Category Archives: Wellness

5 lessons from the oldest old

Photo cedit: Adobe Stock

By Robert DiGiacomo

New York Times reporter John Leland thought he knew how to write about the “oldest old” — people 85 and up. For a proposed year-long series, he figured he would chronicle a laundry list of their issues: things like the dangers of falling, financial pressures and family conflict.

As Leland delved deeper, however, he realized the people in this age group were more than the sum of their problems. And he saw how much he didn’t know about the realities of aging. The resulting “85 & Up” series took a more holistic view of their lives. “I thought aging was about decline and loss,” he told Next Avenue. “I found the problems, but none of the people defined themselves by that.” read more

Tell Your Doctor What’s on Your Bucket List

It’ll help direct your health where you want it to go. [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Grace Birnstengel for Next Avenue

Your doctor can’t read your mind. A doctor assumes everyone wants to live and continue to live the best, healthiest, happiest life possible — but that means something different for everyone. If your doctor knows about your long-term goals and “bucket list” items, however, that can be used to direct your health plan and goals.

Dr. VJ Periyakoil, an internist, geriatrician and palliative care professional at Stanford Health Care wrote a piece for the New York Times about how she regularly asks her patients about their bucket lists. read more

One Surprising Way Older Adults Can Get Healthier

You know about the obvious things. Now try this. [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Dr. Ann Hwang for Next Avenue

Whether or not we actually do the right things to improve our health, many of us probably assume we know what they are. Walk more. Quit smoking. Eat healthier.

It’s a familiar list, and a good one. As a primary care doctor, I spend plenty of time counseling people to do exactly these things. But here’s another, less familiar thing I think you should consider: get engaged in your community.

The Benefits of Connection

Civic engagement may not be on the top of everyone’s to-do list, but it probably should be. There is intriguing evidence to suggest that people who are engaged in their communities — through activities like participating in local organizations or volunteering — could also have better health. read more

7 Reasons Why You Should Travel

Reap the benefits of health, happiness and gratitude on your next journey. [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Wendy Sue Knecht for Next Avenue

Some people are just lucky — they’re born with it. I’m not talking about good looks or money. I’m talking about wanderlust …. that something inside of you that just makes you want to go places, explore and of course, wander.

My own wanderlust was cultivated at a young age. Although my family never took anything but road trips growing up, my father used to regale me with bedtime stories of Gee Gee Go-Go, a fictional character who traveled all over the world on his tricycle. It’s no surprise I became a Pan Am flight attendant! read more

The Power of Sharing Our Stories

Playing a game at an assisted living facility opened up connections [Photo credit: Adobe Stock]

By Reyna Marder Gentin for Next Avenue

My friend runs an assisted living residence not far from where I live. When she called to say she had a mitzvah (a good deed) for me that was “right up my alley,” I was wary, to put it mildly. She explained that she was running an event where the residents would play a game encouraging them to share, open mic style, stories from their lives. My friend knows I write — essays, memoir pieces, a novel. I tell stories.

“Will you come?” she asked.

I wanted to say no. As my children will tell you, with the rare exception of a Shabbat round of Scrabble or Bananagrams, I don’t play games. Maybe I’m uptight, or just no fun, but games are not my thing. The idea of helping to facilitate an octogenarian quiz show was not high on my list. read more

When Your Best Friend Dies

How to grieve and minimize the feeling of loss (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

By Gary M. Stern for Next Avenue

Josh Koplovitz, an attorney based in Woodstock, N.Y., communicated with his best friend Lester Fensterheim nearly every day. They first met in 1999 and connected over their love of tennis. The two played tennis together and occasionally poker, socialized with their spouses and developed a strong bond. On Aug. 1, 2017, 74-year-old Fensterheim felt a pain in his face, suffered a minor stroke and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He died three months later on Nov. 4.

Koplovitz misses Fensterheim terribly and feels a void over his death and the loss of their friendship. “I was drawn to Lester, and he was drawn to me and the friendship developed,” Koplovitz said. Fensterheim was a “magnetic personality,” said Koplovitz., adding: “When you came into his presence, you felt an unmistakable connectivity, as if he was saying to you, ‘You are a special person.’ He taught me to be more accepting of people than I otherwise would have been. He had a basic love of humanity.” read more

How to Bounce Back From a Health Crisis

It’s not the cards you’re dealt, but how you play them. (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

By Claire Zulkey for Next Avenue

After a major injury or illness, your own participation and perspective can make the difference between moving past a health crisis and letting it define the rest of your life.

Psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo cites two reasons why. First, the right attitude corresponds with a stronger commitment to physical therapy or rehabilitation. Plus, happiness is healing. “When we experience chronic stress, when we’re upset or depressed, that actually impedes our immune system,” says Lombardo. “Our body does not heal as well.” read more

Take the Time to Better Care for Yourself

Senior woman smiles while holding pencil and adjusting her reading glasses

7 steps to the self-care you need (Photo credit: Adobe Stock)

By Ken Druck for Next Avenue

Becoming a smarter, stronger, more self-caring version of yourself is both freeing and empowering.

I recently discussed the concept of self-care and the ways to set yourself up for — and avoid sabotaging — the way you take emotional and physical care of yourself. After you agree that you are worthy of self-care and will overcome the factors you let stand in your way before, you’re ready to move forward with these seven steps to self-care:

Step  No. 1. Make the Decision to Change the Way You Take Care of Yourself read more

Are You a Caregiver or Just a Good Child?

Son walks beside his aging father who uses a walker

The way you view your role makes a big difference (Photo credit: iStockphoto | Thinkstock)

By Nancy Mattia for Next Avenue

For some of us, middle age brings new opportunities — career reinvention, an empty nest, and time to pursue new interests. For millions of others, it brings the daunting and awkward responsibility of caring for an ailing parent. Nearly 10 million adults over age 50 give full- or part-time care to their parents in the United States, and their numbers are growing.

As a recent paper in the academic journal The Gerontologist put it, “the longevity of the relationships that baby boomers have with their parents and siblings is unprecedented,” and the generation “will witness unprecedented numbers of people who both provide care to the generation that preceded them and require care from the generation that will follow.” read more

How To Beat the Winter Blues

Vitamin D and bright lights really do work for seasonal affective disorder (Photo credit: Thinkstock)

By Emily Gurnon for Next Avenue

The official beginning of winter that arrived on Sunday, Dec. 21, marked the darkest day of the year. Around this time, some of us feel a familiar pall as the gloom outside seems to creep into our psyches.

Symptoms of depression that occur during the late fall and winter are known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. People who live in places with long winter nights are at particularly high risk for this malady. But there are ways to combat the suffering.

Bright Light Therapy

Therapy with a special high-intensity lamp has been proven to make a difference in brain chemistry, though scientists don’t know exactly why that happens, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA). read more