Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Alzheimer Disease and the Sun
Because I have relatives who are fighting the dreaded Alzheimer disease, I can tell you that I am well aware of the cost of this illness, not only money-wise, but especially in terms of the pain it causes. The victim is not the only person affected because the disease poses such a heavy burden on family members and close friends.
            The risk of getting Alzheimer disease and dementia increase with age. Statistics show that in the U.S. one in nine people is affected, and that two-thirds of those are women. In Canada, the numbers are similar with 15% of Canadians over the age of 65 being affected. It is predicted that the incidence of the disease will double over the next 15 years as the population continues to age since most Alzheimer disease sufferers are 75 or older.
            The question certainly is: what can any of us do to ensure we remain dementia free in our golden years? We are all aware that to reduce the risks of any disease, a proper diet and exercise certainly top the list. And when it comes to dementia in all its forms, being active mentally is especially important. So is being engaged in life through social activities.
            In addition, maintaining optimal levels of vitamin D all year long can help older adults and seniors prevent cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease, according to Dr. Reinhold Vieth of the University of Toronto. Research results on Alzheimer disease published in the Journal Neurology found that older adults who have low vitamin D levels are twice as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer disease. Vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of dementia go hand in hand.
            Also, a Swedish study has shown that women who avoid sunshine shorten their lifespan by the same amount as smokers reports the Canadian-based Vitamin D Society. Higher levels of vitamin D have been related to lower risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis as well as osteoporosis, Dr. Vieth says. “Most of our vitamin D supply comes from exposure of the skin to sunshine. Moderate sunshine has always been known to be good for us.”
            Now that the good weather is here, a good way to get vitamin D into your system is to spend time in the sun. The Vitamin D Society advises adults to maintain an optima blood level of vitamin D by spending 15 to 30 minutes in the sun from mid May to early October, and then put on sunscreen or light clothing to prevent damage.
            Now is a good time to get started.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May: Time to Think of Your Bones
I love the month of May. It means not only that good weather has arrived but also that my spring allergies are all but gone now that fresh new leaves are making trees proud again.
            As I was musing about the trees on my walk today along the lake near my house I saw another sure sign that May is here. A lady who spends a lot of time kayaking on the lake from early spring to late fall was there paddling away. This is a woman of a certain age, as they say, but that does not deter her from enjoying nature while keeping herself and her bones in shape. 
In the U.S., May is National Osteoporosis Month, a time for boomers to assess what they should be doing to prevent low bone mass. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) more than one half of the U.S. adult population over the age of 50 is at risk of breaking a bone and should be concerned about bone health.
            As a female with relatives suffering because of osteoporosis, I am well aware of the importance of taking care of my bones. However, it should be noted that men can also fall victim to osteoporosis as they age. Everyone should know the state of their bone mass by having a simple bone density test.
            Proper nutrition and physical activity are critical for bone health and for preventing broken bones. Weight-bearing exercises are known to help build bone mass and should be part of everyone’s physical activity. Weight-bearing exercises include walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis and dancing. That’s why you can usually see me dancing by myself around the house whenever I can. I am confident that it will help keep my bone mass from deteriorating even if my grandchildren are of the opinion that I should leave dancing to the professionals.
             By the way, those for whom swimming or cycling is the mainstay of their physical activity, it should be noted that while these do provide heart-health benefits among other things they are not weight-bearing exercises.
             Diet also plays an important role in preventing and managing osteoporosis according to NOF. Their redesigned website www.nof.org offers a new “Food for Thought” online pop quiz and an updated brochure Your Guide to a Bone Healthy Diet. There is also an upcoming free webinar which will provide information on current treatment options available for osteoporosis.
             It certainly makes sense to visit the site to learn more about bone health and preventing osteoporosis.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Have you ever noticed how people tend to exaggerate when they’re annoyed or angry? Standing in line the other day at the bank I heard the woman behind me talking on her cell phone to, I assumed, her husband and taking him to task for “always forgetting to stop at the bank.” I’m sure he did stop at the bank from time to time, but I suppose that using the word “always” helped her deal with her frustration.
All of us are guilty of dispersing emphasis when we feel we have a right to do so. We use words like “always”, “never” and “all” as if they seal the truth of whatever statement we’re making: You never pay attention; You’re always late. All politicians are corrupt; etc.
It’d be nice if we could deal with our annoyances without amplifying— or even lying if we’re honest with ourselves. People do pay attention most of the time; it may not seem so, but only some politicians are corrupt; and no one is ever late all the time. The problem is that we don’t take time to assess our statements. A man I know who teaches English as a second language to adults does his part to enlighten his students so they are aware of blanket statements not only when writing but also when speaking. He encourages them to take the time to see when “often”, “sometimes”, and “some” should be used instead of generalizing.
A comedian I saw recently has based a whole act on the premise of descriptive words. Here is a sample of what he said: “I’d be correct to say that I never win the lottery, but I’d also be right to say that I never buy tickets! A young lady I know will always be pretty, but thankfully I’ll never be uglier! My wife commented the other day that all men are alike. All men? How in hell did she find out?”
Never stop laughing! That will always be the right choice for all of us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Choice for Fun

It used to be people retired and did little—little planning, little exercising, little smiling. Things have improved, thank God. It used to be you were old at sixty while now seventy is the new fifty. Baby boomers are more active than ever and, because of advances in health care and wide information dissemination, can look forward to a long retirement. In fact, it is predicted that most of today’s boomers will live well into their nineties. That’s a lot of years to do little.

I firmly believe that, like any other stage of life, retirement has to be planned to some extent. We certainly cannot plan every minute of every day, but there should be a guiding desire toward a goal. We are all different so goals will be different for everyone. But I don’t know that I have goals, Bob told me recently. He is about to retire and has not planned anything beyond playing golf as much as he can. That’s certainly a nice enjoyable goal, but there has to be more to fill all that free time.

Just as we chose careers that appealed to us, that fit our personalities, our choice of activities in retirement should be based on what moves us, makes us feel good, not what friends or family feel we should be doing. I know a man who turned to photography in retirement and is having a grand old time. He was a chef all his life so his children thought he would spend his retirement preparing meals for them. But he wanted out of the kitchen to embrace a new passion. He’s the perfect example of a fulfilled retiree. 

Good for him, I say. A retiree’s mantra should be change for the new, the fun.