Last Week’s Links

A Guide To Gender Identity Terms

June is the annual celebration of Pride Month. Over the years I’ve sometimes been confused about how to use correctly the applicable terminology. I’m grateful to NPR for putting together this glossary of terms relating to gender identity.

Proper use of gender identity terms, including pronouns, is a crucial way to signal courtesy and acceptance. Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation at GLAAD, compares using someone’s correct pronouns to pronouncing their name correctly – “a way of respecting them and referring to them in a way that’s consistent and true to who they are.”

Where Gender-Neutral Pronouns Come From

“People tend to think of they, Mx., and hir as relatively recent inventions. But English speakers have been looking for better ways to talk about gender for a very long time.”

Michael Waters offers a history of the long search for language that steps outside the traditional, normative binary of man/woman, his/her.

Do you ever feel like an impostor — and did the pandemic make it worse?

“Experts say anytime you’re facing a new challenge or you’re out of your comfort zone, you’re more susceptible to impostor syndrome. Here’s how to deal.”

Imposter syndrome is a real psychological thing, the fear that you’re not really qualified to do something, that you’re just pretending to have knowledge and ability that you think you really don’t possess. When I was going through a particularly challenging time several years ago, I dreamed that I was trying to pass myself off as a flautist in a symphony orchestra. The trouble was, though, that the flute I was pretending to play was carved out of wood and have no moving parts at all. And, for the record, I have never had a single flute lesson in my life.

This article offers some advice if the pandemic has forced you to take on new roles or situations that you feel unqualified to handle.

Some medical devices don’t mean to be racist, but they are

As we’re beginning to face the necessity of confronting systemic racism, I found this article particular enlightening on just how easily we normalize particular assumptions.

How to Make and Keep New Friends as an Adult

When we retired and moved from St. Louis, MO, to Tacoma, WA, making new friends was one of the things I worried most about. This concern was one of the biggest reasons why we chose to rent in a retirement community instead of buying a house. 

If ‘cave syndrome’ is keeping you from going in public, here’s how to combat it

How are you doing in the “getting back out into the world?” arena?

“After over a year of staying at home and following strict safety guidelines, many people are understandably reluctant to step out their front door and re-enter society.”

If this quotation describes you (as it does, at least a little bit, me), here’s some advice.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Susan Cole, Advocate for Traumatized Children, Dies at 72

Attorney Susan Cole recognized the toll that trauma can take on children:

She began a decades-long examination of the links between education and childhood trauma, using her accumulating experience to identify “broader systemic failures that could not be addressed on a case-by-case basis,” as her husband, David Eisen, put it.

Constant stress and fear were more than just a distraction for students; their effect, she learned, was neurological, activating the fight-or-flight survival instinct permanently.

The 66 Most ’60s Things About 1966

“The year 1966 found America at a crossroads, as the nation faced war abroad and turmoil at home.”

To refresh your memory about this pivotal year in American history, here’s a “look at the music, movies, TV shows, headline-grabbing news stories and pop culture events of 1966.”

TV Viewing Habits in Midlife Could Exacerbate Cognitive Decline

This is probably not the news most of us want to hear after 15 months of sitting on the couch watching TV: “new research shows that middle-aged to older adults reporting high levels of television-viewing experience greater cognitive decline.”

Here are suggestions for changing TV-viewing habits into something that will stimulate the brain:

When looking for something to scratch the TV itch, opt for documentaries on subjects you’re interested in, YouTube videos that teach you something new or game shows that test your knowledge. These provide more stimulation than, say, a reality show or action movie.

The Classicist Who Killed Homer

Most of us learned a long time ago that the Iliad and the Odyssey were originally oral epic poems composed by a blind poet named Homer. Here Adam Kirsch tells the fascinating story of how, in the early 1930s, “a young Harvard professor named Milman Parry published two papers, in the journal Harvard Studies in Classical Philology” that proved that the Homeric epics “were products of an oral tradition, performed by generations of anonymous Greek bards who gradually shaped them into the epics we know today.”

Part of Parry’s research included traveling to remote areas in Yugoslavia to record “local singers, whose improvised songs offered clues about how the Homeric epics might have been performed millennia earlier.”

‘We’re Going to Publish’

“An Oral History of the Pentagon Papers”

“This article is part of a special report on the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers.”

Many People Have a Vivid ‘Mind’s Eye,’ While Others Have None at All

My husband says that he doesn’t have a mind’s eye, that he cannot picture things in his head. 

Here’s a story of scientists studying both ends of the spectrum of the ability to conjure up pictures of objects or people in their imagination. The lack of this ability is called aphantasia, and the condition of experiencing extraordinarily strong mental imagery is called hyperphantasia.

“This is not a disorder as far as I can see,” said Dr. Zeman, a cognitive scientist at the University of Exeter in Britain. “It’s an intriguing variation in human experience.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

What is critical race theory, and why do Republicans want to ban it in schools?

I see the term critical race theory in the news a lot, but I didn’t know what it meant. I was therefore grateful to find this article from the Washington Post.

“Critical race theory is an academic framework centered on the idea that racism is systemic, and not just demonstrated by individual people with prejudices,” the article says. But it further points out that, although the term refers to an academic area of study, “its common usage has diverged from its exact meaning.”

Secrets to Better Sleep After Menopause

This article from the AARP’s Ethel newsletter focuses on sleep problems after menopause because: “According to The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN), sleep disturbances range from 16 to 42 percent in premenopausal women and then climb to 35 to 60 percent when we’re postmenopausal.”

If this situation applies to you, read “some recommendations from the sleep experts.”

What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely

“For elderly Americans, social isolation is especially perilous. Will machine companions fill the void?”

The New Yorker reports on a study that uses robotic pets as companions for isolated older adults. 

Yes, this is a real thing. According to the article, “In 2017, the Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, declared loneliness an ‘epidemic’ among Americans of all ages. . . . Older people are more susceptible to loneliness; forty-three per cent of Americans over sixty identify as lonely.” 

Before you scoff and try to laugh this off, read the article to find out how some study participants feel about their mechanical companions.

The Age of Reopening Anxiety

“What if we’re scared to go back to normal life?”

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about people’s reactions to re-entering society now that vaccines have made possible the reductions in mask-wearing and social-distancing policies. This article reports:

For many, the transitional period has been a little bumpy. A report by the American Psychological Association, published in March, 2021, found that almost half of Americans surveyed felt “uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction” after the pandemic.

Going beyond ‘back to normal’ – 5 research-based tips for emerging from pandemic life

Bethany Teachman, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, offers some suggestions from clinical psychological science for those who wish to “choose what to rebuild, what to leave behind and what new paths to try for the first time” as they ease their way into post-pandemic life.

Doctors tell how to make the most of your telehealth visits

A lot of articles deal with what concepts of the “new normal” will emerge as society reopens. Many analyses I’ve read indicate that remote medical consultations may well be one of the features of the pandemic that may stick around. 

Here Julie Appleby of Kaiser Health News offers advice on how to determine if or when telehealth visits meet your needs.

Genealogy Basics: 8 Tips for Tracing Your Family Tree Online

Interest in genealogy boomed during the pandemic. Here are some suggestions for using online resources to trace your family roots.

Can a Smartwatch Save Your Life?

“The advent of wearable devices that monitor our heart rhythms both excites and worries doctors.”

Randi Hutter Epstein, M.D., looks at both the potential benefits and the potential drawbacks of new, wearable health-monitoring devices such as smartwatches.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

As Lou Gehrig Day nears, here’s what he meant to the fight vs. ALS, and what baseball means to those with it

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the disease that killed baseball player Lou Gehrig (and is therefore alternatively called Lou Gehrig disease), is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord and is 100% fatal.” Next Wednesday Major League Baseball will celebrate the first of what will become an annual event, Lou Gehrig Day.

ALS advocates hope that this event will increase awareness of the disease, for which there have been very few treatment breakthroughs since Gehrig’s 1939 diagnosis:

As Phil Green, a former University of Washington football player who has lived with ALS since 2018, said in an interview this week, “If Lou Gehrig were diagnosed today, he would have pretty much the identical prognosis that he did 80 years ago. Just think about that. We put men on the moon and rovers on Mars, yet this disease still seems to baffle some of the smartest scientists in the world.”

How to Understand the 1960s in 11 Books

“If you remember the 60s, the saying goes, you weren’t there. And for many of us who lived those turbulent, exciting and wildly different times it’s true,” writes Mike Bond, who graduated from college in 1965. “I was one of the founders of the Resistance [to the Vietnam war], and risked ten years in jail for it, was on the run for several years ducking the dutiful FBI guys who would clump up the stairs to whatever apartment I was crashing in, while its rightful tenant would answer the door and say I wasn’t there.”

Here Bond lists 11 books that had a great influence on his thinking in the ’60s.

Banning My Book Won’t Protect Your Child

When I was in my early 20s, I was in an abusive relationship with another woman. Soon after it ended, I did what I always did when I was heartbroken: I looked for art that spoke to my experience. I was surprised to find shockingly few memoirs of domestic violence or verbal, psychological and emotional abuse in queer relationships. So I wrote into that silence: a memoir, “In the Dream House,” which describes that relationship and my struggle to leave it.

Carmen Maria Machado reacts to the recent attempt by a parent in Leander, Texas, to remove her book and several others from a list of recommended reading in the local high school.

25 Great Writers and Thinkers Weigh In on Books That Matter

“To celebrate the Book Review’s 125th anniversary, we’re dipping into the archives to revisit our most thrilling, memorable and thought-provoking coverage.”

Current writers for The New York Times look back on some of the “robust literary coverage” of the newspaper’s Book Review, including articles by authors such as Vladimir Nabokov, Tennessee Williams, Patricia Highsmith, Eudora Welty, and Langston Hughes.

How Doctors Tell Stories: Writing Through the Practice of Medicine

Writer Leslie Jamison interviews Suzanne Koven, author of Letter to a Young Female Physician: Notes from a Medical Life, a collection of essays. Jamison begins the interview with this question:

I love the ways these essays hold so many aspects of your identity: doctor, daughter, mother, wife, patient, and colleague. We see you as a little girl going to the office of your doctor-father, wanting  “to witness at close range the freedom of men,” and we see you as a panicked mother, riding in an ambulance with your young son after seizures. How did you approach writing about times when various parts of your identity converged or collided?

And Koven replies that writing the book helped her discover that the “various parts of me turned out to be more aligned than I understood.”

‘Take it easy, nothing matters in the end’: William Shatner at 90, on love, loss and Leonard Nimoy

Hadley Freeman describes recently interviewing William Shatner over Zoom: “He certainly sounds like Shatner. But Shatner turned 90 in March, and the man in front of me doesn’t look more than 60, as he bounces about in his seat, twisting to show me the view around him, with the agility of a man two decades younger.”

He’ll always be Captain James T. Kirk to me.

Bob Dylan at 80: in praise of a mighty and unbowed singer-songwriter

“Prolific, resilient and endlessly creative … as Dylan celebrates his 80th birthday, Edward Docx assesses his artistic contribution to the human story”

And look who’s 10 years younger than Shatner and also still going strong.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Talking on Zoom could help older people stave off dementia

CNN reports on recent research results:

Talking on video-conference services like Zoom during the coronavirus pandemic has helped older people stave off the effects of dementia, a new study has suggested.

Researchers found that regular communication helps maintain long-term memory, and elderly people who often use online tools showed less decline in memory than those who don’t.

These Farmers Want You to Drink Your Hops and Eat Them Too

“Trashed in the U.S., hop shoots are treasure in parts of Europe.”

Washington State produces lots of hops, the crop that lends much of the bitter taste to beer. In fact, according to this article, “75 percent of the U.S. hops supply is grown in Yakima Valley,” in eastern Washington.

This article presents some entrepreneurs who are exploring ways to use more of the hop plant than the part used in beer brewing.

Mary Beard Keeps History on the Move

“For Beard, change has always been a part of the classics. We need to expose the field’s flaws to learn how we’ve inherited them.”

Since I did my B.A. and M.A. in Latin, I’ve been following the recently publicized issue of universities dissolving their classics departments. Here Katy Waldman profiles British classicist Mary Beard for The New Yorker

Introducing her subject, Waldman writes about how to describe Beard: “‘Classicist’ doesn’t quite capture it. ‘Celebrity historian’ inches closer.” 

The movement to downplay the study of classics centers on the claim that the field embodies an “imperialist mind-set” and “sustains a mythology of whiteness.” But, Waldman writes, “As the field’s most famous practitioner, and a dedicated anti-racist and feminist, Beard takes a middle position: she believes neither that classics deserves a pedestal nor that it must be destroyed.”

Is America a Racist Nation? I Am Sikh and Tired

Vishavjit Singh writes:

My turban and beard have always made me a target of anxiety, stereotyping, or outright racism. Post-9/11, the hate has been taken to a whole new level. Sikhs have been killed, attacked, and verbally abused in a never-ending American saga.

Singh takes a look at some of our inherent biases: “This is not a Black and White problem only. It is an American ailment. It is a human disease.”

They’re Vaccinated and Keeping Their Masks On, Maybe Forever

“Face coverings have been a political flash point for more than a year. But now, the backlash is directed at people who don’t plan to take them off.”

My husband and I have been fully vaccinated since late February. Yet, despite the most recent CDC guidelines, when we went to the farmers’ market yesterday, I put my mask on. 

I’ve decided to continue to wear a mask when I’m in a crowd for quite a while. After being required to do so for more than a year, it’s something I’ve gotten used to doing. I figure that wearing a mask doesn’t hurt me or anyone else, but it does provide an extra bit of protection against any virus particles that might be floating around. My decision has nothing to do with politics. I’m just being as cautious as possible about my own health. 

This article in the New York Times looks at reasons why some people are continuing to mask up.

How About You?

Do you continue to mask up?

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Their romance was new when covid hit. Both in their 90s, they snuck around ‘like teenagers.’

When their retirement community enforced the COVID-19 regulations for isolation,  Bill Biega, age 98, and Iris Ivers, 91, had to make a quick decision: follow the regulations and stay separated, or cohabit and face the pandemic together. They decided that Iris would move in with Bill. More than a year later, they’re still together.

“Even in your 90s, it’s never too late to have a love life,” Bill says.

How Long Can We Live?

“As medical and social advances mitigate diseases of old age and prolong life, the number of exceptionally long-lived people is increasing sharply.” The United Nations estimates that there will be 25 million centenarians in the world by 2100. 

This article examines the various research approaches into aging and how to prolong lives. 

Affluent Americans rush to retire in new ‘life-is-short’ mindset

In an article from Bloomberg reprinted in the Seattle Times, Michael Sasso declares, “About 2.7 million Americans age 55 or older are contemplating retirement years earlier than they’d imagined because of the pandemic, government data show.” 

He goes on to report that “Early retirements, whether desired or forced, will deprive the labor market of some of its most productive workers and have an impact on the economic recovery that is still too early to evaluate.”

The ‘gray divorce’ trend: As the Gates split shows, more older couples are getting divorced. Here’s why

CNN uses the news that Bill and Melinda Gates are getting divorced after 27 years of marriage as the springboard for a discussion of the upward trend for toward divorce by older adults. 

Johnny Bench Misses His Hall of Fame Friends

I’ve been a baseball fan all my life and have been particularly struck by the number of former players who have died recently. This article focuses on Johnny Bench, the longtime catcher for the Cincinnati Reds. “Bench knew, played with or played against all of the 10 Hall of Famers who died in the past year.”

If you remember watching those men play, this article will tug at your heart strings, as it did mine.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

For some of us, returning to pre-COVID life is turning out to be harder than we expected

As an introvert, I had no trouble accepting the enforced isolation caused by COVID-19 and am beginning to regret that I’ll gradually be expected to get back out and socialize. But this article examines an aspect of “returning to normal” that I had not thought much about: fear that discontinuing the measures we’ve taken to stay healthy will allow us to get sick.

Some of us have jumped at the chance to see movies in actual theaters, grab a drink at a bar, cheer the Dodgers or attend a small dinner party with fully immunized friends. Yet for others — even the fully vaccinated — the fear that any relaxation of safety protocols will lead to another surge is hard to shake.

Turns Out It’s Pretty Good: Aging

Xochitl Gonzalez writes:

in my experience — I’m in my 40s — aging has not only been dynamic, it’s turned out to be pretty damn good. Now, I’m not talking about aging in terms of night creams and micro-needling. I’m talking about the larger sense, about having more life to live and a joy about living it.

She explains that earlier in her life, she had developed her concept of aging from hearing the lamentations of her grandmother, who had decided that she was old at age 40. But at age 35 Gonzalez realized that her grandmother’s notion of old came from an earlier time, when women’s lives progressed through the various stages society expected of them—getting married and having children—at the pace society expected.

I must admit that I find the notion of someone in her forties discussing being old quite whimsical, but she makes a good point: Since that realization, “Time, going forward, has been marked less by what happened in my past than what might be possible in my future.”

Sleeping Too Little in Middle Age May Increase Dementia Risk, Study Finds

This article on new research suggesting “that people who don’t get enough sleep in their 50s and 60s may be more likely to develop dementia when they are older.”

We should always take research results with a grain of salt and, especially, remember that correlation of two conditions does not prove causation. And this article does point out the limitations of the study. Nonetheless, if inadequate sleep is something we can control, we might do well to correct the situation sooner rather than later. 

The Brain ‘Rotates’ Memories to Save Them From New Sensations

“Our ability to make sense of our surroundings, to learn, to act, and to think all depend on constant, nimble interactions between perception and memory.”

Here’s a report on new research designed to “figure out how the brain prevents new information and short-term memories from blurring together.” 

Historical looks at a previous pandemic and fatal police shootings show familiar inequities

This article is a portrait of Nancy Bristow, history department chair at the University of Puget Sound here in my hometown of Tacoma, WA. One of the sources writer Tom Keogh looks at is Bristow’s 2012 book American Pandemic: The Lost Worlds of the Influenza Epidemic, an account of the 1918-1919 Spanish flu epidemic:

She gives extensive consideration in her work to a subject that has also recently preoccupied the United States during our current COVID-19 pandemic: inequities in how medical treatment has been allocated to people of different classes, color and political power.

But Keogh focuses on Bristow’s 2020 book Steeped in the Blood of Racism: Black Power, Law and Order, and the 1970 Shootings at Jackson State College. Bristow has been teaching African American history for 30 years. About this recent book she says:

“I came to the Jackson story because I’ve been teaching African American history for three decades,” says Bristow. “One of the through lines when you teach a survey of African American history is the persistence of violence. It’s there in slavery, Reconstruction, post-Reconstruction. It continues on up to the present.”

In that book, about a shooting at Jackson State that killed two young Black men and wounded 12 other people, she examines how authorities used rhetoric to excuse violence.

Top tips for older writers who want to write a memoir

“As an older adult, you have a wealth of wisdom and memories to share with the world – but sometimes fear can get in the way of putting yourself on the page. These tried-and-true tips will help you get started.”

I got started studying life writing by working with older adults interested in writing down their life stories and memories for their families. In this article from The Writer Dani Burlison offers advice on how to get started accessing your memories, finding your theme, making your life stories interesting to other people, and finding your voice.

This article is spread over three web pages, so be sure to click on the numbers at the bottom of pages 1 and 2.

I would add to the information Burlison offers the request that you not get too wrapped up in finding an overarching theme for your recollections. It’s enough to write about your memories of events and important people in your life without connecting them with a theme. 

And don’t fuss too much over your writing style. Your family will cherish a collection of self-contained stories written in your usual, conversational voice.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The Girl in the Kent State Photo

If you’re old enough to remember the photo above, this article might interest you. I don’t think I ever knew that the girl in the center was only 14 at the time.

My college graduation (Boston University) was canceled because of the killings at Kent State. We were in the middle of final-exam week. Exams already taken would be included in final grades, but the rest of exams were called off. Those of us living in the residence halls were told to move out within the next couple of days.

COVID-19 Vaccines Could Unlock Treatments for 5 Other Deadly Diseases

Research often leads to serendipitous, seemingly unrelated discoveries. This article explains how the COVID-19 vaccines work and why scientists hope their development can yield new treatments for other diseases, including HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.

Some young women embraced their gray hair during the pandemic. They might not go back.

And here’s a story of a different kind of serendipitous discovery. Maura Judkis, age 34 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, carefully watched “the silver stripe that expanded every week where I parted my hair.”

Then she discovered the Silver Sisters, an online group of women who were letting their dyed hair grow out and their natural silver (the term they prefer over gray) hair grow in. “The Silver Sisters don’t just accept the inevitable, they embrace it,” Judkis writes.

The process not only allowed her to save about $1,000 annually at the salon but also prompted some self-evaluation: “Confidence with gray hair and comfort with aging are not necessarily the same thing . . . The pandemic was an opportunity to reflect on what we’re really afraid of underneath the hair dye and anti-aging cream, which is mortality.”

Seattle launches second firefighter-social worker team to cover U District, Ballard

Discussion has been going on for a while now about how society can change its emergency response to mental health crises. Here’s how Seattle is changing its response to “non-emergency calls about substance abuse, mental health, medical problems and other issues that don’t require an ambulance ride.”

Looking Forward to Your 170th Birthday

Annie Murphy Paul reviews the book Ageless: The New Science of Getting Older Without Getting Old by Andrew Steele. Paul writes that Steele “relies heavily on examples from the animal kingdom, such as the Galápagos tortoise, which dwells for the many decades of its life in an enviable state known as ‘negligible senescence.’”

But, Paul argues, Ageless contains a major flaw: “Steele does not begin to grapple with the deeper implications of the project he champions so enthusiastically.” Because of this flaw, she calls the book “technically impressive but morally and emotionally shallow.”

Zoom bombings that target marginalized people spark demands for legal protections

With the COVID-19 pandemic, our retirement community has jumped aboard the Zoom bandwagon for social meetings, classes, and other enrichment activities. But my husband and I have declined to participate because we had heard so many stories about how insecure and subject to hacking Zoom is. This article gives some examples.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

These people thrived in pandemic isolation — and aren’t ready to return to ‘normal’ socializing

“Living life mostly apart from society — with few if any direct contact-based social, work or school obligations — has been a blessed reprieve for socially anxious people.”

CNN describes people with social anxiety and asks us to “[i]magine you are like them, for a moment.” The article has suggestions on re-entry into society for both people who experience social anxiety and people who will be interacting with them.

Column: I abandoned all my big pandemic projects. Here are 13 lessons I learned instead

Mary McNamara, culture columnist and critic for the Los Angeles Times, writes that she had big plans at the beginning of the pandemic. With refreshing humor she reports that, while those big plans didn’t pan out, she did learn a number of lessons, including “dogs fart all the time” and “I do not love to cook.”

5 Ways to Tap Into Your Smartphone’s Audio Powers

Younger generations seem to have developed great proficiency at typing fast with their thumbs. If you’re more like me and still tap out your text messages and emails on your phone very slowly with one index finger, you might find these directions on how to do more on your phone by voice a big time saver. Learn, among other things, how to dictate a voice memo and send an audio message.

Psychiatric and neurological problems are common in COVID-19’s wake, study finds

Some disturbing news from the Los Angeles Times:

New research highlights COVID-19’s lingering effects on the brain, finding that in the six months after becoming ill, roughly a third of surviving patients were diagnosed with at least one neurological or psychiatric disorder.

The neuropsychiatric ailments that followed COVID-19 ranged widely, from stroke and dementia to anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Virtually all were more common among patients who became sick enough to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and the risk was even higher for those admitted to an intensive care unit.

These research findings about the neuropsychiatric aftereffects of a coronavirus infection were published recently in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.

Solutions from Around the World: Tackling Loneliness and Social Isolation During COVID-19

The Commonwealth Fund’s mission is “to promote a high-performing health care system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, and people of color.”

This report tackles the issue of loneliness, which has been exacerbated by the global pandemic:

As Americans heed the advice of public health and government officials to remain physically distanced from neighbors, friends, and relatives to fight the coronavirus, another epidemic is exacerbated — social isolation. This can result in loneliness, and the negative consequences can be severe: an increased risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and even death.

There’s news here about programs enacted by several industrialized countries “to address the problem, especially for elderly people and those with underlying health conditions.”

10 Organizations Connecting Generations During the Pandemic

Encore.org is an organization “founded on the belief that the aging of America isn’t so much a problem to be solved as it is an opportunity to be seized.” Here the organization reports on efforts being made to help with the problems of isolation and loneliness that are affecting young people as well as older adults.

This article offers some specific suggestions for “ways to connect the generations.”

Loneliness won’t end when the pandemic ends

The “loneliness epidemic,” as some experts call it, was a problem well before Covid-19. And while physical reunion is now in sight, it’ll take more than dinner parties to reach the marrow of a complicated and deeply cultural problem.

CNN reports on the need to address the problems of isolation and loneliness even after pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links . . . And Some Questions for You

Losing a long-term spouse can be deadly, studies show

The recent death of Prince Phillip has raised concern about Queen Elizabeth:

Known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy, “broken heart” syndrome is a documented medical condition.

Another possible complication for people facing bereavement is the widowhood effect: 

The risk of an elderly man or woman dying from any cause increases between 30% and 90% in the first three months after a spouse’s death, then drops to about 15% in the months that follow. The widowhood effect has been documented in all ages and races around the world.

This article from CNN provides advice for people facing bereavement.

He’s a cop. He’s 91. And he has no plans to retire

Here’s another article from CNN. This one profiles L.C. “Buckshot” Smith of Camden, Arkansas. Now 91, Smith has worked in law enforcement for more than 56 years. 

He tried retiring once but “quickly realized he missed the work.”

What happens to our cognition in the darkest depths of winter?

You’ve probably heard of season affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression caused by the reduction of sunlight during the short days of winter. Here Tim Brennan, professor of psychology at the University of Oslo in Norway, discusses both his own and other scientists’ research into the question of what he calls human seasonality, or “the psychological effects of extreme swings in the physical environment.”

“A particular challenge when studying human seasonality is that the widespread belief about mental sluggishness in winter tends unjustifiably to seep into the science,” Brennan writes. However, his research lead him to the conclusion that “there really isn’t evidence of much difference between summer and winter in our thinking, memory and attention.”

Our book critic pays homage to Beverly Cleary, whose characters played a key role in so many of our childhoods

Moira Macdonald, arts critic for the Seattle Times, celebrates the life of children’s author Beverly Cleary, who died recently at the age of 104. “For so many of us, Ramona and Beezus and Henry Huggins and Ellen Tebbits and Otis Spofford were friends, keeping us company during the strange journey of growing up.”

For some Seattle-area residents with COVID vaccines, ‘re-entry anxiety’ is real

Since my husband and I have been “fully vaccinated” for some weeks now, I’ve been watching with interest how people like us are approaching the return to social interaction. In fact, I find the term “fully vaccinated” in itself interesting, since the reality used to be that you were either vaccinated or you weren’t.

Although this article focuses on people in the Seattle area, my guess is that the individuals described here are pretty representative of people of the same demographic everywhere. And I especially resonate with the experience of one woman in the article, who discovered “Reentry anxiety is a real thing.”

How About You?

If you’ve been vaccinated and are returning to society, I’d be interested in hearing what your experience has been. 

  • Are you starting to get back into activities that were suspended during the pandemic? 
  • Do you have concerns about how safe such a return to society is right now?

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown