Last Week’s Links

Writing over 50: A Teacher’s Own Lessons

I’ve worked with a lot of older adults whose retirement has given them the free time to do the writing they’ve always wanted to do, whether they’re interested in life writing (memoir), fiction, or poetry. Here Peter Krass, himself an older writer who has taught online workshops for over–50 writers, explains what he has learned from his students:

my students have shown me that while older writers do face unique challenges, they also possess special strengths. What’s more, these strengths are more than equal to the challenges.

Read here his lists of both common challenges and common strengths his students have taught him. And if you’re interested in writing, let this article encourage you to look for a writing program that fits your requirements.

Retiring Retirement

A growing portion of the elderly look and act anything but.

Linda Marsa reports that, although it’s true the number of over–65 people is increasing, many of those people are still healthy enough to want to continue working.

Americans over age 60 are working longer and participating in the labor force at greater rates, according to a 2016 Brookings Institute report. And not just to beef up the bottom line. A study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave found that nearly 50 percent of retirees want to continue working in retirement. About a third say it’s because they need the money. Two-thirds, however, say they just want to stay mentally active.

What Books Were Bestsellers the Year You Were Born?

Are you interested in finding out what books were birthed the same year you were? Literary Hub has you covered with these two lists:

I’ve read exactly one of the fiction selections and one of the nonfiction books for my birth year.

8 Old-Lady Novels That Prove Life Doesn’t End at 80

Novelist Heidi Sopinka writes, “older women in literature … arguably represent one of the most underwritten aspects of female experience. Even when they do manage to get into a book, they almost exclusively face sexism for being ‘unlikeable.’”

When “the image of a 92-year-old woman, vital, working, came into [her] head,” Sopinka wrote her début novel, The Dictionary of Animal Languages, around that character. While working on the novel, she “began seeking out an old-lady canon”:

It wasn’t female aging that fascinated me as much as I wanted to swing into the viewpoint of a woman who had lived a long complicated life, deeply occupied by her work. I began to think of my book as a coming-of-death novel… .

Weirdly, the closer I delved into the closed-in days of looming death, the more I learned about living. Still, there is such a fear of female power in our culture that older women are ignored or infantilized, as though they are somehow less complex than us even though they are us, plus time.

Here she offers a list of eight books that are “unafraid to take on the full measure of a woman’s life”:

  • The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
  • The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
  • Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper
  • Stet by Diana Athill
  • Destruction of the Father by Louise Bourgeois
  • Writings by Agnes Martin

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

How to enjoy a restaurant meal when you’re on a restricted diet

I was drawn to this article because I’ve developed a sensitivity to gluten. Here Nicole Tsong writes:

Taking out things like sugar, gluten, dairy and soy, in particular, can create new hurdles when eating out. That said, I refuse to be a food hermit. I like to see friends, and enjoy delicious food prepared by someone else.

Here’s her advice on how to accommodate restaurant meals to your needs.

One word of caution here: she’s talking about people who sometimes choose to undergo a dietary cleanse, not people who are actually allergic to certain foods. Her conclusion “if you happen to eat an ingredient you aren’t supposed to, you’ll be fine” pertains to them, not to anyone with a true sensitivity to particular ingredients.

Fruits, Veggies, Orange Juice May Protect Men’s Memory

This short article reports on a study recently published in the journal Neurology that found “higher intakes of total vegetables, total fruits, and fruit juice were each significantly associated with lower odds of moderate or poor SCF [subjective cognitive function]” in men. Just another reminder that we should be sure to eat our fruits and veggies.

It’s Almost 2019. Do You Know Where Your Photos Are?

Do you remember how, back in the days when photos were actual printed things, we used to skimp on taking pictures because of the cost of buying and, even more, processing film? The advent of digital photography means that we now take all photos we want, with the intention of deleting the multitude of bad ones and keeping only the best few. Except that most of us probably never go through and do all that deleting.

And even if we do, there’s still the problem of what to do with all the photos. Over the years many internet companies have come and gone for the purpose of serving as our digital shoe box. This article summarizes the history of sites like Flickr and Yahoo! Photos and offers some current advice on what to do with all the photos we now have on our phones, on thumb drives, and probably in various cloud storage services.

I Wrote an Historical Novel About the JFK Assassination. I Was Shocked By What I Found.

I was in 8th grade math class when the school announced over the PA system that the President had been shot. The assassination of John F. Kennedy is the first significant historical event that I remember. Like most of my generation, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news.

Lou Berney, author of the recently published novel November Road, details the findings of his research for writing a novel that includes characters of the periphery of the Kennedy assassination. (I have this book on my TBR shelf but haven’t read it yet.) Because there have been thousands of books written about the main characters involved in the assassination—John F. Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Jack Ruby—Berney explains, he decided “to steer clear of the main players and focus instead on the edges of the assassination, on characters whose lives are changed, and threatened, by the death of the president.”

The official Warren Commission Report concluded that there was no conspiracy in the Kennedy assassination. Yet many conspiracy theorists believe that the KGB, the mafia, or the CIA—or perhaps all three—was involved. After his research Berney concluded that “the facts themselves are almost as incredible” as the conspiracy theories.

my perspective on my novel was profoundly altered by the discovery of all those secret government schemes and cover-ups, of organized crime woven tightly into the very fabric of American politics, of so many astoundingly colorful characters and a president who was so reckless in his personal life. I opened the door to that world, walked through, and never looked back.

I’ve just mentally moved this novel higher up in my TBR (to be read) queue.

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

How to train your brain to accept change, according to neuroscience

Change is naturally more difficult as we age, but it’s beneficial to our cognitive health to stimulate and encourage it.

Because our brains have evolved to resist change, accepting changes, even when we know they are for our own good, can be difficult. Nicole Spector offers some advice for teaching our brains to accept change:

  • Do cognitive rehabilitation exercises—the gym for the brain
  • Learn a new language or a task that is out of your comfort zone

Learning something new, something that we never thought we’d be able to do, can give us the confidence to undertake other new experiences:

Over the years, we learn to succeed by viewing our previous failures and successes in a certain light and as we get older we lose sight of that. When you try a new thing it makes you more confident to try to do more new things.

Michael Douglas Refuses to Age Gracefully in ‘The Kominsky Method’

Playing a shabby acting coach in his first ongoing TV role since the 1970s, the “Wall Street” star confronts the realities of growing older, onscreen and in his own life.

Dave Itzhoff profiles actor Michael Douglas, who, at age 74, portrays an aging acting coach in the Netflix series The Kiminsky Method.

On “The Kominsky Method,” [Chuck] Lorre [the show’s creator] said he wanted a show … that would let him address topics about confronting aging and mortality that are usually shunned on such programs.

Douglas stars along with Alan Arkin, whose character’s wife dies in the show’s first episode, “forcing Kominsky [played by Douglas] to realize that his own time on earth, however degrading, is also limited.”

THE FUTURE OF AGING JUST MIGHT BE IN MARGARITAVILLE

Kim Tingley reports for The New York Times Magazine on Latitude Margaritaville, a community for residents 55 and over, being built along a highway in Daytona Beach, Florida. As the name suggests, the community is based on music by Jimmy Buffett.

The real frontier here, though, was not the surrounding wilderness but a hitherto uncolonized stretch of time: the multiple decades that more and more Americans can expect to live in better and better health after they retire. What will these pioneers do? Who will they become? And how will that, in turn, alter the course of human history?

Tingley describes Latitude Margaritaville as one of many experiments the senior housing industry is undertaking. These experiments are driven by statistics:

The Census Bureau projects that in 2034, for the first time ever, people 65 and older will outnumber those under 18. Americans are living longer and having fewer children, and fewer immigrants are showing up.

Yet communities specifically designed for seniors face a dilemma: How do they conceal the facts of living that help residents adapt to the needs of aging? At what age does the notion of life as a beach party become obsolete? These are questions that the growing industry of senior housing seeks to find answers for.

WILL THE GOVERNMENT BLOCK THIS GENETICIST FROM SELLING AN ANTI-AGING PILL?

Molly Fosco profiles David Sinclair:

he’s a professor of genetics at Harvard and founder of the Sinclair Lab, where he and his team study the processes that cause age-related diseases. Sinclair aims to develop a drug that will interrupt these processes and, ultimately, find the Holy Grail: a way to reverse aging. If, that is, he can get government approval — and at the moment that’s looking doubtful.

Age-related diseases include high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and dementia. According to Fosco, Sinclair believes that doctors who treat these diseases are going about it all wrong because they do not treat aging itself as a disease:

“Your doctor should be able to prescribe a drug that would slow or reverse aging,” he [Sinclair] says, “the same way he or she would prescribe a drug for high cholesterol.”

Sinclair doesn’t want to simply increase the human lifespan; he wants to increase the number of years people live healthy, mobile, and disease-free lives. His approach puts him outside the mainstream of scientific research into aging.

After a Wildfire, Rebuilding Life Can Be Hardest for the Oldest

Alexandra S. Levine reports on the recent California wildfire:

The hardest-hit community, Paradise, Calif., was a popular place to retire, with more than one-quarter of its residents 65 or older, according to census figures. Many of them have now lost everything late in life and must start over from zero, often with little support and with major health challenges.

The fire was devastating to the region’s high population of older adults:

Many of the thousands of structures in Paradise and surrounding parts of Butte County that were lost in the fire were nursing homes, assisted living facilities, other geriatric care centers or mobile home parks catering to retirees. Roughly 2,300 residents of the fire zone had relied on in-home health aides, according to Shelby Boston, the county director of employment and social services.

 

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

20 DEBUT WORKS OF FICTION BY WOMEN OVER 40

It’s not unusual to come across lists of young writers, particularly young women writers. While these lists showcase young people’s achievements, where are the opportunities for older people, particularly older women who may have had to postpone undertaking a writing career while focusing on the more traditional expectations for women: caring for a home and children?

But, according to Jenny Bhatt:

there are also many successful examples to serve as role models and provide ongoing inspiration for older writers—or aspiring writers of any age.

Below is a list of women writers who debuted works of fiction at or after the age of 40 and went on to achieve even more success. While not exhaustive, it shows clearly that women writers are not past their prime after a certain age. In fact, many are not even “late-bloomers”—they have simply deferred publishing due to family or career commitments. But the most striking aspect that unites all of these works is how each incorporates the collected, distilled wisdom, a lifetime of reading, and the sheer radicalism that could not have been possible for a younger writer.

Enjoy Bhatt’s list, which includes the following authors:

  • Penelope Fitzgerald, age 60
  • Mary Wesley, 71
  • Harriet Doerr, 74

How To Stay Together For 50 Years

This week on Refinery29, we’re filling your screens and consciousness with inspiring women over 50. Why? Because living in a culture obsessed with youth is exhausting for everyone. Ageing is a privilege, not something to dread.

In this article Amelia Abraham writes, “When I think about all the relationships I’ve had that fizzled out around the one-year mark, I wonder whether I could even go the distance of five years, let alone 50.” She meets with three couples to discover their secrets for staying together for 50 years. Meet these couples:

  • Jill and Michael, married for 57 years
  • Ron and Ellen, married for 63 years
  • Isabell and Ronnie, married for 57 years

Their secrets for achieving a long marriage include hard work, forgiveness, keeping romance alive, never walking away from an argument, and making a decision and sticking with it.

THE CHEERFUL SINNERS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST’S WILDEST PORT CITY

In case you missed this tidbit about me, we retired to Tacoma, WA, from St. Louis about five years ago. We love the Pacific Northwest, and one of our favorite activities is exploring new areas. We’ve visited Port Townsend, WA, several times and knew that it has a salty nautical heritage, so this article caught my eye.

Enjoy reading about the colorful history of Port Townsend, including its part in creating the phrase “to get Shanghaied.”

How to Take Charge of Your Medical Care

My mother was of a generation that thought of doctors as gods. She trusted doctors completely and did whatever they told her to do. When I once asked her what medications she was taking and what they were for, she had no idea.

But most people today take a more active approach to their health care (I hope). This article provides good advice for doing just that.

The best time to start taking charge of your medical care is when you’re not facing an emergency, and the article begins with a section on what to do when you’re healthy. It continues with sections about seeing a medical professional, being admitted to a hospital, returning home after hospitalization, and advocating for others.

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers

Digitization promises to make medical care easier and more efficient; instead, doctors feel trapped behind their screens.

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public-health researcher, reports on a seeming contradiction:

Something’s gone terribly wrong. Doctors are among the most technology-avid people in society; computerization has simplified tasks in many industries. Yet somehow we’ve reached a point where people in the medical profession actively, viscerally, volubly hate their computers.

Gawande uses his own experience with learning a new computer software program for medical records as a springboard to address the issue of how computerization affects the way people interact with each other. He writes:

Medicine is a complex adaptive system: it is made up of many interconnected, multilayered parts, and it is meant to evolve with time and changing conditions. Software is not. It is complex, but it does not adapt. That is the heart of the problem for its users, us humans.

This is a long article, but it treats in depth the question of how humans interact with each other as well as with technology.

 

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

These 100-Year-Old Retirees Are Running, Teaching Yoga, and Living Their Best Lives. Here Are Their Secrets to Happiness

Elizabeth O’Brien reports for Money magazine that:

The world’s centenarian population is expected to grow eightfold by 2050, according to a Pew Research Center report of United Nations estimates, with America leading the pack in the sheer number of citizens age 100 and up. For a couple who are both 65 today, there’s a 50% chance one member will live to be 92, according to the Society of Actuaries.

Because of this projected longevity, “[t]oday’s retirement is a marathon, not a sprint,” O’Brien writes. And, since this is Money magazine, she emphasizes that establishing a retirement savings plan is just as important as pursuing an exercise routine. Financial advisors now suggest that people begin saving early for a retirement that could last for 40 years.

O’Brien discusses, in general terms, saving approaches that include stock investments, deferred income annuities, and long-term-care insurance. And here’s her concluding advice:

Generally speaking, you can shorten the time you spend receiving intensive support and services by taking good care of yourself.

Found: The Largest Cluster of Deep-Sea Octopuses Ever Recorded

This is here just because I love octopuses.

Marine scientists recently discovered “the single largest cluster of deep-sea octopuses ever recorded” off the coast of Monterey, CA, USA. Check out the cool photos.

THE CHICAGO COFFEEHOUSE THAT OFFERS A SHOT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Here’s a very welcome story about Sip of Hope, a coffee shop in Chicago founded with the express purpose of providing support for mental health issues, particularly for suicide prevention. Every barista on the staff is trained to talk openly with people struggling with mental health issues. The shop serves more than 300 visitors a day.

The coffee shop was created by Jonny Boucher as an extension of Hope for the Day, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization he founded in 2011. After losing 16 friends to suicide, Boucher wanted to build an environment that would work proactively toward suicide prevention rather than focusing on awareness and advocacy.

We Just ‘Fell Back’ An Hour. Here Are Tips To Stay Healthy During Dark Days Ahead

I still read complaints on Facebook from people lamenting the difficult adjustment from turning the clocks back an hour. This article from NPR suggests ways “to prepare for the darker days ahead.”

 

© 2018 by Mary Daniels Brown

U.S. Citizens: Please Vote!

Here in Washington State, USA, we vote by mail or by dropping our ballot into one of many collection boxes. I voted yesterday. If you haven’t yet voted, please get out there and do it.

This year, voting is not merely a civic duty; it’s a moral imperative.