B-Informed Blog

B-Informed Blog

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Enriching your life; informing your health. Life insurance, and other topics.


Let's Stay In Touch
Let's Stay In Touch

With hectic schedules and an arm’s-length list of extracurricular activities, staying in touch with the grandkids can prove challenging. While grandchildren and grandparents alike treasure special occasions like family reunions or holidays, there are numerous ways to become more involved in each other’s daily lives, even from a distance. Building a strong relationship with your grandchildren is one of the most important things grandparents can do- and it doesn't have to be a chore.

The American Grandparents Association recommends using available technology to form bonds with grandchildren that go beyond simple phone calls. Doug Hewitt, co-author of "The Joyous Gift of Grandparenting," said that one of his favorite ways to keep in touch with his grandchildren - who at this point live all over the world - has been starting online photo albums and videos. "The fact that they're doing activities loosens up grandchildren so that they are more forthcoming... [which] leads to a stronger bonding process," Hewitt said, referring to how shared projects can open up the lines of communication more than many other activities. What's more, it may seem like grandchildren's lives change extremely quickly, so creating a project that allows for regular updates and contact has shown to be one of the best ways to keep up with these changes. Fortunately, in this day and age, we have a valuable wealth of communication resources at our fingertips. Take a look at these tips for how to bond with your grandkids from near or far.

1. Take full advantage of the Internet. With video chat like FaceTime and Skype, families are no longer confined to only hearing their loved ones' voices over the phone. Web streaming has made face-to-face communication possible, but there are a variety of other ways in which online forums can be used. For instance, with football season just starting, you may want to start up a fantasy league, asking your grandkids to join. Or perhaps you can play a game like Words with Friends, chess or checkers via the Internet.

2. Start a project. Grandparents are known for giving great gifts to their grandchildren, and the ones that are especially treasured are handmade. If you're good at quilting or crocheting, consider making your grandson or daughter a bedspread or afghan. Grandkids will want to check in to see how you're progressing and the gift you give them will be something they'll forever treasure.

3. Find similar likes and interests. The more you talk with your grandkids, the more likely you'll find similar tastes, whether in music, television, sports or current affairs. For example, the American Grandparents Association suggested starting a book club, where you can schedule a time to discuss what's happening in an engrossing novel or compelling autobiography. The possibilities are endless when it comes to staying in touch with your grandkids. The relationships you form now will lay the foundation for experiences that will forever be priceless.


Do You Remember…? Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Memory Sharp
 Do You Remember…? Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Memory Sharp

“I’ve got a memory like an… um… what’s that thing called again?”

We’ve all had moments where we feel like our memory has betrayed us. The other morning, I spent 30 minutes trying to remember where I put my car keys, only to find them attached to my belt loop. Whether it’s keys, anniversaries, or your granddaughter’s new boyfriend’s name, chances are you’ve let something important slip your mind. While we often relegate these moments of absent-mindedness to growing old, the truth is memory loss is not inevitable. In fact, recent research indicates that adults’ brains are still able to form new, memory-building neural networks in a process known as neuroplasticity.

So, you should have no trouble remembering that the granddaughter’s boyfriend, named Russell, is in a band, called Smashing Funkins, and that their first date was at Café Beefeaters. Right?

Not exactly. Even though memory loss is not a physical symptom of aging, the frequency of situations where we learn new things decreases as we get older. Think about it, in the beginning of your life, you were constantly learning new things, from walking and talking to reading and writing. That progressed to learning how to drive and doing algebra, and then you were learning how to raise kids of your own. The amount of new things we learn tapers off with age. This is normal, but it’s also the reason we find ourselves becoming more forgetful. In essence, we’ve forgotten how to remember. Luckily, with a little effort and self-discipline, you can retain and improve your power of recall. Here’s how:

Try Something New A recent Swedish study entitled “Growth of Language-Related Brain Areas After Foreign Language Learning” found that memory recall improved in adults who learned a new language. Learning a new skill or investing in a new hobby helps keep your mind active and sharp. Try something that’s completely foreign to you, dance class, guitar lessons, quilting, etc. As part of your daily routine, try out new recipes, different driving routes or listening to new music.

Play Games A 2011 study showed participants who played a computer game over an extended period of time had significantly improved their concentration to the point of having a 50 percent lower rate of car accidents. You may enjoy puzzles like Sudoku or crosswords, or you can try out Lumosity.com, an online brain training program developed by neuroscientist Michael Scanlon. Their 40+ games are designed to improve memory, attention, flexibility, processing speed and problem solving.

Diet and Exercise Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological studies in La Jolla, CA, found that memory improved in both rats and humans through regular exercise. You can try new exercises like Zumba or yoga to switch up your routine. Also, stock your refrigerator with memory superfoods, which Dr. Gary Small, director of the UCLA Memory Clinic, says include antioxidant-rich, colorful fruits and vegetables, which protect your brain from harmful free radicals. Some superfoods include avocados, coconut oil, blueberries, broccoli, chia seeds, quinoa, red cabbage, rosemary, spinach and tomatoes. Incorporating these new ideas takes discipline and a little effort, but the payoff of feeling more in control of your memory is certainly worth it, especially if you can save some time searching for those car keys.


“Do you know anyone with Type 2 Spinal Muscular Atrophy - Run, Baby, Run!”
“Do you know anyone with Type 2 Spinal Muscular Atrophy - Run, Baby, Run!”
Every Tuesday, the old guys that live on Brickleberry Drive in Roswell, Georgia get together at Nicky’s Diner to have breakfast and decide what the government should, or should not be doing. The conversations remind me of the old saying, “Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Last Tuesday, I sat next to a new guy who couldn’t have been over 30. Just to be friendly I asked, “Are you new to Brickleberry, or are you just visiting?” He replied, “Just visiting but my wife and I are looking for some top-notch medical advice here in Atlanta. We live in a small town in South Georgia and we don’t have access to first-class medical services. So my wife Margie’s parents suggested we come here where we can get good help and advice.” I didn’t want to be nosey, so I just asked, “Well, did you get some good advice?’ The young man took a deep breath and started to say something several times and then paused for a moment before beginning. “You see, my wife’s mom came down with type 2 spinal muscular atrophy as an adult – which we’ve been told is rather rare. She’s okay and has led a normal life. Well, sort of normal, she runs a lot every day. Her doctor has told her that by running regularly, she is extending her life span by maybe as much as 50 percent. But we are concerned that my wife may have inherited the gene for either type 2 SMA, or more scary, type 1 SMA which is fatal in infants. We need to know if we’re okay to proceed to have kids.” He went on to describe the other things their specialist had told them that he wanted to check out. “See there are types 1, 2, 3 and 4 spinal muscular atrophy – that’s why we are staying over for a couple of days.” After breakfast, I drove home wondering about the young man and his wife and decided to be nosey again and just Google “spinal muscular atrophy.” Type 1 spinal muscular atrophy is quite the sinister disease. There is no treatment for the weakness caused by the type 1 SMA disease. Affected children have trouble protecting themselves from choking. Breathing complications are common. Infants with type 1 SMA rarely live longer than 2-3 years. Genetic counseling is recommended for people with a family history of spinal muscular atrophy who want to have children. The good news, most of the time a person must get the defective gene from both parents to be affected and only about 4 out of every 100,000 people have that family situation. So, I guess my young friend and his wife are probably okay to have as many babies as they want. Type 2 spinal muscular atrophy is also a serious problem but with a regular exercise program – usually running – the disease can be controlled, the person’s life can be more normal and life expectancy increases a great deal.

Senior Wellness - The Importance of Staying Fit and Healthy as You Age
Senior Wellness - The Importance of Staying Fit and Healthy as You Age
“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the heck she is.” ― Ellen DeGeneres You have to give Ellen’s grandmother credit. She apparently realized later in life what a lot of us should know by now, that it’s never too late to start taking better care of our ourselves with exercise, better diet and renewed emphasis on overall wellness. Easy to say – not always so easy to do. As countless studies have shown, exercise and staying physically active produce great benefits for people of all ages. In fact, The Centers for Disease Control has found that a person who is physically active for at least seven hours per week is 40 percent less likely to die early than is someone who’s active for less than 30 minutes per week. Interestingly, the benefits of keeping fit as you age aren’t all about physical health. Among the 10 Reasons to Keep Fit As You Age, cited by the University of Rochester (NY) Medical Center, are such things as improving your mood, providing a reason to be sociable and helping us remain independent. For a look at the complete list, click here: http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=2359 Of course there is more to staying healthy than just exercise. A comprehensive wellness program can be a tremendous help in guiding our behaviors and lifestyle choices in so many areas and in helping us live better and longer. There are many resources for wellness programs available online, or ask your doctor. As for me, I’m working on eating better and recently started a walking program. I’m not setting any distance records yet but I can already tell how much it is helping, and how much better I feel. It’s early yet, but as they say “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Hey! Maybe that’s what Ellen’s grandmother thought?

Cataract Awareness Month – My Experience with Cataracts
Cataract Awareness Month – My Experience with Cataracts
My doctor told me at my last visit that my slightly cloudy vision was due to cataracts in both eyes. Ultimately, he would need to remove the cataracts and put in new lenses. My eye doctor went on to describe several symptoms of cataracts, all of which matched the problems I’d been experiencing. I recognized the symptoms, ranging from problems with road glare while driving, to my generally cloudy, blurry vision. In order to solve these problems, my doctor told me it would require surgery. So naturally, I had some questions. “Will these be long operations? Will you do both eyes at the same time?” The answer to both questions was “no.” The day of the first operation came and – as to be expected – I was nervous. My doctor arrived and once again, went over the procedure. He reminded me that we had discussed the option of a new lens in my right eye that would give me 20/20 vision for reading. He addressed the pros and cons. The pros being good reading, middle distance or far away vision but I would still need glasses for driving, which was a con. The procedure seemed to take place in the blink of an eye. My doctor told me everything went well and for the first time in quite a while, I had 20/20 vision in my right eye! After the procedure, everything was fine. My doctor gave me instructions for follow-up care after my surgery and I looked forward to getting my left eye done, which I did a couple of weeks later. As I remember, Medicare and my Medigap insurance paid for everything. If you’re in your middle years, you may have some stage of cataracts in your eyes. Take my advice and go see your eye doctor. And, of course, be sure you have supplemental health insurance.