How to Make “The Golden Years” Golden

SUGAR and SPICE ADVICE

Life, sleep, fatal accidents, and aging.

Life is grand. I honestly believe this to be true. Yes, there are trials and tribulations along the way, but life is a precious gift. My dad had a saying, “Life is for the living.” Yes, it is.

Sometimes, though, as we age, things change and some of those changes are not so welcome. Fifty is now said to be the new forty. If this is true, despite having had another birthday a few weeks ago, I am still in my forties. Be that as it may, I have come across some interesting information that might be worth your consideration, whether you are in my age bracket (Remember 50 is the new 40.), or above or below it. Let’s see what we find out.

Sleep and your brain. Insomnia and other sleep problems affect all age groups. Not enough of it and irritability, decreased cognitive function, and higher risks for car accidents and workplace mistakes can occur. Apparently sleep problems don’t improve as one ages. More than ½ of Americans over 50 report waking up too early and are unable to fall back to sleep. Forty percent of people report that they aren’t getting enough sleep. These stats are courtesy of the Global Council on Brain Health. (Never knew this agency even existed.)

You may have heard the myth that older adults need less sleep as they age. I can tell everyone from personal experience that this statement is not only a myth, it’s a bold faced lie. I can’t ever seem to get enough shut-eye! The truth is that sleep habits may change as a person ages, but poor sleep is not normal.

Experiencing sleep problems? Try these tips. If you are a napper, don’t sleep longer than 30 minutes and take your nap early in the afternoon. For me, it’s better if I don’t nap. I want a 2 -3 hour nap. My dad was a master at the 15 minute cat nap. He’d wake up totally ready and raring to go. Try a warm bath at bedtime and don a pair of socks to keep your tootsies warm. A lot of heat is lost from the top of the head. Try a nightcap, and I am not speaking of an alcoholic beverage. (I am referring to the kind of cap mentioned in “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.) Keep conversations before bed peaceful, as in don’t discuss politics, money, or other stressful topics.

Now that we’ve had enough sleep, let’s talk money. According to another agency I had never heard of, Employee Benefit Research Institute, many workers are so stressed out about money matters that their work performance is suffering. Three out of 10 workers feel anxious about finances. Here’s why they might be stressed: Nearly half of the workers polled reported they had less than $25,000 in savings, house and pension excluded. About ¼ of the respondents had less than $1000. Young employees are expected to have little in savings, but of those 55 and older, 28% have less than $10,000 squirreled away. In order to compensate for this shortfall, some older folks postpone retirement. Almost 4 of 10 people expect to retire at age 70 or later. (As for me, make that age 95.) The number who make it to that age before retirement is only 4%.

Fatal accidents while walking or riding a bike are on the rise for older Americans. Pedestrian deaths have risen 12% between 2006 to 2015. So says another research agency, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (I have heard of this agency!) The agency noticed that many of the deaths occurred in the same locations. Stay away from Florida. Not only is Florida infamous for voting issues, oppressive humidity, and giant cockroaches, it is also known to be home to 5 locations that are considered to be the most dangerous: Cape Coral- Fort Myers, Palm Bay – Melbourne, Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford, Jacksonville, Deltona – Daytona Beach. (Seniors, stay inside during the Daytona 500! It definitely won’t be safe to go out when race cars are moving at 250 mph.)

The 5 safest places: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Portland – South Portland, Maine (That’s no mystery. The population is, what, 100?), Madison, Wisconsin, Boston – Cambridge; and Provo – Orem, Utah. I beg to differ. I went to college in Utah and I am alive to tell you the worst drivers in America, outside of Florida, are in Utah! I was going to buy a truck when I lived in Utah and told the dealer I wanted the vehicle licensed in California because I didn’t want anyone to think I was a Utah driver!

One last bit information: Baby Boomers, please pay attention. The federal government is urging the folks of this age bracket to be tested for Hepatitis C. It is a simple blood test that could be life-saving. The federal government first started urging people born from 1945 to 1965 to get tested in 2013. Only 12% had the test done. In 2015, only 14% were tested. Baby Boomers are at the highest risk for Hep C. 3.5 million Americans have chronic Hep C, and 80% are Baby Boomers. 20,000 Americans died from this infection in 2014. People who are infected with the Hepatitis C virus are at a greater risk of developing liver diseases, including liver cancer. Liver cancer has a high mortality rate and frequently fatal in a short period of time. The good news is that Hepatitis C is curable. Symptoms are slow in developing, and many people have been infected and don’t know it. Here are a few other risk factors to talk with your doctor about: Had a blood transfusion before 1992. Blood screening started in 1992. If you ever shared needles to inject drugs, even if it was only once. Had a sex partner who had/has Hep C, or had sexual relationships with multiple sex partners. Or have evidence of liver disease, such as abnormal liver tests. Please take your health seriously. We all get only one go around on this Earth. Let’s all make it a healthy and happy time. Wishing you good health!

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