Dive Into Nature This Spring

Dive into nature.









Spring brings new life to nature–and thus to the rest of us. After a series of tough winter storms that have blanketed the midwest and east coast, lashed the south with ice storms and caused mudslides in the northwest, everyone is searching for spring. Everyone is eager to dive right in.

But a confession: I have been living in California for almost a year now and therefore did not experience the snow shoveling, frigid temperatures, near car collisions and exhausting commutes that many of you have. But for those of you who did, something is about to come upon you that I will miss–true, amazing, poking then blasting from the earth–spring!

I know many of you are waiting, and you know who you are–so get ready!

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” Mark Twain. And you can’t wait to get outdoors and breathe it in–a perfume that no one can bottle, because it’s in the air and it’s inside you. Funny, I keep thinking of a patch of dirt by my driveway back in Iowa–and I’m picturing these green shoots pushing up from the earth–first crocus, then daffodils, then after a while, beebalm and bluebells.

Dive Into Nature This Spring

Bluebells are native wildflowers.

And by the back deck the hydrangeas will slowly begin to flower and there will be sticks to rake up and leaves to remove, but if I were there, the sun would fall on my shoulders so that I really wouldn’t care.

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood from the Bluebeard’s Egg

 And as the earth warms and the grass begins to green-up, the redbuds bloom and then the magnolias–spring rains will begin and the cycle of the seasons proceed like a well-remembered friend who has finally returned.

Dive Into Nature This Spring

I will miss the hydrangeas by the back deck.

But even though spring might bring weather relief, other life issues might still be there, hanging around, causing pain. In fact the aching beauty of spring might make facing some family problem or an illness or a change in lifestyle even harder to bear. But here is another way to think about it:

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral 

And to share a little bit of advice and/or philosophy Deepak Chopra writes: There is a simple spiritual truth that I believe in deeply: the level of the solution is never found at the level of the problem. Knowing this, you can escape many traps that people fall into. What exists at the level of the problem? Repetitive thinking that gets nowhere. Old conditioning that keeps applying yesterday’s outworn choices. Lots of obsessive thinking and stalled action…But the relevant insight is that you have more than one level of awareness, and at a deeper level there is untapped creativity and insight.  

I read those words and think about digging in the garden or taking a walk in a spring rain as a release. Insight and understanding will be born from a new vision, a new way of looking at and dealing with the problems you still face–whether it’s glorious spring or not. For more help read Chopra’s: The 3 Questions to Ask Yourself When Things Go Wrong,

And as nature must tolerate freezing temperatures to spring once again into glorious new life, consider practicing David Schnarch PhD‘s Differentiation–the 4th maxim of which is: Tolerate discomfort for growth. It’s not easy, but over time, it works. Here are the other maxims on the list:

1. Clear sense of self in close proximity to important partner.

2. Self-regulate anxiety and self-soothe hurts.

3. Non-reactivity to partner’s anxieties. 

Spring can be a time for rebirth, not only in nature, but in one’s intimate and personal life. So dive right in–I am wishing you warm winds and great peace. 

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” AA Milne 

Do you have a spring ritual to share, something that you can count on to lift your spirits?


The Grass Is Slowly Growing, My Mother Is Slowly…

If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.

My mother died Tuesday morning.  My brother and I had traveled to see her and she knew us, beamed when she saw us and throughout the afternoon was able to communicate her needs to us.

Her dementia was far advanced, but my mother was able to say in halting sentences that she had to go and was afraid.  Of course we assured her that we would stay by her side.  Within 12 hours, Sunday morning, she had started her journey with rapid breathing, finally entering into a semi-conscious state.

Hospice came and started oxygen and wrote up orders for morphine which depresses breathing and of course deals with pain.  My brother and I stayed with our mother every moment for the next two days, sleeping in her room and sitting by her side.  Often we talked to her to assure her that we were there.  Mouth care is important for someone in this condition and we helped with that.  The nurses at the senior home came in frequently to check on our mother.  Our dear caregiver was also there at her side.

The process was difficult, but eased by the numbers of aids and nurses from her home who knocked gently on the door and came in to say goodbye.

Spring is slowly coming to the midwest.  My mother loved flowers and trees and in her last months was cheered by the sight of one bright yellow blossom or a single white rose.  New life will come into the world that she loved and we know that her life, so fully lived, will bless us and guide us all the days of our lives.

Writer Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley Jr. and Patricia Buckley wrote The Last Goodbyes, a book about losing his parents.  When asked whether that bond ends with death, he said: It never goes away, and they never go away. Your parents are your ultimate protectors, and no matter what difficulties you’re having with them when they’re alive, you can always pick up the phone and hear their voices. They provide a certain level of comfort—just knowing they’re there. They’re like fire extinguishers mounted on the wall behind glass. You know if it really comes to it, you can break the glass.  And now they’re gone. 

My father-in-law died one spring.  I remember thinking, as I was planting my flower garden, that he would be gone even as the tiny plants I was plunging into the earth grew large, produced flowers—still lived.  I know now that often when I plant a garden my mother will be there, in my mind, feeling the warm sun as I do and loving the idea of growth and expansion.  She was the flower in my life and what she taught me and the power of her love will keep me growing until it’s my time.

The grass is slowly growing while other life ebbs away.

Thanks to jainaj     and     Madame Kno  photostreams

Love Your Man? Ask Him to Get a Prostate Screening

There are lots of options for treatment.

Guest Post by Matt Herndon

If you love the man in your life and want to keep him around for a while, then you probably already encourage him in big and little ways to be a bit healthier. You likely serve vegetables with his steak, encourage him to join you on your morning walk and schedule his annual checkup for him. But what many women don’t know is that prostate cancer is a serious risk for the men they love. The American Cancer Society states that prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting American men other than skin cancer, and it will go undetected without a doctor’s diagnosis until it has progressed too far to be treated, so it is something you need to take very seriously.

Who is at risk?

Any man can develop prostate cancer, but it’s rare in men under the age of 40. Two-thirds of all men who are diagnosed are diagnosed after the age of 65, with the average age being 67. If your spouse is age 50 or older, he should be screened. If he is past the age of 65, then he absolutely needs a screening every year.

How to encourage your man to get checked

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, around 90 percent of all prostate cancer cases are detected through screening, which is why screening is so important. Basic prostate cancer screenings should be part of this annual checkup. However, you need to make sure that your spouse’s doctor provides this service. If the man in your life isn’t getting screened, then you need to do something about it.

You’ve probably learned that when it comes to your spouse, nagging won’t accomplish anything. To encourage him to get screened, consider sharing the statistics with him and expressing your concern. Remind him that prostate cancer doesn’t have any symptoms until it is too late. Most reasonable men will agree to the simple screening to please the women they love.

Dealing with a diagnosis

If you find that your partner does have prostate cancer, avoid the temptation to panic. The word “cancer” is scary, but the good news about this disease is that treatments have a high success rate if the cancer is caught early. Also, most prostate cancers grow slowly, so you have time to explore your options.

You and your partner need to research all of the options available to treat your cancer, rather than assuming that the first one your doctor recommends is best. For instance, if you opt for proton therapy instead of surgery, you may be able to prevent incontinence and impotence. Although proton therapy is becoming more accepted in the medical community, there are relatively few proton therapy providers in the country. IU Health Proton Therapy Center, in Indiana, is one of nine centers here in the U.S. While all prostate cancer treatments do carry some risk, some have less of a risk than others, and you need to explore all options with the help of your partner.

Remember, men often put their own health needs last on their priority list. To ensure that your man stays by your side for many years, encourage him to be proactive about his health. A regular cancer screening after the age of 50 is part of this.

Matt Herndon lives in Indianapolis with his wife and children. He is a freelance writer and also writes for Dose of My Own, a blog that discusses what’s happening in the medical field.

Make prostate screening a priority for your healthcare.

Depression: Tips for Men

Depression may not be diagnosed in men as frequently as women because they have a harder time talking about their feelings.

Definition: Depression is a medical illness that makes you feel sad and causes you to lose interest in life.  Physical symptoms include: low libido and interest in sex, loss of appetite, insomnia and slowed mental processing and body movements.  Depression can also mean frequent crying spells, unexplained body aches and pains as well as suicidal thoughts.  Depression upsets your life so that day-to-day activities become increasingly difficult and you often feel that life is not worth living.  Depression is not just a short episode of the blues; it’s not a personal weakness that someone can snap out of. 

Statistics: The CDC states that 9% of adults are depressed at least occasionally and 3.4% of adults suffer from major depression.  The prevalence of major depression increases with age, from 2.8% among people aged 18 to 24 to 4.6% of people aged 46 to 64.  However, those 65 and older reported less major depression with only 1.6%.  Researcher Jim Thornton http://tinyurl.com/7us6rr5 writes that possibly 10% of patients over 50 who see a primary care physician are suffering from a major depression.  If you add in clients with a chronic low mood condition called dysthymia, that statistic zips up to 20 %.

Depression in Men Versus Women: The CDC does not know why depression is reported more frequently in women than in men.   Thornton’s research indicates that the reason might be that women are more able to seek help and reveal their depression than men.

Terrence Real in his book I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression http://tinyurl.com/7ktsnf8 writes:  “It’s not considered unwomanly to be emotional and vulnerable, but a real man would never be so weak as to let his emotions get the best of him.  There’s a lot of shame involved, and this sets up what I call compound depression—a man gets depressed about being depressed.”

Therapist Real states that depressed men often try to hide or numb their pain with excessive drinking, gambling, uncontrolled sex or temper flares.  This reinforces negative behaviors which Real calls an “addictive defense.”  Dr. Barry Lebowitz says that men often talk about every symptom of depression except sadness, lacking the ability to reveal their feelings.

Suicide Rates: The bad news is that when depression is complicated by substance abuse, suicide completion rates rise, creating the big difference between men and women.  Though women attempt suicide 3 times more often than men as a cry for help, men are 4 times more likely to succeed.  Statistics for aging male boomers are distressing as currently older white males (85 +) are more than 10 times as likely as women to succeed in committing suicide.

Patrick McCathern recounted that he came within seconds of killing himself until his dog walked in.  “When my dog looked up at me with his bright beagle eyes, it was like he was saying ‘What about us? We love you.’ …If I died, who’d get my dogs water and feed them?” McCathern aborted his attempt and sought help.  The journey back was fraught with difficulty, but he made it and is content with his life. Life changes can often trigger depression and boomer men are seeing more than their share: retirement; loss of friends and family members; increasing health issues which come with daily pain; reduced activity; increased need of medications; and overall feeling that life is becoming more arduous than carefree.  

Medication and Therapy: Depression can be chronic, requiring long-term treatment, like diabetes or high blood pressure.  But if you are depressed don’t give up or get discouraged.  Medication and psychological counseling can definitely make a difference in your life.

The first-line drugs used by providers are called SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro. The good news is these drugs work and are safe to use; the bad news is they do have some bothersome side effects including reduced libido and delayed orgasm as well as digestive problems, jitteriness, restlessness, headache and insomnia.  SSRIs do not abolish depression immediately, but take 4-6 weeks to relieve symptoms.

If the first SSRI doesn’t work or the side effects are hard to live with, your provider will probably try another one.  If together you decide this line of medication is not working, the next line of drugs are SNRIs, serotonin norephinephrine reuptake inhibitors like Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq. Side effects are similar to SSRIs, and can also cause sweating, dry mouth, fast heart rate and constipation.  If sexual side effects are a deal breaker for you, ask your provider to prescribe Wellbutrin.  This medication is another anti-depressant well know to not inhibit libido.

Psychotherapy or the talking cure, should probably accompany your medication.  Though difficult for some men, counseling helps you resolve conflicts.  As you talk, you begin to see blockages in your pathway; with your counselor’s help, problems take on a new perspective.  You do the work and you find the resolve to tackle each problem in your life, one at a time.  Control returns.  Depression fades.         

  Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

  1. I walk down the street; there is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost, I am hopeless but it isn’t my fault.  It takes me forever to find a way out.
  2. I walk down the same street; there is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it and I fall in again.  I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it still isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.
  3. I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk; I see it there.  I still fall in—it’s a habit.  My eyes are open.  I know it’s my fault.  I get out immediately.
  4. I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I walk around it.
  5. I walk down another street.


For more information on men and depression

Thanks to Caramdir Photostream; Maquillador David Valderas

Counseling helps you take back you life one problem at a time.

Why Not Celebrate Kissing

Why Not Celebrate Kissing

Auguste Rodin’s THE KISS

Despite the fact that August Rodin’s THE KISS was made of bronze, it captured the intimacy and intense emotion that has grown to be a symbol of love’s beginning and/or the enduring love between two people.  Though early artists rarely illustrated kissing, anthropologists assume it has always represented love and close human contact.  Even in the animal world nuzzling, licking and kissing are instinctual. So let’s celebrate kissing.

Instinctual or Learned?

Andrea Demirjian in her book “Kissing: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures,” discusses the argument of kissing’s origins: some anthropologists side with the instinctive, intuitive explanation, citing an evolution from a baby suckling at the breast to mothers chewing food and then passing it to the infant for sustenance. Another theory says early cave dwellers smelled and tasted the saliva of women to discover if they were healthy and capable of procreation. From these actions the kiss evolved and possibly Eskimo nose rubbing. An argument against kissing being instinctual is that researchers discovered cultures in the South Pacific and Asia where kissing was not done until European explorers landed and introduced this activity.

Kissing History

Kissing has been around for a long time. Indian Vedic Sanskrit texts of 1500 BC mention kissing revealing its very early appearance in literature. The Indian religious text Kama Sutra defines kissing as early as the 6th century AD. In the Roman culture, different kisses meant different things.The Osculum was a kiss on the cheek, Basium a kiss on the lips and Savolium was a deep kiss, which today we call French kissing. Kisses instead of handshakes were used to seal legal agreements. Kisses sealed documents and letters and thus we inherited the term “sealed with a kiss.”

During times when people did not know how to read or write they drew an X on the line for their signature to make it legal.  Today we sign letters with X for a kiss.  Early Christians greeted each other with a kiss to show unity and shared understanding.

The Kiss in European History

Today the European culture still supports a kiss on the cheek for a greeting. Andrea Demirjian relates that kissing on the cheek was probably adopted to rid cultures of confusion. For many centuries the mouth kiss was the form of greeting and one didn’t know what that greeting actually meant: is he interested in me or is he just saying hello? Of course some connections between illness and kissing had to be made with the onset of the Black Death. To avoid the pestilence people began kissing on the cheek, thus avoiding germs, illness and possible death.

Good and Bad Kisses

In writing we often find kissing to be an extremely positive symbol: Sleeping Beauty is awakened from a death-sleep by the kiss of a prince. The Frog Prince who’s been cursed by a witch is able to reclaim his manhood when kissed by a princess. But the kiss of Judas Iscariot marked Jesus Christ for arrest, torture and death. 

It’s in the Chemistry

So what’s the real skinny on kissing? When people first meet and date they often talk about “chemistry.” What is or could be going on between these two people? It’s not unlike the sniffing in cave-men times. Kissing truly involves a chemical experience as it elicits the production of neurotransmitters which flood the brain.  If the chemistry between two people is right, the kiss begins a chain of pleasurable feelings.

In our culture today kissing does not have to be sexual. We often assign the message: close human contact showing warmth and love. Platonic friends kiss each other. Mothers kiss their children, and kiss a knee or hand that’s been hurt.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of “The Science of Kissing” says that all of it matters. “Our lips are packed with sensitive nerve endings. When you look at the amount of our brains involved in the sense of touch, our lips are very overrepresented…Women often say kissing is a way to tell where the relationship is going, and many people remember their first kiss more than their first sexual encounter.” On Valentine’s Day and all through the year we should celebrate kissing with the people we love.

Thanks to Round Peg photostream

The Kiss Klimt

Kissing elicits positive feelings.


We all need to get moving.

Try to walk 30 minutes a day to fight belly fat.

BELLY FAT! – None of us likes the term, or wants to think about it, but belly fat is big on the HOW TO STAY WELL radar.  Expanding bellies and waists often occur as we boomers enter our 50s.

How do we get belly fat?

Personal Trainer Joe Chatman (ACE) advises: “When we age, there’s a natural accumulation of processes on the body: gravity,

a diet of fats, sugars and the wrong type of carbs,

lack of exercise.

We need cardio to raise the heart-rate and burn calories.

We need strength training to build muscle which constantly burns calories.”

Women Beware

Chatman warns that belly fat increase are more likely to happen to women because our makeup naturally stores fat around the abdomen, hips, and thighs.  We have visceral fat in the abdominal cavity to protect our internal organs, and as we age a lack of exercise and poor diet increases that fat.  Stress is a huge contributor too because it causes our bodies to release more cortisol and there are more cotrisol receptors in the midsection of our bodies.

The negatives that come with belly fat.

Did you know that fat at the waist provides a greater risk than fat in other parts of the body?  Belly fat can contribute to high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and abnormal fasting blood glucose.  If possible a fasting blood test that checks all these levels should be done at least once a year.  Chatman warns that weight gain can also cause sleep apnea, a condition where sleepers actually stop breathing during sleep; this is damaging to the heart and can increase the risk of stroke and diabetes.

Take control: measure your waist. 

One of the first things you should do if you are concerned about belly fat is measure your waist. Men are in the danger zone for obesity if their waist measurement is equal to or greater than 40 inches.  Women are considered obese if their waist measurement is equal to or greater than 35 inches.  To get a really accurate measurement, a waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.  To see how go to: http://www.bellyshapeup.com/bellyfat-health-risks/measuring-body-fat.html

Belly fat and heart disease.

You also need to know that research has found a potbelly indicates a risk for heart problems even when overall body weight is in normal range.  Belly fat is an outward sign of fat building in the arteries and eventually forming plaques that narrow arteries and increase heart attack and stroke risk.

Fight back at belly fat.

You can count calories and balance those with exercise.  Most doctors today are suggesting 30 minutes of exercise PER DAY. Chatman votes for aerobic exercise (cardio).  You’ll know you are doing this when your heart rate is increasing, breathing is harder, and blood is coursing through vessels to deliver oxygen to the muscles of your body. That can mean walking—park your car away from the store you are heading for, walk to the store if possible, walk in your neighborhood, take the stairs at work—just get outside and go for it.  Or cardio can mean running, swimming and jump roping.

Here’s the good news.  Chatman says: “Cardio not only burns calories but also causes an after effect—your metabolism stays elevated.  But make sure you get your heart rate into a zone that is healthy for your weight and age.  The absolute best workout would be combining both strength training with cardio.  Example: weight training a body part followed immediately by minutes of cardio exercise like walking uphill on a treadmill.”

Hungry after exercise? 

Make sure you don’t gain back what you just lost.  Examine your diet habits.  Stay away from soft drinks, red meat, French fries, sweets, chips, and butter.  You are getting little to no nutritional value from these foods—but lots of calories.

Try the Mediterranean diet.

This is highly recommended and includes fruits, vegetables, moderate amounts of whole grains and small amounts of red meat.  Fish, olive oil and nuts supply fat that is unsaturated and can be beneficial to the heart.  For more information go to: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011

How long will it take to lose the belly fat and keep it off?

You need to be in it for the long haul making exercise and a healthy diet permanent.  These life changes will help you avoid serious events like heart attack and stroke.  Your efforts will be worth the reward—a longer, healthier life.  So get ready and fight back at belly fat!

Thanks to Cuba Gallery and eliselovesprada–sortof  photostreams

These women are walking during their lunch break.

Are You Ahead of the Curve? How to Drive Your Creativity

Don't give up--keep on going. Rewards are ahead.

Have you ever been ahead of the curve?  I know one of you can nod your head and say yes, that’s been me.  And some of you may sigh, because you’re the one who sat at your sewing machine making all of your long-sleeved T’s three-quarter length before they hit the market or you’re the homemaker who bought gallons of white paint, transformed your walls and hand-me-down furniture, tossing in some pink florals before Rachel Ashwell was even on the scene.  You were the mom who played soft piano music to your infant before Julie Aigner-Clark created Baby Einstein, a brand that went way beyond homemade videos.

A writer I know was in the middle of a novel about a kidnapping imploding on a family when The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacquelyn Mitchard rose to stardom as the first Oprah Book Club pick.  What to do?  Either work fast and ride that wave or wait until readers are ready for the topic to be reborn.  Tough choices.

Missy Chase Lapine sued Jessica Seinfeld when both published books in 2007 advocating hiding vegetables in children’s food.  Seinfeld’s book went on to sell more copies and Lapine lost the suit.  Maybe Seinfeld’s book was better, but she also had a ready-made “brand”—her husband.

Celebrity is hard to beat in the idea market today, but then your idea might just rise to the top of Google.  Even so, be wary.   Your maybe-it-will-make-me-famous idea should be carefully vetted; don’t’ jump on the first idea that pops into your head.  I’ve seen people try to wear stripes and checks and never thought they were on to something—like this spring’s mixed prints look.  And to run with that, some of what appears on the catwalks is purposefully done for shock and awe and we can’t all be Lady Gaga.  But we can find that creative spark and build a fire, even a blaze.  Cupcakes!!! There are probably thousands of moms paying bills with their cupcake businesses not to mention candles, jewelry, makeup, body lotions, art works and stationery.  Cottage industries are everywhere with the help of the net.  It’s staggering.  It’s wonderful.

So keep at it.  Insights, intuition and inspiration spring from some deep passion inside us.  That’s creativity at its best and it often is ahead-of-the-curve.  Pay attention: listen, look, seek it out.  Revelations are circling around you, telling you something and possibly leading you somewhere.  The insight might be as big as you reinventing yourself for a new career or as small as you finding that you like to force bulbs in the spring to brighten your home and have gifts for friends.  Either one of these inspirations, big or small, just might ground you in a creative endeavor that will bring you rewards and joy the rest of your life.

So examine the things you use everyday.  Can you improve on any of them?  What about that melody you worked up on the piano?  Is there an idea here, a flash of the new there, a concept that no one has produced, developed, written down yet?  Your need sparks the idea; you create the model or write the song or start the business and off you go.  Can you sell big on the net?  You need money, maybe even investors to start.  So grab an audience at a craft fair or country fair.  That could be the start or the end you are seeking—to do creative work and have a  box of gifts to give to friends and family.  Whatever you decide and to what length you go, I’m believing in you.  You are ahead of the curve, on fire with the fresh and innovative.  That’s why I’m revising a 3rd version of that kidnapping novel.  Yes, it was me.

And back to Oprah, who certainly is a brand and often offers help—check out this link for books that just might get that muse to sit on your shoulder.  You never know when you’ll be either ahead of the curve or there at just the right moment, adding another name and item to the burgeoning list of household words!  Good luck.


Thanks to Willem van Bergen photostream and tcpix photostream

Even if you are ahead of the curve, sometimes no one notices.

Is Your Mother on Drugs? Dementia Drugs?

You need to have knowledge of the meds your loved one is taking.

If your aging parent has dementia or shows signs of it—short term memory loss, inability to balance the check book, confusion over daily tasks—you may become involved with administering or helping with medications.

First have your parent examined by a physician familiar with other conditions that can cause dementia-like behavior: hypothyroidism, vitamin deficiency, or infections are the common ones and therefore thyroid medication, vitamins like B 12 or antibiotics might be prescribed.

If your loved one has the beginning of an irreversible dementia, here’s a quick list of some of the drugs you may encounter:

Donepezil (Aricept), Galatamine (Reminyl) and Ravastigmine (Exelon) are often used to help patients with dementia.  Called cholinesterase inhibitors these drugs were developed for Alzheimer’s patients but are also used for other dementias.  Having few side effects, they sometimes help maintain mental function.  They cannot stop dementia and it is not clear as to how long they will work in a given individual.

Another drug, Menantime (Namenda) has been known to slow the later stages of Alzheimer’s and it may help those with vascular dementia, a disease caused by silent strokes or infarcts in the brain that block brain signals obscuring memory.  A person with vascular dementia might also be on an anticoagulant like Clopidogrel (Plavix) to prevent future blood clots from forming and causing silent strokes in the brain.

The cholinesterase inhibitors are often used at the beginning stages of dementia.  When the dementia progresses, reevaluate the use of these medications with your relative’s provider as they are expensive and may no longer be helping your loved one.

Medications to combat high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels might also be on your parent’s medication list as controlling these conditions helps prevent worsening of vascular dementia.

Mirtazapine (Remeron) is an antidepressant often used in elder patients with dementia.  It stimulates the appetite, helps depression, and induces sleep, preventing dangerous waking and roaming at night.

Many facilities use this drug to insure that their clients are eating well and sleeping through the night.  The latter was of major concern to me as my mother would often try to get out of bed and then fall.  One of these falls caused a hip fracture.

Divalproex (Depakote) is an anticonvulsant and mood stimulator that helps with agitation.  The American Family Physician Journal recommends it as being well tolerated with little side effects.

I was against having my mother use this drug, but when she was interacting negatively with other clients at her facility, I had to agree to it.  These are very tough decisions.

As your loved one’s dementia progresses, either you or a visiting nurse or nurse’s aid in a facility will be dispensing these medications.  People with dementia don’t remember when or if they took a pill.

Keep a list of everything your parent is taking and check frequently with the provider as to what is truly helping the patient and what can be added or discontinued.

Thanks to Gaetan Lee Photostream


Pick from a List of New Year’s Resolutions

Being a champion of good health and fitness, I have to jump in at the NEW YEAR and offer some information for making positive change.  Though from the end of one year to the beginning of the next, we don’t truly transform ourselves, it’s not bad to have a benchmark like January 1st from which to leap into something new and extremely positive.  It won’t be easy—that’s a given.  Patience and perseverance have to be a part of the mix.  But making positive change has great rewards—and we all have a year to do it!

So here are a few ideas that I have gathered for you.  The information is in categories.

  • Check it out.
  • Select those areas of endeavor that you want to work on.
  • Plot and plan for 2016 and a year of better health!
  • And don’t take on too much.

Good luck.  You can do it!

Your Relationships 

  1. Be a better friend, spouse, significant-other, grandparent etc by learning to communicate openly.  Share yourself.  Eliminate fear—be honest about your  weaknesses and needs.  It’s called TRUST.
  2. Grandparents: don’t buy your grandchildren’s love with THINGS.  Give of yourself with stories, hugs.  Sit and listen to everything they have to say.
  3. Give of yourself to someone in need.  After one hour of giving to someone you don’t know—you’ll feel more positive about everything in your own little world. 

Your Mental Health

  1. Spend time outside. Walk or bike, read in the sun or sweep a sidewalk, look up at the sky or listen to the birds or the winter wind.  Experience natural environment and work against nature-deficit disorder. http://bethhavey.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/nature-deficit-disorder-why-we-need-to-go-outside-and…/
  2. Stimulate your senses: light aromatic candles, cook with spices, bathe with citrus infused soaps.  Listen to music using moderate volume.  Select a tactile blanket to cozy under while you read.
  3. Reduce electronic use before sleep.  Read a book. Meditate. Breathe deeply.  Look at the moon or the stars.  Then drift off to sleep.
  4. Belong.  Family, church, community, friendships—it might sound old-fashioned and ordinary, but belonging to all or any of these will extend your life and make it meaningful.
  5. Know your purpose.  Awake each day knowing your values and beliefs.  Use your talents and passions to achieve goals—whether it’s raising a child, painting a room or writing a book.

Your Physical Health

  1. Reverse inflammation in your body by reducing stress: pray, nap, meditate.
  2. Use your body—walk, work outdoors, avoid conveniences so you labor and sweat.
  3. Have a healthy relationship with alcohol—two glasses of wine at night is good for you.
  4. Don’t smoke.
  5. Encourage a mind over body connection to lose weight.
  6. Eat six small meals a day to lose weight and control blood sugar.
  7. Eat protein at every small meal—it stays with you longer so you won’t feel hungry.
  8. You need carbs for energy, just reduce the number you eat per small meal.
  9. Increase greens and veggies.  Eat fruit 3 times a day.
  10. Drink water.  Introduce dairy into your diet with milk, cheese and yogurt.
  11. Don’t’ skip meals.  When you do you will overeat and gain weight.
  12. Sit while eating
  13. Increase these foods in your diet: cruciferous vegetables, green tea, pomegranate, high fiber foods, blueberries.

So make your lists and jump right in.

And please stay with me on Boomer Highway.  Ask me questions, make comments.  We’ll make 2016 the best and we’ll do it together.

Thanks to Guudmorning! Photostream and Video Eleven Photostream

Holiday Dressing: Dos and Don’ts for Boomer Women

Holidays call for smart dressing choices.

It’s Christmas and Boomer women are either scouring the stores or their closets for the right dress or outfit for many different occasions.

A few tips to remember:

  • do start with the right foundation: flattering undergarments are worth the investment;
  • do know your strengths and play them up: some women feel more comfortable in “matchy” outfits and others prefer to be creative;
  • do organize your choices in color groups, especially if you are traveling and need to conserve space in your luggage; think winter white, silver, taupe, grey, navy, brown or black;
  • do accessorize with jewelry, shoes and possibly a scarf or jacket;
  • don’t try too hard–know when to stop.  One statement piece is sufficient.
  • do gain inspiration from magazines and displays in stores; you can even check with your daughter but…
  • don’t dress like your daughter!
  • do be open to change.  Try a new boot, scarf or accessory to update that black dress or navy suit;
  • don’t be afraid to take some risks.  The older we get the more we know ourselves and can take ourselves lightly.

Many thanks to Robyn Olson for these great ideas.

Thanks to Royal Free Stock Photos and Kirsten.michelle photostream

Your daughter can look like this but you might not be able to!!