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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

First Quarter Blog Recap 2021

January 4th 2021 – Sharing Our Wisdom With The Next Generation

We have the opportunity as wise and vibrantly aging women to share our wisdom with our daughters and even our granddaughters. The positive choices that they make today, will positively affect their future selves. No matter at what age they start! 

Here are some of my top recommendations for developing healthy habits today, before it becomes a necessity.

https://www.ljrohan.com/…/sharing-our-wisdom-with-the…/

January 11, 2021 – Reversing The Dreaded Dowager’s Hump

The DREADED Dowager’s Hump…

Consider someone who walks hunched over with difficulty. As the percentage of women who suffer from it increases, it is becoming a common sight. Maybe a loved one comes to mind, or perhaps you are developing these symptoms. 

But, I’m not all bad news and dread; there is still HOPE! Studies have shown that doing simple spine-lengthening exercises three times a week decreases the curve by 11%.

Learn more about these suggested exercises at https://www.ljrohan.com/…/reversing-the-dreaded…/

January 18, 2021 – How Much Water Should I Drink A Day? Part I

How much water should I drink in a day? Well…

Our bodies are made up of 60% water

Our brains and hearts are 73% water

And our lungs are 83% water.

Every organ in our bodies, and every system in process in our bodies, require water to run properly. And, they all need enough water to work optimally.

Learn more at https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/how-much-water-should-i-drink-a-day-part-i/

January 25, 2021 – How Much Water Should I Drink A Day? Part II

Let’s keep the water talk going!

Water is GREAT, and there are huge benefits to drink enough water every day.

Cut calories by filling up the available space in our stomachs with this zero-calorie fluid.

Seniors are sometimes misdiagnosed as suffering from dementia, when in fact they are suffering from delirium. A possible cause for delirium? You guessed it, not enough water.

Dehydration makes older skin look even drier and more wrinkled–a state improved overnight by drinking enough water to be properly hydrated.

Read more at https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/how-much-water-should-i-drink-a-day-part-ii/

February 1, 2021- Susan Lucci’s Heart Attack Scare

You have the power to take control of your health, today!

Read my suggestions to prevent a heart attack here: https://www.ljrohan.com/…/susan-luccis-heart-attack-scare/

February 8, 2021- Becoming The Older Generation

As the last of our parents’ age group passes and we are passed the torch of family leadership, we experience new challenges in the journey of life.

What are some of the things you experienced when you became the older generation? https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/becoming-the-older-generation/

February 15, 2021- Dancing May Be The Best Aerobic Exercise To Reduce Dementia

Let’s dance!

Alone, or with a partner, dancing is proving to be one of the best ways to exercise our bodies and keep our memory sharp.

Read more about the positive benefits of dancing.

https://www.ljrohan.com/…/dancing-may-be-the-best…/

February 22, 2021 – I Hear Music

What can music do for our bodies?

When we devote some time to listen to music, the benefits are significant.

Read more about the benefits of music here: https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/benefits-of-music-on-aging/

March 1, 2021- Meditation 101

There is an old Chinese proverb, “Eight out of nine things that happen to us do not match our expectations.”

The natural response is to feel stressed about the eight things.

This is the perfect segue into this week’s topic: the benefits of finding quiet contemplation time, or time for meditation. https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/meditation-101/

March 8, 2021- My Self-care Recharging Secret

Come along as I share my self-care secret to feeling more vibrant, more energetic, AND like a whole new woman! https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/my-selfcare-recharging-secret/

March 15, 2021- Want A Sharper Memory?

Do you want to strengthen your memory and sharpen your thinking?

Science tells us there are some concrete ways to do this. Mixing up your exercise routine is a key.

Read more about the best types of exercises for brain health here: https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/want-a-sharper-memory/

March 22, 2021- Some Little-known And Forgotten Vibrant Women

Today consider a few vibrant, yet often forgotten, women in history;

              Dame Freya Stark DBE

              Victoria Claflin Woodhull

              Hildegard of Bingen

Read more about these women here: https://www.ljrohan.com/…/some-little-known-and…/

March 29, 2021- Gardening: Good For Your Health? You Bet!

“When the world grows wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the Garden.”

                                       Minnie Aumônier

Research reveals the solid health benefits gardening has on people of all ages, but especially on older adults.

Read more at https://www.ljrohan.com/…/gardening-good-for-your…/

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Gardening: Good for Your Health? You Bet!

When the world grows wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the Garden.

Minnie Aumônier

This quotation about gardening has lived under the glass on my desk for as long as I can remember. Decades before I became a gerontologist and learned that gardening is good for you—physically, mentally, and spiritually—I have shared these words with people. I knew this instinctively, as I always feel at peace after a morning or afternoon spent digging, cutting, weeding, and planting. Even cleaning up at the beginning of spring, and putting the garden to bed in the fall, leaves me deeply satisfied with the world. Now, as the first little buds appear on the trees and the spring bulbs poke out their pointy heads, the garden calls me back to her.

Mounting research reveals the solid health benefits gardening has on people of all ages, but especially on older adults.

Did you know, gardening ranks as the second most commonly reported leisure-time physical activity for us older adults behind walking? A Meta study (a study of many studies combined) done by Dr. Emily J. Nicklett at the University of Michigan looked at gardening for our physical health.

Despite the all-to-familiar lower back twinges many of us feel at the end of a long day outside, gardening is great exercise and leads to an improved diet and better nutritional choices. Studies involving home gardens, community gardens, and even school gardens, show that when we grow some of the vegetables that end up on our dinner table, it changes our attitude toward eating and urges us to make healthier lifestyle choices in other areas of our lives.

Dr. Nicklett also found gardening decreases diastolic blood pressure, reduced weight gain/body mass index and more than doubled the overall amount of physical activity compared to non-gardeners. Additionally, we gardeners who spend two hours a week or more playing in the dirt delay, and sometimes prevent, the onset of chronic conditions and maintain higher physical functioning than walkers.

The variety of physical activities involved in gardening—digging, raking, hauling bags of soil, reaching to trim—uses one’s whole body and tones every muscle. These all count among the best non-repetitive exercises. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn has proven this type of exercise lengthens our telomeres, which keep our memory sharp, as I wrote about in a previous article. Gardening is also excellent for our mental health, as well as our memory. The experience of being outside enjoying nature has shown to be so important for our mental health that in some parts of the country, progressive doctors are prescribing time in nature as part of a healing plan for their patients.

In the early 1980’s Dr. Roger Ulrich published his ground-breaking study which found that hospital patients recovering from surgery (gall bladder surgery in this case) whose rooms faced a garden had shorter hospital stays, a more positive outlook about their recovery, complained less, and took fewer meds than those patients who looked out to a simple brick wall. I know it was devastating for me when a newer, taller house was built next door, and my view from my desk changed from lovely tree tops to the stark white side of a huge second story. In fact, I can barely sit at my desk during the day because of the loss of my view; I feel so mentally unsettled.

As I write this I am sitting in my early spring garden, hearing the birds chirping and the leaves gently rustling, and the words are flowing so easily to my fingers. Just as inspiration comes to me when I mindfully focus on the gardening task at hand, my thoughts become clearer and sharper when I just sit in nature.

In both cases, after spending time in the garden, my spirit feels replenished and a sense of all being right with the world envelops me. The beauty of nature around me, the soul-satisfying work of sweeping away the dead and connecting with the earth through my hands and body always makes me so appreciative of the time outside and grateful for the beauty of God’s creation.

In the last two decades, scientists have come to understand the powerful healing energy of the earth, something farmers and gardeners have known since the beginning of time. In 2012 the Journal of Environmental and Public Health published a revolutionary article declaring the positive health benefits of what is now known as Earthing, or grounding, which is walking barefoot outside, sitting, or even sleeping on the ground. The researchers found Earth’s electrons brought about significant and multiple positive physiological changes to our body including reducing pain, and creating better sleep. They also noted a marked downshift in the activity of our nervous system prompting our bodies to deeply relax, and to produce blood-thinning effects, as well.

Now that the days are getting longer and the temperatures are rising, grab a sweater and a blanket, or even better, a trowel and a flat of geraniums, and spend some time with Mother Nature—my prescription today for aging more vibrantly.

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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Some little-known and Forgotten Vibrant Women

So many accomplished, extraordinary women are being highlighted during Women’s History Month. I would like to offer three of my favorite vibrant women who are often overlooked, but are equally as interesting and worth remembering. Take note, they all lived very long lives, busy and contributing until their very last days. Here’s to Girl Power!

Dame Freya Stark DBE

dame freya stark

Dame Freya Stark DBE (31 January 1893 – 9 May 1993), was an Anglo-Italian explorer, geographer, cartographer, and travel writer. Born in Paris, and raised in Italy, she spoke more than a dozen languages and dialects, including being fluent in Arabic.

Beginning in her early thirties, Freya traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, India and Asia Minor until her last trip at eight-six.

On all Freya’s trips she made maps of the area, often being the first person ever to record the topography of the area. Many of her maps are still used today.

She flaunted convention, associating with English diplomats and officers as well as with locals; she went on desert excursions to the Bedouins, accompanied exclusively by Iraqi nationals, completely disregarding the colonial moral code of the time. She wore men’s clothing when traveling, and spent months at a time on camel back in rough and dangerous terrain, always the only woman, much less the only white woman, to do so at the time.

During World War II, Freya collaborated with the Ministry of Information in London, where she was employed as an expert on the Middle East. She lectured widely, did radio broadcasts, received numerous awards for her work and her writing and in 1972 she was knighted/raised to the level of nobility by the Queen of England and given the lifetime title of Dame.

Freya lived to be over one hundred years old, and was busy writing and lecturing until the very end of her life.

Victoria Claflin Woodhull

victoria claflin woodhull

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927), was an American leader of the women’s suffrage movement. 

Even though it would be almost fifty years before women gained the right to vote, Victoria was the first woman to run for President of the United States. She was the candidate in 1872 from the Equal Rights Party, supporting women’s suffrage and equal rights; her running mate was black abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass.

Some historians quibble about the legality of her run because she was younger than the constitutionally-mandated age of 35. Election coverage by contemporary newspapers does not suggest age was a significant issue.

As well as an activist for women’s rights Victoria championed labor reforms, and was a voice for “free love”– the freedom to marry, divorce, and bear children without social restriction or government interference.  Together with her sister, Tennessee Claflin, she was the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, and the two were among the first women to found a newspaper in the United States, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, which began publication in 1870.

The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership was founded by Naomi Wolf and Margot Magowan in 1997, and in 2001, Victoria Woodhull was inducted posthumously into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a Renaissance woman only she was born just about 300 years before the Early Renaissance. 

At about fourteen, she became a nun of the Order of St. Benedict and remained so for her entire eighty-one years. Hildegard was a visionary, theologian, writer, composer, artist, healer, reformer, medical practitioner, prophet, and poet.

Her theological ideas became part of the Catholic Church, and even helped to shape modern theology. She was canonized (official declaration of Sainthood) and named a Doctor of the Church (only one of thirty-six, ever designated) by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012.

She may have lived and worked only within the confines of the Catholic Church, but her contributions were world-influencing and her writing, prolific. Entering her stride at forty-two, Hildegard wrote about holistic healing, developed new forms of music and opera, and inspired modern philosophy and psychology.

700 years later, her writing influenced Carl Jung’s work on the subconscious in psychology. She also wrote extensively about nature, science, and cosmology, and about diet and nutrition.

One of my favorite ideas is Hildegard’s concept of the divine feminine as a positive creative force in the universe. Something we are beginning to acknowledge in our world today, eight hundred years later.

Do you have a favorite vibrant woman from history? Please share her name!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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My Self-Care Recharging Secret

If you are like I am, this is a familiar scenario: too often, I put everyone and everything before myself—taking care of work issues, family issues, house issues, pet issues. If any time remains before collapsing into bed, I might read for a few minutes or look at a catalog or magazine. Then lights out to get the needed sleep to do it all again, tomorrow. Some days I just can’t get even mildly excited about tackling my to-do list. The good news is I have learned a way to create an almost instant (30 minutes needed) attitude adjustment. Good research backs up this mental health self-care, and so I offer it to you here.

If I take thirty minutes early in the day, or when I feel spent in the middle of the day, stop what I’m doing, and change gears to do self-care–something for myself that truly fills me up, not a chore I “need” to do, I feel like a new woman. My entire demeanor and outlook shift, and I am renewed. I have tried accomplishing this in fifteen minutes but, as the research confirms, we need about thirty minutes. An hour works even better, but who often has an hour to spare!

The key to the effectiveness of this self-care break comes from choosing something that you find enjoyable. For me, I indulge in pleasure reading since I do so much work-related reading as a gerontologist. Coupled with diving into the latest historical novel– for those of us whose life even in Covid consists of being in constant motion– taking a moment to sit still can double the effect. This gives our body time to reset and recalibrate. We know the benefits of having a lie-down, as my grandmother called it, or a power nap as we say today. We get up refreshed. Relaxing to soothing music will do the same thing.

If you sit for a good portion of your day, do something active but something that brings you happiness. Create a fresh flower arrangement or plant a few zinnias in the garden or a pot. Only your imagination and passion will limit you. If you have several passions, make a list of those things that bring your heart joy and make you feel alive. Let your intuition guide you to what would fill you up on any particular day.

As I have gotten older, I find if I do my self-care activities first thing in the morning, I seem to have much more energy to get through my to-do list and not feel drained at the end of the day. Sometimes that doesn’t work out. Then I look at my schedule and mark down time for me during the day. I write it in just like any other appointment. It means making oneself a priority. That proves especially hard for women, but I have seen the manifold rewards for myself and my clients and friends who put self-care time into their days.

In reality, doing this becomes a necessity for many of us at mid-life and beyond. Why self-care is important after menopause? Because in postmenopause we lose our protective armor of hormones—those wonderful chemicals that allowed us to mimic the Energizer Bunny when we could sleep five minutes, get up and go full-speed for hours. For older adults, women and men, calling timeout for thirty minutes is the pause that refreshes.

Schedule some ME time for a few weeks and see if you notice a shift in your energy level and your mood. Please let me know how it works for you. I would love to hear your story.

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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Becoming the Older Generation

Not long ago the last of my parents’ siblings, my father’s youngest sister, passed away. In the moment of her passing, I joined, like many others, the oldest generation alive– the senior generation of our family. This is a new sensation for me. My “elders” are all now gone, and I can no longer ask their advice or hear their stories. It feels strange. As little ones, teenagers especially, and young adults, we all thought of the older generation as, well, old.

As I wrote recently in a Myth Buster – Old People Should Just Get Used to Getting Old – every year we experience new challenges in the journey of life. When a generation dies, suddenly we become the older generation, and this takes many of us (hand raised, here) by surprise. This new role comes with some difficult adjustments: internally—noticing the wrinkles and gray hairs, seeing the extra time it takes to do certain things, and externally– the prejudice felt by younger people toward older folks. When the last of our parents’ generation dies, we are forced to reckon with our own mortality, and, as I often say, to realize there is more sand in the bottom than in the top.

The advice I offer to this generational shift so many of us experience is to lean into this new chapter of life and find the gifts that await us. That awareness and acceptance takes time. As a gerontologist, I continually reveal those gifts to my clients and readers. Now I must embrace them, as well.

As I listened to the various cousins and friends speak about my aunt at her memorial service, I realized she had been the glue holding the generations together. Often in a family, one person emerges as that keeper of the family history– one with all the original papers for the DAR, or the photo albums going back to the first days of photography. My aunt became that person in her early thirties.  She was always our go-to gal for the questions about our gene pool. She knew whether anyone in the family had suffered from a particular disease, or why some of us were covered in freckles. She kept all the family stories in her head and freely shared them with us. That link to my history, to my father, my grandparents, and beyond is now gone. In its absence I feel a part of who I am has also disappeared.

How I wish I had asked more questions…

What are some of the things you experienced when you became the older generation?

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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