Would it hurt you to smile already? Look around you, how many people do you actually see with a smile on their faces these days. Is it really easier to be unhappy than happy?
No one expects you to be happy 100 percent of the time but cultivating a pleasant expression shouldn’t be that hard. Although you do have to be careful not to go overboard; people who are “too cheerful” drive you nuts too.
It is easier for some people than it is for others; not everyone is genetically programmed to have a sunny disposition, but most of us could do better.
If you really want to radiate calm and happiness you can do it by practicing. Smile at your reflection when you look in the mirror. Don’t be critical. You won’t look the same as you did when you were twenty or even thirty, but there is still something special going on. That smile can make you feel better, and it might even smooth away some of those frown lines. For just a minute focus on life’s satisfactions rather than on feelings of distress.
Learn how to be happy; it feels good, promotes creative thinking, and benefits your health. Let’s start today. Smile when you bite into a piece of cheese cake. Smile when you take that first sip of coffee in the morning. Smile when you cup a rosebud in your hands. Smile at the baby in the stroller. Smile when you watch a mother duck swimming with her babies. Smile at the puppy who just wants to say hello. Now, was that so hard?
Are you still having trouble? Try doing some things you might enjoy: meditate, talk with friends, resurrect an old hobby, write a journal entry or spend time with nature. Last but not least, if you need more help see a therapist and learn how to release your inner joy.
A smile is a good place to start. It is all about going through the motions. Don’t wait until you feel like it, do it now. Before you know it someone will smile back at you and will be on your way.
Most of us are familiar with “Amber Alert” notifications but are you familiar with the term “Silver Alert?” It is pretty obvious when you think about it, but my initial reaction to seeing a silver alert message on an electronic highway reader board was “what in the world is that?”
This is something new, or at least new to me. Similar to the Amber Alert for missing children we now have a “Silver Alert” to alert the public that a senior with dementia or other cognitive disorders is missing. When a Silver alert is issued, the media will release a description of the missing person and contact information for law enforcement agencies. The information is posted on roadway message sign boards if the missing person is driving an automobile.
People with Alzheimer disease or other forms of dementia tend to wander. Wanderers, not found within 24 hours, often suffer serious injury or even death. It happens more often than you might think. Sixty percent of persons with dementia will wander at some point. Some drive, some will walk and some may talk an unsuspecting bus driver into a free ride. Regardless, you would be surprised at how far they can travel in a very short period of time.
Family members and Police are called to help locate lost seniors; needless to say they appreciate all of the help they can get. Imagine the stress, worry, confusion and desperation felt not only by the person who is lost but by those who take care of them.
Please consider having your senior carry a global positioning system (GPS) at all times. GPS, Fitness and other trackers are quite trendy these days and no longer shout out that a loved one is a “basket case.” In fact, it is a sign that you care enough to take care of yourself in every way.
Activity monitoring systems are small and sophisticated; they can track the actions of a person and send alerts if they fall, wander, or merely begin to slow down. Some people will fuss about privacy infringement but consider the alternatives. Instead of thinking infringements think about how these technologies can help older people remain independent as long as possible.
Collecting items of interest can be a great deal of fun, but the new emphasize on downsizing makes it a little more difficult. It is up to you to decide what is truly a collectable and what is junk. Whether you collect dolls, salt and pepper shakers, stamps, sea shells or cars, you want your collections to be fun as well as meaningful.
Pursuing a hobby is good for you. The process of acquiring, sorting, organizing, learning and sharing your passion gives your brain a real lift. Building a collection is an opportunity to express yourself creatively and to socialize with others who share your passion. Use your imagination to find and organize your loot.
A collection doesn’t have to involve physical objects. If the idea of accumulating more stuff really bothers you, you can engage in something like bird watching or star gazing. All you need is a notebook to track your observations and perhaps a camera if you like visual proof of your prowess.
You will never be bored if you have a true hobby. Remember how you chastised your children when they complained about being bored? The same holds true for you; boredom can be a real killer. Your brain wants you to be creative and craves stimulation; giving your brain a workout matters.
So what can you do that qualifies as a hobby?
• Take up a sport (doesn’t have to be terribly physical: consider table tennis, swimming, or touring with a bicycle group).
• Resurrect an interest from your past: collecting, building models, sewing, or treasure hunting.
• Paint a picture, learn to quilt, make your own jewelry, learn a language or volunteer to help others.
The sky is the limit. Break the cycle of ordinary, move ahead and be engaged in your own life. Do something that gives joy and meaning to your life; it is good for your brain.
There is no right or wrong way to go about it, the project is yours. How you go about researching, displaying or organizing your collectables is up to you. Pick a theme and go for it. Visit flea markets, garage sales, antique stores, book stores and art supply shops and let the adventure begin.
Summer is here! Long sunny days, pretty dresses and short pants, picnics, baseball games, and family vacations for everyone to enjoy. On the other hand there are soaring temperatures, mosquitoes, and sleepless nights.
High temperatures and older adults don’t mix. Chronic illness, certain medications, forgetfulness, and a general disregard for what is good for us can spell disaster in a hurry.
Increased fluid intake is the key. You know it, and I know it. Why then, is it so hard to get seniors to drink enough to keep themselves hydrated? I know seniors who can take 12 pills with one sip of water, and boast about it. Trying to get older people to drink can be like pulling teeth. Family members, caregivers, and friends should not have to plead, beg, or badger you to get you to drink a glass of water.
Come on people, be responsible. Nobody can force you to take care of yourselves but sometimes you have to do stuff “just because it is good for you.” One of the simplest ways to do this is to down a couple of bottles of water every day. Not thirsty, you say. Drink anyway. If you wait until you feel thirsty you may already be dehydrated.
When the hot days arrive:
Dress appropriately, this means not wearing sweaters and polyester outfits when it is 90 degrees out there, don’t deny this because I know better.
Have cool drinks readily available and record when and how much you are drinking. Eat light meals that have high water content (soups, salads and fruit). Coffee, tea, soda, juices, popsicles and other liquids count as part of your daily intake too.
Many young people carry water bottles with them wherever they go. This is a good thing; it is a habit that can be developed at any age. A sip here and a swallow there can make a difference.
Monitor yourself for headaches, confusion, weakness, fainting and muscle cramps. These are all signs that you may be too hot. A few precautions can reduce your risk of illness, and ensure that your summer is safe and enjoyable.
Every five years, or thereabouts, we would pack up our belongings and moved to another town, another state, or more likely than not across the country. The first thing I would do when settling into a new town would be to find the public library. It made me feel at home; the library was, and still is, the place where every community comes together.
When we were kids a weekly trip to town was the highlight of the week. It was all about band concerts, ice cream socials, playing with friends and a trip to the library. I loved browsing through the stacks of book and picking out five or six to take home with me. The next stop would be the corner store to spend my allowance (twenty-five cents a week) on a sack of nickel candy. It didn’t get any better than that.
I still visit the public library at least once a week. I pick up an armful of books and feel the same sense of anticipation that I did back then. Today I treat myself to a latte instead of a sack of candy but the idea is the same…comfort for the soul.
The library has changed over the years but always for the better. You can actually see your tax dollars at work. The changes may seem a little overwhelming if you have been away for a long time, but please don’t let that keep you away. Your library is still the friendliest place in town and the books, movies, classes, computers, newspapers and magazines all still free.
Yes, it is true that the old card catalog has been replaced by a computer, but there are still thousands of books on the shelves at each branch. If you can’t find what you are looking for, a friendly librarian will help you find or order from another library in the system.
Many libraries have mobile units that make library services available to homebound individuals, senior facilities, daycare centers and schools. There are treats and delights for patrons of every age, so don’t be a stranger.
Reading is your key to a lifetime of learning. Reconnect with your public library and be a citizen of the world.