Flourishing in the Eighth Decade!

Women everywhere, welcome to our blogspot, a space for sharing experiences, thoughts, and ideas about how to overcome obstacles and thrive as we approach and endure in the eighth decade of life. We hope this exchange will be a source of inspiration for the next generation of seventy year olds. Those baby boomers are hot on our heels, and want to know more about what lies ahead. Nobody gave us a guidebook or shared what this path might be like. As we burn those seventy candles, we can help shed some light on the trail for them.

What has this transition been like for you? Serious, funny, commonplace, unusual, short, long stories, all are welcome. How does it feel to be among the oldest in the crowd? What does it take to thrive in this decade? How do you think others see you? What contributes to well-being and yes, flourishing at three score and ten?

We welcome the comments and reflections of women everywhere. All cultures, ethnicities, socioeconomic status and backgrounds; as diverse a sample as we can reach.

Please contribute brief anecdotes, observations, thoughts, ideas, and life stories by posting them in the comment section below.

Alternatively, you could email longer stories to us at 70candles@gmail.com. Please include information about your age, ethnicity/cultural background, geographic location, education, and work status. We will organize, collate, and share your emailed stories anonymously on this blogspot. Ultimately this may become a book about how our generation flourishes. Spread the word!! 

Posted in 70candles | 38 Comments

Sharing

Mary Ellen Age 70

I’m elated I’ve found this blog (or whatever they call it)! Hoping I will be able to participate and listen to all of our stories. Been searching (books, magazines, internet) for a long time as 70 was approaching. Exactly what I was hoping to find. Not so alone anymore.
Thank you!

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Networking, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ellen’s Keys to Positive Aging

What have I learned about living well in old age? We all know about the importance of diet and exercise and good sleep habits, but this is my list:

(1) Name ageism when you see or hear it. Be aware of your own inner biases toward old people.

(2) It’s never too soon or too late to reach out to others and gather together. 

(3) Everyone wants to be an important part of something important. “Important” is a relative term. For one person it might be walking to the mailbox every morning, for someone else it might be writing one poem a day, or face-timing with a grandchild or great great-grandchild once a week, or becoming a political activist, or continuing in one’s job or career.  My recently retired husband says, at least for the moment, his purpose is designing his second childhood.

(4) Express Gratitude. Everyone benefits. Keep a gratitude journal, count your blessings every night as you fall asleep. 

(5) Find something to smile or laugh about every single day for the rest of your life.

(6) Cultivate optimism. When something bad happens, as it will, find hope. 

(7) Identify and celebrate your strengths. Use one of your top strengths in a new way every day. Or just notice when you’re using them.

Let us know what you think.

Posted in Stories | Leave a comment

Happy New Year- Welcome to 2020!

 A new year and a new decade ahead!

We, Jane and Ellen send all our best wishes to you, our 70Candles community.

We value your thoughts and all your wonderful contributions to this 70Candles.com blog.

Along with you, we benefit from the inspiration and wisdom on these pages.

We wish you health and pleasure in small wonders, and large. We hope for more peace and harmony in the world and here in the U.S.

Treasure each other, find beauty in each day, and remember, you’ve never been this age before. No telling what’s ahead. Make each day count.

On to 2020! What is your vision for the time head?

Peace,

Jane and Ellen

Posted in 70 from other perspectives: looking forward and looking back, 70candles, Goals ahead, Inspiration as we age, Looking ahead, Stories | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Ellen on Positive Aging Part 4: Cultivate optimism

Cultivate Optimism (Hope)

“New evidence that optimists live longer”—The Harvard Gazette—August 30, 2019

After decades of research, a new study links optimism and prolonged life.

Researchers from Harvard, Boston University School of Medicine, and the National Center for PTSD at VA Boston Healthcare System, have found that individuals with greater optimism are more likely to live longer and to achieve “exceptional longevity,” that is, living to age 85 or older.

Optimism refers to a general expectation that good things will happen, or believing that the future will be favorable because we can control important outcomes. Whereas research has identified many risk factors that increase the likelihood of diseases and premature death, much less has been known about positive psychosocial factors that can promote healthy aging.

The study was based on 69,744 women and 1,429 men. Both groups completed survey measures to assess their level of optimism, as well as their overall health and health habits such as dietsmoking and alcohol use. Women were followed for 10 years, while the men were followed for 30 years. 

When individuals were compared based on their initial levels of optimism, the researchers found that the most optimistic men and women demonstrated, on average, an 11 to 15 percent longer lifespan, and had 50-70 percent greater odds of reaching 85 years old compared to the least optimistic groups. The results were maintained after accounting for age, demographic factors such as educational attainment, chronic diseases, depression and also health behaviors, such as alcohol use, exercise, diet and primary care visits.

I want now to learn how to cultivate optimism. Like so many other things, I’m sure there’s a biological predisposition to optimism or pessimism, but also a massive amount of opportunity to change negative habits and patterns. Scientists estimate that our genetic make-up accounts for about 25% of our well-being; the other 75% has to do with how we live our lives.

Posted in Stories | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ellen on Positive Aging Part 3: Gather together

Gather Together—Social Connections

“There is no such thing as a happy hermit”(Chris Peterson).

Substantial evidence now indicates that individuals lacking social connections are at risk for poor health and premature mortality. The risk associated with social isolation and loneliness is comparable with well-established risk factors for mortality, including those identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—including physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes, substance abuse, mental health problems, poor environmental quality, and lack of access to health care.

One article I read, published in Psychological Science in 2015 predicts that social isolation and loneliness will reach epidemic proportions by 2030 unless society recognizes the risks.

And what about those who have deep social connections and strong networks? One of many studies shows that “SuperAgers” in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, with such connections, have cognitive or physical function equal to that of people decades younger.

Researchers from a Northwestern University group recognized some time ago that that cognitive SuperAgers have distinctive brain features: thicker cortexes, a resistance to age-related atrophy, and a larger left anterior cingulate (a part of the brain important to attention and working memory).

But brain structure alone doesn’t fully account for SuperAgers’ unusual mental acuity. For their new study, the researchers asked 31 SuperAgers and 19 cognitively “normal” older adults to fill out a 42-item questionnaire about their psychological well-being. The SuperAgers stood out in one area: the degree to which they reported having satisfying, warm, trusting relationships. (In other areas, such as having a purpose in life or retaining autonomy, they were much like their “normal” peers.) This finding is consistent with other research linking positive relationships to a reduced risk of cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia.

Loneliness and isolation are health epidemics.

Gather Together— with age-mates, friends and family, and across-generations. Share stories and hugs—avoid Social Isolation, even (maybe especially) if you tend to be an introvert. Embrace those “organ recitals.” Share, share, share.

Posted in 70candles, 70Candles! Gatherings - the experience, Networking, Older women connecting | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Ellen on Positive Aging Part 2: About ageism

I have recently been trying to develop something akin to guidelines for positive aging. This is a work in progress. There are, so far, three items on this list, with new and exciting research to demonstrate their importance. 

LET’S END AGEISM and negative stereotypes

In spite of the repugnance of ageist stereotypes, we are not likely to have escaped their clutches. This is no small matter. Ageism is everywhere, and it is not good for our health or happiness or longevity

There are serious consequences, as we reported in our 70Candles! book:

Many institutions won’t hire anyone over 55, for fear we won’t be in tune with the younger generation or with the newest technology.

“I’m in a business where I know I wouldn’t have been hired if I admitted my age.”

 “I feel invisible in a crowd of younger people, and when I do get repeated attention, and think I’m being admired, it turns out I remind that young person of a grandma or favorite aunt!”

We hear terms of endearment from receptionists, and on the phone, like “dear,” “sweetie,” “honey,” that we use to address our young grandchildren or our pets.

When someone says something like “she’s 70 years young” they think they are being cute and flattering.  I want to scream, “70 is old!  And that’s okay!”

Social change is needed to educate about and eliminate ageism, particularly now as the population ages and the baby-boomers now reach their senior years.  

And, by the way, there is a significant negative impact on one’s health, life-satisfaction, and actual longevity, if even as children we have negative views of old people. 

The first response by many, to the thought of a 70-year-old and older woman, as supported by the preponderance of current literature, is failing mental and physical functioning.  When I began my literature review for my thesis, I typed “70 year-old women” into Google Scholar.  Nine entries fit onto page one, and titles included “Balance training in 70-year-old women,” “Periodontal conditions in 70-year-old women with osteoporosis,” Epidemiology of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures,” “Cost effectiveness of treatment to lower cholesterol levels in patients with coronary heart disease,” and so on. My husband suggested I call my thesis “Look at All the Pills on Granny’s Night Stand.”

Then this summer, for the first time, I typed “70 year-old men” into Google Scholar, and the first three articles that popped up were “Sperm output of older men,” “Fertility and the Aging Male,” and “Erectile Dysfunction in the Elderly.”

Becca Levy, a professor of psychology at Yale found that “Children as young as 3 or 4 have already taken in the age stereotypes of their culture.” “These age stereotypes are communicated to children through many sources, ranging from stories to social media. Individuals of all ages can benefit from bolstering their positive images of aging.”

She found that older adults with positive beliefs about old age were less likely to develop dementia, including those who are genetically disposed.

Levy explains, “We know . . . that exposing older individuals to negative age stereotypes exacerbates stress, whereas exposing them to positive age stereotypes can act as a buffer against experiencing stress.” 

In fact, the results of her research make the case “for implementing a public health campaign against ageism and negative age beliefs.” Even “individuals in their 80s and 90s can strengthen their positive images of aging.”

Finally, a physician has written about ageism in hospitals. “Over the years, I’ve become more and more aware of ageism in health care — a bias against full treatment options for older patients. Assumptions about lower capabilities, cognitive status and sedentary lifestyle are all too common. There is a kind of ‘senior profiling’ that occurs among hospital staff, and this regularly leads to misdiagnoses and inappropriate medical care.”

In other studies it’s been demonstrated that all too often negative attitudes about aging arise from anxiety over impending changes in physical ability and appearance, or worries about loneliness, or boredom. However, many studies of older adults debunk these perceptions. Older adults can and do live enriching and very active lives — so these perceptions aren’t rooted entirely in reality.

The bottom line for me is that we have a unique opportunity, now, to redirect the discourse about aging so it includes the positive aspects of old age. Our health and well-being depend on it.

Let’s do whatever we can to end Ageism. Hear Something, Say Something…TELL YOUR AGE!

Posted in 70candles, Ageism anecdotes, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Men aging, Stories | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Ellen’s comments on Positive Aging

This and posts to follow are from Ellen Cole’s presentation to the Albany Guardian Society. Author of several books, Ellen presents her 8-year research project on Positive Aging for women (which is relevant and interesting for men, too). She shares what a cross-section of diverse women have to say about their lives, the challenges and joys, and what we can learn about thriving in our 8th decade and beyond.

We hope you find this information interesting and useful, and will let us know what you think about it.

Definition of Positive Aging:

“The mission of positive aging is to add more life to our years, not more years to our lives.” – (George Vaillant)

And why the heck is this work important?

Here’s why: Increased life expectancy is one of the most significant success stories, and one of the most significant challenges, of our time.  

The number of U.S. baby boomers is estimated currently to be 78.2 million.

This year, 2019, we’ll see 7, 918 baby boomers turn 73 each day, 330 each hour. 

By 2050, 1 in 5 Americans will be “seniors,” over age 65, and four in ten girls born today are expected to live to be 100.

Stanford longevity researcher Laura Carstensen calls this a “longevity revolution—the social and biological revolution of our time.” At a recent conference I attended for mental health counselors, I heard it referred to as “The Silver Tsunami.”

(More to come in Comments below and as Posts to follow)

Stay tuned!

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Men aging | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Inspiration

I’ve been gathering a collection essays, poems, quotes from books, and other writing that I come upon. I find these inspirational, they strike a chord and feel relevant to my aging self.

I’ve decided to share them here and invite you to add to this collection.

Jane

I’ll start with this reflection by Úrsula LeGuin.

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Gratitude and Spirituality, Inspiration as we age, Our bodies, our health, Stories | 6 Comments

Care and keeping of old men

We’ve been thinking recently about men aging and talking with friends about various aspects of the subject. We know we generally focus on ourselves in this forum, but thought we’d shift our lens for a moment for a wider view of our lives, and open the conversation for your thoughts.

Many women our age are widowed, but many still have men in their lives, or remember spouses, partners, fathers, brothers and friends. 

Here are some questions that have been raised:

Do personalities prevail, or do they alter with the aging process?

Do men face different issues than women as they age?

How do men spend their time as physical changes effect them?

How do relationships shift in later years?

What issues do caregivers face?

We hope you’ll add more topics and share what you think.

What has been your experience? Okay to write anonymously if you want to write otherwise private thoughts.

We look forward to an interesting conversation.

Jane and Ellen

Posted in 70candles, Adaptations and accommodations as we age, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Family matters, Men aging | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

70Candles! in new Move On e-magazine

We, Jane and Ellen, have been profiled, along with our blog, 70candles.com in the current issue of the new online magazine, Move On. The magazine is focused on women over 60 who are facing life changes and challenges.
Check it out through this link, share with your friends, and let us know what you think.

https://moveonmagazine.com

Posted in 70candles, About turning 70, Aging, Attitudes about aging, Networking, Older women connecting | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments