agebuzz weekly

September 28th, 2017

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

Inside Story: Get Ready For The Great Thanksgiving Listen: Every fall the holidays seem to come around more quickly. You blink on Labor Day and suddenly you see Halloween decorations and pumpkin spice lattes. So, if you're already thinking in fall holiday mode, you need to know about this: StoryCorps, the audio project which records and archives the spoken stories of Americans from all walks of life, has announced that it is once again hosting The Great Thanksgiving Listen. Begun in 2015 as a project to encourage intergenerational dialogue, the goal is to assist high school students in interviewing older members of their family or community, using a StoryCorpsapp, which is free to download. Already over 250,000 general interviews have been recorded through the StoryCorps recording booths around the country and through their smart phone app. These conversations have been archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Anyone who listens to Morning Edition on NPR has probably heard some of these poignant conversations, often revealing previously undisclosed life stories from seniors to younger generations. So this Thanksgiving, instead of fighting over the current political climate, encourage younger family members to learn the wisdom of their elders and record these conversations for posterity throughStoryCorps.

Flesh And Blood: Do You Know Why You Are Getting That Blood Test?: By the time we reach a certain age, most of us are getting regular blood work done. It may be in response to a specific complaint, or it may be part of an annual physical exam. Usually we don't ask too many questions and just assume it's necessary. According to Dr. Leslie Kernisan, however, the sage behind the website Better Health While Aging, there are common blood tests performed for seniors that can tell your physician, and you, how you are aging and whether there are any problems. In a recent piece, Dr. Kernisan outlined in valuable detail the range of common blood tests for seniors, what they can detect and why you may be having such a test. Moreover, Dr. Kernisan shares advice and tips to help you benefit from your blood tests and results. So roll up your sleeve, stick out your arm and read her advice Here.

Easy Rider: Lyft Is Working On Improving The Senior Ride Sharing Experience: We all know that driving is a flash point in the lives of community dwelling seniors. No one likes the idea of taking away the car keys, yet there may come a time when it becomes difficult, and even unsafe, for seniors to drive themselves. Lyft, one of the ride-sharing companies that allows you to call for a car through the click of a smart phone app, has publicly promoted itself as a reliable alternative for seniors in need of transportation. Now, they are taking that commitment to seniors one step further. Working with the USC Center for Body ComputingLyft has announced a pilot program to provide free transportation to seniors in the greater Los Angeles area. In exchange, these seniors will wear trackable devices that will allow researchers to track behavior patterns and develop products and services to better meet the needs of older consumers. This is all part of a goal of better educating seniors about digital tools that can help improve their standard of living and preserve their independence. Read more about this new ride sharing and research studyHere. And for those seniors who still drive, and see Lyft as an opportunity to socialize while earning some extra income, take a look at this captivating animated short film by Academy Award-winner John Kahrs Here.

Talk About It: End Of Life Conversations With A Virtual Coach: Discussing care options and anxieties as you deal with a late stage illness can be very hard. Talking with loved ones may just heighten the emotional tenor of such conversations. Sometimes it may make sense to speak with someone a bit removed- and sometimes that someone may not even need to be a real person. Researchers at Northeastern University in Boston have just published a paper describing their work creating a tablet-based "chatbot"- in essence what they are calling a "virtual conversational palliative care coach," to help patients think through their symptoms, stress, spiritual needs and any other issues that arise as their illnesses become terminal. The goal is to facilitate these conversations, and whatever solutions arise, well before the patient's last days, so that quality of life is improved even as quantity of life is diminished. Dr. Timothy Bickmore, one of the lead researchers, is an expert in human-computer interactions, and he has invented many such chatbots to work as health counselors in other circumstances. Read an interview with Dr. Brickmore Here. And to find out more about this pioneering work, Read Here.

On Purpose: The Link Between Having A Purpose And Healthier Aging: As you grow older and perhaps retire from your job, it's only natural to wonder what you should do or how you can best fill your time. You might even elevate your thinking to consider what's your purpose in life- what are you meant to do as you enter this new stage? Well, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, finding your purpose as you age may not only prove emotionally rewarding but it may lead to a more physically robust and healthier life for your later years. And according to Kaiser Health News journalist Judith Graham, finding that purpose doesn't necessarily mean some grandiose concept of your place in the universe- rather, it could be as simple as developing some new skills or finding enjoyable activities. And the results? Not only the pleasure of these new endeavors but you may also develop healthier habits or be less stressed, leading to overall better health. Read more of Judith Graham's analysis Here. And for those of you with sleep challenges, read how a purposeful life could lead to better sleep for you Here.

Dance Card: Legendary Dancer Twyla Tharp Still On Stage At Age 76: As you may remember from reading agebuzz last month, dancing can have enormous positive impact on the aging brain. If that's the case, then lifelong dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp must have enormous brain power- and, in fact, her mind is extraordinarily creative and fertile. Now back on stage in NYC as part of an ensemble performing both her older and new works at the Joyce Theater, Tharp has continued to blaze ahead with her creative process, despite advancing age. Having choreographed over 130 dances for top dance companies around the world, you can see the breadth of her creative output, and videos of her famous works, by going to her website Here. And catch The New York Times review of her current stage production Here. Tharp attributes her creative success and drive to a lifelong devotion to hard work and habit, lessons that can be useful no matter what your age. So kick up your heels and read about Tharp, and her best selling book, The Creative Habit, by Clicking Here

THE LAST WORD: “I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in 5 years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read." Twyla Tharp