Category Archives: retiremet style

Menopause Cure

For ages women have been told that menopause is normal and to just accept it. If you are asking me to “just accept” hot flashes, insomnia, getting fat, depression, and loss of my sex drive, that sounds crazy and I’ll never be passive about it. That advice sounds so archaic and dark ages now.

The Menopause Cure(1) takes individualized and restorative medicine to a new level.  There is nothing new about replacement therapies for age related deficiencies. The key question is it effectiveness and toxicity. They distinguish between bioidentical verses synthetic hormones.

Since 1942,  women have been given Premarin which is horse estrogen taken from their urine. The problem with this and other synthetic hormones is they leave toxic byproducts in your body. Bioidentical means that natural hormones are identified and matched with your individual hormone profile. A one size fits all model doesn’t work since all blood profiles are unique.

In an interview(2), the author discusses how skin related changes occur in menopause. Loss of estrogen makes the skin more wrinkled and thiner with easier bruising and slower healing.

Weight gain is another unwanted side effect of menopause. If your insulin is high with low estrogens and poor thyroid performance, you won’t be able to lose weight.  The body will not metabolize food correctly so that fat is burned as energy.

When your libido or sex drive falls, it can effect  your relationship or your motivation to find one.  Many retired folks live in isolation and depression as a result. The social and psychological effects can be long lasting and detrimental . For this to be re-balanced, supplements would include progesterone, testosterone as well as  estrogens.

In conclusion, the final point the author makes is that most chronic and age related illnesses are correlated with hormonal imbalances. It is thought that the aging process can be slowed when optimal levels of hormones, vitamins and minerals are restored. The process involves blood analysis to determine what your individual needs are.  So, rather than suffer symptoms, lets go get restored!

By Lee Johnson of creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Davey, J., Dugan, S. “The Menopause Cure” Leicester, UK, Troubadour Publishing Ltd, 2015                                                                                                                                    (2) Mathena, L. “The Menopause Cure, Hormonal Health” Life Extension Mag, Vol 22, No. 7, July 2016

Wings of Retirement (poem)

Wings of Retirement

Starting on the path of novelty

Contemplating new means for new ends

The style of unforeseen and unexpected is now

As you question your questions

As you doubt your doubts

You realize you are not who you thought you were

A lonely sense of freedom

An exciting sense of bewilderment

Celebration is worn like a scarf in the wind

Obscuring the past for the future

Amnesia affords a new integrity

Beckons now the artistic and creativity

Flying over green pastures of flourishing hope

You swoop into themes of intent

Collected from the dark corners of the id

Wisdom and character awaken

Imagination soon sprouts wings

Dawn of design begins

Conductor of your symphony

Dance of future score

Ballet of dreams forever more

©Lee Johnson

Longevity Secrets of People Over 100

What can we learn from longevity secrets of people over 100? First, we exclude genetics, but assume this must be in their favor. Second, we look for diet and lifestyle similarities to form a behavioral pattern for healthy aging. Third, we condense these behavioral patterns into major lifestyle themes that led to increased longevity.  Here are their lifestyles.

A study(1) starts with 122 year old JEANNE CALMENT (1875-1997) who actually smoked for 96 years, but only two cigarettes a day. She poured olive oil on all her foods and applied it to her skin. She drank port wine, ate two pounds of chocolate a week and rode her bike until 100. Her cigarette habit may be too little to be significant and she may have been protected by olive oil and other antioxidants.

SARAH KNAUSS(1880-1999) was 119 years old and considered the oldest person from the United States. She worked as a manager of an insurance agency. With little accounts, we have to rely on her daughter for an explanation. “She’s a very tranquil person and nothing fazes her. That’s why she’s living this long.” However, this explanation is not complete and I’m sure there is more to it.

EMILIANO M. DEL TORO(1891-2007) a man of 115 years who was born in Puerto Rico and worked in the cane fields until 81. He claimed that funche, a corn, codfish and milk dish saved him. He also felt that humor played a key role and continued to tell jokes until his final days. He was not as open about his love or social life, but admitted he attended bordellos up to 82 years old. His retirement years after 81 are not well documented, but we know he never lost his libido.

BESSE COOPER(1896-2012) who lived to a healthy 116 was a college grad in 1916 and became Georgia’s oldest resident after working as a school teacher.  She had four children and always loved to read. She was quoted, “Mind your own business and don’t eat junk food. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, work hard and love what you do.” Besse had respect for others, ate healthy, had a work ethic, and found her passion in education.

BEL KAUFMAN(1911-2014) who passed away at 103 was the Russian author of Up the Down Staircase.  She came to the U. S. at 12 years old and earned a masters degree at Columbia. As a dedicated teacher, she understood the importance of laughter in life. “You can survive by seeing the humor in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness; turn the tables on tragedy.” This is a great attitude for managing stress which is important. She claimed, “I’m too busy to get old” and continued to write until 101 years old.

DR. LAILA DENMARK(1898-2012) enjoyed life as an American pediatrician until she was 103 years old. She was the third of 12 children and passed away at 114. When she turned 100, she refused her birthday cake because it had sugar in it. Her first advice is to eat right and be sure that what you do in life is what you love. She thought employment that you love is really a form of play and she never felt she worked because of that positive attitude.

In conclusion, here are the italic words: olive oil, port wine, chocolate, bike, tranquil, codfish, humor, busy, bordello, respect for others, eat healthy, work, love, humor, love, work, positive attitude.

The most common dominant themes in this order:

1.  A HEALTHY DIET  This seems like the most common of themes for most of the aged. Despite a lack of dietary details, its clear that a healthy diet is part the foundation for longevity. 

2. HUMOR When used as a form of coping and stress reduction, humor can be very effective. If you’re having trouble being funny, I find that a joke book helps.

3.  LOVE OF WORK It doesn’t have to be employment so much as to find something that you really love doing. This one is really about finding your passions to guide you.

4.  PHYSICAL ACTIVITY  Being active and involved seems to take a bigger role than actual exercise. But, the prior generations didn’t have access to gyms and the fitness movement is a recent phenomena that we can benefit from.

5.  SOCIAL INVOLVEMENT Although relationships were not directly mentioned, there would be a lot of social contact though following the love of work and activity themes above.

(1)Heyne, A (no date) “23 People that Lived to 100 Spill Their Secrets of Longevity” Retrieved on 2-19-16 from modernhealthmon.com/23-secrets-of-longevity/                                                  Photo: Huffingtonpost.com

TIPS TO KEEP NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) offers the following tips to help families and individuals keep their resolutions for a healthy mind and life.

1. Don’t make too many resolutions. Pick a realistic, attainable goal with a reasonable time frame. A couple of small goals works best.

2. Choose your own resolution. Make sure your goal is something that “you” want to accomplish for yourself and not just for friends or family. Always lose weight for yourself, not others.

3. Make a plan and write it down. Plan what you’d like to accomplish in a certain period of time, like three months. Achieving goals over time gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going. Writing your goals down is a good way to keep track of your progress.

4. Involve friends and family. They can support your efforts and can motivate you to keep going. Group activities are just more fun.

5. If you get off track, forgive yourself. Review your plan and make adjustments–but, never give up.

6. Congratulate and reward yourself when your intermediate goals or resolutions are met routinely. Keep in mind it’s a lifestyle change that is intended to be self reinforcing.

Since, I am research driven, I make resolutions a routine part of my day. That is, if I run across convincing studies, I’ll make a resolution to follow that advice starting that day. Of course, you must be open to improving and changing yourself. This means that you’ll feel insecure at first until you adjust. But, adjustments are the nature of change and personal evolution–we can’t grow without it. So, lets embrace changing ourselves for the better. Carpe Diem                              Lee Johnson, www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Retiring as a Single Woman

Retiring as a single woman is much less daunting than in prior generations. Part of the reason is that it’s now widespread and socially acceptable. Various studies report that between 40 and 50 percent of women will be single in retirement. Not all of these will be by choice, but it’s still a fact of life. This article will address those women who are considering a single lifestyle and if it’s suitable for their personality.

Most women desire independence, but don’t want to be disconnected from people. This balance is easier to achieve when your social network of friends and family is well developed and local. I believe that it’s not only culturally acceptable to retire single, but it can be more rewarding. This is because single women often have a much broader social network than men and many married women. A recently divorced woman in her 50s told me that her husband was so unfriendly to her friends, they stopped visiting. Her network gradually disappeared and stayed that way for many years. After her divorce, her social recovery involved many more friends and she has social engagements any night of the week. She is more socially connected now than when married.

When a man is not in your life, you’re freer to do what you enjoy and what benefits you the most. Some of you may think that means doing more things alone. But, there is nothing wrong with doing things alone while you always have your social network to fall back on. So, part of retiring alone is that you must be the first one to accept and want it. If this is a calculated decision based on proper planning, you’ll feel more confident and energized to embrace it.

The chances are that as your network develops, you will be doing less and less alone. Our goal is to always stay connected to the friends and family of our choice. A boyfriend can be part of this network whether its casual or more serious. I’m not suggesting celibacy unless that is your conscience decision. I’m suggesting an independent life that you control and decide when to bond or not bond with the opposite gender. There is no pressure to preform or follow the expectations of others unless you choose to do so. If you are dating or in a relationship, you can explain your independence to your partner as a form of freedom afforded to you both.

Single women I know that are successful at networking, claim they are happy not dating and don’t feel they miss anything. So, I can personally verify that happy and successful adjustments can be made. That being said, being single is not for everyone. Whether you are an introvert(internally focused) or extrovert may matter. Since these types may be genetic and hard wired into your brain, you might want to see where you fit. Most of us know which type we are. If you are an introvert, you enjoy spending time alone and tend not to miss people. So, this lifestyle may be more suitable for the introvert who enjoys more solitude.

If you are thinking about taking the single path in retirement, look into you past first. How happy have you been on your own? Do you tend to get lonely when not around people? Does a lot of social contact exhaust you? It’s just about understand your social needs. If you have a history of doing well with solitude and don’t miss social contact, this might be for you. If so, the better developed your retirement plan is, the more enjoyment you’ll get out of it.

In conclusion, retiring single is completely acceptable and a viable option for women. A well developed social network provides the mental stimulation and emotional support needed. Having a boyfriend is just part of the network. Being introverted makes this lifestyle easier to adapt to. Women I know who make this adjustment, feel they have a happy and complete life.

I’ve always felt that the best retirement is based on your personality type. What society or past generations did has nothing to do with you because they don’t have your unique character. So, embracing independence in retirement is a personal decision based on prior success with independent living and your social predisposition.       L. Johnson    

More: http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

DIARY WRITING IMPROVES HEALTH

Many people may be surprised that diary writing improves health. The strength of this mental health technique of venting has actually proven to extend into physical health. We all need a private place of safety to complain, explain, recant, or just express our deepest darkest thoughts and emotions without being judged or embarrassed.

The very first benefit is a sense of safety and privacy not afforded to us in other arenas. We know in this digital age, there is not much that is really safe or private. In your diary or journal, you can say anything you want without fears of rejection, misunderstanding, regret, or political incorrectness. This is the one place where you can always be yourself.

A journal is your sanctuary from the stress and demands of a hectic and profit oriented environment. Journaling is about the relationship you have with yourself. That is, your thoughts and feelings are vitally important to your self-esteem and sense of well being. We all have some secret thoughts or experiences we won’t tell even the people we trust. If it’s not expressed, our negative feelings stay inside and tend to fester(repression).

This primary psychological benefit is called “catharsis” which just means a release of emotions. This release lowers the tension and anxiety surrounding the past feeling or experience. If you ever visited a psychotherapist, the type of conversation you have was designed for this. Writing about emotions in an abstract sense has proven to be more beneficial than verbalizing them which tends to aggravate past trauma instead.

In terms of physical improvements, studies show that this exercise strengthens the immune system by increasing T-lymphocytes. Some studies show it helps with pain management, fatigue, lowers blood pressure and even helps depression. It’s stress reduction benefit decreases arthritis, insomnia, asthma symptoms, and other chronic conditions. So, there actually is a physical health improvement since mental health extend into the body. This physical result is similar to that derived from meditation, progressive relaxation, or other stress reduction techniques. That’s because serotonin and endorphins are released which are mood elevators and pain killers. Except, in this case, you also solidify your thoughts and feelings.

Many of us had a diary as a child, but have given it up with the demands of mid-life. Well, it’s never too late to start or re-start. Writing about 3 times a week for 15 minutes is a good place to begin. Hand writing is a better form of expression than typing. You can write about the past, present or future, but don’t get stuck in the past. In my diary, I even say goodbye and write about people who have passed away and how I feel about that. So, this is a practice in taking care of yourself while appreciating and understanding life as it unfolds.           L. Johnson                More at:   http://www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

Exercises for Women Over 50

There are many exercises for women over 50, but success is based on the ease of integration into your lifestyle and the social benefit. Almost all health and diet programs will involve some exercise. But, you have to get something positive out of the experience or you won’t have the determination to continue. This is why most new years resolutions to exercise are short lived.

When I taught the psychology of eating in the weight reduction program, we would always pair people to exercise. Pairing was the social support needed to establish and maintain an exercise routine. They would encourage and prompt each other to keep the motivation going as they eventually became exercise buddies.

According to WebMD(1), “Exercise is so potent that it influences every physiological system in the body for the better. They don’t provide the long list of all the benefits, but mention, “The first benefit of exercise for women is reduction of the symptoms of menopause”. This includes hot flashes, joint pain and poor sleep, which can all be improved.

WebMD recommends the following after your doctor clears you to exercise:

AEROBIC EXERCISE: Aerobic means requiring oxygen from continual movement for at least 20 minutes that can be walking, cycling, aerobic classes, running, dancing, swimming, and cross country skiing. Your heart rate should stay elevated and you should try to break a sweat.

ANAEROBIC EXERCISE: This refers to strength training from calisthenics and/or lifting weights. We naturally lose muscular strength as we age. This helps “maintain bone strength, reduces risk of lower back injury and keeps you tone.”  They don’t discuss a specific weight program, probably because each person should have a individualized routine.

STRETCHING: This helps your flexibility and joint movement. It can help reduce injury and soreness. Yoga and Pilates are suggested forms.

IF YOU ARE NOT EXERCISE ORIENTED:  In my experience, the best exercise for ease and maintainability is simply to walk or bicycle. With walking, 1. You don’t feel like you’re exercising since it’s already a routine activity. 2. You really don’t need any special or expensive equipment. 3. Including people will bring social enjoyment.  4. But, it can be done alone or in a group. 5. You don’t need to drive anywhere to walk. 6. You simply measure your workout with a watch or step counter. 7. You will want to walk at least 150 minutes a week or 5 walks at 30 minutes each. 8. You can add hand weights to increase your heart rate. 9. The ease of walking allows you to continue into advanced age.  10. You’re allowed to dress and act silly. Forming a walking or cycling group in your neighborhood is one of the most successful arrangements for sustainability and enjoyment. So, lets be creative and have fun today.    L. J. www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

1)WebMD, “Get Fit Advice for Women Over 50”, 4-17-2015. Retrieved on 5-12-2015 from: http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/women-over-50-fitness-tips

WHAT’S YOUR RETIREMENT STYLE

What’s your retirement style is important to understand for future planning. There is an interesting study by the APA(1) that examines how retirement is approached and how the experience is different for men and women. How people approach retirement was studied with six different styles emerging.

CONTINUERS who stay with existing skills and interests
ADVENTURES who start something entirely new
SEARCHERS who try new out new things using trail and error
EASY GILDERS who enjoy going from day to day without a plan
INVOLVED SPECTATORS who care, but engage less
RETREATERS who socially disconnect

In evaluating the above styles, I’m retired 7 years and I have experience each one of these variations. So, I don’t believe you get stuck in any one style. The two above styles that produce the most stress are the Easy Gilders and the Retreaters. The problem with easy gilding is that once you get bored or feel too isolated, you have no plan to grow. Some people then get anxious and depressed. The Retreating style is common to some extent since we are out of the working world. However, too much retreating socially also leads to isolation and depression.

It’s no surprise that they found the happiest retired folks were involved in a variety of activities. I always felt the best experience of life is through doing, not watching, as this confirms. That’s why I strongly recommend writing a retirement plan with a ton of interesting options for yourself. I can only recommend coping styles that involve social engagement because that is so important after work contacts diminish. Social engagement is considered vital for a stimulating and rewarding retirement.

The second half of the study focused on the different retirement experience for husbands and wives who retire at different times. They found that recent retired women are more depressed when compared to the not yet retired or continually retired. This is even more pronounced if the husband is still at work. Of course, if you are recently retired, then you are starting your adjustment to your new lifestyle. During this adjustment period it’s common to experience mixed emotions.

They also found the recently retired men have more conflict with their partner compared to working men. This becomes even more pronounced if their wife is still working. If the men decide to become re-employed, their morale is higher with less martial conflict. This is the same recent retirement adjustment and when they go back to work, the adjustment reaction stops.

What is the COMMON SENSE CONCLUSION here? First, this martial conflict or unhappiness is an indication of a stressful initial adjustment for both men and women. It’s not a mistake in your retirement. It is always difficult doing something new for the first time. Some retirement adjustments may take up to three years especially if you don’t have a plan. There are ways to anticipate your partner’s reaction and design a plan before it occurs. That’s because retirement adjustment occurs in phases.

Second, they note that women tend to become more depressed and men more conflictual or angry. I view this as a historical gender specific coping style. That is, it seems men and women are predetermined to respond in these ways when stressed. Once an adjustment is made, of course, your emotions become more stable and your return to your contort zone.

Third, if men are happier when re-employed, this may be the best retirement style for that group. It’s true that some people cannot adjust to retirement. Some people have found their passions in existing work to be so profound and satisfying, there is no desire to retire. This is the style of the Continuer above and many life long dedicated people fall into this category.

It is certainly helpful to have a guide or plan on past involvements to anticipate the future adjustments in retirement. If you take the time to develop a detailed retirement plan, then you can replace what you lost from work. This will dramatically cut down on your adjustment time and your emotion reactions. I hope this article helps you identify your retirement style, encourages you to develop a detailed plan based on past interests, and convinces you of the importance of social engagement in retirement.    L. Johnson   www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)American Psychological Association, 4-14-2005, “Thinking About Retirement? Time to Think About Your Psychological Portfolio.” Retrieved on 4-15-2015 from http://w ww. apa.org/research/action/retire.aspx