TOP TEN CLUES YOU’RE NOT A KID ANYMORE

smiley face2

 

  1. Everything hurts and if it doesn’t you’re just waiting for it to.
  2. “Your Body is a Wonderland,” in every sense of the word. Skin has gone south from your forehead to your ankles leaving a series of tiny, folded wrinkles that you can move around willy-nilly.
  3. Instead of tanning, you become covered with a splash of brown spots right out of a Jackson Pollock painting.
  4. Your teeth get bigger but your mouth gets smaller. (This is likely purposeful so that you will chew better and eat less).
  5. Everyone you see driving is entirely too young to be behind the wheel.
  6. You ask people on the phone to “speak up,” often more than once, and you still don’t know what they said.
  7. Complete strangers routinely ask if you have grandkids.
  8. Your mailbox is filled with ads for retirement homes, nursing facilities and funeral companies.
  9. You’re always looking for ramps.
  10. You can actually make a smiley face with the extra skin around your knees! (Test this by lying on your back and raising your leg in the air.)

 

YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!!!

TENNIS

Did you know that out of the 5 million people who have Alzheimer’s right now, 3.2 million of them are women? By the age of 65, 1 in 6 women will get Alzheimer’s compared to 1 in 11 men. In fact, women over 65 are twice as likely to get Alzheimer’s as they are breast cancer. Does this give you pause?

 Now I’ve got to tell you, that’s weird. Why? Because when you look at the checklist of what to do to NOT get Alzheimer’s, the number one thing science says it to, “make friends & create social connections.” And guess what? Women do that WAY better than men! In spades!

 So what gives? Apparently, if you have the APO-E4 gene, which is linked to Alzheimer’s, and you’re a woman, you are very likely to succumb to the disease. If you’re a man? Not so much. There is some research that says it’s because women live longer and that estrogen loss contributes to the buildup of amyloid plaques, but really? The jury is out.

 So here’s my take: if you’re a woman, make friends and lots of them. I consider myself super fortunate because I do have friends, lots of them, from Australia to Arizona. I have a zillion more friends than my husband and considering the statistics, maybe that’s a good thing. My friends come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Even better, the ones I know that I can count on would be totally cool if I started talking to plastic tumblers. In fact, they would talk to them, too, just so I don’t feel so alone. Now, that’s a real friend.

So, in case you are looking for one yourself, here is a checklist:

1.  They accept you “as is” but they don’t let you get away with BS.

2.  They are ‘empathetic’—not ‘sympathetic.’ 

 3.  They encourage you to be your BEST self and kick your butt if you’re not.     

 4.  They listen and listen and then some.

  5.  They are ‘there’ for you even if you haven’t seem them for 40 years.

 In the pictures above and below, you will see some of my tennis girlfriends. I love them. I can count on them and know what else? They can count on me.

 tennis friends 1

 

 

 

 

WHAT, ME WORRY??

jean calment

 

Imagine being born before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone—and not dying until cell phones were in use. Such was the case of Jean Calment, a woman from Arles, France who lived to be 122; the oldest living person ever documented. She not only outlived her husband and children, but her own grandchildren as well. The kicker? She smoked cigarettes for 100 years. No, that is not a typo.

 Was it good genes, diet, exercise? Not sure. Jean told people that she ate olive oil every day and even rubbed it on her skin. “I only have one wrinkle,” she said, “and I am sitting on it.”  She also enjoyed 2 lbs. of chocolate per week and swore that drinking good Port wine was essential. But I don’t think that was it either.

 Here is my take on her longevity. One researcher noted that she seemed, “almost biologically immune to stress.” As Calment said herself, “If you can’t do anything about it, why worry?” She also told others that even her name meant ‘calm’ and that was how she had lived her life. Indeed. Why worry? Perhaps that simple letting go of what you cannot change will increase your happy years ahead.

 So, my hat is off to this gal who once sold colored pencils to Vincent Van Gogh. She has set the bar for those of us who fret over the many things we simply cannot do anything about. For the record, Jean did quit smoking at the age of 115. I have to wonder though if it was simply because she could no longer see well enough to light it.  

 

 

FROM MICE TO MEN?

mice to men

I must be getting cranky in my older age when I am far more excited about a scientific discovery than in watching one, more ridiculous political debate. The real, ‘movers and shakers,’ we should be paying attention to are those who make the world a more beautiful place, not an uglier and more divided one.

So here’s the news: researchers in Australia have been able to restore brain function in mice! Granted, people are not mice, (though some politicians imply otherwise.). These scientists have been able to use a type of ultrasound, which non-invasively beams sound waves into the brain tissue. By oscillating super-fast, these sound waves gently open up the blood-brain barrier, (which is the layer that protects the brain against bacteria), and stimulate the brain’s microglial cells to activate. Microglial cells are the waste-removal cells. Once activated, they are able to clear out the toxic beta-amyloid clumps that are responsible for the worst symptoms of Alzheimer’s!

This is crazy, wild, cutting-edge science and I am intrigued. Granted, by the time my own brain may have amyloid plaque it may be too late. However, imagine the possibilities for future generations. Frankly, I would rather pin my hopes on this kind of science than on any present, political candidate. So, don’t look for a sign in my yard or on my bumper with someone else’s name on it. My vote goes to those who actually make our lives better and more beautiful. And from artist to zoologist, you know who you are.

Put it on an iPod and Plug in!

jj on motorcycle

Noted neurologist, Oliver Sacks, once said that, “Music evokes emotion, and emotion can bring with it memory… it brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.”

Recently, opera singer turned neuroscientist, Linda Maguire, researched using music for those with failing cognition. “Musical aptitude and music appreciation are two of the last remaining abilities in patients with Alzheimer’s. They can’t follow life or conversations. They don’t remember people. They get lost and confused. But because the part of the brain that internalizes music remains healthy, they can follow music.” 

Maguire’s study revealed 5 important benefits of music:

  1. Music evokes emotions that bring memories.
  2. Music is a way to reach beyond the disease and reach the person.
  3. Music can bring emotional and physical closeness. With dementia, patients often lost the ability to express emotions.  Through music, if they are ambulatory, they can even dance. Dancing can lead to hugs, kisses and touching, which brings security and memories.
  4. Singing engages both mind and body. It gives you better posture, better oxygenation and stimulates tissue because the heart and lungs literally vibrate.
  5. Music can shift mood, manage stress and stimulate positive interactions. 

Maguire’s study says that three of the most therapeutic songs are: “The Sound of Music,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It also suggests that if you are caring for an elderly person, to compile a playlist of songs that were popular when they were 18-25 years old. Put it on an iPod and plug them in!!

On that note, I leave you with, “I Wanna Die Young,” a song I wrote inspired by my grandmother. That is she pictured above on the back of a Harley in her 70’s. She is the same girl that still sang “Happy Birthday” to me at age 93, long after she had forgotten who I was.  

https://www.reverbnation.com/helenhudson

 

 

NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT

Baby-Sneeze

Did you know that right now there are 800 million of us over the age of 60? And guess what else? We have a few things going for us that I didn’t even know:

  1. Our immune systems are stronger so we get fewer colds.
  2. We suffer less migraines—(maybe because we have less to think about?)
  3. We’re less sweaty. . .(unless you fall into the next statistic).
  4. 75% of people in their 80’s report better sexual satisfaction than they had in their 40’s!
  5. While we aren’t as good at math (that’s what calculators are for) and are slower to respond to commands, (likely purposeful), our vocabulary, spatial orientation, verbal memory, AND problem solving abilities, are better than they were in our 20s!
  6. We have less allergies because our immunoglobin E production (which exacerbates them) decreases as we age.

 Frankly, that’s nothing to sneeze at.  And if you’re my age or older–you won’t!

 

WANTED: STRONG SENIOR!

wanted senior1

Here is the Ad I posted in our local paper last week: “Wanted! Strong, hard-working, high school senior who wants to earn extra money after school, moving heavy boxes, cleaning roof gutters and other yard work. $15/hour.”

Only ONE person answered my ad. The guy pictured above. Yup. Not only was he older than I am, he arrived at my doorstep wearing a back brace AND a knee brace!

“Um,” I smiled as I opened the door. “You aren’t exactly a high-school senior,” I said.

“Oh,” he countered. “I didn’t see the ‘high school’ part. I just saw ‘senior’….and I’m definitely that!” Understatement. 

According to Fact Tank, by 2022, 31.9% of the work force will be people over 65! If my gentleman caller today is any indication, they are right.  Putnam Investments recently published a survey, which found that 7 million previously retired folks have even returned to the work force! That rate is projected to jump to 67.5 percent by 2022.  

Scientific studies prove that when men, in particular, retire their risk of clinical depression and even suicide rises sharply. The research shows that, “A man is about as likely to ask for help for depression as to ask for directions, and for much the same reason.  It’s part of the male code, part of masculine culture.”  So I’m glad that my retiree showed up for his sake, as much as mine.

Well, my ‘senior’ spent about 4 hours at my place and did one heck of a job. (Though I was a bit nervous when he first headed up the ladder). In fact, he was far more thorough than the last high school senior I hired. Not only that, we had interesting, thought-provoking conversations and given our ages, we certainly had lots in common.

But here is my real concern: how come not one, single teenager responded to my Ad? Are they over-booked? Or do they just not need the money? If things were ‘right’ in the world, people over 65 would not HAVE to labor for $15/hr. If things were even ‘righter,’ teenagers would!!!

 

UPSIDE DOWN

handstand

 Well go figure. Apparently I have been doing something good for my body and brain for the last 40 years and I didn’t even know it!! I guess you could say it started in my 20’s and I just sort of kept it up.  I do it at home and always when I’m travelling. You name it. Anywhere I find the space, I  simply just do it. Like how it feels. Love how it gives me a different perspective on things.

I’ve done it in SO many hotel rooms your head would spin.  I’ve done it in public, in private, under bright lights, in pitch dark, against fences, bathroom doors in shopping malls and smack on the beach in broad daylight.  What am I talking about??  You guessed it:  handstands.

Now, science says that what I have been doing several times a day for all these years has 5 beneficial results:

  1. Builds core strength.
  2. Makes the upper body strong.
  3. Increases balance
  4. Helps with bone health, circulation & breathing
  5. BOOSTS YOUR MOOD!!

Here’s the crazy thing: anyone can do them. It just takes a little practice, a little confidence and a nice strong wall to fly up against. Place your hands about a shoulder’s width apart; aim them about 12 inches from a nice, sturdy wall…and GO FOR IT. The worst that could happen is you chicken out half way up and come back down.

One word of caution: in the thousands and thousands of handstands I have done over the years, only once did I have a disastrous result. As I recall, I was staying in a rundown Motel 6 and there was no room to do one. So, I closed the bathroom door and did a handstand against it. Well, the door didn’t latch tightly.  So as my feet landed on it, I had the lovely sensation of going all the way over and both feet landed smack in the toilet. Thank God I was only 20 at the time.

Give it a try….it just might change your mood AND perspective on things. 🙂

P. S.  Yes, this was me this afternoon at the YMCA.

“…AND THAT’S THE TRUTH!!!”

mermaids

Every Tuesday and Thursday this gaggle of girlfriends suits up and hits our local pool. No, they don’t wear bikinis or flaunt tattoos or pierced navels. They don’t need to. All of their valuable assets lie inside and they’ve been hard won over time. By my calculation when class is full, there are almost 1,000 years between them.

mermaids1

Some shuffle slowly wearing knee braces. Canes, crutches and walkers aid others. A few arrive with caregivers. Gracefully, if not painfully, they bear together the weight of many lifetimes: husbands come and gone, children raised, grandchildren born, surgeries too numerous to mention and heartaches aplenty. One by one, they enter the water and then, as if by magic, they become effortlessly floating mermaids!

I am awed by the transformation that occurs before my eyes as I do my own laps. I cannot help but stop and listen to their laughter or pause to see them synchronized in a delicate ballet of swaying arms. They giggle like schoolgirls when someone tells a clever joke. I catch snippets of recipes, the death of a friend, the struggle with a husband’s Alzheimer’s and lots of bubbly chatter about the grandkids. Their skin is wrinkled, their bodies shrunken and bent over but they are SO beautiful I cannot take my eyes off of them.

I have imagined each of them as young once. I can see the shy debutante, the tough tomboy, the loner, the femme fatale and the crowd pleaser among them. Under their white hair and thin skin, I see blondes, brunettes, redheads, lithe bodies, big-eyed smiles and voluptuous lips. Age is an illusion we take far, too much on face value.

I contend that as a society we are now more tolerant of African-Americans, Hispanics, homosexuals, white-collar criminals, and drug addicts than we are our elderly! It should be Politically Correct to revere them, not scam, mistreat, ignore or abuse them.  They are the survivors and memory-keepers of a time gone by and they should be treasured—not honked at when they are too slow crossing the street.

Most of my mermaids are the same age as Lily Tomlin, 75, Jane Fonda, 77, and Gloria Steinem, 80; three women who figured prominently in my growing up years. Funny thing is, all three are forever etched in my mind as young. So, too, should we look upon our elders. As Edith Ann often said from her big, rocking chair on Laugh-In: “And that’s the truth!”

WHY I WOULD NOT WANT TO BE ’20 SOMETHING’ NOW

silent crowd at starbucks

Take a good look at this picture of a group of 20 somethings at Starbucks this morning.  I watched and photographed them for several minutes, during which time not one of them looked up or even acknowledged one another.  Welcome to 2015.  I would not want to be their age for anything right now.  Why?

1. I wouldn’t be able to talk to my friends as conversation now is done primarily via thumbs. (The last time I actually used mine was to hitchhike).

2.  I would never feel the heart-palpitating anticipation of waiting days for handwritten letters from someone I love.  (Instead, I could ‘hook-up’ or ‘break-up’ instantly via Facebook.)

3. I wouldn’t be able to get the 6 o’clock News in one, nicely, digestible, half hour. (It would bombard me 24/7 on Twitter.)

4. I couldn’t say the bill ‘got lost in the mail, ‘ as it would be sent directly to my Inbox.

5. I couldn’t have a wild time at that private party knowing it would stay private. (By morning, my hat dance routine would be viral on Instagram.)

6. My boredom tolerance would be zero, my curiosity likely non-existent and my sense of allegiance to country, place and home not even a memory.  (Now, thanks to politicians and lawyers, I can’t say the Pledge of Allegiance but can read Lolita– just not the Bible– in class.)

7. Most anything I say would be politically incorrect. (Now I would either have to pretend to like everybody– no matter how wacky– or simply remain mute.)

8. I would neither be able to remember nor mourn my innocence. (Thanks to the Internet it would never exist.)

9. My moral compass would be all screwed up. (Instead of making a bowl of popcorn for the movie, I might well, ‘smoke a bowl’ instead.)

10. I would likely still be living with my parents! (My college degree wouldn’t get me a job and even if it did I still couldn’t afford to live on my own.)

It seems that a sense of gratitude has now been replaced with a sense of entitlement.  Many of my friends say they wouldn’t want to be younger simply because they have, “Been there.  Done that.”  Truth is I haven’t been ‘there’ or ‘done that’ at all.  And I sure wouldn’t want to be there doing it NOW.