The Joy of Naps

The Joy of Naps

I have been a dedicated napper since I was a high school teenager where I first discovered the joy  of study class  repose  . Yes, many medical studies currently show that naps improve cognition response time and overall good health, but I never required medical justification for my beneficial addiction.

Napping on my office sofa — my favorite spontaneous nap spot

I fine-tuned my skills in Manila during World War II where the siesta is a national institution. However, in my early working years as a company employee my napping habit was frowned upon by philistine employers. From their benighted perspective my practice was considered a threat to their office work ethic, somehow being viewed as vaguely subversive.

Undeterred, I had to call upon all my cunning to find undetected office locations, even finding somewhat fitful rest in a stairwell. Later, when self-employed, I always saw to it that my office chair enabled me to comfortably put my feet onto the desk and instantly go under.

Now as a senior I am vindicated with many current studies to justify my cause. For example, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have found that napping an hour can dramatically restore and even boost our brain power. Amazingly they found that a nap can actually make us smarter!

Another study from Cornell Medical College found that neither long nor short naps disrupted night time sleep. The medical paper also suggested that the best time is 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. when we experience a natural dip in energy.

And if I may, I will present a totally un-scientific observation. I have long noted that for a more fulfilling nap, I do far better in a non-nighttime bed location. It is my decades-long experience that using the same bedroom both afternoon and evening can be a serious mistake. It lacks the spontaneity of making an impulsive decision to walk over to a nearby and inviting couch and effortlessly achieve a virtually instant state of somnolence. By contrast, when you walk into your assigned overnight location you are in effect saying to yourself: “I have made a formal decision to nap. Now I must do so!” I have found the latter choice far too challenging.

Whatever your decision, most of us no longer have to contend with a daily full time job. We can maximize the pleasures of our unregimented life. So if you have not yet explored the joys of naps, I urge you to do so and discover the instant magic elixir!

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How To Keep Your Synapses Snapping

How To Keep Your Synapses Snapping

Some years back there came a time when I no longer had to endure 9 to 6 labors. After wife Merle and I sold our public relations agency, I was an unfettered master of my destiny!

Being a few years into senior-dom, I started to pay attention to a wide range of literature that provides dire warnings I must stay mentally alert after retirement to avoid cognitive decline. I solved that challenge for about a decade by producing and hosting a Twin Cities cable TV show. That kept me excessively alert.

O.K., post-TV show, what was next for mentally stimulating activities? The cognition- sustaining literature abounds with suggestions such as reading, writing, doing puzzles, contributing to group discussions, and playing games or music.

Additionally, Mayo Clinic has a new, 2013 published book, “Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging”. It recommends continuing education classes, which happens to be my “keep the-synapses-snapping” choice. Once I left my TV career I decided I would return to some sort of classroom setting. I was interested in substantive courses, but no threatening, in-depth homework or tests. Fortunately this has not been a problem because my criteria are readily met by a Twin Cities and national study program that does not require assignments or grades. The local catalogue states that “people join for the intellectual challenge of the courses.”

You are perhaps aware of this study program, but since the definitive title is elusive, I will repeat it here. It is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Since 2001, West Coast philanthropist Bernard Osher has made grants from his foundation to launch OLLI programs at over 120 universities and colleges in 49 states, including the University of Minnesota.

Participation is remarkably easy. The current catalogue includes over 40 class locations throughout the Twin Cities and 110 courses. You may find yourself in a church or synagogue community room, a college building setting, an art museum, a civic center or even the backstage of a local theatre.

It is difficult to define the extensive scope of the catalogue offerings. The following are three out of the 110 fall courses, which represent a valiant effort to show the remarkable course diversity.


“Join this stimulating, enriching and enjoyable discussion of the classics. We will read selections from authors including Reinhold Niebuhr, Jean Paul Sartre, Richard Wright , Eudora Welty, Doris Lessing and Simone Weil.” The lecturer is a retired University of Minnesota English professor.


“This course will cover simple techniques for memorizing things you want to remember. By participating in this interactive presentation you will understand how the synapses in your brain are working and you will learn to use your brain   more efficiently.” The lecturer is a teacher, speaker, entrepreneur, “and now happily retired.”


“This course presents what we know about the universe: its past, present and future. We will take a conceptual approach to understanding what and how we know about the big bang, inflation, expansion, dark matter, dark energy and the formation of galaxies. Curiosity is required; math is not.” The lecturer is the retired University of Minnesota Renier Chair of Technological Leadership.

DETAILS:  Class schedules are divided into four seasons, fall, winter, spring and summer, ranging in time periods from 6 to 8 weeks, with once a week classes, usually 90 minutes in duration. The cost is $210 for the year, and you can take an unlimited number of courses.

Interested? Here is the address etc. to receive a fall catalogue.

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Twin City office and contact info:

250 McNamara Learning Center

200 Oak Street N.E.


[email protected]

This entry was posted in Learning after 50, Preventing Dementia, Retirement, Senior Education, Senior Enjoyment, Senior Health & Fitness, Senior Life, Senior Study, Senior Summmer Fun, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Planning to Live to 100?

Planning to Live to 100?

When I reached the portentous age of 80 I decided it was time to get serious about the likelihood of reaching 100 years. Why 100? With my work days departed and not mourned, I am thoroughly enjoying the magically increased available time. And there is a comforting ring to writing or speaking this revered figure: 100!  In effect it becomes like a friend who tells me that there remains sufficient time to accomplish my long delayed and fervently anticipated plans.

Exercise helps!

However, I hasten to admit that 100 is no longer such a big deal. Insurance actuarial tables indicate that if a person is generally healthy at age 65, there is a strong likelihood of living to the mid 80’s. Further, many investment advisers are now suggesting that clients should make estate plans calling for living into the 90’s.

So the trip from the mid 80’s to 100 is no longer such a formidable journey. How does one work to make the leap? Most seniors have read numerous articles about various age expanding programs to follow, so that the “magic bullet” of extra years also can include healthy years. These life enhancing challenges include regular exercise, a balanced diet, a positive attitude, plus maintaining an active social and family life along with on-going mental gymnastics. There are more recommendations, but this list is already formidable. Of course the genes you inherit are a major factor, but I have been reading that even if you are dealt a poor hand genetically you can overcome this potential adversity with a positive and active life style.

But with all these recommendations for increasing longevity, I only recently came across a reasonably accurate test of how long an individual is likely to live. For an estimate you can take a free 10 to 15 minute online quiz, answering 40 questions about your health, habits and family, including:

  • Do you take an iron or calcium supplement?
  • Floss?
  • Sleep fairly well?
  • How many new friendships have you developed in the past year?
  • How many times weekly do you exercise?
  • How many weekly do you eat red meat?

The test is called: “Living to 100 Life Expectancy Calculator” and is based on longevity research conducted by the New England Centenarian Study at Boston University. In addition to an estimated life expectancy, the program suggests ways you can extend your life. To take the calculator test go to:

I have taken the test, and it covers just about every human sin of commission or omission with the notable exceptions of lust levels and financial folly. Overall the test and recommendations does force one to think seriously about how to improve physical and mental well-being.

One final caveat: There is a great temptation to cheat because I did not want to own up to highly enjoyable weaknesses. So after reviewing my first time test I noted where my stalwart nature faltered, and then tried it a second time. Yes, I lost a few years on my score, but now I had a final, truthful result which told me that I was within an achievable range of my 100 years goal.  Why not join me and take the test?

This entry was posted in Aging Well, Retirement, Senior Enjoyment, Senior Health & Fitness, Senior Life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

Medicare and Working Past 65

Has the recent economy made you think about continuing to work past 65?  Or do you just love your job so much that you do not want to think about retiring?  Remember that you are eligible for Medicare when you reach 65 years of age. If you are covered by employer group health insurance and the employer has 20 or more employees, you can defer Medicare Part B until your coverage or employment ends, whichever comes first. (more…)

On the Journey Home….The Gift

The fall of 2010 brought me a gift and blessing I will never forget, being the primary caregiver for my mom through the final journey of her life. At the time, I did not always view my experience as a gift. The life lessons I learned made me a better person and have given me a perspective on life, grieving and death that have forever changed me. My mother’s gift was that of her total self, allowing me to experience with her the pain, grief, fear and vulnerability that became hers during her final journey as she struggled to maintain her dignity, independence and health. I hope my story will help other caregivers in their journey.

The Journey

In November 2010 mom had to leave her home and move to a care suite in assisted living. Since spring, her body continued to betray her. Loss of mobility, falls and hospitalizations for staph infection, pneumonia and blood clots in her lungs. The move was very traumatic for all of us. I thought assisted living would bring a relief for everyone. I soon realized that was not the case. Mom needed me there to support her emotionally. Initially, I did not see her fear of being alone and her recognition that here is where she would die.


Changing Health Care Trends

Changing Health Care Trends Bring New Approaches from a New Therapy Company

For people recuperating from illnesses, injuries or surgeries, therapy can play a significant role in helping them return home from the hospital sooner while helping them stay healthy so they don’t have to be rehospitalized later.

Rehospitalization is the new watchword in healthcare.  Preventing rehospitalizations has become an important new trend in the healthcare field. Minnesota Hospital Association Vice President Matt Anderson notes that hospitals now face penalties from Medicare when patients are readmitted after being discharged. Therefore, hospitals are looking for ways to prevent readmissions. One of the ways healthcare providers keep patients from being readmitted after they are discharged  is to join with organizations that provide therapy services. (more…)

What is Hospice Care?

Choosing hospice does not mean giving up. Instead, it allows those suffering from terminal illness to focus on those things that mean the most to them. Hospice can help people live their life to the fullest in their final months. Hospice also provides support to families who are helping care for others.

At Hospice of the Twin Cities, we work with patients wherever they call home, making visits to nursing homes, private homes, assisted living facilities and group homes. (more…)

Following My Dream

When I was almost 60 years old, I asked myself: “How old do I have to be to follow my dream?” I left behind a research career – not to retire – but to launch a new career as an artist. My friends and colleagues were not really surprised. For many years, art had been my passion-on-the-side. I painted on vacations and I sketched during meetings. In fact, professional seminars would often get disrupted when someone noticed my pencil or pen-and-ink portraits of people sitting around the table; everyone would want to look at the sketches and pretty soon nobody would be paying attention to the seminar or committee meeting.

When I was a young woman, I had considered studying art but, somehow, the idea of earning a livelihood as an artist seemed daunting and unrealistic. Instead, I became a social scientist. I got a Ph.D. and specialized in the study of aging. I taught courses and gave lectures; I directed studies; I wrote research articles and books. I won awards for my research and developed a national reputation in the field of aging. My career was intellectually engaging – I had an interesting life.

Then, one day, my husband had a heart attack and that changed everything. He recovered and has since become more physically fit than ever before in his life – he just completed bicycling down the full length of the Mississippi River. Even so, this encounter with mortality made both of us ask: what’s really important? What do we want to do with our time?

I made a decision: I needed to spend some of my life really focusing on art.

Launching my art career was like giving re-birth to myself – in full color. I developed my own technique for reverse painting on glass. Although glass painting is an old tradition, I more or less discovered my own process for painting upside down, inside out and backward on hand-blown glass.

The experience of aging and the passage of time are among my favorite art themes – so I bring together my professional interest in the study of aging, my personal encounter with growing older, and my art. All of my art is colorful and whimsical. For example, one of my glass art works is a series of plates called “The Sisterhood of Sleeplessness.” I’ve noticed that a lot of women are like me – awake at odd hours, 2 am, 3 am, 4 am… These plates show houses at night, with women looking out of their windows – each of us may feel alone, but we are really part of a “sisterhood.” (more…)

Fitness for the Second Half of Life

I have a vivid memory from when I was a kid in the ’50s. I am in the family station wagon with my sisters and parents, leaving my grandparents’ farm. My grandparents are waving goodbye from the farmyard gate; my grandfather in his bib overalls with a kind of Santa physique and my grandma, who had serious shoes – the lace-up black leather heels – bird legs and these even more serious arms that kept waving long after she stopped. I remember thinking they were old. They looked old and dressed old and moved old. You know what? They were a decade older than I am now and I can assure you, I am not old. I have the shoes to prove it! If you are at all like me, you can remember Jane Fonda in her famous striped leotard, belted, standing lean and tall in her legwarmers. Or Joanie Greggins’ perky pigtails on her TV exercise show or maybe you were a devotee of Judi Shepherd Misset and Jazzercise. Those of us who fell into a high-kicking (more…)

Providing Care for Caregivers

While caring for an older adult can be rewarding, it can also be overwhelming. You may even find it difficult to handle the normal tasks of daily living. Do any of the following statements apply to you?

  • I do not have enough time for myself.
  • I feel stressed over trying to provide care and still carry out my other responsibilities.
  • Sometimes being a caregiver makes me feel angry and frustrated.
  • Being a caregiver is negatively affecting other important relationships with family and friends.
  • My physical health has suffered because of my role as a caregiver.