How To Survive Old Age (Your Own or Someone You Love)

Health

Road Trip-Before I Begin

Posted by on Nov 11, 2012 in Health | 0 comments

 “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”    William Morris

All my life, good design has trumped just about everything else, including logic and financial prudence.  This quote from designer William Morris will be my guide as I furnish my new nest, the vehicle that I will drive off in next week as I begin my first book tour. 

 

In 1971, after graduating from college, I bought a former mail truck boasting an old Studebaker engine.  It had several hundred thousand miles on it but I ignored the mechanics and spent my meager budget on the interior rather than maintenance.  I carpeted it lushly, hung an Indian bedspread on the ceiling and hit the road with my dog Shine.  The driver’s seat was on the right, giving me a jump-start on a new perspective for my life and travels.  Big passages seem to fit well with a road trip, and although my travels were limited by the age of my vehicle, I got my money’s worth nonetheless.

When the engine overheated, as it did every 75 miles, I parked and lounged around the back, reading until it cooled down enough to carry me onward.  The truck was beautiful and useful and I have long carried the memory of the freedom it gave me to stop and relax along the way. 

In a life of interesting travels all over the world, I feel I have not cracked the code for road trip perfection, but I’m still trying.  Travel has been one of my great joys in life.  I love the shock of shifting perspectives as my long held points of view slide around like tectonic plates.  If you are lucky, it is an inner shift, (although I have been caught in a few actual earthquakes.)

From the Pacific Crest Trail (430 miles of it-all of Oregon, with backpack) to Bangkok, I have slept on the ground, in luxurious staterooms on fancy ships, and in airplanes-a lot of airplanes.  It wears you down, all this schlepping and unpacking.  It is unsettling and disorienting to wake in unfamiliar surroundings night after night. 

As I contemplated my future book tour, I dreaded that aspect of travel.  I resented all the time I would loose to bargain hunting, for I have Champagne tastes and a thrifty New Englanders budget.  The last straw came when, after springing for a very pricey hotel room so I could be safe, secure and comfortable for my book launch in New York City, I awoke to find a stranger had been in my room.  According to the security folks, a doorman had mistakenly let him into my room because he was feeling ill and needed a bathroom urgently.  He left behind a rather thick wad of credit cards on the bathroom counter for me to discover when I awoke.  I found this to be a massive boundary violation and more than a little bit unsettling. 

I’m about to commit to a month of travel through the West, Northwest and South, beginning and ending at Rose Cottage, my home in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire and it has me dreaming about road trips past, and road trips imagined, as I shoot once again for a perfection that I now know will elude me. 

After the time of the mail truck, as I settled down and made my way through a life of tasks with deadlines for school, for family, for business; my goals have had a life of their own, drawing me forward on a schedule I know I agreed to at some point, but don’t always love.  My deepest desire has been for time to “drift sideways” in a metaphorical boat without agenda.  I dream of big brown Studebakers, clip pictures of lovely houseboats and save my points for first class upgrades. 

That vision is probably why, after the kids were grown and I was divorced, I bought what I believed to be an upgrade to the big brown mail truck-the Vixen.  The Vixen was an American made class “B” camper, designed by the same Italian team that made the Delorean.  It was sleek and beautiful and never failed to draw a crowd.  It had a diesel BMW engine, a kitchen and a bathroom and it captured my heart and imagination fully.  It was a collector item, number 12 off the line in 1986 and I loved it dearly.  As with most infatuations, the experience of Vixen ownership fell far short of the dream.  It broke down every bit as often as the Studebaker.  Eventually, I realized the Vixen had served me well for the dreams it inspired, but it was time to release her to a new owner who was also a yacht mechanic. 

Now that I am older and require more preventive maintenance to keep me on the road, I want a vehicle that can be relied upon.  Enter the "New Vixen.(Naming ceremony to follow our first meeting, for this is, so far, a cyber relationship.)  Looking around for a new road trip vehicle, I found this miracle of great design and beauty.  An uber luxurious class “B” van, built on a Sprinter chassis, with Mercedes engine and a miraculous amount of interior space in its 22’ frame.  Brand new for 2013, it was manufactured in Canada, hard to find in the US, and I knew the moment I saw the pictures that I had to have one. 

The “New Vixen” is a rare bird-only 250 are made every year and most are sold before they hit the sales floor.  I called around, looked at every possible alternative and finally concluded that this time, I would get exactly what I wanted, no compromises.  So, for the first time in my life, I am buying a brand new vehicle, new car smell and all.   I sent off a check for the next one to come across the border and now I am packing for, of all places-Las Vegas, where I will pick up my new chariot and begin my new life on the road. 

I’m easing into this and old habits rarely go down without a fight.  As I scan for routes and change my mind with a click on the Google map, my greatest fear is boredom or disappointment from a lack of planning.  Oh well, it’s a journey and I will just have to set out and see where and how the road takes me.  Check our new page for updates to follow-www.BeforeIGetOld.com/roadtrip

 

 

 

 

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Choosing a Doctor-Concierge Medicine

Posted by on Oct 29, 2012 in Health | 0 comments

Sometimes you need a new doc because of a move and sometimes you and your physician are just not a "good match" anymore.  Perhaps your doctor has run out of ideas for treatment or you want more of his or her time than they can give you.  There are a lot of choices when seeking a health professional to manage your care, or the care of a loved one. Consider concierge medicine as one way to get a better relationship with your doctor.

Concierge Medicine
    MDVIP (www.MDVIP.com) has a network of physicians nationwide. When my family signed on, we were pleasantly surprised at what a difference there was between our new doctor and conventional medical practices we have experienced. 

What Do They Do?
    For an annual fee,  you can get same day appointments your doctor, no time limits on your medical appointments, and your appointment time is honored–no long waits. If you are traveling or if you need a specialist, Your doctor will connect you with other affiliated doctors across the country if an urgent need arises.  In addition, they can inform you of necessary vaccinations before traveling abroad.   Top testing and diagnosic specialists across the country are part of this network.  If you have ever suffered and worried while waiting for an appointment with a specialist, you will appreciate this feature very much. 

How Much Does It Cost? 
    The average yearly fee is around $1,500-$1,800 per person.   After that fee is paid out up front, then the doctor will take all the regular forms of insurance, including medicare, to cover office visits, medical procedures, etc. just like in a conventional practice.   As Nancy Udell of MDVIP explained, concierge services are different from conventional medical practices because “while a doctor in a conventional practice may have anywhere form 2500 to 4,000 patients, the doctors in MDVIP have no more than 600 patients. With fewer patients, the physician has time to really make plans to support a patient’s health and their progress towards their wellness goals.  Each patient typically has a 1-1/2 to 2 hour visit annually for this purpose.”
You can find a concierge doctor near you at the MDVIP web site:
www. MDVIP.com

Mary Boone interviewed  Nancy Udell of MDVIP
MB:
What is the difference between MDVIP and a conventional doctor’s practice?
Nancy:
The main difference is that in a conventional medical practice, a doctor will have between 2,500 and 4,000 patients.  With that patient load, there simply is not time for a doctor to get to know his patient or to focus on preventative care.
MB:
How many patients does a MDVIP doctor have?
Nancy:
They have a maximum of 600 patients per year. 
MB:
Wow, that’s big difference. 
Nancy:
With fewer patients, the physician has time to really make plans to support a patient’s health and their progress towards their wellness goals.  Each patient typically has a 1-1/2 to 2 hour visit annually for this purpose.
MB:
What other differences are there in a concierge doctor’s practice?
Nancy:
Our patients find they can go right in to see the doctor for a scheduled appointment with no waiting!  If there is an emergency, the patient has the availability and convenience of same day doctor visits.   A typical doctor visit is thirty minutes long, and it is never rushed if you need longer.  We like to picture our doctors walking through their day rather than running.  Fewer distractions means better focus on you—the patient.
MB:
That sounds great, kind of like an old time doctor in a small town, with the personal touch!
Nancy:
Right! The most up to date medicines and treatments are at our doctor’s fingertips as well through our network of specialists and diagnosticians.  Should you need a second opinion, we partner with a patient advocate to navigate state of the art testing at prestigious medical facilities, like the mayo clinic. 
MB:
This sounds like it would be very expensive!  What does all this service cost?
Nancy:
There is an annual fee of $1,500 for an individual.   That comes out to $125.00 per month.  Our doctors take all the regular forms of insurance, just like in a conventional practice, so after the fee, the rates for visits and procedures are the same.
MB:
That seems a worthwhile investment, especially considering that one’s health would probably be much better with the focus on wellness.  How popular are concierge doctors?
Nancy:
There has been a lot of interest in this new system, especially as patients become more and more dissatisfied with the conventional system that often leaves them feeling a bit lost.  We are growing in double digits, and are finding a real american cross section of people are subscribing—small biz owners, cab drivers and factory workers and professionals.  We are growing our network as fast as we can find exceptional doctors who qualify to work with our network.  There is a rigorous qualification to work with us—we set the bar high.  Our patients sign up year after year with a 92% renewal rate.
MB:
Sounds like with all the time to chat with your doctor about your health concerns, the patients get a better understanding of their health options.
Nancy:
Yes, and every patient gets a copy of their medical records via the web.  This is handy in case of emergencies away from home.
MB:
How many of your patients are elderly?
Nancy:
About 50%
MB:
Anything else I should know?
Nancy:
Because of the focus on prevention, our patients have 72% fewer hospitalizations than patients at a conventional practice and are less likely to be re-admitted after surgery.   Should a hospital visit be needed, your doctor will visit you there and oversee the care.  Finally, and this is pretty amazing, our doctors will even make house calls!
MB:
House calls sound great!  I think everyone would appreciate that benefit from time to time.  Thank you Nancy.

My family members been very happy with our concierge doctor.  We feel we have received the best that modern medicine has to offer-the top diagnosticians and best course of treatments and best of all, we love the focus on building health, rather than waiting for something to go wrong.

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Exercises for keeping your hands mobile

Posted by on Sep 13, 2012 in Health, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Exercises for keeping your hands mobile

  I found these easy hand exercises for knitters (which I am.)

  They would also help with any hand craft, even typing on the computer!

 

 

I've started doing them while I walk and my hands feel looser and lighter. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

 

Wrist and Forearm Extensor/Flexor Table Stretches

Extensor Stretch: Sitting back from your desk, straighten your arms and hold your hands flat. Place the back of your hands along the edge of the table. Bending only at the wrist, with fingers pointing at the floor, press gently into the table edge.

 

Flexor Stretch: Sitting back from your desk or table, straighten your arms and hold your hands flat. Place your fingers along the edge of the table, bending only at the wrist, with fingers pointing at the ceiling. Press gently into the table edge.

 

Hands Tendon Glide

Start with your wrists in a neutral position.

STEP 1: Extend your fingers apart and toward the back of your hand.
STEP 2: Relax the extension and curl the top segment of your fingers to the base of your fingers.
STEP 3: Repeat Step 1.
STEP 4: Relax the extension and fold your fingers to the base of your palm.
STEP 5: Repeat Step 1.
STEP 6: Make tight fists.
STEP 7: Repeat Step 1.

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The Venus Pill

Posted by on Aug 28, 2012 in Health, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Mythical Transformations
When I started to write about how to secure a happy and healthy old age, I found remarkable new research.  Things which I thought could not be good for me had health giving qualities that rivaled the magical “Venus Pill” that revived that dreary group of women on Star Trek (Mudd’s Women, Season 1, Episode 6).  Without the pill, the women were broken down– terribly old and haggard looking.  The pill glowed on and off with a ruby light while transforming these sad specimens into sexy, vibrant, youthful sirens.  It turned out the placebo effect was responsible for the transformation.  Self-confidence was all the women needed to revive their sorry looks, and the Venus Pill gave it to them, making the lonely lithium miners of far away Rigel XII happy and Capt. Kirk happier because he needed the lithium to power the Enterprise.  Remember that?  Well, maybe you were not a geeky Trekie in 1966 like some of us.  If you ever doubted my authenticity as a boomer, you are surely convinced by now!

 

New Research
What are these magical substances that restore youth, beauty and confidence?  This sounds  almost too good to be true, but research proves that red wine, coffee and chocolate are the holy trinity of youth and vigor!   Before I heard that I should be drinking red wine every evening, coffee every morning and and eating chocolate when the fancy took me, I had embarked on my usual round of self improvement regimens.
Having become very fit a mere seven years ago, I couldn’t help but notice lately that I had slipped. Nothing on my body was quite where I remembered it being ‘back when’ and surely there was more of it than there should be.  I went back to the same routines that delivered the miracle of my transformation from a sad, dyspeptic vegetarian couch potato into a slim, chirpy, cheerful runner who ate burgers and salad, (minus the bun, never the bun.)
After a mere 3 months of this once magically effective routine, which I had received from a naturopath of some renown, I had energy to burn and a slim, strong figure.  Dropping 35 pounds and 10 dress sizes in the process gave me the opportunity to indulge in a new wardrobe and I felt like the cat who ate the canary.  Actually, canary was not mentioned as a preferred food for me but would probably have fit well into my steady diet of turkey, beef and wild game, with a side of greens.

 

Results?
Sadly, shockingly, even though I was religious about following the same instructions, I did not achieve the same results the second time around.  I had not descended to my previous low weight but I knew what it felt like to bound upstairs, then agree happily to another two mile hike with the grandkids after my morning five mile run.  I wanted that edge I felt when there were reserves of energy to draw upon when needed for work or fun.  I wanted to fit back into my tiny waisted skirts as well.
I just could not get on board with the “age slows you down” program so many of my contemporaries subscribe to.  After all, I felt better now at sixty-two than I had for most of my forties, so I was not about to let this insidious “blah” become my norm.   I figure with forty more years or so ahead in this body, it was time to get and keep the upper hand, fitness wise, or the decline could take all the fun out of my future.

 

Live Fast, Work Hard and Don’t Die
My exercise program and improved diet had some very good results, like better sleep, more energy and, to my eye, firmer upper arms, but my weight and dress size stubbornly refused to budge.  Week after week the scale and the tape measure showed no difference, I got mad.  “Son of a Biscuit Eater!” I exclaimed each week at the ritual weigh in when I saw no change in the digital readout on my new scale.  Stepping up my weekly curse fest at the device proved ineffective as all the other techniques I had tried so I began to acquire new gadgets to monitor my efforts. My little Fitbit device monitored all the steps I took and stairs I climbed each day while I measured my aerobic efforts with a heart rate monitor as I ran.  I even tried weight watchers for two weeks.  I was the weight watcher nazi, measuring and weighing all my portions and being super vigilant about all my records.  Calculators were employed.  Charts were made.  Special foods with the point value printed on them were purchased.
There was a major hissy fit when, after two weeks of this I had actually gained two pounds.  I know, I know, most people have great results with the program, I must have a hormone or thyroid problem, I thought.  So I got tested and no such luck.  It was a bit cheering to find out exactly how healthy I was, everything in balance, bad cholesterol low, good cholesterol high, thyroid OK, no hormonal issues, heart strong, no suspicious spots, no excuses–drat!

 

Clues
The only change I notice was that when I diet I usually drop a bra size first thing. Nature is cruel, it is an inch I cannot afford.  This time, I held steady, even put on a half inch.  OK-this was a clue.  I had been walking up my local mountain (3 miles round trip, the equivalent of 64 flights of stairs) a few times a week.  To keep it interesting, I added 2 pound weights in each hand which made it that much harder to do the deed in under an hour.  I started at one hour and fifteen minutes round trip with no weights.  There were a lot of sound effects at first, grunts and whining as I sweated my way up the steepest inclines.  I also confess to turning around before getting to the top more than once, counting it as “good enough”  Now I can do the mountain in 50 minutes with the weights and not wheeze–OK, maybe a small grunt and grumble..  I didn’t say I loved it, I just said I could do it.  I figured the weights worked to build up my arm and chest muscles and that was a positive change I could live with.
Now I have signed up for the gym again so I can use the weight machines once a week.  That’s right, research shows that’s all you need for building muscle.  Muscle strengthens bone, I could tell you why, and probably will, stay tuned.  Muscle also burns more fat.  So, let me get this all organized for you–the more muscle you have, the easier it is to do the things you want to do, like carry your 40 lb. grandson around on your hip as long as it takes to keep him happy.  Then it goes and burns more calories for you while you are sitting around watching old star trek episodes (still a fan).   This sounds like the deal of the century.  OK, OK it’s not the Venus pill, but remember, that was a fake anyway, a fiction inside another fiction.

 

New Routines
So now I am buckling down to yet another discipline.  Yep, in addition to drinking eight glasses of water a day, eating no carbs, running 5 miles, plus-drinking the wine and coffee, eating the chocolate, hey, it’s for my health, –I am lifting weights.  I’ll let you know how it works out.
We are far beyond “live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse” -that boat sailed long ago.  I Hope I Don't Die Before I Get Old while I'm proposing a new motto for Boomers-live fast, work hard and don’t die till you can leave a beautiful corpse.  I’m trying, still trying.

 

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