agebuzz weekly

October 17th, 2017

Good morning and welcome to agebuzz… Headlining today’s topics:

Adverse Consequences: Understanding The Side Effects Of Your Medications: It's been estimated that over 80% of people age 65 and older take at least one prescription medication on a regular basis. That's a lot of drugs being consumed and, likely, a lot of side effects being experienced. For every benefit a drug may provide, there is often a risk associated with its use. Some risks are minor and easily tolerated but some may pose serious threat. Consumer Reports is out with a new piece on medication side effects that are especially relevant to seniors. For an analysis of common side effects, drugs known to cause them and how to respond, take a look Here. For a deeper understanding of this issue, you should be aware of the MedShadow Foundation, whose website provides in-depth, up-to-date info and news about medications, the research behind them and the risks that may arise as you begin or continue a course of medication. Finally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a website where you can report side effects you have experienced and read about the reports others have provided. Check out this FDA resource Here.

Resident Advisor: Respecting Those Who Reside In Long Term Care Facilities: Anyone who has a loved one or friend who resides in a nursing home or other long term care facility knows the challenges for that resident- negotiating the terrain, voicing concerns or ensuring comfort and well being. Consumer Voice, an advocacy group that focuses on quality of care for residents of long term care facilities, has declared October to be National Residents' Rights Month. It's a time to honor those who live this way and to ensure that their rights are recognized and respected. In fact, by federal law, there are specific rights enumerated for such residents, and Consumer Voicehas created a fact sheet of those rights, which you can read Here. Some residents need extra help to amplify their voices- they need someone to speak up on their behalf or investigate problems they experience. In every nursing home, there should be an available "ombudsman" who can be their advocate and seek out solutions when problems arise. To find out more, watch this video on the ombudsman program Here. And for more general info on how to find a long term care ombudsman, or even become one yourself, Click Here

Blowing Smoke: Growing Old In The Age Of Marijuana Legalization: As more states vote to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, there will inevitably be more people reaching to light up- either for the relaxation or hallucinatory effects, or, more and more, for the pain relief that can accompany marijuana use. There's data that shows marijuana use in those 65 and older increased 250% from 2006-20013. For seniors, especially those with chronic pain, marijuana use could literally change their quality of life- but it's not without it's risks, especially the risk of falls. For more insights into marijuana use in senior populations, Click Here. California, which recently legalized recreational marijuana use, has even put out a consumer guide, which Kaiser Health News affectionately calls "Your Grandmother's Guide To Grass." Access the full California "Let's Talk Cannabis" guide Here.  Finally, for seniors living in states where medicinal marijuana use is an option, this may be a valuable alternative to reaching for the prescription pain meds that carry all sorts of risks. So, take out your lighter, take a puff and read this guide to senior use of medical marijuana Here.

Weak At The Knees: Osteoarthritis And Other Knee Problems: For some of us, the thought of walking up a staircase or climbing into a car gives us a shudder- as we think about the pain in our knees that's likely to follow. Osteoarthritis in the knees, that painful feeling we experience in our knee joints, is an all too common occurrence these days, and it's also the reason that hundreds of thousands of knee replacements are performed each year. There's some confusion as to why the incidence of this condition has significantly increased over the years- is it the higher prevalence of obesity, inflammation, other environmental factors? The jury is still out but new research offers some possibilities. For further understanding, take a look Here. And even if osteoarthritis is not your worry, there are plenty of other causes of pain and problems in your knees as you get older. For a good overview of the mechanics of the knee and what can go wrong, gently take a seat and Click Here.

Style Down Under: Planning Your Look For Your Final Resting Place: It may seem a bit morbid, but there are plenty of people who contemplate their "final outfit," i.e., what they want to be wearing when they are dead and buried (or cremated). Apparently, trends are changing, and going out in one's "Sunday best" is no longer the only choice.  Many people, of course, don't make that choice and it's left to surviving loved ones, or even funeral directors, to make a wardrobe selection. Caleb Wilde, a funeral director whose website gives a realistic, and often humorous, look into the life of a funeral director, has just published a book called Confessions of a Funeral Director, part memoir and part exploration of customs and quirks in the "death industry" in our country. If that sounds of interest, then you also need to be aware of another new book: Caitlin Doughty's From Here To Eternity: Traveling The World To Find The Good Death, an exploration of the various funeral rituals of different cultures around the world. And, if you've now decided to peruse your closet to make that "final selection," you may find some inspiration on the website of Ethel Maid, our country's largest supplier of burial clothing, whose tagline is "The Finest in Funeral Fashions." Happy Shopping! 

A Dog's Life: Photographer William Wegman And His Life's Work: At age 74, with no signs of slowing down, photographer William Wegman continues to photograph his beloved Weimaraner dogs in portraits both zany and poignant. With a newly published book, Being Human, with over 300 never before seen portraits of his dogs, Wegman is also being currently celebrated with an exhibit of some of his Polaroid photos at the Sperone Westwater Gallery in New York City. Born in 1943, Wegman has been an internationally recognized photographer since the early 1970s, and his distinct dog portraits have led to as much interest in the lives and personalities of his dogs as the photographs he takes. Wegman's work is so unique that his admirers really want to learn about and watch the dogs, and observing his process of working is as much fun as seeing the final portraits. So, as a treat, watch this wonderful video of Wegman at work with his famous WeimaranersHere.

THE LAST WORD: “I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well." Diane Ackerman