Category Archives: Uncategorized

A couple of links on health issues

These came to our attention today: One on hearing aids, and one on polypharmacy.

Polypharmacy can radically affect quality of life as we age. It’s never a bad idea for you, whether you are the patient or the person who helps someone with their health care needs, to ask the health care provider if you/they still need every medication currently prescribed. Doctors don’t always think in that direction, but sometimes less is more.

Same goes with specialists and tests. For most women*, Pap smears are no longer recommended after age 65. If you have had a hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) that included the cervix, you definitely do NOT need Pap smears at all, ever.

Many people over 85 or so, depending on other health factors, can choose whether to continue cancer screening tests like mammograms or PSA (prostate-specific antigen). The fundamental rule is, if the test showed a cancer, would you do anything about it? If so, then consider continuing to test.

*after discussion w/ your health care provider to rule out risk factors for cervical cancer that persist.

Can’t leave without noting that we seniors are woefully under-boosted for COVID. The bivalent vaccine that became available in late summer 2022 is our best defense against serious COVID illness. The stats show that once again, as in the early stages, the mortality rate among seniors tops every other age group. So please, get your booster.

Considering surgery?

This post in Kaiser Health News caught our eye today. It goes through the pros and cons, and what you need to think about and ask your surgeon when you are an older person and surgery is recommended to you.

Briefly, there is a LOT to consider, and the right choice for you may turn out to be NOT surgery. Factors such as your age, your general health, physical and mental condition, and – crucially – whether there are acceptable alternatives all have to enter into the picture. Be sure to ask the surgeon to go over worst-case, as well as best-case, scenarios.

Will you have help at home afterwards? How long will it be before you can resume normal activity? As an older person, fitness declines rapidly during periods of inactivity and it takes longer to build up to one’s previous level of fitness.

If, after all your questions are answered, surgery seems like the best option, then there’s a lot you can do to prepare yourself and your home to optimize your recovery. You might consult a physiotherapist for exercises you can do in a bed/chair to maintain muscle strength (or at least not lose too much). Get advice on diet adjustments that may be helpful from a nutritionist. Line up your helpers and give them specific tasks.

And good luck!

An 8-minute phone call.

We normally ignore articles with names like “The 7-Day Happiness Challenge.”

But this New York Times Day 2 headline caught our attention: “Try the 8-minute phone call.”

Such calls are exactly w hat Cville Village volunteers will offer when we are operational! Even though the Times article refers largely to calls between good friends, it cites this article in JAMA Network Psychiatry that supports the value of phone calls just from person to person.

So let’s get our Village going!

VR???

Here’s an interesting piece from Forbes about the use of virtual reality (VR) in palliative care.

Speaking for ourselves, we haven’t ever tried on a VR headset so that by itself would be a new experience. They look a bit bulky and that makes us wonder how well they’d be tolerated by someone who needs palliative care, but it might be something to try. It might even be fun to virtually visit some of the places that we probably won’t ever get to in real life (IRL) but would have liked to see. The Pyramids, for example.

Our plan so far for palliative care, if needed, has been a lot of good music, friends, and a hefty supply of edibles. We might add VR gear to that list!

Happy New Year 2023!

Here’s an article from The Guardian to remind us that stress can be a good thing, if it’s low-level. Stress from exercise, running or brisk-walking a local 5K race for example, or an activity deadline, provides a physiological boost to performance that may have a salutary impact on the immune system and hence our health.

Maybe your resolutions will include a promise to get a little more physical and mental exercise this year?

Sleep, the sometimes elusive goal of our nighttimes

Here’s a new Ask Well article from the New York Times on the sleep difficulties of aging. We found the theories of why we develop sleep problems as we get older more interesting than the suggested solutions, which seem like common sense ideas that we’ve probably all tried. Many of the comments seemed to express the view that sleep disturbances are a normal part of aging that we just have to manage as best we can. Commenters made a variety of suggestions you might find helpful.

Our favorite trick, when we wake up at night and can’t turn the brain off, is to read for a bit. A book light is helpful to do this without disturbing one’s bed partner. After a half-hour to an hour of reading we can almost always fall back asleep for a few hours.

What works for you?

Altruism

Here’s a timely article from the Guardian, in the season of giving.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/dec/24/i-witnessed-an-extraordinary-act-of-kindness-what-if-altruism-is-more-common-than-we-think

It tells us, “…people often underestimate the willingness of strangers to engage with, or even befriend them. Then I came across a study that suggested news coverage of current affairs tends to be more negative than positive because humans tend to give negative stimuli more attention.”

You know, “if it bleeds, it leads.” You’ve seen it.

When our Village is going, we’ll see plenty of strangers meeting and engaging with each other, and maybe down the track they won’t be strangers any more but a community of neighbors helping neighbors, just as intended.

Happy New Year!

Some thoughts after President Zelenskyy’s Congressional address

Last night in his address to Congress, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said: “Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security that we handle in the most responsible way.

If we may paraphrase: so, too, money donated to Cville Village isn’t charity. It’s an investment in our community, the community we have and the one we would like to have and belong to as we ALL grow older. It’s money that we who manage Cville Village pledge to handle in a way that will grow and sustain our Village.

Current federal spending bill has changes to retirement savings rules

They’re mostly good changes. Here is the NY Times article.

Most of it applies to people who are still working and young or young-ish. But the big news for retirees is that the age at which you must begin taking Required Minimum Distributions is going up again to 73 next year. It will be going up to 75 eventually.

Whoopee! just when your editor was set to start RMDs next year, we get a year’s reprieve.

Warning: this bill hasn’t passed Congress yet, so it may not happen like this. Keep watching your reliable news sources for updates.

How governments are spending their ARP $

In an informative post from the Brookings Institution, we learn how city and county governments have been and are spending their American Rescue Plan funds. Of particular interest to us was Table 2, which lays out how the 30% of this spending dedicated to addressing social and economic disadvantage is categorized.

We looked down the table at the 19 categories, searching for anything related to ‘aging’ and found…none. What?? Seniors represent 16.8% of the population and though we are 10.3% of US residents characterized as ‘poor’ by the Census Bureau, this doesn’t mean we’re all doing great, especially as our needs increase with increasing age.

Why do you suppose seniors were left out? Too hard?