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Come join PositivelyOld.com, the web site that challenges our expectations of people over 50. We feature interviews with people in their 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond who are still in the prime of their lives and actively pursuing their next big adventure or accomplishment. In addition, our weekly blog, written by site founder, Karen Callahan, addresses some of the inspiring details and techniques shared by our aging role models, as well as the issues and trends currently impacting boomers and beyond.

To learn about my inspiration for this site, take a gander at my Nov. 5, 2010, blog, How a Birthday Inspired Me to Create This Site.

You can also connect with me on these social networking platforms:

 


 

 

 


 

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March 21, 2011 Posted by | Healthy Aging, over 50, senior citizens, Successful Aging | , , , , | Leave a comment

GETTING RID OF THAT OLD ‘PAIN IN THE NECK’

No, I don’t mean your mother-in-law or your husband. I’m talking about that ubiquitous agony that torments your body after a stressful day at the office or a traumatic accident from the preceding decade.

It’s difficult to stay upbeat and energized when recurrent pains gnaw at us with their prickly talons.  In order to avoid becoming the nefarious ‘pain in the neck’ ourselves, it’s important to find ways to prevent and address our aches before they get the better of us.

This topic weighs heavy on me this week as I face my second long day of a neck ache that keeps threatening to become a full-blown headache. My lower back isn’t faring too well either. I can write both off to too many hours in front of my computer (as this is my busy season) or the 13-mile half-marathon I ran last week in less than three hours despite the fact that I had not trained as planned. Of course, my real concern right now is what I can do to reduce the swelling and misalignment to make myself feel right again.

Nothing makes us feel older than ongoing pain, and if you’ve ever seen someone who has lived with pain for an extended period of time, you can see how it ages them. So let’s nip these aches and pains in the bud so we can keep doing all the wonderful things that make us healthy agers who are positively old.

According to the American Pain Foundation, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is growing at a rate of 15% each year, with more than $24 billion spent on therapies outside conventional medicine. Alternative medicineemploys methods like acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, magnetic therapy and combinations thereof to fight pain.

Walking, swimming, and my personal favorite, yoga, are soothing exercises that can be done to prevent pain or help restore the body to a state of ease after the onset of painful joints or tight muscles.

Here are a couple of other ideas I have found online that I thought everyone might benefit from. I’d love to hear some of your surefire solutions as well.

Reducing Inflammation as a Means of Reducing Pain

Reducing Pain Through Hypnosis

Relieving Stress and Changing Perceptions to Minimize Pain

Stiff Joints Don’t Have to Slow You Down

Preventing Back Pain – Great Tips on the Best Positions in the Car, in Bed and At work!

Exercise for Pain Reduction

Laughter, a Prescription for Pain Reduction

The most important thing is to address your pain early before it becomes chronic and to get knowledgeable advice on curing the problem, not just minimizing the symptoms.

As for me, I’m going to go stretch out now, and then maybe take a hot shower followed by a nice ice pack. See you on the track next week!

 

February 24, 2011 Posted by | baby boomer information, Healthy Aging, over 50, reducing pain, Successful Aging | , , , , | Leave a comment

OLDER AND DUMBER?

Just because you’re older, does that mean you’re smarter than you used to be or smarter than the less aged around you? Is there really a higher standard of intelligence for people as they get older, begging the question: Are you smarter than a 50 year old?

When I was young, I was raised to believe that everyone older than me knew better. As I progressed through high school, I began to question this wisdom. By the time I was five years into my career, I had discovered with great certainty that this had just been a guise to get me to listen to my elders.

So why is it that people just don’t automatically get smarter with age? Of course, there are factors like genetics and education. But I’m talking about something more innate than that. Why is it that some people, even those who appear to be quite knowledgeable when they’re young, just reach a point where they quit growing and eventually let the world (and their relevance) pass them by?

I was fortunate enough to have a father who, in his sixties, embraced personal computers—right when they were first being marketed to the public. He had no need to learn about computers, so why did he? Because he “didn’t want to be left behind.” He loved to travel. He started listening to self-help talk shows in the 80s, and I could see him adapting his beliefs until he died at the age of 82.

And he never graduated from high school. Yet, he knew how to do so many things—fix cars, converse about a variety of topics, and with the help of his sons, he even built his own house. He used to say, “If somebody else can do it, so can I?” And as long as libraries were free, he didn’t understand why people couldn’t educate themselves.

On the flip side, I’ve seen people, good people, raise their families, retire from their careers, and cross what can only be viewed as their personal finish lines. They don’t try anything new or expose themselves to new ideas. They get left behind….particularly in a world that changes as fast as ours.

It’s far too easy as we age to take on the attitude that we’ve tried everything already and we know what we like so we’re sticking with what works. I love watching the Brain Fitness infomercials where they explain that change is what keeps the pathways in the brain active and expanding. Trying something new or moving to a new city may be the secret to keeping our brains forever young.

Of course, there is something to be said for the wisdom of aging and recognizing what works. I’m not discounting this. In fact, I try to use it everyday to save me time and aggravation. And one hopes that as we age, we have accumulated bits of information relevant to our businesses, relationships and lives that we can apply and share with others. It’s just that, given the state of change, it’s important to recognize that things are changing, and what worked twenty years ago for us may not work today.

It’s important to strike a balance between knowing what we know and being open to what we can learn from others around us, no matter how much younger they may be. In fact, therein may lie the true wisdom of age—the ability to listen. (I think I’m still working on this one!)

How about you? What are some of the traps that you think make people dumber as they get older? What new ideas or activities have you embraced post-50 to keep relevant?

 

February 14, 2011 Posted by | age and intelligence, baby boomer information, Healthy Aging, over 50, Successful Aging | , , , , | Leave a comment

ANIMALS HELP AGED KEEP HEALTHY AND HAPPY

No matter how old we are, animals provide tremendous therapeutic value, both physically and psychologically. They help humans develop important life skills and connect with others in a safe, joyful way.

Pets have been known to help remedy all sorts of stress-related health problems. They help  lower blood pressure, minimize stress-induced aches and pains, enable more efficient recuperation from heart surgery, and can even slow down the damaging effects of diabetes. Interaction with pets can “boost people’s moods and enhance their social interaction,” according to an article on Pet Therapy on www.holisticonline.com.

I watched a program on cable several years ago that demonstrated how specially-trained working dogs were trained to constantly interrupt owners who were agoraphobic or depressed in order to force themselves out of their own problems. One man who could barely leave his home the year before was so improved he was able to start a new job, all because his Lab (as in Labrador Retriever) successfully connived him into daily walks and constant head butts for attention.

These same benefits are expanded in “The Benefits We Experience When Pets (Animals) Are Beside Us.” We develop more empathy and an outward focus, which helps prevent or cure depression. Nurturing skills, rapport, acceptance, and a developmentally-significant comfort with touch can all be learned by association with animals. Entertainment, socialization and mental stimulation are all additional  benefits of spending time with these furry friends. Even though I don’t currently have dogs of my own, I know that I always look forward to getting my “dog fix” when hiking certain trails on Sundays; those wagging tails and wet tongues can really make my day!

Which brings me to my inspiration for this week’s blog. Last night my partner and I watched the new movie, Secretariat, for the second night in a row. I highly recommend it. As I watched this inspirational animal (and his inspirational owner) with my own little cat snuggled next to me in the chair, my heart swelled with love and serenity. It’s strange how it sometimes takes an animal to make us truly understand what it means to be human.  The unconditional love and simplicity that animals restore in our souls can only make our lives more fulfilled and healthier at any age.

Tell us about your pets and their restorative influence on your life.

 

February 4, 2011 Posted by | baby boomer information, healthy living, over 50, pet therapy, Successful Aging | , , , , | 1 Comment

CAPTURING POSITIVE FAMILY MEMORIES AND PERSONAL BIOGRAPHIES

 

This time of year is a great time to count our blessings and consider how to freeze our finest moments in time. The Over50 crowd may be most interested in tackling the project since they are closer to the eventual passing of the torch, but interviewing parents and grandparents and documenting family history can also be a great project for children and young adults.

There are lots of methods from which to choose, and more easy-to-afford options are becoming available everyday. My friend, Susan Kitchens, has an entire web site dedicated to the process and technology of capturing your family’s oral history.  – www.familyoralhistory.us. Be sure to check out her recent article in the Saturday Evening Post on “Interviewing Family During the Holidays.”

You can also write a memoir to leave behind for your family, or my personal preference, to force them to read every year just to reconfirm your greatness. Or create a memory book for a family or a particular town by collecting stories, photos and memorabilia from the elders in your group. www.capturingmemories.com offers examples and suggestions on how best to compile the data.

Most families I knew growing up had scrapbooks of the children, and photo albums of the family. And who can forget the infamous home movies foisted upon unsuspecting guests and family members during annual get-togethers? Over the years, our photo albums have been replaced with digital photos and home-made videos. More recently, it’s facebook pages with photo albums attached, a family web site or photo-sharing pages and ubiquitous YouTube videos.

Personally, I have written a holiday letter each year for over a decade. In addition to affording me an easy way to keep all my friends and family updated, I’ve found the letters to be great memory joggers, reminding me which year I actually took that trip or made that life change. And, of course, all can be saved compactly on a computer hard drive, flash drive or external hard drive or CD.

If you have old videotapes or reel-to-reel tapes, you should consider having them transferred to DVD. You want to be able to relish your memories long after the technology has evolved yet again. It’s surprising how inexpensive the transfers have become.

And depending upon how sophisticated you want to get with your ancestral research and how far back you want to go, there are plenty of web sites to help you connect with your early roots and find out about your father’s father’s mother’s mother. Here are just a few— ancestry.comgenealogy.com, familysearch.orgmyheritage.com, andtribalpages.com.

Yes, the holidays are a great time to look back with appreciation and look forward with hope. Capturing our special individual or family moments keep our best memories intact for many generations. Reviewing photos and family history together this time of year can even foster a new family tradition.

What does your family do to sustain its treasured memories and how does your family use these valuable historical resources?


January 31, 2011 Posted by | baby boomer information, Family history, Healthy Aging, over 50, Successful Aging | , , , , | Leave a comment

THE LANGUAGE OF HEALTHY AGERS

Language can be a powerful weapon or a healing wand. In the extreme, our words can make people embrace us or kill us. On a daily basis,  how we speak and how we are spoken to influences our health and our motivation, which directly impacts how well we age.

Have you ever spent time around someone who is a naysayer, swears incessantly, has poor grammar and/or talks negatively about others all day? How do you physically feel afterwards? For me, I find myself drained, irritable, and sometimes, I even start treating others the same way. Just like a virus, language can be contagious.

In contrast, if you’ve ever spent time around someone who is upbeat, supportive of others and self-empowered, you notice how differently they use language and how much better you feel about yourself and them by the time you leave. Naturally, it goes without saying that spending time around people who speak positively can foster better health for both the speaker and the people they touch.

There are a number of articles on the internet that address how vocabulary can foster positive energy and good health.  One life change site offers examples to help reprogram anyone’s normal catch phrases with Positive Language. Two other sites discuss how Using Positive Language can Help Customers Think Positively, a definite advantage in business. Another site goes so far as to identify THE Top 25 Positive Words and Phrases.

Not only will speaking at a higher level help you in business, it will also make you FEEL more positive. It’s kind of like an actor who uses dialogue, physical expressions and actions to internalize the mental state of the character she’s trying to channel. Sometimes it’s easier to make the change from the outside in.

Try this as an experiment. When you’re feeling negative for whatever reason (come on, we all have those moments), force yourself to say something nice to someone—compliment the cashier or simply smile and say good afternoon to the next passerby who makes eye contact. I know, I know, it’s hard to do when you’d rather just spit at them, but as untruthful as it feels, you may be surprised how the positive response you receive back actually helps you feel better so that you begin to feel and speak positively naturally.

Language is easier to change than our beliefs and yet good language habits can help honestly modify our beliefs. Why? When externally we use positive, proactive, empowering words, people perceive us in a more positive light, and we attract more positive people and opportunities for success into our lives. Guess what? That makes us ACTUALLY feel better about ourselves and others.

The positively old live longer and happier because they tend to use positive language. People gravitate toward them, so they’re still surrounded by friends, family and wonderful opportunities long after their complaining peers have resorted to staring at the television screen between long, lonely intervals without visitors.

The one thing that I have noticed with older people I admire the most is how gentle they’ve become about criticizing others and forgiving them. They’ve lived long enough to see that everyone makes mistakes, and they’ve learned that in the greater scheme of things, most of these missteps are too small to matter.

On that note, I’ll leave you with one parable about the results of speaking badly about others (this is particularly true in the age of the Internet). I hope it drives home the truth of how powerful and hurtful our words can be, and how important it is to choose them wisely as we strive to grow and improve.

Share with us a time when the way something was said saved the day for you or someone close to you.

 

January 27, 2011 Posted by | baby boomer information, Healthy Aging, over 50, positive language, Successful Aging | , , , , | Leave a comment