Eight Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep

be move Jun 13, 2019

As summer temperatures settle in, many of us are more restless in bed. If you’re over 50, sleep is likely not as restorative as it once was, and as most of us know, with age sleep tends to be more problematic (unless you’re my husband who can still sleep like a teenager). 

Most of us are fighting to get more sleep and yet sleeping seems to be the healthy living effort that falls off the map. I know many people who are meticulous in taking excellent care of other aspects of their health but still never get enough sleep. 

Women in mid to later life have a unique set of circumstances hampering their ability to get restful sleep; overall, women have more sleep problems than men, and symptoms during menopause can make sleep worse.

In fact, about 30% of the general population have trouble with sleeping but this number skyrockets to 50% in peri and postmenopausal women. Changes in estrogen impact both the normal sleep cycle and natural melatonin release, while...

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The ultimate guide to the Mediterranean diet for women over 50

be connect eat May 29, 2019

When you think about the word diet, what images come to mind? Is it of the young, enthusiastic face telling you that their new magic supplement is going to help you shed 20 pounds? Or the less-than-appealing plate filled with portion-controlled servings? Endless days of cayenne and lemon juice fasting? I’m here to suggest that what you should be more likely envisioning is a long table in Spain peppered with celebration and filled with delicious food.

 

I’ve written a lot about healthy eating habits on the Age Sister blog site, but so far have been hesitant to recommend a specific diet. Lately, many readers have told me that they would feel better if they had a framework to follow when it comes to better eating. The idea of providing a better recommendation has led me to develop this post about what I consider to be the best eating pattern for older women – the Mediterranean diet.

 

Unlike many of the popular diet trends, research on the...

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Eleven ways to take better care of your brain health

be eat move May 24, 2019

In my last blog post I talked about how low mood, anxiety, and rigid thinking can creep into our lives around menopause and the years following. Many women in later mid-life also complain about problems with memory loss. If you are feeling like your brain is not as sharp as it once was you are not alone; when surveyed, the majority of women over 50 reported feeling like their memory and concentration had gotten worse in mid-life.

It’s normal to worry that problems remembering or issues with concentration might be the early signs of cognitive decline, or God forbid, dementia. The good news is that your risk for dementia is relatively low in later mid-life and the risk of developing dementia doesn’t start to increase increase until you are older than 65.

What contributes to changes in memory?

 Although some researchers suggest that dropping estrogen levels may be responsible for cognitive problems in mid-life women, it doesn’t appear that memory issues...

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Brain health in women: What’s really going on as you age?

be move May 17, 2019

I was recently at a conference on healthy aging where one of the speakers, a researcher who studies the impact of aging on the brain, admitted that the question she gets asked the most often is, “Is this normal?” Apparently, many women are worried about what their brains are up to as they age.

One of the biggest concerns is memory loss, along with the feeling that mid-life brains aren’t as sharp as they were in the past. Some women also worry that being forgetful might be an early sign of cognitive deterioration. The researcher used this example to put memory loss in perspective. She said, “Forgetting where you put your keys, even multiple times, is normal – standing at a bus stop in the rain without a coat, and not knowing how you got there is not.”

Changes in aging

Overall brain health has been the biggest topic request that I have had from Age Sister readers, so I am setting out to write two posts about cognitive health in aging over the...

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What is forest bathing?

be connect move May 03, 2019

Shinrin-yoku is defined as “taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing”, and is a mix of mindfulness, physical activity and group experience. Although it sounds like you might end up in a body of water, forest bathing is instead just the art of fully immersing yourself in the experience of being in the woods. Shinrin-yoku is different from just taking a walk in the forest and is attracting a serious following.

Why is being in the woods so appealing to some people? Turns out that we are either “biophilic”, those outdoorsy types who are drawn to camping and hiking, or “biophobic”, those who see the outdoors as a somewhat threatening place, filled with unsavoury bugs and critters.

I must admit, I have a serious love affair with the forest. I’m not picky – if there are trees and something that resembles a path, I’m in. I have spent a huge amount of time in the woods in the past few years while trail-running. Sometimes I run...

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Why social wellness is so important in aging

be connect Apr 26, 2019

Having interpersonal relationships is one of the main ways that humans have evolved and endured. As people got older in early civilizations, supportive relationships were vital to their long-term survival.

You might be surprised to know that the importance of social connectedness has stubbornly persisted in to our modern life, and in fact, has one of the most profound impacts on our disease and mortality rates in aging. For women, social wellness is especially important because (bummer alert) we tend to outlive our partners.

Social wellness has its own field of study and has come to the forefront in healthy aging research and policy in the past decade. This week, I will help you explore the ways that improving your social connections can impact your health, and will offer five important tips for improving your social connections long-term.

Why is Social Wellness Important?

Typically, preventative health is focused on physical behaviours like quitting smoking, eating better,...

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The key to a healthy diet might be more about what you’re not eating

be eat Apr 12, 2019

I hate to be an alarmist, but low-quality diets continue to contribute to a huge number of deaths. In 2017, poor diet killed 11 million people worldwide. Even though since 1990 that number has come down significantly, improvements in diet could still potentially prevent one in five deaths globally.

The typical North American focus on healthy diet is all about removing unhealthy food; we tell people to eat “less of” various foods in most dietary recommendations.

What if we have gotten this approach all wrong? A new study recently published in The Lancet suggests that instead, we should focus much more on making sure that we are adding in certain foods.

THE RESEARCH

The analysis published in early April was a large review of studies of human nutrition done in 195 countries around the world. Although the review has some important messages, as with any individual study of human health, we always need to be aware of limits in the study design. One important issue to consider...

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Want to reduce your stress levels? Be. Here. Now.

be connect Mar 22, 2019

“This magnificent refuge is inside you.
Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway.
Be bold. Be humble.
Put away the incense and forget
the incantations they taught you.
Ask no permission from the authorities.
Close your eyes and follow your breath
to the still place that leads to the
invisible path that leads you home.”

St. Theresa of Avila

 

You may have noticed that I’m writing this blog post one day later than I normally would. Yesterday, with coffee in hand and feeling slightly smug that I had managed to carve out an entire day to write, my website went down.

Fast forward several hours after lot of panicked phone calls and hand- wringing, I stopped and took a breath. There was nothing I could do for at least a few hours. It was a beautiful spring day outside and I had two choices: I could let an annoying chain of events ruin my day, or I could put on my runners and go for a walk.

I decided that a good goal for the rest of the afternoon was to...

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For all that you do, this one’s for you. Happy International Women’s Day!

be connect Mar 08, 2019
My sister and I fell in love with the same piece of public art, entirely independently of one another. There was something so powerful about that piece that we both remembered it in a conversation years later. The main body of the sculpture was a woman in a dress, staring steadily into the eyes of the observer. Her calm, vacant expression almost made you want to look away.

Coming from the woman’s head were multiple complex structures, her body a tree trunk, growing massive sets of branches from her skull. On closer inspection, each branch was revealed as an upside-down person. There were babies, children, older people, teenagers, friends and acquaintances.

That beautiful piece so perfectly depicted the life of a woman. It was one of those works of art that takes your breath away – one that captures a life so perfectly that the image has always stuck with me.

I thought a lot about that sculpture when trying to put words to International Women’s Day. It’s hard...
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Spark joy in your health?

be connect Feb 21, 2019

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” 

Joseph Campbell, Professor of Literature

If you’ve watched the Netflix show “Tidying up with Marie Kondo”, then like me, you’re equally mesmerized by the diminutive Japanese woman who helps people get their homes (and lives) in order. One of the most appealing things about her approach is her use of the Kon Mari method to simplify spaces. This is done not by simply reducing clutter, but rather by asking her clients to keep things only if they spark joy.

Given that home organization is not a new concept, why is Marie Kondo so incredibly popular? My theory is that her gentle nudges toward respect and acknowledgment of inanimate objects seems like a way to teach her audience to live a more mindful life; if you must stop and think about the meaning of every item in your home, eventually you will make more measured decisions...

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