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Starting a Healthy Midlife Tradition

Sat, 28 Mar 2009 21:18:00 +0000

Midlife is full of nostalgia. Sharing memories of friendship, laughter and school. Remembering the all-night study sessions, the all-night parties and all the mornings after. Homecoming weekend and final exams. Your first date, a marriage, your first child -- year after year of life's greatest moments. Conversations at midlife are filled with "remember when" and "back-in-the-day." Memories are great but midlife is also the time to look forward. Today, really is the first day of the rest of your life. A day of new beginnings and new traditions. And at midlife, one of the best traditions to have is your annual physical exam. That's right. I said physical exam. Head-to-toe, doctor, dentist, eye doctor. Once a year, every year, you owe it to yourself. We've all had experiences with health related tests and treatments that aren't so pleasant to remember and certainly don't make acceptable dinner conversation. My personal favorite is the mammogram experience - my left breast pressed tightly between the two clear plates of glass while the technician says in her most serious tone, "Don't move." Where the hell would I go? But I endure this process every year because in midlife I have to accept the changes that come with maturity. It's important now to check out all the aches and pains you were more likely to ignore in your younger days. When you get tuned into the state of your health, you start to be in control of your destiny. And at this point of our lives, we've earned the right to be in control. Now if the mere thought of an annual physical exam seems overwhelming, there are 6 steps to make the process more manageable and keep this tradition forefront in your mind - midlife moments notwithstanding. Get a doctor. Select a family practitioner or an internist you like and can talk to. You probably already have a gynecologist but an internist focuses on the overall condition of your body not just your reproductive system. And make sure you have a gynecologist you feel comfortable with as you go through menopause. Don't forget your eyes and teeth. Select a dentist and eye doctor if you don't already have relationships with these specialists. Ask questions. Make a list of questions you want to ask the doctor. Not only is this about you getting answers but it provides your doc with clues as to medical conditions you might have. Provide information. Take a plastic bag of all of your medications and any nutritional supplements you take like vitamins or herbs. And make a list of your medical history -- health care providers you've seen, why you saw them and their contact info. Be ready to provide a family health history. Pick your personal health check month. At midlife it's easier to remember that October, for instance, is the time when you schedule all of your physical exams. Keep a medical records file at home. File all of your medical records and receipts in one central place. If you're still not convinced that this is a tradition that you can embrace, let me offer a little motivation. At the tender young midlife age of 57, I've already lost friends in the prime of midlife to illnesses I used to think only affected the elderly. No one is promised a tomorrow but you increase your chances of being here with an annual physical exam. So once a year, every year give yourself a priceless gift better than gold and diamonds; better than cash, a trip around the world or anything from a store.  And please remind a friend or relative to get an annual medical check-up. So enough with the discussion here. It's time to take action. Make an appointment for your physical exam, slip into that oh so drafty, oh so not sexy blue wallpaper print wraparound gown and congratulate yourself if you can actually pee in the little cup they give you. And while you wait for the doctor who's always a little behind schedule when it's your turn - remember that your health is worth the wait. Karen Batchelor is a certified coach & midlife strategist blogging over at Midlife's a Trip. Stop by and visit. [...]



On Becoming A Memory Keeper

Sat, 07 Mar 2009 04:57:59 +0000

It was back in the 1960's when I first became aware of memory loss.   I was visiting my cousins in Cleveland. We were watching out the window as our great-aunt Clara drove up. Aunt Clara was noticeably forgetful, even to us kids. We called it "senile" back then. I recall how we would snicker about her little memory lapses--behind her back, of course. And there was my great-grandmother who used to ask the same question every 10 minutes as if she hadn't asked it 20 times before. Even back then it was clear to my child's mind that there was something incredibly sad about an adult being completely unaware of forgetting a name, a place -- a face. It was many years before I had to confront the "senile" issue again. I was in my 30's when my mother sustained a closed-head injury and began to forget things. It got so bad that she would have dozens of lists written in a steno pad to remind herself about how to navigate through just one day. It didn't take long for me to recognize that something was seriously wrong. I bought a book on Alzheimer's in 1987, the first of many books I would read on the various forms of dementia. For most of my life, I've thought of Alzheimer's as a condition of old age.  By the time I hit midlife, I'd dealt with my mom's dementia and considered myself somewhat knowledgeable about memory loss. That is until what I thought I knew got turned completely upside down when my best friend was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.   "Susan'', as I'll call her here, is 57, the same age I am.  We met when we were 6 years old and I still remember that day.  My dad was talking with her dad over our backyard fence with his white convertible parked a few feet away.  I didn't see anyone in the car until suddenly a little girl popped up from the back seat with a big wide grin and long-ponytail.  I smiled back and that was the start of a friendship that's lasted over 50 years. We went to grade school together and always stayed close even though we went to different high schools and colleges. But physical distance never bothered us.  Over the decades Susan and I talked almost every week, laughed, counseled each other and shared the ups and downs of our lives.  Trust me when I say it, we've been friends through the best and worst of times. I remember when my father suffered a stroke and Susan flew in to visit him.  We drove out together to the nursing home where Dad was for several months. As we sat with him in the dining room, two old women caught our attention.  They were leaving the dining room together in their wheelchairs like a little caravan.  Susan looked at me, smiled and said: That's us when we get old.  Let's promise we'll grow old together. I never imagined we'd have a problem keeping that promise because of Alzheimer's. According to the Mayo Clinic: Of all the people with Alzheimer's disease, only 5 to 10 percent develop symptoms before age 65. So if 4 million Americans have Alzheimer's, at least 200,000 people have the early-onset form of the disease. Early-onset Alzheimer's has been known to develop between ages 30 and 40, but that's very uncommon. It is more common to see someone in his or her 50s who has the disease. Susan was diagnosed in her early 50's.  She's been in a clinical trial and on the medications now regularly prescribed to slow the degenerative process of Alzheimer's.  It hasn't helped.  It seems that the early-onset form of the disease is more toxic -- at least it is for Susan.  But the impact of early onset Alzheimer's varies from person to person as I found out when I stumbled upon the Dealing with Alzheimer's blog of Kris Bakowski.  She was diagnosed several years ago at age 46 and is still blogging -- and on Facebook.   Susan, on the other hand, can't work or drive any longer.  More and more there are people she no longer recognizes.  Although she was a talented communications professional for years, now it's difficult for her to complete a sentence.   But Susan hasn't forgotten we're friends.  When [...]



The Midlife Insomniac

Sat, 31 Jan 2009 18:47:16 +0000

One of the longstanding problems on my midlife trip has been how to get a good night's sleep.  When I was a late 40-something moving from perimenopause into the big "M", night sweats decimated my sleep pattern.  I used to wake up as drenched as if I had just run a marathon.  By the time I finished drying off, changing clothes and linens it was almost time to get up for a new day. Then as a young 50-something, menopause hit me with plain old insomnia.  Awake at 2am -- I was the person you could call at that hour because I would be up night after night.  The worst part was the infomercials.  I'd turn on the television and get sucked in by some ridiculous commercial targeted at  insomniacs like me.  I'm embarrassed to tell you what I ordered during those early morning hours.  But my family still teases me about the electronic kitty litter that activated on its own even when the cat was nowhere in sight. Now in my late 50-something years, there are two main things that impact my sleep patterns -- acid reflux and my laptop.  Some days, I think turning off the laptop is a bigger issue.  So I'm always looking for ways to deal with insomnia. In A Woman's Guide to Sleep Disorders, Dr. Meir Kryger gives 13 tips for getting to sleep - try a couple for starters and see how they work: Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex. Great advice!  But if you like me and sleeping alone - mostly - the sex part of this tip might be a vision that keeps you awake.  All kidding aside, the point here is no sitting in bed with your laptop thinking that somehow you'll fall asleep while blogging.  It hasn't happened yet for me. If you can't go to sleep do something relaxing. This goes hand and hand with the next tip about calming your brain before sleep.  I wish there was a shut off switch but in lieu of that, I've gotten a couple of CDs over the years with relaxing, almost meditative music.  They help. Calm your brain before bed - that means no blogging and no TV.  Hard for me because I like watching Frasier reruns which don't even start until midnight. Don't eat heavy stuff before bedtime -- for me late night snacking triggers acid reflux attacks.  Nighttime seems the worst for those. Don't watch the clock. I typically don't do this but when it happens it's always the night before a big day.  The worst thing is to look at the clock and see that only an hour has passed since you last looked.  I turn the clock so it faces the other direction. Create a wind-down ritual. Warm bath, meditation, soft music -- these all work for me.  Also listening to the purring of Coco Puff, queen of the castle and my regular sleeping companion. Reduce stress. I'm a long way from mastering this tip but some deep breathing is my current fallback strategy. Don't take long naps during the day. This isn't a problem for me because I've never been a napper.  But taking short naps of less than 1/2 hour is supposed to be OK. Exercise often but not right before bed. Apparently sex is an exception to this rule. Set a regular bedtime. This is one of the hardest things for me to do because if I'm on a roll, which usually means doing something online, it's hard to shut my laptop down at 10:30p and hit the sack.  Anyone else have this problem? Warm up with a hot drink or bath. Chris Canavan, entrepreneur and blogger over at the Better Than Chocolate Boutique suggests a nice warm but sexy pair of pajamas as an essential part of your get-to-sleep toolkit even if you sleep alone.  OK, Chris I suppose it's time to ditch my warm but worn and faded flannel PJs from Costco. Eliminate caffeine, alcohol or cigarettes. I don't do caffeine anymore--it aggravated my hot flashes and night sweats, which then kept me awake.  I never smoked but I do like a little glass of wine some evenings.  My recent bout with acid reflux has convinced me to limit alcohol consumption -- especially close to bedtime. Check in with your doctor if you're taking sleep meds to make sure they're not part of the problem.  I tried A[...]



The Heartless Grip of Heartburn

Fri, 16 Jan 2009 16:50:17 +0000

When Denise asked me to write about some midlife topics in the Good Health-athon, I actually wasn't feeling so healthy at the time. In fact, I was trying to figure out how to feel better in light of my persistent heartburn. My doctor had already listened to my litany of symptoms and suggested a month's regime of an over-the-counter remedy. As much as I like my doc, he didn't talk about nutrition as part of the remedy and quite frankly - neither did I. So when I whined over the phone with Denise about my tentative diagnosis of acid reflux, she pointed me in the direction of Elaine Magee, nutritionist and prolific author of 25 books on nutrition you can live with, including the one with my name on it -- Tell Me What To Eat If I Have Acid Reflux. In this book, Elaine writes in a very user-friendly, Q&A format on everything you want to know about acid reflux and then some. Her "10 Food Step to Freedom" journal helps you track the nutrition and lifestyle changes that work. I picked up a copy of Elaine's book before we talked and learned that more than 15 million people in the US struggle with acid reflux. Her book - and our conversation helped me realize how important nutrition is as a compliment to medical treatment. For most of my younger years I ate pretty healthy and was pretty healthy so I never focused on nutrition as a health mandate - until now. Since my conversation with Elaine things have gotten a little more complicated. I spent New Year's night in the ER in excruciating "worse than labor" pain - not a typical acid reflux symptom. That episode was followed by an endoscopy and ultrasound of my abdomen in the past week. The good news is no ulcers, gallstones or other serious conditions. The bad news is that I still don't have a clear picture of what's going on and I confess I was a little teary and frustrated when I left the doctor's office yesterday. As I sat in my car in the parking lot, though, I refocused on my talk with Elaine and the positive role nutrition can play in helping me cope with whatever's rumbling around in my middle-age mid-section. I committed to learn more this year about how I should be eating at this point in life instead of assuming I can eat the same way I did when I was younger. Here's my action plan: Read Elaine's latest book, Food Synergy to learn more about the role nutrition plays in our overall health. It's waiting for me at the bookstore along with a copy for a good friend battling breast cancer and my sister who struggles with fibromyalgia, Work with nutrition coach Wendy Battles of Don't Worry, Get Healthy to develop a healthy meal plan I can follow easily on a daily basis, and Include the 100 healthiest foods in the world in my diet as much as possible without aggravating my acid reflux or whatever it is. Beets are one of those super foods. Having grown up in the generation where mothers served pickled beets, I swore off this vegetable long ago before I knew how rich it was in nutrients and antioxidants. Yesterday, with my new mindset on nutrition, I ate beets for the first time in 40 years in a very tasty beet apple mélange suggested by friend Steve in Paris. Here's the recipe: Chop and sauté an onion Cook and sauté 3-4 cups of chopped beets Slice and cook 3 granny smith apples Mix all the ingredients together and puree in a blender. Add cinnamon to taste and enjoy. Of course, eating beets and overall better nutrition may not exactly be a cure for what's ailing me but its sure helping me take the heartache out of my heartburn. What works for you? P.S. Thanks Denise for introducing me to Elaine and her wealth of knowledge about acid reflux!   Karen aka Midlife Muse My blog home is Midlife's a Trip - watch for a new look coming soon! Also visit me at my brand new site, Midlife Career Path where I help people in midlife and mid-career reinvent themselves in uncertain times. [...]



Beyond Black Friday - Shopping for Seniors

Sat, 29 Nov 2008 17:21:46 +0000

I didn't go out shopping on Black Friday this year but I remember the many times in the past when I did -- running around looking for the latest greatest, must-have, got-to-get-it-now gift for someone on my holiday shopping list.  But not once do I recall a Black Friday that included racing around searching frantically for a gift for one of the elders in my family.  In fact, they never said "hey I have to have this, that or the other".  They really didn't ask for anything at all except to hear from me or, better yet, a nice visit.  According to the Eldercare Team, this is the best gift of all: What's a good gift for an elderly person who doesn't need more "stuff" cluttering up the house?  December is the biggest gift-giving season, but all year long we're faced with birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions when we have to find great gift ideas for seniors. The best gift for an elderly person is your time and attention:  time to talk, to listen, to do things together. But if you're like me and want to add a gift that seniors can touch and feel, think about approaching shopping from a different perspective to come up with something that's appealing and useful - before the last minute.  Online shopping has helped me refine that process so I can find the gift that will bring a smile to my 89-year old mother's face when she opens it on Christmas Day - despite her severe dementia.  Caring.com has put together a well-thought out list with innovative gift ideas including a couple of my favorites - Life Bio, a journaling project to help a loved one in the early stages of Alzheimer's preserve precious family memories and the Jitterbug, a cell phone easy for the non-techie senior (or anyone else for that matter) to understand and use.  To be honest, I'm not quite sure about the Pleo robotic dinosaur on this list as an alternative to a traditional pet, but you may just know the techie senior who'll love this little fellow.  Whether you find what you'll looking for or not, this list is a good starting point for inspiration. As I wrote this article, I was reminded how quickly I'm moving down the path to senior hood.  So while the elders in my life tend to be in their 80s, the gift items and resources listed here are often appropriate for a variety of ages from the fifties on up.  While you're online there are some interesting websites focused on this broad niche.  For instance, Gifts for Seniors and the Senior Emporium are like the supermarkets of great gift ideas.  And if you're in the market for a luxury item, check out Elderluxe.  First Street Online is a good shopping venue for the elderly AND for those in midlife.  For more specialized gifts, stop by Guardian Alert 911 and Life Alert for home alert systems for safety and to help preserve personal independence.  A big button memory phone or a day date clock are the new "must-haves".  Also Landel, My Celery and Presto offer low-tech email options for the person who wants to stay in touch but not deal with a computer. One of my recent favorite online sites is The Alzheimer's Store where I've found a myriad of gifts and everyday necessities for the memory-challenged like my mother.  Unique offerings here include the wooden Handyman's Box with its familiar feel and the life-like lavender-scented baby doll we bought earlier this year for Mom.  It still brings tears to my eyes as I remember the joy on her face as she took this "baby" into her arms for the first time.  If you want to go the time-honored traditional route of giving sleepwear, I've found with my mother that L.L.Bean offers the best selection because they have petite sizes for women.  Check out the easy-care, easy-wear Zip Front Women's Fleece Robe, the Men's Fleece Robe and the Men's Flannel PJs. And for all of us who are feeling the budget crunch as we shop this holiday season, here's a list  of 10 gifts for $50 and under for seniors: Pick u[...]



Let the Good Times Roll with a Virtual Potluck!

Tue, 25 Nov 2008 04:16:32 +0000

One of the things about midlife is that holidays are starting to feel different.  There's not that level of excitement I remember so clearly from years gone by.  By this time, loved ones and friends are coming and going and longtime traditions are changing or disappearing altogether.  Like in my life: Older relatives have passed away like my Aunt Hazel who just died a few weeks ago leaving me to face the holidays without her wit, wisdom and rum-soaked fruitcake. Yes, I come from a family who loves fruitcake - the more gooey and fruity, the better. We're weird like that. Relatives like my mom who has severe dementia are limited in how they can participate. It's hard to say if Mom will even understand the holidays this year. My son has not only left the nest but now has one of his own where he's building his own family traditions - as it should be. Friends are sticking closer to home so we aren't all connecting during the holidays like we used to. I just learned that my best friend won't be in Michigan for Christmas. It'll be the first time in 50 years that we haven't celebrated together. And if it weren't for my four-year old niece - the Peanut, I probably wouldn't put up a Christmas tree. What's the matter with me?  Some days I think I have MAD - midlife affective disorder.  What's the cure?  Well after my private "pity party" today, I realized that as a result of blogging, my circle of friends isn't shrinking, it's growing.  I went online and saw women sharing great memories and traditions from past holiday seasons. I actually started feeling better as I read posts like the one by Janet from the Chinaberry Community who writes: I started my family's Thanksgiving Journal in 1991, when we were selling blank journals and fabric markers. My then 7-year-old daughter decorated the cover with little turkeys and she entitled it, "Our Thanksgiving Album." Over the years I chronicled who shared this special day with us, what recipes we feasted on, what we were particularly thankful for that year, and any special anecdotes, like the year someone accidentally used the kitty litter scoop as a serving spoon in the turkey dressing. Samantha commenting at 2 Modern Design Talk shared that her: Favorite Thanksgiving tradition is getting together with my mother's 11 brothers and sisters. They each make their own recipes so we rarely eat the "traditional" Thanksgiving meal. They all have such different personalities that an outsider could be fascinated for days by watching them interact. (ie: crazy uncle Smi won't let go of the olive jar and uncle Stevie shouts constantly and tells the same stories 12 times and we hear them EVERY year.) Their interaction used to be overwhelming, considering I come from a small intermediate family...now I love the busyness of it all! And it's so great to see all the recipe sharing going on around the Internet as we head into Thanksgiving.  I had to stop by the Squidoo lens where Joan shared the recipe for the Congo Squares her family made back in 1954: I can almost smell the congos in the oven. We loved to gather round and "lick the bowl" while they baked! Mama always made congos for church picnics, long trips in the car to visit relatives, and of course at Thanksgiving and Christmastime. Note: "Lick the bowl" involved using a long wooden spoon to scrape the bowl of unused dough and eating it -- yes, uncooked! Just yesterday my sister and I were talking about our holiday food traditions.  Usually turkey day would be hustle and bustle as my sister creates a masterpiece holiday dinner with turkey, cornbread dressing (yes, like Grandma used to make), greens, macaroni and cheese and the best sweet potato pie I've ever had.  The rest of us provide the sides and big appetites because my sister has become the star cook in our family.  We have become the sous chefs to her genius because we know a good thing whe[...]



The One Vote Barack Obama Won't Get

Mon, 03 Nov 2008 16:56:21 +0000

I'm here to report that there's one vote Barack Obama won't get in this
historic presidential election -- my 89 year old mother's.  But don't get
excited John McCain.  This isn't a vote for you.  You see, Mom's not voting
for Senator Obama simply because she can no longer understand what the voting
process is all about.  The dementia she has suffered from for years has robbed
her of the ability to make an informed decision in this election.  Mom would be
devastated if she knew.

But she doesn't.  I had a conversation with her this past weekend to see if
there was any hope of her being able to exercise her voting rights.  When I
asked her if she knew who was running for president -- she didn't.  When I
explained about the candidates, as objectively as possible, and asked Mom if she
had an opinion on who she'd vote for -- she didn't.  And when I asked her if she
wanted me to get more information for her -- she didn't.  At that point,
I watched her retreat into the cave of her dementia; that place where she
doesn't have to face the fact that she can no longer make important decisions
like the one that will be made tomorrow. 

If she were able, I know in my heart that my mother would be honored to have
the opportunity to vote for Senator Obama.  There are many other seniors like my
mother who are unable to vote for him tomorrow, though, for reasons beyond their
control.  Let's not forget them.  We stand on their shoulders -- their efforts
through the years form the foundation for the choices we have this Election
Day.

So in honor of the choice Mom would make if she could, I'm dedicating my
service as a legal monitor at the polls tomorrow to her.  If there's an senior
in your life whose mental and physical disabilities keep them from voting --

What can you do to honor them on Election Day?

 

Midlifemuse

Visit me at Midlife's A Trip and also here at BlogHer where I'm Contributing Editor on midlife issues.




Lipstick Was My Favorite Costume and Other Halloween Memories

Fri, 31 Oct 2008 18:31:29 +0000

I know it sounds weird but lipstick was my favorite Halloween costume.  I didn't care what I dressed up as so long as lipstick was involved.  See, I grew up during the 50's when the standard, at least what I saw on my friends' mothers and women in the movies was really, really, really RED lipstick.  And in those days, little girls didn't get to wear make-up under any circumstances, except of course -- on Halloween. Here are some of the costumes I had in my young hey-day: Annie Oakley with a silver-plated plastic six-shooter with a pearl handle -- and lipstick A bumble bee with sequins -- and lipstick A princess -- with lipstick A witch -- with lipstick A flying monkey (wearing my costume from my role in the Wizard of Oz play at school)  -- with lipstick A bunny rabbit (recycled from my flying monkey costume) -- with lipstick A gypsy (I hate now to think of the many years I dressed up as a negative ethnic stereotype) -- with lipstick Morticia from The Addams Family -- with lipstick and A lot of others I can't even remember -- with lipstick. The goal was always to try to sneak past my mother's vigilant eye at the end of the Halloween activities and go to bed with my lipstick still on.  That way, I figured, I could make an entrance the next day at school with an intriguing new aura of sophistication emanating from my faded, smeared but still very red lipstick from the night before.  It never happened. As soon as we hit the house after trick-or-treating, Mom whipped out the big jar of cold cream.  If memory serves, the brand name of the goop she used was called "Albolene" and when Mom was done smearing it all over my face, there was no trace of lipstick to be found -- always one of the low points of my childhood. The residual of those memories of past Halloween lingers on in my long-time practice of wearing lipstick almost always.  These days my lipstick may not be red but I never leave home without it.  Today there will be a lot of us Baby Boomers sitting around remembering when Halloween was just about fun.  I don't know why it was so different in the 50's and 60's but our parents didn't worry about sending us out to trick-or-treat.  The only rule at our house was no eating unwrapped candy.  I think, though, it was more to do with Mom's concerns about germs than the possibility of someone poisoning us or sticking in a razor blade.  For those of us with memories of the good old days, Halloween was much safer and far simpler.  Muley (yes, he's a guy) from Muley's World remembers, as do I, that: Back in those innocent days of the 1960s, Halloween had not yet gained the violent, ugly and overall negative connotations it has today. Parents accompanied toddlers trick-or-treating, but they thought nothing of sending their costumed elementary school children out into the neighborhood alone or with a group of friends, armed with nothing but an empty bag and a flashlight (which rarely if ever got used). And Norma from Random Stitches recalls: When I was growing up, there were no store bought costumes. Sure some kids had fancy costumes that someone made but for the most part, you just put together what was around the house. Gypsy ladies were common as well as Cowboys and Cowgirls. I remember being a Gypsy more than once with an old skirt of my mom's, a scarf on my head and hoop earrings. I got to wear makeup and that made it all fine! You got that right Norma!!  And from Traci over at Living the Good Life: My favorite Halloween memories include when we would go camping with the entire extended family. All of the campers would decorate their campers, tents and cabins. There was a hot dog dinner, trick or treating and a haunted trail. The best decorated would win a free weekend of camping. Of course, we NEVER won that one.....but we had fun. This Halloween I'm making some new memories by dressing up as[...]



Podcast: Talking to Mary Ellen Geist about Alzheimer's

Mon, 20 Oct 2008 17:38:57 +0000

Have you ever forgotten why you came into a room, forgotten someone's name or what day of the week it is? Or have you noticed that a loved one is becoming forgetful? It could just be the normal aging process or the signs of something more serious.

Author Mary Ellen Geist saw the warning signs of Alzheimer's developing in her beloved father "Woody". As the disease progressed and the burden on her mother grew to provide the day-to-day care, Mary Ellen had a wake-up call. It was time for her to come home -- which she did leaving behind her personal life and a successful career as a radio news anchor for CBS.

But as you'll hear in this podcast interview, Mary Ellen's midlife transformation has brought her new meaning and precious time with Woody as she embraced her role as a caregiver. She shares wisdom and lessons learned from this poignant experience in her new book Measure of the Heart: A Father's Alzheimer's, A Daughter's Return.

Tune in, pull up a chair and join in as Mary Ellen and I talk about a true midlife crisis -- caring for a parent with Alzheimer's disease for which there is still no cure. Alzheimer's is already having an impact on the parent's of those of us in midlife. But it won't stop there. The Baby Boomer generation is right in the path of this wicked, degenerative disease. You can learn more from the Alzheimer's Association.

The days spent with loved ones who have Alzheimer's and other dementia are not easy. Yet I came away from this interview with new ways to reach out to the Alzheimer's victims I know and love.

Download the podcast, read the transcript or listen using this player:

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Karen Batchelor is the Blogher Contributing Editor on Midlife Issues. Her other blog is Midlife's A Trip where she shares her journey to the better side of life. Karen dedicates this podcast to her 89 year old mother who has dementia and her best friend of 50 years who at 57 is struggling with early-onset Alzheimer's.




Manifesting Peanut - A Midlife Adoption Tale

Sat, 18 Oct 2008 03:29:08 +0000

Once upon a time, there was a woman who wanted to be a mother more than anything.  But she never found the right man and had no luck with the scientific alternatives.  Finally, she decided to adopt despite the overwhelming odds of being single, a minority, having limited resources and family who tried to talk her out of taking this step at 48 years old.  We call this woman "Meno Mom" and she is my younger sister. Meno Mom is one of a growing number of women in midlife who have 17 minutes left on their biological clock but aren't willing to miss out on the experience of motherhood.  Getting pregnant versus adoption is one of the initial hurdles.  Liz over at Inventing My Life , who's doing a special series on her midlife adoption journey at Midlifebloggers realized: There are no guarantees in life about anything. Especially given my age, there were all sorts of risks involved with trying to get pregnant. I started to think it was a miracle that any healthy and intelligent babies are born at all! Not to mention the fact that my “pretty good genes” would only be half of the genetic material. I began to realize that ending up with a child who didn’t get a perfect score on the SATs was not the worst thing that could happen. And given a choice between an uncertain outcome from a bunch of icky medical procedures and a slightly less uncertain outcome from a long and expensive but not physically icky process, I chose adoption.  Like Meno Mom and Liz, would-be midlife mommies are looking at motherhood from a different perspective than in their younger years when adoption probably wouldn't have been a consideration.  Now they want the quickest and shortest path to their goal.   I watched Meno Mom move full steam ahead in the adoption process with a to-do list that seemed (at least to me) to stretch for miles.  And as she did adoption prep, Meno Mom also handled a significant share of the care-giving for our mother who has dementia.  We had a caregiver during the day, but evening duty was done by my sister who lived the closest.  I don't think either one of us realized that Meno Mom was in dress rehearsal for her new role as a member of the sandwich generation.  Sandra who writes on older parent adoption issues at Adoption Blogs describes the "sandwichers": Older adoptive parents; you know the ones -- little kids on one side, aging parents on the other, you in the middle trying to see to it that both are cared for properly, have all the attention they need, their medical issues attended to, their futures as bright and healthy as possible. Although she did handle the ups and down of the adoption process well, Meno Mom did hit a roadblock.  Because she was adopting domestically where the birth mother picks the new parent, the agency asked Meno Mom to create a scrapbook with photos and stories about her and our family.  Meno Mom froze.  Even though she's a gifted artist, this "pick-me, pick-me" step made her feel like she was in some kind of beauty contest she couldn't win.  Her confidence sank and her dream started to unravel.  Liz over at Inventing My Life talks about this uncomfortable phase of the adoption process as well as anyone:  Here are the many ways that I have been thinking that other people are better than me, especially in terms of being ready to adopt: Other people have more money than I do Other people have husbands Other people live in better houses than I do Other people live in better neighborhoods than I do Other people have more friends than I do Other people have better jobs than I do Other people are more politically active than I am Other people have cooler stuff on their blogs than I do Up until now, I was pretty much a casual bystander as Meno Mom jumped the adoption hurdl[...]