LIVING in Later Life



 Welcome to LIVING in Later Life
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Who Is Martin Cooper?

 You probably never heard of him. But Marty (to his friends) Cooper is arguably the most important inventor of this century. You most likely use his latest invention every day. And he developed it in a company founded by his clever and resourceful wife, Arlene. (Yes, it was GreatCall, the company you are using right now.)

Their story is fascinating, and you can read about them in my next post on LIVING In Later Life.

If you are already a reader, you'll notice a big change in the format (but not in the philosophy) of this blog. It's no longer sponsored by Doggie Dan, but by the product of my new blog host, iPage.

This product is the program I am now using.

iPage is widely considered to be the easiest, most reliable and most efficient host of all . . . and at $35 for the entire first year, it's certainly the most economical. If you're considering starting your own blog, you couldn't do better.

So click on “Affiliates” on the iPage website and look it over. Then click on the link on the bottom of this page and get started.

As in the past, topics will be issues you need to know about. . . Should you still be driving? . . Where and when should you retire? . . What do you do about changing relationships with friends and family?

I'll include accounts of seniors who are still living their dreams in their 70s, 80s, and beyond. Like former astronaut Buzz Aldren, who is hard at work planning a colony on Mars.

But whether or not you get the program, I hope you'll continue as a reader for many years to come.          

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         Laughter Keeps You Young

January 24, 2016

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As children, we used to laugh a lot. But as we get older we often fail to see the humor of things the way we once did. Topics like what goes on at the office, marital harmony (or lack of it), or certain social issues no longer in the news just aren’t funny any more.

Our Inner Child 

So perhaps we should once again make contact with that inner child. Laughter helps us to bond with others. It calms our nerves and actually improves our physical self. If a happy and healthy later life is important to us, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves.

Laugh With Maxine

You probably know Maxine, depicted in cartoons as a rather typical elderly female. She’s the one with the sagging bosom, stockings that won’t fit over her knees, and a long-suffering husband who isn’t much better off than she is.

We feel sorry for poor Maxine.  And we certainly don’t want to be compared to her. But we can laugh with her. After all, we live in a country that considers it funny to give silly names to things,  like “Google” and “Twitter”. And unlike people in other parts of the world, we laugh at our foibles rather than try to cover them up.

Laughter Makes You Feel Good.

Laughter gives you the strength to find meaning and hope.  And it really is contagious—just hearing laughter makes you want to smile and join in the fun. 

Nothing calms the nerves faster than laughing face-to-face with another person. It’s a powerful antidote to stress, anxiety, and pain. Humor lightens your burdens and keeps you grounded. You’ll feel less anger, more forgiveness and empathy.

Laughter is for everyone. Where it was once considered gross and unrefined, it is now accepted as an essential part of life. President Abraham Lincoln, as he was in the midst of a battle to free the slaves and end the Civil War, voiced this when he said, “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day if I did not laugh I should die.”


 


The Spirit of Thankfulness

November 3, 2016


                 



               



It was in WalMart the day before Halloween, where I found the shelves festooned with garlands and gifts---for Christmas. Someone seems to have forgotten there’s another holiday coming up, one now so absorbed in a 2-month long gift-giving season that it has almost been forgotten.

WalMart, like many other large retail stores, will stay open on Thanksgiving Day. It’s another busy day for Christmas shopping.

An American Tradition

But not for many of us who still think of Thanksgiving as a beautiful and meaningful American tradition. We’ll take it as Norman Rockwell painted it . . . with kids home from school and separated families together again.  Around the table, there’s turkey and pumpkin pie and lots of lively conversation. And one thing in abundance is the spirit of thankfulness . . . which is the reason for the holiday in the first place.

Keep the Spirit Alive

One of the best things we can do for ourselves–-and for other people as well–-is to keep this spirit alive. Physicians and other health practitioners seem to agree that people who notice and reflect on the things they’re thankful for will feel happier and more vibrant. They’ll sleep better, feel kinder and more compassionate, and have more robust overall health.

Christian author Joyce Meyer, in her CD series Happy To Be Me, relates how the Israelites grumbled and complained when they were led out of Egypt. They thought it was their enemies who were halting their struggle to the Promised Land. But in reality, it was their attitude.  They had lost their spirit of thankfulness for the blessings they had so liberally been given.

So have you truly given thought to the reasons you have to be thankful? They may seem small and too easily taken for granted.
    
But remember to keep them at the forefront of your life. You’ll be happier for it.
                                                                                                                                   



Exercise: How I Learned to Like It
                                                                                        
October 20, 2016











When should we start to exercise? Childhood is not too early. And lifetime habits of healthy eating and an age-appropriate exercise regime would be the ideal. 

Of course we know this. But too many of us think of exercise as pushing and groaning, bar bells and sit-ups. We don’t like to walk, not to mention jog or run. So we wait until later in life to start. 

But when “later” comes, we find that our muscles and joints just don’t function as we know they should. We have to depend on a  walker or cane to get around.

A former couch potato, I now try to exercise 20 or 30 minutes a day. And since I’ve made a few discoveries I’ve found it easier to do.

Learn to Like It

You can exercise sitting down. There are programs on the computer for chair exercises. Or you can buy one on a DVD. You can exercise while dancing, singing or just listening to music. Country gospel is my favorite. It’s lively and upbeat and has the perfect tempo.

How Much is Too Much?

So how much should we exercise? Talk to your doctor before setting up a program. You can overdo it, you know. Too much exercise or the wrong kind is as harmful as too little.
                           
You may remember the story of Jim Fixx, who many consider the father of the fitness movement. The author of The Complete Book of Running, Jim, in 1977 and then age 52, died of a heart attack while jogging.  It appeared he wasn’t following his own advice. 

But Jim shouldn’t have been jogging in the first place. He had already had several small heart attacks and jogging was much too strenuous for him.  Unlike his contemporary fitness expert, Jack LaLanne, Jim firmly believed that as long as one didn’t smoke, it didn’t much matter what he ate or drank. Exercise, he felt, would fix everything.

I’ll go with Jack. He lived to be 96.








                                                                                      

Hurricane Hoopla
                                                                                                                 
October 10, 2016

                                                                                                                     
 
This week Hurricane Matthew plummeted (the word used by the press) the coast of central Florida as a Category 4 hurricane. We were told to evacuate! (punctuation also used by the press) ASAP as “This storm will (not 'can’ or 'might’) kill you.” Time, they told us, was running out.

Previous Hurricanes
 
Although I have been a Floridian all my life and have lived through many hurricanes, never have I heard such a dire warning, or one given so dramatically. Perhaps it was because I was born after 1926, the year my parents moved to Miami. Like everyone else in this small settlement, they were totally unprepared when an unnamed storm almost blew it off the map.

Other Storms

There were other severe storms. The one in 1928 caused Lake Okeechobee to overflow and drown hundreds of migrant farm workers. In 1935 a Category 5  claimed over 400 victims on the Florida Keys. And in 1969 Hurricane Camille roared across the west Florida coast to take the lives of many on Mississippi’s Gulf coast.

But these were all in other parts of the state and didn’t affect me.

It was not until 1992 that Hurricane Andrew threatened to do a repeat of the old days in South Florida. I had grown up looking forward to “hurricane days” when I could stay home from school and play with my friends. The relatively mild storms I experienced in  the years between instilled the belief that after a few downed trees and cracked window panes were taken care of, hurricanes  were no big deal

It’s Different Now

Of course, I know better now.

Although the final toll from Matthew was in the billions of dollars,  its plummeting winds did relatively little damage in my neighborhood. Evacuation wasn’t necessary.

I certainly don’t intend to belittle the advice of the forecasters. There is nothing predictable about a hurricane, and we can’t go by the same advice that has been given for previous ones. This includes their severity and the length of time since they struck. The next one could be completely different.
                                   
I just hope we can get back to normal now.

                           






My Castle in the Air

Why, at this stage of my life, am I writing a blog? Because for a few weeks before I wrote the first post, I held a vivid picture in my imagination of myself happily and successfully doing it.

There I was, engrossed in my new project, ideas and images flowing unchecked from my subconscious brain onto the computer screen. I was, as Ralph Waldo Trine put it, building castles in the air before I could build them on the ground.
                                               
Ralph Waldo Trine and Henry Ford

About that time I had just dusted off an old copy of Trine’s book  In Tune with the Infinite. First published in 1897, this book has been the basis for most of the self-help books written since, although many are a corruption of it. While the later books usually deal with the issue of amassing great amounts of money, Trine puts the almighty dollar in its rightful place and shows us how to use the power of imagination to find the true riches of life.

The late entrepreneur Henry Ford was Trine’s contemporary and stated many times that this book was his inspiration for building his gigantic financial empire.

That’s right. The entire Ford Motor Company was Ford’s castle in the air. It was constructed nut for nut and bolt for bolt–-and held securely in his imagination–-long before the first Model A rolled off the assembly line (Ford’s most important invention) in 1903.
 
How Others Have Used Imagination

Many others have credited their success to their imagination. Corporations have been built; inventions have been made; books, poems, and music have been composed–-all because they existed first in someone’s imagination. A company president was once asked why one employee always seemed to be sitting relaxed, with his feet on his desk, while others were hard at work. The president’s reply: “I pay him to think."

Now Use Yours

Your imagination can help you have a happy and fulfilled life in your later years. Perhaps you would like to go back to work, although you have been told you are “too old.”  Experts have said that seniors who work have a greater degree of happiness than those who don’t. Or maybe you would like to have more friends and an active social life.Or volunteer to do something you love to do. First, decide what it is that would bring you fulfillment; then picture yourself doing it. Hold that picture in your mind, believe it, and make it a reality.

And never give up. Before you know it, your castle will come to the ground.
                                                                                                         






Sodas Are Harmful Too
                           


What we drink is as important as what we eat, and Americans seem to be obsessed with consuming liquids.
                           
Over 2.5 million older adults have a problem with alcohol, which is much more debilitating to the elderly than to younger people.  As we age, the amount of water in the body decreases, and there is less of it to dilute the alcohol. Alcohol problems account for 6 to 8% of elderly hospital admissions.

But another addiction has been a part of our culture since the great depression. The number of people addicted to “soft” drinks is too high to count. Since the days when you could buy them at the drug store for a nickel apiece, these drinks, also known as sodas, have been everywhere–-in supermarkets, at sports and entertainment events, in bus and train stations. Even some schools and hospitals provide vending machines for your drinking pleasure.

And the drinks do taste good. After a hard day at school or work nothing hits the spot or refreshes so well.

If you can call that a good thing, it’s the only good about carbonated drinks. There is absolutely nothing else.

Now for the bad and the ugly.

The Sugar  

Soft drink manufacturers are the largest users of sugar in the country. The average American consumes over 60 gallons a year of their beverages.

One can of soda contains the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar, which, in liquid form, causes an insulin reaction in the body, especially in older people. This leads to weight gain and severe health problems such as cancer and heart disease.

Soda drinkers have an increased risk of as much as 85% when it comes to contracting type 2 diabetes.

Extra Fructose

Sodas contain a dangerous substance called high fructose corn syrup, which comes from genetically modified corn, and there are no long-term studies showing the effects of this. Dr Mark Hyman, a practicing physician, shares the opinion of many other physicians and nutritionists when he refers to it as “processed junk”. He advises all users to eliminate it from their diet.

Dehydration

Plain water is by far the best thing you can drink. Not only do soft drinks replace this much-needed substance, but they dehydrate the body even more and over time can produce chronic dehydration.

No Nutritional Value

Not only is there no nutritional value in soda whatsoever, but there are no positive benefits to outweigh this fact.

After researching this post, I became a believer. I’ll never drink another Coke as long as I live.










 



Should You Give Up Driving?


If, like most seniors today, you have been driving since you were a teen, you most likely consider it a vital factor in your life. You need it and rely on it.

Give up driving?  Unthinkable. But now your loved ones are suggesting that maybe you should do just that. An inner voice is telling you, “Face it. The time has come”. 

It’s a tough decision, but a crucial one. Your life literally depends on it. So do the lives of pedestrians and other motorists you may encounter.

A Dilemma

In her book,  The Driving Dilemma,  Elizabeth Dugan points out that with the rapidly growing senior population, soon one in four drivers will be over age 65. Most will outlive their ability to drive by 10 years or more. Dugan feels the solution is to “find alternatives to the automobile and to locate the off-ramp from our car-centered culture”.

Great idea, but unfortunately there is nothing today that can adequately replace our dependence on the automobile. Mass transit, car pools, and taxis just don’t cut it. So you need to be honest with yourself and decide what you should do.


Some Things To Consider

Safe driving requires a clear head. Do you find yourself missing turns, confusing the gas and brake pedals, misjudging gaps in traffic, easily becoming distracted or being unable to concentrate while driving?

  • Are you having too many close calls, warnings, or traffic tickets?
  • Do you often get lost in familiar places?
  • Do you have trouble seeing road signs, pavement markings, or traffic signals?
  • Can you hear honking horns, screeching tires, traffic noises, and sirens?
  • Are you taking prescription drugs that could interfere with your ability to drive?


If You Decide to Continue

If you have been honest with yourself and made the decision to continue driving, be aware that your reflexes are not what they used to be. Your vision and hearing should be checked regularly.  The AARP Driver Safety Program can help you relearn skills you have forgotten.

Make sure your vehicle is in good condition, with power steering and brakes and automatic transmission. An additional mirror outside the passenger door gives a much broader range of vision.

Ask yourself: Should you give up driving after dark, during rush hour, in large cities, or on the freeway? How far and how long will you drive in one trip?


Take Precautions


Here are some precautions to take once you’re behind the wheel:

Fasten your seat belt and insist your passengers do the same.

Turn left at intersections that have a green arrow for left turns, or make several right turns to avoid turning left.

Concentrate on your driving. Keep the radio volume low and don’t  eat, drink, smoke or use a cell phone. When talking to passengers, keep your eyes on the road.

Watch for other cars. Glance at your mirrors often and always look behind you when reversing or changing lanes.

Turn with caution. Always use your turn signal and don’t rush. Make turns only when you have a clear view of oncoming traffic and are sure you can turn safely. Then turn as slowly as necessary to stay in the proper lane. You may need to change your route to do this.

And if you drink alcohol, the solution to this is a no-brainer.  Never drink and drive. It’s a deadly combination for anyone, but downright crazy if you’re over 60.