Thursday, May 28, 2009

Train Your Brain!

We had our last meeting of our Senior's group at church this week before our summer break. Our speaker was from Brain Trainers and the topic was Neurobics - exercises you can do to keep your neurons firing and help ward off age-related dementia. We learned that there are different exercises for specific parts of the brain and that just like in physical exercise you need to pay attention to all of the parts to stay as healthy as possible. There are four distinct functions that each have their own activities in a well-functioning brain: logic, creativity, language and perception. Logic exercises include tasks that require separating things into groups or finding contradictions. These include games like Twenty Questions and puzzles like Sudoku. Creativity exercises require a shift in thinking, things that make you reconsider your assumptions. That would be things like riddles, jokes and metaphors. Language exercises require recalling words from clues or communicating in alternative ways. These are the popular crossword puzzles, word searches and such and charades fall into this category. Finally there are perception exercises - things that require seeking or following details. Games that have hidden pictures, illusions and the like fall into this category.

Most folks have their favorite brain activities, usually the ones that we're "wired for" - crossword puzzles, sudoku, word search and the like. I tend to gravitate to word puzzles myself and have never been able to figure out sudoku. Some folks can solve an illusion puzzle in a snap and some can never "see" the hidden pictures. The problem is that when we only do the ones we have an aptitude for we're not really doing our brains as much good as we can. We need to get out of our neural ruts, so to speak to give our brains the workouts that they need to keep us mentally sharp and healthy. Besides games and puzzles there are other activities you can do all day long to train your brain. Most of them involve doing normal things in a different way. Use the opposite hand to brush your teeth, eat, button your shirt. Reverse your usual path at the grocery store or on your daily walk. Learn a new language, consider Braille or sign language in your choices. Sit in a different pew at church. Strengthen those synapses! For more information check out the website.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Swine Flu 0, Geezers 1

I just had to comment on this bit of information because it's just so darned rare that the older folks are at an advantage, especially in health-related matters. The CDC posted an article today about the percentage of elders who are showing up with positive antibodies to the H1N1 Virus, aka Swine Flu. The studies seem to suggest that the 33% of folks over 60 who have the resistant antibodies have been exposed to a closely related virus some time previously either through infection or immunization. Only 7-9% of people younger than 60 show any level of the antibody. Of course this doesn't mean that everyone of any age should let down their guard or relax their hygiene practices, it's always a good idea to be diligent about the things you touch and in keeping your hands washed and away from your face. But it's nice to know that the older folks have the advantage sometimes, isn't it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More on the delights of Vitamin D

I posted earlier this month on the great benefits of Vitamin D and how 25% of older adults are deficient. Here is an article (via Instapundit who wisely prescribes sitting in the sun while enjoying a nice glass of red wine) that bears that out and more. It seems that Vitamin D has a positive effect on cognitive brain activity and helps prevent age-related memory decline. Supplements like this one are very helpful but a little bit of sunlight on your skin a few times a week is good for your mind, body and spirit.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Afternoon at the Museum

I went with some of our older folks from church on a great little outing this afternoon at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens. They have a wonderful monthly program, Especially for Seniors Talks and Tea. There is a seated gallery talk followed by a lovely afternoon tea. This month's topic was on the new exhibit of Gee's Bend Quilts, a collection from a small African-American community in Alabama with a long tradition of quilting. It's amazing to see these beautiful works of art that came from folks using scraps of material and worn out clothing to provide warmth and comfort for their families. They spoke of using everything available, even picking up rags off the street that they would take home and wash to use in a current or future quilting project, the ultimate in recycling. We all had a wonderful time and were glad that we didn't let the current nasty weather from the Nor'Easter that has parked itself in NE Florida spoil our excursion.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


I just discovered a nifty little website called The Caregivers Marketplace. It is a rebate program that pays you cash back on purchases of personal care items that are not covered by insurance. What you do is register on their website and then print out a cash back request form. Then whenever you buy 5 or more of any item or combination of items on their list you send in the form along with your proofs of purchase and they mail you back a check. Sweet! They have a wide variety of eligible products such as Gold Bond Powder, Polident, Depends, Ensure, Nature Made vitamins and supplements, Ecotrin, Aspercreme and a whole lot more. Most of the products will earn you $1 back for each purchase, some are $.75 and some are even $2 per item. When you stop to consider how often you buy any of those products you realize that these savings could really add up to a tidy sum to put back in your pocket. And that is really good news, especially in our present economic situation. Happy saving!

Friday, May 15, 2009

To grill or not to grill...

In case you didn't know... Mrs. Dash's grilling blend works really well on and off the grill. I just used it as a rub for a bottom round roast I'm cooking for supper and it smells divine. Mama just came into the kitchen to find out what was cooking that smells so good. Who needs all that salt, anyhow when there are so many better options available?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dem bones, dem bones...

I have heard for many years that drinking soda leeches calcium from our bones. This article suggests that it's possibly just cola drinks but it's probably a safer bet just to leave them alone. Regular sodas are loaded with sugar and neither they nor diet sodas really contribute anything of value to your diet. I prefer plain old water or unsweet iced tea myself. Mama, however, really and truly hates drinking water, she thinks it tastes like medicine. But she enjoys it much more when we add one of these Twist Tubes and each of them adds nutritional value like antioxidants, joint health or immune system support. They really do help the "medicine" go down.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Mama and I wish all of you mothers including those who nurture and "mother" other folks a very happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Unintended Consequences

Journal Watch is reporting that current studies are finding Vitamin D deficiencies in 25% of older adults. It's widely known that insufficient vitamin D levels are associated with osteoporosis, you need it along with magnesium to metabolize calcium which strengthens bones. But you may be surprised to know that vitamin D deficiency also contributes to heart disease, strokes, muscle weakness and even depression among a whole lot other conditions. One of the primary causes for this situation is the extreme paranoia we have developed about sunshine. Fear of skin cancer has folks covering up with hats and clothes and slathering ourselves with SPF-50 sunscreen so we're not getting our D in the most efficient way we were designed to get it. Our bodies are designed to run pretty efficiently but a lot of the time we don't let them work according to the design. So let that sunshine in! Supplements help but 10-15 minutes in the sun early in the morning or late in the afternoon 2-3 times a week is the natural and most efficient way to ensure that your body is getting the amount of Vitamin D you need. Besides, it just feels good.

Friday, May 8, 2009

More Mature Melodic Magic

Here's a great video that's making the rounds. While it's kind of hard to discern many of the physical features of the singers because they're all wrapped up and painted in white it appears as though most of them would qualify for AARP membership. More proof that talent and innovation are not limited to the young. Somebody alert Madison Avenue! They're called the Voca People and they are amazing. Enjoy!

Monday, May 4, 2009

They've Still Got It!

I heard about this video on You Tube and wanted to share - it's of an older couple who gave an impromptu and lively performance of a piano duet while visiting the Mayo Clinic. It's lovely to see examples of older folks who continue to use their gifts and talents. I'm sure they brightened the day of everyone there and through the magic of You Tube and the Interwebs they have sure brightened mine. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Now everyone just remain calm...

So one TV station states that there is a "possible" case of the H1N1 flu virus (aka the Swine flu) in nearby Clay County while another declares it "probable." As usually happens I am sure that the kerfuffle over this virus will likely be much worse than the actual effects when all is said and done. But that doesn't mean that one shouldn't take reasonable precautions either, especially folks who are particularly vulnerable like very small children and older adults. Hand washing is always good practice and not just the perfunctory run the fingers under the faucet and give 'em a swipe with the hand towel. I remember learning in epidemiology classes at UNF that the majority of viral and bacterial illnesses we contract could be avoided with routine, effectual hand washing. (You could always tell which students were taking epi - they were the obsessive hand washers who avoided touching the restroom door handles at all costs.) Effectual handwashing means using soap and scrubbing your hands for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself, rinsing and drying well, turning off the faucet with your towel, not your wet hands. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a good substitute when you don't have access to soap and running water but you have to use enough of it and again, keep on rubbing until it dries.

Most of the proscribed precautions are just more common sense - cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (and then throw it away), avoid crowded places when possible, don't leave home if you aren't feeling well... nothing you didn't already know, really. If you do develop flu-like symptoms see your doctor, the anti-viral drugs available are supposed to work very well if you get them started soon enough. And don't let the "swine flu willies" paranoia get hold of you; keep up with reputable information sources like the CDC's website and you'll be less likely to get carried away by the media hype.