your calendar ó the first wave of baby boomers will hit age 65 in
2011. One challenge for these newly minted seniors will be maintaining
their health. And that means mind and spirit, as well as body.
Let Go of
Think of life
as climbing a mountain: The higher you go, the more you see. That
"raised view" perspective can help you let go of baggage youíve
been carrying around for years.
in their 50s have experienced hurt, loss and stress due to unkept
promises or problems in a relationship. Itís a mistake to remain
angry and resentful, says Susan Wasserman, a social worker and
psychotherapist at Inner Journeys in Shorewood.
think a lack of forgiveness will somehow hurt the person who hurt
them. In fact, it eats you up and totally interrupts your ability to
live with joy," explains Wasserman.
Ways to see
the more complete picture: Consider where the other person was coming
from and what his or her needs were at the time you were hurt. And,
realize how you found meaning as a result of the situation. "It
may not take all your pain away, but you begin to diminish the grasp
the disappointments have on you," she adds.
continue to personalize their pain can stay trapped by their past.
They can become bitter, negative and defensive ó and just might
enjoy the attention that comes with being a victim. "The people I
see thriving are the ones who continue to grow," says Wasserman.
medication may be hurting not helping you
use medications should pay close attention to what theyíre taking.
Itís a big concern. One study revealed that 94 percent of people 65
and older take at least one medication, and two-thirds of seniors use
five meds or more.
changes in kidney and liver function can affect how the body processes
and gets rid of medicines, according to Laura M. Traynor, a pharmacist
at Columbia St. Maryís and assistant professor at Concordia
University Wisconsin. "If you have more of the medicine hanging
around in your body, you could for instance be lowering your blood
pressure too much, which could make you feel dizzy and perhaps
fall," she explains.
interact with one another, so itís important to inform your doctors
of all medicines you use. Patients should bring all their medications
and a list of what they take to each appointment, according to Dr.
Michael Malone, a geriatrician at Aurora Health Careís Center for
Senior Health and Longevity. "That list needs to be continuously
reconciled with what the doctor thinks the patient is taking and what
the patient is truly taking," he says.
forget to include over-the-counter meds, supplements and herbals on
that list. Some people take St. Johnís Wort for depression, but it
can interact with prescription antidepressants, notes Traynor.
"Thereís a common misconception that if something is labeled
Ďnatural,í it is safe," she adds.
in patients of any age can change how well medicines work, because
some meds stay in the blood while others distribute more in the
tissues. On the flip side, weight loss can indicate a reaction to
medication. Other symptoms of medication interaction can include
constipation, dizziness or weakness, confusion, dry mouth and being
excessively sleepy during the day, according to Malone.
effectiveness of drugs also is tied to a patientís diet. Avoid these
combinations: grapefruit juice (blood pressure and cholesterol meds);
and broccoli, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables
(blood-thinners such as warfarin/Coumadin).
medicines do have a shelf life, so check the package or bottle for an
expiration date. Malone also warns against patients using up medicines
they have before filling an updated prescription.
the 8-to-5 void
heard it or even said it: "When I retire, Iíll Ö" Rare
is the person who anticipates mental-health issues or conflict with
their spouse, but it can happen.
bodies have been programmed for Monday-through-Friday for 40-some
years," notes Lisa Schultz, a psychotherapist who works with
seniors at ProHealth Careís Behavioral Medicine Center.
"Without something to fill those voids, people are more at risk
for depression or chemical abuse."
someplace to be at a specific time is helpful. Take a class, get more
involved in your faith community or join a social club. Many retirees
increase their volunteering but, Schultz warns, donít let it become
another full-time job.
want to replicate the 8-to-5, but you do want enough structure where
you donít have the opportunity for boredom or complacency to take
over," she says.
jobs allowed little free time for hobbies can have the most difficulty
transitioning and that usually means men, Schultz says. Couples need
to communicate their needs and expectations, she adds. This includes
any desires to move, downsize or spend the winters in warmer climes.
woman didnít work outside the home, itís that feeling of ĎYouíre
in my space now,í" explains Schultz. In couples where both
people work, they might benefit from not retiring at the same time,
breathe out, relax, clear your head. It sounds so simple, yet it can
be a key to health for older adults. Meditation is making inroads in
mainstream elder care because it is easy to practice and has been
linked to all kinds of health benefits.
is a huge potential for healing in all of us, and this is how you tap
it, by entering into the mindfulness state," says Dr. Anna
Lemnari, a geriatrician and integrative medicine specialist with
Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare.
meditation, brain waves are slowed to a state of relaxed awareness. It
can be done while sitting in a chair or while engaged in tai chi
exercises ó "meditation in motion," Lemnari calls it. You
can add a mantra, as in the practice of transcendental meditation.
religions, including Christianity, have used it for centuries in the
form of meditative prayer," notes Lemnari.
a 72-year-old retired teacher, says her favorite meditation involves
visualization and breathing techniques during her daily five-mile walk
around South Shore Park. "I enjoy the beautiful sunrises, I
connect with nature and sometimes I hug trees," she says.
walk, Axtell does another 20 minutes of meditation and then meditates
again before bedtime. She learned meditation techniques about five
years ago after her sister visited India and told her of its
health is better because of it," says Axtell. "My awareness
is better, my sleep is better, my mind is not so busy. I feel more
centered, more grounded."
types of meditation have been linked to improvement in a variety of
conditions. According to Lemnari, mindfulness meditation can help
alleviate anxiety, chronic pain and psoriasis, while tai chi enhances
physical balance, cognitive ability and may even improve immunity
against shingles. Meanwhile, transcendental meditation has been
associated with positive effects on the heart and blood vessels,
according to the American Heart Association.
elderly stand to benefit quite a bit from the practice, because thatís
the group that experiences the greatest burden of chronic
diseases," says Lemnari.
County Department on Aging and Aging Resource Center of
(414) 289-6874, county.milwaukee.gov/Aging7705.htm
and Disability Resource Center of Waukesha County
(262) 548-7848, www.waukeshacounty.gov/adrc
and Disability Resource Center of Ozaukee County
(262) 284-8120, www.co.ozaukee.wi.us/aging