birthday cakeYesterday, I turned 70 years of age.

In the Bible, mention is made of “three score years and ten” as one’s life expectancy. Now, the Bible does go on to suggest one might get four score years with the application of sufficient grit and determination.

I always think Abraham Lincoln used this phrase in the Gettysburg Address. He was however referring to “four score and seven.”

I’m not going to belabor the question of life expectancy again. I did that last week. Yesterday my family and I were happily cooking BBQ ribs, savoring hoppy ales, and consuming wonderful birthday cake. There was too much going on yesterday for me to write a more insightful and intellectually demanding essay for today.

So for today, I’ll send a positive thought from a future philosopher… “Live long and prosper.”

Quotes

  • Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 11-19-1863, Wikipedia.
    “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth…”
  • Bible, Psalm 90:10, King James Version (KJV).
    “The days of our years are three score years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.

Preview: Next week, due to the recent flooding events here in the Texas Hill Country,  we will look at emergency preparedness for older people.

cat wallsWhen I was in elementary school, we were only occasionally allowed in the library, could only take out a book or two and were threatened with dire consequences if we damaged or lost them. I remember that some books were very popular and we all waited for our turn to read them. One was a book about Homer Price by Robert McCloskey and the others were science fiction stories by Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988).

I continued to read his books throughout his career and yesterday I finished re-reading “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.” This book deals with a recurring theme in Heinlein’s work that of people, with interesting gene pools, who live a very long, long time. Another theme is that in the future medical science has advanced to the point where the body and mind can be “overhauled” (so to speak) so that long life is achieved if not via genetics then by science.

In our time, even those with the most fortunate genes rarely live to be 120 years old and medical science is pretty good (compared to 100 years ago) but has not gotten to the rejuvenation stage unless face lifts and tummy tucks count.

Next week, I turn 70 and have decided that growing old gracefully is not such a bad decision for these times.

Previous Essays Dealing with Lifespan:

  1. Forget Aging. Let’s All Be Ageless!
  2. Mortality and the 100th Blog
  3. Living Old: What It Really Means
  4. Family Ties

Books by Robert A. Heinlein dealing with topics related somehow to long life or alternative time lines: The Man Who Sold the Moon (1950), The Green Hills of Earth (1951), Revolt in 2100 (1953), Methuselah’s Children (1958), Orphans of the Sky (1963), The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1966), The Past Through Tomorrow (1967), Time Enough for Love (1973), The Number of the Beast (1980), The Cat Who Walks Through Walls (1985), To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987).

Children’s Books: Rocket Ship Galileo (1947), Space Cadet (1948), Red Planet (1949), Farmer in the Sky (1950), Between Planets (1951), The Rolling Stones (1952), Starman Jones (1953), The Star Beast (1954), Tunnel in the Sky (1955), Time for the Stars (1956), Citizen of the Galaxy (1957), Have Space Suit—Will Travel (1958).

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.

Somehow in my day-today life I see little evidence of “gender inequality” yet interesting examples that it’s alive and well pop up on occasion.

the road

Looking Towards an Uncertain Future

Did you know that not one major league football, basketball, baseball, etc. team has a woman has the head coach? When a ball club is recruiting for coaches, the option of a woman in the role apparently never enters anyone’s mind.

I have trouble getting to caught up in the details of sport, but an editorial did alert me to a more troubling circumstance. In today’s Austin American Statesman, Debra Umberson, UT Department of Sociology, wrote about equality in marriage. She was concerned about who we let marry each other and made an interesting observation, in passing, about male and female behaviors that affect the elderly, and hence come into our purview here.

Speaking about the support same-sex couples give each other when one is ill, she said, “Perhaps most striking, same-sex patients and their spouses are more likely to mutually support each other when one of them is seriously ill, and to have more confidence that the spouse will provide the support he or she needs if future health problems occur. In contrast, heterosexual marriages are characterized by strong gender dynamics in which women provide more support to men than men provide to women. Heterosexual women provide more support to their spouses even when the woman is the patient. Indeed, heterosexual women more often feel they cannot rely on their spouses to take care of them. And couples are more likely to divorce if a wife becomes seriously ill than if a husband becomes seriously ill.”

A troubling perspective, as a woman enters into the last stages of life with a husband who may prove to be less dependable than expected.

Reference

Umberson, D. Health is a benefit to same-sex marriage nobody talks about. Austin American Statesman, May 13, 2015.

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.

Harlan AR HospIn the 1970’s, I worked on a project to introduce health science students to rural health care systems and issues. We would take teams of students to rural communities in Kentucky and the most memorable towns were in the Appalachian mountains. Health care here was scattered and sparse but local home health nurses and Miners Memorial Hospitals tried to fill the gaps. These hospitals (called the Appalachian Regional Hospitals when I was there) were the heart and soul of the rural communities where they were located.

Rural hospitals have always had a difficult time making financial ends meet. Because they are set in farming and mining communities with widely scattered populations, who often do not have health insurance, rural hospitals have come and go as the economy and health policies fluctuate.  A quick overview of these swings in rural care can be found in Lieb’s two articles cited below and the web site about Man Community Hospital.

I saw Lieb’s article in the Austin American Statesman and it got me to thinking about this issue. I’ve been in a lot of rural hospitals and they pretty much all were local operations, greatly beloved by the community, and funded by creative solutions that took a great deal of community involvement. This is all very good but things change and hospitals are slow to adapt. And adapting is difficult because new ideas often are not revenue generating or limited for some reason or the other. They might not be approved by Medicare/Medicaid, not reimbursed by insurance, not allowed by statute or practice guidelines, etc.

Another Op Ed piece in the selfsame Austin American Statesman by Sid Miller, Agriculture Commissioner, repeats these issues and suggests that telemedicine might be one key to the rural healthcare puzzle. And in my April 15th column, I commented on the issues surrounding the wider use of telemedicine in Texas. So, here is a possible help for rural care that is bogged down in policy.

There are solutions and good people can find them. I have hope.

References

  1. Lieb, D. A. Q&A: Why have rural hospitals been closing? Idaho Statesman, 5-1-15.
  2. Lieb, D. A. Rural hospitals struggle to stay open, adapt to changes. Austin American Statesman, 5-1-15.
  3. Miller, S. Don’t pull the plug on rural health care. Austin American Statesman, 5-5-15.
  4. Appalachian Regional Healthcare. Site accessed on: 5-6-15
  5. Man Community Hospital. Web site: Abandoned – Telling the story of a forgotten America. Site accessed on: 5-6-15

I’ve visited my experiences in Appalachia before in this forum:

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.

yoga class
My wife gets this yoga magazine each month. The people pictured in it are not only bending in ways I never could and, this is the interesting part, they demonstrate great strength as well.

Recently, I have gotten back into doing my yoga routine. I learned  to do Bikram’s yoga style about 20 years ago and come back to doing it from time to time. As I approach 70 (next month), I find that not only am I less limber now, I have less core strength.

This need for core strength is something I did not pay attention to before. Bikram’s routine begins with five poses that require balance. Balance requires strength. I always worked at the balance poses as a matter of focusing and being mindful of balance and then my body followed along. It did that when my natural core strength was greater, but now I find I need to build up my strength in order to be able to balance.

So yoga 3 or 4 times a week now.

We have discussed exercise among the older population before. I refer you to two earlier columns:

Reference:

Choudhury, Bikram. Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, NY, 1978.

Photo Credit:  Still frame from the movie, Nudged. Actors pictured are, from left to right, Bill Bender, Dorothy Knight, Tiffany Patch and Jan Gauvain.

Join us for a real-time discussion about ideas raised by this essay on Friday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.

Telescope in the eyeThe good old Austin American Statesman comes through again with a great story on aging. This week it’s teeny, tiny telescopes implanted in eyes affected* with Macular Degeneration.

As the eye ages, the light-sensing cells in the center of the eye can begin to stop working and one cannot see anything in the middle of the field of view or up close. Only peripheral vision is left and that makes life tricky.

Telescope real version in the eyeThis little telescope redirects the light to parts of the eye that still work and one can see again. It takes a lot of rehabilitation and practice to learn to see using another part of the eye, but it is possible. The Statesman article tells about a 93 year old man who did it. Now he can sees much better, moves safer and can care for his animals.Telescope in eye really

The second and third photos show the device on a finger tip and how it looks embedded in the eye.  Click on the photos to see them bigger. The first photo is a bit bogus.

————————
* or is that effected? I can never figure that usage out. What do you think? See if this web site helps: Diffen

References

  1. Roser, MA. Telescopic eye implant shows promise for patients losing their sight.
    Austin American Statesman, April 17, 2015.
  2. Telescopic implant restores vision in patient with advanced macular degeneration. University of California Davis Newsroom, September 11, 2012.

Image Source: I don’t know the original source for the first photo. I found it on TheDarkPower.com.  The other photos are from the UC Davis article.

Yesterday’s Austin American Statesman featured an editorial by Roy Smythe. The article discusses the limits that the Texas Medical Board wishes to place on the practice of medicine by remote and virtual methods. This is usually called telemedicine and it has a number of possible formats.

diagnosis by radioSmythe works for a company that is involved in the health services area, so I’d say while he is an advocate for telemedicine providers in his article that his points are well taken. He was previously associated with Scott & White and the Texas A&M University College of Medicine. I refer you to his complete article below.

I have long been an advocate for telemedicine in any form for rural and remote areas. For the elderly and home bound, telemedicine is a useful option if the physician is down the block. Barriers to access take many forms and there are many solutions. I refer you to an earlier post in this series from week 124, Medicine at a Distance.

Link:

Smythe, R. Why Texas telemedicine rules restrict access to health care. Austin American-Statesman, April 14, 2015.

Image Source:

Novak, M. Telemedicine Predicted in 1925. smithsonian.com, March 14, 2012

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