Aging with grace, spirit, and wisdom


Positive aging

Finding a new kind of fulfillment in the golden years
New wine in new bottles: the freshness of old age (Barry Dym, 5-23-17) A wise and refreshing reflecting on what's good about aging.
How to Tap the Enormous Potential of an Aging Population (Michael Hodin, The Fiscal Times, 11-4-16) Hodin challenges our leaders in DC to look at the positive aspects of population aging through the lens of human potential, as opposed to simply seeing it as a cost to be overcome. How can we change the conversation from entitlements and death panels to helping the enormous surge of experienced individuals who now find themselves with additional time on their hands to contribute and achieve their full potential?
The Secret to a Long Life (Video interview clips, by Deborah Acosta, Jacqueline Baylon, Nicole Fineman, and Amy Zerba, NY Times, 12-25-15) Here’s the secret to a long life, from those who’ve lived them. Companion to the previous article.
We’re lucky if we get to be old, physician and professor believes (Tara Bahrampour, Wash Post, 1-23-16) Bill Thomas, founder of Eden Alternative and the Green House Projects, argues that "there is a “third” phase of life beyond adulthood that can be as rich as either of the phases that came before..." "Old and young are two distinct times of life, neither one better or worse than the other. He talks about the different ways brains process information and foster creativity at different times of life (the young are more literal and mathematical; the old are better at improvisation and making associations)." "“I’ve given up on the idea that change will come from inside the field. It will come, but it will come from the outside. And that’s where I’ll be.”
A Gap Year for Seniors in Moldova (Dianne Lang, Senior Planet, 9-26-16) "Whether you’re a high-school senior or Medicare age, a gap year is a time for personal growth, an opportunity to re-evaluate what’s important to you and a way to bring new experiences to your next life stage. For many — including Stephen and Lisa — it’s also a chance to do public service....They signed on for the Peace Corps’ usual 27-month stint — three months of training and two years of service — in Moldova, a small, landlocked, country tucked between Romania and Ukraine."
Senior Planet: Aging with Attitude
Want To Live Past 100? Centenarians Share Secrets Of Knee Bends And Nips Of Scotch (Sharon Jayson, Kaiser Health News, 3-27-17) One 2015 Belgian study of centenarians born between 1893 and 1903 did focus on their living arrangements during ages 60 and 100 and found “in very old age, living with a spouse is beneficial for men but not for women, for whom living alone is more advantageous than living with a spouse.” Geriatrician Thomas Perls "said research shows that behaviors have a greater influence on survival up until the late 80s, since he said most people have the right genes to get there as long as their behaviors aren’t harmful. But once people reach the 90s and beyond, genetics play a more significant role. Common among centenarians: 'few smoke, nearly all of the men are lean, and centenarians have high levels of the “good cholesterol.” Studies show that whatever their stress level, they manage its well. And they’re related to other centenarians or have a parent or grandparent who lived past 80.'
How Therapy Can Help in the Golden Years (Abby Ellin, Well, NY Times, 4-22-13) Now, as "people are living longer, and the stigma of psychological counseling has diminished, [many seniors] are recognizing that their golden years might be easier if they alleviate the problems they have been carrying around for decades. It also helps that Medicare pays for psychiatric assessments and therapy....That members of the Greatest Generation would feel comfortable talking to a therapist, or acknowledging psychological distress, is a significant change. Many grew up in an era when only 'crazy' people sought psychiatric help."
Bingo? Pass. Bring on Senior Speed-Dating and Wine-Tasting. (Constance Gustke, NY Times, 11-11-16) Many community senior centers are getting up-to-date makeovers, helping people "stay active so they can age in place and connect with others.”
You Can Easily Enjoy Life In A Way Most People Don’t (Hannah Braime, Lifehack) Read about 25 simple ways you can enjoy your life more.
The Fine Art of Piddling (Rick Bragg, Southern Living) 'A piddler does not fix a leaky washing machine, or a slipping transmission, or a hole in a roof. Such work is necessary, and the more necessary a labor is, the farther from piddling it becomes.'
Control Assets (David Solie, Aging Parents Insights, 6-25-16) "Control assets are game tools that help older adults overcome losses through tactical partnerships and recovery planning. They don’t change the game’s final outcome but they can dramatically alter the quality of the game’s experience. Control assets are best understood as essential resources and planning options that include: 1. Primary Care Physician Rapport. 2. Power Of Attorney Rapport. 3. Plan B Housing Option. 4. Accurate Funding Options. " Obviously, everyone one wants a competent power of attorney (POA) but for the final phase of life that is not enough. You need a POA who “gets you” and has no conflict of interest in being your voice and enforcer when control is compromised."
Old Masters at the Top of Their Game (Lewis H. Lapham, NY Times Magazine) After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign. Q&As with and photos of T. Boone Pickens, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Edward O. Wilson, Roy Haynes, Carmen Herrera, Ginette Bedard, Tony Bennett, Ellsworth Kelly, Christopher Plummer, Frank Gehry, Carl Reiner, R. O. Blechman, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Betty White. (Interviews by Camille Sweeney.
Four Benefits Of Aging Frances McDormand Would Love (Kristi Hedges, Forbes, 12-16-14) Our sense of well-being improves. We may experience flourishing creativity. We are better at managing social conflicts. We perform more consistently.
Centenarians Proliferate, and Live Longer (Sabrina Tavernise, Health, NY Times, 1-21-16)
70Candles! Women Thriving in Their 8th Decade by Jane Giddan and Ellen Cole. “Our bodies change as we age, even when we eat healthfully, exercise and try to take good care of ourselves. Sight, hearing, bones, joints, balance, mobility, memory, continence, strength and stamina — they will never be what they once were.” As described in Thriving at Age 70 and Beyond (Jane E. Brody, NY Times, 4-28-15)
A Star Who Has No Time for Vanity (Frank Bruni, NY Times, 10-15-14) Frances McDormand, True to Herself in HBO’s ‘Olive Kitteridge’
Using Card and Board Games to Keep Minds Sharp (Amy Zipkin, NY Times, 12-4-15) Organizations for chess, bridge and poker fill social and competitive needs of older adults.
Lighter as We Go: Virtues, Character Strengths, and Aging by Mindy Greenstein and Jimmie Holland. Contrary to common wisdom, our sense of well-being actually increases with age.
Ursula K. Le Guin on Aging and What Beauty Really Means (Brain Pickings) “There are a whole lot of ways to be perfect, and not one of them is attained through punishment.” Le Guin contrasts the archetypal temperaments of of dogs, cats, and dancers, from The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination, from which Brain Pickings also extracts Ursula K. Le Guin on Being a Man
What it’s like to be 100 years old, in 10 charts (Lenny Bernstein, Wash Post, 5-5-14) Interesting results.
I Don't Want My Dying Thought to Be About My Weight (Jocelyn Pihlaja, The Mid, 6-18-15)
Creative Aging Programs in America, Directory, provided by National Center for Creative Aging
Aging Better With a Little Help From Our Friends (Patricia Corrigan, Next Avenue, 9-29-15) Who teaches us to grow older, to make the most of time when more years are behind us than ahead? Lessons Corrigan has learned.
Age of Actualization: A Handbook for Growing Elder Culture by David "Lucky" Goff and Alexandra Hart
Review in 'Changing Aging'. See also Growing an Elder Culture (David Goff's blog, at Changing Aging)
A Curriculum for Conscious Aging (Marilyn Schlitz, Cassandra Vieten, and Kathleen Erickson-Freeman, Noetic Now, Dec. 2011).
Human Values in Aging newsletter (Harry "Rick" Moody, Gerontological Society of America -- and AARP). You can sign up for this excellent free monthly e-newsletter, with great links to good quotations, events and reading material about aging wisely. Annoyingly, AARP constantly changes its links, so you may have to hunt.
Atul Gawande: "We Have Medicalized Aging, and That Experiment Is Failing Us" Michael Mechanic interviews Gawande, Mother Jones, 10-7-14)
Aging Is Scary, and Life Is a Struggle. Why Keep Going? (Heather Havrilesky, Ask Polly New York, 9-17-14). Read the "Ask Polly" response, a lovely and thoughtful reflection on what's important in life.
Recipe for Longevity: No Smoking, Lots of Friends (Laura Blue, Time, 7-28-10) See also Health Checkup: How to Live 100 Years (Time's special issue on longevity, February 2010)
This Old Man. Life in the nineties (Roger Angell, New Yorker, 2-17-14). Beautifully written and rings so true. Humor lightens his observations about the realities of aging. "We geezers carry about a bulging directory of dead husbands or wives, children, parents, lovers, brothers and sisters, dentists and shrinks, office sidekicks, summer neighbors, classmates, and bosses, all once entirely familiar to us and seen as part of the safe landscape of the day. It’s no wonder we’re a bit bent. The surprise, for me, is that the accruing weight of these departures doesn’t bury us, and that even the pain of an almost unbearable loss gives way quite quickly to something more distant but still stubbornly gleaming. The dead have departed, but gestures and glances and tones of voice of theirs, even scraps of clothing— that pale-yellow Saks scarf—reappear unexpectedly, along with accompanying touches of sweetness or irritation."
Why I Hope to Die at 75. Ezekiel J. Emanuel argues that society and families—and you—will be better off if nature takes its course swiftly and promptly. "As Crimmins puts it, over the past 50 years, health care hasn’t slowed the aging process so much as it has slowed the dying process....even if we manage not to become burdens to [our children], our shadowing them until their old age is also a loss. And leaving them—and our grandchildren—with memories framed not by our vivacity but by our frailty is the ultimate tragedy." Read Maureen Corrigan's review, 'This Old Man' Is A Wry, Nimble Take On Life, Aging And Baseball, of his book of essays This Old Man: All in Pieces.
Once More to the Lake (E.B. White, waxing nostalgic about the lake he spent his summers at, now almost but not quite the same as he takes his son there for the first time).
How To Be Old: The Thinking Person's Guide to Retirement by Richard Gerberding (adapter) and Marcus Tullius Cicero. “Someone who doesn’t have much in the way of inner resources will find all stages of life irksome,” wrote Cicero.
What If Age Is Nothing but a Mindset (Bruce Grierson, NY Times Magazine, 10-22-14)
Advanced Style (Ari Seth Cohen's YouTube videos, showing aging in a good light). See Mireille Silcoff's article, Why Your Grandpa Is Cooler Than You (NY Times Magazine, 4-16-13), partly a review of Advanced Style, Cohen's book of photos of street fashion on women over 60.
Silver Beauties (Rebecca Tan Hui Shan, AsiaOne Women, Straits Times, 5-11-15) According to global trends tracker Nielsen, the United States adult population above the age of 50 will control 70 per cent of disposable income by 2017
At 95, U-M Health System's oldest employee Fredda Clisham is leaving for her next adventure (Janet Miller, Ann Arbor News, 10-7-14). "There are four ingredients for a long life," says Clisham. "Attitude, diet (she’s a vegetarian), exercise and genes.”
People Who Feel They Have A Purpose In Life Live Longer (Patti Neighmond, Morning Edition, NPR, 7-28-14)
Introspective or Narcissistic? (David Brooks, Opinion, NY Times, 8-7-14) "When people examine themselves from too close, they often end up ruminating or oversimplifying....We are better self-perceivers if we can create distance and see the general contours of our emergent system selves — rather than trying to unpack constituent parts....Maturity is moving from the close-up to the landscape, focusing less on your own supposed strengths and weaknesses and more on the sea of empathy in which you swim, which is the medium necessary for understanding others, one’s self, and survival. "
Advice from Life's Graying Edge on Finishing with No Regrets (Jane E. Brody, Personal Health, NY Times 1-9-12). "I chose to live each day as if it could be my last - but with a watchful eye on the future in case it wasn't." A new book called 30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans (ed. Karl Pillemer) draws from interviews with more than 1000 older Americans from different economic, educational, and occupational strata who were interviewed as part of the ongoing Cornell Legacy Project (see some interviews here).
ChangingAging (blog of Bill Thomas, founder of the Eden Alternative)
Conscious Aging (Mariamne Paulus)
Life Is a Wheel: Love, Death, Etc., and a Bike Ride Across America by Bruce Weber
At Sixty-Five (Emily Fox Gordon, American Scholar, Summer 2013) After the excesses of youth and terrors of middle age, a writer faces the contingencies of being old
The Top 5 Regrets of The Dying (Joe Martino. Collective Evolution, 4-27-13).
The game that can give you 10 extra years of life . Game designer Jane McGonigal's TED talk about how, when she found herself bedridden and suicidal following a severe concussion, she figured out how to get better. This is a good follow-up to the "top 5 regrets of the dying."
Age-Activated Attention Deficit Disorder (an amusing oh-so-recognizable scenario, on a YouTube video). Approach the problems of aging with humor.
The Science of Older and Wiser (Phyllis Korkki, NY Times, Retirement, 3-11-14). A thoughtful, feel-good report on the nature of wisdom, for those of us with more time behind than ahead of us.
Age Doesn't Matter Unless You're a Cheese by Kathryn and Ross Petras (a gift book for those 70 and older, with quotations reflecting wisdom, humor, and experience from mostly famous people 70 and over)
Aging, as viewed by Maggie Kuhn. Liberating Aging , Maggie Kuhn in 1978, as interviewed by Ken Dychtwald (HuffPost 5-30-12). Followed by Remembering Maggie Kuhn: Gray Panthers Founder On The 5 Myths Of Aging . Maggie Kuhn: Old age is not a disease -- it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all sorts of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses...."Senior citizen" is a euphemism which I reject as insulting and demeaning. I prefer to be called by my name, or, if not, I'd like to be identified as an "old person" or an "elder" for this is what I am.

Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development by George Vaillant. Harvard University followed 824 subjects from their teens to old age. Vaillant uses their stories to illustrate the surprising factors involved in reaching happy, healthy old age.
21 Habits of Supremely Happy People
GPS for the Soul , a cluster of HuffPost stories about achieving well-being.
A good side of ageism? Kindness & civility may finally be yours! (Laurie Levy, Chicago Now, 10-11-13) Another benefit of being 90 – you can say whatever you want as bluntly as you want with no blow back whatsoever.

The Aha Moment (videos collected by Mutual of Omaha)
Are Your Spices Older Than Your Kids? On her WebOver50 blog, Marilynne Rudick tells us how to take advantage of the Internet, with tips on sites like Goldstar (half-price theater tickets) and entries like YouTube for How To's: Just-in-Time Learning.
The Artist Grows Old (PDF, Kenneth Clark's essay on artists such Michelangelo, Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne, who peaked as elders and shared "A sense of isolation, a feeling of holy rage, developing into what I have called transcendental pessimism; a mistrust of reason, a belief in instinct."
A Sharper Mind, Middle Age and Beyond (Patricia Cohen, NY Times 1-19-12)
Audio Dharma (listen online or download to listen to later talks about Buddhist practices, mindfulness, meditation, and related subjects -- an archive of Dharma talks given by Gil Fronsdal and various guest speakers at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA). Time to become reflective.
Awakening in the Twilight Years (Sangha News, 5-15-12). The Beyond Measure School for Contemplative Care, a Zen-inspired senior living community, applies Buddhist principles to retirement living and contemplative caregiving.
Blue Zones blog (how to live longer, better, happier). Blue Zones, in collaboration with National Geographic, found the five parts of the world where people live the longest.
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Reminiscence, life review, and life storytelling

Erik Erikson coined the term “generativity” to capture the drive adults feel as they age to leave something to the next generation -- to make a difference, to leave a mark. This is probably part of the reason so many older adults flourish in life writing workshops.
Are You Living Your Eulogy or Your Résumé? (Arianna Huffington, Huff Post, 9-23-13). "At HuffPost we've made the Third Metric -- redefining success beyond money and power to include well-being, wisdom and our ability to wonder and to give -- a key editorial focus. But while it's not hard to live a Third Metric life, it's very easy not to. It's easy to let ourselves get consumed by our work. It's easy to use work to let ourselves forget the things and the people that truly sustain us. It's easy to let technology wrap us in a perpetually harried, stressed-out existence. It's easy, in effect, to miss our lives even while we're living them. Until we're no longer living them."
Stories Are About Change (Shawn Coyne, Steven Pressfield Online, 8-9-13). Why did some people flee the World Trade Center the minute a plane struck one tower? Psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz "suggests that the reason every single person in the South Tower didn’t immediately leave the building is that they did not have a familiar story in their minds to guide them. 'We are vehemently faithful to our own view of the world, our story. We want to know what new story we’re stepping into before we exit the old one. We don’t want an exit if we don’t know exactly where it is going to take us, even – or perhaps especially – in an emergency. This is so, I hasten to add, whether we are patients or psychoanalysts.' "We need stories to temper our anxieties, either as supporting messages to stay as we are or inspiring road maps to get us to take a chance. Experiencing stories that tell the tale of protagonists for whom we can empathize gives us the courage to examine our own lives and change them." See Grosz's book The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves. (Read the reviews before ordering, so you know what to expect.)
Capturing seniors' stories while she still can (David Ball, Herald Tribune, 2-20-10, on Sonia Fuentes and "The Wisdom of Elders Across America").
"I think the seniors that are the happiest are the ones that are active," [Bob] Anderson said. "Very little television is what I'm saying."
"I think the first thing is to enjoy what you're doing when you are doing it," [Owen] Comora said.
"And think before you do anything stupid."
~ in the story Capturing seniors' stories while she still can. Read the box, "Words to the Wise")
Telling Your Story (abundant resources on the Pat McNees website)
The Blog Brothers (two Black-Irish-American brothers recall the twentieth century)
Creative Aging blog. Here's an example: Making Up in Humor What They Lack in Fashion (what goes on in one reminiscence group)
The Beneficial Effects of Life Story and Legacy Activities by Pat McNees (Journal of Geriatric Care Management, Spring 2009). Get PDF file of journal article here (61.9KB)
Quite Frankly (poem by Mark Halliday, on The Writer's Almanac, 8-27-13)
The craft of life story writing
Personal histories and legacy memoirs
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The Arc of Life: Huston Smith on Life, Death & Beyond (Huston Smith interviewed by Ken Dychtwald). Watch a sample here (click on symbol bottom right to expand to whole screen view)

You can order the tape on Huston Smith's website
http:/​/​www.hustonsmith.com/​ARC.htm


Outsider Art and Old Ladies Are in the Zeitgeist! (Sue Kreitzman, Huff Post, 5-10-13). "Old ladies are the new black." Great story about a creative streak that came out of nowhere and kept on going.
The 75-Year Study That Found The Secrets To A Fulfilling Life (Carolyne Gregoire, Huff Post, 8-11-13) Gregoire spoke to George Vaillant, the Harvard psychiatrist who directed the Grant study, about the study's findings. It's not about love and power. To pursue a happier and more meaningful life, CONNECT. Find and nurture love. Strong relationships are the greatest predictor of life satisfaction. "The journey from immaturity to maturity, says Vaillant, is a sort of movement from narcissism to connection, and a big part of this shift has to do with the way we deal with challenges....The secret is replacing narcissism, a single-minded focus on one's own emotional oscillations and perceived problems, with mature coping defenses," says Vaillant. Creative expression is another way to productively deal with challenges and achieve meaning and well-being. For more details read Vaillant's books:
Aging Well: Surprising Guideposts to a Happier Life from the Landmark Harvard Study of Adult Development
Adaptation to Life
Spiritual Evolution: How We Are Wired for Faith, Hope, and Love
Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study



Books and movies that focus on aging and older people


The Fountain of Age by Betty Friedan (a study of aging from the author of The Feminine Mystique)
Tara Sonenshine on Movie Portrayals of Aging (on Movie Mom). Commentary on four movies out in 2013: Amour, Unfinished Song, Quartet, and Still Mine.
Death of a Salesman, the play by Arthur Miller. You can watch a DVD of the 1966 television adaptation, starring Lee J. Cobb, Mildred Dunnock, and James Farentino, or the Dustin Hoffman version.
On Golden Pond, the film, starring Starring Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda and Doug McKeon
Fried Green Tomatoes, the film, starring Jessica Tandy, Kathy Bates, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker
About Schmidt (a film starring Jack Nicholson and Hope Davis)
Driving Miss Daisy, the film, starring Morgan Freeman, Jessica Tandy, Dan Aykroyd, and Patti Lupone.
Wild Strawberries, the film, Ingmar Bergman's masterwork, starring Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin
Movies and videos dealing with illness, death, dying, and healing (click on the titles to read the excellent commentary about films, on the Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database).
Old Age: A Beginners Guide by Michael Kinsley, which looks at the baby boomer generation as they approach the end of life.


See also the interesting blog post Born This Way: The new weird science of hardwired political identity (Sasha Issenberg, New York Magazine, 4-8-12). Quoting from this fascinating story: “As a general rule,” the authors wrote, “liberals are more open-minded in their pursuit of creativity, novelty, and diversity, whereas conservatives seek lives that are more orderly, conventional, and better organized.” Rare midlife conversions aside, our parties are groups of two different kinds of people, they said, divided not by class or geography or education but by temperament." Be wise about politics, not just dogmatic!
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The new landscape of intimate relationships


"Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone." ~ Anthony Burgess
My Body Changed. So Did Intimacy. (Joyce Wadler, NY Times, Booming, 10-18-13). "This is one of the things I like about middle-aged sex: the level of comfort required."

The Bear Came Over the Mountain (Alice Munro, New Yorker, 12-27-99, reprinted 10-21-13, after Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize). Munro's wonderful story about long-term love in all its complexity, as Alzheimer's changes the equation and reveals some old truths.

Own, Apologize, Repair: Coming Back to Integrity (Nora Samaran, 8-28-16) "There is a quality in guilt that paralyzes. Worse, it leads those who feel it to lash out, like pythons or like some kind of wild animal guarding a nest of self-loathing. Do not look at the man behind the curtain, says the guilt, or I will attempt to destroy you just to stop you from getting near the core of my shame."

The power of vulnerability (Brené Brown's powerful TED Talk -- like an hour with a wonderful therapist). "Shame is basically the fear of disconnection....We live in a vulnerable world. We numb vulnerability. " We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.” The problem is, you cannot selectively numb emotion. “When we numb [hard feelings], we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness.” "How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?"

Few people know how to be old.
In aging, one becomes crazier and wiser.
Who lives without folly is not as wise as he thinks.
-LaRochefoucauld

Traveling in retirement (and otherwise)

Intervac Home Exchange ("We are all richer when we share")
Home Exchange ("Travel anywhere. Live like a local. Stay for free.")
Trusted Housesitters (U.S., "the win-win for pet lovers that travel")
Housecarers.com ("We have many kind, Responsible pet-loving, Live-in Housesitter members, interested in your area who would love to care for your home and pets and gardens (if applicable)")
Couchsurfing, an online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free.
Enjoy housesitting? Let me count the ways! (HouseSitMatch.com)
Airbnb (rent unique places to stay from local hosts in 190+ countries). Save money and time. But be aware also of limitations: Home-Sharing? Don’t Ignore Liability (Ron Lieber, Your Money, NY Times, 4-20-12)
How to Find Cheap Travel Accommodations (Matt Karsten, Expert Vagabond)
Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains (Doug Barr, Backchannel, 3-30-17) Aggregators like Expedia have made us lazy — and we may be missing out on the best deals.
Travellers Point, a social networking site for people who want to learn from or share experiences with other travelers. See various categories: Community (forums), Accommodation, Map, Planner, Travel Guide.
Fly-Along Companions Offer a Way for Older People to Travel (Julie Weed, Business Day, NY Times, 9-26-16) The business of providing traveling companions for older adults is still new enough that there are no good statistics on who or how many provide such services. But they are cropping up — not only in the United States but in Europe and Asia — to cater to aging populations who have leisure time and money but diminished capacity for the rigors of travel.
Do you need travel insurance? (Consumer Reports, July 2012) Maybe, if there are gaps in your auto, health, life, or homeowners policies. But buy wisely. "Instead of buying a policy through a travel agent or booking site, go to an online broker such as InsureMyTrip.com, which sells coverage from 21 carriers, including CSA Travel Protection, MedJet Assist, and Travelex." See reviews of travel insurance plans.
Travel Guard (AIG travel insurance for various levels of coverage--for trip cancellation and interruption, for medical expense & transportation coverage, for lost/​stolen baggage, for 24/​7 travel assistance services, etc.)
The Essential Guide to Travelling with a Medical Condition (InsuranceWith) a pretty good guide to traveling with a medical problem or disabilities, plus they sell travel insurance.
Six Tips for Getting Cheap or Free Airline Upgrades (Julie Weed, Business Day, NY Times, 7-11-16)
How to travel the world in retirement and not go broke (Nanci Hellmich, USA Today, 4-24-14)
Six Cost-Saving Tips for Traveling in Retirement Sarah Z. Wexler, Travel + Leisure). Travel off-peak times. Think about getting travel and health insurance. Consider a home swap. And three more.
Top Tier Detergent Gasolines (licensed brands that have passed tests for quality--is your regular brand on the list?) See also AAA article: Not All Gasoline Created Equal
Want to Travel When You Retire? 7 Tips on How to Pay for It (Beth Braverman, Fiscal Times, 8-17-15) "Don Roy of New England Wealth Advisors says he asks clients to think of travel in retirement in three phases, 'the go-go years, the slow-go years, and the no-go years.' Travel funds in the third phase often get redistributed to cover health care expenses or other costs that tend to hit in old age." See sidebar: Retirement Nomads: How One Couple Makes It Work . Check out Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World by Lynne Martin.
My 30 Best Travel Tips After 6 Years Traveling The World (Matt Karsten, author of Expert Vagabond, his blog on how to travel the world, seek experiences over possessions, and open your mind to new possibilities).
Off the Grid. A blog about escaping the rat race, travelling the world with kids, hacking the sharing economy, and taking your kids out of school (eventually to be a book
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Managing body and mind


Exercise
Maintaining a healthy weight
Preventing frailty
Preventing falls
Nutrition
Memory
Cognitive skills and development
Bladder and related problems
Knee replacement and other fixes for body parts
Falling and balance problems
This is just a start. Moving stuff here from elsewhere!
"Time marches on and I have to find the beat." ~Rochelle Kainer


Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and similar conditions associated with obesity are silent killers. You can feel fine for years before you feel sick, and then it may be too late to reverse the damage.
The ‘perfect body’ is a lie. I believed it for a long time and let it shrink my life (Lindy West, The Guardian, 5-8-16). As a child, Lindy West was told she was ‘off the charts’. In this exclusive extract from her new book, Shrill, she explains how society’s fixation on thinness warps women’s lives – and why she would rather be ‘fat’ than ‘big.’
One Weight-Loss Approach Fits All? No, Not Even Close (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat series, NY Times, 12-12-16) Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of nutrition at Harvard, likes to challenge his audience when he gives lectures on obesity. “If you want to make a great discovery,” he tells them, figure out this: Why do some people lose 50 pounds on a diet while others on the same diet gain a few pounds? Then he shows them data from a study he did that found exactly that effect. After general piece, Weight-Loss Plans That Worked: After trial and error, Kolata tells six stories from people who finally found diets, drugs and other methods that helped them keep the weight off. A low glycemic load diet, a drug that can combat cravings, relentlessly counting calories, a drug combination that controls appetite, an iron grip on her diet, and a drug that worked — and then didn’t.
Short Answers to Hard Questions About Weight Loss (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 5-4-16) Very helpful Q&A. "Anecdotal reports by people who have succeeded in keeping weight off tend to have a common theme: constant vigilance, keeping close track of weight, controlling what food is eaten and how much (often by weighing and measuring food), exercising often, putting up with hunger and resisting cravings to the best of their ability. Those who maintain a modest weight loss often report less of a struggle than those trying to keep off large amounts of weight."
A Plant-Friendly Atkins Diet Gets High Marks On List Of 2017's Best Diets (Allison Aubrey, NPR, 1-4-17) Check out the new list of rankings from U.S. News & World Report, highlights of which are summarized here.
Best Diets of 2017 (U.S. News and World Report). The list itself, by categories: Best diets, best diets overall, best weight-loss diets, best commercial diet plans, best diabetes diets, best diets for healthy eating, best fast weight-loss, best heart-healthy diet, best plant-based diets, easiest diets to follow, 38 best diets overall. Some diets appeared on several of those lists.
Skinny People With Obesity Issues? A Rare Window for Researchers (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 7-22-16) A small group of thin patients who develop disorders typically tied to obesity pose a medical mystery and a potential opportunity for scientists.
fter ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 5-2-16) Contestants lost hundreds of pounds during Season 8, but gained them back. A study of their struggles helps explain why so many people fail to keep off the weight they lose.
Why Do Obese Patients Get Worse Care? Many Doctors Don’t See Past the Fat (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 9-25-16) You must lose weight, a doctor told Sarah Bramblette, advising a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet. But Ms. Bramblette had a basic question: How much do I weigh? The doctor’s scale went up to 350 pounds, and she was heavier than that. If she did not know the number, how would she know if the diet was working? The doctor had no answer.
Tell Me I’m Fat (Ira Glass, et al, This American Life, WBEZ, 6-17-16). Listen or read transcript. The way people talk about being fat is shifting. With one-third of Americans classified as overweight, and another third as obese, and almost none of us losing weight and keeping it off, maybe it’s time to rethink the way we see being fat
What Obese Patients Should Say to Doctors (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 9-25-16) Dr. Puhl’s group recommends taking a family member or a friend to act as an advocate — someone who can ask the direct questions the patient may be hesitant to voice. Many patients have struggled with their weight throughout their lives, she said, so a doctor is not being helpful by just saying, “You need to lose 50 pounds.”
How To Lose Belly Fat Effectively And Healthily (Lifehack)
After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 5-2-16) Contestants lost hundreds of pounds during Season 8, but gained them back. A study of their struggles helps explain why so many people fail to keep off the weight they lose.
Short Answers to Hard Questions About Weight Loss (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat, NY Times, 5-4-16) "Anecdotal reports by people who have succeeded in keeping weight off tend to have a common theme: constant vigilance, keeping close track of weight, controlling what food is eaten and how much (often by weighing and measuring food), exercising often, putting up with hunger and resisting cravings to the best of their ability. Those who maintain a modest weight loss often report less of a struggle than those trying to keep off large amounts of weight."

After Weight-Loss Surgery, a Year of Joys and Disappointments (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat series, NY Times, 12-27-16) Even as the pounds fell away and their health improved, two patients contended with the feeling that life hadn’t changed as much as they’d hoped. "Bariatric surgery is an option that obesity medicine specialists say is too often ignored or dismissed. Yet it is the only option that almost always works to help very heavy people lose a lot of weight and that also can mysteriously make some chronic conditions vanish." Sidebar: What Is Bariatric Surgery, and How Does It Work? Answers many questions, and explains the four procedures available today.
The lap band for weight loss is a tale of medicine gone wrong (Julia Belluz, Vox, 5-25-17) How the lap band works — and how it fails. It doesn’t lead to weight loss and often requires more surgery. Other weight loss surgeries are more effective, but doctors will still keep doing the lap band.
The Fat Fight Is Far from Over by Marilyn Wann, author of Fat: The Owner's Manual (Surviving a Thin-Obsessed World with Your Health, Happiness, and Sense of Humor Intact). See also this video Why It's Okay To Be Fat (Golda Poretsky's TED talk). Okay, let's admit it. If you're fat and you're an elder, it's time to hear what people are saying about fat acceptance.

Rethinking Weight Loss and the Reasons We’re ‘Always Hungry’ The problem isn’t that there are too many calories in the fat cells, it’s that there’s too few in the bloodstream, and cutting back on calories can’t work. The underlying cause of obesity is the low fat, very high carbohydrate diet that we’ve been eating for the last 40 years, , which raises levels of the hormone insulin and programs fat cells to go into calorie storage overdrive. Our meal plan is based on whole natural foods, which include saturated fat. But we make sure to balance that with lots of mono- and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, avocado and flaxseed oil.
Exercise Vs. Diet: The Truth About Weight Loss (As told to Sarah Z. Wexler, HuffPost, 4-30-14) "You can't out-exercise a bad diet." ~ Shawn M. Talbott
A Personalized Diet, Better Suited to You (Kate Murphy, NY Times, Well, 1-11-16) Why one-size-fits-all diets do not work for everyone.
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Exercise

Work–Life Balance: Slow Down, Move, and Think (Mona Shattell, Healio, 3-15-17) Working constantly is not healthy when it takes the place of regular exercise, cooking and eating well, and having time and space to think. We must take care of our bodies and minds.
The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life (Gretchen Reynolds, Well, NY Times, 4-15-15) " the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death. But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.... The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised."
The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles (Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times, 3-23-17) One study suggests that "certain sorts of workouts may undo some of what the years can do to our mitochondria....the subjects who did the interval workouts showed increases in the number and health of their mitochondria — an impact that was particularly pronounced among the older cyclists. It seems as if the decline in the cellular health of muscles associated with aging was 'corrected' with exercise, especially if it was intense..."
Fitness Calculator. See this Norwegian site's frequently asked questions.
Chair Dancing fitness (especially helpful for elders who have trouble walking)
The Fuzz Speech. (YouTube) Dr Gill Hedley of http:/​/​www.gilhedley.com gives a lesson on the importance of movement and stretching--a tasteful anatomy lesson that may well motivate you to stretch more!
Sitting Is Bad for You (Gretchen Reynolds, Well, NY Times, 9-23-15) Many epidemiological studies have found associations between multiple hours of inactivity and increased risks for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, liver disease, metabolic syndrome and other conditions, including premature death. Most worrying, these risks remain elevated even if someone regularly exercises but then settles into his or her chair for the rest of the day. Uninterrupted sitting may reduce vascular function. A 2-Minute Walk May Counter the Harms of Sitting (Gretchen Reynolds, Well, NY Times, 5-13-15)
Going for the Gold (Amy Zipkin, Retiring, NY Times, 9-16-16) Three times a week David Gladfelter, an 80-year-old semiretired lawyer, dons a swimsuit, goggles and cap. For the next hour, varying his strokes, he swims 80 laps at a community center pool. The weekend after Labor Day, Mr. Gladfelter raced unopposed in several competitions in the New Jersey Senior Games to qualify for the National Senior Games, a biennial athletic competition for adults over age 50. At the last National Senior Games, held in Minneapolis, nearly 10,000 participants competed in 19 sports — not just swimming and running but also little-known contests like pickleball and retirement standards like shuffleboard. The first National Senior Games nearly 30 years ago drew 2,500 contestants
6,000 Steps Towards Better Health (Liz Seegert, 12-4-12) A new study in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), says that’s how many steps each day it takes to reduce risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
Six Reasons Why Women Should Weight Train (Phil Hardesty, Ornish Living) Strength training prevents falls, builds your bones, improves your overall health, supports heart health, makes movement more enjoyable, and builds confidence.
Seniors learning to play no-fall volleyball (Associated Press, NBC4, 8-30-16) The game is a modified form of beach volleyball – but with seats, a bigger ball, lower net and referee. It’s intended for seniors trying to regain their strength in a safe environment. It engages them with others and helps improve motor skills, reaction time, eye-hand coordination, flexibility and upper body and core strength.
Depression-Busting Exercise Tips For People Too Depressed To Exercise (Sarah Kurchak, The Establishment, 5-5-16) "The perfect exercise is anything that you will actually consider doing. The perfect body is a breathing one. Anything that serves those ends is worth considering. Everything else is noise."
Exercising the elderly heart: No value in overexertion "Performing frequent and diverse exercise without high intensity in an elderly population such as ours is achievable and can reduce the risk of death," says Ying Kuen Cheung of Columbia University in study of the value of physical activity and exercise in helping to prevent heart disease related deaths among senior citizens. "Having the ability to engage in a large number of different activities can be more strongly associated with cardio-respiratory fitness, which may explain why we found a protective effect for all our outcomes." A high heart-related death rate was found among the group of seniors who frequently exerted themselves too much through intense bouts of physical activity. (EurekAlert press release,10-17-16)
The Powerful Effect of Exercise on Women with Heart Failure (Phil Hardesty, Ornish Living) About 42 percent of people who have been hospitalized for heart failure die within five years. To improve your chances, you need to exercise, even if you have advanced heart failure, research now suggests.
I Did SoulCycle And Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again (Ryan Overhiser, Medium, 5-5-17) Indoor cycling, reinvented in 45-minute workouts.
Younger Skin Through Exercise (Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times Well blog, 4-16-14) "Exercise not only appears to keep skin younger, it may also even reverse skin aging in people who start exercising late in life, according to surprising new research."
Yoga for Arthritis (Dr. Steffany Moonaz). You can download two articles there: Yoga for People with Arthritis (by Steffany Moonaz) and Yoga for Arthuritis: A Scoping Review
Exercise Vs. Diet: The Truth About Weight Loss (As told to Sarah Z. Wexler, HuffPost, 4-30-14) "You can't out-exercise a bad diet." ~ Shawn M. Talbott
The Real Reason Downward-Facing Dog Is So Bad for You (Shawn Radcliffe, science writer and yoga teacher)
6 Alternatives to Downward-Facing Dog
1 Minute of All-Out Exercise May Have Benefits of 45 Minutes of Moderate Exertion (Gretchen Reynolds, Well, NY Times, 4-27-16) In an experiment, 60 seconds of strenuous exertion proved to be as successful at improving health and fitness as three-quarters of an hour of moderate exercise.
Age-associated declines in mitochondrial biogenesis and protein quality control factors are minimized by exercise training. (E Koltai et al., Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2012 Jul 15, via PubMed) Treadmill training can help stop the age-associated decline and deterioration of your cell's mitochondria, their energy powerhouse, according to animal studies (via Joan Young).

‘Playgrounds’ Designed for Seniors Help Keep Them Active, Sharp (Terry Turner, Good News Network, 7-15-15)
The Red Hot Mamas Do the Macy's Day Parade (video, NY Post. Do watch it!)
A Compendium of Hope (Judy Steed). An innovative program at Toronto Western Hospital teaches seniors how to dodge fall-inducing risks, as well as preventive exercises and nutrition so they'll have a fighting chance against the next spot of black ice.
Go4Life (National Institute on Aging, part of NIH)
What Makes Olga Run?: The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives by Bruce Grierson. Move. Sleep. Be an optimist. Break a sweat every day. Don't do it if you don't like it. Begin now.
Training for Triathlons at an Older Age (Elizabeth Olsen, NY Times, 2-29-15) “A lot of the older generation are able to be very competitive because of their work ethic,” said Mr. Swarthout, of USA Triathlon. “They just don’t quit.”
Why We Gain Weight As We Age (Patti Neighmond, NPR Morning Edition, 2-22-10). Bottom line: Exercise!
Silver Sneakers. Work out with cardio and weight equipment, access pools or take group exercise classes taught by instructors trained specifically in senior fitness.

Preventing and dealing with frailty


You’re Not Just ‘Growing Old’ If This Happens To You (Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News, 12-8-16) Some health problems that senior citizens blame on “growing old” are actually signs of a more serious issue that can be treated. (1) Fatigue. You have no energy. You’re tired all the time. (2) Appetite loss. You don’t feel like eating and you’ve been losing weight. (3) Depression. You’re sad, apathetic and irritable for weeks or months at a time. (4) Weakness. You can’t rise easily from a chair, screw the top off a jar, or lift a can from the pantry shelf. (As to the #4: "You may have sarcopenia — a notable loss of muscle mass and strength that affects about 10 percent of adults over the age of 60. If untreated, sarcopenia will affect your balance, mobility and stamina and raise the risk of falling, becoming frail and losing independence.")
Frailty is a medical condition, not an inevitable result of aging (Marlene Cimons, Washington Post, 12-10-12) Experts now regard frailty as a medical syndrome, that is, a group of symptoms that collectively characterizes a disease, one that probably has biological and genetic underpinnings and can afflict even those in middle age if they have some other debilitating chronic disease. Frail people usually suffer from three or more of five symptoms that often travel together. These include unintentional weight loss (10 or more pounds within the past year), muscle loss, a feeling of fatigue, slow walking speed, and low levels of physical activity. Refers to this medical article (which is rougher reading): Frailty in Older Adults: Evidence for a Phenotype (Linda P. Fried et al., Journal of Gerontology, 2001) “These are people at risk of very bad outcomes.”
The Challenge of Treating 'Frailty' (Richard Gunderman, The Atlantic, 12-8-14) Eat nutritional food. Exercise (even just a daily walk). Build relationships and cultivate a hopeful outlook (promote "psychological resilience"). "The fundamental problem with frailty is a reduced ability to bounce back from biological insults, such as infections and injuries..""A relatively minor illness can throw a frail patient into a downward spiral, sometimes leading to death." "For reasons not fully understood, some patients simply fare worse than others." "Frail people do not necessarily suffer from any single disease. As a result, they often fall through the cracks."
Learning to spot frailty (Judith Graham, The New Old Age, NY Times, 6-21-13) Few doctors watch for this. “I tell my patients, ‘Walk for 10 to 15 minutes faster than a dog walks, and find a couple of bean cans and lift them up and down for five minutes each day in any direction,’” Dr. Morley said. “That’s roughly what people need to do.” Arrange an evaluation by a physician when an older person answers “yes” to at least three.
• Are you fatigued?
• Do you have difficulty walking up one flight of steps?
• Are you unable to walk more than one block?
• Do you have more than five illnesses?
• Have you lost more than 5 percent of your weight in the last six months?
Other tests recommended in the consensus statement include questions about walking speed (slow walking can be a sign of frailty), grip strength (a weaker grip is an indication), the extent of physical activity, and memory complaints.
A Senior’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Frailty (Coach Marty, Great Living Today, 1-6-16) Practical tips: things to do.
The Frailty Syndrome (Zachary J. Palace, MD, CMD, and Jennifer Flood-Sukhdeo, Today's Geriatric Medicine, 2014) Although it lacks a standardized clinical definition, older adults’ frailty warrants special considerations in terms of treatment and nutritional needs.
Understanding frailty (Frank Lally and Peter Crome, Postgraduate Medical Journal, 2007)
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Preventing falls


"Falls are the leading cause of accidental death, and the seventh leading cause of death in people age 65 or over. Falling once when you’re older doubles your chances of falling again, according to the CDC." It is important to be aware of fall hazards and ways to prevent them, says the Association of Health Care Journalists.
Among suggestions to limit falls in your home: Get rid of throw rugs, don't wear flip-flops or slippers to walk in (wear shoes), provide adequate lighting, install stair rails and lighting wherever you have steps, remove things you can trip over (books, shoes, etc.) from stairs and places where you walk, put grab bars put in next to toilet and in shower and bathtubs.

We All Come Tumbling Down (Jill Bjerke, Aging in Place with Grace).
Older Adult Falls: A Growing Danger (PDF, CDC fact sheet) Check home safety.
Most falls happen at home.
---Get rid of hazards. Keep floors clutter free.
---Remove small rugs or tape down or secure them.
---Add grab bars in the bathroom.
---Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases.
---Make sure there is plenty of light.
Room by Room Safety Tips (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC)
How to prevent falls (helpful Lorie Eber slideshare/​powerpoint).
Learn NOT to Fall
Falls Among Older Adults (CDC statistics)
Falls Free Initiative (National Council on Aging)
Stay Independent--Prevent Falls (STEAD--Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries) CDC fact sheet on how older adults can take action and prevent falls

Causes and Risk Factors for Falls in Older Adults (NIH Senior Health)
Hip Fractures Among Older Adults (CDC)
Preventing Falls: A Guide to Implementing Effective Community-Based Fall Prevention Programs (CDC)
Important Facts About Falls (CDC)
Slipping and tripping: fall injuries in adults associated with rugs and carpets (Tony Rosen, a Karin A. Mack, a ,* and Rita K. Noonan, Injury and Violence, PubMed, 2013) Falls are the leading cause of injuries requiring emergency treatment in adults aged 65 and older and lead to more hospital admission and deaths than any other type of trauma. They are also associated with increased premature mortality, loss of independence, and nursing home placement. In addition, fear of falling may lead to avoidance of activities, potentially reducing physical fitness and mobility and increasing social isolation, time spent at home, and depression. Fall injuries associated with rugs and carpets are common and may cause potentially severe injuries.
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Preventing and dealing with frailty


You’re Not Just ‘Growing Old’ If This Happens To You (Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News, 12-8-16) Some health problems that senior citizens blame on “growing old” are actually signs of a more serious issue that can be treated. (1) Fatigue. You have no energy. You’re tired all the time. (2) Appetite loss. You don’t feel like eating and you’ve been losing weight. (3) Depression. You’re sad, apathetic and irritable for weeks or months at a time. (4) Weakness. You can’t rise easily from a chair, screw the top off a jar, or lift a can from the pantry shelf. (As to the #4: "You may have sarcopenia — a notable loss of muscle mass and strength that affects about 10 percent of adults over the age of 60. If untreated, sarcopenia will affect your balance, mobility and stamina and raise the risk of falling, becoming frail and losing independence.")
Frailty is a medical condition, not an inevitable result of aging (Marlene Cimons, Washington Post, 12-10-12) Experts now regard frailty as a medical syndrome, that is, a group of symptoms that collectively characterizes a disease, one that probably has biological and genetic underpinnings and can afflict even those in middle age if they have some other debilitating chronic disease. Frail people usually suffer from three or more of five symptoms that often travel together. These include unintentional weight loss (10 or more pounds within the past year), muscle loss, a feeling of fatigue, slow walking speed, and low levels of physical activity. Refers to this medical article (which is rougher reading): Frailty in Older Adults: Evidence for a Phenotype (Linda P. Fried et al., Journal of Gerontology, 2001) “These are people at risk of very bad outcomes.”
The Challenge of Treating 'Frailty' (Richard Gunderman, The Atlantic, 12-8-14) Eat nutritional food. Exercise (even just a daily walk). Build relationships and cultivate a hopeful outlook (promote "psychological resilience"). "The fundamental problem with frailty is a reduced ability to bounce back from biological insults, such as infections and injuries..""A relatively minor illness can throw a frail patient into a downward spiral, sometimes leading to death." "For reasons not fully understood, some patients simply fare worse than others." "Frail people do not necessarily suffer from any single disease. As a result, they often fall through the cracks."
Learning to spot frailty (Judith Graham, The New Old Age, NY Times, 6-21-13) Few doctors watch for this. “I tell my patients, ‘Walk for 10 to 15 minutes faster than a dog walks, and find a couple of bean cans and lift them up and down for five minutes each day in any direction,’” Dr. Morley said. “That’s roughly what people need to do.” Arrange an evaluation by a physician when an older person answers “yes” to at least three.
• Are you fatigued?
• Do you have difficulty walking up one flight of steps?
• Are you unable to walk more than one block?
• Do you have more than five illnesses?
• Have you lost more than 5 percent of your weight in the last six months?
Other tests recommended in the consensus statement include questions about walking speed (slow walking can be a sign of frailty), grip strength (a weaker grip is an indication), the extent of physical activity, and memory complaints.
A Senior’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Frailty (Coach Marty, Great Living Today, 1-6-16) Practical tips: things to do.
The Frailty Syndrome (Zachary J. Palace, MD, CMD, and Jennifer Flood-Sukhdeo, Today's Geriatric Medicine, 2014) Although it lacks a standardized clinical definition, older adults’ frailty warrants special considerations in terms of treatment and nutritional needs.
Understanding frailty (Frank Lally and Peter Crome, Postgraduate Medical Journal, 2007)
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Nutrition

Food Sleuth Radio (PRX, Melinda Hemmelgarn, registered dietitian and investigative nutritionist) "Helping people think beyond their plates."
Rigged: Supermarket Shelves for Sale (Center for Science in the Public Interest) Download free report on how food companies get their products featured in particular locations in supermarkets. Written by investigative journalist Gary Rivlin. Get a quick look here: Supermarkets “Rigged” through Secret Deals with Food Manufacturers. New investigative report finds slotting fees, “Category Captains,” and other deals that undermine consumer choice. Or listen to Interview with Jessica Almy: Did you know that food manufacturers pay supermarkets hefty prices to have their products placed in strategic supermarket locations? (Food Sleuth Radio)
Nutrition Science Isn't Broken, It's Just Wicked Hard (Jenna Gallegos, Science Alert, Washington Post, 7-22-17) 'Ludwig called the low-fat craze a "nutritional disaster" because it caused many Americans to give up things we now know to be exceedingly healthy, like avocados, nuts and full-fat yogurt, while reaching for sugar-packed alternatives.' and 'Research had shown that high levels of LDL cholesterol in blood were linked with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and we knew eggs were packed with cholesterol. But it turns out that most of the cholesterol in our bodies is made by our liver and doesn't come directly from our diets.'
New nutrition study presents a case for vegetarian diets for athletes Guys who eat a vegetarian diet are just as strong—and maybe more fit—than men who eat meat, a new study says. ( Rachael Schultz, Men's Fitness) "vegetarian endurance athletes' cardiorespiratory fitness was greater than that for their omnivorous counterparts.."
Give peas a chance: why pea protein is leading the whey (Emine Saner, The Guardian, 1-9-17) Protein-packed dried and ground yellow split peas are 2017’s first big food trend. "Protein made from peas is far more sustainable than animal-based protein, but dietitians advise that it doesn’t deliver the same nutrients that animal-based protein does (other qualities that make split peas healthy in their whole state, such as fibre, are also removed in the processing).... Eating a balanced diet, including other forms of plant-based protein such beans, lentils, soya products and nut butters, should provide what you need, she says. “The key message is to have a mixture of plant proteins.”
Think hospital food stinks? Norton agrees (Jere Downs, Courier-Journal, 1-17-17) Hospital nutritionists and cafeteria staff in a Louisville hospital chain demanded and got more
locally-produced and organic food in its cafeterias. "Eating local is healthy for us. The main message is the journey to your plate is shorter." Prior story: Norton Children's names McDonald's replacement (12-8-16). Goodbye, Big Macs. Hello, Au Bon Pain. Norton Children's Hospital is the 12th hospital nationwide to ban fast food.
'Paleo' Diet May Help Older Women's Hearts, Waistlines (Dennis Thompson, HealthDay,4-3-16 The so-called Paleo diet (a cross between it and the Mediterranean Diet) may help older women lose weight and lower their future risk of diabetes and heart disease, a new study has found. The diet used in the study included lean meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and berries, with rapeseed, olive oils and avocado as additional fat sources. It excluded dairy products, cereals, added salt and refined fats and sugar. Specific fatty acids associated with insulin resistance were significantly lower in the women eating Paleo-type foods compared with those on the prudent control diet."You're basically eliminating all processed and simple carbohydrates, which we know is one of the exacerbations or causes of overweight, obesity and insulin resistance," said Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center.
Also, eliminating all dairy could put calcium, vitamin D and potassium intakes at risk, while cutting back on legumes and whole grains could cause deficiencies in fiber, manganese, magnesium and selenium, said nutritionist Connie Diekman. "Avoiding beans and grain foods also makes meeting nutrient needs harder," she said. "The beauty of including all food groups is that, when consumed in proper portions, we can more easily meet nutrient needs. When a food group is skipped, nutrient balance can be impacted." Above all: learn portion control.
Can Breakfast Help Keep Us Thin? Nutrition Science Is Tricky (AP, NY Times, 1-19-17) In its 2010 guidelines, the U.S. government cited breakfast as a way to manage weight. With its 2015 update, though, the government decided to look instead at "the combination of what you eat and drink over time," according to the Health and Human Services Department. As a result, it no longer recommends breakfast for weight loss. Kellogg's has funded many of the breakfast studies over time.
Low-salt diets may not be beneficial for all, study suggests (Science Daily, 5-21-16) A large worldwide study has found that, contrary to popular thought, low-salt diets may not be beneficial and may actually increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death compared to average salt consumption. The study suggests that the only people who need to worry about reducing sodium in their diet are those with hypertension (high blood pressure) who also have high salt consumption.

How to Raise Vitamin D Without Suffering (The People's Pharmacy) Low vitamin D levels cause many health problems, but a 50,000 IU vitamin D2 pill may cause digestive distress. How can you raise vitamin D comfortably?

Dietary Supplements Lead to 20,000 E.R. Visits Yearly, Study Finds (Anahad O'Connor, Ask Well, 10-14-16) "A large new study by the federal government found that injuries caused by dietary supplements lead to more than 20,000 emergency room visits a year, many involving young adults with cardiovascular problems after taking supplements marketed for weight loss and energy enhancement....One finding was that emergency room visits caused by supplements occurred predominantly among young people, whereas those for pharmaceutical products occurred in large part among older adults" (emphasis added).

The 50 Best Healthy Food Blogs (Dave Smith, Make Your Body Work)

It's Time to End the War on Salt (Melinda Wenner Moyer, Scientific American, 7-8-11) The zealous drive by politicians to limit our salt intake has little basis in science.

New Vegetarian Recipes to Try (About.com--you can sign up at About Food for a new recipe daily)

Should I drink smoothies? (Mandy Oaklander, Time, 4-2-15) Three out of five experts say yes, but read the reasons to figure out which answer fits you.

It’s Dinner in a Box. But Are Meal Delivery Kits Cooking? (Kim Severson, Food, NY Times, 4-4-16). They send you the exact ingredients and instructions and you cook the food, but you don't have to shop or figure out what to eat that night! Features meal kit services you can sign up for:
---Hello Fresh
---Blue Apron (original recipes, fresh ingredients, delivered to you)
---Purple Carrot (vegan)
---Peach Dish (food grown in Georgia and recipes from Southern chefs)
---Just Add Cooking (delivered in Boston area by local courier)
---Sun Basket (organic and non-GMO ingredients; gluten-free, paleo, & vegetarian options)
---Plated
---Marley Spoon
---Din
---Home Chef
---Gobble
---Green Blender (a smoothie delivery service). See This new service will deliver smoothie ingredients to your home every week (Jenn Harris, LA Times 1-8-16)

Dinner Is Shipped: From Blue Apron to Plated, the definitive ranking of meals delivered in boxes (Kaitlyn Tiffany, The Verge, 5-25-16) "These five are really just a small sampling of the wealth of options out there — you can order boxes tailored to your personal nutritional deficits, boxes specifically for new moms, boxes that comply with a paleo diet, and newly, boxes of food based around recipes from The New York Times Cooking website." Worth a read if you're deciding which service to try.
Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition: A United States–Wide, 18-Month Study (Charles M. Benbrook et al., PLoS One, 12-9-13) Three choices together would decrease the ω-6/ω-3 ratio among adult women by ∼80% of the total decrease needed to reach a target ratio of 2.3, with relative impact “switch to low ω-6 foods” > “switch to organic dairy products” ≈ “increase consumption of conventional dairy products.” See also Should You Make The Switch To Grass-Fed Whey Protein? (Lauren DelTurco, Vitamin Shoppe, 5-23-17). "...study published in PLOS One, has found that organic, grass-fed milk contains fewer omega-6 fatty acids and more omega-3 fatty acids than the conventional stuff. Many Americans consume too many omega-6 fatty acids from foods like processed veggie oils, and not enough omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in foods like fatty fish, explains Ryan Andrews, M.A., M.S., of Precision Nutrition. And since omega-3 fatty acids support our heart and brain health, and our immune system, we wouldn’t say ‘no’ to getting more out of our dairy. According to the study, grass-fed milk is also higher in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a fatty acid that supports lean muscle mass."
Does milk do a body good? Maybe not, a new study suggests(Karen Kaplan, L.A. Times ) Drinking lots of milk did not protect against bone fractures and was linked with early death. Yogurt and other fermented dairy products produced health benefits normally associated with milk. That’s because they are produced with Lactobaccillus bacteria, which eat the lactose and convert it into lactic acid.
Are Baby Carrots as Healthful as Other Carrots? (Roni Caryn Rabin, Well, NY Times, 1-20-17)
14 Foods That Fight Inflammation (Amanda MacMillan, Health/​Rheumatoid Arthritis). The foods: Fatty fish, whole grains, dark leafy greens, beets, nuts, soy, low-fat dairy, peppers, tomatoes, ginger and turmeric, garlic and onions, olive oil, berries, tart cherries.
Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood? Peter Andrey Smith, NY Times Magazine, 6-23-15) The rich array of microbiota in our intestines can tell us more than you might think. "It has long been known that much of our supply of neurochemicals — an estimated 50 percent of the dopamine, for example, and a vast majority of the serotonin — originate in the intestine, where these chemical signals regulate appetite, feelings of fullness and digestion. But only in recent years has mainstream psychiatric research given serious consideration to the role microbes might play in creating those chemicals."
Probiotic Bacteria Chill Out Anxious Mice (Talk of the Nation, NPR, 9-2-11)
Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances (Alison C. Bested, Alan C. Logan, and Eva M. Selhub, Gut Pathog. 2013; 5: 3.) The scoop so far on gut-brain-microbiota research. "The emerging research might therefore suggest that at least one bridge between healthy traditional diets and mental health includes resident microbiota."

New Dietary Guidelines Urge Less Sugar for All and Less Protein for Boys and Men (Anahad O'Connor, NY Times, Well, 1-7-16) More veggies, men; more whole grains and vegetable oils.

Rethinking Weight Loss and the Reasons We’re ‘Always Hungry’ (Anahad O'Connor, NY Times, Well, 1-7-16) "Until we address the underlying drivers of weight gain – which are fat cells stuck in calorie storage overdrive – we are going to be in a battle between mind and metabolism that we just can’t win. Cutting back on calories won’t do it. That doesn’t change biology. To change biology, you have to change the kinds of foods you’re eating."

We are what we eat? Read this, get healthy, feel better (Part 1, on Pat McNees's blog on aging with grace). See also Part 2.

Healthy food that isn't yucky.

Always Hungry? Here’s Why (David S. Ludwig and Mark I. Friedman, Sunday Review, NY Times, 5-16-14) "Like an infection that raises the body temperature set point, high consumption of refined carbohydrates — chips, crackers, cakes, soft drinks, sugary breakfast cereals and even white rice and bread — has increased body weights throughout the population."'
Sugar Is Definitely Toxic, a New Study Says (Alice Park, Time, 10-28-15) That’s what scientists have concluded from a first-of-its-kind diet study involving overweight kids

The Dark Side Of Kale (And How To Eat Around It) (Rachel Zimmerman, WBUR's CommonHealth Reform and Reality, 1-10-14) Cook your kale. Throw a Brazil nut in your smoothie. Eat seaweed. And switch up your greens. If you're on levothyroxine or synthroid, read the comments.

Obit for Denham Harman explains free radical process (Paul Vietello, NY Times, 11-28-14) Beginning in his 60s, Dr. Harman followed his own advice and took large doses of vitamins E and C and other antioxidants. He also jogged two miles a day until his mid-80s and followed a diet high in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. He died at 98. (Especially rich in antioxidants, Vits C and E: fruits and veggies in purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues.)

Antioxidants "That a benefit of beta-carotene on cognitive function was seen in the Physicians’ Health Follow-up Study only after 18 years of follow-up is sobering, since no other trial has continued for so long. At the same time, abundant evidence suggests that eating whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—all rich in networks of antioxidants and their helper molecules—provides protection against many of these scourges of aging."''
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Memory

Forget About It: Your Middle-Aged Brain Is Not On The Decline (Barbara Bradley Hagerty, All Things Considered, NPR, 3-15-16). Listen or read. "Crystallized intelligence is our accumulated experience and skills, general knowledge, vocabulary that we learn across our lifespan, so to speak," says cognitive neuroscientist Susanne Jaeggi. Crystallized intelligence can keep rising through your 60s and 70s. Fluid intelligence is "our ability to solve new problems or approach or reason without relying on previously acquired knowledge or skills or experience," Jaeggi says. Working memory is "your ability to hold information in your head as you manipulate, juggle and update it"..."If we can strengthen working memory skills, we might see benefits on all other tasks that rely on the functioning of the working memory system, such as fluid intelligence or reading comprehension or others," she says.
Elderly People Look At Their Younger Reflections In This Beautiful Photo Series By Tom Hussey (Digital Synopsis) The photographs show an elderly person looking pensively at the reflection of his/​her younger self in the mirror.
Memory (The Skeptic's Dictionary) "Memory researchers distinguish several types of memory systems. Semantic memory contains conceptual and factual knowledge. Procedural memory allows us to learn new skills and acquire habits. Episodic memory allows us to recall personal incidents that uniquely define our lives (Schacter, 1996, 17). Another important distinction is that between field and observer memory. Field memories are those where one sees oneself in the scene. Observer memories are those seen through one's own eyes. The fact that many memories are field memories is evidence, as Freud noted, of the reconstructive nature of memories (Schacter, 1996, 21)."
Why Our Memory Fails Us (Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons NY Times 12-1-14) "When we recall our own memories, we are not extracting a perfect record of our experiences and playing it back verbatim. Most people believe that memory works this way, but it doesn’t. Instead, we are effectively whispering a message from our past to our present, reconstructing it on the fly each time. We get a lot of details right, but when our memories change, we only “hear” the most recent version of the message, and we may assume that what we believe now is what we always believed."
6 Types of Normal Memory Lapses (Mary A. Fischer, AARP, 8-1-12) How to minimize those senior moments. "We're all accessing the same brain networks to remember things, says Babcock, "but we have to call in the troops to do the work when we get older, while we only have to call in a few soldiers when you're younger."
Experiments with Memory ("Barry," guest post on Lynne Kelly's blog, Oct. 2016). After reading Kelly's book (The Memory Code: The Secrets of Stonehenge, Easter Island and Other Ancient Monuments), Barry tried creating his own memory system, memorizing sites on his daily ten-minute walk to town, photographing them, giving them names, and then using that system to memorize the periodic table of elements, associating each element with aspects of his walk (as an exercise in remembering).
Can't Remember What I Forgot: The Good News from the Front Lines of Memory Research(Sue Halpern’s research into what really works about limiting normal memory loss)
Why Walking Through a Doorway Makes You Forget (Charles B. Brenner and Jeffrey M. Zacks, Scientific American, 12-13-11) Scientists measure the "doorway effect," and it supports a novel model of human memory
Forgetfulness , the wonderful animated Billy Collins poem
How Human Memory Works (Richard C. Mohs, How Stuff Works)
Memory (Wikipedia). Excellent outline of the basics, and good links to more.
Want a better memory? Stop and smell the roses (Maggie Fox, Reuters, 3-12-07) German researchers found they could use odors to re-activate new memories in the brains of people while they slept -- and the volunteers remembered better later.
Memory Disorders (succinct list, The Human Memory, which also has succinct explanations of episodic & semantic memory (and other angles on the topic)
The Brain from Top to Bottom (McGill University)
Your Brain: The Missing Manual (Matthew MacDonald)
10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer's (Alzheimer's Association) Scroll down for Typical age-related memory loss and other changes compared to Alzheimer's
Do You Remember Me?: A Father, a Daughter, and a Search for the Self by Judith Levine. The memoir of a daughter coming to terms with a difficult father who is sinking into dementia and an insightful exploration of the ways we think about disability, aging, and the self as it resides in the body and the world.
Alzheimer's disease (links to many excellent explanations)
An Ancient and Proven Way to Improve Memory; Go Ahead and Try It (Austin Frakt, The New Health Care/​The Upshot, NY Times, 3-24-16) Try A Short Puzzle to Test Your Memory (thanks to Jasmine C. Lee, Jennifer Daniel, and Kevin Quealy).
My 25 Memory Experiments (Lynne Kelly) The Navajo memorize over 700 insects to three levels of classification, along with all their characteristics....All non-literate cultures memorize a huge amount of information. They use song, dance, stories, mythology and combine all the methods into an intricate knowledge system. And they use a vast array of physical memory aids. The ‘art of memory’ or ‘method of loci’ is the most effective memory method ever devised, which is why it can be found in one form or another in every non-literate and pre-literate culture. Lynne Kelly has adapted the idea of memory paths in these 25 memory experiments.
Dementia, non-Alzheimer's (including frontotemporal dementia, or FTD) and how it differs from Alzheimer's disease.
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Bladder control and related problems

Is it bad to hold your pee? (Heba Shaheed, TED-Ed). Marvelous video illustration of the urinary system and how it works.
Staying Trim, Strong May Cut Risk of Urinary Incontinence (Medline Plus, 12-30-16) But for women in study, these factors only helped with one type of incontinence. Explains difference between stress incontinence ("involuntary leakage of urine associated with an increase in abdominal pressure (i.e., coughing, laughing, sneezing)" and "Urgency urinary incontinence" which "is involuntary leakage of urine accompanied or immediately preceded by a sense of urgency. The underlying mechanisms of each type of incontinence differ and each type of incontinence is treated differently." Excellent overview of problems and approaches to dealing with them.
Taking Control: Non-surgical Treatment Options for Urinary Incontinence (UI) in Women (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ) An aid only for women. Seven Web pages.
Overactive Bladder (Health Communities). Explore this site and find things like this article: How to Do Pelvic Floor Exercises.. Or start a Bladder Diary.
Urinary incontinence products (MedlinePlus) Helpful overview info on adult diapers and underwear (MUCH more common than you might expect), disposable and reusable underpants, products for men and for women that you may never have heard of (drip collector, condom catheter, Cunningham clamp, pessary, urethral insert)
Incontinence pads, compared (National Incontinence)
Breathable underwear, compared (National Incontinence)
Peeproof underwear (Icon Undies, The Tinklehood) Icon replaces bulky pads and pantyliners, because who wants to feel like they're wearing a diaper? "Yes, you can wear 'em all day. Yes, they're machine washable." And yeah, they're totally life-changing. See section on "female urinating devices" in this section on Travel (funnels that allow women to pee sitting or standing up without undressing, for occasions when you wear bulky clothing, can't find a restroom, are exposed to face freezing temperatures, and other tricky situations. For peeing like a man on special occasions).
What Are The Most Absorbent Urinary Incontinence Pads For Women? (Caregiver Partnership). See also
---Explanation of types ( (pull-ons, adjustable underwear, briefs, undergarments and more) http:/​/​www.liveanew.com/​Incontinence-Product-Styles-a/​279.htm?cgp=1
---Incontinence Product Finder (quickly and easily sort though nearly 500 choices)
When Bathroom Runs Rule the Day (and Night) (Jane E. Brody, Well, NY Times, 12-12-16)
Urge Incontinence (Health Guide, NY Times) AKA "overactive bladder."
• This explanation (from David Shields's delightfully informative book about the aging process is helpful: The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead): "When you're a young adult, the reflex that tells you it's time to urinate occurs when your bladder is half full. For people over age 65, the message isn't received until your bladder is nearly full." (In other words, never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.) So....Yes, we take more runs to the bathroom as we age, but this next entry is about the pharmaceutical industry's campaign to create a new disease ("overactive bladder") to market drugs. Check out: Overactive Bladder: "Pharmacia instrumental in creating new disease" says Former VP (John Mack 4-5-09)
Treating Incontinence in Women with Osteoporosis (Roni Caryn Rabin, Well, NY Times, 2-24-16) “The main message for women who have osteoporosis is that they should do pelvic floor exercises even if they don’t have incontinence, because fractures of the lumbar spine cause them to be slumped, and that puts more pressure on the pelvic floor,” said Dr. Dumoulin.
Overactive bladder? You might think so after seeing Toviaz ad (Consumer Reports blog, 4-7-10)
The Rising Popularity Of 'Granny Panties' Could Be Tied To A Healthier Perception Of Beauty (Jamie Feldman, HuffPost, 5-28-15), which is a response to a NY Times piece: Young Women Say No to Thongs (Hayley Phelan, NY Times, 5-27-15). Thongs are not so in, for good reasons.
Enduring Incontinence in Silence (Martica Heaner, NY Times, 10-25-05) "As common as this condition is -- estimates suggest that 25million Americans have experienced some loss of bladder control -- most tend to suffer in silence. The National Association for Continence conducted a survey last year and found that up to 64 percent of the people with the symptoms were not doing anything to manage the condition."
Coca-Cola treatment of phytobezoars (Wikipedia) The presence of a bezoar is a relatively infrequent disorder that affects the gastrointestinal system. A vegetarian friend of mine had a portion of his intestine removed in ER because of a bowel obstruction from an accumulation of carrots. edamame, etc. eaten late at night and not well chewed. Kind of like a fur ball, but more painful. Only by chance did I stumble across this Wikipedia article that mentions the use of Coca-Cola or Adolph's Meat Tenderizer to dissolve bezoars of the stomach. And be warned: "Phytobezoars, are most common and consist [sic] undigested, lignin, cellulose, and tannin, celery, pumpkins, grape skins, prunes, raisins, vegetables and fruits. Phytobezoars can form after eating persimmons and pineapples. These are more difficult to treat and are referred to as diospyrobezoars."

Knee replacement and other fixes for body parts


When It Comes to Severe Pain, Doctors Still Have Much to Learn (Brody, 2-15-05)
KNEES
A New Set of Knees Comes at a Price: A Whole Lot of Pain (Jane E. Brody, Health, NY Times, 2-8-05). Total knee replacement may be more painful if your doctor prescribes the minimal dose of opioids, which many do (which interferes with rehabilitation), and if your insurance doesn't cover the amount of rehabilitation you need, you may have to pay out of pocket for it.
Medicare opens new push on hip, knee replacement in effort to follow patients more closely, head off complications (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, AP, in Wash Post, 3-31-16) The idea is to follow patients more closely to smooth their recovery and head off unwanted complications that increase costs.
A New Set of Knees Comes at a Price: A Whole Lot of Pain (Brody, 2-8-05)
3 Years Later, Knees Made for Dancing (Jane E. Brody, NY Times, Health, 6-3-08)
Jane Brody's New Knees (Tara Parker-Pope, Well, NY Times, 6-3-08)
What Do You Want to Know About Total Knee Replacement? (Samuel Greenguard, HealthLine, 4-30-12)
Understanding Knee Replacement Costs: What's On the Bill? (Samuel Greengard, HealthLine, 2-23-15)
Runner's Knee (WebMD)
Regular exercise, healthy diet may help reduce knee pain for overweight adults with diabetes (News-Medical.net, 7-24-15)
The sound of a knee cracking amplified is the actual worst sound ever (Science Alert, 5-31-16) A team from Georgia Institute of Technology has been investigating ways that will allow them to tell a healthy knee from a bad 'crunchy' knee, without having to open it up or run a bunch of X-rays and scans.
Joint Pain Alliance on Facebook posts links to news and articles about knee pain and alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

HIP
What I Wish We Had Known About Hip Replacements Before My Husband’s Surgery (Judy Kirkwood, Third Age, June 2016)
A New Hip, A New Dance (Judith Sachs, 10-11-14)


CATARACTS
Cataracts: A curable condition that causes blindness (TedEd) An estimated 20 million cases of blindness worldwide are caused by cataracts, a curable condition affecting the lens that focuses images onto the eye’s retina. But how are cataracts formed, and how can we prevent them? Andrew Bastawrous gives the facts on cataracts.
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Cognitive skills and development

(whatever your age)

Certain type of training can improve driving skills of older adults (EurekAlert, University of South Florida researchers, 4-4-16) Older drivers can see their driving abilities improve by participating in certain types of training that improves the brain's processing speed and how the mind reacts when attention is divided, according to a new study. Cognitive "speed of processing" training (SPT) not only improved mental quickness and attention, but also had the potential to help prevent declines in a range of driving skills (driving mobility) among older drivers. "One of the most important predictors of driving mobility is cognitive speed of processing - how quickly people can process information and act on it." The training used is a computerized, adaptive cognitive intervention designed to increase the speed at which participants can accurately decipher increasingly complex information. The exercises are targeted at enhancing the brain's processing speed and improving divided attention.
Steps for Better Thinking (Susan Wolcott, Introduction to 7-part video). Five Patterns of Thinking. See also Pattern O: Confused Fact-Finder (people looking for single correct answer); Pattern 1: Biased Jumper (people who jump to conclusions and then stack up evidence to support their conclusions; ignore contradictory evidence); Pattern 2: Perpetual Analyzer (people who provide lots of discussion and analysis, but have trouble reaching a conclusion). Pattern 3: Pragmatic Performer (people who tend to stop when they reach a conclusion; may ignore risks and limitations and changing circumstances--may be confused with biased jumper); Strategic Revisioner (highest cognitive stage we know about, more likely to think "out of the box"--embraces uncertainty, addresses change, builds new knowledge). We don't see this a lot. Overview of the five patterns (and importance of knowing at which stage your students are, and how to help them reach next stages). Thanks to Stephanie West Allen for calling this excellent series to my attention. Should be required "reading" for all educators in higher education.
Cognitive Skills and the Aging Brain: What to Expect (Diane B. Howieson, Cerebrum, The Dana Foundation, 12-1-15) How mental health functions react to the normal aging process, including why an aging brain may even form the basis for wisdom. Read this when you're feeling strong.
Brains on Purpose: Neuroscience and conflict resolution (Stephanie West Allen, JD, in collaboration with Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD).
Piaget's theory of cognitive development (Wikipedia entry)
Elderly adults' perception of their own cognitive development during the adult years (Williams SA, Denney NW, Schadler M. PubMed)
Changes in Cognitive Function in Human Aging (Elizabeth L. Glisky, Chap.1 from Brain Aging) Attention, memory, perception, speech and language, decision-making, executive control
Mental Maps and the Neuroscience of Neighborhood Blight (Rick Paulas, Pacific-Standard, 6-15) Getting a better sense of how people visualize their neighborhoods could be the first step toward improving them. “A mental map is often a map of social behavior, a whole ideology of life, a whole culture.” “Animals aren't going to forget about a fearful place because it's about survival, and that's carried over to humans. It's much easier for a neighborhood to go bad and for people to remember it as bad than for a neighborhood to be revived."
" “One of the few advantages of age is that you can report on it with a certain authority; you are a native now, and know what goes on here....Our experience is one unknown to most of humanity, over time. We are the pioneers."~ novelist Penelope Lively, at 82
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The fashion world's silver stylistas (Tamsin Smith, BBC, 4-25-13). Young, thin models tend to dominate the catwalks and fashion shoots, but a group of stylish pensioners is giving them a run for their money and appearing in glossy ads for eyewear and designer clothes. (Love that hat!)


Managing modern life and electronics


Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind (David Carr Media, NY Times, 7-20-14) "We are all on that train, the one that left print behind, the one where we are constantly in real time, where we know a little about everything and nothing about anything, really. And there is no quiet car."
How Not to Pay the Price for Free Wi-Fi (Stephanie Rosenbloom, Travel, NY Times, 6-4-14)
Tips on Reducing Cable and Phone Bills From Ethically Ambiguous Experts (Ron Lieber, NY Times, 2-6-16) Tips on how to get the most for your money, at the lowest rates possible. Negotiate anew each year.
Cutting Off Those Recurring Charges You Forgot About (Ron Lieber, NY Times, 1-29-16)
Keep your phone safe (Consumer Reports, June 2014) How to protect yourself from wireless threats
Life After 'Life': Aging Inmates Struggle For Redemption (part 1 of a 2-part series, Laura Sullivan, All Things Considered, NPR News Investigations, 6-4-14) Listen to story or read transcript.
Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think (Rebecca Beris, Lifehack)
Paroled From Life Sentences, Aging Ex-Cons Find World That Didn't Wait (part 2 of a 2-part series, Laura Sullivan, All Things Considered, NPR News Investigations, 6-5-14). Listen to story or read transcript.
Smartphone Safety (Identity Theft Resource Center, ITRC) What the risks are, best practices to protect yourself, and what to do if your smartphone is lost or stolen.
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Facing tough issues


Necessary Steps: How Health Care Fails Older Patients, And How It Can Be Done Better (Louise Aronson, Health Affairs, March 2015 ) A chance meeting between an octogenarian and a geriatrician shows how the US health system focuses on medical care at the expense of older adults’ well-being. Must reading!
Our financial smarts erode quickly after age 60 (Robert Powell, MarketWatch, 10-17-11)
The ‘death tax’ will soon be tougher to dodge (Renae Merle, WaPo, 8-2-16) The Treasury Department has proposed new regulations it says will make it harder for families to avoid estate taxes.
Boomer Tsunami: Face your tomorrow here, now (Judy Steed, The Star, 4-20-09). Boomers will once again be "transformative" as we age – our demographic clout is so massive that we change society as we move through the stages of life – but not soon enough to benefit ourselves, says gerontologist Robert Butler. The "future belongs those who prepare for it." Don't be afraid of looking ahead, he says; make plans and figure out your best approach to "the big transition."
Like Hunger Or Thirst, Loneliness In Seniors Can Be Eased (Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News/​KHN, 5-18-17) What helped older adults who had been lonely recover? Two factors: spending time with other people and eliminating discord and disturbances in family relationships.
Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communication Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech (download free PDF, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum). Three workbooks: Understand Context and Conflict. Select and Guide Audiences. Design Medium, Speakers, and Message Content. Author: Rachel Brown.
Bill Maher on ageism
America's Health Rankings Senior Report measures which states are healthier for elders (Minnesota and Hawaii are at the top. Mississippi and Louisiana at the bottom), based on such indicators as access to dedicated health providers, preventable hospitalizations, access to social supports, and the percentage of people getting flu shots, getting adequate nutrition, and being physically active.
How to persuade an elderly relative to stop driving (Joe Blundo, Columbus Dispatch, 11-15-14). Sidebar: Signs that an elderly driver may not be safe driving. (Placed in the retirement section because driving is often essential to staying on a particular job.)
92 and Still Driving? Seniors at the Wheel. (Debbie Brodsky, DMB Pictures, 6-13-12)
Poll: Older drivers want stricter rules for themselves (Keith Laing, The Hill, 12-1-14) A strong majority of older drivers want more stringent rules for people in their age range who operate cars, according to AAA auto club study. Full report here.
The Haggler (New York Times column "helping aggrieved consumers"). For example, A Memorial to Her Son, Until the Bank Got in the Way A mother’s wish to donate her late son’s savings to a scholarship fund proved harder than she anticipated. Shame, Bank of America.
Brave Old World , a multimedia look at aging produced by News21 fellows from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Stories told through text, audio, photographs, interactive graphics and video provide a nuanced look at aging trends unfolding across the country.
The ‘Busy’ Trap (Tim Kreider, NY Times Opinionator, 6-30-12). "Our frantic days are really just a hedge against emptiness." On the value of idleness.
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Connection? Or loneliness?


'Elder Orphans' Have A Harder Time Aging In Place (Carol Marak, Forbes, 9-8-16). Common topics: Affordable housing, transportation, city strategies for aging,
Elder Orphans Facebook group
Aging Alone Doesn't Have to Mean Lonely (Walker Thornton, Senior Planet, 11-8-13). "Loneliness is not tied to relationship status, and it’s a fallacy to assume that marriage or cohabitation is the solution. Ask anyone who’s been in an unhappy, non-communicative marriage....Maybe what we need as we plan for old age is to expand our social connections and interactions – not look for a husband." Online friendships can supplement real life relationships.
Radio host about lonely 95-year-old caller: ‘We’ve all got a Bill in our lives.’ (Colby Itkowitz, WaPo, 10-23-15) "Palmer, who lives alone, called his favorite BBC radio show during a segment on finding love later in life. He spoke of his wife, a friend of 30 years who he only married a year ago. She’s now living in a home with dementia and he misses her terribly. His story was picked up worldwide, including by The Washington Post....And loneliness does not just manifest in older people when they live alone. A 2012 study by University of California San Francisco found that 43 percent of elderly people felt lonely, but only 18 percent of them lived alone."
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg
People who possess this one thing enjoy much better health as they age, science shows (Barbara Bradley Hagerty, WaPo, 5-17-16) "Indeed, studies show that people with a network of friends live years longer than those who are alone. They recover more quickly from cancer. They are less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. They ward off depression, and are far more likely to keep their memories intact as they age. Many of these studies suggest that friends matter more to your health than family."
Best Cities for Successful Aging (PDF, Anusuya Chatterjee and Jaque King, Milken Institute, 2014)
America Has a Major Misconception On Aging (SeniorCare.com infographic) What Percentage of Americans Will Need Long-Term Care? A third think they will. Two-thirds actually will. It's time for a senior care reality check. Senior care means more than nursing homes.
Time for New Thinking for the Age of Longevity (Richard Eisenberg, Next Avenue, 10-6-16) The bleak narrative about aging is bogus, says Rosalind Barnett, co-author of 'The Age of Longevity.' When you’re older, you have a lot of life experience and you’re not afraid of failing as much. This stage of life can have some of the excitement of adolescence without the uncertainty and doubt.
To stay healthy as we age, large social networks trump close-knit ones (Tara Bahrampour, WaPo, 9-12-16) For optimal health, many loosely connected friends are better than a tightknit circle "People with more extensive, weaker ties tend to arrive at the hospital sooner after a stroke, and to recover faster, the paper found. The key seems to be the diversity that comes with knowing many different kinds of people....“As doctors we think of a strong family unit of support system as really important to patients’ health,” Dhand said. But in the case of a patient experiencing a mild stroke, that model can be less useful “because you’re not forced to go outside of your safe zone,” he said. “I call it sort of the helicopter family; people around you are saying, ‘No, grandpa, stay where you are, I’ll get it for you.’”
7 Loneliness-Busters You’ll Find Online (Vonnie Kennedy, Senior Planet, 5-16-13) Reach out. Listen to music. Take classes. Volunteer. Join an online community. (Try ham radio!) Get a pet. Meditate.
Paws. Seniors for seniors. The PAWS adoption program places senior cats and dogs (typically over 7 years of age) with people over 60.
How Pet Therapy Has Changed Assisted Living (Mary Park Byrne, A Place for Mom,1-12-15)
Travellers Point
The Challenges of Male Friendships (Jane E. Brody, Well, NY Times, 6-27-16)
ROMEO (Retired Old Men Eating Out) Gives Guys a Chance to Connect (Robert W. Stock, AARP, 1-4-11) Hundreds of self-proclaimed ROMEO groups across the country, some with a handful of members, some with as many as 80, meet for lunch or for breakfast, weekly or monthly. "...it helps them discover what women know from the time they enter kindergarten, that a sense of connectedness feels good and is good for your emotional health."
A Voice for Men: Changing the Cultural Narrative combined with a Wikipedia entry about Mensshed movement. Nonprofit organizations called "men's sheds" (after backyard sheds, where men could go to fix lawn mowers etc.) or community sheds originated in Australia, to advise and improve the overall health of all males, and it garnered widespread approval and government funding. “Men’s sheds’ demonstrated success in reaching marginalized and isolated males and contributing to improvements in male health and well being.” "In many ways men's sheds can be seen as extension of the original 19th century idea of working men's club's in the UK and Australia." The relaxing atmosphere helps lower men's stress and blood pressure. See Australian Men's Shed Movement
Researchers Confront an Epidemic of Loneliness (Katie Hafner, NY Times, 9-9-16) Researchers have found mounting evidence linking loneliness to physical illness and to functional and cognitive decline. As a predictor of early death, loneliness eclipses obesity. In Britain and the United States, roughly one in three people older than 65 live alone, and in the United States, half of those older than 85 live alone. Studies in both countries show the prevalence of loneliness among people older than 60 ranging from 10 percent to 46 percent. Provides links to organizations that provide friendly listeners to calls from lonely aging citizens.
Campaign to End Loneliness.
So Lonely It Hurts (Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times, 12-10-15) Advice backed by research: Be nice and gently welcoming to the curmudgeons you meet. Invite them to share coffee. Don’t push for reciprocal invitations, perhaps. And if you happen to be the curmudgeon, accept that invitation. It isn’t coming from a predator out to devour you.
Why Loneliness Hurts So Much (Richard E. Cytowic MD, Psychology Today, 4-28-15) Affection matters to our mental, physical, and spiritual health. "When stressed, even brief hugs or kisses can help us calm down, regain perspective, and feel ready to tackle the problems that face us. If we are fortunate to have robust, affectionate relationships in our lives, then we are less likely to overreact to stressful events wherever we encounter them."

"Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break." ~ William Shakespeare
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Lifelong learning

(when your life experience makes history come alive)

Fast Time and the Aging Mind (Richard A. Friedman, NY Times, 7-20-13). "[I]f you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel."
Study with the Stars: Learn From the Greats Without Ever Leaving Home (Kristin Luna, Parade, 8-5-16) For less than $100, many adults are signing up for online courses (MasterClasses) taught by Dustin Hoffman (acting), Kevin Spacey (acting), Werner Herzog (directing), James Patterson (writing), Serena Williams (tennis), Christina Aguilera (voice, singing), Usher (the art of live performance), Aaron Sorkin (screenwriting), Annie Leibovitz (photography) Aaron Rasmussen and David Rogier after the masterminds behind MasterClasses.
The Great Courses (on audio or video you can hear great lecturers capture whole swaths of learning, in many fields). As I type this, the 18-hour set that hooked me is for sale at 70% off, or $48.00 Our local libraries also carry the series. This is the set of CDs that got me hooked on the Great Courses: The Medieval World (audio, Great Courses). 18+ hours of fascinating lectures by Professor Dorsey Armstrong. Reviewers say it takes hours to download the digital downloads and it's easier to get the CDs. Excellent customer service. Go here for a discount coupon on selected titles.
Road Scholar (formerly Elder Hostel and, briefly, Exploritas, until sued for trademark infringement) Adventures in Lifelong Learning -- educational tours, adventures afloat, etc.). Request a catalog.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes (OLLI), National Resource Center
---List of institutes
---Trips & Travel
---Find an OLLI near you
---OLLI videos online
Coursera--take the world's best courses, online. Take free online classes from 120+ top universities and educational organizations. Courses last several weeks, you can work at your own page, and for a fee you can receive a verified certificate that you have completed a course.
Inter-Disciplinary.net, an enabling resource which supports the exploration, development and publication of work that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. Keep up with what they're doing on their Facebook page.
The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New (Kristyna Z., The Observer, 11-23-15)
Stanford Out Loud. This new podcast series presents Stanford Magazine stories--in first podcasts, Stanford Prison Experiment, the death and probable murder of Jane Stanford, and Outbreak: How a band of student volunteers and a campus physician with a carnation in his lapel helped confine the tragedy of the 1903 typhoid epidemic.
Semester at Sea . Read this long personal account by a teacher, Alden Jones and this Wikipedia article and FAQs and this organization chart offer more info. The fees seem reasonable but may be too high for some.
Factory Tours USA 573 tours and counting! This site celebrates American imagination and industry. Take along a youngster or two.
Seminars on Long-Term Thinking (SALT), from the Long Now Foundation, established to foster long-term thinking and responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years.
TED talks (ideas worth spreading -- listen to 1500+ wonderful talks to stir your curiosity)
TED-Ed (lessons worth sharing)
Knowledge Commons DC (a free school for thinkers, doers, and tinkerers – taught anywhere, by anyone, for everyone--in Washington DC area--attracts students in 20s and 30s but open to all)
Answers for Middle-Aged Seekers of MOOCs, Part 1 (Cathy N. Davidson answering questions about how to find and use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other online continuing education tools. See also Part 2.
Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls (Tamar Lewin, NY Times, 3-4-12) Experts say several factors have helped propel MOOCs to the center of the education stage, including improved technology and the exploding costs of traditional universities. The current, more technically focused MOOCs are highly automated, with computer-graded assignment and exams. But there is still plenty of room for social interaction
Skillshare (learn new creative skills -- thousands of online classes in design, photography, business, and more)
Clearing Up Some Myths About MOOCs (also by Cathy Davidson). MOOCs are not open, not peer-to-peer learning.
Let's Talk about MOOC (online) Education--And Also About Massively Outdated Traditional Education (MOTEs) (Cathy Davidson again, with links to more on this topic).
Instruction for Masses Knocks Down Campus Walls (Tamar Lewin, Education, NY Times, 3-4-12) MOOCs, a tool for democratizing higher education, provide free online education to the masses, for free. Some offer credentials--not for free.
Edge.org was "launched in 1996 as the online version of "The Reality Club," an informal gathering of intellectuals that met from 1981-1996 in Chinese restaurants, artist lofts, the Board Rooms of Rockefeller University, the New York Academy of Sciences, and investment banking firms, ballrooms, museums, living rooms, and elsewhere. Though the venue is now in cyberspace, the spirit of the Reality Club lives on in the lively back-and-forth discussions on the hot-button ideas driving the discussion today."
Open Culture (links to the best free & educational media on the map: 1,500 free online courses, 1000+ MOOCs, free online lectures, distance learning courses, free audio books, etc.)
edX. Take great courses from the world's best universities, free (MIT, Berkeley, Harvard, Rice, Georgetown, Wellesley, UT Austin, Delft) or take courses at high school level.
Carnegie Mellon University (Open Learning Initiative) “No instructors, no credits, no charge.”
Duke University (iTunes U). Learn with Duke. Any time. Anywhere.
Harvard Open Courses: Open Learning Initiative. Harvard offers 200 online courses.
iTunesU (free courses for your iPad)
MIT Open Courseware (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Circuits and Electronics, 6.002X/a> (an experimental online course at MIT)
Open Yale courses (hear excellent lectures free, while exercising)
Stanford Engineering Everywhere
UC Berkeley: webcast.berkeley, online video & audio for students and learners around the globe (also available on YouTube and iTunes)
Oasis (technology training, on how to use using computers, the Internet, and portable devices. See course descriptions.
Udemy a MOOC that frankly wants to make money, offers both free and fee-based courses, many of them geared to increasing job-related skills. See • University of Oxford, free podcasts of lectures in many fields
750 Free Online Courses from Top Universities (Open University, which lists many other free resources, from movies and language lessons to audio books and intelligent video and YouTube sites)
MOOC List ("a complete list of massive open online courses, free online courses offered by the best universities and entities")
Why Every University Does Not Need A MOOC (Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed 3-6-12)

Find local centers for learning and acting on your dreams:
The possible dream: Music theater class is a second act for stage-struck adults (Kristen Cook, Arizona Daily Star, 4-14-13) Musical theater class shines spotlight on adults.

Book TV talks on TV (current schedule). Check Book TV's website for MANY resources available online and sometimes in person, too (such as the Book Festival)
Book TV podcasts (listen to free archived podcasts of talks by top nonfiction book authors)
Book TV talks on video (view archived talks online, on YouTube)
Book TV's Book Club.
In Depth (Book TV) (a series of comprehensive, live three-hour looks at one author's work, with questions from viewers). Search the Book TV site and find even more wonderful programs and series.
Audio Dharma, talks illuminating the teachings of Buddha.
Intelligent, interesting radio and TV talk shows
Everything You've Ever Been Told About How You Learn Is A Lie (Shaunacy Ferro, PopSci, 9-12-13)
Mah Jongg Maven (get a set and three more players and learn to play mah jongg). I've been playing Rummikub with a group of neighbors lately. Playing games is an easy way to get to know new people.


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Research on aging


The Wisdom of the Aged (John Leland and photographer Nicole Bengiveno, New York Times, 12-25-15) For six New Yorkers age 85 and older, whose lives were followed throughout the year, old age is a mixture of happiness and sadness, with less time wasted on anger, stress, and worry. The six tried to address the question one of them asked: What is reasonable to ask of old age? Beyond the assaults of poverty or illness, to what extent can people shape the quality of life in their late years? The good: "...even as the brain slows down or memory deteriorates, older people are often better decision-makers, recognizing patterns or being more attuned to the effects of their decisions....In surveys of people in nursing homes and hospices, Dr. Ardelt found that wisdom was positively related to their sense of well-being, even after the researchers controlled for factors like physical health, financial status and social engagement. The frailer or closer to death people became, the greater the role wisdom played in their feelings of well-being. Wisdom may not necessarily increase with old age — other researchers have found that it does not — but it becomes more central to people’s lives as they age, and compensates for much of the decline." "Recent research suggests that people’s attitude toward aging, even in their younger years, may affect their bodies as well....Of course, it may be that people in better health simply have brighter views of aging." For Jonas "Mekas, old age was like younger age: an imperative to pay attention to the moment and do good in it."
The Longevity Genes Project (Albert Einstein College of Medicine) Genetic research on more than 500 healthy elderly people between the ages of 95 and 112 and on their children. They're still accepting participants, it seems.
Secrets of the 'Wellderly' (Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, 9-19-08) "Earlier this year, researchers at the U.K.'s University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council reported that people who exercise regularly, don't smoke, limit their alcohol intake and eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a day live, on average, 14 years longer than people who didn't. (paragraph) Yet, there is little evidence of an abstemious lifestyle among the 450 people between the ages of 95 and 110 enrolled in the Longevity Genes Project at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There are no vegetarians. At least a third of them were obese in middle-age. A third have been smoking tobacco for 40 years or more, despite health warnings. '/​I have a woman who recently celebrated 91 years of cigarette smoking,' says Dr. Barzilai. 'She is 106 now.'
Data Sources for Research in Aging (Center for Demography of Health and Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison). About 55 studies and datasets have been highlighted, providing easy access to some of the most well-known and useful studies of the sociological, economic, and medical aspects of aging. The archives, government agencies and NGOs listed will help serve as a gateway to hundreds more.
Skinny and 119 Pounds, but With the Health Hallmarks of Obesity (Gina Kolata, The Science of Fat series, NY Times, 7-22-16) A small group of thin patients who develop disorders typically tied to obesity pose a medical mystery and a potential opportunity for scientists to obesity pose a medical mystery and a potential opportunity for scientists.
The Gerontological Association of America (GAA) We foster collaboration between biologists, health professionals, policymakers, behavioral and social scientists, and other age studies scholars and researchers. We believe the intersection of research from diverse areas is the best way to achieve the greatest impact and promote healthy aging.
American Society on Aging (ASA)

National Academy on an Aging Society
National Adult Vaccination Program
Hartford Change AGEnts Initiative (accelerates sustained practice change that improves the health of older Americans, their families, and communities by harnessing the collective strengths, resources, and expertise of the John A. Hartford Foundation’s interprofessional community of more than 3,000 scholars, clinicians, and health system leaders)
Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE)
A Study on Fats That Doesn’t Fit the Story Line(Aaron E. Carroll, The New Health Care, NY Times, 4-15-16) The Minnesota Coronary Experiment was a well-designed study (a randomized controlled trial), an intervention diet that lowered the percent of calories from saturated fats to 9.2 percent, and raised the percent from unsaturated fats to 13.2 percent. The total serum cholesterol dropped significantly more in those on the intervention diet (-31.2 mg/​dL) than in those on the control diet (-5 mg/​dL) but there was no decreased risk of death with a diet lower in saturated fats. Why weren't the results published? Possibly publication bias. The state of nutrition research is shockingly flawed.


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Organizing and dealing with things and information

A/​K/​A decluttering: Letting go of stuff

One weekend my friend Steve and I went shopping for a bookcase, so I could get a couple hundred books off the floor. A few hours later (!!!) Ikea delivered three long boxes of parts. I forgot the boxes were there and tripped over them on my way to the kitchen, nearly breaking my leg. Decluttering is not for sissies! I shall never be a minimalist, but we have to start somewhere.
Get It Together: Organize Your Records So Your Family Won't Have To by Melanie Cullen and Shae Irving
If Something Happens to Me by Joseph R. Hearn and Niel Nielsen (a workbook to organize legal, financial, and insurance information)
The Senior Organizer: Personal, Medical, Legal, Financial by Debby S. Bitticks, Lynn Benson, and Dorothy Breininger

Divorced. The children have left home. If the phone rings, it's only a call centre... I admit it, I'm lonely (Marion McGilvary, Daily Mail, UK, 7-27-12)

The Eden Alternative -- a nonprofit that believes aging should be a continued stage of development and growth, rather than a period of decline. Its vision: To eliminate loneliness, helplessness, and boredom. See more about the Eden Alternative.

Elderly thrive in Denmark, where nursing homes are small, homey, and delightful (Judy Steed, The Star, 11-9-08)

The Elder Storytelling Place (a Time Goes By weblog)

Embodied Aging Sharri Teague's inactive blog ("Sharri's my name -- connection's my game")

Ethnic Elders (New American Media press site)

Fierce with Age (a digest of boomer wisdom, inspiration, & spirituality)

Flashfree: Not your mama's menopause (Liz Scherer's blog -- check out her blogroll for more along these lines)

For Healthy Aging, a Late Act in the Footlights (Tina Rosenberg, Fixes, NY Times, 8-15-12) EngAGE, based in Los Angeles, CA, provides arts and wellness classes for about 5,000 people — the vast majority of them low-income — living in senior apartment communities. “They just had to get through life, taking care of things, and the idea of following a dream was not on their radar screens." That’s why the Burbank Senior Artists Colony is remarkable.

Geezerguts: making a buck, no matter what . Jane Genova lost her job and everything else at 60 and started over as a freelance writer-entrepreneur (speechwriter-ghostwriter); her story of loss and comeback is full of practical advice for middle-aged and older employed writers, among others. Download her free eBook here ( PDF). You can also download her lecture to the NY State Bar Association, Our Stories: Leveraging Them for Career Transition. Or buy her new book: Over-50: How We Keep Working

Generations Beat Online, e-newsletter of the Journalists Network on Generations for writers/​producers covering issues in aging and retirement. Journalists can subscribe to the excellent GBO newsletter (edited by Paul Kleyman)

Getting Old Sucks: But It Sure Beats the Alternative (Ed Strnad, co-author of The Optimist's/​Pessimist's Guide to the Millennium, faces the downside of aging with humor)

The Gift of Adversity: The Unexpected Benefits of Life's Difficulties, Setbacks, and Imperfections (research psychiatrist Norman E. Rosenthal). Using stories from his own life—including his childhood in apartheid-era South Africa, his years after suffering a violent attack from a stranger, and his career as a psychiatrist—as well as case studies and discussions with well-known figures like Viktor Frankl and David Lynch, Rosenthal shows that true innovation, emotional resilience, wisdom, and dignity can only come from confronting and understanding the adversity we have experienced.

Goddesses in Everywoman by Jean Shinoda Bolen, author of Goddesses in Older Women: Archetypes in Women Over Fifty and Crones Don't Whine: Concentrated Wisdom for Juicy Women




Harry (Rick) Moody's three excellent newsletters, The Soul of Bioethics, Human Values in Aging (see back issues), and Teaching Gerontology. Watch video presentations on various topics.

Hecate and My Date with Mr. Wrong (Sharry Teague on The Elder Storytelling Place's Time Goes By blog)

How Revving Up Your Heart Rate, Even A Bit, Pays Off (Allison Aubrey, NPR Morning Edition 2-1-10). Brisk walking is key to thriving later in life.

How This 52-Year-Old Went From Couch Potato To Half Marathons (Ann Brenoff, HuffPost, 6-13-12, tells great story about Linda Tabach)

How to Be Old (David Brooks and Gail Collins converse about styles of aging. Brooks, for example: "Then there is the possibility of the wise old sage. I’ve noticed one way in which turning 70 is like turning 17. Hormones kick in. The hormones at 17 lead to a great hunger for you know what. The hormones at 70 lead to a great hunger for generativity, for giving back to future generations. People at that age have a great horniness for service and they start volunteering promiscuously." And Collins: "...it is true that you only get to choose how you’re going to finish your life story if you have some money to pay for a desirable conclusion."

How to give death a good name (Elizabeth Grice, The Telegraph 6-23-08). With society now obsessed by the desire to prolong life, Grice asks if we have lost the art of dying well and examines practical steps to change our attitudes

How to live to be 100+ (video, Dan Buettner's excellent TED talk 9-09). Sardinia and Okinawa have something to teach us, and so do Seventh Day Adventists near Loma Linda, CA)

iMagineAge.com (imagination and conversation for the boomer generation)

Innovation Without Age Limits (Vivek Wadhwa, Technology Review, 2-1-12). Young stars dominate the technology headlines. But outside the Internet, research shows, innovators are actually getting older as complexity rises.

Intentional Communities (ecovillages, cohousing communities, residential land trusts, communes, student co-ops, urban housing cooperatives, intentional living, alternative communities, cooperative living, and other projects where people strive together with a common vision)

Jane Fonda, Life's Third Act (video, Fonda's TED talk, Dec. 2011). Here's the Times article she refers to: A.L.S. Rewrites a Retiree's Dream: Loss of Speech Evokes the Voice of a Writer (Peter Applebome, NY Times, 3-6-11).

The Joy of Old Age. (No Kidding.) (Oliver Sacks, NY Times, 7-6-13). " "I often feel that life is about to begin, only to realize it is almost over.... I do not think of old age as an ever grimmer time that one must somehow endure and make the best of, but as a time of leisure and freedom, freed from the factitious urgencies of earlier days, free to explore whatever I wish, and to bind the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime together. "

Julia Child's co-author succeeded in the kitchen but also in second half of life. Abigail Trafford, in her WashPost column (My Time, 3-2-2010), quotes psychiatrist Harvey L. Rich, author of In the Moment: Celebrating the Everyday: "We snicker at the young -- we say the problem with youth is that it's wasted on the young. . . . But young people have a different job than older people. They are trying to build a life; we're at the stage of trying to make sense of life. The young haven't acquired the language. They're not there yet."

Knee replacement. A New Set of Knees Comes at a Price: A Whole Lot of Pain (Jane E. Brody, Health, NY Times, 2-8-05). Total knee replacement may be more painful if your doctor prescribes the minimal dose of opioids, which many do (which interferes with rehabilitation), and if your insurance doesn't cover the amount of rehabilitation you need, you may have to pay out of pocket for it.
A New Set of Knees Comes at a Price: A Whole Lot of Pain (Brody, 2-8-05)
When It Comes to Severe Pain, Doctors Still Have Much to Learn (Brody, 2-15-05)
3 Years Later, Knees Made for Dancing (Jane E. Brody, NY Times, Health, 6-3-08)
Jane Brody's New Knees (Tara Parker-Pope, Well, NY Times, 6-3-08)

LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) and Resources Clearinghouse (brings together professionals interested in the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals ages 50-plus)

Liberating Aging . Maggie Kuhn in 1978, as interviewed by Ken Dychtwald (HuffPost 5-30-12).

Listen to An Old Wise Man Once Said. Henry Alford, author of How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People (While They Are Still on This Earth), goes to Washington Square Park to get strangers to share their hopes and fears about growing old.

Loneliness
Shaking Off Loneliness (Jane E. Brody, Well, NY Times, 5-13-13)
The Lethality of Loneliness (Judith Shulevitz, New Republic, 5-13-13). We now know how it can ravage our body and brain
Depression May Raise Risk of Gut Infection (Nicholas Bakalar, Well, NY Times, 5-8-13)
The High Price of Loneliness (Judith Graham, Well, NY Times, 6-18-12) “Sometimes for older people, just realizing that someone is listening and they’re not being ignored makes a difference.”
Learning To Live With Loneliness (The Art of Aging, 5-19-09)
Meetup.com (neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something…)
Scroll up and read about The Eden Alternative.
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The Longevity Revolution: Time to Get Out and Change Things (Wendy Gordon, Huffington Post, 1-2-12)

Long term care insurance (links to articles and sites that answer your questions) Should you or should you not buy long-term care insurance? How much? Can you afford it? Where to learn about options. Do premiums or benefits affect your tax picture? Separating expenses and emotions.

Loss of Speech Evokes the Voice of a Writer--A.L.S. Rewrites a Retiree's Dream (Peter Applebome, NY Times, 3-6-11). “As my muscles weakened, my writing became stronger,” he wrote recently in an unpublished essay. “As I slowly lost my speech, I gained my voice. As I diminished, I grew. As I lost so much, I finally started to find myself.”

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment by George Leonard

Memory (YouTube). You may smile in recognition at Pam Peterson's rendition of the lyrics (about memory problems associated with aging)

(Christie Aschwanden, Wash Post, 7-1-13). Memory worries? Don’t bother with vitamins and supplements. Just get regular exercise. And eat a Mediterranean diet (low in saturated fats and red meat and rich in vegetables, fish, whole grains and omega-3-fatty acids).

Mine Is Longer than Yours. Michael Kinsley (The New Yorker, 4-7-08). A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease forces Kinsley to reflect on mortality earlier than his peers; in this piece, he examines longevity as the last competitive game among baby boomers.

Music for Funerals and Memorial Services. Choosing your own music should DEFINITELY be part of end-of-life planning--one of the few parts that may be enjoyable.

The New Old Age: Caring and Coping. Excellent NY Times blog, often written by Paula Span'

Next Avenue, PBS's website for America's 50+ population as they plan for and define a new life stage. Samples of articles thereon:
4 Ways to Turn Your Walk Into a Workout (Stephanie Stephens)
The 6 Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Adult Child (Linda Bernstein) and How to Heal a Rift with Your Adult Child (Erica Manfred)
How to Plan a Funeral (and avoid being pressured into unnecessary purchases, by Caroline Mayer)
10 Tips for Connecting to Someone With Dementia (Family Caregiver Alliance)
Is Long-Term Care Insurance Worth Buying? (Paul Solman)
Need a Hearing Aid? Get the Best Advice and Fit for You (Bonnie Goldstein)
9 Best Things About Being Over 50 (Donna Sapolin, 2-20-13)

Nora Ephron on Aging. Nora's wonderful essay on the advice she wished she'd had sooner -- "the honest truth is that it’s sad to be over 60." For example: "Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was 26. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re 34." (Daily Mail, 6-29-12)

No Retirement Age for Rebellion (Sam Smith, Swampoodle Report, Undernews, online report of the Progressive Review, 11-24-08)

Old Age, From Youth’s Narrow Prism (Marc E. Agronin, NY Times, 3-1-10) "Our youth-centered culture equates love with sex; in contrast, I have seen with my older patients that love can be an endlessly blossoming flower, felt and expressed in hundreds of ways."

Old Before My Time (Eileen Beal, 8-15-02, PDF file)

Older Women's League (OWL, a national grassroots membership organization that strives to improve the status and quality of life for midlife and older women). Helpful blog entries such as Job Search Tips for Older Job Seekers (4-16-12) and The Last Word: Caregiving in the New Era .

Old People Are Getting Better at Dating (Jen Doll, Atlantic Wire, 2-13-12)

Old Soul: How Aging Reveals Character — A Conversation With James Hillman (Genie Zeiger, The Sun, Issue 296 August 2000) Hillman's books include The Soul's Code and The Force of Character and the Lasting Life

The Omnivore's Hundred (100 fine, strange, and everyday foods the "very good taste" blog thinks everyone should try once)

100 Simple Things You Can Do to Prevent Alzheimer's and Age-Related Memory Loss by Jean Carper. (She may extend a little too much hope about being able to avoid the disease, but the simple things to do are no doubt worth doing anyway. I wonder if the research will change on the merits of coffee drinking.) Here's an excerpt.

Outliving the Self: How We Live on in Future Generations by John Kotre. Read free online.

Over 50, and Under No Illusions (Caitlin Kelly, NY Times, 1-12-13). Too young to retire, too old to start over. With skill, determination and a bit of luck, the end of a job doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Kelly provides success stories as models.

Over 55 and in love: Seniors make up 8 percent of wedding business (AP, 8-22-12)

Palm Pilot as Surrogate Memory (part of a Toronto Star series on good programs for seniors aging in place, including A Storm Shelter (11-8-08), a program for elders aging in place--providing them with one good meal a day and activities to counter their feelings of isolation and loneliness)

Parent-Child Conflicts and Troubled Relationships
When Your Child Won't Talk to You (a/​k/​a Divorcing Your Parents, Cutting Your Parents Out of Your Life, The Stranger in Your Family) (Meredith Maran, AARP magazine, April/​May 2012). An expert provides advice on rebuilding family ties.
When Your Child Divorces You (Joshua Coleman, AARP, May 6, 2012)
When They’re Grown, the Real Pain Begins (Susan Engel, NY Times, 11-28-12). Note the 748 comments!
How to Heal a Rift With Your Adult Child (Erica Manfred, NextGeneration, 1-16-13)
A Son Reaches Out to Make a Final Connection With His Father (Robert EDelstein, NextGeneration 6-15-12). As his dad lay dying, the writer became obsessed with photographing their hands one last time
Healing From Family Rifts : Ten Steps to Finding Peace After Being Cut Off From a Family Member by Mark Sichel
Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents by Allison Botke, editor of the God Allows U-Turns series
Liking the Child You Love (Jeffrey Bernstein, Psychology Today, 4-8-12). Getting unstuck from your overly dependent, demanding adult child.
7 Hints for Communicating With Adult Children (Susan Adcox, About.com) Grandparents' Best Tool Is Tact

Positive Aging Newsletter (Taos Institute). Also available: Positive Aging newsletter archives. Edited by Ken and Mary Gergen.

Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), an optional benefit under Medicare and Medicaid that helps older people frail enough to meet state standards for nursing home care stay in their home. PACE offers and manages all the medical, social and rehabilitative services enrollees need to preserve or restore their independence, stay in their homes and communities, and maintain their quality of life. Listen to this interview on Kansas Public Radio about PACE. There is evidence that this new model of care is effective, but it is not yet widely available. Here is a current list of PACE-provider organizations

The Purpose Prize ($100,000 awards given by Encore.Org, to individuals over 60 who have worked in the second half of life to address a major social problem. See answers to frequently asked questions.

Religious Tolerance (what the world's religions believe)

The (Really) Long Goodbye He's got a gun, a badge—and rheumatoid arthritis. The iconic detectives of best-selling authors from Michael Connelly to Ruth Rendell are fighting a new foe: old age. (Alexandra Alter, WSJ, 7-1-11)

A Reminder That Laughter Is the Best Medicine (a video of Mary Maxwell's very funny take on the ignobilities of aging, delivered ostensibly as a prayer). "...the thing about old age is that you don't get a chance to practice. This is the first time I've been old, and it just sort of crept up on me. There were signs: Random hair growth. That's special. Particularly that first time you go to brush a hair off your lapel and discover it's attached to your chin." From a speech she gave for Home Instead Senior Care.

Restoring balance in old age (Kay Lazar, Boston Globe, 1-16-12). With advancing age come problems of unsteadiness and dizziness. Researchers are looking for ways to stop the falls.

Rethinking Expectations About How We Age (Marc Agronin, on NPR's Talk of the Nation, on his book How We Age: A Doctor's Journey into the Heart of Growing Old. When it comes to disorders such as anxiety, depression or even Alzheimer's disease, says Agronin,"we make assumptions that this is simply old age, or this is a disease state that we can't do anything about." Not true.

SavvySeniorsWork.com (Because they deliver--it's that simple). See, for example:
12 Most Overlooked Essential First Steps For Starting A Business (Shennandoah Diaz, 7-27-11)
Balancing Work and Life: Stories from the Trenches
You and the Queen Have a Lot in Common!

The Science of Getting Old: Why Do We Age? (infographic by Aldo Baker)

The Secrets of Aging Well (WebMD)

Seven ways boomers are rewriting the rules of retirement (Mark Miller, Reuters, 2-5-13). They are leaving the U.S., are starting companies, are tech savvy, are outliving their expectations, are borrowing more, are providing financial support, aren't running to Florida.

So You're Dead: A Novice's Guide to Non-Being by Kevin Garrison (download this humor book free, as a PDF)

The Spiritual Dimensions of Conscious Aging Book, Video, and Audio Resources recommended by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

Stories of Baby Boomerangs (Sam Whiting, SFGate, 1-5-13), This is the term Sam Whiting, Meredith May, and Bek Phillips use for “people in their 50s and 60s who walk out the door of one career in order to walk in the door of another.”

The Stories That Bind Us (Bruce Feiler, This Life, NY Times, 3-15-13). The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative. Studies indicate that children learn resilience when they hear what their relatives before them have faced. Families' unifying narratives tend to take one of three shapes: the ascending family narrative ("We started with nothing"), the descending family narrative ("We lost everything"), and the oscillating family narrative ("We've had our ups and downs, but we always stuck together").

They’ve Still Got Bucket Lists — In Their 90s (Bruce Horovitz, KHN, 6-5-17) "Young people dream and old people remember,” said David Tosetto, who posts large “Bucket List” signs around two assisted living facilities that announce opportunities such as learning to fly or going to college or trying scuba diving and encourages residents to sign up. “The goal of the bucket list is to give them something to dream about.”

Thinking About Aging (Gilbert Meilaender, First Things, April 2011 issue). "Aim not at more years but at better, healthier years."

Thinking Twice About Calcium Supplements (Jane Brody, Well, NY Times, 4-8-13).

30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans, anthology of advice and hard-won wisdom selected by Karl Pillemere and the Legacy Project at Cornell (see this video).

Time Goes By: What it's really like to get older (Ronni Bennett's blog)

Top five regrets of the dying. A nurse has recorded the most common regrets of the dying, and among the top ones is 'I wish I hadn't worked so hard'. What would your biggest regret be if this was your last day of life? (Susie Steiner, The Guardian, UK 2-1-12)

Traveling with limited mobility and other disabilities, books on:
Access Anything: I Can Do That! - Adventuring with Disabilities by Andrea & Craig Kennedy
Barrier-Free Travel:A Nuts And Bolts Guide For Wheelers And Slow Walkers by Candy B. Harrington (author of 101 Accessible Vacations: Vacation Ideas for Wheelers and Slow Walkers and There Is Room at the Inn: Inns and B&Bs for Wheelers and Slow Walkers
Rick Steves' Easy Access Europe: A Guide for Travelers with Limited Mobility

Two Men, 58 Years and Counting. A Love Story. (John Leland, NY Times, 9-5-13). Peter Cott and Kenneth Leedom, now in their late 80s, face cancer, Alzheimer's, and concern about remaining able to take care of each other. Three years ago, the two men moved into a senior building in Lower Manhattan. Mr. Cott wears two hearing aids and has been given a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s. Recently, a doctor discovered Mr. Cott had bladder cancer. They worry about how much longer they will be able to care for each other.

Unsilent Generation , a site for pissed-off progressive old folks (and future old folks)…because we're not dead yet -- for "people who don't believe that getting old means getting dumb, getting conservative, getting complacent or getting used to spending your days driving a golf cart to early bird dinner specials"

The Unspoken Diagnosis: Old Age (Paula Span, The New Old Age, NY Times 12-29-11)

Volunteering

A 'Warrior Woman' Confronts Mortality, In Verse. Maxine Hong Kingston, on NPR, talks about her book I Love a Broad Margin to My Life, a memoir in free verse.

The Way We Age Now (Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, 4-30-07) Medicine has increased the ranks of the elderly. Can it make old age any easier?

WebOver50. The web is wasted on the young, blogs Marilynne Rudick.

What Are Friends For? A Longer Life(Tara Parker-Pope, Well column, NY Times, 4-20-09)

What makes us happy? (Joshua Wolf Shenk's fascinating, thought-provoking article in The Atlantic)

What Would Humanity Be Like Without Aging?. An interesting essay by Kyle Munkittrick (also a book review of science fiction), Discovery blog, 9-9-11.

What You See in the Toilet Can Give You Valuable Insights into Your Health (Dr. Mercola, 2-14-13). Are your stools sinkers or floaters? A healthy color and texture (meaning???) ? Great chart for those of us who worry about these things.

When You Get Old and Lose Your Car (What happens when elderly parents can no longer drive) PDF or more, from Alphadaughters.com, UK and marketing based but may suggest ideas of how to cope!--scroll down to find link)

Willadene Zedan, 85-Year-Old Woman, Graduates From Marian University With A Job Offer (Rebecca Klein, HuffPost, 5-22-13)

With Modern Medicine, Aging In A Lifetime Appointment Can Get Complicated (All Things Considered, 2-11-13). On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI's abdication of the papacy, Robert Siegel talks with gerontologist Leo Cooney of Yale University about how living longer has influenced our working lives. Popes, monarchs and federal judges all face the question, should we stick with our job till death do us part? How do we evaluate cognitive and physical abilities?

A Woman Like Me, Lesléa Newman's classic piece (for Obit Magazine) on watching obits for the woman who dies childless. ("Will I suffer? Will I become helpless and undignified? Will there be anyone at my bedside to pat my hand and tell me to look towards the light?")

Working a Bronx Parking Lot, at Age 100 Times video about Joe Binder, still working as a valet in a restaurant parking lot.

Work with Passion in Midlife and Beyond: Reach Your Full Potential and Make the Money You Need by Nancy Anderson, author of Work with Passion: How to Do What You Love for a Living. Take time to listen to Nancy Anderson's talk at a Positive Aging conference

Working a Bronx Parking Lot, at Age 100 Times video about Joe Binder, still working as a valet in a restaurant parking lot.

Yo, Is This Ageist? (blog by Ashton Applewhite, This Chair Rocks). Here's her blog.

"Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened."

If I Had My Life to Live Over


I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I'd have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I've had my moments and if I had it to do over again, I'd have more of them. In fact, I'd try to have nothing else. Just moments. One after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I've been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
If I had it to do again, I would travel lighter next time.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.
~ Attributed to 85-year-old Nadine Stair

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"Often what we define as health problems are really support problems."
~ Judith Snow, quoted in Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don't Seem to Matter. . . But Really Do by Melinda Blau and Karen L. Fingerman

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My Mother, The Lion

by Ruth Liffle

Copyright © by Ruth Little. Reprinted here by permission.

When my partners Holly Hanson, Judie Suit, and I started Elders’ Eden, our dream was to create for our mothers (and Judie’s aunt) a real home — a place where they were loved and valued as the remarkable people they are, each with special skills, achievements, and quirks. We wanted them to have close and continuing relationships with caregivers, children, and pets. And we wanted them to be able, if at all possible, to die at home.

For my mother, Elinor Kester Driedger, this dream was a reality and I am so very grateful. Her last years were rich with love, and every day was full and meaningful because of our wonderful family of caregivers. And they really ARE family to us all. She was deeply contented in these last years, and her gentle passing is exactly what I hoped to make possible.

Mom moved to Rockford in 2000, when dementia had already begun to take a toll. Her caregivers know she could be feisty. Most of you who met her met the lamb. I remember the lion…

Let me talk a little about my mother, the lion — a woman who packed her chain saw when she came to visit, when she was well over 80, just in case we needed something cut down.

She was basically an artsy person. She loved music, books, poetry, theater, and dance. She taught me many Gilbert & Sullivan songs, sparking my interest in music, language, and rhyme—for instance, this song from Pirates of Penzance: “When a felon’s not engaged in his employment, or maturing his felonious little plans, his capacity for innocent enjoyment is just as great as any other man’s. Our feelings we with difficulty smother when constabulary duty’s to be done, take one consideration with another, a policeman’s lot is not a happy one.” I know I was NOT over four when I learned this; I remember asking the meaning of most of the long words.

Elinor whistled; she didn’t hum or sing. She whistled a LOT. Her repertory included show tunes, classical music, and pop tunes of her era. Many of her favorites I learned from her whistling.

She was determined, and not given to compromise. Not about anything. I couldn’t leave home until I made my bed. When I missed the school bus, I walked the 7 miles to high school, and she was never apologetic about my extreme lateness to the school administration.

Elinor was aggressively honest. In my high school, there was no after-school activity bus, so after sports or band practice, kids would call home to summon a ride. Most had a code to avoid paying for the phone call: put your money in the phone and let it ring a certain number of times and hang up. But I never had a code. My mother believed that was cheating the phone company, and she wouldn’t do it. That made an impression. I suspect that was her goal.

I learned to play piano because she strictly enforced a daily hour of practice – and an hour meant a full hour with your fingers on the keys. I’m grateful that when I wanted to make the New Jersey All-State band in high school, I had developed the discipline to practice clarinet the hour or two a day it took to get in that band.

She was incredibly compassionate — always concerned about people who were poor, or exploited, or coping with disabilities or health issues. Wherever we lived, she was active in one or more social service organizations. Over the years, she worked to help recent immigrants and people with disabilities — physical disabilities and mental illness. She worked on race relations, open housing, and women’s rights and probably other things I wasn’t aware of.

Our parent’s friends were diverse and interesting. My mother was intrigued by differences, and actively sought out relationships with a wide variety of people. Our lives were richer because of the several families of new Americans who were welcomed into our home and became a large part of our lives. The autistic child of family friends was a frequent playmate. I was nearly 8 when it dawned on me that my friend Dimi didn’t talk.

Many years ago, the YWCA in Baton Rouge started some groups to plant the seeds of better race relations. “Dialogue groups” of about 20 women, half white and half people of color, were signed up for 8 weeks of meetings to get to know one another. My mother’s group didn’t disband. After many, many weeks, they moved out of the Y and started monthly meetings. Over the years, their lives were entwined…they shared weddings, funerals, trips, parties, and vacations together. When my folks left Baton Rouge, her Dialogue group had been meeting for more than 20 years.

She had such a variety of interests and hobbies. She loved archeology and relished each of the many trips my folks took around the world. She loved gardening, and she was a serious about her compost. Nearly every time we visited our favorite fancy restaurant in Louisiana we had to stop at the kitchen before we left so she could collect a big bag of shrimp and crawdad shells because “these are good for the compost.” She brought a lot of strange things home because they were good for the compost. Living with this woman was always interesting.

And she was fiercely independent. She had hoped to drive until she was 100, and you may all be thankful that she eventually forgot that idea. When she was in therapy to recover from a broken hip, she told the gait therapist “I’ve been walking for nearly 90 years, and I don’t need any lessons.”

We have a very large framed photo of my dad, and after my dad died, she would carry that from room to room so he could be with her. As the mist of memory loss descended, he seemed quite real to her. I once arrived in her apartment to find her sitting with the TV facing away from her, and the photo on a chair facing the TV. When I asked her “What’s going on here?” She said “Oh, he’s watching sports or something.”

Eventually Elinor lived only in the present. Memory loss is not such a terrible thing once you learn to appreciate the new opportunities it presents.

Once I brought her flowers, which we put on her dresser. The next day, as we walked by those flowers, I pointed them out …and she said “Oh yes, they’ve been there as long as I can remember.” And she laughed – I think she knew that was a great line.

In her last years, she was not able to speak very often or very well. While she could still talk a little, I asked her if we managed to understand what she wanted and what she meant, and she said yes. It took me a while to realize why that was true. If she had not stopped talking, I never would have realized how very expressive her face was. She had an incredible variety of expressions: a raised eyebrow, a furrowed brow, a big smile, a slight nod of the head, and a devilish wink, augmented by a few key sounds, .the most notable being what we called “the whoop.” We always knew what she meant.

I loved my mother….I’m grateful for her spirit, her eagerness to embrace life, her love and her example of integrity, compassion, and community involvement.

We have an Elders’ Eden blessing:

May there always be work for your hands to do
May you share your home with a pet or two
May your life be filled with growing things
May you know the comfort that family brings
May the sun always shine on your windowpane
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain
May the hand of a friend always be near you
May love fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

I’m grateful for Elders’ Eden and my friends there who gave my mom love and support and dignity, and made it possible for her to have her toes in the grass in summer, a child by her chair, a cat on her bed and a smile on her face, for so long.
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Dying: A Book of Comfort