. . .A GRAIN OF SALT.

saltHere are some contradictory tidbits that I’ve been ‘digesting’ from recent news:

  1. Practicing yoga increases cortical brain thickness in the region responsible for executive function and induces a sense of peace in the practitioner. Yoga causes as many injuries as other sports, including “drop foot.”
  2. Salt is important for maintaining normal blood pressure and iodine levels. Salt intake causes water retention, high blood pressure and may be iodine-poor.
  3. Spinach contains iron and lutein, known to prevent cataracts and glaucoma. Spinach has oxalic acid, which can bind with calcium and cause kidney stones.
  4. Eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids that we can’t produce on our own and high levels of choline, vital for nerve and muscle function. Eggs are high in cholesterol and increase the level of TMAO (TriMethylamine N-Oxide) in our system, which can lead to cardiac and diabetic issues.
  5. Massage is good for draining the lymphatic system, un-tensing tight muscles and creates an internal feeling of well-being. Massage can be detrimental, leading to overtaxed kidneys, nerve damage and muscle and joint pain.
  6. Vegetarianism is healthy for your body and easier on the planet.  Eating meat provides necessary protein that is difficult to get on a vegetarian diet. Vegans may have a 42% less risk of heart disease, and lower blood pressure.  However, a vegan diet is deficient in B12, iron, calcium, zinc, folate and Omega-3’s.
  7. Eating gluten is deadly for the digestive system and causes allergies, mental disorders and a host of intestinal issues. However, processed gluten-free foods, because they are lower in fiber, can often be higher in fat, sugar and calories, which leads to weight gain, poor digestion and other health issues.  
  8. Drinking coffee helps protect you from Type 2-diabetes, improves cognitive function and decreases depression. Coffee may cause insomnia, restlessness and raise your LDL (bad cholesterol) levels depending on the type and brew.  
  9. Red wine has high levels of resveratrol and antioxidants, which raise HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce cognitive decline, coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer. Red wine can raise blood pressure, hamper muscle healing and increase the risk of breast cancer.
  10. A high fat diet leads to obesity, diabetes, heart attack and premature death. A high fat diet, containing ‘good’ fats, (avocado, nuts, fish and lean meats) is essential for the brain, as it needs cholesterol to function efficiently and regulate hormones.

 So, take what you read with a grain of salt. (Just don’t ask me which salt.) Like the Greek poet, Hesiod, suggested in 700 BC, I plan to use, “moderation in all things.” Seems to me that folks were a whole lot wiser before they got too Google-educated.  

DON’T NUKE…..CUKE!!!

cucumber

If you think that today’s 20-something is, “irresponsible” and “doesn’t consider the future,” get this: People over 50, and there are 76 million of us, don’t either. In a recent survey, fully ¾ of us said that we have profound worries about aging. Our top two concerns are, “losing our independence,” and “being a burden” to our family. The participants were then asked which on a list of 10 things they would be willing to put into place to address those concerns.

Here is the list:

  1.  Have family or friend move in with them.
  2. Move in with children, other family members or a friend.
  3. Rely on your spouse, family member or a friend for care.
  4. Attend an adult day care facility.
  5. Hire an in-home aide or agency for care.
  6. Hire a live-in caregiver.
  7. Move into an assisted living facility.
  8. Move into a nursing home.
  9. Make modifications to your home.
  10. Use the value in your home (your equity) to pay for care.

Dare I tell you how many of us seriously considered those options let alone said we’d be willing to put them in place?  About 20%.  Stanford professor, Douglas Bernheim, recently did a study called, “The Baby Boomer Retirement Index,” with Merrill Lynch. He discovered that only about 1/3 of Baby Boomers have saved enough money for their retirement years. This, despite the fact that most of us feel we, “will maintain our same standard of living in our later years.” Are we victims of, “magical thinking?”

Quite frankly, I have friends who have planned out their funerals better than they have their aging futures. Which brings me to the cucumber. Did you know that sniffing the scent of one can relieve anxiety? Indeed, a recent study put claustrophobics in an elevator reeking of cucumbers and their symptoms were relieved! Dr. Alan Hirsch, renowned for his work with various odors declares that he can even cure migraines with the scent of green apples.

So don’t worry about the future. When we all get too old to take care of ourselves and run out of money or find ourselves in long-term care cubicles, just spray our rooms with cucumber and we’ll be happy campers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHATEVER

I

american-flag

It is almost unbelievable for me to imagine that my own daughters, who will be voting this year, actually have a woman to consider as candidate for President. When I was their age, the idea that a woman would ever be elected to that office was inconceivable. I was raised believing that a ‘good’ profession for a girl would likely be a teacher or a nurse—certainly nothing much higher. Women at the time weren’t even doctors or lawyers, let alone Presidents. Title 9 had not yet taken effect, so my high school had only, one softball team for girls!  Your only other choice was to be a cheerleader.

 Oh, how things change. But it isn’t just the rising of the glass ceiling. Change is everywhere and not just in technology. As a teen I thought ‘gay’ simply meant, ‘happy.’ I was oblivious to the idea of homosexuality. It simply didn’t register. A boy in our high school, whom I rather liked and thought was sweet, was often teased by the other boys. I never understood why. Years later, I would learn that he killed himself because he could not take the persecution from others for being homosexual.

 But those days are gone as clearly as the recent presidential race shows. Frankly, I’ve not watched the TV or followed the polls. After that first debate, I had enough. Why? I’ve lived long enough to know that it doesn’t really matter who becomes President. What matters are all of us underlings holding up the flag. What matters is who WE are. We rose above Vietnam. We rose above the World Trade Center and we will rise above whoever walks into the Oval Office tomorrow.

 God bless America….and God bless the people who make her great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAKE ‘GRAY’ THE NEW ‘GAY’

 

grey mare

When I heard that Hillary Clinton recently had a NYC salon closed to patrons while she had her hair colored, it made me feel pretty sad. It wasn’t that she paid $600 for the dye job. It was the fact that she felt she had to do it at all.

 For years, women have been given the message that ‘gray’ is not acceptable. Even my grandmother once fell for the TV ads that encouraged her to, “Rinse away the gray.” When the first rinse didn’t last, she applied some gunk that resembled shoe polish on her gray streaks. I watched her perform the task in front of the bathroom mirror. A few hours later she looked at herself and said, “Oh, dear. I look ridiculous.” And she did.

 Now I have many friends who would not dream of letting 6 weeks go by without a visit to their colorist. They tell me that it makes them feel better, “not to look so old.” But I believe that if we lived in a culture that accepted us as is, we would be lots happier AND richer. We don’t need something superficial to make us, ‘feel better.’ Our culture should make us feel good about ourselves just as we are–at every age.

 Isn’t it odd that in this day of political correctness, we accept every, conceivable minority group yet still consider aging, graying and the old negatively? And you know what’s really weird? The elderly are not even in the ‘minority’ anymore. We are the majority now. We need to change the lyrics to that ‘old’ song:  “Nope, the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be. She’s even more glorious now.”

 40 years ago I lived in a condo with a walking path that passed by my living room window. Every afternoon, an older lady took her daily walk. As she passed, I always stopped what I was doing to watch her. Her posture was straight and elegant, her stride, long and smooth and her hair? It was solid gray and swept back into a very, long ponytail. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Someday when I am THAT old, I want to look JUST like her.’ Looking in the mirror, I can see that I am well on my way.

 

 

 

 

FALL WELL

Boomers and Teens Hit the Segways!

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, war broke out. When I crossed mine, I merely landed flat on my back, upside down under a clump of trees. The Segway I had been riding just a few seconds earlier continued motoring backwards, back down the hill, off the side of the road and only stopped because it was hopelessly ensnarled in bushes.

I laid still for a moment, just long enough to realize two things: I was not hurt and the mosquitoes found my bare legs and arms irresistibly delicious. Just as I realized the latter, my husband began yelling, “Don’t move! Stay right there!” No way. I gathered myself upright, madly brushed leaves, twigs and bugs away and grinned. “Don’t worry,” I assured him. “Nothing’s broken. I fell really, really well.”

In fact, during the 4 seconds or so that I knew for certain that I was going to fall, I aimed for the dirt, heaved myself off backwards and to the right, while shoving the 100 lb machine away from me and to the left. And, when I hit the ground, I rolled to absorb the impact, just like they taught me in skydiving school 40 years ago!! Boy, was I proud of myself.

The Segway tour had been my idea. What better way to keep up with two teenagers than to have equal horsepower? Our guide had given us a brief lesson on how to ride the machines before we started. “Lean forward to go forward and lean gently back to stop.” The idea was to stay balanced so that you never had to come to a complete stop. Seemed easy enough and at first it was. We whipped around corners, sped down sidewalks, across streets, and giddily waved at passersby. Then we hit the park. The paths began to turn sharply and I lost a bit of steam and fell behind. Then came that long, steep hill.

Now I often advise my aging boomers to, “try something new,” “get out of your comfort zone,” and “stay active.” But after this week’s experience, let me add this: “If you’re gonna fall–aim for something soft,” “When you hit–roll” and “When it’s over–be grateful if nothing is broken.”

 

P. S. While researching Segways for this blog, I learned that I am not the only one to have taken a tumble.  Presidents Obama and Bush have both fallen, and the owner of Segway was killed a few years ago when the one he was riding plummeted off of a cliff. 

YOU’RE OLD. I’M NOT.

 

 

 

aging-well

In the middle of a heated discussion on gender equality this evening, my 21 year-old, exasperated with my stance, suddenly said, “Well, you’re in a state of cognitive decline. I’m not.” I thought about that for a moment but said nothing. Technically, she is right. The interesting counterpoint, however, is that I STILL have 40 years experience on her and that is a HUGE difference—in MY favor.

Granted my neurons don’t ‘fire’ as quickly as they used to but I have a whole lot more embers to choose from than a kid who has yet to graduate from college and live on her own yet. That alone is a game changer. She’s never paid rent let alone a utility bill. Her first one will be a shocker: I won’t be running around after her turning off lights and raising the AC temp! And a box of raspberries in the fridge will no longer be a quick snack waiting to be scarfed up. It will someday be for her, what it is now for me: a luxury.

Isn’t it strange how ‘old’ and ‘grown up’ we feel when we are young and how ‘young’ we think we are even when our hair is gray? Apparently idealism isn’t just the bastion of the young. A recent AARP study found that 85% of people over 50 don’t think they are ‘old’ yet and half of them believe that their peers are clearly ‘older.’ Translation: You’re old. I’m not. My favorite finding is that almost half those over 70 think it’s fine to “make jokes about old people.” Only 25% of 40 year-old’s agree. Translation: age also makes you less uptight.

Which brings me back to tonight. I love that my daughter has strong opinions and voices them. I admire her passion and zeal. I also know that one day both will dissipate with time and experience. 40 years from now, I hope that she, too, will quietly smile if some youngster refers to her ‘cognitive decline’. She will know better by then of course, because she is my daughter!

**Helen Hudson speaks around the country on Aging and all things Alzheimer’s.  Visit her website at http://www.helen-hudson.com for upcoming events.

FIVE THINGS YOU DON’T DO OVER 50

Snapchat

1. Fluff your hair and reapply lipstick when the cop pulls you over for speeding. (You’re desperately trying to remember where you put the registration).
2. Cut in line. Anywhere at any time. (At your age it just looks bad).
3. Laugh out loud at something on your cell phone while intimately seated in the company of others at a restaurant. (The light’s too dim to read your screen.)
4. Imagine your life 50 years from now. (You know you won’t be here.)
5. Take nude selfies on your Snapchat. (You don’t have a Snapchat.)

Five things you might do:

1. Fluff your hair and reapply lipstick after you get a citation. (You’re stalling so the cop will pull away first.)
2. Move ahead in line when the youngster in front of you is distracted by their cell phone. (If they do notice, you’re old enough to pretend you didn’t see them.)
3. Laugh out loud when someone else does while they are reading something on their cell phone. (If they notice that you laughed, too, they’ll wonder how you saw their message from that far away).
4. Remember moments of your life over the last 50 years. (Ah. . .there are so many.)
5. Sign up for a Snapchat. (If only to remind your kids you’re still HERE!)