Mental Sharpness Begins to Decline in Middle-Age

The brain’s abilities to reason, comprehend and remember may start to worsen as early as age 45, a new study from England suggests.Researchers gave tests of thinking skills to about 5,100 men and 2,200 women between the ages of 45 and 70 years over a 10-year period. They found people ages 45 to 49 years experienced a notable decline in mental functioning.”‘Senior’ moments that people often joke about are true,” said Dr. Gary Small, geriatric psychiatrist David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved with the work.

“If you follow people over time, you’ll see there are structural changes that happen in the brain as they age,” he said.

Previous evidence suggests that impaired cognitive function could be  an early sign of dementia. One recent study showed cognitive performance strongly predicted a 75 percent diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia, after six years.

About 1 in 8 older Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. They anticipate the numbers will grow each year as more and more people continue to live longer.

Though the age at which cognitive decline begins remains unknown, researchers say the new study demonstrates the importance of a healthy lifestyle, particularly paying attention to cardiovascular health, which may help stave off the effects of brain aging.

“A decline in mental function is inevitable,” said Steven Ferris, a psychologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, who was not involved with the work. “Following a healthy lifestyle can help a certain degree of mental functioning, but there requires more research to prove this.”

A healthy lifestyle includes exercising, which increases blood flow to the brain, providing it with much-needed nutrients. Eating foods that are good for the heart, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains is also important, because it could protect brain cells from age-related decline.

A faster decline among older people

Study participants were tested for memory, vocabulary, hearing and visual comprehension skills. People were given cognitive tests three times over the course of the study. The researchers took differences in education levels into account.

Researchers found that over the 10-year study, there was a 3.6 percent decline in mental reasoning scores in people who were between the ages of 45 and 49 at the study’s start. There was a 9.6 percent decline in the abilities of men ages 65 to 70 years at the start, and a slightly smaller, 7.4 percent decline, in women of those ages.

Results showed that cognitive test scores declined in all categories except vocabulary, and scores declined faster in older people.

The study also demonstrated that measuring people’s abilities at one point in time may not yield accurate results.

“This study follows the same people over a long period of time to see if their cognitive performance changes,” said Ferris.

“And these changes are beginning earlier than what people previously thought,” he said.

via Mental Sharpness Begins to Decline in Middle-Age.

Walking for a Better Brain – The Atlantic

Originally posted on Simple Living Over 50:

Walking for a Better Brain
When a 70-year-old man walked the length of the United States in 1909, he sparked a conversation that ultimately changed medicine’s ideas about the value of exercise in old age.
Wayne Curtis Oct 15 2014, 7:15 AM ET

lead

Edward Payson Weston started off on foot from New York to San Francisco in March 1909. He was 70 years old, and would eventually arrive 105 days later, averaging about 40 miles per day. Not surprisingly, his walk triggered a lot of talk about aging and the abilities of the elderly.

Coincidentally, that same year, several men gathered at the house of G. Stanley Hall, president of the American Psychological Association, in Worcester, Massachusetts. Present were three well-known psychologists: William James, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung.

No one thought much of this high-octane get-together at the time, least of all the participants. The 67-year-old James evidently didn’t…

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Stalking and Being Stalked

Originally posted on Life in the Boomer Lane:

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It’s taken awhile for Life in the Boomer Lane to notice that she is being stalked by products she has searched for online.  There are, apparently, companies, most likely founded and run by recently toilet-trained tots, whose job is to imprint whatever LBL searches for and to then cause those items to appear on whatever other site she clicks on to.

Currently, she is being stalked by toddler socks and full coverage/full support bras.  In the recent  past, she has been stalked by ceramic salt and pepper shakers, jeggings, and Hanukkah decorations.  There is nothing shameful about this, although LBL admits to feeling shame by being reminded that her life revolves around things like small feet and large breasts.

She has a nagging suspicion that, while others are spending their time in more lofty pursuits, she is in front of a screen searching for nothing of any intellectual value.

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The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement

I now have less than 4 years to retire at 66, and every once in awhile I Google “retirement” and find a whole crap-load of links to investment companies that will help me save enough money – ha!

Since I don’t have a lot of retirement savings, my fall-back is to target paying off the house by the time I turn 66, minimize my costs, and be able to live off of the Social Security benefit.

Below is an article I ran across that does more than tell you to save more:  via The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement: How to Prepare.

When it comes to retirement planning, the top regret among American seniors is this: they wish they had saved more. In fact, a recent survey by the National Council on Aging found that this regret outranks all others, including how well they prioritized health and maintained family connections in their younger years.Retirement planning, done well, starts early in a career but intensifies in the five years leading up to your actual retirement. Once you are within that time-frame, you should be pushing hard on saving as much as possible. But this part is relatively easy once you understand what’s required. Before we get to that, let’s talk about a less quantitative factor in retirement planning: what exactly are you going to do with yourself?

Set Some Goals

It might sound like a question for young people: what do you want to do with your life? But a surprising number of folks go into retirement with no idea what they’d like to do with their time. While the money has to be there for retirement to work, happiness in retirement also requires an answer to this big question.

So, make a list of goals. Maybe you want to volunteer your time, and one goal might be to try out several volunteer opportunities. Maybe you’d like a part-time job in a field that you’ve always found interesting — perhaps a bookstore or a library if you are a big reader, an art museum or gallery if you enjoy art, or a tutoring company if you like working with children. I have a client, a retiree, who volunteers with the Red Cross and travels to disaster zones all over the world.

If you are a golfer or enjoy fishing, if you want to spend more time with your grandchildren, if you’d like to travel — some of the more classic retirement activities — then put those goals on the list, and plan out ways you can achieve them. Setting goals and making plans will lend structure to your day-to-day life, which is a very important factor for retirees used to the hustle and bustle of a long, busy career.

Practice Retiring

This may sound a little silly, but it’s actually a great planning tool. Once you are within three to five years of retirement, take a long vacation — consider it a practice retirement. See how you spend your time, and consider what works and what doesn’t. You might find a balance of leisure time and productivity (that volunteer job, for instance) that works well for you, and having that information before you officially retire will make the transition that much easier.

Simply put, human beings are happier when they have a life plan and goals, and that’s not something that goes away in retirement.

The Numbers

As you come within five years of retirement, it makes sense to conduct a feasibility study. That means figuring out what your goals are, how much money you’ll need to meet them, and how much money you actually have. Try this step-by-step process:

Step 1:  Identify your assets, income source and debt

What and how much do you have? Assess all possible sources of income and equity: pensions, retirement accounts, other resources like property and liquid savings. Next, identify your debt, including money owed on credit cards, loans, and your mortgage. Will they be paid off or continue into retirement?

Step 2:  Assess your Social Security options

Identify how much income you will receive from Social Security and explore different strategies to elect your benefits. You can register online with Social Security to obtain your latest statement. Also, use the Retirement Estimator to receive an assessment of your actual benefits, and learn about your different benefit disbursement options.

Step 3: Determine your income needs

How much, exactly, will you need when you retire? This means understanding your spending habits and creating a realistic budget. Most people, surprisingly, don’t have a firm grasp of exactly what they spend from month to month. Your list should be specific and exhaustive, as the rest of the plan is built on it. Once you complete your list, use the PSA Retirement Readiness Calculator tool to help you figure out whether you will have sufficient income upon retirement.

Step 4: Consider your health and where you will live as you age

While most people underestimate the size of their savings necessary to cover retirement income even more fail to plan for rising health care costs or the potential expense of a retirement, assisted living or nursing care facility. The protracted illness of one spouse could leave the other spouse destitute. Will you have enough assets and income to cover the cost or should long-term care insurance be considered?

Step 5: Identify gaps

Do the numbers add up? If not, identify what you must change now in order to meet your goals. Review our blog about avoiding pitfalls by adjusting your plan. You might be able to put more into savings in the years before you stop working, or you might have to adjust your target date for retirement. It is important to conduct the study while you still have time to make adjustments in the plan, rather than a year before retirement.

Step 6: Develop an income distribution strategy

Assuming the numbers do add up, you’ll need to determine from what sources you’ll derive your monthly income. It might make sense to delay taking your pension and live off of your savings for a few months, if possible, until the new tax year begins and you fall into a lower tax bracket.

Step 7: Conduct an estate check-up

The years just before retirement are a perfect time to review your entire estate. Update account titles and beneficiaries, take a close look at your life insurance, annuities, will, power of attorney, advance directives, and the like.

Working through these important steps — and taking some time to set some life goals — in the five years before retirement will help you realize the relaxation and enjoyment a quality retirement affords.

via The Five-Year Countdown to Retirement: How to Prepare.

Moving to be near grandchildren?

The Dilemma:   Our 39-year-old daughter and her husband had a much- hoped-and-tried-for child last year. They live 150 miles from us, so we have only limited contact with our granddaughter. Our son is 29, in a relationship and lives not far from us. He says they don’t want children. My other daughter is 32, lives locally, and has been single all her adult life, but would like to find a partner and start a family. We see both these children regularly. Our fourth child is married, lives in Australia and will stay there. Recently, our eldest daughter asked us to move near them so that we could play an active role in our grandchild’s life. We are in our early 60s, retired, and could easily move financially. We would love to play a big part in our grandchild’s life, but it would take us away from the others, who might give us grandchildren one day. Should we live our lives in the here and now or wait for what might or might never be?

You’re an all-or-nothing kind of guy, aren’t you? If you’re wondering how I know you’re a man, you’re pragmatic, detailed and entirely unemotional approach to your dilemma is a dead giveaway. I’m sensing nuance is not your thing, but embracing a degree of flexibility might actually be your best option in this scenario.

Before we get specific, may I say a quick “Hallelujah” for the grandparents of this country and beyond. Across the nation and across the globe, the lives of many millions of working men and women are improved and their children’s lives enriched by the selfless dedication and commitment of grandparents.

Perfect grandparents eager to do your duty and torn between the grandchild you now have and the ones who may arrive in the future… Does it have to be such an all-or-nothing choice? You say you are nimble and portable, your ties being mainly to your children, near and far-flung. Why not make a virtue of your no-ties retirement and set out on an adventure that isn’t stamped in stone? How about doing some creative thinking? One thought would be to rent out your current home, use the income to pay for somewhere close to your granddaughter and try out the location and the hands-on grandparenting experience without committing forever?

I’m also not sure, despite your clearly magnanimous impulses, that the rest of your lives should be entirely focused on your grandchildren. Living vicariously through our grown-up children is on a par with abandoning them in adulthood – two extremes of a situation that calls for compromise.

With time on your hands and money to support your ambitions, there are many things you and your wife could be doing – learning new skills, discovering new passions and setting yourselves new challenges. Consider all your options, not just the ones involving your kids’ procreation plans.

Your motivation is admirable and your commitment to your children exemplary, but your plan for the next half of your life could do with more spice. After all, your ability to enrich the lives of your grandchildren will depend partly on how full your own lives are.

via Should I move nearer my grandchild but away from my grownup children? | Mariella Frostrup | Life and style | The Observer.

so about marriage…

I noticed today that I feel so much different now about marriage since I swore off of it a couple of years ago.

Out of some odd curiosity I looked at all the WordPress blogs under the category https://wordpress.com/tag/marriage/ and noticed that a lot of them had some sort of religious reference, for one thing.  Otherwise they fell into categories of celebrating how long they had endured in that condition, or went on to list ways to mend the marriage or make it better.

I have an odd sense of humor perhaps, but it made me think of someone talking about their Cadillac and how it was the best car in the world and how it had changed their lives, but you really needed to psyche yourself up to drive it and be careful you don’t do certain things or it will break down and the repairs would be expensive.

In short, it reinforced the idea that marriage isn’t for everyone, and those that it is for now seem a bit off to me.

But I say that in a nice way, and don’t intend any disparagement to anyone that is married or wants to be married.  A couple of my kids are married, most of my adult relatives are married, and I wish them all the best.  And I was married – 3 times for 38 years married.  So perhaps I should consider that I’m just as much “a bit off” as they are in that respect.

I haven’t been able to define it to myself precisely, but living in a committed relationship without marriage, as I am now, is distinguishably different.  And I wish there were as many blogs about being unmarried together as there are for the married.  Maybe it’s just that there are fewer issues for the unmarried?  Maybe it’s more like owning a Toyota Prius that never has problems and gets great gas mileage, which helps you overlook the fact that the navigation system sends you to a completely wrong place once in awhile?

So I guess my point is, if you’re living unmarried to someone, write a blog.  It might give married people something else to blog about.

The Witness

Chico:

“The existential human condition is such a tragic state, one must either laugh or cry, but one cannot remain neutral. One must feel compassion for all of us weak, deluded humans.”

Originally posted on The Dharmasar Solution:

Why do we crave—to the point where it causes physical stress—a witness? Why do we want to walk side-by-side with another person, preferably one perceived as an equal partner, as an intimate witness to our lives, twenty-four hours a day? We don’t want to be alone—isolation has been shown to be emotionally and physically damaging—we want a sympathetic witness: an impartial but understanding reflection of our view.

It’s almost like we want an external conscience—a breathing, walking, friendly, supportive, even sexual presence. I see this craving in myself and in others, and I see how hard it drives us, often to outrageous lengths. Look at people who become stars. How hard they work just to ensure they always have interested companions!

I think we are deeply insecure about our reality. “Do I really exist? Do I exist the way I see myself, or is that just something I’m creating?” Well…

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