Category Archives: Baby Boomer

A Baby Boomer’s Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens in 2018

Was 2018 a crazy roller coaster ride for you? Smooth sailing? Milestone events?

My writerly pals and I are remembering the happy moments as well as lessons we learned from challenges this past year in our blog hop: “My Ups, Downs, and In-Betweens and Beyond in 2018.”

Check out our personal reveals, then visit the other #Gr8blogs linked at the end of the post for more shared recollections and lessons learned along the way. We hope you’ll be inspired to dive into your own special memories of 2018!

So, what important life lesson did I learn this past year? What exciting announcement do I have for next year? You’ll have to wait and see at the end of this blog. In the meantime, I’m fortunate that I had a lot of reasons to celebrate this past year. Here are four of them:

Celebrating a New Arrival

If you’re a grandparent, you know the instant connection you feel deep down in your soul when you hold a new grandchild for the first time.

Emily Paige, our fourth and newest member of the family, was born on January 26, 2018.

For the first time, I am a long-distance grandma. My newest grandchild lives about five hours away. Oh, I know it could be much worse. But the distance seems ginormous to me. After all, it robs me of the joy of seeing my new granddaughter on a daily or weekly basis. I’ve been spoiled since my other three grandchildren, now ages 11, 9, and 7, have always lived close by.

Our goal was to see Emily Paige once a month during her first year of life. We met that objective, but still, I’ve missed hearing her first word or watching her take that first tentative step in person (although the kids are great about sending me videos). And yes, at nine months, she is already walking!

But I won’t complain too much. Near or far, grandchildren are a true blessing. On those special occasions, when we’re all together and my grandchildren are sleeping nearby, curled up in little balls, a warm glow of satisfaction permeates my body. I quietly sip my coffee the next morning, eagerly anticipating the soft, sleepy-eyed snuggles soon to come my way.

To be needed and wanted by these delightful creatures is a wonderful treat! The rewards of family life only grow richer and more fulfilling when each new grandchild is born.

Celebrating Family Fun

Speaking of special occasions when our whole family is happily united, all nine of us were fortunate to take a family vacation to New York and Washington DC together this summer.

It was my oldest son and my grandchildren’s first trip to New York and none of us had been to DC before.

To hear the children’s squeals of delight when they saw the bright and gaudy lights of Times Square, viewed the spectacular city from the top of the Empire State Building, or saw the iconic Statue of Liberty from the ferry for the first time was magical.

Between visiting hectic NYC and DC, we rented a tranquil lake house in upstate New York. We paddled in kayaks, fished, and saw fire flies for the first time in our lives.

What beats traveling with the people you love?

 

Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage

Want to put some magic back into your marriage? Write down one reason you love your spouse for every year you’ve been married. Remember why you were first attracted to each other. Then share your list with your loved one.

The list was easy for me. Some of my reasons in my letter to my husband were serious: “Because you put God first in your life, because you gave me two wonderful sons, a great daughter-in-law, and four beautiful grandchildren, because you know what I need before I do, because you have a calm voice that soothes me, because you never leave the house without kissing me good-bye, because you kept proposing until I finally said yes, because you are thoughtful and a romantic at heart.”

Some were humorous: “Because you gave me the best last name ever (Gorges pronounced as ‘gorgeous’), because you still think I’m sexy and my butt looks great, because you make me pumpkin pancakes, because you rock Hawaiian shirts.”

Some were fun: “Because you’re always ready for our next adventure, because you love the ocean and sailing, because you make the best apple martinis, because you love to travel and dance.”

We celebrated our 40th year of marital bliss with a tropical anniversary party. We even performed a flash mob dance with our family to Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.” Good times!

Celebrating Finishing My Book

On a more serious note, as some of you know, three years ago I lost my Mom. She suffered from Lewy Body dementia (LBD), a a cruel combination of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s symptoms that rendered her helpless both physically and mentally toward the end of her life. During the final years of her life, I was her full-time caregiver.

Sacrificing part of my life to care for a parent with dementia who I loved dearly was one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. Caregiving was also the most challenging, demanding, and heartbreaking task I’ve ever undertaken – even with the support of my family. Dementia not only changed my mother forever, it changed me in profound ways too.

As I write in my soon-to-be published book, I’m Your Daughter, Julie: Caring for a Parent with Dementia: “Sometimes you lose a parent in death suddenly. What you don’t realize until you have a parent with dementia is that sometimes you lose a parent excruciatingly – a little bit at a time. Grief takes many forms and it isn’t just for mourning someone who has died.”

After my Mom lost her ruthless battle with LBD, many people encouraged me to write a book to share my experiences and offer advice to other caregivers. Although I had shared some of my story in this blog, I couldn’t immediately dive into an entire book on the subject. The agonizing experience of watching my Mom rapidly deteriorate both physically and mentally before my eyes, the difficulty of taking care of her at the end when she began to lose all bodily functions, as well as her death were all too distressful to relive.

Even now, painful memories can take my breath away. Last week, I went to DMV to renew my driver’s license. The last time I was there was with my Mom. The disease was already taking its toll and she could no longer drive. I strongly suggested that she get a non-driver identification card. But Mom insisted on taking the written exam, saying it was a matter of pride. When asked for identification, she wanted to present an actual driver’s license not an “ID card for old people.” She wouldn’t change her mind.

So, Mom took the test and, of course, she didn’t pass. Not even close. But what was most pitiable was the confusion on her face when informed of the failure. Mom truly thought she had aced the exam. “I don’t understand,” she kept saying again and again. Her bewilderment and disappointment broke my heart.

You can see why detailing our journey during my Mom’s final years wasn’t easy. While writing the book, some of the memories were so painful, I’d have to set the manuscript aside for a time. Now that the book is finished, however, I know that writing about the heartbreak was a cathartic experience that, in the end, helped me heal and continue to move forward with my life. It is my utmost hope that my experiences, my successes, and my mistakes can help other caregivers. The exciting announcement I promised: This book that was written from my heart will be released early next year. Stay tuned for announcements regarding a publication date and pre-ordering options.

The most important lesson I learned in 2018? After healing from the loss of my mother and celebrating the arrival of a new member of the family, an awesome family vacation, and 40 years of marriage, I wholeheartedly agree with Michael J. Fox, who said simply and eloquently: “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” I couldn’t have said it better.

How was your year? What was your biggest accomplishment/event? Do you have an important lesson you learned in 2018? Please share in the comment section below!

For more Up, Down, and In-Between 2018 moments, visit the #Gr8blogs below:

Cat Michaels

Cat’s personal and honest blog shares how 2018 closes on a high note after turmoil from rightsizing and writer’s block.

Rosie Russell

Rosie looks back at 2018 fondly with the publication of her first hardback edition of one of her children’s books, a new website, a love for family and baseball, and a crafts fair that includes a special moment.

Rebecca Lyndsey

Author and teacher Rebecca’s busy year included the publication of a new book, an updated website, and read-aloud preview videos.

Carmela Dutra

Carmela shares her journey after she chose to walk away from the publishing house she had always known, publishing a new children’s book from start to finish on her own, winning two literary awards, and reaching her goal of becoming a full-time author.

Sandra Bennett

Sandra’s year included the birth of a new grandchild (I can relate to the joy of that!), her first contract with a traditional publishing house, launching and promoting her new book, along with a writing workshop and festival. Sandra shares four awesome life lessons we can all put to practice.

Auden Johnson

Auden shares her struggles in 2018 along with her many accomplishments: 1000 blogs, the release of a new book, a promo video, and 1 million monthly views on Pinterest. She also looks back fondly on the simple pleasures in life like a relaxing vacation with her dog and a trip to Comic Con.

Corrina Holyoake

In a year spent feeling lost and confused, Corrina’s life lessons include never stop believing, trust your inner voice, and being selfish to become selfless.

Thanks for stopping by! If you’re a blogger and want to join us on this hop, just add the family-friendly link to your blog in the comment section, and we’ll be happy to show you some blog love.

Five 2018 Black Friday Deals Perfect for Seniors

I don’t know about you, but I’m at the age that it’s just not fun to fight crowds to try and get a decent deal on Black Friday. Wouldn’t you rather shop from home? I would! Many Black Friday deals are available right now.

I’ve listed some bargains you baby boomers may want to check out. Click on the links below to find out more.

In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which means if you click on a link and decide to buy the product or service, I will receive a small referral fee. There’s no difference in price for you. You get the same great deals. I’ve just done some homework for you and it helps cover the cost of publishing this website.

Fire HD 10

The latest Fire HD 8 has been recognized as the best ultra cheap tablet, delivering faster performance, a larger battery, and more internal storage than the previous version for almost half the price. It offers an 8-inch screen with over 2 million pixels, stereo speakers, Dolby Audio, and dual-band Wi-Fi, perfect for full HD widescreen entertainment, and up to 256 GB of expandable storage. Amazon Prime members can access tons of free video, music, and other content with their subscription. As of the time of this writing, you can save $50.

Fire Stick TV 4K

You can launch and control all your favorite movies and TV shows with the next-generation Alexa Voice Remote. The latest version offers new power, volume, and mute buttons to control your TV, sound bar, and receiver.

Microwave that Works with Alexa

Need a new microwave? Why not get a compact one that doesn’t take up much space and works with Alexa – for only $59.99 at the time of this writing? Defrosting vegetables, making popcorn, cooking potatoes, and reheating food has never been easier. Quick-cook voice presets and a simplified keypad allows you to simply ask Alexa to start microwaving.

Grocery Delivery

Have problems getting around or hate to go to the grocery store? Skip the trip and spend more time doing the things you love with AmazonFresh grocery delivery service. Amazon is offering unlimited grocery delivery for $14.99 a month with a free trial. A wide selection of fresh groceries is delivered right to your home at a time convenient to you. Shop Amazon’s specialty stores to fit your own lifestyle, featuring meals and snacks that are gluten-free, vegan, or organic. With a wide selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s easier than ever to eat healthy.

 

Fire TV Cube

Fire TV Cube is the first hands-free streaming media player with Alexa. From across the room, just ask Alexa to turn on the TV, dim the lights, and play what you want to watch.

 

Baby Boomer Women Wearing Hair Longer

Remember that old-fashioned rule? “Thou shalt not grow your hair past your shoulders after the age of 50.” In the past, if older women dared to hang on to their locks, they swept it into a dowdy granny bun.

No more! Have you noticed that baby boomer women – and I’m not just talking about celebrities – are bucking the idea that you must lop your hair off at a “certain age?”

 

Photo by Anderson Guerra from Pexels

I’m one of those boomers embracing longer locks. Turns out this is a new trend. Which is kind of funny. Usually, by the time I discover something is a fashion trend, it’s already over.

But I can see why times are a-changing. Boomers are discovering that long hair can look flattering. For one thing, it hides some of those unflattering problems that pop up as you age. You know, like a wrinkly turkey neck or a double chin.

Plus, I think women are tired of society telling them how they should look.

After I had my first child, I fell for the myth that you had to cut your hair short to look like a proper mother. Although I was only in my early 20’s, I suddenly felt old with my not-so-stylish pixie cut. Not to mention, a bit naked and awkward without my long hair. For decades afterwards, my hair was cut into a sensible bob and – as was popular at the time – permed like a poodle.

By the time I hit my 50’s, I was getting tired of the term “age-appropriate” and ready for a change.

Mind you, I’m not talking about clinging to the 60’s or 70’s with straight hair parted down the middle reaching my butt. But, as you can see in the photo below, my hair is a few inches past my shoulders.

 

A pic of my hair from the back.

If this is your preference, and you want long hair, I say go for it! Have you gone gray? No matter. Personally, I’ve seen some women look like gorgeous silver foxes with their long tresses. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a hairstyle:

  • A good haircut with a few layers around your face is flattering and can give some extra lift to your hair, making it look more modern and healthy.
  • Long, side-swept soft bangs can be a boomer’s best friend, drawing attention to your lovely eyes and away from a wrinkled forehead.
  • Avoid a formal coifed look and go for a more relaxed style – that goes for whatever length of hair you choose. According to hair stylist Sally Hershberger, best known for creating Meg Ryan’s iconic blond shag, “Once you get older, you have to get messier or you look like a newscaster or a real estate lady,” she says in an interview with Zoomer. “Conservative hairdos are aging. Hair needs movement.”

And, since hair grows slower, thins, and becomes more fragile as you age, here are a few hair care tips for longer locks:

  • Experts say you don’t need to wash your hair every single day, which can strip your scalp of essential oils. When you do jump in the shower, use quality shampoos and conditioners specially formulated to encourage growth and keep hair strong and healthy,
  • Use a wide tooth comb to minimize breakage.
  • Reduce drying time by allowing your hair to dry naturally for the most part. Use the coolest setting on your blow dryer. Avoid curling irons whenever possible.
  • Keep your hair healthy from the inside out by staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet.

One more thought: If you prefer short and sassy, more power to you. After all, how you wear your hair shouldn’t have anything to do with rules, what your husband, kids, or grandkids thinks looks best, or what’s trendy at the moment.

Instead, your hairstyle should make you feel beautiful, confident, match your personality and fit your lifestyle. Girls, it’s all about you!

What’s your verdict? Do you like long hair on women past the age of 50? Do you love your long or short hair?  Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

 

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.

“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

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.

 

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.

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  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 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.

 

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!

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. 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!

 

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!