"Believe what ya like. Think what ya like. You'll be judged for what you do."
-- Tim Minton, Eyrie

Saturday, April 10, 2021

The Risky Business of Retirement

     It seems that retirement can be hazardous to our health -- both our physical and mental health.

     A recent study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College concluded that delaying retirement, by itself, reduces the five-year mortality rate for men in their early 60s by 32 percent. Delaying retirement also reduces the mortality rate for women, just not as much.

     So yes, women handle retirement better than men. But retirement can take its toll on anyone.

     One study from Ross Andel of the University of South Florida School of Aging followed a number of Australians over a 20-year period, starting in their 60s. The subjects were asked to remember random, unrelated words. The tests were repeated every four years. He found that people who were retired suffered greater memory loss compared to people of the same age who were still working.

     Of course, the explanation could be that healthier people with better memories tend to keep working, while those with health or mental problems go on to retire. But the answer is more likely that while we are working we face a series of challenges that keep us engaged. We solve problems, get some satisfaction from solving problems, perhaps feel like we've done something important. We take a guilt-free period of  relaxation (the weekend) and then go back to solve more problems. And solving problems keeps our minds in gear, keeps us sharp and focused.

     At least that's the theory put forth by Andel in his TED talk Is Retirement Bad for Your Brain?

     Another study looked at twins in Sweden who retired after age 50. They were followed for 20 years. The researchers found a significant decline in thinking speed after retirement. They also found a decline in verbal ability as well as spatial awareness.

Life is a gamble. Can you improve your odds?
     I retired in my mid-50s -- not voluntarily. So I should be a blathering idiot by now. However . . . I continued to do consulting and freelance work until just last year, as a part-time job. So maybe I'm not completely baked. Just half-baked.

     So what can we do about mental and physical decline after retirement? Andel suggests keeping active and engaged by participating in your family, doing some volunteer work, taking a course, finding an interesting hobby or a part-time job.

     My sister, who as the smart one in the family is a member of MENSA, plays a lot of bridge. It's a mentally taxing game that requires memory, tactics and intelligence. And studies have shown that there is a lower frequency of dementia among bridge players than non-players. 

     I have played a little bridge, but it's not really my game. B and I go dancing (at least in non-Covid times), and I've read that ballroom dancing helps us stay alert and alive. It provides some physical activity, social engagement and mental challenge -- you gotta remember those steps!

     Others say reading keeps our minds active and alert, as we're challenged by new ideas, new experiences -- or figuring out whodunnit in a mystery.

     B and I both takes classes at our retirement center. That helps us stay awake. During Covid I've been doing crossword puzzles. B has completed several jigsaw puzzles. I don't know if either of these really helps us stay sharp. But they've kept us busy.

     One person I know suggests adopting a puppy. Training a dog is a mental challenge by itself; plus you stay active by doing more walking, and you may improve your social life by meeting new friends and neighbors. 

      Any number of psychological studies have found that successful aging is linked to living a happy and productive life. As someone once said: Anyone who limits his vision to memories of yesterday is already dead. 

     So what do you do to stay sharp, to provide the sense of accomplishment you had when you were working or raising kids?

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Rebirth or Regret?

      This spring brings rebirth in more ways than one. Yes, there are the daffodils and forsythia and other spring flowers, and the buds on the trees and the longer days and the warmer weather.

     But this year we are also coming out of the self-isolation brought on by Covid-19. Most of us have received our first vaccine, many our second. But hold on . . . not so fast.

     Despite the rollout of vaccines, the CDC is still reporting more than 60,000 new cases a day. Deaths are down below a thousand a day, for the first time since November, but the number of hospitalizations has leveled off. Some 40,000 Americans are currently in the hospital with Covid.

     Many states are lifting restrictions, which might explain why the majority are now showing increasing numbers of new cases. For example, Gov. Tom Wolf of my own state of Pennsylvania is increasing capacity for gyms and indoor dining to 75% -- despite the fact that case numbers for Pennsylvania, recently as low as 2,500 a day, are now back up above 4,000 a day.

     That's bad. But some states are worse. Michigan has gone from 1,200 cases a day to 6,000 cases a day. New York from 4,000 to 8,000 a day. New Jersey from 3,000 to 4,500.

     Still, we trust with vaccination comes the end of Covid. Over a hundred million Americans -- or a third of the population -- have received at least one shot. Some 60 million are fully vaccinated. And so some of us are making plans . . . not, we hope, prematurely.

     Carol Cassara at A Healing Spirit asks: How are you reintegrating back into the post-Covid world? Is it Katie-bar-the-door? Or are you watchfully taking baby steps? In her post After Shelter in Place she offers her approach to travel, masks, indoor dining and other issues that will be facing us for the next few months and beyond.

      For her part, Rebecca Olkowski at BabyBoomster reports in Tiptoe Through the Tulips that she took a stroll through Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles to see some amazing spring flowers. She had to make a reservation, required for crowd control, and wear a mask, but she brought home some beautiful photos of the springtime displays -- and according to her smartphone, got in her steps as well!

     On the other side of the country Laurie Stone breathes a sigh of relief, realizing that Connecticut has survived another winter of storms, freezing cold, icicles, power outages and slippery roads. Like many of us, she thinks of spring as the real start of the year. There are so many Wonderful Things About Spring she writes . . .  but also one thing happening outside her window that makes her a little nervous.

     Down in Florida, Jennifer of Untold and Begin offers My Ongoing Story of New Things. That includes her first Covid shot and an appointment for her second. But more ambitiously she has started her own Etsy shop to sell Vision Board supplies. And if you don't know what a Vision Board is, you'd better hightail it over to Untold and Begin and find out what you're missing!

     Meryl Baer of Beach Boomer Bulletin agrees that change is in the air as we welcome spring. For one thing, she says, "I shed a couple of pounds as light-weight clothing replaces weighty materials." Step over to Spring Unfolds to see how she has begun to venture out to see where she is going.

     Finally, I urge you to check out Rita Robison''s warning about Coronavirus scams on The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide. It hit home for us, since we've been getting calls, purportedly from Amazon, saying we'd bought a $1,500 Apple computer,. It said to press 1 if this was not correct. And since it wasn't correct we were tempted to press 1. But, luckily, we didn't. Instead, we checked our Amazon account separately. Guess what. There was no such purchase on the account. Who knows what would have happened if we'd pressed 1?

     As Robison points out, scammers are inventing new schemes to take advantage of our Coronavirus anxiety. For some good advice on how to handle them, press over to her post How to Avoid Coronavirus Scams.

     Be careful. Be well. Get your shots. Wear your mask. We want no regrets. We want rebirth.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Can You Answer These 10 Citizenship Questions?

     We hear a lot about immigration and what it takes to come here legally and eventually attain citizenship. If you think you're so smart, try your hand at answering these ten citizenship questions. How many will you get right?

1. What percent of Americans are immigrants       14% or 100%

2. Texas is part of the United States ...                  True or False

3. Did Lance Armstrong land on the moon?            Yes or No

4. The best movie of all time is ...              Gone with the Wind or Caddyshack

5. Where would you rather live?                        Europe or New Zealand

6. Who was the greatest U. S. president?   Daniel Day Lewis or Martin Sheen

7. Is prostitution legal in Washington, DC?             Yes or No

8. Who is older  ...                                             Donald Trump or Joe Biden

9. Who won World War II ...                                 Germany or England

10. Geographic center of the U.S. is ...     Belle Fourche, SD or Lebanon, KS


1. 100% ... we're all immigrants, even Native Americans who came across the Bering Strait. 2. False. It's a different world entirely.  3. Yes, but he was disqualified for using performance enhancing drugs.  4. Neither -- GWTW is racist, Caddyshack isn't funny anymore.  5. Doesn't matter, you can't get into either one.

6. Trick question: Daniel Day Lewis isn't even American.  7. Duh ...  8. Joe Biden. Biden is 84; Trump is 14.  9. Look at Germany, look at England. You decide.  10. You always learn something new at Sightings Over Sixty, because this one is for real ... no April fooling! Counting Hawaii and Alaska, the geographic center of the U. S. is near Belle Fourche, SD. If you're thinking just the lower 48, then it's Lebanon, Kansas.

Happy April!