Tag Archives: Aging

Aging Gracefully

Aging Gracefully:
Noticing and Choosing What You Want As You Grow Older

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A few months ago, I did a panel, and follow-up interview with Prevention Magazine (a magazine which I love, by the way) on aging gracefully. How funny to find myself being a voice for that…

On the panel, as others talked about diet, exercise and how to look young, I found myself getting emotional as I thought about my grandfather, Nana, who had just passed away. I realized, while sitting on the stage, that aging gracefully for me meant living with dignity, being of service, and cherishing the relationships in my life. Continue reading

The “New Old Age” Just Got Better

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For at least two decades we’ve been living with a drastic revision of growing old. What is now dubbed the “old old age” prevailed for centuries; it was a set of beliefs that turned the aging process into inevitable decline physically and mentally. After a lifetime of work, people found themselves set aside, no longer productive or active members of society. Generation after generation these expectations came true. But everyone trapped in the old old age was mistaken to think such expectations were inevitable. Hidden factors were causing beliefs to turn into reality.

The “new old age,” created by the baby boomer generation, threw out the previous beliefs, exchanging them for more optimistic ones, and by now we’ve grown used to a set of readjusted expectations. Millions of people over 65 haven’t retired, and few have taken to the rocking chair. To be healthy and active one’s whole life seems possible. But as much good as the new old age has done, it faced two major obstacles. The first was that aging itself has long been a mystery, not explained by medical science because too many changes occur over a lifetime, and these changes vary from person to person.  The second obstacle, assuming that aging could be defined, was how to reverse it.

An enormous leap forward in overcoming both obstacles was made by Elizabeth Blackburn, the molecular biologist who shared the 2008 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine with Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for their discovery of telomerase, the enzyme that replenishes a section of DNA known as telomeres, which cap the end of each chromosome like a period ending a sentence. Telomeres are “noncoding” DNA, meaning that they have no specified function in building cells, but they are far from passive. Their function seems to be to preserve cells. Every time a cell divides, which happens constantly somewhere in the body, its telomeres are shortened. Longer telomeres are typical of young cells in the stage of luxuriant growth; shortened or frayed telomeres are typical of weary senescent cells.

Now the head of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, Blackburn covers every aspect of cell aging and renewal in her 2017 book, The Telomere Effect, co-authored with her close colleague, UCSF Professor and health psychologist Elissa Epel.  They convincingly describe telomeres and levels of telomerase in the cell as our best marker yet for the multifold process of aging. This also implies that by increasing one’s telomerase levels and thereby causing telomeres to grow longer, a healthy lifespan can be founded on cells that keep renewing themselves for decades.

In their book Blackburn and Epel cite a startling actuarial prediction. There are currently around 300,000 centenarians existing around the world, a number that is rapidly increasing. According to one estimate, reaching one hundred is about to become so commonplace that one-third of children born in the UK will live to be centenarians—the issue of protecting your cells is suddenly more urgent than ever.  We highly recommend reading Blackburn and Epel’s book–its wealth of information needs to be absorbed in detail. But the bottom line is to understand what puts your telomeres at high risk and low risk. Continue reading

Aging as a Sport: A 5 Point Game Plan for Empowered Aging

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If you ever played a sport you probably came up against many challenges, trained hard, and accepted accountability for your actions. Sports are not easy, especially at the highest levels but they teach us a lot about life, ourselves, and are also rewarding and fun. If you talk to world class competitors, they will probably tell you that the best part of their experience as an athlete was when they had to battle to win. 

Aging successfully requires the same skills and mindset as an athlete playing his or her sport because as we get older, in order to enjoy our lives and still be productive, we no longer get to cruise on autopilot. Getting older is a challenge! We must step up, or get beaten down.  The analogy of taking on aging as a sport motivates us to get off the bench, put on our helmets, get into the game, and maybe for the first time really take charge of our lives. Aging is not something we should fear.  It is a privilege that should not be taken lightly.  After all, look at all the people we know who didn’t make it this far.   

So how can we take on aging as a sport?  Here is a 5-point game plan for empowered aging:  Continue reading

The Second Half of Life Relationship Rules: Six Ways to Keep the Fires Burning till Death Do Us Part

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Being married for any length of time is truly an accomplishment these days.  Just last week a woman asked how long I had been married and when I said forty years this July, her eyes got huge and she said, “To the same person?  How is that possible?”

When we got married people were taking bets on how long our marriage would last.  The average bet was between two weeks and two years because of our age difference and personalities.  Let’s just say, my husband is calm, wise and conservative and I am the exact opposite.  I do remember feeling really shaky when I said my vows. … “for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health, till death do us part.” Now that’s a huge promise!  Could I really do this?

Flash forward forty years.  We are still married, happy and love each other, although it hasn’t been an easy road and our relationship has been tested on many occasions, and I’m sure more will come as we navigate through our senior years.

Someone once said, “I married you for better or worse, but not for breakfast and lunch.”  I never really understood that until now.  Obviously, when couples first get married, it is exciting challenging, romantic and fun.  And then if children come along, the marriage gets even more interesting and challenging as people try to raise their kids, together.  But after the kids are gone, and retirement looms, people start to feel displaced as their roles in life change.  Who are we without our careers and kids?  What do we have to talk about?  And why do we keep bumping into each other in the kitchen?

So in order to keep a marriage going all the way to the end, here are six rules of engagement to keep the fires burning. Continue reading

7 Reasons Why We Age and How Science Is Working to Reverse Them

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It’s no secret that scientists around the world are unlocking the secrets of human health and disease by studying the human genome. While the right diet and good physical fitness contribute to a longer life expectancy, almost half of the reasons why people live a longer life are purely genetic. The results of the Human Genome Project (HGP) were published in 2003, but this map has served as a type of scientific springboard from which other advances in genetics have evolved.

What information do genes hold about living forever? Do we know enough now to prevent the diseases that would normally cause us harm? Budget Direct, a health insurance company, says science can help us live longer.

According to some scientists, disrupting the ageing process is not a fantasy. Aubrey de Grey, a biologist with the SENS Research Foundation believes that the first human to live to 1,000 years old has already been born. That’s how fast the advances in longevity medicine are occurring.

The interventions currently being explored don’t just seek to slow aging, but to counteract the ravages of age-related diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. Scientists believe there are just seven cellular/molecular reasons why we age, and all have the potential to be reversed: Continue reading

5 Benefits of Cross-Training (even if you’re 50+)

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You’re reading this article probably because you are interested in improving your health.  Awesome!  It takes more than interest though – it takes some action.

There is no magic pill.  If you just focus on “products” to help you lose weight or look younger, those products will make you feel insecure when they don’t work as intended. That’s not healthy in the long run. 

One of the best ways to do improve your health is through exercise done on a consistent basis.  And the key to consistent exercise is finding something you enjoy doing.  Even though I am 51, participating in trail running and hiking is something I’ve always liked to do. I look forward to it and plan my schedule to fit those activities in. It’s ingrained in my lifestyle.

If you only do one exercise, running for example, it can create some problems with people and cause joint pain. It’s important to “mix it up” with different work outs. I balance my running with hiking, yoga workouts, and lift light weights to help with overall muscle toning. But I know swimming and bike riding should be done more often because they are low-impact.

If you use the weather as an excuse, you can use indoor equipment like a treadmill, elliptical machine and a stationary bike. You can have this equipment at home if you don’t belong to a gym and if you have the space available.

Use of equipment is not needed at all actually. There are many other methods like stair climbing, aerobics, yoga, etc. Here’s a list of ideas to choose from that fit your personality and preferences: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/fitness-a-to-z

Note: I recommend you check in with your doctor first if exercise is new to you – especially if you have a current medical condition. It would also be a good idea to meet with a personal trainer to help you get started.

Cross-training is the backbone of any exercise program, and is ideal for anyone, even if you’re a beginner who wants to get in shape or you are experienced with exercise and want to ramp it up. Here are five benefits to incorporate cross-training: Continue reading

How to Defeat Aging on Three Levels

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By Deepak Chopra, MD

The creeping tide of age has steadily risen over the past two decades, and it has been met with advances in anti-aging. Almost 25 years ago, when I researched aging for a book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, the most encouraging sign of progress was “the new old age,” which signaled a major shift in attitude. No longer was it acceptable to spend one’s old age in a rocking chair, existing essentially as a social discard, worn out after years of productivity. In the new old age, people expect to live a long life with as much pride and enjoyment as in every other phase of life.

Today, the new old age has become a given, no longer revolutionary or even out of the ordinary. But in the intervening quarter century, much more than attitudes have shifted. The mystery of the aging process, which occurs at around 1% a year after age 30, is beginning to yield some viable answers. For example, its genetic basis is now better understood. Researchers continue to probe clues offered, for examples, by telomeres, the end caps to a strand of DNA that ravel with time as the body ages. Preserving the integrity of telomeres through meditation seems like a very promising lead.

But the sheer amount of new data and hopeful clues can be very confusing, so I think it’s worthwhile to summarize in very general terms, where anti-aging is going. The three fronts that need to be covered are physical, mental, and psychological. Continue reading

Being Intent on Always Moving Forward: Dick Van Dyke on Aging

Recently Dick Van Dyke sat down with NPR to talk about his new book and his advice on getting older.  In it, America’s favorite song and dance man of the modern era talk about romance (his wife is 46 years his senior), taking care of his body (he said he owes his body an apology for habits of the past) and on singing and dancing even as he ages ( “Everybody can sing. That you do it badly is no reason not to sing.”)

Van Dyke says he asks a question of people as they age and now we want to ask you:

Of all the things you enjoyed doing when you were younger that you can’t anymore, what do you miss?

From Intent.com: I intend to celebrate!

This Week: My intent is to celebrate!

Do not regret growing older.
It is a privilege denied to many.
-unknown

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This summer has been a mess.

I left a new job and went back to a job with not enough hours to pay my bills. I upgraded from a studio apartment into a wonderful two bedroom apartment only to have to move a month later and found a new place with only 4 days to spare. I lost a grandfather and a grandmother. Between time, money and distance, I wasn’t at  either funeral. I cried a lot. I was very stressed. I probably made my friends wish they were deaf so they couldn’t hear my whining.

My birthday is on Friday. I turn 28. WHAT? Yes. It’s the oldest I’ve ever been.

Birthdays have always been a big deal in my family. That’s something for which I’m super grateful. After the past three months, I’m even more grateful for a time to stop and celebrate. I can start with the fact that I’m alive. Considering the number of people lost every year to disease, war, and random acts of God – making it another 365 days deserves some attention. It was 365 more days to call my mom so she could tell me what our family dogs had gotten into that day. It was 365 more days to go see comedy shows with my best friend and lay on a California beach just because. It was 365 more days to enjoy things like pumpkin pancakes and Easter candy and Thanksgiving dinner. Not everyone gets to say they’ve had 28 Christmases, 28 birthday parties, 28 anniversaries of waking up on this Earth another year.

I intend to celebrate because gratitude and happiness are good for your soul. There are legitimately terrible things that happen every day. In LA, sometimes it’s a struggle just to get groceries into your house without putting your back out. The unfortunate part is that terrible things have this way of being so loud and in your face. They seem bigger than the wonderful things, but trust me, they’re not. You can spend 24 hours focused on the dent on your bumper, the watered down coffee at work, the obnoxious person who just called to yell at you on the phone, or you can spend that same amount of time thinking about pictures of puppies on Instagram, drinking chai tea lattes with coffee ice cubes or telling someone how much you love them. You get the same amount of time everyday. Spend it thinking about things that won’t give you an ulcer or make your hair fall out.

I intend to celebrate because cake is good. And presents are good. And people you love paying for your dinner at fancy restaurants? Also good. Celebrate whether or not it’s your birthday. Because it’s good.

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This is the inaugural post in MeLissa’s weekly column where she’ll explore the power of setting intents in her own life and for those around her. She will also news from Intent.com and guest intents that have inspired her. Want to be part of it? Sign up at Intent.com and start sharing your intents! 

5 Inspirations to Have a Creative Weekend!

Artsy FartsyHave you ever had the experience of working on something you’re so immersed in that you completely forget the million other things you “should” be doing in that moment? Maybe it’s a song you’re figuring out on guitar, or a homemade birthday card, or even an elaborate doodle. And then the thought creeps in… “I really should be doing homework,” or “I really should be folding that laundry.”

Well you know what? That is precisely the time when you should keep doing what you’re doing. It’s called flow, and it is the most critical aspect of the creative process.

The development of creativity and engagement with creative practices is a major aspect of occupational therapy – a field which aims to support clients in whole-person wellness goals. The practice is incredibly effective especially for treating clients with physical or developmental conditions, but it is often also used to support individuals in the daily pursuits of success and happiness in their careers, relationships, health, and life goals.

Creativity in this space is viewed as one of the most essential factors to building confidence and self-esteem, so essential to realizing the success we aspire toward. Even beyond that, the act of creating is so different from the activities most of us engage with most regularly. And this allows us to transcend our “box”, push our comfort zones, and leap into a field of possibility!

Here are 5 ways to inspire your creativity this weekend:

36 Surprising Ways to Boost Creativity for Free (Greatist)

How to Master Both Sides of Creativity (Positively Positive)

How Seizing Your Limitations Can Be the Key to Creativity (Upworthy)

Deepak Chopra On Maintaining Creativity As You Age (Blisstree)

5 Rainbow Color Tricks to Jumpstart Creativity (Mind Body Green)

 

What creative projects are you looking forward to this weekend? Let us know in the comments section!

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