Archive for March, 2010

Seniors in Shorewood enjoy inspiring ‘super seniors’

It’s never too late. Go for it. Give it your best shot. Are these words purely clichés? This blog post is devoted to a few stories of seniors who found their bliss, their muse, and/or their talent late in life. They are an inspiration to all of us. Perhaps the most famous is Grandma Moses.

In 1860, as the Civil War was about to start, Anna Mary Robertson was born in upstate New York, according to http://gardenofpraise.com. She was raised on a farm and only very briefly attended school. At age 12, she left home to be a hired hand at another farm. At age 27, Anna Mary married Thomas Moses, a fellow hired worker. The couple rented different farms and finally was able to buy a farm of their own. Anna Mary and Tom had ten children, five of whom survived.

Despite farm duties and a huge family, “Mother Moses” was a whiz at needlework. With thread she would make wonderful pictures on fabric until arthritis took away her ability to push a needle through material. So, at age 75 she took up painting mostly because it was easier on her hands. Her first work of art was created with house paint.

She continued to dabble, learning by trial and error. In 1938, a local drugstore displayed some of her paintings, and an art collector from New York happened by. Anna Mary’s daughter-in-law told the man that Grandma had ten paintings to sell. When she counted the paintings, there were only nine, so Grandma cut a large picture in half and reframed it as two pictures.

The man, Louis Caldor, introduced Grandma’s work to a New York art gallery owner who opened an exhibit titled, “What a Farm Wife Painted.” At age 78, Grandma had a following. She appeared on the Edward R. Murrow’s television show and demonstrated how to paint a picture. She said she painted from the sky down; sky first, then the mountains, then the land, then the people. Her people were shown doing anything she might have seen someone do in her long, active life and were rich in color.

According to http://www.essortment.com, between the start of her painting career at age 75 and her death in 1961 at age 101, Grandma Moses painted approximately 1,600 paintings. Some 250 of those were painted after her 100th birthday. Her family never took her work seriously, but the art world certainly did. Her paintings continue to be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Other amazing seniors from http://www.selfhelpzone.com:

  • Two months after her 100th birthday, Estrid Geertsen, born in 1904 in Denmark, made a tandem parachute jump from an altitude of 13,000 feet.
  • Charin Yuthasastrkosol began ballet lessons at the age of 47. In 2002 at age 71, she performed for Sakthip Krairikish, Thailand’s Ambassador to the USA, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
  • Greek runner Dimitrion Yordanidis ran a 26-mile marathon. At age 98, he finished in 7 hours, 33 minutes.
  • The oldest person – and the oldest male – to summit Mr. Everest is Katsusuke Yanagisawa, a former school teacher, on May 22, 2007. He was 71 years old.
  • Ruth Hamilton was born in 1898. She died in 2008 at the age of 109. Toward the end of her life, she became an avid blogger. The woman who used to be a school teacher in Iowa was given a new lease in life through her video blog: http://growingbolder.com.
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Seven simple steps for aging well for seniors in Joliet

If only there was a recipe for aging well – a little of this and a little of that, and voila! Perfect old age.

Well, according to the National Institutes for Health’s magazine, “Medline Plus,” there are seven important “ingredients” to aging well. There are no concrete promises that it will turn out perfectly, of course, but these seven steps are everyone’s best shot.

First, quit smoking! It is never too late to quit, especially because smoking is a leading risk factor for lung cancer. Quitting smoking may be challenging, but there are resources to help. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has guidelines for quitting in its Cancer Topics online. The American Lung Association’s “Freedom From Smoking Online” program describes smoking cessation program and offers support from many other smokers and former smokers.

Second, lose some weight! Studies show that being overweight increases the risk of many diseases in seniors including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and other health-related problems. Losing as little as 5 to 15 percent of body weight can significantly improve health. A safe, healthy rate of weight loss is half a pound to two pounds per week.

Third, get moving! It’s a fact that exercise burns calories. Generally, seniors have less muscle mass in the body, but strength exercises can help to restore strength and muscle mass, often fairly quickly. To get started on an exercise plan, talk to the doctor about what is right for you. Working up to exercising 4 to 6 days per week for 30 to 60 minutes will work wonders.

Fourth, control blood pressure. High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to stroke, heart disease, eye problems and kidney failure. High blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure of 140 over 90 or higher at two different checkups. What helps is a healthy weight, regular exercise, healthy diet, watch the salt, watch alcohol, and listen to the doctor!

Fifth, control cholesterol levels. The body needs some of this waxy substance, but an excess of it in the blood can clog arteries and lead to heart disease or stroke. To reduce levels of LDL and increase HDL, it’s vital to eat well and exercise. If medications are needed to control cholesterol, they will be used in combination with a good diet and exercise.

Sixth, don’t drink too much. Drinking more than the recommended amount (two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women) can increase the risk of certain cancers, cirrhosis of the liver, problems with the immune system, and brain damage. In other situations, irresponsible drinking can lead to car accidents. The best advice is, if you drink, drink responsibly.

Seventh, practice prevention. Stay with the same doctor if possible, that is if you like him or her. Keep up to date with flu shots, and use sunscreen. Take medicines on time, and stay informed. Trusted, up-to-date information can be found at www.medlineplus.gov and www.nihseniorhealth.gov.

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Long distance grandparenting for seniors in Joliet

Some of us remember when elder grandparents lived in the same household with their children and grandchildren. It’s a rarity these days. Today, many families are scattered and separated by distances both great and small. The website GrandParenting.org says that no matter how far grandparents and grandchildren live from one another, there are two things working in their favor that can help to keep their bond alive and well:

First, young children have the ability to expand time. Remember when you were younger how time moved more slowly, and your house seemed enormous? This means the time you spend alone with your grandchild can nourish your grandchild for quite a while.

Second, technology is a marvelous asset in helping to encourage emotional connections over distance. True, technology can’t go fishing with a grandchild or help out a harried parent, but it can be a godsend to foster ongoing communication

In fact, communication is the most indispensable factor in keeping grandparent and grandchild as close as possible no matter how far apart they live. Today, there are lots of ways to communicate.

About.com reminds us that the “old” ways are still extremely meaningful: letters to an individual grandchild, letters with sketches or drawings, photos of yourself, greeting cards, a note with a stick of chewing gum, packages with several small items, or send something hand-made like a birdhouse or quilt. Young kids like the thought more than the content. Just the fact they receive a letter is more important than what is in it.

Technology has given everyone even more options. Lots of kids are computer literate, and now’s the time to have someone show you the ropes of email. There’s also videoconferencing (you can talk with your grandchild real-time, face-to-face). E-Mail, computer games, and the ability to send notes back and forth (or recipes, jokes,) can keep your contact loving and lively. You can even establish your own home page on the world-wide-web.

Faxes can be fun. One grandmother gave all of her grandchildren fax machines so they could keep in touch on a daily basis. Children can fax jokes, report cards, drawings etc. to their grandparents and vice versa. This grandma faxes her grandchildren individual notes several mornings a week.

Telephone contact is important, too. It’s a live voice. But make sure that you call your grandchild alone. Your grandchild wants to feel special and individual. It’s best to call at a regular time when your grandchild is not rushed or a parent is not harried about getting a meal on the table.

Some suggestions from GrandParentsToday.com:

  • Videotape yourself reading a grandchild’s favorite story. If possible, have someone else record you and your spouse, especially on birthdays or other special occasions.
  • Bake and send favorite cookies. Include the recipe, and videotape yourself making the cookies for a personal cooking lesson.
  • For a far-away grandchild’s birthday, buy party hats, favors, balloons, etc. and send them to the grandchild to use at their party.
  • Create a video family history using old slides and pictures. Narrate it or just set it to music. Or create a scrapbook with copies made from the original pictures.
  • Watch a television show or rented movie “together.” For instance, at Christmas, plan to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and share your thoughts via a phone call, letter or e-mail.
  • Have a prearranged time on New Year’s Eve for you and your children and grandchildren to each light a candle and make a special wish for the coming year.
  • Make up a quiz about you and your spouse. It can be a fun way for your grandchildren to get to know you better.

Most importantly, be there when your grandchild is born and be there for the important events; graduations, religious passages, recitals, holidays, whatever events your family values highly. With a little time and ingenuity, connections can be strong and loving in spite of the miles between you.

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