Category Archives: Baby boomers

Only Child ponders wisdom of longevity

Sharon office 2014-04-19As we boomers escalate towards older and old age, what may help us live longer becomes a big concern. But is it all worth it?

Lifestyle looms large as a positive factor. Studies show that if we eat healthy, exercise enough, don’t smoke, get enough sleep, avoid/manage stress, we can extend our life. Sounds good? Right?

Not exactly. As with everything in living I have learned the hard way that there are mitigating circumstances. We might be able to control the no smoking, but the others? And why didn’t I include exercise in what we can control? Because many people have diseases, injuries that get in the way of enough exercise to help them.

What about eating healthy? We can do this until the cows come home, but as we age, our bodies don’t absorb nutrients as well. Then there are the medical conditions, such as IBS, that make nutrient absorption even less.

Getting enough sleep is a big issue with us older folk. I’ve covered this in detail before, but in a nutshell as we get older we find it more difficult to get the 7 to 8 hours sleep we need.

Then there is stress – that is the biggie. Stress will directly or indirectly reduce life spans. How many heart attacks are caused by stress? How much sleep is lost because of stress?

Stress is a catchall phrase. Actually there are stressors which cause the stress and stress which includes our reaction to the stressor attacking us. Experts talk about managing stress but I wonder if they are referring to the stressors or our reaction or both?

I have learned that you cannot manage most stressors. Or should that be “control” stressors. My experience (and that of many people I know or read about) is that a large percentage of stressors come from what I call “outside.” That is, we don’t cause these stressors to well, happen to us. And despite what I have blogged about before, God is not responsible for a lot of our stress. Human stupidity and technological problems (for want of a better word) are.

Let me give a few examples. If I dawdle around and don’t take care to be ready to leave on time for somewhere, so leave late and worry about arriving late, I’m causing the stressor. If I run into transit problems, that’s not my fault. No matter what time I leave I can hit transit delays. However, if I get myself ready so I leave early enough to allow for transit snafus, I can control the stressor/stress to a certain degree.

Errors in utility bills, life insurance premiums, computer problems, continual missed garbage pickup (all of which I have experienced) are examples of human stupidity and/or technological problems causing stressors/stress.

Then there is the cancer cause. A recent John Hopkins School of Medicine study shows that only one third of cancers are caused by environmental issues and genetic factors. The other two thirds, the study shows, are caused by what they call “bad luck.” I call it the “God factor.”

According to the study, that can explain why some people who never smoke get lung cancer and some people who smoke a lot never get cancer. (See the article at http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/twothirds-of-cancer-cases-caused-by-bad-luck-johns-hopkins-medicine-study-20150102-12gs7g.html or info on the John Hopkins Medicine website http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/bad_luck_of_random_mutations_plays_predominant_role_in_cancer_study_shows)

That’s scary. All the lifestyle changes to healthy won’t keep cancer way. I’m not saying to drink regularly until you pass out or smoke five packs of cigarettes a day and forget about exercising. I’m saying to live a healthy life but never take diet, exercise, sleep, etc. as lucky charms to keep cancer at bay. Won’t work.

Personally I believe that if we could keep much of the stressors and resulting stress out of our lives we .could live happier more content lives. Not easy when most stress comes from outside.

We can try to work around this stress. We can look at our over-busy lives and see what we can delete, delay or ignore. Be selective in what stressful situations you are going to tackle and what you can ignore or better yet, delete from your life. For example, last fall I evicted the horrible boarder living here. When someone pushes me on the subway (providing it is not towards the ledge), perhaps I can ignore that. The other stuff, the real crap in my life coming at me, I’m trying to deal with it one thing at a time, based on urgency and emergency – if possible. The rest go on hold, if only for a few days.

And the hell with what the people causing the stressors think about it.

It’s not easy. And I’m not sure I want to live into my 90s or even 80s – unless you are like actress Betty White. She just celebrated her 93rd and is going strong.

How many seniors are like that?

Not me and I’m still in my mid-60s and dealing with 10 health issues – those that I know of.

Maybe the answer is to try to live your life as fully as you can now.

I’m just saying.

What do you say? Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Baby boomers, cancer, Computer problems, Delay tactics, God, Health, Health Seniors, Life Balance, life spans, Malabsorption, Old Age, Only child, Prioritizing, Problem solving, Problems, Seniors, Sharon A. Crawford, Sleep and Seniors, Sleep deprivation, Stress, Uncategorized

Only Child looks at possible changes to seniors’ pensions

Only Child contemplates possible changes to Canada's old age pension

Now that I have Canada Pension Payments all set up for pre-age 65 receipt, I have to worry about the Old Age Security Pension. So do other baby boomers rapidly moving into senior territory. Canada’s Prime Minister Harper is sending out word that he wants to change the focus and framework for the Old Age Security pension. Among other insinuations there is talk of upping the starting age to 67 and perhaps clawing back the payment amount excluded for tax deferral.

My late Mom and Dad would roll around in their graves. Probably their spirits are sputtering around, if spirits can sputter. Dad lived only a year and a half beyond age 65 and I don’t recall if he ever received OAS. Between 1965 and 1969 (Dad died in 1965), the eligibility age was transforming from 70 to 65. (Are we going to regress on this age thing now?) Mom died at 63, so she received no OAS. She did have Dad’s Canadian National Railway survivor pension and when she died I got the survivor benefit for a few years, from the age of 23. Now when I’m getting close to the so-called retirement age I could use that CN pension money. Too bad it couldn’t have been deferred until now. To paraphrase a friend, getting old isn’t for the faint at heart (and I add, “but all the money stress can kill your heart”). Another friend, an editor and writing instructor who has hit the 65 mark, said she probably won’t be able to retire until she’s 90. I’m looking at 70, to slow down in my writing, editing and writing instructing/speaking business. Not unusual for many of us freelance writers today. It’s a good thing it’s creative work and work which I love.

So, what is the Harper Federal government’s pension change idea? According to a National Post story (published Jan. 26, 2012 http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/26/major-changes-coming-to-canadas-pension-system-harper-says-in-davos-speech) and posted on The Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) website at http://www.carp.ca/category/news/carp-in-the-news/  Harper made this announcement late last week at The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This same story also includes some statistics about OAS costs estimated to rise to $48 billion in three years and to a possible $108 billion in 2030 because of the growing number of seniors. We seniors and seniors-to-be will increase our numbers from the current 4.7 million to 9.3 million in 2030. And Prime Minister Harper will be one of them. I know – he’ll get a good government pension, but possible changes to MP pensions are being considered. In the meantime, putting himself in our shoes might be a good idea.

Wasn’t there a science fiction book written years ago about killing off seniors once they reached age 60? That, of course, is not an option, and let’s be clear here, is not one suggested by Harper. But perhaps he forgets that we seniors and seniors-to-be are a force to be reckoned with. Many of us belong to CARP; we are baby boomers and it is in our blood to fight for our rights. We also have the capable and eloquent fighter for seniors’ rights, Susan Eng, leading CARP’s involvement in this. Check out links to videos of her interviews with Canadian media at http://www.carp.ca/category/news/carp-in-the-news/

Meantime, I’ll keep on writing, editing, teaching writing and speaking about writing…and using my CPP payments once they begin to arrive in a few months. Apparently there are no problems with funds for the CPP.

Comments anyone? Especially from countries besides Canada? What is your old age pension system like?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Baby boomers, CARP, Old Age pensions, Only child, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Seniors, Susan Eng

Only Child on simplifying life

Ms. Worrywart - Only Child - contemplates her worries

When I was 15, my mom bought me Dale Carnegie’s book  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living because she was worried about my burgeoning worry habit. I guess Mr. Carnegie didn’t help me because the habit grew  over the many years since. Now, worrying is wrapped around being in constant overwhelm over too much to do,  trying to simplify my life and get back to some basics. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about renewing ourselves in September. (https://onlychildwrites.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/only-child-views-septembers-new-beginnings/). I posted some tips to try and I’ve done some of them.

I’ve  said “no,” to a couple of things, backed out of something (naughty, naughty) and organized a few things that needed doing  – and even got at some of them. That certainly made me feel better – for a bit.

I’ve also been reading self-help books on the subject and although I can’t agree with all the content (and I’m still reading it), I can recommend one book – Living in the Moment by Gary Null (North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA, 2008). Mr. Null is an award-winning radio journalist, investigative reporter, health and science expert, documentary film maker, etc., and like me, a baby boomer.  He spares us boomers no slack in his book, blaming us for many of society’s ills and why many, if not most of us (here he includes the next generation down in age), are spiritually ( he differentiates between religious and spiritual) bare, bored, and in overwhelm. Even though I don’t agree 100 percent with him, he does make a lot of sense; however, I’m still waiting for more than a few lines on actually living in the moment. I’m in the Chapter on Embracing Our Bliss and I don’t agree with his definition on bliss.  He defines bliss as “about having the courage to release immature notions that make us toxic to ourselves and others.” That might be the first step for us to get to bliss, but that’s not all of it. I define bliss as being content and even happy with our life, filled with passion about something and maybe even at peace without ongoing worrying. Notice I said “worrying,” not “worries.” We all have worries, but most of us could use less of them.

For some of what Mr. Null (I love that last name – the paradox for what he writes) says I find I am already there and some of his advice I will consider trying. However, one thing he says  I can’t go along with, at least right up front and right away. He says we all need to reconnect with our community and be altruistic, be more like we boomers were in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It’s this altruism part that I’m questioning. Some of us got into our overwhelm partly by over-volunteering and hit burn-out there. I think, first you have to “be selfish” and sort yourself out, then if there is a cause you are passionate about, go for it.

Strangely, some of his ideas for straightening out yourself are good, including ones I’m doing.

Here are some tips, based on Mr. Null’s ideas and what I’m doing, to get out of overwhelm and live simply and in the moment.

1. Get rid of the clutter – physically. He goes on about the consumerism and possession-collecting of boomers. (Just watch those hoarder shows on TV to see it in extremes). Well, for the past few years I’ve been purging stuff in my place and I actually turn my nose up (down?) at accepting stuff from friends (excluding small Christmas gifts, which I also buy for them).

2. Get rid of the clutter in your head (my idea). Right now my mind swims with all the stuff I have to do, etc. and it drives me up a wall and down again. Being an “only person” here, responsible for doing and organizing everything doesn’t help. If you have a significant other, persuade him or her  to help you with the next point because that will help with this no. 2.

3. Downsize what you do in your life – I hit on this in that previous post, but you need to decide what you need and want to do, not what someone else thinks you should do. Whose life is it? Remember, delay, delegate and (my favourite) delete. Make “no” the biggest word in your vocabulary.

4. Go out into nature and reconnect. I can’t emphasize how much a nature walk or going out in my garden helps soothes the psyche – whether pulling weeds, mowing the lawn with my push-mower, or collecting raspberries or tomatoes or just sitting out in the garden and absorbing.

5. Exercise – now here Mr. Null and I disagree on the philosophy behind this. He says that boomers go out and exercise in ways they really don’t like but for me, that’s not true. I love walking and gardening. Now, if he is referring to snow shovelling, I agree with him.

6. He also has much the same attitude about people’s motivation with meditation and yoga – I only partly agree when someone’s meditation wanders all around their concerns. But meditation, yoga, NIA, Tai Chi – whatever works for you – are good ways to relax. So are listening to music and reading, and maybe even watching some TV (the latter is for me, but not reality shows – Mr. Null and I agree on those).

7. Experience the holiday, the festival, etc. instead of using it to pile up on more possessions, something I already experience them, thanks to limited funds.

To sum it up, I think you have to sort yourself out first before you step outside, so to speak. But I still recommend reading Gary Null’s book Living in the Moment. Lots of good wisdom and he gets you thinking. Check out his website http://www.garynull.com for more info on the man and his works; for the book, go to http://www.amazon.com

Comments please.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Anxiety, Baby boomers, Balance, Burnout, Clutter, Gardening, No, Only child, Overwhelm, Time management, Worrying