Get On Your Feet…Get Up and Make it Happen!

Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story on the dangers of too much sitting,” Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Thinkthat reminded me of Baby Boomer, Gloria Estefan’s great song, Get On Your Feet.  So many of us have sedentary jobs and/or we come home from work (whether required to perform physical labor during the day or not) and then sit for the rest of the evening. Dr. Steven N. Blair, a professor of exercise science, epidemiology, and biostatistics at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, has conducted research that shows that even individuals who exercise regularly during the week may be at greater for heart attacks than those that have less sedentary habits throughout the day.  Dr. Blair warns, “If you’re sitting, your muscles are not contracting, perhaps except to type.  But the big muscles, like in your legs and back, are sitting there pretty quietly.”  Dr. Blair goes on to say that such sedentary behavior can lead to slower metabolism and health problems.

Coincidentally, in the Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times dated May 1, 2011, the Business Section included an ad supplement entitled, “Stress, Inc.” that emphasized the effect of jobs on one’s overall health, and how stress in particular can wreak havoc on our bodies resulting in headaches, back and neck pains, anxiety, lightheadedness, and a loss of sleep and energy. In the section on “Desk doldrums,” the article points out the health risks of workers whose jobs primarily require sitting in front of a computer monitor for most of the day.  For some, overcoming work related ailments requires employing some of the simple suggestions below.  Others may need to think about a career change that offers more physical movement.  You might wish to consult the Library’s copy of J. Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin’s 175 Best Jobs Not Behind a Desk for advice on alternate career opportunities.

The NPR story also referenced Dr. Toni Yancey, professor and co-director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity at the University of California, Los Angeles and author of the book, Instant Recess. Dr. Yancey advocates taking routine breaks during a full day of sitting.  Here are a few ideas she suggests to help break the sitting cycle:

  • Park further away from where you work, shop, study, play, and/or worship
  • Take the stairs instead of an elevator
  • Place printers a short distance away from work or study spaces
  • Fidget, stand up, and stretch at intervals during meetings
  • Take a 10 minute activity break at a scheduled time every day

There is a short video accompanying the story that demonstrates how to take some of the simple actions above.

In the Library world, most of us that work public service desks spend a great deal of time on our feet answering questions and directly interacting with the public. Getting up from behind a desk to show someone how to use a library resource or find their desired book, CD, or DVD is a common occurrence. However, after hearing the radio piece, I started thinking of other ways to force myself to get up and move about at my workplace, such as drinking at least 3-4 glasses of water per day. The drinking fountain requires a little trip from my desk and water is much more beneficial than loading up on coffee or soda, my typical guilty pleasures.  I also will be offering to deliver items to fellow workers that are located on another floor or in a nearby building.

In thinking about your workplace and daily activity level, what are some steps you might take to insure you are providing your body with needed movement and muscle tone?  Please share your ideas with our readers and comment below.

May 10, 2011 at 2:20 am 4 comments

Tweet This

Having recently viewed the popular highly regarded film, The Social Network, it got me thinking about my use of computer technology and how much I personally depend on social networking to stay in touch with friends and family.  I remember when the Internet was still referred to as the Information Superhighway and dial-up modems were the only way to travel there.  Technology has zipped along since then, but the manner in which the majority of Baby Boomers use the Internet remains pretty much the same.  Boomers go online to use e-mail, shop, and do research. An AARP survey shows that 40% of those 50 years old or older consider themselves either extremely or very comfortable using the Internet.

Despite the growing number of Boomers online, only 27% use social networking sites.  Social networking is the next iteration of the Internet.  Instead of static webpages, websites are interactive so users can comment in real-time with each other, putting the “social” in social networking.

It’s true that the number of Baby Boomers using social networks is increasing. CBS News recently ran a story on the growing number of Baby Boomers now using social media.  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, social networking on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn is up 88% among those aged 50-64.  Use of Twitter alone is up 120% in the same age group.

If you haven’t joined the social networking bandwagon yet, here’s a quick low-down on the most well-known social media sites and what their focus is:

Myspace (130 million users): The first social networking site to take off in a big way.  Since losing the social networking crown to Facebook, they have revamped the site to focus on music and target younger users.

Facebook (500 million users): The current top of the heap in social networking. Most people use it to keep in touch with friends and family.

LinkedIn (80 million users): Popular for professionals, it’s more about resumes and networking than reuniting with your prom date from high school.

Twitter (175 million users): Say what you want in 140 characters or less. Users follow people (from celebrities to politicians to your grandkids) with short updates known as “tweets.”

Looking to connect more with other Boomers?  There are a couple of social networking sites geared directly to you.  Eons (listed in our Blogroll and LINKS section to the right) is a social networking site that launched in 2005 by the man who created the job hunting website Monster.com.  You can join different communities based on personal interests such as gardening or travel, play games, and share photos.  AARP also features social networking on its website for the 50+ crowd with its AARP Online Community.

If you want to read further about how to get the most out of social networking, the Torrance Public Library has books to get you started :

 
Do you use social networking sites?  Have strong feelings about their positive and negative aspects?  Still not ready to jump in yet?  Leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

–mz

January 25, 2011 at 11:46 pm 7 comments

‘Tis the Season to be Reading

Flickr.com, photo by archangeldeb

It’s that time of year again! Families are coming together to visit and remember past holidays and traditions. Some of us are lucky enough to live close to our children and grandchildren, but there are those of us who aren’t so fortunate. We want to keep in touch and be more involved in our loved ones’ lives, but how do we do it in only a few short days? One of the best ways for Boomers to spend some special quality time with grandchildren is to read to them. Experts agree that reading to children is extremely important to their learning and growth. But, dare I say it? Many of us may have lost our touch. So, how do we choose a good book? It’s important to find one that you’ll enjoy, too!

First, where do you find a good book? In addition to visiting the Library and asking the experts, your friendly Youth Services Librarians, there are some helpful websites you may consult:

100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know (New York Public Library)
2010 Notable Children’s Books (Association for Library Service to Children)
Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010 (New York Times)
Read Aloud America

If you are reading to older children that have a longer attention span or children of varying ages, try some of the titles recommended at:
Best Read-Aloud Chapter Books (Good Reads)

In addition, there are several excellent books to help you find good books to read aloud:

Choosing Books for Children by Betsy Gould Hearne
Books Kids Will Sit Still For 3 by Judy Freeman
Read-aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Reading Magic by Mem Fox

At Torrance Public Libraries, picture books (Easy Books), most of which are designed for reading aloud, are shelved separately from Beginning Reader books that children read independently, so it’s easy to find a good book that is age appropriate.

Now that you’re ready with an enticing book, how do you read to your grandchild?

• First, pick a book that appeals to you – you’ll be much more likely to read with enthusiasm if you enjoy the storyline and/or illustrations. It’s a good idea to preview the book(s) if you have time. 
• Get comfortable!  Pick a quiet, cozy spot where you can give your undivided attention to your grandchild.
• Use an animated voice. Read the story using a different voice for each character. Don’t be afraid to ham it up – this is the time to practice all your best drama skills.
• Choose a book with rhyming words. Rhythm and repetition are excellent forms of fun!
• Leave out some of the words and let your grandchild fill them in.
• Encourage your grandchild to point to pictures or words in the book as you read.
• Read with an accent (especially if you find yourself getting bored with the book!)
• Ask your grandchild what they think will happen next. Asking questions will help focus attention, gives your grandchild a chance to participate, and may lead to interesting discussion.
• Change the words. Substitute outrageous words like hippopotamus or pickle that have nothing to do with the story. Your grandkids will have a great time correcting you and you’ll all have a wonderful laugh!

Remember, reading to your grandchild can be enjoyable and fun for both of you. It’s a way you can become involved in his/her life and provide many lasting memories. Reading a good book with your grandchild doesn’t need to depend on your being physically present together; try reading to your grandchild over the phone or via video chat. It’s a wonderful way to contribute to your grandchild’s life!

If you do have a book that your grandchild has particularly enjoyed, share the title with your fellow Boomers below in our comments area – they may be inspired to try it as well.

–ds

December 9, 2010 at 5:43 am 5 comments

Cooking Light (and Veg!) for the Holidays

I love the smell, taste, and feel of fall – the crisp, clean air, the warmth of vegetables roasting in my oven, and getting cozy with a steaming hot cup of cocoa and a book.  Fall is also a time of holidays and for many of us Boomers, a season of abundant eating and quality time with family and friends.

Although a day of stuffing probably won’t derail your diet plans all that much, there’s no reason why holiday fare can’t be comforting, wholesome, and delicious.  In the spirit of a healthy holiday, I’ve listed some dishes you may want to incorporate into your menu this year.

To start, I consulted some of my favorite go-to food and lifestyle magazines  – Cooking Light, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living: Body & Soul in Balance and Living, and Everyday with Rachael Ray. The November issues of these magazines have many features on holiday recipes.   Many of these publications also have ideas for what to do with dinner leftovers (sweet potato biscuits, turkey tacos…and more!), as well as meal planning tips and festive decorating ideas.   All magazines are available at the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library and at many of the library branches.

Here’s a sample of what I found to be some of the most tantalizing dishes, making use of seasonal produce and fall flavors, and not too taxing on your waistline!

For sides and starters, how about Cauliflower Leek Puree, a savory and sweet Brussel Sprouts Salad with Apples, Pecans, and Manchego, or Sweet Potato Soup with Cranberry Cream (a good way to use up leftover cranberry sauce)?

Try Spicy Moroccan Chickpeas as an alternative to a meat main course, and round out the meal with these sweet delights – Spiced Persimmon and Pecan Muffins or Pear Tarte Tatin.

The Internet abounds with recipes.  Here are some of my favorite places to hunt:

  • Chow – THE source for foodie conversation, recipes, and advice.
  • Epicurious – Includes recipes from the publications Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and SELF, plus there is an Epicurious app for your smartphone!
  • 101cookbooks – My absolute favorite blog for fresh and modern vegetarian fare using whole foods and always a source of inspiration!

Finally, here’s a link to a photo collage of delicious vegetarian holiday recipes that’s sure to tantalize your palate – Happy Holidays!

- rs

November 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm 12 comments

Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement

It’s time for a round-up of recent magazine offerings on the topic of retirement, a chief concern of most Baby Boomers I know. Money Magazine’s October 2010 issue includes their Retirement Guide 2011. Penelope Wang’s cover story, “Seven Secrets to a Richer Retirement,” examines the latest research in the field of behavioral finance (a blend of psychology, neuroscience, and economics) and offers up practical advice for long-term retirement planning.

The article’s suggestions cover two phases, “before retirement” and “in retirement.” Among the steps to take before retirement:
Get a Good Picture of the Future You – Research suggests that it is difficult to visualize yourself at retirement age, but doing so in a realistic fashion may help individuals project the type of life they wish to have and better save for it. The article suggests you write down what type of retirement future you want, for example where you want to live, what you want to make time for, what your health concerns are, etc. According to research conducted by Hal Ersner-Hershsfield at Northwestern University, thinking of the grandparent of your sex that “you most closely identified with” can be a great proxy for your future self and calling that person to mind can lead you to budget better and save more!
Try to Beat the Other Guy - Comparing yourself to others and utilizing your natural competitiveness has potential to assist in retirement planning. Whether it’s seeing how peers are saving or those same peers putting pressure on you to meet your goals, commitment strategies can help you build up your retirement nest egg. Two websites mentioned in this section are: StickK.com, a free website that lets users make a public or private commitment for any type of goal and INGcompareme.com, a public website run by financial services company, ING, where you can compare your financial status with those of nearly 140,000 other users of a similar demographic to you.
Use Reminders and Checklists – Yale Professor Dean Karlan (one of the creators of the previously mentioned StickK.com) says, “Reminders are one of the simplest, lowest-cost ways to cut through distractions and stay focused on your goal.” He has worked with banks in other countries and looked at the impact of sending account holders text-message reminders (in the library world we call them e-notification), or by postcard. Savers that received the messages put away more money. Checklists are also helpful and many financial advisors use them to help their clients prepare for retirement. Arrange for automatic prompts sent to you at critical times in your life, e.g. tax time, at bonus time, using your digital calendar, and/or place a reminder where you will see it every day. The Money issue includes a “retirement checklist” in a handy foldout.
Think Bite-size Pieces, Not the Whole Enchilada – Instead of focusing on the total sum you may want/need for retirement (sounds like a lot but typically people overestimate how long their savings will last), make your goal the monthly income you want, a figure more people can understand, so they save accordingly. You can estimate your monthly retirement income by using a calculator suggested at trowprice.com (there is a Retirement Income Calculator under “Tools & Resources” in the Retirement Section).

Strategies in retirement:
Make Friends with an Annuity – Many retirees should consider investing in an annuity which kicks off a fixed, regular stream of income for life. While becoming more common, individuals are leery about insurers that sell these policies and fear losing control of their money since this type of investment requires an upfront purchase. The article cautions readers to follow standard investment advice – “it’s not all or nothing” – place just a portion of retirement savings into an annuity.
Take Losses in Stride - This is a tough one as I’ve discovered during the last several years! People feel the pain of losses more strongly than the joy of gains, a phenomenon called loss aversion. Behavioral scientists have determined that loss aversion spikes with age and it can be a problem if it leads you to invest too conservatively. The article suggests combating this tendency by keeping up on your financial knowledge, adjusting your investment mix as you age, and getting some outside perspective in your older years.
Protect the Future You – Your brain undergoes changes as you age that can affect how you manage money. You may follow the tendency to become more optimistic (the positivity effect) becoming more vulnerable to scammers and/or suffer a decline in mental abilities. Preparation now may protect you in the future. Advice here: stay active, simplify your finances, be hard to find, and arrange now for help later (e.g. establish a durable power of attorney).

The issue also has a helpful article on clearing roadblocks that provides advice on how to overcome challenges you may face in retirement (e.g. carrying a big mortgage, your portfolio hasn’t recovered, you won’t have health insurance, you’re still on the hook for college, and you’ve lost your job and time to save money). An interview with retirement expert, Alicia Munnell (head of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College), investment advice, and a “best places to retire” feature round out the rest of the issue. Money recommends the five following college towns with notable lifelong learning programs as best places to retire: Hanover, New Hampshire (Dartmouth College); Lexington, Kentucky (University of Kentucky); Bellingham, Washington (Western Washington University); Durham, North Carolina (Duke University); Prescott, Arizona (Yavapai College).

The October 2010 special “How to Retire Smart” issue of U.S. News & World Report, available in hard copy at the Library and through the Library’s EBSCO full-text magazine database, also focuses on how to get the most out of retirement.  Beginning with a pro/con discussion about raising the retirement age as a means to fix social security, and also including a “Best Places to Retire” feature, this issue encourages Boomers to explore starting a business or to embark on a second, or encore career.  Providing data from a 2008 survey conducted by Civic Ventures, the “Baby Boomers’ Next Act” article has a table that projects where to find encore careers, those later-in-life work opportunities that combine income with social impact.  The article also suggests that Boomers that want to continue working will need to adapt to stay relevant.  Jeanne Meister, coauthor of The 2020 Workplace, points out that the generation that will overtake Boomers in the workplace, the millennials (those born between 1977-1997), will most likely manage and meet co-workers in cyberspace, so marketing and communicating via social networking sites will be increasingly important in the future.  Boomers – if you don’t already have a Facebook or LinkedIn page, now may be the time to start creating your profile!

One interesting concept described in the Next Act article is that of “cohousing,”  an alternative housing model wherein residents in a development agree to socialize frequently, such as by eating meals together several times a week, and to govern the community jointly with some decisions requiring a consensus by everyone.  The homes in the development are typically clustered around pedestrian-only areas and a shared “common house” where social activities take place.  Living in these close-knit communities enables residents to age in place since neighbors can help one another.  According to the article, 119 such communities have been built in the United States.

Other articles focus on savings and investments, including second home bargains, and the U.S. News & World Report  “best places to retire” feature is tied to best places to launch a second career.  Among the locations suggested are:

  • Ames, Iowa
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Lubbock, Texas
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Manhattan, Kansas
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Richland, Washington
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • State College, Pennsylvania

The remainder of the issue focuses on health and fitness during retirement with data and targets from the Healthy People initiative cited.  Anti-aging treatments and overmedicating are also covered, as well as destinations to visit in retirement.  U.S. News partnered with TripAdvisor to identify places that most sparked wanderlust among middle and retirement-aged Americans.  Their top selections overall were:  Sydney, Australia; Anchorage, Alaska; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Yosemite National Park, California; Havana, Cuba.  The article also has separate top destinations for culture and sightseeing, food and wine, outdoor and adventure, beach and sun, relaxation and spa, romance, and emerging destinations such as Reggio de Calabria, Italy.

If you are one of the 76 million members of the Boomer generation that is approaching retirement, there are great resources available to help you learn about your options and make informed choices.  In addition to reading this blog, don’t forget to visit your local library where all the books, magazines, databases, etc. are free.  And, if you have discovered a retirement resource you’d like to recommend to others, please share by posting a comment below.

November 14, 2010 at 8:15 am 4 comments

How to be an Empowered Patient

Mick Jagger probably said it best, “What a drag it is getting old.” Eyesight gets blurry, knees go bad, back goes out, menopause hits…and let’s not forget hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other chronic health problems. As we Baby Boomers age, we usually make more visits to the doctor. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 57% of doctor visits were made by those 45 years old and over in 2008; that’s up from 49% in 1998. With life expectancy hovering at a little more than 80 years old for women and 75 years old for men, that’s a lot more doctor visits on our horizons.

Many Baby Boomers are also caring for their aging parents, who are living longer, too. It’s often up to Boomer sons and daughters to advocate for their parents’ care. Boomers are a generation known for questioning authority, and that nonconformist spirit shouldn’t stop at the doctor’s office. Marcus Welby, M.D. may have taught us “doctor knows best,” but Boomers need to empower themselves and their loved ones when it comes to health care.

The idea of patients taking control of their health care is catching on with the media. CNN Online has an Empowered Patient section by medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. The September issue of Scientific American featured an article on “The Rise of the Empowered Patient.” The basic message is that no one will look after the well-being of your family with more diligence than you.

So how do you become an empowered patient? Information is the key. Ask your doctor questions. Don’t know what questions to ask? Research health issues that are pertinent to you. Health information online is abundant, but may not be vetted thoroughly. An excellent place to start your information search is MedlinePlus, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. MedlinePlus offers the latest health information, tutorials, directories, plus lots more.

And don’t forget that the Torrance Public Library has books on how to empower yourself as a patient:

Tell us your stories of how you were able to empower yourself or a loved one and receive better care.

–mz

November 5, 2010 at 4:32 am 1 comment

Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest


It hardly seems possible that it’s been a full year since we posted about the pleasures of attending film festivals.   One of the biggest and best, the AFI Fest, is about to begin this coming week. AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival and the 2010 event will be held in Hollywood, California, November 4-11.  AFI (the American Film Institute) is a national institute providing leadership in screen education and the recognition and celebration of excellence in the art of film, television, and digital media.

The week-long event offers film lovers a full schedule of screenings and exposure to the very best of world film. Check out the schedule and ticket policies – you may get lucky and snag some free tickets.

Also, if you’re a true film buff and would like to attend other film events in the LA area, here’s a link to a list of festivals through May 2011.

Can’t make it to the festival this year?  Don’t forget to check out audiovisual holdings at any Torrance Public Library location. You can obtain lists of notable films from the AFI website and consult the Library’s catalog or browse the shelves to pick up a classic or two.  DVDs circulate for one week and there is no fee – all you need is a Torrance Public Library Card!

October 30, 2010 at 7:45 am 4 comments

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  • Get On Your Feet…Get Up and Make it Happen! May 10, 2011
    Listening to NPR this week, I heard a story on the dangers of too much sitting,” Sitting All Day: Worse For You Than You Might Think” that reminded me of Baby Boomer, Gloria Estefan’s great song, Get On Your Feet.  So many of us have sedentary jobs and/or we come home from work (whether required […]
  • Tweet This January 25, 2011
    Having recently viewed the popular highly regarded film, The Social Network, it got me thinking about my use of computer technology and how much I personally depend on social networking to stay in touch with friends and family.  I remember when the Internet was still referred to as the Information Superhighway and dial-up modems were the […]
  • ‘Tis the Season to be Reading December 9, 2010
    It’s that time of year again! Families are coming together to visit and remember past holidays and traditions. Some of us are lucky enough to live close to our children and grandchildren, but there are those of us who aren’t so fortunate. We want to keep in touch and be more involved in our loved […]
  • Cooking Light (and Veg!) for the Holidays November 22, 2010
    I love the smell, taste, and feel of fall – the crisp, clean air, the warmth of vegetables roasting in my oven, and getting cozy with a steaming hot cup of cocoa and a book.  Fall is also a time of holidays and for many of us Boomers, a season of abundant eating and quality […]
  • Rich Retirement – Smart Retirement November 14, 2010
    It’s time for a round-up of recent magazine offerings on the topic of retirement, a chief concern of most Baby Boomers I know. Money Magazine’s October 2010 issue includes their Retirement Guide 2011. Penelope Wang’s cover story, “Seven Secrets to a Richer Retirement,” examines the latest research in the field of behavioral finance (a blend […]
  • How to be an Empowered Patient November 5, 2010
    Mick Jagger probably said it best, “What a drag it is getting old.” Eyesight gets blurry, knees go bad, back goes out, menopause hits…and let’s not forget hypertension, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of other chronic health problems. As we Baby Boomers age, we usually make more visits to the doctor. According to Centers for […]
  • Film Festivals Part Deux – AFI Fest October 30, 2010
    It hardly seems possible that it’s been a full year since we posted about the pleasures of attending film festivals.   One of the biggest and best, the AFI Fest, is about to begin this coming week. AFI Fest is Los Angeles’ longest running international film festival and the 2010 event will be held in Hollywood, California, November […]
  • Conquer Your Inner Hoarder! October 26, 2010
    I’ve become fascinated with the hoarding shows on television. A&E offers Hoarders and TLC airs Hoarding: Buried Alive. The basic premise of both shows is that hoarding is a type of obsessive compulsive disorder whereby people become incapable of throwing out anything, and I mean anything: broken hangers, empty soda cans, and the hoarders’ classic, […] […]
  • Boomers Got a Bum Rap? October 22, 2010
    The October issue of Atlantic Magazine features a provocative cover story focusing on the Baby Boomer generation and their responsibility for and contributions to the country’s present situation. Whether you agree or disagree, Michael Kinsley has written an essay that will make you think. The issue also includes response commentaries from “experts.” Personal […]
  • ACK! and the Single Girl October 18, 2010
    Cathy Guisewite has penned the final panel of that forever dieting, forever shoe-shopping, forever everywoman, Cathy. For more than 30 years, Cathy was the picture of the stressed-out career woman trying to juggle love, work, body issues, mother-daughter relationships, and whatever else modern society threw at her. Cathy ran in 900 newspapers, won an Emmy [… […]

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