Menopausin’? 7 Ways to Cool Down those Hot Flashes

c165459_sI don’t think I ever heard the word “menopause” cross my mother’s lips.  Nope, for her it was the dreaded change of life or simply the change.  For years I connected these terms with the idea of eventually losing my marbles and sprouting hair on my chin.  Heck, according to my mom and aunts, some women went through the change and never came out of it!  (Now that I think about it, I always wondered where Aunt Betty disappeared to).

Nowadays, we’re much more sophisticated about our terminology, and thanks to Google, better educated about this period (no pun intended) of our lives.

Despite my earlier fears about menopause, for me it didn’t turn out to be that bad in terms of physical discomfort.  My biggest annoyance (and from what I hear from other ladies as well) were those times when I was walking around at work or at the mall, my temperature a comfortable 98.6 – when suddenly my body made a visit to the desert, at high noon on a 102 degree day.  What the . . . ??? 

Yep, hot flashes (and their evil buddy, night sweats) were what drove me crazy throughout menopause.  If you’re suffering from them as well, you may want to take a look at some cooling down options: 

  • Craving Thai or Szechuan food?  STOP!  Do not go there. High-fat and high-sugar diets can make hot flash symptoms worse; ditto caffeine and alcohol.
  • Instead, try the Mediterranean Diet as described in this article from the Eating Well website.   This way of eating can also help fight off that lousy weight gain that leads to meno-pots (don’t you love being a woman?) 
  • Research has also shown that adding soy foods to a diet can help, because they contain isoflavones.  Try soybeans, edamame, tofu, or roasted soy nuts. 
  • Try ground flaxseed (available in grocery stores), which may help fight against hot flashes (they’re also good for our heart health; containing fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and lignan) You can add the seeds to smoothies, juice, or oatmeal.*
  • Stress has been linked to hot flashes (jeez, what hasn’t stress been linked to?), so take steps to relieve daily stressors before they build up may help.  Meditation, deep breathing techniques, getting regular exercise, and keeping a journal to vent about bad stuff are a few ways to do this. Or invite your hot-flash-suffering friends over for a kick menopause in the butt party 
  • Medical treatment involves low-dose hormone therapy used only for the short-term.  You can read more about medical options in this article from the My Health Alberta website. 
  • Looking for some natural supplement options? Take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil’s suggestion in this article.  (You should talk to your doctor prior to taking supplements) 

Source: 

*Beck, LeslieWhat foods should I eat to help manage my hot flashes? 

Want to have some fun with your fellow menopausers?  Menopause the Musical is a must-see

For Further Reading:

 

 

10 Ways to Love Your Heart

 

Watercolor picture with bright red heart on blue background

  • Snack on almonds (1 ½ ounces every day can help lower bad cholesterol)
  • Enjoy fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C and your heart will be rewarded with a potent antioxidant.
  • Sweat it up!  Strenuous exercise a couple times a week is heart-healthy.
  • Don’t forget vitamin D – research shows that vitamin D deficiency may lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Cuddle with your significant other or your furry friend. This helps lower stress levels and blood pressure.
  • Floss your teeth – good for your gums, and may help protect against heart disease.
  • Let go of anger and resentment – this reduces stress and blood pressure, and can help lower your heart rate.
  • Find a reason to have a good belly laugh.  At least one daily.  Laughing not only reduces stress and tension, it improves blood flow (reducing blood pressure). It may also boost good cholesterol levels.
  • Fill up with fiber (afraid of tootin’? Find some tips to help avoid gaseous emissions at the Everyday Health site
  • Try some yoga poses for a healthy heart.

Sources:

Narula, T., M.D. Have a Heart Healthy Day. Oprah magazine. February 2014.

Westen, R. Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy. AARP magazine. October/November 2015.

Fitness Fan Forever

Did my love for physical fitness begin in elementary school, when PE class consisted of doing toe touches and push-ups to the “Chicken Fat” song?  And, of course, climbing up that scratchy rope that was attached to the gym’s ceiling (what the heck was that all about??) 

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Nah.  

How about in middle school, when we were introduced to swim class, rubber swim caps that left dents in our foreheads and stretched out swimsuits that had been worn by God knows how many others?

semi_simple_swimming_sketch

Nah. 

Could I have fallen in love with physical fitness in High School, where I was always one of the last ones chosen for floor hockey games, and actually fractured my thumb after hitting a wall during relay races? 

And again, Nah.

No, I became a fitness fanatic at the age of 19, when I decided my knees were too chubby. For some reason, (too many French fries?) my clothing size had increased to double digits. I took drastic action:

  • I would walk for miles or ride my bike for hours. (A bit extreme, right? Hey, I was young).
  • I would attempt a hundred sit-ups a day (not known as crunches back then).
  • I (foolishly) over exercised, believing that if some exercise was good for you, excessive workouts would be even better. 

Then came the eighties, with its high impact aerobics and Richard Simmons dancing and sweating (not attractive, Richard) to the oldies. And of course, Jane Fonda, looking good in her tights and leotards, cheerfully leading us flabby people in those complicated steps and grapevines (bulimic, but who knew?). Unfortunately, my left foot never figured out what my right foot was doing. Bummer.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to love to sweat. I also figured out that I didn’t have to overdo it and exercise every stinkin’ day to get its benefits. 

Exercise is a great way to laugh in the face of aging. I love it because it makes me feel like I can kick ass, even at age 58.  I hope to be able to exercise until just before I kick the bucket. 

Benefits of Exercise:

Studies Show Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Life

The Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Resistance Training Health Benefits

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

 

Bea’s New Pages!

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 63 – 5/29/15

bea

Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Bea’s recent efforts to get out of a blue mood led her to thinking of ways to perk up Bea Boomer’s Wellness.  

As a result, Bea is buzzing about two new pages she’s adding, which will be available on Tuesday, June 2nd.

  • Vital Aging Tips  will provide you with quick tips for health and wellness as you grow older (we’re not just “getting old,” you know – we are growing, even as we age.)  For Bea, that’s the key to vital aging.  This page will be updated with a new tip every Tuesday.  
  • Vital Aging Links will provide you with healthy living resources for your quick reference, separated by categories such as healthy eating, exercise, brain fitness, and the like.  Bea is still figuring out the best way to develop this page (maybe you have some ideas – please email beaboomer@gmail.com or comment if you do, or if you’ve found great links that Bea can add to this page) 

 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

 

How to Boost your Memory

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 62– 5/27/15 

As a person from the middle years of the baby boomer generation (born in the fifties), I’m at an age where my memory is a concern.  I don’t want to lose it, and I want to keep my brain functioning well for as long as I can. At work or in social situations, I regularly hear people of my age, and even younger, complaining of memory problems. It doesn’t have to be that way – we have some power over it. We just need to take some simple steps, not only to improve our memory, but also to enhance our overall brain function.  

I know that at age 58, my memory is simply not trustworthy. Brain farts are a common occurrence. Too often, I resort to making lists and notes to remember things. Recent notes have included gentle reminders such as: take shower, go to work and make dinner.  Ok, I’m just kidding, my memory isn’t that bad.

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I’ve also gotten to the point of speaking to inanimate objects, such as the stove; as in, “I’ve shut off the stove.” This is so I won’t go crazy on my drive back to work, wondering if I turned the darn thing off.  I guess I won’t worry too much about this until I start having long conversations with my appliances.

My husband points out that since I’m always in a hurry, my memory is not the problem; it’s simply lack of concentration.  Memory experts would agree with that assertion. One way to combat that age-related forgetfulness is to take the time to focus on what it is you want to remember.  Distracted thinking leads to memory ‘burps.’

People who research this kind of stuff also point out that there are ways we can proactively address age-related memory issues. The actions I’ve taken, though they may sound silly, are actually good for my memory. 

Experts point out that making lists of important tasks helps keep them in your memory banks. Nowadays, you don’t need an old fashioned pen and paper list – cell phones provide reminder and note making applications.

Also, saying things out loud, such as repeating the name of a person after you’re introduced, helps store that information for later retrieval. 

A common sense way of keeping track of your reading glasses, keys or other commonly lost item is by simply putting them in the same spot every day. My husband is always preaching about this to me, and I have to admit that he seldom loses things.  

Another way to remember something like a person’s name is to create a picture in your mind based on the name. Which isn’t so tough if a person’s name is Harry Snow! Other names might be more difficult to create a mind visualization.

We can also make some lifestyle modifications to enhance our memory and other cognitive functions.  This includes regular exercise to increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain. Healthier eating and including antioxidant-rich foods to our diets is also important.  Playing strategic games, learning a new language, journaling, and taking an online college course can also help our brain functions.  Taking charge of our brain health is an important step for vital aging. 

When I did some research on the subject of memory, I found out what we all know to be true:  some memory loss is simply normal as we age.  It’s common for a person to occasionally lose their keys – what’s scary is forgetting what keys are used for, which can be a sign of dementia. People who have concerns about memory issues may want to address it with their doctors, to see if an underlying condition is causing it. If so, dealing with that condition will improve the memory concerns. 

For Further Reading:

Simple Techniques for Improving Memory 

Memory Boosters for Seniors: Vitamin b12 & Folic Acid

Improve your Memory with a Good Night’s Sleep

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

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). 

 

 

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 

 

 

 

Why Take Charge of your Health?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 51 – 4/29/15

Senior Woman Relaxing After Exercise

One day I was talking to one of my sisters about health changes as we grow older and she said “Yea, my health was good up until I turned fifty, then it was downhill after that.”  My sister has the same mindset my mom had:  the “oh well, bad health is inevitable when I get old.”  

Yegads, what an outlook!

My thinking is just the opposite!  I believe that we can and should be proactive about our health, not reactive.  After seeing the health problems my mom lived with, which included heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis, I was determined not to age that way. So far, I haven’t.  At almost 59 years old, I don’t have any of the conditions my mom suffered with, except for high cholesterol, which is controlled by my diet, exercise and a statin drug.  

We have a wealth of healthy aging resources at our fingertips nowadays; not only on the Internet, but in public libraries, bookstores, and television channels such as Discovery Health.  Why not use it to our advantage?  We’re living longer these days – don’t know about you, but I also want to live healthier, physically and mentally.  

Here are just a few of those resources that help us take charge of our health: