Age, loss & JOY

Joy in the age of loss, an article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, went straight to my heart – there was a picture of an older man in a wheelchair having breakfast alone at  sitting, alone, at a table that sits six.  A breakfast setting well-known to John & myself, in Rydal Park’s café; until John his current Wednesday morning commitment, we were there regularly, enjoying breakfast with resident-friends.

I remember even further back, two years plus, when Anne, who lived at Rydal Park for years, & I would breakfast at a table in front of the pictured set up – – back then, there would have been at least one more table, making enough settings for eight or more friends to gather.  Every morning, there was the same group of friends, men & women, having a grand time carousing over eggs & pancakes, waffles or whatever.  The laughter, the high times, the great & grand spirits.  John & Ramie were the group’s Trivial Pursuit masters – – sometimes I’d butt in with an answer!

Over the past few years, first this person then that moved or had health issues that kept them from being part of the breakfast bunch, or died.  John & I know people who now sit – by themselves – in the same place they did back then.

Reading the lengthy & terrific article is a a goad to get back in the groove, to swing by – solo – on Wednesday morning’s for breakfast with dear friends I dearly miss.

And it’s a kick in the butt to get Cyber Access for the Technically Timid FINALLY up & running, because many elders let their social world contract,” too many shrink down when they could open up.  Unlikely?  Not to my mother, who marveled at 88 that – thanks to unimagined Internet connections – her circle of friends & friendly acquaintances was growing larger, not smaller.

My determination is not just for the olders’ sake – Mom’s online circle showed how youngers of all ages benefitted from connecting to her, learning first hand, real time, of her unabashed attitude toward & appetite for LIVE, her zest for living in spite of being considerably slowed down, her approach to dealing with life & family challenges, her value as a resource of “she was there” history & culture-rooting stories…  The reciprocal advantages between Mom & her devoted online followers, many of whom never met her but were among her most devoted friends, went on & on.

Perhaps what Mom showed more than told was the power of purpose, at any age, and the importance of flexibility, of living within THIS moment instead of bemoaning life is not as it was.

Whether twenty-something youngsters or readers inching well into their sixties, Mom’s honesty & humor blew preconceptions about aging out of the water, exemplifying what the article says about how it helps when olders believe life has meaning & purpose, whatever their age.  That life is fuller & infinitely richer through a well-cultivated spirit of gratitude, curiosity, continual personal growth.

Smiling, thinking of how much Mom would have LOVED today’s article by the always spot-on Stacey Burling.  Looking forward to printing out this treasure & sharing it with friends & family.  Even more, looking forward to heading to Rydal Park next week for Wednesday breakfast with David & Rob & John.

And, hopefully, Jerry, too!

 

 

RELATED LINKS:  http://www.philly.com/philly/news/special_packages/493160931.html ;  http://mindwalker1910.blogspot.com/2010/05/velveteen-grammie-by-krl.html ; http://thegrannielistener.blogspot.com/2016/05/in-nutshell-cyber-access-for_19.html

 

Surgery after “a certain age”? Not so fast…

How ironic – the most common cancer operation for nursing home residents is one where the patients don’t fare all that well.   See, breast cancer surgery may be low risk for younger, healthier women, but for the typical nursing home resident “the surgical treatment for breast cancer may have been worse than the breast cancer itself,” per Dr. Rita Mukhtar.

About as MUST READ as you’re going to get if you or a family member or friend is elderly & dealing with a surgeon seeking to operate.

 

RELATED LINKS:  https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2697211;   https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/14/health/breast-cancer-surgery-elderly.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fhealth&action=click&contentCollection=health&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Learned about Tai Chi from my big sis!

Mega thanks to my sister, MIM, for cluing me into the power of Tai Chi.  Mind you, I scoffed when she disclosed its remarkable benefits – watching her go through the moves looked like a Saturday Night Live skit, they were so s l o w.  Compounding my disbelief was the fact my sister was doing them in a wheelchair.  Seriously?  How could it make a difference?

Thank goodness I was open to discovering Tai Chi’s rocking powers, especially for people like Mim, whose physical condition left her toodling about on wheels.  And not just physically stronger – – mentally too!

Additional mega thanks to the great Jane Brody for yesterday’s excellent NY Times article on the benefits of Tai Chi – read, learn, do!

Everyone has a story – Brene Brown link

It’s over a month old, but I finally feel like I can share Brene’s blog post responding to Anthony Bourdain & Kate Spade taking their lives.

The entire posting is invaluable, hits on so many delicate & important points for us all, whatever our age situation circumstance to remember & remember & remember, but if all you read are these nuggets, you will be well served:

You would think the universal nature of struggle would make it easier for all of us to ask for help, but in a culture of scarcity and perfectionism, there can still be so much shame around reaching out, especially if we’re not raised to understand the irreducible nature of human need.

We can encourage our children to ask for help; however, if they don’t see us reaching out for support and modeling that behavior, they will instead attach value to never needing help.

We also send strong messages to the people around us – including our children, friends, and employees – when they do ask for help, and in return, we treat them differently, as if they are now less reliable, competent, or productive…

To know pain is human. To need is human. And, no amount of money, influence, resources, or sheer determination will change our physical, emotional, and spiritual dependence on others.

 

Timing is everything – in food & life!

It’s about time researchers start drawing us back into the natural rhythms of life, but electric lights & temperature control are seriously messing with our bodies & minds.

Snippets:   Scientists have long known that the human body has a master clock in the brain, located in the hypothalamus, that governs our sleep-wake cycles in response to bright light exposure. A couple of decades ago, researchers discovered that there is not just one clock in the body but a collection of them. Every organ has an internal clock that governs its daily cycle of activity.

“We’re designed to have 24-hour rhythms in our physiology and metabolism. These rhythms exist because, just like our brains need to go to sleep each night to repair, reset and rejuvenate, every organ needs to have down time to repair and reset as well.”

Dozens of studies demonstrate that blood sugar control is best in the morning and at its worst in the evening. We burn more calories and digest food more efficiently in the morning as well.

While studies suggest that eating earlier in the day is optimal for metabolic health, it does not necessarily mean that you should skip dinner. It might, however, make sense to make your dinners relatively light. One group of researchers in Israel found in studies that overweight adults lost more weight and had greater improvements in blood sugar, insulin and cardiovascular risk factors when they ate a large breakfast, modest lunch and small dinner compared to the opposite: A small breakfast and a large dinner. Dr. Peterson said it confirms an age-old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.

Medicare Advantage – NY Times article

For olders subscribing to Medicare Advantage, the 2019 plan will allow insurers to add new health-related benefits, including:

  • Adult day care programs
  • Home aides to help with activities of daily life (like bathing & dressing)
  • Palliative at-home care (for some patients)
  • Home safety devices & modifications (think grab bars, wheelchair ramps)
  • Transportation to medical appointments

 

As the article notes, “Yet celebration may prove premature. Many questions remain about how insurers will respond to the legislative opening. ”  To find out the WHY behind the concern, read-print out-file the article, then keep your ear to the ground about future information!

Forest bathing – big benefits, shrinking spaces

Amen for an article in today’s New York Times on the deep health benefits of forest bathing – aka a walk in the woods.  It might be news to the NY Times, but it is also good old-fashioned common sense, the sort that our grandmothers knew – “Turn of the television & get outside!”  

One of the reasons our older friends do so well is because we get them OUT, get them into the woods – and the meadows & mountains, the seaside & parks.  But it’s getting harder & harder as precious open spaces shrink more & more.

Forest bathing, walk in the woods, communing with nature – – it delivers great health benefits for ALL of us!