Each year in October, we raise awareness and highlight the importance of education and research of the most common cancer in American women besides skin cancer: breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the U.S. for 2018, about 266,120 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.

However, if breast cancer is detected early, there are more treatment options and a better chance of survival. Women whose breast cancer is detected at an early stage have a 93 percent or higher survival rate in the first five years, according to the Carol Milgard Breast Center.

As reported by the American Cancer Society, at this time, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.!

Fortunately, there is one major factor in detecting breast cancer early and that is getting mammograms regularly.

It’s recommended that if you are 50 to 74 years old, you should be getting a mammogram every two years by the United States Preventative Services Task Force. If you are 40 to 49 years old, you should talk to your doctor about when to start getting mammograms.

Many organizations and people are dedicated to raising awareness to this cancer during the month of October and throughout the year. There are many ways you can get involved to help too.

3 Ways to Get involved:

1. Educate yourself and others
Get this free Breast Health Guide to educate yourself and your loved ones about breast cancer. There may be more than you thought to learn.

2. Raise awareness
Spread the word about the importance of detecting breast cancer early through mammograms to your friends and family.

3. Donate
Donating your time or money is a great way to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are many organizations you can donate to like, Breast Cancer Research Foundation or the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. If you want to donate your time, try starting your own fundraiser with your business or school.

This October, how will you get involved during Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

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Does your family enjoy reminiscing about the past? Take advantage of these precious moments to learn more about your loved ones.

Talking through your family history can be therapeutic. During these reminiscing times, don’t be afraid to ask questions or bring out photo albums or mementos to spark a moment in time that allows for a fun and sometimes touching exercise.

There are many ways to start off these insightful conversations.

One helpful tool is the internet—it will offer quite a few sample questions to help you get started.

The day’s news or events can also be a great place to begin. For example, if you purchased gasoline on your way to visit, you may mention the cost per gallon and ask how much it was when your parent/grandparent was learning to drive. This can take you on a journey of follow up questions like, who taught you to drive? Where did you learn? What kind of car was it? What did you have to do to get your license?

What seems like a mundane life experience can actually help generate a whole new perspective about what your loved ones were like when they were younger. You may even see similarities in personality, mannerisms and talents in yourself or another relative.

Another way to spark conversation is to watch a documentary about an important event or person in history. This can bring people back to that moment and share details they may have forgotten themselves. Mining these memories with positive encouragement makes everyone feel important.

So, be creative, think about the time of year we’re in now—back to school—or what you ate for lunch that day or things your children have said, take these experiences and turn them into questions. Then, sit back and listen or record stories that you will cherish forever.

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Just because you are retired, doesn’t mean that your passion for learning new things is too.

There are many ways to satisfy your intellectual curiosity. Whether that’s going back to school or simply for the joy of learning like, exploring throughout your city, you can find many ways to continue to learn throughout your life.

Did you start a degree but then put it aside for your family or to serve in the military? If so, why not go back and finish what you started? So many people have gone on to finish degrees or start another field of study so, you can too! It might even inspire your family and show them you have a never-quit mentality.

GOING BACK TO SCHOOL

When thinking about getting a degree, remember there will be certain requirements to get into school. But generally, all you need to do is apply and enroll in post-secondary classes. As a senior you won’t need to worry about SAT scores or entrance essays. Here are a few of the general requirements:

  • Age requirements: this is often 60 years or older.
  • Residency requirements: you must be a citizen of the United States.
  • Income restrictions: you may need to meet income restrictions in order to access scholarships, tuition waivers or other senior discounts.
  • Proof of retirement
  • Completion of high school diploma
FOR THE JOY OF LEARNING

Learning for fun can be just as rewarding as working toward a degree. It’s a sad day when we don’t learn something new so, why not take advantage of what your community has to offer. Here are a few ways you can learn new things every day:

  • Be a tourist: explore your own city on your own or sign up for a walking, bus or museum tour to learn about the local history.
  • Exchange stories: when you explore you tend to meet new people. Share your stories with some of the people you meet and they’ll share some too!
  • Take a cooking class: sign up for a class to cook something you’ve never cooked from scratch before.
  • Take a writing class: capture your family’s history in this class and gift it during the holiday season!
  • Volunteer: sign up to be a tutor at your local elementary or high schools.
RESOURCES

A Senior Citizen Guide for College
www.aseniorcitizenguideforcollege.com

MONEY Magazine
Forget Tuition: How Retirees Can Attend College for Free

The Penny Hoarder
Free College Courses for Senior Citizens

The Bernard Osher Foundation
www.osherfoundation.org
(415) 861-5587

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Nutrition and sleep and exercise all factor into a healthy lifestyle, but did you know relationships are equally important when it comes to aging well?

It makes sense, from a purely mental perspective, that you’re probably more happy when you’re  pending time with friends or family than you are sitting home alone, watching TV. What’s interesting, though, is that feelings of loneliness don’t only affect your state of mind, but also your physical health. Studies have found that chronic loneliness—over time—can be associated with high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, a diminished immune response, depression, difficulty sleeping, cognitive decline, and dementia. No matter our age, we never outgrow our need for friends. (Our health depends on it.)

 

BENEFITS OF SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES  

 

Promote physical activity

When people feel isolated, they tend to have fewer reasons to get out and be active.

Provide a sense of purpose  

When seniors feel that they’re making positive contributions in society, they have a greater sense of purpose in life. According to Bryan James, a Chicago-area epidemiologist, seniors with a sense of purpose are less likely to become depressed or become diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Introduce more fun into your life

Participating in activities is just more fun when you have someone to share the experience with. (Plus friends are more likely to inspire you to try something new.)

Improve your mental health

We aren’t meant to be disengaged with others. Studies show that seniors who have strong social connections are 70 percent less likely to experience cognitive decline than those who are isolated. (“Use it or lose it” applies to both the body AND the mind.)

Encourage health checkups

When a friend encourages an adult to get a health screening, they’re up to 22 percent more likely to actually follow through on it. This results in serious health issues detected earlier, and treated with higher rates of success.

Give you a sense of belonging

Loneliness is not the same as being alone. At American Baptist Homes of the Midwest communities, if you want to relax in your room, that’s fine. If you want to chat over a cup of coffee or join an activity, neighbors are right next door. You can be alone when you choose, but you won’t ever be lonely. Living here is all about convenience, safety, a genuine sense of community, and making authentic, meaningful connections. Our communities were designed to maximize friendship, health, and happiness. If you’d like to set up a tour, call us at 952-941-3175.

 

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If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a thousand times—water is essential to our health and wellbeing. Have a headache? Feeling fuzzy-brained? Constipated? Fatigued? It nearly always comes back to this: Did you drink enough water?

Up to 60 percent of the adult human body is water. This miracle fluid aids in nearly EVERY bodily function: It helps rid our bodies of toxins, reduces excess sodium, brings nutrients, minerals, and oxygen to our cells, lubricates our joints, and keeps organs functioning at optimum levels.

The general rule of thumb is that adults should drink at least 64 ounces of fluids every day. That, though, is easier said than done. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of adults drink less than four cups of water a day. Only 36 percent drink one to three cups, and 7 percent don’t drink any at all. Why is this? One of the main reasons is that as we get older, we can lose our sense of thirst and simply forget to drink enough.

Dehydration—caused by loss of salt and water in the body due to extreme heat, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, and certain medications— can be problematic for any adult, but especially concerning for seniors who have a lower volume of water in their bodies. When you’re severely dehydrated, there’s not enough water to carry blood to the organs. Dehydration can lead to heat cramps, urinary tract infections, kidney stones, seizures, and hypovolemic shock—a sometimes life-threatening complication. Dehydration is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalization for those 65 and over.

Signs and symptoms of dehydration may include the following:

  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness or headaches
  • Cramping
  • Weakness
  • Sleepiness or irritability
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Fever or chills
  • Dark yellow or orange urine

Another way to determine whether your body is dehydrated is the skin test: Use two fingers to pinch skin on the back of your hand and let go. The skin should spring back to its normal position in less than a few seconds. If the skin returns more slowly, you might be dehydrated.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if you or a loved one has had diarrhea for 24 hours or more, is irritable, disoriented, or more sleepy than usual, can’t keep fluids down, or has bloody or black stools, call your family doctor. 

PREVENT DEHYDRATION

Keep water accessible at all times—taking many little sips throughout the day can add up. Jazz up water by adding fruit, drink unsweetened tea, and eat foods that are high in water content, like cucumbers, lettuce, celery, tomatoes, and apples, oranges, and watermelon. Avoid sodium and caffeine.

One UCLA research study showed that seniors who stay hydrated may experience fewer falls, so DRINK UP!

 

RESOURCES

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases  
1-800-860-8747
1-866-569-1162
healthinfo@niddk.nih.gov
www.niddk.nih.gov

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
1-301-592-8573
nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov
www.nhlbi.nih.gov

National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs
1-202-682-6899
www.nanasp.org

President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition
1-240-276-9567
fitness@hhs.gov
www.fitness.gov

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Memoir 101: How to Write Your Life Story

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Night by Eli Wiesel. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen.

These are all best-selling memoirs, authored by people who felt compelled to remember their past and write it all down. Just like these authors, we all have untold stories within us. Whether you want to leave a legacy, share a life lesson, make sense of a certain time in your life, or help others through your personal experiences, memoir writing is a wonderful gift—therapeutic for you and meaningful to your loved ones. No one wants friends or family to one day think: “I wish I would have asked them about that when I had the chance.”

So, why don’t more people take the time to capture their thoughts and feelings around major life events?

There are a few reasons, and they’re all misconceptions. You don’t have to be a professional writer to write a memoir, just write from the heart. You don’t have to be famous. And you don’t have to detail the entire storyline of your life—that’s an autobiography—and autobiographies can be a daunting idea, whether you’re 40 or 90.

According to Reader’s Digest, a memoir is your version of what happened during a specific time in your life; whereas an autobiography is the chronological telling of your experiences, with a timeline, focused on facts. A memoir is less formal, less encompassing, less obsessed with factual events, and more concerned with “an emotional truth toward a particular section of one’s life.” It’s mostly written from memory—not intended to be an accurate statistical report.

With memoir writing, facts and figures don’t tell the whole story. In order to make your experiences come to life, you also need to include feelings. According to author Bart Astor of Baby Boomer’s Guide to Caring for Aging Parents, “No one else has had your experiences or reacted in the same way.” People connect with emotions, descriptions, dialogue, and personality. It’s YOUR story—no one can tell it the same as you. After you write it all down, your loved ones will want to read it!

But where do you begin?

  • Start by reading memoirs. Just reading about another person’s experiences will help you understand more about tone and theme. A list of the top 50 memoirs can be found here.
  • Think about the pivotal moments in your life. Which ones really mattered? (Remember, this isn’t your autobiography. You don’t have to write about the entirety of your life.)
  • To get the words flowing, look at a photo that evokes a strong reaction. What do you hear, smell, feel, see? Repeat this process with a few different photos.
  • Write the way you talk—in a conversational way. It’s more engaging and easier to read. (Don’t be too formal.) Be honest. It’s ok to show your flaws; everyone can relate to making mistakes.
  • Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or quality. Just get it all down. You can fix it later.
  • Believe in yourself!

If you feel like some of your memories are a little fuzzy, you can always include a disclaimer at the end saying: “These events are my memories. Others may remember events differently.”

If you still need inspiration, these questions might help get the creative juices flowing:

Where were you born? Was there anything unique about your birth?

What’s your earliest memory?

What toy do you most remember getting at Christmas?

Did you have any pets growing up?

What family vacation do you most remember from your youth?

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

What was your favorite subject?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Were you in any extracurricular activities?

Who were your childhood friends?

What did you do for fun when you were young?

Did you get an allowance? How much? How did you earn it?

What was your first car?

Who were your high school friends?

What did you learn about yourself in high school?

Are you more like your mom or your dad? How?

When was the first time you saw your parents cry?

Who was your first crush?

Who was your first kiss?

Who was your first love?

What’s your favorite city to visit?

What’s the farthest from home you’ve traveled?

What impact has religion had in your life?

Did you go to college? What did you study?

What was the greatest success in your career?

What did you do with your first “big” paycheck?

What was the biggest sacrifice you ever made?

What time(s) in history will you always remember?

Name a time you were on top of the world.

Name a time you were overcome with sadness.

As a youth, did you break any bones? Need stitches?

What was your first job?

What was your favorite job?

Who were your role models when you were young?

What have you done that you never thought you’d do?

What do you know about your family history/heritage?

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Why?

(If applicable): How did you meet your spouse? When did you know he/she was “the one?” What was your marriage proposal like?

Where was your wedding? How many guests attended? What did you serve? What do you remember about that day?

(If applicable): Tell me about the time(s) your kid(s) were born.

How would you describe your kids’ personalities? Grandkids?

What person most influenced you in life?

What makes you happy?

What’s your dream for future generations?

Now get to writing! Good luck! 

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