Binge Drinking? It’s a Middle-Aged Problem.

by Kerry Cue

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The article quoted (above) in The Telegraph, UK, has fascinating information about the drinking habits of the 55 – 64 year old demographic. This age group is not generally associated with reckless behaviour, but statistics prove otherwise. According to Dr Tony Rao, a consultant psychiatrist and a leading expert in substance abuse among the older population, “The baby boomers have very liberal attitudes towards alcohol.”

Research by the UK lottery-funded, Drink Wise, Age Well program found:

’17 per cent of over 50s class themselves as “increasing risk drinkers”. Among the older adults surveyed who said they were now drinking more than they previously did, 40 per cent blamed it on retirement, 26 per cent on bereavement and 20 per cent on a loss of sense of purpose.’

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If you earn more, you drink more and in retirement such bad habits can grow as you have more time. Retirement did not pan out well for ex-rock star Phil Collins, 65. In his recent memoir, Not Yet Dead, he described the problems he faced retiring to the edge of Lake Geneva, Switzerland. It sounds idyllic. But firstly, his 3rd marraige fell apart. And then, the afternoon glass of wine turned into a couple of bottles. He had too much time on his hands. According to The Telegraph article:

‘Before long he was downing vodka straight from the bottle for breakfast.  Eventually he ended up in a Swiss intensive care with acute pancreatitis.’

He is now back touring and on the wagon.

You will find more information at the Drink Wise, Age Well website.

A Sibyl Watches Over the Myanmar Elections 2015

by Sue Lees

Myanmar election quote

Myanmar Historic General Election November 8 2105

Travels with a Sybil: We don’t stay home and knit when we retire!!!

Democracy is such an ordinary concept to us. We argue about how well it functions in aspects of our politics but ultimately we expect a democratic society to operate. Myanmar (Burma) has had no such belief. Democracy in Myanmar has been a cherished but fragile idea.

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I was privileged to have the opportunity to be in Myanmar for the November 8 2015 election as an accredited international election observer under the auspices of APHEDA (Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad also called Union Aid Abroad, which is the overseas aid agency of the ACTU) and under the leadership of Professor Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University.

Our purpose was to observe the election process – pre-polling, Election Day, counting and report any inconsistencies and problems. Particularly any opportunities that became apparent for influencing the voting. As observers we were to be highly visible, non-partisan and not allowed to interfere.

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The most positive outcome available from the electoral process that had been instigated would be (and now is) ‘Guided Democracy’ with the military constitutionally maintaining 25% of parliament and three key ministries – interior, defence and border security. The NLD must now govern with some of the military influence intact, but in can be argued that, at this stage, a full democracy with a party that has no governing experience could be unwise.

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I say that I was privileged because I had the opportunity not only to participate in the election process but also to meet and hear the Burmese. To find out what was important to them:

“Our vote is our chance to fight back”.

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Voiceless politically for so long, they were determined to be heard.

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Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, Venice, 2014

Sue Lees, 56, is a retired teacher and apprentice Sibyl. Despite traveling from Australia to work as a volunteer in schols in Nepal and Timor and now observing electiona in Myanmar, she says she is quiet and quite insignificant!

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Old Age: The Doddery vs The Dazzling

by Kerry Cue

sibylesque Iris Apfel quote

The doddery Old Age stereotype versus dynamic new old Agers was dramatically apparent in The Australian Weekend Review, (22 Aug 2015. There is a paywall but you can see the cartoon here.) Deidre Macken wrote a thoughtful and lively article about older women, which left anyone over the age of 60 feeling foot-tappin’ good about getting old.
Iris Apfel Fashion Icon 93

Primarily, Macken paid homage to Iris Apfel a New York fashion icon at 93, who is the star of a documentary titled simply Iris (below).

Macken also captured the dynamic zeitgeist of aging for a new generation of women.

‘Finally relieved of kids, parents’ stuff, jobs and sometimes partners, women of the first youth generation are in the mood for breaking out again.’ Too true.

But the cartoon accompanying Macken’s intelligent piece dished up the same old shriveled-cold-tripe imagery we mature age readers are fed daily namely a sketch of three doddery oldies on walking frames. The cartoon had nothing to do with the article theme. Even if we see old women bush walking, riding bikes and pumping more iron than that cartoonist (Jon Kudelka. Google him), we are still surrounded with these negative stereotypes. But as Macken noted:

‘You’re only old once.’ And we are not about to beige up and fade away.

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 We, THE SIBYLS, declare Deidre Macken an Honorary Sibyl for her insightful writing, her independent thinking and her intelligent reporting on the lives of vibrant older women.

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Deirdre Macken

Deirdre Macken

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Best known as a journalist and columnist, Deirdre Macken wrote on business and marketing for The Australian 1975-1979, worked for The Age 1979-1987 and was a senior writer on The Sydney Morning Herald and its Good Weekend from 1987-1999. She is currently a columnist and senior writer for The Australian.

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Photo source: Film Website

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If you think you are old, guess what? You ARE aging fast.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Gloria Steinem quote

We, The Sibyls, do not deny age its journey. Nevertheless, many studies have shown that the toxic stereotype of the stooped ‘little old lady’ not only limits your outlook on aging, it can actually reduce your life span. We have noted before that this stereotype is reinforced by Geriatric Self-Talk and assumptions of the medical profession. Now two recent publications support this view.

What if age is nothing but a mind set? by Bruce Greirson (New York Times, 22 OCT 2014) reports on a study conducted by Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology at Harvard, conducted in 1981. Eight men in their 70s stepped into a monastery retro-fitted for 1959. Perry Como crooned on a vintage radio. Ed Sullivan appeared on a black-and-white TV. After 5 days, the men significantly improved on many ‘age related’ tests.

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Our aging brain pinkMeanwhile, in his book, Our Ageing Brain: How our mental capacities develop as we grow older (SCRIBE, 2014) André Aleman cites similar studies including the study that showed:

*those with a more positive view of aging lived 7.5 years longer.

*when older people are asked to read a list of negative words associated with aging (eg. Senile) their performance in memory tests reduces.

*men who become prematurely bald present with earlier onset of age related deceases.

*older people in rural China suffer less from memory problems that we do. Professor Langer, who also conducted this study, put this down to their lack of exposure to the negative stereotyping of age we experience in the West.

According to Aleman:

A positive attitude – often perfectly justified, since many older people are in good health – keeps you young.

Photo Source: NYC, 1966, Airbus, Medialapie09 Blog

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Can you die from a broken heart? Yes! It could happen to you.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Heart Foundation Quote

More women in Australia die from Heart Disease than cancer. This is also true in the UK and the US. This fact often surprises women. We are so attuned to raising money for breast cancer research, we assume it is the number one killer. This misperception makes a heart attack for us dangerous. We don’t recognise the symptoms. We put symptoms like nausea and chest pain down to something we ate or anxiety.

A recent article by Martha Weinman Lear in The New York Times (The woman’s Heart Attack, 26 Sept 2014) highlighted the difference between male and female heart attacks. Martha, who had a heart attack herself, explains that more men have the classic dramatic chest-clutching ‘Hollywood’ heart attack.

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Most women do not have drama on their side prompting those around them to call an ambulance. The symptoms of a heart disease could simply be fatigue and insomnia. Something that we often assume is NORMAL.

It’s back to the same old message for women’s health. Keep in tune with your own body. Take action when things don’t feel quite right. The life you save may be your own.

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Please Squeeze: Why Pelvic Floor Exercises Count at your age!

by Annie James

Sibylesque Pelvic Floor Joke quote

A bit of essential leg-crossing when there’s no loo nearby? Not too keen on star jumps or sneezing bouts? The resorting to panty-liners to blot the odd leak? These are all signs that your pelvic floor muscles would like some attention, some action.

With age and especially following a vaginal delivery, the cradle of muscles around urethra (urine outlet) become less effective in contracting well and exercises may be all that’s required to make them effective again. The results can be seen quickly and the problem resolved. If you don’t know whether you’re using the correct muscles you can try stopping your urine flow mid-stream. This is not recommended as an exercise but will give you the correct sensation of ‘drawing up’ your pelvic floor and you’ll then be able to do it whenever you want.

Sibylesque  Pelvic Floor Joke

Ideally do it at least 6 times, 2-3 times a day, and try and vary length of hold, and how high you feel you’re lifting. It shouldn’t be obvious to anyone that you’re doing the exercises so make sure you breath normally! I know it seems a lot of exercise for one lot of muscles but if you do them say, once at traffic lights, once lying in bed and once when cleaning teeth or waiting for a coffee, it’s a breeze.

Please note, if you don’t have an idea of how to do the exercise or the problems continue, do see your GP or a specialist Physiotherapist for advice and other treatment.

Believe me, you’ll enjoy a much happier older age if you keep these muscles active; improves enjoyment of sex too!

You will find everything you could ever want to know about incontinence and more if you download this brochure from the Continence Foundation of Australia.

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Babylonian Sibyl

Babylonian Sibyl

Annie James is an adventurous spirit, who is passionate about women’s health. She has worked as a physiotherapist and also hikes and plays tennis.

Photo source: Social History Archives

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How to postpone aging? Get a grip. Really.

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque old age quote 2When does old age begin? Well, traditionally turning 65 years of age marked the beginning of old age. But now Warren Sanderson, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at Stony Brook University, offers a different view point. In an article by Judith Graham, (On New Measurements of Aging, New York Times, 16 SEP 2014) he said ‘We should consider people as old when they near the end of their life: when their remaining life expectancy is 15 years or less.’ Compare two 65 year olds. If one has a life expectancy of, say, 5 years, and the other, 25 years then the first, obviously, is much closer to the end of life stage.

What measure places people in the old age category?

Surprisingly, Prof Sanderson’s research shows that the strength of a person’s handgrip is an accurate indicator of different rates of aging. Data has been collected for 50,000 subjects from the USA, Europe, japan and China.

So GET A GRIP.

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And one more thing, Prof Sanderson is now looking another indicator of old age: THE TIME IT TAKES TO GET OUT OF A CHAIR.

So you need LIFT OFF. Work on it.

You might also enjoy the article on Aging and the Pelvic Floor here.

Photo source: Huffinton Post

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What’s your poison …. Botox, flu shots or designer drugs?

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Vaccination quote

We, Baby Boomers, are the last generation that can remember kids who suffered from Diphtheria, Polio and/or Whooping Cough. As kids many of us caught the common childhood diseases including  measles, german measles, mumps and, definitely, Chicken Pox. In Melbourne, in the 1950s, my next door neighbour Roy had TB.  When I was 8 years old, he taught me a skill he picked up in the Sanatorium, namely how to blanket stitch a felt toy.

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It is not surprising then that most of us are pro-vaccination. For those in doubt look here. This is a You Tube clip posted by the Mayo Clinic of a baby with Whooping Cough. Parents of a baby afflicted with such a terrible disease as Whooping Cough say they would do anything to help their little baby, but it is too late.

So what vaccinations might be appropriate for our 50+ age group?

Flu shots.

Pneumonia Vaccination especially if you are prone to respiratory diseases.

And, the latest, SHINGLES SHOTS.

Shingles is a very painful condition caused by the Chicken Pox virus that lays dormant in the nerve roots near the spine of anyone who ever had the disease. According to the AMA the ‘risk and severity of the condition increases markedly with age’. The American-made vaccine, Zostavax , has been approved by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) for use by Australians aged 50 years or older. The vaccine has not been added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule yet so a Shingles Shot is expensive (Around $200), but it is a price any shingles sufferer would gladly pay if they could.

Finally, we often get Top Up shots, especially new grandmothers, for the standard vaccinations we had in our youth including measles, mumps and so on. You would need to consult your medical practitioner for further information.

Photo: Unknown Source

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