October 2011

Lack of Sleep Can Kill You

In talking with several friends and relatives recently, I’m surprised by how many of them have problems getting a good nights sleep. Obviously, this has a negative impact on their energy levels, but it may also become a serious factor in their overall health.

While writing our book, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired LIfe, my wife Trisha and I were shocked by the information we discovered concerning the relationship between sleep and health. Interestingly, The National Institute on Aging found that many older adults wrongly consider poor sleep to be a normal part of aging. It is not. In fact, as seniors we need from 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night, just like a young child.

The NIA also found that 36% of women and 13% of men over the age of 65 take thirty minutes or more to fall asleep. Numerous studies on this topic have concluded that seniors who fail to get enough sleep have been found more likely to suffer depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls. and use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. Simply stated, seniors who do not get sufficient sleep have a poorer quality of life.

Just this week the results of Norwegian sleep study that followed nearly 53,000 participants over 11.4 years was reported. It concluded that persons who struggle nightly with sleep are 45% more likely to suffer an acute heart attack, and those who have difficulty staying asleep had an elevated risk of 30%. The risk was correlated with the severity of the sleep deprivation. I should also mention it has long been demonstrated that poor sleep is associated with an elevated risk of stroke.

So, what do we seniors need to do? Obviously, if you have a serious problem sleeping, consult a physician. Snoring, Sleep Apnea, and Movement Disorders are very real physical problems that need to be addressed. Often it turns out, we’ve just gotten into too many bad habits over the years. Examples are falling asleep in front of the television, leaving the radio on, having too much light and other distractions near our bedrooms, etc. Some feel a good old glass or two of wine will do the trick. Turns out alcohol may help you fall asleep, but will actually prevent you from a the full and restful night’s sleep you require. The best advice is to turn off the news, eliminate distractions, and try to put the stress of the day behind you. Put together and follow a relaxing nightly routine to help you wind down and sleep peacefully. Sweet dreams.



Travel Suggestion

If you’re looking for an interesting place to visit right here in the good old U.S.A., I suggest you think about southern Arizona. Having made several visits to this part of the country in the last few years, my wife and I have come to love the area.

Southern Arizona has so many fascinating places to visit, I’m not sure any one person could visit them all. We try to take in one or two each time which gives us plenty of reasons to return. Here are just a few of the places we have recently enjoyed. For more information simply click on the links.

Kartchner Caverns State Park 

Arizona State Parks: Kartchner Caverns: Home

 This is one of the newest and most interesting attractions in the U. S. It was discovered in 1974 by two explorers. Only revealed in 1988, the state of Arizona spent millions of dollars and opened it to the public in 1999.







Titan Missle Museum

Titan Missle Museum

My wife Trisha and I visited this location and took the guided tour a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. As seniors, we all remember the days of our nuclear standoff with Russia. The U. S. maintained many Titan Missle sites during those years and they were all manned 24/7 by the military. The sites were eventually destroyed, but this one was left in tact for historical purposes. It is the only publicly accessible site remaining from that era. There is a museum, gift shop, video room, and a guided tour for your enjoyment. I was surprised to see an actual Titan II Missle in the silo and our guide took us through a simulated launch. Quite breathtaking.!

































Tubac Arizona > Southern AZ Artist Colony & Travel Destination

Here is an all-in-one place to visit. This historic Spanish settlement has become a true resort. You can find art gallaries, gift stores, wonderful food, golf, spas, and much more. Most of all, the relaxed and peaceful environment is worth the visit by itself. We love the beautiful hand painted pots and other crafts. On our last visit we purchased three more for our outdoor area. Quite beautiful and unique. Whatever your pleasure, you will find it here. Below is Trisha with good friend Susan at the main entrance.


Vitamin Warning

This one is for the guys. We live in an era in which people take lots of vitamins. I admit to taking them myself. Unfortunately, we often think more is better. A new study warns that taking too much Vitamin E can increase a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer. Because there are vitamin products out there with very high units of Vitamin E, men are being warned. The new research results were published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The multi-million dollar study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.  As with any medical information, check with your doctor.


A long time ago, when dinosaurs walked the earth, October was my special month. It is the month of my birth. The fact is, birthdays were never a big deal in my family. I mean, everyone has one, so what’s the big deal. Well, so far this October, four of our grandkids have had birthdays. It is my greatest gift and a wonderful blessing. Happy Birthday each and every one. 



Health Benefits of Tomatoes

In tracing the history of the tomato, it was first found in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Later, in France it became known as pomme d’ amour or the “love apple” because it was believed to recover impotence and increase sperm count. In 1834, Dr. John Cook Bennett from Willoughby University, Ohio, was the first to study the tomato and found it beneficial in treating diarrhea, gall attack, indigestion and restoring liver function.

While it has long been suspected, a recent study conducted in Australia has found that tomatoes possess powerful health benefits. The study examined data from 14 other studies conducted over the last 55 years. While those studies theorized tomatoes had health benefits, it could not be proven. The Australian study simply increased the dose or amount of tomatoes given to subjects and the conclusion became clear. The reason behind these results is due to the fact that tomatoes have the highest concentration of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant found in other foods such as watermelon, red wine, papaya, and guava. Tomatoes also contain high concentrations of vitamin C and vitamin A, both beneficial in boosting the immune system. Even the pigment in red tomatoes contains high levels of lycopene.

Interestingly, different from other foods, cooked or processed tomatoes are best. It’s not recommended to buy sauces and pastes in the grocery store because they have too much preservative and other additives. One pint of tomato juice or sauce, or about 50 grams a day will provide protection against heart disease, says Dr. Karin Ried from The University of Adelaide and author of the study. Among the most amazing findings from the study was a drop in subject’s LDL cholesterol levels by an average of 10 percent. Systolic (the top reading) blood pressure dropped an average of 5.6. In addition to lowering the risk of heart disease, the study also indicates tomatoes may be effective in lowering the risks of many forms of cancer, slow the decline of eye function due to age, and promote healthy liver and kidney function. Some believe that adding a high level of cooked tomatoes to one’s diet could be as effective as taking statin drugs without the risks.

Caution: I’m not a medical doctor, and suggest you consult your provider before launching into any change in diet or medications. Additionally, some people do have allergic reactions to tomatoes, so be aware. 

For great tomato recipes, and lots of other great recipes, go to our website and click on Trisha’s Dishes.




Every week it seems I get a number of email forwards from retired friends sharing all kinds of things from the past. Often they contain pictures or videos of old cars, planes, trains, movies, television shows, etc.  Very interesting stuff, but truth be told, I much prefer forwards that demonstrate new innovations or discoveries. While I still appreciate seeing images from my past, expecially my 1956 red chevy, I would not trade it for my current SUV. As seniors, we’ve often heard the phrase, “You can’t go home again.” It’s absolutely true.

This was clearly illustrated on a recent road trip I took with my wife Trisha. We traveled from northern California to southern Arizona visiting family and friends, and concluded the trip at her high school reunion weekend in Southern California. As always when we travel, we took time to do some sight-seeing along the way.

In my first example, let me first explain something. Having grown up in Los Angeles, I’ve always been a big Dodgers fan. In fact, our son Michael is a senior producer with Fox Sports Net and he produces the Dodger pre-game and post-game shows. (Here is a picture of Vin Scully the Dodger’s long-time Hall of Fame announcer talking to Mike, that’s the top of his head, as they flew home from their final road trip)

 My point is, I’m a devoted, but now disappointed fan. Here’s why. As Trisha and I drove through Arizona, we first decided to stop and visit the Dodger’s new spring training facility shared with the Chicago White Sox. Having visited the original Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida on several occasions, and getting a special behind-the-scenes tour on our last visit, we were anxious to see their new location. Ugh! What a complete let down. The first clue we got was the absence of signs on the highway leading to the camp. Finally, at the last exit, there was a sign proclaiming, “Glendale Baseball Complex.” Are you kidding me. One of the premier baseball franchises in baseball history and the sign doesn’t even mention them. When we arrived, once again no mention of the Dodgers. Here is a picture of Trisha at the main entrance to the camp. Do you notice anything missing?


Finally, as we snooped around the facility, we found one small sign on a gate that said “Dodger Clubhouse.” Big Whoop! This place was nothing more than a glorified civic recreation center, designed to be low-cost for the city of Glendale, and a field for rent for the Dodgers in the Spring. Gone are the traditional streets named after Dodger legends, gone are the historic living facilities that housed some of baseball’s most revered players, gone is any sense of pride and history. All sold out for the almighty buck. I’ve got an idea. Our local high school has a pretty good field. If Glendale Arizona can make a better deal renting their field to another team, maybe the Dodgers could come here in the Spring. All they have to do is take down that one small sign. By the way, if you see the Dodger owner, I’ve got a great place I’d like to put that sign.

I know, I’m supposed to be positive. I just hate to see such a great tradition become like every other team that moved to Arizona. It’s as though your favorite restaurant just became a McDonald’s.

In my second “you can’t go home” example, after a wonderful week of being wined and dined by great friends and relatives, we arrived in our old home town for the high school reunion. Trisha and I took one whole day to spend by ourselves visiting our old homes, neighborhoods, etc. Being the oldest, and a California native, we first went to my childhood home. Oops! It’s now a block of small commercial buildings. I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the time capsule the neighborhood kids and I buried a long time ago. It reminded me of that wonderful Lonestar song, Everything’s Changed. Remember the words, “they put up a plant where we used to park, the old drive-in is a new Walmart.” We did find a number of our former homes, but of course they seemed much smaller and a bit run down. In one case, a freeway now loomed above the street I used to call a playground. As I stopped my car to look at one of my former homes, a man came out and I explained I used to live there. He didn’t speak English very well, but did smile at this foreign traveler from long ago.

The good news is, we did run into our dear neighbors who lived next door to our last home before we left town twenty years ago. They were happy to see us and we had a nice visit. But can you truly go home again? Not really. Places change, we change, and the times change. It reinforced our philosophy of not dwelling too much on the past and consciously trying to value each new day while counting our many blessings. Interestingly, when the formal reunion started on Saturday night, the disc jockey began to play songs from the sixties. One of our friends sitting next to me turned and said, “No Bruno Mars?” I smiled and we did a fist bump. Of course, the rest of the night was filled with “The Twist,” “Runaround Sue,” etc. We had fun at the reunion and loved catching up with old friends, but I think in most ways we’ve all moved on. You really can’t go home again, but I can’t wait for the rest of today and look forward to tomorrow.