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

Last Week’s Links

Leaving the Law Behind for My Dream Job

“Maurice Carlos Ruffin on finding the courage to pivot to fiction writing in mid-life.”

At age 41, Maurice Carlos Ruffin quit his job as a lawyer and published his first book. He admits that he made more money as a lawyer, “[b]ut the satisfaction I have now is more than worth it.”

I’m always inspired by stories of people who have the courage to, as Joseph Campbell put it, follow their bliss.

Not Home for the Holidays

People across the country are saying no more to holiday obligations. After the drain of the pandemic, some are choosing to skip the stress of travel or of spending hours around a table with people they don’t entirely enjoy. Even those who like their families are choosing to be apart, opting instead to be with friends who live close to them or to go on far-flung trips they’ve always wanted to take.

Almost two years after COVID hit, Tacoma’s senior centers remain closed. It’s taking a toll

This story pertains to my city, but it discusses a problem that hadn’t occurred to me. Perhaps the same thing has happened where you live?

Two Musicals on the Perils of Aging

Those of us who don’t live in New York City don’t have direct access to this type of entertainment, but just reading about them can give us food for thought. Do you think of your older-life as a musical? I certainly don’t think of mine that way.

COVID time warp

“Scientists are beginning to unpack the way people processed the passage of time amidst the stress, uncertainty and isolation of the 1 year, 8 months and 21 days since WHO declared a pandemic.”

Do you remember how eagerly, a year ago, we thought about hanging up a new calendar for a new year that would undoubtedly erase the pain of 2020? And look how that turned out. Now, instead, we face another new year—but one of uncertainly about whether this pandemic will ever end. No wonder our sense of time has become so disjointed. 

This article looks at some research into the brain’s ability to perceive and predict time—“a fundamental feature of life.”

As U.S. Nears 800,000 Virus Deaths, 1 of Every 100 Older Americans Has Perished

Although people 65 and over are among the most vaccinated in the U.S., they “make up about three-quarters of the nation’s coronavirus death toll.”

“In both sharp and subtle ways, the pandemic has amplified an existing divide between older and younger Americans.”

2021 in Review: The Year in Vibes

“2021 feels as though it does and does not exist, a hangover from the depths of terror in 2020.”

Kyle Chayka reports that 2021 “has offered an unplaceable vibe.” It was supposed to be the year when we broke out of the funk caused by the COVID pandemic. Instead, we had new variants of the virus that made 2021 much like a continuation of 2020. 

“A year that never started can’t really end, either, and so the boundary of the New Year feels unreal as well. But the time did pass, and in looking back we have to recall grace where we can.” 

Here Chayka presents his “attempt to capture the year’s ambiguous nonverbal phenomena, both positive and negative.”

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Who Says You Can’t Form Close Friendships After 60?

I’m quite an introvert, so solitude is pretty important to me. Nonetheless, I found the biggest challenge of retirement was making new friends when we moved from where we had spent more than 40 years of our lives, in the midwest, to the Pacific Northwest. 

In this article painter and writer Brahna Yassky has some advice on making new friends as an older adult: “Do what you love to do in a situation where other people are doing the same, from artistic endeavors to participating in a sport. Teach a class in something you know well; take a class in something you don’t know. The important thing is to stay connected . . . .”

How Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem became Lucy and Desi for ‘Being the Ricardos’

Here’s some preparation for the movie Being the Ricardos, which opens December 10 in theaters and December 21 on Amazon Prime Video.

How to Exercise With Chronic Pain

Evidence from research over the past few decades has shown that exercise helps relieve chronic pain, writes Gretchen Reynolds:

But finding the best activities to help you deal with your particular pain may require mixing and matching exercise options, asking the right questions about why you hurt afterward and finding the right trainer or physical therapist.

In addition to tips on how to find out what works best for you, the article includes links to other pieces on chronic pain.

When Howard Johnson’s Was America’s Home Away From Home

Do you remember when the orange roofs, fried clams, and 28 flavors of ice cream ruled the expanding network of roadways in the U.S. in the mid-twentieth century? Explore the history of Howard Johnson’s here.

Philip Margo of the Tokens, Who Sang of a Snoozing Lion, Dies at 79

“His baritone contributed to the 1961 hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which became one of the most recognizable American pop songs ever.”

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the number of obituaries of the musicians whose music I grew up with are appearing.

Older people’s resilience during pandemic focus of $9 million grant

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received a five-year, $9.1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study resilience in older adults before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Older adults have been hit with a double whammy. On the one hand, they’ve had to take steps to protect themselves from COVID-19 infection, such as staying away from other people. On the other hand, the stresses associated with social isolation can cause cognitive problems and contribute to anxiety and depression.”

At age 9, best friends separated fleeing the Nazis. Now, 82 years later, they finally hugged again.

Here’s another one of those happy stories that I love so much.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Last Week’s Links

Graeme Edge, Drummer and Co-Founder of the Moody Blues, Dies at 80

“Many of their songs incorporated his spoken-word poetry, making them pioneers in the prog-rock movement of the late-1960s and ’70s.”

The Moody Blues are probably best remembered for “Nights in White Satin” (1967), a darkly ruminative song that ends, in the version included on their album “Days of Future Passed,” with “Late Lament,” written by Mr. Edge and read by the keyboardist Mike Pinder. (It was missing from the shorter version released for radio.)

The New Retirement: How Golden Girls are Redefining the Golden Years

The golden years are getting a makeover. Old-school thinking about retirement is being called out, in many cases led by women who are challenging the status quo. We’re the same women who broke glass ceilings and forged new definitions of work-family balance and partnership. We’re the same women creating new role models as business owners and leaders proving age is not a limiting factor.

Cindy Morgan-Jaffe, “a nationally certified money, life and recovery coach,” explains what the redefinition of retirement by these women will look like.

This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.

“Long marginalized and misrepresented in U.S. history, the Wampanoags are bracing for the 400th anniversary of the first Pilgrim Thanksgiving in 1621.”

Here’s an illustration of how history has marginalized native peoples and rewritten events to produce a glowing, aggrandizing national narrative.

If history is a guide, schools will start requiring COVID vaccines

An examination of the history of vaccination mandates for schools, in comic form.

The school that pioneered polio shots will give kids the coronavirus vaccine, too

Jackie Lonergan, age 75, recalls when she and other second graders at Franklin Sherman Elementary School in McLean, VA, received their polio shots on April 26, 1954—“the very first children in the country to receive the polio vaccine as part of a massive national trial to test the immunization before offering it to the general public.”

Recently First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy were at Franklin Sherman “to help launch another mass pediatric vaccination campaign — this one aimed at protecting children ages 5 to 11 from covid-19.”

A Brief History of the Crockpot on its 50th Anniversary

The Rival Crockpot made its debut in 1971 at a housewares show in Chicago.

I’m willing to bet most of us had one of these in our kitchens, and probably many of us still do. But when I searched a couple of sites for free images, the only photos I could find for either “crockpot” or “slow cooker” were pictures on an Insta-Pot. I wish I still had my avocado-green crockpot—trendy at the time—to photograph, but it has been replaced by an Insta-Pot since we moved into a retirement community and had to downsize.

Did Covid Change How We Dream?

“All around the world, the pandemic provoked strange nocturnal visions. Can they help shed light on the age-old question of why we dream at all?”

Brooke Jarvis takes a deep dive into this topic in the New York Times Magazine. You can listen to the article if you’d prefer that to reading.

Follett’s “Never” Shines With the Horrific Brilliance of a Nuclear Bomb

“Now, at age 72, he has given us a book that could be his most important.”

“Follett has updated the nuclear-disaster narrative for these crazier, more complex times. Never should scare the you-know-what out of you,” writes Dennis Hetzel.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

Nursing homes can now lift most COVID restrictions on visits : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

The federal government directed nursing homes to open their doors wide to visitors, easing many remaining pandemic restrictions.

Source: Nursing homes can now lift most COVID restrictions on visits : Coronavirus Updates : NPR

Last Week’s Links

You’re not ‘fully vaccinated.’ You never will be.

The phrase fully vaccinated has both annoyed and intrigued since I first heard it. In some ways it makes no sense, although I understand its origin and even the necessity for it. But surely we can come up with something better.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19. So far, 1 in 7 have gotten a booster shot of vaccine

That 1 in 7 includes both my husband and me:

Woman with sleeve rolled up, syringe piercing the skin.

How Pickleball Won Over Everyone From Leonardo DiCaprio to Your Grandparents

Not long after we moved into a retirement community in Tacoma, WA, the obituary of one of the lovely friends we were lucky enough to make included the tidbit that he had contributed to the invention of pickleball. A brush with fame . . .

One of the Most Egregious Ripoffs in the History of Science

The feminist in me has been resentful ever since I learned how Rosalind Franklin has been left out of the story of the discovery of DNA.

The last time America broke apart: How author Kevin Boyle retold the 1960s

A review of the recent book The Shattering: America in the 1960s by Kevin Boyle. The book opens with a photograph of a group of men and women in front of a bungalow:

The nostalgic setup — July 4, 1961, on a “rising middle class” block in Chicago — is deliberate. But “The Shattering,” which intertwines the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution, is no saccharine account. Boyle uses the story of Ed and Stella Cahill, the owners of that bungalow, to frame the book, showing readers how much had been gained by people like them — a prosperity built on inequality — and how their world would be shattered by the ‘60s.

Super troupers! Abba on fame, divorce, ageing backwards – and why they’ve returned to rescue 2021

Not only was there a new album, Voyage, the first in 40 years: 10 new songs that brought the original band together in the studio for the first time since a split that had been precipitated by the couples in the band divorcing. Not only that, but there was to be a new “immersive live experience”, in a bespoke stadium in London – nobody seemed to have noticed the planning application being published online – featuring futuristic de-aged “Abbatars” playing a potentially never-ending series of gigs. In the depths of a miserable year, it seemed, Abba were coming to rescue 2021.

Merriam-Webster nods to pandemic by adding ‘ghost kitchen’ and ‘curbside pickup’

“Now, so many of the catchphrases we got to know while eating in the COVID era are making their way into the firmament of the lexicon.”

It’s Never Too Late to Climb That Mountain

“Dierdre Wolownick, whose son, Alex Honnold, is one of the world’s top rock climbers, ascended Yosemite’s El Capitan to celebrate her 70th birthday.”

I feel that I should offer a disclaimer here: Although I love collecting stories like this, stories of how older adults are stomping all over the stereotypes of aging, you won’t find me climbing any mountains or winning any weight-lifting competitions. But I admire those who do.

© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown

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