Category Archives: Aging

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?

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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 http://www.creativeaging.org

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

Over the hill, or suddenly creative?

Dr. Cohen's book dispels aging myths and shows us the more promising aspects of aging

Dr. Cohen's book dispels aging myths and shows us the more promising aspects of aging

Believing as I do that life can become richer with age, I was delighted to discover a book the celebrates the strengths of aging.  Tucked away on the value shelf at the bookstore, it has proven to be a real treasure.  Look for highlights of this book in the coming days, and if you wish to devour it whole, it’s titled The Creative Age, and it’s written by Gene D. Cohen, MD, PhD.

Cohen cites George Bernard Shaw in his first chapter, noting that Shaw wrote Back to Methuselah when he was sixty-six, and was awarded the Nobel Price in Literature in 1925 — at the age of sixty-nine.  Shaw wrote his entire lifetime, and was writing a comedy when he died at the age of ninety-four.

The creative spirit, Cohen says, has the power to change our lives at every age.

This book inspired me to focus on topics about our creative age.

Next up tomorrow:  Not just artsy-crafty – how to live better through creativity