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July 2019

June 2019

NPR and Elderhood, a new book.

A Clearer Map For Aging: 'Elderhood' Shows How Geriatricians Help Seniors Thrive

Heard on Fresh Air (link to podcast of interview)
"Dr. Louise Aronson says the U.S. doesn't have nearly enough geriatricians — physicians devoted to the health and care of older people: "There may be maybe six or seven thousand geriatricians," she says. "Compare that to the membership of the pediatric society, which is about 70,000."

Aronson is a geriatrician and a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She notes that older adults make up a much larger percentage of hospital stays than their pediatric counterparts. The result, she says, is that many geriatricians wind up focusing on "the oldest and the frailest" — rather than concentrating on healthy aging.

Aronson sees geriatrics as a specialty that should adapt and change with each patient. "My youngest patient has been 60 and my oldest 111, so we're really talking a half-century there," she says. "I need to be a different sort of doctor for people at different ages and phases of old age."

She writes about changing approaches to elder health care and end-of-life care in her new book, Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life.

Interview highlights

On how people's health needs become more complicated as they age

While old age itself is not a disease, it does increase vulnerability to disease. So it's the very rare person over age 60 ... and certainly over age 80, that doesn't tend to have several health conditions already. So when something new comes up, it's not only the new symptoms of potentially a new disease, but it's in the context of an older body of the other diseases, of the treatments for the other diseases.

If somebody comes in with symptoms and they're an older person, we do sometimes find that single unifying diagnosis, but that's actually the exception. If we're being careful, we more likely find something new and maybe a few other things. We add to a list [and], we end up with a larger list, not a smaller one, if we're really paying attention to everything going on in that person's life and with their health.

On how the immune system changes with age

Our immune system has multiple different layers of protection for us. And there are biological changes in all of those layers, and sometimes it's about the number of cells that are able to come to our defense, if we have an infection of some kind. Sometimes it's about literally the immune reaction. So we know, for example, that responses to vaccines tend to decline with age, and sometimes the immunity that people mount is less. It also tends to last less long. And that's just about the strength of the immune response, which changes in a variety of ways. But our immune system is part and parcel of every other organ system in our body, and so it increases our vulnerability as we get older across body systems.

On the importance of vaccines for older people

Older people ... are among the populations (also very young children) to be hospitalized or to die as a result of the flu. The flu vaccine, particularly in a good year, but even when the match isn't perfect in a given year, [protects] older people from getting that sick and from ending up in the hospital and from dying. ... That said, we have not optimized vaccines for older adults the way we have for other age groups. So if you look, for example, at the Centers for Disease Control's recommendations about vaccinations, you will see that there are, I believe, it's 17 categories for children, different substages of childhood for which they have different recommendations, and five stages for adulthood. But the people over age 65 are lumped in a single category. ... We're all different throughout our life spans, and we need to target our interventions to all of us, not just to certain segments of the population, namely children and adults, leaving elders out.

On how medications can change in how they affect the patient over time

Researchers have traditionally said, "Well, we're not going to include older people in our studies because their bodies are different and/or because they have other ailments that might interfere with their reaction to this medicine." But then they give the medicine to those same older people ... and so very frequently with a new medicine we will see all sorts of drug reactions that are not listed on the warnings. So message number one is just because it's not listed doesn't mean it's not the culprit. Another key point is really any medicine can do this. And it can do it even if the person has been on it a long time. ... We think of medicines as sort of fixed entities, but in fact what really matters is the interaction between the medication and the person. So even if the medication stays the same, the person may be changing.

On the importance of doing house calls in her work

What got me into medicine and what keeps me there is the people. And when you do a house call, you see the person in their environment, so they get to be a person first and a patient second, which I love. I also can see their living conditions, and more and more we're realizing and paying attention to how much these social factors really influence people's health and risk for good or bad outcomes.

Roberta Shorrock and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Deborah Franklin adapted it for Shots.

This story was submitted to Itsa Village by Irma.
Coincidentally (if you believe in that stuff), Dr. Louise Aronson is mentioned in other links on this blog, in an article she wrote called Ageism in Medicine.

"The Pinnacle of Adaptation"


"Keeping a human body upright and moving is a spectacular feat of coordination
and reaction under any circumstances. Doing so in the ninth decade of life
magnifies rather than diminishes the beauty of this achievement."    

"It is true that the second half of life includes experiences related to loss,
but it is also true that elderhood is not limited to these things. As we age,
we encounter an unexpected and highly significant rise in the power of adaptation.
The emergence of adaptability is perhaps the most important
and least acknowledged of the virtues of aging."

Dr. Bill Thomas is/was writing regular health columns for TGB. You can find out more about him here or here.

I think the full article is wonderful. It was his first post for TGB and certainly presents a (to me) delightful approach to aging.
He starts off by saying he thinks we're the healthiest group of people on the planet!  His explanation of how that could be makes complete sense to me.

I think you'll enjoy the article.

One more I can't resist - 90 year old Swing Dancer!

90 year old Hollywood Swing Dance legend Jean Veloz dancing with Lindy/ Swing dance instructor Steve Conrad of the Arizona LIndy Hop Society at FatCat Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ Music by Solomon Douglas.

Full disclosure: Ms. Veloz danced all her life, much of it professionally.  I found this link to notice of her 95th birthday, which includes links to some of her much older material.


We're Never TOO Old!!!

From a famous Older, here's Willie Nelson's latest effort, published on Youtube only a month ago. He's 86 years old now.
Some horse lovers and maybe some old women will appreciate this particular song.

Ride Me Back Home:

And check out this one, published just Last Week. Hear an Older sing about the passage of time in Come On Time:


Great Depression Cooking from Clara Cannucciari

Clara is dead now. But she was a cool old woman who started posting videos to Youtube 12 years ago.
She's funny, and tells stories throughout the cooking process.

Clara Cannucciari:
98 year old cook, author and great grandmother, Clara, recounts her childhood during the Great Depression as she prepares meals from the era. Learn how to make simple yet delicious dishes while listening to stories from the Great Depression. Clara passed away in 2013. She left us with her recipes and stories and hoped that they would continue to entertain and teach you and your future generations.

a video chosen at random...

June 14, 2019 ~ Sleep

Another great meeting. I just LOVE this little sisterhood we're building!!

In new business this week, we shared a little energy with LB who was absent with an illness. We celebrated NE's absence because she's hosting grandchildren! And we missed NW and Jessica. NW is also hosting grandchildren. What a great way to spend time.  I'll just say, "Let us know if we should ship you some extra energy!!"  We miss Jessica most of the time; she's still a working woman, and one of us even in absentia.

(and in related news (that has nothing directly to do with us), I have a brand spanking new step-grand-nephew-in-law (?) as of 2:10 this morning June 15!!
His name is Jackson Beecher Fromhold; a name just a tiny bit bigger than he is. He lives in Georgia with his mom & dad.)

I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying this blog. I'm adding a new category for just fun stuff and will be posting videos (mostly) of fun and/or cool things other Olders do, or things WE could do... or whatever.  If you come across something you'd like to see here, just let me know; send a link...  

I shared some now-relieved anxiety over a doctor visit I had yesterday with a GI doc in Alamogordo. No need for details here, but the appointment was mostly very good news and quite encouraging.  
What I most came to see (AGAIN) is that worry and fear are usually needless activities that steal energy and waste time.  I think I get this lesson a little more clearly this time.   You All have permission to call me on it, if I slip in the future. :)

Kate H. facilitated our topic this week. She chose Sleep: lack of, too much, naps, medication, tips that help, dreams, anything remotely related. 
She began by reviewing our rules for sharing. I was glad about that....
and then later in the meeting I managed to break at least two of them: interrupting and advising!  Women, you can call me out on this stuff!! Really. And in the meantime, I apologize.

We had a lively discussion. Most of us, as most Olders, have noticed sleep patterns have changed over the years, and most feel that our sleep is inadequate or interrupted. Some of us nap; some of us don't. Irma is in the midst of getting treatment for Apnea. That will be useful knowledge since she is so willing to share.  When we talked about what we do when we wake or can't get to sleep, we found many similarities.  Several of us read, but agree that it needs to be boring material, not our favorite author or genre.  Some practice relaxation techniques of various kinds. One uses Melatonin now & then. Most, if not all of us, have one or more medications that we may use when all else fails or when the need to sleep is extra important...such as before a trip, or a worrisome activity. 
We talked a little about 'routine' in one's life. Most of us don't have one beyond keeping up with commitments to social, practical, or medical issues.
I'm including mention of Trazodone because it sounds quite effective (2-week period of adjustment to the drug), without any long term side-effects such as have been found with Ambien and its ilk. There is a ton of info on the web if you're curious.

When we felt we had exhausted the Sleep conversation, we switched to more fun things and planned a social outing or two.

First, the movie, Antonia's Line, has been shifted to be the feature of our July 12th meeting.

Second, our June 28th meeting has been shifted to run from 2:00-3:30 pm, in order to make it possible for some of us to hear The Secret Circus at the Hubbard Museum of the American West.  The door opens at 7:00 PM; show begins at 7:30pm. Tickets are $15 at the door and are for the show and the Museum. There will be a cash bar hosted by Lost Hiker Brewery. Ticket price benefits the Friends of the Museum and goes toward their educational goals.  Frankly, I'm not one of the 'rockers' in our group, so someone can just tell me about it.  :)

On July 4th, several of us will be going to The Women's Club in Carrizozo for music and food and to hear a band called Paul Pino and the Tone Daddies. Music starts at 5:00, BBQ brisket is on the menu.  Dinner starts at 4:00, music starts at 5:00. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

In closing chat, our resident technology maven told us about a program called Boot and Nuke for cleaning/removing data from computers or devices. It will Erase All Data. One should pay attention.  I'm checking with Revin that this link goes to the right product, and I will confirm that here when I know.

NOTE: Revin confirmed that the Boot & Nuke link is correct. I'll use it on Joel's computer one of these days and report.  Thanks, Revin.

That's it. See you next time


Time Goes By and Ronni Bennett

Time Goes By and Ronni Bennett   

For so many of the reasons that we started our Salon, you might want to consider reading this blog.
Time Goes By is subtitled "What it's really like to get old", and Ronni tells it like it is.

 I went there today because I wanted to let you know about her. What I found there caught me up short.
Ronnie is going thru her 2nd (and last) experience with cancer. She is terminal now and has been given "months or weeks".

I can't say enough good things about this blog, and by extension, its author. Her posts are pithy, well researched, honest, liberal, engaging, thoughtful.....
and comments left by her loyal readers are often as good as the posts.
Do yourself a favor...explore this site.

Death Cafe - a resource

Death Cafe is an organization started in England by Jon Underwood, a thoughtful man who has died.
They have a strong presence on Facebook, but I don't spend much time there anymore, so I am linking it here.

The website is designed to introduce you to Death Cafe, to teach one how to hold such meetings in their local areas, and to present articles and resources on this subject.

There are Many good articles linked on the site. Be sure to tell us of your favorites!

May 24, 2019 ~ Hope as Present Tense

We are having such interesting conversations around our Topics of the Day, that our recording secretary (namely, me!) is becoming quite lax about taking notes!

Today's topic was facilitated by NE who asked us to consider Hope. I've extracted this from the email she sent before the meeting:

The topic is "Hope as Present Tense."  As food for thought, here is a quote from Desmond Tutu that I find profound.  It sums up my approach to hope.
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
And here are two other jewels about hope:
"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."  Michelle Obama

"Hope is that thing with feathers 
 That perches in the soul
 And sings the tune without the words
 And never stops at all."  Emily Dickinson
We all enjoyed a lively discussion in which we agreed to disagree, though we, each, came to understand our two main Points of
View (POV).
The first, Hope as Present Tense, was fairly clear. If one is feeling 'hopeful', she is certainly feeling that now.  "I hope my children grow up to be happy" or "I hope the cake doesn't fall".
Most consensus about this POV centered around Desmond Tutu's quote about being able to see the light in spite of darkness. Some of us would have called this more an attitude toward life, than about hope, itself. But his meaning seemed clear, and this was a statement on which we could agree.

The other side of this discussion is one that posits that the "Hope" is hopeful feelings that are future-based, as in "I hope this cold doesn't get worse", or "I hope my kid will go to college". The feelings may be present tense, but we considered feelings to be emotions in the present, and that the Hope itself was an attitude or POV, and remained, future-based.
In other business, Kate H. volunteered to facilitate the next meeting on June 14th.
And we have planned a movie meeting for the 28th to watch Antonia's Line, a movie about strong women. Mel and NE will facilitate that meeting. This synopsis was posted on IMDb:
"A Dutch matron establishes and, for several generations, oversees a close-knit, matriarchal community where feminism and liberalism thrive."
See ya next time...
PS: I added the topic Sleep to our list... with questions :)