Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking Is Great For Everyone--Or Is It?

By now we all should have learned that walking is the preferred exercise for older adults. Easy, right? Not for the folks that have suffered common walking injuries.

If you get blisters, make sure that your shoes or socks are not rubbing against your skin. Keep the blisters covered with an adhesive bandage.

If shin splints plague you, avoid hilly terrain. Elevate your legs and apply ice. If all else fails, try water aerobics.

Ill-fitting or worn-out shoes may be causing pain in the ball of your foot. Try ice and orthotics to reduce stress on the area.

Wear shoes that give proper support or you might develop Achilles tendonitis. Get rest and use orthotic devices to elevate the heel.

Either take a hiatus until your foot has heeled or decrease the duration and intensity of your walking routine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

3 Cheers for New York City

Yellow school buses that transport our l'il darlings have new riders in New York City--some of its 1 million+ senior citizens!

No longer do the school buses sit idle for a good part of the day. They actively shuttle older adults from senior centers to grocery stores and elsewhere for free.

The cost impact on the city is low because drivers get paid for the full day even though they are actually working far fewer hours.

Many seniors are opting to live in cities where they can live close to all amenities. Yet, transportation becomes an issue as their ability to drive or as their health weakens.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tai Chi Helps With Arthritis

Because studies of tai chi has shown that people over 65 with knee osteoarthritis who took tai chi exercises twice a week for 12 weeks experienced less pain and improved physical function, this form of exercise is promoted by the Arthritis Foundation.

Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician and tai chi expert, offers 12 lessons on disk for purchase. But he also is available to answer your questions.

Tai chi uses slow, deliberate, gentle, fluid and flowing circular movements that "improve the body and the mind." It is sometimes referred to as moving meditation.

This ancient Chinese martial art improves strength, balance and flexibility in older people but it also helps with chronic health conditions such as multiple sclerosis and sore joints and muscles.

For more on tai chi and arthritis, visit

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garage Sale Heaven: Enjoy Traveling and Hunting at the Same Time

I am a great believer in garage and yard sales. In fact, my oldest thought "garages" were "garage sales" because I'd call out, "There's a garage sale!" It wasn't until he was quite a bit older when he realized they were two separate things.

Buying at these kinds of events happens to be my personal favorite for recycling (and getting slashed prices). Some of our best toys and books came from local yard sales.

Have you ever thought of combining travel and the most humongous, glorious, amazing yard sales? I didn't until I read JenniferHaupt and Brooke Howell's article in an old AARP magazine.

August 5-8 is this year's The 127 ( Corridor) Sale , "The World's Longest Yard Sale," stretching from Gadsden, Alabama, to Hudson, Michigan.

The brochure reads: "Yard sales can be found along the route at homes located on the designated route, in business parking lots, along side streets adjacent to the route, in wide open fields and pastures...and basically anywhere people can find to set up."

Along the way, check out the 100 year old jail in Jamestown, TN (headquarters of 127 Sale). Visit the nation's newest national park at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Honor World War I's most decorated hero at Sergeant Alvin C. York Grist Mill and Homeplace. Find natural rock formations, bridges and arches unique to the area.

Continue on to Highway 64 from Fort Smith to Beebe, Arkansas, from August 10-12. You'll find 160 miles of yard sales, antiques and collectibles and flea markets.

But don't forget to take a narrated tour on the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad.

If you can wait until October 20-22 you can enjoy hundreds of vendors along 354 miles of U.S. 80 from Mesquite Texas, to Vicksburg, Mississippi, via Louisiana. An extra plus for this event: it shares its highway with classic and not-so-vintage vehicles.

If you can't get away and want to find garage sales in your area, go to Yard Sale Treasure Map.
You'll be notified about sales within a certain radius of your starting point.

Finally, for more discount shopping ideas, visit

Monday, July 19, 2010

Please Pray For Eve

I beg you all to send your positive thoughts, blessings and prayers to my dear cousin, mother of 7-year old twin girls, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer.

Eve's Blog

The Journey Continues

Posted: 13 Jul 2010 10:49 PM PDT

Before I talk about my medical diagnosis and my spiritual journey, I wanted to share with all of you something that happened yesterday. I arrived home to discover a letter from a former colleague of mine. In it was a lovely necklace with a medallion of Saint Peregrine (the patron saint for cancer patients). Along with the necklace was a note indicating that my colleague was in a neighborhood grocery store and had asked the man who handled the fruits and vegetables to put me on his prayer list. In response to her request, he took this medal off of his neck and gave it to her to give to me. Apparently, a friend had given it to him before his colon cancer surgery 3 years ago and now he is totally clear of cancer. He told my friend that he is healed so he was giving it to me so that I will be healed as well. This completely took me by surprise and I am so very grateful for his kindness. But, this is not the only example of the kindness of strangers (and many many many friends). There is something about this diagnosis that has brought out the most beautiful and loving behaviors in others. I feel blessed that I have been witness to the best in human nature.

Now – I think it’s probably time that I caught all of you up regarding my latest diagnosis. Unfortunately, I now have Stage 4 colon cancer. It has not only moved into my female area (for the delicate among you), but has also reappeared in my colon at the location of my original colon cancer surgery. They have also determined that my form of colon cancer is the more aggressive type of colon cancer. They are not sure if the two cancers are physically connected or if they are in two separate locations. Unfortunately, they will not know very much more than what I have outlined until they go in and look around.

So – on July 28th (please put this date on your calendar to send strong prayers my way), I will be heading to Stanford for major surgery. First, they will look laparoscopically to determine if there is any more cancer inside of me in addition to what they could see on the PET and CT scans. If there is more cancer, then they will not proceed with the surgery, but rather will start with chemo to try to blast it out of me and follow the chemo with surgery. If, however, I only have the 2 spots mentioned above, then 3 separate surgeons (gynecological, colorectal and urological) will then proceed with major surgery. Unfortunately, I will not be looking very good following the surgery. I am not going to go into the possible things that could happen, but let’s just say that I really really wish that I wasn’t doing this surgery.

Once the surgery is complete, I will most likely begin an extremely tough chemo regimen in addition to radiation. They are looking at giving me Irinotecan and potentially Avastin. Not only will this suppress my immune system, but it may also result in me losing all of my hair. I know it seems so petty to worry about my hair when my life is at stake, but my hair is what made me look normal to my kids over the past couple of years. I so worry that if I become bald that it will scare them more than they already are.

I am devastated. I am scared. I want my life back. This is not like having concerns with money or a job or your children. Those things can be changed. You can move, you can quit your job, you can give time outs to your children or at the extreme, you can just simply run away. But, I can’t run. I can’t escape. It goes with me everywhere. I keep asking “why me?” But there is no good answer. I know that it doesn’t help to ask the question, but I can’t stop asking it. I’m so jealous of everyone else. I want petty problems. I don’t like having to think about my health every moment of every day. I am so very tired and so very sad.

However, I feel very fortunate to have the top surgeons at Stanford lined up to work on me on the 28th. For example, Dr. Andy Shelton (my colorectal surgeon) is known as the surgeon who takes the hardest cases and treats his patients as if they are members of his family. Interestingly, his physician assistant ended up spending over an hour with Pat and me last week to talk about how to get through all of this in a holistic way. When I told him that one of the things that I was focused on was nutrition, he agreed that while nutrition was important, he said that I also needed to focus on feeding my soul.

So – what do I do? How do I deal with this profound challenge? I have lined up the best surgeons and one of the top oncologists. And – most likely I will get a second or third opinion on my chemo protocol prior to starting treatment. So what can I do now to help my body to heal itself?

I know that over the past 2 years I have alluded to my spiritual journey. I have done a lot of work on that front, but this most recent diagnosis has brought me to a whole new level of effort. The gravity of my situation cannot be ignored. So I am not only doing a lot of internal work to bring peace to my life, but I am also reaching out to others who are farther along the spiritual journey than I am.

This next part I have debated even writing on this blog, since I know that so many of you will think that I’ve lost it. But hell, I’m fighting Stage 4 colon cancer and I have 2 young beautiful children, so I’ve decided that you will understand why I am doing what I’m doing. And so, I will share my plans for the next part of my journey with all of you.

I am going to Brazil next week to see John of God. Ok – I’ve said it. I have decided to meet with an internationally known healer to ask for his help in healing me. Many of you may have heard of him (I’m sure many of you are googling him right now…) I have been told about him several times over the last couple of years, and I always found it to be an interesting idea, but I never seriously considered going.

But, things have changed. About a week ago, it was strongly recommended to me that I go and see John of God prior to my surgery. That seemed completely crazy. How could I possibly put together a trip BEFORE my surgery (the surgeons wanted to operate within a few weeks.) Then, a day later, a dear friend of mine offered to give me his airline miles which were expiring in September so that I could have a free flight to Brazil. Then, one of the official guides offered to bring me at a very good price because he was inspired by my story. Then, a business colleague of Pat’s went to the Brazilian consulate and pleaded with them to expedite my visa (which they are doing). Furthermore, my children were already going to be out of town visiting my parents that week, so there were no childcare issues. The door opened up to me and so I’ve decided to walk through it. I am nervous, excited and hopeful.

So – off I go on July 19th to embark on this healing journey. I will return on the 25th and will plan to rest for a couple of days prior to my surgery on the 28th.

In addition to my upcoming adventure in Brasilia, I am also exploring Jewish activities that will help me on my spiritual journey. For example, I am scheduled to go to the Mikvah to pray with a local Rabbi’s wife when I return prior to my surgery. Apparently, this is a very powerful time for prayer. I’ve never been to a Mikvah, but I am now open to so many things that I would have dismissed such a short time ago.

What has been one of the most difficult things is that physically I feel great. Until this diagnosis, I had no idea what ugliness was inside of me. It is difficult knowing that I am going to go from feeling just fine, to being in extreme pain. I can understand why some people just choose not to deal with their diagnosis and just see how things play out. But that’s not an option for me. I must continue to do everything in my power to heal – with western medicine, eastern medicine and everything else that’s out there. That is my responsibility to my children.

I choose to believe that this cancer was meant to make me a better person and to help others recognize the blessing of good health, friends and family. I am learning. I am becoming a better person. And, it seems to be having some positive impact on others. I received an e-mail this morning from a dear friend who wrote the following to me: “your life journey has helped bring me closer to all that matters in my life. You saying “yes” to this adventure (Brazil) and living fully your life now, is inspiring to me – propelling me forward on my path, sparking me to consider the “yeses” in my life with renewed gusto.”

So my journey continues. I want to thank all of you for the important role that you have played thus far in my travels. I have received countless beautiful messages that have inspired me and given me strength. Although I haven’t had the ability to respond, please know that I am so very grateful for your continuous love and support.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cancer Studies: News Releases

According to a 7/13/10 news release in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a study called Indiana Cancer Pain and Depression (NCPAD) shed more insight into cancer pain and depression. Included were 405 patients in 16 community-based urban and rural cancer practices.

Half were part of the intervention group, some experiencing depression or pain only and some experiencing both. They were assessed at the beginning, one month, three month, six month and 12 months. The patients in this group received automated home-based symptom monitoring by interactive voice recording or the Internet and centralized telecare management by a doctor-nurse specialist team.

This group of 202 patients reported significants improvements in both pain and depression, suggesting that collaborative care intervention (human and automated) is an effective way to treat both the physical and psychological conditions often associated with cancer.

On 7/14/10 the American College of Cardiology reported that an increase in HDL or the good cholesterol lowers your chances of getting cancer. In the study, participants who increased their HDL by 10 mg had a 36% greater chance of not contracting the disease.

Ways for us to increase our HDL include:

Losing excess weight

Getting plenty of exercise

Certain medications

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Vitamin D

In a study of American women over 70, those with low blood levels of vitamin D were 2 1/2 times more likely to die in 6 years than those with high blood levels.

The recommended daily dosage, according to the National Academy of Sciences, should be increased to 800 - 1,000 units of Vitamin D.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

HUD Helps Very Low Income Seniors With Housing

The Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that more than $550 million will help very low income elderly and people with disabilities find affordable housing.

The funding will provide interest-free capital advances to non-profit developers so they can produce accessible housing, offer rental assistance and provide supportive services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

The grants are provided through HUD's Section 202 and Section 811 supporting housing programs and will fund 169 projects in 36 states.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Is Agave Syrup Nature's Alternative Sweetener?

A cousin recommended it so I went out and bought it--agave syrup, that is. I thought it would be the healthy, "natural" answer to my sweet tooth.

The syrup, however, is slightly more caloric than sugar. Some scientific studies reveal that agave syrup is up to 90% fructose and can harm the heart, increase diabetes risk and lower "good" cholesterol.

One recent study suggested that agave syrup has minimal antioxidant benefits--similar to refined sugar and corn syrup.

I hope I kept the receipt.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Renting a Room Out of Your House

If you have a spare room that you can rent to travelers and would like to pay only $10-20 per night when you go on vacation, consider joining a bed and breakfast club.

The Evergreen Club is a "practical resource for travelers over 50 who enjoy people-to-people contacts."

There are over 2,500 guest rooms in the United States and Canada that are part of the club. Members retrieve accommodation information online and may contact the hosts by email.

Breakfast and an hour or so of the host's time helps travelers learn about unique sites in the area.

Dues are fully refunded if you aren't entirely satisfied.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Money From Your Home Without Selling It

Property-rich but cash-poor boomers and seniors may sleep better once they've investigated a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), a federally insured reverse mortgage. With a HECM you can have a line of credit to draw on to pay your bills. And you won't have to sell your home or take out another type of loan because the lender pays you as long as you remain in your home.

The glitch: When you sell your home, move out permanently, or die, you or your children sell your property and repay the loan, both principal and interest.

Most people consider reverse mortgages for several reasons but paying for in-home care ranks first.

Some consider reverse mortgages as a last resort because they're expensive. So consider all private loans, a home equity loan, downsizing, or selling and moving.

Upfront costs are high so it doesn't make sense unless you plan to remain in your home for a long time.

Discuss your plans with your family so that they understand any impact on your estate.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Increasing Monthly Benefits for the Rest of Your Life

Many people continue to work and still receive retirement benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, you can work and still receive your full Social Security benefit payment.

But if you are younger than full retirement age (66 years if you were born 1943-1954) and if your earnings exceed certain dollar amounts, some of your benefit payments will be withheld.

If you work and earn more than the exempt amount, you should know that it will not, on average, reduce the total value of Social Security lifetime benefits--and may increase them.

If you reach full retirement age and have earned enough so much that you collect reduced social security payments, the SSA will recalculate your benefit amount to give you credit for any months in which you did not receive benefits. Every year you continue to work, the SSA will check your earnings to determine whether or not your monthly benefit should be increased.

P.S. Even if you don't plan to receive monthly benefits, you should sign up for Medicare three months before reaching age 65.