Eularee Smith
Writer & Educator

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Snow in AugustWatchersRising SunThe Andromeda StrainThe ShiningThe Hunt for Red October

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Shoulder Surgery

I recently underwent rotator cuff surgery as a result of an injury from a car accident. Although I was prepared for a long recovery, my doctor was surprised to find the damage was less than indicated by the MRI. Minimal tears to the rotator cuff did not need to be repaired and the SLAP tear (superior labrum anterior to posterior) was more ragged than torn, requiring a "mowing of the lawn". 

Along with these minor repairs, the arthoscopic surgery located several bone spurs. Since my mother had her rotator cuff shredded by bone spurs, the result being a complete shoulder replacement, this new and unexpected wrinkle was trouble lying in wait. 

But what are bone spurs? A bone spur or osteophyte is a bony growth that forms on normal bone. This extra bone is not sharp but usually smooth causing friction as it rubs against soft tissue, ligaments, tendons or nerves. A common place for these to appear is in jointed areas of the body. 

The cause is the body's attempt to repair itself as we age and the joint is subject to pressure or stress (as in injury). It is a part of the aging process as the slippery cartilage wears away and breaks down (osteoarthritis). The bone spur is removed with a burr, relieving the problem and allowing more room for the tendons.

Now the question of keeping the shoulder healthy will be answered with weeks of physical therapy. I must inject here that I had been through months of physical therapy before the doctor decided that surgery was the next step. Typically surgery is the last step. Being a very active person, the loss of motion and pain prompted me to finally choose surgery to correct the problem. Physical therapy did a great job of controlling the pain and strengthening the shoulder. Like an athlete I prepared for the marathon of surgery and recovery. Here are a few steps toward preventative care for one of the most common aging issues.

• warm up slowly, stretching muscles before and after work out

• never work or play through pain

• take breaks and drink plenty of fluids

Whether you are a weekend warrior or just searching for dust bunnies under the couch, preventative care is much wiser for mind and body. 


Ptjess' Blog - Shoulder Longevity 

Beverly Harzog - Play It Smart: The Boomer's Essential Guide to Preventing Sports and Exercise Injuries 


Obesity Has A Make-Over

Reports out today change the way the medical community measures BMI or body mass index. Thought to be overly simplistic, the BMI estimates are based on height and weight of the individual. This method of determining body fat has been in existence for close to 200 years. But all that is about to change.

Researchers have found a more definitive look at obesity is a DXA scan or bone density test which measures bone density, muscle and fat. A study of 1393 patients showed 48% were misdiagnosed from the loss of muscle mass due to age. DXA scan is costly but a simple $1 blood test for leptin, a hormone associated with obesity can pay off enormously.

Obesity is one of the leading causes of costly medical problems in this country. 

• diabetes

• high cholesterol 

• high blood pressure

• heart disease

• cancer

The changes in testing for obesity will give us a better picture like LDL, bad cholesterol and the HDL, good cholesterol, providing a pro-active, preventative and wellness care approach. 

Images: Google Images


BoomerPreneurs or How To Shift Gears

To my surprise, I have been contracted by the Small Business Development Center to present workshops on the art of Customer Service. This all came about when I answered an ad for instructors through the local community college. The range of topics was diverse and many are part of my professional career. There is an art to teaching and if you are experienced and dedicated, you find many opportunities.

The position was for a pool of instructors and the SBDC markets classes based on the topic and instructors that fit the need. Apparently there is a demand for Customer Service training among business both large and small. The experience has been exciting but also unexpected. 

Several friends in my age bracket are finding themselves laid off, not quite ready to retire financially, or bored with retirement, although I can't imagine. Turns out in this dire economy there is a demand for out of the box thinkers. Using the skills acquired over the years and a little ingenuity, Boomers are finding opportunities in unusual places.

As children we grew up with backyard carnivals, lemonade stands and "home" theatre. We were young entrepreneurs eager for the next project. M.B. Izard has captured the essence of that eager anticipation and creative energy in the book, BoomerPreneurs. It serves as a personal coaching approach for those interested in an alternative to retirement or looking for extra money to make retirement more enjoyable.

Utilizing your life and career skills along with the network of contacts made over the years, this is an ideal time to dust off the imaginations and shift gears. Although customer service seemed like a thing of the past with technology isolating business owner from the customer, it never occurred to me that there was a need to teach this skill. In the past 3 months I have had five teaching gigs for The Rules of Customer Engagement, a curriculum I developed for the SBDC. 

I have been a writer most of my adult life and have worked as a music teacher as my professional career. With the arts being cut from schools, I made a few contacts with local teachers and youth organizations and now teach creative writing and script writing for children. As a music teacher, it was not part of my professional career, but the skills translated well to adding this to my resume. 

Opening your mind to new ideas, new avenues and new opportunities, Boomers are in the right place and time to start a new business or expand their careers. I invite you to share your change of direction with readers. What have you done to kick start your career? 


Beauty In the Eye Of Beholder

Media today speaks volumes on the effect of body image for young girls and now boys. The obvious consequence we see in the rise of eating disorders, bullying and suicides in teens. Somehow we think body image and self esteem is tied to a younger generation and avoid the overall human condition.

The Boomer generation has long carried the battle cry of never growing old. Our biggest fear was seeing that first wrinkle or grey hair in the mirror. Our vanity drove us to plastic surgeons who peeled, injected and sucked anything that gave a hint of our age. Beauty thought she could tame the Beast.

We lived a life of re-creating ourselves by making 60 the new 50, as if we could turn back the hands of time and thereby stall the effects of aging, or at least cleverly disguise them. An entire generation of aging boomers allowed this insane love affair with youth to continue, placing a premium on youth rather than a real representation of aging.

Well, meet the 60, which as it turns out is really 60. Finally tired of the homogenized beauty that fills the media today, Madison Avenue is breaking out and celebrating beauty at every age. Iris Apfel, is the new covergirl for M.A.C. cosmetics. This 90 year old has brought a new look and new attitude to aging. Declaring that although youth is wonderful, Iris blames women for letting the industry set the standard. Apfel says that a woman at any age can be beautiful. 

Baby boomers are seeing a "boom" in magazine covers as well. Meryl Streep, at age 62, radiates on the cover of Vogue magazine this past January. She is the oldest cover girl in the history of the magazine. Others of our generation have also taken up the "I'm worth it" cry, showing that beauty as we age goes beyond skin deep. Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton and Ellen DeGeneres have hit the cover girl scene, brazenly giving the reality of aging a new look.

Even Hollywood is creating a new authenticity, looking the best at any age. Celebrating age, rather than hiding it is becoming popular, hip and chic. Women want to look like themselves, not an image spoon fed to them by marketing ploys designed for an unrealistic view of age. Perhaps the national past time of discovering the fountain of youth is finally over and Boomers can celebrate the victory of living long enough and smart enough to see the true wisdom of beauty.

Image: Flickrimages/Kyle Taylor, Dream It. Do It. 


Forgetful Is The New Normal

I was talking to whatsisname the other day. You remember, the one we met last week over at watchamacallit? I know I wrote that name down somewhere. Now, where did I leave my glasses?

Does this conversation sound familiar? Welcome to the wonderful world of aging and memory loss. I could argue that my grandkids forget their homework, lunches and jackets on a regular basis and they are not out of their teens. Or that my two-year-old granddaughters remember and repeat every word I say, despite their diminutive size and lack of schooling. But it really is of little comfort, so why go there?

What you really want to know is if it is normal or the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Try as you might, dark thoughts creep up when you can’t find your keys…again. And they especially weigh heavily on your mind, when you forget a name knowing it is on the tip of your tongue.

Well, guess what? It’s normal. At least according to the band of experts, Martha Weinman Lear interviewed for her book, “Where Did I Leave My Glasses?” Her interviews with neuroscientists, psychologists and evolutionary biologists form a backdrop for insights into the frustrating problems with memory we all experience as we age. The anecdotes are poignantly real and hilarious; as Lear reassures the reader we are all in this together. Lear provides information about this normal aging process, empowering the reader to embrace rather than fear memory loss. The book talks about the 57 Heinz varieties of memory and why there are some things you will never forget.

For instance, we all know the name, stove. It is a piece of equipment in the kitchen that we use to cook our food. It doesn’t matter how many different brands, models or types. It is still a stove. But people claim a different and unique name for every individual. That adds up to quite a few names to remember.

We grab onto any lifesaver as we drown in those awkward moments. We invent games and rhymes, like counting down through the 26 letters of the alphabet. Later, inexplicably, the name will come rushing forcefully to the surface at the most inopportune moment.

The good news is that all of this is normal memory loss. Of course, the bad news is it is part of the aging process, universal and irreversible. If you must blame something, then blame it on the hippocampus, the area of the brain that receives and distributes information. As we reach age 30, it begins to shrink. By 40, we begin to notice the loss. This doesn’t mean the information that was once at our fingertips and has slowly moved to the tip of our tongue is now lost. It means, like the rest of our body, it is moving a little slower. It takes longer to sift through all the data, retrieve it and send it. Ergo, you find yourself popping out the name in the middle of dinner, or at a party. That seemingly elusive name finally made it back up to the top.

Lear points out the evidence of what is normal and what is not but also details “that holy quartet of imperatives that the memory experts keep touting: a healthy diet, a good night’s rest, avoidance of stress, and regular exercise both physical and mental.” Although these imperatives will not restore or change the decline, they can help with attitude and the ability to adjust to the changes in memory, as we do for arthritis or the other aches and pains that signal things “ain’t what they used to be.”

Forgetting someone’s name is normal. Forgetting the name of your mother or your father is not. Forgetting to occasionally turn the stove off is normal. Forgetting what a stove is, is not. It is a comfort to me to know that so many of us share the malady of memory loss and I can find humor in the awkward moments. Memory loss cares little for race, gender, color or religion. It is reduced to a common denominator - age. So stop looking for the paper with old whatsisname and I am sure your glasses will show up on top of your head. That’s what a wise grandma would do…if only she could remember why she came into the room.