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Friday, November 27, 2009

Seniors Personal Growth - Inspirational Reading - "Stillness Speaks" by Eckhart Tolle

"When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose touch with the world." Eckhart Tolle, "Stillness Speaks."

"The Power of Now, A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment," also by Eckhart Tolle, says "We are here to enable the divine purpose of the universe to unfold. That is how important you are."

In talking about the importance of living in the present moment in order to live fully, Tolle says, " When your attention moves into the Now, there is an alertness. It is as if you were waking up from a dream, the dream of thought, the dream of past and future. Such clarity, such simplicity."

Inspirational reading such as this makes each day a new journey of learning and personal growth. Seeing life from a fresh point of view makes each day new, interesting and rewarding. We find ourselves growing, connecting, filling new roles, finding new interests.

When you feel stuck, or as if life is getting stale or stagnant, it's time to change things around and start rolling in a new direction. Some time spent with inspirational reading can help get the ideas and energy flowing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Vegetarian, Low Calorie Thanksgiving - And Time Spent Reflecting with Gratitude

Thanksgiving dinner. Raw carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and a low salad dressing dip, plus veggie burgers seasoned with barbecue sauce. Sesame sticks for munching. Bottled water flavored with a little juice - orange, mango, pineapple. MMmmm. Not the turkey and dressing you see on most tables, but to me this is very delicious. Plus my weight loss diet won't have a set back.

Special treats for the dogs, so they can celebrate too.

It's Thanksgiving today. Like many seniors, I spend the day at home, alone in regards to people, but in the wonderful, loving company of my pets. Listening to the rain pattering on the trees of the Oregon coast gives the day a pleasant feeling.

The past in a prevous chapter of life, and the current chapter is about living in the now, the present. The death my husband, and later death of a dear gentleman friend, are not felt as sorrows today. The beautiful times with them are remembered with gratitude.

Life's ups and downs, challenges to be overcome or transcended, are part of a journey of learning and a mission.

Looking at the beauty of nature here on the central Oregon coast, I reflect on life. Staying focused on the inspiring beauty of nature is so uplifting. Watching the happy dogs chasing treats and playing brings a smile and I am thankful for these blessings.

The simple things in life, a beautiful scene, a happy pet, bring the most inner joy and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Life of Senior Small Business Owners - Balancing Strategic Planning, Innovation, and Financial Management Between Doctor Visits and Health Issues

From thrift shop owners to RV park manager/owners, seniors who are small business owners balance the challenges of innovation to keep pace with change along with the doctor visits and health issues that come with the senior territory.

Many seniors are still managing successful small businesses. Staying afloat in the present economy means inventing new strategies that are situation specific for the current times. Many seniors enjoy the independence and challenges of owning their small businesses, instead of retiring or working for someone else.

One 93 year old woman I met was still going over to do maintenance tasks at the apartment building she owned and managed for college students' housing. She would arrive to visit with the student renters who might be around, change light bulbs or fix garbage disposals and other things. Students would often come over to her house a mile away to drop off the rent check and stay for visit with her. She was a little like a grandmother to some of them. She finally did have a relative who had power of attorney to share the responsibities, and a caregiver to drive her over and assist. But she continued her activities until she was almost 100, when she passed away. It was a way of life she preferred. A life of watching TV or sitting at home was not for her.

Other seniors start a retirement business at home. One friend of mine offers knitting classes and has a yarn and textile shop attached to the house. Another teaches ceramics and does the same thing. Lots of seniors go into real estate, but at this time of course that's a difficult occupation in this economy. A drive around the area where I live shows many signs in front of homes for country crafts, welding, handyman, gardening, a cabinet maker, beads and jewelry making, antigues, organic vegetables, knitted scarves and caps, and pet sitting.

Other seniors I know are owners and/or managers for rental units, RV parks, vacation rentals, computer resellers/repairs/tutors, thrift shop owners, caregiver agency owners, writers, and artists.

For many seniors the current economy has devastated hopes of earlier retirement. Investments made for retirement are suffering, and the working years are extended.

Seniors who are small business owners may be rethinking their future, and planning to continue the business challenges indefinitely. Between joint replacement surgeries or heart surgeries, they may be dreaming up new business strategies with hopes for success. Some, who like challenges, say this is part of the fun.

To many, being in the business is like a lifestyle choice they prefer over the boredom, stagnation and loneliness that can occur.

The challenges to be met are more difficult than ever in the current economy, but the other options can make it a necessity or preferable to continue in business.

Monday, November 23, 2009

69 Year Old, Over 300 Pounds, Making a New Life: Overcoming Morbid Obesity with a Lapband

A 69 year old friend who weighs over 300 pounds has decided to start a new life by getting lapband surgery for weight loss. Crippled by overweight, his bad back is so painful he barely moves around. He describes living with his overweight as being like carrying a 100 pound of cement. Simple actions like trying to stand up or walk a few steps are so difficult he uses a stool with wheels, a scooter, and a variety of mobility aids.

He's contacted a company that takes care of doing the paperwork and getting the appointment. One night he stayed up until 3 am reading about lapbands on the internet. Sometimes people go home the same day, other times they stay in a hospital overnight. The person uses a liquid diet for awhile, and then a soft diet before making a transition to other foods.

Coverage by insurance such as Medicare is based partly on the Body Mass Index, BMI, and on other chronic conditions such as diabetes. He's done his homework and the consultants have said he is indeed covered by insurance for this.

The lapband can adjusted by using a syringe to increase or decrease amounts of saline that are in the band, loosening or tightening it.

For my friend it is a turning point in life, a decision to meet a challenge and overcome it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Inspiration: The Daily Word - "My life is a blessing of peace and harmony."

Part of the meaning of our lives is to spread inspiration to others. The ripples of peace and harmony spread to others from us. Retirement doesn't mean our work is done. It might be just beginning. A new mission in life awaits during each era.

Today's Daily Word - Sunday, November 22, 2009, from Silent Unity
My life is a blessing of peace and harmony.
I begin this day with harmony in my thoughts and feelings. I am calm in mind and body. Through all of my activities, I stay attuned to my feelings and emotions. The moment I feel anxious or afraid, I consider that God's peace is always here for me. I stop, breathe deeply and claim God's peace as my own. My emotions calm.
As I bring a supportive sense of calm to my interactions with others, I am guided to right thought and actions. I experience peace and harmony in my relationships.
As I bring greater harmony to my world, turbulent relationships are healed and fulfilling new relationships begin. My life is a blessing of peace and harmony. "

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More Mental Fitness Activity for Seniors - Remember the 1969 1st Moonwalk? View the Recent Video "Direct From the Moon" Right Here at This Post

Seniors remember watching the historic 1969 first moonwalk on TV. Update your moon knowledge with this recent video (embedded at the for you to watch here) "Direct from the Moon" from the Expedition Channel on, which provides free educational documentaries. Presenting this video is part of an ongoing effort by the to encourage and provide mentally stimulating activities for seniors.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mental Fitness RX: Turn Off the TV, Try Reading, Keep Learning - My Current Project, "How Rome Fell" by Adrian Goldsworthy

Take a break from television, the "one eyed monster." Try reading.

The book "How Rome Fell" - economic crises, plague, war, religious change (sounds like our world today), cultural details and leaders of the Roman Empire - is mentally stimulating reading.

If your Mental Fitness Prescription is for exercising your mind I suggest reading "How Rome Fell" by Adrian Goldworthy. Get the "little grey cells" moving, and experience some personal growth and education.

I found this book, like the book on Leonardo di Vinci described in previous posts, at the New Nonfiction shelf near the front desk at my local library. The first night I read over 100 pages. What a relief from the relentless boredom of most TV to have something that gets your mind and thoughts really moving.

Details of daily Roman life include information from architecture to hairstyles.

Idiosyncracies, characteristics and personalities of the Roman Emperors made this interesting reading.

The book goes into the world of religious conflicts, especially the Roman persecution of the Christians.

Today, with the United States in it's current crises, reading the "Fall of Rome" is especially interesting. Are there parallels? What similarities and what differences can be seen? To compare and contrast Rome's Fall with the current problems in the U.S. gives each individual something to consider. What can be done?

Adrian Goldsworthy, a preeminent historian of the ancient world, is also the author of Caesar, winner of a New York Times Notable Book award as well as many other distinguished book awards. He is a consultant for the History Channel, National Geographic and the BBC.

So, seniors, let's either turn the TV channel to something educational, or pick up a book like this from your local library. It's time to practice concentration, improve reading and verbal skills, and learn something new about history. Your mental fitness will improve, and you'll enjoy it more than the usual passive television shows that so many of us spend too much time watching.

Take a break from the "one eyed monster," the TV, and pick up a book instead.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leonardo di Vinci - Mental Stimulation for Seniors - Video Series

Leonardo de Vinci and the Renaissance - a subject for seniors to enjoy who are seeking activities for mental stimulation. For those who prefer video material over reading books here is the first part of an 18 part series on Leonardo de Vinci. You can click on the buttons after the video finishes to go to and see the other 17 videos in the series.

Leonardo de Vinci's Renaissance World: An Inspiration for Seniors

"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses it's purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind." Leonardo de Vinci.

Inspiration and mental stimulation are challenges for seniors. For those who like to read I recommend the wonderful book "Leonardo's Universe, The Renaissance World of Leonardo de Vinci" copyright 2008, published by the National Geographic Society.

Scientist, engineer, writer, mathematician, artist - Leonardo was a blend of multifaceted characteristics and so is endlessly fascinating to read and study. He was not a one sided, one dimensional, "flat" person, but a "round" person with many sides. Thus the saying that someone is a "Renaissance Person" or one with many talents.

You can start those mental wheels turning with quotes by Leonardo from the book such as "Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason."

For those of us who watch too much televison, which is usually aimed at the lowest common denominator, often at an 8th grade level, returning to the world of books is a way to start exercising the brain again.

Another Leonardo quote: " We may say that the Earth has a vital force of growth, and that its flesh is the soils, it's bones are the successive strata of the rocks which form the mountains; it's cartilage is the prous rock, it's blood the veins of the waters. The lake of blood that lies around the heart is the ocean. It's breathing is the increase and decrease of the blood in the pulses, just as in the Earth it is the ebb and flow of the sea."

This book about the historical era of the Renaissance and the tale of Leonardo's life was sitting in the New Nonfiction section at my local library, and it may be in yours too. I encourage seniors to hang out at the local library, check out the new books, and return to the world of reading, for mental stimulation and personal growth.

This large, coffee table size book has the National Geographic quality and interesting presentation we are used to seeing in the magazine, but with, of course, more detail in the 277 pages.

Suddenly the television and movies do not appear as appealing, and I am returning to the world of books.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Independence vs. Safety for Seniors: A Diabetic Senior with COPD Travels Alone in an RV

Dilemma: A diabetic senior friend of mine is independent, self-reliant, and travels alone in an RV. He faces the dilemma of awakening in the morning with blood sugar too low to function without weakness and confusion. In the late evening he takes his blood sugar. Then he eats something to raise the blood sugar enough so he will wake in the morning without the low blood sugar issue.

This is clearly less than an ideal situation. He also has COPD and uses oxygen at night or when needed. Unable to walk far due to back pain from an injury, he uses a scooter when he needs to go more than 20 feet. Professional drivers move the RV when he wishes to go to a new location, often moving up to 1000 miles away at a time.

Independent, self-reliant, stoic, a positive thinker, and travel oriented have been characteristics of his life. These values give his life meaning. The idea of settling down somewhere fills him with horror. He's led a life of leadership and distinguished service to the country and to those in need.

Everyone who knows him feels anxiety over his continuing lifestyle in view of the health challenges.

We've all known and loved friends or family members with similar situations. Admired by others, these independent stoics soldier on with health challenges that might turn the rest of us into stay-at-home types. Their lifestyle is important for them to have a good quality of life.

We watch, holding our breath, hoping not to get a call someday that there has been a disaster.

Dilemma: It's quality of life vs. safety. If someone could step in and get these people to live a safer life, the problem is life might not be worth living, to them.

Caught between a rock and a hard place.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Theft, Vandalism and Precautions for Seniors Safety

Theft and vandalism threatened my own safety this week. Vandals came over the private 6 foot tall gates to the backyard and went for the unlocked storage shed. In the hours sometime after midnight I heard noise outside my open window, and my dog barked, but I told myself it was just a raccoon or cat.

But even in our quiet little group of houses in the country I learned I need to be more careful. Nothing was taken, the shed doors were just left wide open, and something caused the thieves to run. They probably left when they saw the house lights come on and shine on the back yard. During the senior years one's personal thermostat may not work as well as it used to, and I frequently get up to raise or lower the heat, turning on the lights at that time.

What safety steps can a senior living alone take? I put "Dog on Duty" signs on the gates and house, added padlocks to the gates and shed, and increased the lights at night. At the front door and back door there are energy efficient 100 watt bulbs on all night. Two more 100 watt bulbs in lights can be turned on that illuminate the entire back yard, about 70 feet deep.

The neighbors have agreed to start a Neighborhood Watch program and we have exchanged phone numbers.

Late at night if I get up to change the thermostat I let the 75 pound lab-mix out into the back yard so he can patrol.

Per suggestions from others I also have pepper spray, a whistle (that neighbors can hear if help is needed), and a marine signal horn (just the sound of that would scare anything or anyone away!).

Readers your suggestions are welcome. To share your ideas just click below where it says "Comment" and add own.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Water Exercise for Seniors Who are "Extra-Size" - New Approaches for Arthritis and Joint Replacements

Did you ever try slow motion jumping jacks, knee bends, or slow jogging in place on your toes in water up to your shoulders? Our local pool has some new approaches to seniors' aquatic exercise and we locals are getting relief from arthritis and losing weight at the same time. There are two swimming pools, with different temperatures. First there is one pool that is 82 degrees, 25 meters long (about 75 feet) and part of the day it's divided into lanes for swimming laps or water walking.

The other pool is 86 degrees, which feels like a nice warm bathwater temperature to me. The "Warm Water Pool" or WWP, is smaller, about 25 feet by 35 feet. Arthritis exercise classes are held there, and the classes are well attended.

There might be about 20 people at a time watching a leader who stands on the concrete outside the pool with a microphone. Stretching, bending, and pushing against the resistance of the water, pressing styrofoam barbells beneath the water, and water walking are some of the exercises.

Some of the seniors and overweight friends whom I've suggested the aquatic exercise to have shyly said they are afraid to appear in a swim suit in public, perhaps afraid that most everyone else will be in the teen years, be a young adult or be slender and fit. But the classes have plenty of "vintage" swimmers in their 60's, 70's, 80's and even 90's and many are sharing the fight against the battle of the bulge. If you're a senior and/or overweight you'll have plenty of company - no need to miss out on swimming because of it.

We're in a new era and no longer do the senior years mean a sedentary life at home. Both pools have hoyer type lifts to assist those who are not ambulatory into the pools. Those who are unable to walk on land often find that with the buoyance of the water they have more mobility. A caregiver or friend can assist.

Many, perhaps even most, of the seniors I've spoken to have had a knee or hip replaced, or say they will need to have this done someday. Many say they are using the water exercise to help the new knee or hip heal. Others say they want to build strength in tendons, ligaments and muscles in preparation for a joint replacement or to help their arthritis.

Aquatherapy gives physical therapy with buoyancy taking the weight and impact off of aging joints and muscles, increases range of motion, burns calories, and builds strength.

One lady who was swimming laps said it was her "aqua-meditation" time, for mental problem solving, contemplation and stress reduction.

After exercising in the water it's also nice to finish with 10 minutes in the dry heat of the sauna room.

When I leave I feel like a new person.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bridging "The Diet Divide" - The Need for "Diet Literacy" - MacDonald Cheeseburgers vs. Subway Veggie Delite Sandwiches?

We hear a lot about the "Digital Divide," the gap between those who are computer literate and those who missed out on computer learning. I made up the term "The Diet Divide" to refer to the divide or gap between seniors who are "diet literate" and health conscious and those who continue to eat a diet that can have fatal consequences.

One group is for those who feel one of life's dearest rewards is eating MacDonald Cheeseburgers, plus other high fat, high carb, or high sugar foods, often in giant servings.

The other is the health conscious group, who is over at Subway eating Veggie Delites and turkey sandwiches.

During the 1970's,1980's and 90's awareness of the health problems caused by diets high in fat, simple carbs, and sugar grew. But old habits from childhood are hard to fight.

Today, almost 2010, many seniors with cardiovascular health problems continue to heap plates high with unhealthy amounts of fats, sugars, starches and simple carbs.

Even recovery from open heart surgery for multiple bypasses is not enough to deter some of those who look forward to a breakfast of eggs with melted cheese, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy. Others feel one of the best rewards of the day is a marbled steak big enough to feed a small family. Habits are hard to break.

Yet there is also a growing group of health conscious eaters who are focusing more on eating vegetables, choosing fresh food instead of processed food, buying bread with whole grain, choosing low sodium diets, and making other healthy choices.

MacDonald Cheeseburgers or low-fat Subway Sandwiches? The choice can make a big difference in health, a sense of well-being, and longevity.

Last winter I lost one of my dearest friends, who had already had one 5 way heart bypass. Even after the first heart bypass this friend continued "eating like a farmhand" despite living a current sedentary lifestyle.

Result: obesity, heart blockages, and the need for a second heart bypass, this time a 3 way. Some of my friend's favorite meals: MacDonald's Big Mac, eggs and bacon, biscuits and gravy, fat marbled red meat, regular (not lowfat) cottage cheese (in huge quantities). During the second heart bypass operation my friend died.

How can we bridge "The Great Diet Divide" and get everybody on board to eat a healthier diet?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Seniors, Relationships, and Dating

As human beings we are social by nature right through the senior years. The instinctive need for interaction and togetherness, fellowship, and being close to others remains throughout life. The desire for dating, courtship, and relationships can go on though the elder years. With chronic health conditions, or more serious health conditions, and the financial woes of seniors, this can make having relationships complicated but not impossible.

Compatibility and agreement are important for the sake of harmony, especially as seniors need to avoid stress that could impact health issues.

During my time in nursing training we were prepared for working in a skilled nursing facility. Part of the training involved understanding that even in a semi-acute hospital setting, one that included people who had dementia and alzheimers, romances between people may start up and that this is natural as we are social creatures. A hand to hold, someone to hug, someone to talk to and share meals with can make the day for those who are lonely.

We all know people in their 50's, 60's, 70's and beyond who have once again met someone and bonded. Previous divorces, widowhood, declining health, financial issues, and health insurance problems can be part of those years, posing issues that need to be coped with.

But the human characteristic of social behavior is a strong drive and a natural one. Just because the hair has turned grey and the skin has some wrinkles does not mean the human yearning for others to share life's experiences has gone.

I've known many widowed seniors who have found a new life partner, even married again, and who were happier for it.