August 23rd, 2018 Newsletter
August 23rd, 2018 Newsletter
August 23, 2018
-The Last Word
Food Facts: Myths and Realities: For most of us, it’s a never-ending battle to keep our weight in check as the years go by. And for many, this means chasing after all sorts of solutions and advice, much of which is not science-based and sometimes even utter nonsense.
So, here are a few “myths” which you need to discard along with that pack of Oreos in your pantry. First, there are no foods that provide “negative calories,” i.e., you lose weight just by eating them. So, next time you plan your celery or grapefruit diet, realize that eating low-calorie foods can boost your weight loss but, by themselves, they’re not going to help you shed the pounds. As well, there is no such thing as “fat-burning foods.” As this recent Washington Post article, and it’s accompanying video, make clear, there are lots of food myths out there that are packaged with seductive marketing that can easily persuade you to purchase them, but the reality is you need to be a savvy consumer when considering such things as immune-boosting or no-sugar-added foods. Ditto on the new genetic tests that suggest if you would just understand your unique “body type,” your food problems could be solved. While genetic testing is providing all sorts of intriguing info about what lies beneath the surface, the reality is the science is just not good enough to give us the magic solution to our own idiosyncratic food and nutrient needs to keep our weight in check.
If these food tricks get you to eat a more wholesome and nutritious diet, that’s terrific but be careful about falling for fake stories about food that sound too good to be true. And remember – there are some “super foods” that can be a real help in creating nutritious, balanced meals with low calories and high nutrient value. So, pull out your pot, stir in some water and read about the benefits of such foods as oatmeal and brown rice.
Shacking Up: House Sharing As You Age: You may or may not have fond memories of your college dorm days- negotiating shared space, jockeying for some privacy in the bathroom, etc. For some, the idea of sharing space as a grown adult is unwelcome- unless and until we have no choice. However, it seems that the concept of shared housing- whether due to financial reasons, loneliness or the need for some extra support, is beginning to really take hold in our country. Most of us want to age-in-place and for some of us, that place may be more suitable if we’re living with others.
The reasons and circumstances that can propel you to share housing as you get older are myriad. Financial literacy expert Neale Godfrey suggests that you pro-actively plan for what she calls “Pod” living and that you consciously determine the number and types of “peas” who will live in your pod. Check out her recent advice in Kiplinger. Her bottom line? Planning allows you to live where and how you want, rather than how you’re forced to live because that’s all you can afford.
This social movement has also been called “The Golden Girls Trend,” and can be driven by the desire to avoid loneliness and find others who can support you and share the financial burdens of home ownership. A recent article in The Guardian profiled a new co-housing community in California calledPhoenix Commons, where residents have small individual homes but share common spaces. If you’re interested in finding out about co-housing and shared housing in your own community, check out the website of the National Shared Housing Resource Center.
Whether you’re looking for a single person to live in your extra guest bedroom or you want to create a community of like-minded seniors, or even multi-generational tenants in a communal environment, new and expanded opportunities are on the rise. Even young tech entrepreneurs are getting into the game. So start thinking about your accommodations, and check out this recent radio report about startups that create websites for seniors who want, or need, to share.
Drive Away: Conversations With Aging Drivers: Depending on where you live, driving can be your lifeline- literally. You may need the car to get your essentials, go to the doctor or maintain your social contacts. And statistically, older drivers are among the safest ones out on the road. But chances are, as you age, the cognitive and physical skills you need to drive carefully may begin to wane. The question is, what are you doing to plan for that?
Surprisingly, according to a new study from the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety, few older drivers are having conversations about this topic. According to the research, a shocking 82% of older drivers had not spoken with their family or doctors about driving safety. Given that there are 26 million drivers age 70 or over with current drivers licenses, it seems essential that as a society we begin to consider “driver retirement planning” the way we consider financial planning for our later years. In fact, AAA has created a “Driver Planning Agreement” to allow senior drivers and families to begin considering what may be necessary as a driver begins to get older.
These early discussions don’t necessarily mean the end of driving for a senior. They could mean vehicle modifications, adaptive retraining for driving skills, or other strategies to prolong safe driving. There is no one right time for an older person to stop driving, but there are warning signs that should definitely trigger conversations such as those outlined in this recent article. And, accidents can happen with real consequences for both the driver, other vehicles and pedestrians in the driver’s path. So buckle up and read more about what can happen, and how to have the “car conversation” Here.
Improve Your Mood: Exercise And Mental Health: You know the drill: exercise is critical to maintaining your physical health while aging. But new research indicates that we should take this a step further to improve our mental health as well. This new study, published in Lancet Psychiatry, found a significant association between exercise and self-reported mental health. While more research needs to be done to find a direct cause and effect, the message is pretty clear. Getting yourself involved in exercise, especially in group activities such as team sports, can really help with depression, stress or other mental health burdens that arise. To learn more about this research, and how different physical activities can help improve your mood, put on your sweats and read this Wall Street Journal article Here (paywall).
And the new Lancet study seems to suggest that such activities as yoga and tai chi can also help lighten mental health stressors because of the mindfulness they require. For a fascinating peek into how the mind-body connection can help with healthy aging, check out this recent profile in The New York Timesabout Dr. Kirk Daffner, Director of the Center for Brain/Mind Medicine of Harvard, and how his practice of Pankration, an ancient Greek style of Karate, has helped him and his 90-year-old Pankration teacher to maintain healthy minds while aging.
Give It A Shot: Vaccinations When You’re Over 50: While we tend to think of routine vaccination schedules as something for children, it turns out that for adults, there is a regular series of shots we also should get, both single doses as well as recurring, to keep us safe and healthy. For a comprehensive overview of immunizations, Click Here.
Which ones should you specifically seek out as you get older? For an easy analysis based on your specific age and lifestyle, check out this CDC Adult Vaccine “Quiz” Here. For some specific recommendations for those of us over 50, including info about vaccines for pneumonia, shingles, and hepatitis, roll up your sleeve and read the advice of AARP Here.
Finally, the annual flu shot: It seems like we anticipate it earlier and earlier each year. The pharmaceutical company Sanofi is already preparing the nearly 70 million doses it plans to ship of this year’s vaccine, including their enhanced vaccine to protect the especially vulnerable, including those over 65. Because strains of the virus change every year, the specific formula changes from one year to the next, though the recommendation to receive the vaccine well before the height of the season – usually to get the flu shot by late October if possible- remains the same. For more info on this year’s vaccine and likely flu season,Click Here.
A New Wrinkle In Skin Care: What You Need To Know About Maple Leaves: With the arrival of fall, some of us head north to seek out this year’s maple syrup crop. But some new research out of the University of Rhode Island may prompt you to seek out the maple leaves instead. Hot off the presses, this new research suggests that extract from these leaves may act to tighten the skin, something like Botox, but by topical application rather than needles. While further testing is needed, this may be the thing that unfurls your brow and removes your wrinkles. So put on your happy face (and your sun hat), and Read Here.
Researchers have already known that maple leaf extract can potentially lighten those pesky age spots. Want some other methods for getting rid of those brown splotches? Then come out of the sun and Read Here. For some more general advice about ways to protect your skin from the sun, check out this piece fromWomen’s Voices For Change. And while we know that sunblock is your one essential item for protecting your skin, there are other recommended essentials depending upon your age. So whether you’re forty or sixty or beyond, find out what you need to be using Here.
“THE LAST WORD: “I think women and children and older people are the three least- respected groups in our society.” Aretha Franklin