Tuesday, 02 September 2014
Elder Health and Influenza
The Labor Day holiday always reminds me that it's flu shot season and even if I had forgotten, signs were already up last week at the supermarket pharmacies.
Maybe you know the statistics about flu and old people. Or maybe you don't:
• 9 out of 10 flu-related deaths each year occur in people age 65 and older
• As do six out of 10 flu-related hospital admissions
• Flu is particularly dangerous for elders with such chronic conditions as COPD, diabetes and heart disease. (86 percent of people age 65 and older have at least one chronic condition)
• According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the best way for elders to avoid the flu is with an annual vaccination
• For elders, getting the flu vaccine early in the season is associated with greater benefit
Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School, notes in the September Harvard Health Letter:
”Although we know that flu activity starts in the early winter and subsides by spring, our ability to predict the severity of a given season is very limited.”
The CDC notes that people at high risk (elders, among others) should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, so that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
As in previous years, there are two kinds of flu vaccines this year – the traditional, standard-dose and the higher-dose made especially for old people whose immune systems suffer from age-related decline.
At the CDC's key facts webpage is a list of all the various flu variatioins including those for very young children, nasal spray and egg-free with links to explanations about each one of them.
As always, check with you physician before taking the vaccine.
An annual flu shot is a Medicare Part B benefit. tTis means that the vaccine is covered with no copay for Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age and older.
The CDC has an amazingly thorough flu section at its website, probably more than you ever wanted to know but it is always good to have as much information as possible because individual situations can be so different.
And one more thing: don't forget everyday precautions for yourself and others:
• Wash your hands frequently to help prevent transmission of germs
• If you are sick, stay home so you don't infect others
• Stay away from sick people
Just last week, at a volunteer-related gathering, a woman sat down at my table as she announced that she had come out for the event even though she was sick. I doubt she had the flu this early in the season but she didn't say what kind of sick she was.
I have no patience for such irresponsibility, nor should you. I moved as far away as I could and still be at the table and I did not partake of the finger food she offered to share.
Flu - more formally, influenza - can be deadly to elders. Be sure you keep yourself and others as safe from it as possible.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, William Weatherstone: Paddy Rice – A Great Loss
Monday, 01 September 2014
Holiday Art Tour – Year Five (and Book Winner)
Last Wednesday, I offered up an extra copy I have of Julian Barnes' brilliant memoir of grief, Levels of Life. It was a random drawing and all you needed to do to participate was to leave a comment stating you wanted the book.
Eighty of you did that, enough so that I wish I had more to give away. Since I don't, the winner of the electronic drawing is – drum roll – David R. Newman, and the book is already winging it's way to him in Eugene, Oregon - yes, my state.
David tells me he is 77 years old, mostly retired but he still writes book reviews for Northwest Senior News where for 12 years he wrote features and a monthly column. Before that he was, as he tells me, "a reporter in the real world" in Washington, D.C.
The town where I live, Lake Oswego, Oregon, takes outdoor art seriously with dozens of sculptures scattered throughout the city.
That one, a favorite of mine, is permanently installed in a pond at City Hall. Most, however, are temporary – on loan for a year or two – and each year in the fall, new selections are unveiled after several weeks of being shrouded in fabric.
Four years ago, I began using the excuse of this last summer holiday to show you some of this outdoor art. What I haven't mentioned before is that these sculptures are from the previous year's installation because the new ones are not revealed until after Labor Day.
So continuing what I guess has become a tradition at TGB now, here are some of the 2014 selections.
This next one is an interactive sculpture. Each of those "pins" can be pushed from one side to the other. I can't tell you why but it's loads of fun to play with.
This next one is for you, Millie Garfield.
Every year, the public is invited to vote for a People's Choice Award, one sculpture that is purchased for the permanent collection. The 2014 winner is Guardian of the Lake by artist Brian Mock.
You can find out more about all this at the Arts Council of Lake Oswego website.
Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend, everyone.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Wishes of an Always Dying
Sunday, 31 August 2014
ELDER MUSIC: 1959 Again
This Sunday Elder Music column was launched in December of 2008. By May of the following year, one commenter, Peter Tibbles, had added so much knowledge and value to my poor attempts at musical presentations that I asked him to take over the column. He's been here each week ever since delighting us with his astonishing grasp of just about everything musical, his humor and sense of fun. You can read Peter's bio here and find links to all his columns here.
What happened in 1959?
- Renée Fleming was born
- Barbie doll was launched
- The Twilight Zone made its premiere
- Hawaii became the 50th state of the U.S.
- Bonanza premiered
- The Morris Mini-Minor was released
- Rio Bravo was released
- Melbourne were premiers
RICKY NELSON had several hits this year.
He also appeared in a couple of films, most notably Rio Bravo, a film I like a lot. The song I've selected is Never Be Anyone Else But You.
I'm sure that readers of this column know and love Nat King Cole's Mona Lisa. CONWAY TWITTY recorded a version of the song this year as well.
Conway intended it only for an album he was recording, however, it managed to escape and become a big hit. Those who like Nat's version but are unfamiliar with Conway's had better prepare themselves.
TONI FISHER had a couple of hits around this time.
This is a rather odd one. It seems that phase shifting was deliberate. At least, that's what they told us at the time. I think someone stuffed up the recording and they decided to release it as it was and spin that tale.
The song is The Big Hurt.
NEIL SEDAKA's first hit was a paean to Carole King back when they went to school together and she was named Carol Klein.
I think you'll have guessed the song I'm talking about, Oh! Carol. He put a talky bit in the middle because it worked for The Diamonds with Little Darlin', so he figured it would work for him. Seems he was right.
There's always room for The King. Here's ELVIS with A Fool Such As I.
This was originally performed by Hank Snow in 1952. A bit later Jo Stafford and Tommy Edwards both had a go at it. No one remembers those versions.
Heavens, I haven't had the EVERLY BROTHERS yet. That's remiss of me.
I will rectify that instantly with Take a Message to Mary. The song was written by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant who wrote many of the Everly's early hits.
LLOYD PRICE had several big hits around this time. They were all pretty good and worth a listen.
This was the one that sold the most of all his records and gave him the nickname Mr Personality. The song is Personality.
Okay, here's the odd one out for the year. This is DODIE STEVENS.
Those who recognise the name are probably slapping their foreheads because they know what's coming. For the rest of you, sit back and relax to Tan Shoes and Pink Shoelaces, a song Dodie didn't particularly like but the record company insisted on her recording it. It was a huge hit.
Here is a song we've had before but that time it was sung in French. Today there's an English version by THE BROWNS.
The Browns were sisters Bonnie and Maxine and their brother Jim Ed. Their most famous song was The Three Bells.
JOHNNY O'KEEFE closes the year.
There were many visiting performers (to Australia) around this time who wished he'd close the show whenever they were on rather than their having to follow him. Indeed, there were some who made return visits who stipulated in their contracts that Johnny was not to be on the bill with them.
This is because he was one of the greatest rock and roll performers the world had seen. His act was so full on that no one could compete, especially when he performed a cover of the Isley Brothers' song, Shout.
The record is a pale imitation of what happened on stage.
You can find more music from 1959 here. 1960 will appear in two weeks' time.
Saturday, 30 August 2014
INTERESTING STUFF – 30 August 2014
THE ALS ICE CHALLENGE
Unless you've been under a rock for the past week, you know about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during which mostly celebrities and politicians who want a few more minutes than usual in the spotlight sit still to have ice water poured on them.
It is intended to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease and from some reports, it seems to be working. Me? I'm more interested in the non-celebrities who have taken the challenge and today, let's look at two of those who are at the extreme ends of the age spectrum.
First, here is Jack Reynolds, a Brit wearing only Union Jack boxer shorts – he's 102 years old and he celebrated after the icy drenching with a glass of whiskey.
Read more about Jack here.
At the other end of the age scale is another Brit, two-year-old Scarlett who, after being soaked in ice cold water, dropped the F-bomb on her mother:
Unfortunately, since I first saw this, the video has been pulled from YouTube and I'm really sorry you can't see it. The kid says to her mother in a little two-year-old girlie voice, "Fuck your mouth," and it's really funny.
No harm done but even so, someone believed little Scarlet needed to make a formal apology for her naughty language. You can watch the 14-second video at Mediate but I prefer that website's punchline to the event:
“Okay,” Scarlett mumbled, before running out of her mother’s grasp to the fucking swingset.”
ROBOTS ARE HERE TO TAKE OUR JOBS
This 15-minute video report about how robots are taking over all but the most menial jobs went viral last week. It's worth watching:
It sounds like a miserably awful work future for humans. There is a good discussion here from Richard Eskow about how true this prediction may or may not be.
GIANT WASP NEST IN GUEST ROOM
I have a guest room. In winter, I keep the door closed so that I don't need to heat the room and the door stays closed most of the rest of the year unless guests are expected.
I'm pretty sure a month or two sometimes go by when I don't enter the room. That may be why this photo in the Guardian forced me to rethink the closed door policy:
That is a giant wasp nest discovered in a spare bedroom in Winchester, England:
”A man who went into a rarely used spare room in his mother's home was shocked to discover that 5,000 wasps had made a giant nest in the bed.
The nest, 3ft wide x 1.5ft deep, was still expanding and the insects had chewed through the mattress and pillows to build it.
When pest controller John Birkett was called to the scene he realised it had been growing for several months.”
There is more to know in the Guardian story - some interesting comments from that exterminator too.
JON STEWART ON FERGUSON
After a two-week vacation, Jon Stewart returned to The Daily Show this week and immediately took on the media response to events in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown. It is Stewart at his indignant best.
SEX IN A BOX
That's the name of a real TV show that will debut on We tv in the fall. The president of that network says it is
“...one of the most unique and compelling show concepts we’ve ever seen.” “Our featured couples will get a once-in-a-lifetime experience, while our viewers will get the kind of bold, break-through-the-clutter programming they increasingly associate with WE tv...”
Actually, it is a copy of a program that has been broadcast in Britain for the past year. Here is an excerpt from the first episode:
DOLPHINS FISHING ON LAND
We have always been told how smart dolphins are but I still think we don't give them (or a lot of other animals) enough brain power credit.
Watch this video sent by Alan Goldsmith:
LIFE SIZE OBAMA STATUE STOLEN
My question about why someone, anyone, would pay to have a life size statue of President Barsack Obama made and then place it on a bench on the front porch goes unanswered.
My second question is why anyone would steal it. But they did, leaving it on a park bench with a six-pack and some cigarettes.
When he sent me the link, my friend Jim Stone wrote “How did I not know this?” in the subject line of his email. I had exactly the same thought when I watched this video about plastic wrap and aluminum foil:
I checked both boxes in my kitchen: yup – those little tabs are right where the man in the video shows us and in more than half a century of using those products, I've never noticed them before. My life is changed.
Jim Stone was on a roll that day when he sent the plastic wrap video and this one too. It is a short film based on a lovely, little true story written by Bob Perks.
Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.
You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog IF you include the name of the blog and its URL.
Friday, 29 August 2014
Me and My Elderblog
Ever since Facebook launched in 2004, and even moreso following Twitter's online birth two years later, people who think they are in the know have been predicting the death of blogging – translation: long-form writing.
The prognosticators often include the news and magazine media. The future of written communication, they have been telling us, is in 140 characters or thereabouts.
If that turns out to be true, I'm glad I'm old and will die before long. Outside of “Fire, run,” “Dinner's ready” and “I love you,” there isn't much I care about that can be said in one sentence.
In the past couple of years, apparently in backlash, some young entrepreneurs have founded websites specifically to promote longform reporting and other kinds of writing. Vox is one, also Longreads, The Verge and Matter among them.
They and others are fine antidotes to an internet world overflowing with Buzzfeed-style listicles.
A week so ago, Curbed founder Lockhart Steele wrote a (longform) piece at The Verge rethinking the future of blogging which he had forsaken a few years ago:
”I loved those days: writing post after post after post, day after day, forces a different mindset as a writer,” he said. “You loosen up; you get conversational.”
No kidding. I know all about that as do many of you who regularly comment here and those who keep your own blogs.
So strong is the pull of that “old-fashioned” style of daily writing for Steele, whose successful Curbed website was sold to Vox Media not long ago, that he announced the resurrection of his old blog:
”Thinking about all this has stoked my desire to get back in the game myself. So, today, I'm raising my personal blog, lockhartsteele.com, from the dead.
“Over there, on a daily basis, I'll be blogging about Vox Media editorial, as well as things that have nothing to do with our company, such as restaurants and — indulge me here — the Red Sox.
“Part of my goal is to offer a clearer window into what's going on in the Vox Media world; the other, simply, is to regain the practice of daily blogging.”
Lockhart Steele is much younger than I am and still in the career game so to a degree, blogging is a sideline but he's convinced me of his love for the form and its day-to-day nature. That is a large part of how blogging became my raison d'etre.
It didn't start out that way but in the decade I've been publishing timegoesby.com, it gives me reason to get out of bed each day, has fueled my interest in new-ish elder issues such as the Village movement I am now part of, provides the space to hold forth on the main mission here, aging in general, and more.
Steele and I have a lot of in common. As blog topics, he has Vox, I have aging. We each indulge some of our other interests – his Red Sox, my politics. We both like the daily practice of writing in the peculiarly bloggy manner that he correctly identifies as conversational.
Not to mention the actual conversation, the back and forth among readers. There is no such thing on Twitter or Facebook where there is no space – read: length – for actual thought or, with so many unrelated interruptions, any reasonably cogent exchange of thought among the people who post comments.
So I was happy to see Lockhart Steele's disquisition on blogging. I'm sticking with it whether longform writing succeeds elsewhere or not.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bettijane Eisenpreis: Witnesses to History
Thursday, 28 August 2014
Preparing for Grandparenthood
On Tuesday's post about not having borne children and therefore having an old age without grandchildren, Karen Swift mentioned this in her comment:
”My first grandchild will arrive in November...I have been thinking a lot about exactly what kind of grandmother I want to be. Did any of you think about that ahead of time? I don't think I want to leave it up to my instincts!”
What an interesting question. Enough so that it was rolling around in my head when I woke way too early Wednesday morning (2:30AM) unable to go back to sleep. It has never occurred to me before that one might plan grandparenthood.
As I tried to wonder what kind of grandmother I might have become, the first image that popped into my head was Auntie Mame.
Or, maybe, something like my great Aunt Edith who was the closest thing I had to a grandmother.
She was 15 years old when she left home to join a traveling dance troupe, became a successful business woman, dressed oh-so elegantly, took me to fancy restaurants – just the two of us – listened when I talked and made me feel like I could grow up to be anything I wanted.
Then I realized she had some crucial experience I lacked: although she never married, she raised my father, her nephew, from the time he was 10 years old.
I suspect to be any good at grandparenting, one needs to have had some reasonably close knowledge of what kids are like and my experience is, essentially, zero.
So today, I am leaving Karen Swift's question up to you, dear readers, who are grandparents (that means men too). Soon-to-be parents make all kinds of preparations for the birth of their babies. Does grandparenthood need planning too?
Did you think about what style you'd take on? Or did you just follow your instincts? Did your children lay down any rules for you?
Our world has changed so much in the past two, three, four decades; does that make relating to young children today different from when you were raising your own? If so, how?
Let us know along with anything else that comes to mind that you think would help out Karen Swift.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Dear Dairy
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
A Book Deal For You
I discovered the English writer, Julian Barnes, in 1984 with the publication that year of Flaubert's Parrot, and I haven't stopped reading him since.
In the past decade, Barnes seems to have become almost as consumed with growing old, old age in general and contemplation of death as I am and he has been writing about them in powerful ways so beyond my attempts that I may as well be living on a lesser planet. I recommend them all:
The Lemon Table - short stories about growing old (2004)
Nothing to be Frightened Of - essays about his ancestors, real and imagined, and their contemplation of death (2008)
The Sense of an Ending - novel of a middle-aged man forced to confront his past (2011 – Man Booker Prize)
Pulse - another brilliant short-story collection some of which touch on age and grief (2011)
Last week, I re-read Barnes' 2013 memoir of the grief he has lived following the death of wife of 30 years, literary agent Pat Kavanaugh. You wouldn't think the first two sections of Levels of Life – on 19th century ballooning and on Sarah Bernhardt – would have anything to do with that. You would be wrong.
The book is unforgettable - stunning achievement, beautiful, intense, heartbreaking, eloquent, profound and shattering.
I am telling you this today because as I returned the paperback to the shelf, I discovered a hardback edition. Huh? Blame it on old age memory, I guess. Apparently I bought the soft cover without checking my unread books pile.
So one of you wins today. As we have done in the past, let me know if you are interested in owning Julian Barnes' Levels of Life.
You can do that in the comments below by typing, Yes, I want the book. Or, Count me in. Or, Me, me, me. Or however else you want to indicate your interest.
The winner will be chosen in a random drawing and I'll mail off the book to you. The deadline for comments is 12:01AM Pacific Daylight Time on Friday 29 August I'll announce the winner in this space on Monday 1 September.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Clifford Rothband: You Can't Stop a Laugh