Archive for the ‘Health’ Tag

New Year’s Resolution – Day 2

New Years Resolution- Day 2
Halaluah!  Any one doubting the presence of a great being didn’t step on the scale with me today….. 169 lbs!   Okay, so I am trying to figure out how I could have lost so much weight.
I figure the fitness staff are deliberately playing a trick on us fitness bluffs and lower the weights by a couple of pounds. Or 2. the hormones really make that much of a difference.
Last night I watched the 650 lb virgin and thought wow and I am fussing about 30 lbs.  However those 30 lbs jumped on board since my wedding and at that rate I would be homeless in 2 years. My new husband has always said he doesn’t mind if I get really overweight ….except where am I going to live.
So Last night if it wasn’t for this blog that I had written yesterday I would have cheated. 3 Times I went into the kitchen and if I had not written that I would not eat after 7:00 …man I could have satisfied the munchies. I was a good  and was rewarded by “losing 3 lbs”  I am still looking for them and will probably find them tomorrow when I step on the scale again.
I have taken my vitamin pills, and exercised for 5 days in 7  so I have kept my resolutions so far.
I went to the bank and starting on Monday I will be hiring a bookkeeper for my new business so then I will see how easy it will be for me to stay on track with my 10,000 in the Black resolution.
Advertisements

Is Retirement Bad for Your Health?

A friend told me about some pretty shocking statistics indicating that retirees experience dramatically poorer health than their working counterparts. At first I couldn’t believe it, so I did some research of my own.

Sure enough, many studies (some of which are referenced at the bottom) have shown that statistically, people who retire have not only poorer physical health, but poorer mental health as well. They were more likely to have mobility issues, serious ailments and experience depression.

However, this doesn’t mean that we should try to keep working until we’re 90. Upon closer inspection, the statistics show that it is those people in full retirement who are suffering these ailments. Retirees who take on part-time jobs or have full social calendars generally maintain much better health than those who retire and become idle.

When you think about it, these statistics makes sense. The workplace provides an automatic social network which gives people more incentive to take care of themselves physically. You don’t want to be seen as slovenly by your colleagues, and so you are more likely to eat well and exercise. Even if all the exercise you get in a day is walking up the stairs to your office, at least it means you’re moving from the couch.

It is well-established that people with healthy relationships sustain better mental health. The workplace provides a place to form those friendships and support systems. It allows you to see your friends consistently and without too much effort on your part. After retirement, it becomes a task to get together- you have to set up a lunch date instead of just stopping by a friend’s work desk. As a result, many of these relationships fall away after retirement. Unfortunately, mental health seems to be falling away with them.

All of these statistics seem to be trying to scare us away from retirement, but we need to remember is that retirement is NOT a death sentence.  It provides endless opportunities to do things that you never had time for. You could take up hiking, get a dog, take a cooking class, join a book club and the list goes on; anything to keep your life busy and fulfilling. The secret is not that we shouldn’t retire, it’s that we must learn to retire right.

http://chattahbox.com/health/2009/10/15/study-full-retirement-may-be-bad-for-your-physical-and-mental-health/

http://www.canada.com/topics/finance/story.html?id=0ae64432-f8d7-4e58-b7ad-51e8d6a16862

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8307750.stm

THINK LIKE THE 60s’ IN YOUR 60s’

By Michael Sullivan (A Rebel with a Cause)

For the past three years I have been consumed by the wonder as well as the trials and tribulations of the issues related to aging, with a particular focus on the issues for those age 60 and above.  Fostered by the influx of magazine articles, television specials, the experiences of friends, family and myself, it is a constant “in your face” issue and a personal challenge for many of us.

I will be sharing both my opinions and some facts I have gleaned from my research and interviews. I realize it is impossible to generalize about everyone, and if my views don’t apply to you, no problem just hit delete or disregard them.  If you are already satisfied with your perspective and personal realities relative to aging this article may reinforce your perspectives or may be utilized to inspire a loved one to address their issues related to aging.

I began my journey by trying to understand and control my frustration with the intellectual disconnect related to what I call the ‘HUMAN NATURE SYNDROME’ and how it keeps us from being the best that we can be, especially as we age in our 60s’ and beyond.  It is absolutely amazing to me that so many of us are not happy and healthy especially in our later years, despite the fact that everything we need to know and do to lead happy and healthy lives has been documented and published for eons

In their book “The Power Years,” Ken Dychtwald and Daniel Kadlec write:

“As we look downstream at retirement and old age, we don’t like what we see. We’re noticing that for the majority of today’s older adults, the retirement dream is proving to be an unhappy and diminished period of life that is too often characterized by social isolation, loneliness, inertia, a sense of personal diminishment, and financial dependency.”

We have all heard or read the “right things” to do to age well until we are ready to scream and yet we don’t embrace them.  For instance, we don’t: eat right, exercise enough, reduce stress, stop smoking etc, etc, etc.  I know aging brings with it physical and mental realities (I am 62) but the degree to which many of us do nothing to address them or in fact accelerate them is simply beyond belief.  What part of our own human nature allows us to not love ourselves enough to do what we know is best for us?  Best for us not based on opinion but on fact.  Think about it as it applies to you and those things you are not doing that will help you lead a better life as you age.  If anyone finds a “cure” for this ‘HUMAN NATURE SYNDROME’ they will become a billionaire.

I don’t propose to have a cure, but perhaps a perspective and context that will help you look at how you are aging and inspire you to do what is necessary for you to be the best you can be at 60 and beyond.

We all need to focus on our health and fitness regardless of our age and especially as we approach our 50s and beyond.   However, I have focused on our 60s’ because it is my belief that in general (especially in light of the current economic situation and its impact on our net worth) our 60s’ offers us the first opportunity to truly rebalance our lives between vocation, avocation, financial needs, having fun and most importantly taking care of ourselves.  Our 60s’ represent the tipping point and bridge to the rest of our lives.  I also believe that no other decade has as protracted an impact on our lives as our 60s’. The decisions we make relative to rebalancing the key components (health, financial, spiritual, vocational, etc.) of life in our 60s’ will have a profound and in some cases irreversible affect on the quality of the remainder of our lives. So, how are we to more effectively manage how we age? Well, here it is.

MY PREMISE:

  1. Apply the attitude of the 1960s’ to your 60s’
  2. Make Your Physical Fitness/Health a daily priority
  3. Identify and address the real core reason(s) why physical fitness is not a priority to you

THE 60s’ IN YOUR 60s’

We need to apply the “attitude of the 1960s” when we challenged everything and challenge all the current myths and misplaced beliefs related to aging especially from one’s 60s’ and beyond. For example, challenge the following:

  • That it is normal to have aches and pains;
  • Sex and intimacy is not as important anymore;
  • A pill is necessary to perform (allowing exceptions that apply for medical reasons);
  • Exercising 30 minutes a day will get you fit;
  • Can’t participate in more adventurous activities;
  • Guaranteed loss of energy

In many cases these myths and beliefs are “sold” to us by pundits and companies with profit motives. These myths and misplaced beliefs become a reality only if we allow them to do so.

Some of us believe the manner in which we age and the issues we face are predetermined by our genes.  However according to Dr. Steven Cherniskie, PhD, only 35% or our longevity is determined by our genetic makeup.  So, two-thirds of our life span is under our control.  And if you are at genetic risk, isn’t that all the more reason to prioritize addressing your health related issues? How we age and how we feel about aging, therefore, is up to us.

MAKE YOUR PHYSICAL FITNESS A DAILY PRIORITY

I know what you are thinking —If one more person tells me to exercise, two things are going to happen—-first, I am going to scream and second, I’m going to shoot them.  Well get ready and hold your thoughts of shooting me until you finish the article.  And as I stated earlier, if you don’t agree with me—no problem, just ignore me and you won’t have a felony conviction on your record.

What do I mean by physical fitness? I mean, that through a minimum of one hour of daily exercise and good nutrition you achieve a balance between endurance, strength, flexibility, energy level, balance and body weight.   It is different for everyone but you will know what is right for you—you will simply ‘feel’ the impact of your choices; you will feel great!  There are thousands of educational and fitness resources available to you to determine your needs and the best plan to address them.  I know we also need to have mental, spiritual, emotional, and sexual health, for they are all interrelated, but I believe physical fitness is the linchpin.  So, unless you are the best multi-tasker in the world, fitness is the best initial place to focus our time and energy as we rebalance our lives in our 60s’ and beyond.  Jack LaLane in a recent interview in the Men’s Journal said it well—“Exercise is king.  Nutrition is queen. Put them together, and you’ve got a kingdom.”

When you ask people what is most important to them, a great majority say their health.  From that point on it gets very complicated, especially when one tries to keep the approach for staying healthy simple, realistic, implementable and relative to the ‘Human Nature Syndrome’, that I mentioned earlier, sustainable.  To most of the folks I speak with, health to them means freedom from major illnesses such as Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes and Dementia in their later years.  But why not feel as healthy as you can, all the time, by being fit; and, in so doing, help prevent the possible onslaught of one or all of these diseases?  While it sounds reasonable, logical, practical and achievable, most of us don’t make it our priority.

Let’s talk some more about why we should make physical fitness a daily priority.  I’ll throw in some hard data (add the quote noted above by Dychtwald and Kadlec), and, hopefully, put my perspective in a context that, not only makes sense to you, but will inspire you to act accordingly.

As I visited various retirement communities I reviewed the questionnaires they gave to prospects to determine their lifestyle needs and priorities.  The following are the areas that were identified:

Personal Health                                            Social Companionship

Staying Physically Active                            Opportunities to do new Things

Cost and Access of Health Care                   Finances

Wellness Programs                                       Driving

Remaining Independent                                Travel

Security                                                         Healthy Energy Level

As I studied them, I pondered what common thread connects them. And from my evaluation, it is clearly Physical Fitness.  Physical Fitness has a direct and significant impact on every one of the needs noted.  It poses a different context in which one could view the critical importance of our physical fitness and hopefully outweigh, in our minds, the reason(s) we don’t address our fitness needs.

There are numerous daily reports relative to healthcare and physical fitness that share the projected negative impact of not engaging in physical activity on all of us, but with profound emphasis for those of us in our later years.  Here are just a significant few, what I call “Macro” factors, relative to the importance of physical fitness and good health.

  • Research has shown that seniors can expect Medicare to cover only about half of their medical expenses, on average.  According to Fidelity Investments, the average senior retiring at age 65 this year will need $240,000 to pay the out-of-pocket costs of healthcare for the rest of his or her life.
  • Thirty states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents, if their parents can’t afford to take care of themselves.  While these laws are rarely enforced, there has been speculation that states may begin dusting them off, as a way to save on Medicaid expenses, according to SeniorJournal.com.
  • According to Dr. Andrew Weil, less than 5% of the US population will be born with a defective gene. That means over 95% of us have some say in how we age.  Most diseases can be attributable to lifestyle choices, not old age.
  • According to the department of Health & Human Services 50% of all medical costs are attributable to preventable illnesses.
  • The financial health of Medicare is in dire straits and the projected overall cost for health care could bankrupt our country. We simply cannot rely solely on our government to provide for us. If we do we could literally wind up dead before our time.
  • New technology that will effectively treat the major diseases will continue to evolve but if you are not in good physical condition you may not be around to utilize them, or be a suitable candidate.  And depending upon the “system” that the current Administration implements, you may have to wait months before getting access to major medical treatments.

So, when you combine both the individual and personal needs, with the more “Macro” factors (and there are more) noted above, why would you not do what is best for you and focus on your fitness and health?  Perhaps this information and perspective will inspire you to do so.

IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS THE REAL CORE REASONS WHY PHYSICAL FITNESS IS NOT A PRIORITY TO YOU.

This topic is too complex for the scope of this article but I will share some salient thoughts with you based on my readings and discussions with older folks.

Whether it is from a medical, psychological, or uniquely personal perspective, I know there are numerous reasons why we don’t do what is best for us. However, that doesn’t justify the degree to which many of us do nothing, or not enough for our well-being, knowing the profound effect it has on us and those that love us.

I hear people say, “I don’t like to exercise”.  Well, I am not here to sell you on why you should, but rather to provide a perspective that may help you view exercise and fitness differently.  Many of us don’t like our jobs and can come up with a lot of reasons why we don’t.  But we face and manage REALITY.  We need to work to survive and give ourselves a chance to be the best we can be.  Some of us need to approach fitness and our overall health in the same context—that it is simply not an option.

The reasons we don’t exercise and maximize our health are many and often are related to issues deep within us.  But whatever they are, and however many you have– view them as WEEDS, in your garden of life. PULL YOUR WEEDS AND WATER YOUR SEEDS. The weeds block the sun, hinder your happiness, cloud your perspective, rob you of growth, and steal your energy.  Some even have thorns that deter us from even considering the task of pulling them.  Water your seeds of growth by exercising and focusing on what we all say is our number one concern—our health.

It all gets back to my earlier statement that ‘we need to love ourselves enough to do what we need to do, to be the best we can be’ My colleague and fellow Rebel with a Cause, Charly (no e) Heavenrich, in his book Dancing on the Edge, addresses this issue eloquently through the teachings of an Indian medicine women named Spirit Dancer.  Spirit Dancer guides him (as he runs the rapids in the Grand Canyon) on his path to introspection, awareness and the willingness to “jump off the edge” in order to address the difficult issues we all face in life, including our fitness and health.  This book has had a profound effect on me and my attitude towards fitness, health, life and aging—it may do the same for you. (No, I do not get a sales commission)

My goal when I started this article was to share some of my opinions and hard facts with the intention of creating a perspective and context that would help you view exercise and fitness in a manner that would inspire you to make them a daily priority as you age in your 60s’ and beyond.  And in summary, here is my final shot—

  • Many of us say our Health is our number one concern—we need to act accordingly.
  • Fitness is the common thread between the personal needs noted above, by seniors as they continue to age.
  • The current and future impact of the “Macro” issues and ongoing medical and political trends, demand that we take more control and accountability for our own health and fitness.
  • Money! By being fit we reduce the chances that we will need procedures that increase the cost of our insurance, cost of medications, deductibles and co-pays.  Money is usually a great motivator– make it one of yours.
  • No one can do it for us—only we can exercise and stay fit.
  • If you don’t exercise, seek the root cause (s) and remove it as an obstacle (s)
  • The need for fitness and exercise is as much a reality as the need for work and food.
  • Do it because you love yourself.

Don’t give into the Human Nature Syndrome.  Give good health and fitness to yourself and to those you love and who love you.  Others have done it and you can do it as well or better.  Join me—Be a Rebel with a Cause—the best cause of all— YOU.

What do you Think About Your Age?

Talk about it with George!


George Carlin on aging!
(Absolutely Brilliant)

IF YOU DON’T READ THIS TO THE VERY END, YOU HAVE LOST A DAY IN YOUR LIFE. AND WHEN YOU HAVE FINISHED, DO AS I AM DOING AND SEND IT ON.

George Carlin’s Views on Aging

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we’re kids? If you’re less than 10 years old, you’re so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

‘How old are you?’ I’m four and a half!’ You’re never thirty-six and a half. You’re four and a half, going on five! That’s the key.

You get into your teens, now they can’t hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead.

‘How old are you?’ ‘I’m gonna be 16!’ You could be 13, but hey, you’re gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life! You become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30… Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There’s no fun now, you’re Just a sour-dumpling. What’s wrong? What’s changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you’re PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it’s all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn’t think you would!

So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You’ve built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it’s a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday!

You get into your 80’s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn’t end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; ‘I Was JUST 92.’

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. ‘I’m 100 and a half!’
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!!

HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height. Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay ‘them.’

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.

3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain idle. ‘An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.’ And the devil’s name is Alzheimer’s.

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.

6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.

9. Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is…

10. Tell the people you love that you love them at every opportunity.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER :
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away

And if you don’t send this to at least 8 people — who cares? But do share this with someone. We all need to live life to its fullest each day!!

RX for Savings

When I started to think about my parents’ retirement, I was overwhelmed by the thoughts of all the “things that needed to be done should something go wrong”.  I was a single mom working full-time and I thought “time is not my friend in this” and set up a company to help my parents.  My parents oblivious to my obvious concern for their life and health and the piles of stuff accumulated proceeded to act as any snowbirds do and purchased a place in the sun.  Their annual trek to Lah-Lah land, as my mom puts it, was one of no worries, and be “happys”.  They were healthy and financially able to finance their simple needs and even could satisfy their wants occasionally.

Last year 2 things happened that brought home the reality of living 6 months in a different country than your own …both of them had medical issues.  Mom, who is 77 and a nurse, knew she had an infection and needed medication. They when to a clinic and $400.00 dollars later had the diagnosis “infection” and a prescription in hand and needed to shell out a further $385.00 for the medication.  She asked me to mail her prescription. I did it cost 10.00 to mail and their health plan covered the cost of the medication.  She saved $375.00.

Later that same year, Dad who is 80 and still the only handyman that my mom trusts, replaced the white broadloom throughout the Florida home and put in laminate.  It looked beautiful ….but Dad’s health paid the price.  In severe pain from being on his knees all day, he discovered that his medical insurance had run out.  Painfully, he got into his car and drove the two days back to Canada in the dead of winter to reapply for his insurance and to see his doctor about the problem that he was having. The doctor immediately diagnosed the problem, but said the medication that works the best was only available in the states.  He could give him a sample but he would have to fill the prescription in the states, as it hadn’t been approved by the Canadian Health Protection Branch yet.  That medication brought relief for the first time in several weeks.

So, owning a business to help seniors find the help they needed, I saw a real opportunity to make a difference.  My thoughts were to find a company that could fill prescriptions in Canada, and could also provide medication that was only available in the states.  I began my search and being for my own parents I did my due diligence in finding a safe alternative to the high cost of buying medication in the states.

The FDA encourages online prescriptions purchases and published their tips to finding a good online source which is:

  • Make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions.
  • Buy only from licensed pharmacies.
  • Don’t provide personal information such as credit card numbers unless you are sure the site will protect them. That they will not sell contact information

It was with those tips in mind I began a search for a licensed pharmacy that complied with those guidelines. For my Dad’s situation I found a US pharmacy that is licensed and provides US Brands and US Generics located in Lakeland Florida.  They partnered with a Canadian pharmacy which is located in Alberta, Canada called Extended Care Pharmacy license no. #1636. This pharmacy is owned by a pharmacist, Andy Troszok, the first president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, who is a pioneer and advocate for low cost importations of prescription drugs to US Citizens.  I told my parents that by faxing their prescription to Extendicare Pharmacy they would be ordering the drugs directly from Canada.  They would pay only the shipping and pharmacy fee but their medication would be covered by OHIP. Any medication that is only available in the states would be provided by their US counterpart in Lakeland Florida and that wouldn’t be covered but would be available to them with a prescription. They loved the idea and told me I should include this information on my website, knowing that I would never sell contact information as I set the company up to protect seniors.  They were wondering if their American friends in Florida could take advantage of the link that I created.  I researched the process online and realized that the American Drug Companies were protecting their huge profit margins by scaring the general public into believing medication from Canada was “fake” and they continued their propaganda campaign by painting all foreign pharmacies with the same brush.

I was at a party in Florida to celebrate my friend’s victory over Cancer and spoke to her about her medication. She had already done a lot of online searching to discover a pharmacy that could provide her with her medication. That said, her friends were warning her of medications from Canadian pharmacies.  Canada is not a third world country, but protected by more restrictive rules about medication then in the states.  However, because of our public health insurance, it is simply a country that legislated that Pharmaceutical companies were only allowed to charge so much. Lipitor is Lipitor period.  A licensed pharmacy would lose their license if they tried to pass off “fake” drugs.  This would be evident quickly from complaints.

My thoughts were confirmed when the Governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty visited Canada and established a website providing information to Americans on how to import safety.  I decided to create a link on my website so that Americans can exercise their rights as free citizens to make their own choices. It’s up to you now. However, the following state Governments are using Canadian Pharmacies to lower the cost of running their states, why shouldn’t you? What do they know that you should too?

MINNESOTA, NEVADA, ILLINOIS, KANSAS, MISSOURI, VERMONT, RHODE ISLAND, WISCOUSIN, MAINE.

Dementia Research

written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care

North American society places great value on independence and autonomy. These values are instilled at a young age and persist throughout life. One of the hallmarks of successful independence is the ability to remain living in one’s own home, creating a societal trend toward living in the community and not in a facility during the entire aging process.

Aging can take many forms and is a unique experience for each individual. Aging at home is preferable for many seniors, regardless of health or ability. While dementia is not an inevitable part of aging, it is an illness that does afflict some seniors and drastically influences their experience in living in the community.

The increasing trend towards independent living, combined with the rapidly aging population is focusing current research on the experience of living with dementia. Dr. Lorna DeWitt, is one such researcher whose doctoral thesis (at McMaster University) is based on qualitative research of people who live alone in the community with dementia. Her work is more detailed than a mere survey of family members; she asks probing questions of the dementia sufferers themselves. Due to the sensitive nature of the questions she asks, she struggled to find suitable and willing study participants.

Dr. DeWitt focused on individual interviews with dementia sufferers to gain a better sense of how those individuals feel. She found that her participants wanted to hold onto the “now” without thinking about the future, if possible. When asked about their plans for the future, many participants admitted that eventually they would not be able to remain alone, but they quickly focused to how they were managing to cope in the present.

They described their homes or apartments as “dead space” without the infused life of the television. For many of her participants, their connection to the outside world was predominantly through watching television or looking out the window to watch community activity.

The participants communicated their desire that others understand the importance of including the dementia sufferer in any decision making. Retaining a sense of control and independence is crucial, and is often the primary motivation behind living in the community rather than in a facility. Decisions about daily living and routine, such as bedtime, what to wear, or which program to watch on television, grant the individual a sense of control over their environment.

Although dementia sufferers may not be able to weigh the pros and cons of more serious decisions, they still need to be included in the process. The feeling of involvement often results in a more receptive response to change whereas imposed change without warning can result in resentment and hostility.

The participants responded that one of their greatest challenges is hiding the disease of dementia. Admitting the diagnosis of dementia to others makes one quite vulnerable, and asking for help can be overwhelming. Sadly, this can isolate dementia sufferers who reduce their social connections in an attempt to keep their illness unknown. Fear of the unknown intensifies as one worries about others discovering their illness and further removing any independence that the individual has retained.

The societal value of independence does not disappear when one is diagnosed with dementia; instead, it alters the form of independence that one may experience.  Retaining independence and a sense of control over environment is still vital to one’s happiness and well-being.

Parkinson’s Disease

Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care

After years of waiting rooms, tests, and false diagnoses, your doctor has given you the final verdict: you have Parkinson’s disease.  You’ve suspected it for a while.  It was pretty subtle at the beginning, but the fatigue and stiffness are becoming more pronounced.  Your signature no longer resembles the one on the back of your driver’s license, and people are always saying “pardon me?” since your voice has dropped.  So here you are, sitting on the table in the examining room, hearing the final diagnosis, “you have Parkinson’s Disease”.

You’re not sure how to feel.  Part of you is just relieved that you finally have an answer.  No more tests, no more uncertainty.  You know what it is, and now you can move forward.  The other part of you is completely crushed.  You had still been holding out hope that your illness was something curable, something that would be treated and go away.  Not a degenerative disease with symptoms that could be “managed” at best.

The real question burning on your mind is: “now what?”  Where do you go for more information?  What questions should you be asking? What happens next?  Instead, you’re quietly ushered out of the office.  Going home alone that day can feel quite alienating, because the more you think about it, the more you realize that you now have more questions than you did before seeing the doctor.

The important thing to know is that you are most certainly not alone. There are between 80,000 and 100,000 Canadians who have Parkinson’s disease.  One of the best places to get preliminary information is from the Parkinson’s Society of Canada.  You can browse their website at: www.parkinson.ca or call them at 1-888-851-7376.  There are local support groups available in most communities where people with Parkinson’s Disease (PD) can come together and discuss issues and solutions.  The support groups will not only provide you with information and social support, but will also help you to figure out which questions you need to be asking your doctor to maximize the treatment you receive.

You will discover that the course of PD is unique to each individual person with PD.  You may experience different symptoms than someone else in your support group, and your symptoms will fluctuate over time.  As PD progresses, you may experience some of the following symptoms: tremors, rigidity, slowness, impaired balance, lack of facial expression, lowered voice, fatigue, stooped posture, constipation, and sleep disturbance.  There is currently no cure for PD, but there are medications and therapies which can alleviate symptoms.

Therapies which help to manage symptoms may include: physical therapy for mobility, flexibility, and balance; occupational therapy for daily activities of living; speech therapy for voice control; and exercise programs to help muscle and joint strength while also improving overall health.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential and is one of the most proactive options you have to help PD.  You may also choose to participate in a research study through the local Movement Disorders Clinic at the Wilfred Laurier University.

Maintaining your social connection is also a vital element of wellness.  You need support systems in place that will be able to accommodate you as your needs may change.  It is important to plan ahead of time how you will receive assistance, and to make your wishes known.  Remember, you are not alone, and there are others who can support you along your journey with PD, so be sure to tap into the local resources that are available to you and your family.

Achieving Well-Being

written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care

“All of us will age eventually, if we live long enough,” stated Dr. Peter Naus at the June 15th “Celebrating Seniors” event.  His lecture focused on the positive elements of aging, which actually begins at birth.  In reality, people cannot delay aging, they can only impact the way in which they will choose to age.

The old saying “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks” is simply not true, according to Naus.  Perhaps it is true for canines, but it does not apply to humans.  We retain our ability to learn throughout life, and can continue to make significant contributions to society.

Naus feels that the most important element of positive aging is to have a sense of well-being.  He defines well-being as having a positive outlook on life, maintaining a purpose despite loss, having a realistic sense of control over one’s life, and having a strong sense of self.  These conditions are not constant; they fluctuate constantly.  It is possible to achieve a sense of well-being even amidst declining health.

Naus also offered practical advice on how to achieve well-being: eat well, exercise, drink less alcohol, do not smoke, and stimulate your mind.  Do not minimize the gains in life, or maximize the losses—don’t exaggerate the extremes.  Be sure to “count what you have, and not what you lack,” and Naus says you will be closer to achieving well-being.

Old-age should be a time for discovery.  Discovery of what, you may ask?  True discovery is an individual journey, so you must find it for yourself.  Seniors need a vision, a dream, not just memory alone.  You will find peace if you truly believe “just to be is a blessing, just to live is holy.”  Such concepts are not unique to old age; these tenets create well-being at any age.  Naus encouraged the audience to live well at every stage of life, and remember that it is never too late for change.

There are pervasive negative connotations throughout Canadian society regarding aging.  There is a strong market for “anti-aging” products and services, but the term alone is problematic.  By deeming a product or service “anti-aging” it is suggestive that there is an inherent problem with aging.  Indeed, we even tend to pay compliments by suggesting someone looks younger than their age, as though retaining a youthful appearance is akin to aging gracefully.

Cicero, the roman emperor, wrote that the “the course of life is clear to see, each stage has unique peculiarities,” and “each stage should be gone in time,” suggesting that hanging on to one phase longer than it’s natural course is the very opposite of graceful aging.  Instead, the “mellowness of age” should be embraced as a stage of life.

Seniors deserve to be valued for the wisdom that they can share with others.  They are living proof that aging is not synonymous with being sick and decrepit.  Instead, old age can be a time for deep fulfillment and pleasure, a time for personal well-being.

Naus concluded by challenging the audience with two choices:  “we have a decision to make.   Either we can put all of our energy into denying aging, or we can embrace aging as a natural and meaningful part of life, and achieve well-being.”

Written by Chloe Hamilton of Warm Embrace Elder Care