Got the Gratitude Attitude?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 64 – 6/1/15

The other night I couldn’t get to sleep.  I’d had a difficult day at work and it kept me tossing and turning. Perhaps you’re familiar with that negative tape that continues to wind and rewind through your brain at night? Finally I managed to stop myself and put my mind to thinking about things I’m grateful for.  Not the typical stuff, like having a good marriage, an awesome daughter, and good health (though I am thankful for those things). 

No, this was all about the weird stuff.  Like I’m grateful for the sound of a train at night; for some reason, it makes me feel good.  I love cloud pictures and how they morph from one thing to another.  Frost on the windowpanes in the winter, which always make me pause to check out the intricate designs.  Ditto rivulets of water on a car window when driving on a rainy day. The smell of a freshly cut lawn. Hearing the song Somewhere over the Rainbow sung by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole (who left this earth far too soon, in June of 1997) and of course, rainbows (especially those rare double rainbows).   

Beautiful rainbow over a rain forest mountain

Finally, I’m grateful to have the ability to get up and write down my ideas at 4:30 in the morning! 

In her book, The How of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky wrote that expressing gratitude is the #1 “happiness activity.”  Ms. Lyubomirsky had the research to back up her assertions; but to be honest, I don’t need an expert to know that being grateful is good for me and makes me happier (along with helping me fall asleep).  I mean, it simply makes sense, doesn’t it?  

I can only speak for myself – but I know that when I’m taking my life for granted and get cranky or ticked off because things simply aren’t going my way, God has a way of showing me something that stops me in my tracks.  I’ll be watching the news, and see someone who has really big problems.  I’ll click on one of those FB posts about a child who’s suffering from a rare cancer. I’ll think about my oldest sister, who’s had her independence greatly hindered because of deteriorating eyesight; or my sister-in-law, who survived cancer and other health issues, with the help of PMA (positive mental attitude).  

Along with helping me sleep, gratitude for my life helps me focus on the positive, enhances my self-confidence, decreases my stress, and simply helps me appreciate the good stuff about growing older. And it sure beats the heck out of walking around with a dark cloud above my head.  

How about you?  What does gratitude do for you? 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lost: Bea’s Sense of Humor

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 58– 5/15/15

bea

Bea’s Buzz for Friday: 

Lost – One Sense of Humor

Last Seen – May 10th, 2015

Reward $$ Offered for its Return! 

Please help Bea!  She’s lost her sense of humor. Really.  It’s causing her to take herself WAY too seriously and life seems so darned difficult!  Hopefully, she’s just misplaced it, like she misplaces her car keys and such (you know, this aging thing).  If Bea has lost her sense of humor completely, she’s simply doomed to a miserable life.

 She last saw her sense of humor while reading the Sunday newspaper. Silly woman, instead of checking out the Comics section, a gloom-and-doom headline caught her eye and just like that, her sense of humor walked out the door.

Then she noticed more bad news, and more and more and yikes, her sense of humor was running like heck down the road just to get away from Bea’s crabby self.

c166960_s  Oh, this is worse than just crabby – much worse!

Bea has to find her sense of humor as soon as possible.  Heck, everyone knows that humor makes our life struggles less difficult to bear and eases our stress.  

Laughter:

  • Relaxes us
  • Boosts our immune system
  • Releases endorphins (you know, those “feel good” chemicals)
  • Protects our heart
  • Helps defuse arguments
  • Enhances our friendships 
  • And so much more!

Bea has searched everywhere and now she’s getting desperate. There’s only one thing she can do! She needs to make herself laugh! But how?

Please help her, readers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Need more encouragement to maintain your own sense of humor? 

 

 

 

Dysthymia: Persistent Depressive Disorder

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 57– 5/13/15

I had no idea what to write about today ~ for some reason, I couldn’t sleep last night.  As I tossed and turned, I tried to come up with ideas for today’s post ~ my thoughts meandered around the labyrinth of my brain and kept coming to dead ends.  After getting home from work today at 5:15 p.m., I realized that the Healthy Aging course I registed for at Ed2go starts today, which means that I have no time to come up with a last minute idea! 

So instead, I’m re-posting an article I wrote for the Ezine Articles website about Dysthymia (Persistent Depressive Disorder). My co-worker, Fred (name changed to protect the innocent) would accuse me of “phoning it in” tonight; but sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. . . . 

Dysthymia Symptoms

Jenny, a 35 year old wife and mother, has little energy to play with her two young children.  She sleeps restlessly at night, and often feels the need to take a nap during the day.  She has difficulty in making even the most minor decisions, and finds it hard to concentrate.  Jenny often feels her family would be better off without her.  For short periods of time, she’s able to pull herself out of her mood, and she’ll feel like her “old self” again.  But these periods don’t last. 

This wife and mom is suffering from the common symptoms of dysthymia, also known as persistent depressive disorder.  Other symptoms include feelings of sadness almost every day, poor appetite or overeating, low self-esteem, and loss of enjoyment in formerly fun activities.  While the symptoms aren’t as severe as those of major depression, they last longer.  Dysthymia symptoms last at least two years. 

Causes of Dysthymia

The causes behind any form of depression can be complex.  People suffering from dysthymia usually have a family background of depression. Brain chemical imbalances can be another cause. Sometimes childhood trauma that causes chronic stress can lead to dysthymia in a teenager or young adult.  Additionally, some medical conditions can be linked to dysthymia.  These include neurological conditions, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia.* For elderly people, dysthymia may arise due to the challenging life changes they face as they age.  This may include chronic illnesses or physical disability, brain function decline, or the loss of a spouse.  

Diagnosis and Treatment

People who have dysthymia often don’t obtain treatment – the symptoms often develop slowly and then become integrated into a person’s life, causing them to believe it’s just a part of who they are. This is especially true for those people who develop this disorder early in their lives.  However, it’s important that persistent depression is treated. People who have dysthymia are at a higher risk of developing major depression. Experts have termed this condition “double depression.”*

If a person has been suffering from a depressed mood over the period of two years and has some of the other symptoms described above, a visit to their family doctor will help.  The person will need to provide their doctor with both the physical and mental ailments that have been plaguing them. If the doctor suspects persistent depressive disorder, he or she may start with a physical examination.  This is done because dysthymia may be caused by an underlying medical condition.  Laboratory and blood tests may also be given to provide further insight.  Finally, the doctor may conduct a psychological examination.

Treatment for dysthymia involves anti-depressants, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.  There are a few types of anti-depressants that are prescribed for this type of depression; however, the most common type used are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).  Experts point out that SSRIs tend to work well for most people and have more bearable side effects than other types of anti-depressants. These drugs don’t work overnight; it may take several weeks for them to make a difference in the affected person’s life.

Psychotherapy involves talking to a mental health professional.  This can give the person some insight about the condition, as well as their own emotions, thoughts and behaviour.  A good mental health professional can help teach the person how to deal with stress, negative thought patterns, and self-defeating behaviors. Psychotherapy can provide a person with the everyday skills they need to battle their persistent depression.  They can also suggest support groups, if needed. 

Jenny doesn’t have to live the rest of her life suffering with the “grays” of dysthymia that greatly limit her happiness and well-being.  If she takes that first step by visiting her doctor and describing her symptoms, there are treatments available to help her fight back against persistent depressive disorder and take back her life. 

Sources Cited List

*Swartz, Karen, MD. The Johns Hopkins White Papers. Depression and Anxiety. 2014. Remedy Health Media: New York, NY.  Print. 

 

 

3 Top Websites for Mental Health

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 55 – 5/8/15 

Young Woman in Despair sitting against wall in monochrome

Mental Health America

America’s largest and oldest community-based network for mental health.

Founded in 1909, Mental Health America’s goal is to promote mental health by means of prevention, early identification/intervention, and care/treatment of mental health conditions

Within the site’s Living Well link, you’ll find resources for: 

  • Living your life well: top 10 tools, stress screener, fast facts about stress and more.
  • Living your life well on campus: special resources for college students.
  • Living your life well at work: work/life balance, signs of a healthy workplace, and more.
  • Complementary medicine:  alternative medicine options for mental health conditions.

Within the Finding Help link, you’ll find:

  • Screening tools for common mental health conditions
  • Available treatment options
  • MHA affiliates in your community/area
  • Tools and other resources to help with recovery from a mental health condition

The Mental Health Information link provides discussions about mental health conditions from A – Z.  If you want to make a difference, you can join MHA’s advocacy network.

Psych Central 

This website has been around since 1995, and defines itself as “today’s modern voice for mental health information, emotional support and advocacy.”  Psych Central offers over 200 online support groups.

Psych Central’s blog offers a wide variety of articles covering many topics.  Current posts included:  The Worry List, More Creative Ways to Manage Sadness and Anxiety, and Raising Boys to Become Confident Men, just to name a few.

This site also offers screening tools for a variety of mental health disorders and symptoms, an Ask the Therapist feature, daily news and research updates; and of course, where to find help when you need it.

MentalHealth.gov

The content at this site comes from several governmental sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, FindYouthInfo.gov, Medline Plus and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

MentalHealth.gov links include: The Basics (What is Mental Health, Myths & Facts, Recovery is Possible) – What to Look For (focuses on the different types of mental health disorders along with information about suicide) – Talk about Mental Health (how to start the conversation about mental health disorders and get needed support) – How to Get Help – (resources for getting immediate help, help for veterans and their families, etc.)

This site also provides the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  1-800-273-8255 and the Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 (Press 1). 

 

 

May: Mental Health Month

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 53 – 5/4/15

May is Mental Health month, sponsored by the Mental Health America website. This is a subject that is dear to my heart – not only did my father struggled with an undiagnosed mental illness throughout his life (along with the additional burden of alcoholism); but I’ve suffered from dysthymia (persistent depressive disorder) in the past. 

The theme for this year’s observance is B4Stage4, focusing on early intervention for mental health problems.  

This month, I plan on devoting several posts to mental health topics.  Please help me, along with Mental Health America, spread the word about taking care of our mental health, and helping loved ones when they need it.   

Check out this YouTube video to find out more about MHA’s B4Stage4 campaign. 

Do you tweet?  Please spread the word at Twitter:  

  • May is Mental Health Month #mhmonth2015 Let’s raise awareness! #B4Stage4
  • Don’t be afraid to ask 4 help, get #screened & start the conversation early: mhascreening.org  #B4Stage4 #MHMonth2015

Are you on Facebook? You can create awareness by posting:

(1) Learn the early warning signs.  When you or someone close to you starts to experience the early warning signs of mental illness, knowing what these changes are will help to catch them early. Often times, parents, teachers and mentors are the first person to step in to support a person through these early changes. Learn the warning signs #B4Stage4 http://bit.ly/1Agy9v3

(2) Intervening effectively during early stages of mental illness can save lives and change the trajectories of people living with mental illnesses. Support @mentalhealthamerica and the #B4Stage4 campaign Get #screened, www. mhascreening.org

Visit the Mental Health America website for more FB and Twitter options. 

 

Secrets of Centenarians

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 52  

bea

5/1/15 Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Want to live to be 100?  You may want to take some advice from the centenarians who were polled (along with 65-year-old baby boomers) who were polled last year in UnitedHealth Group’s 9th annual 100@100 SurveyThe survey examined their health “secrets,” along with their attitudes about aging and their lifestyles. 

Not surprisingly, both the 65-year-old group and the 100 year olds feel younger than their chronological age.  While this fact may surprise younger people (you know, the ones who think 30 is like, beyond ancient), it’s certainly not news to Bea, who is a couple years this side of 60 and feels about 35! 

The “secrets” that the centenarians and baby boomers revealed aren’t too surprising, either. According to those polled:  

  • A positive attitude, and an ability to laugh at life, are key factors to good health in old age. (This has been proven again and again in scientific research – see below for additional reading)
  • Taking a pro-active approach to health by getting annual physicals, along with annual eye exams is another key to maintaining health and wellness. 
  • Finally:  Exercise, exercise, exercise! Good for both brain and body.  Both the 65-year-old group and the centenarians got regular exercise – which included strength training, walking, biking, even running. 

Then again, longevity could just be a matter of plain old luck.

Take a look at this year’s 100@100 survey, which polled centenarians and 10 year olds! 

Bea says:  Add Years to your Life, and Life to your Years

For further reading:http://beaboomerswellness.com/?p=98

Older People Become What They Think 

Attitudes about Aging Affect Longevity, Study Says

Sources:

Advisor/Source newspaper, (May 25, 2014). Centenarians reveal their secrets to a long, happy life. 

UnitedHealthcare website 

 

 

 

3 Health Sites for Women Only

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 41 – 4/6/15

The Center for Young Women’s Health – According to its About page, the Center’s objective is to provide teen girls and young women with well-researched health information relating to both physical/emotional development and diseases/conditions. This site is also a non-commercial site; a partnership among three medical divisions of the Boston Children’s Hospital.  There are resources for both health care professionals and parents.  An example of an article from the site’s emotional health category: Anxiety

Medline Plus – Women’s Health – a website from the National Institutes of Health, produced by the National Library of Medicine.  This site provides trusted information specific to women’s unique health concerns. The site is uncluttered and easy to maneuver; it’s also updated on a regular basis.  You can sign up for women’s health updates.  An example of what you’ll find here: Osteoporosis, the Bone ThiefThe site also provides a variety of videos and fun tools, which can be found here. 

 Society for Women’s Health Research – Founded in 1990, by a group of health professionals, the site is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary of research and advocacy for women’s unique health diseases and concerns.  Resources include women’s health topics from A – Z, clinical trials, public education, and videos. There is a link describing SWHR’s advocacy issues, and how women can take action for themselves. Example of what can be found at the site: (under the Public Education link) Research on breast cancer recurrence. SWHR can be found on Facebook and Twitter.  

Grandmother with adult daughter and grandchild in park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shake it Up for Vital Aging

It’s no longer the wellness project – It’s Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 37 – 3/27/15

bea

Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Bea has seen several of those YouTube videos, with a variety of everyday people lip synching to Taylor Swift’s song, Shake it Off.  

While enjoying the version sung by two country boys (one of the best ones, in Bea’s opinion), she had a smashing idea!  Bea decided to rewrite the song’s lyrics to reflect what vital aging is all about.  Bea’s contemplating a YouTube performance – but she may need voice lessons first!

So here it is, Bea Boomer’s song:  Shake it up! 

I got wrinkles on my face – got grayin’ in my hair

That’s what the mirror says, mmm hmm – That’s what the mirror says, mmm hmm

I stay in too much – got cobwebs in my brain

Now that’s no way to age, mmm hmm – no that’s no way to age, mmm hmm

But I had it with this pace – yea, I gotta make a change

And that’s what it’s about, mmm hmm – yea, that’s what its about, mmm hmm

‘Cause the birthdays gonna come, come, come, come, come and birthdays gonna go, go, go, go, go 

Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake – I shake it up, I shake it up

‘Cause the birthdays gonna come, come, come, come, come and birthdays gonna go, go, go, go, go 

Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake – I shake it up, I shake it up

Won’t let agin’ get me down, I’ll just kick it in the butt

And that’s what it’s about, mmm, hmm – yea, that’s what its about, mmm, hmm

I’ll never miss a chance, keep steppin’ up my game

And that’s the way to age, mmm, hmm – yea, that’s the way to age, mmm hmm

I keep on learnin’ – can’t stop, won’t stop growin’ 

It’s like I got this power in my mind, sayin’ it’s gonna be just fine

‘Cause the birthdays gonna come, come, come, come, come and birthdays gonna go, go, go, go, go 

Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake – I shake it up, I shake it up 

‘Cause the birthdays gonna come, come, come, come, come and birthdays gonna go, go, go, go, go 

Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake – I shake it up, I shake it up  

I love my attitude – don’t care what people say

And that’s the way to be, mmm hmm – yea, that’s the way to be, mmm hmm

I’m steppin’ up my game – get more power every day

And that’s what they don’t know, mmm hmm – yea, that’s what they don’t know, mmm hmm 

‘Cause the birthdays gonna come, come, come, come, come and birthdays gonna go, go, go, go, go 

Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake – I shake it up, I shake it up 

‘Cause the birthdays gonna come, come, come, come, come and birthdays gonna go, go, go, go, go 

Baby I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake, shake – I shake it up, I shake it up

Shake it up, shake it up

I, I, I, shake it up – I shake it up

I, I, I shake it up – I shake it up

I, I, I, shake it up – I shake it up

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

Bea’s Aging Philosophy

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 35 – 3/23/15

I have a simple philosophy about aging:  

  • Do the best you can with what you have.
  • Be pro-active to maintain both your emotional, mental, and physical health.
  • Take responsibility for yourself.
  • Oh yea – have fun with it! 

Captureaa(Created at mywebface.com)

For me, the key is “growing old,” not simply “getting old.”  Like my oldest sister, who is 75, I call myself “age empowered.”   I hope to always feel this way. 

Now I know darn well that no matter how proactive I am about my health and wellness, there will be things that come up that will scare the hell out of me.  But I also believe that over the years, I’ve learned to become resilient.  I’ll do my best to bounce back from life’s curve-balls.

What about you?  What’s your attitude toward aging? 

Further reading about Aging and Attitude

Book: “Attitude is Everything. 10 Life-Changing Steps to Turning Attitude into Action.” (Keith Harrell)

This article describes 10 “thought distortions” that lead to negativity and provides some strategies that lead to positive thinking:  Positive Thinking for Healthy Aging

According to the American Psychological Association, people with a healthy attitude toward life just may live longer:  A Healthy Mind, a Longer Life

A person’s beliefs about aging (that is, whether or not they believe in those negative stereotypes) can affect both their physical and mental health: Older People Become What They Think

Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. (Betty Friedan)

 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015

Brain Awareness Week (March 16 – 22)

 

Bea Boomer’s Wellness Project – Day 33 – 3/18/15

I recently saw the movie, Still Alice. In the movie, Julianne Moore plays Alice, a woman who struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease. In her case, it was familial; she carried the gene for AD. This neurological disease has also been linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, along with other modifiable risk factors.  In a recent bulletin, the AARP pointed out that the cases and costs of AD continue to rise, with no end in sight.*

Since then, I’ve been thinking about my brain.  Or should I say, I’ve been thinking about my brain’s health. I’ve written posts about the aging brain in years past. In my blog, past articles  have taken a lighthearted approach. But in truth, losing my brain functions is one of those things I do take seriously, and is the thing I fear most about aging

Which brings me to Brain Awareness Week, a worldwide initiative which was started by the Dana Foundation 20 years ago. This foundation provides information about the brain to the public, and also helps advance brain health research in a variety of ways. This provides us with the opportunity to learn about the strides that scientists are making to protect our brain health. Brain Awareness Week is just the start; according to the Scientific American website, the Dana Foundation continues brain awareness activities year-round. 

How to get involved with Brain Awareness Week: Check out the Society for Neuroscience Brain Awareness Campaign.  

I’ve recently joined to become an advocate of Alzheimer’s research – please join me.  We can make a difference! You can become a chamption at ActionAlz

You can follow the Alzheimer’s Association on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/actionalz

I’ve found some interesting reading about the brain: 

  • This article from The Human Memory website, describes the three major parts of the brain. This website has some interesting reading and includes articles about the different types of memory, memory disorders, types of memory, etc. 
  • The Amen Clinic talks about super foods for the brain.
  • Brain Healthy Recipes from BrainHQ at the Posit Science website

Source: 

*Reid, T.R. Where’s the War on Alzheimer’s? AARP Bulletin.  January – February 2015.  

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015