Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In My Eleventh Hour: “I Wish I’d Had More Courage”

hospice - 11th hour courage

"No one has looked back sadly on a life full of experiences, but many look back wishing they had had the courage to do more." - Anonymous

During a patient’s final hours in hospice care, commonly referred to as the “eleventh hour,” I’ve witnessed over my five years as a volunteer a variety of outcomes to the final defining moment: dying.

This is the moment in our lives that requires the most courage—the surrender and the acceptance of one’s life. When family and friends come to the care center to be with their loved one, it’s a blessing. But for the patient, it is too late for words or actions that provide comfort or healing.

Connecting twenty years of original courage research with my hospice volunteerism, I observed that patients often had not summoned the courage to do something they really wanted to do in life, or they sadly didn’t make time to just “be” instead of being in a constant state of doing. One senior said to me, “I may be retired, but I do keep a very busy calendar. I seem to never have time for just me!” But what about this word courage? How does courage apply to seniors?

Embrace Your Courage Now!

First it’s important to know the etymology of the word. The word courage comes from the French word corage, meaning “heart and spirit.” So courage is really about acting from our heart and spirit, from the center of our being, which is the true identity hidden beneath the false self of the ego. Tapping into our courage enables us to stand in our true Selves, our solid core long before our time to enter our eleventh hour. Although courage was one of the four cardinal virtues in classical literature, it has diminished in importance in these postmodern times as most people equate this important virtue with acts of bravado in the face of fear.

Sadly, by limiting the idea of courage in this way, we fail to acknowledge the courage in stopping to smell the roses, asking for what we want, pursuing “spiritual courage”, learning to say “no” and overcoming courage killers such as complacency, complaining and cynicism.

Courage manifests itself when we embark on a journey that is in line with our heart and spirit. When we apply this original definition to our lives, we feel more empowered to display discernment and better able to respond to the inherent energy of courage. In this way we design not only a good life, but also a “good death.” A person transitioning in a good death is not agitated or resistant to the circumstance.

So what actions can a senior take right now so the phrase “I wish I’d had more courage…” is not a part of the final journey. Listed below are just five principles:

1) I wish I’d had the courage to realize how important it was to stay in touch with family and friends.

Seniors make choices about how they are going to spend their lives and who they are going to share their lives with, keeping busy until it may be too late. Rushing through life, they rarely see that complacency filled with excuses and justifications seeped into their spirits and drained their precious reservoir of courage. At 60 years of age we may eventually see that the people we called our friends have now passed away.

Once our time to pass on has come, the opportunity to live more fully, call a dear friend or practice gratitude for the people in our lives has closed. An eleventh hour patient's chance to express forgiveness or share inner feelings has permanently disappeared — time has run out. The window of opportunity to change the storyline has evaporated.

With these emotions lingering in their spirits, I’ve wondered why many eleventh hour patients are so restless and seem to have a busy mind during their final transition. One hospice nurse shared with me that in her seven years of caring for the dying she assessed that 50% of her patients were agitated during this final phase. Sometimes referred to as “unfinished business,” complacency in life kept these patients from claiming their courage and ultimately, courageously accepting the end.

2) I wish I’d had the courage to live my life expressing more of my true self, not the life where I sometimes sold my soul to accommodate others.

Before a senior reaches the eleventh hour, the hospice patient tends to reflect on their journey and often express regrets to loved ones. This is a form of confessing, and confessing is one of twelve cousins to courage. “Shoulda”, “coulda”, “wouldas” are generally attached to regrets such as “I wish I’d spent more time with my kids, “I wish I’d not been so afraid to travel,” “I wish I’d finished college” or “Sorry I never told you…” One time I sat with a man as he passed. Shortly thereafter, his daughter arrived and she shared with me that before her father deteriorated to the eleventh hour stage and was no longer able to talk he had looked up at her and said, “Honey, I have no regrets.” Sadly, that’s not the case for many people as they reflect on their life’s journey.

It’s never too late for a senior to ask: “Am I living in my true self?” When my time comes to pass will I be filled with self-doubts or happiness? Self-doubts are one of twelve courage obstacles. Self-doubts represent the times in our lives when we allowed fearful insecurities to undermine the courageous choices that were available. Recognizing these forms of lost courage, the task then is to cultivate courage and trust that going for it is better than dying without it. Courage is a journey from the head to the heart, outside of emotion. We have to have the courage to ask ourselves: what percentage of my life right now is filled with regrets?

3) I wish I’d had the courage to take time out of my busy schedule to enjoy and appreciate the precious phases of life.

My yoga teacher lovingly preaches that the habitual response “I am so busy!” has become our culture’s new mantra. Even seniors work very hard trying to fill up every moment of doing without stopping, and in that whirlwind, they’ve probably sold their soul. Call it what you want, but we all know the feeling.

Spiritual Courage

The spiritual journey requires being in the present. It is a trust in faith that propels you to continue growing. You become a “witness” to your attachments to results and learn to self-correct. You surrender your ego to a higher level of courage consciousness, and you begin to exist in a place “where courage meets grace.” As all this happens, humility steps in to replace arrogance and righteousness. The sacred within awakens. When this occurs, you are differently focused, reflective and have a heightened self-awareness.

Embracing some form of stopping or contemplative practice can help initiate this transformative process. Doing sacred reading, chanting, practicing Tai Chi, hiking, or taking a silent retreat are all examples of contemplative practice, moving us beyond actions, words and thoughts and into the inner silence of our hearts — the place where courage resides. Other priceless facets of self-care include enjoying a cup of tea, going for a walk, taking a scenic drive or quiet time with friends. The stillness found in peace provides maturity to our inner experience and accelerates “spiritual courage (see sidebar).” This is a simple lifestyle choice that requires courage consciousness.

4) I wish I’d had the courage to live a life that demonstrated all of my passion and potential.

Our lives on Earth are short, and there’s only one chance to live fully. Living in courage consciousness is a choice and this choice requires action. We decide if we will give ourselves permission to claim and apply our courage. Starting right now, we decide if we will make courage our daily legacy. Do your life’s priorities need to be reviewed and reconsidered (or re-prioritized)?

Erma Bombeck’s quote says it all: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and I could say: ‘I used everything you gave me’.”

5) I wish I’d had the courage to dispel my fears and listen more closely to the promptings of my heart and spirit.

Regardless of a seniors’ age, underlying all fears is the primitive and intuitive fear of death itself. Learning to stay courage-centered in the present may not banish fear or the self-blame it spawns, but it will at least begin to diminish the tendencies that keep us stuck in fear. Fear blocks and paralyzes the heart and ultimately, fear blocks courage.

By delving into the heart and spirit of our true identity, seniors begin to recognize our innate courageous will as well as the ego’s insidious control mechanisms, which capitalize on fear and insecurity such as with dying. As we recognize the fears that the ego uses to justify its self-importance, we undermine the ego’s power to dominate our lives and we begin to manifest our true identity; hence, we must begin to recognize that fear is a manmade creation. The dualistic concept of fear versus courage keeps us stuck within the mental limitations of ego.

When seniors claim their everyday courage, they begin to experience the truth that heart and spirit transcend the duality of the mind, and recognize that fear is simply an illusion used by the ego to maintain its position of control. This recognition dissolves fear, allowing love to fill our hearts. This is the experience of “dying to self.”

How will you live today so as not to have any misgivings in your eleventh hour?

Author - Sandra Ford Walston

- Sandra Ford Walston

For more than 20 years, Sandra has engaged audiences from Vancouver to Mexico. She is the award-winning author of COURAGE and two other books on courageous leadership.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Divorce After 50 Offers Its Own Challenges

Divorce After Age 50

Not only can seniors lose much of their financial assets at a time in life when it may be hard to financially recover, but they can also lose shared connections and memories.

People are often shocked when they hear that a couple who has been married for 20, 30 or 40 years is getting a divorce (like Al and Tipper Gore, who split in 2010 after 40 years of marriage and four children.) The assumption is that if you’ve been together that long, you must have worked out any problems. And yet a study from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 2014 found that the divorce rate for people 50 and over doubled from 1990 to 2010 and that one in four Americans getting divorced is over 50.

Reasons for Late Divorce

According to AARP, women initiate 60 percent of divorces after age 40. This could reflect the fact that more women are working today and thus have their own income and some independence, as well as a life outside of marriage and family. One therapist opined that women have higher expectations for their emotional life and won’t put up with less. And divorce no longer carries the social stigma it once did.

Readers commenting on an article on “gray divorce” in the Washington Post offered their own opinions:

“As women have become better educated and financially independent, they no longer have to tolerate husbands who don't appreciate them, abuse them, ignore them and try to dominate them.”
“Many men I have known, 50+, married for years, look at their wives, and decide it's time to ‘trade in for a new model.’ The old model gets left with very little.”
“But mostly, I see people who simply don't agree on how they want to live going forward into their senior years. Some want to stay put while their spouse wants to move around a bit. One partner wants to travel, the other doesn't. One partner is sick of cooking and cleaning after 40 years and frankly realizes that being single is the easiest way to get out of most of the drudgery. . . . And more importantly, some couples are simply tired of being tied financially to another person. Having to 'agree' on how and where to spend money can be very draining when there are two different viewpoints on spending it. With joint finances, you never have the freedom to just spend some money the way you would like to.”

Experts provide other reasons:

  • People live longer, so couples in their 50s or 60s may decide they don’t want to spend another 20 years with their current spouse.

  • Many older people are in their second (or third) marriage, and second marriages, no matter what age, have a higher rate of divorce than first marriages.

  • Children are grown and have their own lives, so couples aren’t staying together “for the kids.”

  • Couples who have been together since their early 20s have changed and gone in different directions. Raising children may have been the reason they stayed together, but once children are gone, the couple have nothing in common.

  • After retirement, couples who spent much of their lives at work are suddenly together all day. That can strain any relationship, but especially ones that may have been unraveling before retirement.

Tips for Surviving a Divorce

Karen Covy, a divorce lawyer, mediator and coach, offers tips for surviving a divorce after age 50:

  • Get professional help. Do not try to go through your divorce alone. At this point in your life, you have way more to lose than your average 20-year-old. Not only will you need a lawyer to help you, but you are also going to need a financial adviser and a therapist or divorce coach.

  • Consider alternatives to litigation. Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce can be less costly, more private and less time-consuming than fighting in court.

  • Familiarize yourself with current and projected finances. The way you divide your property in your divorce and what you pay or receive in spousal support may have tax implications that will affect how much money you have available after your divorce.

  • If you are unemployed, underemployed or retired, consider getting a job. If you need to get a degree or training to get a decent job, look for programs that will give you the potential to make the highest income in the shortest amount of time.

Source: “Tips for Surviving a Divorce After 50,” April 27, 2016, Karen Covy

Financial Considerations

A gray divorce brings challenges that you don’t face when younger. A big one is finances. If you’re retired, you can expect to have your nest egg cut in half once you divide property, pensions, IRAs and anything else you own together. At the same time, on less money, you’ll each be supporting your own household instead of sharing expenses. Similarly, you’ll have to split the bills on any debts you owe, such as mortgage, credit cards or car loans. Researchers report that older divorced Americans have only 20 percent as much wealth as older married couples.

For women, this is a bigger issue than for men because women traditionally have made less money than men and live longer. An older generation of women, especially, may have worked part-time or not at all in order to stay home and raise the children. That means they have a smaller pension, 401(k) or IRA, if any, and a smaller Social Security check. However, spouses who have been married for more than 10 years have access to their former spouse’s Social Security payments. In some cases, divorced spouses can get veterans’ benefits.

Other financial concerns include:

  • As we get older, we have less time than a younger person to rebuild our retirement funds. If you’re retired and want to work again, jobs become scarcer as we age.

  • If both spouses are covered by one spouse’s health insurance, a divorce likely means that one spouse will lose health insurance. If he or she gets insurance on their own, this adds to the expense of the divorce.

  • In most marriages, one person usually handles the finances. After a divorce, the other person must quickly learn how to manage their financial accounts.

  • One person will have to move, which means giving up your home, and this can be a wrenching experience if you’ve lived there long. Because your wealth has been cut in half, this likely means one spouse downsizing to a smaller residence.

  • With your wealth cut in half, this means downsizing your life—putting retirement on hold, working more and traveling less.

Emotional Issues

Besides the financial issues a gray divorce engenders, there are the emotional ones, as well. If you’ve been married a long time, you and your spouse have a lot of history together. It will be difficult, to say the least, to not look back with bitterness and sadness on those once shared memories. You’ve seen yourself as part of a couple—and others have too--for so long, it will be hard to conceive of yourself as someone apart and alone. Divorce will mean starting all over. Other hardships include:

  • Breaking up with your spouse, especially if you’ve been together a long time, means losing a web of connections—in-laws, your spouse’s friends and acquaintances and, if you move, long-time neighbors. You may have to build up new networks.

  • Whether or not you and your spouse had an ideal relationship, you had a constant companion to do things with—whether playing pickleball, watching movies together or eating at your favorite restaurant. It will take more effort to find others who enjoy the same things and are as readily available.

  • If you have no plans to remarry, you’re losing a partner who could help you through old age. Wrote one woman: “Life has been good, but as I get older and have a lot of time on my hands, I miss him. Consider a few years down the road, maybe you can put up with the old boy so you can enjoy each other when you are really old.”

  • Even though you don’t need to stay together any longer because of your children, your adult children may react badly to their parents splitting up. They could take sides, and you could lose a relationship with your son or daughter, hopefully temporarily.


After Full Lives Together, More Older Couples Are Divorcing,” Oct. 30, 2015, New York Times.

Gray divorce can drag both parties into the red,” April 8, 2016, Washington Post.

Grey Divorce and Conscious Aging: 7 Ideas to Consider,” Jan, 10, 2015, Huffington Post.

50 Shades of Grey Divorce,” Aug. 23, 2016, Huffington Post.

Till Death Do Us Part? No way. Gray Divorce on the Rise,” Oct. 8, 2014 Washington Post.

7 Things to Know About Divorcing During Your Senior Years,” April 24, 2015, U.S. News.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Famous & 65

Look Who’s Turning 65

Jan. 11—Ben Crenshaw

Jan. 11—Ben Crenshaw - Source=http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/2925999050/ |Author=Keith Allison

The retired American professional golfer won 19 events on the PGA Tour, including two major championships: the Masters Tournament in 1984 and 1995. Nicknamed “Gentle Ben,” Crenshaw is widely regarded as one of the best putters in golf history. After he won three NCAA Championships at the University of Texas, from 1971 to 1973, he turned professional in 1973. That year, Crenshaw became the second player in Tour history to win the first event of his career. Following five runner-up finishes in major championships without a victory, including losing a sudden-death playoff for the 1979 PGA Championship, in 1984, he won the Masters.

In the mid-1980s, Crenshaw suffered from Graves' disease (of the thyroid), but he continued to accumulate victories, including an emotional second Masters victory in 1995, which came a week after the death of his mentor, Harvey Penick. In 1999, while he was captain of the United States Ryder Cup team for the matches in Brookline, Mass., the U.S. won 8 ½ of the final day's 12 points to regain the Cup. Since 1986, Crenshaw has been a partner with Bill Coore in Coore & Crenshaw, a golf course design firm. His final and 44th Masters was in 2015.

Jan. 12—Ricky Van Shelton

Jan. 12—Ricky Van Shelton

The country music artist charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts between 1986 and 2006. This figure includes 10 number one hits: "Somebody Lied," "Life Turned Her That Way," 'Don't We All Have the Right," "I'll Leave This World Loving You," "From a Jack to a King" (a cover of the Ned Miller hit), "Living Proof," "I've Cried My Last Tear for You," "Rockin' Years" (a duet with Dolly Parton), "I Am a Simple Man" and "Keep It Between the Lines." Besides these, seven more of his singles have landed in the Top 10 on the same chart. Shelton has also released nine studio albums, of which his first four have been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.

He got his start in the mid-80s, playing in clubs around Nashville, where a newspaper columnist heard one of Shelton's demos and arranged an audition with Columbia Records In 1986, CBS offered Shelton a recording contract, and that same year he recorded his first album, Wild-Eyed Dream. His album reached the No. 1 spot on the Top Country Albums chart in 1987, was one of the biggest-selling country albums of the year and made Shelton one of the most successful male vocalists of that year. Over the next seven years, he continued making albums for Columbia, including Loving Proof (1988), a No. 1 Billboard country album; RVS III (1989); and Backroads (1992).

By 1992, Shelton's success was waning, as country music changed and he admitted he was an alcoholic. In 1994, he left Columbia Records and formed his own label, RVS Records, in 1997. That same year, he released his first album in three years titled Making Plans. In 2000, Shelton signed with the Audium label, where he made another album called Fried Green Tomatoes. In May 2006, he retired from touring to spend more time with his family. Shelton is the author of a series of children’s books, including Tales From a Duck Named Quacker.

Jan. 14—Maureen Dowd

Jan. 14—Maureen Dowd

The New York Times columnist and a best-selling author started her journalism career in the 1970s and early 1980s working for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news and sports and wrote feature articles. Dowd joined The New York Times in 1983 and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for her series of columns on the Monica Lewinsky scandal in the Clinton administration.

Dowd's columns are distinguished by an acerbic, often polemical writing style. They frequently display a critical and irreverent attitude toward powerful, mostly political figures such as former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Dowd was named a Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine in 1996, won the Damon Runyon Award for outstanding contributions to journalism in 2000 and became the first Mary Alice Davis Lectureship speaker at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

Jan. 20—Paul Stanley

Jan. 20—Paul Stanley - Photo by Phil Konstantin

Best known for being the rhythm guitarist and singer for the rock band Kiss, Stanley wrote or co-wrote many of the band's highest-charting hits. Hit Parader ranked him 18th on its list of Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time. A Gibson.com Readers Poll also named him 13th on its list of Top 25 Frontmen. A descendant of Holocaust survivors, Stanley grew up in Manhattan. A misshapen ear from a birth defect caused hearing problems (and abuse from classmates), although he loved to listen to music, including Beethoven. Later, he was inspired by the Beatles’ and the Rolling Stones’ performances on television.

As a young man, Stanley played in several bands before meeting bass player Gene Simmons, with whom he formed the band Kiss, along with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Kiss released its self-titled debut album in February 1974. Stanley's persona, "The Starchild," used one star over his right eye. “I always loved stars and always identified with them, so when it came time to put something on my face, I knew it would be a star," he said.

Besides his work with Kiss, Stanley starred in a Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera, in which he played the role of the Phantom, in 1999. He became part of the ownership group that created the L.A. Kiss Arena Football League team, in Anaheim, Calif., in 2013, and he published his memoir, Face the Music: A Life Exposed, in 2014. Because of his birth defect, he is an ambassador for the charitable organization AboutFace, which provides support and information to people with facial differences.

Source: Wikipedia

FAMOUS & 65 is a featured article in the Senior Spirit newsletter.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Getting Computer Fixed Can Be a Challenge

Where to go for computer tech support

Older adults can find help through programs aimed at those who are not technically savvy.

For older adults who didn’t grow up with computers, getting your laptop or desktop fixed can be a challenge. A simple problem such as your computer stopped communicating with your wireless printer can cause much frustration.

You can Google your problem, but the directions you find on a tech support website may include terminology you’re not familiar with and cause even more headaches. Other websites could offer to fix the problem but might ask for personal information or a small fee, with no guarantee that they can repair the issue or that the whole thing isn’t a scam.

So if your computer keeps freezing up or is running slow, where can you go for help?

In Colorado, a company called GroovyTek offers “personal technology training sessions” for older adults. Its name—and the psychedelic design of its advertisements — targets baby boomers—the generation that came of age in the “groovy” era of the 1970s. GroovyTek believes “people over 40 are being mistreated and ignored by Silicon Valley.” For $90, a representative will come to your home and give you a personal consultation, speaking “on your own terms”—presumably in language not too technical.

Programs Aimed at Seniors

Besides GroovyTek, other programs offer support and education for older adults, either for free or for a fee. AARP has partnered with Best Buy’s Geek Squad to offer AARP members access to support technicians by phone, online or in the store. “Tech Support for AARP Members” includes a personal tech shopper; setup and installation of computers, tablets and peripherals; and troubleshooting and repair services. It’s no surprise that AARP partnered with the Geek Squad, as more than one-third of Geek Squad’s service subscribers are between the ages of 55 and 64.

Several nonprofit organizations focus on teaching computer skills. SeniorNet has been training older adults about the computer and Internet since 1986. Its yearly membership fee gives you access to learning centers in 17 states and to the SeniorNet website’s members-only parts. It claims to have worked with two million boomers and seniors.

Oasis Connections provides computer, Internet and mobile technology classes in 30 U.S. cities. It partners with local libraries, job help centers, senior centers and faith-based organizations.

In New York City, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) has worked with government agencies, community-based organizations, national advocacy groups and major corporations to build the country’s largest and most comprehensive municipal technology program for seniors, serving over 20,000 people each year and sustaining 24 technology labs across the city.

In addition, libraries, senior centers and local colleges offer computer and personal technology classes for older adults. You can call your Area Agency on Aging to find out what’s available near you (to find your local number AAA number, call the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116 or check the website). Lifelong Learning Institutes, which are usually affiliated with colleges and universities, often offer technology courses. To find one, contact your closest colleges.

Support From Your Computer Maker

Many people turn to their computer’s manufacturer, using online tech support—either the company’s website or a chat or email with a tech support person. When Consumer Reports surveyed users about different companies, it found that Apple tech support was by far the most effective of any computer brand’s. With most Windows PCs, it found only a 50-50 chance that the manufacturer’s tech support could fix the problem. Consumer Reports also found that those who made a phone call, versus going to the website, were more satisfied with the results.

Consumer Reports discovered that computer owners had generally good experiences when they used a walk-in store. Apple’s Genius Bars rated the best, with Best Buy’s Geek Squad and Staples’ EasyTech not far behind. Business News Daily gave the Geek Squad its top award in providing online tech support for business owners and also praised Support.com, another online tech support business.


Where to go for computer tech support,” May 28, 2015, Consumer Reports.

The Top Online Tech Support Services,” Oct. 9, 2013, Business News Daily.

GroovyTek: Heck yeah, we’re from Centennial,” April 25, 2016, Denver Post.

Tech Help for Granny? Geek Squad to the Rescue,” April 25, 2012, Business News Daily.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Earn CSA CEUs at AiA17

American Society on Aging’s Annual Conference

ASA's 2017 Aging in America Conference will take place in Chicago, March 20-24. Will you be there?

The focus of AiA17 is innovation, including innovative policies, programs, practices, models, businesses, technologies, learning and more from across the field of aging. Register now to join this conference community of nearly 3,000 multidisciplinary professionals who, like you, are working to improve the lives of older adults.

The Aging in America Conference is recognized for its 360-degree view of the multidisciplinary issues, challenges and opportunities in aging. In addition to programs organized within 11 professional program categories, our 2017 conference will feature several "conferences within the conference" that run each day throughout the week. We will bring back our Managed Care Academy series of programs and introduce the following designed learning journeys:

This unique leadership development opportunity is open to all professionals in the field of aging who have at least three to five years’ experience and a strong interest in building personal leadership skills and capabilities. Successful participants will earn a Leadership Institute Certificate of Completion and up to eight CSA CEUs.

Don't miss this opportunity to network and learn from the experts on multiple topics and earn up to 26 CSA CEUs at no additional cost!

Register by January 31 and save 10%. Enter discount code SCSA50 and save $50 more!

View the 2017 Aging in America Conference program and event guide.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Seniors Break Barriers with Prisoners

Young@Heart Chorus performs rock and R&B all over the world, including prisons.

It’s hard to imagine: a chorus composed of 73- to 89-year-olds singing with prison inmates. Not only singing but getting these tough guys to raise their arms in solidarity during a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”

The Young@Heart Chorus, based in Northampton, Mass., launched its Prison Project in October 2014 at two local prisons. Not only has the project broken down barriers between the seniors and the inmates but among the inmates also, who let down their guard in front of the older folks and start singing themselves.

In addition to the weekly prison visits, the group has performed all over Europe and the United States, plus New Zealand and Australia. And if you think their repertoire consists of old classics, think again. These singers rock out with music by James Brown, David Bowie, ColdPlay, Prince and Pearl Jam.

“When you see the elders on the street, you think they have nothing going on,” said one inmate, “but then when you get to know them, they do have something going on. They have their community. That keeps them young.”


A Rock Group With the Minimum Age of 73,” Sept. 8, 2016, Next Avenue.

Young@Heart Chorus,” Young@Heart Chorus.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cataract Surgery to Improve Vision Now Routine

Cataract Surgery

The main question is not whether to get the operation but what kind of replacement lens you want.

Before 1949, if your vision started to deteriorate because of cataracts, you had to either wear the highest level of reading glasses you could find, seek out the brightest light or resign yourself to increasing blindness. But that year, surgeons at a hospital in London inserted the first lens into a patient’s eye with cataracts. Ever since, cataract surgery has become the cure for people whose eyesight has deteriorated because of a cloudy lens.

Cataracts are part of the aging process, as our eye lenses become less transparent, less resilient and often thicker. Half of the population over 80 has cataracts. A cataract interferes with the retina’s ability to convert light into signals that are sent to the brain. At the start of cataracts, which develop slowly, things look blurred. When the condition becomes bad enough that it interferes with your daily life, your ophthalmologist can replace your cloudy natural lens with a clear artificial lens called an intraocular lens (IOL). Made of plastic, acrylic or silicone, the IOL becomes a permanent part of your eye.

Surgeons choose from two different cataract surgery methods. Phacoemulsification, the most common, inserts a probe through a tiny incision in the front of your eye and then transmits ultrasound waves that break apart the cloudy lens. The surgeon removes the broken lens pieces and inserts a new lens. The second type of surgery, extracapsular cataract extraction, requires a larger incision to remove the cataract.

The cataract operation has become so commonplace that surgeons do it on an outpatient basis in as quickly as 15 minutes. Normal sight returns within several days.

Increasingly, the question to ask is not “should I get cataract surgery?” but “what kind of lenses do I want?”

How to Prevent Cataracts

The most effective prevention is not to get older. Since that’s not possible, here are other measures that can help you avoid or decrease the risk of getting cataracts.

  • Have regular eye exams. These can detect other eye problems as well, such as glaucoma or macular degeneration, before they become serious.

  • Wear sunglasses outside. This protects your eyes from harmful UVB rays, which increase your risk over time.

  • Reduce alcohol use. Excessive drinking can increase the risk of cataracts.

  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants. This includes fruits and vegetables. Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in salmon and sardines, also reduce the risk of cataracts.

  • Quit smoking. Research shows that smoking doubles your chances of developing cataracts.

  • Keep diabetes in check. Studies show that diabetics have a greater likelihood of cataracts.

Signs of Cataracts

At first, problems with your vision may not be too serious, and your doctor might recommend stronger eyeglasses or sunglasses with an anti-glare coating. But if you’re becoming more aware of any of these symptoms, it might be time for cataract surgery:

  • Blurred vision

  • Difficulty seeing at night, especially when driving

  • Sensitivity toward sun’s glare

  • Seeing a halo around bright lights

  • Colors are not as bright

  • Need for more light to do up-close tasks like reading

  • Double vision

Types of Lenses

There are basically two types of cataract lenses: monofocal and multifocal. Monofocal is the standard, with a single focus usually set for middle or distance vision. For fixed-focus monofocal lenses, the surgeon fits one eye with a lens for distance vision and the other for near vision. Another alternative is accommodating-focus monofocal lenses, which respond to eye muscle movements and shift focus to near or distant objects.

The multifocal lens is similar to the progressive lens used in eyeglasses, with near, intermediate and distance vision available.

When talking to your doctor about the two types of lenses, keep in mind that eye surgeons can make twice as much money on multifocal surgery than on monofocal surgery. Here are points to consider when making a decision:

  • Monofocals usually provide better intermediate vision (making it easier to see your computer screen, for example). Because of this, you might need to add a pair of eyeglasses for both near and distance vision. With multifocals, you will likely need only one pair of glasses, if any, to correct for eye weaknesses. In one survey of post-surgery cataract patients, 71 percent of multifocal patients users didn’t require glasses post-surgery, compared to only 26 percent for monofocal.

  • With monofocals, you can alter your vision with different strengths of glasses, while with multifocals, you can’t take one lens away, because the lenses are part of the multifocal.

  • Some people who got multifocals complained of disturbing visual symptoms, including halos or glare (known as dysphotopsia). Multifocal lens users can’t see contrasts as easily as the other group and may be unable to see details. This can be distracting and especially harmful when driving.

  • People with monofocals have expressed more satisfaction about their lenses than have those with multifocals.

  • Insurance typically covers monofocal lenses but not multifocals. Medicare covers your costs for monofocals if you test below a certain level of acuity or clarity. Private insurance plans may have similar vision requirements.

  • Multifocal lenses are not recommended for those who suffer from certain types of corneal disease or who have brain disorders that affect the transmission of light, such as a stroke.

After the Surgery

Doctors say that one of the most important actions cataract patients can take to avoid post-surgery complications is to use the prescribed eyedrops. These consist of three types: antibiotic to prevent infections, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and steroid to reduce and eliminate inflammation. You will need to apply the eyedrops several times a day. Typically, patients start using the antibiotic drops a few days before surgery and afterward for about a week, and the anti-inflammatory drops for three to six weeks or longer in some cases.


Considering cataract surgery? What you should know,” October 2016, Harvard Women's Health Watch.

Cataract,” HealthLine.

Cataract Surgery,” Nov. 15, 2016, American Academy of Ophthalmology.

What to Expect From Cataract Surgery,” WebMD.

Cataract Surgery,” Mayo Clinic.

A comparison of multifocal and monofocal intraocular lens implants used in cataract surgery,” March 06, 2012, PubMedHealth.

Monovision vs Multifocal IOLs for Spectacle Independence After Cataract Surgery,” March 03, 2014, Medscape.

The great debate: Monofocal vs. multifocal,” June 2011, ASCRS EyeWorld.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors