Planning For a Fabulous Future
Let’s face it, some of us just don’t think much about what it’s going to be like when we get older. Many of us would rather live it up now and worry about the consequences later. We are smart enough to know that the day will come when a doctor will tell us that we have to stop doing something that we enjoy like drinking, smoking, eating fried foods or scuba diving and we intend on doing these things until the bitter end. Some of do think about the consequences of our actions and have already taken great measures by limiting or avoiding things that we know are bad for us. We also do positive things such as use sunscreen to keep our skin as young as possible and eat cancer fighting foods to avoid disease. No matter how we look at it, planning for old age is something that we should do to ensure the most fabulous future possible.
Pre-Fab Verses Re-Hab
When I am taking care of a pre-existing condition I call it re-hab. An example of a re-hab activity for me would be doing floor exercises for my back, which was injured. When I am taking measures to prevent a condition from occurring I call it Pre-Fab. An example of a Pre-Fab activity for me would be meditating to keep my mind clear and healthy.
I Am Not a Doctor; But I Played a Nurse on TV
My ideas for keeping myself healthy and preventing conditions and diseases are my opinion and in no way take the place of professional advice from your health care provider. Health and nutrition is a personal hobby and my ideas are just that, ideas. Please take my ideas with a grain of salt and do the research yourself. Just because I played a nurse on NBC’s cancelled Soap Opera, “Passions”, does not mean that I studied medicine. Pre-Fab is my made up word for keeping yourself fabulous – for as long as possible.
My Pre Pre-Fab Days
My husband and I were in a car accident in 2011 where a drunk driver plowed right into us while we were stopped at a red light. We suffered many injuries in that crash including herniated discs in both our necks and backs. The pain and discomfort from the accident caused a lot of anguish for us. The pain I was in started to control my life and after a few years of pain medicines, chiropractors and complaining I decided to take matters into my own hands. With the advice from a girlfriend (Thanks Amanda!) I started stretching every day and later adding floor exercises to my routine. I was getting married in 2014 and my goal was to have a pain-free wedding. I had some special medicines (steroids-yuck!) on hand from my doctor just in case and when the time came I didn’t even need them! I worked so hard on my own that I walked down the aisle pain free! I was so impressed with myself that I thought that instead of only doing re-hab for things that were already bothering me, I would also start “Pre-Fabbing” myself! Old age is hopefully in all of our futures. I mean, it’s better than the alternative! Why not make middle age and old age a healthier and happier time? I also believe that by doing Pre-Fab’s we can avoid injuries or lessen the severity of new ones. I decided instead of waiting for something to happen and treat the condition in a reactive way (re-hab) I would research things that could happen and try to prevent them from starting altogether in a proactive way (Pre-Fab). The first thing I did was to make a list of my existing ailments. Next, I looked at my family and genetic make-up for things that I have a pre-disposition for. Lastly, I researched and found the most common ailments that happen during the aging process. Doing Pre-Fabs gives me the opportunity to possibly deter unwanted conditions before they happen. I truly believe that these things cannot hurt and again, seek professional help for any serious health conditions.
You do not need to become old to reap the benefits of a Pre-Fab lifestyle. The benefits, whether you feel them or not, begin immediately!
My Current Issues (Pre-Existing):
Plantar Fasciitis – An inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. I manage my pain with stretching, massaging, icing and proper footware. No more heels for me!
Herniated Disc – A condition that refers to a problem with a rubbery disc between the spinal bones. I manage this pain with stretching, floor exercises, ball exercises, traction, massages and heat & cold therapy. I also cannot stay in one position for long so I listen to my body and stay as active as possible. I am looking forward to hanging upside down on my indoor yoga trapeze (we still need to hang it up) to get some traction for my lower back!
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – I call this Restless “Limb” Syndrome as it affects my arms and my legs. Since I quit smoking my symptoms have improved dramatically. I find that getting adequate sleep, enough iron, magnesium and vitamin B-12 helps reduce my symptoms. I also find that regular exercises and soaking in cool water before bed are also helpful in keeping my RLS away. Swimming before bed is very effective as it also helps me with inflammation in my body.
Things for Which I Have a Pre-Disposition For:
Osteoporosis: A condition in which bones become porous, easily shatter and can rob us of our independence as we age. My Mother has started to have degenerative bone loss so I have been looking into how to protect myself. Taking calcium supplements and eating calcium fortified foods was what I did in the past to help prevent Osteoporosis. Current studies have been making me dig a little deeper into this subject. I have found that like so many other nutrients, calcium needs cofactors (other vitamins and minerals) to be absorbed. Without these, calcium supplements are not bioavailable and may even be harmful. A 2012 study published in the British Medical Journal showed that those who took calcium supplements had a 139% higher risk of heart attack, though this increased risk was not present when the same amount of calcium was consumed from whole food sources. I have included a link to the study here. I am eating calcium rich foods such as canned fish with bones (here is a link on how to enjoy fish with bones), bok choy, broccoli, beans and almonds. For proper absorption I am making sure that I am combining these foods with potassium, magnesium, vitamin k, vitamin c and vitamin d (half an hour a day in the direct sunlight.) Read what Dr. Weil says about how sunlight is the best source of vitamin d. Again, quitting smoking is also a good preventative measure.
Arthritis: Inflammation of one or more joints causing pain and stiffness that can worsen with age. My Mother has early stages of arthritis and has suffered from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Hand health is a big deal to me. If your hands do not work, you cannot do things for yourself. You cannot feed yourself, open a door, or brush your hair or teeth if your hands stopped working. A friend of mine in the medical field told me nightmare stories of how older people’s hands get curled up and it was her job to pry them open. She said it was extremely painful and she warned me to always try to keep my hands open, especially when sleeping. I now sleep with Jazz hands! To start, I slept with a balled up sock in each hand to avoid closing them. Eventually I was able to lose the socks. I also stretch my fingers and hands and talk (or bribe!) my husband into regular hand massages, pressing on the area between the thumb and forefinger to relieve tension. I also have a wonderful Brookstone Handheld Massager that I use if I cannot talk Smiley into the massage! This is something I can use on my back, arms, legs and feet as well. I have just started doing these hand exercises as recommended by Harvard Health. Hand exercises can be done anywhere! More Pre-Fab’s for arthritis are eating right and resistance training (strengthening muscles so that your joints don’t have to do all the work). Some studies say one alcoholic drink per day may help to prevent arthritis in women, two drinks per day for men. Bottoms up!
Osteoarthritis: A condition that occurs when the cartilage covering the ends of the bones, where they meet to form joints, breaks down. This causes the bones of the joint to rub together. Growths of bone, called spurs, may form around the joint. These changes lead to pain and stiffness. You guessed it, my Mother had her hip replaced at the young age of 65 and I have pain in one of my hips and knees as well. To maintain my joint function I take Glucosamine daily. This works as an anti-inflammatory. I also consume Omega-3 fats in my diet. I do resistance training to build muscles to help out the joints and stretch almost every day as part of my Morning Ritual. I listen to my body and don’t “over do it”. I avoid squatting and kneeling, opting to sit on the floor or ground crossed legged. I may have a dirty fanny, but it sure saves my knees! Good supportive shoes can also help a lot to absorb shock. It is important to spend time and money on the correct footwear. I am loving my new Sketchers with Memory Foam!
List of Things That Happen to Many People When They Age
Cancer: A disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue. “As many as 70% of known causes of cancers are avoidable and related to lifestyle,” says Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, and Associate Director for Cancer Prevention and Control at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. My Pre-Fab plan on preventing cancer includes not smoking, (I am two years free!) as lung cancer is the number one killer among cancers. I also choose my meals using the ingredients from these cancer-preventing foods according to David Servan-Schreiber’s book “Anticancer- A New Way of Life”. There is a list of the 15 cancer preventing foods from the book on one of my FAVORITE simple recipe food blogs, Stone Soup. In the book there are interesting studies, one of note was about preventing prostate cancer in men based on food choices. Keeping a healthy body weight is also part of my Pre-Fab plan for reducing the risk of Cancer and many other health issues. Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Most of my drinking water comes from my Berkey Water Filtration System to reduce my exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals. I also try to avoid BPA’s from plastics found in water bottles by carrying a glass water bottle when I leave the house and by using a non BPA shower curtain. I also buy and eat organic foods when possible.
Cardiovascular Disease: Heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural problems and blood clots. I Pre-Fab by keeping my blood pressure low by eating healthy foods and getting regular exercise, again focusing on keeping a healthy weight. I currently enjoy Pre-Fabbing with dark chocolate and red wine a few evenings a week. The jury is out on this one, but until then I will choose these in moderation and over other proven unhealthy heart treats like processed, store-bought cookies.
Teeth: Cavities, Dry Mouth, Gum Disease and Mouth Cancer can all be threats to our aging mouths. The good news is that things are looking up from the days when it was a given that all old people lost their teeth and dentures were just a part of life. Today only 25% of the elderly have dentures. This means brushing, flossing, using a Waterpik and regular visits to the dentist are important factors in keeping a healthy smile for life! Also using a straw (glass or silicone) when drinking enamel erasers, such as lemon juice, will keep my teeth smooth. Practicing good oral hygiene is a Pre-Fab no brainer each day!
Memory Loss: Though memory loss generally occurs with dementia, memory loss alone doesn’t mean you have dementia. There is a certain extent of memory loss that is a normal part of aging. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of progressive dementia. This is a big one for me, as I am now working with people with Alzheimer’s and I have been researching “head health” for some time now. One of my Pre-Fab’s for mental health is to avoid multitasking. Studies show that high multitaskers had less brain density in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control). Also read how multitasking hurts your brain and effectiveness here. I also give my brain breaks by spending time meditating, staring into space or quietly observing nature. I have a super busy brain that is always chattering away so I take the time to shut that chatter off. I also practice the “Six Pillars of a Brain-Healthy Lifestyle”. According to www.helpguide.org, there are six things you can do to help keep your brain healthy and to help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Six Pillars of a Brain-Healthy Lifestyle
1) Regular Exercise
2) Healthy Diet
3) Mental Stimulation
4) Quality Sleep
5) Stress Management
6) An Active Social Life
As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two. ~ Norman Wisdom
Vision: As we age there is a higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions. These include: Macular Degeneration, Cataract, Diabetic Eye Disease, Glaucoma, Low Vision and Dry Eye. Believe it or not, quitting smoking was the best thing I could have done to prevent many of these unwanted conditions. Research has found that smokers have double the risk of developing cataracts compared to non-smokers.
Hearing: Presbycusis or age-related hearing loss occurs in most of us as we grow older. It is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Most older people have a combination of both age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss. There are no known Pre-Fabs to guard against age-related hearing loss, however, noise-induced hearing loss can be avoided. I choose not to wear ear buds or keep them at a very low level as they can contribute to hearing loss. A major change I have made is to use a set of very good earplugs (Downbeats) when listening to loud music at a concert, festival, club or even at home. They remove the high decibels that cause ear ringing and damage, but still let the quality of the music in.
So what to do if you want to preserve what hearing you may have left? If you are going to use earbuds, the American Auditory Society’s rule of thumb is 60/60 — to not listen for more than 60 minutes at a time at 60 percent of the maximum volume.
Summing Up the Pre-Fabulousness
As you can see, many Pre-Fabs can be used for multiple things. Here are some that cover more than one condition.
- Stop smoking – You simply can’t be healthy and smoke.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Extra weight slips up on us as we age. Losing 10 pounds and keeping it off can ward off many health conditions.
- Practice yoga – This triple-threat covers relaxing, stretching and builds muscles!
- Eating right – Dark green leafies, Omega 3 oil and organic foods when possible.
- A glass of red wine a night – Not a bottle! Possibly good for heart health and relaxation.
- Plenty of Sleep – Get your optimum amount hours of sleep for most adults (7.5-9 hours)
- Listen to body signals and don’t over do it – Being a “weekend warrior” can cause injury.
- Correct footwear – Address any foot conditions accordingly. Spend time and money choosing the correct shoes and/or inserts. Comfort shoes are not always the best choice. Read about finding the support you need here. Foot problems can lead to many other problems from the ankles all the way up to your neck! It’s all connected.
- Swimming – Another triple threat. Swimming helps to build muscles, can keep your weight down and act as an anti-inflammatory if the water is cool enough.
NOTE: You may have noticed that I have made product suggestions throughout this post. I only suggest things that I have used and loved. At this time I am not making any money from my suggestions. I may partner with some of my favorite products in the future, and I will make you aware