Senior health


Getting Better Every Day

Trisha Parker

Trisha Parker

Growing older, I’m sure most of us have heard the suggestion that one of our goals as we make our way through the trials and tribulations of life, is to try to become a better person each day? To be loving and respectful of others.

I’ve always considered myself a very fortunate person because I had parents who not only talked about the virtues of being loving and being respectful of others, but also lived that example. I’m also fortunate because I married a woman who lives according to the same principles.

This week, filled with tension and worry, I was witness to a real-life example of selfless behavior. My wife Trisha had surgery on Tuesday. She was scheduled for an early procedure that required us to rise at 4:00, get ready, drive an hour to the hospital, and check in at 5:45. We were right on schedule and she was taken to pre-op along with about 10 others. I was allowed to join her once the IV’s were in place and she was ready to go for a 7:45 procedure. As the time neared, there was a bit of commotion as a number of doctors gathered and then exited toward the operating rooms as a group. After a few minutes we were told there was an emergency and my wife’s surgery had been delayed. That was an understatement.

As we watched the other patients being rolled into surgery, we were told the operating room scheduled for my wife was being used for the emergency patient. As I sat next to her, experiencing the normal tension such a situation brings about, we waited for more than five and a half hours. Finally, my wife’s anesthesiologist came in to begin the final preparation. Now, I’m not sure how most people would have reacted, but let me tell you what transpired. After asking some mandatory questions, the doctor said, “We are very sorry we kept you waiting for so long.” My wife responded, “Were you able to save the person’s life?” The doctor, taken a bit by surprise said, “Why yes, it took a while, but we were able to save the patient’s life.” My wife said, “I’m very happy to be a part of that, let’s go.”

When I told my medical friends about this, they said not all patients would have reacted in such a positive manner. As I said, I’m a lucky man to have examples of selflessness like this on a daily basis. I’m very proud.

By the way, her surgery went well and she is recovering nicely.

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Aging and Relationships

 

Hopefully, as we age, we all learn it’s our relationships with friends and family that are the most important components in our lives. Unfortunately, there are some out there who prefer to isolate themselves, but they are the exceptions. The important fact is, there’s a considerable amount of scientific research that shows people who continue to maintain and create new relationships tend to be much healthier and age more successfully than those who live in isolation.  

I’m not sure I needed the reminder, but over the last few weeks I’ve been very fortunate in the relationship category. First of all, traveling to the east coast, one of our sons and his wife blessed us with another grandchild, an incredibly beautiful little girl. Just as happened with all of our grandchildren, that first glimpse of this little angel took our breath and stole our hearts. Holding her tiny body in my hands was overwhelming and there is surely no greater feeling than that of pure love.

Additionally, on this trip we were fortunate to further reconnect with friends made back in my Air Force days. It’s amazing how much time has past, but how much time has stood still in our friendship. These are wonderful people with whom we share great memories, and hopefully we will have many more good times ahead.

As also happens when one travels, my wife Trisha and I were so pleased to make the acquaintance of several new people we look forward to getting to know better in the future. It seems the more you open yourself up to this kind of opportunity, the more people you can meet and share a relationship.

Finally, this week marks the birthday of my wonderful wife Trisha. I’ve now known her for over half a century and been married to her for nearly forty-four years. She is clearly the kindest and most considerate person I have ever known. She wakes each day with a smile and continues to brighten the day of everyone she encounters. For her, difficult situations are simply problems to be solved. She’s not petty, doesn’t complain, and is always positive. She’s warm and loving, and completely devoted to her family. She’s extraordinarily beautiful on both the outside and inside. I couldn’t ask for a better relationship. Happy Birthday Trisha!

One last but important note I want to share. One of my Air Force buddies is in need of a kidney transplant. If everyone who reads this would share this information, perhaps he could be helped. I know that as we age, this kind of decision is probably not one we nor our doctors would advise, but sometimes circumstances arise and the more people that know of this need, the greater the possibility he might be helped. Feel free to contact me.  

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anxiety

Managing Senior Stress

 

     As a senior, one of the things I most looked forward to in my retired life was getting away from stress. While most of my friends and colleagues always said they considered me to be calm and easy-going, inwardly I was always very driven, highly motivated, and somewhat of a classic Type A person.

    

     Of course, becoming a senior and/or retiring, especially in this day and age, does not magically remove one’s stress. In fact, our current culture seems to have evolved into one that creates and promotes stress on a daily basis. How many times a day do we hear ominous sounds emanate from our radios and televisions just prior to hearing words like “news alert” or “news update?”  Is it a nuclear attack or is a tsunami headed our way? No. Usually it’s a story about some overpaid baseball player or Anthony Wiener has shared more pictures of his private parts. Our politicians and media seem to have conspired to keep us in a state of constant unrest. The truth is there is plenty of stress for seniors without any additional stress factors being artificially created.

    

     Because on average we now live longer, we have to contend with more health issues than ever before. The economy and other societal changes have also served up a large portion of stress. Concern over the possibility of outliving our financial resources is also a stress factor for seniors.Added to the list is the fact the economy has not provided the best opportunities for young people, which in turn has created a myriad of family issues ranging from joblessness to high rates of divorce. More than previous generations, parents and grandparents are often put in the position of having to cope with a range of these stressful family and financial issues.

    

     Having researched the topic of stress and its impact for many years, I’ve collected a list of what I consider to be the best possible remedies for managing senior stress. They won’t solve the causes of stress such as economic concerns or difficult family issues, but they can potentially help individuals manage the stress such problems create. Rather than the sleeping pills and alcohol  many seniors seem to rely on, consider these stress management suggestions and techniques:

Regular Exercise – A routine of regular exercise can not only help to make you more healthy, it can provide both mental and physical relief from stress.

Stay Positive – Do everything within your power to maintain a positive attitude toward life and those around you.

Spend Time With Positive People – The world is filled with whiners and complainers, but there are also those who continue to have a positive outlook on life.

Spend Time With Those Who Deserve It – Life is too short, especially as a senior, to spend a minute with someone who doesn’t respect or value you.

Keep Life Lighthearted – While society and the media seem to want us to live in a state of constant crisis, try to view life through a prism of lightheartedness.

Become Solution Oriented – One of my life’s greatest blessings is being married to a woman who doesn’t agonize over problems, but views every problem as a situation to be managed by finding a solution.

Explore Your Faith – One of my best friends and co-author of a book we wrote together spent years without exploring her faith. Once she did, she changed her life and even returned to school earning another Ph.D. This one was in religion.

Breathe – As a former consultant, some of my best results working with clients involved the simple act of getting them to calm down through slow breathing when stressed.

Look Good, Feel Good – My late parents, while I was growing up and later in life when they lived in our home, and my wife always put forward this philosophy. While none of them ever walked around the house in formal attire, all of them always maintained a state of good grooming and dressed in fresh clean clothes. All I can say is “it works.”

Let Music Relax You – Very few things can transform your mood and general well-being as listening to some of your favorite music.

Compliment Others – Not only will this make you feel good, it will make someone’s day and will most likely provide you some good karma.

Find Some Quiet Time – This can be used for meditation, prayer, positive affirmations, or simple relaxation. Once, while teaching at Pepperdine University in Malibu, I walked into my evening class and several students appeared concerned. Apparently, on their way to class they saw me standing alone and gazing into the distance. When they expressed their concern I told them I was simply enjoying the sunset over the Pacific.

Turn Off The News – Whether it’s for an hour or a couple of days, get away from the news. I know people who will follow a tragic story for days. If you can help the people in the story, do so, but don’t constantly involve yourself in the stress.

Create a Stress-Free Environment – I’m smiling as I write this because certain events had served to create a complete mess in my walk-in closet recently. Feeling very stressed each time I slid open the door, just yesterday I’d had enough and launched a two-day cleanup and reorganization. Getting organized, simplifying, and fixing the things that need fixing in your environment is a sure way to reduce stress.

Keep Life Simple – As you probably did in business, each morning create a simple to-do list. Give yourself ample time to complete your tasks and if you don’t finish something, put it at the top of tomorrow’s list. Another suggestion is to not over-book your schedule. You do not have to accept every invitation or make time for everyone you know. It’s your life and your schedule.

Pursue Your Love Life – The research is very clear that seniors who continue to engage in sexual activity live longer and healthier lives.

Look For The Good In Everyone and Everything – Increasingly, we seem to live in a culture where everyone is a critic on almost every subject. To stay positive, it’s important we look for the good.

Forgive – As seniors, almost all of us have had incidents and persons in our lives that have created tension and regrets. In some cases these situations may be very serious and irreparable. The fact is, you don’t have to forgive and make up with someone who has caused you pain, but if you can forgive them in your heart and move on, you will relieve a great deal of built up stress.

Don’t Worry – As the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Worry never prevented or solved anything, it only serves to create more stress. 

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Rather than my typical blog, I’m going to refer you to this month’s issue of OneTen Magazine.  It has an article (beginning on page 39) that explains how my wife Trisha and I got into researching, writing, and speaking about about retired life and successful aging.

  

Our path certainly wasn’t planned but simply evolved from our own interest in making our retired life as good as we could make it. Currently, we are having a rewarding time as speakers on the topics of successful aging and retired life. Hope you enjoy the article.

OneTen Magazine

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The Spices of Life

This week’s blog, The Spices of Life, was inspired by Dr. Herbert Schub. In addition to his vast medical experience and expertise, he’s a close personal friend, frequent travel companion, and an international man of mystery. He is also one of the healthiest persons on the planet. 

Herb is a fitness fanatic and follows a strict nutritional program. When the occasional slice of pizza finds its way into that program, it is followed shortly thereafter by an extra hour on the eliptical machine. In addition to his healthy diet, Herb takes a number of supplements to make sure he’s getting sufficient vitamins and antioxidants. While this is not uncommon among many of us seniors, are you also getting the health benefits from selected herbs and spices? Herb does.

I want to stress I’m not a doctor, well not a medical one anyway, and anyone considering adding these items to their diet would be well advised to consult with their personal physician. While researchers are now looking more closely at this health phenomenon, current research now suggest these seven herbs and spices have valuable health benefits:

Rosemary – May help prevent damage to blood vessels and prevent heart attacks; it may also stop gene mutations which lead to cancer.

Garlic – May destroy cancer cells and/or disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells. After my father found out he had protate cancer, he began taking garlic each day. He lived nearly twenty more years and the cancer was not a factor.

Ginger – Seen as a remedy for motion sickness and a natural pain killer. Has also been shown to decrease swelling from arthritis and is a blood thinner.

Turmeric – Contains an ingredient called curcumin that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Paprika – Contains capsaicin that has been shown to be an anti-inflammatory and is also an anti-oxidant that can lower the risk of cancer. (Capsaicin can also be found in cayenne and red chile peppers)

Cinnamon – Can lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.

Oregano – The USDA reports that Oregano has the highest antioxidant activity of 27 fresh culinary herbs.

MEDIA ALERT: Possible cure for prostate cancer. Fox News reported today the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology has announced preliminary findings that oregano, which contains the main component of carvacrol, “is an extremely potent anti-cancer agent – eliminating nearly all the prostate cancer cells it was tested against.”

 

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Free Radicals

No, this isn’t a call to release a group of protesters, it’s about good health. In previous posts I’ve talked about various foods and beverages that are beneficial in maintaining our health during retired life. I thought it might be useful to explain why foods high in antioxidants are so vital.

While you may have heard or seen the term “antioxidants” before, do you know why it’s so important we get large quantities in our diet? It all has to do with the oxidation process. Have you ever cut open an apple and noticed how it starts to discolor in the open air. This is the oxidation process in which the cells become damaged and die. Cells within our bodies are constantly dying and being replaced. Sometimes due to things like toxins from cigarette smoke, air pollution, poor diet, etc., cells become damaged. At this point they have become free radicals and  begin to attack other cells in an attempt to repair themselves. Once this chain of free radicals has begun it becomes the seed for disease.   

It’s much the same as the oxidation process that takes place in our automobiles.  Oxidation can damage the fuel system and gum up the works. At that point there are additives we can put  into the fuel that will repair the system. Foods and beverages high in antioxidants are the additives for our body. They can actually repair the free radicals making them healthy cells again.

If anyone should doubt the power of antioxidants, let me share this brief story. On a recent trip a friend of mine accidentally hit his head and suffered a severe gash above his eye. An ambulance was called as the blood flowed. He insisted he would be fine and didn’t even get any stitches. He said his abundant antioxidant diet would heal his wound in short order. He was right. It was like something out of a science fiction movie. His severe gash quickly became a small cut and in just a few days had virtually disappeared. Antioxidants, along with exercise are the keys to good health at any stage of life. 

Here is a list of the top twenty antioxidant foods:

 You may have also heard that chocolate, tea, and red wine have antioxidants. They do, but be careful. Only dark chocolate with very little sugar is good for you. Tea is great but you need to be careful with wine. Recent studies have shown that large amounts of alcohol can trigger free radical production. Probably not a good trade-off.

Media Update

Yesterday, February 26, my wife Trisha and I were guest speakers for the Oakmont Sunday Symposium. It was lots of fun and we certainly enjoyed meeting all the good folks who live in that beautiful wine country paradise. Our presentation was streamed live on the internet and I’ve provided this link for anyone who might be interested in viewing it:      Trisha and John Parker

Photo Credit: Dick Green

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The Best Christmas Present

Each year my wife Trisha and I invite friends and family to our home for a holiday party. The party serves many functions. First, our home gets a great “deep cleaning.” Secondly, we actually have lots fun and laughs while we try to figure out what goes where and which lights aren’t working this year. We enjoy planning and using both old and new decorations we have purchased over the many years we’ve been married. We plan our decorating together and I’m responsible for getting most of the decorations and lights in the right places while she prepares all the snacks, dinner, and deserts. It’s a pretty big task, but we love doing it and the rewards are many.

This year was very special. One of our friends who lives out-of-state had been critically ill for some time and not expected to survive. Not only did he survive months in the hospital, he now works out each day with his wife and looks great. They both flew in for the weekend and everyone at the party enjoyed catching up with these wonderful folks. In attendance were old friends, new friends, moms and dads who used to come as teenagers, children who are growing up, and new little ones. We shared lots of laughs, some heartfelt conversations, but mostly enjoyed the company of people we love.

On Sunday, we had breakfast for those who stayed over and those who had spent the night in local hotels. The girls did most of the cleanup, while my buddy and I settled in for a well-deserved afternoon of watching football. Well, thanks to Tim Tebow, we shared one of the best games we could have imagined. Great fun.

All of our friends have now gone home and we look forward to a wonderful family Christmas. Having our friend’s health restored, seeing he and his wife so happy again, sharing a great visit, and spending a wonderful evening with family and friends has already given us our best present.

As retired folks, socializing is an important factor in the aging process. People who live in isolation tend to have higher rates of depression and live much less healthy lives. As we get older, its important we maintain our contact with friends and family, stay active and socialize. Understandably, for some it’s physically more challenging, but it is necessary. Once we stop socializing, we really stop living.

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