Category Archives: Health

What an Older Person in Recovery Needs During the Holidays

 This week’s article is written by guest writer, Teresa Greenhill, who has an interest in mental health. She is the co-creator of MentalHealthForSeniors.com,  which is dedicated to providing seniors with information on physical and mental fitness so that they can be active and happy in their later years.

Please leave comments for this article below, in the usual form.

For more and more aging baby boomers, alcohol or other forms of self-medication have become coping mechanisms for dealing with aches and pains, including loneliness. This time of year can be difficult, with the holidays adding stress over seeing family members we may not be close to. If you’re an older person who is recovering from addiction, the holidays can be especially painful as we face them with family members who we have strained relationships with or, worse, alone. Addiction recovery is a long process, with many stops and starts along the way. Adding emotional triggers to the mix can put a recovering addict over the top. If you’re in recovery or have a family member who is, what can you do to be safe throughout the holiday season? Here are some tips. read more

Aging in Place With ElliQ and Other Innovations

Scientists and researchers are working overtime to help older people age in place. And that’s a good thing—most of us do want to stay at home as long as we can.

One company pursuing this is K4Connect, a tech firm that serves older adults with disabilities. The CEO, Scott Moody has a dream, and it has a good chance of coming true.

Moody thinks in broad strokes. He believes that in five years home automation for older adults, still very complex, will connect us to the “Internet of Things” (IoT), allowing us to seamlessly access apps that will help us age in place. He envisions: read more

Yes, You Can Count on More than Losses as You Age

If I know anything for sure, as I become older, it’s that somewhere along the way, I will need to come to terms with the accumulation of my years, and the losses that come with it.

It must be the departure of summer that has nudged this part of me—the place where I’m acutely aware of the passage of time.

It’s another summer of living, and I’m grateful for that, of being able to savor each sunny day, of living fully into autumn, and then experiencing all of it again through my memories. read more

Are Some of Our Memories Lost Forever?

Why do some experiences become memories, to be savored again and again, while others slip unnoticed into the dark recesses of our minds? It’s a question we don’t often consider as we go about our lives, and it isn’t until later, when we try to recall something, that we realize it might be completely gone.

We had this discussion last week, when my adult children came to Thanksgiving dinner, and the subject of childhood memories came up. As we compared notes, it was clear that each of us had a different ‘take’ on some events we all experienced. read more

Love It or Hate It—A Change of Seasons is Here

We are experiencing a change of seasons here in the Pacific North West. A few mornings ago, I saw the first sign, a covering of dew on grass that has been as dry as dust for five months. It’s a welcome change for the earth, since the trees and gardens have been craving moisture.

We humans too, can’t help but react. There’s a mild feeling of excitement as we anticipate the events that arrive with winter—more connections with family and friends, more social events, indoor activities like cozying up to the fire, reading new books, going to movies, and of course, Christmas. read more

In the Land of Nod

It has been a tough year. We’ve had shocking election results. We’ve had the re-emergence of Nazism, We’ve had the threat of nuclear war, we’ve had unprecedented natural disasters, and now we may witnessing our closest neighbor self-destruct.

Magazines, newspapers and books are rife with hateful articles, we don’t dare turn on the television news, and social media is exploding with angry posts.

We are suffering from insomnia like never before, therapists report a steep increase in new patients and we hear that millions are taking antidepressants. read more

The Healing Power of Herbs

I’ve always been interested in herbs, even before Simon and Garfunkel sang about Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme in their evocative song, Scarborough Fair. In 1999, I took a course from Don Ollsin, who created The Herbal Healing Pathway and once owned an herbal dispensary, Self Heal Herbs, in our city. From him, I learned to recognise herbs, appreciate their healing properties, and even make medicine.

All that winter, while taking lessons, and searching fields and forests for healing plants, I dreamed about developing a second career in the field of herbal medicine. But that wasn’t to be. Corporations had just discovered that there was serious money in making and selling herbs. Within a couple of years, pharmacies and grocery stores were selling these products as fast as they could shelve them. The world of herbs, carefully nurtured by teachers like Don, had become commercialized, never to be the same again. read more

The Ups and Downs of Your Aging Immune System

In a few weeks, I’ll be lining up, along with about 35% of the Canadian population, to receive the flu shot. In doing so, I’ll be ignoring the bad press, the less than 50% prevention rate, and the physical discomfort to do this. Why? Because, as I grow older, I’m discovering that I can’t rely on my immune system to do the splendid job it did in the past to protect me from the millions of pathogens that come my way all fall and winter.

Up until 2 years ago, I never gave the flu a thought. Ominous suggestions that the ‘elderly’ were susceptible to illness and disease seemed at best, ageist, and at worst, insulting. I was in excellent health, I looked after myself—a weakened immune system couldn’t happen to me. read more

How Toxins Affect You As You Age

By now, if you are over 65, you might be experiencing subtle changes in your health as you age. You might find that you are taking longer to recover from a cold or flu, and you need to rest longer after you exercise or do a chore. You may notice other subtle changes, like patches of eczema on your skin, or ridges on your fingernails, or pervasive physical and mental fatigue. Normally, you shrug off these symptoms—you’re just grateful that you are not suffering from some drastic illness, and decide to leave well enough alone. read more

Not-So-Simple Thoughts About Eating Organic

If you are one of the shoppers who breezes past the organic section of your local grocery, opting for crisper, fresher looking produce at a cheaper price, you are not alone.

Yet organic food, once the domain of ‘hippies’ and other edgy groups, is slowly drawing in more and more consumers. Despite the claim that organic is not necessarily more nutritious, (and certainly costs more than conventionally produced food), consumption of organic produce is skyrocketing.

The main attraction in many cases, is a desire for optimum health—that feeling of energized well-being and vitality we all strive for. Unfortunately it’s a state often disturbed by allergies and food intolerances, a weakened immune system, and a vague, hard-to-pinpoint awareness of feeling “not quite right”. We know now that toxins exist in our food, enter our environment and remain in our bodies for years. And it’s increasingly harder to ignore studies (Is Buying Organic Worth It? Columbia University, May 31, 2013) that say that the presence of pesticide residue is five times higher in conventional food than in organic food (38% versus 7%). read more

The Hidden, Internal Language of Loneliness

No matter what successes you have had in your life, none of it matters when you descend into loneliness and depression, especially if you are old. Being old can make you more vulnerable than younger people, and more likely to believe you have no options—you feel that you have less time to explore your loneliness, and less likelihood of solving it.

When you admit you are lonely, shallow advice, like “join groups”, or “volunteer”, or “take up a hobby”, come thick and fast from family, friends and advisers—but it only makes you feel inadequate, and guilty that you haven’t tried hard enough. read more

The Secret Life of the Older Drinker

The older drinker, men and women who are over 65 and retired, have a ‘perfect storm’ of opportunity when it comes to abusing alcohol or prescription drugs, which are usually their drugs of choice.

Their social circle has shrunk, they are feeling loss of meaning in life, and they have less energy or will than younger people to overcome their challenges in life. The easiest thing in their lives is to reach for that bottle or pill, sometimes combining both.

After all, alcohol is legal, you can get it anywhere, even in some grocery stores. No one’s going to frown or report you if you pick up a couple of bottles or cases of beer. And prescriptions for drugs like Ativan or anti-depressants are readily available from your physician, who is concerned when you tell him about your depression or stress, and happy to steer you to legitimate medication rather than see you take over the counter pain pills. read more