Just Where Is That Fountain of Youth?

Yale University Museum

Fountain by Hans Vredeman de Vries, Dutch,  1527 – ca. 1606 Yale University Museum

Have you noticed how large pharmacies devote more and more aisle space to diet supplements, pills to fix this problem or that, anti-aging products, and vitamins that “can fix” almost anything? I’m also confronted by colorful catalogs and continuous ads, all encouraging me to try one product or another.

Jane Brody has just written an excellent article on the New York Times Well Blog, For an Aging Brain, Looking for Ways to Keep Memory Sharp, Published on May 11, 2015, Brody’s piece focuses on the ways that marketers are taking every opportunity to make us think it’s possible to do something to slow down, or even stop, the aging process, but most have no data to prove the claims.

Read the entire article, but here are two of the best sentences, succinctly summing up Brody’s thoughts:      Continue reading

Watching Ourselves Age With the Brown Sisters

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Visit the Museum of Modern Art to learn more about the exhibit.

Those of us with elder parents spend a lot of time thinking about age and change. As adult children, we observe the aging of our parents, but not infrequently we wonder aloud how they got so old. At the same time we don’t always notice how we, too, are growing older.

In October 2014 the New York Times Magazine published a feature by Susan Minot, Forty Portraits in Forty Years, that described the remarkable photographs of the Brown sisters. The photos, shot with the four women in the same order and with somewhat similar poses over 40 years, demonstrate with singular clarity how we grow older. Photographer Nicholas Nixon took the pictures, which were recently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City.                       Continue reading

Good-bye to The New Old Age Blog

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 7.31.14 PM

Read Paula Span’s Final Post at The New Old Age Blog

For years now The New Old Age blog at The New York Times has been a must-read for people with aging parents as well as for people who blog about aging and caregiving issues. Started in 2008 by Jane Gross and later presided over by Paula Span, The New Old Age always had its finger on the latest aging research, the best ways for people to approach growing older, and of course, caregiving for aging parents.

Now the blog is closing up shop, though the years and years of amazing blog posts will continue to be available to readers. Paula Span will write new columns two times a month for another part of the Times, but these will not be added to the blog.

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Grandma by Jessica Shepherd: A Book Review

Grandma book

Recently I discovered a children’s book, Grandma, that tells a story, from a child’s point of view, about a much-loved grandmother who develops dementia. As an educator, I’ve often thought about the need for books that help children understand the disease while illustrating how to continue to love and support a family member who experiences dramatic memory changes. Only now, years after my family lost my husband’s mother to this terrible brain disease, are children’s books that address dementia beginning to appear.

Grandma, an easy-to-read picture book written and illustrated by Jessica Shepherd, fits the bill. Young Oscar shares his thoughts about his grandmother, describing the fun they have, the fond ways they interact, and the changes that have come about since she “started forgetting a lot of things.” He describes how she lives in a new community, with caregivers, and tells about his visits.

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Google Goes Against Aging and Disease

Google wants to commit considerable resources and use them to fight against disease and aging.  Check out other blog posts on Google at the end of this post.

Larry PageThe mammoth digital company has already revolutionized our lives in countless ways, giving us access to the world of information, news, and communication. Ceding more and more of our personal information to companies like Google that use it for various commercial purposes has also changed our lives, giving us less privacy and less control of what others can know, or at least intuit, about our lives. While Google is a search company for most of us, its real focus can be summed up in four words — advertising and information collecting.

But aging?

In a Bloomberg News article chief executive officer Larry Page explained how Google is setting up a new company, Calico (California Life Company) to address disease and aging issues. The goal is to identify strategies that can improve and save lives. Page himself experiences several medical conditions that restrict his life in various ways.

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IADLs: Juggling Instrumental Activities of Daily Living in Middle Age

I’ve had some new insights about the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), the activities that we do each day that allow us to maintain an independent life. These tasks include things like driving, balancing a checkbook, cooking, and using the computer. From my perspective, after working with a parent who was ill with stroke-induced dementia, I’d also add exercising.Activities of Daily Living

In 2009, when my husband’s mother was quite ill, I wrote a post called ADLs and IADLs: What’s the Difference?  I wrote this post because I had not heard of these two types of activities — measures of a person’s independence. At the time, as I observed my mother-in-law’s decline, I associated them with aging — and aging only.

Now I know a bit more, and I realize that any of us can lose, temporarily, our capacity for IADLs — the ability to perform those all-important tasks of independent daily living.

I’ve written about the my retina problems over the past two years. What has surprised me at various points — unexpectedly — is the loss of my ability to perform many of the IADLs.  At times, due to various treatments, I’ve been unable to use a computer, drive, exercise, or even cook efficiently, and I’ve not been at all happy about loosing my cherished independence. OK, at times I’ve been resentful. On another level, however, my experience offers me a bit more perspective on the adult child-aging parent relationship.       Continue reading