Search our Blog

Search our Blog

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Can Dieting Make You Fatter?

Clearing up myths on metabolism and weight loss can lead to better outcomes.

Everything you think you know about dieting is probably wrong. Research shows that crash dieting can drastically lower your metabolic rate for years, if not longer. Plus, it’s a lot harder to speed up metabolism than to slow it down. But we now know which habits successful dieters have in common.

Have you ever tried to speed up your metabolism to lose weight? We now know that’s pretty much impossible. Let’s look at what scientists have learned about metabolism and how it affects weight gain and loss.

What is Metabolism?

Some people think of metabolism like an organ or a brain function. But it happens in every cell in your body. Metabolism is a series of chemical processes that turn energy (the calories you eat) into fuel, according to researcher Michael Jensen, who studies obesity and metabolism at the Mayo Clinic. "It's the culmination of different tissues with different needs and how many calories it takes to keep them functioning," he says.

Your major organs, such as your liver, brain, heart and kidneys, use about half of the energy your body burns while at rest, your basal metabolism. Your muscles, fat and digestive system account for the rest.

Resting Metabolism

If you’ve ever exercised to lose weight, you may not have been successful. That’s because your body burns the vast majority of calories while you are at rest. This basal metabolic rate accounts for about 80 percent of your caloric use. Digesting food requires another 10 percent, and exercise burns about the same, unless you’re a professional athlete or you have a physically demanding job.

Metabolism Varies

“We don’t understand the mechanism that controls a person’s metabolism,” admits Will Wong, a researcher and professor at the Johns Hopkins Center for Metabolism and Obesity Research.

Two people who are the same size, weight and body mass can have different metabolic rates that allow one to eat a lot more calories than the other without gaining weight. Certain families seem genetically disposed to high or low metabolism, while the amount of lean muscle to fat and a person’s age are also factors.

The older you are, the more metabolism slows down. The continual decline in metabolism kicks in at about age 18, although scientists haven’t figured out why. And if you’re a woman, you’ll never burn as many calories as a man with similar body composition.

You would need an expensive metabolic chamber to get a really accurate read on your own metabolism, but try an online calculator to get a general idea of where you stand. It will estimate how many calories you can eat per day at rest without gaining weight.

Top Tips for Keeping off Weight

1. Forget about pills. Supplements are regulated like food rather than drugs, so you never know what you’re getting. Makers don’t have to prove products are safe or effective before marketing them. A recent product review found more than 850 products that contained illegal and/or hidden ingredients.

2. There is no best diet except the one you’ll stick with. Numerous studies show that, regardless of the regimen, the only thing that’s really important about a “diet” is that it becomes your new way of life, every day, for the rest of your life. One simple approach is that taken by Matt Fitzgerald, author of Diet Cults. He ranks food according to quality. Eat more of the healthy foods at the top of the list, and less of those at the bottom:
  1. Vegetables
  2. Fruits
  3. Nuts, seeds and healthy oils
  4. High-quality meat and seafood
  5. Whole grains
  6. Dairy
  7. Refined grains
  8. Low-quality meat and seafood
  9. Sweets
  10. Fried foods
3. Successful dieters from the National Weight Control Registry generally have some traits  in common. They step on the scale at least once a week, keep track of their calories every day, and limit what they eat long after their weight-loss period is over.

4. Don’t expect too much. Healthy weight loss occurs slowly. Accept that you’ll back-track at times, and that weight loss is a gradual process.

5. “House hack” your way to weight loss. Get rid of temptation by keeping cookies, candy, chips and soda out of the house.

6. Forget about that last 10 pounds. Weight doctors agree, if you’re struggling with those last pounds, let it go. You’ve already gotten nearly all of the health and social benefits you were after.

Forget About Boosting Metabolism to Lose Weight

Sorry, but downing another cup of coffee with the hope that added caffeine will magically burn off more fat just doesn’t hold up to modern science. Exercising to build muscle with the expectation of significant weight loss? Nope, it’s a myth. Same for eating spicy food like chili.

The effect of caffeine and spices is so negligible that it would never have an impact on your weight, says Jensen. Building muscle can be a little more helpful, and it’s certainly good to keep your body strong. Muscles use more energy at rest than the same amount of fat pound-for-pound, so bigger muscles will burn slightly more calories.

But there’s a kicker. “If you have more muscle, it burns fuel more rapidly,” says Michael Rosenbaum, a professor and researcher at Columbia University who studies weight loss and metabolism. “But that’s only half the question. You have to fight the natural tendency to eat more as a result of your higher metabolism.”

Jensen also notes that most people don’t keep up the workouts required to maintain more muscle. “For most people, it’s kind of impractical,” he says.

Slowing Down Metabolism is Easy

Yes, what you’ve always suspected is actually true: It’s very hard to increase metabolism, but slowing it down is simple. In fact, research shows that a crash diet will do that in a matter of months, and the effects last for years, if not decades.

The process is called “metabolic adaptation;” as you lose weight, your basal metabolic rate slows down much more than would be expected from the amount of pounds you shed. This slowdown appears to be substantially larger than makes sense, and it seems to be particularly correlated with crash diets.

The latest research, published in the journal Obesity, followed contestants from season eight of the reality TV show Biggest Loser, where participants strive to lose the most weight in 30 weeks. Scientists examined body weight, fat, metabolism and even hormones at the end of the show and again six years later.

Each of the contestants had lost dozens of pounds by the end of the show, but six years later, all but one had regained much of the weight, and four weighed more than when the show began.

What was striking was the slowdown of the participants’ metabolism over the study period. Their bodies burned an average of 500 calories less than what would be expected given their weight, and the effect lasted six years later, in spite of the ensuing weight gain.

This may be the body’s way to fight to maintain a set point, or weight range, according to Sandra Aamodt, neuroscientist and author of the book Why Diets Make Us Fat. She says that your body can get used to its new, larger size once you’ve gained weight. Then, when that weight drops, the body goes into overdrive to prevent the loss. Metabolism is slowed, and hunger increases while the feeling of satiety from food goes down.

"I don't think that most people appreciate how big these metabolic changes can be when people lose a lot of weight," Aamodt says. "Weight gain and loss are not symmetrical: The body fights much more strongly to keep weight from dropping than it does to keep weight from increasing.”

Maintaining Metabolic Rate

However, there appear to be two ways to avoid this phenomenon. Surgically-induced weight loss is immune to the effect. Second, losing weight slowly minimizes any reduction in metabolism.

Jensen aims for patients to lose about 20 pounds over a four month period. "We don’t really see that much of a drop in resting metabolism [as seen in the Biggest Loser study]. With slow, gradual weight loss, the metabolic rate holds out really well.”

Click below for the other articles in the January 2019 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Artificial Intelligence Will Spur Global Growth

Everyone says a recession is coming, but the McKinsey Global Institute anticipates an added 1.2 percent to annual gross domestic product growth from artificial intelligence alone. 

The gig economy is morphing, and many older adults who work these temporary, flexible jobs, often on contract, should take note. The growing trend toward artificial intelligence (AI) may also mean it’s time to realign your investment portfolio to maximize future returns. AI is expected to pump gross domestic product (GDP) over the next decade or so as an estimated 70 percent of companies adopt it in at least one form, according to a recent report. 

Physicist Stephen Hawking famously said that AI could be “the worst event in the history of our civilization.” What’s important for most of us is to keep abreast of how it may impact the job market and our retirement portfolio.

McKinsey Global Institute Report

A recent report by McKinsey Global Institute analyzes the likely impact of the growing use of AI on the world economy. Two key findings:

  • There is large potential for AI to contribute to global economic activity.
  • A principal challenge is the potential for AI to widen gaps among countries, companies and workers.

The analysis done by McKinsey predicts that countries that lead the world in the adoption of AI could attain another 20 to 25 percent more in economic benefits when measured against current levels. That puts AI on a plane with other transformative technologies in our past, such as the steam engine. 

Developed Nations Will Benefit Most

Just as AI has the potential to increase the wealth gap among workers, a broader look indicates the same dynamic may apply to countries. Those that lead in AI development and adoption are likely to capture the most benefit, while trailing nations might expect only a 5 to 15 percent benefit.

Countries where wage rates are high and the working population is aging have more incentive to replace human labor with machines. The world’s two largest economies, the U.S. and China, are racing to develop and implement AI technology in a bid to capture higher productivity growth. The Chinese government has invested heavily in AI with the goal of becoming the world leader by 2030. 

"Without AI, China might face a challenge to achieve its target growth rate," says Jeongmin Seong, a senior fellow at McKinsey Global Institute in Shanghai and an author of the report.

The report notes a wide range of impacts, not all of them positive at first glance. Implementation will require a larger outlay of cash for corporate and societal restructuring. Employment will be disrupted, and likely lead to a greater income inequality, according to Takashi Miwa, chief Japan economist at Nomura, a Japanese financial holding company. 

On the plus side, the report anticipates the economy will grow through a variety of conduits. For example, robots and self-driving vehicles will substitute for human labor, and products and services will increase as data flows more easily. The wealth bump will likely be felt more by white collar workers and investors in developed economies, while emerging economies reap only about half the benefits, according to the report. 

Companies Will Be Affected Differently

Front-runners, primarily located in developed countries, are expected to be those that fully absorb AI tools within five to seven years. Non-adopters were considered to be those that shun the technology altogether or will underuse it as of 2030. The projected difference between the two in the analysis was stark.

Enterprises embracing AI will benefit disproportionately, with an implied annual net cash-flow growth of 6 percent for the next decade and beyond. These companies have a strong IT base, tend to already invest in AI and view the technology positively. Conversely, non-adopters could suffer a 20 percent decline in cash flows. 

Jobs to Change

Individual workers will see changes, according to the report. AI favors jobs that require more digital skills, while those that are repetitive and/or use lower-level digital skills are likely to shrink to about 30 percent of total employment in 2030, as opposed to 40 percent today. The higher-level tasks in non-repetitive activities are likely to rise from about 40 percent today to more than 50 percent by 2030. For an explanation of the hierarchy of jobs done with AI by robots, look here

These predicted shifts would impact wages, with about 13 percent of the total bill moving to non-repetitive, more skilled jobs. The report predicts workers in lower digital skills categories could become subject to wage stagnation or even a decline. 

However, the net employment is predicted to remain fairly stable. The report suggests that full-time employment will stay relatively flat.

Impact on Older Adults

No one can predict the future, but the report suggests that the gig economy that sustains many older adults will change, perhaps dramatically. Uber and Lyft drivers can be replaced by self-driving cars, cashiers may become obsolete (as already seen in Amazon Go stores) and your next Walmart greeter could be robotic. 

Investors should take note of AI’s potential at both the corporate and global level. You may want to seek out companies investing heavily in the technology, or those that are disrupters due to technological innovation. 

Finally, our community needs to think about what the future job landscape may mean for programs like Social Security. Robots won’t need a retirement plan, but how will government benefits be generated and divided among citizens if they’re not doing the work? What about health care and pensions? A recent panel of experts discussed some of these impacts during a forum at Brookings, but talks will need to continue.

Click below for the other articles in the January 2019 Senior Spirit

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Widowhood in America Part One: Surviving Emotionally

Every widow wakes one morning, perhaps after years of pure and unwavering grieving, to realize she slept a good night's sleep, and will be able to eat breakfast, and doesn't hear her husband's ghost all the time, but only some of the time. Her grief is replaced with a useful sadness. Every parent who loses a child finds a way to laugh again. The timbre begins to fade. The edge dulls. The hurt lessens. Every love is carved from loss. Mine was. Yours is. Your great-great-great-grandchildren's will be. But we learn to live in that love.

—Jonathan Safran Foer

Few things in life are more stressful than the loss of a spouse. Becoming a widow or widower can lead to depression and chronic stress that shortens lifespans. Loneliness can be particularly strong in bereaved seniors, activating depressive symptoms, according to a recent study. This downward spiral can be hard to stop.

Loneliness and depression in seniors who have lost a spouse can lead to major health risks, including suicide. Risky behavior such as smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, failure to care for their-self or becoming inactive may increase. The risk of dementia also rises. 

How Professionals Can Help

Mental health professionals need to realize that loneliness and depression related to bereavement can have negative health consequences. Social support alone is often not enough to do the trick. Behavioral therapy can usually do more to curb negative thinking and help spouses cope.

Not everyone needs intervention. There are many differences in individual loss, such as whether it was sudden or occurred over many years. However, professionals may be able to predict the surviving spouse’s response based on the relationship the spouses had. Research shows that a widow who was highly dependent on her spouse is more likely to develop problems with anxiety after that person’s death. Strong closeness during a marriage often leads to greater loneliness for the surviving spouse. 

The depressive symptoms linked to grief can be misdiagnosed as severe depression. Anti-depressant medication may work for the initial distress, but it may be a less effective solution than counseling and therapy for coping long-term with grief.

How to Help a New Widow

Whether she is a neighbor, friend, family member or client, a new widow is going through an emotional upheaval that many of us don’t know how to react to, so we may do nothing at all. Here are 10 things that widows say they would find comforting.

  1. Send a card. Death may leave us without words, as anything we might say seems trivial or inadequate. A card is always appreciated and reminds the widow that she hasn’t been forgotten. If you don’t know what to write, a simple “I’m so sorry” is fine. Avoid saying “It’s God’s will” or “He’s in a better place.” You may believe that, but it’s not a comfort. It’s better to share a happy memory, such as “I’ll always remember when …” or “I loved how he …”
  2. It’s OK to talk about her spouse. Some people avoid mentioning the deceased. It may be awkward at first, but she wants to hear his name and remember something he loved to do or a funny memory. If this makes her cry, say you’re sorry and that you, too, miss him. Don’t let today’s tears keep you from talking about him the next time you see her. Every day is different.
  3. Keep important dates on your calendar. Birthdays and anniversaries will roll around, and a card, text or call lets her know you’re thinking about her. Sending a card on the anniversary of her husband’s death lets her know you remember and you care.
  4. Provide compassion but avoid pity. Share your deep sympathy the first time the two of you meet after her loss. Every subsequent conversation shouldn’t involve sad eyes and “Oh, you poor thing!” commentary, although there will be days when she and you may need to say how horrible, unfair, rotten and tragic this whole thing feels. Initiate normal conversations. Laughter, over time, really is the best medicine.
  5. Grief is different for everyone. If your friend declines invitations or offers of help, don’t pester her. Reach out again in a couple of weeks with new offers, or simply tell her you’d love to see her when she feels ready. Don’t forget about her because you’ve been rejected.
  6. Suggest ways to help. A new widow may refuse offers of help because she’s in denial, because of pride or because that’s her standard response. She may have no idea what she needs, so when you say, “What can I do to help?” she is at a loss. She may barely be able to get out of bed in the morning, much less organize tasks. Try saying something like “I’ll come over on Saturday and weed and water the garden, OK?” Putting it like that allows her to accept help more easily, while having the option to decline.
  7. Get handy. People who have lost a spouse can struggle with the most basic functions. You can offer to help her out by cleaning the house, cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow or taking care of handyman tasks. Or, you could offer to arrange for a lawn service, handyman or local teenager to take care of maintenance jobs.
  8. Coordinate your help. It’s a relief to have food show up at the door, but not when it’s three tuna casseroles on the same day, and she hates fish. Use a web service such as, or to coordinate meals and services, as well as to list allergies or preferences.
  9. Invite her out. Ask her out to coffee, lunch, a movie or shopping. Becoming a widow can feel isolating and lonely. Some friends disappear because she’s not part of a couple anymore. Don’t let that be you. Continue to include her in activities.
  10. Take out her kids or grandkids. If the new widow has children or grandchildren at home, give her some alone time and provide a distraction for the children by taking them to your house or on an outing. Avoid making it sound like you’re putting yourself out to help her. Instead of “Let me take the kids off your hands for a day,” try phrasing it more like “We’re planning to go see a movie. Would your kids like to come?”

Forms of Loss

People who haven’t lost a spouse may never understand the depth or duration of the loss. They may try to cheer up the widow, or make it better. That’s completely normal, but widows say there are aspects to their loss they wish others could understand.

Socializing becomes more difficult. Going out to dinner, taking a vacation and seeing a movie were all things they used to do with their spouse. Some will adapt to doing these things on their own, but it’s not the same. Friends may invite a widow to a party, thinking the big group will be inviting, but if it’s mostly couples, the awkward feeling is still there. Worse yet, the widow may find herself shut out of social situations by friends who worry they will feel out of place.

The best social network can’t replace a partner with whom you shared an equal interest in the outcome of each other’s lives. Friends will be interested in a widow’s grandchildren, health and many aspects of her life, but they can’t share the weight of her concerns like a spouse. They simply don’t have the same investment. 

Every part of a widow’s day is changed from what it was, and the nighttime routine may be particularly missed. Household chores, making plans, sharing finances … all of these must be done alone. The weight of planning and organizing life alone can be nearly unbearable. Sleeping alone can feel strange. “Even with the lights out and my eyes closed, I can still feel the emptiness of the bed,” said one recent widow. Another said that going to bed without kissing her partner good-night felt like “leaving a period off a sentence.”

A partner filled many roles. Losing “just” one person who is close to you is hard enough, but a spouse was many things to his widow. Their death can feel like more than a single loss. The widow no longer has a lover, confidant, business partner, travel companion, best friend or date. 

Why should someone grieving their spouse categorize what they no longer have? One widow looked at all the reasons she was struggling and the many ways she missed her husband and had an epiphany. Underneath the grief, the sadness and the yearning for what they had shared was the realization of the blessings their time together had made. 

Six Tips for Widows

Author and speaker Carole Brody Fleet talks about widowhood from experience. She often receives complaints from other bereaved spouses along the lines of these actual quotes:

“Since my husband died, all of our friends have forgotten him and disappeared.”

“I haven’t changed, but everyone around me is treating me differently. And that doesn’t count the people who just left my life without a word.”

“I guess I’m not allowed to talk about my wife anymore. No one else wants to, that’s for sure. But she’s still in my heart and no one understands that.”

Fleet acknowledges that no one will feel the loss in the same way as the bereaved spouse, and other people are often uncomfortable with loss and won’t know what to do. Some may even choose to leave the life of the widow, for some of the same reasons newly divorced people can find themselves alone. Some people will feel uncomfortable around you now that you’re no longer part of a couple. Others will criticize how you handle your new status. 

How in the world can a widow handle these rejections with everything else she has to deal with? Fleet offers a six-step process. 

  1. Learn to let go. If people you thought of as friends are not being supportive now, let go. If they are not going to be part of your healing process, they don’t get the privilege of being a part of your life.
  2. Respect the different loss perspectives. Your true friends and family will always be there for you, but they’ll be able to move on with their lives a lot sooner than you. You can’t reasonably expect them to grieve as long as you do, or in the same way.
  3. Get proactive. People you love may want to give you space and time to begin healing. They may not want to “bother” you with phone calls and visits. If you’re ready for quiet socializing, pick up the phone and let others know.
  4. Fear not. Many people will be afraid to talk about your loss or fear upsetting you, just when you need to talk about it most. You may need to put them at ease. If you’re ready to talk about your spouse, bring their name into the conversation. Tell a funny story. People will take their cue from you.
  5. Embrace who you have become. The experience of widowhood changes you forever. While the circumstances are tragic, you’ve grown through it to find depths of strength and tenacity most people will never know. Take pride and comfort in that knowledge.
  6. Don’t simply reach out for help with your healing: Reach up. Reach up for help, to those who have gone before you; they are the people who will be only too happy to listen to your stories, your challenges and your fears. Reach up to those who will celebrate your triumphs, who will give you ideas and suggestions for a peaceful journey. Reach up to meet some of the greatest new friends you will ever know. They are each waiting to embrace you with open hearts.

Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Google Mines a New Market: Seniors

Tech giants are turning their gaze to a growing market. Older adults are looking for ways to age in place, and Google wants to be an integral part of the solution.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has been talking with senior living homes a lot lately while pitching its Nest home automation products. Chief Technology Officer Yoky Matsuoka is on tap to speak at the largest senior housing conference in the country this fall. 

Nesting in Place

You may wonder what a product pitched to senior living homes can do for older adults aging in place. Quite a lot, as it turns out. Google purchased Nest, originally a doorbell and camera system that allows the user to see who’s outside, back in 2014. Recently, it folded the company into its technology division as researchers explore other uses for the devices.

Google has already speculated that Nest cameras placed indoors have the potential to notify users moving around a lot in hot weather that they might be at risk of dehydration, or employ motion sensors to turn lights on automatically when someone gets up at night to use the bathroom. 

Fall prediction is not a perfect science now, but Google is also working on having sensors throughout the home track movement to anticipate a tumble and prevent it. 

Apart from Google, several smart camera startups that hadn’t considered marketing to older adults are beginning to see the possibilities. Researchers in the field think that’s promising, because studies show that older adults tend to shun products that are targeted specifically to their age group, preferring mainstream products that they can use with ease. Check out Cherry cameras with sensors and video feed.

Best Buy Provides Tech Support, Installation

Seniors may consider installation and setup to be the biggest obstacles to smart home system adoption. Using the system may be easy, but the headache of syncing devices and getting new ones up and running may be more than they, or their family members, want to tackle.

Enter Geek Squad, the Best Buy tech assistants that can make your life a whole lot easier. You can start by having an “agent” come out to your home for free to assess what you want and need, and determine if current devices will pair with your new ones.

Geek Squad members can troubleshoot, upgrade your Wi-Fi, suggest additions to your home system and make the whole thing work without you ever having to lift a finger. They’ll even do the shopping for you! The service does come with a fee. Currently, they’ll install any smart home device for $99.99.

Total Tech Support membership supports all of your smart home devices—no matter where or when you bought them—for $199.99 a year. Members pay only $49.99 per device install, and Best Buy is currently running a special on select Nest products at a discounted rate of $24.99.

Don’t let the fear of setup keep you from using tech devices that can keep you, or someone you love, safer and happier.

Nest Home Automation

The Nest family of products currently includes doorbells, thermostats, cameras, alarm systems, locks and an alarm that detects both smoke and carbon monoxide. Nest doorbells can alert a user that someone is at the door, so a package is never missed. Facial recognition can program the door to unlock for Meals on Wheels, caregivers and family members, but keep out strangers. 

The Nest thermostat notices when you’ve left in a hurry, and turns the lights off for you. As you add products to the Nest system, they’ll “start to notice each other, learn from one another, and help you out—all on their own,” according to the website

Google is doubtless feeling the hot breath of Amazon at its neck. Amazon’s smart home security system, Ring, competes with Nest, and at a lower price point.  Google would like Nest to be first into the senior market to solidify a position ahead of Amazon.

More than a million Americans live in assisted-living housing today, and that number is expected to double to 2 million in only 12 years as baby boomers continue to age. It’s not hard to imagine the uses for technology in assisted living, especially when you take voice assistants into account. 

Google Assistant Partners with Nest

Google’s voice assistant technology integrates with Nest. Currently, you can tell Google Home “Good morning” and hear the weather while lights and radio turn on and your smart thermostat bumps up the temperature indoors. The Google Home assistant can turn a timer on and off, make free calls to contacts in the U.S. and Canada, add items to your grocery list and remind you about your dentist appointment. She can also tell you a story, make calculations, read a book, play music or provide a recipe. 

Voice technology is a boon to seniors with limited mobility and/or sight who may rely on assisted living, but it can also enhance the lives of older adults living at home and help them stay there longer. A voice assistant paired with cameras can notify a caregiver or family if no motion has been detected for a long time, or allow them to check in via the camera system.

Experts note that Google’s talks with professionals in aging have been gearing up. Matsuoka will be a featured speaker at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care conference, to be held in Chicago this October, speaking about the challenges of building technology that seamlessly blends into the lives of older adults. 

It’s impossible to know what Google has on the drawing boards for a decade or two down the road. While robots aren’t part of the equation now, it’s not hard to imagine them on the horizon. In the meantime, Google will continue to feather its Nest.

Click below for the other articles in the January 2019 Senior Spirit

What to Eat to Live to 100

A lot of unexpected diets will get you to 100 years old and beyond. We check in with several centenarians past and present to see what kept them going past the century mark.

You might think that a salad a day and a heavy dose of fish oil are the trick to keeping your body going past the age of 100, but it just isn’t so for many people who have made the cut. We checked in on what some of the oldest people in the world eat, or ate, and the results will make you smile. Perhaps happiness has more to do with their age than food!

One woman swore her longevity was due to avoiding men, while another chalked it up to her daily martini. Whatever the case, we reveal their dietary secrets.

Adele Dunlap was 114 when she passed away in 2017. She dined chiefly on oatmeal, but generally ate whatever she pleased, including many a martini.

Agnes Fenton had three Miller High lifes and a glass of Johnnie Walker every day before she died at age 112 in 2017. Perhaps to keep the alcohol in check, she enjoyed a breakfast of grits, buttered toast, orange juice, bacon and sausage. Her favorite foods? Green beans, chicken wings and sweet potatoes.

Dharam Pal Singh could be termed a health nut. At 120, he claims to be the oldest marathon runner in the world. He gave up alcohol long ago, replacing it with mineral water and lemon juice. He also stays away from fatty foods and sugar, tea and coffee. Instead, he sips on cow’s milk, nibbles sun-ripened fruit and makes his own delicious chutney.

Emma Morano was no marathoner, but she was the last living person to see the 1800s when she passed in April 2017. She threw back two raw eggs a day after getting that advice from her doctor in 1919, but she had a penchant for ladyfinger cookies and bananas… maybe because she lost all her teeth. And she never ate meat, having heard it causes cancer.

Filomena Taipe Mendoza spent her life in a small Peruvian village, growing everything she ate in her garden, and supplementing with local goat cheese and meat, and sheep's milk. Her diet was rich in potatoes and beans, and soda never crossed her lips in all of 117 years.

Jeanne Calment of France was the oldest person who ever lived at 122, and we can celebrate her famous love of chocolate. She ate more than two pounds of stuff every week! She also smoked now and again and enjoyed a glass of port every Sunday until she reached 120.

Jessie Gallan of Scotland gave another nod to the value of oatmeal, enjoying a steaming bowlful every morning. But she attributes her long life (109 when she passed away in 2015) to something else entirely: “My secret to a long life has been staying away from men. They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.”

Mariano “Pops” Rotelli died in 2016 at the age of 107 years old, and he started most of them with a shot of Jim Beam Black in his morning cup of joe. 

Susannah Mushatt Jones ended her life aged 116 in 2016. She started every day the same way, with a breakfast of bacon, eggs and grits.

Violet Mosses Brown was 117 when she passed away in September 2017. The Jamaican liked fish, mutton and cow feet (you’ll have to put in a special order at the butcher) along with locally grown produce such as mangoes, sweet potatoes and oranges. But no alcohol for her.

Yisrael Kristal was the oldest Holocaust survivor before he passed away in 2016 at 113. He didn’t overindulge, but had an affinity for a daily helping of pickled herring. His daughter reported that as a “younger man” in his 80s, he enjoyed both wine and beer.

Lessie Brown is currently the oldest person in the U.S. on record. What’s her secret? Sweet potatoes, which she downed every day until she was 110.

Matilda Curcia celebrated 100 years this March. The San Franciscan exercises regularly by walking and biking with a companion, then tops it off with beer and potato chips.

Eunice Modlin eats two pieces of dark chocolate before settling down for a daily nap. The 102-year-old exercises regularly, grows the bulk of her own food and often dines on fish.

Francisco Nunez Oliviera ate a slice of sponge cake made with local olive oil and a glass of milk for breakfast every day before he passed away at the age of 113. Another habit was a nightly glass of wine, and the rest off his diet was mainly vegetables grown on his own land.

Click below for the other articles in the January 2019 Senior Spirit


Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

January 5 - Bryan Hitt, REO Speedwagon drummer

Hitt is the drummer for perennial favorite REO Speedwagon, which he joined back in 1989 for their release of the album The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken. The band liked him so much they kept him on for their next three albums, including Building the Bridge (1996), Find Your Own Way Home (2007) and Not So Silent Night… Christmas with REO Speedwagon.

You might wonder how the band got its unusual name. It comes from a flatbed truck that one of the band members heard about when he was studying transportation history. The initials are those of the maker’s founder, Ransom E. Olds.

Born in Center, Texas, a small town of about 6,000 near the Louisiana border, Hitt was no stranger to working with famous artists as his professional career took off. He’s performed with the likes of Cher, Graham Nash and The Spencer Davis Group. He’s also spent time in the studio with plenty of big names, including Nick Gilder, Gary Busey and Wang Chung.

Hitt has been married to wife Cyndi since 1985. The couple has two children. You can see him in concert as the band is currently touring.

January 12 - Howard Stern, radio personality

If you’d like to get rich by being outrageous, you might try following in the footsteps of radio bad boy Howard Stern, who rakes in about $95 million or more a year. One of the original “shock jocks,” his radio show The Howard Stern Show flew up the charts during national syndication from 1986 until 2005, when it departed terrestrial bounds to emerge on the SiriusXM satellite station.

Along the way, Stern became the most-fined radio host ever ($2.5 million) by the FCC for indecent content, won Billboard’s Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year eight consecutive times, and was the first host to have the No. 1 morning show in both New York City and Los Angeles at the same time.

He’s also been dubbed “The King of Media” for successful ventures such as television shows, pay-per-view events and home videos. Each of his books appeared on The New York Times Best Seller List at No. 1 and sold more than a million copies.

Stern has also run for governor of New York, pulling out only when he was asked to reveal his income. His special, The Miss Howard Stern New Year’s Eve Pageant, grossed $16 million, but grossed out The New York Post, which called the show “The most disgusting two hours in the history of television.”

Stern served as a judge on America’s Got Talent from 2011 to 2015, his ensuing notoriety pumping his salary to earn him a spot alongside Simon Cowle on Forbes’ list of America’s highest-paid television personalities. His contract with SiriusXM runs through 2020.

Stern is married to his second wife and supports the North Shore Animal League America. He eats a pescatarian diet and practices Transcendental Meditation. He credits the technique with enabling him to quit smoking, meet his professional goals, put an end to obsessive-compulsive disorder and cure his mother’s depression.

January 19 - Steve DeBerg, NFL quarterback

An excellent pole-vaulter in high school, Steve DeBerg channeled his athleticism to football and became the starting quarterback, then never looked back. He started in the same position at Fullerton College as a freshman, rallying the team to the South Coast Conference title as a sophomore. A transfer to San Jose State in 1974 resulted in that team garnering a Pacific Coast Athletic Association title, with DeBerg capturing the PCAA offensive player of the year award.

In spite of his impressive talent, DeBerg would spend his long career in the NFL hopping from team to team, mostly as a backup player. Over 21 years, he played for six teams: the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.

In his sole full year as a starter, DeBerg posted some impressive stats in San Francisco. It was 1979, and he led the NFL in completions (347) and pass attempts (578). His passing yards (3,652) made him fifth in the league, throwing 17 touchdowns that season. But if soaring passes were his forte, his Achilles heel were the accompanying interceptions, which numbered 21 that year. In 1980, he dipped to a low point with five passing turnovers in the Buc’s game against Dallas.

Traded to the Broncos the next year, DeBerg had the misfortune to arrive in Denver just two years before the legendary John Elway took over the quarterback slot. However, he was excellent in his backup role, starting five times in Elway’s rookie year for a 4-1 record.

After retiring in the 1983 season, DeBerg made history by making a comeback in the NFL at the ripe old age of 44, as backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. He became the oldest quarterback to start an NFL game when he filled in for an ailing Chris Chandler against the Jets on October 25. But after throwing nine of 20 for 117 yards and an interception, he was replaced and the Falcons lost the game 28-3. However, DeBerg also holds the record for oldest (45 years, 12 days) player on a Super Bowl roster for the Falcons’ Super Bowl XXXIII appearance.

January 27 - Peter Laird, comic book writer and artist

Remember the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman co-created the famous foursome in 1984. They self-published the initial 40-page comic in black and white, with a first run of 3,000 copies subsidized with a loan from Eastman’s uncle. They called their publishing house Mirage Studios, because “There wasn’t an actual studio, only kitchen tables and couches with lap boards.”

The pair sent out a press kit to 180 TV and radio stations, as well as the Associate Press and United Press International. The oddly titled comic created a buzz and enjoyed surprising success. By the fifth issue, spin-offs included a book on how to draw the Turtles, a six-issue Turtle martial arts training guide, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Teach Karate.

Did the duo anticipate their success? Hardly. Laird has stated:

“Starting the Turtles was a goof; it was not anything we envisioned directing our lives in any way, shape or form. It was like, ‘Hey, this looks like fun! Let’s self-publish it! Let’s see what happens!’ Suddenly, and just completely out of the blue, this Turtles phenomenon emerged. And really, from Day One, just took over. It was a rapidly accelerating process which culminated in essentially taking over our lives. Completely.”

Laird eventually lost his love of drawing due to the intense pressure, only regaining it after a year had passed. Pressures from running the company continued to grow on both men, and in 2000, Eastman sold his share of the franchise to his partner and the Mirage Group. Nine years later, Laird in turn sold the franchise to Viacom while retaining some publishing rights.

Perhaps Laird’s most lasting contribution after the hard early days when he had to borrow money to get the project going is the Xeric Foundation. The nonprofit provides grants for comic writers to self publish their work.

Click below for the other articles in the January 2019 Senior Spirit



Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors