Last Week’s Links

Here are the articles that caught my eye last week.

You’re probably washing your hands all wrong, study says

Are you washing your hands long enough?

The study from the US Department of Agriculture shows most consumers failed to wash their hands and rub with soap for 20 seconds. That’s the amount of time recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that washing for shorter periods means fewer germs are removed.

On our recent cruise a nasty virus gave many passengers a bad cough and sore throat. The ship’s captain encouraged all of us to wash our hands for the amount of time required to sing Happy Birthday twice.

Where Is Barack Obama?

The most popular American, whose legacy is the primary target of Donald Trump, has, for now, virtually disappeared from public life.

There’s no limit to longevity, says study that revives human lifespan debate

Mind-boggling new research findings:

Death rates in later life flatten out and suggest there may be no fixed limit on human longevity, countering some previous work.

Study: Sitting linked to increased death risk from 14 diseases

If you sit for six hours a day or more, your risk of dying early jumps 19 percent, compared with people who sit fewer than three hours, an American Cancer Society study suggests.

Could Aspirin Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease? Mouse Study Says Maybe

Could an aspirin a day keep the Alzheimer’s away? If only it were that simple. And yet, new research suggests that there does seem to be some hope that aspirin, one of the most widely used medications in the world, may help to treat some aspects of this devastating brain disease.

As with all such studies, keep in mind that these results are years and years away from any implementation in humans.

How Your Age Affects Your Appetite

A decade-by-decade look at how our appetites may change over time. We need adequate nutrition throughout our lives, but those of us over 60 need also remember:

Food is a social experience, but the loss of a partner or family and eating alone affect the sense of pleasure taken from eating. Other affects of old age, such as swallowing problems, dental issues, reduced taste and smell also interfere with the desire to eat and our rewards from doing so.

 

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Medicare Allows More Benefits for Chronically Ill, Aiming to Improve Care for Millions

We can all use some good news in this realm.

BAN PLASTIC SURGERY AND GROW OLD GRACEFULLY

Getting cosmetic surgery to look younger says that “looks matter most.” So let’s flip the script. Let’s embrace our wrinkles, like we embrace life stories, and all look older together.

Loneliness Can Be Deadly for Elders; Friends Are the Antidote

Years’ and years’ worth of data have consistently demonstrated a direct correlation between social isolation and a decrease in both physical and mental health, especially in older adults.

With strong evidence that friendship does, indeed, help save lives and promote health, social workers and researchers wish we could pay more attention to its central role. Activity directors, senior center staff members and family caregivers: Are there better ways to help elders stay in touch with the friends they care about, or meet new ones? We’re all willing to drive relatives to doctors’ appointments; driving them to spend time with friends may matter as much.

The Civility Debate Has Reached Peak Stupidity

The depth to which the level of political and social discourse has sunk in the U.S. has prompted both sides to call for a return to civility. Here’s one writer’s opinion on the topic.

Five Features of Better Arguments

Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the problem of civility in public discourse.

A former Clinton administration official studied how to facilitate more constructive arguments among Americans. These are his conclusions.

The Neuroscience of Pain

For scientists, pain has long presented an intractable problem: it is a physiological process, just like breathing or digestion, and yet it is inherently, stubbornly subjective—only you feel your pain. It is also a notoriously hard experience to convey accurately to others.

A report on scientists’ efforts to find “ways to capture the experience [of pain] in quantifiable, objective data.”

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Aging in Place

The New York Times this week features a discussion of aging in place, the term for adapting an existing home to accommodate changes necessary as its inhabitants get older. This article contains links to related coverage.

Recommendations of the Best Books on Aging

Five Books is a website that provides lists of the best books on all kinds of subjects. Recently it published two different lists of the best books on aging.

In The best books on Ageing neuroscientist and science writer Kathleen Taylor presents “the latest science on ageing and the literary works that can give us a clearer picture of what it’s all about.”

Taylor recommends these books:

  1. Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
  2. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
  3. How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin Nuland
  4. How to Grow Old: Ancient Wisdom for the Second Half of Life by Marcus Tullius Cicero
  5. King Lear by William Shakespeare

Taylor’s list surprised me because I expected that a neuroscientist’s choices would be scientific books about the latest developments in understanding Alzheimer’s disease and other organic effects of aging. Here’s what Taylor has to say about her choices:

A lot of the problems that we have with old age when we’re younger are a failure to empathise with older people and to really understand what it feels like to be old—as opposed to what it looks like intellectually. So I’m keen to bring both perspectives in.

I’m not saying that I don’t think the scientific perspective is important, it really is, but I think if you blend that with a more understanding or internal perspective, it can help you understand the person. You can’t really know what it’s like to be old until you’re old but literature can get you a bit closer than, for example, the study of biochemical proteins and what they do in the brain.

I’m so glad to find a scientist who recognizes that some of our most important insights into the human experience come from fiction.

In another article, also titled The best books on Ageing, author Margaret Drabble recommends these five books:

  1. Late Call by Angus Wilson
  2. The Coming of Age by Simone de Beauvoir
  3. Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time by Penelope Lively
  4. The Long Life by Helen Small
  5. Unexpected Lessons in Love by Bernardine Bishop

The works by Simone de Beauvoir, Penelope Lively, and Helen Small present social and cultural overviews of aging. Although these books offer insight into the experience of aging, I was most interested in Drabble’s comments on the novels Late Call and Unexpected Lessons in Love as well as her own most recent novel, The Dark Flood Rises, all of which focus on characters experiencing advancing age.

And I particularly like Drabble’s answer the the question of advice on how to age well:

I think learning a new language is good. It’s slightly better for the brain than crossword puzzles, but it also teaches you a new world. I’m learning German poetry with a PhD student. We don’t do language—I don’t want to go shopping in Germany—but we read poems together, and that has given me great joy. It’s like entering into a new world that I knew was there but had never had the time or inclination to enter.

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Washington State Fair Edition

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

We recently took our annual trip to the Washington State Fair. There’s always a lot to see there. Here are three things that especially struck my fancy.

Number One

A large Sasquatch guarded the wood carvers’ tent.

Sasquatch

Number Two

And there was the required animal wisdom that we’ve come to enjoy:

cow wisdom

Number Three

And the state fair wouldn’t be complete without a beautiful, lounging pig:

sleeping pig

What made you happy this week?

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday: Birthday Edition

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Please allow me a bit of self-indulgence. This week, it’s all about my recent birthday.

My husband and daughter took me out for dinner to my favorite restaurant, Stanley & Seafort’s, here in Tacoma, WA. This restaurant has wonderful food along with a gorgeous view of downtown Tacoma.

My usual celebratory drink on my birthday is a chocolate martini. But this year my eye fell on the lavender Cosmo on the menu and wouldn’t be denied (purple being my favorite color). So that’s what I started out with:

lavender Cosmo

Dinner was delicious, but birthdays are all about celebrating, so, after devouring my steelhead (which is a member of the trout family but similar to salmon in color and taste), I went for dessert. Being gluten sensitive limits my dessert options, but fortunately I love burnt cream, which was beautifully and festively served:

burnt cream

And also on the dessert menu, right under the food items, was the after-dinner drink listing, headed by Death by Chocolate Martini. So, of course, I had to have that as well:

Death by Chocolate Martini

It was quite a gustatory birthday celebration! Thanks to hubby and daughter.

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

Three Things Thursday

Thanks to Natalie for hosting Three Things Thursday, “three things big or small, that have made you happy this week.”

Three Things Thursday

Our enrichment activities director from Franke Tobey Jones Retirement Community planned an exciting eclipse-viewing trip for us. Last Friday we left Tacoma, WA, for the 150-mile trip south to Portland, OR. Here are three highlights of our trip.

Friday: Powell’s Books

No trip to Portland is complete without a visit to Powell’s Books, the mother ship of bookstores. I only got this quick shot of the store’s exterior as we were crossing the street to enter. Once I got inside, I was much too excited to bother with photos. But trust me, if you’re ever in Portland, you’ll want to include this landmark on places-to-visit list.

Powell's Books

Saturday Market

Equally as famous as Powell’s Books is Portland’s Saturday Market, which is now open on both Saturdays and Sundays. You can find just about anything you want there. We had a lovely day to browse, and I came home with a number of holiday gifts.

Portland Saturday Market

Monday: Eclipse Viewing

The highlight of the trip was our view of Monday’s total solar eclipse. Many of our fellow trip participants had made viewers by taping a piece of welder’s glass to a box top, but my husband and I were lazier: We just bought the glasses. Most of us stayed at our hotel in Portland, where we had 99% of totality:

eclipse viewing

A few of our fellow travelers made the short trip to a park in a town a bit south of Portland, where they saw the whole thing: 100% totality.

Even at not-quite-complete totality, seeing the eclipse was an amazing experience. In just seven years another total solar eclipse will cross the Eastern part of the United States, and I’m thinking that might be a good time to visit some friends and family members…

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown