Optimizing Life Expectancy (Maybe)

Here are three things that can optimize our life expectancy: 1) Healthy eating, 2) Regular exercise, 3) Sleeping seven or more hours per night.

I’m all set with 1) and 2).  3) is my challenge.

Here are some sleep help ideas from The Washington Post’s “Try This.” 

  1. Schedule your worry time before bedtime.  Think about what you can do about your worries in the next two weeks and make a schedule for the action you might take.
  2. First thing in the morning (if needed) ask yourself “What am I scared about today? What am I sad about?  Be present to your feelings early in the day and then move on.
  3. When awake in the middle of the night: Listen to a long, pleasant novel or a travelog.  (If read in a British accent, that would be best.) Or you can always watch old “Friends” episodes.
  4. Set parameters for when you go to bed and get up and keep to them.
  5. No napping allowed.

Good luck!

 


Forgetting Regretting

We all have wasted precious time wishing we had done something differently. It’s best to let regrets go, unless there is something we can do about them.

Psychologists Neal Roese and Amy Summerville report that the top six biggest regrets in life center on the following (1) romance, (2) friends, (3) education, (4) leisure, (5) self, (6) career, (7) family, (8) health, (9) spirituality, (10) community, (11) finance, and (12) parenting.  They also come to the positive conclusion that regrets offer “opportunities” to do something to overcome them.

Over my lucky, long life, I am sure I regretted something in every one of those categories.  (Well, maybe not parenting!) At this stage of life, I try to concentrate on things I am grateful for rather than what I would have done differently.

Here’s some good advice from an unknown source:  There's a reason why your windshield is bigger than your rearview mirror. Where you're headed is much more important than what you left behind.


Sprightliness

What do you picture when you hear a person referred to as sprightly?  When someone refers to you as sprightly, are you pleased?

When I hear sprightly, I picture an elf-like old lady, who although being energetic and in good health, probably isn’t expected to be around much longer.  Definitely not me, or so I thought.

Until last fall.

First, my very own son, after hosting me in Brazil last October, and watching me negotiate hilly cobble-stone streets, and troop through beautiful botanical gardens in grueling heat “complimented” me on my “sprightly-ness”.

And recently when a technician approached to help me get off the table after an Xray for some chronic hip pain and saw me already up on my own two feet, she commented on my feistyness.

Maybe sprightly isn’t such a bad word after all.


Body Report

In my 70’s, I used to blog a lot about my body—the good, the bad whatever was on my mind. I remember documenting the three little horizontal lines that suddenly appeared between my eyebrows one morning. I also recall my dermatologist’s strong suggestion that I never look into a 5x mirror.

Let’s put it this way.  My body was not getting better.

Now that I am in my mid-eighties, I have a different approach.  This body still can walk four miles.  It still can go up and down stairs and I still can put my carry on in the rack above my seat on the train or plane.  What more do I need?

However, last week I asked my dermatologist if there was anything I could do (without requiring surgical intervention) about the newish puffiness around my eyes.  She named a few products I could try, but she wasn’t all that convincing.  Nonetheless, I bought a tiny tube of something at a CVS where now all things over $1 or so are behind lock and key.  So I needed a salesperson to help me.

That salesperson tried to convince me that I should also buy what she called a roller to push the cream into my skin. The “roller” looked a bit like a razor but where the blade would be, there is this roller thing.

I can’t believe I bought it.  But it is pretty and pink.  You keep it in the refrigerator so it feels nice and cool against your skin.

Thus far, I see no difference.  It probably will never make a difference.  And I can’t believe I fell for her sales pitch.

However,  I must admit that using my new roller feels pretty darn good.

 


Wackiness

Peter and I produced two incredible, but wacky, sons.  Usually, I don’t blog about their shenanigans, but this one takes the cake.

For the 3rd Mardi Gras in a row, Jeremy and a colleague appeared at the University of Maryland’s newest dining hall on Tuesday at its 7:00 a.m. opening.   There, for $8, they were able to eat as much of whatever they wanted from a huge variety of food stations. 

But these two don’t stop at breakfast.  They remained in the dining hall until the 9:00 p.m. closing time, eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for their original $8.  Jeremy set up his desk at a table and worked (while piling on the calories) all day long. At the end of the day, he had gained 6.2 lbs.

This is a kid whose most recent Halloween costume was Donald Trump’s Mar A Lago bathroom, complete with shower curtain, gold (painted) toilet seat, chandelier and legal storage boxes. And who celebrates his birthday every year with a clementine-eating contest with worldwide attendance on Zoom.

No further comment


Old-Old

I am about to lambast “old-old, ” a term used to describe anyone alive at age 85 or older. That includes me. But what does old-old mean?

Actually, what does just plain “old” mean?  Are we as old as we feel?  If that’s true, my “oldness” changes like the weather.  When I am walking to the subway, bundled up from head to toe and observe others hatless with open jackets, I don’t feel so youthful.  But when I climb the stairs in my apartment building without puffing, I feel quite fit and young.

To me, “old” is the (formerly) chic, chocolate-brown suede bomber jacket that has hung unworn in my closet since I retired, and, sometimes,  “old” is the woman looking back at me from the mirror.

Would I like to be age 30 again?  No way.

But 75 sounds good.


No-name Blog Post

I don’t think 80-something subscribers want to read a post titled “WeCroak.”  But there is an app by that name, and I recommend it. 

No one needs to be reminded that we will not live forever.  But this app offers inspiring daily quotes about making the most of our short time on Earth.

Here are a few examples:

"Every day I wake up not-dead is a gift."- Eric Sun

"You think that their dying is the worst thing that could happen. Then they stay dead.”-Donald Hall

"Your own positive future begins in this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here." -Lao Tzu

Try it. 


It's the Little Things...

When Peter and I returned from our honeymoon in 1968, there was a telephone company strike so we couldn’t get a phone installed in our new apartment.  Luckily, we lived a five-minute walk from a gas station that had a public payphone. 

I think fondly of that phonebooth, long a victim of the rise of our cellphone society, as I regularly pass that gas station on my way to the library.

Recently, my car dashboard told me that my tires needed air (a task I dread).  Someone told me it was the bitter cold, but when it warmed up, the warning light remained. (Stay with me—this will come together.)

The thought of collecting quarters for an air machine, and being sure I got the right pressure, was daunting.  Then the other day while walking by that gas station, I noticed that it had an air machine that looked like the old-fashioned kind that when you got gas, the attendant filled your tires from.

Driving by in the rain the next day, I pulled up to the station door and asked if they could fill my tires.  The guy said “sure” and proceeded to measure the tire pressure (which was down) and fill all four tires. 

I went to pay him, and he said, “no charge.”  Then I tried to give him a tip.  He wouldn’t take it.  When I started my car, the warning light was gone.

Little things can make one’s day.


Ethics and Artificial Intelligence

On a rainy January night last week, I went to a talk by Professor Michael Sandel whose class I audited several years ago.  ­(That Harvard course, “Justice,” is free to all on Youtube.)

In his talk, “Ethics and Artificial Intelligence,” Sandel posed issues, asked us for a vote on which side we would take and then called on audience members who took one side or the other to explain why. Following are the issues:

#1 Meeting potential partners:  who would you trust more to choose candidates for you--your mother or a dating app?

#2 Would de-aging Harrison Ford by AI in a film be unethical? One audience member argued to do so was ageism.  Sandel responded, “What about aging a character during a film.  Is that ageism?"

#3 If a loved one, say a grandparent, before passing away, had created an online chatbot version of him/herself, would you use that chatbot?

The real question is “Will technology change what it means to be human?”

What do you think?


Honest Aging: An Insider's Guide to the Second Half of Life

Dr. Rosanne Leipzig has published a book that belongs on your bookshelf if you are old or hope to be old in the future.  A geriatrician for forty years and vice chair for education in the Department of Geriatrics at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City, Dr. Leipzig tells us what to expect in later life (although not exactly “when”) and how to process growing older. 

Chapters explain what’s normal and what’s not.  In 400 pages, Leipzig covers subjects from aches and pains to sex to how to know when to stop driving and so much more. Her book is jam-packed with useful information presented the way you would like your doctor to talk to you.

I couldn’t put it down.