once menopause rolls around, it means an end not only to your period, but also to your active sex life. Well this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Though menopause does change sexual functions in women, it doesn’t necessarily end their interest or indulgence in sex.

During menopause the loss of estrogen production causes thinning of genital tissues and lack of lubrication that can affect sex. However, sexual interest is usually determined more by emotional and social factors. These physical changes can be compensated for through estrogen supplements and use of artificial lubricants. Although it may take more time for sexual arousal and response, the ability to climax is retained throughout life.

Actually, there are some great perks to sex in later years. A woman doesn’t need to worry about unplanned pregnancies, so she can be more spontaneous, usually children are grown and out of the home, allowing her and her husband to spend more time alone. And there is no pressure or urgency, so a couple can take their sweet time, and enjoy the moment. Sex in old age is not quite as uncommon as you might think.

That being said, I was pretty shocked when I read this story by 48 Hours called Kiss and Tell. It’s about an older divorced woman who was recently retired, and so she put an add in the paper. The ad said “Before I turn 67 next March, I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.”

The rest of the story is about the responses she received and some of her experiences.  48 Hours was highlighting her new book about her journey to find sex and romance after 30 years without them. Quite honestly the first thing that came to mind was – that’s pretty trashy. I mean, if a 23 year old woman were to post a personals add like that, sleep around with all types of men she didn’t know, and then write a book about it she’d probably be considered a skank. So what makes it okay for a 67 year old woman to act that way?

What do you think?

myths of aging

6 Jun

So I’ve been looking into different issues that we face as we age. I ran across and interesting article about growing old and common myths we tend to believe.  Here’s a little summary of what I learned.

Contrary to popular belief, many of the age related changes senior men and women face don’t greatly impact their longevity. Chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis have more influence on quality and length of life for seniors. Most centurions (people who live to be 100)  live and care for themselves until their mid-nineties, and some never develop these debilitating diseases. There are many other misunderstandings, and false beliefs about the aging process.

One is that being overweight is a bad thing. I know, I know, as women we all want to drop those impossible five pounds. But for women over seventy five the extra weight actually proves as a health benefit. It can help strengthen the immune system, fight off illnesses and infection, and provide some extra energy. A recent study on aging showed that seniors with a BMI of 27, which is just over the “healthy” rating and puts a person at into the “overweight” category live the longest.  

A few other common mis-beliefs are that all old people need a hearing aid. Wrong!  Hearing loss is part of the normal aging process, but only 35% of elders over 80 need a hearing aid, and some people in their 90’s still go hearing aid free. There’s also the common belief that with old age comes crankiness. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve always looked forward to getting old and crotchety and scaring little kids who look at me the wrong way… but, personality traits rarely change with age, unless caused by an illness (such as dementia).

Possibly one of the scariest beliefs people have about aging is that we all become senile. Small memory lapses happen to everyone, of course. But, most seniors don’t experience any kind of serious loss of cognitive abilities, again, unless caused by an illness. And lastly, believe it or not, people over 80 definitely do have the ability to have good quality exercise. Exercise in later years can lower your heart rate and risk for heart attacks, as well as decrease fatigue and shortness of breath.

It is kind of refreshing to learn that the life you picture when you think of old people – walkers, hearing aids, dementia, boredom, etc. doesn’t have to be the case. I think a huge part of experiencing health in later years is taking care of yourself and having a healthy lifestyle in your younger years. So don’t believe everything you hear through the grapevine and enjoy your later years!