More Baby Boomers Trying to Find Bliss with Marijuana

Recently, when I’ve attended concerts that tend to attract baby boomers, such as Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones, I’ve noticed a lot of boomers lighting up joints.

Turns out that’s no coincidence.

According to a recent report in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, more baby boomers are using weed and other cannabis products.

Nine percent of people aged 50 to 64 said they’ve used marijuana in the past year, doubling in the past decade, while three percent of those over 65 have done so, the research found.

Perhaps that’s not a big surprise, since the baby boomer generation has had more experience than other generations with marijuana, which surged in popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. More than half (almost 55%) of middle-age adults have used marijuana at some point in their lives, while over a fifth (about 22%) of older adults have done so, according to the study.

Those who used marijuana as teens were more likely to say they were still fans of the herb, the team at New York University found.

What accounts for marijuana’s big comeback with the older crowd?

Certainly, the stigma of using marijuana has decreased. I never used but, admittedly, weed was considered cool when I was in high school during the 70s. However, we made fun of “potheads” who smoked constantly and came to school fumbling around like fools in a fog bank. That seems to have changed in recent years with some boomers considering it cool to act like teenagers again and claiming the title, pothead, with pride, as if smoking marijuana was some kind of accomplishment.

Access has certainly been made easier with the legalization of marijuana for medical use in 29 states and D.C. and for recreational use in eight states and D.C., including here in California where I live. Pot farms are springing up everywhere including one of the nearby desert towns, Desert Hot Springs, which has been nicknamed Desert Pot Springs.

Some baby boomers use weed to ease aching joints or other ailments or to help them sleep.

Whatever the reasons for boomers lighting up, beware, there are some definite pitfalls. The survey indicated that users think marijuana is harmless. But the researchers were quick to point out that is clearly not the case.

“Acute adverse effects of marijuana use can include anxiety, dry mouth, tachycardia (racing heart rate), high blood pressure, palpitations, wheezing, confusion, and dizziness,” they warned. “Chronic use can lead to chronic respiratory conditions, depression, impaired memory, and reduced bone density.”

Researchers also reported that baby boomers using cannabis were more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs. Marijuana users were also more likely to misuse prescription drugs such as opioids, sedatives, and tranquilizers than their peers.

Mixing substances is particularly dangerous for older adults with chronic diseases, the team advised. Marijuana may intensify symptoms and interact with prescribed medications.

In fact, physicians should ask older patients about whether they use marijuana because it can interact with prescription drugs, the team recommended, and it may point to substance abuse problems.

In other words, baby boomers would do well to find true bliss in healthier ways.

 

 

Baby Boomers Going Back to School

It’s that exciting time of year. Kids are heading off to school in their new duds with backpacks full of notebooks and lunch pails. But it turns out not only the young will be cracking books.
Plenty of baby boomers are going back to school as well. Some are enrolling to college for the first time.

“At 78 million strong, the baby boomer generation is bringing a surge of older students to campus,” states the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) in its report “Plus 50 Students: Tapping Into a Growing Market.

What are the reasons for this trend? Unlike younger college students, trail-blazing baby boomers aren’t driven by anyone’s expectations other than their own, according to a survey by Schools.com. And, perhaps surprisingly, regret doesn’t seem to be a big factor either. Only about 15 percent of students aged 50 to 59 said they went back to school to complete a degree they previously started.

So, just why are baby boomers heading back to school?

To Update Skills

Many boomers are working longer. Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers plan to do some sort of paid work until age 70 to stay mentally sharp, keep engaged socially, and achieve financial security in retirement. That leaves a couple of decades after 50 to work.

Whether boomers are working because of financial needs or personal choice, many go back to college for additional training so they can stay marketable in the workforce or advance their careers. Some are laid off and having difficulty finding employment. Updating their skills by going back to school seems like a step in the right direction.

Aside from motivation, baby boomers stand out from younger students in other ways. For example, most don’t care about social activities, campus life, and extracurricular activities. Many enroll in online or hybrid degree programs because of the lower cost and flexibility.

Many colleges have taken note of older students’ unique needs as they search for fast and efficient ways to further their education and careers. In fact, The American Association of Community Colleges introduced the Plus 50 Initiative in 2008 to help colleges learn how to provide what older students want. As a result, those over 50 usually can find plenty of flexibility in terms of degree programs, online and weekend courses and accelerated classes.

To Change Careers

Some baby boomers are pursuing an “encore career” and go back to school to prepare for a new direction in life. Whether boomers are retired and want to try out another career part-time or are still working and want to change jobs, many want to pursue their interests and passions before it’s too late.

In addition, as people age, they tend to want a career that’s fulfilling and meaningful to help others. “Sometimes people may have been very successful in a career that they had and now they are retiring but they knew all along it wasn’t what they really wanted to be doing,” says Dawn Jones of the Office of Career and Transfer Services at Schenectady County Community College. “They want to be doing things that are more important to them.”

To Focus on Themselves

For those 50-59, the decision to return to school was often about finally having the freedom to explore a subject they love. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed in that age range said they enrolled in college to explore their passions. Compare that to those between 18 and 29 who were three times less likely to give that answer; they were more likely to say they enrolled in college as a logical next step in their lives.

The fact is that baby boomers are changing the way people age and many want to continue to grow and learn. Some become part of the continuing education department, taking classes to learn a new language or about astronomy. The idea is to learn for themselves rather than earn a degree. And why not? Many now have the freedom with less responsibilities to take advantage of opportunities.

Are you a baby boomer thinking about going back to college? Don’t let age stop you. It’s never too late to go back to school or try out a new career. Go back to school in style, stop by the backpackingmall for a bag that’s prepared for anything.

“It’s not about a number, it’s about a mindset,” Jones says. “If it’s something you want to do and have the energy to do and you’re passionate about it. We’ve had students in their 60s and 70s, and I think we’ve even had a few older than that, taking classes and enrolled in degree programs. There’s no age limit, there’s no limit to what you can do if you want to be doing it.”

“What I say often to my returning adults is ‘you’re never too old to decide what you want to be when you grow up.’” Jones adds.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

Summer Road Trip: Hidden Gems in Southern California

Summer is the perfect time for gorgeous scenic drives and road trips. With that in mind, join our blog hop for virtual road trips, weekend getaways, and day trips along with some insider tips for visiting exciting places in North America as far away as Australia.

I’m excited to share some hidden gems in my neck of the woods, Southern California.  Join me, then pop about the globe for more inspiring road trip ideas from other great bloggers, who are linked at the bottom of this page.

 

(By the way, I actually live in the California desert which I do NOT recommend visiting during the summer months. It is 121 degrees as I write this blog. No, I’m not kidding – or exaggerating. Unless you like feeling your eyes burn as if someone has a blow dryer an inch from your face and burning your hands on the steering wheel, save a trip to Palm Springs for the winter when you’re buried in snow and we’re having perfectly fabulous weather.)

During the summer months here in Southern California, many tourists flock to well-known destinations like San Diego, Disneyland, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara. These are all great places to visit, but if you’re looking for somewhere different that’s a bit off the radar, check out the following incredible destinations:

The Channell Islands

My husband and I have lived in California most our lives, but somehow missed these spectacular islands that are classified as one of the U.S. National Parks. After seeing some stunning photos on the Internet, we took a short boat ride to Anacapa Island from Oxnard as part of a weekend anniversary trip.

If you decide to go, be prepared and bring supplies. This trip is for adventurous people in good physical shape. You will need to climb 157 stairs to the top of this rugged little island where there is no food, services, water, or flushing toilets. Now, I HATE outhouses, but I’m telling you – the views of the rocky shoreline, massive cliffs, and jagged peaks were worth it. You can easily hike around the rim of the island in just hours with Inspiration Point a grand reward for your efforts.

We visited in June when bursts of bright wildflowers covered the small island and thousands of adorable baby sea gulls were to be found around every corner. Just beware of their protective mamas who will swoop at your head if you get too close.

We returned a couple of years later and visited the larger Santa Cruz Island for an exciting kayak tour of the historic sea caves. On the boat ride there we saw a whale and two large schools of dolphins. The waters can be rough at certain points, but the caves were amazing. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Some people consider these islands desolate, but if you have an adventurous spirit and love nature, the Channell Islands are considered the Galápagos of North America.

The Huntington Botanical Gardens 

This is yet another stunning place that we failed to visit for decades. Located in Pasadena, the magnificent estate is home to more than a dozen spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres. Hard to say which garden is the most dazzling, but the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the California Garden are a few of my favorites.

We didn’t even get a chance to check out the art galleries. The Huntington Art Gallery, houses 18th- and 19th-century British paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts, and includes the famous Blue Boy. And to my shame as a writer, we did not visit The Huntington Library itself, one of the largest and most complete research libraries in the United States.

Next time.

Ventura County Wine Trail

Napa may get all the attention as wine country in California, but my husband and I enjoyed sipping our way through the coastal rolling hills near the seaside town of Ventura. We visited two of the nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms.

You can book one of the many wine tours offered. However, we decided to get a map and explore on our own. Beginning in Ventura at the junction of Highway 1 and Highway 101, we drove up Highway 33 toward Ojai.

Surprises await on this somewhat lonely but charming road – from the “USA’s Smallest Post Office” to the last place anyone saw James Dean alive. Our favorite find was Old Creek Winery which felt like returning to a simpler place and time where friendly folk and dogs welcomed us. We enjoyed our purchased bottle of wine and a picnic outside on tables enjoying the Americana view.

By the way, both Ojai and Ventura are worthwhile stops with charming inns, luxurious spas, and bed & breakfasts along with a wide array of outdoor activities. In the summer time, the Ventura Harbor Village is a hubbub of activity with festivals and live music on the weekends.

Laguna Beach

This charming beach town is located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. With over 20 different scenic coves, this beach area offers everything from surfing, paddle-boarding, snorkeling, kayaking, and whale watching excursions.

Just beware, the surf can be rough in places. As a teenager, I decided to body surf despite the churning waters and wiped out on a massive wave (think Beach Boys’ song: Heheheheheheee wipe oooout!). You can read more about that delightful experience here. Actually, I blame the Beach Boys for this entire mishap since they went and romanticized this whole surfer chick thing with songs I grew up on like Surfer Girl. SO their fault.

However, the scenery can’t be beat. Add ultra-chic restaurants and shops and one-of-a-kind art galleries and you get the picture. There’s even a Baby Boomer Club with Saturday Night dances. Every summer, they host the Laguna Woodstock where baby boomers party like its 1969.

Heisler Park is a good place to start, located just north of the main beach, with an easy half-mile stroll along a paved path with spectacular views of the coastline and the soothing sound of crashing waves. You can take one of the paths to the beaches and tide pools. Benches, picnic tables, and barbecues abound where you can enjoy the magnificent views. Hubby and I had a picnic on one of the grass areas and it was perfect!

Treasure Island Park is another great spot, located on the grounds of the five-star Montage Laguna Beach, where the truly rich stay. Exquisitely landscaped, several lookout benches line the easy-to-walk winding path. Stairways and ramps lead you down to the beach, where you can walk through a beautiful rock archway during low tide, find a spot in the sand for sunbathing, and a large tide pool. In addition, there is plenty of grass areas for a picnic. I’d suggest bringing some wine and cheese to catch a romantic sunset.

Big Bear Lake

I live in the desert, so nearby Big Bear is a great mountain escape with its gorgeous lake and pristine forests. Boating, fishing, and hiking are just some of the activities in this small, laid-back village.

Last summer, my husband and I cycled around the lake, enjoyed a picnic, zipped down an alpine slide, drove go-karts with speeds up to 30 m.p.h., and took a ride on the scenic sky chair for terrific views. After watching people take the chair lifts to mountain bike down the trails, we put this on our to-do list for next time.

For the adventurous at heart, parasailing and ziplining are also available.

El Matador Beach

Looking for a spectacular shoreline with white sands, towering cliffs, crashing waves, and craggy rock formations in a semi-hidden location?

Look no further than El Matador, located north of Malibu off the winding Pacific Coast Highway. It’s easy to miss the small, brown sign pointing toward the small parking lot at the trail-head, so watch carefully between Broad Beach and Decker Canyon Roads. Once you find it, be prepared to hike down a 150-foot bluff with the help of some steep stairs.

Not for small children or those who are physically challenged, but if you can make it down the steps you’ll be treated with breathtaking views. The locals know about this beach and you may see some photo shoots taking place – we did!

There is blissfully little to do on this small but glorious stretch of beach, so bring a picnic lunch or some wine and find a hidden nook to enjoy an incredibly romantic setting.

Redondo Beach

By now, you’ve probably noticed that my husband and I are beach bums. We found this beach on accident while looking for a nearby place to stay the night before flying out of LAX the next morning.

The Redondo Pier is a landmark with panoramic ocean views and water activities that include harbor cruises, seasonal whale watching, kayaks, paddleboards, and pedal boats. Truth be known, we didn’t try any of these out, but we loved the views from Tony’s on the Pier where we enjoyed Happy Hour!

The pier is also home to a 16-foot great white shark affectionately known as Georgette, on display in a large tank at Shark Attack on the Pier.  If you have grandchildren with you or are young at heart, you may enjoy the semi-submersible yellow submarine (darn, now I’ve got the Beatles song stuck in my head) for underwater viewing of the local sea life.

Sure beats staying at an airport hotel if you’re flying to or from Los Angeles.

Catalina Island

This island is more well-known than some of my previous recommendations, but a sentimental favorite. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there 40 years ago and have returned several times. This is a small, quaint island, with no stoplights or fast food restaurants. A typical traffic jam involves two golf carts and a bicycle built for two.

On our honeymoon, we blissfully rode bikes around Avalon, went horseback riding, toured the famous casino, and sunbathed on the small beach. We also took a bus to Two Harbors, the only other village on Catalina Island. Snorkeling, parasailing, fishing, glass bottom boat rides, paddleboarding, Segway tours, golfing, and hiking are other popular activities.

Decades later, we sailed our boat to the island from Long Beach – which turned out to be one wild ride. My husband and grown children returned again for our open-water dives to become scuba-certified amid the famous kelp forests surrounded by the bright orange Garibaldi fish. Next time we visit, I want to try the new zip-line that’s 600 feet above sea level with one run that is 1,100 feet long with speeds up to 30 m.p.h. Wheee!

As you can tell, Southern California has so many great places to visit, it’s impossible to list them all. But hopefully I’ve given you some ideas to get started.

Thanks for your company!  What are favorite road trip must-sees in your corner of the world? Please share in the comments section. 

There’s more more fun and inspirational Summer Road Trips ahead!  Click over to your next destination with my blogger pals below.:

United States

Rosie Russell: Dust off your maps as Rosie guides you through her home state – Missouri.

Cat Michaels: Power up your GPS as Cat lists her top five family-friendly places to visit in North Carolina.

Kristen Lamb:  Buckle up as Kristen takes you through historical sites in California.

Rebecca Lyndsey: Check your tire pressure and take off on a virtual road trip through West Virginia.

Carmela Dutra:  Take a tour of family-friendly places in the San Jose Bay Area in California.

Rhonda Paglia: Rhonda is excited to guide you around her part of the world, Western Pennsylvania.

Lynn from An Encore Voyage shares a recent road trip in her beautiful home state of Idaho.

Australia

Sandra Bennett: It’s winter down under now, so Sandra takes us on a winter road trip to lovely Canberra.

 

 

Baby Boomer Orphan Goes Gray Gracefully

We baby boomers were ready to change the world in our youth and now we’re busy reinventing retirement. But we’re forced to do something entirely ordinary and conventional.

No getting around it. We are getting older. That means we all have to face some inevitable changes.

My guest blogger, Cat Michaels, faced these changes head-on as she became a baby boomer orphan after losing her father this year, “right-sized” to a one-story home and decluttered, altered her writing goals after penning her first non-fiction piece, and ditched the dye to gray gracefully.

Here is her engaging story:


My first year as a baby boomer orphan has been one of emotional ups downs. I took time to grieve and learned to deal with sadness. Then two huge personal challenges clicked into place to alter my personal space.

Adios, Old Friend

My first change reflected new realities of ascending into my family’s senior-member orbit after my parent’s passing: My husband, JM, and I are right-sizing. After watching my parent’s failing health and slowing mobility, we decided to find a home where we could age in place and not wait until poor health forced us to transition.

Yep. We’re leaving our cherished home along the greenway and neighbors of 20 years to build a residence three miles away. Still near the ‘hood and close to all we love, it’s not a retirement community (see next section). Instead, it’s a wonderful mix of generations and families in all life stages. JM and I hope our new neighbors will be as wonderful as the ones we were blessed with for two decades.

Right-sizing was a head decision. not a heart decision. Our new home will be mostly on one level, so if we’re unable to climb stairs in the future, no problem. Its square footage is nearly what we have now, redistributed minus a formal living room and one bedroom. I still have my office, and JM can’t wait to build his O-scale model train layout in his ginormous new game room.

We never had hordes of possessions, but I still dreaded skinnying down our household. Armed with boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap, I started sorting.  Keep. Toss. Donate. I trekked to Goodwill with carloads of donations and filled a rented storage room with books, linens, and other “non-essentials” to make our home look more spacious when staged for sale this spring.

I was surprised at how unburdened and downright buoyant I felt passing along my belongings for others to enjoy. Like that young worker helping us spruce up the front entry, who received a small rug and an end table. His huge smile told me the vintage pieces I purchased at an estate sale years ago found a happy home.

Dad’s old morning mugs

I even unearthed forgotten treasures in a box in the attic, unopened from our last move 20 years ago: Dad’s 1970s-era McDonald’s morning mugs he left after visiting us from Connecticut. These reminders of his sunny disposition and coffee addiction will be featured in our new home.

Hardest has been parting with the 100-year-old pump organ that was connected to JM’s family since it was made by Weaver Organ and Piano in York, PA in 1906. I will miss its beautiful walnut case and Victorian charm, but there’s no room for it in the new house.  I hope we can find someone who will cherish it just as much as we have.

It’s also tough leaving lush woodlands in our established neighborhood.  But we’ll have a wee hill and teeny green copse of trees, leftovers from construction bulldozers razing the old pine forests that once stood where our new community is being built. It will be a tough transition from miles of greenway right outside door to a single, short walking path to our new place.

BUT … we say adios to constant leaf raking, yard work, and copperheads in the adjacent woods (Hooray!). And yes, I’ll take a carload of favorite plants for new garden beds, but most specimens stay for the next family.  Plus, I get to create a whole new outdoor garden space in addition to interior design.  Sad/happy times.

Finding My Roots

Finding a new home hasn’t been the only thing on my radar. I’m piling on another major life transition most women of a certain age face.  Yep. Letting my natural hair color take root, so to speak [winking here].

I resisted going natural for the longest time. I adore my sassy reddish-brown tresses and am over the moon when people under-estimate my age. But it’s time to embrace my baby-boomer status. Spouse JM supports my decision. We’re looking forward to seeing what color (colors?) emerge. Already, a few grays at the temple and salt-and-pepper shades at the neckline give us clues.

New Catly gray peeks at temple and crown.

My biggest fear: this new look could stereotype me as a slow, forgetful senior-citizen luddite. Sigh. I’m not a member of AARP and don’t expect to play bingo at the community center any time soon.

I was offended when a Millennial recently once assumed I didn’t know several cool apps or have a presence on social media. And this was with my sassy brunette look!  Grrr.

I format my own digital and print books, maintain a website and two blogs, plus manage three email accounts and just as many cloud storage platforms, and moderate multiple Facebook groups.

Like any journey, it’s what you make of it along the way. I feel sad as I let go of the past, but I’m ready for my dance with tomorrow.

Author and blogger CAT MICHAELS, M.S., Ed., has more than two decades of experience helping students from kindergarten to college with learning disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome reach their potential. Her chapter books and Sweet T Tales series for beginning readers tell of everyday life with a twist of magic and mischief.  Cat lives in North Carolina with her family, where she enjoys digital photography, graphic design, writing, and designing pocket gardens. Click on the following links to learn more:    Website/Blog FacebookTwitter   |  Instagram

Your Turn  

Have you found it hard or easy to make a major life change? What helps you find energy/courage to move in new directions? Please share in the comment section.

 

A Baby Boomer’s Disappointment: “Just Getting Started” Movie Review

Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones, Jane Seymour, Johnny Mathis, and Rene Russo – all starring together in the movie “Just Getting Started” set in my hometown – Palm Springs. A baby boomer’s delight, right?

Of course, I was excited to see this movie. The premise had some possibilities. Freeman plays Duke Diver, the manager of a luxury Palm Springs retirement community packed with retirees, who has some mysterious secrets from his past.

Some sight gags in the beginning of the movie, like Christmas carolers dressed in Dickensian clothes wearing flip-flops, made me smile a bit. But then “Just Getting Started” went terribly wrong. This movie was not just boring and unfunny, it slammed us boomers.  Pun intended, I’m just getting started!

Is anyone else tired of the elderly portrayed as horny, desperate, and lonely? The women in this movie are dismally portrayed as dejected, just waiting around for the attention of their male counterparts. Don’t they have anything else better to do?

There was a creepy scene in the beginning of the movie with Glenne Headly (who I remember from Lonesome Dove and sadly discovered died this year at the young age of 62) standing on a ladder with Freeman ogling her and making inappropriate comments.

This is especially sad since it was announced today that Oscar-winning Freeman, who starred in some of my favorite movies like “Shawshank Redemption,” has been accused of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment by eight women. Freeman apologized to anyone “who felt uncomfortable or disrespected.”

Another disappointment: Although the opening scenes were shot in my California desert, the rest of “Just Getting Started” was clearly not filmed here. I found out later that most of the movie was shot in New Mexico. They even ripped off the name of the famous atmospheric Melvyn’s restaurant here, once a magnet for Hollywood’s elite like the Rat Pack, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando, Rita Hayworth, and Jerry Lewis, and slapped it on a building that obviously was not the original restaurant.

Aside from my local umbrage, this movies was just sad. I couldn’t keep watching it. But I hear it only got worse. As a review on Roger Ebert’s website said, the movie “awkwardly evolves from being a horny oldsters on the loose caper to a macho one-upmanship contest and, finally, a crime film about foiling a mob hit beset with dreary car chases, a literal snooze-fest stakeout, a rather tame cobra stuck in a golf bag and perhaps one of the least-exciting bomb explosions ever captured on film.”

In a year that produced Oscar-winning performances of boomers that didn’t fit into the typical stereotypes, “Just Getting Started” is especially disappointing. Last year, Jeff Bridges, 67, starred as a Texas Ranger tracking down a pair of bank-robbing brothers. Viggo Mortensen, 58, played a father devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous education that challenged his philosophy about life. And Isabelle Huppert, 63, played a woman who turned the tables on her attacker. That seemed like a nice change since we baby boomers are not grumpy, over-sexed, old codgers cussing up a storm like we are often portrayed in Hollywood. We are active, productive, and vibrant members of society.

As I pointed out in a previous blog, “These days, if Hollywood ridiculed an ethnic group, the LGBT community, or the disabled in movies, people would be in an uproar. So why do people quietly tolerate the way movies make fun of older people?”

“Just Getting Started” is streaming now online, but my advice? Skip this one.

 

Spring Allergy Tips for Baby Boomers

It’s been a long, brutal winter and spring has finally arrived. You baby boomers are more than ready to enjoy the glorious weather and ACHOO! Unfortunately, spring allergies are here as well. Suddenly, your nose is constantly running or stuffed up, your eyes are itchy and watery, and the sneezing fits won’t stop.

allergiesAs a matter of fact, it is estimated that more than 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies each year and we baby boomers are certainly not immune. However, spring allergies and commonly used drugs such as decongestants and antihistamines affect us differently as we age.

Here is what you need to know:

Baby Boomer Allergy Complications 

The bad news first. Maybe you’re mystified because you’re suddenly suffering from allergies when you’ve never had hay fever before in your life. Guess what? Allergies sometimes make their first appearance in our golden years.

Wait, there’s more. The supporting cartilage around the nose often weakens as we age, leading to narrowing airways and a a stuffed nose. This annoying problem has a name, “geriatric rhinitis.” In addition, less blood flow can lead to more nasal dryness. These issues that arise as we get older can make allergies feel even worse.

But there’s plenty of drugs to help us out, right?

Hold on a second. Before you start popping over-the-counter decongestants and antihistamines, know that these drugs can be hazardous for those with cardiovascular problems or lung disease. In addition, these commonly used medications can have dangerous side effects like raising blood pressure, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness, and urinary tract symptoms. Allergy medications can also interact with drugs commonly prescribed to baby boomers, causing mood swings, changes in behavior, and insomnia. On top of that, decongestants and antihistamines can dry the nasal passages making symptoms worse.

Okay, that’s the bad news, but not all is hopeless. What can we baby boomers suffering from hay fever do?

Try Natural Solutions

Head off spring allergies by starting to treat them before you feel anything, advises Nathanael Horne, MD, of New York Medical College. One step is to spritz a saline rinse into your nose daily to wash away pollen, an article in Reader’s Digest suggests. This method won’t necessarily take the place of medication, but it could reduce your need for drugs. In one study, participants who rinsed their sinuses twice a day for three to six weeks reported less nasal congestion than those who didn’t.

Neti pots, small plastic pots that look like a miniature tea pot or perhaps an enchanted genie lamp, have been used since ancient times in India. I’ll admit, leaning forward and putting the pot in one nostril so a salt and water solution runs through your nasal passages and comes out your other nostril, feels a bit weird – and gross – at first. However, studies show that it thins mucus and helps flush out the nasal passages of pollen. In general, it is recommended you use the nasal irrigation system daily at first, and once symptoms have subsided, three times a week.

Acupuncture may also help relieve hay fever, according to new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. In the study, allergy sufferers who were randomly assigned to a dozen acupuncture sessions had more symptom relief and used less antihistamine medication.

Avoid Allergens

Okay, this may be a “no duh” but if you’re allergic to flowers or freshly mowed grass, avoid these allergens. Keep an eye on the pollen count in your area and avoid going outdoors when the numbers are high. Also, on these days, keep windows closed and use air conditioning when possible. If you are having issues with your A/C unit here are some great tips on choosing a good air conditioning repair company.

Remember, pollen sticks to you. So, if you can’t resist going outdoors, when you return home, remove your shoes and clothes, take a shower and wash your hair, and put on some fresh clothes. Do not dry your clothes outside on a clothesline this time of year; use a dryer.

Consider using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your air conditioner or heating system which can help ease allergy symptoms. And also having frequent air con repair and servicing to make sure your A/C is working right. Freestanding air purifiers with HEPA filters are also available. If you don’t have a HEPA filter in your shark HV390 duoclean cleaner, you may be making your symptoms worse by stirring up pollen that has settled on your floor and furniture, says Selina Gierer, an allergy expert at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

– Check other Roomba alternatives.

If Allergies are Severe Talk to Your Doctor as Soon as Possible

If none of these suggestions help, you may need to nip those allergies in the bud with drugs. If you have other serious health issues, your doctor may not be focused on allergies. But if you’re having problems, it’s better to start treating symptoms before they get out of hand.

Because traditional decongestants and antihistamines have so many side effects, talk with your doctor about alternative treatments like a nasal steroid.

You may also want to consider allergy shots. In a study of people between the ages of 65 and 75 with hay fever published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, allergy shots reduced symptoms by 55 percent after three years of therapy and decreased the amount of medication needed by 64 percent.

“Hay fever is often ignored in older patients as a less significant health problem because of diseases such as asthma, coronary heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure,” Dr. Ira Finegold, past president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, says in a news release. “Also, some baby boomers might not realize they have allergies, and their physicians might not suggest allergy shots. The research indicated that allergy shots were extremely effective for this group.”

So, there you go my fellow baby boomers. Try these tips so you can curb your spring allergies and enjoy the spring season!

Baby Boomers: Turn Back the Clock on Your Heart 20 Years with Exercise

I’m loving this latest report. According to a small study, even if you’ve been pretty much a couch potato for most your life, it’s not too late. You can still get in shape now in late middle-age and help your heart function as if it were 20 years younger.

exercise late middle ageThe study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, looked at healthy but sedentary people between the ages of 45 and 64.

Individuals were put into two different groups. The first group participated in a program of non-aerobic exercise such as yoga, balance training, and weight training three times a week. The second group, did moderate- to high-intensity aerobic exercise for four or more days a week.

After two years, the group engaging in the higher-intensity exercise saw a dramatic improvement in the function of their hearts.

“We took these 50-year-old hearts and turned the clock back to 30- or 35-year-old hearts,” said Dr. Ben Levine, a sports cardiologist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. “Their hearts processed oxygen more efficiently and were notably less stiff.”

Sorry, but walking the dog around the block a couple days a week doesn’t seem to do the trick. Of course, any kind of exercise is better than nothing at all, but if you want to turn the clock back on your heart, a bit more is needed.  A key part of the effective exercise regimen was interval training — short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a few minutes of recovery.

The researchers eased the exercise group into its routine with three, 30-minute, moderate exercise sessions a week for the first three months and built up to a regular set of workouts that peaked at 10 months and included:

  • Two days of high-intensity intervals: four minutes at 95 percent of a person’s maximum ability (for example, running at a brisk pace or pedaling fast against resistance), followed by three minutes of active recovery (jogging slower, walking briskly, or pedaling slower), repeated four times.
  • One day of an hour-long moderate-intensity exercise that raised the heart rate and the participant enjoyed like dancing, tennis, swimming, cycling, or a brisk walk.
  • One or two days of 30-minute sessions of moderate-intensity exercise, meaning the participant would break a sweat, be a little short of breath, but still be able to carry on a conversation.
  • One or two weekly strength training sessions using weights or exercise machines either on a separate day or after an exercise session.

The participants were encouraged to use diversification with lots of different exercise equipment (stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical trainers) and engage in outdoor exercises (jogging and cycling) to keep themselves motivated and interested, Levine said.

The intense workout was important, Levine emphasized, even if it was just once a week. Pushing as hard as you can for four minutes stresses the heart, he explained, and forces it to function more efficiently. Repeating the intervals helps strengthen both the heart and the circulatory system.

Another benefit? “It breaks up the monotony of just the walking,” he said. “Most people really enjoy the high intensity work. You would think that they wouldn’t but they like the fact that it’s short and they like the fact that they feel stronger afterwards.”

The participants tracked their heart rate, which is ideal. But as an alternative, use the simple talk test. During the high-intensity intervals, you should be working hard enough and breathing heavy enough that you can’t talk comfortably in long sentences.

Don’t wait too long, Levine warned. “The sweet spot in life to get off the couch and start exercising is in late middle-age when the heart still has plasticity,” Levine said. You may not be able to reverse the aging of your heart if you wait until after 70 to begin.

But you’ll still see benefits from exercising. A research team at Tufts University found that frail people as old as 89 could tolerate an exercise regime that included walking, leg lifts, and stretching. The participants may not have turned back the clock on their hearts, but they improved in ways that could make a big difference. Exercising helped them maintain their mobility and decreased their chances of becoming physically disabled.

“You are never too old, or never too weak, or never too impaired [to benefit from a physical activity program],” said Roger Fielding of Tufts, Richmond Hill CPR, who led the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Of course, before starting any strenuous exercise program, be sure and check with your doctor. Then get off that couch and start moving!

Fun Spring Activities for Baby Boomers

Who doesn’t love spring when longer days brighten the sky, birds sing joyfully, and trees begin sprouting bright new leaves? Even here in the California desert where I live, wildflowers bloom, jacaranda trees explode with purple flowers, and cacti burst with flowers in brilliant colors.

photo springSince a lack of sunlight during short, winter days can adversely affect older adults’ moods,  aren’t you baby boomers ready to celebrate this spectacular time of year? I’ve updated a previous blog to list six fun spring activities baby boomers can enjoy as weather permits, no matter your age.

Take A Spring Break

Who says college students are the only ones who can take a spring break? We baby boomers get itchy feet too and there are lots of sunny places to visit. U.S. News’ list of top five cheap spring break destinations included Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, New Orleans, South Padre Island, and Key West.

This is the perfect time to visit one of the National Parks before the summer crowds hit. According to AARP, baby boomers have seen more national parks than other generations – on average 14. But since there’s 58 in the U.S., there’s plenty more to see!

Need to stay closer to home? A weekend trip to a local beach or lake may be just the ticket. Or simply enjoy a Sunday drive on a road you’ve never taken before. Rent a convertible for extra fun and wind your way to a nearby town or park you’ve been meaning to explore.

Plant a Garden

One of my favorite activities is picking out seeds or plants at the garden center with my grandchildren and planting them when we get home. 

The joy of walking outside, enjoying the beauty of greenery shining in the sun, the sound of bees buzzing nearby, plopping an irresistible strawberry in your mouth, and then gathering vegetables and deliciously aromatic herbs for a recipe – what better way to celebrate spring!

If you don’t have space for a garden, visit a Farmer’s Market.

Eat Al Fresco

Spring is finally here and we have that precious extra hour’s daylight. Head outside, have a picnic at the park or some other scenic area, and enjoy eating fresh food with a view.

Or simply throw a bright and cheerful tablecloth on your patio table, add some fresh cut flowers into soup cans painted in spring colors, and a few floral napkins. Then enjoy a magical spring dinner with family or friends outside to welcome the season.

Feeling lazy? Eat outside at a local cafe. Or invite some friends over, get out your good china, and enjoy an afternoon tea party on your patio.

Bring the Outdoors In

Change out your curtains with a sheer, billowy, or natural fabric. You may even want to paint a room a vibrant spring color or bring new life to old furniture with a coat of fresh white paint (should borrow some nice ideas from painting contractors Chester County PA). If you’re doing some spring cleaning, be sure and wash your windows so you can enjoy your view outdoors.

Install some window boxes and plant some herbs or bright spring flowers. Buy some showy tulips or daffodils with their bright, cheery colors or clip some spring blossoms and display them in your home. 

Be sure and open your windows to listen to a spring shower or simply enjoy a gentle spring breeze. Take a few calming deep breaths and enjoy all that fresh air.

Play Outside with Your Grandchildren

Oh, the fun you can have with your grandchildren during springtime! Ride bikes, play tennis, or jump on a trampoline. Enjoy some gardening or have a fancy picnic in the park.

Explore the neighborhood with a butterfly net in hand. Build a birdhouse together and attract wildlife you can enjoy watching together.

Or introduce your grandchildren to some old-fashioned outdoor games like Kick-the-Can, Red Rover, Red Light-Green Light, or Duck-Duck-Goose. They’ll love it!

Take a Hike

This is a no-brainer, but put on your hiking boots, pack up some water and snacks, and go discover the great outdoors. We all know that baby boomers need to keep moving to stay healthy and this is a fun way to do it.

As I pointed out in my blog, Hiking and Happiness, no big surprise, a new study shows that walking or hiking in nature can bring us inner peace, joy, and happiness. My husband and I have had many pleasant afternoons trying out some local hiking trails. I’d highly recommend it!

If your health does not allow a vigorous hike, take a gentle stroll on a deserted beach with your loved one or take a walk around the block. Just get out there and enjoy the sunshine!

These are just a few ideas, I’m sure you can come up with more. Whatever you choose to do, shed that winter coat as soon as the weather allows, grab a pair of scandals, and get out there and enjoy the fleeting glory of spring!

Reference, local specialists I use sometimes: House Cleaning Houston, TX – Top Houston Maid Service – Ready Set Maids.

Five Anti-Aging Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

photo green teaMaybe you’ve heard all the talk about Matcha Green Tea, the latest “it” beverage that’s on everybody’s lips – literally! What’s all the fuss about? Matcha comes from the same plant as green tea, but since it is made from the entire leaf, it packs in a more concentrated amount of antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds.

The good news is that these powerful properties can help us baby boomers as we age. Guest blogger Erin Young is a health food writer, tea expert, and partners with sustainable tea farms in Japan as owner of Evergreen Matcha in the U.S. and Zen Green Tea Matcha in Australia. She shares five ways this trendy tea can help us stay young. Without further ado, here is her article:

Aches and pains, low energy, forgetfulness – these are just a few of the everyday annoyances and challenges that seem to add up as we get older. And while we can’t stop ourselves from aging, that doesn’t mean we have to accept everything that comes along with it.

If you’re in search of natural solutions, you may want to try matcha, a type of green tea that comes from the whole tea leaf stone ground into fine powder. More than being a delicious drink, it also happens to be packed with numerous anti-aging properties.

Here are five wonderful benefits of Matcha Green Tea:

#1 Matcha helps keep your skin looking young.

Your skin is your largest organ and it’s important to nourish and protect it from damage.

Just one cup of matcha green tea every day can protect your skin from damage because of the high concentration of antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent the collagen within your skin from being damaged by the toxins we are exposed to everyday from things like pollution and sunlight.

Additionally, matcha powder can also be applied as a face mask due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Try the following formula once a week for noticeably brighter skin:

photo matcha powderIngredients:

  • 1/4 teaspoon of matcha powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon moisturizer

Instructions:

  • Mix together in a bowl
  • Apply to the skin and leave on for 20 minutes
  • Wash off

#2 Matcha is a natural energy-booster.

If you feel tired throughout the day, it might be because of the coffee you drink. Coffee contains high levels of caffeine, which can initially boost energy levels and then cause them to crash afterwards. This leaves you feeling fatigued and often reaching for sugary snacks – which causes energy levels to spike and crash, yet again!

Unlike coffee, matcha releases energy slowly and sustainably. It contains amino acids which help your body absorb the caffeine, gradually. That means you won’t have jitters at the onset, nor an afternoon slump. It’s really been a game-changer for those looking for a sugar-free coffee replacement.

Matcha promises a four to six hour energy boost that’s just enough to perk you up. If you often feel tired by afternoon, try swapping your coffee for a matcha.

#3 Matcha improves mood and combats memory-loss.

If you find yourself forgetting where you left your keys or even the most important appointments, Matcha Green Tea has properties that can help in this department.

How? It’s the amino acid L-theanine in matcha, which stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin and improves concentration and memory. According to a study published in the journal Phytomedicine, regular consumption of green tea may even offer protection against Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.

As an added benefit, matcha has been known to reduce stress levels and even used to treat people with anxiety.

#4  Matcha detoxifies your body and can help you lose weight.

Matcha’s vibrant green color comes from a high level of chlorophyll, making it a detoxifier that helps your body get rid of heavy metals and toxins.

Apart from being a natural cleanser, matcha may also help you lose a few pounds. The major antioxidant in green tea – EGCG – is linked to potential weight loss benefits. Matcha can crank up your metabolism, helping you burn more calories every day and process food more effectively. In fact, researchers conducted a series of studies on dieters and found that those who drank green tea lost more weight than those who didn’t drink it.

Since matcha has more of EGCG than regular green tea, that makes it a unique, antioxidant-rich beverage you may want to incorporate into your weight loss plan and fitness goals.

#5 Matcha helps fend off diseases.

Matcha, loaded with antioxidants, is also known for its immunity-boosting and disease-fighting properties. According to Healthline.com, “including matcha in your diet could increase your antioxidant intake, which may help prevent cell damage and even lower your risk of several chronic diseases.”

What makes matcha such a super food? Once again, its key component is EGCG, a catechin linked to lowering risks to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease, among others.

Janie Zeitlin, a registered dietitian in White Plains, NY and New York City, says matcha is a “nutritional powerhouse,” and “a valuable addition to any diet,” but adds that moderation is best because of the potency. Most experts recommend drinking a cup or two a day. Since one cup of matcha contains the equivalent of multiple cups of green tea in terms of antioxidants, you’ll still reap all the health benefits.

PHOTO erinErin Young’s company, Evergreen Matcha, ensures buyers that they source 100% authentic, high quality Matcha Green Tea grown from sustainable family-owned farms in Kyoto, Japan. If you’re interested in trying matcha, she is offering  readers 10% off their first purchase and free state-wide shipping.

To take advantage of this special offer, visit Evergreen’s website and use coupon “1MATCHA” at checkout. If you’d like a free Matcha Recipe book with over 30 healthy recipes delivered to your inbox, click here.

 

 

Bloggers Unite! The Mystery Blogger Award

Thank-you to fellow author and blogger, Pearl R. Meaker, for nominating Baby Boomer Bliss for The Mystery Blogger Award. Be sure and check out her great blog, appropriately titled, Pearl’s Pearls.

blog award

As anyone who has tried blogging knows – it is not an easy road to travel. Writing a blog is a wonderful creative outlet and a rewarding opportunity to inspire others in a meaningful way. But finding an audience and building up your readership can be frustrating.

Although Pearl is a mystery writer and author of the Emory Crawford Mysteries, and despite the name of the Mystery Blogger Award, this award is not meant only for writers of that genre. Blogger Okoto Enigma, created the award “because there are a lot of amazing blogs out there that haven’t been discovered, yet…and most of these blogs deserve recognition.”

I agree with that. According to the rules, nominees are asked to reveal three things about themselves. So, here are three things you may not know about me:

  1. I hate hot dogs and Coke.
  2. I could have died while going white-water rafting in a five-plus river in New Zealand when our family’s boat flipped tossing us into the frigid raging water. In Mexico, I almost swung into a building while para-sailing. Taking a boat ride under the waterfalls in Brazil, I discovered too late that there were piranha in the water. Therefore, being the klutz that I am, I have wisely given up all thrill sports. I hate to think what might happen to me if I went sky diving!
  3. I love to dance (much safer) and can do a mean ballroom swing with my hubby.

Nominees are also asked to do a short interview for the person who nominated them. So without further ado, here are my answers to Pearl’s five excellent questions:

Does your blog have a theme? If yes, why did you choose that theme?

Yes, the theme is helping baby boomers find happiness. I chose that theme after discovering that studies show younger boomers are the unhappiest age group. I wanted to know how we could change those statistics around and maintain inner peace and happiness through what can be a challenging time in life.

Where is your favorite place to go for a vacation – or where you would like to go if you could go there?

I’ve been fortunate to travel to all the continents with the exception of Africa and Antarctica. Some of my favorite places are the Iguassu Falls on the border of Paraguay and Brazil, London, Florence, and Paris in Europe, Sydney in Australia, the Great Wall in China, and I loved recent trips to the Florida Keys and Chicago here in the states. I dream of going to Africa.

Has your favorite subject in school stayed a part of your life? 

Oh yes. Writing was my favorite subject in school, so it’s no surprise I eventually chose it as my career.

When was the last time you played a board game or a card game using real cards? 

Last week. I have three grandchildren ages 10, 8, and 6. They still like some of the games we boomers played as kids including Twister. And yes, I played it with them – and lost!

Do you read to relax? If you do, do you have a genre that is your go-to relaxation genre?

Yes indeed! If I want to truly escape, a good thriller that keeps my attention is just the ticket.

As is the tradition for this award, I nominate the following bloggers and ask that they answer the same above questions if they choose to join in:

Cat Michaels, Carmela DutraRosie RussellJames MilsonKristen LambRebecca Lyndsey, Sandra Bennett, and Tracy Bryan.

The Rules:

  • Put the award logo/ image on your blog
  • List the rules
  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Mention the creator of the award and provide a link to their blog as well
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Nominate 10-20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  • Share a link to your best posts

Thanks again to author and blogger, Pearl R. Meaker, for nominating me! To check out my best posts from last year, click here. Want to participate? Tell me three fun facts about you in the comment section. I’d love to hear!