fbpx
L.J. Rohan

L.J. Rohan

Certified Gerontologist

In Case You Missed Something ... My First Quarter 2020 Recap

March 30, 2020

Just in case you missed an article, here is a handy-dandy recap of all the great information I have shared with you so far this year. Pass it on!

 January 6, 2020–Is Your Cruisin’ Causing Your Bruisin’? 

Those of us in post-menopause bruise easier due the loss of our protective shield of hormones. My AIE: Arnica gel and Arnica homeopathic tablets, Ice, and Elevation work together to lessen the effects of those minor mishaps. 

 January 13, 2020 –Downsizing

As we get older, downsizing may ramp up the fear of losing control over our lives; possibly creating a downward spiral into feelings of despondency and depression. Exerting control over our lives lowers our cortisol levels and gives us a greater sense of well-being, hence, decluttering because we want to, way before we have to, isempowering.

 January 20, 2020—Who Will Care For Us Seniors?

A shortage of geriatric medical doctors, called Geriatricians, who specialize in the diseases of older folks may exist, but the good news is that 70% of seniors do not require specialized care. Trained nurse practitioners, PAs, and pharmacists, can become the foot soldiers for geriatricians. This extension of knowledge and care through different avenues will, I hope, serve all seniors, as these medical professionals add their expertise to that of the geriatric specialists, hopefully decreasing ageism prejudice.

January 27, 2020- Women and Heart Disease: The Facts May Surprise You, Part I

Unbeknownst to many people, heart disease is the number one killer of women each year.  Knowing all possible symptoms for women, which may differ from those that men experience, could save a life.

February 3, 2020-Women and Heart Disease: The Facts May Surprise You Part II

As well as focusing on healthy lifestyle habits to encourage early prevention of heart disease, women must be more proactive in protecting themselves. This includes being honest with their doctors about any heart health issues they may be experiencing, and insisting on having the proper tests to assess potential problems before they become serious.

February 10, 2020- Women and Heart Disease—The Good News!

The more healthy changes we make at any age, the better our hearts, and lives, will be. Dental care, proper diet and supplements, meditation, seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and regular exercise are critical to good heart health.

February 17, 2020-Susan Lucci’s Heart Attack Scare                                                                         Her doctor failed to order tests for her which would have revealed the 90% blockage in the main artery leading to her heart, and a 70% blockage in a branch artery even though her doctor knew her father had suffered a heart attack in his early forties.

February 24, 2020—Living with Intention                                                                                            We need to realize that life is both precious and finite. Our goals should be to live each day consciously choosing how we spend each minute, and to hold in our awareness that once that moment is gone, it’s gone forever.

March 2, 2020-Dancing May Be the Best Aerobic Exercise to Reduce Dementia

Put on your dancing shoes at least once a week to maintain and even boost the long-term health of your brain and reverse telemetric aging.

March 9, 2020–Powering Up Our Immunity to Help Stave off COVID-19—the Coronavirus.  Bolstering our immune system to fighting fitness always ranks 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.

March 16, 2020-What Does Aging Look Like to You?

We all have conscious and unconscious beliefs and ideas about how an older person (no matter your age) looks and acts and in this post I explore some of those negative cultural beliefs and give my alternate, and positive, belief about aging.

March 23, 2020-Electrolytes-Why We Need Them!

Electrolytes balance the body’s fluid levels. “Electrolyte imbalance,” which can be easily corrected in most of us, can become a serious issue in older adults. A diet low in nutrients or whole foods, too little exercise, and not drinking enough water can be major causes of electrolyte imbalance.

March 30, 2020–Your Quarterly Recap

See what you might have missed and share what you love with your friends!

Read More

Electrolytes - We Need Them

March 23, 2020

What the devil is an electrolyte, and why do we need them? The main electrolytes in our body are calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, phosphate, and sodium. These nutrients, or chemicals, conduct electricity when dissolved in a liquid, like water. Our body is 70% water, and electrolytes are important in so many of our internal functions, from regulating our heartbeat to allowing our muscles to contract so we can move. They also interact with each other and the cells in all our tissues and nerves. One of their key functions involves balancing the body’s fluid levels. You may have heard the term “electrolyte imbalance,” which in most of us can be easily corrected, but in older adults this imbalance can become a serious issue.

electrolyte balance

We get electrolytes from the food we eat and from drinking certain fluids. We lose some electrolytes most commonly through sweating—usually from exercise or from being in a hot climate for an extended period of time, bowel movements and urinating. We might also develop an electrolyte imbalance when we are ill, especially if we have a stomach issue causing diarrhea and/or vomiting.

For healthy, active children and adults, an electrolyte imbalance is easily remedied by drinking more water and adding in a few electrolyte-rich foods. If following the KETO diet, electrolyte imbalance can happen because of exaggerated water loss. If illness is the cause, adding a few glasses of the house-made electrolyte drink (see recipe below) will put you right in just a short time. Seniors, on the other hand, may have developed a more severe case of imbalance due to a poor diet low in nutrients or whole foods, researchers sometimes refer to as “the tea and toast diet,” too little exercise, and not drinking enough water. Some of the causes outside a senior’s control that can also cause electrolyte problems include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Some drugs: diuretics, ACE inhibitors, some antipsychotic drugs and anti-depressants
  • Cancer treatments
  • Intestinal or digestive issues (trouble absorbing nutrients from food)

Your doctor can easily include an electrolyte panel as part of a routine physical exam, as part of a range of tests, or it can be performed on its own. Check in with your doctor if you have any concerns.

As we get older our kidneys become less efficient, which can lead to frequent urination, and so we pee out the electrolytes we need. This inefficiency can also result in painful urination or incontinence. Many people try to avoid these occurrences by not drinking liquids, but that only makes the problem worse.

The most common electrolytes to go out of balance are potassium, calcium, and magnesium. A deficiency in these doesn’t show up right away but develops gradually. Some of the signs of low electrolytes? Here is a quick list to think about:

  • Are you feeling particularly fatigued?
  • Do you feel particularly anxious or are having trouble sleeping?
  • Do you have weakness or spasms in your muscles?
  • More headaches?
  • Having a change in bowel movements?
  • Do you feel abnormal sensations on your skin?

Any, or all, of these can be an indicator of a low electrolytes. A growing concern among older adults is also the over-use of laxatives and certain antacids. Constipation (from poor diet and lack of water) is a very common complaint, and many people self-treat this with laxatives, when adding whole high fiber and nutrient-dense foods and drinking enough water will go a long way toward correcting the problem.

To prevent electrolyte imbalance and always be well hydrated, strive to eat whole, unpackaged, unprocessed foods. Some of the best choices include dark leafy green veggies, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes or squash, bananas (in moderation due to their high sugar content) and avocados. Unprocessed hydrating foods also packed with electrolytes: celery, watermelon, cucumber, kiwi, bell peppers, citrus fruits, and pineapple. If you find yourself low in a particular electrolyte here is a short list of foods to add into your eating plan.

  • For chloride: low-sodium tomato juice (or fresh!), lettuce, olives
  • For calcium: collard greens, spinach, kale, sardines
  • For potassium: potatoes with skin, plain yogurt, the occasional banana
  • For Magnesium: halibut, pumpkin seeds, spinach

Lastly, drink water!  If you are drinking enough you should need to find the ladies room every three to four hours, which translates for most folks, into eight-ten 8 ounce glasses of clean, good quality water every day.

Here is a great low sugar, non-chemical recipe for an electrolyte replacement drink.

Yield 4 cups (946 ml), serving size 1 cup (237 ml)

  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ½ cups (360 ml) unsweetened coconut water
  • 2 cups (480 ml) cold, filtered water

All of us need to keep an eye on our electrolyte balance. Be especially mindful of our older loved ones to make sure they, too, are well hydrated and replacing those important nutrients we all need to stay vibrant!

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More

Powering Up Our Immune System to stave Off COVID-19

March 9, 2020

Building up our immune system to fighting fitness always ranks as our first choice of defense against disease, and that holds true for avoiding COVID-19, the Coronavirus. Tapping in a bevy of trusted sources, including Dr. Mark Hyman and the Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM), Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, and Dr. Andrew Weil, I have done the homework and come up with a list of foods and supplements we might begin taking to help bolster our immune system against illness.

As always, check with your health care provider to be clear of contraindications. I have great respect for MDs, however, many doctors don’t know much about supplementation, as they are offered no classes on them in most medical schools.  This is where a DIFM: Dietitian in Integrative and Functional Medicine, or a RDN: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist come in handy, as they can help steer you into what you need and work with your existing medications. The website to find one of these professionals in your area is: https://integrativerd.org/

On the food front, upping our consumption of a rainbow of fruits and vegetables to ten servings—five of each, every day, and drinking eight to ten 8 oz. glasses of good quality filtered water will definitely help keep us well and smiling through this difficult time.

Here is the list of supplements you will want to consider to boost your immune system:

Vitamin C

At the top of the charts is an old favorite, vitamin C. Some of the latest stats show more than forty-three million adults from the ages of twenty to sixty are deficient in vitamin C. That number jumps up drastically for seniors. We get some vitamin C in our food, but now supplementation is a necessity. Taking 1000 milligrams, in 2 or 3 doses throughout the day, perhaps at mealtimes, will boost your immunity system. Don’t take it all at once, as it absorbs and is eliminated each time we visit the loo, and so spread out the doses. Try different types to see which you tolerate best. My personal favorite is a time-released vitamin C.

Zinc

Adding this mineral to your daily regime gives you an edge against illness, and it becomes an even bigger gun if you actually get sick. If a bug finds you, zinc lozenges should be a go-to. Each lozenge should be no more than 10 milligrams, and ideally use five per day, but cap your use of them at seven per day. These can be powerful at stopping the development of a virus if taken at the very first signs of illness.

Vitamin D

New research points to vitamin D as a frontline fighter against illness. The Institute of Medicine suggests 4,000 IU a day for people nine to ninety-nine. I take that much every day.

Selenium

Selenium is a key nutrient for immune function. This powerful antioxidant boosts the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells. The IFM says, “It may particularly help to protect against certain strains of flu virus.” Here is the great news! Eating 2-3 large Brazil nuts a day gives us the selenium we need. Now that’s an easy and delicious prescription.

Honey

Preferably raw hone, added to hot tea, or even taken straight by the teaspoon is a potent anti-viral food. It is safe for all ages from one to a hundred, but not safe for babies under one year. I take a teaspoon, now, every day. Yum.

Garlic

This is another delicious anti-viral food. It has been called a poor man’s penicillin for its amazing antimicrobial properties. Garlic is the perfect example of an herb that bridges food and medicine. Find ways to add this yummy vegetable to dishes to benefit from it’s powerful healing properties.

The secret to activating the medicinal qualities of garlic is fresh garlic and to crush it first and the let it sit for a few minutes before cooking with it. The great news here is you can’t really overdo the garlic from a health stand-point, however, make sure everyone you love has some when you do, as that will solve the problem of the infamous garlic breath we all dread!

In addition to adding crushed garlic to many of the dishes I make, I also take garlic in pill form. Your DIFM or, a knowledgeable person at your local health food store, can guide you to a reputable brand. These will not give you garlic breath, if they do, try another brand.

Probiotics

The easiest, and again, delicious way to add this gut-healing and immune-building super food into your eating plan is to have one cup of unsweetened plain yogurt—I add two big handfuls of berries to mine many a morning– three or four days a week and you will be doing your entire body a world of good, not just your army of disease fighters. If you are lactose sensitive or intolerant, there are good quality capsules that deliver the same benefits. They are often found in the refrigerated section of the health food store. Ask. The most expensive isn’t always the best.    

To this list I add a great Multi-Vitamin with Minerals. Make sure it contains 15,000 IU of mixed carotenoids, including beta-carotene. These are key for boosting our respiratory system.

To insure you are getting a good quality supplements, the smart money is on buying ones from a health food store, versus say, the drug store or a big box store. Talk to the store manager or people who work there and ask questions. The popular one isn’t always the best one.

For some additional remedies to boost your immune system to help stave off illness or shorten its duration, have a look at Great Remedies for Winter Illnesses.

If you are already working with a nutritional expert, you are in great shape. For the rest of us, these recommendations will be a good start for super-charging all your disease-fighting systems and keeping you healthy and in the pink. 😉

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More

Living With Intention

February 24, 2020

I turned sixty last September, and with a packed autumn calendar, I didn’t have too much time to think about it. As I took some time last month to reflect and write down a few New Year’s resolutions, I began thinking more deeply about how it felt, and what it meant, to be sixty. For the first time in my life, I now acknowledge that more sand exists in the bottom of my hourglass, than in the top. I didn’t feel this way when I turned fifty—I just thought– I am at the half-way mark, equal amounts in the top and bottom!  Now, settling in with full force, this realization saddens me in some ways. How will I get to do all the things I want to do before I run out of time?  Assuming I am blessed with living a long life I need to make some firm decisions on how I want to spend the time I have left.

The decision to live with intention now tops my To-Do List every day. What does that mean for me? I see it as living deliberately, to borrow the concept from Henry David Thoreau. My goals are to live each day consciously choosing how I spend each minute, and to hold in my awareness that once that moment is gone, it’s gone forever. Forever. Not to sound morbid, but I want to be cognizant of time and enjoy every delicious thing life offers in every second of every day.

living with intention

How am I doing so far?  As of today, my success rate stands at about fifty percent for the week; some days hover close to zero, others, upward of seventy-five percent.

I haven’t completely worked out how these objectives will show up in all aspects of my life, but I’ve jotted down a few things. Here is a rough draft of my personal list of how I live with intention:

1. Practice better self-care by saying no when I am spent and need recharging, then giving myself permission to recharge.

2. Work every day to make a small difference in the world by helping women be the best they can be as they age.

3. Spend time only with people who love and support me.

4. Commit to spending time in nature every day, rain or shine, to appreciate the natural world and draw in its healing energy.

5. Stop reading and listening to depressing news and instead focus on the good stories, the stories filled with compassion and caring, and love, and all of us being the best we can be.

6. Select from a stack of books by my bed each night, if only to read a few pages. I don’t have to read one entire book before starting the next.

Finally, the big one for me…

7.  Let go of perfection in every facet of my life, and strive for more balance. I’m not compromising my standards, but finding ways to do my best without causing my hair to catch fire when my stress knob is turned too high. (This one still needs a fair amount of work. J )

 My list will grow and evolve as I continue on this journey because even at sixty, I think of myself as a work in progress. I so appreciate this realization of time well spent coming to me when I (hopefully!) have years left to live deliberately. I understand these challenges will take constant vigilance so that I don’t lapse into unconsciously stuffing my day with things that don’t fulfill me on any level. Even hard times and yucky stuff have their place, I know, if we are aware of the lessons to be learned there. What I know now is this: I am excited to see how my life will unfold as I thoughtfully live each day with greater intention.

Have you turned sixty? How did you feel coming up to and living your sixtieth year? Do you have a list of ways you want to live with intention?

Until next time…Be Vibrant!

Read More

Susan Lucci's Heart Attack Scare

February 17, 2020

Last year People Magazine reported that Erica Kane of Pine Valley* suffered a heart attack in October of 2018. As I read the article, it didn’t surprise me that she never mentioned being tested for heart disease before the heart attack scare. Obviously, her doctor failed to order tests for her which would have revealed the 90% blockage in the main artery leading to her heart, and a 70% blockage in a branch artery even though her doctor knew her father had suffered a heart attack in his early forties.

Looking at this information in black and white, it seems incredulous that her doctor had never ordered the four tests that could have saved her from having a heart attack: a simple stress test, a Coronary Calcium Score to help gauge her risk.  And, once she had that number, a Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test (CIMT) to measure the thickness of the inner two layers of the carotid artery, the artery located at the side of our necks. Further tests such as a Doppler Ultrasound, a MRI Angiogram or MRA, or a Cardiac CT Scan, all which I discussed in detail in my previous blog post: https://www.ljrohan.com/blog/women-and-heart-disease-the-facts-may-surprise-you-part-ii/

All this begs the question, why didn’t Erica Kane’s doctor order any of these, especially with a history of heart disease in her family?

I have some history of heart disease in my family, and since I reached mid-life, my doctor orders both a coronary calcium score and a CIMT every time I have a physical. I don’t want to put Erica’s doctor on the defensive, but even today in 2020, women are far less likely to receive the same care and treatment as men when it comes to their health outside of female issues. We are also three times more likely than men to die following a serious heart attack as a result of receiving less equal care and treatment.

In a landmark study done in Sweden over a ten-year period, 2003-2013, involving almost sixty-one thousand women, the researchers found this to be true. I watched my mother languish in a recovery facility, virtually ignored by her (male) physician after undergoing quadruple by-pass surgery. During that stay, she suffered from a host of easily avoidable complications due to basic negligence. I tried to intervene on her behalf, but since I was the baby in the family, no one would listen to me.

The anger I feel as I write these words is almost uncontainable, but the above study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2017, makes one thing absolutely certain: We must take control of our own health and ASK, or more likely in most cases, DEMAND, that at least once, more if results merit it, we have our coronary calcium scores taken, and for sure, have a CIMT test, especially if heart disease runs in the family or we have any other heart attack scare. If the results are good, the peace of mind is worth it. If the tests show issues, you can do what is necessary so that you will never be like Erica, out shopping one day and then suddenly feel as if an elephant has just sat down on your chest.

 Until next time….Be Vibrant!

*Susan Lucci is one of the stars of the daytime soap opera, All My Children.

Read More