Thursday, August 16, 2018

Try Tai Chi for Balance and Fall Prevention

Villa Gardens Residents Practice Tai Chi
By Debbie L. Miller

Patricia Bethke Bing, 75, a retired community organizer in Knoxville, Tenn., has been practicing Tai chi for approximately 20 years. She practices three days a week, for 40 minutes, with a group of people around her age.

“I decided to do Tai chi for the health benefits, both mental and physical. I have no specific health issues, but I was looking to keep my good health and improve my leg strength,” said Bing. “Tai chi practice helps me to maintain my good balance, strength, and flexibility.”

Tai chi, also known as Tai chi chuan, is a Chinese martial art performed with slow, controlled postures and movements. Enthusiasts practice it for defense or health, or both.

Tai Chi Is Helpful for Balance

Recently, several studies have addressed the benefits of Tai chi for older adults. A 2014 analysis of research on Tai chi and balance, “Improvement of balance control and flexibility in the elderly Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) practitioners” in the Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics concluded that “TCC practice was beneficial to improve the balance control ability and flexibility of older adults, which may be the reason for preventing falls.”

Peter M. Wayne, associate professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, has been studying the health effects of Tai chi for 18 years and practicing it for 40.


“Across multiple studies, Tai chi appears to reduce risk of falling by 20 to 45 percent and is considered one of the best exercises available for ambulatory older adults with balance concerns,” Wayne explained.

Falling: A Serious Risk for Older Adults

Falls are the leading cause of accidental death among people age 65 and older. “In an effort to find ways to prevent falls among older adults, researchers have been investigating specific exercises, like Tai chi, that target both the physical and cognitive fundamentals of mobility,” said Brad Manor, director of Mobility and Brain Function Lab at the Institute for Aging Research at Hebrew Senior Life and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.


Credit: Michael Miller
“We and others have shown that regular Tai chi practice aids the muscular system, movement coordination, balance, and even higher-level cognitive skills such as complex reaction time and problem solving,” Manor said, “which together enable us to move throughout our environment and complete our daily activities safely without falling.”

Many factors work together to prevent falling, including balance and stability. “Unfortunately, even falls that don’t result in injury or death often have a very real and significant negative impact on quality of life,” Manor said. The result? A cycle of fear and risk of future falls. “These falls often lead to fear of falling, reduced physical activity, depression and lack of social engagement — all of which, in turn, increase the risk of suffering another fall.”

Biomechanics (how we measure and control our movement, how it changes with age and how movement relates to balance) is an important factor in the balance/fall equation.

“Our balance control system is incredibly complex and, with aging, there is a decline in sensory and muscle function,” Manor said. Tai chi helps with the ability to maintain balance, especially when we’re doing more than one thing at the same time (dual tasking), a skill which also decreases as we age.

Research Confirms the Benefits of Tai Chi

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), part of the government’s National Institutes of Health, summarized the benefits of Tai chi and concluded that “Practicing tai chi may help to improve balance and stability in older people.”

At Beacon Hill, a residential living community in Lombard, Ill., one of the residents leads an hour-long Tai chi class two days a week. “During the class, residents, who are between 62 and 93 years of age, sit or stand, depending on what feels most comfortable,” said Marc H. Raben, director of lifestyle at Beacon Hill.

Tai chi’s benefits go beyond the physical. “It is highly spiritual and also helps with focusing and calming the mind, as well as with balance,” Raben added. Several studies have shown tai chi to be helpful for those suffering from depression, hypertension, arthritis and fibromyalgia.

“Tai chi helps me mentally, as one must concentrate on the moves and the sequence in order to get the full benefit,” Bing explained. “I find the practice calming and centering, and it helps me emotionally. Tai chi is a pause from daily stresses and a safe comfortable place to be quiet.”


© Next Avenue - 2018. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Can age be “just a number?” I’d say no.

by Ashton Applewhite, reposted with permission from ThisChairRocks 
 

The phrase has always made me uneasy, partly because it’s usually accompanied by a picture of an older person doing something considered “age-inappropriate,” like wearing a wacky outfit or doing something acrobatic. The bigger issue is that it trivializes something important. Age is indeed “only a number,” as long as that number reflects how many times we’ve circled the sun. Age is real. Age differences can’t be wished away, nor should they be.

Needless to say, it’s complicated, just like the discourse around telling people how old you are. It’s important to claim your age, and just as important to push back: to ask what difference the number makes in the questioner’s mind, and why? The longer we live, after all, the more different from one another we become. That makes chronological age an ever-less-reliable indicator of what a person is capable of or interested in, so it makes a certain sense to decline to identify with it. That’s one reason so many octogenarians maintain, truthfully, that they still feel fifty, forty, or even thirty inside—that “age is just a number.”

The other reason they feel that way is internalized ageism: the belief that younger = better and that their older selves have less value than their younger selves. That’s why fudging or disavowing our age is so problematic. It gives the number more power than it deserves. It distances us from our peers. And it reinforces ageist thinking, by implying that our years are something to be ashamed rather than proud of, and suggesting that capacities might erode or relationships founder if the number came to light.

People can be far apart in years and have plenty in common, as we realize the minute we bust out of age silos. That’s why I loved an article by Gina Pell called
Meet the Perennials—her witty proposal for what those of us who refuse to be constrained by generational moats start calling ourselves. “It’s time we chose our own category based on shared values and passions and break out of the faux constructs behind an age-based system of classification,” she writes. “We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages.” My people!

So what’s not to like? The article’s tired tagline: “age ain’t nothing but a number.” (This may well have been an editor’s handiwork, not Pell’s.) It’s the age-based version of “post-racial.” It’s happy talk, papering over the very real differences between being younger and older. It’s important to acknowledge those differences because it’s part of what makes relationships authentic. Because the differences are interesting. Because the exchange of skills and stories across generations is the natural order of things.

Those differences aren’t what stand between us and age equity. The obstacle is ageism—the age segregation that cuts us off from most of humanity and the prejudice that justifies it. As Pell writes, “Tolerance feels unattainable when there are hard lines drawn between decades, and terms like Boomers, GenX, and GenY keep us separate and at odds.”

 If we’re going to dismantle ageism, we’re going to have to collaborate across those artificial “generation gaps.” Gerontologist Jenny Sasser, whose
Gero-punk Manifesto ought to be required reading for all Perennials, describes this beautifully:

The revolution around dismantling ageism can’t happen unless we can create cross-generational coalitions, which can’t happen if we can’t meet each other in the middle across age difference and become friends. Not despite age differences, but across them—because we are both similar and different, because we are all traveling through the life course at the same time but are at different phases of the journey. We need to ask better questions about when age and generation differences matter, and when they don’t. And help each other develop a keener critical capacity for seeing through the socially constructed ideas and structures that keep us in conflict rather than in cooperation. 

Hold this in our heads and it’s far easier to reject young vs. old ways of thinking, to make friends of all ages, and to find common cause. Pitting the generations against each other is one of the major tactics used by the wealthy and powerful to divide those who might otherwise unite against them in pursuit of a fairer world for all. It’s like pitting groups of low-wage workers against each other, or the interests of stay-at-home moms against women in the paid workforce. The underlying issue is a living wage for all, and redress requires collective action. When issues are instead framed as zero-sum—more for “them” means less for “us”—it’s harder to see that the public good is at stake and the issue affects everyone. The objective, in the words of historian David Hackett Fischer, is to create a world “in which the deep eternal differences between age and youth are recognized and respected without being organized into a system of social inequality.” That social order has to work for all ages, and we Perennials and Gero-punks need to roll up our sleeves and help shape it.


Author and activist Ashton Applewhite is the author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism. In 2016, she joined PBS site Next Avenue’s annual list of 50 Influencers in Aging as their Influencer of the Year. She has been recognized by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the American Society on Aging as an expert on ageism. Ashton blogs at This Chair Rocks and is the voice of Yo, Is This Ageist? She has written for Harper’s, Playboy, the New York Times, and many other publications, and speaks widely, at venues that have ranged from universities and community centers to the TED mainstage and the United Nations. Ageism is emerging as a pressing human rights and social justice issue, and Ashton has become a leading spokesperson for a movement to mobilize against it.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Classic Auto Show Returns to Fredericka Manor

Anniversary edition to feature cars and trucks from five decades


Rev up your engine, get your motor running and get ready to feast your eyes on sparkling electric blue and glossy lemon yellow exteriors, wood grain dashes and bright silver chrome shimmering in the sun. It’s time for the Fredericka Manor classic auto show and barbeque!

In conjunction with Fredericka Manor’s 110th anniversary celebration, the communitywill host the show from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on August 23. You are invited to join residents for this special anniversary event. RSVP by August 20 to 619-205-4116. About 15-20 autos including T-buckets, street rods, muscle cars, custom and classic cars and trucks representing five decades will roll into the Fredericka Manor parking lot courtesy of the South Bay Cruisers Car Club.


“There is a rich nostalgia that comes with classic cars,” said Fredericka Manor Executive Director Craig Sumner. “Many of our residents are hobbyists or made their living working on and driving many of these classic cars and trucks. The cars symbolize a proud era in American history.”

Among the cars and trucks scheduled to appear at the free event are … a ’37 Dodge coupe, various ’55 Chevys, a ’68 Mustang convertible and a ’55 Ford F-100 pickup, recently featured as a showcase truck at the San Diego Auto Museum. Darrell Rocke, an artist who specializes in intricate wood carvings of cars and trucks, will be a special guest.

Entertainment and a barbeque will highlight the event. Tours of the community will also be available. RSVP by August 20 to 619-205-4116.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Former Child Actor Dan Chang is Still Stealing Scenes at Wesley Palms


‘The talk of Hollywood’ appeared with Reagan, Gable, Wayne and Bogart in 1950s Hollywood Films

In the early 1950s, a Hollywood trade publication called Wesley Palms resident Dan Chang, a “four-year-old scene stealer” while another called him “the talk of Hollywood.”

“I guess a lot of people thought I was cute back then,” Dan says with a laugh. “The studio gave me some good publicity, that’s for sure.”
Between the ages of four and 11, Dan appeared in a little over a dozen movies and TV shows. His first role was that of a young Chinese refugee in the 1952 movie Hong Kong, a comedy-adventure-drama about a stolen golden idol, staring Ronald Reagan and Rhonda Fleming.

“There was a casting call for the movie and my father took me to the studio,” Dan said. “I got the part. I was only four years old and just remember following directions. I got to drive a car in the studio parking lot and remember learning to use chop sticks for one scene. I remember learning a lot of odd things on movie sets. In one film I was taught how to peel potatoes.”

He appeared with the likes of Clark Gable, Roy Rogers, Rhonda Fleming, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and June Allison, just to name a few of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time.
“Many of my roles were small so I didn’t really get to know the actors except for Ronald Reagan,” Dan remembers. “Reagan was really nice both on and off the set. He treated me well. We took a lot of publicity shots for Hong Kong. The studio really played up our relationship. I also remember getting to sit on Roy Rogers’ horse Trigger.”

Although his acting career had been successful for almost a decade, just before his teen years his father asked Dan an important question.
“When I was about 11, my dad asked me if I wanted to continue acting or just go to school,” Dan said. “I’m not sure why he asked me but I said I just want to go to school. While making movies there is a lot of sitting around waiting and I would have rather been playing with my friends. I don’t regret quitting. It was fun while it lasted.”

Although he no longer acts, Dan jokes that his life and Ronald Reagan’s life will always be connected. “I was an engineering professor at UC Davis, a California public university, when Ronald Reagan was governor and I was in the Air Force when he was president and commander and chief, so technically he was my boss a few times since working with him on Hong Kong,” Dan said with a big grin.

Wesley Palms recently screened Hong Kong for residents. “Cute was the word everyone used when they saw me,” Dan said. “I got some good-natured ribbing.”

When Dan is not reminiscing about his acting career, he enjoys exercising and using the cycling equipment at the Wesley Palms fitness center. He and his wife enjoy their beautiful new patio home overlooking the Pacific.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Fredericka Manor Residents Follow Family Tradition



During Ardith Eaton’s residency at Fredericka Manor, her son, Rick, looked forward to their frequent visits. Rick not only enjoyed their mother son time together, but the two often reminisced about how Rick’s grandfather fell in love with Fredericka Manor decades earlier.

“Mom and I used to laugh about how during the 1970s my grandfather, who lived here for 10 years, used to always say … living at Fredericka Manor was like living like a millionaire,” Rick said. “My mom lived happily here for 15 years. That says a lot about this community. I consider it a true landmark in Chula Vista and the South Bay.”

Perhaps one of the biggest compliments to the quality of life at Fredericka can be attributed to several residents who followed in their parents or family member’s footsteps and chose to make Fredericka Manor their retirement destination.

Dr. Paul Erickson, another second-generation resident, fondly remembers visiting his mother in the 1970s and 80s. Most vivid is Paul’s recollection of the dining room etiquette. “It was a time and a place where gentlemen wore coats and ladies wore dresses to dinner,” says Paul with a grin. “I don’t think I could have gotten away with what I have on today,” pointing to his polo shirt and Bermuda shorts. “We’re much more casual now. I like that
Fredericka changes with the times.”

“My mother loved it here,” Paul continued. “When it comes to Fredericka Manor, mother and I had one thing in common – we love the people. The friendliness of the residents and the willingness of the staff to go out of their way has never changed. It’s the same when mother was here as it is now. It’s why I moved here!”

“Dad enjoyed living at Fredericka but he would have loved it more today,” said second-generation resident Mary Ellen Munyon, treasurer for the Fredericka Club, a member of the Fredericka Manor Hospitality Committee and whose father lived at the community in the early 2000s. “He would have loved the choices residents have now. Fredericka gets better with age.”

For Rick, now retirement age himself, following in his family’s footsteps is a possibility. “When I decide to move here, it will be like coming home.”



Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Exes? No, Co-Grandparents

By Grace Birnstengel via Next Avenue

Divorces have a way of creating a snowball of effects beyond a fractured relationship. If the parties involved had children, things are often messier, and if those children also had children, the divorcees no longer face only the challenges of being exes and parents, but also of being grandparents.

Naturally, grandparents under these circumstances might have to interact and — depending on their locations — see each other at holidays or birthday parties. It could be many years since they last had to see one another or communicate. Jennifer Taitz, a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA, recently presented an interesting interpretation of how this conundrum could play out for some divorced grandparents: co-grandparenting.


One Family’s Story of Co-Grandparents

In a
column for The New York Times, Taitz told her own family’s story. Her parents divorced when she was in elementary school and didn’t exactly have the most amicable split.

 “For years, my parents’ contact was limited to kid-related events, like parent-teacher conferences,” Taitz wrote. “Yet their tension remained, my mother occasionally whispering damning words about my father within earshot, inevitably beginning with ‘He never…’ For his part, my father would more directly and angrily announce, ‘Your mother always…’”

But when Taitz’s first child Sylvie came into the world, she “became the first person to truly bring [Taitz’s] parents into a respectfully shared territory in decades.” Things changed between Taitz’s parents — slowly.

It wasn’t a seamless transition. At first there were glares, insults and passive-aggressiveness, but eventually to the author’s amazement, the article noted, “the tension between [her] parents began to abate, particularly when they both zoomed in on Sylvie, a magnet with her bright red hair and contagious giggle.”

Taitz eventually had a second child and moved from New York to Los Angeles where her parents lived.

The light that their grandchildren brought into the world seemed to minimize the disdain the former couple had toward one another. Jo and Emanuel began to coexist peacefully and even made kind gestures to one another. They cordially spent the same holiday together with the grandchildren, and Taitz’s father purchased her mother a ticket for a benefit at Sylvie’s school. They began to work together not as a couple, but as grandparents.


Exposure Therapy?

Non-traditional relationships like these are not realistic for everyone, but it’s a unique and thought-provoking concept that got Taitz thinking about how her parents were able to fall into a working co-grandparenting relationship.

“As a psychologist, I know about the profound therapeutic impact of exposure therapy — when a person chooses to repeatedly face an uncomfortable stimulus rather than avoid it,” she wrote. “For example, if someone hates public speaking, rather than dodging opportunities to grab a microphone, she would actively pursue chances to perform.”

Was exposure therapy at work here? Maybe. But it’s impossible to say for certain whether forced discomfort could ultimately turn positive for every divorced couple. What worked for Taitz’s parents is somewhat miraculous and definitely won’t bring every family together in the same way, but perhaps the moral is: If we all strive just a little more to meet each other halfway, there’s a lot to gain. Especially for those grandchildren.

 
© Next Avenue - 2018. All rights reserved.



Friday, June 15, 2018

Resident Voices: My Father's Son

“My name is Herb Foerster. I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1928. I moved to Porterville, California in 1954, and I have lived in this area for 69 years.

My mother and father were both very important to me. As a matter of fact, they are the people whom I admire the most. They gave me my beginning, and encouraged me when I went off to college, a place that ultimately became my home away from home. This experience helped me gain knowledge in science and chemistry. In turn, I wrote and created my own chemistry textbooks for 30 years, and I developed a course where students could learn without anxiety or worry.

My father met my mother in Pittsburgh. My father was an intermittent laborer during the Industrial Revolution in the 1880s and 1890s working all over the west as a stone mason, building tall smoke stacks. Father had been married early on in life and they had a son, but Father’s first wife died on a homestead in Nebraska, and he eventually lost the homestead because he had put it in his wife's name. Father was of a very strict German descent, and he worked all the time prior to meeting my mother. 

Because of his earlier experience, my father abandoned his strictness, adopted a new attitude toward me, and consequently I was raised by a family who was very quiet. My father turned out to be a wonderful father. My mother was very religious, and I grew up to be a very quiet person due to her quietness. I had wonderful parents even though they were older – my mother was 47 when I was born in 1928, and my father was 61 years old.

I attended school on an island in the Ohio River, completing grades 1-9. When I was in the 10th grade, my father retired, and I finished school in Mercer County. Later, when I graduated from high school, my parents allowed me to choose what I would do with my life. About 1946, I served in a military band as a flute and piccolo player. I went to play in Montgomery, Alabama for three years, and, on the GI Bill, I applied to Pomona College. I went through graduate school, and I became a teacher. I taught chemistry and physics, and I also developed a lifelong interest in connections between science and religion.

Chemistry, physics, and connections between science and religion are some of the topics that have always interested me most. I also enjoy astronomy and space interface connections with religion. My goal is to write to people about what I have learned in my life.

All this thanks to a very special Father!"

By Herb Foerster, Claremont Manor Retirement Community 



LifeBio is an engagement program that captures cherished memories and lasting legacies through storytelling. Since launching in 2000, LifeBio has helped 20,000 people tell their life stories through autobiographical tools and services for all levels of care. LifeBio uses technologies as mediums to help individual document their stories in an easy and unique way such as tablets, web cams, and audio and video equipment. LifeBio has been a partner with Front Porch since 2009. For more details, check out LifeBio’s Impact Story on the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) website.