Last Week’s Links

‘You can fake anything on the internet’: Professors host day to teach WA students to combat misinformation

Seattle-area students participated in learning to examine information found on the internet. Some of the lessons they learned could benefit us older folks as well.

Excessive napping could be a sign of dementia, study finds

CNN reports on research results recently published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association: “Elderly adults who napped at least once a day or more than an hour a day were 40% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who did not nap daily or napped less than an hour a day.”

Love, Loss, and Sensory Memories

This article on the several different types of sensory memory helps explain how “sensory memories of a lost loved one may become activated during everyday activities.”

Our Brains Want the Story of the Pandemic to Be Something It Isn’t

Two years of living with the coronavirus has been spirit-depleting for obvious reasons, but this weariness has been compounded by the fact that the pandemic has defied our attempts to snap it into a satisfying story framework. . . . The coronavirus’s volatile arc has thwarted a basic human impulse to storify reality—instinctively, people tend to try to make sense of events in the world and in their lives by mapping them onto a narrative. If we struggle to do that, researchers who study the psychology of narratives told me, a number of unpleasant consequences might result: stress, anxiety, depression, a sense of fatalism, and, as one expert put it, “feeling kind of crummy.”

These Ripped-From-the-Headlines Dramas Are Taking Over TV This Spring

“a surprising number of this season’s dramas are based on real events and real people,” and some of them even feature getting-older actors.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The new Golden Girls: Baby boomers are moving in together to save money

In 1987 Betty White told an interviewer for NPR that the older women in the hit TV show Golden Girls lived together not for economic reasons but for social ones, namely companionship. Although loneliness and social isolation remain crucial problems as people age, economic necessity is now forcing many to look for a roommate.

Soo Youn reports for The Washington Post:

Faced with escalating home prices and rents in tight housing markets, as well as careers or earnings curtailed by age or the pandemic, some boomers are looking to share their homes. Enter the boommates.

The article includes references to nonprofit, commercial, and municipal programs that help older adults looking for shared housing.

Margaret Atwood is not your ‘elderly icon’ or ‘witchy granny.’ She’s better than that

Carolyn Kellogg profiles Canadian author Margaret Atwood: “Audiences want to hear from the 82-year-old author whose fiction foresees the rise of a patriarchal fascist state and cataclysmic environmental collapse.”

The piece centers on Atwood’s recently published book Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces, 2004 to 2021.

Eleven Over Sixty: A Reading List of Later in Life Debuts

Kathleen Stone recently published her first book, They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men. “With a career in law behind her and over 60 herself, she was thrilled to discover 11 other writers who debuted between 60 and 93 years of age.”

Al Pacino on ‘The Godfather’: ‘It’s Taken Me a Lifetime to Accept It and Move On’

“Fifty years later, the actor looks back on his breakthrough role: how he was cast, why he skipped the Oscars and what it all means to him now.”

In this interview with Dave Itzhoff, Al Pacino, now 81, recalls “making ‘The Godfather,’ the weight of its legacy and why he never played another film character like Michael Corleone after it.”

Denzel Washington tackles Shakespeare and life’s fourth quarter with grace

Denzel Washington has been one of my favorite actors for a long time. I regret that I haven’t yet seen him and Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of Macbeth, which is still available only on the streaming service Apple TV+.

I don’t read many celebrity-lifestyle pieces, but I’m glad I read this one, in which the 67-year-old Washington talks with Glenn Whipp, film and television critic for the Los Angeles Times. They talk about the Bible, Shakespeare, music, and preparing for life’s fourth quarter:

The only way to get overtime is doing the work now. If life has four quarters — zero to 20, 20 to 40, 40 to 60, 60 to 80 — you’re about to enter the fourth quarter. Anything after 80 is overtime.” He pauses, then reconsiders. “This is a sliding scale now that I’ve passed 65. Let’s say, 65 to 85. But the principle remains: You prepare for war in times of peace.”

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

MLB Lockout Ends and 162-Game Season Will Be Played – The New York Times

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Theresa Malkiel, a Jewish socialist immigrant, inspired International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day began with a Russian-born Jewish woman in New York City, before traveling to the Soviet Union and back again.

Source: Theresa Malkiel, a Jewish socialist immigrant, inspired International Women’s Day – The Washington Post

Last Week’s Links

Older people in Ukraine want peace

HelpAge International has been working in Ukraine since the conflict began, providing support to older people in the east of the country. There are 17 HelpAge staff in Ukraine, most of whom are in the east. Almost all the locations where HelpAge operates are within the five-kilometre demarcation line in Ukrainian government-controlled territory. Some communities are located on the very line of contact.

After talking to older people in Ukraine, HelpAge International reports that they “all want one thing – peace, and to see their children and grandchildren from whom they have been separated for so long.”

At 83, Here Are Things I’d Like to Do Before I Reach 100

Annie Korzen just turned 83. Since “Living until 100 is no longer an impossible dream,” she here offers her “bucket list of things I am raring to do and things that I would never, ever do.”

How lockdown loneliness is still impacting our mental health

“The worst of the pandemic might be over, but we’re still learning about the effects of lockdown on mental health.”

This article reports that “loneliness has hit young people the hardest,” but social scientists have long known that social isolation can also have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of older adults. 

Niellah Arboine reports that “now nearly two years on since the first nationwide lockdown [in the U.K.], and even with restrictions lifted, we’re still feeling the consequences.”

You Are Not Your Traumas. But Here’s How to Write About Them

Many people use the time available after retirement to write about their lives, either for their families, for publication, or for themselves. But most people’s lives contain some kind of trauma.

Traumatic experiences can be so intense they hijack the brain. Some defy language. Sitting with them for too long can trigger responses that feel a lot like pots boiling over. Do this often, and you might snuff out the passion fueling your project.

Here Lisa Cooper Ellison, an editor and writing coach with an Ed.S. degree in clinical mental health counseling, offers some advice on how to approach the difficult task of writing about trauma.

How to support a struggling friend

We’ve all had the experience of sitting with a friend who’s experiencing a problem—“from a friend burning the food at their dinner party, to struggling with the loss of a loved one”—and not known what to do, what to say, how to react, how to help. 

Elise Kalokerinos, senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Melbourne, advises that providing support is a skill that can be learned. Moreover, giving social support benefits both the recipient and the giver. Here she explains :five strategies to help you provide more effective emotional support to those who are struggling.”

Watergate: The Scandal That Never Goes Away

Douglas Brinkley examines the Watergate era in a review of the recently published book Watergate: A New History by Garrett M. Graff.

Words: Technologies of Power

In the face of censorship efforts in China and here in the United States, Flynn Coleman, international human rights lawyer and author of A Human Algorithm writes:

Words are technologies of power. They are life rafts in the seas of a terrifying, miraculous, complex world. They can be earth-shattering, hilarious, and uncomfortable. Books are the conduit to what Atticus Finch tells us in To Kill A Mockingbird (a frequently banned book) about people: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Op-Ed: The first treatment for Alzheimer’s taught us some hard lessons

The Food and Drug Administration’s surprise approval of Aduhelm for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease last year was a mess on practically every level. Three agency advisors resigned, and skeptical doctors such as myself were left to advise patients — all desperate for hope — that, yes, it is a treatment option but, no, we have no idea whether it will work.

And by the way, it is extraordinarily expensive.

In this opinion piece Keith Vossel, director of the Mary S. Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, argues that “Because this was the first drug ever prescribed to fight the progression of Alzheimer’s, it revealed just how much work the medical community still needs to do to prepare itself to treat Alzheimer’s patients, not just study them.”

Vossel explains the need for the creation of a large network of clinicians qualified to treat Alzheimer’s patients and of facilities where those patients can be treated, along with support systems such as transportation to and from those facilities. He also emphasizes that it’s important to work on those preparations now if researchers are to adquately evaluate the “new drugs on the horizon” for treatment.

The Surprising Science of How Feelings Help You Think

Recent developments in neuroscience have revealed how little we really know about what’s going on in our brains. In particular, new research is highlighting the role that our feelings play, often subconsciously, in affecting our behaviors. No matter how rational or objective we might think we’re being, we’re always under the influence of how happy, or sad, or anxious, or even hungry we are. . . . a better understanding of the emerging science of emotions can help us become more aware of just how much our emotions affect our thinking.

GQ features an interview with Leonard Mlodinow about his latest book, Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking.

New technologies, treatments could slow vision loss from macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration remains a leading cause of vision loss in the United States, but new advancements could help manage and, in some cases, prevent its devastating symptoms, experts told UPI recently.

The article discusses possible improvements in treatment for the 13 million Americans, most of whom are older adults, who suffer from the disease.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

They Took a Chance on Collaborative Living. They Lost Everything.

“A group that sought to create Connecticut’s first experiment in collaborative living fell short. Some of the investors lost their life savings.”

Category: Housing

What’s the difference between ‘pandemic’ and ‘endemic’?

This important difference may be the “new normal” we’re heading for.

Category: Health

Dick Van Dyke Proves Age Is Just a Number As He Dances with Wife Arlene Silver for Valentine’s Day

96-year-old Dick Van Dyke and his 46-year-old wife Arlene Silver celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

Category: Aging

In Twilight of Life, Civil Rights Activists Feel ‘Urgency to Tell Our History’

“Young people who marched and organized during the civil rights movement are now in their 70s and 80s. With fewer and fewer remaining, historians rush to record their stories.”

Categories: Aging, History

The Trouble with Immortality

“Stories about immortality are present in many cultures throughout time. How cultures perceive immortality—as a blessing or a curse—can differ widely.”

Categories: Aging, Health

Gary Brooker, Singer for Procol Harum, Dies at 76

Gary Brooker, the singer and pianist of the early progressive rock group Procol Harum, who co-wrote songs including “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” the improbable but overpowering hit during the 1967 Summer of Love, died on Saturday at his home in Surrey, England. He was 76.

Category: History

I Admit it. I’m Retired and Have Started to Feel Irrelevant

“The challenging search to find a sense of purpose.”

“Now there is a vast emptiness where my relevance used to live,” writes Ann Brenoff about the end of her 40-year career as a journalist. 

She explains that most planning for retirement focuses on the dual topics of health and wealth, “and very little thought is given to the emotional adjustment required when we step off the playing field and move to the sidelines.”

Categories: Aging, Retirement, Work

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

The COVID Strategy America Hasn’t Really Tried

“The clearest way to reduce deaths is to push to vaccinate more of the elderly—yes, still!”

Sarah Zhang reports in The Atlantic: “even though America’s vaccination and booster rates look better in the older groups compared with the young, they are still too low. As a result, deaths in the United States are still too high.”

Category: Health

How to get better at making every type of decision

Allie Volpe describes certain human biases that can complicate the making of decisions, particularly decisions about complex or life-altering questions. She also offers concrete suggestions about how to deal with these biases and how to manage the decision-making process.

Category: Mental Health

The Dog Breeds That Are a Woman’s Best Friend

“Especially when one lives alone.”

Because men generally die at a slightly younger age than women, many women face a period of widowhood. Social scientists have long known that having a pet to care for can reduce feelings of loneliness or depression for widowed people, either male or female. 

When my husband and I were looking at various retirement communities in preparation for our retirement relocation, something I noticed was the number of older adults out walking their dogs. This article, though emphasizing women, provides some advice appropriate for either men or women looking to take on a pet.

I have one consideration to add that this article doesn’t mention. Most retirement communities I’m familiar with allow “small pets.” If you anticipate moving into such a community, I’d advise you choose one of the smaller breeds described here. A boxer, golden retriever, or mastiff probably won’t be welcome in a much down-sized living situation.

Or maybe you’d rather consider a cat?

Category: Assisted Living, Retirement

There Will Be No Post-Covid

Charles M. Blow, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, expresses something I’ve thought for quite a while now: As much as we’d all like to get back to normal, normal won’t ever be the same again, and we are going to have to learn to live with that reality.

Or, as Blow puts it: :the America we knew ended in 2019. This is a new one, scarred, struggling to its feet, dogged by moral and philosophical questions that on one hand have revealed its cruelty and on the other have forced it into metamorphosis.”

Category: Health, Personal

Activist Learning: How Anti-Vietnam War Academics Reinvented the Strike

The escalation of the Vietnam War in 1965 brought about the creation of a new form of protest—the teach-in. It was so effective a vehicle for dissent that the academic community quickly became the main source of opposition to the war. Though it was later eclipsed—notably in the media and, thus, the popular mind—by younger noisier protests, for about a year and a half the nation’s faculties, with the assistance of graduate students and some undergraduates, provided the leadership and the intellectual framework for the growing challenge to the escalating conflict. An initially small group of professors literally taught the rest of the country why the war was wrong.

This excerpt from The Lost Promise: American Universities in the 1960s by Ellen Schrecker brought back memories for me. I was a student at Boston University, a very politically active campus, from 1966 to 1970. 

Categories: History, Personal

Her dad died. So her favorite NFL star took her to the father-daughter dance.

“Philadelphia Eagles player Anthony Harris flew across the country to escort his 11-year-old fan to the event”

Amid all the incivility and protest, I hope we take a moment to appreciate and publicize stories such as this.

Category: Personal

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Increased physical activity lowers ‘preventable’ deaths in older adults, study finds

Small increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity among older adults in the United States prevents up to an estimated 275,000 deaths annually, a study published Monday JAMA Internal Medicine found.

When the Last Thing You Want to Do Is Exercise

As a companion piece to the article above, Christie Aschwanden suggests some “ways you can find inspiration and maybe even a little glee in your daily workout.”

A 73-year-old knew she was being scammed. So she lured the scammer to her home and had him arrested, police say.

Lots of people think it’ll be easy to scam us older adults. A couple of them met their match in Jean.

As pleasing as this story is, PLEASE DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME without contacting local law enforcement before you make any arrangements to meet the scammers. Also, don’t volunteer your address, bank, or any other personal information until you’ve arranged for reinforcements.

I’m 72. So What?

“Catherine Texier pushes back against society’s dated ideas about older women, claiming her place among those who are determined to remain vibrant and relevant in the last decades of their lives.”

My generation is caught between two tectonic forces: the impulse to live full throttle till the end — as long as our health can handle it, the way we chose to live since our 20s — and the push from society to put us back into our place and nudge us towards the nursing home, so that the next generations can take over.

Conflicts between nursing home residents are often chalked up to dementia – the real problem is inadequate care and neglect

Some sobering information from Eilon Caspi, assistant research professor of health, intervention, and policy, at the University of Connecticut:

Resident-to-resident incidents are defined by researchers as “negative, aggressive and intrusive verbal, physical, material and sexual interactions between residents” that can cause “psychological distress and physical harm in the recipient.”

These incidents are prevalent in U.S. nursing homes. But they are largely overlooked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the federal agency overseeing care in approximately 15,000 nursing homes across the country. Consequently, such incidents remain untracked, understudied and largely unaddressed.

Caspi emphasizes that the patient with dementia is not to blame for such incidents. Rather, the facility has the responsibility of adequately supervising all residents.

7 New and Forthcoming Books by Writers Over 60

J.R. Ramakrishnan profiles some “fully grown-up writers with thoughtful, diverse books out in early 2022. Their subjects are both fiction and nonfiction.”

Why I Will Never, Ever Go Gray

One of the topics that arose over the long course of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic was people who, unable to get to the salon for a touch-up, discovered the joy of letting their hair go gray. But here Norma Eisen, who had her first gray hairs at age 13, presents the opposite view: “Though some of my friends were flaunting silver locks, I still dyed my hair. Even when the stars looked more gorgeous than ever by going au naturel.”

Don Wilson, Who Gave the Ventures Their Distinctive Rhythm, Dies at 88

Don Wilson, co-founder of the instrumental rock group the Ventures, whose twanging, hard-driving sound, propelled by his dynamic rhythm guitar, led to hits like “Walk — Don’t Run” and helped shape the surf music of the early 1960s as well as influencing generations of guitarists, died on Saturday [January 22, 2022] in Tacoma, Wash. He was 88.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

End-of-life conversations can be hard, but your loved ones will thank you

Deborah Carr, professor of sociology at Boston University, writes “most people dread thinking and talking about when, how or under what conditions they might die.”

Although most people know they should talk about these issues with loved ones, most don’t actually have the difficult discussion, Carr reports. “But everyone should talk about and prepare for death precisely because we want to minimize our own suffering at the end of life, and soften the anguish of loved ones left behind.”

Here Carr offers some guidance about both what to talk about and how to initiate the discussion.

In 1973, ‘Soylent Green’ envisioned the world in 2022. It got a lot right.

George Bass discusses how the film Soylent Green, released in 1973 and set “in the then-far-off future of 2022,” is “eerily prescient” in its portrayal of what is now our present.

The Federal Writers’ Project: Exploring “The Greatest Literary Project in History”

“Now, some in Congress are looking to the FWP as a model for a new jobs program for writers,” writes Clare Barnett. Read her history of the original Federal Writers’ Project, developed to employ writers in “the biggest public works program in American history” during the Great Depression.

Pickleball: The Rules, Rise, and Reach of a Surging Sport

Kenny Ducey reports on pickleball, “the racquet sport that has taken the world by storm over the past few years.” He defines core players as those who play at least 8 times over a year; these players “skew older, with 54% of them aged 55 and up.”

Janis Ian Lets Her Music Speak Her Mind (One Last Time)

“At 70, the singer-songwriter who has always been unafraid of difficult subjects is releasing a final album, ‘The Light at the End of the Line.’”

With all the recent obituaries of musical greats from the Boomer era, I was glad to find a story about one who is still performing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired new health habits for these 4 scholars – here’s what they put into practice and why

Four academics discuss the habits they have developed to help them cope with the stress of the ongoing pandemic.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Michael Lang, a Force Behind the Woodstock Festival, Dies at 77

“He and his partners hoped their weekend of “peace and music” would draw 50,000 attendees. It ended up drawing more than 400,000 — and making history.”

Even if you weren’t there, you probably remember this.

Ronnie Spector, ’60s girl-group icon who sang ‘Be My Baby,’ dies at 78

We’ve lost another voice from those heady music days of the 1960s:

Ronnie Spector, whose towering voice propelled indelible early 1960s hit records including “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain,” died Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer. She was 78.

A taste for sweet – an anthropologist explains the evolutionary origins of why you’re programmed to love sugar

I have a notorious sweet tooth. But apparently it’s not my fault.

Medicare Proposes to Cover Aduhelm Only for Patients in Clinical Trials

Here’s a follow-up to a news story included in last week’s links (the second story down).

Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen

In an excerpt from his book Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention, Johann Hari explains: “Social media and many other facets of modern life are destroying our ability to concentrate. We need to reclaim our minds while we still can.”

Your biological age may be different from your real age. A new institute at Northwestern plans to explore the issue.

The Potocsnak Longevity Institute, a new organization at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Illinois, U.S.A., is opening this month. It “will focus on research related to aging, and on treating patients suffering from its effects.”

New Research Reveals How Alzheimer’s Progresses in the Brain

This article reports on an October 2021 study from the University of Cambridge that “sheds new light on how Alzheimer’s disease progresses in the brain, with implications for future treatments and prevention strategies.”

COVID-19 causes mobility, physical declines in older adults, study finds

News from United Press International (UPI):

Many adults age 50 years and older sickened with COVID-19 experience declines in mobility and the ability to perform day-to-day physical activities up to eight months after infection, a study published Wednesday [January 12, 2022] by JAMA Network Open found.

© 2022 by Mary Daniels Brown

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