Category Archives: Wellness

Topics that tackle the health and wellness of women over 50.

Is YOUR Town the Best Place to Thrive?

You know your town best – is it a great place for someone 50 and up to live a good life?  There are tons of reports on the Internet about the best places to live and retire.  Sites like Sperling, Money magazine, Forbes, Huffington Post, and so on use similar scoring techniques primarily based on health, economy, and access to cultural activities; but is that all we care about?

By the way, I’m not sure why these studies differentiate between LIVE and RETIRE as if once we RETIRE we don’t LIVE anymore.  Personally, I don’t want to survive … I want to thrive!

I think the most important aspect of a place to call home is that it supports our passion for living, our purpose.  I’m not talking about climbing mountains; I’m talking about the things that make us feel ALIVE – feel joy!  Maybe you love pottery; or perhaps your passion is refinishing furniture; or you just like to sit on the porch and read a good book while enjoying a cool summer breeze; or maybe you do like climbing mountains.  Whatever makes you feel ALIVE, the place you live needs to have the resources and geography to support your passion.

Is your hometown a great place to thrive?

Sperling’s America’s Best Cities
Money’s Best Places to Retire
The World’s 12 Best Places to Live or Retire in 2016
Retiring?  Don’t Use a ‘Best Places to Retire’ List to Pick Your New Home
The Best Places to Retire in 2016
America’s 10 Best Cities for Retirement
The Best Place to Retire Isn’t Florida



Don’t Give Up on the Ones You Love

Every day is a challenge for me, good and bad; this is who I am.  I constantly challenge myself to be a better person, yet it is sometimes difficult to tell if I’ve met my goal.  Some days I’m a good person; others I’d like to forget.

The constant goal in my life is to live up to my expectations, which some say are too high.  One in particular, is to protect those I love.  This includes my pets, of course, but I cannot protect them from life – from the uncontrollable events and choices they make.  Not only must I have the courage to live with my choices and consequences, but the fortitude to live with theirs as well.  And this does take great courage when you love someone.

So today I give myself a bit of advice; don’t give up on those you love.  This includes myself.

Believe in yourself, and thanks for ‘listening’.

Zen of Soaking

One of the things I loved about living overseas was the soaking tub.  There isn’t anything like it, unless it’s a hot spring!

In the U.S., most people are apt to purchase large, balky hot tubs that require regular maintenance and large electric bills.  For me, I’d opt for the luxury of a soaking tub instead.  It requires cleaning and maintenance too, but at a fraction of the cost of a hot tub.  I really like the idea it is clean every time I use it.

Hot tubs have their purpose, especially when entertaining or used for exercise, but a soaking tub is an opportunity to truly experience relaxation.  Young or old, the warmth and comfort of a good soak provides a sense of well-being that is ephemeral.  Aches and pains are soaked away, blood pressure lowers, and your soul is rejuvenated.  With a soaking tub readily available in your own ensuite, this can be enjoyed much more often than a hot tub, making it much more cost effective and beneficial than a hot tub.

By the way, I’m not talking about a tub that just happens to be a couple of inches deeper than a regular tub, so it covers up to your navel instead of your knees.  I’m talking about the Japanese style soaking tub, a.k.a. afuro, that is 22 or more inches deep.  This depth allows you to totally immerse your body up to your chin while sitting.

Unfortunately, a good soaking tub costs a small fortune right now, but I’m hoping as they become more popular, the cost will come down accordingly.  Either way, it is so worth the benefits.

Believe in yourself and thanks for ‘listening’.

Apartment Therapy – Soaking Tubs

Cabuchon Soaking Tub

Dwell – About Japanese Soaking Tubs

Take Care of Yourself First: A Conversation

Do you spend more time caring for others than for yourself?  Are you working sunrise to sunset without a break in the day for yourself?  Do you have one or more family members who require your dedicated attention to ensure their medical needs are met on a daily basis?  As a typical caregiver, you prefer to give than receive, and this can result in diminished capacity to continue to give of yourself – you are on the track to burnout.

Bench Under Tree

This is a typical conversation with caregivers.  I know, because I’ve been on both sides:

You’re looking tired these days; are you taking time for yourself?

     Myself?  When do I have the time!  I know, I’ve heard it before – take care of yourself first.  But that is not who I am!  We boomers do what we must to care for our family! 

Admirable, yes, and I love the selflessness behind it, but you could get sick or hurt yourself or your family in the end.  Is that what you want?

     That’s the last thing I want to happen; I’m too busy worrying about my parents and family.  I don’t have time to worry about myself, and it’s just plain selfish if I do.

Selfish?  Depends on how you look at it.  If you want the best for your mom and dad and family, don’t you need to be at your best?  Take a little time for yourself.  Sit and have a cup of tea; or call someone just to chat.  Maybe you could organize a day trip with other caregivers, sharing the caregiving along the way; that could be fun. 

     I want to be a good person, to take care of my family.  This is my responsibility, not someone else’s.  If I stop for myself, who will take care of mom – my dad?  Who will take care of my family?

You’re not alone.  Even if you are the only caregiver, you are not alone.  There are folks out there who care about you and don’t want to see you suffer.  No one is asking you to stop; just asking you to pause every now and then; take a little.   There are groups out there that can help too, especially if you don’t have enough time.

     I don’t need to be greedy; I don’t want to be greedy and pass my responsibilities on to someone else.

You aren’t greedy; you’d be smart.  Taking care of yourself means you can stay healthy, in mind and body!  Don’t you need energy to face this every day?  If you leave it up to fate, hoping you’ll find time for yourself, it won’t happen.  You need to plan events that make you happy; bring yourself a little joy.  Schedule the time to be with yourself or with people you want to be with.  It doesn’t have to be a lot of time, just ‘you’ time.  Like the time we went to see that movie you like and had dinner.  That was great!

     I had fun too, but I did worry about what was going on back at the house.

That’s ok – normal worry stuff.  You could say it was canceled out by the good time we had.

      Mom did say I was in a good mood the next morning.  She was happy too – for me, I think.

So, I guess you should do this more often.

I think many of us try to make time for ourselves, but we really aren’t committed to it.  We don’t plan events or schedule time that will help us re-energize.  We believe it’s okay, because we are being selfless, but as time goes by, we become drained and tired and sometimes ill.  We get grouchy and resentful.  I’m sure the people we care about don’t want to see that!

How do you take time for yourself?

Are you a caregiver?  Share your story or a photo!

  1. Join other caregivers – here.
  2. Download the handy sign
  3. Post your story-sign here.

Believe in yourself; thanks for ‘listening’.

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Life Reimagined

This is a great program provided by Life Reimagined through AARP. I strongly encourage you to consider joining AARP to access this and many other programs that can help provide direction in your life, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a long time.  If you need financial assistance, contact the AARP Foundation first.

Life Reimagined helps us make better decisions about relationships, work, purpose, and our general well-being.  You could join them directly for a fee, but your best bet is to join the AARP first to gain access to other programs and discounts.  Either way, the program takes you through a decision-making and exercise process, one step at a time. 

I recently started the program, Get an Edge in Your Job Search, and it provided access to an abbreviated version of the Strong Interest Inventory.  This tool enables a person to compare their interests (strong interests) to others who have high job satisfaction in their field.  For example, if I am someone who likes research, analyzing, and calculating, I may be a good candidate for a job in science.  If I really prefer writing, design, and helping others, I’d probably be a good candidate for a job in communications.  There are additional tools as well, so I’ll be going back to complete them soon.

Combined with new techniques in neuroscience, these are powerful tools, so please give Life Reimagined through AARP a try.

Life Reimagined Institute

Photo courtesy of Modern Farmer, Picturing Women Farmers by Audra Mulkern

Obesity and Processed Foods

OBESITY, obesity, Obesity!  We are a fat nation, and we know it.  Yes, genetics has much to do with being overweight, but it must be something else as well, because I don’t remember so many of us being overweight when I was a teenager!  I definitely need to lose a few pounds too.  So what is the cause?obesity map

As a person who believes issues are usually an accumulation of smaller issues, I don’t think it is any one reason.  I believe we’ve become more sedentary as we’ve moved from the industrial to technological and into the information age; and we boomers can cover that gamut.  But I also believe it has to do with what we eat and drink. 

There are so many new processed food and containers to hold them, and we have been the guinea pigs all along.  I think it is the boomer generation that will suffer the most in the end.  Thank goodness our children are demanding accountability for the foods they eat.  And I love the idea of urban gardening.  What are we boomers doing about it?

I came across this article, Obesogens:  Hormone-Related Weight Gain, by a Dr. Stephen Sinatra, and it just rang true to me.  I think it is definitely one of the causes of our obesity epidemic.  There are so many chemicals in our food stream!  I for one will be much more careful about eating fish from fish farms; and no more creamer in my Sunday coffee.  I’ll endeavor to avoid other toxic habits too, but I’m sure the years of eating processed foods has taken its toll. 

I recall a book I read quite a while ago, during the days of Adelle Davis; it was titled The Rotation Diet.  I recall a recommendation for eating apples and apple cider vinegar for clearing out the system.  I remember it, because my country aunt always told me how good apple cider vinegar is for cleansing the body.  Who remembers Adelle Davis?  Who remembers those country remedies?

On that note, a great day!

Obesogens: Hormone-Related Weight Gain – Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Obesity Prevalence Map, 2014 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Affordable Teeth Cleaning

Healthy teeth and mouth are critical to our well-being, so why is it we spend so little time on our oral healthcare compared to the rest of our body?  Think of it – the first contact anything we eat has with our body is our teeth and tongue.  The older we get, the less sensitive our tongue becomes, the dryer our mouth, and the faster plaque and tartar build up.  Our smile is also a major factor in a first impression – and what do people see when we smile?

Just like the rest of our bodies, the simplest approach to good health is preventive measures.  Getting our teeth cleaned twice a year is so worth it.  Not only is the cost a great value compared to dental procedures, it serves as a dental checkup, much like an annual physical.  The average cleaning costs around $75 without insurance.  Not a bad investment, really; but sometimes even this is out of reach.

When the economy dropped through the basement, and I lost my job, I spoke to my dentist’s accountant about discounts, and I was able to save $35 on teeth cleaning.  She also recommended 0% financing on any procedures I needed, and the use of coupons for future X-Rays – yep, my dentist issues coupons in some of the community money saver packets.  I went with the cleaning discount and the X-Ray coupon, but I’m looking for a good dental plan to manage anything more complicated than a teeth cleaning.

One approach I like is to use my university dental college.  When I was younger and just making ends meet, I contacted my state university’s dental college.  Like many colleges, they have community outreach programs, and I was able to get a much needed crown for a huge discount.  I still have that crown after 30 years – most dentists today are quite impressed with the workmanship, and there are no signs of needing a replacement to this day.  I think I’ll give them a call.

There are web sites out there to help me find a good dental plan when I’m ready. Of course, during open enrollment, I may be able to find a dental plan on my state’s site.  But I want a plan now, so I’ll visit a few of the clearing house type sites to find a few to review.  I listed some of these links in the ‘links’ section below for your consideration. 

As always, I asked my dentist what health plans they accept, and what they found to be the best plans.  Keep in mind, they probably like plans that reimburse more, but cost me more as well, but they will be able to advise you.  In the end, I am responsible for the choice I make.  I must compare plans and costs based on what I can afford and my dental health.

The American Dental Association is a great place to get information about a ‘healthy mouth’ as well as how to find a dentist.

Have a great day!

Recommended Reading:

Mouth Healthy, 40-60

Mouth Healthy Over 60

AARP Dental Insurance

Periodontal Disease and Heart Health

Dental Plans

eHealth Insurance

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundariesThis week, I received several articles about setting boundaries, and I remembered I started a similar piece about a month ago in response to a post on LinkedIn about the erosion of the 9-5 workday, so I guess that is today’s blog – setting boundaries. 

To get started, I recommend watching the video, Boundaries, by Brene Brown.  It helps to put perspective on the importance of setting boundaries.

Next, learn to set boundaries at work.  If work rejuvenates us without sacrificing other areas in our lives, we are lucky, but that rarely happens.  So here are a few tips for setting boundaries at work, and they may help at home as well.  Exercises on how to apply these tips follows for those who like the step-by-step approach.

  1. You are priority number 1, so take care of yourself first
  2. Prioritize time appropriate to the task
  3. Learn to say ‘No’
  4. Be dependable so you can depend on others
  5. Learn something new everyday

I suggest to complete these steps one at a time over a period of a few months.  In my experience, setting boundaries takes time and practice, and tackling them all at once defeats the purpose.  You might say this is the first lesson; don’t take on more than you can handle WELL.

You can stop here or move on to the practical application of these steps, or jump to the bottom for links to related reading and music.

Step 1:  I am priority number 1 – repeat to yourself, “I am priority number 1”.  Take care of yourself first, so you can take care of the rest.  We need to generate energy in our lives to spend it on the things we really care about.  How do you re-energize?  I re-energize through a couple of daily rituals.  They don’t take much time, but they force me to disconnect from the busy-ness and reconnect with what I love most.  These include meditation, dog walks, reading, gardening, and moving.  When a great beat comes on the radio, I get up and dancercise to it; wow that makes me feel re-energized! 

Step 2:  Learn how to prioritize tasks and time.  Our attention span is limited, and to do a good job, we need to be focused.  Studies show that multi-tasking complex activities or too many activities at the same time can strain and dilute our efforts, resulting in poor results.  Making up for this by working harder longer is not the answer if our wellbeing and family suffer.  So, we need to become good managers of our time and learn to prioritize. 

Here is a good method for learning to prioritize time and tasks at work.  I used this technique as an instructor to help employees with time management.

  1. Start by keeping a journal for at least one month. Write down everything you do during the work day and how long it takes you to complete. 
  2. At the end of the month, create a chart, totaling the hours for each activity.
  3. Next, prioritize the tasks, A, B, C, or D; A being a critical task that needs immediate attention, B an important task that needs attention within 8 hours; C task that requires attention within 24 hours, and a D task that requires our attention whenever we schedule time for it. Here is an example based on my work:
    • Reading email – B – 1.5 hours a day, 30 hours a month
    • Metrics report – B – 2 hours one day a month
    • Customer service – A – 2 hours a day, 40 hours a month
    • And so on
  4. Finally, review the tasks and see if the amount of time you actually spend on an activity reflects the priority. Are you spending too much time on low priority tasks and too little time on high priority needs? Or could it be you just don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done?  If you can reprioritize, great, but if you don’t have enough time in the day, you may need to learn to engage your team to help or just learn to say ‘No’.  Which brings us to …

Step 3:  Learn to say ‘No’.  Saying ‘no’ is not a bad thing, it is being honest and caring.  You care enough to do a job right, and if you don’t have enough time in the day to get it done right, don’t do it.  A smart boss will appreciate this.  Sometimes you may need to negotiate projects or compromise by starting a task and handing it off to someone else to complete, but that is what team work is all about.  And this leads to …

Step 4:  Be dependable for your team, so you can depend on your team.  If you work alone, this is a moot point – go to Step 4.  Most of us, however, have coworkers who make up the team.  Helping each other has many positive effects.  Teamwork builds trust, makes the workload easier to manage and produces great results, especially as a byproduct of the diversity the team represents.  We can learn from our team mates as well.  Does your schedule include team building activities?  Ok, maybe that is asking too much for now.  Let’s move on to …

Step 5:  Learn something new every day.  Make it a daily ritual.  Learning is an adventure, and it doesn’t matter what you learn or relearn.  Knowledge and the skills we build to apply that knowledge is the joy of accomplishment, and we are re-energized.  Don’t limit yourself; all learning sets us on a path to be able to SEE if not create new opportunities we couldn’t before.  Learning can lead us to new adventures, one step at a time.

Until next time, keep moving …

Related reading and music:

Your Guide to Setting Boundaries at Work—Without Making Anyone Resent You

5 Effective Ways to Set Boundaries at Work

Coldplay – Adventure of a Lifetime

Tobymac – Move (Keep walkin’)

Fighting Canine Cancer

Someone asked me about the holistic medications I’m giving my whippet.  You see, my little girl has cancer, and we’ve been fighting her cancer for four months now. 

We found the cancer following the review of an X-ray of her upper and lower trunk.  She’d had a cough for a few weeks, and she was getting ready to undergo a dental cleaning, so I insisted the vet do an X-ray examination first, before he stuck a tube down her throat.  He identified a mass, and following an ultrasound on the same day, she was diagnosed with a type of lymphoma or sarcoma masses in her abdomen and on the outside of her lungs. 

We needed a more definitive ID, so we followed up with a fine-needle aspiration of the cancer site in her abdomen.  The oncologist said it was a type of mast cell tumor.  We could not definitively identify the type of mast cell as it was very dense, and it was difficult to aspirate a large enough sample.  Her oncologist and our family vet do not believe it is in her best interest to remove the tumors or to complete a more invasive biopsy procedure due to her age; she is 16 and has a heart murmur.

The only treatment for inoperative stage 4 mast cell cancer at this time is chemotherapy, and her oncologist recommended Palladia, a very aggressive antineoplastic for dogs.   I opted out of this as the positive response to the drug is less than 38% and the end result would most likely be a short extension of her life, not a cure.  The side effects alone could kill her.  So, we moved on to alternative medicines.

Currently, we are working with a veterinarian who specializes only in homeopathic regimens.  I can tell you that I am pleased with the results so far, but I’m not sure it is a cure as much as it is a way to support a quality of life while she is here on this earth.  I’m reserving judgement.

At this point in her homeopathic regimen, her coughing has subsided, she no longer gets yeast infections, she still has an appetite, and she still runs outside.  We have other issues to deal with, including Degenerative Myelopathy aggravated by arthritis, but she is still relatively active and responsive.  I credit the homeopathic medications for this.

If your pet has cancer, I would recommend consideration of holistic medicines either as an alternative when mainstream treatments won’t work, or as a supportive regimen.  Either way, find a veterinarian who specializes in the field.   Your team should include an oncologist as well as a vet who specializes in internal medicine.  

Meanwhile, education is critical, so learn how to help your dog FIGHT CANCER:

Additional reading:  In Honor of My Brother

Please feel free to post your thoughts or ask questions here.