Posts Tagged ‘blog’

8 Numbers You Need to Know . . . for Life

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

The following is a great post from Barbara Hannah Grufferman from The Best of Everything After 50. We found it interesting and think you might too! Enjoy! And be sure to check out Barbara’s other posts.

8 Numbers You Need to Know . . . for Life

Hi. My name is Barbara and I’m 56.

Is this meaningful to you? More importantly, is it meaningful to me? My age, I mean. Should this number have any impact on how you view me, or how I view myself? In the ideal world, it would not. You would throw me in the same box along with everyone else and look at me through the same lens.

But, our world is imperfect, filled with all kinds of complicated and unfair ways to measure a person’s skills, talents, character, abilities, and worth. Age is just one aspect of the human measurement stick.

After turning 50, I made a decision that changed my life: I would never again focus on those measurements that were irrelevant to my happiness, health and well being, and only embrace those that are. My age, for example, is a measurement of my life of which I make note, of course, and celebrate (with joy!) each year. However, it does not define me, as it once did. It is, as it turns out, just a number.

Another is my weight. I knew as I approached 50 that I had gained more than what was considered reasonable for a woman who had been pretty much at “normal weight” for most of her life. After going through menopause and not making the necessary changes to what I ate or how I moved my body, not surprisingly, I gained 15 pounds. After taking control and losing all of it (which took six months), I threw out my scale. I have no idea exactly how much I weigh because it’s irrelevant. What’s meaningful is that I feel good, fit and healthy. Weight, for me now, is all about health and less about looks.

However, there are measurements essential to our well-being, and these are numbers we should truly care about — and know — especially as we age:

Waist size: Visceral fat is a sneaky, evil kind of fat that you can’t see. It worms its way around your internal organs, and is metabolized by the liver, which turns it into cholesterol in the blood. Having excess belly fat (even if you’re in the “normal weight” category) puts you at much greater risk for all kinds of health issues: metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, dementia, and even sexual dysfunction in men. How do you know if you have it? Skip the scale and bring out the tape measure: your waist size should be less than 35 inches (less than 40 inches for a man). The best way to get rid of belly fat (which is actually much easier to shed than the extra padding around your bottom or thighs) is to move your body by walking (see below) or running at least 30 minutes every day. And cut back on foods your know are not good for you.

Daily steps: It’s been established by many sources and studies that walking 10,000 steps every day, not even all at the same time, is essential to good health and overall fitness. And, it will help shed the evil visceral fat for good. Buy a simple pedometer and put it on in the morning and check periodically to make sure you’ll reach your goal by evening. Remember this: every single step puts you one step closer to better health.

Blood pressure: Simply put, blood pressure is the force of blood against artery walls when the heart beats and then rests. The ideal blood pressure for women is less than 120/70. BP of 140/90 or higher indicates hypertension (high blood pressure), which means your heart is working a lot harder than it should. Hypertension is directly linked to lifestyle — smoking, not moving your body, too much belly fat (see above), and eating too much salty processed food. If you make small changes in your life, you can naturally bring your pressure down, however, sometimes genetics plays a part, and meds might be necessary.

Cholesterol: The ideal cholesterol level for women is under 200 total. The HDL (known as the “good” cholesterol) should be higher than 60, and the LDL (“bad”) should be under 100. If a woman has a total cholesterol level of over 240, that is considered high. Again, lifestyle plays a major role, but genetics can also influence your number. We know that having high cholesterol levels in your blood, and especially if the LDL level is high, puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke.

Triglyceride: Your triglyceride level is another strong indicator of potential cardiovascular disease. Triglycerides are a type of fat (similar to cholesterol) found in the blood. The acceptable numbers for women are lower than those for men. Even though the American Heart Association says that the acceptable level is under 150, recent studies conducted by the AHA and the Women’s Health Initiative suggest that a post 50 woman’s risk for cardiovascular disease increase after her level goes beyond 50, and most women (and many doctors) are not familiar with these latest studies. This should be an essential part of the discussion you have with your primary care physician at your next annual checkup.

Blood Sugar (Glucose): Your ability to regulate blood sugar is harder once you’re over fifty. The ideal level is under 100. Blood sugar levels normally go up and down during the course of the day. If you’re taking good care of yourself — eating well and moving your body — the shifts are minor. However, if you’re not, blood sugar levels can spike and crash, wreaking all kinds of havoc with your body and your brain, and can precede diabetes. The single most effective way to regulate blood sugar is — drum roll, please — by eating healthy foods and moving your body every day.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D’s importance in promoting bone health and reducing risk of osteoporosis by helping with the absorption of calcium is well established. But there’s ongoing evidence that the “sunshine vitamin” can reduce the risk of other diseases, as well. The ideal level of vitamin D is 34 mg/ml or higher. Women over 50 should take between 1,200 and 1,500 IU every day. However many doctors I interviewed confided that they personally take at least 2,000. So do I.

Sunscreen on the skin: We know that too much sun can cause wrinkles, brown spots, and most importantly, skin cancer. Experts recommend applying sunscreen to all exposed areas of the body, rain or shine and all year long, with a minimum of SPF 30 and preferably 50. However, the benefits of going higher than 50 are marginal. Look for broad spectrum sunscreens with the following ingredients: Mexoryl, titanium dioxide, and Parsol 1789.

What’s on your measurement stick? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. The more we share, the more we learn. And remember this: we can’t control getting older . . . but we can control how we do it.

Connect with Barbara on Facebook, Twitter and read my weekly column–Best of Everything After 50–on aarp.org. For more tips on living your best life after 50 visit www.bestofeverythingafter50.com.

This article originally appeared on aarp.org as a post for Barbara’s column, Best of Everything After 50.

Are you a Boomer who feels squished like a sandwich?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

If so, you aren’t alone. Many people in the boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) have now been referred to as the Sandwich Generation. That is because this generation that thought their middle years would be full of free time with plenty of time to plan what to do with their retirement benefits is facing a very different reality. Due to the recession, some young adults have had to put off college, or have had difficulty finding a job after completing college. So, for some boomers, they have adult children that have come home and aging parents that may need extra help.

On top of the possibility that some boomers may have lost some of their investments they were relying on for retirement, they also may be spending extra money to help their children get on their feet. Meanwhile their aging parents have also felt the effects of the recession.

This has resulted in two or three generations of a family living under one roof. There are various scenarios, out of work adult children move in with parents due to job loss, sometimes with young adults (college or post-college) in tow. Or young adults come back from college and need to live with mom and dad or even grandpa and grandma. Sometimes the older adult is in need of help so it may work out for both the young adult and the grandparent who needs assistance.

 It’s a fact that is backed up by serious stats, between 2007 and 2009 multigenerational households shot up more than 10 percent, from 46.5 million to 51.4 million. According to the Pew Research Center, that is the largest number of Americans living that way in modern history. Even as the economy recovers, those numbers probably won’t chance much as people are still finding a need to live under one roof.

Sometimes it is due to finances, sometimes it is also due to need for more hands on care. Adult children and grandchildren are finding themselves in caregiver roles more often as the older generation lives longer than it used to. They may have left a job to move in with their parent or grandparent or had them move into their house. Even if mom or dad live in a long term care setting boomers and their children will find that they are juggling their work life, family life, and financial problems all while caring for an elder.

Multigenerational households can be a blessing in disguise. Maybe it means that the child or grandchild doesn’t have to worry about childcare because grandma or grandpa is there. It could mean getting to spend time with a loved one in their last years, providing care for them while you gain comfort in knowing you took care of them they way they did you. Or just the simple fact that saving money by all being together means fewer rent or mortgage payments, utilities, etc. Not to mention sharing cooking and cleaning duties. So while the economy may have hurt your savings, it may just have brought your family together.

 NPR has recently begun a series on this topic called “Family Matters” you can read more facts and hear the stories of three families at http://www.npr.org/2012/04/17/150365158/one-roof-three-generations-many-decisions

 The lesson to be learned? Talk about your plans for the future with your family, many of the families in the stories state this is not where they expected to end up, but we all age and we can all become ill at anytime, so talk to your family and be prepared for what you might do when and if the time comes.

To Smart Phone or not to Smart Phone?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Some of you may have even struggled with the idea of a cell phone at all. You may have laughed at how many young people relied on them. You probably hated it when you finally caved and got a cell phone. Now, you see all your kids, grandkids and maybe even some friends with an i phone, droid or other smart phone.

What can a smart phone really do for you? What’s the purpose? Isn’t a phone just for making phone calls? First it was texting, then email and now apps?? What the heck is an app?

An app, short for application, is a program you order through your smart phone, they can be games, sports or news information and even recipes.

Being the first one to have something new, or being “in the know” can be a badge of honor. So don’t be surprised if friends and relatives want to show you what great apps they’ve downloaded.

 Here are some stats from AgeWave about Boomers and products

• On average, most baby boomers are asked for product or service recommendations about 90 times per year.

• Nearly 90 percent of boomers who were asked to give advice gave it to their fellow boomers.

• Practically all boomers consider their family and friends to be their most trusted sources of information

So, you can see that once a few boomers get their hands on a smart phone and start accessing apps, you’ll be hearing about it and may soon find yourself with one too. Apps are sometimes free or sometimes come with a one-time small fee of anywhere from $1.99 to $5.99 and up. Apps can also be used on i pads or other tablet devices.

Here are 8 free apps that we heard just had to be downloaded unless you want to be considered uncool:

• Dropbox—Dropbox lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. You load it on your computer and your smartphone then you never email yourself a file again. It’s easy to use and easy to set up.

• Flixster– Read reviews, get customer ratings, see screenshots, and learn more about movies. You can find the theaters, get show times, and watch trailers. It’s fast, visual and easy to use.

• Words with Friends—this app is a takeoff of Scrabble. Play with friends or strangers via your smart phone or tablet. Build words for points, see who scores the highest. Very good to keep your mind engaged.

• Whitepages— Use this free, easy to use app from your smartphone. Find, people, businesses and reverse phone lookups from those unknown numbers that show up on your phone.

• Zite—Users select categories of magazines that interest them. Then as you read articles on certain subjects. Zite sends you more articles on those subjects. You have options to email the articles to others or save them later to read on your iPad.

• The Weather Channel—More than 200 meteorologists provide interactive and hour by hour weather imagery. Great for planning outdoor activities, car washes or snow shoveling.

• WebMD—first aid information, symptom checkers, drugs and treatments, information on various conditions and local health listings. There are also many videos on treatments and common conditions like bad backs, fevers, diabetes signs. An excellent app for Boomers and Seniors.

 • Flashlight—So easy and so helpful. With a single touch your phone turns into a valuable flashlight that can be used to find your keys or read a menu.

Preventive Services

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Preventive Services

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new report showing that more than 5 million Americans with traditional Medicare – or nearly one in six people with Medicare – took advantage of one or more of the recommended preventive benefits now available for free because of the Affordable Care Act.   Medicare wants to raise awareness about all of the important preventive benefits now covered at no charge to patients, including the new Annual Wellness Visit benefit created by the Affordable Care Act.  

 “I am committed to ensuring that the Medicare beneficiaries we serve are aware of and take advantage of their Medicare preventive benefits.” Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee.

According to the report, over 5.5 million beneficiaries in traditional Medicare used one or more of the preventive benefits now covered. The covered services do not have co pays and include mammograms, bone density screenings, and screenings for prostate cancer. 

In 2011, Medicare began covering an Annual Wellness Visit at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries.  As part of that visit, beneficiaries and their physicians can review the patient’s health and develop a personalized wellness plan.  Over 780,000 beneficiaries received an Annual Wellness Visit between January 1 and June 10. Additionally, more seniors have used the Welcome to Medicare Exam this year. The Welcome to Medicare is a one-time preventive health exam available to enrollees in the first 12 months they have Part B.  66,302 beneficiaries had taken advantage of the benefit by the end of May 2011, compared to 52,654 beneficiaries at the same point in 2010 – a 26 percent increase.

The new annual wellness visit can help spark the beginning of an ongoing conversation between patients and their doctors on how to prevent disease and disability.  Patients should take advantage of this time by reviewing their histories and making sure their primary care doctor knows about their other providers and prescriptions. They can also talk about the pros and cons of getting an influenza, pneumococcal or hepatitis B vaccination, or find out whether a diabetes test, a bone mass measurement, or any of several cancer screenings would be right for them.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare now covers many of these services without cost to patients.

  You can find additional information on prevention benefits on line at www.Medicare.gov, and at www.healthcare.gov

NJFA 1st Annual Online Auction!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

In 2010 NJFA has taken some big steps in the world of social media. It started with this blog, then a Facebook page, then a twitter account and now an online auction.

The popularity of using the internet to reach people is huge.  We were hearing about it and seeing it everywhere.  Other organizations that we collaborate with were using sites like Facebook and Twitter so we took the plunge.

The NJFA blog is a place where we can spread the word about new information for seniors or post items we think seniors will find interesting. Keeping people informed about our events and publications is so easy with Facebook and Twitter. It is interesting to be connected to other advocacy groups online.

When the time came to plan our Annual Fall Fundraising event, we came up with the idea of an auction and thought the best way to do that would be online. So, to coincide with this year’s November 14th event in New Brunswick, we’ve launched an online silent auction. The auction is hosted by http://www.32auctions.com/ and can be accessed by anyone by entering the Auction ID: NJFAauction and Auction password: agewell. You must create a free account with 32auctions in order to place a bid. The items up for bid for NJFA’s 1st Annual Online Auction include 4 tickets to The Addams Family on Broadway and dinner at Sardi’s Restaurant in NYC, 6 Riedel Crystal Wine Glasses, a Cuban painting, 4 Norman Rockwell collector plates, and several autographed baseball memorabilia from players like Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson and Tommy John. The auction will be open until noon on November 12th, so don’t miss out on your chance to bid!

NJFA’s 3rd Annual Fall Celebration will take place on Sunday, November 14th and starts with a 3 pm performance at The State Theater in New Brunswick, of the big band musical, “In the Mood” and is followed by dinner and wine pairing at Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant on George St. in New Brunswick. The event will be time for us to reflect on the work of NFJA throughout the year and to show appreciation to this year’s honoree’s, NFJA’s Founding Trustees, Rosemarie Doremus, Margaret Chester, Carl West and Susan Chasnoff. Information on sponsorships and tickets is available at http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/events.html or by calling our office at 609-421-0206.