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Thursday, April 18, 2024

10 Rewarding Volunteer Opportunities to Embrace this April

April marks the beginning of spring, a season of renewal and growth. It's also the perfect time to give back to your community and make a positive impact. Whether you're passionate about environmental conservation, social justice, or helping those in need, there are countless ways to get involved through volunteering. 

Additionally, for older adults looking to give back to their communities, there are numerous volunteer opportunities perfectly suited to their skills and interests. Whether it's sharing their wisdom and experiences with younger generations, lending a helping hand to those in need, or advocating for their rights, there's a fulfilling role for every older adult volunteer. From mentoring programs to senior-led advocacy groups, older adults can play a vital role in shaping a better future for themselves and those around them. Embracing volunteerism not only allows older adults to stay active and engaged but also fosters a sense of purpose and belonging in their lives. So, if you're an older adult seeking meaningful ways to make a difference this April, consider exploring volunteer opportunities tailored to your strengths and passions. Together, let's continue to build a more inclusive and compassionate society for people of all ages.

Here are 10 rewarding volunteer opportunities to consider this April:

Earth Day Cleanup Events: Earth Day is April 22nd! Join local organizations or environmental groups in organizing or participating in Earth Day cleanup events. Spend a day outdoors picking up litter, planting trees, or restoring natural habitats to help protect and preserve the environment. Learn more about Earth Day and clean up events: The Great Global Cleanup | Join a Cleanup (

Community Garden Maintenance: Volunteer at a community garden to help with planting, weeding, and harvesting fresh produce. Not only does this contribute to food security in your community, but it also promotes sustainable agriculture and healthy eating habits.

Assisting at Homeless Shelters: Spend time volunteering at homeless shelters or soup kitchens, serving meals, organizing donations, or providing companionship to individuals experiencing homelessness. Your support can make a significant difference in the lives of those in need.

Volunteer at a Library: Libraries offer diverse opportunities to volunteer and contribute to their communities. From assisting with book shelving and organizing events to leading reading groups or computer literacy classes, there's a role suited to various interests and skills. Volunteering at a library allows older adults to share their love for learning, connect with others, and support literacy initiatives. Consider reaching out to your local library to explore volunteering opportunities this April.

Older Adult Companionship Programs: Join Older Adult companionship programs that pair volunteers with older adults in need of social interaction and support. Spend quality time with older adults, listening to their stories, sharing hobbies, or accompanying them on outings.

Meals on Wheels Delivery: Volunteer with Meals on Wheels programs to deliver nutritious meals to homebound older adults in your community. This vital service ensures that older adults receive regular meals and essential social interaction, promoting their health and well-being. Learn more: Meals on Wheels America

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter: You can find fulfillment volunteering at animal shelters. Whether walking dogs, socializing with cats, or assisting with administrative tasks, your contributions improve the well-being of shelter animals. It's a rewarding opportunity to stay active, nurture a love for animals, and make a positive impact in the community. Consider reaching out to local shelters for volunteer opportunities this April.


Older Adult Exercise Classes: Assist with older adult exercise classes or wellness programs offered at community centers or senior living facilities. Help facilitate activities such as gentle yoga, tai chi, or chair exercises to promote physical fitness and mobility among older adults.


Technology Assistance for Older Adults: Volunteer to provide technology assistance and support to older adults who may need help navigating smartphones, computers, or the internet. Empowering older adults with digital literacy skills helps them stay connected and engaged in today's digital world.

Senior Advocacy and Outreach: Get involved in advocacy efforts and outreach programs focused on addressing the needs and rights of older adults in your community. Advocate for senior-friendly policies, raise awareness about elder abuse prevention, or participate in campaigns to promote age-friendly environments.

Volunteering not only benefits your community but also brings a sense of fulfillment and purpose to your own life. By dedicating your time and energy to helping others, you contribute to building a stronger, more compassionate community. This April, consider taking advantage of these volunteer opportunities to make a positive impact and create lasting change.

Brought to you by Tara Schumann, Digital Media Specialist for The Society of Certified Senior Advisors.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Seniors Fight Skin Damage with Sunscreen — And why European Sunscreen is Better

America is great at many things, but sunscreen isn’t one of them. Why you might want to get yours from another country. 

Many older adults were born in the generation that worshiped tans. Remember “Tan don’t burn – it’s a Coppertone tan”? Or slathering ourselves with a mixture of baby oil, Coke, and iodine and then “laying out” for hours to get really dark? We can hardly bear to mention tanning salons. Boy, were we ignorant!

Sun Damage

You probably know by now that sunscreen with a high SPF, or sun protection factor, is important to wear whenever you’re outside. Brown spots, wrinkling and visible blood vessels are the result of spending time unprotected in the sun. Up to 80% of skin damage we think of as aging is due to the harmful effects of the sun, according to dermatologist Fayne Frey, author of "The Skincare Hoax".  

Best Broad-Spectrum Sunscreens 

If you don’t plan on heading to Europe anytime soon, you can still get some eco-friendly sunscreen online or at your neighborhood store that blocks both UVB and UVA rays. Here are some to try:

  • Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen. This feels great on your skin, won’t turn you white and is safe for coral reefs. 
  • Coppertone Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion. This broad-spectrum product uses naturally sourced zinc oxide as its active ingredient.
  • Hawaiian Tropic Everyday Active Clear Spray SPF 30. This water-resistant formula leaves no white cast. It’s also non-greasy and won’t clog your pores.
Even worse, UV radiation is responsible for damaging DNA in our skin cells. When this damage builds up over time, the cells may grow out of control, often leading to skin cancer. The majority of skin cancer is detected in people over 65. That’s why older adults have to be especially careful about protecting their skin. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is most frequently found in adults aged 65 to 74, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

UVA Rays

But you may not be aware that most American sunscreens are notably bad at blocking UVA rays. These won’t burn the skin like UVB rays, but they cause aging, suppress the immune system and help skin cancer to develop.  

Most sunscreen sold in the States couldn’t get on the shelves in Europe. In fact, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing revealed that American sunscreens varied significantly in their UVA protection, even when the number on the label was the same. 

In the US, sunscreens are treated as non-prescription drugs. That means their ingredients are subject to the same long review process as cancer treatments and every other drug under the umbrella of the FDA. The companies that make ingredients to block UVA and UVB rays have not produced the expensive safety testing requested by the FDA. There has not been a new sun filter approved in the US since 1996, despite makers having asked to use eight chemicals developed and now in use in Europe.

You might think that the FDA is just keeping us safe. But their process has resulted in sunscreen where the SPF label is misleading, and which may have no ability to block UVA rays.

More Approved Ingredients in Europe

Across the pond, sunscreens are regulated as cosmetics. That has resulted in 34 sun filters approved for use in Europe, versus only 16 stateside. Furthermore, in countries under European Commission regulations, drug manufacturers have opted to comply with a recommendation that sunscreens have UVA protection at least one-third as powerful as the advertised SPF, which really refers only to UVB protection. So, a sunscreen sporting a 30 SPF label would have at least 10 SPF against UVA rays.

And that is why when a British researcher tested four US sunscreens and four available in Europe, he found the average US product allowed three times more UVA rays to penetrate than its European counterparts. 

Sunscreen Safety

Are the chemicals used in US sunscreen in any way safer? According to the FDA’s 2021 proposed order to strengthen UVA protection, only zinc oxide and avobenzone provide strong protection against UVA rays. But that same order declared only two products, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, allowed in US sunscreen to be safe and effective. Many dermatologists recommend avoiding avobenzone and five other US sunscreen products. 

US sunscreen manufacturers have sought to use eight products developed in Europe, four of which (Tinosorb S, Tinosorb M, Mexoryl SX and Mexoryl XL) are more effective and likely more stable than avobenzone. Although the European Commission has studied and approved these drugs, the FDA is not satisfied. Many hope the FDA will allow some of these products, which have been used for many years in Europe, to be used in the US while testing is ongoing. 

Best US Sunscreen

What’s an American to do? Be sure to buy only sunscreen that is labeled “broad spectrum”. This means it offers protection against both UVB and UVA rays. Spend the extra money it may require to get a product with zinc oxide. Avoid products that contain oxybenzone, octinoxate and avobenzone. They can soak through your skin, enter your bloodstream and change your hormone levels. These chemicals may also irritate your skin, and they are not reef safe.

While it seems unlikely that change will happen anytime soon here at home, you can tell friends traveling abroad to skip the tchotchkes and load up on sunscreen – and bring some back to you, too.

Cheapest Ways for Seniors to Book a Flight

If you think you know the best and only place to check for inexpensive flights, get ready to be enlightened. We fill you in on the best tips for stretching your air travel dollars.

Welcome to booking a flight in 2024. It’s so much more than going to one site and loading your travel dates and destination! While that’s still possible (and we give you the best single site for doing just that), you need to have a lot more tricks up your sleeve for finding a good deal. 

It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to find a good deal on the internet. There’s just so much information, it’s easy to throw up your hands and fall back on booking your favorite airline regardless of price. Well, grasshopper, Senior Spirit is here to give you just enough savvy ins and outs so you can feel comfortable going a step or three further on your search to save money. 

Google Flights

Let’s start with the basics. The best one-stop shop is GoogleFlights, where you can check for prices on domestic and international air. Google Flights will tell you when the window for booking the lowest price for a given trip usually occurs, and if the prices you’re looking at are typical, high or low compared to the average. Just enter your dates and destination, tap “Done” and you’ll find the information above your airline options.

Incognito Mode

But you’ll want to go way beyond Google if you’re at all serious about saving money. Did you know that after you’ve searched for fares a time or two, the cookies in your browser will automatically increase the price? To avoid this, always use private browsing mode (incognito) every time you search for airfare. In Safari and Chrome, hit “Command” (“Control” on a PC), “Shift” and then “N”. For Firefox or Internet Explorer, replace the “N” key with a “P”. This opens a new window where your information isn’t tracked. And be sure to open a new incognito window every time you start a search to erase any saved cookies.

Skyscanner and Momondo

While Google Flights is adequate for a start, you can up your game by comparing prices offered on Skyscanner and Momondo. These search engines take minimal cuts and feature the largest amount of flights to choose from. Seasoned travelers use these two to find the consistently lowest fares.

To find the dates with the lowest fares on Skyscanner, enter your departure and arrival airports and click on “One Way” (even if you want a round trip). Click “Depart” on your computer, but rather than selecting a date click on “Whole Month” and then “Cheapest Month” before tapping “Search Flights”. Repeat for your return flight. Skyscanner can help you stumble on error rates, when an airline has accidentally inserted an incorrect (lower!) fare. 

Unexpected Destinations

Try using to stimulate your wanderlust. Just enter your departure city and a date range. A map will appear with prices of flights listed to dozens of countries from your departure point, and a list sorted from cheapest to most expensive destinations pops open. Pretty amazing, right? Maybe you’ll find a deal on Sri Lanka or New Zealand, or at least pique your interest in some novel destinations. The true beauty of Kiwi is that it will mix and match airlines, including budget airlines, to get you the least expensive price.

And in case you were wondering, Kiwi offers its own guarantee that you will be able to make those connecting flights between different airlines. They’ll also book bus and train connections, and the guarantee covers those modes of travel, too. 

Layovers as Destinations

Many flights to points beyond use Hawaii as a refueling stop. If you’re going to a Caribbean island, you may pause in Puerto Rico. Longer journeys often give you the opportunity to get a rest and visit another place by extending that layover to a couple of days or more. As seniors, it’s often more restful to cut a longer journey into shorter pieces. If you’re booking a trip and see that you have a layover somewhere interesting, book the journey yourself in legs so that you can spend more time at your stop. 

Error and Sale Fares

Try Going (US flights) or Dollar Flight Club (International) to find super discounted fares. Both sites comb through prices to find those that are super cheap deals. Make a free account or bump up to premium to get deals sent to your inbox. 

Budget Airlines

To get a great deal, you should look beyond the major carriers to budget airlines. Just know that there may be caveats such as an extra charge for baggage or check-in requirements. Check this list of what to know before you fly with a budget airline. Many are located in the US, including Allegiant and Southwest, which offers a credit card that can earn you a free companion pass

Benefits and Credit Cards

Speaking of credit cards, you should always check out the benefits that are available with either one you get that is branded with an airline you fly often, or a general travel card such as Chase Sapphire.  You can often earn points for free flights, get priority boarding and/or a free drink onboard, or other perks such as a free or reduced rate for luggage. When you use the card to book, you generally get 2% to 4% cash back. We always like to mention that you will only benefit from a credit card if you pay it off in full every month. 

We hope that this page has inspired you to book a trip! There’s plenty of information here to help you save hundreds of dollars. But if you yearn for a list of every budget airline and the most obscure budget-friendly tips, we recommend you read the Thrifty Nomads blog. These two adventure-loving friends have traveled the globe to bring you great advice on trip planning. 

Yes, they’re youngsters, and you may not feel quite as comfortable stretching yourself as they do. But it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of trying a new search site, using incognito mode, or checking out credit card offers to get you on your way at a lower price! 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

10 Best Towns and Cities for Retirement

We profile some of the top-rated communities for retirees in the US based on criteria important to seniors.

Older adults are attracted to neighborhoods with a variety of amenities nearby. They’re looking for affordability, health care, safety, cultural opportunities, and walkability. Senior Spirit gathered up some of the top-rated areas, including small towns and big cities. Some of the locations might surprise you. Yes, Florida is represented … but so are Pennsylvania and New York. 

We’ve put together a list that takes into consideration cost of living, access to senior housing, activities and transportation, crime data, and attractions (including those the grandchildren will love). Let’s get started!

  1. Fredericksburg, Texas. Located in the beautiful hill country north of San Antonio, Fredericksburg shows its German roots through the town’s food and culture. German influence also shows up in the city’s architecture, which features local limestone. There are more than 100 wineries nearby, as well as old peach orchards. It’s a certified Dark Sky Community, so stargazers can enjoy enhanced views of celestial bodies. Fredericksburg is something of a tourist town, so you’ll find plenty of restaurants, museums, and entertainment. If you feel like hitting the big city, a journey to San Antonio or Austin is less than 70 miles away. 
  2. Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. If you’re in search of a quiet town with under 10,000 inhabitants, Strasbourg may fit the bill. Located in the rolling Poconos Mountains, this charming village mixes historical architecture with restaurants, galleries and antique stores that attract tourists. Visit the Monroe Farmers Market for local produce, honey, and baked goodies. Or check out the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, where an August arts and crafts celebration makes this living history museum buzz with activity. 
  3. Asheville, North Carolina. Known as the “Paris of the South,” Asheville has a thriving food and arts scene. It’s also home to more breweries per capita than anywhere else in the US, as well as the Biltmore Mansion, the sprawling former home of rich American industrialists. Dubbed “America’s new freak capital” by Rolling Stone nearly a quarter of a century ago, Asheville has grown into a charming magnet for those who like local produce and wearing boots and a puffer to dinner, as well as a well-heeled crowd looking for a touch of class in the heart of Appalachia. 
  4. Port St. Lucie, Florida. If you’re searching for coastal living with a laid-back vibe and subdued way of living, this may be your spot. Located on the Atlantic coast between Orlando to the north and Miami to the south, you’ll find great golfing and health care. The Spruce Bluff Preserve is a great place for hiking, birding, and even setting a canoe in the water. The city has a rich history, but was only developed in the last century. 
  5. Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Situated in Amish country, large farms extend right up to suburbia. The rolling hills are home to a burgeoning coffee culture. With eight four-year colleges and universities there are plenty of cultural opportunities. It’s also the county seat and can claim fame as one of America’s original inland cities. Mars Chocolate North America is headquartered in Lancaster – head down the road to nearby Elizabethtown for a factory tour
  6. New York City, New York. True, the cost of living in the Big Apple is pricey, but have you thought about the action right out your doorstep or just a subway ride away? You’ve got Broadway, for heaven’s sake, and a hundred little comedy clubs and some of the best eating in the entire world. Tired of city life? Take a long, long stroll in Central Park or hop on a train upstate. An added bonus is world-class health care. Maybe it’s not forever, but how fun to immerse yourself in one of the world’s most vibrant cities?
  7. Ann Arbor, Michigan. It does get cold and snowy in Michigan. But if you can get past that, you’ll want to check out the city for its cultural core, headed by the University of Michigan, which has spawned thriving coffee shops, bookstores, and restaurants. There’s also a thriving tech scene, plenty of public parks and a low crime rate to recommend the city. If you’re looking for a full-on city experience, a renewed Detroit isn’t far away. Ann Arbor is a study in contrasts, both urban and rural, highbrow and outdoorsy, rebellious and toney. 
  8. Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Although retaining its Southern charm, “Winston” has an international flair buoyed by a slew of festivals and a wide variety of cuisine. Gnaw on some Carolina barbeque or opt for Indian curry before grabbing Greek pastry to go. The city has not seen a population explosion like some of its urban neighbors, allowing it to retain a hometown feel. Instead of knocking down old brick factories and warehouses, the buildings have largely been repurposed into loft living or entrepreneurial spaces, maintaining a historical feel.
  9. Youngstown, Ohio. You might not think of the Rust Belt when you muse over possible retirement destinations, but think again. Located between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, Youngstown is experiencing a rebirth. Organizations such as the Youngstown Development Corporation are ushering restaurants, galleries and shops into urban areas that once were blighted. Surrounded by farmland, including Amish areas, there’s a thriving market for local produce and it’s a quick trip to get out of the city. 
  10. Melbourne, Florida. If you’re a fan of watching rockets lift off into space, this may be the place for you. Cape Canaveral is close enough that you’ll be able to see launches carrying satellites and headed to the International Space Station from your backyard on clear days. When you tire of that, head over to the Eau Gallie Arts District after checking out their calendar of year-round events and festivities. The historic downtown is lovely, or you can head to the 155-mile Indian River Lagoon. If you’d prefer time on the ocean, you can surf, kayak, boat, fish, or watch manatees.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Treat Your Computer Well for a Lasting Relationship

Your trusty laptop or desk computer is there for you – until it’s not. Are you treating your computer with the care it deserves for maximum performance and a long life?

Let’s face it, most of us get a little complacent about taking care of our computer. Tech nerds aside, it’s a good idea to refresh your memory about how to take care of one of the most expensive pieces of equipment you’ve got, and one that you rely on all the time. Check to make sure you’ve been treating your equipment well.

Sleep, Hibernate, or Shut Down

Sleep is the best choice if you’ll be using your computer again after a few minutes, a few hours, or overnight. Your computer can start up much faster, right where you left off. Hibernation is the better option if you’re concerned you won’t be able to charge it again for a while. All of the open programs and data will be saved to the hard drive, so it takes a little longer for your computer to wake from hibernation than when it is just sleeping. 

Shutting down is the right choice if you use the computer only once in several days or if you or someone else will be performing maintenance. It’s also perfect for plane travel when it will be stored, or when you will be away from it on vacation. When your computer is shut down, all your open programs close and your operating system turns off. Your computer will use the least power, but it will take longer to start up again than from sleep or hibernation. 
  • Use anti-virus software. Good anti-virus programs stop hackers and virus attacks from a variety of sources. This is not a place you want to skimp. A good program will scan regularly in the background and alert you to trouble. Getting hacked puts you in a world of hurt, so bite the bullet and buy a great program, such as one of these recommended by PC Magazine. 
  • Care for the battery. Resist the temptation to plug in your PC when the battery goes down to 50%. You can prolong the life of your battery by letting it run down before charging it back up. After all, the reason you have a PC is to use it wirelessly.
  • Keep it clean. If you’re somebody who eats while hanging over the keyboard, stop. And by now you should know that holding a cup of coffee, or any liquid, over your device is just calling for big trouble. First, turn off your computer and wait for the screen to go black. Use rubbing alcohol to clean your keyboard before gently using a can of compressed air held about an inch away and pointed at an angle to spray away dust, dog hair and dirt. Most screens should be cleaned with a soft cloth bought just for your computer and rubbing alcohol.
  • Use a case or cover. Use a padded laptop cover or sleeve all the time, except when cleaning. This will protect it from nicks and dings. If you’re taking your PC to the library or on a trip, you’ll want to have the additional padding of a messenger bag or backpack to tuck it into.
  • Defragment and declutter. Mac users can skip this step; Apple PCs do it automatically. Click here to find the short steps to defragment in Windows. Clear your browser and downloads on a regular basis, such as monthly. These actions perform housecleaning and help your computer to run faster.
  • Avoid using too many programs or tabs at once. You will overload your computer if you open multiple programs and/or tabs, especially if it doesn’t have a lot of memory. Bookmark tabs you need to keep handy instead of keeping a window open.
  • Update your passwords. It’s pretty much a given that with all the usernames and passwords we need to know, you should either get a password manager or use the Keychains feature on your Mac. And don’t even consider keeping passwords like 12345 or using the same password on multiple sites. It’s way too risky. Instead, use a longer password with uppercase, lowercase, numbers and at least one special character. 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

What Fingernails Can Tell Seniors About Their Health

Did you know that the color, thickness and shape of your nails can reveal diseases or other issues you might be having? Here’s what to look for.

Your fingernails can show you problems you might be having in other parts of your body. Crazy as it may sound, you can look for changes in your nails to show you potential medical conditions you may be dealing with, including issues with your liver, lungs, and even your heart. While usually these changes are due to lifestyle or an injured nail, they may be the result of disease or a nutritional imbalance. 

Why Do My Nails Have Ridges?

Vertical ridges, from the base of your nails to the tip, are often caused by age. As such, they’re nothing to worry about from a medical perspective. However, these ridges are sometimes the result of a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis. They may be caused by an autoimmune disease, nutritional deficiency (iron, zinc or vitamin A), thyroid disease or alopecia. Check with your doctor if you think the ridges on your fingernails may have a cause besides getting older. 

To get rid of ridges, try moisturizing your nails. Use a cream or oil that contains ceramides or alpha hydroxy acids to trap moisture. If your nails are very dry and brittle, moisturize at bedtime and cover with a pair of cotton gloves while you sleep. And avoid washing your hands too often or putting them in water, since that actually has a drying effect. 

Clip and file your nails to keep them neat and on the short side, but always leave a bit of the white showing to allow for regrowth between trims. Avoid biting your nails, since that is traumatic to the area. Ditto for pushing back the cuticle.

You can gently buff the ridges out to make your nails look smoother. Just keep it to once a month or so; buffing thins the nail plate and can lead to split or broken nails.

Healthy nails are pinkish in color, smooth and firm, with a pale half moon located at the base. If your nails look different than this, you may want to consult a health professional to find out why. Here’s what to look for, starting with nail texture and firmness:

  • Thin or soft nails are most often the result of over-exposing them to detergent or nail polish remover with acetone. However, it could also be due to low levels of B vitamins, calcium, or iron. 
  • Cracked, split nails may be the result of immersing them in water too often, such as when you bathe grandchildren or wash dishes. They are sometimes linked to thyroid disease.
  • Peeling nails normally occur after trauma to the nail bed. Perhaps you used your fingernails to open some packages, or you were picking off old fingernail polish. Oversoaking can exacerbate the condition.
  • Pitted nails, when they are covered with tiny indentations, may be the result of psoriasis or alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that also induces hair loss.
  • Spoon nails have a “scooped out” look. They may be caused by anemia, hypothyroidism, or liver problems. Contact your doctor to find the cause.
  • Horizontal ridges are most often the result of trauma before the nail had grown out. Known as Beau’s Lines, these could also be the result of previous high fever, vitamin deficiency, diabetes, or peripheral vascular disease. Another cause can be chemotherapy drugs.
  • Curved nails are part of a long process that develops over years, not days. The fingertips enlarge and the nails swell to grow around them. This condition can be inherited, or it may be due to lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, or liver disease. Check with your doctor to find the cause.
  • Ram’s horns refers to thick, overgrown nails and can be inherited, or the result of psoriasis or poor circulation. If you have this condition, you need a specialist to trim your nails and treat the underlying cause.
  • Nails can fall off due to an injury or infection. It may start with all or a portion of the nail turning white, green, or yellow and becoming tender or painful. The nail usually falls off in a matter of weeks and regrows from the base. This condition may also be linked to psoriasis. If the nail fails to grow back in normally, see your doctor.

Nail color can also be an important indicator that something is amiss. It may be inconsequential, but it could also be linked to a health condition. Check if you notice any of the following:

  • White spots are usually the result of injury, such as whacking your fingernail on something or getting rough or repeated manicures. If you have white spots but never experienced any trauma, you may have to consider whether you have a zinc deficiency, a fungal infection or allergic reaction. 
  • Blue fingernails are an indicator that your body lacks oxygen. This can be caused by heart disease or emphysema. If you don’t already have a diagnosis and your nails take on a blue tinge, see your doctor to check on the cause.
  • Yellow nails are fairly common and most often caused by staining from nail polish or smoking. If it’s related to a fungal infection, the nails themselves will thicken and crumble. Other possible causes include rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, thyroid disease, and diabetes.
  • Dark vertical lines underneath the nail bed may be caused by melanoma, a serious skin cancer. Have a dark line checked out right away by your doctor. 

To see actual photos of many of these conditions, go here.

Usually, some other indicator of disease or condition will already have alerted you to a problem before you notice a change in your nails. However, if you do see something you can’t explain then it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor to make sure nothing new is going on.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Famous & 65

Look who's turning 65 this month

Find out which celebrities are turning 65 this month!

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 15 - Emma Thompson, actress and screenwriter  

Do you remember watching “Howard’s End?” How about “In the Name of the Father” or “Fortunes of War”? Dame Emma Thompson is a national treasure belonging to the Brits, and the winner of two Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards, two Golden Globes, and a Primetime Emmy Award. Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame of the British Empire in 2018 for her contributions to drama.

Lacking conventional good looks but possessing an inner resolve and likeability, the daughter of two actors “was surrounded by creative people” and believes her career was fated. When Thompson’s father died at the age of 52, the family was “torn to pieces” she recalls. “At the same time, it's possible that were he still alive I might never have had the space or courage to do what I've done ... I have a definite feeling of inheriting space. And power.”

She is one of the wave of British actors that defined the 90s, including Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, and Helena Bonham Carter. Her outwardly composed, inwardly roiling character portrayals have been compared to those of Maggie Smith. She has been lauded for playing roles that show “restraint, rendering emotions through intellect rather than feelings, and a sense of irony, which demonstrates the heroine's superior understanding" wrote author Karen Hollinger.

Long married to fellow actor Greg Wise, Thompson’s love life was not always so steady. A previous marriage to actor and director Kenneth Branagh lasted only six years. In blockbuster “Love Actually”, Thompson plays a wife who discovers her husband has strayed. The scene where she breaks down has been described as the best crying scene in a movie, ever. Thompson explained, "I've had so much bloody practice at crying in a bedroom, then having to go out and be cheerful, gathering up the pieces of my heart and putting them in a drawer."

But to see the actor in perhaps her finest role, look for the HBO television film “Wit”. Thompson plays a Harvard University professor whose beliefs are challenged when she gets diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After spending months in rehearsal and shaving her head for the part, Thompson’s performance was dubbed her finest work by film critic Roger Ebert. It was “one of her most brilliant performances,” according to The New York Times film critic Caryn James. “We seem to be peering into a soul as embattled as its body.”

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 18 - Jim Eisenreich, outfielder and first baseman, Tourette syndrome

A top slugger, Jim Eisenreich batted .318 in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies to help propel the team to win the 1993 National League pennant. As the Phillies began a slide toward a major slump, Eisenreich remained a bright spot. In 1997, he signed with the Florida Marlins, helping them win a World Series in only their fifth year. Eisenreich maintained a career .290 batting average across 1,422 games in 15 seasons, a remarkable achievement. But it wasn’t his greatest feat. 

Starting in early grade school, Eisenreich began having a series of tics: eye blinking, sniffling, shoulder twitches, facial grimaces, and grunts. He was called “hyperactive”,and other children stared at him and giggled. He became self-conscious and embarrassed. The tics continued into adulthood and followed Eisenreich onto the field.

“I got self conscious as a major league player, thinking, ‘Are they watching me play? Are they watching me do all my tics?’ That was difficult for me,” he explained. “At the time, I still didn’t know what Tourette’s was and was getting embarrassed and, honestly, scared.” At age 23, he took several years out of his baseball career for treatment, finally returning to the game with the Kansas City Royals. 

Eisenreich started a foundation to share his story and help kids with Tourette’s achieve their dreams. Children are encouraged to start the school year by telling their teacher and classmates about their condition. “I kind of make a joke of this but, in my day, I was the oddball,” said Eisenreich. “Nowadays, it’s almost that if you are a little different, you’re cool. You’re normal. And that’s a good thing.”

Image Source: Wikipedia

April 24 - Yvonne Cagle, physician and NASA astronaut

Holding the distinction of being one of six Black women astronauts, Yvonne Cagle had already distinguished herself by getting a medical degree from the University of Washington in 1985 after majoring in biochemistry at San Francisco State University. She also earned a certificate of Aerospace Medicine from the School of Aerospace Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base.

Cagle was a commissioned medical officer assigned to the 48th Tactical Hospital in the United Kingdom before serving as Air Force Medical Liaison Officer on a mission to test the Magellan spacecraft prior to becoming an astronaut. She was a member of the Astronaut Class of 1996. 

After retiring from the Air Force with the rank of Colonel in 2008, Cagle concentrated on her duties with NASA. She is an advisor to NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program and is on faculty as well as serving as the liaison for exploration and space development with Singularity University. Although she never flew in space, Cagle embedded with a flight crew as training consultant and advisor. 

Cagle became a visiting professor at Fordham University prior to the university awarding her an honorary Ph.D. for contributions to the fields of science, technology, and human health. Her list of adjunct professorships includes Stanford University and UC Davis. She remains a NASA Management Astronaut, employed by NASA but no longer eligible for spaceflight assignments.