Category Archives: aging issue

Bad oral health can hurt your heart, bones, kidney….

Links have been bound between heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's and even some cancers.

“Don’t look a gift horse in the teeth,” the old saying goes.  New information about the link between bad oral health and heart disease brings a new slant to this old saying.

Since I have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), I’m alert for information that affects the heart.  Imagine my surprise when I read that the health of your gums can affect your health.  In a recent  article by Dr. Ranit Mishori,  she explained that in a study published in the International Journal of Cardiology, researchers studied the health of people who had recently suffered a heart attack, and found that those patients had bad oral health than the control group.

How could bad oral health cause heart attacks?  The report didn’t say it caused them, but did show an association between the two.  In periodontitis, the advanced stage of gingivitis, bacteria, or plaque, accumulates in the gums. These organisms release toxins that can circulate, via blood vessels, through the body. 

Multiple studies from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology revealed that, the more advanced the gum disease, the thicker and harder the walls of the arteries.  Even more startling: they found this to be true even for young, health patients with no other heart problems. 

These circulating toxins can cause more havoc in your body. Scientists are finding more links between bad oral health and diabetes, kidney disease, pre-term labor, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even certain types of cancer.

Bottom line:  we need to protect our gums and teeth.  The American Academy of Periodontology says that one in three adults over 30 have periodontal disease.  Avoid being one of these statistics, and you may very well be on your way to a healthier heart.  So — your horse owners out there, is that why horse buyers always check a horse’s teeth?


Don’t buy into the negatives-aging myths

We can break old barriers and accomplish new goals ... at any age

We can break old barriers and accomplish new goals ... at any age

“It beats the alternative,” George Burns said at turning ninety.  Still, author Gene D. Cohen in The Creative Age says it’s hard to get past the grim generalities and myths about aging.

“Over the hill” and “It’s all downhill from here” are sinister words that echo in our brains as we celebrate each birthday after fifty.  Plummeting sex drive, health, and memory, dark, neglected nursing home rooms.  Ugh.  Should we really unquestionably accept all this?

No, Cohen says, and presents examples of people achieving great things in their later years.  Madeline Albright, at age sixty becoming the first female Secretary of State.  Dr. C. Everett Koop, surgeon general from age sixty-five to age seventy-three.  Boris Pasternak who wrote his first novel, Dr. Zhivago, at sixty-six.  Susan B. Anthony, internationally active into her eighties.

Cohen doesn’t stop with celebrities.  He cites regular people he grew to know from his experiences with the National Institute of Health–Robert, who left his law career in his early seventies and turned to documentary photography, completing a thrilling helicopter assignment at age eighty-seven over Alaskan wilderness.  William Edmonson, who lost his job as janitor in his mid-sixties and turned to sculpting, later becoming the first African American to have a one-person show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  Charlotte, a retired “shrinking violet” secretary who went on to enjoy community theater, acting and singing publicly in her seventies.

While health complications are a reality, so too is the reality of the creative spirit.  Cohen points out that “Dreams, desires, ambition, determination, wisdom and compassion are also among the many effects of aging.”

Next: The Right Stuff

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Better living through creativity

Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peters in Rome -- at age seventy-two.  Social creativity blossoms with age, also.

Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peters in Rome -- at age seventy-two. Social creativity blossoms with age, also.

It’s more than artsy-crafty

In The Creative Age, author Gene D. Cohen cites the benefits of enhanced creativity. He compares the benefits of tapping our creativity to that of exercising to improve our muscle tone.

Nurturing our creativity can provide these benefits:

* Stronger morale.  “Creativity makes us more emotionally resilient and better able to cope with life’s adversity and losses.”

* Improved physical health.  Expressing our creativity can foster a positive outlook and sense of well-being, which in turn can strengthen our immune system and health.

* Enriches relationships.  If we are more optimistic about aging, we can more comfortably discuss it with our children. A more open, positive outlook on aging can encourage our children and grandchildren to also see more of the opportunities and promises of aging and less of the penalties of aging. This positive outlook encourages more open communication and trust across the generations.

* Provide a legacy.  I admire Cohen’s vision of being a role model for our families, improving individual thinking and social policies about aging.  We don’t need t win Nobel Prizes to make a positive impact on our family and through them, on the world.

UPDATE:  Dr. Cohen is presenting a fall webinar series this afternoon. Learn more at

Stop by tomorrow when I’ll be reviewing the myths of aging

Reject “old age” messages, explore new roads

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, and old dog who learned many new tricks

Handsome, regal Rhett Butler Carey, an old dog who learned many new tricks

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
I’m having a senior moment.
He’s ready for the rocking chair.

I recall writing an article for Network Magazine in which I visited belittling expressions about women. Terms like babe, chick, hen (and the more crass references we won’t mention here but all of us know) tend to dismiss women, to undermine their intelligence and capabilities.

In fairness, there are similar terms for men: hunk, bull, ox, mule, and so on.

Many such limiting labels have been placed on aging, as well. Old dog, bats-in-the-belfry, put him out to pasture, these and many more expressions leave lingering impressions on our minds, leading us to believe, as we approach and pass retirement age, that the best of our lives lies behind us.

Is that all there is?  Should we now rock our way to our final day?

Not me.  If aging is so devastating, why do we have a Supreme Court peopled with judges over seventy? The average age for a President to take office is 54.8 years old. The median age is 55. Eight men became President in their 40’s, 24 in their 50’s, and 10 in their 60’s.

There are countless examples of people achieving their best life works–in established or new fields of venture–in their seventies and eighties.

Why, then, do such generalities about fading proliferate?

It reminds me of the “dumb blonde” syndrome. There are many blonde-haired women who are bright and successful, but that’s not entertaining.  How much more fun it is to point at the ditzy one and make jokes.  So, humor at the expense of the aging is one answer.

Another reason may be fear. One witnesses the ravages of age in some–the decline in mobility, continence, health, memory–and releases the anxiety through comedy.

The biggest reason, though, may be one of being informed and aware of the whole picture.

While it’s true that age brings health challenges, it’s also true that quality of life can continue if we:
* keep an open mind
* accept adaptive methods that can neutralize some of life’s challenges
* point to one positive trait of aging for every negative we hear
* acknowledge both physical decline and the increased creativity that comes with age
* focus on an individual who overcomes aging challenges and shines in spite of them

There are others, but I have not yet enjoyed my second cup of coffee.
Maybe you’ll add some for us.  I would enjoy hearing from you.

Make life a little happier – spread sunshine!

How will you spread sunshine today?  Please let us know!

How will you spread sunshine today? Please let us know!

Some days are just sunnier than others, thanks to wonderful people who share good news and good will.

Such was the case today when I received this letter from Mary John Thomas of Newnan, Georgia.

“Dear Janet,

You cannot imagine how THRILLED I am to be able to buy a replacement UNSKRU jar opener.  Since mine broke several years ago (after more than ten years of use), I have been trying to find one just like it. During this time, I’ve bought several “fool-proof” jar openers – even one from a shop for the disabled.  All were unsatisfactory!

This is, by far, the BEST jar opener that I’ve ever had.  There is no strain on your wrists and you don’t need THREE HANDS to try to open a stubborn jar lid.  It is everything you say it is and I just love it.

Enclosed is my order form for 3 openers.

You may use any part of this letter for your web site.”

Have you spread some sunshine lately?  I vow to look for proof of things that work properly, that fulfill their promise(s) and that make my life easier, and let the people responsible for that success know I appreciate them.

Meanwhile, thank you, Mary, for brightening my day and for letting us know that our product makes your life easier!

The ageless fairy-tale story of Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's finalist, proves that we're never too old to have a dream, never too old to pursue it.

Susan Boyle, Britain's Got Talent's finalist, proves that we're never too old to have a dream, never too old to pursue it.

I dreamed a dream –

The ageless fairy-tale story of Susan Boyle


Who hasn’t heard of Susan Boyle, the “older” woman with the angelic voice who inspired the world? She stood before the Britain’s Got Talent judges, enduring their eye-rolling and other visible expressions of dismissal. Patient and gracious, she answered their questions, revealing her age (good grief, 47!), the fact she’d never been given a chance with her singing, and most of all her dream, to sing with the likes of Elaine Paige, a famous English singer. That brought another round of cruel eye-rolls from judges and the audience as well.

Then she sang, and the rest truly is history. Her rendition of I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables gave me goosebumps, and I didn’t hear it live – like hundreds of millions of other people, I saw this remarkable audition on YouTube.


I needed to hear more. I listened to her Cry Me a River, and I saw her second performance on Britain’s Got Talent when she sang Memories, from Cats, one of my lifetime favorite songs. More goosebumps. Her voice is, quite simply, fantastic, but it’s also her interpretation of the songs, the life and passion she gives them. She delivers, and she delivers with a straightforward honesty I’d almost forgotten.

Contrast her performance with the current video pop star kings and divas. Always aware of where the camera is, they “act” their way through songs, delivering carefully rehearsed expressions and movements meant to convince you that their songs are filled with the passion of the lyrics and essence of the song.

Not so with Boyle. She simply sings.

In addition to her unaffected delivery and her angelic voice, she represents hope for women “of a certain age,” for people who have lost the golden glow of youth but have been touched by the rich silver of wisdom and life experience. It’s a tale as old as time itself, embraced more passionately in the United States than anywhere else in the world: Cinderella. Rags to Riches. Rocky Balboa, from downtrodden to triumphant.

Susan Boyle touches all people who have hope in their hearts, all people who have a dream. She demonstrates, with an abundance of grace and patience, that people of all AGES can have a dream. We don’t have to possess decades and decades of a future to strive for something new and wonderful in our lives. We can be over 40, over 60, over 80 – it’s not the age, but the passion in our hearts that counts.

Boyle is exceptional. Youngest of four brothers and six sisters, she never left home. She stayed long after her siblings left, sacrificing her own pursuits by taking care of her 91-year-old mother until her death in 2007. She believed in her dream – learned from a voice coach, attended Edinburgh Acting School, and spent her entire savings to produce a professional demo tape which she distributed to record companies, radio talent competition and local and national TV. She endured such mocking in 1995 at a local talent competition called My Kind of People that she almost backed out of her audition with Britain’s Got Talent.

She came this close to not doing it. She was too old. Not pretty enough. Had tried and tried and failed. Why subject herself to more public humiliation?

Her mother believed in her, that’s why. When it came down to something balancing on those scales we use to make our decisions, her mother’s faith in her, her mother’s urging her to try Britain’s Got Talent, tipped the scales and made her keep that audition date.

There are many fascinating aspects of Susan Boyle’s meteoric rise to fame. From the aspect of age, she gives a precious gift to us, a message. A reminder.

You’re never to old to dream.

Go for it.