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L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Gerontologist

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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Myth: Older People Need To Be Spoken To Slower And More Simply

WELL…NOW…LET’S…LOOK…AT…THIS…STEREOTYPE.

Sadly, a term even exists for the adoption of slower and simpler speech patterns when talking to a senior: Elderspeak. The American Psychology Association defines elderspeak as:

Adjustments in speech patterns, such as speaking more slowly or more loudly, shortening sentences or using limited or less complex vocabulary that are sometimes made by younger people when communicating with older adults.*

Younger people too often think that once we become seniors, we unilaterally and instantaneously lose our hearing and become dim-witted; therefore requiring slower and simpler speech patterns. They immediately forget that, just yesterday, we were their respected and revered professors, mentors, or grandparents.

Once someone internalizes the beliefs others hold about her, verses what she believes about herself, the effect on her can be devastating. It results in a loss of self-esteem and self-confidence and worse, the adoption of the belief that she is now somehow less mentally sharp or suffers from hearing loss. She begins to mentally shrink and draw into her world, becoming a shell of her former self.

To be honest, I find the pervasiveness of this behavior toward seniors, especially given the number of seniors in positions of visible power and influence around the world today, astonishing.

WHAT…DO…YOU…THINK?

*Dictionary.apa.org

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Sharing Our Wisdom with the Next Generation

Wise senior women of the world, I call on each of you to help your daughters, granddaughters, and even your great-granddaughters, to be healthier and happier, and to live longer and more vibrantly. Will they listen to our words of wisdom? Some will heed our advice — the ones who see clearly the effects of decades of lifestyle choices, good and bad, on our bodies, minds, and spirits.

More and more research emerges every month supporting this fact: The sooner we adopt healthier lifestyle choices the better our mid-life and senior years will be. All is not lost for us seniors, as the human body is the most miraculous healing machine on the planet. Every single positive change we make reaps benefits, no matter if we are thirty-two or eighty-two. However, the climb becomes steeper when chronic issues and limitations add rust and corrosion to the workings of the gears.

Our mission: to help our daughters and granddaughters retool their lifestyles to include life-affirming choices to free them from some of the challenges we live with as seniors because we didn’t know differently.

Gerontologists look at how circumstances and choices we made when we were young and bulletproof, come back at mid-life to express themselves in our joints, brains, and hearts.  Drawing from the latest science, we can encourage the younger women, and men, in our lives to consider choosing some, or all, of these six life-enhancing changes which will profoundly influence the course of their aging.

My Top Six Choices

Exercise

Exercise is THE game changer, maybe even the magic bullet against premature aging. Our bodies are made to move, and the more we do, the more vibrant we will be. We now know if we exercise at a moderate intensity—85% of our suggested heart rate (https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/measuring/heartrate.htm) for one hour most days– mixing up our workouts with repetitive aerobics (biking, swimming, walking) and non-repetitive aerobics (tennis, Zumba, jazzercise, or other dance classes, badminton, basketball); adding in weight/resistance training and some stretching/yoga, we will be doing the single most important thing to keep our bodies strong and finely tuned. A mix of these exercises prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s by laying new track in our brains, which keeps our memory circuits strong and long (our telomeres). Routine exercise lifts our mood, helps us sleep soundly, and makes our skin glow.

Sleep

When we exercise regularly, our sleep improves, but not getting enough sleep can short-circuit the benefits we gain from all that exertion. Getting enough sleep has risen to the top of the list in the last few years, and will likely stay there as we continue to learn about the benefits and detriments of getting, or not getting, enough sleep. The bottom line? Sleep allows our bodies to rejuvenate. It restores and replenishes the energy in all our cells, repairs damage to our organs and systems we incur by living life and clears away toxins, especially memory and cognitive function-robbing plaque. We need seven to eight hours of good quality sleep. Making it a priority, not an afterthought, will be an age-defying decision.

Sugar

The Achilles’ heel for so many of us is sugar. I know I struggle with staying on the low-sugar wagon every single day. Sugar creates inflammation in our body, and inflammation is the source of all disease. A sugar-free life is an admirable goal, and for some, over time, achievable and maintainable. For many of us, eliminating sweets would be the same as a sentence in solitary confinement; please just shoot me. To be realistic, cutting out half the sugar in our diets is a great place to start. Give it a year. After a year, try to cut the amount by half, again. By the end of the first year, the craving for sugar will be less, and by the end of the second year, the addiction could well be broken. This choice might need the help of a health-care professional (doctor, therapist, RN). These professionals can help break this addiction.

Eating Whole Foods

Leaving behind processed foods—crackers, cookies, lunch meat, anything made with wheat flour in favor of whole, unprocessed foods—fresh vegetables, nuts, low-sugar fruits, small amounts of lean meat, healthy fats and legumes, gives the body the optimum fuel to function—physically and mentally. If possible, going one step further, and choosing organic will help even more. Again, this is a tall order, one that takes time, but by cutting out a few unhealthy things over time our body begins to function at a higher level and heal the damage of bad food choices. Like giving up sugar, take this slowly. Add and eliminate systematically and consistently over a year. The change in one year will be astounding.

Quiet Time/Contemplation

2020 was a year that “tried men’s souls,” the old adage goes, yet it did allow us to slow down and have more quiet time—sometimes bordering on too much. However, I sincerely hope we gained a new appreciation for less hectic schedules. Many of us began meditating, and that is a habit to continue. Adding meditation, in whatever form feels right, reconnects us to our inner selves; some say our higher selves. From this place we find greater peace, balance, and a sense of calm. When the world returns to full speed—as we know it will eventually– we need to keep our fingers on the reset button that meditation offers us each time we sit in quiet.

Meaningful Connection

Again, in this unprecedented year, we have all experienced a degree of isolation not known for many decades. What became clear for all of us is the importance of meaningful connections with others. When we are young it is easier to make those connections, and so this piece of aging vibrantly advice might go unheeded at the moment, but keep reminding your daughter to nurture her friendships now, to ensure she continues to have those strong bonds as she reaches her senior years. She will thank you then, for sure.

You, with your hard-earned knowledge and wisdom, will know the right time to broach each of these topics. Everyone is different and takes in information in her unique way. I offer these choices with my sincere and heartfelt hope that they will help our young, and even yet unborn, women live joyfully, more healthfully, and more vibrantly until they are well past one hundred!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

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FOURTH QUARTER ARTICLE RECAP

December 21, 2020– ‘Twas the Year Our Pets Saved Us

The writers at Chewy have written this perfect poem about our pet’s role over the last year, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. *The writer has a Havenese puppy, like George.*

 2020 was not the year that any of us expected, or wanted.

BUT, having our furry friends by our side this year has helped us find happiness even when it seemed impossible.

December 14, 2020The Power of Forgiveness

YOU are the prime beneficiary when you forgive someone.

When you practice Forgiveness Therapy, you free up huge vats of energy that were previously being

utilized to keep those anger knots solidly in place. Forgiveness makes you feel lighter,

happier, and more at peace than you thought possible.

December 7, 2020With Age Comes Wisdom

Growing older and gaining wisdom, means understanding that being right is never as important as being kind.

November 30, 2020Who Draws George and L.J.?

People ALWAYS ask me if I do the drawings for my page. My answer is a resounding, I wish!

But who is the person behind the drawings?

I collaborate with the wonderfully talented artist Alex Mikev.

Together we create a weekly cartoon about the journey of aging, and we have even been able to put together a collection in print.

November 23, 2020– Spread a Little Gratitude All Year Long

Showing gratitude in all areas of our lives helps us be happier and HEALTHIER. Now I’ll share another way that I have found to have a positive impact on my attitude of gratitude.

November 16, 2020Raising Your Gratitude Quotient

Do you want to feel better right now, and super-charge some powerful immune-boosting hormones this red-hot minute?

Finding things to appreciate and be grateful for will make these shifts a reality. Extensive research finds this all to be true, and today, I offer you some concrete ways to raise your spirits.

November 9, 2020– Aging Well in 12 Steps!

As a Gerontologist, I’m asked every day what I do to age more vibrantly.

In this blog, I lay out the 12 steps I try to follow on my vibrant aging journey.

November 2, 2020-Gut-Brain Connection

Inflammation in the colon from poor food choices allows “bad” bacteria to float off and take residence in other organs, causing them to be inflamed.

The brain isn’t equipped to deal with inflammation and results in aging of the brain and impaired brain health.

The good news: When we cut down or eliminate sugar and refined carbs, adhere to a suggested regime of vitamins, and make a few lifestyle changes; we can begin to rebuild our gut’s health.

October 26, 2020More Answers From Dr. Claudia Harsh

I am back with 6 more questions for Dr. Claudia Harsh:

-Can breast cancer be cured? What is the percentage of return if contracted before menopause? After menopause?

-Are there any symptoms to watch for?

-Does contracting breast cancer before menopause increase the risk of getting it again after menopause?

-Breast cancer rates are increasing. Why? Is that for pre-or post-menopause?

-Is post-menopausal breast cancer hereditary?

October 19, 2020– Today Start Some Emotional Self-Care

Positive thinking CAN change your life!

Our beliefs have 5 times more influence on our health than genetics.

This article outlines the benefits of Emotional Self Care, and the benefits of giving yourself hope for the future.

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‘Twas the Year Our Pets Saved Us

For this week’s blog I’m sharing an original poem from Chewy. I read it and knew I couldn’t have said it better myself. Enjoy!

‘Twas the Year Our Pets Saved Us

A Chewy Original Poem

‘Twas the year full of questions, COVID, and doubt. For months we wore masks, indoors and out. 
Social distancing made us feel safe, but alone. Even our weddings were remote or postponed. While our kids went to school in ways unfamiliar, our own days and nights felt strained and peculiar. We binge-watched TV – the good, bad, and terrible.  In short;  this past year was barely bearable.

Yet each time we felt at the end of our ropes – Lo and behold! – our pets raised our hopes.  They offered relief for our cares and our worry, relief that was feathered, or scaly, or furry, or swam ‘round and ‘round in a tank without sinking, or sat by a heat lamp, unmoving, unblinking.

Some of these critters are new family members. Some have been with us for days without number. Some were adopted as pandemic puppies. Some are ball pythons, or bunnies, or guppies. Honestly, though, species don’t matter – the point is that pets make everything better.

So yes, while we must also sadly attest that at times, this year, we were not at our best, acting crabby and sullen and often cantankerous, (Pets: You have the pandemic to thank for this!) again and again, for reasons inscrutable, we got back to booping those dogs snoots so boopable. We treated our cats to special cat treats. We taught new limericks to our old parakeets. We gave extra crickets to our cute bearded dragons. Even our fishes’ tails started waggin’.

We care for our pets – they need us, it’s true. But deep down we know that we need our pets, too. Their antics make us laugh when we’re tearful. They comfort the anxious, lonesome, and fearful. We need the sense that their presence provides us: The feeling that loved ones are always beside us.

2020 tested us in myriad ways. Weeks felt like months, and hours felt like days. A new year approaches. Who knows what’s in store? Who knows that fresh weirdness will barge through the door? But whatever may come, let’s all take a minute to celebrate our world and the animals in it. A world without pets would be a cold, dreary place, like the ocean’s dark floor, or the far depths of space. We have it in ourselves to shift our attitude and close our the year with a sense of gratitude.

So in that spirit, friends, let’s raise our voices, all: “Happiest of holidays – to creatures great and small!”

In a year of challenge and change, one thing that has never wavered is the mad love we have for ourpets – an they have for us. We hope this original poem makes you smile, knowing that whatever 2021 brings, our pets will always be by our side.

Source: https://be.chewy.com/twas-the-year-our-pets-saved-us-a-chewy-original-poem/

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