Misty Tales – Pros & Cons of Pets for Seniors

Mom is Misty's favorite human.

Misty (Moms dog) loves Mom more than any human could.


Misty tales is an episode mostly about my Mom and her dog Misty. There are a lot of pros and cons to having a dog in a memory community. First, have a listen to this episode, there are quite a few funny stories. If you are still considering a dog after what you hear, the following text will help guide you through your decision.

Pros & Cons of Getting a Dog

Before you get a new pet consider the following things carefully.  Will you or someone else be able to take care of the pet, feed it properly, make sure it gets any needed medications, take it for walks and make sure it’s trained to have acceptable manners?  If you’ve had pets before these answers will likely come easily but do give some thoughts about the future. 

Are you physically stable or do  you need walking aids?  Pets can get underfoot especially when they want attention.  Cats are notorious for rubbing themselves all over your feet while you walk, a challenge for even the most stable person on the planet.  If you’re starting to have balance issues a small dog may easily become a tripping hazard.  Large dogs are easier to maneuver around but they can also crash into the back of your knees or jump up in your face.  

Dogs are great excuses to get out and walk.  There are lots of health benefits of walking so it’s nice to have a built in reminder that it’s time to get your move on! You should consider what you will do in cold and wet weather. You can’t stay in all winter even if both of you may think that’s what you want.  Consider both of your energy levels.  Puppies can be extremely energetic so consider adopting an older dog so your energy levels match more closely.

Dogs can also get expensive as they age.  My oldest Golden, Jinx is 10.5 and has arthritis in is hip. He’s getting to the point where we’re probably going to have to get a prescription for pain meds.  If you’re living on a fixed income talk to a vet about what costs can be expected and budget for the unexpected while your at it.

Older pets are vulnerable to arthritis. Their sight and hearing often fade. For owners who may themselves be frail, it’s hard to cope with a heavy Labrador who’s suffering from hip dysplasia. Aging pets can develop cancer or heart, kidney or liver disease. The reality is most pet owners will eventually see their animals through sickness and disability. That can take a heavy emotional toll.



Misty & Mom

Mom & her dog Misty enjoying the courtyard of their memory community.

Seniors & Pets – Benefits & Challenges.

Best Dogs for Seniors!


This Is Your Brain on Nutrition – Diet & Brain Health

The link between food & brain health

Brain health is achieved through high quality nutrition.

This Is Your Brain On Nutrition – Brain Health Discussed

On today’s episode I talk with Matthew Peal the founder of the Movement Academy about brain nutrition. The Movement Academy help youth & seniors improve physical and cognitive performance.  Matt works with senior based organizational and executive directors to develop active aging programs that symmetrically prevents injuries and boosts cognitive function. Learn more about brain health and nutrition in this episode.

Last weeks episode was on the benefits of exercise so Matt and I focused on nutrition.  Just like with every other chronic disease there are things we should eat to minimize our risk or to slow the progression of symptoms as well as foods we should avoid.

One of the most important nutritional guidelines we can use is the MIND diet.  The MIND diet, as the name implies, is designed to promote a healthy mind and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a mash-up of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet — two diets that have been found to have several health benefits.

Diet information

MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. It was developed by a nutritional epidemiologist, Martha Clare Morris, at Rush University Medical Center through a study that was funded by the National Institute on Aging. Her goal was to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by promoting a diet consisting of brain-healthy foods.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating foods that are as natural as possible, while limiting unhealthy fats and red meat. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, as its name suggests, is aimed at helping to ease hypertension. It focuses on helping people to eat foods that can lower their sodium intake and blood pressure.

The MIND diet recommends eating 10 foods daily and avoiding five types of foods. The healthy-food group contains:
  1. Vegetables
  2. Green leafy vegetables in particular
  3. Berries, especially blueberries
  4. Nuts
  5. Beans
  6. Wine
  7. Whole grains
  8. Fish
  9. Poultry
  10.   Olive
The five unhealthy foods are:
  1. Fried or fast food
  2. Red meats
  3. Cheeses
  4. Butter and stick margarine
  5. Pastries and sweets
The rules of the diet are:
  • Get at least three servings of whole grains per day
  • Eat a salad each day
  • Eat one other vegetable every day
  • Drink a glass of wine each day
  • Snack almost every day on nuts
  • Eat beans every other day
  • Consume poultry and berries at least twice a week
  • Consume fish at least once a week
  • Unhealthy foods are allowed, but less than one serving per week, with the exception of butter
  • Less than 1 tablespoon a day of butter is allowed per day

The researchers’ main goal in creating the MIND diet was to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). According the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, it is estimated that about a half-million Americans younger than age 65 have some form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The study also found that the longer a person followed the MIND diet, the better protected the individual was from developing Alzheimer’s. The results of the study were published in March 2015, in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Special Bonus for Listeners:

As you heard in this episode I changed my eating and lost 100 pounds. I kept off 90 of those pounds for 3.5 year, then I hit 50, had to deal with my dying Father, with my Mother, you know, life.  I’m still down 80 pounds and working on losing another 10-15 but we all know how that goes.  During the episode I mentioned that I learned to bake differently so here’s a secret very few people know about.

You can swap butter for silken tofu!  Yes, you read that right, there is a good use for tofu.  I make chocolate chip cookies with half butter and half tofu and my husband loves them.  I’ve made them in the past with all tofu and those are good too, but the half butter ones are better.  The taste is the same but the texture is more cake like, still good, but they don’t get that crispy outside.

I’ll also share my almost vegan chocolate spice bread recipe for anyone who leaves a review on iTunes. Once you leave a review, email me at photojen@comcast.net and I’ll send you the recipe.  You’ll love it.  

Exercise & Brain Health episode

Move It or Lose It – Exercise & Brain Health

Brain Health

Exercise Your Brain

In this episode I talk with Tony Salinaro an exercise professional and running coach who is still running at 71. He had a Moms memory loss. Now he works with stroke victims to help them recover and age better. All this while also maintaining a personal coaching business and running club!  Find out about exercise and brain health in this fascinating conversation.

In this episode we learn that we need to do everything possible to add movement and exercise into everyday life. Larger doses of moderate intensity exercise are shown to have brain-boosting powers that help all types of mental health and memory issues.

Regular Exercise & Alzheimer’s Risks

Did you know that regular physical exercise can reduce your risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to a stunning 50%? Studies have shown that women 50 and older who exercised regularly have a dramatic reduction in cognitive decline. That’s right– they kept their brain power at optimal strength! Recent findings also suggest that an overall active lifestyle is the key to brain and body health. (You were hoping for a different answer, right?)

To see maximum benefits of an exercise program, research suggests working up to a level of 150 minutes per week. You want a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. Great ways to get in your aerobic exercise include brisk walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, and playing tennis. Also, going to the gym and utilizing an elliptical, treadmill or stationary bike are excellent options.

Anything that gets your heart pumping and your muscles moving is heading you in the right direction to better overall health. Plus when you include strength training (e.g., weights, resistance machines, etc.), you maintain your muscle mass and prevent osteoporosis and related illness.

If you’d like to get ahold of Tony, he’s more than happy to answer questions. His email is runfitter46@gmail.com

Stop Acting Your Age! Feel Years Younger!

Stop Acting Your Age with Them McFadden

Look, feel & act years younger


How would your life change if you could look, feel and act 10-15 years younger regardless of how many birthday’s you’ve had?  Did you know that staying mentally & physically active can help our brains to grown and add new cells?  How do we achieve looking and acting younger?

I interview Thom McFadden on this topic. Thom loves helping Baby Boomers stop the depressive cycle of feeling “over the hill” and have “one foot in the grave”.  By learning some simple techniques he has effectively used himself as a guinea pig to test his theory.  Thom is an Elder born in 1938. He has taught countless others to look, act and feel 10-15 years younger than the age on their drivers license.

Who Is Thom McFadden?

Thom is an accomplished actor, acting coach, mentor, author, speaker, teacher, loving husband, father and grandfather. He shares his wisdom from over 40 years in show business and nearly 80 years of life with the people who need it most. People over age 55 that feel invisible and who society has written off as “Done!”.

“Stop Acting Your Age” is a tool for those who wish to age as well and to ward off chronic diseases.  The positive messages in this book will help you live a better life, even when throwing you curve balls.

Listen to this episode, read Thom’s book and see if you learn how to Stop Acting Your Age!

Nutrition for a younger you

Exercise for a younger you

Science shows how to act younger

Living with Alzheimer’s

Living with Alzheimer’s

Living With Alzheimer’s – A Conversation with Pam Montana

Today’s episode is a fascinating conversation with a woman living with Alzheimer’s. Diagnosed in her early 60s, Pam Montana made it her new job to do everything she could to prevent the worst part of the disease. “Keep that happy life balance as long as possible.” Everything from exercise to nutrition to advocacy, Pam is doing everything she can to combat this disease for herself and everyone that comes after her.

If you suspect you or a loved one may be living with Alzheimer’s you’ll get a lot out of this episode. Listed below are the warning signs of Alzheimer’s and the top 10 ways to love your brain.

Some tips from Pam:

Even if you’re super functional it’s important to surround yourself with a supportive group.

Get information and help sooner rather later. (I can’t emphasize this enough myself!)

Get involved – everyone has some way to give back.

Stay positive – negativity will not help you at all. (Neither will denial.)

The Top Ten Warning Signs (thanks to the Alzheimer’s Assoc.)

  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
  • Confusion with time or place
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  • Decreased or poor judgment
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities
  • Changes in mood and personality

The top ten tips for loving your brain are; (thanks to the Alzheimer’s Assoc.)

Break a Sweat: Engage in regular cardiovascular exercise that elevates your heart rate and increases blood flow to the brain and body.
Hit the Books: Formal education in any stage of life will help reduce your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. For example, take a class at a local college, community center or online.
Butt Out: Evidence shows that smoking increases risk of cognitive decline. Quitting smoking can reduce that risk to levels comparable to those who have not smoked.
Follow Your Heart: Evidence shows that risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke – obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes – negatively impact your cognitive health. Take care of your heart and your brain just might follow.
Heads Up: Brain injury can raise your risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Wear a seat belt, use a helmet when playing contact sports or riding a bike and take steps to prevent falls.
Fuel Up Right: Eat a healthy and balance diet that is lower in fat and higher in vegetables and fruit to help reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Although research on diet and cognitive function is limited certain diets including Mediterranean and MIND may contribute to risk reduction.
Catch Some Zzzz’s: Not getting enough sleep due to conditions like insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problem with memory and thinking.
Take care of your mental health: Some studies link a history of depression with increase risk of cognitive decline, so seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Also, try to manage stress.
Buddy Up: Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Pursue social activities that are meaningful to you. Find ways to be part of your local community – if you love animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter. If you enjoy singing, join a local choir or help at an after school program. Or, just share activities with friends and family.
Stump Yourself: Challenge and activate your mind, Build a piece of furniture. Complete a jigsaw puzzle. Do something artistic. Play games, such as bridge, that make you think strategically. Challenging your mind may have short and long-term benefits for your brain.

My Family Journey with Alzheimer’s

More from Pam