Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Feel Younger at Any Age

How does your body feel at this very moment?  If you are like most Baby Boomers, you may be starting to feel your age and fear that things are only going to get worse as the years go by.  However, you do not have to just sit back in your recliner and assume that how you feel now is as good as it is going to get.  Instead, by applying the principles from the Younger Next Year books, you could slow down or even reverse the aging process and feel better than you have in years.

How to Feel Younger Within a Year

According to the authors of Younger Next Year, Chris Crowley and Henry Lodge, "how long you live is 80 percent genes and 20 percent you; but how well you live is 80 percent up to you and 20 percent genes."  They believe that people who follow their suggestions can avoid approximately 50 percent of all major diseases and accidents.  Of course, if this is true, it could make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life as you age.

AARP was so intrigued by the idea that the right lifestyle could help us all feel younger, they interviewed Henry Lodge, one of the authors of the Younger Next Year books (which I highly recommend) and summarized his findings in a special section of AARP Magazine in their October/November 2016 issue. So, what do you have to do in order to feel better and improve the quality of your life?

A Few Younger Next Year Recommendations

Exercise at least six days a week, as hard as you can, until the day you die!  Break it down into four days a week of aerobics and two days a week of strength training with weights.  Include some balance exercises.  Exercise regularly, even if you have arthritis.  It could actually reduce your pain.  Once you are in your 80s or older, continue with the exercise.  However, you can back off the high intensity workouts and rely more on longer, slower exercises.

Spend less money than you make.  This will help reduce the stress in your life.  You may even want to get a retirement job.  It will keep you active and involved in the world around you.  It will also make it easier to live within your means. 

Eat food which is alive, and stop eating dead, processed food.  Your diet should consist of 50 percent vegetables and fruit, 25 percent whole grains like brown rice, quinoa or whole wheat, and 25 percent meat, poultry and fish.  Replace butter and animal fat with olive oil. Limit alcohol to one or two glasses of wine a day, at most. Do not feel as if you have to eat everything on your plate.  The types of dead food we should minimize or eliminate from our diet include popular items such as bread, white rice, white pasta, sugar, chips, soft drinks, frozen meals, desserts, french fries, cheeseburgers, milk shakes, and anything which is fried. 

Care about others.  Connect with your friends and family, and commit to their well-being. Nurture yourself with friendships and, perhaps, a pet.

Enjoy your life. Explore your talents and follow your dreams.  Paint, write, or play an instrument.  Doing these things will make you happier, help you feel better, and you will enjoy your life more, too!

Of course, the entire book cannot be summarized in a short blog post.  As a result, I encourage anyone who wants to age well to read one of the Younger Next Year books.  You can use the Amazon link on the right side panel of this blog, near the top, to order the book.  The book makes a great gift, too! All ads on this blog are from quality, trustworthy sources such as Google, Amazon or Viglink.

If you are interested in learning more about dealing with common health problems as you age, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Alzheimers Research - How to Join a Study

Alzheimer's Disease, the most common form of dementia in the United States, is expected to sky-rocket over the next few decades as Baby Boomers grow older.  Currently, about 5.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's Disease.  Over the next 30 years, that number is expected to triple to 16 million people, with approximately one-third of all Medicare dollars spent to treat this one disease alone.  If this concerns you, it is now possible to sign up to participate in a long-term research program, even if you currently have no signs of dementia.

There are thirty Alzheimer's Research Centers in the United States which are funded by the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health..  The map at the top of this post shows the cities where they are located. 

On a personal level, I recently registered with the Alzheimer's Research Center in my area, at the University of California in Irvine.  In order to participate, I registered on their MIND website at  Readers who live in Orange County, California may also want to register with this Research Center.  Unfortunately, each Research Center has its own separate studies and websites. You can find more information about how to register with other centers at the National Institutes of Health website at

To initiate my registration with UCI MIND, I completed an online questionnaire which took about 30 minutes to complete.  It asked about my family background (my mother died of Alzheimer's, but my father is alive at 90 with no signs of the dementia.)  It also asked about my health, medications I take, and my lifestyle habits, including my diet, amount of sleep I get, alcohol consumption, etc.   In addition, they wanted to know what diagnostic and treatment medications I potentially would agree to, if offered.  I was a bit uncertain about how to answer these questions, since they included whether or not I was willing to take experimental medications, get brain scans, or donate my brain to the researchers upon my death.  I did not agree to all of these things, and apparently it was not necessary to agree to them all.

The speaker who suggested that interested parties should register for the UCI MIND Alzheimer's Research Project told us that people would qualify for the early clinical trial if they met the following criteria:
  • Are 60 to 85 years old
  • Have generally normal memory function
  • Are not being treated for memory problems
  • Have a close friend or relative who can partner with you
  • Are willing to take an investigational medication
I met the above criteria.  As a result, I was contacted about six months after I registered on the UCI MIND website.  I went to the offices at UCI and had an interview with one of the researchers.  During the interview, I was also given a basic cognitive test to determine whether or not I was currently showing signs of dementia.  I was not.  The researcher told me that I would be contacted periodically in the future.  I would be asked to update my online questionnaire annually so I could report changes to my health, medications or medical record. 

I may also be invited back to their office occasionally to be interviewed again and given another cognitive test.  The researchers may decide at some point that I might be a good subject for more intensive study, perhaps receiving a brain scan or an experimental medication to prevent the progression of dementia.  That decision could be made at any time, or years from now.  However, it is reassuring to know that I am now part of their database and will be followed for the rest of my life. 

There is also a special, separate research study at UCI MIND which is called the 90+ Study. It is for people over the age of 90 and it has been featured on the television show "60 Minutes."  Some of the subjects of this study have been participating for over 30 years. You can find a video of the "60 Minutes" segment on YouTube, as well as other videos featuring Dr. Claudia Kawas, who is the lead investigator.

Whether you ever develop dementia or not, your participation in a research study could help someone else avoid Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia in the future. That makes your participation well worth the time and an excellent way to help others and, possibly, yourself.

For more information about dementia and other common health problems as we age, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Use the ACA for Pre-Retirement Medical Insurance - the Affordable Care Act

People between the ages of 50 and 65 often pay extremely high medical insurance premiums.  What they may not realize is that many of them may qualify for a discount on their medical insurance if they take advantage of the ACA or Affordable Care Act.  This is an income based discount and may only be available if you apply during the annual open enrollment period.  Currently, those who want to investigate whether or not they qualify for lower medical insurance premiums through the ACA need to apply between November 1 and December 15. 

Those who miss the deadline but have what is considered a special qualifying event, such as an adult child who recently lost coverage under their parents' plan, or someone who has lost their employer sponsored or COBRA insurance, can apply at any time of year.  However, they must apply within 60 days of the time the "qualifying event" occurred.    This program is available even if you only need the coverage for a few months until you get a new job or qualify for Medicare.

Apply Even if you did not Qualify in the Past

If you have not been eligible for a discount through the Affordable Care Act in the past, you may still want to try again this year.  Several states, including Idaho, Utah and Nebraska, have recently passed Medicaid expansions, which means hundreds of thousands of people who previously were not eligible to receive help from the Affordable Care Act are now eligible.  Other states have also expanded their programs.

How to Apply Online or in Person

The official national website for the Affordable Care Act is:  On the website you can either apply immediately for medical insurance or learn how to get personal help in the state where you live from a local agent or broker.  There is even a "Quick Start" guide on the website to make the application process easier.

If you live in California, the official site for receiving information about the Affordable Care Act is:  Covered California.  You can apply online or you can use the website to find the location of offices where you can get personal help with the application process.  You may also see small offices for Covered California in malls and shopping centers, manned by experts who can help you through the application process.

Pre-existing Conditions

According to the website, "Under current law, health insurance companies can’t refuse to cover you or charge you more just because you have a “pre-existing condition” — that is, a health problem you had before the date that new health coverage starts."

Preventive Care

The website also explains that the Affordable Care Act provides the following preventive care:

"You and your family may be eligible for some important preventive services at no additional cost to you.

If your plan is subject to the new requirements, you may not have to pay a copayment, co-insurance, or deductible to receive recommended preventive health services, such as screenings, vaccinations, and counseling.

For example, depending on your age, you may have access — at no cost — to preventive services such as:
  • Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests
  • Many cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies
  • Counseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression, and reducing alcohol use
  • Regular well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21
  • Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio, or meningitis
  • Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies
  • Flu and pneumonia shots - Visit to learn more

Please Help Share this Information

It is important to pass this information to anyone you know who may benefit from the ACA, including your adult children who may no longer be eligible to be covered by your insurance.  Getting them insured under the Affordable Care Act could save you a great deal of money if they become injured or ill.

The advertising budget for the ACA has been drastically cut, so many people do not realize they are eligible and that we are currently in the open enrollment period.  There are virtually no television ads for the program. 

Feel free to email this information to friends you believe could benefit, or post a link to this article on Facebook, Twitter or other social media you use.  By sharing this information, you could make life much easier for someone who is not old enough to be eligible for Medicare, and may be feeling overwhelmed by the high cost of their medical insurance premiums.

If you are interested in learning more about Medicare, Social Security, common health problems as you age, where to retire in the US and abroad, financial planning and other retirement related issues, please use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Inflammation Link to Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease!

Many of the articles on this blog have dealt with how to reduce your risk of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease by focusing on eating the proper diet, exercising, getting enough sleep, treating symptoms of dementia and staying socially active.  Some of these behaviors, especially improving your diet, can also lower the level of systemic inflammation in your body.

Inflammation has now been connected to a number of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.  According to Dr. Douglas DiSiena, the co-author of "Possibility Thinking: Adding Years to Your Life and Life to Your Years," one-third of the cases of Alzheimer's Disease and dementia could be prevented through dietary and lifestyle changes.  This is significant, because people over the age of 85 have a 47 percent chance of developing some cognitive decline.  If you do not want to suffer from this cognitive decline as you age, below are the actions you can take to protect your brain health.

Lab Tests to Determine Your Level of Inflammation

In a lecture by Dr. DiSiena, which I attended, he recommended that people first need to determine the current level of inflammation in their body.  In order to do this, they should ask their doctor for the following blood tests in order to determine their level of inflammation:

HS CPR or High Sensitive C-Reactive Protein - a level of 1 or lower is ideal.

A1C - This tests your blood sugar levels over the preceding three months - A score of 4.4 to 5.2 is ideal, although a score of 5.3 to 5.5 is OK.  This test will determine if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic. (Scores over 5.6 indicate pre-diabetes; high scores indicate diabetes.)

Test Your Current Level of Cognitive Function

Take a Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination (SMMSE) - You can find examples of the test online and ask a friend to give it to you.  You can also ask your doctor or therapist to give it to you. The websites explain how to score the test.  After making some of the healthy changes recommended in this article, take the test again and see if your scores have improved.

Causes of Inflammation

If you have inflammation anywhere in your body (such as gum disease or an injury), it will affect your brain and cause increased brain shrinkage.  There are a number of possible causes of any inflammation you may be experiencing:

A high carb diet which is heavy on grains and processed foods
Toxins, including drugs and heavy metals like aluminum in the blood
Trauma, such as a concussion or other injuries
Negative thoughts

Your Brain Can Recover at Any Age

The good news is that your brain has neuroplasticity.  If you currently have impaired cognitive function, it is almost never to late to reverse course and make diet and lifestyle changes which can reduce your inflammation and improve your test scores and brain function.

Try to eat a Mediterranean based diet, which relies heavily on vegetables, followed by nuts, fish like salmon or tuna, and olive oil.  This diet should increase the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids you consume and reduce the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids.  Taking an Omega-3 capsule can help you maintain the proper balance.

Neurofeedback training has also been shown to directly improve brain function.  In some studies, after 20 neurofeedback sessions the patients were able to improve their scores on the SMMSE (Standardized Mini-Mental State Examination) by six points.  That can make the difference between having a score which indicates cognitive decline and one which indicates healthy brain function.

Making the right dietary and lifestyle changes can be the difference between slowly losing your cognitive function and remaining mentally sharp for the rest of your life.  

If you want to learn more about preventing dementia and other common medical problems as we age, as well as retirement planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page for links to hundreds of additional articles.

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