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.

Sibylesque Long Life Martini

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.

Sibylesque girliron lung

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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Views of Depression: Inside and Outside

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque  Joseph Campbell

Anyone over 60 or, more likely, 50 knows loss and grief that can also slump into depression. We cannot duck the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’ But for some, the shadows of depression appear to fall over them at birth.

I ran into a friend yesterday outside the supermarket. In his late sixties, he has suffered depression on and off from childhood. Meanwhile, Robin William’s tragic suicide was dominating all news bulletins. My friend recalled when, walking past the CBS studios in New York last year, he and his wife put their names into the lottery to be in the Late Night with David Letterman audience. They won seats. And who was on the show? Robin Williams. We shook our heads dumbfounded, yet again, by the inexplicable tragedy of life.

There is an inside and an outside view of depression.

Sibylesque sadThe outside view witnessed by a friend or family member, perhaps, can be quite cynical. The depressed person, bereft of all vitality, appears monotone, unresponsive and self-obsessed. Yet this is depression’s – sometimes unyielding – punishment. It winds the walls in on the depressed person until there is no way to connect to the outside world. Yet the pain persists.

In 1998 David Foster Wallace published a Harper’s Bizarre piece called, simply, ‘The Depressed Person’. It follows a depressed woman’s growing self-absorption. Such a bitter outside portrayal of obsessive melancholia seems all the more tragic as Wallace, a highly celebrated author, committed suicide from depression in 2008 at the age of 46.

The inside view of depression is chilling. ‘The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality’. So began the TED talk Depression, the secret we share by long-time depression sufferer and author Andrew Solomon. Meanwhile, the New York Times recently published one of the most brutal, raw and painfully honest portrayals of depression I have read. A Journey Through Darkness by Daphne Merkin (New York Times, 6 MAY 2011)

sadgirl onwoodMerkin, 60, an American literary critic, essayist and novelist, has suffered, sometimes untreatable, depression on and off since her childhood.In some way, the quiet terror of severe depression never entirely passes once you’ve experienced it. It hovers behind the scenes, placated temporarily by medication and renewed energy, waiting to slither back in, unnoticed by others … It tugs at you, keeping you from ever being fully at ease. Worst of all, it honors no season and respects no calendar; it arrives precisely when it feels like it.‘ Both Solomon’s and Merkin’s stories have – if not exactly happy, at least – liveable endings.

Merkin, who had suicidal thoughts and whose long-term Freudian analyst started pushing ECT (Electro Compulsive Therapy) wrote ‘And then, the Sunday afternoon … something shifted ever so slightly in my mind’. And later ‘Everything felt fragile and freshly come upon, but for now, at least, my depression had stepped back, giving me room to move forward’.

Memory is vital to the depressed person’s recovery. If they can recall being happy once, the possibility echoes in the coal-black gloom of their thoughts that one-day they can return to that bright yet unfathomable place. Some depressives  struggle to hold onto even one happy thought as if the lines are down in the power network of the brain. Other depressives believe that because their life has been changed by, say, a divorce, they cannot find their way back to that happy state. These are the machinations of the mind therapists address. Nevertheless, one happy thought remembered can deliver Pandora’s gift. Hope.

Sibylesque Melancholia

Depression Resources:

Beyond Blue Australia: Crisis helpline, facts, forums and resources

Health Talk Online: Experiences of depression and recovery in Australia

Healthtalk online UK: Experiences of depression and recovery UK

Youth Health Talk UK: Young Peoples’ depression and low mood

Healthtalk online UK: Experiences of Antidepressants

MAYO Clinic USA: Depression causes, complications and symptoms

MAYO Clinic: Depression Medication

MAYO Clinic USA: Minimising Sexual Dysfunction Side effects of anti-depressants

Black Dog Institute Australia: Education Resource

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It’s Detox or Dementia: Why Pill Poppin’ Mamas should be worried!

Kerry Cue

Sibuylesque Orwell Quote 1As we age, many of us collect more and more medications. But specialists in geriatric medicine (Oops! That’s the 65+ age group) are telling patients around the world it is time to DETOX. Overmedication is causing more dementia than it is curing.

Sibylesque pill bottlesFor instance, 40% of Australians in the 65+ age group take 5 or more medications. In an article by Jill Robotham (Health Risk for Over Medicated Elderly, The Age, 5 Jan 2009) David Le Couteur, director of the Centre for Education and Research on Ageing at the University of Sydney said ‘Ceasing to take medicines such as sleeping pills and antidepressants improved people’s mental abilities and reduced the likelihood of serious falls’. Professor Le Couteur, a geriatrician at Concord Hospital, Sydney, explained that evidence based research looking into the effects of taking multiple drugs is “almost non-existent”. Meanwhile, in one study 85% of older patients had stable blood pressure 6 months to five years after being taken off blood pressure tablets.

Dr Tannenbaum's 18 week Benzodiapapinne DETOX schedule.

Dr Tannenbaum’s 18 week benzodiazepine DETOX schedule.

Meanwhile, in another informative article in the New York Times by honorary Sibyl, Paula Span (Weaning Older Patients Off Sleeping Pills, 2 Jul 2014), Dr. Cara Tannenbaum, who holds an endowed chair in geriatric pharmacy at the University of Montreal, explained ‘People taking sleeping pills are five times more likely to report problems with concentration and memory … Twice as likely to have a hip fracture. Twice as likely to have a car accident the next day if they’re driving.’

They also experience more incontinence.

Not only does Dr. Tannenbaum and colleagues want older people to detox by weaning themselves from benzodiazepines (Sleep and anxiety medication. Brand names include: Ativan, Ambien, Halcion, Klonopin, Lunesta, Sonata, Valium and Xanax.), they have produced a downloadable brochure to help them do it.

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How Lilly Pilly Jam can Change Your Life

by Kerry Cue

Sibylesque Lilly Pilly Jam

In her inspirational article, Living with Purpose, NYT, Paula Span cited research that shows that our health benefits from contributing to and being connected with our community.

What better way to be connected than by contributing to a Fruit and Veg Swap.

semaphore fruit and veg swapThe idea grew out of the Australia wide Share and Save initiative, which aims to reduce waste by allowing locals to share, borrow, swap or access food, clothes, plants and other useful items.

Samantha Dunn with the Food swappers at the Upwey Grassroots Market  crdunn blogFruit and Veg Swaps can now be found in suburbs around the country. Including the Semaphore Fruit and Veg Swap, SA (LEFT), and the Upwey Grassroots Market, Victoria (BELOW) markets have sprung up around Australia

According to the Henley Fruit and Veg Swap, SA (BELOW):


‘The swap is informal and simple, and works on one main principle: people give whatever surplus home-grown produce they don’t need and can freely give, and they take whatever they can definitely use.’

Henley Fruit and Veg swapParticipants swap produce, stories, recipes and gardening tips. You can find the recipe for Lilly-Pilly Jelly here and here. I didn’t even know you could eat Lilly-Pillies.

Lilly Pilly Jelly   littlebitofthyme blog.

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It just sounds a lot more fun than picking over damaged fruit listening to PA price checks at the local supermarket.

 PHOTO SOURCE: Semaphore fruit and veg swap BLOG, crdunn blog, Henley Fruit and Veg Swap blog and alittlebitofthyme blog.

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Sense of Purpose

 by Kerry Cue

Living with purpose quotePaula SpanLiving with Purpose, (New York Times, 3 JUN 2014) written by The New Old Age columnist Paula Span (left) is a significant article, which provides both insight and inspiration on the subject of aging well. The conclusion summarised in the article and backed by extensive research, applies equally to all age groups.

A sense of purpose has many health benefits. It contributes to ‘satisfaction and happiness, better physical functioning and even better sleep.’

‘They want to make a contribution’ explained Dr Patricia Boyle, Rush University, Chicago, who conducted a longitudinal study of 1,000 elderly subjects. ‘They want to feel a apart of something that extends beyond themselves.” A sense of purpose can come from mentoring as well as passing on memories and experience to the young.

Sibyls Emblem Red Frescoe

This is, of course, the reason the Sibylesque blog came into being. Why not become a Sibyl? What memories, experience or words of wisdom would you like to pass onto the young, or not so young?

 We, THE SIBYLS, declare Paula Span an Honorary Sibyl for her generosity of spirit in sharing her personal stories, insight and wisdom.

When the Times Comes coverPaula Span is journalist with extensive experience writing for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and many other publications. She is also the author of When the Times Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share their Struggles and Solutions. You can learn more about Paula at her website.

Photo source: Paula Span’s website.

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Why we eat ourselves crazy

by Kerry Cue

Roman border green

dark green quote 1A big, juicy burger to anyone who knows what healthy eating is any more.

dark green quote 2

Owen Jones, The Guardian, 22 May 2014

Sibylesque Signature green

Roman border green

Sibylesque Mad Professor labOnce all scientific research was filtered through the peer review process. Initial studies were tested by others and if the results could be replicated, they were eventually published in mainstream papers.

These days, to get funding, researchers release their results directly to newspapers. Later studies may show that the initial research was flawed but the damage is already done.

Here are 6 ways the healthy food message messes with our minds:

1.Oops! Crazy Professor (Superfood Claim Superbollocks)

2. Too many statisticians spoil the broth (Eat Meat and Die. Oops! Got the maths wrong.)

3. Seemed like a good idea at the time (Stop Oxidants? Stop Breathing! The Antioxidant Hoax)

4. Just made that one up (Drinking 8 glasses of water a day for Dummies),

5. Getting carried away with numbers again ( Winning the Salt Wars or Never Trust a statistician)

6. How marketing controls your mind (Would you eat a button? Millions do!)

Photo source: Undisclosed

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Superfood Claim Super Bollocks

by Kerry Cue

Navy Roman Border    Navy quote 1……..There is no “superfruit”.Navy quote 2

Alexandra Siferlin, The Truth about Antioxidants, Time,             6 AUG 2013.

Navy Sibyl signature

Navy Roman Border

The superfood industry spruiks many dubious claims. The first super food, according to Brainpickings website, was spinach.

pic-1-popeye1Back in 1870, Erich Von Wolf , a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, he accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach from 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, to 35 milligrams.  It was corrected in 1937, but too late the myth was well established.

This study inspired the Popeye Cartoon character who gets  colossal strength eating cans of spinach.

Unfortunately, it was just a maths blooper. According to Iron Facts, University Health Center:

1 cup of raw spinach contains 1mg iron.

The University Health Center claims a woman, 15 to 50 years of age, needs to consume up to 33 cups of raw spinach a day. According to the USA National Institutes of Health a woman 50+ only needs 8 cups or 8mg of iron a day.

Sibylesque  superfood  kid

Even the much praised blueberry is not very nutritious with only 3 major nutrients Vit C, Vit K and manganese.

Meanwhile, according to an article in New Scientist biochemist Barry Halliwell from the National University of Singapore the best approach to superfoods, antioxidants and diet is to: Stick to flavonoid-rich foods, red wine in moderation, tea, fruits and vegetables.

But the idea of there being superfoods is superbollocks!

Photo source: Halloween Costumes vintage Everyday blog

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