fbpx
L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

Today, Start Some Emotional Self-Care

October 19, 2020

Late this past summer, I engaged in some fun emotional self-care. I bought a beautiful red jacket on deep sale (yippee). I bought it as a testament to my belief I will be able to wear it this holiday season. Recently, I made summer fruit chutney with the last of the good nectarines; it is the bit of summer I put on top of cream cheese when I entertain friends in my home during the dark of winter. These are small, conscious acts, but important ones. They soothe my heart with the knowing that better times are coming. We will get through this, and at some point, out the other side. Even if the jacket doesn’t make its debut until Holiday 2021, it is there, giving me hope about the future.

I do little things like these as often as I can, especially after learning another state is on fire, infections are going up, or a local business has closed forever; right after I send money to the Red Cross, the local relief fund, and the food bank. Each act makes me feel more empowered, and with it I boost my immune system, reduce stress and help strengthen my armor against illness.

Dr. Bruce Lipton is the author of many books, but his groundbreaking work is entitled, The Biology of Belief. In this seminal work, Dr. Lipton, a cellular biologist, turned the healing community upside down when he put forth what many scientific studies have now proven: Our beliefs push every cell in our bodies toward healing or disease, accelerating aging or slowing it down. That’s pretty heady stuff. The scientists even gave it a new name, epigenetics. Even more astounding were the findings that our beliefs have five times more influence on our health than genetics.

Can positive thinking change your life? The answer is a definitive, YES! We are what we believe.

Here in this platform I have devoted many words to how detrimental high, sustained cortisol levels – from problems like stress and anxiety – are to our health and our rate of aging.

When we continually think negative thoughts—believing the worst is happening every minute of every day and that the world is coming to an end—in L.J. speak, when there’s NO water in the glass—we flood our systems with life-sucking cortisol. A bitter, but absolute, truth. We age and become wizen, inside and out. Look at the faces and more importantly, the body postures of stressed-out folks. They look and move older than they are.

But, all is not lost! How to see your glass half-full?

Now for the good news: by undertaking emotional self-care and consciously doing things that give us hope for a brighter future, we actually begin to shift our negative thoughts to sunnier ones. We know from bushel baskets of research that positive thinking helps prevent disease. They reduce our cortisol levels.

These optimistic feelings can be large or small. Start planning that dream vacation to the Grand Tetons or plant those herbs in a kitchen window box to yield delicious fresh herbs in February when the ground is bare. During World War II our grandparents and parents planted “Victory Gardens,” not only providing food for themselves, but also banking on the war ending and good times returning. I think right now, this red-hot minute, we need to create our own victory garden, be it with colorful brochures or a potted garden, then tend it with our consistent,  positive attention, saying to ourselves, “This is for my better future,” and watch it blossom into reality.

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More

Quarterly Article Recap

September 28, 2020

July 6, 2020—Can You Really Give Up Sugar?

Sugar overdose upsets the delicate balance of bacteria in our gut. It can also cause chronic diseases related to inflammation like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Ingesting too much sugar can lead to anxiety, dementia, and palpitations. And, it can make us fat. Adopting a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fish is the key to keeping us vibrant.

July 13, 2020–Magic in the Music

Moving to jazz, classical, or instrumental –sorry, not rock and roll—enhances your ability to regain and strengthen your balance.

July 20, 2020–Powering Up Our Immune System

A reminder to bolstering our immune systems as our first choice of defense against disease, and that holds true for COVID-19, the Coronavirus. Consider increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, as well as your oral supplements—Vitamins C and D, a good multivitamin, honey, garlic, probiotics, selenium, and zinc.

August 3, 2020—What New Skill Have You Learned?

We all know the thrill of accomplishing something new, and sheltering in-place gives us the perfect chance to learn a new skill. The resulting success does wonders for our immune systems.

August 10, 2020—Cerebral Small Vessel Disease

CSVD, as Leslie Kernisan, MD, MPH says, “is a broad umbrella term that encompasses many different types of problems with the brain’s small blood vessels.” We can lower inflammation within the body, and slow down the onset of CSVD by consistently making healthy life choices.

August 17, 2020—George Eliot and I Are in Print!

After many months of hard work, and countless revisions, I am thrilled to announce the birth of our book, Live Vibrantly! With L.J. and Her Dog George Eliot. ❤️ Many people asked me how this book came about, so I’m sharing my story today on the blog.

August 24, 2020—Let Me Sleep on That

Adequate sleep each night enhances every facet of our health and aging process. It strengthens different types of memories, clears waste products from the brain, offers immune protection against infections, and may lower the possibility of weight gain, depression, and the development of Type 2 diabetes.

August 31, 2020—My Life-Changing Sleep Secret!

As we age, our circadian rhythms governing our sleep-wake cycle change, and so we can no longer stay up late and still function well the next day. Turning out the light before 11 o’clock may be the key to better sleep.

September 7, 2020—Get A Jump This Year on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder gives many of us the blues, come winter gray skies. Light boxes, exercise– especially in the morning– yoga, lowering sugar intake, and keeping up with friends and hobbies can help you stay vibrant until the sun shines again.

September 14, 2020—Explaining Gerontology

Gerontology blends the biological, social, and psychological sciences of aging with humanistic studies of relationships, spirituality, emotions, beliefs, and behaviors of older people.

September 21, 2020–How Can a Gerontologist Help Me?

My job as a gerontologist for both my readers and my clients is to pull together the best science from each discipline on a subject, and filter it through my understanding and expertise. Then I offer non-pharmaceutical, life-enhancing suggestions and solutions to change the course of our aging and lead fuller, more vibrant lives.

September 28, 2020—Third Quarter Recap

A quick summary of all the great articles of the past three months!

Read More

How Can a Gerontologist Help Me?

September 21, 2020

My goals as a gerontologist are to empower, educate, and energize women using great information backed up by sound science. We deserve to be the masters of our health and our destiny. Obviously, we have merited that unique focus all along, but thank goodness society is finally catching up.  We now see women across the planet stepping up and taking their rightful places as full creators of their future. I want to help each one of them access the very best version of herself.                                                             

I knew from the beginning of my most recent return to school, that I wanted to concentrate on issues facing women as they age, for both my own journey and to help all my friends live long, healthy lives so that I would have playmates! But seriously, I saw a great need: For so long, few health and science studies focused on women, and only a scant amount had used women participants.  For example, older studies on testing hormones used men as the participants! (How bizarre is that thinking?) Researchers and doctors just took the results of studies on men and applied the same guidelines to women, because women and men are exactly alike.  😉

Eventually studies featured female participants, but only in the last twenty years or so. Still, nowhere could I find clear, concise information regarding women’s health and well-being as seen through a gerontological lens—a holistic lens—as gerontology is a holistic discipline. Holistic means that since all our parts are intimately connected, to fully understand ourselves as complicated human beings we must look at all the different aspects of a person—the psychological, physical, and social elements. Gerontologists are social scientists.

How are Gerontology and Geriatrics Different?

Geriatrics is the study of the diseases of the elderly and focuses solely on medical conditions. 

Do Only Seniors Need a Gerontologist?

It is most often that older people seek the assistance of a gerontologist, however, I know that the younger a person starts following the advice we offer, the more vibrant they will be throughout their lives. Yet, most folks believe a gerontologist only helps seniors. If we could only get the younger ones to be interested (or think they will ever need us!)

How Does a Gerontologist Help with Everyday Living?

My job as a gerontologist for both my readers and my clients is to pull together the best science from each discipline on a subject, and filter it through my understanding and expertise. Then I offer non-pharmaceutical, life-enhancing suggestions and solutions to change the course of our aging. I want my readers to lead lives filled with more vibrancy, and so hopefully, more fun, and with greater opportunities for heart connections and satisfaction on all levels.

I “walk the walk and talk the talk,” as we say, by road-testing my theories on myself first before I suggest them to you. If it doesn’t seem to work, out it goes. I pass along the success stories through my articles and videos and hope they will help women, as they have helped me, feel more energetic, look younger, think clearer and sharper, remember better, and wake up each day excited to have another day here on this planet to manifest my dreams. Even if we have limitations or challenges, we can always strive to be more vibrant.

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)

Earlier this year I became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, CAPS for short, to further help seniors stay in their homes by retrofitting those homes to accommodate their changing needs. My thirty years of being an ASID interior designer and owning my own interior design business give me decades of experience added to my gerontological knowledge, to find just the right, and beautiful, solution to every home’s challenges. Adding this important component to my erector set, I can help build a better model for our future selves to be as vibrant as possible throughout our lives.

Read More

The Life-Changing Sleep Secret!

August 31, 2020

I was born a night owl, loving the quiet of the late evening hours, when all the chores are done, commitments completed, the house nicely buttoned up for the night, and I have time for myself. In my younger decades I could easily stay up until 12 midnight or 1 AM, and wake up at a reasonable hour, refreshed. In the last few years, a strange shift has occurred. Even if I got the needed number of hours of sleep, when I go to bed at midnight, or later, the next day I’m tired and lack my usual pep-a-de-do. I can no longer deny the change.

It began in my early fifties and has slowly, and truly, become my new reality. I fought it for years, but now at almost sixty-one I can no longer stay up late, night after night, and expect to fire on enough cylinders to get through my To-Do list, much less anything on my Want-To-Do list the next day.

Going to bed earlier changed my life. I never thought this would happen, but as a gerontologist, I know retiring earlier to feel more competent is a part of aging well; a fact I wanted to ignore.

life changing sleep secrets

While research tells us losing our protective armor of hormones at menopause can also play a part in sleep-related issues– from small to great on a sliding scale depending on the individual woman– that isn’t my issue. Drilling into the science, I find as we get older, we experience a shift in our various circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythms works as our body’s twenty-four-hour internal clock. Quietly, under the radar, they carry out key functions and processes. It is my circadian rhythm governing my sleep-wake cycle that downshifted when I wasn’t looking.

Much of the more conventional research ties an imbalance with sleep to our light/dark exposure, but I still wake up at virtually the same time I always did; it’s the time I turn off the light that makes the difference.

A few years ago, Dr. Julia Shekleton and her team at the Division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, in their ground-breaking article in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, identified why this phenomenon occurs. They called it the Wake Maintenance Zone.

We know the experience of the Wake Maintaince Zone more commonly as “getting a second wind.” Dr. Shekleton tells us the onset of our second wind usually occurs right before our body switches to “getting ready for sleep” mode by secreting melatonin—the hormone released by our brain that makes us feel sleepy. Looking at the circadian 24-hour clock, our brain begins releasing melatonin around 9 PM to our body’s clock even if you are traveling through several time zones. Additionally, in many women, but not all, melatonin declines more sharply at mid-life, which causes many women (and men) to struggle with getting enough restful sleep.

When our second wind kicks in, we get a seemingly “burst” of energy for two or three hours more, making sleep virtually impossible. By the time this second wind winds down, we are out of sync with our natural circadian sleep/wake rhythm, and so lose precious restorative sleep time. As Dr. Shekleton found, the next day our cognitive function suffers, and we feel tired, even if we slept in to try and make up for getting to sleep later the night before. And, if our stress level is high, our cortisol levels will take an uptick at night, just as we want to float off to slumber land, and further sabotage our ability to get restful sleep.

From my perspective as a gerontologist, what I find is working for me, and is helping my clients, is to turn off the light while we are still in the first phases of melatonin secretion—somewhere before 11 PM.  Research tells us this is the magic hour of demarcation, after which our body begins other processes that seem to also feed a second wind. More research is needed, but I know going to bed earlier than my usual time, makes this night owl a much happier, more energetic, and definitely pleasanter person to be around. 

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More

George Eliot And I Are in Print!

August 17, 2020

After many months of hard work, and countless revisions, I am thrilled to announce the birth of our book, Live Vibrantly! With L.J. and Her Dog George Eliot. Many people asked me how this book came about. Here’s my story.

While finishing my return to graduate school– after a thirty-year hiatus– I began thinking about how my new business as a gerontologist would manifest. A friend, and artist, and one of my staunchest supporters and cheerleaders, Ann McIntyre, put forth a novel idea. She suggested adding a visual element to my practice. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how that should look.

After graduation, my husband and I went on vacation to one of our favorite spots, the mid-coast of Maine. There, relaxing and recharging, I could finally stop and take time to just think. As I walked the beach each day, I asked myself, how could I incorporate a visual something into a world of words? Trusting the answer would come at the perfect time, I waited. One afternoon, while stretched out on a blanket, a vision popped into my head. I love clever cartoons; several live under the glass on my desk. I sometimes send particularly funny ones to my friends. Cartoons, cartoons…then my Aha! Moment. I would include funny, but gentle, comments on aging to compliment my Facebook and website blog posts and other offerings, and share them on all my social media platforms.  Adding my precious Havanese puppy, George Eliot, as my sidekick, completed the vision.

The more I thought about this intriguing idea, the more I liked it. Everyone I mentioned it to agreed. Now, how to fill in the details? Since my drawing skills end with stick figures, I needed help to transfer my ideas onto paper. Having worked with a talented young artist, Alex Mikev, on a previous project, I knew he was my man for the job. He said yes, and soon we solidified how George and I would look. We were ready to go!

The finished illustrations you see each week, begin by me drawing a rough sketch and thinking up the dialog. I then give that to Alex to work his artistic magic to bring my idea into frame. I find my inspiration all around me—from things I have personally experienced as I am getting older, things my friends say, quotes I read, comments from my readers, and the endless antics of life with George Eliot. I decided to select some of my favorite drawings I have posted since George and I debuted on the World Wide Web in January 2018–the day I hung out my sign and opened my door as a gerontologist.

 I hope you enjoy my humorous perspectives on aging as much as I enjoy creating them!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More