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Monday, June 29, 2020

Sleep and Alzheimer’s Linked

New studies show a relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and a lack of deep sleep. Nap habits are a key.

Decades before an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is made, those likely to get the disease show disruptions in sleep patterns, in particular, a lack of deep sleep. So says Ruth Benca, a psychiatrist at the University of California Irvine. Her work has followed the parallels between rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that people who have less slow-wave sleep also have higher levels of the brain protein tau, an indicator for Alzheimer’s. 

Track Your Sleep

Both Fitbit and the Apple Watch can help monitor your sleep habits. However, the battery life of Ionic, Versa and Charge 3 Fitbits can be measured in days, not hours, encouraging users to wear it at night, encouraging sleep tracking. “Our typical user is viewing sleep as being really important to their general wellness and mental health and how they handle stress and fatigue,” says Dr. Conor Heneghan, head of innovation and research at Fitbit

Not that the Apple Watch isn’t a stellar health device. It can track sleep by using the heart rate monitor, but its 18-hour battery life means you need to take it off to charge it up. It also requires a third-party app to download data so that users can visualize the results. Fitbit sleep tracking is built into the device, just like step tracking, and you don’t have to set up or install anything additional. 

“We’re very interested in using the sleep tracking to then provide an additional service to alert people to a sleep apnea risk,” Heneghan said. “That’s where the battery life is important, because if you’re charging your device, you can’t be screening or detecting your sleep problems.” 

One way to avoid battery issues is to get a device specifically for sleep. The Oura ring slides on a finger at night and measures REM sleep, deep sleep, restlessness and other factors. However, some might be discouraged by its $299 and up price tag on a device that only measures sleep habits. 

Another downside to sleep tracking is that anxiety over results may actually make your sleep worse, not better. And while you may learn that sleep worsens after a glass or two of wine and improves on days you exercised, what do you do with the rest of the data? Experts recommend writing down your mood when you awaken, but before taking a look at device results, to better assess how your night’s rest has made you feel.

Sleep Adaptogens: Botanicals To Relieve Stress 

Adaptogens have long been used in Chinese medicine to help “balance” the body. They have to meet three criteria: 

  1. They must be nonspecific and assist the body in a range of adverse conditions (physical, chemical and/or biological stress).
  2. They must offset or resist physical disorders caused by external stress. 
  3. They must not harm the normal functions of the body. 

"The stress hormone, called cortisol, is our primary fight-or-flight hormone, and its release triggers an adrenal response causing physiological changes such as spikes in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar,” according to Steven Zen, founder and CEO of Lokai, which has a line of adaptogen tonics. A spike in cortisol can lead to sleep disruption.

Some of the better-known adaptogens for sleep include ashwagandaha, prized in Ayurvedic medicine for its healing power, and Holy Basil, which is thought to bestow tranquility. They are available in tablets, teas and more. 

It’s long been known that people with Alzheimer’s tend to have poor sleep. But scientists now think that that a lack of deep sleep may be a sign of the disease that appears long before cognitive symptoms are apparent.

"What's interesting is that we saw this inverse relationship between decreased slow-wave sleep and more tau protein in people who were either cognitively normal or very mildly impaired, meaning that reduced slow-wave activity may be a marker for the transition between normal and impaired," said first author Brendan Lucey, MD, an assistant professor of neurology and director of the Washington University Sleep Medicine Center. "Measuring how people sleep may be a noninvasive way to screen for Alzheimer's disease before or just as people begin to develop problems with memory and thinking.”

Studies show that amyloid beta protein starts to build plaque in the brain well before memory loss and confusion are evident. Tangles of tau appear after the plaque, but in advance of brain atrophy. While there is currently no cure for the disease, there are medicines that can slow its progression if it is discovered early. 


"The key is that it wasn't the total amount of sleep that was linked to tau, it was the slow-wave sleep, which reflects quality of sleep," says Lucey. "The people with increased tau pathology were actually sleeping more at night and napping more in the day, but they weren't getting as good quality sleep.” 

In fact, daytime resting in itself was “significantly” tied to high tau levels, meaning that nappers might want to seek further testing. But nap habits alone, or even impaired sleep, don’t mean you’ll get Alzheimer’s.

"I don't expect sleep monitoring to replace brain scans or cerebrospinal fluid analysis for identifying early signs of Alzheimer's disease, but it could supplement them," Lucey said. "It's something that could be easily followed over time, and if someone's sleep habits start changing, that could be a sign for doctors to take a closer look at what might be going on in their brains."

The Chicken or the Egg?

One thing that researchers don’t yet understand is if poor sleep is allowing buildups of amyloid and tau, or if amyloid and tau deposits inhibit deep sleep. However, healthy research subjects who consented to being awakened every hour (!) showed increased levels of amyloid the day after in a study from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

While none of us is likely to get a good night’s sleep every time we lay our head on a pillow, it’s worth the effort. Aim for seven hours. Think of it like you do other health initiatives — getting enough exercise, eating well, keeping alcohol consumption moderate, and not smoking. You may not always meet your goals, but aiming for them is a good thing in itself.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Quotes From Famous People Will Influence Your Money Decisions

Follow these nuggets of wisdom to better money management and your ultimate worth.

No matter where we are in our financial journey, there’s always something we can learn. Maybe our priorities aren’t quite where we want them to be, or problems at home or work have upended our finances. The following quotes are useful to anyone, and come from some of the best minds on the subject. There are bound to be at least a couple that can inspire us to improve the way we manage our money, our time, and our priorities.

  • “A budget is telling your money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.” — Dave Ramsey 
Finance guru Ramsey knows that being in control of your money starts with a plan. Having a budget allows you to first see where you’re spending. It’s an essential step before deciding where you can make changes. Divide your expenses into needs (such as rent, utilities and health coverage) vs. wants (such as new clothes, eating out and game tickets) to find your base expenses and identify areas where you can save. Try the free Mint or Personal Capital budget trackers.

  • “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” — Colin Powell
Whether you have a dream to run your own business or retire early, it’s not going to be easy. Forget about winning the lottery (the odds are about one in 300 million). You need to have a vision and then work hard and consistently toward your goal.

  • “Every time you borrow money, you’re robbing your future self.” — Nathan W. Morris
Bad debt, such as balances on credit cards, can make it impossible to get ahead. Never ever carry a balance on a credit card; the interest rate will kill your savings and the balance will hurt your credit score. Payday loans are another bad idea. 

  • “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” — Henry David Thoreau
Think about your spending in terms of lifespan instead of money. Is that big new car worth a year of stress and being tied to the office? And what about the increased cost for insurance, tires, registration and servicing? Did you buy it with a loan? Then you’re also giving up many, many future hours of your life. To put this in perspective, read “Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence.” 

  • “I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.” — Benjamin Disraeli
Insurance helps you to be prepared for the worst. Life insurance, homeowners insurance, umbrella insurance and disability insurance are some that you’ll want to at least consider. Making a will and having a health care directive are two more ways to prepare for what may come. 

  • “It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success.” — David Feherty
If you can manage to go through the worst times with grace, keeping your ethics and attitude high, it’s fairly certain that you’ll maintain them when luck and hard work lead to success. It’s not always easy, but having an even keel really can help you navigate the toughest storms. The same goes for investing, where panic and greed never lead to a good end. Stay the course with sound, diversified investments and time is your friend.

  • “The stock market is designed to transfer money from the active to the patient.” — Warren Buffett
Take it from the Oracle of Omaha, sound investing requires time and faith. Faith in the companies or indexes you have chosen. Studies prove, over and over, that much more money is lost by people trying to time the market (selling at highs, buying at lows) than by those who simply stay the course, investing over time. It’s easier said than done. Human nature works against us, urging us to sell in a panic at market lows and buy at the top when everything looks rosy. Listen to Buffett.

  • “When buying shares, ask yourself, would you buy the whole company?” — Rene Rivkin
You are buying the company, at least a piece of it, when you buy a share of stock. (Bonds, on the other hand, are loans you make to companies). So before you become an owner, you should make sure that you believe this is the best company in its class, the best investment you could make with that money. Otherwise, keep looking.

  • “Don’t look for the needle in the haystack. Just buy the haystack.” — John Bogle
Even though Bogle is no longer with us, the proclaimed father of the index fund at Vanguard still inspires an army of proud Bogleheads who invest, not in individual companies, but in baskets of stocks that follow the S&P 500 or some other major index. Research shows that even supposed “expert” managers underperform the market most of the time. An added bonus is that index investors don’t have to worry about market ups and downs, thus having more hours to spend in life pursuits, whatever they may be.

  • “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin
Franklin’s sage advice is as true today as it was in his time. The more skilled you can be in your career, the more you’re likely to get paid and the more autonomy you will have. Find a niche, and strive to be the very best one in it. Go to seminars, read books (like Bill Gates!), hire a coach and seek out a mentor. No matter what your field, from app development to bartending, knowledge is the key to success.

  • “The amount of money you have has got nothing to do with what you earn. People earning a million dollars a year can have no money. People earning $35,000 a year can be quite well off. It’s not what you earn; it’s what you spend.” — Paul Clitheroe
In “The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy,” the authors reveal that most millionaires are ordinary people with run-of-the-mill jobs who invested their savings and lived below their means. No, they didn’t win the lottery, inherit a fortune or become a CEO in the vast majority of cases. They drive an older car that has long been paid off. They don’t buy fancy clothes. Their home is likely to be in a nondescript neighborhood. When you hear about the secretary who left $8 million to her alma mater, it isn’t because her paycheck was exceptional, but her habit of saving and investing was.

  • “The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money.” — Unknown
Indeed, Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in America, says he measures his success by how much he is loved by the people who matter to him. We all want financial security, but putting the spotlight on making money without paying attention to how we treat others and what we are teaching them leads to an empty life. Ask yourself if you are helping those below you to improve their position, if you are a benefit to your community and if you are contributing to goals that are bigger than you are. There’s no better time than right now to start.

Click below for the other articles in the June 2020 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Relief for Cancer Patients in One Dose

Anxiety, depression and dread in cancer patients was substantially reduced with a single dose of this popular drug combined with therapy.

When someone has cancer, the weight of the world can be on their shoulders. Will I die? How will I ever pay the medical bills? How will my family survive? How can I work when I feel so awful? These terrible anxieties can impair healing and quality of life for the time that is left.

But what if a single dose of a drug could alleviate those symptoms for years? That is exactly what researchers found when they gave cancer patients psilocybin, a compound found in “magic” mushrooms. Once looked at as a dangerous recreational drug class, psychedelics are being studied extensively for their ability to make quick, profound changes in patients with a variety of ailments, including cancer.

Meaningful Experience

“Three out of four of our participants said the therapy was the singular or in the top five most spiritually meaningful experiences of their lives, and they continue to remember them,” says researcher Stephen Ross at NYU Langone and senior study author. “These experiences rapidly changed their relationship to cancer, changes which this long-term follow-up study suggests endure for years.” Researchers speculate that the mechanism of action in psilocybin is related to a common class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), a group that includes Prozac and Zoloft, commonly used to treat depression and other issues.

These new results build on a 2016 study of 29 cancer patients who were divided into two groups. One received a single dose of psilocybin and participated in nine psychotherapy sessions. The other group got a placebo (Niacin), which produces a flush similar to that of psilocybin and also took part in nine psychotherapy sessions. After seven weeks, researchers switched the group that got the real drug and the one that got the placebo.

Patients recorded how they felt. Psilocybin produced “immediate, substantial and sustained improvements” in anxiety and depression in 100% of participants, researchers noted. “One day after getting psilocybin, 80% of the participants no longer met criteria for depression related to cancer,” Ross says. These effects were “immediate and clinically meaningful.” However, since the study wasn’t blind, there remains the question of a placebo effect.

Success Over Time

But no one knew if or how long the effects would last. The team performed a follow-up with 15 of the original participants (nine had since died). No further treatment was given, but the participants filled out a questionnaire at 3.2 and 4.5 years after the first study. It asked open-ended questions about life since the psilocybin and therapy experience. 

The majority reported a reduction in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, demoralization and death anxiety. Furthermore, scientists determined that 60% to 80% demonstrated signs of having eliminated clinical depression and anxiety at each time period.

A full 71% to 100% of participants attributed these uplifting changes to the psilocybin-assisted therapy and judged it to be one of the most meaningful and spiritual life experiences they had ever had. None of the participants reported long-term negative effects from the sessions. 

My experience during the dosing was profound,” said one participant during a teleconference to discuss the research. “I experienced first-grade anxiety and then that turned to great compassion for the suffering on Earth, in all different modalities. Then, that turned into a profound spiritual awareness of how connected we all are. That has lasted and opened me enormously.”

Pathways in the brain appear to open with the use of psilocybin, although scientists don’t know exactly how it works. “The brain appears to be more interconnected when you use psilocybin,” Ross said. “Parts of the brain that don't normally speak to each other communicate with each other.”


While we may be years away from routinely using psilocybin to treat people with cancer-related psychological issues, many parts of the country are beginning to recognize that the drug is not as dangerous as once thought, at least by the government. Denver, Colorado led the way with a May 2019 vote to decriminalize magic mushrooms. The policy change at the Colorado capitol has inspired a grassroots movement throughout the country. 

Oakland and Santa Cruz decriminalized a wider range of psychedelic substances, and Oregonians will face a statewide ballot to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use in November. Activists in more than 100 cities have expressed interest in similar changes. 

Psychedelics Research Center

Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University announced in September that more than $17 million in private funds had been donated to open the nation’s first center for the exclusive study of psychedelic drugs. A prestigious team is currently conducting studies on an array of drugs, which they hope will make inroads in the treatment of opioid addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Conversely, the National Drug Intelligence Center states, “Yes, psilocybin is illegal. Psilocybin is a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I drugs, which include heroin and LSD, have a high potential for abuse and serve no legitimate medical purpose in the United States.” While the drug is still classified Schedule I, as it has been since Nixon was president, the page lists a caveat: “ARCHIVED January 1, 2006. This document may contain dated information. It remains available to provide access to historical materials.”

Only time will tell if the results of these initial studies hold up. But it is worth following scientific efforts to see if that is the case, especially as some entities push to not only legalize but medicalize psilocybin and similar drugs. The thought is to treat them similar to marijuana, which is now widely available in controlled, state-approved shops with specified strengths and dosing. As with marijuana, researchers need to evaluate how psilocybin interacts with other medications to determine possible contraindications for its use. At this juncture, it appears the benefit may outweigh the risk for the population being treated.

Click below for the other articles in the June 2020 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Monday, June 22, 2020

Robot Dog Patrols Park

In Singapore, Google’s “dog” robot marches through a large park, making sure people socially distance. 

Visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park have been unnerved to find a headless, robotic dog purposely treading along the asphalt paths. “Spot,” the yellow and black canine (sort of) spawn of Boston Robotics, is programmed to walk at human speed, occasionally playing a recording in a soft, female voice that encourages people to stay apart.

“Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” says the voice. “For your own safety, and those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.”

Not a bad use for the dog-size robot, which is race- and gender-neutral. However, its presence does appear to scare the pants off some park-goers in videos that follow its movement through the grassy space. 

Spot the Robot

The quadruped is a sensation on YouTube, where videos show it walking up and down stairs, blithely operating across precarious terrain, moving through rain and dust, and avoiding obstacles in the dark. It can right itself if it falls over and assume a lowered position on the floor when it is not in use.

You might wonder about getting a Spot of your own, so what does one of these little guys cost?

Boston Dynamics is evasive on the answer. To be certain, it depends on what sort of add-ons your Spot would come with, and how much support the company would provide. Both can vary considerably. But alas, Boston Dynamics is not currently offering its doggy robot for personal use. Instead, businesses can apply to get one by first filling out a questionnaire about what tasks they want the robot to perform. Not only does Boston Dynamics want to make sure expectations are not unrealistic, the company also encourages industry operators to come up with innovative uses for the steel “animal” that the company itself hasn’t yet pondered. In that way, the robot will be tested for unusual jobs that may broaden its sales appeal. However, Boston Dynamics does give a hint about the price: it’s slightly less than the cost of a car. Hmmm, would that be a Land Rover or a Mini Cooper? The company isn’t saying.

One danger in using the robot to maintain social distancing is that people may become blasé about the mechanical canine. How long will it be until people just look at the robot and go on with inappropriately close chatting? 


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Travel Movies

Actually going somewhere may be off the table for a while, but you can take a trip around the world with these movies filmed on location.

The pandemic has dampened travel plans for many of us, but our wanderlust is still urging us to explore. Sadly, we come to terms with a bucket list that won’t have that trip to the Greek islands checked off. Many of us will investigate state and national parks in the safety of an RV, but what to do about our desire to eat Indian food in India, or munch a chocolate croissant atop the Eiffel Tower? How can we stay safe while seeing new parts of the world? 

Hollywood may have the answer: there is no shortage of great movies filmed abroad. No, it is not the same as traveling there yourself, but it can provide a somewhat-satisfying substitute in a pinch. Order some curry takeout from your favorite Indian restaurant and watch the charming Marigold Hotel or snag some delectable frozen pastries at Trader Joe’s to heat up and enjoy while viewing An American in Paris. Thrifty retirees have known for a long time that it is a great way to get a foreign experience on a budget!

But what to watch? Whether your preference is adventure, action, or romance, there is a movie for you. Keep a box of tissues nearby for the tear-jerkers, a cuddly blanket, and settle down to enjoy. Here is our list of favorites featuring a variety of locales, in no particular order:

Ocean’s Twelve (2004)
This heist film is the second in a trilogy of entertaining romps. While not set entirely abroad, it does take viewers to Lake Como in Italy and has an overall international flavor. 

Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Based on a true story, the film follows an Austrian mountaineer and his partner who are imprisoned then escape across the treacherous Himalayan mountains and find refuge in Lhasa, where he befriends the Dalai Lama. Personal and political drama amid a breathtaking setting make this a winner.

A Room With a View (1985)
This charming British romance set in Edwardian England includes a stop in Florence, Italy. If you thrill at thwarted young love that resolves happily at the end, this is your film. Based on a 1907 novel by E. M. Forster.

Sound of Music (1965)
Julie Andrews plays a winsome young nun who becomes the pseudo-mother of six rich Austrian children whose handsome father is a recent widower. Gee, what do you think happens?! Yet this somewhat saccharine, predictable classic is somehow imminently satisfying and worth yet another viewing, if only for the scene where the nun disables the Nazi car.

The English Patient (1996)
Bring out the hankies for this romantic war drama featuring a horribly burned WWII soldier as he has flashbacks of his life working in the Sahara Desert before the war. Set in an Italian monastery, the film satisfies with a great story and foreign flavor.

Endless Summer (1966)
Yearning for some saltwater and sand between your toes? Try visiting beaches from Africa to Tahiti in this epic surfing lifestyle flick, as a pair of Southern Cali boys chase the waves. The cinematography will thrill you, and you may even be inspired to sign up for a lesson or two on your next seaside vacation.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Traveling through India by train, three fictional brothers reinvent the classic road trip through the stunning backdrop of Rajasthan. Brew a pot of tea while you watch the trio interact with other passengers and villagers they encounter along the way.

The Way (2010)
Northern Spain is the setting for this drama set along the Camino de Santiago, where Martin Sheen traces the footsteps of his recently deceased son, meeting a variety of pilgrims and fellow travelers seeking some form of enlightenment as they tread the ancient pathway.

Tracks (2013)
Accompany the actor portraying Robyn Davidson, who walked 17,000 miles through the Australian Outback with only a dog and four feral camels for companionship. Adapted from her namesake book, the movie highlights both her solitude and courage as she trudges through wild landscapes that vary from desolate to stunning.

Y Tu Mama También (2001)
In this coming-of-age adventure, a pair of friends and an older companion seek a fabled Mexican beach but find a variety of challenges, including sex and drug use. Set in the late 1990s, the beauty of Oaxaca is juxtaposed with its poverty.

Click below for the other articles in the June 2020 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Famous and 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

June 1 - Lorraine Moller, marathoner

What is it about New Zealand? Apart from being an ecological wonderland, it has produced some of the world’s top mountain climbers and, with Lorraine Moller, a top marathoner whose athletic star burned bright through four Olympics. This in spite of there being no sanctioned marathons for females on the international circuit until 1984, when Moller turned 29. 

The athlete began her running career in 1974 with a fifth-place finish in the 800 m, posting a time that still stands as the fastest by a New Zealand woman under 20. But her claim to fame is her performance in the marathon, winning Boston in  1984, triumphing at Osaka three times, and competing in the 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games (the last at the age of 41). In 1992 at Barcelona, she was awarded the bronze medal at the age of 37. 

Image Source: TV Guide

June 2 - Dana Carvey, comedian

Dana Carvey’s schoolteacher parents moved the family to California when he was three, and the fourth of five kids got his bachelor’s degree in broadcast communications at San Francisco State University. It was a natural fit; in 1977, he came in first in the San Francisco Stand-Up Comedy Competition. 

You may remember Carvey as the prim Church Lady on SNL, which he and his fellow cast members resurrected from mounting obscurity in 1986. He also was tapped to play George H.W. Bush during many political sketches leading up to the 1992 presidential campaign. When Carvey left SNL, he was asked to take over hosting for David Letterman in his Late Show, but turned it down in favor of having more time to spend with his two sons. 

A film career featured an unfortunate lead role in The Master of Disguise, which was widely panned and earned 1% approval on ratings site Rotten Tomatoes. Carvey’s portrayal of Garth Algar in Wayne’s World was much better received, and a sequel followed. Nowadays, Carvey prefers live performances when not at home in California with his wife of 37 years.

June 5 - Sally Silverstone, Co-Captain (Biosphere 2)

You remember that terrarium you had as a child? Biosphere 2 is basically the world’s largest terrarium (technically a vivarium since it is completely enclosed), a 3.14-acre system that is a research and teaching site, created between 1987 and 1991, now owned by the University of Arizona. Its original purpose was as a demo for a potential mini colony in outer space, to show that humans could survive on say, the moon, or Mars. The structure sports seven biome areas, in addition to a human habitat: a rainforest, an ocean, a coral reef, mangrove wetlands, savannah grasslands, fog desert, and an agricultural system. 

Sally Silverstone was part of the first two-year, closed-system experiment that took place from 1991 to 1993. Participants were to live off what the biosphere produced, including a low-calorie, high-protein diet that caused an initial average weight loss of 16 pounds each. Oxygen ran low, and pollinating insects died while cockroaches and an ant species that had been accidentally sealed into the biome thrived. Although participants thrived physically, tempers flared and the researchers divided into factions. 

Nevertheless, the crew was united in an intense focus on experiments and carrying out the original mission. In fact, their turmoil mimicked that which has occurred in Antarctic research stations, another closed environment. Although the crew reported depression, a psychological check found none, speculating that hunger and low oxygen may have been responsible for the reports. In fact, psychologists found that researchers were quite hardy and fit the mental profile common to astronauts. 

Currently, university undergraduates may attend a week-long “space camp” at the site, located at the foot of the Catalina mountains outside Tucson, and overnight camps are available to local school children. 

Image Source: Wikipedia

June 8 - Tim Berners-Lee, inventor off the World Wide Web

Who becomes the inventor of the Web? A child whose parents were computer scientists, who was fascinated by trains and had a model railway. A kid who got a physics degree from Oxford while making a computer out of an old television set he bought at a repair shop. 

Berners-Lee went on to work at CERN as an independent contractor in Geneva, where he was frustrated by the slow and cumbersome process of data sharing. He proposed a new system based on hypertext, and built a prototype, ENQUIRE, to demonstrate it. His manager called the system, “vague, but exciting.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Berners-Lee holds the founders chair in computer science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among many, many positions and projects. Many in recent years surround the issues of data privacy and ownership. Oh, and you may call him “sir” as he has long been knighted. He has married twice, has two sons, and currently collaborates with his second wife (an internet and banking entrepreneur) on investing in artificial intelligence companies.


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors

Friday, June 12, 2020

“Lean on Me” in This Time of Uncertainty

It’s hard to believe that it’s been just a few short months since the coronavirus claimed its first life here in our great nation.  It seems much longer, doesn’t it?  Since then, we have been bombarded with a lot of negative news, and through this experience we have become self-taught epidemiology “experts”. We are learning a lot of new medical terminology: acronyms like PPE (personal protective equipment), and words like asymptomatic (not showing symptoms), as we drink from a fire hose of information about this pandemic.

Bob Roth
Make no mistake, COVID-19 is serious, with the elderly being the most vulnerable.  With all the uncertainty in the world due to this virus, there is no better time  to show the world the power of our great nation, and that power lies with us, the people of the United States of America.

For some of us, a stay at home mandate offers a great opportunity to get closer to our family members, partners and roommates.  However, for many  that are living alone, a time like this  can make for an extremely lonely existence.  Did you know that approximately 33% of our elderly population (65+) lives home alone?  According to Joseph Coughlin and the MIT Age Lab this number may eclipse the 50% mark over the next 15 years.  Loneliness is a significant challenge with this pandemic, and with our older adult population this can be extremely dangerous.  How do we keep them engaged? How do we ensure they are getting what they need?   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges that we all practice self-isolation and social distancing to protect ourselves.  However, the same isolation that could save the elderly from coronavirus could also have a dramatically negative effect.  A 2015 study found that prolonged isolation can have the same impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The emphasis for social distancing should be centered on the word “social.”  How do we keep our aging loved ones engaged?  So many are feeling socially disconnected.

Here are 9 things you can do to keep your aging loved ones, neighbors and friends from feeling  isolated.
  1. Help with keeping them socially engaged
    Check in  regularly. If they are comfortable using technology, you can video conference with Facetime or Zoom, or simply send text messages and emails.  Sometimes nothing beats the old-fashioned practice of picking up the phone and giving them a call.  If you’re cooking, make a little extra and offer a dish to them; put it in a disposable container, use a disinfectant wipe to sanitize the outside of the container, and leave a thoughtful note.
  2. Help with food and essentials
    Lots of nonperishable items have disappeared from stores, especially hand sanitizers and toilet paper. Consider shopping for them while doing your own, or help them set up a revolving delivery from the grocery store.
  3. Help with medications
    Offer to pick up prescriptions or  set up ongoing delivery. In some cases you can order prescriptions in 90-day quantities to eliminate the need to worry about running out.  Many of our seniors have trouble remembering to take medications; you can ask the pharmacy to pre-package medications in blister packs with designations for morning and evening. You can also call to remind them to take their medications.
  4. Help with health care appointments
    It is amazing how many medical practices have embraced the use of either phone or video conference appointments (telehealth). This is a safe way to visit your doctor during the pandemic. If  you are a family member or have power of attorney for medical decision-making, you could also participate in these appointments. Should the older person urgently need an in-person evaluation, phone ahead for them, report symptoms and ask for instructions as to next steps.
  5. Engage the grandchildren
    With schools closed for the time being, your children could help an older adult learn something new about today’s technology, whether it be a laptop or a TV remote. Or they might send emails to grandparents or elderly neighbors to chat about what they’re doing, or ask them to participate online in virtual classrooms, symphonies or museums. Best of all, your children could use this time to record some family history.
  6. Connect with trusted organizations
    Remote-volunteer for local organizations serving older adults. Many of these agencies, stretched thin, may prefer financial support. Many provide meals for seniors and are delivering during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Consider helping out by purchasing pre-paid gas cards to support the drivers.
  7. For dementia care partners
    If you know someone caring for a person with dementia, reach out to them. Many of them occasionally use adult day care, but during this outbreak these facilities are now unavailable. Any support groups they normally attend might not be in session either, and the lack of services may increase their stress. Assist them by setting up phone or video conferencing with other dementia care partners to strategize on ways to cope.
  8. Encourage activity
    While some of our aging loved ones may be isolated in their own homes, this does not preclude them from moving.  If they are watching television, they can get up during every commercial and do an active chore. If possible, taking a walk outside is a great way to stay active and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.
  9. Go on a news diet
    Stay informed and know what’s going on but don’t get locked into endlessly watching “breaking news” on the 24-hour news channels. Typically, not much changes hour to hour. But enduring the repetitious pummeling from TV all day long can bring needless anxiety. Watch a news update in the morning, then check in again at night. Don’t stay with it all evening — 30 minutes or an hour is plenty.
Music is a powerful way to elicit positive emotions. Help grandchildren or neighbors make playlists that resonate with them.  With the unfortunate passing of music legend Bill Withers recently, I can’t help but feel that his hit “Lean on Me” is a great tribute for how we need to come together to help lift up our family, friends, neighbors and community.  We are all in this together and together we will beat this virus.   If everyone does their part we can surely blunt the virus curve, get through to the other side, and life can get back to some semblance of normal again.  

About the Author

Bob Roth is Managing Partner of Cypress HomeCare Solutions. Bob assisted in creating Cypress HomeCare Solutions with his family in 1994. With nearly 35 years of consumer products, health care and technology experience, Bob has successfully brought the depth and breadth of his experience to the home care trade and in doing so, Cypress HomeCare Solutions has been honored to receive a number of awards over the years. Bob hosts a radio show called “Health Futures, Taking Stock in You.” This program airs every Friday from Noon to 1:00 pm on Money Radio 1510 AM, 105.3 FM. In addition, he writes a monthly column called “Aging Today” for the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix, and Lovin Life after 50 newspapers. In March 2017 Bob was appointed to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. In 2019 Bob was selected the winner for the Home Health Care News Future Leader Award - Recognizing up-and-coming leaders elevating the home health industry.